The Cave @ No. 42 is an idiosyncratic ground-floor apartment with a unique blend of Moroccan quirkiness, individual style and European comforts. It has many unique features including some specially commissioned stained glass from a local artist. The spacious open plan living area has a fully equipped kitchen and a beautiful curved tiled staircase leading to two mezzanines. Due to a original quirky floor plan the sleeping arrangements are informal, flexible - and fun! There is one conventional double bedroom, two low-ceilinged mezzanines and additional accommodation in the salon, if required, plus a spacious bathroom (with tadelakt bath/shower) and a small tadelakt shower room. The apartment has access to a large shared rooftop terrace which has splendid views of the medina and the Atlantic Ocean.
Regarded as one of the most beautiful towns on Africas Atlantic coast, Essaouira (ancient Mogador) has a unique charm. You get a feeling that life is easy here. People have time to talk - and listen - with an easy-going tolerance and friendliness born from centuries of mixing with people of other nations and cultures. Even the many stray cats and dogs seem to get on well with each other and their human neighbours. Yet alongside this relaxed, laid-back and slightly bohemian atmosphere there is a sense of sophistication and energy – the feeling that this is a happening place to be. The town is increasingly becoming known as a centre for arts, crafts and music and, each year, hosts several world class festivals and other events. With mild temperatures all year long and around 300 days sunshine a year it is a great place to visit at any time.
The atmospheric medina is a delight to walk around. It is relatively clean, well laid out and safe, even at night. With no motorised transport allowed inside the walls your only risk of being run down is by one of the blue painted handcarts (krossas) that are used for transporting goods.
Designed in the mid 1700’s by a French architect commissioned by a visionary sultan, the medina is an intriguing fusion of French-style piazzas with traditional subterranean passages, vaulted alleys and courtyard houses. Its whitewashed buildings, with ornate doorways and windows painted blue to match the sky, are enclosed by intact pink fortifications. Not surprising then that, in 2001, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Although it is only a leisurely 10 minute walk from one end of the medina to the other it is so packed with fascinating architecture, artisans workshops, galleries, shops, restaurants and cafes that it would take weeks to discover everything. Shopping here tends to be an enjoyable and sociable experience with none of the hard-sell that is typical of other North African towns. You will find hundreds of tiny shops crammed with characterful leatherwork, metalwork, exquisite carpentry, glazed pottery, jewellery, brightly coloured carpets, original art and foodstuffs such as olives, spices and rare argan oil.
The hub of the town is Place Moulay Hassan, a French-style piazza where you can spend time people-watching in the sunshine whilst enjoying mint tea, excellent coffee or freshly squeezed orange juice accompanied by pastries from the nearby patisserie.
Opposite Place Moulay Hassan is the photogenic fishing harbour. Here you can watch the catch being unloaded from brightly-painted boats, learn how the vessels are made using centuries-old techniques or have lunch at one of the seafood stalls which serve wonderfully fresh fish and shellfish simply grilled over charcoal and served with a baguette and juicy tomato salad.
Listed as one of the world’s best beaches, Essaouira’s main beach is a wide crescent of golden sand which stretches for two miles from the medina to the former hippy village of Diabat. It is famed for its watersports which include world class surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. You can book lessons and equipment at several places along the main beach or take a caleche (horse-drawn taxi) out to the less crowded north beach.
If you dont fancy participating, why not sit at one of the numerous waterfront cafes or restaurants and enjoy watching the colourful watersports. There is also usually a game or two of football to watch, even at night when the whole beach is floodlit. Further along the beach, among the sand dunes, there are horses and camels for hire. Even further south, you can walk at low tide to the romantic fort of Borj El Barod which is slowly crumbling into the sea. Nearby you can watch birds at the Ksob estuary or else take a short boat trip to the Iles de Mogador, breeding ground for the rare Eleanora’s falcon which can sometimes be seen circling over the town.
The medina and beyond
The medina (walled town) is pedestrian only. Essaouira is quite a small town and everything is within walking distance of The Cave so a car is only necessary if you plan to take day trips to nearby beaches or beyond. There are several car hire agencies in town where it is possible to hire by the day. For watersports enthusiasts the beach at Sidi Kaouki is worth a visit. Marrakech, with its shopping and nightlife, is about two hours drive away. It is about two more hours drive to the Atlas mountains where you can enjoy spectacular scenery, hillwalking or even skiing.
Absolutely wonderful. The apartment manager Said was very pleasant and helpful. The apartment itself is lovely and felt like a real home from home. The owners have put together information packs on the apartment and area which covered everything we could need to know. Very useful, and witten in a way that made us feel very welcome. It was hard to leave!
Nick from Burnham On Crouch
We had a fantastic week in Essaouira, and we put that mainly down to the experience of the Cave. Essaouira is quite overwhelming at first, but once you start discovering its magic, the holiday takes off. The Cave provided a perfect, private and beautiful base, right in the heart of the old city. The Tadelakt bath - fantastic! (sing in it - the reverb is magnificant. Youll sound like Pavarotti - at least you will to your own ears). And the Roof Terrace at the top of the building is worth every one of the 59 (almost spiral) steps from street to summit. Its an ideal spot to relax in sun or shade, a perfect place to quaff cocktails, drink wine or eat the wonderful delicacies youve bought from the sumptuous food markets, offering fantastic views across the jumble of roofs to the sea amid the sounds of the Medina and the surf rising in the warm air. The Call to Prayer, as it unfurls across the town from various minarets in a curious tumbling harmony, lifts the soul even of a non-believer. I know from personal experience that Frances and Andrew (who own The Cave and Chez Rebecca) updat e their website all the time, adjusting the restaurant reviews to their latest experience of the places - the advice and guidance they give is acknowledged as, and, indeed proved to be, the best in town. I couldnt recommend it highly enough.
Mary from Edinburgh
Gorgeous, quirky apartment that was an excellent base for our few days in Essaouira. We honestly didnt want to leave! The apartment is kitted out with everything you need, and the roof terrace overlooking all of the medina and out to the Atlantic was fantastic. There were only 4 of us, but could easily have fitted another 2 or 4 people in. Nestled down a little alleyway, we quickly got used to finding it in the maze of streets, and made friends with an amazing wood-carving artist in his little workshop round the corner! Will definitely be back as soon as possible!
matt from Kendal
The transfer went well, and the mint tea welcome was much appreciated. The accommodation was as described, and well located. Essaouira offers a good blend of cultural and beach activities. One week was not enough!
Victoria from London
We had a great time in Essaouria. There were six of us staying in the appartment so it was cozy and intimate (!) but the place is well furnished (bed needs fixing as frame a bit rickety) and well equiped especially with telly and satelite TV! We also cooked a couple of nights and found we had everything we needed. Siad the manager (who I have met before at another property) was extremely helpful and waited for us on our arrival with mint tea and biscuits, much appreciated! The roof terrace is amazing, lots of space and a BBQ and places to sit down to a meal. Over all we had a fantastic time which was great value for money. The location is very good - in the medina but not too near the hustle so it was mainly quiet at night, but then just a couple of minutes to the main street and the shops and cafes (especially La Cantina restaurant which is highly recommended).
Highly recomended, especially for families with children as the low ceiling, mezannine style sleeping arrangements would suit children very well - not so good if you are tall!