Discover the best budget boutique hotels in Essaouira, Morocco

Clinging to Morocco’s Atlantic coast, Essaouira swaps the rose hues of the mountain towns for sparkling whitewash and blue shutters. The pretty medina is confined within solid great ramparts, and sidles up to a 18th-century military harbour. But both are dwarfed by the vast sweep of beach that runs along the approach to the city. In true Maghreb style, the sights to see are the quotidian ones: djellaba’d men whiz by on motorbikes, the port’s clamour competes with gnaoua-soundtracked cafés and the call to prayer – but forget comparing the pace of life of the souks here to Marrakech. Everything happens in a distinctly lower gear, and a wonderful air of insouciance prevails. Fish-fed cats snooze outside riads in carved Moorish horseshoe archways; graffiti is scratched on mediaeval doors; glimpses of shady courtyards and dim passageways lure you to yet another mint tea. Contented, cosmopolitan and cool without caring about it, Essaouira is a jaded urbanite’s delight.

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