Essaouira, Morocco

Dar Maya

Price per night from$131.90

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR109.09), via, using today’s exchange rate.


Pale and interesting


Backstreet poise

Seeking a discreet, stylish medina hideaway in seaside Essaouira? Dar Maya, a boutique beauty with a rooftop hot tub and traditional hammam, is a riad home-from-home so lovely you’ll be tempted to keep it secret. It’s run by a Brit who fell in love with Morocco; after a few nights here, you might find the same happens to you…

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A bottle of wine, or a pair of leather babouche slippers


Photos Dar Maya facilities

Need to know


Five, including three suites.


11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, noon.


Double rooms from £106.27 (€120), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €3.00 per person per night on check-out.

More details

Rates usually include Continental and cooked breakfast.


Head to the hammam for a traditional rub-down, or book a couple’s massage or facial in your room.

At the hotel

Hammam, library, concierge, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: free WiFi.

Our favourite rooms

Tignna gets plenty of light and is decorated in cool grey… but the open fireplace ensures you don’t get too cool. It has its own small balcony, and the two-person bath tub in the ensuite bathroom looks particularly inviting when candlelit.


Sit back and relax in the hot tub on the rooftop terrace.


There's a hammam and you can book treatments like scrubs and facials. You can also pamper yourself with an in-room massage.

Packing tips

Bring a light scarf – it’ll prove practical as well as stylish, as Essaouira gets very windy.


The riad isn’t wheelchair accessible.


This is more of a grown-up stay.

Food and Drink

Photos Dar Maya food and drink

Top Table

Dine up on the roof terrace in good weather, or indoors in the small dining room if it’s chilly.

Dress Code

Everything here is simple and elegant, so fill your case with sleek, unfussy pieces.

Hotel restaurant

The tiny restaurant is all chic shades of chocolate, and there’s a courtyard with a tranquil water wall; the chef serves up pleasing contemporary Moroccan cuisine, like fried calamari from the port, and pastry parcels stuffed with beef or shrimp.

Hotel bar

Sip your drip on the modern rooftop terrace, on one of the loungers that flank the hot tub.

Last orders

Breakfast starts at 8.30am and is served as long as you like. This is your riad home-from-home, and when you eat is entirely up to you.

Room service

Order a choice of hot and cold snacks and drinks to your room between 11am and midnight.


Photos Dar Maya location
Dar Maya
33 rue Oujda

Dar Maya is tucked away on a backstreet in the heart of Essaouira’s historic medina, within walking distance of the beach.


Touchdown at Essaouira’s Mogador Airport (, which is 20km away from the riad; it’s served by regular flights from Paris. Or, land at Marrakech Menara Airport (, 180km away, which sees regular arrivals from throughout Europe, including London Gatwick and Heathrow.


If you’re adventurous enough to try driving in Morocco, there’s a car park a five-minute walk from the hotel that costs €2 a day.

Worth getting out of bed for

Essaouira, on the Atlantic coast, is largely a laid-back beach city where hanging out on the sand or eating your fill of fresh seafood are order of the day. Sandy Essaouira beach is an easy walk from the hotel, and offers plenty of watersports as well as camel and horse rides.

Explore Essaouira’s rivers and beaches on a quad bike with Palma Quad, or head out of town on camelback with Zouina Cheval in the village of Diabet. For an eco-conscious Argan grove tour, try Ecotourism et Randonées; trips culminate in a traditional Moroccan tea.

If you're a golfer, you're in luck: Mogador Golf Course is ranked among the world’s top 20 most exciting courses, though the 18-hole Gary Player-designed golf course has Atlantic views good enough to distract you from your game… If cooking's more your thing, learn from the best at L’Atelier Madada, the top spot to discover the delights of Moroccan cooking.

Local restaurants

At Hôtel Océan Vagabond, the bar and restaurant have their own little swimming pool and garden, as well as a lounge with a fireplace (Boulevard Lalla Aicha; +212 (0)5 24 47 92 20. The menu at relaxed, romantic Elizir is an interesting mix of Moroccan and Italian cuisines; the service and ambience are top-notch (Rue Agadir; +212 (0)5 24 47 21 03).

La Table by Madada is a chic, romantic restaurant tucked away in the old medina; the food is highly rated by locals (Rue Youssef El Fassi; +212 (0)5 24 47 21 06). Caravane Café is a lively medina spot with quirky decor (Rue du Qadi Ayad; +212 (0)5 24 78 31 11). Les Jardins de Villa Maroc is 10km out of town but you can laze by the pool at its secluded stone house, which was until recently a private residence (Route Essaouira-Marrakech, Essaouira; +212 (0) 24 47 67 47).

Local bars

Watch the sunset from the terrace at seafood restaurant Il Mare, overlooking the cannon-bedecked battlements, then stay for the music: it’s a popular nightclub, too (Rue Yamen Scala; +212 (0)5 24 47 64 17). Taros is rumoured to be Essaouira’s best drinking den. The medina hotspot has spectacular views from its terrace, DJs and live music and top-class cocktails. It serves food, too (Place Moulay Hassan; +212 (0)5 24 47 64 07).


Photos Dar Maya reviews
Rachel Juarez-Carr

Anonymous review

By Rachel Juarez-Carr, Wordsmith and picture taker

My personal Marrakech-to-Essaouira playlist probably wouldn’t have included German power ballad ‘Wind of Change’ by Scorpions but it was our sharp-suited driver’s CD, and he didn’t speak English so we went with it. By the time the unplugged recording of Hotel California (the audience was really loving that guitar solo) started up for the third time, my California boy was shaking with stifled hysteria and I attempted to speak French for the first time in over a decade. (Our driver, it turned out, was a delight.) Three hours, several Bon Jovi songs, and one shining-sea-as-our-backdrop photoshoot later, we arrived at Essaouira’s shoreline. We were handed over to a silent gent with a cart who whisked us through the gate in the medina wall and led us to Dar Maya.

A discreet door down one of the medina’s myriad alleys was opened by a supremely cheerful fellow who tipped our cart man when we didn’t have change and lugged our luggage to our minimalist room – all calming pale colours, framed YSL postcards and candlelit alcoves. The contemporary style’s quite the antidote to the dazzlingly hectic streets outside. I ran around stroking our room’s sleek tadelakt for a while (so smooth! so cool!) then headed further up… Dar Maya’s a lovely place from head to toe, but my goodness that rooftop’s spectacular if you’re into spying into other people’s buildings and watching the waves a block away.

We wandered down to dinner and loitered in the cool courtyard before being ushered in to the tiny dining room for our tagines. Now, by the end of our honeymoon we’d be tagined out as probably often occurs on first forays into Morocco – but this was our very first North African night, and our cinnamon-y slow-cooked lamb and lemony chicken, washed down with a local rosé, were as delicious as you could dream of after a day of travelling.

After a night of serene slumber – except for when some idiot tried to put her cameras in the in-room safe and set off the alarm (sorry, fellow guests) – breakfast was a filling array of Moroccan pancakes with honey and fruit and a ‘very good’ omelette for Mr Smith. It was served by a smiley lady I later spied making the bed in the suite across the courtyard from our room (we gave each other a cheery wave through the window).

Venturing out we politely declined an offer from a friendly marijuana-selling man who was a reminder of Hendrix’s heyday here in 1969. The medina had seemed labyrinthine on arrival the night before, but in the morning light, and armed with Google Maps, we felt more confident and found our way to the old ramparts in under a minute. It was there that we learnt two facts about Essaouira: you won’t love it if you don’t like seagulls, and if you wear a short skirt – hello, fellow European tourist letting the side down – it’ll be blown up around your waist repeatedly. Luckily we harbour no Tippi Hedren-worthy fears and we were relatively sensibly attired… but that wind also keeps temperatures down, and we still managed to get sunburnt immediately. Amateurs.

We retreated back to Dar Maya to hide our hot-pink shame, Mr Smith in the petite hot tub on the roof, sipping mint tea, and me enveloped in near darkness in the hotel’s jewel-box of a hammam, having hot water thrown over my head and attempting to engage my new best friend in half-French-half-English chat between buckets. I have an uncontrollable urge to take sharp intakes of breath whenever water hits me the face, but there’s still something undeniably decadent about being part-drowned by a slightly brutal trilinguist while sitting in a dark room wearing just your knickers. The in-room massage that followed was deeply relaxing.

After that, staggering out in nothing but my robe and lots of massage oil to seek Mr Smith, I ran straight into Gareth, the bronzed Brit who runs the place (you can often find his utterly adorable pups, Eddy and Nini, lounging around downstairs, coolly ignoring cooing guests). Politely pretending not to notice that I was a deliriously blissed-out neon-pink-faced wreck – perhaps that’s standard for new arrivals in Essaouira? – he was delighted to hear we were enjoying our stay.

That evening, covered in aloe vera, we ventured out to La Table by Madada for our first dinner out, a five-minute stroll away in the medina. The food was delicious – pigeon pastilla’s traditional here, but I plumped for the fancier lobster version of the filo-pastried pie – and the drinks perfect, and our slightly surreal soundtrack was a stool-perched pair of guitar-bearing chaps playing classic-rock covers.

The next morning we stopped at top drinking den Taros, just outside the medina walls, after another morning session of dodging fearless seagulls, shopping for intricately carved wooden boxes and pretending to be in Game of Thrones (filmed right here!) We’d intended a flying visit, but Mr Smith thought so highly of his Bloody Mary that we ordered another, and another, and eventually just stayed for lunch. We were sitting on their elegant blue-and-white terrace by the sea sipping drinks and listening to the call to prayer mingling with French gossip when we decided that one honeymoon is not enough, and we’ll have to come back.

After rides on a blue-eyed-camel with charming French children and a pair of glorious horses, it came time for us to leave Essaouira. This time, an entirely different hotel had booked us an entirely different driver to take us back to Marrakech for the next stage of our trip. Our entirely different driver was, of course, blasting the exact same CD of soft-rock power ballads. On repeat. For four hours. Oh, how we missed the serenity of Dar Maya…

Price per night from $131.90

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