Essaouira, Morocco

Le Jardin des Douars

Rates per night from$126.91

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 (MAD1,209.09), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Kasbah à la française

Setting

Riverside hilltop oasis

Sheltered in a luxuriant garden off Essaouria's windswept shores, hillside boutique hotel Jardin des Douars deftly mixes French chic with the warm colours of the Maghreb. Peace-and-beauty seekers will fall for this chill-out palace's domed villas, cloaked in palms and bougainvilleas, and stay for the jade-green pools, locally sourced food and sybaritic hammam.

This garden-set boutique stay is included in our range of Moroccan adventures.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A 30-minute hammam session and black-soap exfoliation for each guest

Facilities

Photos Le Jardin des Douars facilities

Need to know

Rooms

26, including seven suites and three villas.

Check–Out

12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $126.91 (MAD1,209), excluding tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of MAD30.00 per room per night on check-out.

More details

Rates include a Continental breakfast of flaky Moroccan pancakes, breads, home-made jams, cooked eggs, fruit salad and fresh orange juice, as well as tea, coffee and hot chocolate.

Hotel closed

The hotel closes for two or three weeks between January and February.

At the hotel

Spa, botanical gardens with access to surrounding countryside and riverbed, boutique, terrace, lounge with fireplace, library, pétanque pitch, free WiFi. In rooms: Les Sens de Marrakech toiletries. Villas have a TV too.

Our favourite rooms

The hotel is a celebration of Maghrebin colour and craft, with zelige tiling, smooth tadelakt plasterwork, pierced metalwork and tactile Berber rugs. Rooms have a shabby-chic feel with original wooden doors, and objets trouvés and African masks on the walls; in the bathrooms, you’ll find a mini hammam kit and luxurious Balzatex linens. At the back of the main house, Relax Room 6 is cosy and cute, with lots of sun in the morning and a shower room; Relax Room 8 has stunning valley views. Set in two-storey houses in the lush grounds, Luxe Rooms have a private feel, with king-size beds, private outside terraces, seductive sunken baths and a corner fireplace. If you’re travelling en famille, the Mogador Suite is a two-level extravaganza with a double bedroom, another bedroom with three single beds, a living area and two rooftop terraces from which to admire the grove-dotted hills and riverbed below.

Poolside

The adults-only infinity pool is a chic rectangular affair, tiled in blood-red and peacock-green zelige, surrounded by wrought iron day-bed and straw parasols. It’s heated from October to May and the perfect setting for some quiet sun-worshipping or purposeful laps. On the other side of the main house, the family-friendly pool is protected by a grove of olive and argan trees, with a shallow circular area perfect for babies, and some changing rooms nearby.

Spa

The region is famed for its precious argan oil, harvested by local women’s co-operatives and used in the marble-lined spa. Argan-tree bark is used to heat the eucalyptus-scented hammam, the pulp for scrubs; perfumed black-soap exfoliation, hot-stone massages and algae wraps leave skin prepped for the North African sun.

Packing tips

Staying at Jardin des Douars is very much about getting off the grid: there’s no internet, TV or phones in the room. In the common areas, WiFi can be slow and patchy – load a tablet with must-see boxsets before you go. You can leave bulky headgear at home – you’ll find baskets of attractive straw hats on the sunny terraces for guests to use.

Also

In the bathrooms, you'll find a mini hamman kit stocked with local argan-oil products.

Pet‐friendly

Pets are welcome, and stay free, but you’ll need to bring their bedding and food with you. See more pet-friendly hotels in Essaouira.

Children

Welcome. Extra beds for under-12s (MAD110 a night) and free cots can be added to all but Relax, Romantic and Luxe Rooms; a children’s lunch menu is available. Babysitting is available with one day’s notice.

Best for

5-12s

Recommended rooms

Family Rooms have a double bedroom and another room with two single bunk beds. Douaria Rooms are small self-contained houses perfect for large families. The spacious Royal Suite has two bedrooms, two terraces, and two bathrooms.

Activities

Jardin des Douars can organise quad biking, horse and camel riding, surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing and cooking lessons for children. You’re unlikely to experience a rainy day in Essaouira, and the beach at Sidi Kaouki is just a 20-minute ride away; for a spot of at-home relaxing, the hotel’s atmospheric hammam offers 30-minute massages, manicures and pedicures for little ones too (MAD300).

Swimming pool

The circular family-friendly pool is heated all year round, with a very shallow end within the main pool perfect for small children. It’s not supervised, but there are plenty of sunloungers from which to keep an eye on little ones.

Meals

Highchairs are available in the restaurant, as is a lunch menu for under-12s of classic child-friendly fare such as mini burgers, home-made bolognese or chicken skewers. Staff are used to dealing with families, so just ask if you need to heat up baby milk.

Babysitting

Babysitting is available with one day’s notice. The hotel charges a flat fee of MAD75 for up to four hours during the day, and MAD150 for up to eight hours during the night.

Also

There are no baby monitors in the hotel, so you’ll need to bring your own; there is good WiFi throughout the hotel and villas so you can enjoy some alone time at the restaurant while your little Smiths are sleeping.

Food and Drink

Photos Le Jardin des Douars food and drink

Top Table

In the main restaurant, choose a window-side seat for the perfect valley view. Sweet-nothing-whispering couples should reserve a candlelit table in La Table des Douars.

Dress Code

Kaftans and tunics, linen and sequins.

Hotel restaurant

There are two restaurants serving North African cuisine with French influences. Casual Le Ksar is a spacious room in sultry reds and deep orange, with full-length windows down to the river valley and a cushioned sunken lounge area. The terrace in front of the main house is where breakfast and lunch (including a magnificent Sunday barbecue buffet) are served. The menu changes daily: check the blackboard for light fare such as salads, grilled gambas or salmon tartare. Chalk your name on the board if you want to dine in that night; the à la carte menu changes every couple of weeks. Adults-only La Table des Douars – an intimate dining room of mirrors, cosy nooks and romantic lamps – is ideal for a tête à tête. The open kitchen is a bustling walk-in affair, where guests can watch the fragrant Morrocan cuisine being prepared: there’s roast beef fillet with a herb crust, crushed potatoes with Sidi Yassine argan oil, or tender salmon maki with preserved lemons and date pesto.

Hotel bar

Set to a jazz soundtrack, cocktail hour is on the terrace: the drinks menu features classic negroni, caipirinhas and mojitos, as well as local and French wines. There’s also a pool bar, and a bar area in the main restaurant.

Last orders

Le Ksar serves breakfast from 7.30am to 10.30am, and lunch from 12.30pm to 3pm. Both dining rooms are open from 7.30pm to 10.30pm.

Room service

None.

Location

Photos Le Jardin des Douars location
Address
Le Jardin des Douars
Douar Sidi Yassine Ida Oueguerd BP 209
Essaouira
44000
Morocco

Planes

Essaouira Mogador Airport, a 15-minute drive away, has connections to Paris Orly, Marseille, Brussels and Marrakech (www.onda.ma). Most visitors arrive to Marrakech’s Menara Airport two hours away, which can be reached from various hubs across Europe with British Airways (www.ba.com), EasyJet (www.easyjet.com) and Ryanair (www.ryanair.com).

Automobiles

You may never feel the need to leave Jardin des Douars’ walls, but if you want to venture into the surrounding countryside, it’s best to hire a car to explore the area or make the most of the coast’s surf-friendly beaches. The hotel rents cars (€40 a day) and operates a shuttle to the medina, the golf course, or the beaches (€10 a room for single trips, or unlimited trips €25 a day).

Worth getting out of bed for

A few minutes’ drive from the bustle of Essaouira’s Medina, hotel Jardin des Douars sits on a hill off the road from Agadir. Sheltered from the winds of nearby beaches, the house enjoys vistas to the valley of argan trees and the river Ksob below. The temperatures here are warmer than in Essaouira: enjoy a few rounds on Mogador’s attractive golf course, ride quads, camels or horses to the voluptuous dunes, or ask the hotel to organise a picnic by the sea, where improbable desert waterfalls flow into the ocean.

Hike, or quad your way to the waterfalls springing from the desert rock near the village of Sidi M’Barek, then explore the stretch of unspoilt beach, Berber mule paths and traditional villages. The El Khoubane family have owned the Meskala Kasbah, a charming cluster of seven riads, since the 19th century. Its mosaic-tiled walls are now home to a farm producing artisan cheese from argan-leaf-grazing ewes, cows and sheep. Savour the table d’hôte's sampling platters and generous lunches with a glass of local wine, or try your hand at tadelakt or wood-painting in one of the workshops run by the kasbah (+212 (0)666 233534). Designed by Gary Player, Golf de Mogador is a five-minute drive away and has two 18-hole courses nestled against the Atlantic coast and its magnificent dunes. The hotel can book courses, caddies and buggies for you (+212 (0)524 479230).

Local restaurants

Sandy walls, magnificent stone arches, bright orange hues and contemporary Arabic artwork make for rustic but refined interiors at lively and laid-back La Table Madada. Cooked in a clay pot with a medley of aromatic spices, their beef shin tagine is a specialty. The tapas-style dishes (sardine dumplings, calamari tempura) are equally enticing (+212 (0)5 24 47 5512). Light-up mannequins, toy robots and retro chairs sit alongside traditional Moroccan tiling at quirky-cool Elizir. Book ahead to sample North African dishes with an Italian twist, such as chicken with fresh figs and chestnuts, or pumpking soup with local olive oil (+212 (0)524 472103). Pick a table tucked in L’Heure Bleue’s lush courtyard, somewhere by the pretty trickling fountain. Fabulously fresh seafood gets the Moroccan spice treatment – the salt-baked sea-bass is a must-try (+212 (0)524 783434).

Local bars

Taros Café’s atmospheric terrace is all sculptural cacti, woven parasols and pretty lanterns – just the spot to enjoy a cocktail with views to the bustle of the port below (+212 (0)524 476407).

Reviews

Photos Le Jardin des Douars reviews
Katie Dailey

Anonymous review

Morocco – land of the long-lashed camel, the piping tagine, the crackled tile, the rackety market, the haunting early-morning call-to-prayer across a scorched medina. Decidedly not the land of the cocktail. Our arrival at Jardin des Douars comes at the tailend of a Moroccan odyssey rich in insight but low on lubrication, and it probably reflects poorly on me and the parched Mr Smith that an encouraging specials board chalking out the tipples of the day is the first thing we notice – not the little terracotta buildings the shade of perfectly sun-toasted toes, nor the twinkling emerald swimming pool, as long as a lido, facing the sunset. It is the magic hour at last.

Once we’ve been furnished with an ice-cold, ever-so-stiff Americano (when in Essaouira, do as the Milanese), we settle by the water and watch the sun melt behind palm trees, bougainvillea and hot pink rhodanthemums, to a gentle soundtrack of frogs and donkeys honking with laughter at our good fortune. The day before, we were in Marrakech picking our way through Yves Saint Laurent’s famous Marjorelle. Monsieur, your gardens have nothing on the Jardin des Douars, and its secret nooks dotted with ponds and pools, linked by little paths of tiles made just around the corner. Our first evening by the pool is spent shaded by complimentary sun-hats and furnished with clinking glasses by immaculately attired, disarmingly handsome young men. There is only one thing missing – children! They are welcome at the resort, but not at this pool – there is a shallower one on the very far side of the hotel for smaller, noisier residents. We don’t see any nippers during our trip, and I can’t say this Mr and Mrs Smith are particularly regretful.

We do share the pool area with the kind of quiet, attractive couples with tans but no apparent tan-lines that must surely come from France. It’s easy to see why they like it – the hotel is managed by a French couple, and owned by a Belgian, and it shows in the cuisine and presentation – waiters pad around in crisp polo shirts and plimsolls, diners nibble neat slithers of fish scented with tagine spices, and sip from crisp rosé wines. Curiously, for a nation of non-drinkers, Moroccans produce and consume more than 40 million bottles of wine a year – much of it a dreamy ‘vin gris’ – a reassuringly un-grey blush rosé. We make our own solid contribution to that figure, and tiptoe back to the room – a cool, rustically furnished corner with an oil painting where a TV set might normally be. Mr Smith’s death-grip on his phone gradually loosens as it dawns on us that we’ve got more chance of buying an iPad in the Souk than getting WiFi in the room – there’s only one thing you’re meant to do in this room, and it’s not play Candy Crush.

Morning, and it’s difficult to tempt ourselves away from the hotel – the tryingly active Mr Smith, for the first time ever, admits he’d be happy to idle the whole trip away by the pool. But the windy city beckons – after a breakfast of Moroccan pancakes, dollops of jam and yoghurt, we make the 15-minute drive to Essaouira harbour, and watch boats bob about with our hair whipped into vertical fronds by the gusts that give the place its nickname. This pocket-sized port takes little time to navigate, its pungent souk at the heart of the medina, and sandal, spice and ceramics traders radiating outwards. It’s a gentle, slow sort of place – in the Seventies, the city that always sleeps attracted the likes of Jimi Hendrix to its exotic but lazy medina. It is now home to Game of Thrones pilgrims rather than Hendrix ones, and the old name for the city, Mogador, certainly has a Seven Kingdoms ring about it – but you won’t find any naff merchandise alluding to its location status.
After keeping up the European tourist tradition of falling in love with tiles and ceramics we can’t possibly get home, we paddle off the dust in the choppy waters, and then make our way back home for another visitor’s rite – the hammam. Hamma-mia, this is a good one. Treatments take place in a magical little cave, with tiny beams of natural light piercing through the black so you can see your other half through the darkness, and squelch towards each other when you’ve been soaped, scrubbed and oiled.

A word of warning: when you’ve slowly roasted your shoulders in the Moroccan sunshine, don’t get a hammam. The grainy scrubs, made in-house out of a knobbly bundle of stones and oils, leave you pearly skinned and smooth but they are unforgiving on a tender epidermis. After we’ve been massaged, scrubbed, rubbed, drenched in hot and cool waters, (a treatment session that is 95 per cent pure luxury, and five per cent ‘I’VE TOLD YOU EVERYTHING I KNOW’), we position ourselves back in the sun. We can see what the donkeys are so happy about.
 

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Le Jardin des Douars’s Guestbook below.

We loved

The staff were friendly and helpful and at the same time quietly there in the background. The gardens were stunning: look out for the tortoises and frogs in the lily pond. The food was delicious and beautifully presented, the rooms authentically Moroccan. Was struck by how peaceful the setting was, nothing but birdsong (and the frogs of course!). A stone's throw from both the airport and Essaouria, so able to chill and also have busier days visiting the wonderful medina. Comfortable sunloungers round the adults only pool, it could get a little windy, so took shelter round the children's pool way over the other side of the gardens. Overall a wonderfull stay, so relaxing. Get the driver to drop you off at the bottom of the beach and walk along it to the town, taking in the view of camels, horses and kitesurfers as you go! Try the rooftop restaurant at the Salut Maroc hotel, especially at sunset - fabulous views.

Don’t expect

Ideal for those who enjoy their own company, or chatting to new friends. No daytime or evening entertainment, just a calm quiet atmosphere.

Rating

Stayed on 5 Jun 2018

We loved

The staff are really fantastic here and couldn't have been more helpful, making great recommendations for lunch spots and places to go – a real credit to the hotel. It was fully booked during our week's stay but didn't feel it at all, with enough space for lazy days by the pool, relaxed intimate dinners and quiet breakfasts on the terrace. I will be returning as soon as I can! 

Don’t expect

A pristine, dressed up vibe – this is a place for laid back glamour and serious relaxation.

Rating

Stayed on 14 Apr 2018

We loved

We loved being away from a large city. Beautiful gardens, delicious food, excellent spa. We stayed in the lux room which was basic but perfect. The beauty of this hotel is that it doesn't scream fancy and luxury. The hotel fits perfectly into its surroundings, it has a traditional feel to it, and the swimming pools are lovely (separate for children). Walking around the grounds you will find turtles, frogs, tortoises and cats. It's just so unspoilt!

Don’t expect

Dont expect someone to come and take your bags to your room, or to take your orders by the pool. This is an unfussy homely hotel. You can put your feet up by the fire and play board games. Very much a holiday for anyone needing some r&r, especially families.

Rating

Stayed on 6 Mar 2018

We loved

Great hotel – very comfortable and relaxing. Lovely spa with great massages. Nice family-friendly atmosphere but also great to have both a kids' pool and an adult-only pool, to allow peace and quiet for those looking for that. Not far from Essaouira and more restaurant choices, and a very easy journey from the airport.

Rating

Stayed on 27 Feb 2018

We loved

The separate, spacious swimming pools (one for adults, the other for children). There is plenty of space to relax at the hotel – it never felt too busy. The spa was great. We enjoyed visiting Essaouira (and eating great fresh fish next to the harbour). The half day trips (organised by the hotel) to the beach and the Argan trees were interesting and informative. Good local guide.

Don’t expect

To be able to visit other places without a taxi or a car.

Rating

Stayed on 23 Dec 2017

We loved

The georgeous gardens, the beautiful adult pool, great hammam and treatments, ambience, decor, friendliness, outstanding breakfasts and lunches. In the Medina: Galerie Jama for old carpets and decorative objects. No haggling, fair prices, excellent quality. Comptoire Orientale for homewares. Argan oil from the shop at the Villa Maroc. And have a meal or tea at l'Heure Bleu to see inside.

Don’t expect

The nighttime temperature in winter not to come as a shock! Particularly in contrast to the daytime sunshine.

Rating

Stayed on 19 Dec 2017

We loved

The excellent food, WiFi, gorgeous heated pools with plenty of lounge chairs, babysitting and cocktail hour. Definitely visit the seafood restaurant on the nearby beach. It's a fab location. I can't remember the name but the hotel staff will point you in the right direction. We also did a 3 hour quad bike which was so fun. No better way to experience the wonderful sand dunes.

Don’t expect

Sprawling lawns. The hotel is on a hill with many stone steps.

Rating

Stayed on 27 Nov 2017

We loved

Everything! It's one of the best places my husband and I stayed in our 2 week trip in Morroco. Amazing decor and a very peaceful atmosphere. Soaking up the sun near the pool in the afternoon was very relaxing! The staff were very nice. We had lunch, dinner and complimentary breakfast – all great! Mr & Mrs Smith's surprise gift was a hammam spa. Had it not been for that, we would have missed out on a unique Morrocan experience. 

Rating

Stayed on 9 Nov 2017

We loved

Everything! It's one of the best places my husband and I stayed in our 2 week trip in Morroco. Amazing decor and very peaceful atmosphere. Soaking up the sun near the pool in the afternoon was very relaxing! The staff were very nice. We had lunch, dinner and complimentary breakfast, all great! Mr & Mrs Smith's surprise gift was a hammam spa; we would have totally missed this unique Moroccan experience had it not been for that. 

Rating

Stayed on 9 Nov 2017

We loved

The adults-only pool and relaxed feeling in the gardens.

Don’t expect

The rooms to look like the photos – this is my second visit as I loved it the first time, but the room decor is now looking tired. Peace and quiet – there was a wedding on the day before and as such there was still a big group in the hotel, which made us feel like we were gate crashing their party.

Rating

Stayed on 3 Oct 2017

We loved

The adult pool, the wonderful architecture of the place and how green and quiet it was!

Don’t expect

Parties, noise, lack of beauty.

Rating

Stayed on 13 Sep 2017

We loved

The serenity of the location and the friendly staff. Take a trip to the local winery; the lunch deal was marvellous. Of course take a trip to the Medina but take your shawls as it's rather windy.

Don’t expect

A super modern hotel. It's more shabby chic than super luxury. Also it would be better if the breakfast food was covered so as to prevent flies feeding on it and possibly causing health issues.

Rating

Stayed on 9 Sep 2017

We loved

The quiet pool and the beautiful gardens.

Don’t expect

Soft comfortable beds - they were large enough but very hard. Pillows also not great.

Rating

Stayed on 1 Apr 2017

We loved

The Staff was always extremely warm and polite, willing to go above and beyond to accommodate any guest request. The Luxe Suite was divine boasting both a fireplace and beautiful terrace allowing guests to enjoy the outdoors in privacy. The Hammam was small but beautiful and the quality of the treatment was very good. The common areas were thoughtfully designed and perfect for relaxation. Go to The Loft - best restaurant we ate at in Essaouira! Authentic flavours, beautifully presented in a contemporary decor with a twist!

Don’t expect

An authentic culinary journey. Food was good but bland, more catered towards tourists rather than boasting local flavours. Hotel also charges an extortionate amount for transport into town so you may want to limit your excursions.

Rating

Stayed on 22 Dec 2016

We loved

The service was great. We also enjoyed the pool and gardens. Essaouira was lovely, certainly worth spending a day or two there.

Don’t expect

Lively evenings, our experience was that this is a place for families and couples seeking peace and quiet.

Rating

Stayed on 19 Nov 2016

We loved

The team - so friendly, you quickly feel at home and relaxed, also the rooms are well equipped and spacious. And we loved the afternoon tea! Go walking on the beach when the tide is out - it goes on forever. Or, hire a car and drive around the mountains.

Don’t expect

Lively nights out - it's a chilled hotel and there's not much in town.

Rating

Stayed on 20 Sep 2016