We booked our flights to Morocco before the earthquake happened. When we saw the images of the suffering in the Atlas mountains and Marrakesh, I’ll be honest, we considered cancelling our family holiday to Essaouira.
But then I read several articles all appealing to tourists to go on their holidays anyway. The local economy needs tourism, I read, – it’s actually a way to help in the aftermath of this natural disaster.
I did some more research. We weren’t staying close to the epicentre of the earthquake, we’d booked flights to Essaouira; a coastal town which is 175km from Marrakesh. Essaouira only had minimal damage on the façade of some old buildings, but still, I was uneasy. I looked into all sorts of options- yurts, caravans, wooden structures! Then we found the perfect option for us.
A newly built eco-house 15 minutes outside of the city of Essaouira. This wooden and stone-build building was exactly what I was looking for. Single storey; perfectly equipped for a family of five; with a swimming pool. And I couldn’t believe the price! For a fraction of the cost of a hotel, we could get the whole place for the week – giving us money left in our budget to hire a car for our Moroccan adventure.
Our villa was a handy 12 minute drive from Essaouira airport (mainly on quiet roads), a short transfer is always appreciated when driving on the right side of the road in a new country. We didn’t hear any sound pollution though; the airport is very quiet with only 2 flights to the UK a week, and a handful to France.
The accommodation consists of an open-living kitchen/lounge – (with the most enormous window which looks out onto the garden and surrounding countryside. I enjoyed sipping my coffee and watching the sunrise out that window each morning); two bedrooms decorated in a rustic and traditional style, one with twin beds and another with a double bed; and a charming bathroom. There is an extra bed in the living room for a third child, or a cot is available on request. We moved the extra bed into our bedroom since our 4-year-old likes to be close to us.
The house is powered by solar energy and while it has enough of the mod cons – washing machine, coffee maker, microwave etc – it doesn’t have wi-fi. Not everyone appreciates being quite so off-grid and away from modern life. If that’s you, you can buy a sim card with data at Essaouira airport. My husband paid €10 for the sim and data and he didn’t run out over the course of the week.
Outside of the house there is a stunning private garden with olive and palm trees, hammocks, a swing and a swimming pool. The pool was chilly (although what else do you expect in November?) but that didn’t stop us using it.
We really appreciated having a base outside the busyness of the city. It was lovely to play dominoes on the paving slabs in swim gear and to not be overlooked at all. On an evening the stars were phenomenal, and all you could hear was crickets, and occasionally the distant sound of a cockerel. We never wanted to leave this idyllic haven.
Our host was called Yahya and he lives in the house next door, so if you are ever in need of assistance he can be contacted. He speaks excellent English, French, Spanish and Arabic. He has a lovely wife and daughter, and our own daughter enjoyed getting to know her a bit. While the family are there should you need anything, or in case of emergency, there’s plenty of privacy too.
Yahya also offers horse rides in the local countryside. Our two boys loved their horse ride and we really enjoyed exploring a bit more of the local rural area.
The cost of hiring the house is from €80 per night (or €75 per night if you stay for a week).
Horse rides start from €30 for an hour ride, but longer rides can also be arranged. Children aged 5 and over can ride the horses.
Yahya can be contacted via email and whatsapp
Whatsapp: + 33 7 88 40 56 18