LE JARDIN DES DOUARS – Essaouira – Morocco

Essaouira is only three hours and twenty EasyJet minutes away from Luton but it feels thrillingly foreign. Morocco is the nearest place you can go to feel so far from home.

My first impression of Hotel Le Jardin des Douars is of over-abundance: the gardens are almost too lush; there’s too much birdsong; too much fruit in the trees; too fragrant; too much beauty.

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We’re staying in Villa Primera – a domed villa in a walled garden within the grounds of the hotel. It has all the amenities of the spa hotel but with all the privacy of a villa. Essaouira is notoriously windswept, but Le Jardin des Douars is sheltered in the argan tree hills.

It’s obscenely lush – bougainvillea everywhere, spilling over the walled garden and climbing the side of the house; bougainvillea blowing in through the open window; drifts of bougainvillea petals on the tiled floor of the villa. The winding pathways are fragrant with rosemary, eucalyptus and lavender. Inside, everything smells faintly of woodsmoke and musk. It’s a glamour onslaught.

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The hotel restaurant serves good food in a beautiful setting, but Rashida (Villa Primera’s in-house cook) makes really special dishes – pastillas, tagines and traditional Moroccan cakes.

If you can bring yourself to leave the hotel, Essaouira is lovely. The medina isn’t as frenetic as in Marrakech. There are good, inexpensive restaurants near the harbour where fish is cooked fresh from the boats.

Apparently they only average twenty days of rain a year here. We’ve had three of them during our week-long stay, but it doesn’t matter. We whiled away one rain storm lounging around in the spa, basted in argan oil and salt on the hot marble of the hammam, surrounded by bouquets of fresh rosemary. And yesterday we spent a rainy afternoon in front of the log fire, watching Rebecca in our robes.

Essentially, what I’m saying is I never want to leave Le Jardin des Douars – this is the most relaxed I’ve ever been in my life. And if my family want me to come home, they’ll have to drag me by my hair kicking and screaming onto that EasyJet return flight.

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For this level of intense luxury and beauty, a stay at Jardin des Douars is surprisingly reasonable: rooms in the hotel start from £80 p/night and Villa Primera is available from £355 p/night (but it does sleep ten people and comes with the services of an incredible cook and housekeeper).

The Le Jardin des Douars website quite is difficult to navigate, but i-escape is much clearer regarding rates, booking and general information.