[trip style = urban + luxury]
Editor's Note: As Morocco Month comes to a close, we leave you with our final North African destination: Essaouira, an ancient and fortified city by the sea. For a look back at the rest of our Morocco series, see Casablanca,Savoring the Sahara, La Gazelle d'Or and hotels in Taroudant and a beauty lesson inargan oil.
The final hurrah in my Morocco itinerary pulled me back to shore from Taroudant by way of a four-hour, backcountry drive over grass-covered hills, past grazing goats, wineries, argan oil collectives and gas station-restaurants---a thing in Morocco (would you like a crêpe with your gas?).
Essaouira is a magic, moody place at the intersection of ancient and modern. Changing hands over centuries due to its strategic position on the Atlantic coast, there's a near-visible mystique that fills the air. At the same time, there's a playful spirit, given it's a beach town and popular weekend destination for the well-heeled from Marrakech.
Within the French-designed fortifications life teems with the energy of thousands of conversations and transactions. Outside the walls, a major fishing port gives way to a far-reaching beach decorated in dunes, kite-boarders and camels.
Every night after dinner, I'd retreat into the warmth and time-tested luxury of L'Heure Bleue Palais hotel, built into Essaouira’s medina walls. Feeling like I needed to match the old-school Africa allure---think: dark wood, mosaics, deep-red carpets, candlelight turndown---at cocktail hour I donned a draping blue dress and strolled past the palm-coated courtyard to the drink den, one of the most epic places I've ever sipped a spirit.
Accompanied by a tumbler of Jack Daniel’s and knowledge that the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley tested a tipple in the riad’s wood-paneled, leather-bound room, I came to the conclusion that Morocco has been luring luminaries since the Berbers walked through the Western Sahara some 5000 years ago.
Trip Styler Tip: When you go to Morocco, you'll hear the terms riad and dar a lot. The most simple way to decipher between these housing/hotel options is: A riad typically has a four-season garden and a fountain, a dar does not.
[photos by @tripstyler taken a guest of tourism morocco]