Whether this is your first time, or you come to Essaouira year-on-year, you might like to check out these new venues and businesses which have opened in time for the 2014 season.
Shiny new cafes: Gueliz on Sea
Essaouira is being marketed as Marrakech’s seaside and the crop of new cafes in the base of Jawharat building look like they have been lifted straight out of the Marrakech Ville Nouvelle. With their décor of shiny aluminium and glass with brightly coloured moulded chairs and tables, they are slicker than most and are already attracting a diverse crowd of locals, expats, tourists and officials from the nearby government offices. Everyone who has tried them has a favourite and mine is Rio. The wifi is fast, the coffee is good (and comes with a bottle of water and a biscuit) and the toilets are the smartest in town. If you pick up a pastry or three from Patisserie du Coin (another newbie) round the corner, the Rio staff will happily provide a plate and fork for your BYO cake!
The revamped chill-out zone: Auberge Tangaro
Open as a hotel since 1915 and still without electricity in the romantic great dining room, Auberge Tangaro has had a facelift. Under the management of Younes Ottmani, the pergola at the front of the beautiful gardens has been turned into an open air café-bar and there are plans for a yoga studio and pool. Situated above the beach in Diabat, a decent walk or a short taxi ride outside Essaouira, Auberge Tangaro is chill-out central!
A new hotel: Dar Mouna Mogador
Book now before the crowds! Dar Mouna Mogador opened this year and offers five rooms of various arrangements (singles, twin, doubles, family rooms) in the very heart of the medina. Manager Jane has become a patron of local arts and the house is easily spotted by the mural outside. Breakfast is served on the roof terrace, where Jane is happy to suggest how guests spend their day. Rooms are 400dh for a single, 600dh for a twin or double.
A new and innovative Italian restaurant: Delizie d’Italie
Few tourists venture outside the medina, but the locals are in the know about Delizie d’Italia, an excellent value Italian restaurant in Errawnak (the residential area on the outskirts as you approach Essaouira from Marrakech). The food is all fresh, prepared on the premises and beautifully presented. You can pop in for a pizza, a three-course splash out dinner or a lunchtime special (45dh including a drink and coffee). Not to be missed.
A new lunchtime excursion: La Fromagerie
Sadly, the artisan cheese manufacture in the opulent surroundings of the Meskala Kasbah has ceased. Don’t worry, however, as a new open-air dining venue has been identified in Douar L’Aarab, just outside Essaouira at the start of the Safi Road. I can’t wait to try this place out – what could be better than an al fresco lunch with artisan goat’s and sheep’s cheeses away from the bustle of the city? (by reservation only: 06 58 83 99 99)