Holiday Home in Essaouira, Morocco - Located in a no-through side street at the heart of the medina, everything is just minutes away
The stylish, spacious and light-filled interior is laid out over three floors to accommodate up to ten guests.
Abdaul & Aicha, the live-out staff come in to serve breakfast and clean six mornings a week. Help with local arrangements is part of their service and they can even cook a fantastic dinner or baby-sit - for a small extra charge. Aicha was the first person we ever left our daughter with (when she was 8 weeks old) and she's like a second mother to her so if you are parents looking for a break...
Essaouira itself is known as "Windy City, Africa". A laid back fusion of Portuguese, French, Arabic and Berber influences since the current walled city was founded as a trading post in the 18th century.
Now you can wander the car-free medina, browsing the souks and soaking up the atmosphere without the hectic crowds and pressure that is part of the Marrakesh experience. Plus just five minutes walk from Dar Leila is the 8km curve of beach, for kite surfing, wind-surfing or catching the rays.
Whatever type of holiday you're looking for - relaxing, adrenaline filled, winter sun, summer heat, family or friends, Dar Leila is perfect - we've certainly done all of the above over the last 8 years!
The Marrakech/Essaouira region
Essaouira is one of North Africa's most beautiful cities and offers a mixture of Portuguese, French and Berber architecture.
Most of all though is a friendly, laid back town with lots to do. There is very good wind and kite surfing and horse or camel riding on the beach. The touts hassling for horse and camel rides do listen to a polite 'no thank you' but if you want to take up their offer don't pay more than 100DHS / €10 per animal. If you fancy something a bit faster, an afternoon's excursion down the dunes by quad bike is a must.
The beach is 5 minutes walk from Dar Leila. At some times of the year it can be a bit windy for sunbathing, due to the Atlantic breezes that make for such good wind & kite surfing – the best place to catch some rays at this time is Dar Leila's sheltered terrace. During the summer there are a large number of sun loungers on the beach available to rent for 25DHS / €2.50 per day. The walk down the beach to the ruined fort that dates from the Portuguese occupation, which you can see in the distance, takes about 45 minutes. Apparently the bird watching is good at the mouth of the river near the ruined fort but our twitching skills only run to seabirds and landbirds. The best time to walk on the beach is when the tide is going out leaving firm sand to walk on.
The medina is a Unesco World Heritage Site and no cars are allowed within the city walls. You can spend hours wandering the back streets of the medina, stumbling across little artisan Thuya inlaid woodcarving workshops and admiring the eclectic architecture.
Take time to wander around the fishing harbour and see the boats come in with the day's catch and head down towards Rue Skala (the ramparts), to the right of the fishing harbour, to watch the sun set.
Our guests receive a detailed information pack, all researched by us and updated every 6 months. From what to do and who with, where to eat and shop and how to get the best spices and oils, one set of guests were so enthused they said "forget Lonely Planet - just book Dar Leila and get the best guide to Essaouira"
A small sample of it is reproduced below.
WIND & KITE SURFING
Club Mistral at Ocean Vagabond's beach base has everything you will need, from equipment hire to lessons to recommendations on where the best surf is found. Sebastien and his team, Mounir & Rachid, are very friendly and open for business 7 days a week.
If you prefer swimming in a pool, as opposed to the Atlantic our suggestion would be to spend a day away from the hustle and bustle of the Medina and beach at one of the number of countryside hotels within a 15 minute drive of Essaouira.
As well as the horses on the beach there are a number of proper trekking outfits such as Ranch Diabat, who have been around for many years and get good reports. And if you get the bug you can come back for a full on riding holiday.
This is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon. For 550DHS / €55 per person Sahara Quad, will pick you up from by Bab Sbaa gate, drive you to their base on the edge of town and take you out for 2½ - 3 hours on quad bikes. You head down the dunes to Sidi, led by an experienced guide, slowly at first until you get the hang of it. The return journey is a full on blast back down the beach. Well worth the money if you like this sort of fun and they throw in a CD of photos as well.
You can either go solo from a turn down the beach before lunch or the whole 25km to Sidi Kaouki or go for a guided experience. Edouard Pottier, the charming host of La Decouverte Restaurant, also runs Ecotourism Walking Tours. They offer half and full day walking tours through the Argan forests, the dunes and the riverbeds and taking in country markets and mint tea in a Berber village. The aim is to show the genuine rural Morocco – both the scenery and the people.
The first phase of the Golf de Mogador development, a Gary Player signature 18-hole course is now open. The website is only in French and we are not golfers so please bear with us if we have mis-understood, but Green Fees for 18 holes appear to be 750DHS / €75 or 475DHS / €45 for FMRG members. The setting is stunning and, according to the reviews, ongoing development of the site doesn't detract from the experience. The clubhouse with restaurant, bar and terrace is now. The course is situated below the neighbouring village of Diabat and now that the new bridge has been finished is an easy 3km taxi ride from the Medina.
You are in the home of the Hammam (Steam Room) so there is little excuse not to indulge. From a full on local scrub to a more European spa-type experience Essaouira now has it all.
Dar Leila is situated in a no through street in the heart of the medina, minutes from all of the best restaurants in Essaouira.
These are our current favourites in three different price categories.
- 150DHS / €15 per person - Ocean Vagabond:
The last surf shack café on the beach. After a long period in the wilderness where the growing pains associated with the move to its current location seemed to overwhelm it, Ocean Vagabond is back better than ever. Painted in Caribbean colours and with the landscaping now matured it is the perfect place to sit in the sun (or shade), have lunch and chill out reading a book. Their food and the service are top notch. Their wood fired pizza oven produces pizzas an Italian would be proud of; their salads are huge and delicious; burger and chips a tasty treat. They also serve more sophisticated specials such as “carre d'agneau”, “pan –fried foie gras” & great sushi. Put simply don't bother with anywhere else on the beach!
* Licensed. Open until 18:00 only. Plenty of vegetarian options.
- 300DHS / €30 per person - La Cle de Voute:
Simpler, lower priced sister to “d'Orient et d'Ailleurs” it has the same understated but very well judged touch. Friendly, multi-lingual service, a short but good selection of excellent food – Moroccan with a lighter, more contemporary touch. What more could you want?
* Open for lunch & dinner.
* No wine list but appears wine is available. Some vegetarian dishes.
- over 300DHS / €30 per person - Elizir:
It's now official: Lonely Planet have printed what we have been saying since 2 days after it opened. Elizir is the best restaurant in Essaouira and just as in New York or London it is now packed out every night.
Latif owned a restaurant in Italy for nine years before returning home to Essaouira. His stated aim at Elizir is to offer something a bit different to the traditional tagines. And boy does he succeed. The décor is bang up to the moment, contemporary Moroccan with an enviable range of fifties and sixties design classics that will have aficionados salivating before they even see the menu. The food lives up to the décor – made from organic ingredients it fuses French, Moroccan and Italian flavours. Light and airy rooms plus a large, bright terrace. Latif and his wife Samira are great friends as well as wonderful hosts so please mention you are staying at Dar Leila. Wonderful artwork as well – most of it for sale.
* Open for dinner from 19:30
* Reservation essential - at least 24 hours in advance. Sometimes closed the first week of each month
Paintings: La Petite Galeríe
The “stick” paintings hanging by the library nook in the Grand Salon are by Drissi Slimane, who sells his work here. Almost all the friends we have taken here have ended up buying something! Although the prices are more or less fixed, it is still worth asking – you might get a bit off!
Carpets: Bazaar Mehdi
Mustapha has some of the most wonderful rugs around. His prices are not the cheapest so you may feel the need to bargain hard.
Top Traveller Review
About the Owner
About David, Emma & Tilly Cullen
We are David, Emma, 9-year old Tilly and a beautiful whippet, Zephyr. We're English, have run our own corporate events business specialising in the automotive sector since 2003 and live mainly in the UK.
After travelling the world on planes, boats, cars and trains, we bought our first overseas property in 2005 (Dar Leila in Essaouira, Morocco) and then spent 6 years restoring 2 stone village houses in Northern Italy, one of which is also available to rent (Casa Soprana, in Rezzo, Liguria).
We speak conversational French and Italian and aim to offer something more than your average holiday rental - we want our homes to be somewhere you enjoy spending time.
David, Emma & Tilly Cullen purchased this house in 2005
Why David, Emma & Tilly Cullen chose Essaouira
Emma had been to Essaouira before and loved it so when we decided to buy a holiday property it was our first destination. We bought Dar Leila when Tilly was just 8 weeks old and it has been a wonderful home-from-home ever since.
One big part has been the wonderful Abdaul and Aicha - our live out guardian and and housekeeper. Aicha was the first person we ever left Tilly with and Tilly loves her to bits.
We love Essaouira for its great Berber / European / Arabic mix. It's cosmopolitan, it's local; it's laid-back but with plenty to do; it's peaceful but happening. Wander the medina or walk the beach. Fly a kite or read a book. Be active or chill. And very importantly there are some seriously good places to eat with 10 minutes walk of the house!
(2 traveller reviews)
Dar Leila was a perfect place to stay in Essaouira. Right in the middle of the medina and just minutes away from interesting restaurants, cafes and shops. So lovely just to get lost the first few times walking around knowing that you come to the town walls eventually and can easily find your way back. The riad itself was gorgeous. Homely and filled with everything we needed, even spare travel plugs and a decent wireless speaker for the iPod. Abdaul made the loveliest breakfasts each day (brilliant pancakes) on the terrace and was really helpful in showing us how to get to Carrefour (brush up on your French to give directions to the taxi drivers back! ) where we brought food for one evening meal. Snacks, bread and pastries easily available from stalls right outside the riad. We had some amazing meals out and can recommend the freshly made pasta at Silvestros (event though admittedly it felt a bit odd to come to Morocco and eat Italian food, but the wood-fired pizzas were truly amazing) and the incredible tagines at La Licorne. Sat on the terrace outside 'Mega Loft' one night listening to the live music and wished we'd had time in the trip to eat there too. Definitely just wander round and see what takes your fancy. Loads of little places. Didn't really drink out (wine in restaurants reasonable) but did try the delicious carrot juice on the menu in many of the cafes. Can't fault this place at all. We also went (party of six) to Les Jardins de Villa Maroc. Walk to the Villa Maroc just by the SW corner of the city walls and book there. Price includes minibus out, towels, pool and lovely bbq and salad lunch for about £22. Overall, we really really loved Essouira. If you're looking for a city which has loads of interesting museums and churches etc then this might be quiet for you. However, if you're into people-watching, soaking up the atmosphere and eating some really amazing food then this is the place for you! We are certainly planning on coming back and will be coming back to Dar Leila for sure.
un très agréable riad pour des vacances en famille ou entre amis!
C'est un lieu chaleureux et très agréable pour passer un séjour entre amis, avec des enfants! Le caméléon de la maison a fait la joie des enfants! Le riad est très bien situé dans la médina et au calme!
From the Owner
“Emma had been to Essaouira before and loved it so when we decided to buy a holiday property it was our first destination. We bought Dar Leila when Tilly was just 8 weeks old and it has been a wonderful home-from-home ever since. One big part has been the wonderful Abdaul and Aicha - our live out guardian and and housekeeper. Aicha was the first person we ever left Tilly with and Tilly loves her to bits. We love Essaouira for its great Berber / European / Arabic mix. It's cosmopolitan, it's local; it's laid-back but with plenty to do; it's peaceful but happening. Wander the medina or walk the beach. Fly a kite or read a book. Be active or chill. And very importantly there are some seriously good places to eat with 10 minutes walk of the house!”
Activity and Interests
5 minutes walk to the most perfect long crescent of a beach.
15 minutes drive from Essaouira airport (currently flights in from London, Paris and Marseille)
2 1/2 hours drive from Marrakech airport which has daily flights from London, Bristol, Manchester and most European cities.
We can arrange transfers for which you pay the driver direct - we make no additional charge for this service.
|Rental Period||Minimum Price||Additional Nights||Weekend Night||Weekly||Monthly||Event Price|
Gnaoua Festival 2017
28 Jun 2017 - 3 Jul 2017
5 night minimum stay
for 5 nights
Christmas & New Year 2017
19 Dec 2017 - 2 Jan 2018
7 night minimum stay
for 7 nights
My Standard Rate
3 night minimum stay
for 3 nights
|Notes: Rates are based on 2 guests; add £15 per night, per additional guest|
Additional pricing information
|Fees||No additional mandatory fees|
25% deposit to secure the booking
Balance due 6 weeks prior to the holiday start date
Payment by bank transfer, paypal invoice or transferwise invoice (reduces charges if paying from abroad)
Monies paid are non-refundable in the case of cancellation unless the period can be resold when they will be refunded less an admin charge
Please ensure you have suitable cancellation insurance
Flexible start / finish dates and timings
Part weeks are charged pro-rata
Notes on prices:
Please note pricing is based on the number of people:
Up to 2 guests: £500 per week
3-6 guests: £900 per week
7-10 guests: £1,200 per week
Minimum booking is 3 days and charged pro-rata
At Christmas, New Year and the Gnaoua Festival we have a minimum spend of £1200.00 per week
All prices include breakfast 6 mornings per week served by Abdaul and Aicha. Aicha then makes the bed, cleans the house and does the washing up so you can relax and enjoy yourselves.
Owner's Cancellation Policy
- Living Room ...
- Kitchen ...
- children welcome
- suitable for elderly or infirm
- Bathroom 1 - Toilet, Bath (no shower), Shower Enclosure, Bidet
- Shower room 1 - Shower Enclosure
- Shower room 2 - Shower Enclosure
- -First floor: Bathroom with enormous tadlekt bathtab, basin and WC Shower room with tiled rainwater shower, basin and WC Ground floor: Shower room with tiled rainwater shower, basin and WC
- 5 Bedrooms, Sleeps 10
- Bedroom 1 - 1 Cot
- Bedroom 2
- Bedroom 3
- Bedroom 4
- Bedroom 5
- Description of sleeping capacity: Sleeps 10 (5 Bedrooms) Notes on bedrooms: -First floor: 3 bedrooms with king sized beds and built in wardrobes - two with open fireplaces; twin bedded room; - Ground floor: Study / bedroom 5 with double bed
- Golf ...
Learn more about this holiday rental at the owner's website
- Notes on accommodation: Arranged around a central courtyard with a bubbling fountain the ground floor comprises: Kitchen, Grand Salon with open fire; Dining Salon with open fire, Study / Bedroom 5 and shower room The balconied first floor has 4 bedrooms, a bathroom and a shower room Outside: The private roof terrace is the crowing glory of Dar Leila - large, shaded and shielded from the Essaouira wind - very important! It has a dining table to seat up to 10, loungers and plenty of shaded spots to read. Cleaning / Towels / Linen / Maid service: All linen, bath towels and dressing gowns are included. Aicha comes in daily (except Sundays) to make breakfast (served by Abdaul), clean the house, make the beds and wash-up. She will also do a normal sized load of laundry for a small extra charge. Other: Dining Salon: Moroccan seating for up to 10 Small table next to the o pen fire for dining "a deux" Study: If not in use as a 5th bedroom, the study has a desk in case you need to catch up with work and a large divan for lazing on if not!