My friend and I travelled by car from Marrakech to Essaouira for a day trip and ended up staying 2 nights we fell so much in love with the place. We had to rush out to buy toothbrush, clothes etc as we had taken nothing with us! We looked for a small hotel or Riad and the first place we tried was the Al Fath Hotel which we knew was just right for us. Do not expect luxury - this is a place for travellers who enjoy an ethnic experience and is more like a Pension actually as the rooms are quite basic. The showers work and the water is hot. - but the place has a lovely atmosphere, has Moroccan decor and the staff are friendly and very helpful. We felt at home right away. The room was small but the beds were comfortable and the view from our bedroom was magnificent. We fell asleep to the sound of the waves - I am still dreaming about returning very soon!
We had breakfast on the terrace which was absolutely wonderful. Very simple - lovely crispy french bread, fresh orange juice and lovely coffee - what more could you ask for? If you wish eggs or something extra - you order and pay for that. Views of the fishing port, the little restaurant, the beach and on the other side the main square. Seagulls and sparrows wait to be fed! This is at the beginning of the Medina and has a very special atmosphere with little shops, carpet shops, workshops, cafes and restaurants round about.
We had dinner in the restaurant at night which was amazing - the food was SO good and very cheap - excellent value for money. We were going to order 2 plates of mixed fish but the waiter told us one would be enough - and it certainly was - a crisp, fresh interesting salad to start and a wonderful selection of fresh fish and prawns - so delicious and well cooked - probably the best meal of our holiday and in Marrakech we had eaten in some high class restaurants. It is not licensed but you can buy wine outside and take it in and they will give you glasses.
The receptionist was very helpful and kind. We met two ladies who ran a shop where we bought some clothes and one of them took us to the local Hammam (not the tourist one) - which we would never have found on our own. It was hundreds of years old and the ladies there were so kind. We had a great scrub down and massage - far better than the so-called spas you find in some hotels. It was so nice to have a genuine Moroccan experience and atmosphere. There is a good small cafe restaurant in the town where you can hear live music - it is nearby on the main street on the right - Cafe des Arts - well worth a visit - they also serve good food and great music by local people. We found Essaouira friendly and easy to get around compared with Marrakech. There is a car park near the harbour which is quite near to the hotel. Don't forget to visit one of the women's co-operatives nearby to buy your Argan oil or cream and other products - it will help the women who work there. There is one on the road to Agadir - about 10 mins from Essaouira and a little farther on there is a road leading down to the coast (where the wind turbines are) - which has a beautiful big beach, camel rides and a hotspot for windsurfers.