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“"Nice as pie"”
Review of Riad 'Chez Dar Ma'

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Riad 'Chez Dar Ma'
Ranked #71 of 180 Essaouira B&B and Inns
Reviewed 12 May 2014

My wife and I stayed 3 nights with Allison in her Riad and it sure was a "home away from home".
We enjoyed the room, the roof terrace, the breakfast, the atmosphere and most of all Allison and her visiting mom.
The small medina of Essaouira is very nice, easy to navigate, less touristic than Marrakech and with some very nice, at times crazy small and/or decorated, restaurants.
However, be aware of the constant, at times strong, wind from the north, so bring something warm.
And if cats are not for you, don't go to Morocco.

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank JessieNorway
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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13 - 19 of 109 reviews

Reviewed 11 May 2014

First of all Essaouira is a fantastic place to take a break - we stayed for a week in April. We had beautiful sunny weather every day and walked around in shorts and t-shirts. Yes Morrocco is a muslim country and you have to be aware of traditions and dress appropriately, but as you can see from the previous sentence it seemed perfectly acceptable to walk around the souk and beaches in western dress. The beaches are rather miraculous, very big, windswept with beautiful dunes - it is easy to think you are in the sahara, especially if you take a ride on a camel - sounds naff, but is rather wonderful. Evidently the beaches go on for 250 miles right across the top of North Africa, through Mauretania and beyond.
The medina and port are very authentic. Yes tourism is important but there is no attempt to shield you from every day Morrocan life which is fascinating to observe. The souk has great restaurants and cafes, brilliant to just sit and people watch whilst sipping mint tea or a coffee.
On the edge (5 minutes from one of the main gates of the medina and within the town walls) of all of this is the Riad Chez Dar Ma. What a find! Alison and Hassan are wonderful hosts combining encyclopaedic knowledge of the area with a desire to really help you have a unique experience that satisfies your interests. Whether that be great food, history, massage, cycling - finding out where the beaches are that nobody goes to.
The riad is quite beautiful. Our room on the 2nd floor was spacious with a lounge area and bathroom. All designed with real taste using local materials. The terrace has views over the medina with a covered area and areas open for sunbathing. I have great memories of long, long breakfasts and reading in the shade after an afternoon of exploring local workshops (which are really good). Just before we left we went to a beach just down the coast. There we had a lunch, that seemed to last all afternoon, where we ate the most delicious dover sole I have ever eaten - straight out of the sea - accompanied by salad and chips - overlooking the African Atlantic - what could be better!

Room Tip: Rooms on the second floor are excellent.
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  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank Ann E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 May 2014

This is a beautifully appointed Riad. I love craftsmanship and this riad is overflowing with examples of great skill, I was just blown away looking at the doors and furniture and thinking about the amount of time taken to make them.

My bedroom on the third floor was very comfortable and I loved the individual artwork. Breakfast (after my run along the long sandy beach) on the terrace is a delight, especially Halima’s wonderful fruit salad.

Once I was dragged away from the terrace, exploring Essaouira is something else. I was very lucky to be taken to see many of the local craftsmen by Hassan. What a beehive of work and skill, something we have lost in Europe. Spending time and slowing down to get under the skin of the wonderful place and its people has been a privilege. Talk to Alli and Hussan about restaurants and places to visit, they know all the in places. I will definitely be back.

Stayed: April 2014, travelled with friends
Thank Eric J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 May 2014

We had a wonderful relaxing stay at Chez Dar Mar. The beds were so comfortable, I found it hard to wake up in time for the delicious breakfasts. Freshly baked croissants and Moroccan pancakes with wildflower honey, fresh fruit salad and yogurt. Squeezed orange juice and tea/coffee or mint tea. We spent hours talking over breakfast, then wandered the exciting alleyways of the Medina. The tadlac on the beautiful bathroom walls in pearly muted colours were so unusual, I've since been studying how to do it. Alison ans Hassan were so helpful and welcoming, showing us the real Essaouira, with its tiny workshops and herbalists.
We will go again!!

Room Tip: All the rooms are individual and great in their own way.
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  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with friends
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Thank cluckymum
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 April 2014

I would like this lovely Riad to remain a secret, My husband and I organize group tours to Morocco and will continue to stay in this beautiful home. Every person was taken by Allison's artistic eye and attention to detail. Everything about our stay was perfect. Halima and Hassan were incredible and when we left we felt we were leaving behind life long friends. MyMorocco tours loves you and is excited to return!

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled with friends
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Thank Misty E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 February 2014

I can only agree with everybody else's praise. It is hard to fault Riad Chez Dar Ma in Essaouira.

It was late October and all I wanted was to soak up some sun and recharge the batteries. I was going to travel on my own, fly to Agadir and had my mind set on Essaouira. Trip Advisor led me to Chez Dar Ma, and I liked what I saw: in the medina, close to the harbour, close to the medina wall, access to the kitchen, sun trap roof terrace, pleasant, helpful owner and staff. And very high ratings from other guests. Allison told me they would be away in November, but if I didn't mind having the riad to myself some of the time, I was welcome to stay.
I arrived quite late in the evening, which wasn't a problem. Allison organised a car to meet me at the airport in Agadir, a sturdy 4x4 with an excellent driver, smooth driving and totally unprovokable by other drivers. Thanks Assis, it was just what I needed for that long drive after my flight! A friend of Allison's met me at the taxi stop by the medina wall and walked with me to the riad, just a couple of minutes.
The riad was even nicer than I expected. Nicely decorated, very practical but still keeping its original character, spotlessly clean, lots of plants, generous space and a very comfy bed. Kitchen, dining area and a cosy den/TV/fireplace space on entrance level. Bedrooms on two floors, and a generous roof terrace with a kitchenette for easy access to coffee and tea making. Free wi-fi, although it took a while to figure out where among all stone walls there was a decent signal. I had a choice of bedrooms but they are all equally nice so after a look around I simply stayed in the suggested room! There was hot water at any time, which isn't always the case in a Moroccan riad. I think each bathroom might have their own hot water supply, British style. Plenty of interesting books throughout the house and I also saw some DVDs; some seemed very child friendly.
I got exactly what I came to Essaouira for: Lazy hours on the roof terrace with a book and sometimes a cat. (Don't worry if you don't like cats. They were very polite and kept their distance until invited – even at meal time, which is impressive.) Delicious breakfasts served on the roof terrace by Halima. Shopping in the souk, eternal coffees at various cafes, grilled fresh fish by the harbour. Pleasant occasional chats at lunch and coffee tables, friendly banter with people all over town, lovely walks along the beach promenade, the medina wall and in the fishing harbour.
For some of my stay, I shared the riad with a couple of other guests who were great company; we compared notes each day and went for a meal one night. Allison and her staff and friends couldn't have been more helpful: Halima minded the house, made breakfast, cooked dinner for me one night and helped me wash some clothes. She also kindly agreed to give me a tagine lesson. There are Moroccan cookery classes for tourists in the medina, but after I checked them out I thought it would be more fun to cook at home. Halima also helped me buy a rustic, every-day tagine dish, exactly like the ones in the riad, made to be used and to last. Although she was on holidays, Allison pulled strings and kept in touch through phone and emails throughout my stay. At home, Halima and a friend of Allison's, Souad, would have organized absolutely anything for me, I am sure. I got great advise on where to shop, where to go for a massage or hamam, and a pointer to a lovely small restaurant on the corner which I wouldn't have found on my own. And at all times they offered to accompany me to where I was heading, which I declined as the medina is really easy to navigate. I am 100% happy and am looking forward to returning one day. Any negatives? The only thing I missed during my stay was a reading light. There are lots of really interesting books in the house, but the only suitable light I found was at Allison's desk. I never remembered to ask Halima in the mornings, though, so there might be one in a different room. Like other riads the building has a lot of stairs which could be a problem for some people. And like all medinas, the street sounds echo among the stone walls at night. I arrived just in time for the new year's celebrations, so I believe there was a bit of extra partying going on. I didn't mind, but it could be a problem for some people. It is no worse than in any other medina riad I have stayed in, though. The echoing can't be avoided with narrow streets and stone buildings. Thanks so much Allison, Halima, Souad, Britta and cats for a great stay. Next time I will explore a bit more and I look forward to your advise on what to do.

Room Tip: All rooms seemed really nice. The rooms higher up are closer to the roof terrace and the breakfast...
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  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled solo
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1  Thank RelaxFood
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 December 2013

This is the best place you could ask for: beautifully decorated, right in the medina, wonderful hosts, who can also give you good advice for what to see and do and off course the legendary breakfasts at the roof top terrace.

Highly recommended!

  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled with friends
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2  Thank barbara d
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Riad 'Chez Dar Ma'

Address: 234 Rue Chbanate | Medina, Essaouira 44000, Morocco
Region: Morocco > Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz Region > Essaouira
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Kitchenette
Hotel Style:
Ranked #71 of 180 B&Bs / Inns in Essaouira
Price Range: £40 - £63 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Chez DarMa is beautiful, comfortable peaceful riad that feels like home. As in the original meaning of "Bed and Breakfast" we invite guests to come share our wonderful home with us. Completely renovated in 2008, the riad is layed out on 4 floors with 5 spacious double en-suite bedrooms (although we normally don´t have more than 3 rooms rented at a time). We have 2 kitchens, a spacious central courtyard and 3 wonderful terraces with views over the medina and free WiFi. Located in one of the more traditional districts of the medina the riad is short stroll from many restaurants, shops and of course the beautiful sandy beach. ... more   less 

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