It's only a two-hour drive from Marrakech, but the beautiful coastal town of Essaouira remains relatively hush-hush.

Little has changed since its hippy heyday, when Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley were regulars.


Hidden behind the wall of the medina lies one of its most beautiful riads: Heure Bleu Palais, an oasis of colonial elegance.

Life slows down as soon as you set foot into the courtyard - a palm-filled menagerie where you can sip tea and smoke shisha. Days disappear by the rooftop pool, or while you are exploring the port and visiting the hammam.


The cool nights are also the perfect excuse to stay in to sample the hotel's restaurant with its sublime seafood (try the lobster if it's in season).

WOW FACTOR: It has to be the hammam ritual using black soap and eucalyptus to exfoliate, a purifying wrap with rhassoul (ancient Moroccan clay), followed by a massage with argan oil.

FLIGHT TIME: 4 hours.

GO: Mr & Mrs Smith offers double rooms from £171, B&B, while British Airways flights start at £167.