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Discovering Essaouira's Pop Art Retreat

First Person
Written by
Xavier Burt
August 19, 2016

A little over two hours west of Marrakesh lies the coastal city of Essaouira, the perfect place to escape the red clay hustle and bustle of Marrakesh for a few days. An ancient city with a deep history as a coastal trading post, Essaouira feels very different than its inland neighbors, a bit more laid-back, still very Moroccan, but with an overall relaxing vibe as a beach town should.


We arrived in Essaouira with the directions to meet Emma, the owner of the Nomad House and expert on all things Essaouira, on the outskirts of the medina walls. We were quickly spotted and whisked off on an incredible tour of the city like only this amazing host could provide. She told us every guest gets the same star-studded introduction, so if you stay at the Nomad House, you’re in luck!

A 200-year-old, fully restored and updated Jewish home, almost secretly tucked in an unassuming corridor, the Nomad House is one of the most amazing places we’ve ever stayed, and we travel a lot. It’s like a prehistoric pop art cave – part Barbarella, Sixties love pad meets the Flintstones.


The home climbs three floors to the rooftop terrace, all thoughtfully set with vintage and modern furnishing from around the world paired with wonderful art and objects. Adding to the comfort, the home boasts three, maybe more, fireplaces, magical lighting throughout, an amazing design aesthetic and old presence that you can really feel in every corner of the property. We set down our bags and were given a nice introduction to the house. Just as fast as we could type in the wifi password, we were off again with Emma on a shopping tour of the medina.


Having lived in Essaouira for over 15 years, she knows all the best spots, all the best dealers, and all the little secrets. A real perk of traveling with BoutiqueHomes, we felt we had met one of our own. First rugs, then leather goods, then blankets, and shoes. Don’t forget the best food spots, street side stands, and hummums to come back to. No secrets were left untold, or so we felt. We moved fast taking notes as we moved, picking up all she had to bestow upon us. It was a wonderful experience with this true chic nomad.


As we arrived back at the house and were given the keys to our castle, it was time to relax. And that’s exactly what we did for the next two days. Settling in, we lit a fire, maybe three! We put on some African music from the amazing CD collection, made some tea and got lost exploring all the different areas of the property.

We read books, snapped photos, discussed the space over and over again, so long that we almost forgot to eat. We were in heaven. Waking up on our final morning, we moved slow. Our sleep and stay in the house had been amazing and our hearts were heavy with the thought of leaving. As the door rang for our pickup back to Marrakech, the only thing we could think was we should have stayed longer!

Book a stay at the Nomad House here and discover Essaouira for yourself.

Photographs by Lauren Burt and Nomad House