Dar 91 is a collection of 3 serviced apartments in the picturesque, walled old town of Essaouira with fantastic views across the rooftops to the sea.
How would you describe 5 Columns in a nutshell?
A beautifully restored 18th century home in the heart of Essaouira's ancient Medina, owned by an interior designer and her family. A magical, light filled, airy space full of quirky, vintage furniture and artwork.
What is your background and what was your inspiration to open 5 Columns?
I live and work in East London as an interior designer, I love to travel and I had always been fascinated by Morocco and its architecture. I went on holiday with a group of friends in 2004 and fell in love with the magic of Essaouira, the culture, its wonderful people and the beautiful architecture. We returned 6 months later to view houses and bought 5 Columns 2 months later!
How would you describe the atmosphere and the interior design?
The house is so full of light which is unusual for a traditional riad. All the original details like the sandstone columns, the Thuya wood ceilings and the tiled floor were restored and re-purposed back into the building. The space is very calm as it has been designed with lots of open plan spaces to make the most of the light. Our Moroccan friends have said that it is a magical special place full of happiness and sunshine!
To you personally, what is so special about 5 Columns?
From the moment I walked into 5 Columns I knew this would be our home. It's just magical, the columns in the main ground floor area, the beautiful old wooden ceilings and the carpet of black and white tiles. We love being part of the local community of wonderful friendly shopkeepers and we are just a short stroll from the main souks and just 5 minutes to the wonderful wide beach. I love that I can leave London and land in Morocco and live a totally different pace, life is much more chilled and simple and everything is just a short stroll away. I can spend hours chatting to my local Moroccan friends, drinking mint tea and watching the world go by.
Please tell us about the food in Essaouira.
Essaouira is fast becoming Morocco’s foodie destination. For a small seaside town, Essaouira has a thriving, diverse and high quality restaurant and cafe scene. Many restaurants serve the seafood just landed from the fishing port and are now adding locally produced organic fruit and vegetables as there is a growing trend in local organic farming.
The souks are filled with fresh produce every day and the busy working harbour has a daily fish market. Shopping is easy, produce is delivered daily into the souks from the countryside and the choice is huge. There is a great cookery school in the Medina and our good friend has a beautiful organic farm where you can spend the day and have lunch prepared. Our housekeeper can prepare home-cooked food and deliver to the house or you can cook yourself in the fully equipped kitchen.
Is 5 Columns suited for families with children?
The house is a great place for children as it has large open spaces and rooms for hanging out away from the adults when they want to chill. With its proximity to the beach and the souks there is always so much to do. Moroccan people love children and will often stop for a chat when you are walking through the souks. Young children would need to be careful on the stairs as in most houses.