What: Heure Bleue Palais Hotel
Where: Essaouira. Morocco
Why so special? It’s so unassuming from the outside — a giant 19th-century square building inside the walls of the medina was once the residence of Caid Mbark Saidi. It served as an orphanage until the 1960s and lay abandoned until being turned into the hotel it is today.
Inside: A traditional Moroccan riad style hotel, with colonial architecture and touches of Moorish, Portuguese and African décor. The 33 rooms are insanity. The senior suites have fireplaces, and each is one of a number of the aforementioned décor themes. Our favorite is the British Colonial, due to the copious amount of toile in the soft furnishings.
What else? At 5am you can hear the call to prayer in the distance. It’s haunting and beautiful.
Extras: The slippers are pointy. We will never forget those pointy slippers and tried to give a pair to a Moroccan cab driver when we got back to NYC.
Food: The breakfast buffet is so colonial and elegant. Silver Moroccan teapots of course, mini-French toasts and pastries as well as orange juice squeezed right there in front of you. Love that touch.
The city: Formerly known as Mogador, Essaouira is famous for all shades of blue, from the shutters to the sky to the sea and the boats that bob around on it.
2, rue Ibn Batouta – Bab Marrakech, 44 000 Essaouira tel +212-5-24-78-34-34 www.heure-bleue.com