Cerulean sky, ultramarine sea, azure doors on white walls - from your first glimpse of the ancient coastal city of Essaouira, you'll never see blue the same way again. Another revelation awaits behind the imposing façade of Heure Bleue Palais. A traditional Moroccan riad, the hotel centers on an inner courtyard anchored by a magnificent fountain.
This former 19th-century palace opened to guests in 2004 after an ambitious renovation. It contains 33 rooms and suites, the latter celebrating Morocco's complex heritage with a choice of African, British colonial, Oriental or Portuguese décor. Some suites have fireplaces, and closets are lined with fine wood.
Heure Bleue Palais's four dining spots include a Moroccan restaurant - try the fresh fish - and a summer rooftop terrace with a panoramic view of the surrounding medina and port. No visit is complete without a massage at the hotel's hammam. And be sure to explore the bustling streets of Essaouira, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.