Destination Inspiration: Asilah, Morocco

An art-filled fortified town on northern Morocco’s Atlantic coast, Asilah bursts with creative flair. Spend days flitting between craft stores, art deco buildings and sun-dappled riads.


Asilah, Morocco.

Why now?

Located just 40km south of Tangier, this small fishing village feels worlds away from what you'd imagine a lesser-trodden Moroccan village to look like. You won't find donkey-drawn carts trundling down dusty streets. Instead, ocean blue-painted window ledges and turquoise door frames pop against whitewashed walls.

The reason? This fortified town was originally built as a base for pirates in the 19th-century - ramparts and gateways remain virtually untouched. But, Asilah was also Spanish territory from 1912-1956, which answers the question of its striking European flourishes. Today, you'll find many of its restaurants paying homage to its Spanish past, with menus featuring everything from tortillas to paella.

While it may prove difficult not to spend the entire day curled up on the beach with a good novel, cocktail to hand, design-lovers should peel themselves out of that hammock and get exploring the village boutiques. Start at Bazar Atlas, where you'll find vintage textiles, hand-crafted furniture and plenty of Tamegroute ceramics.

Don't miss

In 1978 two friends, Mohammed Melehi and Mohammed Benaïssa, called upon local artists and encouraged them to paint Asilah's village walls. Fast forward to 2022, and the International Cultural Moussem of Asilah has become one of the most anticipated arts and cultural festivals that Morocco has to offer. To watch the white houses slowly become repainted with colourful murals, or to add your own splash of colour, visit between July and August, when the festivities take place.

Where to stay?

A rooftop garden, ocean view, abstract interiors and an inviting pool await at Riad Oasis d'Asilah. Mornings are best spent sipping a glass of fresh orange juice on your own private terrace.

Where to go for dinner?

No one does it better than Port XIV. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the port, while interiors carry a coastal theme - think contemporary furnishings in pale blue and white. The seafood salad is exceptional, as is the calamari.

And for a drink…

Can't function without caffeine? Ditch the rise-and-grind mantra and swing by Café Daya - a firm local favourite.

Who to take with you

Bring that friend who's a regular at the local market. They'll appreciate the myriad craft stores on offer.

When to go

Sun-worshippers should look to visit between July and August, when the sky is cloudless and average temperatures are hotter than a sauna.

Essentials to pack

This Deiji Studios linen dress is perfect for battling the humidity while breezing through your itinerary.

How to get there

Fly into Tangier Ibn Battuta International Airport, from where Asilah is a 40-minute drive.

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