Just a couple of hours from Marrakesh, the Atlantic fishing port of Essaouira makes a perfect short break away from the big city. Its imposing sea ramparts contain a small medina of whitewashed houses with bright blue windows. The town is an artists' colony and noted for its carved wood and painted canvases. There’s a sweeping beach that’s ideal for long walks in the sea breeze (and water sports for the adrenaline-inclined) and plenty of good seafood on offer. Essaouira has taken the riad concept to heart, adding a seaside twist to its boutique guesthouses.