La Diouana is a chilled-out cliffside retreat sleeping up to 10 with gorgeous views across the Oualidia lagoon — home to Morocco’s finest oyster beds and some of its best birdlife. It’s not far from the small fishing village of Oualidia and is near a kasbah built in 1634 by Sultan El Oualid. There’s a patio and a roof terrace and a huge garden of palm trees, pine, mimosa, oleander and
James von Leyden first came to Oualidia, on the coast of Morocco, for the excellent birding along the picturesque village’s five-mile-long lagoon. Fifteen years later, he and his partner Czarina now let their cliff’s-edge estate, Villa la Diouana (; from £2,600 a week for up to 10 people in the villa, cottage and apartment; each can be rented separately), throughout the year.
There is something magical about passing through the high wooden gate and into the von Leydens’ gardens, where eucalyptus and palm trees dip and dance all day in Atlantic breezes. Their three-bedroom house opens on both sides to let in sun and the sigh and hiss of the ocean below; the sitting room is crammed with books and films and the gorgeous kitchen stuffed with multicoloured ceramic bowls and tagines (and furnished with a restaurant-quality gas range). Abdlah gardens and checks the infinity pool every so often; his sister-in-law Fatima shops and, if you wish, cooks (deliciously) for you.
How to Spend It
A magical staffed property with lush gardens
A slice of pastoral idyll carved into the dusty landscape: the spacious house is surrounded by gardens with swings, a summer hut and even a vegetable patch.
This luxurious 1930s villa is set near a 17th century kasbah and ruined royal summer palace – as well as a beach.
Its three en suite double bedrooms (two in an adjoining cottage) mix traditional plastering and intricate woodwork with panoramic windows and contemporary styling. There is also a roof terrace and a large walled garden. The neighbouring lagoon is a good spot for sheltered swimming and the local village has a good reputation for its oysters.
Cette superbe propriété, lovée au fond d’un vaste jardin planté de palmiers centenaires, a été rénovée par James von Leyden, un Anglais amoureux du Maroc. Jolis tapis et mobilier marocains, drapés bleus, tadelakt. La villa La Diouana est décorée comme une maison de vacances habitée, avec livres, objets personnels, films en DVD. Au même titre que son service impeccable signé Abdillah et sa femme, lesquels préparent des petits déjeuners et des repas sur demande. Haut perchée, La Diouana offre une vue exceptionnelle sur la lagune et l’océan. Elle dispose d’une piscine côté lagune et d’un charmant poêle à bois pour les soirées d’hiver. Trois chambres dans la villa face à la mer, et deux chambres au cœur du jardin.
What our visitors say
Since having children I have not had a holiday that was nearly as relaxing, spoiling, fun and adventurous. We had a varied team of children between us and they couldn't have enjoyed themselves more.
Annabel & family, Yorkshire
We've travelled extensively but all agree – this place is one of the best.
10 out of 10.
Julian & family, London & USA
Incredibly beautiful... quite the most amazing view over the wild Atlantic. The beaches, wild and wide, have provided adventures for all of us.
Alice & family, London
Our return to La Diouana was the first time that I have ever stayed in any holiday home more than once, and it turned out to be a very good decision – the house was every bit as beautiful as we remembered, and the atmosphere just as conducive to a really relaxing holiday.
Joanna & family, London
We had a fantastic family reunion in this exotic, comfortable and beautiful place.
Sharifi family, USA, Canada & Iran
We wanted to find a sanctuary. Somewhere we could feel and be totally present and to feel connected to nature. All our wishes came true.
Shereen and Stewart, Manchester
An absolutely magic 7 days spent relaxing and being completely spoiled. Every night a different and amazing meal would arrive.
George & family, Los Angeles
We have had the most beautiful week here – magical – mystical – perfect! We return to the UK replenished and fulfilled.
Sally & family, Brighton
Rarely has a place so exceeded expectations – and ours were high! Surfing, the food, the kayaks, the pool and above all the kind people who looked after us made this an unforgettable week.
Andrew, Ginny and family, London
A fantastic 10 days in an amazing house, The children loved the garden and getting to the beach. Rosy, aged 18 months, especially enjoyed the pancakes!
Conely family, London
A beautifully restored home that we felt instantly at ease in. The view is to die for and gazing at the ever changing panorama was a favourite activity. Breakfasts, clothes washing, food shopping, sorting out surf lessons and boat trips were only a few of the endless kindnesses of the staff.
Penny & Nick, Oxfordshire
I believe this is the most beautiful place I have ever been in the world. Mystical, restful, peaceful, quiet, with stunning and ever changing vistas, breezes and temperatures. I am enjoying reading and writing and watching the birds and doing nothing but staring and breathing it all in.
Gloria & Wayne, USA