Overall, we had a marvelous and unforgettable trip. The itinerary was exactly what I wanted and for the most part the trip was very enjoyable. You were really helpful and we had a great sense of being taken care during the entire trip.
There were many highlights — for me personally that was Sahara and the camp in the desert, but also Chefcouen and Soura. Some of the accommodations were also absolutely awesome, the best being the hotel in Skoura, where location, service and quality of room surpassed everything else. Truly amazing property with the nicest people. We were the only people there and despite that, they made us so welcome.
The rest of the accommodations were on a spectrum between the fabulous hotel above and the Chergui Hotel, which was the absolute worst. We wish we had skipped that hotel — we believe we could have left earlier that day — we could have made it on time for the trip to Sahara. The problem with Chergui was that the rooms were really cold — we had to sleep fully clothed. The food was the worst on the trip. The restaurant served only spaghetti bolognese and steak — no Moroccan food whatsoever, and no choice. I took a picture of the menu — I have it if you need it. I understand it they didn’t want to have a buffet or a larger menu — we were only 8 people in the hotel for dinner — but they could have offered something Moroccan at least. In the hotel above we also had no food choice, but the Moroccan food they served was delicious. In addition, three of us got extremely sick that night in Chergui — I don’t think it was the hotel food — we believe it was the harisa our guide bought us from a street stand the day before, which we ate in the car on the way to our hotel. At the hotel next the morning, the 3 of us had to skip breakfast because of the food poisoning. We wanted tea only and they charged us $1.5 for each bag a Lipton tea! (there was no other tea, no mint either, nor was there a welcome tea on arrival as advertised) despite not eating breakfast!
The other accommodations were all good. Our riads were truly nice and we really enjoyed them. The hotel in Fes was definitely not worth the upgrade. They were the second worst accommodation for us. While the property is really beautiful, we had 2 very different rooms. One was a good room, fairly big and with high ceiling, while me and my husband were put in something so tiny and with low ceiling, it was actually the smallest room we have stayed on the entire trip (much smaller than the tent in Sahara). Also the service was really bad. They mostly ignored anything that we asked for while trying to extract as much money as possible. For instance, they provide Moroccan slippers in the rooms because it is otherwise really cold on the tiles (we were also supposed to take them home). None of us could put them on — they were so small. Mine were baby size. My husband had 2 left slippers. We asked about 6 times to change the slippers or give us something to wear on the feet, but at no avail. They charged us excessively for water (while repeating we cannot drink the water in the hotel), plus a $4 service charge on each bottle of water in addition to the high price of the bottle itself. The worst was the charge for alcohol. The drinks were expensive, the most expensive being at 130 Dhm for a cocktail on the menu, but we were content to pay that. Three of us asked for a mix of gin and campari, which ended up being in volume less than 1/3 of a martini glass. The next morning we were charged 190Dhm for each of these drinks!!! (that price was not on the menu)! We don’t pay such prices in expensive bars in US!! It was really unpleasant to be taken for an idiot. Finally, the riad in Marrakesh was ok — it was quite noisy and we didn’t love its location, but people were really nice.
Our driver was really nice and helpful. We didn’t use him in Marrakesh, and we didn’t go to Essaouira. Our one-day guide in Marrakesh was very good and provided a lot of explanation. We didn’t love our guide for the first part of the trip. He asked us what we do right after he met us — none of us are used to brag about what we do, neither myself, nor Gloria (who is vice-prsident for IT in a large company), nor my husband (who is the Chief Economist at the FCC) — we just said we are IT or engineers, or economists. At that point the guide decided we were not really important, so for the duration of the trip he bragged what kind of people he had been a guide to (all luminaries, of course), showing us pictures. I think he might have talked more about that then about the sites we were seeing. Often at places you would see other guides with their small groups providing extensive explanations, while our guide would just say — “this is a gate” and that’s it. Another issue was the fact that he didn’t care to discuss with us what we are doing to do on a given day — he just went on without any discussion. We tried to explain we like to walk, but there was no dialogue. On the day before arriving in Fes, we spent 3 hours at a souq along the road (that wasn’t on any schedule, but the guide did his shopping there), but then spent only 30 min in Meknes (including the driving in town) and we just had only a bite in Moulay Idriss without seeing anything.
Overall, we felt that there wasn’t enough flexibility and discussion for a private trip. The departure times were fixed (9am), and we ended up stopping at places we didn’t want to. For instance, on the drive from Fes, we didn’t want to stop at a place for lunch, but we had to. The place was so filled with smoke, we did not want to eat there, and we ended up waiting for the driver for quite a while outside of the place while he ate and we didn't.
Food: We love Moroccan food, and in general, we are quite adventurous with food, as we have travelled all over the world. Our best meal was in Rabat, at a place where the guide ate with us at dinner, and also at the camp in Sahara. There were some other fairly good places, but overall, we felt that pretty much all places where the guide or driver left us alone and went away, we were given westernized menus, and the food was not great. In Chefchouen, the guide took us to a beautiful restaurant (and left), but the food was one of the worst on the trip (rubber chicken dishes and propane infused kebab). In Marrakesh we insisted the guide to not take us to a place where tourists go, so he took us to a restaurant in the new town for lunch, and that was really good (great tanjia). We also bought mechoui ourselves in Marrakesh for lunch, which was absolutely delicious. Overall, we wish we had more delicious authentic Moroccan food.
Again, this was overall a great and very memorable trip. We very much enjoyed it despite some downsides.
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