North Africa's Arabian Arcadia
Hotels in Morocco
Morocco offers the traveller an extremely wide range of accommodation throughout the year. This includes trendy Medina houses, world-class luxury hotels, beach resorts, desert and mountain kasbahs and grand sultan palaces. Options for the luxury traveller have increased considerably over recent years, but there is still plenty of budget accommodation as well. Advance bookings are recommended during the holiday season from June to September, as well as over the Easter and Christmas/New Year periods. If you are thinking of visiting Marrakesh, then you need to book in advance whenever you decide to go. You'll also need to book in advance if you want to stay in a Medina maison d'hôte, where it's almost impossible simply to arrive and ask for a room.
Hotels in Morocco
Broadly speaking, there are two types of hotel in Morocco: those that are unclassified and those that are classified by the Moroccan tourist board. Classified hotels are awarded from 1 to 5 stars for having certain facilities, which include a pool, a restaurant, a lift, etc. It is important to remember that the Moroccan rating system applies to the facilities that a hotel has, rather than its standard of service, or to how luxurious it may or may not be. Thus, it is not always the case that the accommodation with the most stars is necessarily the most comfortable or atmospheric. Hence, it is not a good idea to rely too much on the star classification system, as inspections of classified hotels can be erratic, and regardless of their star rating, hotels can charge whatever they wish. Classified hotels in the cities are usually found in the ville nouvelle (new town), rather than in the Medina. If you are looking for accommodation that is characteristically Moroccan, or exotic, then you should look at other types of accommodation, such as riads. Most classified hotels in Morocco will have Western-style rooms and usually provide reverse-cycle air-conditioning and showers with a good supply of hot and cold water, during both the cold winter and hot summer. Some classified hotels also offer demi-pension (half board), which can be a good deal, especially in the more isolated areas where there aren't too many other dining options. A typical 5 star hotel in Marrakesh in May will cost about £109 a night for a room that sleeps 2 adults and 1 child including breakfast, whereas a twin room (2 adults) in a 3 star hotel in the same city at the same time of year, will cost about £35.
Apartments in Morocco
The closest equivalent to apartment-style accommodation in Morocco is the maison d'hôte, or riad. These are generally in the upper price range for holiday accommodation and they provide a standard of service equivalent to a four-star hotel. Riads originated in Marrakesh, but they are now found throughout towns and cities in Morocco. They are usually independent businesses and you will find that each has individual characteristics that is often a reflection the owners themselves. As you might expect, riads can offer luxurious accommodation, including romantic bedrooms, personal service, wonderful views from their rooftop terraces and delicious breakfasts. (Often they will include an evening meal as well). As with budget accommodation, it is always best to make sure that the accommodation matches the description on the website, or advertisement. Maisons d'hôte can also offer you a relaxed, intimate setting for your holiday. This is perhaps surprising, because most of them are located amidst the hustle and bustle of Medinas. The downside of all of this is that you can find some riads that lack air-conditioning or heating, or which offer little privacy because of their thin walls. Some suites in riads may only have curtained entrances, with no locks, or they may be accessible by climbing numerous flights of steep, narrow stairs. As they tend to be located in Medinas, most riads or maisons d'hôte, will be accessible only by foot. However, staying within the Medina does mean that you will be within walking distance of most sights and attractions, and you will gain an experience of life in the Medina as it really is. Riads are probably not the best type of accommodation, if you are travelling with children, given their staircases and the fact that many have swimming pools that are not cordoned off. In fact, some maisons d'hôte simply refuse to accept them. Typical prices for a riad/maison d'hôte in Marrakesh can range from £80 per night to £350 per night, depending upon season and the level of luxury.
Bed and Breakfast in Morocco
In Morocco, there are no bed and breakfasts similar to what you might find in the UK. There are however, many unclassified hotels, which are found in the Medinas, or Arabic quarters of towns and cities. Other unclassified hotels, such as those in central and southern Morocco, often offer mattresses on their roof terraces or under large Berber tents, and can be a bargain for budget travellers. You can expect to pay around £3 to £5 for a single room. Facilities in unclassified hotels can vary, so it is wise to look at a room before you take it. You may find that most accommodation in unclassified hotels may not include breakfast. You probably will not have the luxury of a hot shower, and such showers that there are will normally be communal showers, as will be the toilets. It's usually wise take your a towel and soap with you if you are thinking of this sort of accommodation. Some unclassified hotels do serve breakfast however, and you will wake up to the first culinary delight that Morocco has to offer. Also, even the most basic of cafes will usually serve fresh pastries or breads to accompany your coffee, tea, or a freshly squeezed orange juice. Baguettes, croissants and pain au chocolat are the mainstays of breakfast in Morocco. You will also encounter Moroccan breads, which are best eaten fresh, such as khubz, msemmen, and baghrir.
Hostels in Morocco
There is no shortage of youth hostel accommodation win Morocco, with hostels located in about a dozen towns and cities. You will also find that most of them are comparable with what you would expect from a European youth hostel, with modern facilities and services. The Royal Federation of Moroccan Youth Hostels is an affiliate of the International Federation of Youth Hostels, so any Federation Youth Hostels will comply with those standards. Also, all of the international hostelling terms, rules and discounts apply. Youth hostels are located in the following towns: Asni, Azrou, Casablanca, Laâyoune, Chefchaouen, Fez, Marrakesh, Oujda, Meknes, Tangiers and Rabat. In most places, you can expect to pay between £26 and £35 per person per night at a Federation Youth Hostel. For the budget traveller, HI-affiliated youth hostels can also be found in the major cities. In these hostels, you can expect to pay about £4 per night for a dormitory bed.