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“Not a bad place past the front door, but...” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Riad Alwane

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Riad Alwane
39, Derb Chbouk Zaouia, Marrakech, Morocco   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #729 of 1,128 Marrakech B&B and Inns
Cardiff
Senior Contributor
36 reviews 36 reviews
26 hotel reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
“Not a bad place past the front door, but...”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 7, 2013

... think carefully before booking.

CONTEXT
My first visit to Morocco. A four-night stay to begin an introductory tour of Moroccan cities by train and bus. Total cost: 143 euros, breakfast included. This was in the Émeraude Double Room on the ground floor opening up onto the courtyard.

PROS
Located in the Medina or old quarter of Marrakech (see also CONS).

The owner and staff are extremely helpful and friendly. I had to leave early after checking out in order to catch a train to Fes, and the owner prepared some pancakes for me to take with me to breakfast on the train. The owner also accompanied me early on the day of my departure (6.15 am) to help me catch a taxi to the train station. This was a kind gesture.

A pot of mint tea and sweets were served upon arrival (see also CONS).

The breakfast is superb and served promptly in a delightful dining room. Breakfast consisted of bread, pastries and different kinds of pancakes, butter, jams, OJ and coffee. This makes for a great start to a day of exploring a wonderful city.

It has a small bathing pool in the patio which must prove extremely welcoming in the hotter months (see also CONS).

The room I stayed in was tastefully decorated, spacious and large – I was alone but it is ample room for two people. It had air conditioning. The bathroom is good with a large shower area and basic toiletries provided (plus hairdryer). No television in the room (which I didn’t mind), but there is one in the dining room.

Generally it was extremely peaceful. Guests can linger in the nearby dining room until about 10pm but this was not a problem during my stay.

Free WIFI throughout.

CONS
It claims to be situated in the ‘heart’ of the Medina – this is not strictly true. It is situated at the far north end of the Medina. Subsequently, travel on foot to and from the hotel can prove quite a challenge even to those with experience of North African cities and culture. It is a challenge for two reasons. One, navegating the small, winding, poorly-planned streets that make up the final ten minutes journey to and from it. This would not be such a problem were it not for (Two): beggars and hustlers. The outbound journey from Riad Alwane to Jemma El Fna is relatively straighforward, and the owner provides a map for this. The return journey proved consistently more difficult, and the final stages towards the hotel were like trying to navegate a maze. In spite of the beggar problem, enough of the locals are extremely kind and will point you in the direction, but you need to select them carefully when seeking help or directions. A word of thank you in Arabic and tapping your heart with your fingers will suffice as thanks. The simple solution to the problem of location and outbound journeys would be to arrange for a taxi every day to take you into the Jamma El Fna or location for tourism, or if not, definitely for the return journey: at 35 dirham or a couple of quid it’s quite cheap. The downside to this is extra cost incurred for those travelling on a budget and not seeing so much of the Medina (much of the pedestrian route into the centre covers ‘real’ old-town Marrakech which blends into the souks closer to Jemma El Fna Square). I urge anybody who lacks the self-confidence to navegate these hurdles, and particularly lone travellers and women (for obvious cultural reasons), to take a taxi. If this is not possible, then try other accommodation closer to the centre of the Medina or in the new part of town such as Gueliz. You can read the other posts here and the advice they give about tacking begging and hustling, and also find advice for this online. It is the worse I have encountered so far, and I've been to Cuba! The best thing to do is to pleasantly ignore anybody who tries to help you without your request or who tells you that a street is closed. Riad Alwane is situated in a very poor area of the Medina, which is in itself a poor area of the capital of a poor country. Some people will enjoy experiencing that, others will not. I found help and hindrance in equal measure as I tried to find my way back every night on foot...

It claims to have a ‘swimming’ pool. It is more like an extremely large bath or non-bubbling jacuzzi in which it is impossible to swim unless you are a small child.

It claims that tea will be offered each night between 5-7. On the two occasions when I returned back to the hotel at that time, this was not the case.

Upon booking, the owner emailed me to tell me that the airport transfer mentioned on the booking site would cost me 10 euros (without me requesting this). I replied saying that I would catch the bus. I received no reply. Upon emerging from customs a taxi driver was waiting with a sign bearing the name of the hotel. I approached him and said that I had cancelled the booking. He did not seem to understand. He then told me that the journey would cost 150 dirhams, although the Rough Guide tells you to pay no more than 100-120. I bartered him down but he did not seem happy with this (yes, it’s not a lot of money, but bearing in mind that I had cancelled the taxi and this had not been respected, I feel that I was correct to draw a line). The taxi driver was still complaining when we arrived at the hotel. I advise people considering this hotel to consult similar comments on here about this issue and to seek absolute clarification regarding transfer from the owner when booking.

Language - the owner speaks only French and Spanish, so if you go ahead and book here, then make sure you can get by in one of those languages.

CONCLUSIONS
The Riad Alwane is a lovely, small hotel with friendly staff and peaceful, tasteful décor and conditions - past its front door on the inside. Its lower price and remove from the noisier centre of the Medina are certainly in its favour and would work well for a family wanting to take it easy for its own sake or after a day’s tourism in and around the city and especially in warmer months when all of its facilities ("pool", roof garden) can be enjoyed. However, its location should be strongly taken into account when booking and thought given to travelling to and from it. If you prefer taxis, then there is no problem; if like me you prefer to travel locally by foot where possible in order to soak up the local environment and culture, then give it serious thought if you are new to North Africa and or the context of dealing with street beggars and unsolicited attention. I have listed above many fine reasons to stay here, but when I return to Marrakech I will not stay here again simply because of the location issue.

Room Tip: See my comments on the room I stayed in.
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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45 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    11
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    9
    1
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7
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    2.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room Tips
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 24, 2011

My girlfriend took me here as a surprise for my birthday. I'm not going to waffle so my summary:

1) the raid is impossible to get to by taxi due to the narrow streets in the area. You get dropped off about ten minutes away and have to get lost on your own and get the orchestrated taxi/local con team to escort you there. You WILL NOT find the place on your own on the first visit. We paid 50dh to some guy primarily due to lack of change and just wanting to offload your bags as soon as possible.

2) people at the hotel don't speak English but do speak fluent French and Spanish. Just something to note as you'll need to brush up on one of these languages before you arrive.

3) as it's off the beaten track the people in the area don't see many tourists. And unfortunately a minority of people in medina are intent on trying to tell you the place you're headed to is closed. I'm a seasoned travelor and have been to countless countries over six continents and thus is the first time that I've seen these actions from people who have no other motive other than to confuse and to get people lost. Dont believe anyone who tells you it's closed or the "square" is this way. It's just lies from people who don't even want your money - they just want to get tourists lost. An iPhone with gps is a must for thus area.

3) generally the raid is nice. It's clean and it's friendly. If it was in the middle of town you'd pay £100 per night for it!

4)

  • Stayed May 2011
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
1 review
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 30, 2010

After reading several reviews we didn't know what to expect of the hotel and after paying a man from Jemaa El Fna to walk us through the never ending maze of the medina we started to worry. We entered an area that can only be described as a slum, it was quite intimidating at first as the areas very dirty and poor. But when you get into the Riad it's quickly forgotten, its so clean and quiet. The breakfast is pretty good, the staff are very friendly and pretty keen to help. The swimming pool is more of a garden water feature but if you need to relax the roof terrace is an excellent sun trap. A couple of bad points there are no restaurants in the surrounding area and the Riad doesn't serve lunch or dinner and for some unknown reason the owner very passionately doesn't allow food or drink from the outside brought in??? This includes small bags of crisps.
For those that need a cheap place to stay and are a little worried about the area don't be put off as the initial wariness is gone almost instantly and a gate (Bab Khemis) to exit the medina is very close (this is a really handy bit of info when you need to get around as instead of walking back through the medina at night you can simply jump into a cab for 20D=£1.57 from anywhere in Marrakesh and be dropped 5 mins from the Riad).
Altogether I liked this Riad for the price it was reasonable and its definitely an experience.

  • Stayed December 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Preston, United Kingdom
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 22, 2010

By using the owners map and making our own notes, we eventually found our way to the arch from where you can get a taxi. As long as you keep to the same road the cars and mopeds use, you'll find your way to the main square after about 30 mins walk. The riad is kept clean and the owner is very friendly but it helps if you speak French. They serve breakfast only, no evening meals. We stayed 3 nights, had a lovely time but took a good day or so to get our bearings. Taxis can get you back as far as the pharmacie and from there you can find your way back, using the owners hand drawn map.

  • Stayed December 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nottingham
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 3, 2010

The riad is situated in the oldest and poorest part of the medina.An eye opener certainly for anyone who has not travelled outside Europe before! To find it initially is a nightmare and then to trek backwards and forwards requires expert navigational skills. We were there for one night only and found it to be too far from anywhere! Walking back late at night through the unsolubrious alleyways does require some courage!
The riad itself is decorated in traditional style and is well appointed and clean.We were disappointed that the rooms were so dark .Our room was on theground floor and looked out onto the courtyard. Once people started moving around in the morning we were woken instantly as the noise reverberated on the stone floors and tiles. The small central courtyard was covered with a polythene roof so you could not sit out in fresh air.If you stayed for a week this would,I am sure, be a major drawback ! The swimming pool is more the size of a plunge pool and did not look at all inviting. Compared to breakfasts provided in all the other hotels we stayed in on our trip, Riad Alwane's was rather meagre.
You can do better elsewhere for the money! Somewhere to sit outside in the sunshine in private is a must for any stay in hot, dusty Marrakech! Somewhere more centrally located!!

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
1 of 5 stars Reviewed February 28, 2010

The first thing I did when arriving to the Riad was burst into tears. I felt angry and deceived. I booked the Riad based on the location description 'Riad is located in the heart of the Medina'. It's blatantly a lie! It is in fact located on the edge of what appears to be the dodgiest and dirtiest part of Medina. It was a truly frightening experience to get back to the Riad in the evening. The Riad is located in the dark, desolate alleyway. Forget walking there; you need a taxis to get back there and even those won't drop you off close enough. Someone on this website described it as a 'slam' and I agree with that view.
Before I arrived to that place I tried to find it on the map, but with no success. No wonder, as when we arrived, led by a group of teenage boys who demanded six Euros for the privilege, we realised that the address we have on the booking form is different to the one that the owner gave us. I tried to cancel but the owner wasn't sympathetic and said he'll charge us the full amount from my card if I cancelled (I pre-booked on line).
I am not a fussy traveller and in the past I've stayed at some poor hotels, however it was my choice and I knew what to expect. This time I was blatantly lied to, tricked and deceived – not a pleasant feeling to have on holiday.
I hope my experience will warn others.
Seriously, for the price of the taxi you'll need to pay each time you want to get back to the hotel, you can book a much better located Riad close to the centre.

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Madrid
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed February 6, 2010

Riad Alwane is far from any interesting point u wanna go, see or take a picture.
REally hard to find even at daytime. And the most important thing is that I left my cell phone on my room cause I was going to the atlas to spend the they, and when I went back it wasn't where I left it. Also they know when to steal cause I'm leaving tomorrow at 6:30am so I have no chance to have it back. So in my opinion, pick another one for your trip for not getting this kind of experiences.

Stayed February 2010, traveled with family
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Riad Alwane

Address: 39, Derb Chbouk Zaouia, Marrakech, Morocco
Location: Morocco > Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz Region > Marrakech
Hotel Style:
Ranked #729 of 1,128 B&Bs / Inns in Marrakech
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 8
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