On the whole a pretty good hotel (although they would describe it as a “club” – not sure what the difference is), but a few irritating niggles which I will describe later. I also provide a bit of advice about Marrakech itself later on in my review.
Starting with the positives, the hotel has only been open for 18 months or so and is very clean indeed. I’m not sure I would call it 5 star, but it’s on a par with other five star hotels abroad.
The rooms are very comfortable and well appointed, but by far the strong point of the hotel is its staff – they are excellent. Also, the gym is the best I have ever come across in a holiday hotel like this, as normally the gyms abroad consist of a load of broken machines and not a lot else.
There are two really nice pools, one of which is heated and the water slides are great fun for adults and kids alike. The “executive” sun loungers (like double four-poster beds with a canopy and cushions) are worth having but you’ll need to disobey the “sun loungers cannot be reserved” directive and get your towels down before the French! (btw, I have nothing against the French per se.)
There’s plenty to do without venturing out of the hotel (apart from eating and drinking) including tennis, table tennis, archery, keep fit, aqua aerobics, dancing lessons, football, volley ball and petanque.
On to the “niggles” then:
The food on the whole is excellent, particularly the traditional Moroccan cuisine (tagines, cous cous etc.) There is also a fantastic selection of salads and desserts as well as good old chips. However, we did find some fish and chicken that wasn’t cooked properly on one day but I think this was an isolated incident.
There is a proper Moroccan restaurant which you have to pay a small supplement for, but to be honest we couldn’t see the point in it given that the main restaurant’s selection of traditional cuisine was always good. I think for a change of scenery they could do with a second AI restaurant, and I’d hate to be in the main restaurant at the height of the holiday season!
The bar near the pool is an asset and the staff there are excellent, however it shuts at 6pm – personally I think it should stay open longer as the only other bar is inside.
The air conditioning across the hotel was near useless, apart from in the main reception (I have a feeling they disable it off-peak to save money). Not such an issue for us as the weather was rubbish (some of the staff mentioned that the weather around the end of March/beginning of April is pretty variable). In fact on one day we got a free exfoliation courtesy of the wind and the Sahara desert!
The gym, whilst excellent, doesn’t open until 9am which means that you can’t have a work out before breakfast.
The animation team, whilst talented and lovely people, were more passive than any hotel I’ve ever been too. In fairness I think they engaged more with the French (which is a natural second language for them) rather than the Brits. Most of the entertainment was in French although us Brits overtook the French in terms of numbers in the week we went, and they seemed to try harder with the English translation as a result.
If you are honest at checkout and say “yes” to the question “have you used the safety deposit box in your room?” you will be charged about £20 – something they omit to tell you on check-in. There are also local taxes to pay, which work out at £1.50 per person per day (no big deal).
In terms of Marrakech itself, you would be ill advised to take children or anyone with a nervous disposition to the Medina. The Medina is a real “eye opener” in terms of the crowds, noises, smells and some of the “unusual” things that you might see.
If you fancy the Medina and Souks then get your own guide (from your rep or hotel, not one of the sharks in the City) and go early one weekday morning. Our guide took us right into the depths of the markets, where you can see some of the goods being manufactured by hand.
This was very interesting and we were not hassled at all (because we had a guide and the markets were quiet). Watch out for the mopeds though, as they drive through the market no matter how narrow the paths are.
Don’t engage with or photograph any of the “sideshows” like snake charmers or monkey handlers, or you will be deemed to have signed a contract with them and they will insist that you pay.
Also (ladies) steer clear of the Henna tattooist women; they are really annoying albeit they will leave you with a (pretty) “rusty” mark on your hand that lasts about 4 days.
The hotel runs a great shuttle service that’s free but you need to book it through reception. Alternatively you can get a taxi but make sure you agree the fare upfront and don’t sit in the front (the seatbelts don’t work because they tend to put two Moroccan ladies on the front seat and four passengers on the back seat – in a 30 year old E class Mercedes!). Having said that, the taxi drivers are really good, despite the driving conditions being somewhat like playing an arcade game.
One day we wanted to go the Yves St Laurent gardens (recommended) and then into the Souks for half an hour to do some last minute shopping, so we negotiated a 200 dirham fare (approx. £20) for 4 of us and the guy was at our beckoned disposal for 2.5 hours.
The Medina is extremely unpleasant in the evenings and is best avoided.
My final advice is “barter like crazy” and be prepared to walk away. Start by offering at least a third of the price the guy quotes and don’t pay more than 50% - they see you coming and will rip you off. We found things in the fixed price shops at the airport that were cheaper than in the markets!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A pioneer in its category. This hotel-club provides a full range of activities together with the best contemporary design by architect Imaad Rahmouni. Modernism and discovery can be shared by families or friends, in one of the best leisure hotels in Morocco, located by the Atlas Mountains, in the middle of 10 hectares centenarian olive trees.Accommodation 9 riads 254 double or triple rooms (32 m²) and 60 suites (53 m²) – all with private balcony . ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Kenzi Club Agdal Medina Hotel Marrakech