The Diwane hotel offers a good base to explore Marrakech.
Arrival - Marrakech airport is relatively small and if you are arriving at the same time as other flights, it is likely you will be backed up at security. Took us 40 mins to get through, which was a touch long for my liking, but by no means excessive in relative terms. As you cannot get the Moroccan Dirham outside of Morocco, we exchanged some of our pounds at the airport, which offered a reasonable, commission free rate - you can get better rates at the hotel or in the centre of Marrakech, but not significantly different. We decided to take bus number 19 to the hotel. If you go out of terminal 1 and turn left, the bus is a short 50 metres walk and is signposted. Return costs 50 MAD (£3.80) per person, takes about 35 mins (could vary depending on number of drop offs), and stops outside the Diwane. Taxis are also available, but we didn't price them (very cheap to get around the centre of Marrakech in a petit taxi, but I believe they are tariffed at the airport and a bit more expensive).
Food - Overall, I was a touch disappointed with the food provided by the hotel. We went on a HB basis, which did allow you to take the breakfast and then choose between either lunch or dinner, which I though was a good, flexible option, but the standard was low. Breakfast consisted mainly of continental options e.g. bread, cakes, croissants, pancakes etc. There was a chef who cooked fresh omelettes, which were okay, but apart from that, not really to my taste. The fresh orange juice was refreshing. The dinner is a buffet option containing fish, beef, and chicken, along with salad, soup, pasta and rice. The soups were generally really nice, but the meats weren't great, which meant a struggle for me to enjoy it.
Room - We were allocated a great room on the fifth floor that overlooked the nice courtyard. It was spacious, had AC, a plasma TV (for those that spend time watching TV on holiday, there is the BBC world news and an English movie channel), and a fridge, which was very useful for chilling drinks. The balcony was quite large, and the bathroom was also of a good standard. Maid cleans and changes towels daily. Overall, was impressed by the room.
Location - Situated in the Gueliz district, in the north west of the centre of Marrakech, and about 20 minutes walk from the Djemaa el fna square. There is a supermarket (ACIMA) about 10 minutes walk from the hotel (take a left then first left again and walk straight), there are also various restaurants close by, and you are not far from the main train station or shopping malls. Gueliz is still in development and I think is classified as the modern area of the city, but it can look scruffy in areas, but we found it safe and a good base.
Entertainment - There isn't any entertainment at the hotel, and the hotel does wind down pretty quickly after dinner. You can have some drinks in the courtyard, but there is a lack of ambience. Better to go out and explore if liveliness is what you're after.
Excursions - Unless you enjoy soaking up the sun at the pool, which can be good in Marrakech with its late 30 degree temperature when we went in September, it is best to try and explore the city as there is a lot to offer:
1) Ourika Valley - This is a great trip and well worth the money. Based at the bottom of the Atlas mountains, it involves a trip to a herbal garden, a berber's (indigenous North African people) and a beautiful waterfall trip. Takes up a full day and costs around 200 MAD (£15.20). Note the hotel offers this trip at 270 MAD, but better to book outside of hotel to get cheaper, or at the very least negotiate the price with the hotel, which they are willing to do (everything in Marrakech is negotiable).
2) Majorelle Gardens - Very small and won't take up a lot of time, but for 50 MAD (£3.8) I think it was worth a visit and isn't too far from the hotel (a bit further on from the ACIMA supermarket).
3) Essaouira - Supratours take you there in about 2 hrs 45 mins for 70 MAD (£5.3) each way. There is a beach there and a lot of markets. Wasn't overly impressed by this trip, but if you have time then it allows you to see another place in Morocco. Book your return ticket when you arrive in Essaouira.
4) Local Hammam - We went to the Hilton Hammam, which is modern and a bout a 20 minute walk north from the hotel on avenue mohammed. For about an hour session, it cost 250 MAD (£19) for a sauna, wash, scrub, and a massage. You can get this cheaper in other places, and especially local places, but we were recommended this and thought the price was okay. Was definitely an experience, but preferred the Turkish baths to this.
-The driving standards in Marrakech seem a touch questionable and you have to be wary of the motorcyclists. Should be okay if you watch out for it, but be careful.
-Morocco is quite an open country and can be internationalised in some areas. Yes, they have their local customs and religious beliefs, but in general, possibly due to the income brought in by tourists, they seem quite accepting to the western culture.
-Being honest, I didn't find the local people overly friendly or sometimes appreciable of your custom. This is quite a general remark, but they can get worked up if they are unable to sell you something, they try and rip you off (negotiate on everything and agree the price and content in advance of accepting/participating), will stare at you in the street, and even the hotel staff aren't overly friendly, other than the young lady at reception who was really nice. Just be careful with them and appreciate their customs and religion and you should be fine.
In summary, I was surprised by Marrakech in that I enjoyed even more than I thought I would, and for the price we paid at the Diwane, it is hard to complain really.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Recently built, our four star establishment welcomes you with its typically Moroccan decoration. Its warm lines and colours, mixing Zellige Fassi, marble and mosaics, offer to the traveler a haven of peace, combining oriental charm, great comfort and wellness. The kindness of the personnel welcome you as well as the delicate smell of the mint tea which is offered to you upon your arrival already launches you in a feeling of relaxation. Your stay will be unforgettable. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Diwane Hotel Marrakech