My wife and I have just returned after 4 nights at Riad Amsaffah. For starters, the place is not 1*, let alone 4*.. I don`t know how hotels are rated in Morocco and why Riad Amsaffah was supposedly awarded 4 stars- the best way to describe it would be as a passable family run B & B and not a star hotel. True, it has a pool and looks nice in photos but my impression of the place was of an old mansion house that had clearly seen better days, but which the current owner has allowed to slip into a state of gentle decay in the name of traditional chic.
Having said the above, the Riad does what it says on the tin- its no frills rooms are spacious, have air conditioning/heating and daily house keeping. We were initially allocated a 'superior double' room on the first floor, which, despite its size, was very dark and had some particularly garish 'traditional' furniture (btw,much of the furniture in the Riad appeared to be random stuff picked up in some junk sale but I assume its the case with most 'traditional' Riads in Marrakech). Thankfully,the heating in the room was broken and we were subsequently moved to a supposedly inferior room on the second floor, which we found much lighter and far more welcoming.
Despite its shortcomings, the hotel does have a few things going for it- the location, near the souks, the Madrassa Ben Youssaf and a 10 min walk from Jamaa El Finaa, is an obvious positive. The neighbourhood is quite rough and may seem daunting at first but its fairly easy to walk into town from the hotel once you get your bearings right. Its definitely better than staying at some hotel in the new part of town (Gueliz) as it would be difficult to walk to the souks and the 'sights' of Marrakech from hotels situated there.
The staff at the hotel were also extremely helpful- Karima at the front desk (possibly the owner's daughter), Aziz and Hassan in particular. Contrary to the experience of some of the previous reviewers, all the staff made us feel very welcome and we were never harassed for tips (although any tips offered were accepted with gratitude).
Breakfast at the hotel does not vary much and consists of fresh juice, tea/coffee, bread, eggs and Moroccan pancakes- nothing elaborate but nevertheless perfectly adequate.
Would I recommend the hotel to a friend? Well, before we get to that, I would advise him/her to avoid going to Morocco in the first place- the country is so reliant on tourism, and with unemployment at 25% and climbing, the locals tend to view tourists as walking cash machines, as most make their living out of preying on hapless tourists. The amount of hassle you get and the number of scams targetting tourists is shocking. The locals are aggressive/borderline hostile and we met very few people on our trip who we would describe as genuinely friendly.
In conclusion-for anyone hell bent on going to Morocco on a tight budget, I would possibly recommend Riad Amsaffah (but not before I advise them to get their head examined)
Shopping tips for Marakkech
Offer only 30% of the original price quoted, irrespective of the item- if the shopkeeper does not agree, just walk out- 9 times out of 10 he would chase you down and eventually accept your offer.
Essaioura- We went there on a day trip after believing all the hype from some of the other tourists we met at the hotel. It turned out to be a dump which is best avoided. However, anyone interested in the sort of touristy tat on sale in Marakkech will find that prices in Essaioura are 40-50% cheaper to prices in Marakkech (even after a 70% discount)
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.