We spent 2 weeks in Morocco in which Essaouira and L'Arganeraie was the last stay of our trip.
This is the first time I've really felt I've needed to review a hotel, but our experience here was really not what we had expected based on other reviews and the hotel website.
Firstly when we arrived in Essaouira straight off the bus from Marrakech, we actually found it quite hard to find a taxi driver who knew where this hotel was, which naturally got us a tiny bit concerned.
With a bit of help from a friendly local we did manage to find a taxi driver who knew the area it was in if not the hotel itself and who agreed to take us. It soon became clear why none of the local petit taxi drivers knew of our hotel once we were out of town though, and that is because it is way off the main road, down about 2miles of winding, pitted, rocky, farm tracks that most petit taxis refuse to drive down for fear of destroying their already dubious state of repair cars! It is also incredibly poorly signposted, which in an area full of small winding farm tracks where it’s very easy to get lost, I think is very unimpressive.
Our taxi driver persevered, getting lost several times as and eventually we realised that the plain black double gates that we happened past in the plain white wall at the end of one stretch of road we popped out of were in fact the entrance to our hotel! A name plate/ entrance sign wouldn't have gone amiss to be honest! We had to beep the car horn and bang on the gates to get any attention as there was no-one around or any bell/knocker/buzzer of any kind, eventually getting the attention of the gardener who let us in and confirmed that we were definitely in the right place!
We had sort of expected it to be a small hotel resort type place with a main hotel reception/restaurant lounge type area of some kind, but in actual fact there is nothing. No reception, just a padlocked office from which they mainly seem to run their business selling Argan oil beauty products and the pool area which expect for breakfast time is mostly deserted. This made finding help and information when we needed it extremely difficult and would have been impossible were it not for Yousef the waiter who helped us out as much as he could, frequently tracking down the owners for us.
Whilst the resort itself is really quite pretty and the pool area lovely and big, the room we had was a bit tired, and the towels they gave us while clean enough were all stained and had seen better days. Also despite the fact that no one else was staying in our ‘Raid’ while we were there we were not allowed access to the lounge area which would have been nice and the pool itself needed a clean as it had large patches of green algae in it! This was also the only place in our trip where we were not offered bottled water for our room at night and we had to resort to buying our own toilet roll too. Despite this I think what disappointed us the most about this hotel was its location. We knew it was out of town, but not that it was down 2miles of rough farm tracks which are really quite challenging to navigate. The owners know that the road to the hotel is so bad most taxi drivers won’t come down it, so their solution has been to set up a taxi service with a company that has four wheel drive vehicles prepared to drive down these roads to take guests out if they so whish and to then pick them up and bring them all the way back. The catch is that you have to pay hugely over the odds for this service. To get a taxi to the medina in Essaouira and back again costs 200 dirhams (100 each way) which is about £15.00, not too much I suppose for most tourists, but a small fortune if you compare it to local rates, and if you are on a budget! We were so unimpressed with the taxi service the hotel provided on our first day, with the taxi driver stopping to perform his own chores and shopping on the way and the way back, that we decided to try and venture out on our own the next day. Under our own steam we walked from the resort to the main road, which took about 30mins, and then from the main road we got a grand taxi for 5 dirhams each to the medina in Essaouira, and on the way home we got a petit taxi for between 30 and 40 dirhams, a saving of roughly 150 dirhams a day and this is still at local tourist rates! The walk back to the hotel at night is not for the faint hearted, and we were just lucky that we happened to pack a torch. I think most people either stay at the resort for most of their holiday, or just pay for the taxis they provide, as the owners seemed quite shocked by us venturing out on our own.
Overall maybe this was just the wrong place for us, we went to Morocco to see Morocco, not to stay in the hotel all day by a nice pool, and although it was a very interesting experience for us to be staying amongst quite a poor farming community, I would not stay at this hotel again because of the transportation issue. I would like to thank Yousef again for all his help; he was very attentive and made our stay a lot better than it otherwise would have been.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Couple, friends, family or groupwe would be delighted to welcome you to your home away from home at Domain d’Arganeraie. Situated one flight of the seagull from the medina and ten lengths of the driver from the Golf Mogador, this oasis of greenery (more than 3 hectares) boasting hundred year old argan trees has ten Riads with traditional Moroccan architecture that are nestled like flower petals around the pristine eternity pool. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- l Arganeraie Essaouira
- l Arganeraie Hotel Essaouira