We heard of Cactus Bleu through some friends who'd never actually stayed there themselves but heard the prices were OK. We looked up the internet site and everything looked great : nice rooms, warm friendly atmosphere, central location. Price was about 30 euros/night. We called the place and the owner, Martine, sounded welcoming and friendly, so we decided to give it a try when we got to Essaouira.
The first impression when getting to the location, before entering the place, was not good: it was located behind the old town, in a small, rundown back alley that smelled like urine and was surrounded by really ugly constructions, visibly a merchant zone. The owner was expecting us at the corner at we'd called before going in. She'd mentioned on the phone she had a few parking spaces in front of the hotel. Actually, there was just the back alley itself, where she parked her own car, so we awkwardly parked our car behind it making efforts not to block the entrances to the next door buildings, and trying not to hit a concrete plot that we ended up hitting when driving backwards out of the alley. So, first unpleasant surprise....
Inside the place, the entrance was a bit gloomy with wall paints needing refreshing. The place is actually Martine's own home - which she kept mentioning as a selling argument. We actually wished it were more like a real B&B instead of someone's home... Anyway, like many places in Essaouira's old town, the rooms were arranged around a central patio, on 3 or 4 levels with stairs. Many rooms don't have windows, though the one she assigned to us, located on the top floor, did. It seems the place was empty, all rooms were vacant and there were only 2 girls and a man sitting on a couch downstairs - likely the owner's friends or family. In the room, the furniture was OK though basic, but the worst thing was an EXTEMELY strong smell coming out of the private bathroom. We first thought is was sewage, then we figured it could some kind of product inside the toilet bowl. Regardless, it was absolutely unbearable, especially at night, it actually kept us from sleeping normally.
The next day, we told the owner's assistant about the smell problem, a young Moroccan girl who helps with cleaning and cooking - the owner wasn't around at that particular moment. She got very defensive and denied the existence of any kind of smell in the room. It made us wonder if she'd been inside that top floor room lately... We were eager to leave to look for another place, so she asked as to pay for the night we spent. When we requested a receipt for our payment, she looked surprised, and said she had to call the owner for that. When the owner arrived, we told her about the horrible smell in the room, and that's when they both got really nasty, they started insulting us, saying no-one had ever had any such problem, that there was no such smell, and pretty much kicked us out, after painstakingly writing some sort of receipt for our payment.
We couldn't believe it, the smell in the room was so strong we thought there was probably some unusual problem that could be solved, we would have never imagined that the owner and her help would just deny it... Another thing we noticed is some stains on the bed sheets, red stains on one of them, and weird spots on another one. Before we left, the housekeeper started throwing my things on the floor to force me to pick them up, and they basically kicked us out of the place.
We've never ever been treated this way anywhere in the world, this was really a bizarre experience. After looking around, we ended up at another place, simple but clean and friendly. Cactus Bleu, avoid at all cost...
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Cactus Bleu was entirely renovated in 2007 and decorated with themes inspired by travels. The owner lives during all the year in the riad and will personally assist the guests at this B&B. There are 8 rooms and 6 shower rooms arranged on two floors. On each floor, you can find 2 rooms with connecting door suitable for family (5 nights lodging ). ... more less
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