... think carefully before booking.
My first visit to Morocco. A four-night stay to begin an introductory tour of Moroccan cities by train and bus. Total cost: 143 euros, breakfast included. This was in the Émeraude Double Room on the ground floor opening up onto the courtyard.
Located in the Medina or old quarter of Marrakech (see also CONS).
The owner and staff are extremely helpful and friendly. I had to leave early after checking out in order to catch a train to Fes, and the owner prepared some pancakes for me to take with me to breakfast on the train. The owner also accompanied me early on the day of my departure (6.15 am) to help me catch a taxi to the train station. This was a kind gesture.
A pot of mint tea and sweets were served upon arrival (see also CONS).
The breakfast is superb and served promptly in a delightful dining room. Breakfast consisted of bread, pastries and different kinds of pancakes, butter, jams, OJ and coffee. This makes for a great start to a day of exploring a wonderful city.
It has a small bathing pool in the patio which must prove extremely welcoming in the hotter months (see also CONS).
The room I stayed in was tastefully decorated, spacious and large – I was alone but it is ample room for two people. It had air conditioning. The bathroom is good with a large shower area and basic toiletries provided (plus hairdryer). No television in the room (which I didn’t mind), but there is one in the dining room.
Generally it was extremely peaceful. Guests can linger in the nearby dining room until about 10pm but this was not a problem during my stay.
Free WIFI throughout.
It claims to be situated in the ‘heart’ of the Medina – this is not strictly true. It is situated at the far north end of the Medina. Subsequently, travel on foot to and from the hotel can prove quite a challenge even to those with experience of North African cities and culture. It is a challenge for two reasons. One, navegating the small, winding, poorly-planned streets that make up the final ten minutes journey to and from it. This would not be such a problem were it not for (Two): beggars and hustlers. The outbound journey from Riad Alwane to Jemma El Fna is relatively straighforward, and the owner provides a map for this. The return journey proved consistently more difficult, and the final stages towards the hotel were like trying to navegate a maze. In spite of the beggar problem, enough of the locals are extremely kind and will point you in the direction, but you need to select them carefully when seeking help or directions. A word of thank you in Arabic and tapping your heart with your fingers will suffice as thanks. The simple solution to the problem of location and outbound journeys would be to arrange for a taxi every day to take you into the Jamma El Fna or location for tourism, or if not, definitely for the return journey: at 35 dirham or a couple of quid it’s quite cheap. The downside to this is extra cost incurred for those travelling on a budget and not seeing so much of the Medina (much of the pedestrian route into the centre covers ‘real’ old-town Marrakech which blends into the souks closer to Jemma El Fna Square). I urge anybody who lacks the self-confidence to navegate these hurdles, and particularly lone travellers and women (for obvious cultural reasons), to take a taxi. If this is not possible, then try other accommodation closer to the centre of the Medina or in the new part of town such as Gueliz. You can read the other posts here and the advice they give about tacking begging and hustling, and also find advice for this online. It is the worse I have encountered so far, and I've been to Cuba! The best thing to do is to pleasantly ignore anybody who tries to help you without your request or who tells you that a street is closed. Riad Alwane is situated in a very poor area of the Medina, which is in itself a poor area of the capital of a poor country. Some people will enjoy experiencing that, others will not. I found help and hindrance in equal measure as I tried to find my way back every night on foot...
It claims to have a ‘swimming’ pool. It is more like an extremely large bath or non-bubbling jacuzzi in which it is impossible to swim unless you are a small child.
It claims that tea will be offered each night between 5-7. On the two occasions when I returned back to the hotel at that time, this was not the case.
Upon booking, the owner emailed me to tell me that the airport transfer mentioned on the booking site would cost me 10 euros (without me requesting this). I replied saying that I would catch the bus. I received no reply. Upon emerging from customs a taxi driver was waiting with a sign bearing the name of the hotel. I approached him and said that I had cancelled the booking. He did not seem to understand. He then told me that the journey would cost 150 dirhams, although the Rough Guide tells you to pay no more than 100-120. I bartered him down but he did not seem happy with this (yes, it’s not a lot of money, but bearing in mind that I had cancelled the taxi and this had not been respected, I feel that I was correct to draw a line). The taxi driver was still complaining when we arrived at the hotel. I advise people considering this hotel to consult similar comments on here about this issue and to seek absolute clarification regarding transfer from the owner when booking.
Language - the owner speaks only French and Spanish, so if you go ahead and book here, then make sure you can get by in one of those languages.
The Riad Alwane is a lovely, small hotel with friendly staff and peaceful, tasteful décor and conditions - past its front door on the inside. Its lower price and remove from the noisier centre of the Medina are certainly in its favour and would work well for a family wanting to take it easy for its own sake or after a day’s tourism in and around the city and especially in warmer months when all of its facilities ("pool", roof garden) can be enjoyed. However, its location should be strongly taken into account when booking and thought given to travelling to and from it. If you prefer taxis, then there is no problem; if like me you prefer to travel locally by foot where possible in order to soak up the local environment and culture, then give it serious thought if you are new to North Africa and or the context of dealing with street beggars and unsolicited attention. I have listed above many fine reasons to stay here, but when I return to Marrakech I will not stay here again simply because of the location issue.
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