I did not like my stay at the Rainbow Marrakech because I did not like the staff, I would not recommend this place. But that does not mean you will have a terrible experience too. I want to be at least a little objective in this review, so let me preface by saying that this place is good as a hostel. There just happens to be a lot of cultural and personality difference between me and the staff that made me feel uncomfortable.
First, the "objective" good points. The hostel is 2 blocks from Jemaa el Fna, the only place in Marrakesh you want to be near to. They have a video explaining how to get there, and very easy-to-follow instructions. There are three bathrooms, two of which have separate showers and toilets. The toilets flush and are well-stocked with toilet paper. Breakfast is served on time, but be warned that it is just 4 different kinds of bread. The tea is the best I had in my entire stay in Morocco, and it was free all day!
Next, the "objective" bad points. It is near the center, so it can be a little noisy. The call for prayers starts at 5:30 AM-- free alarm clock I tell you! And the rooms are CRAMPED!! I have never stayed in a hostel with so little room before--there was only about a person's width between two beds. There is only hot shower if you're the first to shower, so make a run for it!
And now for the reason why I didn't like Rainbow Marrakech. From the moment I first stepped in, I had a bad feeling about the staff. They are all male (although when I left there were two lovely African girls who will join the staff for a few months), which made me feel uncomfortable. Some women would come and clean the place but they never interacted with us. The staff reminded me of the arrogant, obnoxious high school boys that plagued my teenage years. They're friendly in that "macho" attention-seeking kind of way, almost creepy, and they have that kind of smile that does not reach their eyes. BE WARNED: They are only eager to help you IF they can benefit (i.e., get money) from you somehow. They get commission from their friends if one of us takes their friend's taxi or eat at a friend's restaurant.
I will give you two incidents. First, my friends and I wanted to eat at a restaurant with a rooftop terrace overlooking Jemaa el Fna. I started to explain this to the staff, but I only got as far as saying "Can you recommend a restaurant..." before the guy waved his hand at me nonchalantly saying "yes yes restaurant." Some guy came and he took us to a restaurant a block away from the square, and they gave us a menu for set meals with a ridiculous price tag. Apparently this restaurant is owned by the brother of one of the staff members.
Next, I needed to take the 4:55 AM train to Casablanca and needed a petite taxi to get to the train station. Even at that hour, I know it costs only about 20 MAD to get there, because I had already done that when I arrived in Marrakesh at 1 AM. The guys told me that their friend's grand taxi costs 100 MAD, and that I would never find a taxi that would take me for only 20 MAD. They refused to help me get a taxi ride with a small cab because I refused to ride their friend's cab (which seats 6 people!) simply because it would be a hassle to them.
AND THEN after this little incident, they had the audacity to ask me to pay for the night, which I had already done when I first arrived to Marrakesh!
Maybe I am just too Westernized for this whole friendship-commission arrangement, but I refuse to play into this game where foreigners are seen as idiots. Most people in Morocco who interact with tourists have this mentality (which is a massive shame because I have only met lovely people outside the center!), and the staff are no different. Perhaps you will have a better experience than me--it is a pretty decent hostel after all--but I would never come back here nor recommend it to anyone else. Do not trust these guys. You are been warned!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- By Place D'Jeema el Fna, Rainbow Marrakech is the colourful antidote to the madness of the markets. A true backpacker’s hostel for adventurers, trekkers, hitchers, sun seekers and shoppers looking for a place to relax and socialise. Rainbow Hostel Marrakech will give you a base in Morocco - enjoy the best tea, best dinners, great advice, great company and delightfully free Wi-Fi. Enjoy your stay! ... more less
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