Worth waiting for!
Morocco | Sep 9 - Sep 20, 2022

Cynthia
Cynthia F.
Morrisville, NC | Reviewed on Sep 24, 2022

First and foremost in making our 13-days encircling Morocco memorable was our driver Amine! While he demonstrated expert driving skills that made us feel completely safe, he was so much more than a driver. Upon meeting, he quickly ascertained our interests, particularly in the cultural diversity of Moroccan people, and set about fulfilling and exceeding our expectations. Each day was full of unexpected adventure: from our first authentic meal of grilled meats and vegetables en route to... read more

First and foremost in making our 13-days encircling Morocco memorable was our driver Amine! While he demonstrated expert driving skills that made us feel completely safe, he was so much more than a driver. Upon meeting, he quickly ascertained our interests, particularly in the cultural diversity of Moroccan people, and set about fulfilling and exceeding our expectations. Each day was full of unexpected adventure: from our first authentic meal of grilled meats and vegetables en route to Chefchaouen, impromptu walks through local markets where the colors of Morocco are on full display, to spontaneous detours to gaze atop the spectacular Atlas Mountains or to search for specific pottery in Safi. Amine knows his country well especially the unknown places off the beaten track and personifies the personal warmth and hospitable nature of the Moroccan people.

While there are too many memorable moments, experiences, sights, and places to capture here, some of the highlights include:
Palais Faraj in Fez where we spent 2 glorious nights in the meticulously restored Bensouda Palace in the Arab-Andalusian architectural tradition. The tile work (zelliges) with complex geometric mosaics are museum-worthy!
The hour dromedary caravan ride through the sea of sand dunes of Erg Chebbi was a not-to-be missed postcard experience! The awe of complete silence when watching the sun set over the sand dunes was only matched by the awe of sunrise the following morning.
The winding climb to the granary atop the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou provided a glimpse of how southern Moroccans lived since the 17th Century (and where a few families still reside).
No trip to Morocco would be complete without a relaxing visit to a hammam for a full body clay mask application followed by a medicinal Moroccan black soap scrub and shampoo. Total rejuvenation!
Our final meal shared with Amine in El Jadida on the gorgeous Atlantic coast was most remarkable! It first started with lentils and bread, followed by a mound of Moroccan salads garnished with fruit and herbs, and finished with an abundant platter of shrimp, calamari, sole, and marlin made-to-order for only 85 dirham (~$8.50).

Hotel Reviews
Palais Faraj Suites & Spa
Fès

We upgraded our accommodation in Fez and Marrakech, but all of our accommodations were unique—well selected for comfort, generous meals, and specific location. Palais Faraj exceeded our expectations, however! It truly felt like sleeping in a museum.

Authenticity & Character
The tile work (zelliges)
Location
Situated just outside the Medina overlooking the entire city of Fez.
Staff
Being welcomed with the customary Moroccan mint tea (poured in such a manner to produce the necessary froth) and slices of cake and cookies.
Cleanliness & Comfort
Our room was actually a suite with small chambers off the bedroom with a gorgeous alcove lined with an abundance of silk cushions.
Barceló Anfa Casablanca
Casablanca

Lovely, modern. The room had a unique design where the vanity divided the sleeping area from the huge shower and dressing area.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Within minutes of the spectacular minaret of Hassan II
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
La Petite Chefchaouen
Chefchaouene

The location inside the Medina was ideal and the breakfast plentiful. The decor was less authentic. For example, our room was named “Love” and had decorative s plaques in English such as “Love is the best ingredient.”

Authenticity & Character
Remove the English room names and plaques
Location
Inside the Medina, very close to the center square
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Luxury Camp Chebbi
Merzouga

Unbelievable beauty and serenity.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
The Berber staff were knowledgeable and hospitable.
Cleanliness & Comfort
The tents had all the amenities except a fan. It was over 80 degrees during the night inside the tent which made it uncomfortable to get restful sleep. Perhaps in the future, it would be helpful to recommend guests bring their own battery-operated fan.
Caravane
Ouarzazate

Unexpectedly boutique. You wouldn’t expect such tasteful African-inspired decor within the plain, adobe dwelling.

Authenticity & Character
African-inspired decor using resources such as rattan, Berber rugs, adobe interior.
Location
Off the beaten track.
Staff
The two men in the reception who also served a delicious 3-course meal.
Cleanliness & Comfort
While we did have an air conditioner, we had difficulty lowering the thermostat, but a ceiling fan kept us cool during these hot summer nights in this Quarzazate region.
72 Riad Living
Marrakech

Tasteful blend of the authentic and the current design trends.

Authenticity & Character
All of the seating areas, the high ceilings, the rooftop terrace and pool, the little design touches like a bull horn used for a towel hook and a miniature brass tagine with macarons left bedside during turn down service
Location
Within the Medina with easy access to all the shopping you could ever desire!
Staff
Particularly the man (“bell hop”) who pushed a wooden cart to transport our luggage through the narrow, winding alleys to the riad.
Cleanliness & Comfort
Moroccan black soap, antique cabinet for apply storage of toiletries, crisp stark sheets on a king size bed, vaulted wood carved ceilings.
Riad Chbanate
Essaouira

Just steps within the Medina, this riad is charming with its terracotta tile floors, tadelakt plaster walls, antique wooden furniture, adobe fireplace, and huge hammam-like bathtub with rose petals carefully throughout our room. You wouldn’t even know the beach of the Atlantic Ocean is just minutes outside the walled old city.

Authenticity & Character
This riad felt like a Moroccan home—more simple and cozy.
Location
Picturesque Essaouira combined the beauty of promenade along the Atlantic Ocean juxtaposed by the winding alleys and souks of the Medina, the Portuguese fortress, and fishermen hauling in their catch of the day.
Staff
The managers were so hospitable. The simple homemade poundcakes served with the customary welcoming mint tea were the best of all.
Cleanliness & Comfort
The spacious bathroom and huge bathtub (for more than 2), the rose petals carefully placed throughout, the clever presentation of a collection of glass bottles filled with bath salts, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion.
Hilton Garden Inn Casablanca Sud
Casablanca

New, modern typical Hilton Garden Inn near the Casablanca airport.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Near the airport
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Activity Reviews
Exploring the Imperial City and Medieval Medina of Fez
Fes

Walking through the winding alleys of the Medina is a step back in time. Our visit to the tannery where men toil over scraping, cleaning, drying, and dying hides was remarkable. Each souk sells fine artisan crafts including glass, brass, fabric, leather, and ceramics. But, one can purchase all sorts of produce, fruit, grains, spices, and meat (including live chicken).

Quality of Experience
Food
Fresh and plentiful typically starting with a meze of 5-6 types of salad, then a platter of couscous or tagine of beef, lamb, or chicken with seasonal vegetables and/or fruits couscous, finished with mint tea and sweet cakes and cookies. A specialty here is the pastille which is a pastry crust sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon and filled with your choice of meat. Absolutely delicious!
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Hassan was very knowledgeable about all aspects of Fez’s history, art, and culture.
Transport
Amine professionally navigated the traffic and parking.
Exploring the Medina and Historical Sites Of Marrakesh
Marrakesh

Our guide was quite knowledgeable about Morocco in general, and Marrakech in particular. The recently restored Madrasa and Palace Bahia were impressive for their beauty and traditional craftsmanship. Everything in the Medina is a sight to see!

Quality of Experience
Marrakech was so picturesque—so many photo opportunities.
Food
It’s not only the plentiful food portions of deliciously flavored food, but also the ambience—vaulted wood carved ceilings, tiled fountains and mosaic lined walls, rooftop terraces, guitarist strumming soft music, and the multi-lingual waiters wearing traditional caftans and characteristic Fez (red felt hat with tassel).
Guides, Drivers and Staff
By staying in the Medina, we were able to walk to the many souks to shop. However, Amine provided numerous helpful recommendations and made reservations including our unforgettable hamman treatment plus massage followed by afternoon tea at the exquisite Royal Mansour Hotel where the King maintains a suite.
Transport
Amine, as always, was at our beckon call.
Overnight in the Sahara Desert
Morocco

Truly unforgettable! A must-do even if you think you can’t get on and off a camel (dromedary actually). While this is definitely something only tourists do, it is well worth experiencing the sand dunes. Dinner was a scrumptious 4-course affair, albeit late in the evening. The Berber staff played instruments and sang by the camp fire under the stars beckoning guests to participate until midnight. The amenities of electricity, hot shower and flushing toilet make the overnight stay comfortable. All I would recommend is the installation of ceiling fans, if generator power permits.

Quality of Experience
Uncomfortably warm to sleep inside the tent. Understandably, it was the desert in mid-September.
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Local specialist: Yassine Echcherki