Go for chabakia in the foodmarket on the Djemaa el fna. It's the only cake I've had the pleasure of encountering that you have to dunk into your bean soup. Such dunking is compulsory, and livens up an otherwise boringly healthy dish no end. We were reliably informed that chabakia is made of flour, rolled in lots of honey and sugar, and then fried, which sounds much more believable than it being starfish, as we first thought (not such a startling assumption as we were surrounded by diners merrily tucking into sheeps' heads and giant snails). It's the perfect, sticky cake to chew on while you give away your tourist credentials by drinking mint tea sans sucre and arguing with your boyfriend about whether or not to buy a Moroccan toy drum.
Djemaa el fna at the bean soup stall
A peaceful yellow haven just a few steps away from the fabulous Djemaa El Fna. The four rooms (three doubles and a triple) are prettily-furnished in Moroccan-style, breakfast is delicious and the staff are helpful.
There's also a roof terrace and a plant-filled internal patio. Prices are good too, coming in at around £30 for the room.
25 derb ben amran , Marrakech 40000, Morocco
You can book it through hostelworld.com
The train journey from Tangier to Marrakech is one of the best I've been on. You can't purchase tickets outside Morocco, but we had no problem buying them on the day. The trains are comfortable and spacious and very cheap (the 10 hour trip cost about £20, imagine that in the UK!?)
We met some interesting characters on the train, who were eager to talk to us and help us when it came to switching trains. Perhaps the best thing though is that you get to see the countryside and small towns along the way that you would normally be flying over! Well worth the slight more effort involved!
When shopping or booking a trip, discounts and special offers are always welcome, especially nowadays. This summer the coolest travel deal seems to come from Marrakech, Morocco where Riad Kniza, a high end boutique hotel, is proposing to its guests a “Pay What You Feel Fair” offer. It’s very simple: at the end of your stay you decide how much you wish to pay depending on your level of satisfaction. As advertised in Riad Kniza’s website “can’t get fairer than that”.
Riad Maizie is a stunningly restored riad in the heart of the Marrakech medina owned by the author Miranda Innes. It is five minutes' walk from the main souks and 10 from Djemaa Fna, and is the perfect tranquil spot to retreat to after a long day of shopping and sightseeing. The English manager James was very helpful and very knowledgeable about what to do in Marrakech (and how much to pay).
They have five beautiful rooms to stay in, a lovely roof terrace and the traditional Moroccan meals were very good (especially the lamb and prune tagine).
95 Derb al Kadi
+212 (0) 24 38 59 28
Departing from Marrakech airport:
Once you pass through airport security you can only use your dirhams to spend on food in the cafes.
All the other shops including the duty free shops are NOT allowed to accept dirhams and only accept hard currency such as euros.
If you did have excess dirhams you can change these in the airport before you go through security.
Especially when the cigarettes are so cheap in the duty free shops, you'd be kicking yourself if all you have is dirhams to spend.
One of the few restaurants in the medina that serves alcohol. The food was nice but to be honest the food in many of the places surrounding Djemma El Fna was equally nice and cheaper.
14 Derb J'did near Place Des Ferblantiers in Mellah area in the south of the medina.
Pleasant spot in souks area for a refreshing soft drink or light snack (sorry no alcohol as with most places within the medina!). You can sit on the roof terrace watching over the spice souk. Young and friendly staff.
75 Rahba Kedima off Rue Samarine (one of main roues into souk)
8am - 8pm daily
Superb location. Just inside the medina walls and across from the Koutobia Mosque. Very central and in a good location. It cost us £114.00 for four nights for a double room in August 2008.
It is basic three-star accommodation in Morocco. May not be the equivalent of three-star in Europe but comfortable none the less. Only word of warning is that it is not a particularly quiet hotel.
279 Avenue Mohamed V, Marrakech
(across from Koutobia mosque)
Book with www.hotelconnect.co.uk
Simple, genuine Moroccan hotel in heart of the medina near Jemaa el Fna. It is very cheap, at 100 dirhams (about £6-7), very basic, but clean. You ony get a basin in your room, but the beds are comfortable, and the hotel clean. There are a few rooftop rooms - try to get one of these if you can! Excellent place to stay if you want to see the real Marrakech, and are travelling on a tight budget.
On a tiny alley near Jemaa el Fna - you can always ask.
For anyone that wants to discover the atmosphere of Marrakech on a budget but not compromise on style and location then I would definately suggest Riad Johenna.
My first trip to Marrakech I stayed here for a week and was not disappointed - the crazy souks and bars of Jmaal el Fna square were literally just four minutes away.
Amazingly once inside the riad you can't hear any noise, a very rare occurrence in central budget accommodation!
Anyone staying here would appreciate the hospitality and knowledge of the German owner Hans - anything he doesn't know about the city isn't worth knowing.
If it's daytime, and you are travelling within the medina or the New Town, insist the meter (le compteur) is on. It starts at about 1 dirham 60. If they say it's broken, tell them to stop and get out. There are lots of other taxis.
The only ones you negotiate with are the Grand taxis. Petit taxis only take three people. Taxis can be difficult to get during rush hours, 8 - 9.30, 12 - 2 (that’s when they change over drivers too) and 5 - 6.30.
At night, they charge 50% more. Rides in the medina are generally about six dirhams, from the New Town to the medina generally about ten dirhams.
Make sure you have small change.
Getting a taxi from the medina to the airport on the meter is about 25 dirhams, but getting one from the airport to the medina is negotiable. Published tarif is about 60 dirhams, but you may have to pay 100, depending on number of people and amount of luggage and time of day.
After that, how much you tip is up to you.
Les Premices is a great, cheap restaurant with an excellent location over looking the Djema el fna square. It has excellent service, food, and cocktails, and is the perfect place to watch the square come alive.
Overlooking the Djema el fna.
Buffet-style restaurant serving range of traditional Moroccan dishes. High quality, excellent choice, elegant dining room. In the evenings, you pay £10 and get a 3-course buffet meal, with as many repeat tastings as you like. Excellent for those that want to try a range of Moroccan foods.
In front of the Koutoubia, opposite the Place de Foucault.
Shopping in the souks is an experience that no one ever forgets. But it is a shopping experience quite unlike any other. In order to get the best from the souks, haggling and shopping around is a must as the sellers significantly inflate their initial price for an item you want. There are no hard and fast rules just walk away from a price you are not happy with, but at the same time keep a smile on your face! Remember no trader will ever sell at a loss! Also take a compass to find your way out again - it is so easy to get lost!
Just off the Djamma el Fna
Clean, comfortable, cheap and quick way to the coast, especially if travelling alone or in small group. 3 coaches a day leave from next to Marrakech railway stationn. Book at least an hourr before to ensure a seat. It was 65 dh (4 quid) one way at end of 2006. Takes 2.5 - 3 hours.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn next to Casablanca's train station and then caught the train down to Marrakech. It was cheap and also really interesting. They run old French trains, which are in carriages for eight people, and we struck up conversation very easily.
Casablanca, Marrakech train stations
A lovely traditional riad in the heart of the medina, only five minutes' walk from the Jma el Fna Square. Prices are very reasonable and the rooms are smallish but lovely, all around a relaxing quiet courtyard. When you arrive you will be greeted by a welcoming tray of mint tea and friendly staff.
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