So you’ve decided upon Morocco! Well done - a great choice has already been made. But we want to make it simpler for you. The Internet, fake news, some ‘influencers’ (not all!), guest reviews, social media and its filtered reality will all have something to say about Morocco and something to present about Morocco. As Truth. As Reality. They will either be encouraging and motivating or dramatically pessimistic. They may lead you to dream of vibrant landscapes and African sunsets, or they may lead you to truly believe that you will be heckled, hassled and ripped off before you’ve booked your flights.
We want to guide you with your expectations of our country. You will never know exactly what to expect - that’s the beauty of travelling. We don’t want you to compare us to where you are from - even though it is natural to do so - by comparing, you will create a ‘right from wrong’ or a ‘them and us’. Let’s celebrate difference and similarities combined; let’s delight in those spontaneous moments of discovery (of which there are many in Morocco when your mind is open), and let’s deal with frustrations reasonably - that too can be part of independent travel - there is always something to be learned from it.
STAYING AT A HOSTEL IN THE MARRAKECH MEDINA
Whether you are a first time backpacker or a slightly jaded old-timer who remembers hostels before beds were even invented, it is worth being both joyful and mindful of the following things that are fairly singular to hostels in the Marrakech Medina
Hostels are subjective. Decor is often unique rather than generic; Hostels foster an atmosphere of connection. So vital for many travellers, but not for everyone; dorm bathrooms are often (though not always) shared and you may prefer the privacy of a private bathroom; hostels don’t choose your dorm buddies - there is no ‘likelihood to snore’(replace as required with any other annoying dorm guest trait) entry requirement. It would slow down check-in; hostels are less private than hotels - that’s generally the point - hostels are about communal living to an extent, but this may be overwhelming.
When you choose to stay in an an ancient medina, it may feel like a film set, and it may be a ‘bucket list’ setting for every avid instagrammer queuing with all the other instagrammers for that sunset shot, through the archway, and down an alleyway that no traveller has ever passed before, ironically making it seem more like ‘Summer at Heathrow Airport’ than ancient medina alleyway. We digress - it is not a film-set. It is life. Life. Moving real-time in front of you. Spontaneously and gracefully. Sure, there are many more cafes, but basically - the Marrakech medina hasn’t changed. You will be observing history, touching history whilst experiencing some strong nods to the future. All through the real-time present. And when you get home, having had this life-altering travel experience, you remember that your hostel didn’t have hairdryers or enough outlets for your three devices next to your bed.
OLD MEDINA BUILDINGS - Our hostels are all converted from very, very old buildings. They are called riads. A riad is a relevation for a hot country. Everything from the rooms, to windows, face inward. There is a central courtyard which are communal areas and perfect for fostering a social hostel vibe. Because everything faces inward - at night, noise carries very quickly. If you are expecting silence from 8pm - we cannot guarantee this and whilst insist on talking quietly after 10pm, noise still carries. The reason for this, again, is because the rooms face inwards. If very clever architecture did not create this climiatically-motivated vision, you would all fry in the summer. If you do not want to stay somewhere that noise can carry, your best option would be a hotel in the New Town of Gueliz or a private apartment. Conversely, if you want to get pissed on the terrace and croon 80s classics all night, then we are also probably not the best place for you (despite a deep love for an 80s classic). We respect our neighbours, who in a medina environment are in very close proximity, so we would like our guests to respect them too. Once, a group of 3 guys wanted to capture the perfect ‘joy leap’ from our terrace to our neighbours - presumably for social media viral fame - and in doing so, trespassed into someone’s family home. Not ok.
So we have to create that comfortable atmosphere - that one that fosters friendships and connection, and provides a comfy home away from home, with one which respects others. It’s community living. Let’s be mindful of each other.
SECURITY - Security is excellent in our hostels. We have 24/7 staff and reception, night security in the neighbourhood, a communal safe, and the majority of our hostels have individual security lockers. They are old-skool padlock and key items. The same goes for our private rooms. Lock your door with a ker-lunk. It has the same effect as a key-card or finger-print reader. We do not have this kind of technology in our hostels - it would ruin an ancient medina building. Yes, we’ve stayed at hostels in Europe whether there is thumb-print access to the rooms. Such fun. Even more fun when it doesn’t work properly. Infrastructure is simply not as developed in Morocco, and to have expectations as such would frankly be just ridiculous.
FINDING YOUR HOSTEL
The Marrakech medina is the same as any place you’ve never visited before in that - you may get lost trying to find us. This is why, when we send you your confirmation email, there is a you tube directions video attached along with phone numbers to contact, the option of being met by staff at a central and obvious meeting point, and the offer of a taxi transfer from the airport. We feel that you will be well equipped to find us with all the information provided, and if you can’t - that’s fine - you can give us a call and we will meet you.
Perhaps it is a generational thing, but we have never understood how one places more trust in a generic map than the people who actually live in the area that the map is trying to generate. Google Maps is absolute rubbish when it comes to navigating the Marrakech medina, and walking around with your device open for all to see (bear in mind that your device costs more than several months of local salary) may end up costing you more than just paying for a taxi. Safety and security is priceless. Google maps does not work in the Marrakech Medina. It gets as confused as you might. Whilst we are incredibly flattered that you may think we are responsible for misguiding you via the global google giant, we are just a small family business who has no control over its medina naiveity.