A wide range of accommodation options is available in Morocco.
- Riads The country has become famous for its traditional medina houses converted into boutique guesthouses.
- Hotels Range from the most basic to the glitziest.
- Camping Mostly restricted to trekkers, who can also access mountain refuges in some areas.
For many guests, the chance to stay in a converted traditional house is a major drawcard of a trip to Morocco. These midrange and top-end options are the type of accommodation that the term ‘boutique hotel’ could have been invented for, and no two are alike. Service tends to be personal, with many places noted for their food as much as their lodgings.
Marrakesh is the most famous destination for riads (there are several hundred); Fez, Meknes, Essaouira and Rabat are also noteworthy. With their popularity seemingly unassailable, you can increasingly find riads in the most unexpected corners of the country.
Although the term riad is often used generically, a riad proper is a house built around a garden with trees. You’ll come across plenty of dars (traditional townhouses with internal courtyards) labelling themselves as riads.
Often functioning as hotels, kasbahs (old citadels) are found in tourist centres in central and southern Morocco. Rooms in kasbahs are small and dark because of the nature of the building, but are lovely and cool in summer.
Most riads require booking, and it’s worth planning ahead, as most only have a handful of rooms and can fill quickly. Booking well in advance often means that someone from the riad will be sent to meet you outside the medina when you arrive: labyrinthine streets conspire against finding the front door on your first attempt.
Room rates are generally comparable to four- or five-star hotels. Many riads list their online rates in euros, rather than dirham, at exchange rates favourable to themselves, so always double-check the prices when booking.
You’ll need your passport number (and entry-stamp number) when filling in a hotel register.
Some hotels in more isolated regions offer half-board (demi-pension), which means breakfast and dinner are included, or full-board (pension), also including lunch. This can be a good deal.
You’ll find cheap, unclassified (without a star rating) or one-star hotels clustered in the medinas of the bigger cities. Some are bright and spotless; others haven’t seen a mop for years.
Cheaper prices usually mean shared washing facilities and squat toilets. Many budget hotels don’t supply soap in the bathrooms, so bring your own.
Occasionally there is a gas-heated shower, for which you’ll pay an extra Dh5 to Dh10. Where there is no hot water at all, head for the local hammam.
Many cheap hotels in the deep south offer a mattress on the roof terrace (Dh25 to Dh30); others also have traditional Moroccan salons, lined with banks of seats and cushions, where you can sleep for a similar price.
Midrange hotels in Morocco are generally of a high standard. Options range from hotels offering imitation Western-style rooms, which are modern if a little soulless, to riads and maisons d’hôtes (small hotels), which capture the essence of Moroccan style with both comfort and character.
In this price range you should expect a room with an en suite (shower) and breakfast. In cheaper areas such as the south, you may find midrange standards at budget prices.
Hotels in this bracket are similar to midrange places but with more luxurious levels of comfort and design.
In resorts such as Agadir, many top-end hotels are self-contained holiday complexes, offering features such as golf courses, nightclubs and multiple restaurants.
Part of Hostelling International, Fédération Royale Marocaine des Auberges de Jeunes (www.auberges-de-jeunesse.com/en/maroc) has reliable youth hostels in Casablanca, Fez, Marrakesh, Meknes, Ouarzazate and Rabat.
If you’re travelling alone, hostels are among the cheapest places to stay (from Dh60 a night), but many are inconveniently located. Some offer kitchens, family rooms and breakfast.
If looking for a budget hostel, beware of individuals’ houses converted in the dead of night without the appropriate licences.
If travelling in a small group or as a family, consider self-catering options, particularly in low season, when prices can drop substantially.
Agadir, nearby Taghazout, Essaouira, Asilah and the bigger tourist centres on both coastlines have a fair number of self-catering apartments and houses, sometimes in tourist complexes.
You can camp anywhere in Morocco if you have permission from the site’s owner. There are many official campsites. Most official sites have water and electricity; some have a small restaurant, a grocery store and even a swimming pool. At official sites you’ll pay around Dh10 to Dh20 per person, plus Dh10 to Dh20 to pitch a tent and about Dh10 to Dh15 for small vehicles.
Most of the bigger cities have campsites, although they’re often some way from the centre.
Such sites are sometimes worth the extra effort to get to, but often they consist of a barren and stony area offering little shade and basic facilities.
Particularly in southern Morocco, campsites are often brimming with the enormous campervans so beloved of middle-aged French tourists.
Parking a campervan or caravan typically costs around Dh20 to Dh30, although this can rise as high as Dh45. Electricity generally costs another Dh10 to Dh15. A hot shower is about Dh5 to Dh10.
Many campsites have basic rooms or self-catering apartments.
Gîtes d’Étape, Homestays & Refuges
Gîtes d’étape are homestays or hostels, often belonging to mountain guides, which offer basic accommodation (often just a mattress on the floor) around popular trekking routes in the Atlas and Rif Mountains. Gîtes have rudimentary bathrooms and sometimes hot showers.
Larger than gîtes, mountain refuges offer Swiss-chalet-style accommodation. Accommodation at refuges is usually in dormitories with communal showers, and often includes a lively communal dining-living room. Club Alpin Français runs refuges in the High Atlas.
If you are trekking in the High Atlas or travelling off the beaten track elsewhere, you may be offered accommodation in village homes.
Many homestays won’t have running water or electricity, but you’ll find them big on warmth and hospitality. You should be prepared to pay what you would in gîtes d’étape or mountain refuges.