While in Morocco, we stayed in three very different riads. Two of them were amazing (for very different reasons) and the third was disappointing.
Our riad in Marrakesh was [Riad Bayti], located in the Mellah (aka the former jewish quarter) just a few minutes from the Place des Ferblantiers (aka the tinsmiths’ square). It is the only riad in the area and so after the first day or so, we were treated as neighbors by the merchants in the area – they all knew the riad and were not pushy once they realized we were staying there. According to the [Rough Guide], where it is one of the author’s favorites, it has “warm modern decor that perfectly complements the classic architecture and the smell of spices wafting in from the market below.” In addition, they give high marks for their mint tea but poor marks for their lukewarm showers … and, everything the guide said was true (including the cold-ish showers)! It was a very comfortable place to stay. They had a wonderful breakfast with more food than we could eat. From 3p to 6p, they served tea and it was some of the best tea we had in Morocco. In addition, it has a small plunge pool which was a great way to relax (with some mint tea) after the activity of the Marrakesh. Diego, the manager, was very friendly and provided us with plenty of answers/advice/information. Besides everything else, they also did evening meals & snacks – a traditional 3-course meal was 200 dirhams per person (for a minimum of two people).
And, to top it off, they had a couple of pet turtles that roamed the patio …
After the glorious experience of Riad Bayti, we travelled to Essaouira. The one night that we spent there was at Riad Lalla and was the most disappointing place we stayed! It was a slightly tired place with a poor breakfast. We got lucky and did have a hot shower before Essaouira ran out of water (evidently the whole town ran out of water at some point during the night that we were there). It did have one benefit – it is close to the SupraTour terminal (and thus, buses to Marrakesh and elsewhere). On the other hand, it is beside a mosque and was therefore quite noisy. Overall, it was shabby, not chic! We would not recommend it … so much so, that we posted no photos of it.
In Tangiers, we stayed at Dar Jameel and it was a great experience! They had great customer service. We arrived at 8a after having gotten off the sleeper train from Marrakesh. They let us into a room (not our room … but slight hiccup was quickly solved), gave us breakfast, and allowed us to shower. There was some slight confusion over our reservation and so they put us into one of the rooms on the upper floors that shared a bathroom. It was a very nice room and compared favorably with the room at Riad Bayti. Later in the day, we were moved to a ground floor room with some amazing architecture (see the photos of the room, Bergach). Besides the architecture, Dar Jameel was well positioned in the Medina for good views over the port, beach, and new town. It also did a decent breakfast.
Overall, we had good experiences with our accommodation in Morocco and learned that it always pays to spend a little more on a place to stay. In Marrakesh, you will want a place to escape from the rush of the city. In Essaouira, where there is less to do, you may want a nice place to spend your evenings or mornings. If we ever go back to Essaouira, we will probably stay in some place like the Ocean Vagabond or one of the large chains on the seafront.