Sleeping

Morocco has a good range of accommodation to suit all budgets. There are several well-appointed business hotels in the main cities, luxurious places for the discerning visitor and clean basic hotels to suit those with limited funds. Independent travellers appreciate the growing number of maisons d'hôte or guesthouses (generally referred to as riads), some very swish indeed, while in the mountain areas walkers and climbers will find rooms available in local people's homes. Modern self-catering accommodation is also sometimes available.

There is an official star rating system, although few hotels will boast about their membership of the one-, two- or even three-star categories. There does not appear to be very tight central control on how prices reflect facilities on offer. There are considerable variations in standards, and surprises are possible. Note too that breakfast is generally not included in the room price - except in riads.

Budget

At the budget end of the market are simple hotels, often close to bus or train stations. There may be a washbasin, sometimes a bidet. Loos and showers will usually be shared and you may have to pay for a hot shower. The worst of this sort of accommodation will be little better than a concrete cell, stifling in summer. The best is often quite pleasant outside summer, with helpful staff and lots of clean, bright tiling. Rooms often open on to a central courtyard, limiting privacy and meaning you have to leave your room closed when out. Outside the big tourist cities, such hotels have almost exclusively Moroccan customers. Although such hotels are generally clean, it may be best to bring a sheet with you if you're planning to use them a lot. Water, especially in the southern desert towns, can be a problem. Generally, there will be a public bath (hammam) close by for you to take a shower after a long bus journey.

Mid-range

More expensive one-star type hotels, generally in the new part of town (ville nouvelle neighbourhoods). Showers may be en suite, breakfast (coffee, bread and jam, a croissant, orange juice) should be available. Next up are the two and three star-ish places. Most will be in the ville nouvelle areas of towns. Rooms will have high ceilings and en suite shower and loo. Light sleepers need to watch out for noisy, street-facing rooms. 

Luxury

Top hotels are generally run by international groups such as Accor and Le Méridien. Upmarket hotels in Morocco can either be vast and brash, revamped and nouveau riche, or solid but tasteful and even discrete with a touch of old-fashioned elegance. The main cities also have large business hotels.

Riads and guesthouses

The big phenomenon of the late 1990s and 2000s in the Moroccan tourist industry has been the development of the maison d'hôte. Wealthy Europeans have bought old property in the médinas of Marrakech, Fès and Essaouira as second homes. Rather than leave the property closed for much of the year, the solution was to rent it out. A number of agencies specializing in the rental of riads (as these properties are generally called, after their garden courtyards or riads) were set up. Some riads are occupied for most of the year by their owners and so are more like guesthouses. If thinking of staying in a riad, you could make your first approach via a reliable agency like
Riads au Maroc
, www.riadomaroc.com. Certain UK travel companies now have riads in their brochures. Basically, they satisfy a growing demand for spacious accommodation with a personal touch. The service in a riad should be far better than in a four-star hotel. Generally, riad charges cover accommodation and breakfast. Meals can be laid on at extra charge, and as they are prepared to order for a small number of people, will be of excellent quality. In a place like Marrakech, hygiene in a riad should also be far better than in one of the city's jaded four-star establishments. There is now guesthouse accommodation to suit medium to large holiday budgets.

When reserving riad accommodation, you need to be clear on how you will be met (finding such houses in complicated médina streets is generally impossible for taxi drivers). Also check whether your accommodation is ground floor (damper in winter) or top floor (hot in summer) and the nature of the heating. Moroccan nights can be very chilly in winter. Another consideration, if you have small children, is the presence of small pools without fencing.

For more on riads check www.marrakech-medina.com, www.marrakech-riads.net or www.essaouiramedina.com.

Youth hostels (Auberges de jeunesse)

There are 11 hostels in all affiliated to the IYHA, located in the cities (Casablanca, Rabat, Fès, Meknès and Marrakech, Oujda and Laâyoune) as well as Azrou (Middle Atlas) and Asni (High Atlas).
 It is better to go for cheap hotels, more conveniently located and with better loos and showers.

Mountain accommodation

In the mountains, you can easily bivouac out in summer or, in the high mountains, kip in a stone
azib
(shepherd's shelter). There are three main options for paying accommodation: floor space in someone's home, a gîte of some kind, or a refuge run by the
CAF
(Club Alpin Français, see www.cafmaroc.co.ma). 

Camping

There are campsites all over Morocco
. Few sites, however, respect basic international standards. Security is a problem close to large towns, even if the site is surrounded by a wall with broken glass on top. Never leave anything valuable in your tent. Many campsites also lack shade, can be noisy and the ground tends to be hard and stony, requiring tough tent pegs. As campsites are really not much cheaper than basic hotels, and as even simple things like clean toilets and running water can be problematic, hotel accommodation is usually preferable.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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