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Weighing between two areas for riads...opinions please :)

Markham, Canada
Level Contributor
153 posts
76 reviews
Weighing between two areas for riads...opinions please :)

Hi there,

I've been doing quite a bit of research and I'm sort of torn between two areas to stay in:

- The Riad Houdou, which is close to the Photography Museum

OR

- The Riad Al Badia, which is close to El Badii Palace

The Riad Houdou has EXTREMELY awesome reviews on Tripadvisor and have been extremely responsive, but it seems a bit of a walk to get to some of the bigger attractions

The Riad Al Badia is rated lower (albeit not by much on Tripadvisor) and is slightly more expensive but is close to a stop on the hop on hop off Marrakech tour which we will definitely take (though admittedly I have heard mixed reviews, but it's sort of our thing when we go to a new place)

Would definitely love to get opinions on which one you think we should stay at. We're Asian (so we'll stick out like a sore thumb) but other than that we're unremarkably low key travellers.

13 replies to this topic
Marrakech, Morocco
Destination Expert
for Morocco
Level Contributor
7,330 posts
131 reviews
1. Re: Weighing between two areas for riads...opinions please :)

well for me if the first one is cheaper and has better reviews then it is an easy choice!

its true that the North side of the Medina is a bit further from most sights but it is all still walkable to everywhere and in that area you get to see more of authentic local life rather than just the tourist heavy areas.

penna
Level Contributor
4,445 posts
40 reviews
2. Re: Weighing between two areas for riads...opinions please :)

For me the area near badi and bahia palaces is easier to get from place to place then from over near the museum of Marrakesh and m of photography which is deeper in the media and is only reachable by long walks from outside.

Where as badi is close to taxi and buses.

England, United...
Level Contributor
1,337 posts
49 reviews
3. Re: Weighing between two areas for riads...opinions please :)

A no-brainier for me, take the first one. You'll enjoy walking through the souks from there to the square, and the North side is a much better place to be situated imo. I know both areas well - although not the Riads - and think you'll get a much better daily experience getting to know the area. The main sights are just an easy and interesting walk away.

Markham, Canada
Level Contributor
153 posts
76 reviews
4. Re: Weighing between two areas for riads...opinions please :)

Interesting thoughts, thanks guys. Two votes for the Riad Houdou area.

How chaotic is it walking through the streets and souks anyway, I wonder. Is it anything like in Asia (i.e. Saigon, Bangkok, Taiwanese night market)?

Marrakech, Morocco
Destination Expert
for Morocco
Level Contributor
7,330 posts
131 reviews
5. Re: Weighing between two areas for riads...opinions please :)

in the day it is quite relaxed but the areas near Djemma El Fna because very busy in the evening - the further away you go from the main square, the less busy it is in general

Could be compared to the main markets in Bangkok but its very different at the same time

Cardiff, United...
Level Contributor
1,218 posts
44 reviews
6. Re: Weighing between two areas for riads...opinions please :)

I would recommend the area around El Badii Palace, it is much easier to get to, and less likely you will get lost. It is very close to the main Jemma el Fna square.

Forget the red bus tour in Marrakech, it is a waste of time and money, you would be better off paying for a guide to show you around for a half day/full day.

It can be busy walking through some of the alleyways, but it is not chaotic.

Just a word of warning, coming from an asian background, you may experience some forms of racism, name calling from some of the youths who hang around in the alleyways of the Medina, usually after you refuse whatever they are selling or tell them you are not lost when they offer to give you directions for a small fee, take this in your stride, be confident and move on, it is not right but it does happen and if you get worried about it, then it may spoil some parts of your holiday.

penna
Level Contributor
4,445 posts
40 reviews
7. Re: Weighing between two areas for riads...opinions please :)

I second not taking the red bus ,for the same price as red bus you vern get the personal type of a private guide. Make sure to get an official licensed guide. And make sure you state exactly what you want and don't want to see, since a guide gets up to 50% of what you spend ,it is in his best interest to get you to shop.

As to night if the Medina, some riads can be hard to find ,and a lot of the market is desolate at night , also some roads have doors that close. It still can be both be interesting to stay in these places and rewarding to stay in areas with locals.

Markham, Canada
Level Contributor
153 posts
76 reviews
8. Re: Weighing between two areas for riads...opinions please :)

Hmm..interesting points. Certainly isn't fun to get racial comments, and to be unable to do something about it.

It's actually making me think twice about visiting because I think it's a terrible thing (and I can get quite angry about it). The very reason I left my home country to move to Canada where I now live is because of racial discrimination. If there is a moderate amount of risk of this happening, then I may not proceed with the trip :/

Having said that, is the hop on hop off bus still not worth it from a low-key tourist standpoint to see various angles of the city? I understand that you can't really get deep inside the medina, but it's still interesting to be going around checking the sites.

Brno, Czech Republic
Level Contributor
18 posts
9. Re: Weighing between two areas for riads...opinions please :)

Hi, I've just returned from Marrakesh and we, too, stayed in riads in the northern part of the medina. The walk to the main square is not that long, but if you want to avoid it, it is fairly easy to take the local buses run by the company Alsa. We usually got in at Bab Doukala and got to the centre this way. It costs 4 DH per person and you buy the ticket from the bus driver. The buses are very frequent and cover the whole city. Also the bus drivers do not try to rip you off :) I usually found the bus I needed through their website www.alsa.ma - it shows the nearest bus station to your location and the best route.

As for walking in the medina, on the main street there it is quite okay, the worst it is when you're leaving or entering the riad. Those are hidden in narrow dark streets and everywhere you move someone will try to guide you or will be telling you that the road is closed etc. My advice, which I read here and which works, is to look confident, not confused or afraid. Do not engage in conversation with those trying to show you the way, just tell them "la shookran" and don't pay attention to them anymore. At first, it might seem a bit chaotic and scary, but after a while, you will get used to it.

Cardiff, United...
Level Contributor
1,218 posts
44 reviews
10. Re: Weighing between two areas for riads...opinions please :)

Racial discrimination is no fun at all, I have experience of this myself (not in Marrakech but in the City I was born and currently live in), but you have to keep things in context. If you come across hundreds/thousands of people on your trip in Marrakech, and one person says something silly to you then you cannot take that one person and brand the whole City with the same brush.

Marrakech is split in to two main parts, the new city (Gueliz) and the old city (The Medina), Gueliz feels cosmopolitan, like any European city, it is modern and the chances of you having any trouble here are minimal. The Medina on the other hand is like stepping back in time, it is steeped with history and culture. Unfortunately some of the youths who hang around in the deeper parts of the Medina are also stuck back in time, so comments they may make and they may find funny can actually be quite offensive to others. It is not only aimed at Asians, but anyone who does not look like them including white Europeans/Americans, darker Africans, Indian Asians, middle Eastern Arabs etc. You have to be prepared to ignore them, it may not even happen, so it is pointless worrying about it now, but if it does happen, then you will be prepared and know what to do. The worst thing you can do is start a discussion or argument as you will never be able to persuade the other person that what they are doing is wrong. I am giving you a worst case scenario, and you have to realise this.

I would never cancel my trip over someone else's actions, but I am quite easy going and you have to be in Marrakech as there is a lot of hussle and bussle going on, the middle of the Medina can be very busy and disorientating at times, chances of getting lost are 100%, this is where the youths come it to help you "find your way back", and this is where problems can start.

If you feel very strongly about the issue, then maybe look to stay in Gueliz, or stay in the El Bahia area, my advice would be to stay away from the North end of the Medina (this is my personal opinion, and like I said, you might not get any problems at all in your whole trip).

The red bus is quite low key way of seeing things, having done it myself, I thought it was a complete waste of time. Having been back several times since, I would prefer to hire a driver or guide for the day, pay them €40-€60 and have a great day out.

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