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Bed Bugs in Chefchaouen

Emerson, New Jersey
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Bed Bugs in Chefchaouen

Just wanted to share our bed bug story at Casa La Palma in Chefchaouen. We stayed there in late June 2018. Written from the perspective of my wife..

We travel as a couple ALL the time. This is our 12th country together. We usually go to countries that are equally or less developed than Morocco and we understand that things happen. We have never felt the need to leave such a long, drawn-out review about a negative experience, but this was SO BAD we feel like potential customers need to have a clear idea about what they are getting into. The story can pretty much be summarized by me telling you about the HUGE bed bug INFESTATION (bugs were crawling on us before we could even fall asleep) and the fact that the female owner could not have cared less about us or the trouble that we endured after just a few hours in her hotel. We decided to jot down the whole experience in hopes that we help fellow travelers make safe choices when traveling abroad.

Our stay at Casa La Palma in Chefchaouen started off really great. We took a taxi to Chefchaouen and when we arrived a lovely young man named Rafik met us to help us carry our luggage to the Hotel (thankfully). The view was beautiful but the location is more remote than the other housing options and located at the top of several high stairs at the top of this city on a hill. It is difficult to access if you're traveling with anything more than a backpack. He offered us tea and tried to converse with us as much as possible (our Spanish skills are limited but that was our only common language). We were pretty happy. All of the positive reviews about customer service make sense because their main employee is so kind (just wait, their customer service was downright traumatizing when Rafik was not acting as the hotel representative).

Jet lag had us wide awake until around 1 AM. We grabbed our books and got into bed. Then I felt a slight tickle. I saw a very very teeny tiny little bug on my arm and asked my husband about it. HE FREAKED OUT. I had never seen a bed bug before but he was educated about the issues that arise from an investigation. He began looking around but he didn't have to look hard. Within two minutes I got to see what a fully grown bed bug looked like. He killed about 15 in total while I packed up our stuff and looked for someone in the hotel to help us but we couldn't find anyone.

The bed bugs were all sizes so the infestation had obviously been a problem for some time. They were in our sheets and on the walls. I wish that I would have taken video because trying to describe what I saw seems like an exaggeration… but it’s not. Every area in the room showed signs of bed bug activity. I’m surprised that nobody noticed the issue and reported it sooner.

Unsure about what to do at 1:20 in the morning, we called booking.com (our reservation was booked through them) to help us. The Hotel advertised a 24 hour front desk so the booking.com representative tried calling on our behalf. We heard the phone ring but no one was available to answer. As a result, the booking.com representative sent a cancellation request to the hotel and sent some suggestions for other hotels we could book. We agreed and booked another hotel for the following night. Booking.com was great. We did not want to spend any more time in the room so we sat on the rooftop terrace for a while then ultimately stayed in the dark lobby until someone (Rafik’s coworker) came to the desk around 4:30 am. We told him about the problem and showed him the bed bugs we killed so he put us in a new room across the hall until we could fully address the situation in the morning. (We had still not slept at all). In the meantime, he confirmed our reservation cancelation so we were not responsible for any charges that night.

I tried to fall asleep in the new room but had to wake up after just a few hours because my husband found another bed bug on my back and had just killed it. It was clear that the issue was not confined to our original room. Just thinking back on that morning makes my skin crawl.

Rafik, the gentleman from the day before was so kind and helpful when we told him that the second room had a problem as well. We actually felt like things were going to be okay for a little while. He said he would help us figure out how to get everything washed but asked if we could first wait for the owner to arrive.

We were told that the woman who arrived was the owner. She spoke only French so there was a language barrier but her body language was hostile from the moment she walked in. She was clearly not happy but we figured she was having a bad day too. We called our friend, a former French teacher, to help us translate.

She told us she waived the fee from that night (a moot point considering the reservation was already cancelled a few hours prior) and said she would put us up in one of her other hotels in a different city more than an hour away. It felt like an empty gesture since going to a different city didn't make sense to us. She had only offered that property since it was hers and would cost her nothing and the way she offered it was very flippant, like she was irritated that she had to do anything at all. We had already mapped out our itinerary and chose Chefchaouen after several months of research and planning so we asked if she can offer anything close or even just help us clean up the mess that we were now left with. The amount we had to pay to get ALL our clothes laundered cost more than the price of the room. Plus we lost a day of vacation AND had to endure the bites (they were so bad). She adamantly insisted that she didn't have to help and that our only option was changing our whole itinerary around to meet her needs.

We called our friend back and asked him to explain our side. She ended the call by getting on the phone and booking us a new hotel in the same city with someone whom she seemed to know. We were led to believe that she would not help with cost of laundering our clothes but would help supplement that cost by helping with new accommodations like she had suggested in the first place. It was the same deal as before but we didn't have to leave the city. Everything seemed to work out in a way that felt fair. We cancelled the other hotel reservation that was made through booking.com in light of the new situation. She was still super cold towards us and clearly angry with us for calling her out on the bed bug situation. She told that she would close down for a few days to clean up the problem and that seemed like the right thing to do so I felt good about the way we left things.

Rafik, the kind young man who had been so pleasant this whole time showed us where the dry cleaner was located and afterwards walked us to the new hotel that they booked for us. It was clear that the two establishments were familiar with each other. Rafik and the new gentleman who ran the front desk at this new place talked for a couple of minutes.

FAST FORWARD TO CHECKOUT. She completely screwed us over. Casa La Palma didn't communicate ANYTHING about what happened to the new hotel they booked us at and we ended up with a bill and an argument that escalated so high that WE FELT THE NEED TO CONTACT THE U.S. CONSULATE. The new place was lovely and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone. I feel awful that they got stuck in the middle of this mess.

The woman who we were told was the Casa La Palma owner was ultimately unapologetic about her infestation, had no remorse about the time and money it cost US to fix the problem caused by her establishment, used us as a way to give her "friend" at the other hotel more business, and left us in a very strange/uncomfortable situation with a third party hotel.

As I stated earlier, we travel ALL the time and we understand that things happen, including bed bugs. That's part of traveling. Usually business owners apologize, help us fix whatever issues arise and everyone walks away about even. This owner was not like that. Her staff is excellent. Really truly amazing. But HER business ethics as an owner were awful.

ALL we wanted to do was get cleaned up and get as far away from that building as possible. I believe her employees understood that and were trying to help us. Once she stepped in everything fell apart. She would have been better off not getting involved at all or just offering to help us get our clothes laundered and letting us stay at the place booking.com helped us find. We would have been fine leaving it at that. Instead she took a bad experience and made it even worse.

4 replies to this topic
Kenitra, Morocco
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2,385 posts
107 reviews
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1. Re: Bed Bugs in Chefchaouen

This reads more like a horror review for the hotel. It should be posted here https:/… to warn others about your stay.

You can include photos to which you must have taken at some point 👍

Sounds like the worst start to a vacation.

As powerful as the USA may be the consulate though will not intervene with such a situation. They would give you a phone number for the local tourist police if you were lucky.

I hope you had a better experience in the other cities you visited or hotels.

Edited: 01 July 2018, 03:38
Kenitra, Morocco
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2,385 posts
107 reviews
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2. Re: Bed Bugs in Chefchaouen

I'm also happy to hear the staff etc were helpful. It really seems from your account she was not the most helpful in this situation at all.

You should write a review in the link I provided if that is the same hotel, I'd like to see her response!

But the rest of your holiday and hotels. You have positive stories out of that??

Emerson, New Jersey
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2 posts
3 reviews
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3. Re: Bed Bugs in Chefchaouen

I will write a review for the hotel in the link provided. Would love to hear her response! The rest of our trip has been fantastic, Morocco is a beautiful country

Castril De La Pena...
Destination Expert
for Morocco
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11,811 posts
66 reviews
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4. Re: Bed Bugs in Chefchaouen

You’ve posted this in the general Morocco forum rather than Chefchaouen; I will ask the moderators to move it.

In more than 45 years of extensive travels in Morocco including some very basic downmarket accommodation I’ve only encountered bed bugs twice. Once in Chefchaouen in 1974 and again in Chefchaouen about four years ago. Both times the response from owners was pretty much as you experience. So I deliberately smashed the bugs with my flip flops over the walls to give the next guests some idea of the problem.

This seems to be a huge problem in Chefchaouen with recent reports of bed bugs at Hotel Mauritania, Dar Zman, Dar Dadicilif, Histel Souika, Dar Echchaouen, Aline Hostel, Hotel Riad Casa Hassan, and so on.

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