Marrakech is Morocco's most popular tourist destination and is also emerging as one of the Northern Hemisphere's hottest property markets. This is most noticeable in the medina by the number (current estimates reach 1,000) of recently renovated foreign-owned houses, called riads (open-top central courtyard with a garden) or dars (central courtyard without the garden or no central courtyard at all). The great majority of these are operated as maisons d'hôte -- Moroccan versions of the traditional B&B. Also within the medina are a number of inexpensive, backpacker-style hotels located around the pedestrian-only rue Prince Moulay Rachid. Outside the medina's walls, the main concentration of hotels is in Guéliz, the bustling center of the ville nouvelle, or in the quiet, leafy, and well-to-do suburb of Hivernage. Out in the vast palmeraie, on the northeastern outreaches of the city, are some truly luxurious villas. Maisons d'hôte are generally in the expensive to very expensive bracket, although there are a few select places that are cheaper. Moderately priced hotels in Guéliz, by comparison, are numerous, while most, if not all, accommodations in Hivernage are at least expensive if not very expensive. Villas in the palmeraie are, by their very definition, very expensive.
Choosing your accommodations in a city like Marrakech is hugely important. At times the frenetic pace of life here can be overwhelming, and the place that you retreat to each day needs to be a source of comfort. The riads, dars, and maisons d'hôte within the medina offer the full "local" experience, usually at a price that comes with welcome concessions to modern living. Outside Marrakech's walls, the hotels in Guéliz and Hivernage generally offer facilities such as a swimming pool, one or more restaurants, 24-hour reception desk, and an elevator, along with rooms that are air-conditioned and have TVs. Both suburbs have a good choice of restaurants and nightlife, and your hotel will generally only be a long walk or short taxi ride from the medina. The palmeraie is a wide expanse that can be both exotic and dusty, depending on whether you are inside or outside your walled villa, and is too far out to be reached from the city by foot. Personalized yet discreet service, five-star trimmings, and days lounging by the pool are the order of the day out here. My suggestion? Although the nice hotels in Guéliz and Hivernage offer more facilities and are sometimes better value for money, it's only by staying in the medina that you can truly experience this ancient and exotic city. For a perfect combination of culture and relaxation, consider splurging on a couple of nights out in the palmeraie after your time in the medina.
No matter where you stay in Marrakech, late-night street noise generally isn't a problem except for some of the backpacker hotels, which look out onto rue Prince Moulay Rachid, where the evening promenade can continue well into the night. However, if you stay in a maison d'hôte, remember that you are in a residential neighborhood and that children play, dogs bark, and donkeys bray. Winter nights in Marrakech can be surprisingly cold, and the availability of hot water can be an issue at many hotels during this time (even those that claim to offer it 24 hr. a day can sometimes only produce what is best described as a lukewarm trickle). At this time of year, take into consideration that central heating, or any heating for that matter, can be painfully absent from many places. I'm not kidding when I say that it's not unusual to see guests dressed in overcoats and woolly hats at the breakfast table.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.