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Many of the hotels in Morocco make use of the Arabic architecture that the country is most known for. Many hotels and hostels alike are considered "riads," which have a central open courtyard in the center. The courtyard brings in the light and weather which really adds to the atmosphere. It is very much part of the experience to stay in a riad while you travel through Morocco.
Most cities have some accommodation available in their medina, or historic city center. Unless they have been newly renovated, they may feel a little run down, but they will give you an authentic experience in a perfectly central location. It really is your best option to stay in the medina if you can.
If you want more modern accommodation, you can often stay just outside the medina area. You'll lose a lot of the atmosphere and character, but it will be made up for in modern amenities.
Understanding Your Budget
Like with everything else in Morocco, negotiate the price of your hotel room. The budget accommodation options tend to have more flexible pricing than the higher end accommodation, which most people book in advance. It is possible to arrive without reservations and find an affordable hostel at a very reasonable rate, particularly if you're traveling in the off season. There are many, many choices available in Morocco's major cities, many of which you won't find on internet booking engines. They're often tucked away in back corners of the medina, and offer a cozy and intimate atmosphere.
Morocco's peak travel season is usually during the fall and spring seasons when the weather is quite comfortable. This cities remain crowded and the prices high during the summer months though, despite the hot weather. If you're interested in getting the best deal, visit Morocco in the winter. The weather is often still mild, but in recent years there have been some unexpected cold winters, particularly in the mountains. You'll also see more rain during the winter months so come prepared. The prices will definitely be substantially less though when the owners try to fill their accommodation despite the thin crowds.
A Variety of Choices
Morocco accommodation is varied both in quality and price. You can find many luxury options, particularly in the most popular cities such as Marrakesh or Fez. Alternatively, you can arrive without reservations and find budget options in most locations. You're less likely to find a dorm bed than a cheap private room, but prices are comparable between the two so you may as well go for the privacy. In some cities, such as Essaouira, it's possible to rent a room or even an apartment in a resident's house. It's best to have a specific location in mind though, as these options can be hard to find once you've arrived. If you're renting a whole apartment it'll be the most efficient if you share with friends or fellow travelers you meet on the road. Most apartments come equipped with a kitchen. It's a fun activity to head to the market and buy a bunch of food and spices, then try your hand at making your own Moroccan feast. It's a different way to experience the culture and save yourself a little money at the same time.
Riads are the most famous and popular type of accommodation. It's easy to drop a large amount of money on a room in a riad, but you could also find plenty that are affordable and nice. There likely won't be a restaurant in the cheaper options and the details will be less impressive, but you'll still have the experience of staying in an authentic Moroccan Riad, even if it is without some of the glamor.
Marrakech has a huge selection of accommodation options and you shouldn't have any trouble finding something that suits your needs. Most of the budget options are concentrated in the medina area in and around Djemaa el-Fna Square. From here it is easy to explore the city's most popular attractions and eat at the best restaurants. Just outside of the medina you'll find some of the nicest international chain hotels. These are often large and luxurious and many have Moroccan style restaurants attached. If you have the money to spend you'll do better to skip out on the western chain hotels and opt for a traditional riad. Even if you can't afford to stay at one, do try and visit one. Most owners will eagerly show you around. Some of the nicest to visit include Riad Cinnamon, Riad Laksiba and Riad Papillon.
When you first arrive at the square you'll likely be approached by a tout (often a child) who will want to show you to a hotel. If you have reservations let them know and continue on. If they do help you with directions it is customary to give them a small tip. If you don't have reservations they will have any number of suggestions for you. The prices will be dramatically elevated and the places they take you will pay them kickbacks (which will come out of your pocket). You are much better off finding your own hotel if possible.
It is definitely your best option in Fez to stay within the medina. Although the budget hotels are often a little older, they are conveniently close to everything. The new town in Fez is far away and difficult to reach. If you do choose to stay in the newer areas you will end up spending a lot of time and money on taxis.
If you're looking for comfort it might be worth spending a few more dollars on a nicer place in the medina however. The most budget options in Fez have seen better days. The hot water is often limited (or nonexistent) and the rooms can be a little dark. But do keep in mind you don't come to Fez to stay in your hotel room. Location is key and if that means making a few sacrifices then in this case it's worth it.