Hotel Ali is a popular backpacker stop in Marrakech and while we didn't stay here, we did pop in to try and get information on Toubkal. In general, it’s known as a good place for arranging trips outside Marrakech and for meeting up with fellow travellers. We were worried that the Toubkal refuge would be booked out on the day we wanted to visit so we hoped to find some way of reserving a place here or even getting a number.
If you think there are a lot of backpacker's in Marrakech, wait till you see Hotel Ali. It's full of them. It seems like a fairly good place to stay though perhaps a bit too much home from home. One of the guys sitting around in the hotel asked could he help us and after we explained what we needed he returned with the number of the guy who runs the refuge. He was a friendly guy called Abdul. I heard one of the other guys sitting around say to him in French he should chare us but he didn't. So Hotel Ali passes the test.
MUST HAVE beer, wine, etc?
Marrakeshis do their "grocery" shopping for the most part in various areas of the souks as well as at tiny little closet-sized stores at which you walk up and tell the man behind the counter what it is you want, and amazingly, he'll probably have it somewhere right behind him (eggs, shampoo, what have you). However, you will not find beer or wine within the souks or at the closet-sized stores.
This means you must trek into the ville nouveau. No worries, just take Mohammed V boulevard (on foot, by taxi, galeche or bus) in the direction of the new city. Acima exists on Mohammed V boulevard.
Here you'll find a traditional grocery with isles and isles of food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, a nice deli/bakery with a great "scoop-it-yourself" spice section (and olives! mmmm! get some olives). They've got a great cheese selection considering. And, an area at the opposite end of the store that contains quite a selection of wines (mostly French and Morrocan), beer and even liquor.
We came here to buy an assortment of cheeses and wine to share with our new friends that ran our riad. Olives, spices, cheese, wine, beer... Good cheese is priced SO much better than it is here, in the U.S., great brie, goat cheeses, etc. Big chunks for like $1.50! Bottles of wine are in the $5-8 range.
Cakes and coffee at Patisserie des Princes
This big shop sells biscuits, cake and icecream in the front.
Check out all the lovely cakes on offer, and decide which one you want. Then, elbow your way through the crowd to the quite back of the shop and sit down in the Salon de The. (There is more seating upstairs!) Order your drink and cake, or have an icecream, and relax.
My favourite time for a visit is in the evening after dinner. Skip dessert at the restaurant and come here! Both the shop and salon are nice and quiet then and service is super-fast.
Prices are great considering the good quality of the food: cakes for 15 - 20 dh, coffee for 6 - 10 dh. They serve moroccan coffee or Illy espresso. Icecream sorbets for around 30 dh. A noss-noss (half coffee, half hot milk) with a piece of cake - any of the gateaux!
El Bahia Palace
The El Bahia Palace or "the Palace of the Favorite" is the work of two pwerful vizirs: Si Moussa and his son Ba Ahmed. The Palace complex is form of two parts of different time.
The old part, made by Si Moussa is form with some appartments organize around a paved aera.
The recent part, made by Ba Ahmed is a huge palace build without plan.
For more El Bahia Palace pictures go to my El Bahia Palace travelogue.
The entry fee is 15dh.
Storks – everywhere
This tip is not about a specific site, but more or less a recommendation to look upwards every now and then, especially if you are strolling around in the medina nearby Bab er Rob (close to Bab Agnaou), in the Kasbah and in and around the Badi Palace. It looks like these old walls of the palace are made for stork nests; the best views are from the ‘look out’ on the roof.
The black-white birds are flying to and from their nests, providing a little bit extra to ‘bird watchers’.
We had a perfect view of a nesting couple of storks from the highest floor of Café/bar Nid'Cigogne (Stork’s Nest) This café is located just opposite the entrance to the Saadian Tombs. There was a nest on a piece of decayed wall at the same level as we were and I was able to shoot nice pictures even without a telephoto lens.