Posts Tagged With: Marrakesh

Hotel Review: Le Meridien N’Fis Marrakech, 28 December 2015

Le Meridien N'Fis

The Le Meridien N’Fis is a five-star hotel in Marrakech, Morocco. As a category-2 Starwood property, it is quite a sweet spot for redemption, as it costs only 3000-4000 Starpoints for one night (3000 for weekends, 4000 for weekdays). While it gets some bad reviews, I found both the staff and grounds lovely, even though the rooms are a bit dated.

Check In/Check Out:

Check in was a bit slow, but the hospitality made up for it. I was given a form to fill up, but the hotel staff made it better, as I was given a mint tea, and provided with a pen to fill up the form. That’s how you make an annoying task more pleasant! I was also upgraded to an executive room, which features a small private terrace (it really wasn’t that fancy).

Check out was quick, even though there was a couple in front of me.

Le Meridien N'Fis

Room:

I was upgraded to an executive room at check in. It has a small private terrace, and featured garden views. The room is large. The room itself is rather dated, so you can see the wear and tear in the room and bathroom. There was a nice welcome amenity of fruits and a large bottle of water.

Le Meridien N'Fis

The bathroom was also decent, and had quite an expanded selection of bath products. The tub itself has anti-slip strips, which I actually appreciate, because I’ve been trying to not get killed when I shower in a lot of hotel showers. However, it didn’t look too elegant (very haphazardly installed), but this could be an easy fix.

Le Meridien N'Fis

There is a king size bed to the side of the room. It was comfortable, and I had a good night’s sleep. I have some mixed feelings about the switch right in the middle of the headboard. On the one hand, it’s functional, on the other hand, it’s a bit of an odd place to have it. On the bed, there’s a welcome package – do look through it. Some of the interesting offers include a complimentary coffee/tea at the hotel lounge, and there was also a complimentary pass to Maison de Photographie in the medina.

Le Meridien N'Fis

Grounds:

The Le Meridien N’Fis is actually a resort. It is actually quite a sprawling property, and the grounds are quite lovely. I loved the nice fountain feature, and while it was too cold to swim in December, it looks pretty nice. They also have a tennis court.

Le Meridien N'Fis

Wireless:

It was fast, stable, and complimentary.

Business Center:

They have a couple of computers in the lobby. They also have a printer. I did make use of it to print out a boarding pass.

Breakfast:

Breakfast was not included in my rate, and it was 200 DH per person. There was a nice selection. They have a very cool selection of freshly-squeezed juices, including Moroccan fruit mixers. They were very refreshing.

They have a very nice selection of pastries, and they all tasted excellent. The selection also changes over the course of breakfast. They also have a small section with Moroccan offerings: soup and flatbread. They have a hot selection (beef sausage, potatoes, etc), and eggs made to order.

Service:

I thought it was attentive, and friendly. No complaints.

Overall:

Le Meridien N’Fis is quite a lovely five-star hotel. The rooms are rather dated, but I still enjoyed my stay. The lovely grounds actually make it quite pleasant to spend some time in the hotel, even though I didn’t spend too much time lounging around. It could be a great idea to lounge in the hotel by the pool during the hottest hours in summer.

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Categories: Hotel, Lodgings, Premium Travel, Starwood | Tags: | 2 Comments

Morocco to Spain: Marrakech to Madrid, 29 December 2015

Madrid

T’was a travel day. I’m mostly just getting my butt from Marrakech to Madrid. I stayed at the hotel until the noon check-out. I made the mistake of taking a taxi just stationed outside the hotel (read: tourist trap). It’s actually a short ride from the hotel to the airport (~2 miles), and the taxi ride should have cost, at maximum, 70 DH. But the taxi driver pointed at some stupid sign on his taxi, saying that he drove me from the further place (not true), and demanded I pay him 100 DH. I just told him that all I had was 50 DH, and 3 Euros, and he could take it or leave it. In retrospect, I’m still pissed that I even gave him the 3 Euros. It’s not a big amount of money, but I hate being extorted by dishonest people. More than that, it’s also the assumption that travellers are stupid, and deserves to be fleeced. Oh well.

Marrakech

After that, it was just a waiting game at the Marrakech airport. Marrakech airport is quite a small airport. They provide 1.5 hrs of free wifi, but you’ll get logged out every 30 mins, so you need to re-log-in every time. You can use multiple devices to extend the free wifi time. Food at the airport is rather pricy (~60 DH sandwiches), so if you are trying to save some money, you should pack some of your food.

Madrid

My Ryanair flight was delayed, so that kinda sucked, because I was already going into Madrid rather late (8+ in the evening), and the late flight meant that I was getting in even later. Fortunately, we did board eventually.

After getting into Madrid T1, I followed the clearly marked signs to the metro station, which is located closer to T2. I got a ticket (5 EUR) on the metro for my station. Thankfully, my hotel is actually on the brown line, so it was one simple change, and a ride to the end of the brown line. I got into my hotel by 10 pm, and after a quick check-in, I went to grab some Burger King before turning in for the night.

Costs:

Transportation: 50 DH + 10 EUR

Food: 200 DH + 8 EUR

Accommodations: 27 EUR

Total: 250 DH (~25 USD) + 45 EUR

Categories: Airport, Morocco, Spain, Travel Scam, Travel Tip | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Morocco: Casablanca – Marrakech, 28 December 2015

Marrakech

In the morning, I took the train from Casablanca to Marrekech. I got to Casablanca Voyager train station by the Casablanca tramline (7 DH). The trip was about 19 min. The schedule posted on Seat61 is slightly outdated (states that trains leave 20 past the hour), but worked out in my favor (they left 50 past the hour), because I was a little bit late to the train station. I tried to get a first class ticket, but they weren’t selling them, so some money saved (90 DH). They seem to be using the newer trains, which are faster – the journey took a little over 3 hours. While waiting for the train to arrive, I popped into a cafeteria by the platform, and got myself a 20 DH sandwich. Sitting on my roller carry-on, munching on my chicken sandwich, while waiting for my train, all was right with the world.

Boarding second class was quite a mad house, but after walking through a few private cabins, I managed to find one with some empty seats, with the other seats filled with some lovely ladies. It was a very pleasant 3+ hour ride from Casablanca to Marrakech, whereby these lovely ladies just stuffed me with chocolate wafers!

Pulling into the very modern Marrakech train station, it seemed like yet another tourist death trap, with taxi drivers approaching tourists to offer taxi rides. I decided to try walking to the Le Meridien N’Fis (it’s about 1.5 miles from the train station). Eventually, I did get picked up by a taxi driver, who was out hunting for tourist meat, but I negotiated my rate to 15 DH.

After a short rest at my hotel, I ventured to the Marrakech medina, which is about a 20 min walk from my hotel. The medina was quite the adventure that I did not emerge from. I did not pick up a map, nor did I have GPS on my phone. What transpired in the next 5 hours was me just getting very, epic-ly lost.

Marrakech

Things started off well enough. I located the Koutoubia Minaret. I moved towards the outer limits of the medina, and stopped off at a nice snack store, which sold a crepe-like pastry filled with potatoes and spices. It was 7 DH for one, with a cup of tea. I finally made my way into the medina, and that’s when the craziness began. At every corner of the medina, there’re generally young men standing around, offering to bring you around, or offering to practice English/French/whatever. Well, avoid them – if they accompany you, there’s a good chance they’ll be demanding money from you for their ‘services rendered’.

Marrakech

Being in the medina is like a corn maze. My initial game plan was to try and use the minaret as my guide, but in the medina, you can’t see anything. Also, a lot of the stores looked rather similar, so that wasn’t helpful. After a while, it seemed like I was just going round and round and round. My hotel provided a complimentary entry (otherwise, 40DH) to the Maison de Photographie, which offers great views from its rooftop. Eventually, I located it with the ‘help’ of a ‘student’. The rooftop is excellent for a bird’s eye view of Marrakech, and if you love taking photographs, it’s an amazing spot for sunset photography of Marrakech.

Marrakech

After leaving the Maison de Photographie, I wanted to check out the Djemaa El-Fna, and have my dinner there. I was trying to follow the signs, but at some point, I lost it, and wound up just walking round and round the medina, and ended up in some residential neighborhoods. Eventually, after some two hours of walking around, I finally managed to find an opening, where I spotted the Koutoubia Minaret, and made my way to Djemaa El-Fna, which is beside the Koutoubia Minaret.

Marrakech

The Djeemaa El-Fna is packed! There are dancers, acrobat acts, food vendors, and arcade-like games. I just went to the first stall with grilled meats, and settled down to a dinner of beef skewers (30DH, but they charged me 35DH). I was overcharged for some mysterious reason, but was too tired to argue with that. After an excellent dinner, I walked back to my hotel. The medina is actually a fun experience, but do take a map, or it could turn into quite an exhausting walk! It is also generally more manageable, if you don’t react as strongly to tourist scams as I do – I just hate getting ripped off.

Marrakech Marrakech

Costs

Transportation: 112 DH (7 + 90 + 15)

Food: 42 DH (35 + 7)

Accommodation: 4000 Starpoints

Total: 150 DH + 4000 Starpoints (15 USD)

Marrakech

Categories: Morocco, Travel Mishap, Travel Scam, Uncategorized, UNESCO | Tags: | 1 Comment

Hello Iberian Peninsula: Spain, Portugal, Morocco, 23 – 31 December 2015

I got in on the British Airways premium fare sale last week (transatlantic business class for ~1000 USD, without Avios discounts), and while I actually had no plans of flying again this year, this mileage running opportunity (more on that later) was a bit too good to pass up.

23 Dec: Madrid, Spain

24 Dec: Madrid, Spain – Lisbon, Portugal

25 Dec: Lisbon, Portugal

26 Dec: Lisbon, Portugal – Madrid, Spain – Rabat, Morocco

27 Dec: Rabat, Morocco – Casablanca, Morocco

28 Dec: Casablanca, Morocco – Marrakesh, Morocco

29 Dec: Marrakesh, Morocco – Madrid, Spain

30 Dec: Madrid, Spain

31 Dec: Madrid, Spain

While others with bountiful British Avios managed to get their out-of-pocket costs down to around ~300 USD for a transcontinental Business class flight, I don’t have any Avios. Nevertheless, this trip makes a lot of sense to me. I get to fly to Europe in Business class comfort at Economy class fares (Seattle is generally not a great market for fare sales to Europe), and in addition to that, because of a OneWorld deal, flying transatlantic in business or first class will give me 25,000 bonus miles in AAdvantage. As a result of this ~$1000 trip, not only will I get to visit three countries I haven’t been, but I will get around 45,000 miles, which is good for either an economy round trip to Central America, or a one-way business class ticket to South America.

Categories: Itinerary, Miles&Points, Morocco, Portugal, Spain | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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