Sorry for the length of the report, I just hope some of it helps someone.
We went with Ryanair from Bristol to Marrakech, they were really strict this time round, at the boarding gate they checked the dimensions on every single piece of hand luggage for every passenger, only 1 bag allowed (including purses, duty free bags etc). It caused a bit of a wait before boarding but we eventually took off on time. 3½ hours later we landed in Marrakech. Another 2 planes landed the same time as ours, I was dreading the passport control but it seems it is a lot better than last year, it only took us around 5 minutes to get through, make sure you have completed your landing cards (they give you on the plane) else you will have to complete them before going through passport control.
I have always heard of the dreaded taxi drivers outside the terminal building but I have not experienced them first hand, so on this visit I thought I would give it a go. There were 3 of us and we went to see the first taxi driver, he would not give us a price and told us to go and see the controller (the man with the walkie talkie, who claimed he was the boss!). "How much to the medina" I asked, "300 Dirhams" was the answer. I knew the rate was closer to 100, so I offered the 100 Dirhams, "NO WAY", he replied, as I was talking to him, some other tourists came upto him, and asked the same question, he said "300 Dirhams to the medina" and they just got into the first taxi. Then another couple, the same thing happened. I thought no wonder they can ask as much money as they want. We walked out of the airport compound (around 40 meters to the right). I flagged a moving taxi outside the airport and asked him how much it would cost to the medina, he gave a checky smile and said 30 Dirhams (around £2.50), we got in and he asked for 30 Dirhams at the end of the trip.
We stayed in a riad in the medina, it was Riad Bab Marrakech. I have posted a full review of this riad but to say it was a great place to chillout and relax. It has a great location and is in a very quite part of the medina (around a 5 minute walk away from Jemma el Fna square). The riad has been recently renovated and looks great. The staff were really helpful and nice and I would highly recommend this riad, a real hidden gem.
Marrakech was just the same as always, I thought the hassle from the vendors was a lot less than on previous visits, although whilst travelling through the souks going towards Medrassa Ben Yousef, we did get quite a few offers of "we will show you how to get to the Medrassa", a firm "LAA, SHUKRAN" seemed to work everytime.
The taxi drivers seem to have got a lot worse in the last 6 months, we took 7 taxis around Marrakech and only 2 of them put their meters on. It seems standard for them to ask for 50 Dirhams, regardless of where you are going, when you know the fare should only be 7 or 8 Dirhams, you can offer 10 but they will not accept. It seems the lowest they are willing to go now is 20 Dirhams, you have the choice to either wait for another taxi or just pay the higher amount. Something must be done to protect the tourists from the rougue taxi drivers operating in Marrakech.
One thing I have learned is that you have to haggle for everything in Morocco, it can be great fun but can get a bit much at times. If you think the vendor is asking too much then just walk off. I tend to offer such a low price to start off with, and then gradually go up to what I am willing to pay. It is great fun looking at some of the expressions the sellers make when you offer them a ridiculous price (most say, "take it free") or ("50 Dirhams, thats just for looking"). You must stay strong and confident around these sellers, they seem to be able to smell fear and are ready to exploite anybody who is not 100% alert.
We had a daytrip into the Atlas Mountains, we opted to goto Imlil and to have a walk around there. We hired our own driver and pre-booked a guide that was recommended to us on tripadvisor. The guide charged us a total of 330 Dirhams (£9 each) for a 4 hour hike around Imlil, he offered to take us to a berber house for lunch for an extra £4 each. We took him up on his offer of lunch which was served in a B+B (not a berber house) but it was really nice food and did not bother us. I would recommend this guide as he spoke fluent English and knew the area around Imlil/Toubkal really well. If you want his contact details then feel free to email me and I will pass them on.
Food, we had lots of different types of food on our 4 days. My favourite was the kefta tagine served in our riad, it was simply fantastic. We also tried the food on the jemma el fna stalls (number 1), it was the busiest out of all of them, it took a while for our food to come but it was really nice and they did not try to overcharge us like some of the outdoor stalls we have previously tried. The best BBQ food we had on our trip was at Mr Brochette, it is a new place opened just opposite the Hotel Agdal (in Gueliz). A meal there cost around £8 (inc drinks and desert).
We purchased our cosmetic Argan Oil at Herboristerie Firdaous, this shop is probably one of Marrakech's best kept secrets. Its location is very close to Jemma el Fna square but if you haven't heard of it you will never end up going there (it is in the middle of a shopping centre you can hardly notice if just walking along the street). Everything sold at this shop is genuine, it is a bit pricey but you get what you pay for, the prices are fixed and there is no haggling to be done (believe me, I did try). 250ml of the best argan oil costs around £13, it is cheaper than you will find in some co-operative factories around Essouria. They also sell all sorts of essential oils in this place, be warned they all smell great and you can end up spending quite a bit of money in there. We purchased peppermint oil, orange oil, amber oil and royal sandle oil. If you want the exact location of this shop then feel free to email me and I will send you the directions (along with a few photos) to help you find the place.
Marrakech is an enchanting city, my friends and I love the place and I am sure that we will be going back there soon. Yes, you will get hassled there, yes the taxi drivers will drive you mad, yes you will come across beggers, but then there are positives, the people you meet, the riad you stay at, the experiences, the sights and smells around the souks, the food, the people going about their daily buisness. If you are going for more than 3 days, then go on daytrips out of the city and discover new places, it is great fun and very addictive.