L'Heure Bleue is a pleasure to arrive at after 3 hours driving from somewhere like Marrakech, but is yet another one of those over-priced hotels that promise so much yet deliver so little.
The hotel itself is delightful to look at and is the best place to stay in Essaouira - and the most expensive. It's debatable as to whether you think Essaouira is worth going to. The shopping is certainly lacking - and it's the most windy place I've ever been to, especially in July. Apparently it's always so - a fact that's kept quiet.
We took a suite which cost 530 Euros a night. The suite was nicely decorated, but probably the smallest suite I've ever been in. No point changing suites, they're all the same size. But it was very comfortable, pleasant seating area, good internet connection - and we had a DVD installed due to a total lack of English speaking language channels.
Upon our arrival, after 3 hours on the road, we went up onto the roof terrace for some lunch. We decided a club sandwich would be quick, but actually took 50 minutes to arrive. A little later we ordered some tea down in the courtyard - that took 40 minutes. Heaven knows what takes so long - there were no more than 6 other guests in the whole hotel. How do they cope when it's busy? And more than once we had to return tea or coffee that arrived luke warm. Irritants like this are simply not acceptable in 5* establishments.
We took dinner in the hotel, and it was certainly a nice experience. The food was good, but we did experience better elsewhere. Plus you are paying European prices despite being in North Africa - but that's par for the course at any decent place.
We stayed for 3 nights and it was a pleasant time, but vastly overpriced. I really don't mind paying 530 Euros a night if somewhere is fantastic and memorable, but L'Heure Bleue is simply 'nice' and doesn't leave one with any lasting good impressions.
What I did feel was a damn cheek was that the swimming pool was out of service for the whole of our stay. Considering it was July and we were in Morocco I doubt we were the only guests who wanted to swim. Plus, this is the swimming pool the hotel obviously prides itself on as they feature it prominently in every bit of advertising they do. I did have a word with the rather ridiculously limp-wristed fey French manager, Max, who floats about the place acting like a pathetic Yves Saint Laurent veering towards the edge of a nervous breakdown - but all he could muster up as an explanation was "technical problem - technical problem". Fine, you have a problem - but don't also charge your guests full price if you cannot offer all the facilities!
The same manager (I had originally presumed he was the maitre d' - so was surprised he held the elevated position of manager) flaps about of an evening when you're having dinner and tries to make small talk - but you're inclined to take your napkin and swat him away like a pesky fly.
So, in hindsight we wish we simply had not bothered going to L'Heure Bleue - there was nothing to be gained from the over-priced experience - and we were more than happy to start our 3 hour drive back to Marrakech to the fabulous boutique hotels/riads that will give you a far superior lasting experience. Marrakech has some fantastic places with a real vibe, with fabulous interiors and food - in comparison L'Heure Bleue offers very little, and has the most ridiculous manager you'll probably come across. We quite possibly would have checked out after 2 nights, but I suspect there would have been a fuss at reception - and I simply couldn't be bothered speaking to manager Max again. As it is, at the time of booking (in our case 3 months in advance) they take a 50% deposit. I wont be making that mistake again!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A masterpiece of the Essaouira medina...this palace of marvels lies in the heart of this town loved by artists and aventurers alike. The panoramic outdoor pool on the terrasse overlopks the medina and the ocean. the cuisine offers a subtle blend of french and Moroccan influences ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- l`Heure Bleue Palais Hotel Essaouira
- l`Heure Bleue Palais And Spa
- l Heure Bleue Palais Essaouira