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“Could be lovely, but....”
Review of Auberge Derkaoua

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Auberge Derkaoua
Ranked #22 of 23 Hotels in Merzouga
Reviewed 21 October 2012

Sorry for a rather lengthly review, but given the other reviews I feel that i have to give this some detailed descriptions.

Making a reservation here is already the first hurdle you have to overcome. Their website doesn't really work, the English version not at all and overall very confusing. Still jumped through the hoops to book here due to the positive reviews on Tripadvisor and in the Rough Guide. Communicated via email and by phone to make the reservation and was not sure to the very day of arrival whether we really had a reservation. We did... Finding the place was far from easy. No directions on the website, none via email, GPS is not available in Morocco and the map was also rather vague. We met people in Fez who stayed here before and the recommended to take the route via Rissani, rather than Erfoud, which we did and which was good advise. The piste via Erfoud is hardly marked. However on tarred road from Rissani you find exactly one sign posted, so you better don't miss it.

Once you arrive you feel like you are getting into a small oasis, which is really nice. The gardens are quite pretty and much greener than I expected for a place in the dessert, also the pool area was very relaxing once you got over the fact that the lounge chairs and the provided towels are not very clean. Our room was quiet but very simple, very dark (which makes some sense in the dessert, but still it makes you feel like in a very dark place and not one filled with sunshine), the bathroom was very basic. You get provided with soap and the oldest towels you have ever seen. I was provided with a hair dryer upon request though. Shampoo is available for purchase.

The food for dinner and lunch was nice. The breakfast is very simple. Music entertainment was provided at the dinner.

For the second night we booked a stay at the hotels own bivouac tent. Communication on how this all works was very poor. We were told by Bouchra that we would be picked up at 4 PM and that we would keep our room although we were not sleeping in it, so that we could take a shower in the room the next morning. We appreciated this very much as we were packing only bare essentials for the night in the tent. However we were than told by a different staff member that we had to clear the room of our luggage, as it would be rented out to other people. When we returned the next morning from the tent and took our luggage again from the car where we had stowed it the afternoon before, we were guided back to our old room which was in the same state as we left it the morning before. Neither cleaned nor used by anyone else.

For the tent night we also booked a sunset camel ride. This was again not properly communicated. While we were under the impression that we would ride by 4x4 to the bivouac and take the camel from there, we were driven to the camels which were then taking us to the bivouac. We were left with the two camels and a Berber guide who didn't speak any English whatsoever and also only very limited French. The guide took us over the first few small sand dunes towards a bigger one to take some pictures, then he walked down to the bottom of those dunes towards a well, which looked deserted and there was a lot of trash. We were the guided halfway up the next dune and then asked to dismount the camel. This was maybe 30 minutes into the whole ride. We then sat about 5 minutes to admire the landscape and were then asked to come back down to the camels, where the Berber guide then showed us fossils and granite items for sale. If you are anything like me, you feel you have to buy something also because you really want to go back on the camel to ride further into the dunes to watch the sunset and not to look at stuff you can buy at any of the souvenir shops. However once we were back on the camels we were guided out of the sand dunes onto the plain grey dessert sand walking away east (so not into the sunset). This stretch is very boring and very long and very uncomfortable. Due to the lack of communication we were literally kept in the dark how long this will take and how much further it is. We finally arrived after almost 3 hours in the bivouac camp.

The night we stayed at the camp we were only 8 guests altogether. It's was a decent size. Anything under 20 would have been okay, however beware, they can fit many more there and it might not be the experience you'd be looking for. They do provide real flushing toilets which is a huge comfort. The dinner was fine in the camp.

During the night we experienced a minor sandstorm. The next morning we were not woken up by any of the staff (who might not even have been on the premises during the night) for the sunrise, as promised before.

Overall it was okay, but not worth the money. There are plenty of kasbahs closer to the dunes, but still far enough away from Merzouga, the main place for the highest dunes. Would not recommend to stay here.

Stayed: October 2012, travelled as a couple
4  Thank 2Hippos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 2 July 2012

Auberge Kasbah Derkaoua may also have a tent in the desert but this establishment is definitely not part of the Sahara circus that one might find nearer Merzouga. We stayed in May and my fellow traveller was taken ill while we were staying here (please see entry The “Real Sahara”). Gary was ill from something he ate in Fez (about 5kg of unwashed salad) the day before we arrived at Auberge Kasbah Derkaoua. The staff were exceptionally helpful and offered to take Gary to the Doctor which would have been a 10km ride in their 4X4 over the sand. Within 36 hours Gary had turned the corner and the offer of medical intervention was not needed but it was very reassuring for me to know it was at hand because Gary was looking towards me for a plan of action – which I didn’t have!
While Gary was confined to his room is was experiencing what a lovely and relaxing Kasbar this is. The food was very good, excellent breakfasts of warm freshly home cooked cakes and pastries, great coffee and fresh orange juice. Evening meals were equally as proficient. The staff were all discrete, kind and thoughtful and cared about our predicament.

  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled with friends
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Thank Vincent P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 June 2012

Forget overly touristed Merzouga on the road right on the dunes. Instead head to the Auberge Kasbah Derkaoua, which because it is slightly more off the beaten track - requiring driving across piste to get to rather than the black top is far more akin to the Sahara I had always imagined. Outside the fort like compound walls it is truly remote, yet inside it really is a cliched oasis. Beatifully manicured gardens envelop a generous terrace area and there is a pool if you can brave the heat (we were there end of May.) If you want to be right upon the dunes then they will drive you in a 4x4 to their bivouac where you can spend the night which would be far more rewarding than heading off from Merzouga. Although I only ate one night the food here is excellent. However the reason I am writing this review, which I have created this tripadvisor account solely to do, is to convey the amazing hospitality of Madame Bouchra and her staff. Unknowingly I had picked up a food bug in Fes from where we had ridden non-stop and the following day I was pretty sick and laid up in bed for 36 hours, plus another 24 hours to try and get some strength to get back on the motorbike. During this time the hostess and her staff couldn't do enough for me - firing up the generator to have air con on during the day (as I had a fever) and when I tried to pay more for the extra diesel instead they lowered our rate. By far the most considerate place we stayed in Morocco or anywhere.

  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled with friends
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1  Thank Gary M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 May 2012

It was amazing to pull up to this auberge in the middle of the desert. We stayed in the desert for two days; one at the auberge and one at the bivouac owned by Bouchra. We loved the room in the auberge and it was great fun eating a lovely meal and spending the night in a tent in the Sahara no less. The sand picked up during the night and the flap of our tents went wild. Made it hard to get the best sleep but the whole experience of camel rides and desert "camping" was great. Nice to have a place at the auberge to shower the next morning--very civilized!!

  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled with friends
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Thank BarbA2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 May 2012

We stayed one night at the auberge and one night at the bivouac and enjoyed both places. The rooms are basic, but clean and comfortable, but where the place really shines is the outdoor spaces. Wish we could have stayed longer and enjoyed the pool, but we loved our lunch outside the day after we arrived. Late that afternoon, we headed for the bivouac, which was magical. We watched the sunset, had dinner and sat around the campfire afterwards. Next day, despite my misgivings, we rode camels into the dunes for sunrise, then came back to hot tea and breakfast.
Be warned - the beds are not comfortable at the bivouac, but it's no big deal in light of all the other great features (e.g., the Western toilets) and it is cold in the early morning.

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled with friends
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Thank star557799
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 May 2012

I've been fortunate enough to accompany guests to Derkaoua on many occasions. If you are unhappy with Derkaoua, you can rest assured that there is nothing better available. The auberge closes in high summer and mid winter, and I really miss it.

The rooms are not basic by local standards - quite the reverse. The auberge occupies a remote oasis; there's no road, water comes from a well, power from diesel generators. Most hotel groups would run a mile from problems like this, and yet Derkaoua provides a genuinely excellent experience. The cooking, at both the bivouac and the auberge, is excellent, the staff are second to none, and the locations genuinely remote.

The bathrooms can be a bit basic, and you should plan an overnight stop between Marrakech and Derkaoua if you possibly can; especially if you are self driving.

Other than that, there's really nothing not to like.

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled on business
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1  Thank Mark_Willenbrock
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 April 2012

We had driven 10~12 hours from Marrakech solely to experience a dawn camel ride into the Sahara Desert. Finding Derkaoua at night was no small feat, but we were very pleasantly surprised to have a wonderful dinner awaiting us. It was to be one of our best meals in Morocco and as it turns out the best thing about Derkaoua is their chef.

Our room was very basic and the sheets were sandy. But it would all be worth it to see the sun rise over the Sahara. Or so we thought. I had written to the hotel in advance of our drive to find out if windy conditions might hinder the desert trip. No response. When we arrived that night it was terribly windy and I asked again and got a shoulder shrug. At 4:30 the next morning we got a knock on the door and the verdict was "c'est impossible". No surprise since howling winds had blown our windows in twice during the night and I had stayed up stuffing toilet paper in the cracks of the door to keep it from banging. After a sleepless night we were able to see in the daylight that every surface of our room was covered in Sahara sand. (For two days I sneezed and coughed red sand.)

We quickly realized that this leg of our Moroccan road trip was a disaster and that we should cut our losses and drive straight back to Marrakech. What I thought would be the highlight of our trip turned out to be a low point. Though the hotel clearly has no control over the weather, it is regrettable that they were not forthcoming about conditions that ultimately prevented us from seeing the Sahara. I would strongly advise anyone planning a desert adventure to pay close attention to the weather forecast and adjust your itinerary (and expectations) appropriately.

I should end on a positive note by mentioning that my parents spent a night at Derkaoua 11 years ago and had a wonderful experience under ideal weather conditions. They were able to enjoy dinner under the stars in a lovely courtyard and they were very fond of the proprietor who has since died.

Room Tip: I had asked for a large room and indeed it was. It actually had two bedrooms so we could spread out...
See more room tips
  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank capuferg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Auberge Derkaoua

Address: Route Dunes de sable et Merzouga, Merzouga, Morocco
Region: Morocco > Meknes-Tafilalet Region > Merzouga
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #22 of 23 Hotels in Merzouga
Price Range: £75 - £87 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Auberge Derkaoua 3*
Number of rooms: 21
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Auberge Derkaoua Hotel Merzouga

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