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.
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- Also Known As:
- Auberge Derkaoua Hotel Merzouga