If you're concerned about sleeping in the desert without toilet and amenities and don't feel like roughing it up this is the place. It sounds very western but that was the main reason I went with this. And believe me, you still get plenty of authentic experience. Unless you're a diehard backpacker, you will enjoy it.
Where this place delivers is in the whole amenities. Nice tents (although not at all impressive as some mentioned), nice food, toilets (yes, 3 REAL toilets, in the desert, just enjoy don’t try to figure it out), and I think even a shower. Running water in the common bathroom. Very comfortable.
Also, I get the feeling that it's somewhat isolated, so we didn't see other groups nearby. Not sure if it's the best location or not (read a lot about that on forums) but we sincerely enjoyed it.
Where the place falls completely short is on the Service. Especially for the reservations. First, you have to wire the money, which is a serious annoyance in the Credit Card era. But worst, you get to deal with the very bossy, sarcastic and borderline rude person at the reception (Bouchra). To the point that I was ready to switch to another hotel if not (ok, don't laught) for the fact that these guys had the actual toilets :). I also witnessed a scene when we were leaving and she was raising the voice and treating some customers with total lack of respect, for not serious reason. And when I was checking out she asked more money than what I was supposed to pay. I showed her the email confirmation that she sent me where it was clearly mentioned how much I had to pay on check out (in DHs) but she just didn't want to hear anything . I didn't even argue for her extra $10 or so and just left it at that.
They let us use the pool of the hotel as we arrived earlier, which was a nice gesture. The pool is nice. The grounds of the hotel not bad but a bit tired.
Be careful, it does get VERY cold in the desert in the evening and morning. Strangely enough, my friend asked if he should be bringing a sweater and was told by the manager that there was no need! He spent the night and morning wrapped in blankets. Clearly they just didn't want to bother with explanations or anything (we spoke French by the way, so no miscommunication) and were just looking to load us in the Jeep the fastest possible to drop us at the Bivouak so we could get out of their hair. Or at least this is the feeling they left us.
Another glitch: in the morning, after the sunrise, we all gather in the dining tents and had to wait for about 45 min to get hot tea. We were freezing! And guests repeatedly went to the kitchen to ask for something warm and got the usual ``soon, soon``. Clearly a lack of experience. Not a major thing but very reflective that they employ inexperienced people. Which is not the type of service you would expect for the premium price you pay here.
If you decide to turn a blind eye to the service (or lack of) and attitude, go there. The comfort is a decent compromise and doesn't offset the true desert experience.
By the way, I really think one night is enough and not need to spend an extra one. Also, be aware that this will likely not be your best night of sleep (wind makes it very noisy and side of tent keeps clapping against the fabric). We were all very tired in the morning especially that we did wake up very early for Sunrise (I found Sunset way more impressive BTW). So don't plan a long drive the following day. We drove to Tinerghir, which is not a long way, and it still felt almost too far away.
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- Also Known As:
- Auberge Derkaoua Hotel Merzouga