REVIEW: Eden Andalou Hotel and Aquapark, Marrakech
By Helen Wright
- Location Marrakech, Morocco (15 minutes from the main square)
- Bed comfiness 2/10
- Pool Two great pools plus the Aquapark (next door)
- WIFI Free and very good
- Best thing? Swimming Pool
- Worst thing? No activities / areas for a baby or toddler
- The all-important plug by the bed? NO!
Welcome to passportstamps.uk. We are Helen and Simon, award-winning travel bloggers from the UK and parents to Finn. This post details our personal experience and honest review of the 5* Eden Andalou Hotel and Aquapark in Marrakech, Morocco.
We were visiting Marrakech with our 19-month-old baby and were looking for a hotel with a good swimming pool within 15 or 20 minutes of the Main Square, old town and Medina. Choosing to book a package through Teletext Holidays we found a few potential options and decided to go for the 5* Eden Andalou Hotel and Aquapark. The seven day all-inclusive package price for this hotel, including flights on RyanAir and private transfers was £709 per adult (+ £40 flight charge for Finn), so it was a very good deal. We wanted to spend half our time exploring Marrakech and half our time at the resort, so a hotel at a moderate price point was adequate.
Read our post on what to do in Marrakech here (opens in a new window).
Eden Andalou Hotel Review
The first thing to make clear in my review of the Eden Andalou Hotel is that this is in no way a five star hotel by any stretch of the imagination. Having reviewed many hotels over 12 years of being a journalist, I would firmly describe this resort as a three star hotel. I explain my reasons for this at the bottom of this post.
About the Eden Andalou resort
The hotel is around 20 minutes by taxi from Marrakech Menara Airport. It is situated inside a gated wall with security at the entrance. The resort is set within lush grounds with manicured gardens and trees providing plenty of shade. The guest rooms surround the two swimming pools and an outside dining and entertainment area, forming a courtyard.
Checking in was pretty smooth. Our room wasn’t ready but we were given our all-inclusive wristbands. Our luggage was stored until we could access our room at 2.30pm. Fresh mint tea was offered in the lobby and we were invited to take advantage of the buffet lunch while we waited. WIFI is free and really strong throughout the resort.
LARGE ROOMS WITH SPACE FOR FAMILY
Our room (number 155) was at the back of the resort, which gratefully we later found to be the quieter area. Beds were two singles pushed together to make a double, typical of resorts like this in north Africa and Europe. They are called suites by the hotel but, really, it’s just a big room with a divide in the middle and a heavy curtain to make an annex. This area has two day beds on either side of the room, suitable to sleep a child or teenager in. There was also plenty of room for us to put in a crib for Finn, which was great. The curtain also meant that once Finn was asleep in his cot we could use the rest of the room, including putting the lights on, without disturbing him. I think this is a huge perk for parents on holiday with young kids because then you can have some time to relax without sitting in the dark. There is also a little patio outside the room with a table and two chairs to sit and have a drink while Finn slept inside.
The beds themselves were quite comfortable but the pillows were very hard, almost to the point of discomfort. I actually slept with a rolled up hoodie under my head to make them a bit softer to rest on. Another frustration was that the room had limited plug sockets and a huge bug bear of mine – no plugs by the bed.
There is a safe, an empty fridge and lots of wardrobe storage. There is also a flat screen TV (although our remote control didn’t seem to work so we couldn’t turn it on). This didn’t really bother us though as we weren’t really in the room enough to care about putting the TV on. The air conditioning was quiet and really good.
THE BATHROOM WAS A LET DOWN
The bathroom was an area that I really felt let the room down. There was a large double sink and mirror with a bath on one side and a shower cubicle on the other. The toilet was separate in its own room with a closeable door.
Here is where the ‘five star’ claim of the hotel is immediately discredited. The towels were horrible. Really, quite nasty. They were so thin, hard and threadbare I wouldn’t give them to a guest in my house to wipe their feet on. They were clean but had been boil washed within an inch of their life (over what seemed like 20 years) and I was absolutely appalled. I have used softer, better quality towels in a two-star hotel, let alone one that claims to provide five star amenities. This is something they should improve immediately. On top of that, despite the room having three occupants, we were only given two bath towels and two hand towels, plus a floor mat. This really wasn’t enough.
The other limitations for the bathroom were that neither the bath nor the shower cubicle, which were both segregated from the rest of the bathroom, had a light above them. This meant you had to wash in very low light. When you are bathing a baby or toddler, this is actually very inconvenient. The products provided were hotel branded and not very nice. We only used the hand soap. There was also a pretty poor wall-mounted hairdryer.
The pool didn’t disappoint
There are two large pools. The main pool, around which are most of the sun loungers, is large with a shallow entrance but mostly too deep for me to stand up in (I am 5ft 6). The teenage kids at the hotel all seemed to love it, as it was perfect for diving and jumping off lilos and tubes etc. Despite the resort being very busy (all the sun loungers were taken all the time) the pool itself never felt too crowded and there was a good atmosphere.
The other swimming pool is more of a decorative pool at the courtyard of the hotel but at some points of the day it had a line of water jets along the side and was fun to use. It had a graduated entry, which meant Finn could stand up in the water for a good third of the pool and he loved that. Lifeguards are on patrol at both pools.
There is also a little ‘kids’ paddling pool and we spent most of our time there because it was the only water area in the shade. What was a shame was that nothing had been done to make this pool fun for little children and babies. It was just a square hole in the ground really. Finn loved playing in there because he loves splashing in the water but it wasn’t very nice as we saw quite a few guests using the pool to wash their flip flops. I think it would help if some effort had been made to make it clear it’s a paddling pool for babies and then guests might be less likely to do this.
Towels have to be rented for £8 each and the money is returned at the end of the stay. You are given a pass so you can exchange for fresh towels during your stay at a little towel hut. Ironically, the towels at the pool were super fluffy and soft so I’m not sure why the towels in the room are so hideous.
There are signs around the pool that the hotel doesn’t allow the keeping of sun loungers while you are not using them (to stop guests ‘reserving’ all the best ones and then going off for hours at a time). However, this didn’t seem to be upheld in any way and most of the best lounge chair areas (with umbrellas or shade) were already ‘taken’ before we came down to breakfast… There are quite lot of loungers around the pool but not many with umbrellas.
Another huge issue I had with the pool area was with the music being played. Most of the day is general chill out music, which was fine. But during the ‘animation’ time where they play games and have competitions in the pool, loud club music is blared out of the speakers. Some of the track choices were extremely inappropriate for a family hotel with songs including the F word and the P word… If Finn had been older I would have made a very strong complaint to management about that. But, even so, I don’t want to spend my holiday listening to music containing constant swearing and profanity. (The song in question was called Ratata by DJ Aymoune).
There is also a schedule of activities listed in reception, including aqua aerobics and yoga in the garden.
Use of the aquapark
One of the big selling points of this hotel is the free use of the neighbouring Aquapark next door to the hotel. The water park is linked to the hotel through a side gate and entry is free with your all-inclusive wristband. This is a great perk, especially for families with older children and teenagers. The park has around 12 big slides as well as a lazy river and a kiddie pirate pool for little ones. We actually had a great time on the slides ourselves. There are no lines so we took it in turn to ride. Sadly, the lazy river wasn’t quite as lazy as I’d hoped as there seemed to be no current so you had to move yourself along…
The kids area is fun with a few different mini slides and a bucket of water that tips and sprays water out every five minutes or so. We had to carry Finn about in the pool because it was too deep for him to stand up. An area with more shallow water would be more practical for babies to play.
The Aquapark is a good bonus to your stay but, again, I felt it was not that suitable for families with babies. It looks a little baron and there is hardly any shade at all, yet the water was so cold Finn’s lips were a little bit purple so he didn’t actually enjoy it that much. Worth noting that the water temperature is fine for older kids and adults, especially in the August heat! We were grateful for it!
REALTED POST: What to do in Marrakech with a baby or toddler
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The main all-inclusive dining option is the large canteen buffet. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served here. In the spirit of full disclosure, I am not much of a buffet fan so I knew I wasn’t going to love the dining experience, but I appreciate that is how most moderately priced all-inclusive resorts work. I’d say the food was a mixed bag. There is a BBQ serving grilled fish outside and also chefs serving freshly cooked chicken and fish inside. It was fine, and frequently replenished, but a bit bland and flavourless. It wasn’t bad food, just a bit boring and the meat and fish always seemed a bit dry and over-cooked. There is a full salad bar and general buffet options such as tagines, mashed potato, pizza and chips. The best thing I ate was a bowl of fresh bolognese, cooked to my specification by a chef at the pasta area. We also fed this to Finn most days and he devoured it.
Waitresses push drinks trolleys around serving beer, wine and soft drinks and they come around very frequently so we never had to wait to be topped up. I thought this was really good service. Dessert options included ice cream, an assortment of cakes and fresh melon. Nothing to write home about, but it did the job. Breakfast was probably the weakest offering. The ‘hot’ water wasn’t boiling, just warm, so it was impossible to make a cup of tea. The food was basic with some slightly odd options like lentils and lamb koftas alongside eggs, toast and pastries.
I loved the fact the baby highchairs were properly cleaned and left with Clingfilm over them. It was very hygienic and Finn loved ripping off the plastic each day. Staff were really happy and friendly, always coming over to say hello and talk to Finn. I do think the general feeling of the hotel was good all over really. Other guests were friendly and the atmosphere was very relaxed.
During the day, drinks are served in a bar near the reception. All drinks are free but you have to go back and forth to collect them. There is also a supper served in the garden, which was usually a pancake with honey or pizza cooked in a stone oven. The pizza was really good too!
After the towels, this was my least favourite thing about the hotel! During dinner there is a piano player on stage playing classic easy-listening tunes like UB40 and Ed Sheeran and that was very pleasant. But after diner, as the sun goes down, the area turns into an obscenely loud Moroccan disco. The music volume is so ridiculous, we always sat as far back as we possibly could and still could not have a conversation with each other across the table. We also hoped to put Finn to sleep in the pram so we could enjoy the evenings at the resort but this was also impossible because the speakers were so loud, there’s no way we could expect him to sleep. There are rooms that surround the courtyard and I could absolutely not have stayed in a room there. We could still hear the painfully bad music from our room and we were at the far end of the resort, past both pools!
On the last night, the kids staying at the hotel performed in a little, slightly weird, show. This was really sweet and I know I would love to see Finn up there, spinning around and having a good time so I really liked this part. But the rest of the entertainment offering here was so dismal that we escaped back to our own patio, taking drinks with us.
The hotel could do with another area offering a more ambient feel, away from the mad music of the main patio. This would have been idea for us to relax and allow Finn to sleep in his pram. Without this, parents with babies are essentially banished to their rooms after 8pm.
Some big PROBLEMS
Our stay at this hotel was perfectly fine and it was a very good deal for the price. The whole resort was very clean and well manicured, but unfortunately there were key things about the resort that made it not ideal for babies under three.
There is no play area for small children. No swing, slide or climbing frame or even any toys. This means that when you aren’t using the shaded paddling pool area there is nothing for kids this age to do. This, to me, is a huge oversight by the hotel. There is a small arcade area with some rickety mechanic rides but you have to pay 80p per minute-long ride and half of them were out of service. (It’s also operated at random times by a man who just sits in the corner asleep…) We always travel with Finn’s Trunki and some toys and books from home but I would have assumed a resort that markets to families would have some toys of facilities in place for babies and toddlers. This was disappointing.
The other huge issue we had with the hotel was a quite serious wasp problem. Wasps were everywhere. You couldn’t stand and have a drink without one landing on your glass. It made eating and drinking outside (eg: by the pool or on the outdoor patio) very, very unpleasant. During the supper, which is prepared in the garden, the chef making pancakes was scooping honey from a bowl on a spoon covered with at least 20 or 30 wasps. A little boy sat near us was stung and I was amazed none of us ended up falling victim to the swarm. I did some research into the wasp issue and it appears this isn’t the only resort to be affected by the influx of wasps and it’s a problem around Marrakech. But, from what I could see, the hotel didn’t seem to be taking any measures to deal with the problem. I asked a few staff members and they said it is always like this in the summer. It was seriously stressful and not relaxing to have wasps flying around you all the time and this alone would prevent me from ever returning to the resort. I’m sure, with a bit of money spent, there are things that can be done about this. If you read my post What to do in Marrakech with a Baby, you’ll see that we visited another hotel on this trip and I did not encounter a single wasp there, or in Marrakech itself.
The five star fraud
It’s clear that the hotel industry as a whole needs to reassess the star rating barometer because this was in no way close to a five star resort at any level. I travel a lot and with the price point as it was, I was not expecting a five star hotel but I do think this is massively mis-sold and could end up leaving unsuspecting guests disappointed. I really do feel the hotel is more concerned with getting customers in with as little expense as possible, than with the overall experience their guests will have. The main courtyard area had tatty signs (with missing letters) and needed a makeover and a fresh coat of paint.
As well as the poor-quality towels, uncomfortable pillows and cheap bathroom products, the whole resort also looked tired and in need of a makeover. In a five star resort I would expect a robe and slippers in my room, quality products, an abundance of towels and bottles of water left in the room each day. Having to pay to rent a pool towel does not scream luxury either. There is no mosquito guard on the patio door, meaning you can’t have the door open or the room will fill with flies and mozzies. This is a shame when you just want to relax on the bed and get some fresh air. There is no five-star extras, such as a turndown. I also called housekeeping on the hotel phone to request more towels and no one picked up…
We felt threatened
The last issue we had was that there was no one on reception when we wanted to check out. We waited for 30 minutes but still no one was available. It was 8.30am, which isn’t that early and we had a taxi waiting. Our stay had been paid for in full in advance and we had no extra charges to settle but the door staff would not let us leave the hotel. When we tried to leave they were speaking to our taxi driver in French and telling him not to drive us. The baby was getting increasingly grumpy and I was starting to worry that we had left it a little late for our flight. In the end I persuaded our driver to take us away. Once we reached the exit of the hotel, the security guard refused to lift the exit gate and we could not go through. Someone from the lobby had obviously radioed through and instructed him not to open the gate. I felt like we were being imprisoned at the hotel. Eventually, after ten minutes (and me yelling at the gate keeper) we were allowed out. I have never experienced anything like this before. It was a very strange and upsetting way to leave a hotel and a stressful end to our holiday. Especially with the other negative things, this unfortunately left a very bitter taste in my mouth.
I, personally, would not recommend this hotel. It’s not awful but I would never take my family back there for the reasons I detail in my Eden Andalou Hotel review above. However, if you are travelling to Marrakech with a baby or toddler, I do still recommend staying at resort outside the old city. This will afford you more space, a swimming pool and (hopefully) facilities to entertain little ones. We booked though Teletext Holidays and they had a variety of options at different price points. Unfortunately, on this occasion, I just picked a dud. Better luck next time!
Family-friendly hotels we do recommend!
The Hertiate Awali Resort in Mauritius
The Courtyard Downtown in Richmond, Virginia
Universal Orlando’s Sapphire Falls Resort