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The HfP chat thread – Tuesday 6th April

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Comments (333)

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  • The Original Nick. says:

    Evening everyone. Can anyone advise on good areas to stay in Marrakesh? I’ve never been before but I have a booking for November.

    • pauldb says:

      More important to work out what type of accommodation you want. If a Riad in the Medina, just pick one you like the look of: everything is walkable. The more western hotels are in the new city Gueliz and Hiverage: you won’t really wander much in either (taxis everywhere) so again hotel choice is more relevant. Then further out, mainly south and east, are the bigger resort hotels if that’s what you are after – 10-20mins by taxi/car. We stayed out of town and drove in regularly, but driving is rather exhilarating!

    • BP says:

      The Medina. Highly recommended. We often split our time with a place outside the medina too. Les Cinque Djellabas was very nice. The Siryanne was nice too. Riad Cocoon and Riad Dar One were both nice – get the expensive room with private terrace.

    • Aston100 says:

      Hello Nick.
      If you have not been to Marrakech before, then you really should spend a few nights in a Riad in the Medina.
      Most people will likely tell you to stay as close to the Jemaa el-Fna square, and while this is fine, I would actually recommend you to instead look for a Riad towards the south end of the Medina, close to the Bahia Palace entrance, near the Post office on Rue Riad Zitoun el Jdid and close to Rue Bahia Bab Mellah.
      The reason for that is you are then close to the outside main roads from where you can catch a taxi, or can easily walk to the Jemaa el- Fna straight up Rue Riad Zitoun el Kdim (or possibly up Rue Riad Zitoun el Jdid, and veer off to the left towards the end).

      The Medina is a warren and you will easily get lost if you try and stay in a Riad away from the main roads or away from the perimeter.

      The Riads themselves are much of a muchness, and TripAdvisor reviews are full of fake reviews from 1 post users.

      I strongly advise you to contact the Riads directly and negotiate a better price than what you will find through a booking site.

      Please be aware that every single person you meet inside the Medina (and sometimes in the main city) is out to fleece you, scam you, or otherwise relieve you of your money in some way or another (though outright theft is unlikely but do keep an eye on your valuables as you would anywhere else in the world).
      Never listen to people who come up to you offering to show you a quicker route, or offer to take you to a cheap shop or whatever – they are looking to scam you or cheat you in some way. Always say no, firmly and just walk away, do not respond beyond the initial no. Some will follow you for ages, but just ignore them.

      In the main Jemaa el-Fna square, watch out for anyone who tries to put hennah on the hands of any females in your party. They will want payment afterwards at extortionate prices.
      Also pay no attention to the people with monkeys, parrots, and other animals. Especially avoid the snake charmers. This is all animal abuse. Don’t encourage them.

      Never ever pay anywhere near even half the price you are offered for any goods or services.

      The Medina is an amazing experience that can easily be ruined by scumbags who see you as a rich western tourist with a wallet full of cash.

      Make sure you do a day trip to the atlas mountains, perhaps to Setti Fatma (many ways of spelling this) and the Ourika Valley.

      • BP says:

        It is very easy to get lost in the medina. Download an offline map on your phone if you won’t have data. Mark your riad on it. Don’t try to get a taxi to your riad – pay for their driver. You will get lost no matter how good you think your map is!!

        Do be aware of scams. Not all Morrocans are out to scam you but many are. Stay away from the street henna not just because of the cost, because it’s toxic stuff that can scar your skin. There is a henna cafe my wife went to with all proceeds going to charity. That was a nice place. If someone tells you a street is closed they are likely lying so their mate can direct you the long way for a small fee.

        Learn no thank you in Arabic – “La Shukran”. You’ll use it more than any other phrase!!

        Mythic Oriental Spa is worth a visit. It’s a nightmare to find though so you may need to pay a local a few £ to guide you. We normally do a couples package with black soap scrub, hammam, couples bath and massages.

        We did a food tour with Maroc Mamma which was excellent too. It’s an American woman who married a local guy. Very interesting people and some good food too. They took us to a spice shop which is well priced and every time we return the owner remembers us even after years away.

        • BP says:

          Ohh and the top floor of La Salama is great for a few cocktails. Very cheap despite being one of the few bars in the medina.

        • Sam says:

          I second the henna cafe where the proceeds go to charity. My sis and I got our henna done from there and its the safe version, i.e. not black henna. They also serve food and it was good. Near it was a hammam which I would defo recommend also.

      • AnotherUser says:

        I’d also stay in the Medina. Places near the edge are easier to find, but there’s also a certain charm in getting lost (even with maps on your phone, you will get lost). The Medina is pretty hectic, so some will prefer to spend at least some time in a resort as well.

        The Medina is focused on getting people to spend money. Often this can be people charmingly getting you to buy things like nice food and drink 🙂 There are lots of rip offs and some pickpocketing, but it’s pretty safe beyond that (personally, I just didn’t carry much cash – means pickpocketing isn’t such a risk, and if you are considering a big purchase then the time to walk away and think about it before getting cash is probably a good thing). Try the spiced snails in the main square, enjoy the excellent bakeries/patisseries, and drink lots of tea and coffee 🙂

        • The Original Nick says:

          Thanks to all those for the help about Marrakesh.

          • Venturelog says:

            Other thing to remember is that Morocco has a closed currency. Prepare to spend time queuing at the airport.

    • Benilyn says:

      I’ve been to many places and Kech is my least favourite, mainly due to the hassle, it’s just intense. So just keep your wits about you. Ask your hotel maybe if know of a driver, especially for days with a full itinerary. Be very specific about what times you want and just lock it in. Don’t pay anything until the last day. Get a local sim, probably not expensive, so you can call.
      The taxis at the airport are a cartel, they charge ridiculous rates so just be prepared, or take a hotel drive.
      Atlas Mountains defo worth a visit
      I booked via Viator (Targa Travel & Trekkinginmorocco. +212 660706846)
      Paid £144 for 4 people in 2018
      Atlas Mountains and Berber Villages Day

    • Nick Burch says:

      We have had some good stays at a few Mr & Mrs Smith properties in the Medina, and the Accor related Angsana Riads Collection was good too (though it varies a bit depending on which of the ~5 riads in the area your room is in)

      For a first trip you do want to stay in the Medina, at least half your time.

      Get a sim card if you can, so you’ve got data for locating yourself on google maps when you get lost… If you find a taxi that’s decent, take their number. Often it’s 2-3 different drivers in the same taxi over a day, but they’ll all share a work number. SMS or whatsapp them an hour before to arrange a pickup, and avoid a lot of stress or getting ripped off!

  • r* says:

    If you book flight + hotels with BA at a Hilton, do you still get status benefits and does the BA price include the service charges and tax or do they have to be paid locally?

    Adding 2 nights at the Conrad to a flight is like 250 extra with BA vs 400 for the 2 nights booked with hilton which seems a bit weird?

    • Harry T says:

      It’s not weird – that’s why people book package deals. You can often access lower prices due to the travel agent being able to access better rates. Officially you will receive no status benefits when booking through a travel agent who isn’t a preferred partner.

      The BAH booking may include the service charges and taxes – it should say in the paperwork if it doesn’t.

  • Sam says:

    Hi all, bit of a basic question perhaps. With a Vanguard S&S ISA, if I sell or switch some ETF’S (which I had from the last tax year), does that count towards this tax year’s 20k allowance (I have just used the same S&S ISA from today by adding in some cash)?

    • The real John says:

      The allowance is on money deposited into the ISA. Once it’s in you can keep it as cash, or buy and sell as much as you like.

  • Matthew says:

    Prob already mentioned but just noticed the first lot of 1500 avios from Barclays Premier have dropped into my BA account today.

    • Matthew says:

      That’ll teach me to skim read pages 2-7 on this thread. Page 1 has it mentioned twice! Apologies..

  • James says:

    For the business platinum, I’ve had the card for about two weeks but there’s no progress bar under the ‘membership’ tab in the app for tracking your way to the £10k threshold (like there is on BAPP). Can anyone confirm if this is normal?

  • Aston100 says:

    So I wanted to cancel my BA flights to Barcelona, and use the resulting FTV to part pay for a BA Holidays to Barcelona, same flight time & date etc but with a hotel attached for a considerable saving (see my comment the other day about the better holidays being sold out or being very pricey at the time).

    The BA call centre told me I can’t have an FTV and that I must accept an evoucher. She went on to say the evoucher can be used as part payment for the BA Holiday.
    She wanted to issue it there and then, but luckily I did a dummy BA Holidays booking and saw no option to use a voucher of any kind.
    I then found an FAQ that stated evouchers cant be used for BA Holidays.
    The agent insisted they can be, and that no FTVs are available for my original booking.

    When I went onto manage my booking, I only have the option to get an evoucher.

    Not sure where to go with this. Any advice please? I want to be able to cancel my flights and use that to part pay for a BA Holiday somehow


    • ChrisC says:

      Flight only = e-voucher which can be used online for another flight only booking.

      Any other sort of booking (including BA Hols) = FTV and you have to call to use these sorts of vouchers

      There isn’t an online way to use an e-voucher for a Holiday booking because the Flights and Holidays systems are different. They process them separatly in the background.

      The T&Cs on the e-vouchers page state this

      “3 You cannot use an eVoucher towards British Airways Holiday bookings online or other products, such as seats.”

      It does not say you can’t use an e-voucher with BA Hols via the phone.

      And other people have said they have been able to use e-vouchers over the phone with BA Hols.

      And whatever you do don’t make the booking until you have the voucher as they can only be used on new bookings (i.e. made after the voucher is issued) and not existing ones.

  • Andrew Brobbin says:

    I would be grateful for an answer. Apologies if this is obvious but I am new here. I have read about the 2-4-1 voucher from BA’s Premium Plus credit card. We will probably apply for this card and when the day comes I would like to know if I can use it in the following scenario: I ring BA and book a flight to USA. I understand that this will often be about a year in advance due to demand and limited Avios seat availability. My wife and I will want to spend about six weeks in USA on a road trip. So, I will have to wait about six weeks to ring BA again to book the return flight to UK. My question is: will we be able to use the voucher for the outbound and inbound flights. Do they count as a ‘return flight’? Many thanks!

    • Rhys says:

      Perfectly fine to book outbound and inbound separately – BA call centre will connect the booking so you can have the companion voucher across both.

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