Hotel Casa Khaldi Worst Hotel Chefchaouen. The trip did not get off to a good start. CTM, a well-known bus line in Morocco was sold out. I turned to TripAdvisor and found Morocco Trek Safaris who offered a transfer, door-to-door transfer in four hours, from Fez to Chefchaouen for triple the price. Unfortunately, a higher price does not translate to a better service, in fact, the ride took nearly six hours and the bus refused to drop me off at my hotel. I expressed my disappointment to Morocco Trek Safaris but their response was an uninspiring “its only reasonable to be so late because there are other people on the bus”. Odd justification I thought. A company that provides transfers was not comfortable with transporting more than one person. Talk about the bar being set low.
I dragged my bag to Hotel Casa Khaldi which was located next to the Medina. This was a compact hotel with only a dozen rooms or so, with a welcoming courtyard designed in a pleasing traditional Moroccan style.
I had reserved an apartment just off the courtyard, with a spacious living room, two small bedrooms, and a disappointingly small bathroom. Affable Mohammed at the check-in desk, pointed me to my room. The rooms were disheveled. The apartment had not been cleaned. Mohammed suggested I leave my bags in the room and enjoy the day. The room would be cleaned upon my return.
I had a feeling. A sixth sense. Before departing, I clandestinely wrote my initials within the pillowcase. Tiny, just a fraction of my fingernail, but it would serve as a tripwire. I wanted to ensure I was returning to clean sheets.
I left Hotel Casa Khaldi and lost myself in the maze of the Medina, slurping fresh orange juice (only a $1) and admiring the medina which is swathed in blue. Chefchaouen is a must-visit for Instagram hipsters who enjoy selfies.
I arrived back to the hotel in darkness, and the room was like an icebox. The temperature was in the 50s with one small heater for all three rooms. I left my jacket on. The room was in order. Cigarette buts and trash had been removed. The beds were made.
I hesitantly approached the bed, lifted the pillow up, and spied my initials. The sheets were dirty, they had never been changed.
OK, I think we have all seen the TV shows, when the intrepid reporter enters a hotel room bathed in darkness, grasping an ultraviolet black light. The reporter waves the light around the room, and the viewer gasps and then gets nauseous as the bed lights up with who knows what bodily fluids which had been embedded within the sheets and mattress.
I held the pillowcase and shook my head; part frustration, a dollop of disgust, and some anger.
I opened the door to my room and looked at Yusef. The lanky night clerk stood sentry at his post.
“Sorry to bother you, but my sheets are dirty” I stated coldly to Yusef.
“What do you mean?”
“The sheets are dirty.”
“What do you mean,” Yusef repeated as he left his cubby and approached my room. “Show me.”
I led him to the bed. And I repeated the mantra that the sheets were dirty.
“How do you know?” Yusef quizzed me.
I picked up the pillowcase and folded back the sheet and showed him my initials.
His eyes flashed in anger. “You wrote this!”
I responded affirmatively.
“Why did you write this?” he barked at me. I admit that I was a bit surprised by his anger. I naively expected Yusef to be a bit contrite or even embarrassed. Yet, he was angry.
“I had a feeling that the hotel was not going to clean the sheets,” I responded.
“What do you want me to do?” Yusef barked at me.
“I was hoping to get clean sheets.”
“Why didn’t you say? I will get you get some sheets. You clean your name off the sheets.” Yusef left the room in a huff.
I grabbed the pillowcase and rubbed out my initials within a moment or two; somewhat baffled about his concern.
Yusef returned minutes later and stood at the door’s threshold, holding some white sheets in his hands.
“You are a very distrustful man. Why are you so distrustful?” Yusef dressed me down. I stood in silence in my living room.
“Why are you so distrustful? Come here and touch these sheets. Make sure you are satisfied.”
I quietly responded, “that is OK, I trust you.”
At this point, I deduced I was not dealing with a rational player. Yusef’s anger was not abating. It was growing. His voice grew louder, more threatening. Yusef was more concerned with my initials written in the sheet. And seemed indifferent that the sheets were dirty.
Yusef several more times in an aggressive tone demanded that I inspect the sheets. I demurred each time. He continued berating me until I meekly retrieved the sheets from him.
I closed the door and pushed my bag in front of the door. This would act as a large doorstop. The reality is I am a stranger in a strange place. I have no idea who Yusef knows in Chefchaouen. I cut my losses, there was no point in speaking with him.
Despite there being two beds, meaning two sheets, two bed sheets and four pillowcases, Yusef provided me with one pillowcase and one sheet. Obviously, he had no plans on making the bed for me. His concern weren’t the dirty sheets, but that I dared write my initials within the pillowcase.
I slept on top of the bed clothed in my jacket. The next morning, I attempted to take a shower, but ice-cold shards projected out of the showerhead. For some reason, the hotel installed a hot water tank that can only provide 90 seconds of hot water.
Later in the morning I peeked my head out and peered over at the front desk. There was no Yusef. It was safe to leave.
Upon departure, I was enthusiastic about writing my hotel review. Unsurprisingly it was one star. The first review was placed on Tripadvisor. The second, on the hotel booking agent, Agoda, where I had made my reservation.
But, it was time for Hotel Casa Khaldi to strike back. The hotel marked me as a no-show at the hotel on Agoda’s system. The hotel did not like my review and marking me as a no-show removed my review. Clever.
I reached out to Agoda. I showed them my receipt, indicating that I in fact had stayed at the hotel. I wanted to avoid a cancellation fee and get my review reinstated.
I also shared with Agoda that I had felt threatened by Yousef’s aggressive stance. I questioned Agoda if this is the type of hotelier that they wanted to represent. Despite several communications, apparently it is. Agoda has continued to sell their rooms. And my review still has not been reinstated.
So, I wholeheartedly recommend Hotel Casa Khaldi the next time you are in Chefchaouen, especially if you like sleeping in soiled sheets and being threatened by the staff.
Update: March 1, 2020
After nearly a year I am still in communication with Agoda. I am not sure why they would want to represent Hotel Casa Khaldi on their platform. It is a small hotel with insignificant revenues but feels comfortable threatening their guests.
I believe there are two reasons why you want not want this hotel on the platform. One, the hotel gamed Agoda’s system. Marking me as a no show wiped my one star review of Agoda’s platform. Two, the hotel threatens their guests. I would have hoped with of these actions would have qualified for the hotel’s removal.
But, I think these tweets with Agoda demonstrate Agoda’s goal of maximization of revenue over following their own rules for hotel operations on their platform and even guest safety.
So, let’s exaggerate this premise for a moment to demonstrate why Agoda is not acting in good faith. So, let’s say a couple stays at a hotel, and the a staff member kills one of the partners. Agoda would respond, please write a review that your partner was murdered at the hotel. Then people can decide to stay there or not. Seems like a severe lack of action since they would still market this hotel to their users.
Agoda also suggested that I file a police report. Now is Agoda seriously concerned about guest safety? Is Agoda conferring with tens of thousands of police stations to cull police reports filed against hotels by guests using their platform? So possibly law enforcement will take an action against the hotel, but Agoda would still continue to do business with them.
And here, Agoda is simply saving money matters more than guest safety.
Agoda is now going to repost my review of hotel, with one major revision. In my new review, I explained how the hotel put me at risk, but I also had some choice words for Agoda’s actions and policies. This is what I wrote in my updated review.
After I left the hotel, I wrote my highly critical review. But the hotel marked me as a no show, thereby the Agoda system deleted my review. Thankfully, I save my receipt.
I contacted Agoda. I wanted to let them know that the hotel had “gamed” the system and also to report that the staff had threatened me. Their response, go back to Morocco and file a police report. “Not our issue”.
A year later I am still communicating with Agoda across social media. They have remained steadfast, money is more important than safety. But after a year, they relented and will post my updated review.
But Agoda will not print this on their platform stating that I have violated their Terms and Conditions for reviews. This seems incredibly petty. Is Agoda so thin skinned that they will not allow any criticism of their policies on their platform?
While my stay at this hotel is ranked as one of my worst, I am still so disappointed that Agoda is so focused on revenue over guest safety.
And make sure you check out my friend Frank at BBQ Boy and Spanky and his awful hotel experience in Chefchaouen.