Disappointing overall. Fortunately I had checked emails the night before as the meet up wasn't at the Riad as arranged, pick-up ran late but the driver was nice so I can live with that.
The trip started off well enough, saw some interesting historical sites. The guide seemed at first knowledgeable but answers to questions weren't great. Delivery was okay, clear speaker, but lacked the anecdotes that can keep interest did find out about his two wives and there was a little light joking though. It then became a matter of walking briskly through Marrakech without much in commentary on the city or life in it. When he greeted people he knew we didn't feel included, as other guides can make you feel, or that we were benefiting from his familiarity with the area. That would be disappointing in itself but what was the kicker was that we were actually disadvantaged by his knowledge! Yes, the infamous shop stops that you get - not one but two in a single morning. You kind of expect these but two to very overpriced shops was a bit much. One included a long talk on pharmaceutical products, interesting enough I suppose but despite the shop fellows comments, the shops prices were several times those of a stall round the corner I could order the products cheaper in the UK. Looking at the positive, a quick shoulder and back massage was offered in the shop which was well worth the little extra! The second stop was an overpriced gift shop. At this point the group was feeling like the trip was a con game of sorts. A guide steering towards friends is one thing but taking people, who are supposed to be in your care in a foreign city, to shops you know are way over local price is just wrong imho.
Bit more walking and then we got dropped off at the restaurant for dinner. As it became clear that the guide was going to be leaving us, I pointed out that I had signed up for a day trip, not half day. I indicated out the printout where it mentioned gardens, so he said he would tell the driver to take me there after the meal. No guide for the second part of a guided day trip but better than nothing I thought incorrectly it turns out.
Restaurant was ultra-touristy and whilst the starters were good the main was not up to the standard of everywhere else I ate in Morocco. Service was terrible asked three times for a drink, price not included, but despite there being quite a few staff it arrived as the meal ended and the manager? got very shirty when we didn't leave a tip.
Waited a while for the minibus to turn up which dropped off the rest of the group a nice couple, meeting them was probably the best bit really. The driver then took me to one of the gardens, said that I could take 45 minutes to look round. One long queue later I found out that the entrance fee was more than I had in change and that they didn't take cards. You know, the sort of information it would be nice to know before hand - the point of booking a 'guided tour' is to be guided. With no cash machines around I just sat around until the minibus came for me.
This was my first full day in Marrakesh and, along with the attempted 'tanning market' hustle don't ask, it could have easily put me off. Fortunately, the lovely people in the Riad helped me find the city tour bus stop it isn't out of service as some parts of the internet suggest and I had a proper introduction to the city via its recorded commentary the next day! Marrakesh takes a bit of getting used to but by the end of the week I was really quite taken with the place. The amazing 3-day tour I booked through Viator helped a lot with liking Morocco overall.
I can't recommend this tour, getting a guide book and travelling round yourself would be as good. It included a meal so that pushed it up to 2 stars but only barely.