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hotel on a budget


The Hotel Toulousain, William Burroughs and I

February 5, 2014

As soon as I looked into the entrance of the Hotel Toulousain, it was love at first sight. There is something about that place, the old furniture, the mint lacquered paint, the whole atmosphere had a taste of time travel. Apart from a couple of details, it looks like it hasn’t changed for some 40 years, at least.

We needed a couple of nights in a hotel and we inquired about the prices. we didn’t book it straight away but it stayed at the back of my mind, it’s not every day that you find a place with so much character… then a few days later I read in the guidebook that William Burroughs used to be a regular in that place. I told hubby, we need to stay there too.

William Burroughs was a writer, part of the Beat Generation, along with other well known names as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouak. He is well know for his book Naked Lunch (adapted to cinema by David Cronenberg in 1991) and his unusual writing method called Cut Up- which consisted of cutting typed pages in half and joining them randomly, creating new phrases and concepts.

William Burroughs was well known for being a junkie and one of his not so well known interests was magick, which happened at the Hotel Toulousain, in the 1960’s. Burroughs spent time at the hotel with artist and friends Brion Gysin and Mikey Portman, where they tried to summon the spirit of Abramelin the Mage. It is not know as little account was left of the event if they were successful or not, but it is said that the oils necessary for the conjuring were made using a recipe by Aleister Crowley himself. Who knows.

The Hotel Toulousain is a very simple and basic hotel, very affordable and what it lacks in comfort, is compensated by the charm and presence of its history. We stayed in a double room, with a little bathroom, complete with a toilet, shower with hot water and a sink. Very basic but good enough. I don’t think we had any heating in our room (the nights in Marrakech can get pretty chilly) but fortunately we weren’t uncomfortable. There is also free WIFI, which in this day and age is a must, as well as a copious and very nice breakfast, served in the hotel’s cafe or patio. A good option for anyone travelling on a budget.

I am smitten with this place. I don’t understand why, as it’s a bit ran down (some people might say a lot) but I feel a weird attraction to it. I have decided that if I ever go back to Marrakech I will stay there again. There is beauty in the visible passage of time, I suppose.

Hotel Toulousain

44 Rue Tariq Bnou Ziad, Marrakesh, Morocco


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