One of the first things Pat and I decided when we were planning our trip to Morocco was that we were going to buy a carpet while there. Morocco is known for its hand woven carpets and rugs and we thought that if we were ever going to make this investment, what better time than our honeymoon?
You can find rugs in Morocco to fit all budgets, from under $100 to in the thousands. It all depends on how hard you bargain and the quality you are looking for. Pat and I are not experts by any means, but this was our experience buying carpets in Morocco.
We actually got quite a bit more experience than we were expecting, as we ended up with not one, but three, rugs by the end of our two week trip! We bought two rugs in Fez and one in Marrakech. We also visited at least 20 different rug places to find the right carpets for us.
At all costs, avoid bringing a guide with you on your carpet shopping trip. We had two different places tell us that guides get 15% of the final sale price, which means that your bargaining power is reduced by 15% before you even walk in the door.
We started looking in Chefchaouen, where the prices were much better than elsewhere, however they had mainly woven carpets in the Berber style, which are more like thick blankets than real carpets. We were more interested in the traditional Persian carpets.
Buying a carpet is a bit like speed dating. At first there is a big show where everyone drinks (mint tea) and you see a lot of options in rapid succession to help narrow down what you are looking for.
The carpet vendor unveils the rugs with fanfare and it’s your job to decide to “haali” (keep it) or “ishmaa” (take it away). You narrow down your pile and the parade of rugs starts to slow down as the assistants dig through the massive piles of carpets to find one that fits your requests. “Like that but without the blue.” Like that but smaller.” If only dating was this easy.
Eventually you find the rug. The others get cleared away and now the real business begins.
No one has mentioned anything about price yet, but there have been murmurs about your “expensive taste” and “museum quality”. You know you’re in trouble now.
“This rug, look at this fine rug,” your host tells you. “Feel the knots. This is hand-woven. Machine woven carpets pull apart when you pull on them like this.” He brings out his lighter and tries to light this precious rug on fire. “You see this? Made from the finest wool! You drop a cigarette on it and there will be no hole. Not like those rugs from factories!”
The first price is named. It’s more than you pay for a month’s rent back home. Your head spins a little but you counter with a price that is so low you almost blush. Your host threatens to end the conversation right there. This is art! The woman who wove this carpet has to feed her family!
“Give me a serious price,” he says. “What is your serious price? This is a rug that you will share with your children. And your children’s children!”
You increase your price a fractional amount. You really can’t spend even a half month’s rent on a rug! Imagine! But it’s an investment. What a memento to have. And the quality!
This goes back and forth for several rounds and you realize that you’re not even close to the budget you sent. You turn to your husband and say, “Babe, we can’t afford this, we have to keep looking.” Just the action of standing to leave puts your host into a panic. The price drops more this time than it has in all the previous rounds combined.
They know that the moment you step foot outside their door is the moment the sale is gone forever. There are too many carpets, too many rug shops and too many deals for any promise to return to ever come to fruition. They need to lock you down.
“What is your maximum price?” By now your number is $200 over the budget you sent and your host is offering a price that is less than half of what you started with.
You turn to leave one more time and exacerbated, your host gives his final offer. “Ok, ok, you want to pay $500, fine, give me $580 and we will have a deal.”
You shake and sign the papers. Cash exchanges hands. One of the assistants starts the packing process. Your rug is tightly sewn into thick plastic to get it ready for the trip home.
You’re exhilarated and a little nauseous at the fact that you just spent that much money on a rug! “The @#*&$! thing better not be a knock-off,” you think to yourself. You consider having it appraised when you get home, but then realize it’s probably better to not ask questions you don’t want the answers too.
You found your rug and that’s your happily ever after. At the end of the day, that’s the whole point, right?
Our Moroccan Rug Recommendations:
Bouzidi Idrissi Freres
67 Talaa Kebira Haddadine
Ali’s Art Gallery
17, Souiket Dahbane
Sagha Dez Medina
Tel: +212.0518.104.22.168 or +212.0522.214.171.124
19, Derb N’khel Rahba Lakdima
Tel: +05.24.44.51.91 or +05.24.42.69.10
Artisant Du Sud (Rugs + Custom wool blankets made to size)
100, Rahba el Kadima Sidi Ishak
Other stories from our Moroccan adventure:
A Day by the Sea in Asilah, Morocco
Magical Blue-Hued Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen – Our Favorites
Northern Morocco Road Trip
Visiting the Fez Tanneries
Moulay Yacoub Spa in Fez
The Hustle & Bustle of the Fez Medina
A Close Shave in Marrakech