Tips for buying a Beni Ourain rug in Morocco

Buying a Beni Ourain rugPROFImage here

My desire for a Beni Ourain rug, a traditional Berber rug from the Atlas mountains in Morocco, has not been a secret (see here)!

So I’m not going to pretend my recent trip to Marrakech wasn’t at least partially influenced by the need to get my hands on one.

I know I am not alone in my love for these simple, versatile rugs so here are my tips for buying a Beni Ourain rug from Marrakech.  This is from my experience only. I don’t profess to being an expert by any means but I am happy with my purchase, so my experience may help you too.

Mountains or medina

Before I went I spent some time researching online and getting pretty scared and put off. I read you could only buy Beni Ourains from the Atlas mountains otherwise you would be ripped off, paying too much for a piece of tat. I didn’t experience this in real life. The souks in Marrakech are full of carpet and rug sellers, with many of them having towers of Beni Ourain rugs. I was spoiled for choice, not by fakes or by too expensive items but by genuinely gorgeous rugs that were much cheaper than anything half as nice back home. I bought from the medina and have no regrets.

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Real or fake

There are vintage Beni Ourains that were made years and years ago – these are beautiful, but understandably pricey as many vintage things are. But you can also get newer Beni Ourains, made by the Berber women today living in the North-Eastern Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco. This doesn’t mean they are fake – they are just not vintage. Newer Beni Ourain rugs can be extremely good value, really lovely and excellent quality.

Again, if you do a quick Google you will come across a lot of scare stories about fake rugs made from synthetic materials or lined with cotton. Traditional Beni Ourain rugs are made from 100% sheeps wool. I looked at two rug stalls and all the rugs I looked at were 100% wool, beautifully made and as far as I can tell 100% authentic. Check the quality of the rug yourself – check the back of it, the weave, the material. If you think it looks well made, be happy about it.

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High or low

In Morocco there is never the right price for something. You pay what you are happy to pay. Go in with a rough figure in mind and don’t ask for the price of something until you really would like to buy it. It is likely you will first be offered an incredibly inflated price. Don’t be offended by this, it is just the way. Halve or even quarter it and start your negotiations until you reach what you would be happy to pay.

Cash will often give you some additional negotiation power, as will buying more than one item.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much we paid for our rug. I was able to buy and get home a rug that is 6ft by 11ft for less than what I could have bought one for in a department store in the UK.

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How to get it home

Getting a rug home from Morocco is surprisingly easy. Once you have picked and paid for your rug, they’ll fold it in half, roll it up tight, wrap it up in a type of woven plastic wrapping and sew it in making you a handle to carry it with and all in about five minutes. For us buying a reasonably large rug, it was the size of one bag to go in the hold of the airplane.

We had pre-booked extra baggage in anticipation, and it was as easy as checking it in with my suitcase. If you buy a bigger rug, you can book more than one additional piece of luggage. As long as your item is equivalent in space to the baggage you have booked that is fine. It doesn’t actually need to be in the baggage!

Of course, check with your airline before doing this in case it differs from airline to airline.

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For those of you who can’t make it to Marrakech, you can buy online or from Ebay but they do tend to do a bit more expensive this way. There are reproductions as well. Try Loaf, Graham and Green and John Lewis.

Happy rug shopping! If you have any additional tips, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

 

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20 Comments

  1. August 24, 2015 / 11:14 am

    Hi! It was a very interesting article! All your articles are amazing. I found it very helpful.

  2. Mette
    November 21, 2015 / 8:06 pm

    Thanks a lot for sharing. Please would you share how much you paid for the rug? Thx a million

  3. Alice Duffield
    November 25, 2015 / 7:25 am

    Hey there! LOVE it!! I’m heading over next week and have been told the vendors can ship it direct to you, did you get that offer? I’m a bit nervous incase I pay and it doesn’t arrive!! Thanks!!

    • greeneyed
      November 28, 2015 / 5:46 am

      Hi Alice
      Sorry for the slow reply – I’m on holiday 🙂
      I think they did offer to ship, but the cheapest and easiest way for us was to take it as luggage. I guess it depends how big your rug is that you are buying. Ours was about 7ft by 5ft so pretty big, and they rolled it up so small I couldn’t believe it. We just put it on the plan then like a piece of luggage. I guess having them ship it is a risk, we bought a table from Bali a few years ago and that was pretty terrifying waiting for it to arrive – but it did!
      Good luck, and come back and tell me how you got on!
      Claire x

      • Petica Watson
        June 6, 2016 / 9:41 am

        I once bought 4 rugs and 3 chairs in Morocco. I had them shipped, which the shop in Chefchouen organised, however the Heathrow Cargo people made me pay a massive amount of customs costs when they arrived in the UK, which I had not been warned about, which made them not such bargains after all! Also the rugs arrived full of moths!!

  4. Christina
    March 14, 2016 / 3:48 pm

    Hey Claire,

    I was wondering if you could share where you went to in the Medina? I’m headed down in two weeks for the first time and would love a recommendation. I’m feeling a little nervous. I want to bring home a rug! 🙂

    • greeneyed
      March 15, 2016 / 6:45 am

      Hi Christina, I’m so sorry, I’ve looked for the card and I can’t find it, and I really can’t remember. What I would say is we looked at a couple of places before we decided where to buy-don’t feel bad about walking away and shopping around. Just don’t start your negotiations with someone who you don’t think you’d like to buy from. Sorry I can’t be of more help but good luck-I’m sure you’ll come home with a rug you’ll adore!

  5. Leela
    March 21, 2016 / 6:23 pm

    Hi
    I’ve just read your article wish I could do the same, one day. In the meantime I’m looking to purchase a beni ourain rug- just wondered if you’ve heard of city cows cowhide. I don’t want to get ripped off and wondered if you could offer any experience. They have an amazing sale at the moment so wouldn’t want to miss out if was all legit
    Thanks a lot

    • greeneyed
      March 21, 2016 / 7:08 pm

      Hi there Leela, I am afraid I don’t know much about City Cows’ Berber rugs. Looking at their site though they have a showroom so it might be worth going to take a look at them. Check out their returns policy too. I would say as long as you re happy with the rug, then pay whatever you are comfortable with.
      Good luck, and let me know what you decide
      Claire x

  6. Leela
    March 22, 2016 / 8:43 pm

    Hi Claire

    Thanks for getting back to me , city rugs do offer returns plus emailed them and they said make trips to Morocco every 2 weeks and assured me the rugs were brought back from the Atlas Mountains. Decided I’m going to go ahead with the sale- such a good price in the sale at the moment and check out the quality etc… Helps having a Moroccan brother in law!!!

    X

    • greeneyed
      March 22, 2016 / 9:26 pm

      That sounds brilliant! Hope you love it- they are so versatile 🙂 xx

  7. Christine
    March 24, 2016 / 10:48 pm

    Hi Claire,

    Congrats on your gorgeous rug!! I’ve been wanting one of these for years. Foolishly, I didn’t get one when I was in Marrakesh 20 years ago! But, was backpacking and planned to be there for a month, so carting a carpet around wasn’t in the cards. But, soooo loved my trip to Morocco and would love to go back…this time to get a carpet. Would you mind terribly sharing how much you paid for yours? I know everyone’s negotiation skills are different both for buyers and sellers, so there’s no judgement, just wondering since prices here vary so much. I’m wondering what ballpark I’d be looking at over there. Also, is the carpet you brought back the one in the top pic? LOOOVE it!!

    Thanks so much!

    • greeneyed
      March 25, 2016 / 8:27 am

      Hi Christine, woo backpacking Morocco sounds brilliant! But no, not ideal for rug buying! I can’t remember exactly how much we paid and it is very much dependent upon the size, age (the vintage rugs are more expensive), where you buy from and how much you negotiate. I would recommend setting yourself a number on how much you would be happy to pay. I think around £200 would get you something you’ll love forever, but as I said, it really depends! Sadly, the rug in the pic isn’t mine – I am just finishing off the room it is in and will take some pics and share 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by the blog, hope you enjoy having a look round
      Claire x

  8. Moroccan guy
    April 13, 2016 / 1:12 am

    hello if anyone need rugs or carpets from Morocco we can figure it out here is my email : ayouberrazki@gmail.com

  9. October 21, 2016 / 12:45 am

    Great selection, thanks for sharing

  10. richwell
    April 29, 2017 / 3:54 am

    Thanks for the helpful tips! If you don’t mind, can i please know how much you paid for the rug? I just want a baseline number of how much they cost. Thanks!

  11. Krystie
    May 15, 2017 / 3:12 pm

    Hi Claire, I stumbled across your site through this post and I am enjoying it immensely 🙂 you write with such clarity and your posts are very fun to read. I’ve also checked out your travel stories – Kefalonia and Santorini. Keep up the great writing and I look forward to more posts!

    • greeneyed
      May 18, 2017 / 6:19 pm

      Thanks Krystie, what a lovely comment 🙂 xx

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