Q. My boyfriend and I will be traveling to Marrakech next month and have been hunting online for accommodations. We contacted one riad/hotel in particular who then asked us to pay for the entire duration of our stay upfront, before arriving. Of course I expect to be asked for a deposit, but am I correct in being suspicious of paying all in advance?

A. That does sound a
tad shady and we'd advise against it. If you suspect your hotel may not be a legitimate business, try sussing things out on a site like
traveladvisor.com. Read the reviews (and that's
plural, mind you), view the photos posted by previous guests and, if you're
still not convinced, contact other commenters. Also helpful are photo sites like
flickr.com, where you can try searching for your hotel by name and checking out the vacation pics of other guests.

If it weren't currently closed for renovations, we'd suggest you ask for room 414 at the
Hotel La Mamounia, which served as the location of Doris Day and James Stewart's room in 'The Man who Knew Too Much."

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