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“Interesting experience indeed!” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel Sidi Driss

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Hotel Sidi Driss
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Matama Ancienne, Matmata 6070, Tunisia   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #3 of 4 Hotels in Matmata
Los Angeles, California
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
“Interesting experience indeed!”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 22, 2011

A seemingly nondescript outpost at the end of one of the main three roads in town, the Hôtel Sidi Driss is the most popular of the “troglodyte” hotels found in Matmata, thanks to its stellar affiliation with that galaxy “far, far away” (see “sights” above). The hotel consists of five different "pits" that are joined together by underground tunnels and staircases. Each pit contains a series of rooms accessible off a central courtyard.

Upon entering the hotel from the street, visitors descend a staircase that leads to a very basic lobby. Various articles and photos which depict just how Star Wars put Matmata on the map hang from the walls and behind the modest reception desk. From here, there are several different paths that lead to the underground pits that, at some point, were dug from the earth. Nowadays, the pits remain continuously exposed to the elements... and the tourists!

The main pit just beyond the lobby features some of the larger dining rooms created to contain the hordes of tourists that invade this modest-looking location each and every day. Some of the Sidi Driss pits are better maintained than others. The current state of "Pit #1" offers a nice glimpse at the effect water can have on the seemingly impractical inverted domiciles. (Set of Drifter Brady was very intrigued by the patterns created by the dripping orange mud over whitewashed plastered walls as it reminded him of some of his earlier painting techniques.)

Off-limits “Pit #5,” accessible via the “Lars Family dining room” on the Star Wars set in “Pit #4,” is probably in the worst shape. Stacks and stacks of furniture and linens bundled up in plastic wrapping suggest that this is actually the "service" quarters and storage for the hotel. Of course, our favorite part about “Pit 5” was its cat population, hidden behind a crate of Celtia beer, but only for a moment! Yes, the malnourished kittens of Tunisia have made all the way to the pit dwellings in Matmata! The little babies just broke our hearts as they were so tiny and thin!

We found out from the man working at the front desk that we were the only occupants at the Sidi Driss that night! This was somewhat unsettling considering that the hotel features upwards of 22 rooms between its two habitable pits!

We ended up staying in “Pit #2” and once inside the room were surprised to see four separate single beds competing for floor space! (Clearly, this place is set up to accommodate large parties of Star Wars fans!) The three “beds” against the back wall were actually just mattresses laid on top of slabs formed into the ground! (The W Hotel Matmata this was not!) And yet, after a long day of trekking through Chenini, Ksar el-Hencha, Ksar Hedada and Matmata, anything would have felt comforting and relaxing... that is until we realized that the linens were full of miniscule sand and dirt particles! Oh joy!

The accommodations at the Hôtel Sidi Driss are basically just caves that have been dug out from the ground and then plastered and painted over in white. The overall look is actually pretty chic and reminiscent of the Hôtel Ksar Hedada, a property that at one time had also featured interiors full of groovy alcoves and built-in furniture, yet had not been quite fully realized to its fullest potential.

Wooden doors that are secured by simple chains and padlocks are just some of the innate drawbacks at the Hôtel Sidi Driss. Amenities are scare at best with communal bathrooms and showers your only option! (Have no fear, while the contents of the toilets no doubt head downward, the bathrooms feature "natural" ventilation shafts which reach upward to the ground level above.) Aside from the oddly placed “Popeye” and “Olive Oyl” welcome mat, the funniest thing about our room was the official tariff sheet attached to the door, something we never would have expected to see out here in this remote underground location.

Of course, your “Set of Drifters” know how to go with the flow, and can adjust our comfort levels accordingly. We had brought some Celtia beers with us to unwind a bit before dinner, and though we were without a bottle opener, were able to use that simple padlock on our door to pop open the lids! Later when our power converter prevented us from actually closing the door, we were able to enlist the amenable front desk manager to charge our camera batteries for us. Ultimately, if the accommodations could have been kept cleaner, with air conditioning and modern bathrooms added into the mix, a casual stay at the Hôtel Sidi Driss would not be so bad.

The next morning, courtesy of some rather vocal birds, we had the opportunity to awake at sunrise. Since the hotel was virtually empty, every nook and cranny was ours to explore by the light of day. After taking some more photos, we managed to get a muted breakfast in one of the dining rooms not featured in the Star Wars films. From a nearby kitchen, we heard a cook chopping heaps of vegetables and could not figure out why! Our breakfast was bare bones, and there were no other visitors in sight... It all made perfect sense when we strode back through Matmata a few days later and stopped off at the Hôtel Sidi Driss around lunch time to grab some magnets from one of the souvenir shops nearby (see “goodies” below).

Busloads of tourists had descended on the town, clogging every pit of the hotel. The vibe was really quite different when marred with travelers from around the world who didn't really appreciate the hotel’s main attraction it in the same way.

To be perfectly honest, the Hôtel Sidi Driss does not offer a good night's sleep. The sand or dirt particles in the blanket were somewhat unnerving, and by 5:00 AM, the local birds were chirping so loud that you could not avoid their calls. That being said, the Hôtel Sidi Driss is certainly a special place that you should check out, if only for lunch or a beer at the bar. Even though it may not have been up to our usual comfort standards, being able to experience all of the leftover set dressings from the Star Wars films was truly extraordinary. We even managed to re-enact a few scenes from the films in photos that turned fellow fans back at home green with envy!

Set of Drifters tip: The white posts you will undoubtedly notice from above the Hôtel Sidi Driss are used to designate pit dwellings from the surface so those walking their donkeys, or dare we say it, driving in vehicles, do not fall in!! We recommend that you too take some caution when walking around the rims of the cratered dwellings of Matmata!

You can find out more about our trip to Matmata and the rest of Southern Tunisia in our book STARS OF THE DESERT - A journey across the dunes of Tunisia to discover lost "Tatooine" - available on Blurb!

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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36 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    2.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    2.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    2.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    2.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (3)
Date | Rating
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  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
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English first
Palermo, Italy
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2011

It's really interesting to be in a troglodyte hotel and pretty cool to sleep in a jedi room. As some blogs say, it's not the universal studios stuff, it's the real thing.

Rooms don't get too cold (we were there in winter and it was freezing cold outside). Despite the sand, they were clean. They are not claustrophobic at all. Sheets were not very much clean. Toilets were "Trainspotting style". They didn't give us breakfast which was included in the price, but who cares?

It was an interesting adventure!

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GamerGirl-STL
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 22, 2011

The location can't be beat: This is one of the places that they filmed Star Wars! Even as a diehard fan though, I wouldn't recommend staying here. Better is to stay at the Hotel Marhala just a short walk up the road: It's also a troglodyte dwelling, but in much better shape, much cleaner, has electricity in the rooms, and you won't have the tourists bustling through all day. I did have dinner at the Sidi Driss, and eating couscous in the same room where Luke Skywalker and Princess Amidala ate is very much a treat, but the rest of the meal was inedible. I did have the Star Wars films loaded on my iPhone though, so it was fun to watch them, and show them off to the locals (who were extremely unaware of any Star Wars lore). Even the souvenir stands were surprisingly unaware of the Star Wars fascination, focusing mainly on local Tunisian crafts, and I couldn't find so much as a Star Wars postcard: A missed business opportunity, in my opinion! Anyway, my recommendation is to stay at the Marhala, visit the Sidi Driss for a Coke and an ice cream and some ambiance, and then move on.

  • Stayed April 2010, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers are raving about these Matmata hotels

Gottingen, Germany
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed December 18, 2010

Sidi Driss. I do not recommend. It is no 'hotel' ( you get a towel at a hotel). It is a hostel and not a good one at that. They tried to charge me the peak season price although it was December and I was the only one there! It was 10 degrees at the most outside and they had no hot water. One toilet was clogged and one ran all night... loud. Breakfast is included, but be warned. Breakfast is a plate of white bread and a packet of jelly. You also get coffee and milk, which I didn't ask for and didn't want. The kicker was I waited 10 minutes for it. There were also a couple of guys in the kitchen cooking up a storm, just apparently not for my breakfast. I am no novice backpacker and am not new to hostels, but this one is a major downer. Visit it, look around for the Star Wars factor, but do yourself a favor and stay somewhere else!

  • Stayed December 2010, traveled solo
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
34 hotel reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
48 helpful votes 48 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 3, 2010

Yes! This is the trogdlodite dwelling where the movie Star Wars was filmed!! We arrived at 5pm at the end of June to this place. (This is when the last tour group visits) It was very hot outside and my partner was very hesitant about staying here....however when they showed us to our room it was very cool inside(about 73 degrees farenheit). Obviously this place is not the ritz, its a 500 year old berber dwelling! We had some beers outside and soaked in the ambience. For 18$ a night you can't beat it. They made us a nice cous cous dinner too (included in the hotel price) . The bathrooms are shared so really this is more of a hostel. I suggest to stay one night (arrive at 5pm and leave at 9am) . Bring your laptop so you can watch star wars in your room. This place was so cool!!! I'm so glad I stayed here.

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
billericay
Top Contributor
55 reviews 55 reviews
42 hotel reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
61 helpful votes 61 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed April 5, 2010

This hotel is probably the most visited Hotel by tourist in all Africa. Bus loads of tourists arrive all day. Thousands pass though looking in to rooms and the dining room. This makes staying here a little annoying.

Its such a shame that this hotel has so much potential is left in such a bad state. The rooms are dusty and have not been swept for months. The bathrooms are pretty bad and mosquitos are around due to pools of water left in the toilets. The hotel guests are a afterthought and are but second after a bus load of Japanese tourists snapping away at you eating breakfast. The other cave hotels are always full and are even cheaper. We are the only guests staying that night. Unless your a real fan avoid this one but its worth a visit to see some of the Starwars set still in place.

  • Stayed April 2010, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
Top Contributor
124 reviews 124 reviews
33 hotel reviews
Reviews in 41 cities Reviews in 41 cities
62 helpful votes 62 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 1, 2010

Okay so a big part of the appeal is the unique nature of staying in a place from a film. Having said that, this was a different environment, friendly hosts - great fun, Even non-SW fans would enjoy a stay. :-)

You need to be aware of the country and environment you're in -- those seeking the Sheraton need not apply!

  • Stayed December 2007
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Additional Information about Hotel Sidi Driss

Address: Matama Ancienne, Matmata 6070, Tunisia
Location: Tunisia > Gabes Governorate > Matmata
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 4 Hotels in Matmata
Number of rooms: 20
Also Known As:
Sidi Driss Hotel

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