I'm going to start this review by saying that at around £40 per person per night, (INCLUDING flights), this hotel is fantastic value for money.
We arrived back on November 4th from a 2 week holiday. Originally we were put in one of their rooms that hadn't been renovated. It was perfectly clean, if a little dated but unfortunately as I have a disability was a little too far from the main amenities for me.
They then changed us to a much closer room. This had been renovated. You will know if you are getting a renovated room as they have electronic keys. The renovations were nice, although the finish is somewhat lacking - perhaps this will be completed over the winter season, but for example we could get our fingers fully behind the door frame and the grout was all over the floor and tiles.
The cleanliness cannot be faulted however, the maids were brilliant and the main areas of the hotels were cleaned regularly throughout the day.
Food was amazing. There was so much choice and it was clean and well cooked. The dining area itself was beautiful, so much so that people from the sister hotels were coming to the restaurant in our hotel as it was so much better than theirs. Needless to say, we didn't try theirs!
The pool food was a tad repetitive (pizza, chips, paninis), but you could choose to use the restaurant instead, which was nice and quiet. The food at the pool was still cooked well and the area was clean.
Tipping. This is a must. The staff are on very low wages and are grateful for your tips, which are well deserved because of the service you receive.
1 dinar is approx 40p, so to pay £4 to have your room cleaned for 10 days, and another £4 to have your drinks waiting on your dinner table when you arrive is well worth it. The pool guy is great - tip him a couple of dinars every few days and he will reserve your loungers for you in the same place each day.
All the staff worked so hard to make our experience a good one, that I would recommend this hotel.
The only thing that let it down badly were the areas for children. The playgrounds were derelict, and the area used for the Kids Club was in the middle of a square of rooms - all used by staff, which made me a little uncomfortable. VERY run down and basic. As was the crazy golf. The archery area had missing fencing at the rear and arrows were found in the children's playground. Not good. We did mention these concerns to the management on our feedback form, and the next day saw noticeable tidying going on. Whether it was a coincidence or not I'm not sure.
You are right next to the beach, and the beach sellers aren't allowed into the sectioned area, so unless you want to pop into the sea then you won't be bothered.
There is a man on site called Basem 'The Camel Man' who will come up to you while sunbathing by the pool, having coffee in the sun and will hassle you non stop about taking a camel ride with him. (Or boat trip on a Pirate ship!) If you plan on doing this, book quickly so he'll leave you alone. We made the mistake of leaving it until the 2nd week, so had him asking us probably 3 times a day for the first week. To be fair, the camels were an enjoyable trip for the money.
We went into Sousse and found the market an experience. We have been to Turkey, but this was on a different level, with traders following you down the street and giving your children 'gifts', then demanding payment for them. As we had a small child with us, this was far too intimidating for her and we left quite quickly.
Port El Kantoui was a beautiful place. It was around 6 dinars to get a cab there and much more relaxed to shop, although they still try hard to get you into their shops.
Take a walk around the marina to see how the other half live, and enjoy an ice cream in one of the local restaurants.
In the centre is the 'Dancing Fountains', which are nice but beware the restaurant owner who hovers and offers to take your picture for you. We got caught with this, allowed him to take our picture and then felt obliged to use his restaurant, only to be royally ripped off! He is careful not to advertise drinks prices, which is where is bumps the price up. We had a kids pizza, 2 burgers and 3 (soft) drinks and were charged 50 dinars. Now that's reasonable for the UK, but is probably double what it should be to eat out in Tunisia. The name of the restaurant is El Banefrei I believe (I've popped some pictures of the restaurant AND the owner on here). The restaurant we would definitely recommend was the Tangerine - spotlessly clean, lovely staff and clear pricing.
Also, the Zoo at the Port may only be cheap, but once you are inside the ONLY things to see are birds (chickens mainly), so save your money and take pictures of the 2 Chihuahuas and camel from outside.
This was our first trip to Tunisia and for a budget holiday we would definitely go back.
The only reservation I would have is that if you book a budget holiday, be prepared to holiday with people from different social backgrounds to yourself. For example, one of the barmen was very surprised that we were English because we didn't have tattoos, and one parent tried to get our 7 year old to look after her little one (who couldn't swim), at the POOL, while she drank and flirted with the Animation team.
This wasn't for us so we moved to the quiet pool, which was lovely with a swim up bar.
All in all, a relaxing holiday.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Classe 4 etoiles et faisant parti du Marhaba Resorts, reference par la prestigieuse chaine Marhaba Hotels, le Marhaba Club est entierement dedie a anticiper vos besoins et satisfaire vos attentes. Situe au coeur de la zone touristique de la ville de Sousse, a : 10 mn du centre ville de Sousse, 10 mn du Port el Kantaoui et du terrain de Golf, 20 minutes de l'aeroport de Skanes-Monastir, 40 minutes de l'aeroport d'Enfidha et a 90 minutes de l'aeroport de Tunis-Carthage ... more less