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“Rather disappointing 4-star experience, but a great location” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Marhaba Palace Hotel

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Marhaba Palace Hotel
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Jinane El Kantaoui | Sousse, Port El Kantaoui 4089, Tunisia   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #10 of 37 hotels in Port El Kantaoui
Derby
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Rather disappointing 4-star experience, but a great location”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 12, 2008

My Wife and I are recently retired, but we had been working hard and needed a quiet break for a week. We chose to follow the sun and look for a good quality hotel with its own beach. We had in mind a repeat of a wonderful holiday we had in 2006 at the Elounda Bay Hotel in Crete, where we just chilled out in the hotel grounds, swam, ate, drank and never felt the need to be adventurous. Marhaba Palace seemed to fit this bill - although it was our first experience of Tunisia and we had heard some very mixed reports of the country's friendliness and culture.

We went by Airtours on 1 October 2008 and had two perfect punctual flights from East Midlands and Monastir with Thomas Cook Airlines. On arrival at the hotel we found that, instead of the high level sea-view room we had ordered, we had been allocated a side sea-view room on the first floor. This was changed after some haggling to a sea-view on the top floor. This was OK, but be aware that sea-view rooms do not get the sun all day. They face north and also catch the prevalent north-westerly winds. At night there is noise from the nearby Rui Hotel's nightclub. We now know the lyrics of "Cabaret" and "New York, New York" perfectly!

On our first morning we got down to the pool at about 10 am to find that 90% of the sun beds had been reserved. This is officially done by paying 2 Dinars per bed to an attendant for a mattress. However, far too many couples (and not just Germans) were slinging towels on the prime sites as early as 7 am. There are signs saying don't do it, but -------.

As to the rooms, they have twin beds and quite reasonable bathrooms with bath and shower fitting. Cleanliness was faultless during our week. The maids come in every morning and do a thorough job very cheerfully. The decor is a bit dark and gloomy. 3 star standard overall. The air conditioning wasn't working (although not important in October) in most rooms. The room doors do not have dead locks. You might like to take a rubber wedge for peace of mind.

Meals: breakfast between 8.30 and 9.30 is manic. Tables could not be packed closer together. Getting around the self service areas requires dexterity and a lot of patience. Coffee is served in filthy thermos flasks. The choice of food, if you are willing to queue is extensive. The range favours the European buffet style. Take bottled water in with you. Dinner is served at flexible hours at a table which is allocated on your first visit. Again, haggle if you don't want to go where you are put. No problem then. We didn't like the food to be honest. If you are vegetarian, you might get fed up with peas and carrots. However, chicken, pork etc are cooked at the serving stations, you can have as much as you like, and my Wife found them tasty. In the bars, drinks are expensive (£6 for G&T and a beer) and the bar staff are surly. There is minimal entertainment in the evening (one pianist and one guitarist). The reception staff tried to persuade us to go to a "Transvestite Show" that was on somewhere one evening, but we politely declined.

The location of the Maharba Palace is superb. This is without doubt its main selling point. A short, pleasant walk takes you into the Port, either along the beach or along the road. We liked the town and enjoyed haggling for "designer" clothing. Top tip: enter these shops with a big smile and bags of confidence. The shopkeepers respond well to a laugh and joke.

So, to summarise: the hotel is better than 3 star, but only just 4 star in our opinion. The location is superb. The place feels in need of refurbishment - chipped paint, worn soft furnishings etc. Most of the staff are very friendly and speak English (as well as French, German and Arabic) fluently. But, do you know, it just lacked that sense of being special. Nothing really made us feel [-] good about being there. But, that of course is the indefinable difference between 4 and 5 star. I guess you do get what you pay for in the end. We wouldn't want to put you off, but don't be seduced by the pictures and travel agent blurb. Would we go back? No.

  • Liked — Location
  • Disliked — In need of refurbishment
  • Stayed October 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (437)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Norwegian first
  • Polish first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
York
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 9, 2008

I recently stayed at this hotel for a week with my fiance. From the moment we arrived to the moment we left, everything was perfect. The pool and surrounding areas are beautiful, although we weren't impressed to realise you need to be out VERY early to get sun loungers with parassols - this is because the life guard takes money from people to reserve them?! The room was slightly outdated but very clean and comfortable. We had a lovely sea view balcony and the shower was always hot and powerful. The Tunisian people are very friendly, and respond well to you trying to use a small amount of their language or to try their local food.
If you want to have a relaxed evening with good food and excellent service you must go to Les Emirs on the marina. The local food is cooked to perfection and the waiters are great. We went twice in just a week as we were so impressed!
Be aware of the shop keepers who try to get you in their shops, and the small children who sell jasmine - they are vey persistent and some don't take no for an answer - just be firm and determined.
If it wasn't for the hideous delays (8 hours) in coming back on the joke airline called Karthago we would definately go back.

  • Liked — The choice of bars and restaurants
  • Disliked — The drag queen act they hold on a Thursday - very disappointing
  • Stayed September 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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edinburgh
1 review
1 of 5 stars Reviewed October 7, 2008

Please be warned that when exchanging your money in the hotel be advised to check the money given in dinars...on 3 occasions when we exchanged it was short of between 2 / 3 diners...on each occasion when the person gave the money...he would wait to see if you complained of a shortage...if you did not complain then he would say nothing.

i saw this happen to others so please be aware...it does not sound much but £1.40 in english sterling is not something you would walk away from if you recieved short change in a shop in the uk.

  • Liked — comfortable and large
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed October 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
new york
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
2 of 5 stars Reviewed October 6, 2008

my family and i went to stay in this hotel this summer and the shop in the hotel sold us carpets and we paid a lot of money for it but never got them delivered to us !they are all scam artists and want to make money from tourists..if you go to tunisia dont trust anybody,me made another mistake of buying a so called real white gold ring which we found out was fake. i really wouldnt recommend it !!!!!

Stayed June 2008
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
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hampshire
Top Contributor
58 reviews 58 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
59 helpful votes 59 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 4, 2008

The marhaba palace hotel is a very good hotel in a perfect location.The hotel has its own private beach accessed through the hotel pool area,the pool area is lovely with plenty of places to get a tan and relax,& the pool is great.There is waiter service around the pool so no need to move to get a drink or a snack,but the waiters feel the need to be tipped,this is 1 of the only complaints of this hotel and tunisia in general,everyone has got their hand out,they dont like giving you change,so best check it anywhere you go.The breakfast was typical hotel breakfast.ok as fuel for the day.the restaurant was nicely set out,you were allocated a table the 1st night and that is your table for your stay,the food was nice with a good choice,could have done with a few more main course options.The hotel location is very good only a 5 minute walk to the marina and opposite a irish bar for a cold beer and entertainment,hotel entertainment was almost non-existant a guy playing a piano,or maybe karaoke.we went to el jem for a day trip,excellent day out but hassled by shopkeepers as we were when we went to sousse.To sum it up it was a very good hotel in a great location,good food,no entertainment ,would we go back ? No. 1 trip to tunisia is enough,

  • Liked — location
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed September 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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Potters Bar, Herts
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 1, 2008

Me and my boyfriend have just come back from spending 10 days at the Marhaba Palace Hotel and had the best holiday ever! The hotel lobby is very impressive as soon as you walk in and we had no problems checking in, the porters do grab your suitcases as soon as you start heading towards your room which was a bit awkward as we had no dinars as the bureau de change wasnt open. Our room was lovely and we had a view of the sea and pool area! The pool area is amazing and is so clean, the beach is about 20 steps away and has white sand and is lovely! You do get asked everyday round the pool whether you want to do any activities and they can be pushy but if u be firm and say no then its fine. The breakfast was lovely.. lots of variety and the evening meal was always lovely and had lots of different choices, our waiter was also v. friendly and made sure our drinks were on our table waiting every night! The only downside is that there is not much life around the hotel at nightime.. this took us a little while to get used to but after a couple of nights it was soo relaxing we didnt care! The resort of Port El Kantaoui is really nice and has a nice atmosphere.. be careful of the shops which arent fixed price as you do get hassle over buying things but again you have to be firm and appreciate that thats the way they earn their living!!! I couldnt fault our holiday and have even booked up to go back next year already... but for 2 weeks this time!

  • Liked — The cleanliness, the pool area, the evening meal
  • Disliked — More night time entertainment would be nice
  • Stayed September 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
South Wales
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 30, 2008

Marhaba Palace is well worth a visit if you are a first timer to Tunisia like we were. The hotel is impressive, clean, the rooms are spacious and the sea view balconies give an excellent view. The pool areas are good with a waiter service that is spot on. Hire of lounger pads 2DT per day. The beach bar serve excellent pizzas! The beach is very clean and the water is lovely and warm and clear. The breakfast and the evening meal are also superb with an array of dishes to suite even the most picky eaters. Room service very good. In Port el Kantoui marina (5-10 minute walk from hotel along well lit pavements) at night time, I would warn you that some of the market stall holders do tend to swarm you if you show the slightest bit of interest in their goods and if you decide not to buy anything some of them don't like it. You have to just ignore it as it is just their way. During the daytime they do not hassle you as much. If you have small children (we took our 4 year old daughter) the Tunisians tend to make a fuss of them and will want to touch their hair or face. This is o.k. to a point but be cautious as it can be a bit overbaring for your children who will not be used to this much attention. We did a boat trip (20 DT per person) to see the dolphins and we did actually see the dolphins which was magical. This trip is worth doing as it is not too long (2 hours) and if you do see the dolphins it gives you goose bumps to see them in the wild. One trip that I would caution is the "Camel Caravan" booked from a place by the beach bar in the hotel. Lets just say that the animals don't seem to be treated very well and myself and my family decided not to continue on the trip when we arrived at the "site" where the camels were kept (that was after the poor horse struggled to pull us all to the "site" in the first place!). We immediately took a taxi back to the hotel - in tears - and had our money back. The 2 mature ladies also decided not to continue with this trip as well. However, on speaking to the other family the next day they said that they thoroughly enjoyed it - make your own mind up. I myself would not like to be either a horse, donkey or camel working for the people in charge of this trip. Again, make your own mind up, but I would maybe book a trip through your own Travel Representative instead. Aside from the upsetting attempt at participating in the "Camal Caravan" that was the only blip in the whole holiday.

  • Liked — Cleanliness, food, location.
  • Disliked — Nothing.
  • Stayed September 2008, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.

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Additional Information about Marhaba Palace Hotel

Address: Jinane El Kantaoui | Sousse, Port El Kantaoui 4089, Tunisia
Location: Tunisia > Sousse Governorate > Port El Kantaoui
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#8 Family Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#8 On the Beach Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#9 Luxury Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Marhaba Palace Hotel 4*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Wake up across from the golf club, have a walk on the seafront, explore the paved alleys of Port El Kantaoui or simply unwind at the pool: Marhaba Palace is a dream place for an unforgettable stay. In the restaurant, a collection of great wines and local cuisine with the flavours of thyme and basil pamper the palate. This charming hotel, in the heart of the resort of port El Kantaoui, will seduce you with its personalised hospitality and efficient, discrete service.Welcome to MARHABA PALACE ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Hotel Marhaba Palace
Marhaba Palace Tunisia
Tunisia Marhaba Palace
Marhaba Palace Port El Kantaoui
Marhaba Palace Hotel Tunisia

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