Just returned from 10 night stay at this hotel, and would recommend it to anyone, with one or two caveats. We would consider returning, probably at a different time of year when there are not quite so many young families.
The greatest asset of this hotel, all the staff we spoke to were exceptionally friendly and helpful. We had the same waiter, Mohammed at table 39, for the duration of our stay, and he was first class, nothing too much trouble. Around the pool young Mohammed Ali worked tirelessly to keep the self service bar clean and stocked, and collect the glasses around the sunbeds. He also fetched my father in law drinks (he is in his late 80s) and refused to accept the tip he was offered! We did tip some of the waiters, and the room cleaner, but did not feel pressured to do so, or receive worse service if we did not. I would point out that we were there over the start of Ramadan, and there was no change in service or friendliness, despite them not eating, drinking or smoking from 5am to 8pm.
Excellent choice, always well presented, and live cooking stations at all meal times. During our stay we had the option of fish, prawns, lamb, pork (surprisingly), rabbit, beef, chicken and turkey. Also many salad and vegetarian options, plus lots of fresh fruit, and plenty of desserts to try. If you could not find something you liked I suspect you must be incredibly fussy, or on a "no food" diet! We tried 2 of the speciality restaurants, the Asian (which was OK but nothing more) and the Mediterranean down by the beach, which we thought was superb, and the food highlight of our stay. We ran out of time to try the Tunisian unfortunately, as it only opens twice a week and coincided with other plans we had.
Generally OK for AI. Beer was good, wine was quite good in the restaurants (poured from bottles) but we found the wine, red white or rose, from the self service taps quite unpleasant, and stopped drinking after the first couple of days. Spirits were local, and in the most part recognisable for what they were. None of us liked the cocktails, which all seemed incredibly sweet and sickly (but others were drinking them, so perhaps it was just us!)
We asked for, and were given, a room in the new block (room 75) and these rooms are very good and spacious, with lots of cupboard space, a fully working fridge, a tv (apparently with a few English channels, but we never switched it on) and a good sized bathroom and separate toilet. The AC worked very well, and contrary to other reviews ours stayed on all night, and also worked if we popped back to the room during the day (perhaps they keep it on when the temperatures rises above a certain level, and it was hot when we were there). There is no tea/coffee facilities in the room, so bring your own if that is important to you.
The pool area is kept very clean, and the sunbeds are comfy once they have given you a mattress (no charge). We found no problem getting sunbeds and umbrellas, but we do get up early on our holidays (around 7.30) and if you came down after 9am it could be a problem getting shade (always sunbeds could be found though). The beach is raked daily, by at least 3 men, contrary to a previous review ( I know because I was down on the beach early every morning while my wife went swimming, and saw them working each day). I would agree that the beach in general along this stretch is not particularly attractive, and there are pieces of rubbish around, but the hotel does what it can on its stretch, and unfortunately with tourists comes litter!
For us there were two areas which prevented us from giving this hotel a 5 star rating. Firstly, for a hotel this size, the pool is simply not large enough. Once you had the lilo brigade, and the regular pool games taking place, there was precious little room to actually swim, which especially annoyed my in-laws. I assume that the pool was OK before they built the extension, but now when the hotel is full it is inadequate. The second issue relates to lunchtime down at the beach. Before we went I saw a review saying they were very unhappy that lunch was now outside, rather than in the restaurant. As we both prefer to eat outside if possible, we were quite pleased to hear this. However, I have to say it felt like a glorified canteen. Given that dinner is split into 2 sittings, totalling over 3 hours, the same number of people are expected to eat their lunch in just 90 minutes. The result is a mad rush at 12.30 (sometimes earlier), and tables all full, and very close together (if you leave it until later, say 1.45pm as we did once, the live cooking had finished, and some of the other dishes were gone). Smoking is allowed in this restaurant, and as non smokers this became quite unpleasant. Long queues for some hot dishes further reinforced the canteen feel. Interestingly, we were approached by a couple of Managers on our last day and asked about our overall impressions. I of course pointed out all the many positives, but when I started to tell them about the pool and beach restaurant issues, they said that they were aware of these problems. Hopefully they can address these in the future.
Very good stay at this hotel, which could have been perfect but for the 2 problems stated above.Eric
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- * Partially renovated in winter 2007/8 * 3 km from Port El Kantaoui * Located on the beach * Complimentary sun loungers and parasols on the beach * 5-story building * 14 km from the center of Sousse * 200 m from various shops * 23 km from Monastir airport * 200 m from a bus stop * Credit cards accepted: MasterCard, Visa, Amex ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Imperial Marhaba