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“tattoos and sponge cake” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel Riu Imperial Marhaba

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Hotel Riu Imperial Marhaba
5.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   B.P. 243 | Port El Kantaoui, Port El Kantaoui 04089, Tunisia   |  
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Ranked #2 of 35 Hotels in Port El Kantaoui
19 reviews 19 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
“tattoos and sponge cake”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 12, 2014

We booked this 'special offer' through Thomson Holidays on the spur of a moment just for a week away to catch some warmth.

However, the weather during the end of February is bright and when the wind drops it can be pleasantly warm, but it's not really hot. Many guests did lay out in the sun and wind but they are made of tougher stuff than us. The beach was mostly empty and looked lovely, how lovely it is in the summer when all the sun beds are occupied could be debatable.

When we arrived the hotel was about a third full, when we left it was about three quarters full, there was a difference in the public areas and some queuing for certain things at the buffets.

The hotel must have been very grand some years ago, lots of marble and crystal chandeliers in all public areas. We had upgraded our room and were given a good size room on the top floor which was very quiet but also somewhat tired and jaded, had we paid full price I think I would probably have been a bit disappointed.

There is a wide variety of food available in the dining room. All meals are served buffet style. One would be hard pushed not to find something to eat, there was always a pasta station, pancake station, fish, Tunisian style food, a variety of meats, many salads and raw vegetable salads with many dressings available. Desserts were mostly on the theme of sponge cake layered with different fillings and toppings, there was also seasonal fresh fruit and an ice cream fridge. Wine was served by the bottle and a cooler provided if necessary. The food was generous. Main grouse was the bread but there again that's being picky and the milk is all long life.

I cannot fault the staff at all. They were helpful, friendly, kind, polite and warm towards us. They work very hard indeed.

My biggest grumble is that as a non EC country smoking was allowed indoors by the bar, I am that most horrible of persons, a reformed smoker. The vast reception area often smelled so horribly of cigarettes that we retired to our room. I wish they had a confined smoking bar - mind you it would have to be a pretty big, I haven't seen that many smokers in years.

There were mostly British guests, a large contingent from Scotland and some German guests too. Although there was a polite sign requesting guests to wear trousers to the dining room many guests still dined in shorts and vest which was a shame. We went into Sousse by taxi, the driver said that in the main season most guests are Russian.

The hotel shop looked well stocked there was also a hairdresser/tattooist parlour. Though I think that was just henna tattooing. Many of the guests were tattooed but I don't think that they had them done there.

Would we go again?

No, but only because it is a huge hotel and during the season it must get very crowded indeed.

We cannot fault the hotel staff or our Thomson's rep Jennie, all lovely people.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,372 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (408)
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Polish first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
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English first
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 10, 2014

I have just returned from a lovely relaxing break in (sometimes) sunny Tunisia.

I travelled with a friend and we are both in our late twenties. It hurts to write that!

The good:

The staff are all lovely, in the restaurant especially where they all seem to want you to feel welcome and attended to. Lots of people writing that they are all sullen unless you tip but we didn't find this to be the case at all. We had an issue with our initial room (room 246) which was directly above the kitchen and smelt like bacon at 5am and was pretty noisy, we went to reception with our concerns and within the hour we were moved. The animation team, Riko and Zazoui (probably not spelt correctly and I don't know the other mans name!) we loved them! Always chatty and helpful and considering only three of them do the shows each night I thought they did a great job.

The food is good, lots of choice, and was always hot and fresh. I really liked the fresh juice in the morning, makes a refreshing change from the syrupy juice they often have in those machines! Another reviewer mentioned the bacon, I have to say I didn't eat this as it did look a bit fatty and strange but if you can cope without this for a week there is plenty more to choose from!

The hotel itself is spotless, people constantly shining up the marble floors! Our room was always done to a great standard and lots of towel and bedding swans to keep us amused. We did tip the maid twice during our stay so maybe that had something to do with it but as with all the other staff the maids always said hello and were lovely to chat to.

The beach was lovely although we didn't really stay on it as it is pretty windy at this time of year! Same with the pool, lovely and clean but we didn't even dip a toe in!

The pancakes! Love this idea, could have eaten about 5 a day but tried to restrain myself! There were also nice cakes on offer and I loved the mint tea.

The spa - had a lovely massage - this was on offer at 56 dinars which came through as £21 which I thought was very reasonable. The spa is spotless and you could easily spend a day just relaxing in all the various pools.

Free wi-fi - always a winner!

The bad:

To be honest I don't really have anything negative to say as we had a great experience. But to give travellers an honest review there are a few things which may bother some people.

The location - not much around the hotel and it does look pretty dirty and scary in some places! I know it wasn't far into some more lively areas e.g. the marina but if you want stuff right on your doorstep then this is probably not the place for you. Same could be said if you are younger and want some evening entertainment. We were there for a relaxing holiday, but if you want discos/clubbing etc you would be wise to book elsewhere!

I can imagine in summer it gets pretty busy. The pool area isn't huge and not that many sun beds, I can see others have also said this so might be that this is somewhere to visit out of season.

The lack of snack bars is a little bit annoying - if you choose the 8pm dinner slot and you hadn't just sat on your butt all day like we did I imagine you would get pretty hungry! The pancakes are from 3-5 and do tide you over but maybe burgers/sandwiches etc would be a good idea for the hotel to consider! They are building something down by the beach so this might already be happening.

All in all I loved it - I would definitely go back maybe a little bit later in the year so there is slightly more sunshine!

Room Tip: Initially we had room 246 this wasn't the best - no view and directly over the kitchen! Our seco...
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 10, 2014

Came back on the 5th March after a week at the Riu Imperial Marhaba. Hotel itself is very nice, food in buffet nice but could have been much warmer. Was hoping for slightly warmer weather, outside pool and sea far too cold to even paddle in. Indoor pool was heated and slightly warmer than outdoor pool so at least we got some swimming in. Had a great Spa experience, never had Turkish bath or exfoliation before, the pool was lovely, shame infinity pool was emply and the staffs english was really poor so had trouble communicating with them, but skin felt fabulous afterwards. The local area was a shambles, such a shame when so many lovely hotels are there. Think if your happy to stay in hotel 24/7 its great, but not a pleasant walk outside resort. Marina was beautiful but got lots of hassle which we expected but it was so bad it tainted the experience. As 2 ladies it put me off trying Sousse. Hotel staff were very helpful and friendly, my friend enjoyed animation team evenings but wasn't my 'thing'. Lobby and lobby bar great for people watching. Trip to Carthage was good and museum with mosaics was amazing, again bad weather and we all got totally soaked so coach was too steamed up to see out the windows for rest of trip, just our luck it snowed that day!! Our room the wind blew against the patio doors day and night keeping us awake for hours each night. Think we'd have had a totally different experience had it not been Tunisian Winter.

Room Tip: Front of hotel is nice for sunset but not for the wind.
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Falkirk, United Kingdom
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 5, 2014

Hotel very clean. Staff friendly. Food good was never hungry. Take a kettle if u like a cuppa in the room. Would go back. If weather was better it would have been perfect. Entertainment not the best the animation team work really hard. They always do shows no entertainers brought in that could have been better. All in all it was good.

Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sao Paulo, SP
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 2, 2014 via mobile

We booked our one week holiday with Thomson after reading many good reviews of this hotel on Trip Advisor and because it was featured as a 5* hotel. We had stayed at the RIU 4* in Agadir Morocco and we were so delighted that we chose RIU again. We couldn't have done anything WORSE... This hotel is definitely not a 5* hotel. I think I'm not at the same place as those who classified it as fantastic.
It's our fourth day here and since the beginning we have had disappointments.
Keep away from the gym! It's dangerous! The equipments are old and not well maintained. They can cause you an accident. It is a private gym, so the hotel can not do anything to help you as I was told. The owner is an impolite insidious and ignorant guy not interested in helping you. I felt intimidated and never came back.
We were greeted with orange squash juice and the reception manager gave us an envelope with "all the information" and we were left to find our own room. On our arrival, our luggage were left in front of the hotel and when we went there to pick them up a guy appeared and didn't allow us to take them. He said we should go to the restaurant first and then come to get them. So we did! When we returned there was nobody there taking care of the luggage. We decided to bring them by ourselves to our room and when we were already close to the elevator somebody appeared and took the luggage just for the sake of getting a tip.
One of the elevators is frequently broken.
Many reviews say the staff is nice. But, isn't it what you expect from a 5* hotel? From my point of view they are nice as long as you keep "feeding" them with tips. Be careful if you complain!
The main hall is just a huge space filled with some sparse chairs. Very far from a cosy place.
We've got a sea view room which is spacious and clean. The walls are paper thin and you can hear from footsteps on the ceiling to very loud flush of the room besides. The towels are worn out (thin and small).
There is only one outdoor swimming pool which is small. It might get VERY busy during summer time. Be prepared to wake up at 6am to save a sun bed.
The food is ridiculous poor! While other hotels offer hamburgers and sausages as snacks in pool bars, here they are in the dinner menu. Chef's special is beef liver. Italian food is absolutely rubbish. My husband found a black stone in his food. It takes ages for the waiters to bring you drinks. They are more concentrated in cleaning the tables for the next meal than serving the guests.
During afternoon they make pancakes in the main hall leaving a smell of smoke in the entire hotel. There are a couple of cakes that run out within the first 30min and they are never replaced. If it's finished, it's finished. There are nothing more to eat. It may be because of it that it's common to see people packing food during lunch time and taking to their rooms.
Don't waste your time and money here. They are not concerned about offering quality.

Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 27, 2014 via mobile

We stayed at the Imperial Marhaba from the 19-26 February 2014.
I wanted to getaway for my 30th birthday somewhere dry. When arriving at the hotel we was greeted with welcome packs and drinks, we was not happy with the view from our room so the reception staff changed us straight away no problem. You have a large selection of food at all meal times and a 1 dinar tip at each meal is very appreciated and if you want something making they are quite happy to do so. In between meals there is a continental breakfast and pancakes early evening these are a must.
Drinks are plentiful and like I say 1 dinar goes along way with the waiting staff also. The entertainment is more aimed at the older generation but We still enjoyed watching them as it is not advisable to go out after dark by yourself. Rico from the entertainment staff is friendly to everyone and is quite happy to give you any information and help at any time. On my birthday the staff brought me a cake and had photos taken but have to agree with one of the other comments they are very dark. We met some amazing people on this holiday ,holiday makers and staff, we would recommend this hotel to anyone but in winter not much for the younger generation (18-30).
Leaving the hotel is a different matter the locals at the marina are very forceful and offensive if you do not want to go in the shops or restaurants.
We had to rescue a few couples on this holiday as they would not take no for an answer.
If you are going to do trips I would recommend the quads and el djem

Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Preston, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
50 helpful votes 50 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 27, 2014

My wife 14 year old son and myself went during half term, the Hotel was everything we expected, exceptionally clean and well decorated. Room was great cleaned every day with fresh towels etc. Food was plentiful and good but as another reviewer has commented it could do with a bit more spice, was good for one week but could see it being repetitive for 2 weeks without any spicy options. The Tunisian themed restaurant was fab, we really enjoyed our night in there.
All the facilities were great BUt the highlight was the animation team who kept both our son and us entertained day and night in particular Noussa and Rikou were great both of them having the right approach to both young and old alike making everyone feel involved.
The Bar areas were brilliant all the drinks were great service excellent not a lot to fault the place other than the pool bar beer kept getting too frothy!! and was difficult to serve yourself. Indoor pool facility was great. Whilst there my wife went in the Spa which was 80 dinars about £30 which she enjoyed BUT she said the staff were nowhere near as friendly as in the Hotel and she pointed out to them that the ex-foliation treatment should be done first not last, at point they blamed on the computer!!
All in great family holiday - met some lovely people - made some good friend and will go back again in the future.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Imperial Marhaba

Address: B.P. 243 | Port El Kantaoui, Port El Kantaoui 04089, Tunisia
Location: Tunisia > Sousse Governorate > Port El Kantaoui
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#1 Romantic Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#1 Family Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#1 Luxury Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#2 Top resorts Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#2 Spa Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#2 On the Beach Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:5 star — Hotel Riu Imperial Marhaba 5*
Number of rooms: 366
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

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