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“surrender to the magic” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Dar Dhiafa

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Dar Dhiafa
Ranked #31 of 109 Hotels in Djerba Island
Certificate of Excellence
Montevideo, Uruguay
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“surrender to the magic”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 29, 2008

If you don't fall in love with Dar Dhiafa, your heart must have been pulled out of you by the mundane predictability of modern life. Like all good love stories, it begins by being off-put and overwhelmed, unsure of what it's all about, and suspiciousness of how it will all turn out. At a certain point (at the beginning, if you're smart), you simply throw up your hands, surrender to the charms, and let yourself be led down unfamiliar roads.

To me, Dar Dhiafa was all about the people who live and work there. The wisest thing we did was to take the time to pause, slow down, get a little humble and step out of the lock-step march of the traveller-covering-ground-fast mood. There were British tourists who seemed altogether irritated by the lack of familiar amenities and the "rustic" nature of the facilities...so ready to be disappointed that they grumbled along and never even notices the candlelit passageways, the flowerpetals floating in the pool, the faded Hebrew lettering on the lintels that intertwined with the Arabic, the fragrant oils steaming from the hammam.

When we arrived, Nidal led us to the roof to have a smoke and watch the sun wash over the glistening white domes of the mosques - sure enough, moments later the call to prayer swept through the town and he smiled at us before launching into a passionate discussion about the differences between African and American blues guitar. We went music-shopping with him, he planned our trips through the desert, and took us home to meet his mother, uncles, and father. She made us strawberries in balsamic vinegar and showed us her wedding pictures.

And then there was dinner, where we let them choose our food and were awarded lamb wrapped in cheese over grilled apples. The teenage chefs wandered out and between their Arabic and our French we learned they had grown up there with their families long before it was a hotel, while it was still a Jewish dwelling in a Muslim town. And today are self-taught chefs, with cosmopolitan curiosity, a gift with Franco-African fusion, and an amazing knack for experimenting with local ingredients.

Once of the staff took me aside and shyly asked for "a woman's advice" about how to propose to his girlfriend. Another took us to a local hookah cafe where smoke was thick, the boiled almonds were otherworldly, and dwarfs walked around with braziers of burning hookah coals as the musicians played some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard.

One of the best ways to fall in love is to sit back and listen to your beloved. The call to prayer punctuated each section of the day - a quiet dreamy morning under the bouganvilla eating oranges. In the afternoon, an onslaught of sun, and then the hammam. Conversations. A nap in the cool splendor of the rooms -

I have to pause a moment to say that climbing barefoot up a stone staircase to a small loft at the top of the vaulted ceiling upon which is the most romantically delightful claw foot tub is worth $250 in pure, unabated joy. So there.

It takes a certain sensibility to enjoy getting off the beaten path in Djerba - on one side of the island there is a creepy, soul-destroying ghetto of antiseptically swanky hotels completely indistinguishable from other antiseptic tourist ghettos where people go for inexpensive sunburns.

And then on the other side it's dusty streets, dusty donkeys, dusty olive trees, dusty mosques, and scrub brush that THANK GOD sends the feeble spirited back to those little air-conditioned boxes.

And behind the high walls and the blue shuttered windows and the massive wooden gateways are perhaps the most wonderful people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. We wandered by a local pottery and the gentleman who worked there invited us for hookah and tea, got in our car, persuaded us to let him drive, drove like a demented bat but somehow got us to a cafe where he chatted with me for two hours about politics comparing George Bush and Bourgiba, and then took us wandering through his village, introduced us to his sister, showed us the family goats, cracked jokes until we hyperventilated.

If you can't allow yourself to relax and open your eyes, bring yourself to be curious and quiet, release all your expectations and preconceived ideas, then it's simply not the place for you. I arrived in a feverish, frenetic frenzy straight from Los Angeles and Paris, and thank goodness Dar Dhiafa took me aside and made me human again.

The island is holy, and spiritual, and loving, and sweet, and generous, and replete with subtle sensuality and breathtaking kindness. It's only there if you have the patience to let it come to you in its own time, and in its own way.

After extending our stay from 3 days to 10, I sobbed when I got into the taxi, because i knew that I would never experience anything like that again. And I haven't. It was a blessing.

  • Stayed March 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Shiryah66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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190 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    136
    36
    9
    5
    4
See reviews for
27
96
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8
Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (13)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
382 reviews
375 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 692 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 12, 2008

i ended up booking this place through i-escape because it took forever for the hotel to get back to my email enquiries (actually they only replied after I used iescape to contact them)

this place was a disappointment after having read tons of good reviews and articles in magazines and newspapers, I arrived into Houmt Souk after a very long cab ride plus ferry ride plus another cab ride, unfortunately when I arrived at the hotel (which I can tell could be very charming in better weather), was promptly brought to my cold and damp room where the heater did not work, eventually they brought in an electric heater but the situation was not that much better, I tried to keep both on at the same time but the fuse blew out repeatedly so ended up using just the electric heater which kept the room heated at a lousy 16-17 celsius (it was raining and cold outside, so I ended up sitting in the hotel lobby/living room area next to the fireplace most of the time)

dinner was the highlight but but since the only warm room in the hotel was the living room area with the previously mentioned fireplace, the hotel moved the tables from the dining room over and I ended up being seated by the exit where a cold draft of air would come in everytime someone opened the door to come in or out, dinner was good and a couple glasses of champagne put me in a better mood but even the cushion I sat on at the dinner table was damp so that the first thing I had to do back in the room was throw my jeans over the electric heater to dry them up

the next morning at 8 I had to wait 15 min at the front desk for a lady that spoke some English to arrive and help settle my bill, in the meanwhile there was no breakfast /tea/breadcrumbs served (the place was deserted)

the hotel itself is cute and charming but it really is the lack of professional staff (I'm not looking for four seasons service, ...just a warm room to sleep in where I don't have to shiver the entire night and have to sleep with my clothes and ugg boots on)

this was the worst experience of the 6 hotels in Tunisia during this trip in terms of lack of comfort, cute yes cute but I'd rather enjoy the cuteness in a coffee table book vs. in person

  • Liked — cute & charming hardware, faulty software (service)
  • Disliked — lack of proper heating, damp cushion during dinner, having to wait 15 min in morning for a person to arrive at front desk and zero tea/breadcrumbs for breakfast
  • Stayed December 2007, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Anilegna
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Scotland
Level Contributor
29 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 22, 2007

Yes, the hotel is charming, the rooms full of character, the staff very pleasant. It is without a doubt the best place to stay on the island. It is not, however, the perfect little paradise we expected from the reviews we read prior to booking. Maybe our expectations were too high, maybe our judgement was coloured a little by the daily thunderstorms and showers. We felt that the staff were lacking in professionalism e.g. cushions and sun-lounger matresses were left out every day to be soaked by the overnight rain (after a couple of nights, surely people were getting used to the pattern of weather - didn't they listen to the forecast?) which meant that everything had to be dried out before further use was possible. The smell of the flooded sewer did not entice us to sit out in the courtyard outside our room. Breakfast coffee was always lukewarm and the breakfast itself lacked any sort of imagination and care in the preparation. Dinner was sometimes delicious, sometimes mediocre (particularly the local dishes such as couscous and tagine which we had very much looked forward to sampling) The hotel experience was over-hyped and overpriced! The island itself was the biggest disappointment for us. Although we travelled the length and breadth by taxi looking for places of interest, we found nothing to quicken the heart. The tourist zone is especially horrendous and unattractive: the beaches on the east side of the island are litter-strewn and covered in weed. We spent a pleasant day on the west side at Sidi Jmour: a deserted, rocky beach with a little white mosque on the promontary. We were actually able to swim in the sea there - the water was much more inviting than on the tourist beaches. We were alone except for a couple of local fishermen, setting their palm traps. The island capital, Houmt Souk, whilst not actively unattractive, is hardly the 'Sidi Bou Saïd-alike' that we had been promised. Safe to say that we shall never return to Djerba!

  • Liked — Charming rooms, each with its own individual character. The hamaam.
  • Disliked — Smell of the sewer. Breakfast.
  • Stayed October 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Braveheart365
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
wollongong australia
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 29, 2007

firstly the location the village is quite and lovely to walk around and meet the locals who where great , whilst the hotel is a little way from the main centres on the islands cabs were easy to get and quite reasonable . the hotel is unique and everything is done in an understated but fully professional way , the management and staff actually became friends in a short while . a fantastic experience , go if you can .

  • Liked — totally different
  • Disliked — predominance of french info
  • Stayed May 2007, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank aussiebrian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Koeln
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 13, 2007

Me and my wife stayed in Dar Diafa last year and i must tell you it was an excellent experience. The staff was very helpful and they took good care of us during our stay. The rooms were very clean and comfortable. The ambiance can be defined as exotic, romantic, and authentic and the food at the restaurant was absolutely delicious. It was indeed a remarkable stay, with great weather, in which we had time to relax, to enjoy the local culture and to discover the secrets of the beautiful island of Jerba. We can't wait to return again to the Dar Diafa Hotel!! It was the most enjoyable experience we had in Tunisia.

  • Liked — The staff, the restaurant and general ambiance
  • Disliked — internet access
  • Stayed September 2006, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
4 Thank Klara_und_Miguel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 25, 2006

A world away from the tourist masses and their all-inclusive hotels - a beautiful retreat - fabulous junior suite and very slick and welcoming service. Good, if pricey, food and yes it's much, much easier if you've rented a car to look around but a real gem nonetheless and for us the best hotel on our stay in Tunisia.

  • Stayed April 2006
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ft Lauderdale, FL
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 8, 2006

The Dar Dhiafa is a unique and charming place with an extremely interesting and helpful staff. The hotel is constructed from 5 formerly separate Jerban homes with lots of interesting spaces, nooks and crannies. Upon arrival we were welcomed with glasses of Jerban tea with mint and then shown to our suite consisting of two sleeping areas on elevated platforms, a sitting/dining area, large bathroom and a desk/work area. Dinners at the hotel were excellent and the Chef, Mohammed, doubled as a capable guide for a tour around the island. The only drawback to this hotel was it's somewhat remote location because we like to walk everywhere. You must take a taxi to any shopping or tourist areas. This is not bad though because taxis are cheap and it is only about 4 Dinars and 10 minutes for a ride to the island's capital, Houmt Souk. The manager, Christophe, and the chef are multilingual.

  • Stayed March 2006
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
15 Thank JR-of-LHP
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Dar Dhiafa

Property: Dar Dhiafa
Address: Erriadh, Djerba Island 4146, Tunisia
Location: Tunisia > Medenine Governorate > Djerba Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #31 of 109 Hotels in Djerba Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — Dar Dhiafa 3*
Number of rooms: 14
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Unique and charming place on the island of Djerba ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Dar Dhiafa Djerba
Dar Dhiafa Hotel Djerba

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