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Marhaba Palace Hotel
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Reviewed May 14, 2013

Having just returned from a week’s All Inclusive holiday at the Marhaba Palace, I wanted to give a detailed and honest opinion of the hotel. The hotel was built in the 80s and is clearly looking dated, but given that I was on a sun holiday, this far from bothered me. From reading other reviews, it seems people have a completely different experience depending on the time of year. Travelling in early May, the season was just getting started, but I’d say the hotel was two thirds full, which was a nice level. There were plenty of sunbeds available all day at the lovely, clean pool or the Caribbean-esque white sand, turquoise sea beaches. One morning, we were awake early enough to see the staff hand-raking the private beach area.

The hotel is in a great location, just 500m stroll to the Port, where there were lovely restaurants, which we tried for a few meals out for a change and just across the road from the Irish bar, which although bared no resemblance to anything Irish, made a nice change for a few evening drinks. We were aware of the building work next door before we arrived, but in all honesty, I never once heard any noise from it, which led me wonder if anyone was working on it?!

The food in the hotel seems to divide opinion. Although it was perfectly nice food, always hot etc, we found there was little variation. The freshly made pizzas were tasty, but I’m sure more people would stay in the hotel in the evenings were there to be a few themed nights dotted around the week…. Italian, typical Tunisian etc. The beach bar for lunch was a nice change and although, it was the same food daily, the setting of the beach front really added value to the experience. Breakfast was ok. I don’t like cooked breakfast, so was a little disappointed when there were only cheap, stale cornflakes on offer, but managed to find alternatives. As expected, the drinks on offer under the All Inclusive were the cheaper local brands, which is fine, but I, and many other guests we spoke to, were shocked to find they didn’t stock diet soft drinks. This was soon rectified after many complaints from diabetic guests, but staff were still reluctant to serve it, taking labels off bottles, so as not to the highlight that it was there!

The majority of the staff in the hotel were nice, friendly and professional. Some of the barman seemed a bit surly and unfriendly – one even shouting at my companion that ‘No, we do not stock vodka at this bar, go somewhere else’. As we were two females travelling together, some of the male staff were a little too over-friendly, but after a few hints were dropped and a polite ‘thanks, but no thanks’ this was fine. Again, as seems to be apparent, a tip will get you a far better service throughout the resort. The ‘Animation Team’ does a good job with little resources. Be aware that you have to pay for some of the evening entertainment.

We were two females travelling together, we expected to be hassled. The shopping/haggling was fine, as long as you have a thick skin and ignore the comments. A simple ‘No thank you’ worked in most instances.

All in all, I had a great holiday, the positives outweighed the negatives and were I to return to Tunisia, would definitely look at the Marhaba Palace again!

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled with friends
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6  Thank Zoe C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 14, 2013

Returned home 13/5/13 after 10 day stay. I detest reviews that nit pick but feel there is a basic level of service and hygiene below which no hotel should fall regardless of age or location. I hope this is seen as a balanced view from someone who has stayed in numerous all inclusive hotels in Tunisia and other North African countries so takes into account the cultural norms. On the whole we found our holiday enjoyable and relaxing. First the positives.
Great location, easy walk to port.
Unlike many buffet food was served hot, lunch at beach bar better than some I have encountered. At lunch and dinner there is always a choice of various meat and fish dishes, from grills to stews along with the ubiquitous pizza, pasta and chips for those who cannot cope without. The food is not highly flavoured as found in North African restaurants, I suspect this is to try to appeal to a wide range of clients from several countries.
Staff polite and helpful (I can understand them appearing otherwise at times having observed the lack of respect from some clients).
Bedroom was thoroughly cleaned (beds moved out etc.).
Once the animation team were aware you did not want to participate they did not pester for you to join in.
Reception and money exchange staff helpful and pleasant. A very welcoming; doorman always had a greeting and was observed cleaning and polishing the glass doors whenever a mark appeared.

On a negative note:-
The hotel is very tired and ready for a refurbishment. However it is made to look more run down by lack of attention to cleaning in some public areas, and lack of basic maintenance (e.g. not replacing cracked sink in bathroom).
As noted by a previous reviewer dirty windows and mirrors seem to be a theme. It is most evident in the breakfast room where there are also rotting window frames.
My main concern in the breakfast room was the disgusting state of the chairs. There was an accumulation of dust and spillages on most of the chairs that must have taken months to build up, there was badly chipped paintwork. I mentioned this to the breakfast room manager who replied "ok we clean". Unfortunately things did not improve so I reported my concerns to the hotel manager who said he would address the matter. Three days later still same dust and spillages however noted more and more chairs had been painted. I mentioned it to a waiter who said they were cleaning a few chairs each day ready for painting. I again spoke with the breakfast room manager to remind him that the chairs should be inspected and spillages wiped after every service; not wait until they need painting. It is evident there is not a regular cleaning plan otherwise there would not have been the build up of dirt and spillage. I suspect all chairs will have been cleaned and painted over the next few weeks; hopefully they will not wait until they need painting again before cleaning.
In other establishments I have observed the sun loungers around the pool being hosed down at the end of each day. Loungers at here also have a build up of dirt and spillages, no evidence of regular cleaning.

On a final note; if you have time to spend 2 days out on the safari to the desert taking in many sites along the way please do it. For the equivalent of around £80 (includes meals and overnight hotel stop); you will get to see some spectacular scenery and enjoy some great experiences.

Room Tip: Rooms at the front of the hotel get the evening sun- great sunsets; but can be noisy with early morning trip and transfer traffic.
  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled with friends
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5  Thank sunandski4me
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 13, 2013

Just returned from this hotel 12/5/2013 ti was our 2nd time in this hotel and was just as good as the 1st time everything was spot on, lovely food,spotlessly clean room and every other areas as well, there is a new hotel being built next door but it did not effect us at all.the staff in this hotel are so very friendly and welcoming,if you give a little tip at the beginning of the week to the waiters they look after you like kings and queens.the entertainment is a little boring at times, but there's a Irish bar across the road if you fancy a change. We have no moans about this hotel at all,so if your going I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Room Tip: Sea view rooms are a must
  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Mavisrileyengland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 13, 2013

Went here April/May 2013. Lovely hotel. Food was brilliant and puddings were to die for! Staff were attentive and polite. Also very good location close to Marina. Pool was good for adults and children. Take advantage of the a la carte option if its offered because that meal was great.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank Kit W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 12, 2013

My first experience of Tunisia, this Hotel and the all-inclusive concept. First impressions were that it was a little scruffy and dirty in places. The bedroom, although spacious, could have been cleaner. The pillows were stained but on complaining we had new ones very quickly. However as the week progressed the bedroom cleaning became more efficient (presumably different chambermaid) and we became less critical of what is after all an all-inclusive middle-range hotel.

The location is very good and we found the pool area, grounds in general and private part of the beach very good. The pool was very clean with a separate area for young children. The pool bar was a nice place to sit with a drink and the beach restaurant was very nice for an al fresco lunch on our sunbathing days. We couldn't fault breakfast or dinner either (8 people with varying tastes!). But we found it best to take bottled water in with us as that served in the dining room was not very nice. The Hotel do supply a 2 litre bottle of water to each guest each evening, available on request at the main bar. The all-inclusive package included one meal in the Al a Carte restaurant which was much better than the displayed menu suggested. We nearly changed our minds but were glad we didn't. You have to try the all-inclusive drinks to find something to suit but we found the red wine, beer and anisette acceptable. The cocktails though were not worth bothering with in our opinion.

The "entertainment" was not really my thing. But the animation team do try very hard and are enthusiastic and friendly. There are only 4 of them. Some people did like it though. In fact all of the staff at the hotel were pleasant, friendly and helpful in our experience. Tunisians are very poorly paid and they do rely heavily on tips but are happy with one or two dinar.

So all in all an enjoyable week. Tunisia may be a bit of a shock to some people - dirty, with rubbish everywhere, and a lot of smoking in bars and hotels.The shops and restaurants do employ hard-sell tactics which can be off-putting to English people. Not sure why they haven't learnt that they may achieve more by being less pushy. There are enjoyable trips available which you do either with the tour companies or alone. We particularly enjoyed a few hours wandering around a small town/fishing village nearby called Hergla. 15 minutes journey in a taxi and we came back by louage.

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled with friends
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4  Thank Maureen600
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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