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“very unhappy experience”

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Marhaba Palace Hotel
Ranked #7 of 33 Hotels in Port El Kantaoui
Ireland
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“very unhappy experience”
Reviewed November 10, 2008

It was not our first time in Tunisia, having visited the country on two previous occassions both staying in hotels and in 2006 we sailed around much of the coast. My comments are not directed at either the country its culture of its people. We expected a good hotel. Firstly we were given a musty room ground floor overlooking the garden. We refused to accept the room We gave them a chance to arrange a better room (which they did )while we set out for the dining room. The food was possible the worst I have ever had the misfortune to encounter. This restaurant was part of the deal, however one could eat in the hotels other restaurant ..which we did and I have to say the standard was not much better. Having visited moscow on several occassions I an only assume that the hotel was catering for its Russian clients. It was unfortunate that there was nothing better in the vicinity. This was a 4star + The bedroom with balcony was pleasant but seeing the house maid wash the bathroom floor with a towel and use the same towel to dry the drinking glasses was a shock.
The Germans were up to their usual anti social behavour putting towels on chairs by the pool and on the fron 6.30 in the morning now followed by the Russiansr. I blame the hotel for allowing this to happen. The hotel also had a small restaurant near the beach which served reasonable good food but it closed a 5.30 a pity as it would have been nice to eat their in the evening. Sadly it is not an experience I wish to repeat thank God we were there for only one week. We would have had to leave. Orla Cullinan Ireland

  • Liked — the staff were eager to please
  • Disliked — terrible food terrible wine (..no imported wine yet Italy is close enough to import wine from
  • Stayed August 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank orflaigh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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ireland
Level Contributor
19 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 77 helpful votes
Reviewed November 4, 2008

Im just back from a stay at the Marhaba Palace and would highly recommend
We had paid extra for a sea view room and would recommend others to do the same - yes the balcony doesnt really get the sun but its still warm and the views over the pool and beach area make it worth it - otherwise you will be at the front of the hotel overlooking the car park. The rooms are old in decor but spotlessly clean and the cleaners came every day to change towels etc. Our air con didnt work but in October this wasnt an issue. The hotel doesnt provide safety deposit boxes in the rooms but they do have them behind the reception desk for 2dinars a day ( approx 1.20euro). Just be careful with the key-if you lose they will charge 100dinars.
I found the food to be really good - the breakfasts had the usual continental style but the egg station was excellent and any kind of egg you wanted was cooked fresh in front of you .The evening meal was varied with a good choice of salads/ hot food and deserts -as other reviewers have said , the table you are allocated on your first night is the table you will have for your stay so if you're not happy ask to be moved on the first night . Waiters are very helpful and left flowers on our table on the last nite as a goodbye gesture.
The location of the hotel couldnt be better - right on the beach so easy access to watersports etc and the pool was of a good size - beds can be reserved at 2dinars a day. The marina is less than 10minutes walk away and there are plenty of restaurants and shops-be prepared to haggle and offer around 1/3 of the price-The fixed price shops are clearly displayed and these are great for getting an idea of prices or if you dont want to haggle.
Entertainment wise the hotel wasnt great - piano or guitar music mainly but the irish pub across the road has cheaper prices and either live music or karaoke most nites so its worth a visit.
The price of the massages in the spa are also v.reasonable - a lot less than prices at home
One thing i would not recommend is a visit to sousse-we went on the noddy train for 3.50dinars return to see the medina - the shop owners grab your arm to try and get you into shops and in one or two shops our exit from the shop was blocked by owners trying to get us to buy - this make me very uneasy as we had trouble leaving . Prices are no cheaper than el kantaoui so i wouldnt go back.
All in all i loved Port El Kantaoui and the Marhaba Palace - it had everthing -on the beach ,pool, good food and close to good shopping and im already planning my next trip back.

  • Liked — The excellent location
  • Stayed October 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
4 Thank evec
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wales
Level Contributor
12 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed October 21, 2008

The hotel is impressive, great facilities. The staff were marvellous and go out of their way to make an effort with the children. The food wasn't at all bad, and even better it's pretty cheap to dine out elsewhere if you fancy a change.
I'd have to say, I'd love to see some of those complaining about this hotel finding one of comparable standard at anywhere near a comparable price.
the location is fantastic, if anything there is too much to see and do. We went off season, the weather was like Spring here, and we had plenty to occupy us. The indoor pool is wonderful.
I'd love to go back and would definitely book this hotel. many residents from other hotels spent their evenings at The Marhaba Palace as they said it was so much better than where they were staying.
Always haggle your boat trips etc, you'll save loads of money especially if they think you're going to walk away!!

  • Liked — Friendly helpful staff, beautiful location
  • Disliked — ummmm nothing!!!
  • Stayed December 2004, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank cynical1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
new york, ny
Level Contributor
9 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed October 20, 2008

The facade of the Maharba Palace is it's only impressive characteristic.

The front desk staff was unhelpful. They misinformed us about local transportation and refused to admit they had miscalculated a currency conversion. The rooms were very outdated with 70s era decor, packets of cheap bath products and smelly towels. When we asked for fresh towels from the housekeeping staff we were told either to ask again later, that they did not have any or that we could not have any since we were set to check out that day. We used the same moldy towels for several days!

The happy hour was an overpriced and disappointing experience. Do not have the hotel's special beverages.

The staff at the beach and pool are pushy and expect to be tipped every day when you sit down on a lounge chair. You will not get a chair at the beach or a cushion at the pool without tipping. That said, the beach and pool areas are quite beautiful and well maintained, particularly the beachscape.

  • Liked — beach was very pretty and well maintained
  • Disliked — moldy towels and unhelpful staff
  • Stayed October 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank pmb22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Norfolk
Level Contributor
13 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed October 20, 2008

My wife and I have just spent a week at the Marhaba Palace, and enjoyed ourselves very much. Yes there are examples of the decor looking tired, and yes breakfast is busy between 8.30and 9.30a.m when everyone wants theirs. If the number of people there at that time bothers you, go earlier. The food is good with plenty of choice including a range of freshly cooked (ie in front of you) . The waiters do work hard to serve you, as do the bar staff and maids. The only surly staff appear to be a small section of the reception staff.
Get a room facing the sea, the view is great.I'm sorry I don't get the whole thing about competitive claims for the sun beds. So go and find something else to do, don't you know too much sun can cause skin cancer !
The location is superb with only a short walk to the Marina. Yes you will be engaged in "shop-talk" with the shop owners, trying to sell you their wares. People from the UK have largely forgotten what our own 'Open market' traders banter was like, as you don't see so much of it nowadays. Go with it, and have a laugh.

  • Stayed October 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
3 Thank NorfolkDrummerboy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cornwall
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed October 14, 2008

Marhaba Palace is a clean and spaceous hotel with friendly staff. Having vistied the trip advisor web site before our recent holiday we were a little concerned about some of the reviews but thought "its booked and i'm sure we'll enjoy ourselves". Thank goodness we didn't listen to the negative views of a few!! The rooms are clean but yes they do need a bit of updating. The main hotel, bars and restaurants are lovely, especially the breakfast room. The food was outstanding, as was the service. The staff speak good english and are very helpful. The currency exchange gentlemen were lovely and didn't keep your money as someone suggested. We found overall that if you gave a smile the staff could not do enough for you. The location if fantastic, close to the town and the beach and so quiet!! We will be making another visit in the next couple of years. 10/10 for this hotel and its staff!!

  • Liked — Location
  • Disliked — Nothing
  • Stayed October 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank SamCarterCornwall
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Derby
Level Contributor
10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
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
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank ScullyDerby
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

Property: 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 Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#6 Luxury Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#7 On the Beach Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#7 Spa Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#8 Family Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#9 Romantic Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:4 star — Marhaba Palace Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 322
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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