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Marhaba Palace Hotel
Ranked #8 of 33 Hotels in Port El Kantaoui
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed July 31, 2007

Stayed at the hotel for 11 night last min break end June with wife and 11 yr old son and had fantastic relaxing time.
Hotel very clean and found staff to be very helpful.Yes they did like a tip! but we found they were just as pleasant without.Our room was fantastic-a junior suite with view of pool and sea.This was thanks to Nejib who sorted out any of are queries with professionalism and speed,This member of staff is a great asset to this hotel. as are the staff in the shop.

  • Stayed: June 2007, traveled with family
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4  Thank Tipsareus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,785 - 1,791 of 2,070 reviews

Reviewed July 29, 2007

Went here about 2 weeks ago, for a week, with my mom and nan. The weather was lovely 39 most days. The hotel was spotless, kept well clean, lovely pool and beach, bedroom was bit basic though. The beach had its own watersports, which were reasonably priced. Tipping is a big thing at this hotel, and the staff expect it and are not shy in asking for it, especially the bag man. The food was nice, plenty of choice, buffet style. The marina i thought was very pretty, nice restaurants on the harbour, although you do get quite hassled by shop owners, particulary being blonde i had numerous of guys asking me to meet them for drinks, and it happened by the hotel staff as well, by the end of the week i was avoiding certain staff. That was the only downside to the hotel for me, was the staff and little to do on the night, but over the road from the hotel is the irish pub which is more livelier.
Overall a nice well kept clean hotel, except if i was going to return to tunisia i would dye my hair first!

  • Stayed: July 2007, traveled with family
    • Value
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2  Thank ZoOot19
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 26, 2007

We booked this holiday as a cheep get away from it all week! The weather was fantastic for May and it was great just to get away.

The hotel was ok. We arrived at about 2 in the afternoon but was unable to change any money up as they did not open the money exchange till 5. We had to wait about half an hour before our luggage turned up. A waiter knocked on our door pretty much as soon as we got to the room asking if we wanted our fridge filled with drink. We asked for some water but of course had no money so he wasnt too pleased. He then kept knocking every day but we told him no thanks as the water was a fraction of the pice in the supermarket down the road.

The rooms were clean but do need some modernisation. The toilet was truly awful. When we went the air con was not turned on and you really needed it. It was well into the 30's and to sleep of a night was very hard work as would sweat!! The maids always cleaned the room nicely.

The food was ok. I have a 9 year old whom I had no problems in feeding everyday. He loved the pizzas on the beach! The last day the got the crepe makers out aroung the pool. These were lovely.
The pool was always clean, but if you are not up by 6 to reserve a bed you stand no chance of getting one. We dont normally spend time round the pool but the sea was full of jelly fish so couldnt swim in it so chose to stay by pool. You do get hassled by the spa staff who are trying to get you to go for a massage or treatment and they are a pain. You end up having to be rude to get rid of them.

The waiter staff are all men and are so rude, until your last night that is then they cannot do enough for you. I swear if they smiled there faces would crack.

There is an Irsih pub opposite the hotel which is good for laugh and the drink is cheaper in there. If you venture out be prepared to get hasseled by every shop keeper. They even at times do grab your arm and drag you into the shop to look and again do no take no for an answer. It is very intimidating. My son only ventured out the once from the hotel.

The one thing though that really really annoyed me was on our last day the reception rang up to ask when we wanted our luggage collected. We told them that we would bring it down ourselves once we were ready. For the next hour that we spent packing up the phone must have rung 6 times to arrange collection of luggage. We got to the point we didnt pick it up. We then had the same guy knock on the door 3 times to see if we were ready for our luggage to be taken down. We kept saying no we would take it ourselves. It was just another opportunity to get a tip. We took it ourselves but when we got to reception the man tried to take it off us and carry the last few yards. We had to be very forcefull and say NO THANK YOU. The same in the airport. As soon as you bus pulls in they open the luggage door and start getting peoples suitcases off and loaded onto trolleys so they can take them to check in for you. We had a bit of an argument to our cases back off this one guy!!

All in all thought the holiday was very relaxing and weather fab. I would go back if I wanted a cheap week in the sun but wouldnt have wanted to stay for 2 weeks as the locals do tend to annoy you quite a bit.

  • Stayed: May 2007, traveled with family
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4  Thank ANNALO
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 25, 2007

Now.. To start off, Tunisia and especially Port El Kantaoui was a worry for us from the start of booking. Like all of you, when we booked we were put off by the negative comments and wondered what was in stall for us. But, nevertheless, we thought some of the comments by previous people looked a little bit.. fussy. Ok, i thought, you have to tip... or ok, the towels may smell.
But.. the photo's do look nice and what friends have said to me in everyday life, it is a great place. That good, they even went there three times.

But I must stress that our experience was horrifying. Simple.

I have nothing against the hotel facilities, the room was clean, a little outdated as many people have said, but generally it is acceptable and I had no complaints (apart from the fact the door locks when you go on the balcony and we had to call a random person on another balcony to call reception and rescue us... but it was fun and an experience), But i'll explain more about the hotel later.

But I am wondering why me and partner found this holiday a negative experience. I'll try my best to explain.

When you go on holiday, you want to be *on holiday*. Meaning, you want to relax, enjoy yourself from everyday life back home. When i go on holiday I want to mix into the local culture and decide what, where and how you would like visit. This I, and my partner, found impossible in Port El Kantaoui. The resort is a manmade monstrosity, no character and absolutely no soul. The first visit into this hellhole is greeted by locals praying for you to visit their shops, restaurants, junk shops etc. One man said 'Please help me, please go in my shop' .. To which my arm was grabbed and pulled.

Of course, i am aware of traditions with Medinas and how they bargain, but to do this in a 'Stepford Wives' and tourist perfected backdrop selling fake football shirts and awful goods, is tiresome and rather annoying. Basically, the pestering doesn't stop, and there is nothing to back it up. The 'Port' is full of young Tunisians, I wished I had black hair and olive skin, because when they caught a glimpse of my fairskin, it was pester pester and absolutely not enjoyable. A firm 'no' was often retaliated by a sarcastic comment, something along the lines of 'No bloody bother' (or something towards that line, if not worse). If you want to take in the Port and it's limitless beauty, and I try and advise you too, because one look at a stall that sells something you might be interested in, quickly turns you away once you realise they are selling tat and nothing that is of any quality that the pestering deserves.

And to be precise. If you want a holiday where you can explore and want to learn about culture, day by day, by venturing into areas further, by relaxing and feel where you can do what you want to do and when. this is NOT the holiday for you. Port El Kantaoiu is fake, so fake that it's such a strange experience. Looking around, the people who tended to like this were people who were happy to sunbathe all day around the pool, and then get herded around by the hotel staff.

The Hotel Staff is one of the main reasons this holiday was bad.

I have never felt like such a sheep in all my life. From the moment you enter the hotel, you are treated in such a manner I have not been known in all my 29 years. Tipping seems to be a problem with this hotel, personally I have never had a problem, I have read reviews stating that people have been annoyed by how they have been expected to tip. And, I can confirm that this is true. I cannot believe some of the expectations of a tip.

From walking into the hotel, the doorman opens the door and I smile and say 'Hello' *or Marhaba* this is greeted with a grunt because I didn't tip. So, i thought, i'll give a few hundred dinars, but still a grunt.

And the reception staff is something else! Not only does the most simple task of asking for an exchange warrant a face like a sour, disgruntled face (wait till you see it!).. but to ask any simple request makes out as though you're the most annoying customer. Oh, and if you ask for an internet card, make sure the code isn't prescratch off.. but try and be nice about it when you complain because apparently it's ok to sell one that's used. (Just say 'Get me the Manager' that worked)

I must go on by talking about the guy who brought the bags up. Try as you must, and my oh my i did, I didn't want my bags brought to my room because of the expected hassle. When we got to our room we didn't have any money because Dinars is a closed currency and we hadn't been to the cash machine. Try in vain and you will not be able to do as you wish! With a knock on the door, and the explanation of my plight of no Dinars.. I was told he'll be knocking on tomorrow at 3pm for his tip. He knocked all holiday, i made sure me and the missus were o

Where next? Escapism? Like I said, outside is a no go. So the Hotel experience.

The Pool was ok. I don't know why it was great like other holidays, but to be honest it was annoying. Hotel staff patrol the grounds and watch the clock rigorously, its all finito at 8pm folks. Sure, like all hotels on the planet this is usually the case, but to close the whole outdoor experiece at 8pm, while you drool over the next door hotels music and wonder why you're lieing in bed watching BBC World Service is a bit... well.. sad. And again, id rather watch BBC World Service than venture outside in the Port's hellhole. BUT!....

No! Get up! You're on holiday! Cheer up! Shower time and get dressed up and eat.

Another horrid experience! Eating dinner has always been a pleasurable experience, memorable, enjoyable. Marhaba Hotel was stressful.

Again, get ready to be told where to sit and with little service by the waiters, this is self service, you're expected to tip because they come over and say 'Is it nice?' or because they pour your half full glass of coca cola or vino... thanks waiter, I was really incapable of pouring my drink, afterall i just been to the buffet and filled my own plate.

A memorable moment was when we went into the restaurant on our second night. We decided we didn't want to sit where the waiter had told us on the first night (you have to leave your card so you're in the waiters territory for tips, your table is always your table) but, being freeminded and spirited, we decided that we'd like a different table everynight. To our astonishment, the waiters argue infront of you because tips are being given to someone else! Ahhhh! That's what ive we've saved up for all year! To have second grade meals in the evening and see people dictate our holiday and where we should eat and sit. (Again we don't want to go out and be pestered)

After 4 days here, we decided enough was enough. We got on a flight to Menorca to a gorgeous, quiet, unobtrusive, non pestering self catering area. It was so quiet, but after that horrid experience it felt like heaven.

If you want to be told where to eat, where to shop, what to buy, what to eat, who to tip, and at what time.. amongst rude comments and absolute untrained staff then Port El Kantaoui and specifically Marhaba Palace is for you. Sit there and enjoy, you must be a sheep.

The only lovely thing about this hotel is how the maids clean and aesthetically change your room day to day. If you must go, tip them well. They really deserve it and show gratitude through fresh roses, the one and the only genuine token we were grateful for.

(getting out of Tunisia wasn't easy either, an airport official requested me to open my wallet as he wanted my dinars, the currency is 'a closed curreny', meaning no value out of the country. But, i wanted to spend my dinars on dinner on airside which you can do. The gun and baton was scary, thank god my partner said 'we need it for next time we come back' I can say that i spend all my money on food and will not be returning to this place)

  • Stayed: July 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
3  Thank MrPaolo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 24, 2007

My son and I have had such a fantasric holiday here at the marhaba palace it really was one of the best holidays we have ever taken.

From the moment we stepped into the hotel we were very much looked after. The staff were vwery very friendly to both of us. My son is 10 and has disabilities and he really enjoyed his stay. Everything went smoothly. Our maid was called fatima and she really kept our room spotless indeed. She made patterns with our nitewear different every day as did she with the curtains to the sliding door. We had clean towels every day. The porters were also very nice and my son's favourite was called saleem he remembered my son nmae the whole time

the food was totally brilliant i really cant complain and i am one of the most fussist eaters going. There was always plenty of choice. We enjoyed hte barbecue also it was fab.

we was right on the resort so we had walking distance to the marina which was bursting with life ll hte time with the consant haggling going on.

i would very much recommend this to anyone wanting a relaxing but sun soaked holiday

it was way cool would go again soon after seen some more of hte world first

  • Stayed: July 2007, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
3  Thank zacboy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 19, 2007

Good location and nice hotel, fantastic sandy beach with good water sports as well as quiet areas on beach. Pool good and deep in some places ideal for swimming or just floating around. Kids pool great for kids and nice and quiet in the afternoon to sit in and read a book.

Stayed: July 2007
Thank PerriFalkirk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 19, 2007

The Marhaba Palace from the outside does look 4-5 stars and indeed, as you enter you still have the same assumption as the lobby is lovely and airy.
However, the bedroom facilities are no more than 2-3 star.

Very small but adequate reception area and money exchange facility. A huge lobby area though with plenty of seating and very airy.

There are no safes in the bedooms but there are small safety deposit boxes available for hire at a cost of 14 Dinar’s per week per couple. These boxes are situatated in a room behind the reception with 24 hr access. These are very old fashioned but seem to be fine and safe.
There is a bar straight in front and there is an American bar as you go towards the right – this always seemed to be empty when we went there so did not use it.
There is also a night club attached to the hotel but it was not open whilst we were there so cannot comment.
There is a hair dresser/beautician past the money exchange facility – unless you are desperate – don’t bother!! The two girls are just on the make for loads of money without any particular attention to service.
This goes for the SPA facilities too which are in a separate building – very clinical looking and there is even a charge for using the gym or the hot tub there.

You get only one key per room and this is on a very heavy brass fob. We just took the fob off the key and took the key with us thus keeping the fob in the slot to keep the aircon on in the room! Probably not very “green” but at least the room was comfortable on our return.
Bedrooms are very jaded and in need of modernization. Average size bedroom – we asked for a double bedroom which were two single beds put together (and made up separately!).
We asked for no smoking but none available. Incidentally, the non-smoking rooms are on levels 1 & although I find it very difficult how they would enforce the no-smoking rule. I found the room smelt quite a bit and I just left the door open with the door to the balcony open too – this aired the room completely and I did this as often as possible when we were there.
The maid did clean the rooms as best as she could and made up the bedding covers in different designs each day. She also draped the net curtains in different shapes even though the net and the main curtains could do dumping or a very good clean at the least.
There are no tea/coffee making facilities in the room – take Travel kettle with Tea & Coffee & milk pots if required.
Fridge is free – no ice but can keep the drinks & water that you can bring in cool.

The airconditioning was a bit noisy and on the last day we were there, it started leaking and we had to call the maintenance people twice – it was not worth changing the room as we were checking out the next day anyway. Also, if you open the door to the balcony, the aircon switches off. Word of WARNING – if you go out the balcony do not shut the patio doors if there isn’t anyone in the room. You can’t open the doors from outside!!.

Bathrooms – functional not luxurious. A couple of satchets of cheap shampoo and shower gel + small soap. Take your own nice ones to pamper yourself.
The loo is separate and I found this very claustrophobic – no windows. Also when you flushed, the water smelt.
The bathroom had a sink with large surfaces both sides and a large mirror. Also a long mirror on the bathroom door.
A full bath tub with a stand in shower – lots of hot water and the shower worked well.
The towels in the bathroom are I am sorry to say, absolutely awful – they are threadbare and the awful camel, light brown/digestive biscuit colour – preffy naff actually,
You need to take your own beach towels – apparently none of the hotels in Tunisia provide beach towels.
If you have the freebie slippers you get in 5* hotels, take a pair with you to use around the room.

Restaurant:
Breakfast – adequate and airy – it may not be to everyone’s taste, but you will not go hungry. Plenty of cereals, breads, pastries, cakes, fresh fruit, yoghurts, hot veg, meats etc. There is also a separate fresh egg and omelet bar where you can get you eggs how you like them. Next to that, you can get fresh orange and grapefruit juices as per your requirement but there is a small charge of 2.5 TD per glass.

Lunch / Dinner:
This is in a different restaurant – fairly big. If you are on half board, you can opt for either a lunch or dinner. Both are offered buffet style. Lunch has fewer but adequate options. If we missed breakfast, we opted for lunch and then went out for dinner near the waterfront where there are many places to eat.

On the last day, your table will have a posy of flowers – it reminds the waiters that this will be your last meal and expect a tip! In fact, everytime you eat there, they offer to get your drinks and expect a tip even if you order water!. In fact, as they do not take a swipe of your cc when you check in, everything is to be paid in cash thus resulting in tipping.

There is a nice restaurant on the beach where you can have delicious lunches – lovely stone baked pizzas and baguettes for a quick lunch.

Swimming pool – nice and clean – again – loungers seem to get reserved near popular spots at the crack of dawn – still, plenty of them around and you need to pay 2TD for a mattress.

All, in all a nice holiday – lovely sunshine and relaxing.
Would I go there again? Probably not. I felt everyone just wanting to fleece you off your money without actually providing good service!.
Drop me a note if you want to know anything else.

  • Stayed: June 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4  Thank bg-gold
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

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:
#2 Best Value Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#7 Luxury Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#8 Spa Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#8 On the Beach Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#8 Family Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#9 Romantic Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
Price Range: $25 - $99 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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