We stayed here for a week starting on 3rd June. I travelled with my partner and two other friends aged 21-24. We booked around January as the price was fantastic £365 for a week all inclusive!
Speaking to people who had travelled to Tunisia I started to become somewhat apprehensive about what we had booked! So many people had a negative view on Tunisia for various reasons.... from poor quality food to leering men. In a panic I started to consider taking some food out there myself – just in case. How wrong was I?!
I have no idea where these people had stayed but my experience could not have been better....
The rooms were basic but clean. Anything you would expect from a typical 3* in Spain or alike. We had two twin beds pushed together, a dressing table with mirror and a chair. A 3 door wardrobe with around 8-10 hangers. A safe inside the wardrobe which we did use. (20dinar cost + 20dinar deposit). In the bathroom there is a bath with shower over. The sink area had a little basket with toiletries in: shower gel, body lotion, hand soap etc.
The toilet and shower had been described in one review as 'industrial strength'. I have to agree with this. The toilet is quite loud and powerful and the shower is also a good strength. Much better than most you seem to get in Spanish apartments.
The air conditioning which was a god send. I think the heat, particularly at night, would have been unbearable without it. The maids did have a habit of turning it off when they came in though but it didn't take long to get back to a nice temperature.
We did have a balcony with a table and 2 chairs though not much of a view. Not much to complain about though when your hotel is ON the beach! You certainly don't need a view from your room because you have a perfect one all around the hotel grounds.
Although I have nothing bad to say about the rooms, I think if you look at the common areas of the hotel then look at the rooms, you wouldn't really think they were the same hotel. This is simply because the common areas are all brand new and really modern.
There are 4 places to eat in the hotel which gives a great variety. The main buffet restaurant, the beach bar, the pool bar and the a la carte restaurant.
The a la carte: This was a fantastic evening. You can dine there once per stay (whether staying for one or 2 weeks) and you must book either an early sitting (6:30-8.00) or a late sitting (8.30-10.00) with reception. The food and service here was exceptional. A lady walked around serving red or white wine and water. You didn't even have to ask and she topped it up even when you hadn't finished the last glass!
I had the beef in mushroom sauce and it came with a few select vegetables and slices of potato. My partner had the lamb in a pot which was quite a big portion and he was also very impressed with the quality. Our 2 friends tried to chose the lighter pudding option to end the meal by opting for the fruit salad. See my pictures for how wrong they were when they got a tower of fruits!
The pool bar:
This was where you could get your fresh chicken kebab from a spit roast for dinner. This was so tasty I would definitely recommend giving it a go. There was a different variety of foods here each day. Here are just a few I can remember: turkey curry, saffron rice, chips, bolognese sauce, plenty of fresh salad and bread rolls each day. The best thing though was the lady who cooked fresh, made to order omelettes and pancakes. This was what I went for most of the time we were there. Very impressive!
The beach bar:
This was brand new when we got there and what a beautiful setting! You would sit here under some nice shade and look out to the beach and sea with a nice cold beer – what more could you ask for. Food wise, there were hot dogs, burgers, pizzas and chips on offer here. Not the healthiest of options but there was also lots of big chunks of watermelon to chose from Although the choice of food isn't quite as plentiful here compared to the pool bar, the setting gives it the winning factor.
The main buffet restaurant:
Your waiter will bring you wine, beer or water. There are also water and juice dispensers and at breakfast, tea and coffee stations for you to help your self.
For breakfast: fresh made to order, pancakes, omelettes, fried eggs. Toast, bread rolls, bacon pieces, scrambled eggs, chichi (doughnut type thing), rice pudding, cereals kind of like cornflakes, nuts and dried fruits, fresh meats and cheeses, lots of different jams and honey, croissants and lots of fruit. The only thing I weren't impressed with was there attempt at baked beans – white kidney beans in a tomato sauce. Thanks for trying guys but it isn't great!
For dinner and evening meals there was always something different to chose from. There's a hot station with something different each night which is cooked to order. Fresh fish, steaks, carved chicken etc. There is also a pasta station where you chose your spaghetti or pasta shapes, the sauce you want and extras like mushrooms, onions, herbs etc and it is cooked in front of you and finished off with some parmesan cheese – perfect!
Other items on offer were as follows: rice, chips, boiled chunky potatoes in herbs, ravioli, chicken pie, turkey escalopes, veal, rabbit on the bone, stewed meats, green beans, veg medleys, white fish fillets, fresh salads and fruits. Lots of different fresh bread and soups – perfect as a starter!
For desert there was lots of little cakes with fruits, cream and caramel sauces, small biscuits and slices of sponge cake. 3 variety's of ice cream each night which varied.
It sometimes took a while to get a drink brought to you so we usually got one from the main bar to take in ourselves. Once we got to know one of the waiters though we couldn't stop him from bringing us drinks!
The bar area and the seating in the lobby is a very nicely furnished space. The alcohol on offer is good if you enjoy wine and beer. These are both good in quality and are served nice and cold. The vodka and whisky weren't up to much and mixers were poured out of plastic bottles – therefore weren't always that cold. The alcohol content was questionable too. You could drink the vodka all night and not get tipsy! The gin however did seem to have a kick to it. The bar men often gave you ice without asking and the rep did advise us not to have the ice as it isn't made with bottled water. My friend did all week though and had no complaints. I stayed away just in case
Each night in the nightclub they had 'showtime' at 9:30 til 10:30ish. Every show was by the in house animation team. I couldn't get over how hard these people worked. They were the ones doing the aqua aerobics and volley ball games in the day, then they were up on stage performing excellent shows in the evening too. I don't know when they would have time to rehearse for the evening shows but each one we went to was excellent. There was the Michael Jackson show, a comedy sketch show, a karaoke night (with cross dressing Tina Turner shows from Scooby)!
After 11pm the show time half of the night club was curtained off and the DJ would then lead the nightclub into the early hours. There was also chips and things on offer at the pool bar if you stumbled out the nightclub feeling peckish!
The Pool Area:
There are plenty of loungers, a man will bring one to you if you ask or you can help yourself to the stack near the entertainment team. It isn't a quite day by the pool as the animation team host plenty of pool games and have music playing throughout. This was nice though as long as your not one for dozing off in the sun for hours as you may not be able to here. It isn't overwhelming though and it isn't all day so you do get quieter periods to relax.
The pool itself is plenty big enough. The fact that there is also the beach on the doorstep, you don't get the whole hotel conglomerating by the pool. There is a small shallow section for children, the main pool is quite deep at one end.
This is literally down 5 or 6 steps from the beach bar. There are plenty of loungers and umbrellas to go around. There was a lovely breeze on the beach which you didn't seem to get by the pool. The water is lovely and clear, perfect for a paddle! It is much more peaceful here. You do get people trying to get you to go on camel rides or quad biking etc but they are not forceful and take no for an answer which is nice.
Port El Kantaoui:
We walked to the harbour twice during the day and it was a good 20 minute stroll along the beach front. You can walk on the main road outside the hotel but where's the fun in that?! Along the marina are many cafes offering food and drink. It is a very calm, beautiful place though - nothing like the cafes and bars along a Spanish promenade. We stopped at a cafe for a pint of fresh strawberry milkshake and a large coffee which came to 11 dinar (£5.50) – this seemed expensive in terms of Tunisian prices but then when you compare to what it would cost at home or in Spain you realise how reasonable it actually is.
Port El Kantaoui is very beautiful and has many shops selling tourist souvenirs and supermarkets selling the usual bits. Cigarettes are cheap and easy to come across.
The restaurants around the water fountain are in a beautiful setting and the one we ate in was very impressive. We ordered starters and mains and were shocked when we were given lots of Tunisian breads with olives, garlic mayo, harissa, salsa etc before our starters! We were also given ice cream at the end of the meal which we never ordered and surprisingly, none of these extras cropped up on the bill. For 4 people with what turned out to be 4 courses, beers and 2 coffees- it came to 140 dinar (£70) – very reasonable!
El Jem – Pirates and Gladiator trip:
You've got to go and see El Jem if visiting Tunisia. It really is impressive. We chose the pirates and gladiator trip which was a 7:45am start – a coach took you to El Jem where you had around an hour and a half to look around. Then a visit to a nearby mosaic museum where our tour guide talked us through the mosaics Then the coach took you back to Sousse where we boarded the 'pirate ship'. We had dinner on here at around 2pm so it was a very long time without food. I would advise taking some nibbles with you if you book this trip. We were given fresh fish and chicken with bread rolls and salad and lots of water or fizzy drinks. The ship stopped for people to get in the sea or try some fishing. Then we were treated to some Tunisian singing and dancing by the men on the ship which was not expected. We returned at around 6:30pm to the hotel, so it is a very long day. I don't know if I would go for this with very young children as it was quite exhausting really.
Money and Tipping:
It is very hard to spend money here as you get over 2 dinar to the pound. A trip to the supermarket for a few bits was very cheap....a 500ml bottle of water= 15p, a postcard=30p, a stamp=10p (and got to England in 5days!), a bag of sweets to take to work= 90p.
Tipping is kind of expected but they certainly do not beg. We tipped from a dinar to 5 dinar in the restaurant at night depending on which waiter we had. I tipped the maid every other day from 2 dinar to 5 dinar. Tunisians earn an average of 66p an hour apparently and they all did a fantastic job in the hotel so it really is a well deserved tip.
We took English money and changed it in the hotel. Be warned that you cannot change it back to English in the hotel so change little and often to avoid having lots of dinar left over at the end of your holiday. I heard you can change it back to GBP in the airport but you cannot change coins.
The airport has plenty of seats to wait for your flight and we were thankfully all sat together (a 3 and a 1 over aisle). The rep in the hotel tried to tell us that unless we paid the 16dinar to get seats together, the Tunisian airport staff would put us where the hell they like. This was not the case! The airport is considerably more organised than any English one I've been to. Everything was stress free and moved quickly.
I loved this place so much I want go back again later this year. It's amazing how when you price up holidays in Spain once you've been here, you feel like you're being robbed for how much you get for your money with Spanish holidays!
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- Also Known As:
- Resort All Inclusive Abou Sofiane
- Occidental Abou Sofiane
- Allegro Abou Sofiane
- Abou Sofiane Hotel
- Hotel Abou Sofiane Tunisia/Port El Kantaoui