Where’s Claire? Tunisia – Mystical Land of Extremes

Mimi ON Aug 21, 2009 AT 5:29 pm

Visit Tunisia on your next holiday

Visit Tunisia on your next holiday

By Claire Tamara Yates

For someone constantly on the lookout for a stylish but adventurous getaway, I found that Tunisia has some fascinating places to stay – old troglodyte hotels carved into the earth, through to minimalist hotels worthy of a design magazine feature. Stylish Western influences mix with Eastern exoticism and it is much less commercialised than its similar sibling Morocco. Only a 2½ hour flight from London, Tunisia is a great short-haul spring break with the excitement of a long-haul destination. With careful research, I have rounded up a selection of hip hotels in every corner worthy for Beauty and the Dirt readers.

Tunis is the country’s capital and the usual starting point for most visitors. The medina is the maze-like old city centred around the Great Mosque. Confusing streets zigzag through the enticing souks where you haggle to within an inch of your life with the local ‘entrepreneurs’! A sight not to miss is the Bardo Museum, the world’s greatest collection of Roman mosaics, housed in a beautiful Ottoman palace. After sightseeing, returning to Dar El Medina provides a haven amid the chaos. There is no other hotel like this in Tunis (large chains are the norm). It’s a beautifully converted traditional house right in the heart of the medina, with 12 individually designed ‘shabby chic’ rooms set around small courtyards, all featuring traditional Tunisian textiles. There’s also a terrace with far-reaching views over the medina rooftops – a great place to eat breakfast.

To sample authentic Tunis cuisine in palace surroundings, try two of the best restaurants in Tunis – Dar Bel Hadj and Dar el Jeld. Try Tunisian specialty dishes such as ‘brik’ (egg and tuna encased in a samosa style pastry) or ‘harissa’ with your bread (a chilli paste dripping in olive oil that has a real kick).

Click here to read part two.

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