Where’s Claire? Tunisia – Part 2

Mimi ON Aug 21, 2009 AT 5:34 pm

Villa Didon

Villa Didon

By Claire Tamara Yates

Greater Tunis
15 miles north of Tunis sit coastal towns worthy of either a day trip, or an alternative relaxing place to stay – Carthage and Sidi Bou Said both offer fantastic boutique hotels to convince you to stay the night.
Ancient Carthage is a UNESCO world-heritage site with masses of Roman ruins to explore and an extraordinary history. Ruins include excavated Punic houses, huge Roman baths, theatre and amphitheatre, Roman villas and the Punic Ports. Perched next to the museum and sharing its spectacular to-die-for views is the minimalist design hotel Villa Didon, arguably the most impressive hotel in Tunisia. The hotel can be seen from miles around jutting out of Byrsa hill like a huge white shoe-box. The villa’s 10 cutting-edge suites are ultra slick and make the most of the stunning position with floor to ceiling windows and technology befitting the most advanced of Western hotels (including electronic blinds and an automatic entrance door!). Sleeping and bathing areas flow together – it is a tough choice between relaxing on the huge bed or bathing in the Philippe Starck designed marble jacuzzi bath standing like a monument in the centre of the room.

After a tiring sightseeing session, I had a traditional hammam in the spa – an invigorating experience. After sweating out toxins for 20 minutes laid on the hot steamy tiles, the masseuse entered, stood me up, threw a vat of water over me and scrubbed me to within an inch of my life! Quite a humorously painful experience, but nevertheless, my skin was glowing for days afterwards.

Sidi is Dar Said

Sidi is Dar Said

I would also recommend timing your Villa Didon visit to allow a Friday night – it’s the time and place to rub shoulders with the jet-set in Le Rest’O, Tunisia’s smartest and most cosmopolitan restaurant.

From Carthage, we travelled only a few miles to Sidi Bou Said, a whitewashed cliff top village, with a laid-back bohemian feel – Henri Matisse and Paul Klee were among many European painters drawn here by its beauty. It has a similar look to the prettiest Greek islands, with white-washed architecture and azure blue shutters and doors, providing many photo opportunities.

For style and luxury, the place to stay in Sidi is Dar Said, a 19th Century riad, with 24 suites set amid beautiful tiled courtyards and terraces filled with jasmine and bougainvillea flowers. Some rooms overlook the Mediterranean, as does the gorgeous pool. Our room was elegant yet cosy with a stuccoed arched ceiling, a wood-carved cupola over the bed and a fantastic view to the sea.

Dining is a charming experience – check out Dar Zarrouk or Au Bon Vieux Temps for amazing seafood and great ambience. Cafe Des Nattes is the famous central bohemian cafe, perfect for watching the world go by.

Hotel Information
Tunis – www.darelmedina.com – Doubles 140-176 Euros – we recommend the ‘Douja’ room
Carthage – www.villadidon.com  – Doubles – Euro 220 – 550 – we recommend a Junior Suite
Sidi Bou Said – www.darsaid.com.tn  – Doubles – Euro 220 – 550 – we recommend room 4

Click here for part three of this review.

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