15 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Brilliant Family Holiday - Aug 2012
"Family of 4 (2 adults, 2 kids aged 12 & 8) had a really good, hot week here in Aug 2012. I'd read good and bad reviews before going but whilst the drinks comments are pretty accurate I saw nothing to indicate dirty rooms, food poisoning, theft or rude staff.
Large, clean air conditioned rooms (interconnecting doors for family use)
Large, clean outdoor & indoor swimming pool (couldn't get the kids out of it)
Friendly reception staff
Excellent 'Box Animation' team (always around, good with the kids, great evening fire displays and pool parties)
Friendly , helpful restaurant waiters (tip them a few dinar and you get same table and waiter each night and free flowing drinks brought to your table)
Good room maids (tip them a few dinar for nice touches to beds)
5 mins from local train service
Not So Good Bits
Food choice / preparation (if you are a fussy eater like my 12 year old)
Long way from Tunis airport (even longer on way back as driver got lost)
Remote / developing resort so not much to do locally outside hotel
Drinks (definitely not full strength and sometimes tasted of soap loft on the cup)
We loved it, the weather was great, the kids were happy and we saw some great sights. Its not perfect but what is."
- Travel date: Mon 24th of September 2012
Very disappointing hotel
"I read some reviews before I went and there is much confusion about what the real name is. It is the HOUDA SKANES MONASTIR also (formally) known as SKANES PALACE. And I don't normally resort to writing reviews (having been an ex-hotellier myself), however, I should read on.
The first thing is that I was there on business and pleasure and regularly travel to Tunisia so have alot of experience of hotels in Tunisia. The basic formula is deduct one star from whatever the hotel tells you, so the 4-star Houda claim is more like a 3-star.
Also, we have an office in Sousse and I have a very good friend and colleague there - he says "Don't eat the melon at this time of year because there are bacteria problems with them"
The hotel is run on a shoestring. So, as in our case and many other guests, you'll find the TV in your room doesn't work, the shower head won't fit the wall mount, towels are not always there in the right numbers, toilet doors won't close, hinges squeak and the windows are not particularly safe if you have kids. Throughout our stay there were various beds or cots in the fire exit stairs!
The food is odd to say the least - I'm from Eastern European descent and even speaking to the Eastern Europeans there (the majority), we couldn't work out which country ate cauliflower or cabbage for breakfast. Forget any English-type items.
The restaurant is hot ! They don't put the aircon on and I have concluded this is so that you leave the area as soon as possible consuming as little food. Everyone I spoke to ended up with the runs after day 3 or 4 - nothing serious, just uncomfortable. And I mean everyone I spoke to.
The All-Inclusive deal is actually rubbish - the "locally produced" drinks are Tunisian versions of Vodka and Gin as well as Boukha which appeared watered down but also tasted of soap. Whether this is deliberate to discourage consumption or an accident of the cleaning method, I'll leave up to you, but there is a sign at the bar saying they'll serve you 2 drinks but not 3 or more - which is interesting if there are 4 in your party.
The staff are largely polite, especially if you make the effort to say hello in Arabic (A Sallam Alikum) however, any manager is there to make your life unhappy and to protect profit. A particular distasteful guy is the one in reception who strutts around in over-long shoes and thinks he's Clint Eastwood.
The hotel shops - only use these to get an idea of the maximum price you should pay for goods in the souks - they (it) is well over-priced.
The lift by the shop should be avoided - it broke down every day we were there usually with someone in there.
The rooms are large appear clean, however, you'll find the underside of the toilet seats splashed with the previous occupants unwell stomach! Being on a beach, you'll find you bed full of sand and I found that the best solution was to strip the bottom sheet so the maid had to clean the bed rather than re-make it.
The beach is ok, but get there by 7am and grab a couple of loungers and leave your towels on them.
For those travelling to Tunisia for the first time, you'll be bugged by beach sellers all day long. If you are not interested, tell them to get lost and they'll largely leave you alone - once there is a sniff of interest, they'll all bug you. Best bet if to hold your hand up to them and say "Le Le" (No No). If you have kids, they'll try to sell to them, so be very forceful so that this "free" camel they've just given your kids will only be taken off them (in tears) when you decline the actual sale.
The reception are and restaruant are full of flies and no attempt is made to control them.
The WIFI is supposed to work in the reception area, but if you can't connect, nag the staff to press the reset button on the router.
But - the beach is OK, watersports are ok and the water usually clean, although after a windy day, expect to swim with masses of sea-weed and panty liners !!!"
- Travel date: Mon 30th of July 2012
"Firstly there is a lot of confusion over the name of this hotel. The hotel pictured is not the one we stayed at. On the side of our hotel it said 'Houda Skanes Monastir'and we were led to beleive it had changed it's name. So this review is not for the hotel pictured.
In a nutshell if you could imagine getting a very nice,clean,smart hotel in a great location right on the beach and then letting people run it who don't really know what they are doing - that pretty well sums up the Houda.
The staff are friendly and helpful enough, don't get me wrong.
The biggest problem by far is the food. Choice, quality and organisation is very poor. I am not normally one to moan about food and will pretty much try anything. I have found the food OK at other hotels where it has had bad reviews. My wife lived on french stick and chips all week.
They always seemed to be running out of something. Plates,cutlery,glasses so there was a lot of queing taking place. Which leads me to the other huge problem. Pushing in by ignorant, arrogant Germans and Russians. They are so rude to the staff as well. I complained to one hapless bar steward who served yet another German who went straight to the bar and got served when there was a queue of about eight of us in a line. I said very loudly 'why do you serve them when you can see they have pushed in?? you are just encouraging them' He just looked at me sheepishly and apologised.
The pool and terrace is great although there is not enough places to shade. The weather was belting while we were there. Very hot with cloudless skies. You needed to set your alarm for 3.00 am if you wanted sun beds with a parasol or you could slip the pool attendant a tip and he would save you one.
A big plus for me were the water sports. The cheapest I have found. Jet skis and paragliding were 30 dinar a go (about Â£12.00)
The animation team were lovely people who tried really hard but I'm afraid were not very good and poorly organised.
For - Smart and clean. location. Weather. Watersports. Nice room.
Against - Food. Organisation. Entertainment. Pushing in.
I am 54 and my wife is 51"
- Travel date: Mon 25th of June 2012
"Me and my fiancee booked this holiday as a sort of a last minute thing (2 weeks before travelling) . Having looked at the brochures this hotel seemed to be exactly what we were looking for. On arrival it took a while to check in to the hotel and after half an hour we were shown to our room, only to find that it wasn't ready yet (the cleaners were still there) so we dumped off our bags and went tto he bar. This was our first mistake, the drinks were very small and they were limited to 2 drinks per person at a time (2 beers was about 1/2 a pint!). We checked out the grounds which seemed ok and after an hour went back to our room which still wasn't ready. The food was disgusting for example the first dinner we had I tried some meat that was being bbq'd upon tasting it I found out it was tuna and it did taste good, however the meat was then served up for the rest of the week being reheated every time! I wont keep going on about the food I'll just say all the negative reviews about are very much true! (My fiancee got food poisoning twice in 7 nights!) As the week went on things just got worse ranging from ignorant bar staff that ignore you and also try to stop you getting bottled mineral water stating it is only for the rooms (The bars are the only place in the hotel to get drinkable water!) We were constantly harrassed by the excursion people including 1 who kept asking "If we want to make quad bike?" which grew very tiresome to hear this every time we sat down to have a peaceful drink through out the day. Also one day the maids had been in our room and taken the towels but not replaced them (and hadn't made the beds which wasn't really that much of a problem) so when we noticed this at 5pm when we got back to our room to shower I went to the reception to complain. They were very apologetic and said we would have clean towels right away which seemed to be ok. 5 mins after getting back to room there was a knock the door and it turned out to be a hotel employee who didn't speak a word of English and it appeared he was sent to make sure I wasn't lying which angered me greatly. When sitting down for lunch and dinner you have a set table which is allocated to you on your first dinner or lunch. This seemed ok at first but then it turned out to be very annoying due to the fact that at dinner there is a first and second service which is allocated to you when you check in however at lunch time there isn't and we found that the other service on our table was a German family that seemed to be permanently sat at the table all through lunch! Also during our 3rd night we were approached by a waitress and told that we were sitting at the wrong table and proceeded to argue this with us until our usual waiter (who was actual very nice) corrected her to which we got a half hearted apology from her!. So in conclusion DO NOT STAY AT THIS HOTEL"
- Travel date: Fri 26th of June 2009
DONT GO HERE, IF YOU DO, DONT SAY YOU WER'NT WARNED!!!
"Just got back from this joke of a hotel, lee from reddich hit the nail on the head with his review (we know as we were one of the couples that had to be moved with them).
The only things that we can add is that some people do say "you get what you pay for" and this really is'nt the case here,we all paid quite a bit of money for this place and it really is horrendous if your not Russian! We were ment to be there for 14 nights,first impression was'nt too bad,after 6months of solid hard work we were knackered. It took a good 7nights before we realised that tunisian hotels were not ment to be like this place,(we thought "oh well just get on with it"),except it then got worse when more people arrived).When we saw the rep she arranged for a al a cart meal on the hotel,what a fiasco that turned out to be,managar said al a cart restuarant closed and sat us in front of the normal buffet and handed us tuna salad (from the buffet) then brought out chicken and chips (we had been eating this meal for 7 days already,lunch and dinner) there was no choice just what they served us,some of you may think so,but when i cut into the chicken it was still running pink water (i'm the cook in our pub so i know its food poisoning here we come if i eat this). So not happy by then,went to the room next day after good sunning (weather great by the way) and maid followed me into the room to clean it,not impressed so said no i will make my own beds,pulled sheets off the bed and low and behold the mattress cover that i had been sleeping on had a massive urine stain in the middle. so my thought on this complete dump of a hotel is go there at your peril or if your russian you will have a great time. I would have put photo's on here but thought if you dont believe this review you wont believe the pictures."
- Travel date: Wed 24th of June 2009
BRITISH DONT GO
"Went with partner 1 week all inclusive. First night told bar had ran out of Vodka not good start! Woke in morning to find red cabbage and saur kraut for breakfast - food continued like this for all of our stay - we live on chips and bread, completely aimed at Eastern European palate not suitable to British palate at all; and before you think it - we're not fussy eaters. That's if you can get a table - you're allocated one on your first visit to the so called restaurant then when you come for your meals find someone sitting in your place and that's not the worse - flies all over the food. Drinks we expected them to be watered down but this place was ridiculous, you can't get drunk if you try - believe me we tried - the only drink that had any alcohol in it was the wine and that was not up to much. The guests from other nations did not appear happy with the drinks either. The entertainment if that's what you call it was again aimed at the Easter European market so the few British there felt a bit left out. Entertainment was amateur at best. To be fair the animation team did try and were friendly which is more than can be said for some of the staff. I know the British joke about sunbeds but get up after 7am and you really struggle to get one. Toilets by the stage and so called pool bar dirty and full of dead mosquitos. The beach and pool were nice but long walk to get drinks - if on the beach won't give you bottled water just 2 small plastic cups which by the time you get back to the beach you have drunk. This is plain stupin in the heat of Tunisia. The only time you are allowed bottled water is for your room. Not many British and you find yourself listening out for them. We met 4 other couples and they all felt the same about the hotel. By the fourth day we had had enough and wanted to come home. Conacted Thomas Cook rep, Marina, who was excellent and moved all the British that complained, to the Sahara Beach Hotel. What a difference! If we had spend week there would have had nice holiday. As it is most of it was ruined by this nightmare of a hotel - would not send my worse enemy there never mind a friend. It's supposed to be a 4 start hotel I have nevr stopped in a 1 star but can't imagine it being much worse than this!"
- Travel date: Tue 23rd of June 2009
For 36 Euro it's OK
"We stayed in the hotel during low-season, but to our surprise it was quite full (it was hard to find a table for dinner for us).
The hotel is not a 4 star, I'd say 3 stars is a maximum.
The location is good and the fact that it's close to the airport is not disturbing you at all.
Rooms are clean, but everything is quite old already and needs remodelling. Some of my collegues had problems to get the heat working as it was quite cold, but in my room it was working fine. There is no iron in the room and yo can't get it anywhere in the hotel. TV doesn't have remote control and choise of programs is very poor, no channels in English. I had also a radio in my room, but it was not working. There was a mini-safe and the wardrobe was quite spacious actually.
Beach area is nice as well as outdoor swimming pool. Indoor swimmimg pool is much smaller and it was full with kids, so we didn't go there. Sauna was for extra charge, they also had some spa treatments (massages etc.) for a very reasonable price.
We had all inclusive, the choise of food wasn't bad, but it didn't taste that great, just a regular food. There were almost no fruits too. The only thing - sweets were outstanding! The choise was quite big and I loved all of them!
There was also mini-bar area with all the drinks included. You can have there anytime tea, coffee, hot chocolate and other drinks, which is nice. Alcohol looked very cheap to us, so we didn't try it.
What we liked there was a small train that 3 times a day picks-up the guests from the hotel to the downtown of Monastir (round trip costed 4 euro), gives you some time to walk around there and takes you back."
- Travel date: Sun 8th of March 2009
"Excellent hotel, food was amazing, staff very pleasant polite do anything for you, just 5 mins away from airport loads to do pools inside and out stairs leading down to beach. It was my daughters 16th birthday they set the table with flowers made her a cake it was fantastic, The rooms were cleaned every day clean towls could not fault this hotel in any way. I am going back in august. I was all inclusive best value for money."
- Travel date: Fri 6th of March 2009
You get what you pay for
"I rated this above average as I paid Â£200 for a 4 night all inclusive break including flights, transfers etc. I couldnt get 4 nights at a Travelodge for that price.
As there were only 52 guests at the time of my stay, I did not encounter any of the problems quoted previously. In the restaurant I was allocated a table which was to remain mine for the duration of the trip. The breakfast was a bit poor. If you like cheese sandwiches and boiled eggs you will be okay (as this is all i really had). Selection of pastries / pan au chocolat available. Only found out on the last morning that there is actually an egg chef. To my delight, my last meal was a spring onion and spinach omlette.
Lunch always includes a peppered pork dish (which did surprise me), pasta, chicken and fish. Similarly, dinner always included a beef casserole, fish, pasta, chicken / turkey. Always rice, chips, potatoes, plenty of vegetables (mainly courgettes). Lunch and dinner also had 2 choices of soup.
But although people have said they have lost weight whilst here, the desserts were fabulous. Truffles, choux pastries, custard slices, as well as fruit.
The drinks at the bar were a bit watered down so you just drink twice as much.
The disco looked like a 1970's brothel (not that I frequented 1970's brothels). All red velvet with an illuminated dancefloor. As the average attendance was approx 8, it was hilarious and we had the run of the place.
Indoor pool and sauna is a must.
Staff range from being far too over familiar and wanting their wicked ways with you, to downright obnoxious. Female on reception often ignored you and left you standing there like an idiot even when you did call to her. Bar staff were interested in if you were available for the night although this didnt stop them from giving you their full attention when you needed a drink if you were not available. Needless to say, I wasnt up for a toyboy barman but after their initial crack at me, they were all really charming.
Entertainment was virtually non existant. Apparently I had missed a belly dancer the day before I arrived. One evening there was a duo playing guitars (Shadows, Chris Rea, Dire Straits) in the restaurant. I imagine if you go in high season, there will be a lot more entertainment but as there were only 52 guests, it was hardly surprising that nothing was laid on. During the day, the entertainment manager was wandering around and would assist with archery and darts, but only if you harassed him.
Trips out are really good. I got a cab to Monastir for Â£2.50 one way. I had to really haggle to get the same return price from the local cabbies. There is a train and bus from outside the hotel for less than 50p but I was more keen to just get there so ordered a cab. Monastir is a nice place for an afternoon of wandering aimlessly without too much hassle. Sousse is a different matter. I hired a local guide through the rep who took a party of us around the medina as it was vert imtimidating. This was also only Â£2.50 and lasted approx 2 hours. I definitely would not recommend going to the medina without a guide. Tunis/ Sidi Bou Said / Carthage trip was lovely but your pickup is 6.20am so be prepared for a long day. All 3 sites were very beautiful.
Lastly, the porter at the hotel knocks on your room 15 mins before you would checkout and grabs your case. Mine was not packed so he threw the remainder of my toiletries in the case and zipped it up. Then he danced around the room saying "Goodbye my room, goodbye my room". Very weird and he would not leave my room although I told him that I was not ready. He watched where I put my purse and then refused to leave my side until the transfer coach arrived to ensure that he got his tip.
But overall, I could not have got this sort of deal anywhere else. It was funny yet fun and for Â£200 I was expecting a lot less than what I got."
- Travel date: Wed 14th of January 2009
Good if you have an all-inclusive package
"Skanes Palace is crowded but good if you buy an all-inclusive package. Without an all-inclusive package, you need to buy water and drinks separately. Half-board or just arranging a room yourself may lead to the bad experiences some people wrote about. Pictures are deceiving, the good and bad ones as well... Tunisia has beautiful beaches so if that's what you want and you're traveling from Europe, go there for sure!
Remember to get up early to get cushions for your chairs. It's difficult to find a spot later so put your towel on the chair in the morning and no one will take your spot :) It's the system they follow there :)
Don't get confused or frustrated by the ticket system in the dining hall either. Just ask reception to give you a ticket and ask one of the waiters to reserve a spot for you. I know they should be communicating this to you but that's the only thing that may bother some tourists as well.
Remember to book an all-inclusive package and you'll be fine. Tunisia is improving every year and soon, they'll reach those higher star classes for service... It's definitely a 3 1/2-star hotel though because of their current service, so don't be fooled by a 4-star rating by the travel agent.
-Ray, a former Peace Corps volunteer"
- Travel date: Mon 8th of December 2008
if you are british and thinking of going...
"if you are british and thinking of going to this hotel i would say 100% dont, my wife and i just had a week being the only two english people in the hotel. all food was continental and nothing for english people, the choice of drinks are very limited and when you order a drink staff do not understand.you are made to feel very isolated and unable to communicate with others or join any of the activities takeing place. if you go to the beach or outside the hotel you are constantley hassled by locals. i feel i needed to write this to stop any other english people going to this hotel and wanting to fly home after two days as we did. "
- Travel date: Sat 30th of August 2008
Right, firstly this resort is not a 4 st...
"Right, firstly this resort is not a 4 star even though all operators offering this state it is a 3 star at absolute maximum. It is not ten or twenty minutes from Monastir airport it is 3 minutes at most so you do get aircraft noise, but it we didn't find it too noisy. When you get off the plane make sure you get your bags as people will try to get them for you and they expect a tip for this and you are not going to have Dinas, so be warned.
Me and my wife booked this resort for our honeymoon, mainly on price and the general look of the place, don't make my mistake. This resort caters mainly for the Eastern European market and subsequently not many people spoke English or unfortunately acknowledged you when you spoke, and when they did they could be very coarse and plainly rude. This hotel is very run down in places. The rooms are barely adequate and all need a good clean, the TV didn't work initially and to add insult to injury when I reported it to reception, the staff member wanted me to give him money to change it, not good.
The room make up staff were quite friendly and often made pretty patterns with your clothes and things but they did not hoover and thatâs what it really needed. The All Inclusive option is adequate, but the food is quite bland and there is a hell of a lot of flies everywhere because there is no control over them so sometimes you would be greeted with for example, a plate of prawns with a sprinkling of flies, a sure step to dysentery. You will get allocated a table eventually however no one will tell you and you WILL get told off by a waiter whom has been tipped to give someone that table when they arrive or simply doesn't like you. You are only able to order two drinks maximum at once and make sure that you take your glasses back or the nice man behind the bar refuses to serve you and shouts obscenities at you, again service with a smile.
On the plus side the beach is lovely and the sea is great, though you have to fight to get a seat but it is lovely when you do. The pool outside is nice and very deep but the inside pool is a gem, the staff there are great and helpful, there is always a place to sit and read and it is quite clean, as is the Hammam, Sauna and Gym, which are all in the same area.
The country itself is very colourful and most people are wonderfully friendly, taxis are cheap but make sure you agree a price or ensure that they set the meter running before hand else you will get ripped off. Markets of medinaâs as they are known are great places to get a bargain but be sure to visit the tourist supermarkets such as the Yasmina Centre in Monastir to get an idea of general prices before you start else again you get ripped off. As a general rule if they say 60 dinas, half it and take away a little more such as 20 dina, and if they won't agree walk away, you will be amazed at the results. You do get approached by all shop keeps to go into the stores and some can be pushy, just understand that this is the way they are and press on unless something catches your eye and you will be fine.
Tours with the reps are great, such as a day in Tunis, Carthage and Siddi Bou Said are great and well worth the money.
I may appear to moan but it is important that you know the facts before parting with you money. Tunisia is wonderful, the hotel was not, choose your hotel carefully and you will have a great time. Hope this is of some help to you all.
- Travel date: Wed 7th of November 2007