Or so they used to say in the old 80s ads. They didn't specify what kind of dream. We booked a very last minute break to Hammamet and checked in to hotel Le Khalife after a lengthy wait for a transfer from the airport, where we were underwhelmed by the welcome offered by the 'extremely friendly' Tunisian people. We were happy to arrive at our hotel and were shown up to our room. Let the fun begin.
No towels or bath mat. No hangers. Stained bed linen. Dirty floor. Balcony door in bad repair. One chair on balcony. Finally, the piece de resistance - dead cockroach behind bedside table.
Back to reception to try to communicate to manager with poor grasp of English.. He eventually offered us another room the following day and meanwhile would send someone to sort out our existing room. Off we went to the pool to get a beer and wait. As soon as we sat down we were greeted by the first of many over enthusiastic excursion promoters. After turning down the ubiquitous quad bike experience, camel ride and pirate ship cruise we returned to our room, which now had towels and an extre chair. It also still had a dead cockroach. The bed had been remade with clean linen which still didn't fit the bed and we had been upgraded from one flat pillow each to one flat pillow each plus an extra rock hard one in the middle. Happy days.
We had been up since 3am and now it was dinner time. As we were tired, we decided to eat in the hotel, which was breakfast included so we had planned to venture out originally. Tired and hungry we wandered into the restaurant (which we had found by exploring, like everything else - there is no information card in the room to tell you about the services). On the sad looking buffet was a large platter of once fresh sardines and various limp salads. We turned right around and headed back to the pool area and as soon as we had got a beer we were joined by our new best friend, Mr excursion seller. He pointed us in the direction of Le Petit Pecheur where we ended up eating three nights running. That's another story.
The following day we trotted down to reception (no phone in room, obviously) and asked about changing our room. The manager sent us to look at another room accompanied by a member of staff. The alternative room turned out to be just as the previous occupants had left it. Literally. Not yet cleaned or made up and even dirtier than our room. Dodgy wooden balcony railing overhanging the pool area, whereas our dodgy railing had a terrace in front of it, so at least you couldn't kill yourselves if you leaned on it and it broke. Alternative room did however have loads of hangers, which we lacked completely. New decided to stay where we were, but asked for hangers which duly arrived.
This transaction took place after we had breakfasted lavishly from the buffet. You may detect slight sarcasm here. We could choose from watermelon, salad, baguettes and jam or cheese triangles, vast quantities of hard boiled eggs, some kind of luncheon meat, halva and cake. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, citronnade were also available. All on an open buffet with flies joining the feast. We made a Tunisian friend during our stay and even he assured us this was not what he expected to be offered for breakfast. The same items were on offer every single day but for the last three days there was no watermelon, which was a shame because it was the most edible item to be had.
On our third day when the live cockroach count in our room was rising, my husband negotiated for a fridge for our room. He manager tried to charge us for it, but given our list of grievances about our room, he was persuaded to give us one for free. It turned up dirty of course but by this time we had already purchased a cleaning kit. Our chambermaid was lovely but she was only able to work with the equipment provided which was apparently a damp rag on a flat mop. No bleach and certainly no descaler as evidenced by the barnacle encrusted taps and plug holes in our bathroom. There was no plug for either the sink or the basin, the bidet attachment should have carried a health warning and the shower had to be held in your hand while you enjoyed the weak trickle coming from it.
On a positive note, the air conditioning in the room was excellent which was much appreciated when my husband had to spend three days in bed due to food poisoning. Our friends noted that someone kept disabling the air con in their room (it was 30 degrees plus and they had their 11 month old with them) but we were lucky.
End of story- live cockroach count 6. Hotel dilapidated, dirty with largely indifferent and somethings downright rude staff. We've been back two weeks now and we are both still unwell, in fact we have both had to take time off work after our holiday. Even the pool, which looked lovely, had absolutely no whiff of chlorine about it. Our first trip to Tunisia is definitely our last!.