This grand beachside hotel makes an impression with its big pool and gourmet restaurants.
The pool is the first thing that’ll strike you about this hotel – it’s big and framed by glossy palms. Then there’s the dining scene – the restaurant line-up includes a great trattoria and an Asian place.
Walk through the manicured gardens and you’ll come to the white-sand beach. You’ve got shops just a few minutes’ walk away, too, and it’s a 10-minute cab ride to the marina at Port el Kantaoui.
Just returned from a 10 night stay in the RIU imperial, we've stayed at many RIU hotels before and this hotel keeps the high standard of food, cleanliness and service that they're known for.
Only problem we did have, being a couple of 21 and 23, we were in the minority of our age group! If you're a young couple wanting a hotel with loads going on and evening entertainment, go next door to the RIU Bellevue Park - they have surfboard competitions in the pool, water polo, better nightlife and young guests are in the majority.
Don't get me wrong though, the animation staff work so hard in the hotel, the beach volleyball and table tennis however were all that kept us going on a daily basis.
We couldn't fault any of the restaurants, the Asian, Mediterranean and the main buffet were all lovely, good choice and well cooked food from breakfast to dinner. The Tunisian restaurant was ok but not to either of our tastes.
The staff are all so attentive, from Ihab in the restaurant, Atef in the lobby bar to Ali the assistant general manager, everyone was so nice (there's way too many to name). Always a smile on their faces regardless of the long hours, definitely deserve the tips you give them! The general manager was also so friendly and always there if we had a question or two with regards to the hotel and restaurant bookings etc.
Used the watersports a couple of times and they were fun and reasonably priced compared to EU countries however some of the guys could be quite unprofessional....
All in all though the hotel itself was completely immaculate and our room was huge and always well cleaned, we loved our daily towel art and the maids were always very polite and friendly. We truly had a lovely stay but we are both very lively so it wasn't ideal for things to do.
Friguia park was worth a visit just to feed the giraffes!
If you're looking for a totally relaxing holiday with nice food and a lovely beach I'd definitely recommend this to you!More
Highs and lows
We went for 10 days to Rio imperial Marhaba and came back early hours Sunday, firstly the hotel is beautiful, the lifts, seating areas inside and out but the building is to hot, the air con was almost non existent which made it hard to cool down what ever time of the day. This happened in the rooms as well although air con comes in the room, within the night it kicks off. The food was out of this world, it is fresh, supplied in quantity, topped up all the time, delicious. The staff are brilliant, the happy lady who works 6 days from the early morning through to late afternoon always asking how you are, topping your coffee up, grabbing and setting your table up for you and singing was brilliant, she deserves seriously good money, the men behind the bar are great, remember your drinks, constantly keeping it topped up, coming over for a chat, the tips they receive are worth every penny, there was one annoying man at reception trying to con us for 15 English pounds for being a porter, although he never did anything, my partner wanted to report him
My main bad point is this hotel got recommended to us by a Thomson agent saying how much we would love it there and finding out as a 32 and a 34 year old couple we were amongst a hand full of young people with an estimate of 95% of the rest of the visitors there age 65+.
The entertainment was watching them salsa and jive a few nights a week until 11pm then it went quiet. There is literally nothing to do in the evening at all, come on, a hotel that big and beautiful with great staff could seriously work on this side to make it the 5*.
Luckily there is an Irish bar up the road for good beer and entertainment and the harbour is great.
Great excursions and I recommend buying buggie trips off the fella who sits on the complex to sell day trips but you can get him down 5 dinars, quad bikes, Zulu and paragliding.
Would definitely go back but in about 35 years where I will feel I will fit in better More
Not quite 5* room for improvement
My husband and I and my sister and her husband enjoyed a week's holiday at the hotel a couple of weeks ago. Even though we had an enjoyable holiday, mainly because of the lovely people we met at the hotel and most of the delightful staff, we feel there are areas for improvement to make this into a really lovely 5* hotel. Special mention to the lovely couples we met at the hotel, Dave and Sue, Dave and Ellen and Julie and Tony. You all made our holiday really special.
The hotel is really clean and lovely and bright. We had requested sea view rooms and were given exactly that in the new part of the hotel which had lovely views of pool and sea. The bedding was always clean and the beds were extremely comfortable.
We never used the pool area as we all prefer to be on a beach and what a gorgeous beach it was, sand was the softest we have ever experienced. The man who looks after the beach area is one of the nicest, politest gentleman you could ever meet. For a few dinars he would save our beds for us in the same position every day always with the loveliest smile on his face. Made it really enjoyable.
The bar staff are second to none, always smiling and remembering your drinks. This was done in a really nice way not making you feel you had to tip them, although we always did as they made sure you never waited to get another drink and always had a ready smile for you and loved to have a chat with you as that way they are always improving their English.
The animation team are delightful, special mention to Chris and Suarez. You could always have a great chat and laugh with them. When there was music on at the outside area they mingled with the guests getting people up dancing which also made for a lovely atmosphere.
As read on another review would be really good in a 5* hotel to have tea/coffee making in your rooms. We did bring our own kettle but first time plugged it in it blew. Hotel obviously don't want you making your own drinks in your room which was extremely annoying.
Did not like that you had to choose a sitting for your evening meal, either 6.30 or 8.30. When you are on holiday it is so much better not to be dictated to as to when you can eat as sometimes you would like to eat earlier or later than table you had allocated to you.
Food was quite repetitive in main buffet restaurant where certain people, mainly Russians, acted as if they had never eaten before and it all became a madness where you had to use elbows to stop yourself being pushed about as you were trying to get some food.
The bathroom in your room should definitely be changed as to have a shower curtain in this day and age is so old hat and is not very comfortable for showering.
The hotel has an extremely gorgeous outside area with lots of seating which is not used to its full advantage. A couple of evenings a week you have a man either playing guitar or singing and when that was on it was lovely to see people up and dancing. Only problem was this stopped at 11.00pm and then was totally quiet until 12.00pm so no atmosphere. This is a perfect place for entertainment to be put on every evening as everyone we spoke to agreed this was the main problem with the hotel. People are on holiday and don't want to have to go to bed so early.
One thing to mention about the beach area is that the Imperial and other hotels should make sure that when horses use the beach at the waters edge their waste should be cleared up immediately. Not very nice if you are lying on the beds or going into the water to have this lying around. There must be a way the hotels could work something out.
One other thing that really annoyed us was a couple of the staff re tipping. The maid who did our room knew we were leaving the room at 10.00am and had the cheek to enter our room at 8.15am when one of us was in the shower and the other in the toilet to remind us that we were leaving!!!! Was really annoyed at this intrusion and begging, hotel should have words with staff on this matter. Also when we were ready to leave hotel there was a man down in reception who had done exactly nothing to help you and had the nerve to ask my sister for 20 dinars before she left. She obviously told him in no uncertain terms this was never happening. Should be stopped as very bad for a 5* hotel.,More
arsenal147, London, United Kingdom
I returned from a 11 night break with my mum at the Riu Imperial Marhaba. I have to review this slightly different as it was picked to suit my mum (72 yrs) rather than myself if I was with my husband.
It's a very nice hotel and so much better than others I have been to in Tunisia.
The hotel is spotless the staff are very friendly and helpful and most seem happy in their work. Nothing seemed too much trouble and all staff spoke whenever you walked past also asking if everything was ok and did we need anything.
The pool area is great with shade for those who want it (mum) but I managed to find the sun, there were plenty of beds but if you wanted to sit in a specific area you had to get up early to put towels down on the sun beds, which I did as mums not good on her legs and wanted to be near the pool steps (again wouldn’t have bothered if I was there with my husband) There are a couple of drinks areas so you can help yourself to soft drinks, beer, coffee and water etc. there was music but it didn’t interfere with us and wasn’t too loud .
We were in the new block and overlooked the pool area and the room was lovely couldn’t fault it. Mini bar was stocked with water and soft drink however you had to order at reception in a morning if you want it restocked. First time in all my travels I have known this and found it a little odd but wasn’t a problem. Our room was cleaned by a lovely lady very friendly as were all the staff as I have said before.
Breakfast was fine and plenty of choice, fresh juices (all kinds) and the best pancakes made by chef which a few times made mum his special, bigger than a plate and covered in fruit made mum smile every time.
Lunch time was at the beach bar, again plenty of choice and the staff all friendly.
The main buffet restaurant was ok and the standard of food was what I expected. You could always find something to eat even my mother who is a particular fussy eater! You had to choose early or later sitting and you have the same table and waiters each night which I like. Drinks were ready in ice bucket for when you arrived which I thought was a nice touch,
We only went to eat in the Asian al a carte by our choice I was a little disappointed it was still buffet and help yourself rather than waiter and the food was nothing special. I can however see that if I was with my husband It would have been different. Being a quiet and more relaxed atmosphere than the buffet.
The Entertainment team didn’t pester you around the pool if you wanted to participate you could if not they left you alone however they still spoke to you and didn’t make you feel awkward for not joining in. I have experienced this before on other holidays. Evening entertainment was again provided by the same team most nights, they were enthusiastic even if it wasn’t that great. Some nights music was outside with a band and the entertainment team got people up dancing, a nice touch. Other entertainment was a piano man playing in the bar. I have to say if you want to be entertained or have music playing after 11pm don’t come here.
Another point if you do want to watch the entertainment then eat at early sitting as you wont be out the restaurant in time if you go for the late sitting and if you are there will be no seats.
Alcohol was ok, didn’t think the choice was great no baileys and don’t expect champagne. The cocktails were ready mixed which I don’t like. However the vodka was fine and went down well…..
I would go back here with mum however It would not be a choice of holiday for my husband and myself.More
Scunthorpe_Duo, Lincoln, United Kingdom
Lovely hotel but not much entertainment
Just got back from a week in the Imperial Marhaba. The hotel is very nice and clean with excellent staff.
The pool and the beach are very nice and clean, however you have to get up very early to be able to get a sunbed round by the pool. The hotel staff were exceptional, very polite and generous, with nothing being too much trouble. The restaurant and bar staff were fantastic, they were very attentive, polite and friendly. The Thomson rep was brilliant and very informative, any questions you have go and find him, he is very helpful.
The food was varied and very good quality, breakfast can be a bit repetitive, however lunch and evening meals were different everyday. We visited both the Asian and Tunisian restaurant, the food and service was excellent in both these restaurants and would recommend booking them during your stay.
The animation team were present during the day and were going around the pool telling people what activities were. These activities are very repetitive, there are mainly, darts, french boules and aquagym, repeated throughout the day with a few occasional others. We weren't particularly impressed by the variation in activities as often with all-inclusive there is archery, water polo and salsa etc.
In the evening there is rarely background music during dinner or in the bars, there is no atmosphere and it can feel awkward trying to have a conversation with the person next to you as everybody around can hear clearly. The evening entertainment was often a live band which was two men with a backing track, however when there is a show by the animation team they are ok, often dancing based. There is very little to do in the evening and many people sit around waiting for the show after dinner and then go to bed by 11.
Overall we had a lovely week away in the sun helped by the wonderful staff, just wish there was more to have done.More
Items marked with * incur extra charges which are payable locally
Prices displayed in the 'top places to stay' section are the lowest prices available departing within the next 365 days. All offers are subject to very limited availability.
All prices shown are updated once every morning and therefore could change at any time during the day. All prices shown are per person and are based on 2 adults sharing unless otherwise stated. When selecting an offer you will be asked to enter in the number of adults and children travelling, the applicable price will then be displayed based on your chosen party size.
All offers are subject to availability. Thomson reserves the right to withdraw these offers at any time and without notice. For full booking terms and conditions pleaseclick here
Save up to £400 per couple on September & October holidays – Saving offer applies to new bookings only on selected Thomson package holidays booked on thomson.co.uk. Offer applies to holidays departing between 01 September & 31 October 2014 and is subject to limited availability. Savings is against brochure price. Excludes flight only, accommodation only and any other booking type. Additional supplements may apply. Saving is based on a minimum of 2 adults travelling. Thomson reserves the right to withdraw or change this offer at any time.