Five Best: Tunisian Retreats

Escape the heat of the desert - check into a luxury oasis of calm and chill out.
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The Independent Travel

Dar El Medina, Tunis

In the maze of narrow streets in the eighth-century medina of Tunis you will find the Dar El Medina. The city's first boutique hotel, the property has been in the same family since 1825 and opened to the public last year. It is an intimate residence with a loose network of inner courtyards and tiled corridors. White walls provide the canvas for intricate wooden lattice-work, rich fabrics and contemporary art. The rooftop terraces are the perfect setting for mint tea sundowners.

Dar El Medina, 64 rue Sidi Ben Arous, Tunis (00 216 71 563 022; www.darelmedina.com). Doubles start at €110 (£75), with breakfast.

Villa Didon, Carthage

Traditional Tunisian this is not. Villa Didon is a bold and modern creation. Redesigned by the French architect Philippe Boisselier, the 1960s edifice sits atop Byrsa Hill overlooking the site of ancient Carthage. Its sleek white minimalism is punctuated with glass walls and the iconic designs of Philippe Starck and Ron Arad alongside contemporary African artwork. Each of the 10 hillside suites has sweeping views over the Carthage rooftops, Punic Ports and the Mediterranean. The city of Carthage may span 28 centuries but suites are firmly rooted in the 21st century - right down to the electronic blind menu. The restaurant, Restô, provides contemporary cuisine while the Light BAR attracts the hip and beautiful to its weekend DJ nights.

Villa Didon, rue Mendes France, Carthage (00 216 71 733 433; www.villadidon.com). Suites start at TND350 (£141), room only.

Dar Dhiafa, Djerba

It may be ringed with sandy beaches and carpeted with palm trees, but the natural landscape is just one reason to visit the island of Djerba off south-eastern Tunisia. Another is Dar Dhiafa, a hotel created from four converted houses dating back 600 years. Thick cream-hued walls and a maze of courtyards ensure that Dar Dhiafa blends into the historic quarter of the village of Erriadh. The 15 rooms are adorned in a simple rustic fashion. Candle-lit dinner is served al fresco while essential oil massages are on offer in the hammam spa.

Dar Dhiafa, Erriadh, Djerba (00 216 75 671 166; www.hoteldardhiafa.com). Doubles start at TND180 (£72), room only.

Dar Saïd, Sidi Bou Saïd

Views of the cobalt blue sea take centre stage at Dar Saïd. The hotel is set in Sidi Bou Saïd, a 13th-century clifftop village famed for its white and blue buildings. The scent of jasmine hangs in the air at the 19th-century residence. There are 24 individually designed rooms which boast ornate tiles, carved ceilings and elegant yet simple furnishings. Intricate ironwork screens offer a glimpse of sea views taking in the Bay of Tunis and the distant Jebel Bou Kornine mountain. A hammam, a swimming pool and a bar provide further relaxation while the hotel's 12-metre sailing boat Kim is also available.

Dar Saïd, Rue Toumi, Sidi Bou Saïd (00 216 71 729 666; www.darsaid.com.tn). Doubles start at TND255 (£103), room only.

Pansea, Ksar Ghilane

It may be camping but not the conventional variety. Pansea is a luxurious tented hotel in southern Tunisia's Saharan oasis, Ksar Ghilane. Surrounded by caramel coloured sand dunes, there are 60 crisp white tents - complete with pale marble floors, heating or air conditioning and private bathrooms with hot running water. There is a natural spring as well as a swimming pool, bar and restaurant. But the best part is waking up and savouring desert life: taking camel trips to ancient forts and the springs at Atn Rath or forays in 4x4s.

Pansea, Ksar Ghilane (00 216 75 900 506; www.pansea.com/ksar). Tents sleeping two start at TND258 (£104), including breakfast.

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