1. The Residence Douz
    Photograph: The Residence Douz
  2. The Residence Douz
    Photograph: Liv Kelly for Time Out
  3. The Residence Douz
    Photograph: Liv Kelly for Time Out | Courtyard at the spa
  4. The Residence Douz
    Photograph: The Residence Douz
  5. The Residence Douz
    Photograph: The Residence Douz
  6. The Residence Douz
    Photograph: The Residence Douz
  7. The Residence Douz
    Photograph: Liv Kelly for Time Out | Berber tent dining experience
  8. The Residence Douz
    Photograph: The Residence Douz
  9. The Residence Douz
    Photograph: Liv Kelly for Time Out
  • Hotels | Spa hotels
  • price 4 of 4
  • Recommended

Review

The Residence Douz

5 out of 5 stars

Cenizaro’s newest hotel offers outstanding luxury at the gateway to the Sahara

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Time Out says

Reaching the serene, minimalist oasis of The Residence Douz is all the more welcome after a day-long drive from Tunisia’s capital. We’re visiting in late spring, at the start of their low season (temperatures already average around 35C and are only set to soar throughout the summer). This is the second ‘Residence’ in Tunisia – the first being The Residence Tunis – and it’s finally open after eight years of building. The hotel comprises two restaurants, a stylish lounge and reception, an excellent spa and 50 individual villas (deluxe, prestige or presidential), scattered across a sequestered palm grove. 

At the heart of the Cenizaro Hotels & Resorts’ brand is a dedication to mirroring elements of the surrounding environment, and this place is a stellar example of that commitment. The hotel is built on a palm grove near Douz – a town which, despite being smack-bang in central Tunisia, feels like you’re at the edge of the world. To the north of the town is Chott el Djerid, a vast salt lake; to the south is Jebil National Park, 150,000 hectares of undisturbed sand dunes. 

The majesty of this landscape is thoughtfully incorporated into the hotel’s design. Cream-coloured villas emerge out of the rippling ground like dunes themselves, while the spa and lobby are strikingly decorated with a neat, textural brickwork arrangement inspired by architecture from Tozeur, a town on the opposite side of the salt lake.

At the edge of the Sahara, it’s also impossibly quiet – so much so it might be disconcerting for city-dwellers on their first night, but I promise, you’ll quickly adjust. 

The team is mostly Tunisian, many hailing from Douz. Their knowledge and pride in the hotel, its showcasing of traditional dishes in the restaurant, and its nods to local cultures (such as the Berber tent dining experience) make staying here feel like an luxurious reimagining of traditional Tunisian life. What’s more, the service strikes an ideal balance between high-end attentiveness and retaining a casual warmth that means you feel genuinely, properly relaxed – they’ll remember your coffee order, but you can place your own napkin on your lap. 

The spa, right in the middle of the palm grove, includes a gym, steam room, sauna, heated indoor pool, manicure and pedicure facilities, a hair salon, eight treatment rooms, two scrub rooms and a hammam. The space is a continuation of the hotel’s tasteful, muted decor, sprinkled with authentic touches like pretty tiles and local artwork. It’s all built around a pleasing, sand-filled courtyard with trickling water features – an idyllic spot to perch and sip on some Tunisian mint tea between treatments.

Neighbourhood

Douz might seem like quite an unsuspecting destination for tourists, but the small, higgledy-piggledy outpost is one of the most unique places I’ve ever travelled. Known locally as the ‘gateway to the Sahara’, Douz is an excellent place to base yourself if exploring southern Tunisia is on your bucket list – which it should be. 

Nearby

  1. Douz souks for locally made homeware (think handmade wool rugs and ornate crockery), leather goods and souvenirs.  
  2. The Sahara Museum for artefacts, replicas and info about how communities have survived the desert, with everything from a reimagining of a traditional Berber tent to myth-busting facts about camels. 
  3. The Sahara desert for endless exploration – make sure to try quad biking, one of many surreal experiences that come highly recommended by the hotel

Time Out tip

Ksar Ghilane, a real-life oasis nestled among the dunes in southern Tunisia, is about a three-hour drive from the hotel (if you take the scenic, camel-frequented, sandy route, that is). The small, pristinely-clear pools, which are fed by an underground spring, are surrounded by tourist campsites and a Bedouin community, and make for a surreal refuge from the endless surrounding desert – it’s absolutely worth a visit. 

Details

Address
The Residence Douz
Tourist Rout
Douz
4260
Price:
From £302 per night on a bed & breakfast basis
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