Overnight in Anakin’s Home (Ksar Hadada)
Tunisia is known for harissa, the Arab Spring, and Star Wars. George Lucas turned the dusty south of Tunisia into a global sensation, better known as Tatooine, the desert planet featured in the Star Wars motion pictures. Not only did Tunisia provide Lucas with the setting for a “sci-fi western,” it even inspired much of the names used in the films, like the real-life town of Tataouine. There is Tatouine the city which really does not have much in terms of tourism and sites. Then there is the governate (similar to a province or state) of Tatouine, which is home to Ksar Hadada.
A ksar in other parts of North Africa would be a fort or fortified town. An example of this can be found in the picturesque hilltop village of Aït Benhaddou in Morocco. This fortified village was used by films such as The Mummy (1999), Gladiator (2000), and Prince of Persia (2010).
However in Tunisia a Ksar is an ancient community storehouse where grain and other dried products were stored after harvest; these goods would be consumed for the remainder of the year until the next harvest season. The Ksours (plural of Ksar) are mostly located in the governances of Medenine and Tataouine. The Medenine is the home to another Ksar used in Episode I: The Phantom Menace but our focus here is Ksar Hadada.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Ksar Hadada has been mostly closed to the public. We are excited that the establishment finally reopened in the Spring of 2023 under new management. They have since returned Ksar Hadada back into a tourist attraction, mainly for Star Wars fan, as well as a large guesthouse with a cafe/restaurant. We happened to be in the area and needed a place to stay for the night.
I attempted to make a reservation for our stay first on booking.com but realized it wasn’t listed. I then attempted to contact them directly via Facebook and Instagram but could not find a recently updated account. Thankfully, their Facebook page did list a local phone number which I called and was able to book a family room for the 5 of us. Since we live in Tunisia, making the reservation was not a problem but it did not seem like the manager I spoke with knew English. So, if you are hoping to stay at Ksar Hadada yourself, it may be simpler to contact a travel company like ours to make the reservations on your behalf
Arrival & Check-In
Upon arrival, we were pleased to find the exterior cleaned up and well-lit. There was signage around the entrance, one from well before 2020 telling of its use in George Lucas’ film. We arrived late and were surprised to still see tourists taking selfies out front.
As we walked into the massive double doors, we noticed the intentionally Star Wars-themed entrance with Star Wars toys and other paraphernalia. Check-in was easy as I asked the man at the desk for the manager who instructed the man behind the desk to take us to room 25. We followed him (carrying our own bags) and he handed us the key. Nothing fancy.
The key itself was a bit of a novelty. It was quite large, heavy, and bulky but it added to the charm of staying at such a place. I will admit that I did struggle to lock the door on our way out to have dinner. I had to ask the man behind the desk for help.
Our ‘ghorfa’ or room was four levels, the bathroom was on the ground floor while there was a bedroom on each additional floor. As a family with kids, we wanted to book a room with a bathroom and shower but they do offer bedrooms with a shared bathroom and shower that come at a discount.
The bathroom in our room was quite basic but large. It had a shower but no shower curtain (something a lot of our clients enjoy). There was little space for storage of toiletries and it was odd that there were three hooks for towels but they were used for two rolls of toilet paper (TP is not commonly used by locals so it is actually a luxury). I just wish they had thought of better storage areas. The sink was built specifically for the bathroom; remember this building was originally used for storage, not for living. There was a hole built on the vanity of the sink to access plumbing, sadly previous guests used it as a trashcan… Another weird oddity is that the little window above the shower faces the street and is actually about knee level on the other side of the wall….
The beds were all comfy, they were new mattresses with clean sheets and comfortable pillows. We arrived to fresh, clean shower and hand towels folded nicely on each bed. Alongside the towels, we were pleasantly surprised by little Ksar Hadada Branded shower gel and shampoo bottles. Overall we all slept well.
One bit to be aware of if you decide to stay here is that the stairs inside the room and the exterior doors accessible on each level do not have railings or any sort of safety measure to prevent falls. Parents of young children beware!
Our reservation came as half-board, which means breakfast and dinner are included. We would definitely recommend this as Ksar Hadada sits in a little town that likely does not have any other restaurant. So unless you bring your own sandwich or other snacks, you are at the mercy of the on-site restaurant. The evening we arrived, we had a choice of grilled boneless chicken breast (known as ‘escalope’ in Tunisia) or a grilled quarter bone-in chicken. Both were well seasoned and well cooked and served with starters of soup, brik (Tunisian fried yumminess), and ending with fresh fruit (ready-to-eat pomegranate in our case). No complaints about the dinner, it was filling and satisfying after a day of traveling.
Breakfast was self-serve buffet style. As you can see in the picture, it is very basic with some packaged cakes, sliced baguette, honey, jam, butter, hard-boiled eggs, boxed juice, etc. I tried the coffee but found it difficult to finish. If you are looking for espresso drinks, you can order it as well but it is not included.
For both meals, there was never a shortage of available tables. The courtyard and several balconies offered al fresco dining, which we tend to enjoy. But, there are also several indoor dining areas that can offer privacy if you desire.
This property is pretty large, when I spoke with the manager, he said that they have about 18 rooms in the shared bathroom area and about 12 with ensuite bathrooms. I was able to peek inside some of the other rooms as the property was not full and realized that no two rooms have the same layout. I personally think there is some specialness to that.
The property still has at least two long stretches of buildings in need of some TLC and I believe their plan is to continue to transform each ‘ghorfa’ into a livable guest room. There isn’t much else to say about this property except that if you are a Star Wars fan, it is definitely worth stopping for a photo at minimum. You can stand right where Qui-Gon and Shmi did and recreate the scene from Episode I.
After our self-serve breakfast, we packed the car and turned in our key. The man behind the desk did not speak a word to me but just handed me an invoice for our stay. We paid and were on our merry way.
- Room, beds, and property were very clean
- Night-time lighting was pleasant
- Beds were very comfortable
- The town and the property felt very safe
- NService was acceptable
- NCost is high compared to similar accommodations
- NFood was decent and filling but nothing special
- Stairs are a danger to young children (and perhaps older adults)
- Some rooms require shared bathrooms
- Rooms were very basic