La Chambre Bleue: A Hidden Gem in a Vacant City

Ever since the 2015 mass shooting near the seaside resort town of Sousse, tourism in Tunisia has taken a big hit. People have been skittish about visiting the country, despite the relatively cheap prices and continued political and economic stability. This means that travelers are missing out on one of Tunisia’s greatest treasures: the old quarter (medina) of the city of Tunis, a UNESCO world heritage site and home to a number of auberges and quaint travel lodgings (here are just a few scenes from the medina):

One of these lodgings is La Chambre Bleue, a historical B&B owned and operated by Tunisian actress and dancer Sondos Belhassen. Part of the charm of the place is the effort required to find it. Guests can’t book online, but rather are directed to write Sondos directly. Knowing full well that she would get more business if people could reserve a room on the website, Sondos prefers setting a friendly tone for client relationships with a personal email. Then once at the medina, travelers must wander through narrow cobblestone streets, flanked by bright blue doors and lazily-spreading branches, until they arrive at 24 rue Diwan:

There are two lodging options at La Chambre Bleue. For 70 euros a night, guests can have El Makhzen (where I stayed for three nights), or for 90 euros, they can occupy the B&B’s namesake, La Chambre Bleue (pictured on the official website). Each is lovely and inviting in its own way; I personally couldn’t help feeling indulgent being surrounded by such a luxurious setting (and at an affordable price):

The common areas are a constant play of color and light, reflecting both the historical charm of the medina and the owner’s graceful personality. Sondos personally serves a breakfast of fresh bread, cheese and olive oil, and an assortment of homemade jams, all eaten in the natural light of the upstairs courtyard:

In recent years, La Chambre Bleue has gotten a lot of attention on social media. Most recently, it was ranked by Lonely Planet as the #1 accommodation in all of Tunis. However, business has remained slow because of last year’s attacks, plus the generally negative impression of the Middle East in western media. This is a real shame. The historical beauty of Tunis’s medina, and the personal attention given guests at La Chambre Bleue, belong on any travel bucket list.

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