Spot Cool Stuff previously reviewed the cool, luxurious and eco-friendly Adrere Amellal resort in Egypt; we described being there as like living on Tatooine, Luke Skywalker’s desertic home planet in Star Wars.
Further to the west, in Matmata, Tunisia, there’s a desert lodge that isn’t like Tatooine. It is Tatooine1. That lodge, the Sidi Driss Hotel, served as the filming location for several scenes in Star Wars.
The Sidi Driss Hotel and Matmata in Star Wars
The Sidi Driss makes it’s most recognizable appearance in the 1977 original Star Wars movie as the home of Owen and Beru Whitesun Lars, the adoptive parents of Luke Skywalker. Most of the interior shots, including the Lars’ kitchen and dining room, were filmed at the hotel as well. Twenty five years later, when George Lucas got around to filming Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones the hotel had changed so little that the Sidi Driss was once again used for some filming scenes for Luke’s childhood.
Around the town of Matmata (in specific) and southern Tunisia (in general) you’ll find many other Tatooine filming locations. For a great day trip from the Sidi Driss, head 10 km to La Grande Dune, a rocky canyon where the Jawas capture R2D2.
The Sidi Driss Hotel and Matmata today
The Sidi Driss is a bit of an unusual hotel insofar as much of it is underground and getting around the hotel requires navigating a series of tunnel-like walkways.
It should be mentioned that many — perhaps most — of the guests who have stayed here would not wish to do so again. Some of those wish they had not the first time. The Sidi Driss has a rather uncared-for feel. Not dirty exactly, but untidy and dilapidated. The rooms are decidedly no frills and a bit dreary. The bathrooms are shared. When you check in definitely ask to see some vacant rooms so that you can choose the best among them; we’re partial to room #15. 2
That said, Spot Cool Stuff is a fan of the Hotel Sidi Driss. It could have so easily been turned into a white washed, Disney-esque Star Wars attraction. That it has been left in its semi-ignored state makes it seem like a sort of place that travelers can feel they “discover.” Room rates are cheap (eg. €10~20) and include breakfast. If your able to secure cheap tickets to Tunisia you could have yourself a vacation that’s both affordable and strong with The Force.
If you are planning to visit, but not stay at, the Hotel Sidi Driss, note that it is especially magical around dusk. Although, unlike Tatooine, you’ll only see one sun set.
1 In a nod to Tunisia, the filming location for all the outdoor Tatooine scenes, “Tatooine” is a local Berber word that literally translates as “eye” but is used to describe a spring of water found in the desert.
2 The Sidi Driss isn’t on any electronic booking system (that we know of). You can try to book a room by fax (00216 75 240 265) but your chances of getting back a real confirmed reservation are 50/50 at best. You are just as well off having a good guidebook and showing up by late morning on the day you wish to stay.
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