The favorite hotel of Algerians!

The Carlton, a history of activism

The Carlton’s ties with Algeria are strong. 32 years ago, Messaoud Ben Smail, ordinary Djerbian and anonymous Tunisian hero of Algerian independence died. He also became the owner of the Carlton in 1959.

Messaoud Ben Smail started as an expatriate apprentice grocer in Algeria. In 1930, he took the initiative to become Maallem, by opening “La Grande Épicerie” in the Constantine market.

In the mid-1940s, at the end of the war, he settled in Annaba (Bône), in eastern Algeria. His grocery store, “Le Palais”, is wholesale and retail.

Messaoud Ben Smail witnesses the awakening of the Algerian nationalist protest. From the beginning of the 1950s, he established solid contacts with members of the clandestine Neo Destour of Bourguiba.

Based in Bône, Messaoud was a valuable transmission belt with the members of the FLN.Behind the scenes, the Bône grocery store will have a completely different role, it will be a place of resistance for the FLN. The activists spent the night there, in the back room, with the apprentices.

It was not uncommon for the “fellagas” to pass by to get rid of their weapons after the attacks in a sack of flour, which the employees took care of removing.

L’ouverture du Carlton


In the spring of 1961, the tension was palpable. The FLN is stepping up resistance operations, and the grocery store is the object of more than one provocation. “Go back to your Bourguiba! Say young colonists in gray coats.

Messaoud has good relations with the local prefect. The latter will warn him in advance of the reprisals that are being prepared against him.Messaoud will leave Algeria without suspecting that his store would be, in his absence, the prey of the most important attack ever committed in Algeria! A huge incendiary charge destroyed the premises: four dead, including a 15-year-old apprentice, all Djerbians, all relatives or relatives. The OAS had struck.



Shocked by this tragedy, he moved to Tunis, where he had just acquired one of the oldest hotels in the capital, the “Carlton”, which then became, and until the independence of Algeria in 1962, the meeting place for activists and executives of the FLN in Tunis.

For a long time, the “Carlton” will remain the favorite hotel of Algerians. After Messaoud Ben Smail, his grandson, Ridha Boubekri ran the hotel for years. His father delivered the packages to the FLN in Bône.When he retires, it will be the turn of another grandson of Messaoud, son of Mohamed ben Smail, the “Fellaga journalist”, to take over.On the night of 01/14/2011, the Carlton hotel will protect more than 170 Tunisian demonstrators from the police, taking back its place as a hotel “militant” for freedom.

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31 Av. Habib Bourguiba, Tunis 1000

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