Travel operator: otbeach
The hotel staff work hard, and are helpful if there are any problems or just requests for extras. We all got the dreaded stomach bug, at the beginning of week two, and my daughter had diarrhea and vomiting for a day. The staff were helpfpul and responded speedily to my request for more bottled water and loo roll.
Food in the restaurant was varied and on the whole good when you consider it's mass catering. My dd and dh are vegetarians and found the food to be above average with an fair amount of choice. Also, there was always some kind of meat chicken and fish dish, a pasta dish, and loads of salads and bread. Aubergine features heavily in lots of dishes, as do potatoes. They are particularly nice as was a fish dish which appeared regularly cooked in dill, oil and lemon,- yum.
The omelette and pasta stations were very popular, but sometimes the queues were a bit long. Don't come here if you want meat and two veg every night though, or chips with everything, because you wont get it. Chips were only on the menu twice over the course of two weeks. Ice cream was available after dinner.
Tea and coffee were available throughout the day with cake available around 4 every day. Beer was quite nice, and the white wine was fine if a little weak. The red wine was rough, and while my dh had a G&T a few times over the course of the two weeks I really found the spirits awful and couldn't drink them at all.
As with all ai's though, food became rather repetitive after a few days, and we had a very nice italian meal out at the marina one night, which made a nice change. We would have eaten out more, but for the hassle of getting anywhere withouth someone trying to rip us off with inflated taxi fares, or even in the case of the bus we paid for from the hotel to Hurghada,- drop us at their 'shop' to have a look around!
The pool bar was always busy for snacks, and we ocassionally had a some chips from here as we were lazing around the pool.
Pools are great, really clean and never got very busy. We were able to find sunbeds any any time of day and didn't have to get up in the small hours to bag one. Aqua park was fantastic. Again, never very busy, and lots of really nice shaded bits to lie in when the heat became too much.
There's a shuttle bus every 15 minutes that takes you to the beach across the road in the Aladdin beach hotel, and we went here about four times during our stay. Again, never found it very busy - always got sunbeds, and you can eat and drink from the snack bar there with the AI from the Titanic. Pizza really nice from here, and freshly cooked in front of you.
The beach itself is a quite stony, but when you're actually in the water it's really warm and stays shallow for ages - ideal for kids messing around on lilos etc, and non swimmers.
And now for the negatives. These really relate more to the resort of Hurghada than the hotel itself, and i will post these in the resort reviews, but for now I will try and stick to relevant details about the hotel rather than the resort (which i would argue, doesn't excist anyway, and which we didn't like at all.
Location: This hotel really is in the middle of nowhere. It's one of many hotels along a main road, and there really is little outside of it. You have to take a taxi everywhere, walking is not an option apart from the 20 minute or so walk to the Senzo mall, which is not particularly pleasant with taxis beeping at you every two seconds, and people trying to sell you tat when you're trying to have a relaxing stroll.
It did however, save our sanity on a couple of occasions when we were desperate for something to do/somewhere to go outside of the hotel
There were also some shops about 5 minutes from our hotel. Cleopatras was a fixed price shop with reasonable prices, and the only one we shopped at for postcards, holiday gifts, etc. There were always small groups of men/boys outside of the other ones trying to get you to come in and look, but we never did as we felt too hassled, and occasionally a bit intimidated.
The pools: While the pools themselves were great, the loud and incessant music coming from one of them was a daily annoyance, and there was no escaping it even when you moved to the other pool in a vain attempt to hear yourself think. It was the same few songs played over and over again, and began to feel like a form of torture. This was very obviously for the benefit of the animation team rather than for the benefit of the hotel guests none of whom had any interest in it.
We were constantly bothered by the staff from the the beauty salon attached to the hotel coming around when we were on our sunbeds, reading our book or relaxing,- very obviously not wanting to be disturbed, asking us if we wanted massages, etc. We didn't - told them so on many occasions, at first politely and afterward not so. While some of them took no for an answer, others were persistent and rude with it. I really hated this as did my dh, and particularly my daughter, but as time went on we began to toughen up, and said no or waved our hand before they even began to speak. Unfortunately this type of haranguing turns you in to a person you are not normally, and you become rude and abrupt just like them.
The lifts in the hotel were slow and unreliable. More often than not, we ended up walking to the third floor where our room was. There were also numerous power failures when we were here which shot down the air conditioning throughout the hotel. The rest of the facilities switch to a backup supply and the hotel appeared to function normally but obviously got very warm. The failures were generally during the day and short-lived so not too much of a problem however we did have one prolonged outage during the night and the room became very uncomfortable and we couldn't get to sleep. I really wouldn't like to be here in July or August, and have this happen.
Finally the entertainment. Have to say, we are rarely interested in this when we go on holiday, preferring to retire to our room fairly early to read or watch a DVD, and generally just chill out. It looked pretty dire though I have to say, and the only 'night' we went to was the 'Egyptian' one which really wasn't our cup of tea. My daughter (nearly 10) had no interest in the kids entertainment, as it was mainly aimed at younger kids. She pooh-poohed the kids disco big time. Can't say I blame her as it looked awful.
Finally this hotel, and I understand most in Hurghada, is popular with eastern Europeans, particularly Russians. Their reputation for being rude was apparent towards the staff, though I can't say I noticed them being particularly pushy or rude towards fellow guests. It was one particularly obnoxious English guest with an England flag hanging out of his balcony window that made me cringe most.
There were some British, Irish, and German families there, but they were in the minority. Not a problem for us at all, as we like to hear different accents when we're away on holiday although I have to say the eastern Europeans appeared a particularly charmless lot, often giving the impression of being on some type of National Service rather than on holiday.
To sum up, the hotel was really good. We got the holiday for a ridiciously cheap price, and had we been the type to never want to leave the hotel we would have been very happy bunnies indeed. On that basis we would recommend the hotel, but we wouldn't ourselves go back ourselves to Hurghada.
Travel operator: sunshine
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