11 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
unpleasant experience with the security
"After that unpleasant experience with the security with Unprofessionalism, and some kind of discriminations due to nationality, by allowing some other nationality to pass . Security staff not allow us to reach the hotel reservation office to book one room, plus he does not know where and how to reach to the office, then he ask us to come back with nonsense talk about the hotel management policy not allowing guest to inter the hotel , imbecilic, uncivilized , Unrated consequences â¦â¦â¦â¦, Sofitel Sharm Hotel is not recommended to be visited "
- Travel date: Mon 1st of February 2010
"Our second holiday in Sharm and the Sofitel was much as I expected.
It is overall a good quality hotel, but not five star. This seems to be typical in Egypt. The hotel is set in huge grounds with a very good, large swimming pool and several small beaches. Each beach gives access to excellent snorkelling on the hotel's own coral reef. This is one aspect which cannot be matched by the hotels on the main promenade in Na'ama Bay.
The Rangoli Indian Restaurant is of a very good quality although those who are not experienced Indian food eaters need to be wary of some dishes, like the Madras, which is not marked as being hot, but in fact can be very hot.
The rooms are of a decent standard, but need updating along with the bathrooms. Each room has a sea view and the hotel itself has excellent views over Na'ama Bay.
One word of warning. This hotel is not for those who can't handle lots of stair climbing. The hotel spreads over a hillside and you cannot avoid alot of stair climbing. The escalators cover some, but not all of the floors. I hesitate to thing how wheelchairs would cope.
There is an onsite dive centre run by Divers International. Our experience with them was very good. Shore dives are good from the hotel and they also do their tuition in the waters directly off the hotel. They also run boat dives everyday and divers are picked up from the dive centre each morning.
If you want to eat out in Na'ama Bay, it is about a 30 minute walk to the centre of Na'ama Bay, although I suppose a taxi is another possibility.
Overall a good hotel and one which I would consider staying in if we revisit Sharm"
- Travel date: Tue 15th of April 2008
Better than expected
"I was in Sharm for a diving vacation. Stayed at Sofitel for the first two weeks( March 6-20) of my vacation and since they don't have a room available for the third week, I had to move to Hilton Sharks Bay.
Like the previous comments, check in was easy, although the lady at the reception forgot to give me my towel card. I didn't realized it until I went to get my towel by the pool. The reception area is quite small, for a big resort.
I got the room I requested ahead through Expedia, which is on the third floor building C, and not far from the elevator which really helped when I got tired of walking up and down those stairs. The balcony, is private and larger than expected. No wooden railings like the ones on the lower floors, but from there, I got a partial view of the pool, the full view of the sea, and Naama Bay on my right. The bathroom is dated, the grout needs regrouting, but the hairdryer works and with enough power to really dry my hair fast. I didn't even have to take out my own travel hairdryer from my luggage. The room could do with better lighting though. Even with several light fixtures, it felt dark. And too bad that Sofitel Sharm doesn't offer a tea service in the room. That would have been a plus.
Breakfast is quite good with enough selection spread out on several tables. The waiter that sees to me every morning didn't need anymore prompting in getting my tea and this without a tip until at the end of my stay. The food at the dinner buffet is tasty also. This is not all inclusive resort so lunch and dinner are extra but worth trying if you don't want to walk to the restaurants beyond the security gate after a long day.
There are five beaches to choose from if the pool scene is not your style. There are enough lounge chairs to choose from that even when other guests save certain spots, it wasn't a problem to find an unoccupied one. The snorkeling was good, if the water is a tad cold, about 20C when I first arrived.
The dive shop is Diver's International and it's on the 4th beach or downhill from the Kebabgy restaurant on the right. The friendly manager Gaber is excellent in arranging my dives and his dive masters are informative and fun guides. When I had to move to another resort on my third week in Sharks Bay, Gaber made it easy for me to continue on diving with them as I prefered. I did my dives with Karim, Alin, Lydia and Marlene(Netherland) and felt comfortable throughout. The prices are comparable to other dive shops in the area. They do recommend a check shore dive before you go onto a boat dive. Oona Dive shop is just beyond the security gate if Diver's is not what you're looking for. Another 10 minute stroll down that promenade beyond Sofitel will take you to Sinai Divers with several restaurants,and hotels in between.
The resort covers a lot of ground, and meticulously taken care of by numerous gardeners. The incessant bird chirping throughout the place tells you that is a haven for local birds. The birds do become bold and would settle and pick on the bread on the tables if you let them.
There is entertainment every night across from the Liwa restaurant. They offer a different theme each night. I didn't care much for them, but seem to be a hit with the eastern Europeans and Russians. As for the horrors I read about other nationalities' eccentricities, I didn't see it at all. Everyone was just trying to enjoy the sun, pool and beach.
All in all, the resort made it a good base for me to get my diving fix. It's big enough place that I didn't feel crowded in at the restaurant, the pool, and the beaches. The great view from my balcony is a plus also.
The only incident that bothered me a bit was on my last day, there was, I presumed, a husband and wife fighting in a foreign language, with a lot of screaming, crying, and the sound of breaking glasses inside the room. It took more than 15 minutes before the security arrived. Other than that, I would recommend this resort. Not the most updated resort in Sharm, but for the beaches and view alone, would make me come back."
- Travel date: Sun 6th of April 2008
Best views in Sharm
"Easily the best views in Sharm, very friendly & helpful staff, large pool, nice private beaches, lovely on-site Indian restaurant, a sea view room which is amazing when you wake in the morning, a relaxing romantic getaway with good size rooms. The only downfall however is that they are a little dated and bathroom needs a touch-up.
Overall it is a very pleasant hotel which I highly recommend."
- Travel date: Wed 2nd of April 2008
Do Not Stay At This Hotel!!!
"This hotel is by no means a 5 star hotel... perhaps it is closer to a 3 star hotel. We spent a week in march 2008 at this hotel and everything was disappointing. There was no air-conditioning and when inquiring from the hotel manager about the problem he stated it was hotel policy to turn on the chiller system effective April 15 of every year regardless of the outside temperature! The bathroom in our room was pretty bad and old. The beaches were very awkwardly located and access was never easy as we had to climb up and down narrow sandy pathways to get to the beach.
The hotel layout is very difficult and not customer friendly. The lobby was so poorly equipped and pretty small for a five star hotel. I would not recommend this hotel to anyone wanting to spend a relaxing time in Sharm!!"
- Travel date: Thu 13th of March 2008
"After reading many reviews on trip advisor and heeding much of the advice given we choose the Sofitel in Sharm and had an excellent holiday, mainly due to the brilliant hotel.
It is situated in an excellent location at the end of Naama Bay and therefore is a lovely stroll out if you want a bit of life.
There are 5 beaches, all small and tranquill with lots of watersports on offer if you want it. The sun loungers are free and plentiful and very comfy and all have parasols. The snorkelling off the beach is lovely, a little chilly in Feb after a while, but still worth it.
The Hotel Pool is also large and very clean and many facilities like pool games, bar, restaurant and kids creche area.
As mentioned by other reports, the hotel is spread over a very large and spacious site, there are lots of steps but its not a problem and is easy to get around. The reception is at the head of the hotel and then all the 5 blocks encompass around the large pool as the centre view point, lovely.
The rooms I noticed had taken a bit of stick on other reports, but apart from the electronic key card not working twice our double room was lovely, yes the grouting around the tiles in the shower could have had a bit of attention - but frankly who cares when the large room (Room 2208) was cool, nice balcony - very private (am sure better views if on a higher level) and kept more than clean and tidy by room service everyday.
The food in the Liwa was brilliant for a buffet, at breakfast there was everything you could possibly want from full cooked to continental, to pastries galore, to cheeses, salad and porridge, dried fruit, everything for those more health concious right to full blown fry up! In feb we could choose to sit out in the covered terrace or inside and both were most pleasant, especially outside in the evenings (but do take a cardi it wasnt warm enough to jus go out after dark in short skirts/.tops etc).
In the evenings we ate in Liwa too, lots of choice for both meat eaters and veggie. We like the freshly prepared salad to your choice by the chef.
We also ate 3 times at the Indian Restaurant, it has great views and the food is amazing, really one of the most tasty indians we have had ( and we have alot!).
Lunches round the pool were also good and reasonably priced (we were on HB) and the drinks in the lovely Horizon Bar were too.
You really dont need to leave the hotel, it has everything you could want, but we also went horse riding from the hotel stables in to the dessert (2 hours ) we are experienced riders and it was just as well as you do have to cross a busy road, the horses are well behaved although not quite BHS standard tack etc, but they are very well cared for by the staff and kept cool in their stables and showered off. The hats you borrow are also good, but the boots are limited.
We also went scuba diving with the hotel Scorpion Divers and went from the beach one day (was ok) and then out to Ras Mohamed another also lots to see and our guides were good, if maybe a little impatient. May be if we went again we would go with a larger set up but it was convenient and competitively priced so cant grumble there.
The hotel has a mix of guests not so many Brits, mainly Russian and French but everyone go on fine and we did not see any loudness by anyone.
The reception staff could be a little speedier at their job, but overall the dining staff and housekeeping are all lovely and do their best to look after everyone.
We had a great time and were so glad we choose the Sofitel, after walking into Naama Bay we felt very lucky and spoilt that we stayed at the superior Sofitel!"
- Travel date: Mon 10th of March 2008
Great Hotel, Fantastic Location
"I've tried to include information that I believe others may find useful, especially those who worry about the minor details...like myself. I hope it's not too long and of some use.
Making the booking
I booked the hotel directly through an online travel agent and got a good deal on a garden view room for single use. After receiving confirmation I emailed The Sofitel and asked them to confirm my booking, which they did within a short space of time. I also expressed a preference for an upper floor room (cheeky I know) and they replied saying that they would arrange this and also send a taxi to collect me from the airport free of charge. Flights were booked seperately with First Choice.
Leaving for Sharm
Tickets were picked up from Gatwick without any problems - I just had to show them a copy my email confirmation. Luggage labels are available on the front desk. The flight left on time and took under 5 hours.
Transfer to hotel
There was some delay in waiting for the baggage to arrive. After the best part of an hour I finally left the Terminal and I have to admit to being worried about the driver not waiting for me. I needn't have...I was greeted warmly and led to the Sofitel's 'taxi'. A mini bus/people carrier all to myself...journey time to hotel was 10 mins.
On arrival my bag was taken to one side and I was led to reception - there is a brief security check and you walk through some metal detectors. I handed over my passport and accommodation voucher, filled out a few details and was handed my room card and a towel card. I was then led by one of the staff to my room. Along the way she gave me a quick orientation..pointing out the main restaurants, bars and going over the times for breakfast, lunch etc. When I reached my room the porter was there with my luggage. Overall a very smooth process and not much hanging around.
The hotel is beautiful to look at and has been carved out of the side of the mountain. There are lots of steps to negotiate but they're broken up into flights of ten at most. There are 2 lifts available if the walking becomes too much or you have walking difficulties. At times it feels like you're walking in a maze but you won't get lost..everything is sign-posted clearly for you
My room was large (I had 2 single beds) and there's lots of storage space available. There's a mini bar, tv, radio and an electronic safe in the wardrobe (you have to set your own code).
The rooms at The Sofitel are spread over 5 Blocks (A - Picasso, B- Red Tooth, C- Orange Spine, D - Blue Green and E - Royal Angel). It seemed to me that all of the rooms had a sea-view, but this may not be the case with the lower floor rooms in blocks C and D as they face the pool area.
I was given room 1510 in Block A on the 3rd floor. I had a full sea view and could see into Naama Bay on my right. I was very pleased with the room allocated. Given the location of The Sofitel I think any upper floor room would deliver a great view.
One point to bear in mind. Behind my block there was a building that seemed to house some sort of generator (I never found out what it was). On some nights the noise can be heard through the air conditioning vents so it may annoy some. I got used to it and it never bothered me much, as I was so tired from snorkelling.
Eating & Drinking
I stayed B&B. Breakfast is taken at the Liwa restaurant between 6.30 and 10.30am. The food is good, plentiful and you can go up as many times as you like. I mostly ate in Naama Bay but did visit the hotel's Oriental/Egyptian restaurant (Kababgy)...the food was very good here. Pool snacks are readily available but come served with a side portion of pickled vegetables..somewhat of an acquired taste.
The Horizon Bar is a nice spot to watch the sunset, but it did get windy in the evenings so wear layers if you can. Avoid the gin, it tastes like battery acid!
Huge heated pool in the middle of the hotel. I never used it because I prefer the beach. There's the usual pool aerobics in the morning and animation team activities, but nothing too rowdy.
Well tended and very pretty. They cut the grass a few times when I was there so, if like me, you get hayfever you might want to pack your antihistamine tablets just in case. I suffered a few symptons but was ok once I reached the beach.
I counted 4 hotel beaches..my favourite being the one furthest on the left past the Horizon beach bar. The snorkelling here is outstanding. The sea was warm and as for the views..well...pack an underwater camera if you can! They cost 100 Egyptian pounds in the hotel (the Kodak ones) but can be bought for 70 Egyptian in Naama Bay.
I got stung once by a jellyfish (there weren't too many overall) It feels like a stinging nettle and the pain soon goes. I had packed an ammonia applicator pen for stings (available in Boots) and that eased the discomfort.
Beaches are clean and quiet, sun beds are free. Hand over your towel card at the booth near the pool and you'll be given a large blue towel to use..just remember to get your card back when returning it.
If you walk out of reception and turn right into the car park you can walk along the cliffs towards the Hyatt. You'll eventualy come to a secluded cove...there's not much here but if you like walking then it might appeal to you and the views are nice too.
A mix of French, Italian, German, Russian, Egyptians and Brits. Everyone was friendly and got on well..no horror sories to report.
Very helpful, always smiling. Reception staff could sometimes be a bit slow but be patient with them as they are frequently over-run with new arrivals and phone calls.
Shops & Facilities
There are small shops in the hotel selling souvenirs and snorkelling gear. There's a camera shop outside reception. The bank can also be found here (open 9.30am to 1.30pm, closed on Fridays). There's an ATM next to reception for withdrawing or exchanging money (you simply insert your money into the slot and it gives you Egyptian pounds for a small charge).
Outside reception on the left is a small fitness centre which is free to use. There's a small selection of cardio machines, a few free weights and resistance machines. You can have a sauna,massage etc but there is a charge for this. There's also a hair salon available too.
The hotel has Internet access but the service was temporarily unavailable when I enquired about using it.
Getting to Naama Bay
Walk past the dive centre and the path will lead to a security point. Walk down the steps and the promenade leads all the way into Naama Bay...it takes about 15 - 20 minutes. In my opinion this is why the Sofitel has the edge over other hotels...you can have a quiet relaxing time in the hotel grounds but if you feel like a night out then you can be in the centre of Naama Bay in no time at all. The hotels in Naama Bay are all close together and everything felt too cramped to me...it's not until you get back to the Sofitel that you appreciate just how good a location it really is.
Next to the pool area is a small hut and they can arrange the usual trips for you. I wouldn't bother with the glass bottom boat trip as the boat spent most of it's time outside the hotel's own reef. You can save yourself some money by just wading in and having a snorkel.
Longwood reps visit the hotel frequently and you can join their excursions if you like. I did the Stargazer trip - feel free to message me if you'd like to know more. I'l try and post details on the main forum as well.
Rooms are to be vacated by 12 noon. On arrival I managed to get the room until 3pm for no charge...but when I went back to my room (after 1pm to finish packing) the door wouldn't open. A quick trip to reception fixed this though.
If you want a hotel transfer speak to reception one day before you check out.
Mossies - didn't get bitten once. I used a plug-in adaptor and was fine.
Aircraft noise - yes, you'll hear them as you're in the flight path but you get used to it and it's no bother.
I would definitley go back to The Sofitel. I had originally intended to book The Hyatt but the ambience of the Sofitel, the views and it's links to the promenade into Naama Bay really make a difference. I'm sure you'll enjoy your stay as much as I did."
- Travel date: Tue 4th of March 2008
"After spending 2 nights in Cairo ( Le Meridien Giza), 3 nights in Aswan ( Isis Island)and 2 nights on a nile cruiser ( Liberty) it was such a surprise to find a hotel in Egypt where the staff, from the gardener, to the manager, are so FRIENDLY and genuine! It was so refreshing and we are so glad we went otherwise we would have had a completely negative view of Egypt and Egyptians in the tourist industry. Only stayed 3 nights, but we'll go back as we all loved it. It was the end of the Egyptian school holidays, so the hotel was deserted. Location is excellent... 10 minutes free transport to airport, 15 mins walk into Na'ama bay, and all that glorious coral and fish straight off the beach! It was better than what I saw the one time I went to the Great Barrier reef. We hired the hotel speed boat to take us around to the reef out front of the Hyatt as I had read it was better, but you can easily walk around there along the cliffs. Loved the rooms, but a bit cool, on account of the high ceilings and tiled floors. Ours had a lovely balcony, only plastic chairs, but they were fine. Breakfast good, big selection and lots of it. Service excellent. Highly recommend the Indian Restaurant. My husband said the Dive School based there was excellent.
Just be aware that this hotel is on the flight path and though it didn't bother me it might bother you."
- Travel date: Tue 19th of February 2008
"We have just reurned from 10 days at the Sofitel.
The Hotel is more 4* then 5* mainly because it needs updating in rooms and communal areas.
The best things about it were the views from all rooms and the excellent Staff.
Food in the main restaurant was just passable but La Brise and the Indian Restaurant were good.
Don't go there in the Egyptian School Holidays (as we did) unless you have kids yourself
We walked inyo Naama Bay one day----what a dump! Tacky shops and restaurants just not worth bothering about.
We ate in the Hyatt Regency Thai which was not nearly as good as our local!
We also went to the Observatory Lounge at the 4 Seaons. which had excellent food..
The best reason for going to Sharm el Sheikh
is the weather.If we go again we will find the extra money and stay at the 4Seaons.."
- Travel date: Tue 12th of February 2008
Lots of positives, with only a few negatives
"We have just returned from 2 weeks at the Sofitel, and were really impressed with a number of features of both the hotel and resort - there are just a couple of improvements which could be made to really turn this into a `must visit' destination:
The location - by being on the edge of Naama Bay you feel separated from the madness of the main promenade, but still close enough to walk into town for entertainment or variety of restaurants. The hotel feels secluded and secure as a result. The grounds are lovely and flowers beautiful.
The style - the hotel really felt like it had made an effort to be `egyptian' in style and with all the rooms having sea views you couldn't go wrong.
The pool - lovely and big and plenty of loungers.
The reef - it was great to have such a huge variety of fish to close to land - easy to snorkel.
The indian restaurant - not the cheapest in the world, but great food and lovely views.
Meals - the buffet breakfasts were great, although it does become a bit of a free for all when the hotel gets fuller, with not enough tables, and overstretched waiters. However, we found the evening buffet overpriced and not that special. We also felt it was insulting being charged for service when we had to clear our own plates away.
We felt there was generally a lack of choice for meals - the pizza / pasta restaurant did not open in the evening and the oriental restaurant (which did not appeal to us) was always empty! However, being b and b only we usually walked into the main town and can highly recommend both `Tandoori' and `Pomodoro' restaurants, both located at the Camel hotel - both were frequently packed, and justifiably so as the food was delicious and reasonably priced.
Rooms - whilst comfortable, the rooms could have been bigger and few little touches (eg tea and coffee making, bath robes) would have made a big difference.
Overall, we were pleased with our choice of hotel and believe it is one of the better ones in this area."
- Travel date: Tue 29th of January 2008
Best kept secret of Sharm
"Please excuse the length of this review. I have tried to put things in it that I wish we had known before we booked our holiday!
Location, location, location
The hotel is situated at the far right hand side (looking from the sea) of Narmaa Bay. It is important to understand this as often the travel agents descriptions all talk about Sharm El Sheikh. Sharm El Sheikh is more like a region really, there are different parts to it with Narmaa bay being the largest, busiest and (in our opinion) the best for tourists since there is so much to do there. We almost booked a hotel in what would have been old Sharm which we would have definitely have been disappointed in. Itâs worth finding out before you book exactly which part of the area your hotel is in. Thomson (who we booked with) has good maps on their website clearly showing this. If not you ma find yourself in taxis every day when you go out.
The resort location could not be more perfect. All the beach front hotels are connected together by a lovely promenade running close to the beach. The Sofitel is at the far end of the promenade and is accessible by climbing a few steps to get to the entrance to the hotel grounds. It takes approximately 20 mins for a brisk walker to go from one end to the other of the promenade. Anyone from any hotel or even people not staying in a hotel can walk up and down the promenade however some hotels (the Sofitel included) have security guards who may ask to see proof that you are staying at the hotel if you want to come into the hotel grounds directly. Most have airport style metal detectors too which is a little unnerving at first! We found that in most cases you are free to wonder into the other hotels and make use of their facilities such as bars, shops and restaurants. A good opportunity to have a look at some of the hotels you might have been considering!! We did this and were still glad we chose the Sofitel.
The hotel has been built in a traditional Arabic style look. This makes it stand out from all the other hotels in Naama bay that we could see, most of which are standard modern buildings. It really is a beautiful building from whichever angle you look at. It has been carved out of the mountain which has one great advantage â all rooms have a sea view. The hotel is built on lots of levels which can at first appear to be like a maze however it is really quite straightforward. There are however lots of steps and only two lifts (which are far apart). This hotel is definitely not suitable for anyone disabled or who may struggle with steps. The steps are not steep or hard but you will have to go up and down them often! Overall the steps and multi-levels really add to the character of the hotel which is not simply a concrete building like some can be!
We were there in December which apparently is one of the quietest months. This showed as there were not that many people in our hotel at all. It started to get busier towards the end but never so that you felt uncomfortable. The hotel is large enough that you can always find somewhere quiet. We did not find many other British holiday makers here. Mostly Russian, Italian and some Americans. Apparently this is the first year Thomson has offered this hotel so I expect this might change next year. Everyone we did come across where pleasant and seemingly there to have a relaxing holiday. This is definitely not for the Magaluf or Falaraki crowd.
There are several shops including one for beach activities, a spice shop, a perfume shop and an ornament and other tourist goods shop. There is a bank which is open in the mornings 6 days a week I believe.
The hotel is huge - one of the biggest in the area if you look at a plan of Naama bay. There are only about 300 rooms but the grounds are very large and you never feel cramped. There are gardens and tree lined paths which are very well maintained. The sprinklers are on every day to ensure the gardens remain lush despite the constant sunshine.
There are 5 beaches although one of these is very small (for about 20 people max) and another is not much bigger. The two main beaches are much bigger but still retain that private atmosphere. All beaches have free luxury sun beds and of course the hotel provides beach towels which can be changed as often as you like. We always went to the smallest beach and sometimes were the only people there. Great if you want a relaxing holiday away from kids or noise. The beaches are clean and since they are private you will not be bothered by passing sales people unlike the Caribbean for anyone who has experienced that! There are water sports facilities on the 2 larger beaches and a dive centre on one although there are much better dive centres in Naama bay such as Red Sea College or Oonas which is next door to the hotel down the steps.
There is one very large swimming pool. The largest I have ever seen in a hotel which is the focal point for the hotel grounds. It looks lovely (never ventured in as we prefer the sea) and there is plenty of space around it to relax, play games or dance with the animation team if you are so inclined.
The rooms are plenty large enough for 2 with good sized balconies. People used to staying in luxury hotels will find them basic however. Facilities include TV, air conditioning, mini-bar fridge and good storage space. Be warned, the mini bar (probably like most hotels) is expensive and we had to ask for a price list. Better to empty it out and use it as a fridge for items you have bought yourself for a lot less. Officially you are not meant to do this but no one complained when we did!
Halfway through our stay the hotel converted the locks on the doors to the standard key-card access which was a huge improvement on the huge gold key we had to carry around before then!
The bathrooms are perhaps the worst area in the hotel and one they could do with addressing. They need a refurbishment and of concern was the brown coloured water whenever we turned on the tap for the first 5 seconds or so. Also the water was not always hot and a hot shower often ended up being a cool shower. Once it got past 7.30pm it was hard to get hot water at all although the pressure was always good. Donât let the bathrooms put you off however. They are clean and a good size and after all, how long do you spend in the bathroom?
Regarding the brown water, once you run the tap for a little while it clears and we never drunk any of the tap water. Apart from a day or so of some slight stomach ache we did not suffer âpharaohâs revengeâ too badly.
Restaurants and Bars
We did not go all inclusive and are very happy with that decision. Bed and breakfast allows you to sample lots of different food all over the resort. Prices are ok, not as cheap as some places but cheaper than the UK for food at least. International spirits in bars can be very expensive though and Egyptian sprits are best avoided! I recommend getting a bottle of something from the airport in the duty free shop on the way over and keeping that in your room.
Within the hotel there are 4 restaurants:
The Liwa is the large main buffet style restaurant which serves breakfast and evening meals. This is really an excellent place. Lots of choice and although not that cheap, overall it offers good value considering you can eat as much as you like! The food is top quality and not the standard rehashed rubbish that some âall inclusiveâ hotels do. Expect to pay about 350 Egyptian pounds (approx Â£35) for a meal for two with a couple of drinks. Each evening the menu is themed so you will not often be eating the same food and within each themed night there is a lot of choice.
There is an âorientalâ restaurant which unexpectedly serves Egyptian food. Our understanding of oriental was something from the orient i.e. Chinese. We spent 20 mins walking around the hotel looking for the oriental restaurant until we ended up here only to find this was it! Good if you like your grilled meats, houmous and salads.
There is a pool side snack/cafÃ© style bar which we never went to so cannot really comment on. Plenty of ice creams and coffee can be had from the other bars on the beach and by the pool.
There is a lovely bar called Horizon where you can watch the lovely sunsets and have cocktails or coffees from 1.00pm. The view over Naama bay from here is excellent.
The Indian restaurant is something that everyone in Naama bay should go to! We had read good reviews before we went and were not disappointed. The service was fantastic and the food exceptional. The best Tikka Massalla I have ever had! I recommend a visit here whether you stay at the Sofitel or not. Booking is advised though as it can get busy apparently.
Room service is also available in the rooms 24x7 and the prices are not bad considering. Much better value than the mini-bar!
Universally across the hotel, we found the staff to be excellent. The vast majority spoke excellent English. Since my girlfriend is Italian we also found out they spoke Italian too. Puts us to shame! They are courteous, helpful and only add to your stay. The only exception to this was the man who offered to take us to the casino by pretending he worked for the hotel only to then charge us when we got there. It turned out he was just a taxi driver who happened to be in the hotel reception at the time. The rate he charged was unacceptable and the manner in which he got us to pay was sneaky. This was however the exception rather than the norm. (Quick tip, if you do go to the casino, the drinks are free when you are on the tables and very expensive otherwise as we found out! Also they only accept dollars, euros or sterling, surprisingly not Egyptian money.)
There is an animation team doing daily entertainment such as dance lessons, keep fit and French ball and nightly entertainment in either the amphitheatre in summer or the Zeno cafÃ© in winter. We find the evening entertainment pretty poor on the whole however this is no problem since you can walk down the promenade and go to any of the other hotels entertainment nights should you wish! From what we could see the standard seems similar across all the hotels however this really is not so much of a problem here since the resort has itâs own nightlife outside of the hotel including a branch of Pacha club for those who want to dance the night away!
Once you get three quarters of the way along the promenade you come to the Jolie Ville resort hotel. This signifies the start of the busy part of Naama bay. If you turn right just after the Jolie, you will come to the main streets where there are lots of bars, sheesha cafes, restaurants (including McDonalds and Hard Rock CafÃ© for this missing their burgers and chips!) There are also several shopping centres containing mostly tourist shops selling perfume, papyrus and other tourist bits and pieces although other shops can be found as well. More on this later! We were really surprised just how many shops there were for a small resort.
From the Sofitel it should take you about 15-20 mins walk to the main area or you can get a taxi for about 20 Egyptian pounds. Often people will stop you in the street asking if you want a taxi. This can be quite surprising and worrying when there are no cars in site however this is normal in Egypt. These people act as touts for the taxis â they will agree a price with you, tell the driver when you get to the car and if the driver accepts, he will give the tout some money although they try to keep this discrete. As with everything in Egypt, the rule is negotiate the price. Donât ever accept the first price they give you.
If you have chance, try the quad biking in the desert. This is 2.5 hours of some of the best fun ever on a modern powerful quad bike riding through the desert to an oasis where you can have lunch then back. We though it was excellent value at Â£35 each through the tour operator only to find out later that you can book the same thing (all ticket sellers are selling tickets to the same location no matter what they tell you!) for â¬20 at Oonas or Fun and Surf. Next year they are also offering desert dune buggies â canât wait to try those.
If you are a diver or looking to try it then you are looking at the right place This place is divers heaven. We had both dived before in the Caribbean but this was much better than that. There are coral reefs within 20 metres walking distance from the hotel beach in crystal clear waist height water! Ideal for snorkellers however the real beauty is a boat ride away in Ras Mohammed national park so make sure you get your Egyptian entry visa which you will need to leave Sinai. The park is not part of Sinai for which you do not need a visa. There are many dive centres in Naama bay all offering good levels of service with PADI certified English speaking instructors. We used Red Sea College but will also be taking a look at Oonas when we return. Also worth mentioning is the dive shops. You can buy pretty much anything you like here so there is no need to bring equipment from the UK. The prices are similar.
This holiday was in December and yet the weather was a constant 23Â°c all day with blue skies and almost no cloud â a refreshing change from the grey skies and constant rain back home. In December the sun goes down early (pitch black by 5.00pm) so you need to get up early to make the most of the day and bring warm clothes for the evening as the temperature drops sharply at night.
If you come to Naama bay you will undoubtedly be asked to visit a perfume shop. This normally involves a story about the owner wanting to get you to sign his visitorâs book and a promise that there will be no pressure however, as soon as you are in the door, the visitorâs book is forgotten and the hard sell begins! There are seemingly hundreds of these shops in Naama bay alone, each one selling scents or essences from multi-coloured bottles on the shelves around the shop. Rather than be scared, try to enjoy this (at least once anyway!). They will make you Egyptian tea which is very nice and get you to try many of the perfumes they have which are actually very good although a tad oily. The rule is, bargain hard. The price they first give you can be brought down many times and what you end up with will last you much longer than standard famous make perfumes since they are not mixed with water. You can always get free oil burners and scent droppers if you ask as well. We found that if you talk to the people in a friendly way, even if you donât want any of the things they are selling, the experience can be positive. We saw lots of people stressing about being hassled but ignore this, itâs the Egyptian way!
Sheesha, narghile, hookah, or kalian
These are different names for the same thing. A water pipe that is very popular in Egyptian culture. You will find cafes where you can rent these (along with hygienic disposable ends) everywhere in Naama bay. Even for those that do not smoke cigarettes, this is an enjoyable experience. Smoking one is not anything like smoking a cigarette. It is completely smooth and apparently significantly better for your health than cigarettes. The cafes where you rent sheesha are often in a Bedouin style with low seating, brightly coloured throws or rugs and local music. A very relaxing experience and completely different from anything you will experience back home. These places do not normally serve alcohol which only enhances the relaxing experience as you are
unlikely to find people drunk here!
A great hotel, great resort and a wonderful holiday. Canât wait to come back later this year!"
- Travel date: Sun 13th of January 2008