11 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
My boyfriend and I just returned from a...
"My boyfriend and I just returned from a 7 night stay at the Grand Hermitage.
We arrived on a First Choice flight before midnight and were transferred to our hotel, a 40 min coach drive from Varna airport. The hotel looks amazing at night time so when we stepped out of the coach, took our bags to Reception, everything just seemed effortless.
We were given our key cards, took our bags up to the room, and ran around playing with the lights and television. We couldn't believe the space we had, the size of the bathroom. It was very luxurious and I couldn't believe what value for money we were getting.
Our room was a sea view deluxe and we had a view overlooking the pool and Black Sea. Our room was well presented and every day, our cleaner came whilst we were down at the pool and left it immaculate. I would have liked to have tipped the cleaner but we never seen her.
The next morning, we went down to the hermitage restaurant to the buffet breakfast. They had a lovely spread and you could choose to sit inside the restaurant, or outside facing the pool. The tables were made up lovely and we had some very sweet waitresses.
There are a lot of people so the turnaround for making up tables and ensuring you have hot tea and coffee was very efficient. We never had to wait anymore than 5 minutes for service but we were also very patient and knew they would come by when they could.
The poolside has a Sunshine Cafe/Bar that serves you from 9am till very late. They do nice milkshakes & BLT Sangers. We brought our bottled water from the ALDO supermarkets as it works out 6 LEV cheaper. The poolside was very clean, there are always plenty of staff around, and including a Manager should you need any assistance.
Also, there is security guarding the hotel day & night which was very reassuring for me.
I can't stand randoms coming in looking suspect or trying to sell you dodgy things. Actually, I didn't even see any dodgy randoms come to think of it. Bonus!!
The Nirvana Spa staff were really sweet and helpful. We had a Sensuality Massage for two on the last day and it was the perfect end to an amazing holiday. I wouldn't rate the gym equipment so if you want to run, save it for an early jog along the water (if you haven't been out too late the night before).
We paid for half board (breakfast & dinner) but thought we would eat out every night. We actually ended up eating out only 2 nights because the hotel dinner buffet had everything. We ordered a Bulgarian white wine with dinner and sat outside listening to the entertainment. The entertainment is usually a duo and you could get anyone. Itâs a good laugh if anything.
After dinner, we would go out to one of the many cocktail bars along the beach front. The stairs leading down are well lit so we felt very safe. We went out for cocktails every night so we frequented Ministry of Cocktails & the Paris Bar. Very impressive and all fresh ingredients made in front of you.
The only thing I would suggest is avoid "the bbq,â you get charged 40lev for eating the same food they serve at the buffet inside the restaurant, you get the same entertainment, and you also get charged service on top of it. Why pay for it when you already paid for it.
Our rep was very helpful and told us about activities we could do to break up our week so we opted for the military jeep safari and the yacht picnic. The military jeep safari was fun and I would recommend it. The yacht took us along the coastline and was a peaceful relaxing day; however, the secluded beach is just that and is no club med so be prepared to do it on the basic.
I definitely recommend this hotel, I am sorry for those who have had a bad experience but I also think some people have standards way too high. No-ones perfect, if you aren't a very patient person, you'll never have a good holiday anyway. RELAX!! You are on holiday."
- Travel date: Tue 10th of July 2007
The Best Hotel in Golden Sands by a LONG Margin
"My fiancÃ© and I have recently returned from Golden Sands (15/09/06) booked through packyourbags.com (a GREAT COMPANY) and our stay there was made perfect because of the Kempinski Hotel. The Hotel is just in the right spot has excellent facilities and very helpful staff.
The twin rooms are of a very good size with twin basins, double shower, bath, bath robes/slippers; Sat TV (Limited English channels CNN, MTV, Discovery etc) and free internet access. The beds can vary but twin usually means twin double beds. There are a few things that are missing though. There are no tea and coffee facilities in the rooms so I would advise you to take a kettle and cups. The advertised radio in the rooms doesn't exist and all rooms appear not to have the advertised LCD TV's. These may be just oversights as the solarium (not that youâll need it) was also missing and we couldn't find the Ala-carte or Tai restaurants.
The hotel is (whilst still unfinished) is a stunning hotel and I would say to anyone that if your going to Golden Sands then this is the only place to stay, but remember to ask for a "Sea View" room though as "Park View" actually means Car Park View which can get quite noisy.
P.S. The best time to go to Golden sands (weather etc) is in June, July and August as the months outside these can be unpredictable and also the resort is mainly geared for Russian and German tourists.
Have a good holiday!!!"
- Travel date: Thu 21st of September 2006
Best hotel at the Black Sea
"We have stayed in several hotel along the Black Sea in the past few years and this year we found the best hotel ever. The Kempinski Hotel is a new hotel, just opened last year. It has a perfect loacation because it is near the beach but still in a quiet surrounding. We prefer to stay in hotels which are not directly in the beachlife and nightlife and the Kempinski was just perfect. It offers true 5 star services. The hotel rooms are just excellent, they are really large and we had a really beautiful view over the sea. During lunchtime we sat most of the times at the pool bar Sunshine Cafe which staff is just really attentive and sweet. The pool, one indoor and one outdoor (!), are huge. If you are looking for a luxury hotel for a good price then book the Kempinski. It really is worth it. We will definatley come back next year and are even thinking of coming again this autumn or winter for a Spa break."
- Travel date: Tue 29th of August 2006
"We stayed at the Kempinski in August for 7 nights. One first note: the hotel is in Golden Sands not in Varna (some 20 km from Varna city). The hotel is 5 minutes from the beach - nice beach in front of the hotel, you have to pay for the beach chair and umbrella (approx. 10 EUR/ day for a pair of chairs & umbrella). Chairs and towels at the hotel swimming pool are free.
The hotel is brand new and the rooms are nicely decorated. Clean rooms, towels changed every day. Free Internet access in the room (for those who have to work during their holidays). Good choice of food for breakfast and dinner. The dishes for dinner changed daily.
Large underground garage.
If you have a room with "garden view" like we did, don't worry about the noise from the restaurant located near the hotel - every night music stops at 23:00.
On the minus side:
- very few "supplies" in the bathroom - only soap, shampoo and shower gel. No body lotion.
- rooms are sometimes cleaned very late (one time after 17:00)
- even though bath robes should have been in the room, we had to ask twice at reception for them
- staff sometimes inexperienced"
- Travel date: Sun 27th of August 2006
New and shiny hotel, very recommended
"We arrived the hotel at noon, the staff was efficient and kindfull but wasn't so capebale of helping us. it seems everyone are new at this hotel including the staff.
The room was absolutly adorable. The bed was huge!!!
The bathroom was covered with marble, and there was both a bath-tub and a shawer.
The hotel is spotless and clean, and everything shines.
We went their in early spring so the promenade wasnt so vivid as we thought so.
It mentioned that the hotel has a casino but up yuntil now it was closed due to manegment difficulties.
The pool is enormous and beautifull and so is the indor pool.
For conclusion. This is a 5 stars DLX hotel, with vey elegent style, deffently recomend it for others but be sure to come to Varna only from June when the season stars in Bulgaria"
- Travel date: Sun 27th of August 2006
leaps ahead of the rest
"Would stay again if going to golden sands, as it is leaps ahead of the rest we looked at. The hotels is very clean and rooms are a good size and decorated well but try to get a front facing room as the first room given was facing more hotel rooms (not really a sea view if you face other rooms) but they moved us. The reception doesnât seam to know anything but the rest of the hotel staff good apart from the kitchen staff that are very slow. Food was good to ok. The resort had a few good restaurants, probably the ship in front of the hotel was the best, but chefâs change so donât quote me. If you want a taxi for the day to go site seeing it costs about 100 (Â£35) for the whole day, the guy we used was very good and spoke good English, Siso was his name and number 0897966051, he may be good for airport runs as he wouldnât rip you off as some of the reviewers have been."
- Travel date: Tue 15th of August 2006
Never again Kempinski!
"After having visited resently different 3-5 star hotels in Eastern and Central Europe, this definitely fell below average due to the following reasons:
- Apart from the 'bell boys', the service was unsatisfactory for a 'luxury hotel'. As an example, the hotel operates with a taxi company (35 leva one direction), but when I phoned them in before hand to ask for any guidance regarding taxis from the airport, the answers where 'I don't know, Sorry, cant help'. So, on our way to the hotel we ended up being ripped off by a local taxi driver who costed us 75 leva. Also, our flight left at 17:30 and we asked if we could check-out e.g. around 15:00. Eventhough the hotel was only 20% full (and no urgency to get the room available for new guests) they requested 50euros surplus for an extra 6 hours. When I reminded them that we had stayed in the hotel for the whole week, they then gave us the permission to check-out by 14:00. So, at the end, the cost of that one hour from our initial request, was a bad last taste in our mouths from this hotel. The reception staff (and management) would definitely benefit from a training about Customer Relationships Management.
- The food is far from luxury. Breakfast was ok, but not at all to our expectations. The selection was very limited. The breakfast service boys / girls were though very attentive and helpful. We never tried a dinner or lunch there, but saw that in the evenings not many guests were in the restaurant and also an internal staff member mentioned that the kitchen is poor in the hotel! Also the prices in the poolbar are double / triple if compared to the ones at restaurant in the beach.
- Spa was nice, but very expensive if compared to the local prices in Varna. The staff at the spa were also very friendly.
- In the hotel description they advertise e.g. a shuttle bus service and a solarium, but when you ask for these at the hotel, the answer is 'Well, infact we unfortunately don't have that.'. Such surprises could be easily avoided by updating hotel information only when these services are surely in place, and not before.
On the otherhand, the rooms are very new and well decorated, thus overall good for a luxury hotel. The rooms were kept clean and towels changed every day and bed covers every second day. Clearly this for the western environment conscious mind wasn't necessary, but clearly showed the dedicatedness of the housekeeping staff. Also, Kempinski is a bit secluded from the 'busy beach life' and therefore had a certain calmness around it.
Some other hotels (e.g. Admiral) near by looked also very nice, and if we would go to Golden Sands again, we would rather consider them than going to Kempinski.
All together for us, its definitely 'Never Kempinski in Varna anymore...or Kempinski anywhere else.'"
- Travel date: Mon 10th of July 2006
Best Hotel in the Resort
"Had an enjoyable stay at the Grand. It certainly looks very impressive and stands out amongst the other hotels. Could do with a few additions to make it a true 5 star, i.e providing water in the room would be nice and there were no tea/coffee making facilities and we had a Deluxe room, so would have expected that. Golden Sands resort is ok, but watch out for the PR guys who stop you every 10 seconds trying to get you to eat in the restaurants, its really annoying. Beach and Pool area lovely couldnt fault it. Staff friendly and always happy to help.
Be warned as we were totally ripped off by the taxi driver, taking us from the airport to the hotel, should cost no more than 50 LEVs. It was a metered taxi, but he took us the long way around and as it was pitch black and foggy it was hard to tell where we were actually going.
Hire a car for the day too, as there is more to Bulgaria than just a 'plastic' resort, well worth doing. Visit the Petrified Forest if you can find it, we couldnt as given wrong directions, but its only 10 miles from Varna, known as the 8th wonder of the world. Botanical Gardens is worth a visit too and there is a lovely little cafe in there for lunch. Overall, Bulgaria has a lot to offer and I would recommend a visit and would go back again and stay at this hotel."
- Travel date: Mon 3rd of July 2006
Nice pool, same about...
"Lovely hotel in terms of buildings and decor, albeit a bit plain on the walls. The outside pool is a star and is a wonderful sunbathing area.
The food was poor, breakfast was ok but the evening 'International Buffer' was not up to standard and we did not eat there again.
At the time of writing there was no 'Piano and Wine' bar, Thai restuarant and the hotel 'Music square bar was closed 5 times out of 13 nights for private functions. All advertised by the Kempinski as being available!
Indeed, private functions seems to be this hotel's primary focus at this time. As a couple holidaying sun holiday travellers we felt under valued by the hotel.
I our opinion is that a 4 star rating is appropriate to this hotel.
Therefore we can not recommend the Kempinsk to people like us. But for other folks looking for above average sleeping accommodation and a good pool then it is very good. Be cautious and check what you want is the message"
- Travel date: Fri 23rd of June 2006
"We spend 7 days in Varna at the end of may 2006. We found the hotel very nice. The pool area is absolutly lovely, the indoor pool as well. The temperature in the indoor pool was a bit low, it was actually chilly. They explained it by telling us people from the sauna and the turkish steam bath wanted a chilly swim afterwards.
We were a norwegian family with two children and stayed in a junior suite. The suite was like a large studio - one room. The room was nice, the bathroom also but the balconies was rather small. It was our first visit to Bulgaria and we would recomend a holiday there. The Goldean Sands was a typical beach area with bars, tavernas, restaurants , clothing and souvenier shops. The Kempinski was very nice, but you could find good 4 and 5 star hotels in the same area a lot cheaper."
- Travel date: Tue 6th of June 2006
Nice place not only for business but also for pleasure!
"Was now the second time that I was there and there's been quite some changes to my previous stay. They hotel seems now more and more open in full swing, there was quite a conference or something going on.
What is still the same and did not change is the VERY friendly staff!
Hope you all enjoy your stay there like I did and even more so I hope I can go back next time a few days more to not just do business but also relax a bit in their nice pool."
- Travel date: Thu 20th of April 2006