Helena Sands Hotel
16 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
"My first time to Sunny Beach and loved the hotel. No real complaints at all, the room was very clean and tidy (i had a suite) and the staff seemed friendly enough... the food was fine too. whilst i was there i checked out a few of the neighbouring 5 star hotels like the Majestic and Victoria Palace and whilst in the Majestic i got talking to some Bulgarian business people who work in the hotel trade and were having a conference there and they told me that i had made the right choice in staying at Helena Sands as it's probably the best hotel in Sunny Beach. I'll certainly go again but probably a bit earlier in the summer next time as it was a bit quiet by the end of september."
- Travel date: Fri 19th of October 2007
fantastic spa facilities
"This was our first visit to Bulgaria and we will definatly return. We got a taxi from the airport which was 60 Lev (approx Â£22) it took 30 mins to hotel. On arrival we were given champagne and were in our room within minutes. The hotel is right on the beach and the views from the rooms are lovely. The hotel is 5 star bulgarian standard but i would put it as 4 star english standard. all around the hotel and grounds are beautiful statues and you can walk across a bridge to the Helena park hotel which is situated behind. The food is very good with lots of choice. salad bar and at least 5 hot choices as well as many desserts and cheese boards. Now for the best bit THE SPA. This was the reason we chose this hotel for a complete relaxing break, so on the first day we went into the spa and from the moment you walk through the door it is so tranquil with tealight candles all along the floor and down the staircase. I booked two packages which consisted of facial massage wrap scrub and floatation treatments and the cost of each package was approx Â£53 and we spent all day in spa using sauna steamroom pool and relax room .
The cost of drinks in the lobby bar are as follows pint of beer 290 Lev (Â£1.06) spirits with mixer approx Â£2 but in the bars along resort we saw pint of beer for 1 lev(36p) and most spirits were 2 for 1 12pm-12am. We went to Nessebur for the day, we caught the boat opposite Victoria Palace hotel and were charged 15Lev each one way but found out a taxi is only 25 Lev and we returned on the bus which is less than 1 lev each. I would reccommend this trip as it is a lovely village with cobbled streets and lots of ancient ruins in between the lanes, again the shops all sell the same which is fake designer bags and clothes and leather belts.
I would reccommend this hotel to familys and couples as it is relaxing for couples and on the beach for familys."
- Travel date: Tue 9th of October 2007
Beautiful Hotel in a Fantastic Resort
"Incorporating a breathtaking design, with good facilities (sports, 24hr bar, great pool) Helana Sands is widely accepted as being in the top 2 hotels in the region - and deservedly so.
The Bulgarian cuisine was not to my taste in or out of the hotel, and reaction to the hotel's buffet style meals was mixed amongst guests. Suffice to say variety was no problem, but the majority of the food was lukewarm unless you arrive as the doors open.
Room service is daily, prompt and efficient, and the standard of the rooms is similarly high.
All in all a great resort - the only real problems of note were the food as outlined above, and as mentioned in previous reviews, the staff do on occasion seem to nod and agree to any request you may make whilst not actually doing anything about it, despite numerous requests - an annoying example being when my parner and I arrived late at night after a delayed flight, had our luggage collected by the bellboy and were still in our rooms waiting for the cases 45 minutes later when all we wanted was to get a change of clothes and a shower so that we could get out and experience the nightlife. We even complained twice within the 45 minute wait, with no joy!
These minor irritations are vastly outweighed by the good facilities, cheap cost of living in the resort and great weather and as such I would recommend the hotel and resort to all!"
- Travel date: Tue 2nd of October 2007
Very mixed expiriance
"Me and my husband stayed in the hotel at the end of August.
We were lucky with the weather as it was over 30 degrees almost every day and the sea water was 27!very nice for us,we prefer to be on the beach instead of the pool...
The hotel itself is very good,beautiful building,rooms were clean and pretty big.
We saw the note for the food and drinks,that you CANT bring in the hotel and i think that was ridicilous!we have never seen such a thing anywere and we have been to many places!
The staff wasnt very pleasant and didnt seem to bother to help the guests too much...
The main complaint for us was definitly the food,my husband is still sick from it!!
The quality was not 5* but maybe 2*!!!Bufet was tasteless, food was bad prepared and the same every day almost!
Not to mention the Fish restaurant were was even worse food!
They use cheap ham on everything and the Club sandwich was a parody!
And the last thing i will mention is that im from Bulgaria and i know that there is good food many places but that was NOT one of them!
Thank god for the nice warm sea,but we are not going to Sunny Beach anymore!"
- Travel date: Wed 5th of September 2007
Nice Holiday, but not as good as it used to be...
"Having stayed at the Helena Sands in 2005 we were looking forward to returning this year. In 2005 the hotel was still fairly new and priding itself on being the first five star hotel in the resort. The service was excellent, nothing was too much trouble, staff were friendly and although probably not five star, the hotel was definitely a good four and a half stars.
Although we enjoyed our stay at the hotel this year we were a little disappointed . It seems as though the hotel has rested on it laurals, knowing that it is probably the best hotel in the resort and doesn't have to try quite so hard. Also its seems to have suddenly developed a corporate "attitude problem."
On arrival we were once again reminded how visually impressive and clean the place is. However we we're greeted by a very frosty receptionist. (We learnt as the holiday went on this wasn't just this particular employee having a bad day.)
Ignoring this slightly disappointing start, our first day went well. A day around the pool with excellent service from the pool bar staff, who regularly patrol the pool area taking drinks orders.
Before dinner we went for a walk down "the strip" and purchased a few nibbles and drinks from one on the many shops. On arriving back at the hotel we were stopped by a security guard who came RUNNING and SHOUTING at us. He insisted on searching our carrier bags and discovered our purchases. We were then frog marched to reception where all our purchases were confiscated by the staff. We were told we could have them back when we checked out in 13 days time!!! We were shown a scrappy piece of paper that explained that guests were not allowed to bring in any food or drinks purchased outside the hotel complex. Those that did face a fine of 300 Euros!! This notice was supposed to be in our room but we hadn't and subsequently never did find it. We were made to feel like we had imported Class A drugs!
This put us a on real downer for the rest of the day. It is perfectly obvious why the hotel is doing this....they want you to purchase drinks and food in the hotel were they charge three to four times as much than the shops in resort. When we mentioned it to the Thompson Rep it was very much as though this was pretty much a normal occurence and there was not much he could do about it.
Putting this aside the rest of the holiday was reasonably good.
The pool area is very impressive and spacious. Last time we liked the fact that no-one was allowed to reserve sun loungers. When the pool staff arrived a 8am they would remove towels from groups of sun loungers not occupied. This is no longer the case so if you want a decent pool side seat, it means setting the alarm for 7am at the latest to get down and reserve your sun loungers.
The restaurant was satisfactory. At first you are impressed by the choice of food on offer but after several days you do get a bit tired of the rather eclectic nature of every meal. Also this time we had be very careful about ensuring meat and particularly chicken was properly cooked. Interestingly both of us had upset stomachs while we there and ate only in the hotel (except packaged snacks). We noticed that drinks in the restaurant were the most expensive in the hotel. We asked for large bottles of water, to be told they didn't have them despite the fact the pool bar twenty yards away serves them all day. This means you have to order several small bottles which costs more.
Our room was good with a nice sea view and the daily maid service was excellent. The hotel is positioned at the end of the resort and it much more peaceful. A short walk into the main resort makes you realise that you are staying at the smarter less tacky end of the resort.
Regarding the evening entertainment, the quality was good (compared to the other hotels on the strip). However the Bulgarian interpretations of River Dance and the CanCan were interesting...
We overcame the issue of bringing in cheaper drinks and snacks by ensuring we went to the shop late afternoon with a bag and clutching towels. We would hide the contraband in the bag trying to make it look like we were returning from a day at the beach. It worked for us but you then have to be careful about hiding all your purchases in your room.
Overall the holiday was good but not sure we would return. The Helena resort seems to have become a victim of its own success it now being a little too greedy and standards have slipped."
- Travel date: Sat 18th of August 2007
Beware - they seach you for water!!
"First things first - the hotel has a policy of not allowing guests to bring food or drink into the hotel - a notice in the room states that they may fine guests 300 euros for breaching this policy. THEY MEAN IT! I have a copy of the notice.
I was stopped by the security guard when I was carrying two bottles (1.5lit) of water. I was taken to reception where I was reminded of the hotel policy and told that water was not an exception to the rule. I was told that the hotel has bars, mini bars in the rooms and room service. These MUST be used for all food and drink.
The Tompsons rep made a token gesture of speaking to Reception but to no avail. He said he would pursue it with his boss but nothing came of it.
A few days later my wife and sister-in-law, who had gone to the beach together, were stopped by a guard who asked them if they had any drinks and he demanded to see inside their beach bags.
I spoke to other guests who had been similarly harassed. I also saw the stop/search tactic used on at least two other occasions.
There is no mention of this policy that I can find in Tompsons's publicity for this hotel.
The hotel is in the RIU chain, which is part of the TUI (Tompsons) group.
If you are willing to accept/ignor this infringement on your personal freedom, the hotel is worth a visit.
The rooms are excellent. The hotel is fastidiously clean and beautifully decorated. This cleanliness applies throughout the hotel.
The food in the main dining room is of a good standard; much of it is freshly prepared in the buffet. There is a wide variety of items on offer, about 60% of the choices are there every day and the rest changes each day. Although mostly 'continental' tastes are catered for, there will be something delicious for any palate.
The other eateries on site are fairly good but I did not manage to find an 'excellent' meal. The same applies to other outlets we tried in Sunny Beach, Nessabar and Bourgas.
The pool is cold but very clean and safe. The sunbeds are taken by breakfast time (all nationalities to blame). The pool and grounds are very attractive.
The drinks are reasonably priced, as is the mini bar - at least by British hotel standards.
Evening entertainment is poor. There are almost 200 rooms in the hotel but only 70 seats in the entertainent area. The 'stage' is on the outside terrace and is obscured by trees and shrubery. The acts are very professional but not very entertaining. The live music is 'middle of the road' and mostly in English but there is nowhere to dance. The whole entertainment issue has not been thought through.
The hotel is at the northern end of the bay. This a little quieter and less tacky than other parts of the resort."
- Travel date: Sat 11th of August 2007
NICE HOTEL, NOT AS GOOD AS EXPECTED
"just got back from sunny beach, hotel was meant to be 5 star but would only rate it as 4 star Hotel was beautiful and clean although bit of mould around bath, Food not very good at all.Both my husband and myself had dodgy tummies also other guests, we have never had this problem befor.Read a review befor i booked this hotel and it said that you did not have to get down early in morning to reserve sunbeds , we did not find this the case as you did have to otherwise you would not get one.
Also pool water is freezing although weather was in 30s, so would not advise for children they would have to go to beach a few yards away , although this not very clean .
Nothing to do in sunny beach only walk along promenade and look at the stalls laid out with tacky fake goods, even these not very good , and they are all the same things.
Helena sands at quieter end , but if further on up you get motorbikes up and down all the time.
Also if you dont like snakes BEWARE there are some pythons and crocs being paraded around to have your photos taken .
All in all had nice quiet time around pool but got bored as nothing to do Would not go back"
- Travel date: Mon 6th of August 2007
"We stayed a week at this hotel at the end of June and loved it. We didnt know what to expect having never been to this area before, but absolutely loved the hotel. Our room overlooked the pool and the sea and had a balcony on 2 sides which made it lovely and light. The bed was comfortable and large. We were half board and the food was one of the best buffets we have ever had, and we travel abroad at least 8 times annually.
The hotel is right at the end of the resort, which is a big bonus as it is quite busy and noisy. There are plenty of bars and restaurants to cater to all tastes along the front and it is a nice walk along.
The pool is nice and the spa is lovely. My husband used the gym every morning and said it was fine.
The only bad thing was nothing to do with the hotel. Most of the flights from the UK are awful times. Our flight home was at 6AM but despite this we had to be out of the room by 12pm the lunchtime before! We were just 2 adults, but quite what you are supposed to do with kids for 15 hours until the coach picks you up at 3.30 in the morning I cant imagine. We offered to pay to keep the room but here were no rooms available so we just booked a room in a hotel in Nessebar and went there for a day. It is something you should be aware of though. We booked with Thomson but I bet other tour operators do the same.
From what we could see this is the best hotel in Sunny Beach and we thoroughly recommend it."
- Travel date: Sun 29th of July 2007
"Just back from 1 weeks holiday at the Helena Sands hotel sunny beach Bulgaria.
The Hotel is located at the quieter end of the sunny beach resort, but the hustle and bustle is only 10 mins walk away, there is a mini tractor train that takes you into the main centre for 4 levs, they run about every 10 to 20mins. The hotel is located on the beach, the road at the front is pedestrian only and security guards are placed on each entrance to the hotel complex, the Hotel Helena park shares the same complex and is also of a very high standard
The Helena Sands hotel was immaculate, our room did not overlook the pool but we still had a sea view, the room was air conditioned and very well finished, it had a wide screen TV which had some channels in English.
The hotel has 4 lifts which we never had to wait more than a few seconds for, the main bar is open 24hrs and very reasonably priced, the food at the pool bar was good quality and fairly priced as well. There are two sittings for dinner; 6:00 until 7:30 and 8:00 until 9:30, whichever sitting time you pick you must keep that same time for the duration of your holiday.
I am an early riser so I thought there were ample beds by the pool but some people told me that if you were not down by 11 it could be hard to find one.
Towels and mattresses are supplied by the hotel, all of the hotel staff I met were very helpful and friendly, food in the restaurant is buffet service, it was varied and of good quality.
The hotel also has some designer shops, a well set up fitness suite, an indoor pool and a beauty salon.
I would certainly recommend this hotel or the Helena Park and I will certainly be going back.
Negatives ( mostly very minor) :
The pool was freezing
Wasnât too happy with my seat allocation for dinner, the head waiter sat us at a table for 4 with another couple ( I prefer to dine by ourselves) even though there were plenty other tables free, I requested a change and after a bit coaxing the waiter eventually moved us
Entertainment wasnât up too much, but we tended to go at night so it didnât bother us.
The hotel owns a beach bar which could get a bit noisy during the day, after a few people complained they turned the music down.
My only real complaint was that mid way through the holiday the hotel issued a letter to all of the guests threatening that if guests brought food or drinks ( even water) into the hotel area including the rooms it would be confiscated and they could fine you up to 300 euroâs. I raised this with Thomsonâs who told me to ignore it, but the letter was never withdrawn.
Doâs and donât and Places to see:
Nessebar is a lovely village which sits out on a peninsula at the other end of Sunny Beach, it costs 20 to 25 levs by taxi but there is a regular bus service which costs 0.7 levs
Always get a price from a taxi before your journey, never go on a meter charge
Only change your money at the hotel or at exchange shops which display a crown, do not use anything else
Expect to tip staff, a Â£1 is 2.8 levs so 2 levs isnât much and some of them are working for 80 levs a week."
- Travel date: Mon 23rd of July 2007
"We spent a week at the at the Riu Palace Helena Sands Hotel. This hotel is excellent, the room was superb, ( we had a suite ), great indoor pool, very good restauant & very pleasant staff.
We did not book a package holiday, we booked our flights with thomson and booked the hotel through bulgarian coast, (a bulgarian company), this was much cheaper than booking a package holiday."
- Travel date: Sun 11th of February 2007
"This hotel is lovely, the rooms, the food and hotel decor are 100%
The rooms were cleaned and fresh towels and bedding everyday...
I have just got a couple of things that are not good.
I have stayed in a few 5 Star Hotels and I have never had to pay for the Safety Deposit Box (40lv), kettle for the room (40lv), I thing this not good and these should be included in the price you pay.
Also cause all the flights are night flights you don't arrive until the early hours of the Sat Morn, even though your holiday starts on the Friday..But when you check out you after be out of the room by noon and again if you want to extend it is 15 lev's a hour. We were not getting collected until 13 hours after check out time,I think this is a little steep and this should be told when booking
Came back Sat 19th Sept 2009"
- Travel date: Sun 20th of September 2009
A wonderful holiday made perfect by the...
"A wonderful holiday made perfect by the Hotel Riu Palace Helena Sands, Sunny Beach, Bulgaria (Bourgas)
We went for sun and luxury and that's what we got, seven days of blue skies and a wonderful hotel worthy of the 5 star rating.
Sunny Beach itself isn't for everyone, it is very commercial but don't be put of by that if you stay at this hotel.
The hotel sits at the quiet end of Sunny Beach, a short stroll across the non traffic road takes you directly onto the beach for a dip in the Black Sea, which I hasten to add is slightly warmer than that of the hotel pool.
All staff were very friendly from more senior managerial staff to the ladies cleaning the floors and rooms.
The food was perfect, something for everyone whatever country they were from. If you find fault with the food at this hotel you will find fault anywhere, it was faultless.
Being English there was something to suit out taste at both breakfast and dinner, plus a choice of other foods that one simply had to try. What doesn't suit you you dont eat again, it's as simple as that. Dishes were changed every day so there was no boredom in choice.
Cleanliness was a priority in and around the hotel and as far as we saw couldn't be faulted.
As for the prices of drinks and snacks at the hotel pool they are quite pricey so don't expect cheap, it is a 5 star hotel. If you're looking for cheap booze a walk along the road will probably find it for you, but you'll get what you pay for.
I find it hard to put into words how lovely this hotel is, and funds permitting we will certainly return again.
The busy part at Sunny Beach resort itself although very commercial, at no time were we spoken to rudely or pushed into buying things that we didn't want. A browse in the shops was always relaxing with a friendly 'thank you' when we left, even if not buying.
I can highly recommend a trip to Nessebar, a short bus trip for 2 Lev, (Â£1) either daytime or evening is something not to miss. The old town has many interesting buildings and a better choice of shops than those along Sunny Beach. The locals were very friendly and helpful people.
The local airport is a small but efficiently run airport with a few coffee and duty free shops to pass the time while waiting to board.
Summing up, a wonder holiday all round. The hotel - Perfect.
- Travel date: Fri 12th of September 2008