42 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog


Reviewed Sat 1st of December 2012

"We booked to go all inclusive here in July 2005. Our first impression wasn't great because at the airport we were directed to coach no.4 by a very vague, harrassed and confused looking rep. We aren't very easy people to please so things weren't looking good. Once on the coach we soon realised it wasn't the right one and we quickly decamped only to find that all the British coaches had gone. The 5 of us piled into a taxi and we were taken safely to the hotel and in fact arrived quicker than the coach. We found the correct rep who apologised profusely and refunded us the taxi fare immediately without fuss or argument.
The holiday itself was amazing. Hotel was immaculate, rooms cleaned very well and regularly. Although the hotel sits virtually on the beach there were loads of jellyfish in the sea and so the pool was a much better option. We're not really ones for joining in with the kids entertainment but the way the Animation team got everyone involved, we actually found ourselves playing waterpolo and beach volleyball with people from all over the world and the Animation guy shouting out the scores (and taking the mickey!) in about 6 different languages. No problems with sunbeds and the pool was always clean and waiting staff came round plenty of times to collect empties and offer refills.
The hotel staff were all very friendly and accommodating, although not overbearing like we have found them to be in some parts of Turkey. It felt genuine and they were really pleased that people were visiting their country.
Day and night there is plenty to do for all ages, even the mother in law enjoyed her day at the Water Park with her grandchildren. Sometimes at night there are people walking around trying to get you to have photos taken with huge snakes and baby crocodiles, but if you indicate you aren't interested they don't pester you.
Hotel food was more than adequate, fresh, cooked properly and plenty to go around.
If you've never been to Bulgaria before - then go. Its still dirt cheap but they dont scrimp on service or customer care.
At the end of the holiday whilst waiting for the coach transfer back to the airport, some Brits were whinging to the hotel manager that their rooms weren't right or that the food was awful. We approached the manager and thanked him for a fantastic week and said we would definitely be returning to his hotel and that we would recommend it to anyone - the look on his face was pure gold - he was so grateful. Would definitely recommend it and would definitely go again in a couple of years to see how things change out there."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Tue 29th of August 2006

The hotel was very clean, the housemaids...

Reviewed Thu 24th of August 2006

"The hotel was very clean, the housemaids work hard and do an excellent job cleaning and tidying always polite. The bar staff were very friendly and always had a laugh with them when you gave them a tip they would go mad and shake their
rattle and shout 'ayeee ayeee ayeee'.

The food was excellent there was very good choices you always had a clean table they would be there straight away to take away your plates so you are ready to choice your next course.

The animation team were very friendly trying very hard to get you to join in the sport activities. Swimming pool was very nice. There were plenty of sun lounges and you only had to walk out of the gate and the beach was there.

There are lots of shops we didn’t do them all because there are so many. Some of the evening shows were a bit boring but we had a laugh. Some of the trips were not very good value for money sozopol & riverboat, varna the gem of the black sea but I do recommend khan's tent it is excellent food and cabaret it is definitely worth the money. This was our first holiday abroad and we enjoyed it that much we would go again.

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Thu 24th of August 2006

Great Holiday at Riu Helios Palace

Reviewed Thu 15th of November 2012

"Stayed at Riu Helios Palace All Inclusive June/July 2006.

This hotel is a 4 star and it certainly lives up to its stars.

Food -Excellent (some food cooked fresh)

Rooms - Excellent (great size)

Drinks - Very Good/Excellent (Not branded drinks)

Pools - Excellent (2) One quiet and one noisy

Waiters - Excellent

Housekeepers - Excellent

Reception - Very Good

Bar Staff - Excellent

We had a lovely room which contained double bed/2 chairs/tv/fridge/dressing unit/wardrobe/2 bedside units and mirror.

Bathroom - Lovely power shower and you could get 6 or more people in the shower if you wanted (lol)

You can sit anywhere for breakfast and lunch, dinner you are allocated a table either first (6 pm) or second (8 pm) sitting which you keep for the duration of your holiday.

Hotel is in a great positioin and in a pretty setting, horse and carriage stops right outside the hotel also the train passes this hotel.

The beach is just across the promenade - Sun beds and parasols are free around the pool area. The beach does not belong to the hotel and you have to pay for the use of sunbeds and parasols, the cost is 6 levs per item, therefore 2 sunbeds and a parasol you pay 18 levs which is roughly equal to £2.50 per item, total = £7.50.

You pay between two to three times as much for food/drink and souvenirs in Sunny Beach, elsewhere is much cheaper for example Sozopool, Nesebar, Pomorie and Bourgas and Varna.

There are some great places to go, we went with a taxi driver to Sozopool, Bourgas and Varna plus the local market on a Thursday. When taxis state a price drop 10 levs, it worked for us and we got a great deal. The taxi driver took us to Bourgas and waited 4 hours whilst we shopped and had a look around. (great value - much cheaper than organised via the rep and you can come home when you want and go where you want)

We went with friends who stayed for one week only, we stayed for two. Met some really nice people and some not so nice.

The hotel has signs which state the following:

No balls in pool
No towels or personal items to be put on sunbeds to reserve
No diving in pool
No food to be taken out of restaurant

All the above rules were flaunted and there was no one to see that these rules were adhered to.

The Germans were putting towels on the beds at 6 - 7 am and also the British did. Some of the Germans were really rude and pushed in queues whilst waiting in line to get your food.

We went with Portland and saved £60 compared to Thompson.

If you like Turkey you will almost like Sunny Beach - very similar to Marmaris although the weather is not as good as Turkey.

We had the worst 2 days they have had in years, thunderstorms, lighting and very very heavy rain which some hotels could not cope with. Ibreostar 4 star across from Helios Palace had about 30 buckets to catch the rain in their reception area, some hotels were flooded and also we heard various horror stories of being flooded in Golden Sands and Ozbor etc.

We would certainly come back to Bulgaria but we would go to Golden Sands to see the other side of Bulgaria.

The only bad memory was having a 19 hour 45 minute delay and Thompson not really keeping us in the picture has to what was happening.

Go enjoy and take loose clothes to wear - you will need them with all the lovely food they serve.

If you require any further information send me an email at:
[email protected]"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Sun 23rd of July 2006

Not a bad Hotel

Reviewed Wed 12th of December 2012

"We stayed at the Riu Helios in Sunny Beach for 2 weeks in Jun / Jul 2006. First impression of the hotel when you arrive is that it is very clean. You are greeted by a porter who will take your cases to your room if you wish. The reception staff spoke excellent English and were very friendly... Although their sense of humour leaves something to be desired (lost in translation probably). We had a room on the 5th floor and had paid for a sea view. The view was predominantly of the other side of the hotel, but the view of the sea was ok. The bedding doesn't fit the beds properly, the air conditioning is a joke (I will talk about this shortly) but everything else about the room is fine. We had an adjoining door between our room and the next which allowed a lot of noise to travel between the rooms, we could here our neighbours running taps and switching lights on. The food in the restaurant was excellent for the first week or so but it seemed to lower in standard towards the end of our holiday (The food was not warm enough for my liking and I even had a meatball which was still raw in the middle). You are allocated a table for your evening meal which you must sit at for the duration of your holiday. If you are traveling as a couple then there are plenty of tables for 2 people so you won't have to share with anyone. THe biggest fault with this hotel is the air conditioning in the rooms. It just isn't proper air conditioning, if it warm outside then you room is warm as well. We complained 4 times in total and were given a range of excuses, but the 4th time we complained gave us the real explanation. I told them that temperature in our room was 28 degrees which just isn't acceptable and I was told that English people want the rooms cold and the German people want the rooms hotter, so they had set the air con in the rooms to be 3 degrees below the air temperature outside. THIS ISN'T PROPER AIR CONDITIONING!! The temperature while we were there ranged from 28 - 38 degrees we were sweating in our room for the most part. The evening entertainment in the hotel is the worst I have ever come across, and believe me, I know not to expect a lot. The entertainment team just dance and mime to bad recordings played over a bad sound system.

The resort itself is very busy on an evening. Lots of bars and restaurants. You constantly get asked to go into bars and restaurants by the PR people, some of them even follow you down the street. The shop owners pounce on you the minute you look at any of there items and seem quite offended if you just want to browse. The public toilets in the bars and restaurants are the worst I have ever come across. The floors are soaking wet there is usually no toilet paper and no means of washing your hands. And to round it all off there is usually a charge to use them. This applies to both male and female toilets although for the most anyone uses any toilet.

Food and drink is very cheap, most places giving you 2 for 1 on cocktails, meaning you can get 2 cocktails for about 6 - 7 lev (£2 - £2.50). We found that a really good night out could be had for about £25 for 2 people.

Although we had a good holiday, we will not be returning to the Riu Helios again. For what we paid I would at least expect air conditiong that works properly in the room.... maybe if I was German....."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Thu 6th of July 2006

Fantastic hotel

Reviewed Sat 13th of October 2012

"Fantastic hotel. Excellent position. Staff very friendly. Food outstanding. Very very clean. Would reccommend this hotel."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Thu 29th of June 2006

Originally we had booked, through Thomso...

Reviewed Mon 5th of June 2006

"Originally we had booked, through Thomson, the hotel Miramar at Obzor Beach as we wanted a quiet holiday. However it was not completed and so we were re-located to the hotel Helios at Sunny Beach.

The hotel was clean and the rooms spacious with safe and fridge. The staff were friendly and obliging and the facilities excellent. There were always plenty of sun longers around the two pools but it was also easy to get to the beach.

Sadly after a couple of days the food became repetative and the drinks varied in quality, wine and lager very, very weak tasting. In the end we ended up eating out in order to get some decent food and drink.

Holidays are always a personal thing with some people enjoying hustle and bustle whilst others prefer a quieter location. We wanted the latter and got the former so the following comments are from somebody who does not enjoy busy places. Sunny Beach had a main road running alongside it, this is lined with a myriad of stalls all selling the same counterfeit goods. There are tattoo parlours everywhere and people pestering you to buy dubious fruit every step of the way. This is also accompanied by the restaurant owners harassing you to dine with them.

Day and night there are golf buggies zooming in and out of the pedestrians and are really an accident waiting to happen. Incidentally the small print on our travel insurance did not cover any injury caused by a golf buggy. There are also men walking up and down with pythons and small crocodile touting for picture poses. When these poor creature are not in use they are stuffed into hold alls. I saw 2 snakes and 1 crocodile shoved into one such hold all.

Be very wary about drinks and cigarettes and always look for the seals or caps to be broken on popular brands such as Coke and Heinken, some places place counterfeit replacement in genuine bottles. Never buy a packet of cigarettes unless it has an official seal on the packet. The best way to travel is by bus but you will constantly be pestered by taxi drivers whilst you wait at the stops.

As in previous postings do not believe a word any Thomson Representative says and don't expect them to be very helpful, you are told, "Sorry, don't know, but look in the Thomson Guide."

We actually visited the last week of may and first two days of June but everybody says that during the peak season the place is heaving full. My advise, if you enjoy a busy holiday with plenty of sun and beach you will love it. If you want some peace and quiet stay well away."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Mon 5th of June 2006

The hotel was immaculate, constantly cle...

Reviewed Tue 14th of February 2006

"The hotel was immaculate, constantly cleaned, we couldn’t fault the place. Staff are friendly and helpful. The food was excellent, something for everyone with a huge choice of salads, main courses and desserts to die for.

There were plenty of sunbeds for everyone, no rush to get your towel on one at the crack of dawn, which was nice as it was Whitsun week and very busy. The pool was lovely and clean too. Towels were free, exchange for card then change as often as you like and return either the towel or card to reception at the end of your stay.
Hot and cold drinks were available, self serve or bar service all day.

There was a bit of difficulty getting served at the bar on the night with everyone getting 20 drinks at a time rather than keep going to the bar. I only wanted coffee most times and certainly didn’t want more than one at a time!

The hotel is right on the promenade running the length of the beach. The promenade is lined with market stalls selling fake designer gear. Beware the photographers in the costume stalls, the photo is cheap enough but they take more than one and they are so good that you don’t want to leave any of them behind. We ended up buying the whole pack, but they are very, very good and something to treasure. The beach is gorgeous, soft sand and lined with sunbeds and umbrellas.

We hired a surrey to pedal along the promenade as its a very long walk and one night we hired a bicycle.

There's not much to do in the resort if you're looking for clubs. There's only one in the shopping centre, and a few bars around the resort. We just walked along the prom every night, a little chilly in the evening but still very pleasant. We needed our cardigans.
There's a little land train that goes round the resort if you want to see what’s there. We were happy just chillin' by the pool and eating. Weather was hot when dry but it does rain occasionally.

We went on the jeep safari........wonderful, quad bikes, horse riding, shooting and the ride itself into the hills was a great experience. There's a guy sits on top of one of the jeeps filming everything which you can then buy back at the hotel.

We would love to go back there but its much more expensive this year now more and more people are discovering Bulgaria.

A 'must go' is the town of Nessebur just round the coast. We had a taxi which also came back for us at a given time, but you can easily get the bus. The reason we got a taxi was cos we couldn’t find the bus stop. Nessebur is a really old town with wooden houses. There is a little museum there which has traditional costumes in. Its a converted house which was donated for the purpose. We basically wanted to see what it was like inside the house.

All in all, a brilliant clean hotel and a clean new resort which will fast become spoilt if they continue building at the current rate. We will definitely go back before they go Euro.

Loved it!!"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Tue 14th of February 2006

I went to Sunny Beach with my Partner an...

Reviewed Fri 27th of January 2006

"I went to Sunny Beach with my Partner and our Friends. When we arrived at the hotel we thought WOW very nice nothing like the picture on the internet but it was nice the rooms were lovely.

I would say the entertainment was not that good at all but it was nearly the end of season so don't book in Sept as most places are closing for the winter which we were not advised.

We went to Thomson’s welcome meeting bad mistake they told us a pack of lies DO NOT TRUST them.

The pool was very cold but been on a lot of holidays and the hotel pools are always that cold

Hotel food was very nice salads were very nice. Fruit was very nice. Drink wasn't that bad either.

Off Road Adventure simple not worth the money you pay for it.

Varna was rubbish Dolphin Show good but the trip was not worth the money. (Rip Off)

The best one was Khans Tent brill well worth the money.

There were a lot of Germans at this holiday that weren't that nice either.

Apart from that the holiday was good.
Beach was lovely.

You don't have to tip that much 2lev or even 1 lev at least they get 1 and they will respect you even more.

Overall the holiday was good I would recommend that you earlier on in the year, but in September."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Fri 27th of January 2006

A good clean, friendly hotel. Staff can...

Reviewed Thu 26th of January 2006

"A good clean, friendly hotel.
Staff can not do enough for you they are so pleasant. The food does get a little repetitive (but that is to be expected) But it was hot, presentable and edible.

I am disabled and a wheelchair user. On arrival I was unable to get from the driveway into the hotel because of the kerb being high and not slanted. I mentioned this to our First Choice rep, Marianne. What an excellent young lady she was, and brilliant at her job too. On the same day as we arrived, she had the slight problem rectified and a piece if wood was made into a ramp and permanently fixed into the driveway and the kerb for all to have access into the hotel; wheelchairs, motor scooters and push chairs.

If you get the chance go to "The Gypsy Tent" the meal is nice entertainment good, and the sun setting view is beautiful (take a camera) My one downside to the holiday was that I was mugged the day before we came home. I was in my motorised wheel chair on the promenaded attempting to get through the crowds that were stood looking up at the bungee jumping. I was punched from behind and knocked over, and robbed of my handbag from a man on a bike, who had obviously been trailing me and my Aunty and waiting for the opportunity to pounce so to speak.

Please take great care, of your belongings and do not carry your valuables with you. I can say this with hand on heart, I can feel for the young man from Liverpool who has been imprisoned for x number of years, his parents too, as I was an innocent party and the Bulgarian police made me feel so intimidated and scared, as if I had committed a crime. My husband was not allowed to come in with me while I was being interviewed via an interpreter by a women plain cloths police officer, who spoke to me one word syllables; sit, (I was sat!) name, write, English, Hotel, room. Very very scary indeed.

However, Bulgaria is a wonderful country everywhere is so clean, and the people so friendly, weather was so hot, but goes quite cool at nights.

If you do read this and decide to go, have a lovely holiday, and don’t let my one blip put you off......Go for IT

Regards to all
Radcliffe Manchester."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Thu 26th of January 2006

We went to Bulgaria not knowing what to...

Reviewed Thu 26th of January 2006

"We went to Bulgaria not knowing what to expect.

This was our first holiday in Bulgaria, the hotel was lovely, exceptionally clean and the staff were fabulous, very friendly and couldn’t do enough to help, the bar staff and entertainment staff were absolutely fantastic, they couldn’t do enough for us and the entertainment was first class.

The Restaurant was always busy and the food was basic but very nice, Not much choice at the bar though, just the basics again.

The hotel was almost on the beach and there were beach bars all along the front, with bars all around the hotel and we were on a busy street but there was no noise at night.
A very nice holiday with lots to do."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Thu 26th of January 2006

We have just got back from this hotel it...

Reviewed Wed 31st of August 2005

"We have just got back from this hotel it looks nice from the front. As it was very dark when we arrived. But next morning when we look around there was nothing, no more hotels anywhere to be seen.

The pool was very very cold indoor pool not clean and to small beach very very dirty.

On our second day we both had tummy bug mine lasted until I got back. There was no town to walk to and we were 40 min ride to sunny beach were all the night life was.

We did not enjoy this holiday and would never go back as we love the sea, I could not get in with out being knocked back by a wave.

We wish we had been told that we was not close to any nightlife. But the staff in hotel was very nice.

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Wed 31st of August 2005

Hell - With Bedrooms

Reviewed Sat 1st of December 2012

"As a foreigner now living in Sofia, Bulgaria, I planned my weekend at Sunny Beach (Black Sea) like a pro. Flights, Transfers, the Works...

What an utter and complete disappointment this hotel is!

For starters, the hotel does not offer transfers from Bourgas Airport (or any airport for that matter). You have to take a taxi (which costs up to BGN60 one way).
Upon arrival, I had to drag my luggage to reception, right past 3 bell-boys standing looking on.
Check-in took 15 minutes (unheard of by hotels of international standard).
The room was comfortable and the shower divine, but that unfortunately is where the luxury ends.
Drunken youngsters roam the hotel passages and bang (almost breaking) doors down in the middle of the night. Good luck calling reception and getting them to do something about it - In typical Bulgarian attitude you are told that they cannot do anything about that.

Also good luck to you for finding a place next to the pool. Although hotel regulations state that no-one may 'book' a lounger next to the pool, there are always towels on the deck-chairs but the occupants no-where to be seen for hours on end (and that at 09:00 in the morning!)
I took the liberty of removing some of the towels and calling the life-guard over to tell him what I did and reminding him of the rules of the pool. His attitude was - 'Ok - We shall see what happens.' The owner (a rude German couple arrived) and I ended up in a conflict situation with no support from the life-guard.

The food is sub-standard. The main dining room offers buffet style food - as tasteful as a piece of cardboard box. Also, breakfast is served only until 10:00 and dinner ends at 21:15 (that's when all the food is removed by the staff - Heaven forbid you're still busy with a salad for starters because your main dish will have to be a bread roll with butter.
I had to set an alarm (on my vacation????) so I could make breakfast.

The hotel has no idea what all-inclusive means, and don't be fooled by advertisements stating that. You can have free soft-drinks but any liquor not Bulgarian is at a charge.

I informed the reception staff of my check out time the night before. Yet again, there was no one around to help me with my luggage.
Also, I asked reception to call me a taxi and to negotiate a fixed rate (if you speak Bulgarian, then its no problem getting a fixed rate taxi). I was told in a rude manner that the hotel can order me a taxi, but after that, I was on my own.

So, in summary. For your own sake and sanity, avoid this hotel. I guarantee you that the time you spend there will be as pleasant as a root-canal."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Sun 24th of July 2005

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