A friend & I spent a relaxing “girly week” at this hotel between 3rd -10th Feb ’11. This was my 9th visit to Sharm but 1st to this hotel & my friend’s 1st time to Sharm.
We booked on a B+B basis shortly before the political unrest, which began 25th January ’11 &, although it was quite stressful in the days immediately prior to departure, with the uncertainty & scaremongering, we were very glad that we went.
This boutique-style hotel, with only 71 rooms (2 of which are suites) is small enough to give the personal touch & not just at times of guest numbers being low. We had the impression that the manager, Mr. Tamer Gawad (who speaks excellent English), runs a “tight ship” in accordance with the overall design of the Lido in that it looks & feels as though one is on a cruise ship. Mr. Gawad & the front office staff responded quickly to emails in the days before our arrival.
This is staffed by very helpful young men; especially Mohammed who had to endure daily phone calls from me, for a week, before our arrival, with my asking endless questions about the hotel policy in the current situation, curfew rumours & general safety matters in Sharm. He also came to my rescue when I jammed one of the 3 computers in the internet alcove (it was subsequently offline for 2 days!) & gave me a free half hour!
Check-in & check-out were very smooth & there was no problem with a room extension.
There are many steps up to reception, from the outside, but there is a lift, just round to the right, as you face the steps.
I don’t normally go near a computer when on holiday but since the Egyptian text messaging was offline for the first 48 hours on my local sim, & I didn’t want to incur high charges on my UK phone, I did use the email facilities. The hotel charges:
30 mins – 25LE
1hr – 40LE
1 day – 80LE
There are 3 computers, in an alcove, on the right, as you enter reception, along with the reps’ manuals & flight home details. Charges at local internet cafés will be cheaper but I wanted the convenience of the hotel facilities.
There are 2 Vodaphone shops within a few minutes walk of the hotel. Credit was a little more expensive, due to the difficulties in obtaining the top-up cards but it was still cheaper than using a UK phone!
The room was a twin, with balcony, overlooking the bay. The view, as from the breakfast terrace (“Dolphino” Restaurant) the indoor “La Folie” Restaurant & “On Deck” à la carte Restaurant, is amazing. I will leave the photos (link above) to speak for themselves.
We had inquired about having a kettle in the room; it was there, on arrival, along with a variety of flavoured teas & sachets of coffee. We didn’t expect the tasty little snacks which appeared every few nights though, like strawberries dipped in chocolate! The towel art was imaginative & much appreciated too. (See photos)
Maintenance had to attend twice, namely for a blown bathroom bulb & also the flush stopped working on the loo. The problems were resolved quickly & efficiently.
Despite the hotel being smaller than where I normally stay, I still managed to get lost & I had an inexplicable, overwhelming desire to keep trying the key in the room next door but one! Fortunately, my friend’s sense of direction is marginally better than mine; meanwhile, the occupants of that room remain blissfully unaware of how close they came to being 3 in a bed, on several occasions!
Our room was kept beautifully clean, as was the small balcony, from where we supervised the loading & unloading of passengers for the boat trips & dives. This is one reason why we needed the kettle, so we could make a brew & watch.........(someone’s got to do it!)
There is a programmable safe in the wardrobe, which I mastered on the last but one day. Fortunately, my friend is a bit more technically minded, so she was in charge of that all the way through. There is a well-stocked mini-bar (we resisted temptation) & comprehensive laundry service as well as room service. Rooms with connecting doors are apparently available & there is a hairdryer in all rooms.
DOLPHINO RESTAURANT ~ BREAKFAST BUFFET:
Plenty of choice here. We were surprised when the manager apologised for the slight reduction in choice, due to the supply problems that week. We truly hadn’t noticed that anything was missing; the variety of food was fine, including omelettes cooked “al fresco”, on the terrace, with a choice of filling. They must be particularly good as I never usually eat omelette yet I had several that week. Sorry we missed young Samy & his sunny smile, at our table, on our last morning.
Once again, the views from the breakfast terrace were wonderful; a lovely, tranquil way to start the day. (There are numerous steps down to the terrace for some guests but we saw one gentleman with walking difficulties coping admirably with them; the food & views are incentives to cope!)
“LA FOLIE” & “ON DECK” RESTAURANTS & THE BOARD BASIS:
My husband & I have been intending to try “On Deck (the à la carte, floating restaurant on the pontoon, enabling diners to watch the fish below) since 2004! I finally tried it this time & it was worth the wait (menu & photos in links above). Due to the rather windy evenings & low number of guests, they closed, “On Deck” after a couple of days, during our stay, but diners could still choose from that menu, in the rather splendidly decked-out indoor, “La Folie” Restaurant. The menu from “La Folie” was also still available. One gets a slightly different perspective of the picturesque setting of this hotel on each level of the building. “La Folie” is one level up from “On Deck”, but not right up on the roof level. We ate 3 times at the hotel as it was so good. We could have upgraded to HB or AI at any time during our stay & it’s good to have the option.
SWIMMING POOL & ROOF SUN DECK:
There’s a Jacuzzi up here & the heated fresh-water pool, with pool bar. Yet again, there are fantastic views at this top level, day & night. There’s a children’s area too. (See photos in link above)
BEACH TOWELS & SUNBEDS:
Guests are issued with towel cards on arrival & these are exchanged for towels, near the massage tents, which are on part of the beach, at the side of the hotel, next to the volleyball pitch.
A varied range of massages & beauty treatments is available but we didn’t try any this time.
Towels may be handed in daily, replaced with towel cards, ready for exchanging again, next day.
The sunbeds are more comfortable than those in some hotels I could mention & at least didn’t snap shut, giving me a black eye, unlike the one in Paphos, last September!
The beach area is not very large but there is a lovely sundeck, with a heated fresh-water pool on the roof level. It’s easy to walk round the edge of the beach on through the neighbouring ones & round into Na’ama Bay, which I did a couple of times, as a short-cut. It’s not far by road but it’s nice to paddle :-)
SNORKELLING, SWIMMING, WATERSPORTS & TRIPS:
This is still restricted following the shark attacks in late November & early December ’10. The red flags are all flying & the shark towers have been erected. The government directive in late December was that each group of 3 beaches (including the public ones) were to club together to arrange for a speed boat & diver to patrol their designated areas. The government then stalled on the ruling of how to license the boats. With the political situation, it’s impossible to predict how long the clearance will take for this matter & difficult to know how far along the preparations of each beach owner / hotel owner had gone before the current political situation took precedence.
Some people were swimming within the roped off areas & some were snorkeling too. Recreation staff members from the Lido were explaining the recommended restrictions to hotel guests.
Watersports are normally available through the hotel (some were still happening) as are trips.
ATMs, BANKS, CURRENCY etc:
Available in Na’ama Bay, 5-10 minutes walk, depending on which outlet is used. Quicker if you go via the beach as mentioned above!
Due to the low number of guests, this was cancelled just prior to our arrival & didn’t resume during our stay. It didn’t affect us though as we had planned to be in Na’ama Bay virtually every night anyway. Normally, the nightly entertainment includes live singing, a guitarist, a saxophonist, flautist & a Live Oriental Show.
Only saw 3 young adult males during our stay. They looked to be in pretty good condition & didn’t bother guests unless actively encouraged to interact………& I had to do that as I miss all mine, so much, when away.
There was a young white reef heron who came twice during our stay, had a stroll round the curve of the beach & then took off, to a better hunting ground (photos in link above).
The (almost) daily visitor was a striated heron, whom some people called, “Colin”. We don’t know if he is a youngster, but he really isn’t very good at fishing! He spent h…o…u…r…s one day, to no avail. He eyed up a large crab, at one point & then thought better of it. Apparently, he lives all alone, under the hotel jetty :-(
We were relieved to learn that Hassan (Recreation) helps him out & supplements his fish intake on his less-than-successful hunting days. We saw Hassan throw the fish into the water, so Colin can make-believe he’s doing it for real, all by himself! (Colin is pictured in the photo link above). Several hotel staff also ward-off over-enthusiastic tourists who are under the misconception that Colin would love to be touched!
With the hotel not being totally AI it tends not to attract many children, although it does cater for them. Generally speaking it’s geared more towards adults & is exactly what we were seeking. It’s ideal for couples of any age &, despite the low guest numbers, it was still evident that elderly, middle-aged & young enjoy this little place. We both noted that we would be happy to be there as single ladies, whilst feeling perfectly safe. My friend used to be a travel agent & said that it’s one of the nicest hotels she has seen.
Mr. Gawad’s team is a credit to him. They all made a huge effort to wear genuine smiles, take an interest, be attentive & ensured that our stay was comfortable & memorable, despite the fact that they must all have had immense personal pressures & worries in these difficult & unprecedented times.
Would we recommend this hotel?………..without hesitation; it's one of the Hidden Gems of Sharm :-)