First let me preface this by saying that I have stayed in numerous 5 star hotels around the world so I have experience in what the 5 star rating means. Also I understand that in certain countries, their star rating is higher that what the UK equivalent would be. We paid £700 odd each for 1 week so we did expect a reasonably high standard.
We stayed for 1 week commencing 25th June to 2nd July. Upon arriving around 11pm, we were the only people to get off the Thomas Cook bus to stay at the hotel and I was a bit let down by the appearance of the entrance as the previous hotel we dropped at (Xperience Kiroseiz Park) was quite grand. Anyway, we checked in at the dated and old fashioned reception. We were given our room key (2724) and told our bags would be taken to our room and that we should go and have something to eat at the hotel they had kept open for us. We were hungry so we were happy that there was food. This was in the Casablanca restaurant which is also old fashioned and dated and when we got there, it was simply small lamb burgers, chips and bread. We ate it, didn't think it was particularly warm or special and went back to reception to be taken to our room. The walk was about 15 mins and we were overlooking the cactus pool. This is where all the British people are placed.
The next day we missed our meeting with the Thomas Cook rep due to a mix up in local time so we never had any dealings with him/her so can't say if they were helpful. It was 9:50am so we thought we would get some breakfast as they stop allowing people in at 10am for breakfast. We got in and were told to "hurry up and get something" as it closed at 10am. I didn't think we would be rushed, I just thought they would stop letting people in at 10am but would allow those inside to finish their breakfast without hurry.
As it was 10am, we couldn't get any sunbeds at the cactus pool so spent our first day at the Blue Wave pool. This is where the majority of the Russian guests are and also where the animation team are housed. Blaring music is not what I would call relaxing for your holiday. Every 10 mins, we were pestered by someone asking if we would like to join aqua gym or play darts or play water polo. We were also pestered numerous times by people from the beauty salon, the health spa, the indian restaurant, excursions etc.
Our room was very big, a family room I think with a super king size hard and uncomfortable bed, bathroom, separate dressing area, separate bedroom with bunk beds and living space and balcony. The balcony was fantastic was a beautiful view of the mountains and sunset in the evening. On our first morning, my boyfriend noticed blood on our bedsheets. We both checked ourselves and none of us had been bleeding so I can only assume the bedsheets were not clean when we got there. The room is dated but adequate. Not overly clean with dust on the table and skirtings.
Food - The only thing that is included in your "all inclusive" is the Citadel buffet, Le Dome buffet and Casablanca which you have to book in advance. The indian and La Gondola italian you need to pay for; you get a 20% discount. The food at the buffet was lukewarm, often repetitive and bland. We did always find something to eat but the variety was very poor. The wine ( I had Rose) was also horrible and warm. We decided because the buffet was so poor to try the indian and la gondola. Both were fine, but not "a la carte restaurants" as expected - you were just given a menu. The wine was somewhat more drinkable here. Very reasonable prices.
Staff - Most that I encountered, and this was few and far between because they all seemed to address my partner and totally ignore me (i.e. "Hi sir", "have a nice day sir", "how are you sir") were nice enough. The bar man at the cactus pool was a bit strange and said to me one day as I went to get us drinks, "You should put on some weight, be a bit fatter". I thought this was a bizarre comment and a bit inappropriate. The cleaner, Sherif, was a nice man and remembered both of our names and always ask how we were. The gardener people also do a good job of keeping the gardens tidy. A lot of the staff don't speak good english so don't really understand you which is frustrating.
Illness - Both my partner and I became ill during the holiday. We have been home 48 hours and I am still violently ill with upset stomach and sickness. I think this may be due to ice in the drinks or the way the salad was washed. Also there are a lot of flies around the restaurants and the food was never piping hot.
Entertainment - The animation team are annoying and the entertainment at night is laughable. I know it is geared towards all nationalities but it is just so bad it is cringeworthy. The only bars open are the pool bars or the lobby, which you also have to pay for. The pool bar, especially the blue wave pool bar was roasting hot at night and you could not get a seat. Also there was no atmosphere. We found ourselves bored at night with nothing to do. We had an early night most nights. Also the cocktails are ones you will never have heard of and are not very good. They don't serve wine outside the restaurants and the spirits are watered down. The beer is also terrible.
Beach - Don't bother going. The sunbeds are practically laid on top of each other giving you no private space and the beach is tiny and not very nice.
Overall opinion - As I said above we paid £700 odd each for a week. I am so disappointed at how poor this hotel is. The whole place is dated and old fashioned. Boring at night, bland and lukewarm food and drink and the tag "All inclusive" is completely misleading and all inclusive implies that everything is included however you get there and hardly anything is included. The best thing about the holiday was the weather, roasting hot and I was honestly looking forward to going home which is not like me at all. The fact I was so ill didn't help. Being pestered constantly is not my idea of relaxation and the hotel should stop this. The hygiene at the restaurants also needs looked at. Having flies landing on food and tables is not hygienic at all.
Would I recommend this hotel? Absolutely not. I can only imagine the people rating it excellent or very good have never been to proper 5 star hotels before or have very low expectations of a holiday.
Please feel free to message me to ask any questions. I am a very frequent reviewer on this website and others so I am not just writing a bad review because I feel like it.
Tips - 1. Take mosquito repellent. I bought wipes from a store called Home Bargains, they are called Xpel mosquito wipes and these kept bites at bay, I only got 1 and usually I am eaten alive.
2. If you are british, or even if you aren't and just prefer a more relaxing pool, ask for a room at the Cactus pool.
3. Avoid the hotel altogether. However if you have booked, please don't expect 5 stars. I would give it 2 stars at most.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Sonesta Beach Resort & Casino Sharm El Sheikh, stretching across the sands of Naama Bay, overlooks the Red Sea and South Sinai desert and mountains. The resort's traditional Arabic domes and archways form a village-style ambiance. The resort offers a private beach for the world's best scuba diving in the Red Sea's legendary waters, and seven swimming pools for relaxing laps in the sun. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Sonesta Beach Resort And Casino
- Sonesta Beach Hotel Sharm El Sheikh
- Sonesta Sharm El-Sheikh
- Sharm El-Sheikh Sonesta