This has been written on my tablet so apologies for brevity or typos.
Flew with Balkan air from Newcastle. Be aware of what it means to do a dual flight. Out is fine but if your the second stop coming back you have to get off, walk all the way round the outside of the airport, go through arrivals inc. Passport control and customs, then leave the airport. Then get a new boarding card and go through departures. This means you have to throw away all the expensive water you bought on the plane and go all the way through security again. Bags searched etc. Such a faff. No one tells you what you're doing or that you need to get through asap to get back on the plane.
Arrivals at Varna airport is fine. Professional greeting so you know which transfer to get. Given a welcome pack, luckily was the first hotel drop off so only took around 35 mins. But as you drive through the city it can take a lot longer.
Arriving at the hotel everyone commented on how nice the hotel was. Its very grand and luxurious. Check in was quick and simple.they scanned the passports so didn't need to keep them which I prefer.
Room was amazing. It was huge with a queen bed, fridge, balcony and beautiful bathroom with double shower and 2 sinks. No kettle or tea making facilities so bring your own (we did.)
We were bed and breakfast so cant comment on all inclusive food, but from our view it looked like an amazing AI with cocktails and ice cream included. Breakfast was lovely with loads to choose from. (Although some left overs from the night before.)
Pool was lovely, with plenty of loungers and pool side showers. Separate small kids bit. There wasn't much of the usual towel reservations of loungers but there was a bit. Best to be down by 8.30am.
The treatments in the spa were very expensive - but the spa area is lovely. the indoor pool is nice too.
The hotel was very clean and tidy - there were always lots of staff about clearing and cleaning.
Staff for the most part were brilliant.
Al a carte restaurant was amazing. Food was beautiful.
I saw lots of reviews saying it was def worth doing (its their VIP package.) But at c. £50 a day we decided against it. The level guests get separate sun loungers and an open bar in the afternoon among half price dining in al a carte, a minibar and a sea-view room.
We decided to treat ourselves on our last day and soooo glad we did. It was worth every penny. I would suggest it for your whole stay. In the new room which is on the 'Level' floor we had a pillow menu in the room where you could order the type of pillow you wanted to sleep on - I chose lavender and my husband chose goose down. Amazing. Plus a bath menu to order bath salts....brill.
We were invited to welcome drinks by the hotel which is def worth going to it. You get plied with champagne and nibbles and the managers just chat to you to see how they can improve things.
Its a seaside resort with little else. Plenty of little shops, restaurants and bars.
Ignore everyone telling you its really cheap in Bulgaria because it isn't, at least not in the resorts. A meal is pretty much the same or possibly just a little bit cheaper than in UK e.g. £25 for 2 mains for 2 people. You could share a pizza for lunch at around £5, but it was hard to find a meal for less than £20.
You can buy cheap beer and some other drinks but that's about it. Its especially cheap in the mini supermarkets (the bigger the cheaper)
Water was cheap enough.
Given this if going back we would go AI but the food in the local restaurants was lovely. There was an Italian next to a cocktail bar where you sit by their pool and the food there was amazing. The ship restaurant was nice too. As was forfriends.
Issue: when we upgraded to the level the staff charged us for 2 days but we were leaving at 2 am for our flight home on the 'second day' so we didn't believe we should pay for services we wouldn't be using. It wasn't simple to resolve as one member of reception has a bad attitude and it took management intervention to see sense. She agreed and waved the second days charge with agreement they wouldn't re stock the minibar which was fine. However when we checked out there was no record of this and they again tried to charge us for 2 days. It took quite a while to sort out and kind of ruined the end of the holiday.
Apart from the one girl with an attitude problem on reception the rest of the staff were brilliant.
Most staff speak very good English, as do most of the locals. The majority of clientele are German, Russian, and many others but very few UK guests. So most shop keepers assume your German but its not a prob.
We went to Varna 1 day. Went to bus stop but the taxis stop and haggle with you. They persuade groups to share taxis and it ends up been as cheap as the bus but quicker. We got the bus back though.
We went to the grand mall which was great but very expensive. After was told there is a brilliant market in Varna which we wish we had gone to.
Our rep was lovely (balkan holidays). Worth going to the reps welcome. Won 2 free cocktails.
Flight home wasn't amazing. Coach went round lots of other hotels before the airport which were all low star and the coach quickly filled up with rowdy groups. This was quite a change to the peace we had at melia.
Flights are basic- take your own entertainment as there are no TVs or music etc. Flight crew were brilliant when a passenger had a panic attack dealing with it very well and attending with oxygen and sedation.
We would definitely go back but would not do a dual flight, would go all inclusive and upgrade to the level.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Imagine a place with a unique atmosphere and service where you can relax and enjoy the serenity, the sun and the sea... Imagine a place that will exceed your expectations... Located on a quiet hill and surrounded by a green park, this exquisite luxury hotel offers the tranquility you are longing for. The 5-star resort welcomes you with stylish atmosphere, quality service and refined cuisine. Lounge on the sunniest balconies, relax in the SPA centre or have fun on the beach with the water sports available. Indulge your senses in the 5-star YHI SPA Centre: exclusive high quality massages, therapies and procedures offer a chance to get away from the stress and enjoy the serenity of your vacations. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Melia Grand Hermitage Hotel Golden Sands
- Melia Golden Sands
- Melia Hotel Grand Hermitage
- Melia Grand Hermitage Bulgaria/Golden Sands