We (young at heart couple early 40’s) visited the Sonesta Beach Resort & Casino for a week’s all inclusive holiday in early March. The hotel sits on a strip of beach hotels on a coastal road about a 10 - 15 minute taxi ride from the airport.
We arrived at the Sonesta early evening and had a trouble free check in. Security appeared to be quite tight, and there was a Security guard posted at the entrance to the hotel. We had organised an upgrade, and this simply got us a bigger room and a plate of 4 apples, so really not worth the money. We were given towel cards, and these are treated like the crown jewels so whatever you do, don’t lose them!
The rooms are very basic, simply furnished, and a little tired in places….not 5* as one may know it. Our bathroom had some complimentary toiletries which were of a good standard and replenished daily. We also had bathrobes and a hairdryer in our bathroom – one of those old ones that sit on the wall. If blow drying is your thing, take your own. Our flat screen TV worked without a hitch and had some excellent channels. This is handy as it’s pretty much dark at 5pm, so watching a movie back at the room is a nice way to fill some time before dinner.
The plug sockets take standard European adaptors.
The resort itself is vast, with 6 or so pools, several bars and restaurants. Brits hang out at the cactus pool which is next to the better of the all inclusive restaurants and also has a book stand where you can swap English newspapers, books and magazines. The grounds are immaculate and are being maintained around the clock. The whole place was spotlessly clean, and generally the staff were very pleasant and helpful.
The beach is, as other reviewers have alluded to, packed out like sardines. You can find a quieter spot if you go to the upper levels to the left of the main beach. The snorkelling is fabulous! The sand pretty much stops at the water’s edge, and then you are at the mercy of the rocks and reef so snorkelling shoes are a must. You can buy them in resort for about £10 sterling, or haggle up at the main shops and pick up a pair for about £6 depending on your skill and patience!
We found the food to be of a good standard – I’m not a fussy eater, but my partner is and even he said he enjoyed it. Three restaurants are open for all inclusive lunch and dinner. One of which – Casablanca – you have to book 24 hours in advance at reception for dinner. You could be on pretty much any kind of diet and find a good meal. Something for everyone. Lovely salads and soups, grilled meats and pasta dishes. An omelette station at breakfast as well as the usual stuff. We were told that the ice was safe and made from spring water, and neither of us suffered any ill effects.
Where the Sonesta lets itself down, is its reluctance to be real an all inclusive resort. This was my first visit to Egypt, so maybe all hotels there operate this way? But the Sonesta made being ‘all inclusive’ very difficult. So many rules for this and that. Certain bars/restaurants are open at certain times, some are pay bars and some are all inclusive. Some serve drinks but not food all inclusive. You are only allowed to drink wine when eating lunch or dinner, so that makes it hard if you are a wine drinker (white/rose and red all pretty drinkable). At breakfast one morning we were delighted when two glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice were presented at our table. Fifteen minutes later we were presented with a bill for £7 sterling. It’s really sneaky stuff, and not very conducive to happy campersl!
There is also the added annoyance of the constant hard sell. Therapy’s, beauty treatments, trips etc. This is by the hotel’s own staff, not outsiders!! On day one they can tell the fresh meat a mile off and really give it the hard sell. They have their sales banter perfected to a fine art and you will often hear them call themselves ‘Dave the Rave’ or ‘Diamond Geezer’ to get you laughing and on-side. These guys walk around the hotel grounds, pools and beach all day long pestering you to buy something and have very thick skins!
One thing to note, is that if you don’t intend to go on trips or excursions, you can save yourself the visa tax at the airport – which I think is about £15.
The evening entertainment is pretty poor and sporadic. Outside of the hotel, the 15 minute walk along the beach promenade takes you passed other hotels and bars/restaurants to the main town. There are lots of shops bars and restaurants. McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC, Hard Rock Cafe are all there too. We liked the Camel Bar – on several levels, two roof top bars and one bar showing all of the latest UK football matches. Most bars were showing the premiership matches including Brit bar The Tavern. The shops mostly sell souvenirs and fake designer goods, none of which are priced and you must haggle. Prepare to be harassed.
Check out time is midday, and you can extend your room until 6pm for an extra £25 sterling or so. We asked for a courtesy room and were given half an hour for both of us to shower and get ready. Our courtesy room flooded, and we were still pestered to leave the room after half an hour despite the room having to be drained and cleaned.
All things considered we wouldn’t go back to the Sonesta, but we did have a nice holiday.
- 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