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All reviews sailor bar great holiday night all inclusive stay room wasn't ready ice cream animation team plastic waste visiting bulgaria land train the guest relations manager shower cap comedy show for making our holiday soft drinks minute walk to the beach snack bar family friendly hotel
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3 - 8 of 154 reviews
Reviewed September 5, 2018 via mobile

I decided to give this place the benefit of the doubt seeing as loads of reviews said they were skeptical at first but were glad they went. I don’t know if these people were
A) blind
B) very blind
C) very bloody blind
Still trying to figure that one out.
To keep it short and simple, we arrived at the hotel which was nothing like those in the advertised pictures by Thomas Cook. Our room would apparently be ready at 2pm. 2pm comes and goes, “no sorry, please be patient”. We go and eat in the restaurant, bare minimum selection, poor choice of drinks. Not a branded drink in sight, all fake cola, cherry, lemonade etc. Some meat was pink, most fruit was off. All inclusive here basically equates to 1/8th inclusive. Not even joking. Reception bar, half the menu is free, half has to be paid for. Sailor bar cocktails are an absolute joke. Let’s jus say your 9 month old baby could drink those cocktails all day everyday.
Eventually we get told our room is ready, head to our room and the maid is HOOVERING our room as we are walking up to it. She says “one minute please”. Clearly now under pressure to sort our room. When we enter, hairs on the so called clean bed, room smelled like smoke, and our lovely window showed us the picturesque car park, sticks, stones, bins, and dust. Beautiful. No sooner had we arrived we headed straight to reception and told them we weren’t willing to stay at the hotel for the week we had booked. I complained about false advertisement (rooms looked nothing like what we were given), wasn’t all inclusive at all, standard was more than definitely NOT 4* by any means. 1/2 a star at best. We were basically told by hotel manager “sorry but these pictures were from 2014”. Remind me to hand you my passport from when I was 12 when I check in.
Just a joke overall. So we asked to speak to our Thomas Cook rep, best decision we made. Within a day we had been moved hotels, an amazing 5* resort down the road from this shambles. Melia grand hermitage, A M A Z I N G. At a fee ofcourse, but we were more than happy to pay.
All in all we stayed ONE NIGHT at this place, and as the title of my review states, no amount of money would convince me to return!!! I am so glad we made the decision of complaining and not settling for such a poor excuse of a 4* all inclusive amazing holiday get away.
Staff overall were friendly and the hotel manager that we initially complained to, to be honest, did what she could and advised us of how to be relocated. Still unacceptable to pay over £1000 for a standard of living I wouldn’t put my pets in for a week. Just stay well clear, my advice is to pay that bit extra as Bulgaria itself isn’t the most well of country and there are a aALOT of 2-4* hotels that looked extremely disappointing. Just beware guys!

Date of stay: August 2018
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
6  Thank Chanté C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed September 4, 2018

Having stayed in Bulgaria before in a 5 star hotel, we were expecting something close. I’m afraid that the Hotel did not quite meet our expectations. I read the reviews before we left, and I was a little apprehensive, but as we arrived the hotel looked very nice. When we entered at 1.30 pm after being awake since 2am the day before, we were told that our room would not be ready until 2. We were allocated our all inclusive bands and asked to use the restaurant.
Before you go into the restaurant, you are expected to use a hand sanitizer machine. It takes forever to dispense so I thought I may have to press a lever. I spotted a button and tried to push it gently, only to be smacked across the hand by a waitress and be told ‘Your going to break it’ very sternly. Luckily, I laughed it off.
Upon viewing the choices, it was clear that the food choices were limited. Chicken every day. Sausages every day. Chips of wedges or potato every day. A small salad bar, and fresh meet being cooked. Normally more sausages or lumps of pork in burger shapes. The pudding bar had fruit, and some cakes and pastries all of which were o.k. But nothing special. The drinks were help yourself. The choices were cola, orange (fizzy or flat), bitter lemon, soda or plain water, apple squash or sour cherry squash. Not a brand name in sight.
We ate a little and then went back to reception at 2.05pm. The room still wasn’t ready. It became ready at around 2.40. Whilst we were waiting my son went to the front bar and asked for a lemonade, to be told it was 5lev. I assumed that this bar wasn’t all inclusive. We then went up to the room. It looked ok. Nothing special, certainly not a 4star room. The plug points for the chargers were really low, and the toilet seat looked minging. We checked out our ‘mountain view’ which turned out to be a road view with a few trees and another hotel, and some bins.
Tired, we switched on the air con and unpacked while we waited for the room to cool down. We waited, and waited and waited. The air con unit had the power of a crisp bag being waved gently about the hallway. It was nowhere near powerful enough to cool the toilet, let alone a double room.
I decided to take a shower, and the water was powerful, but it didn’t drain properly. Meaning my son had to step into a pool of cold water afterwards. We aren’t moaners, so we just decided to make the most of being away for some father and son time. After a little kip, we went to explore the area.
The hotel is about a mile from the main strip of shops and beach. It’s pretty dark at night, but we decided to walk it. The heat was still incredible and walking along the road by our room, there was an awful smell coming from the bin area. We got our bearings and headed back after a brief exploration of the shops and stalls.
The next day, we booked some excursion with our rep and then decided to head to the pool. The situation here is ridiculous. We just about managed to grab two sun beds by going down early, and witnessed towel covered beds that were left unattended from 9 in the morning til late in the afternoon. I think that the vast majority of those reserving them, were pretty much all German. I think we counted about 8 other English people in the hotel all week. Never mind, I quite like being around different nationalities. I feel it broadens my horizons. The pool was cold. Very cold. It was a welcome respite from the heat. Herein lay the next issue though. To get a drink, you had to go to the nearest bar which was the sailor bar, about 45-50 foot away.
It was impossible to open the door carrying two drinks as well, but the young ladies were always smiling. Here they served you the all inclusive cocktails, of which there were a choice of four. I had a sex on the beach, and a mojito. Having not drunk for a year, I expected a little effect. There was none. I don’t think there was any alcohol in either, and if there was, it must have been about a lid full. Still, there was beer on tap, and it was cold and tasted ok. I don’t really drink beer though. I don’t like wine either.
That day we ate chicken in the restaurant in some kind of sauce with rice. Then I noticed that one of the pieces of chicken was pink inside. So I took a picture. We didn’t eat anymore, but around four the next morning, my son and I were fighting for the toilet. It wasn’t pleasant. I put it down as a one off, and said nothing.
The next day, we visited the Aquapolis aqua park, which was ok, but not worth the money. 5 slides and a lazy river with a spinning pool in the middle. 35 lev each and 4 lev for the locker. We stayed for about 4 hours and got bored. The day after, we went on a Jeep safari, which consisted of being thrown about in a dated jeep for an hour, stopping to be sold viagra honey, then stopping to drink water from a pipe in a hill, firing one shot each from an air rifle, while being sold drinks and sweets, and then being driven to a shed in the woods, listening to some songs in Bulgarian and given a pork skewer and dried bread with veg. Then a sales pitch to buy the dvd of the day (which was closer to five hours for around 150 lev for the two of us) for the bargain price of another 40 lev. The guys were funny, and trying to make a living. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but the Germans seemed to like it, and you got a beer and brandy at the end.
The next evening, we tried the restaurant again, and out of curiosity, I picked up a few pieces of chicken. Low and behold, the piece I cut open had blood inside and a purple patch. I didn’t eat it. The day after we tried the sailor bar, and had a hot dog each. They tasted funny, and both of us had issues early in the morning again.
We tried breakfast a few times, but it was mostly sausages, over cooked fried eggs beans and toast which took about 5 minutes to cook. No butter either, just horrid margarine. I tried the yoghurt, but it was runny and lumpy at the same time. Cornflakes and milk were ok though.
We hardly ate at the hotel, but the town was cheap enough, and when the doner kebabs are more appetising than the 4 star restaurant, then you know there is an issue. We hardly drank at the hotel, as the alcohol was weak and there were hardly enough seats at the sailor bar. The animation team tried hard, but looked tired.
Every night, we both walked into the town, and every night those bins were building higher and smelling worse. We found a few nice bars where we could eat and watch the football, and on wandering through the town, you start to notice a slightly dark underside to the area.
There are lots of ‘adult’ dance clubs and one of the touts asked me if I wanted to see a show. I told him I was with a 15 year old lad, and he said that this was fine if I was with him. We declined, but I found this a little disturbing to say the least. There are lots of stalls selling counterfeit goods, namely t shirts, watches, and rose soaps or ice cream stands. There are also lots of fairground stalks where you are guaranteed a prize. My son shot and air rifle for 10 lev and his prize was a can of lager. Hmm.
We arrived on Tuesday, by Friday we both wanted to go home.
Booking with Thomas Cook, I expected more. I liked the people in the bars that we spoke to, and some of the stall holders were trying desperately to make a living. It’s a very poor area, and some of the workers told me that they work 15 hours a day in blistering heat. This was my second visit to Bulgaria, the first around 13 years ago. My memories of the country have now been tarnished, and it’s not difficult to see that things seem to be a lot more commercial now, and it’s lost a lot of character already.
So to sum up. The food was poor. The drinks were very poor apart from the beer. The soft drinks were ok but not great. The bars are confusing, as I later found out that the main bar is all inclusive, but only for beer and soft drinks from the dispenser. It can take an age to get served here too. They also wouldn’t give my son change to play the machines. The rooms need a good clean, expecially the toilet. We also ran out of paper unsurprisingly. The pool is a joke, but to be fair, the one day they did try to remove the towels a group of `Germans went mad upon finding there towels had gone. I didn’t snigger, honestly, poor sod didn’t move them either, it was someone else. As for the gym, I saw one cross trainer, that was it. We wouldn’t visit here again.

Room tip: Pick another hotel like the Riu Helios
Date of stay: August 2018
Trip type: Travelled with family
2  Thank mcpoeman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
MadaraHotel, Guest Relations Manager at smartline Madara, responded to this reviewResponded September 5, 2018

Dear mcpoeman,
First of all we would like to thank you for taking the time to comment and rate our hotel and you stay among us.The standard hour for the accommodation of the guests is after 14:00 (worldwide and not just in Madara Smartline hotels)
Regarding the issues that you pointed out about the cleaning of the rooms, our housekeeping department have to follow a strict and very busy schedule, especially during the high season, every minutes are very precious for our teams
Concerning the food, the most part of the raw materials that we used in our restaurant are coming from local suppliers and its follow a strict qualitative charter. Because for us the products that we served to our guests need to be the best in terms of quality, taste and environmental friendly.
Abou situacion of reserving seats at the pool, this goes against our hotel policy. We invite all our guests without exception to respect this rule in order to offer to all the best comfort and service possible. Unfortunately, during your stay you may have met some of our guests who did not pay attention to the various written warnings posted around the pool.
Finally, for the lunch in our hotel we offer to our guests the possibility to eat at restaurant, the BBQ and also the snack bar
.As the first Bulgarian hotel chain we always try to provide to our guests the best services and accommodation, if you will visit us again in the future ask to meet us personally to be sure that everything during you stay will be fine.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed September 1, 2018 via mobile

After reading some of the reviews on here we were all a little worried, we had no need to be at all, this hotel was amazing, spotlessly clean wonderful staff and fab animation team.
Plentiful and always replenished never had the same dish twice in a 2 week stay
Yes there was a lot of pork and chicken but always cooked well and presented lovely, plenty of salads and fresh fruit at every meal time plenty of good puddings and always about 6 or 7 different flavours of ice cream
Snack bar by the pool did wonderful chips hot dogs and pizza all afternoon with help yourself ice cream
Some said no diet drinks this is wrong all soft drinks were sugar free apart from 2 syrups cherry and Apple
Not the biggest but big enough and lovely and clean shower was fab and powerful enough hair dryer in the bathroom plenty of coat hangers and a free safe (Just needed to ask at reception for it to be initially open) inside the wardrobe, the only negative was there were no drawers to put things in just 3 shelves inside the wardrobe air con was fine wasn't the coldest but was good enough to enable you to sleep well, beds were the comfiest I've had in a hotel abroad
Well stocked and friendly staff especially the girl in sailor bar who works tirelessly and always with a smile
What can I say these young people work so hard with very little resources a big shout out to yan, ilca an micki who made it this job to get to know us personally and always had a conversation with us whenever they saw us a big credit to the hotel.
Out and about the strip at the back of the hotel was lovely to walk to in the evening with plenty of shops bars and restsurants at very reasonable prices 2 of us had a meal and large beer each for under £12
Excursions are cheaper on the strip than in hotel by nearly half the price
Beaches are lovely but do get very crowded we caught the land train to Nevana beach which was less busy and you get to see the other end of golden sands on the way.
All in all we had a fab 2 week stay and really couldn't find fault with anything at all
Would definitely stay here again

Date of stay: August 2018
Trip type: Travelled with friends
Thank kerrey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
MadaraHotel, General Manager at smartline Madara, responded to this reviewResponded September 3, 2018

Dear Kerrey
Thank you very much for your great review. We are happy to know that you enjoyed the food and your room. We hope that we will see you again next year. Best regards,

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed August 10, 2018 via mobile

Well I read the reviews and saw it was a so called 18/30s hotel and tried to get Thomas cook to change our hotel. The choice they gave me was not ideal so we decided to risk it and go. Well I’m so glad we did as there was not one 18/30s group in site at the hotel it was all family’s with a range of aged children. Please ignore other bad reviews as they made me want to change my holiday. Good points first. The staff a very helpful as we have a daughter with ptsd we had emailed a few requests which where met, we had rooms 122,124 which was tucked away and perfect for our stay. The bar staff all helpful. Ask at the sailor bar for a drink called the charming it’s nice. Snack bar does pizza, massive hotdogs and chips which are all yummy. The ice cream kart where you help yourself is a fab idea and the children love making their own the location is fab, yes it’s about ten mins to the beach but it’s through the town which is full of shops bars and places to eat. Most places are open 24 hours. The beach is so nice and the sea is warm. Beds can be hired at 10 lev 3 for a mattress and another 10 for the umbrella. We had 2 beach days and we brought drinks at the little shops. We also did the parasailing. Everything is so cheap. The lobby is clean and tidy and so are the rooms, maybe a bit dated but clean. The pool is amazing and we loved it, once your in it’s ok and the children are allowed inflatables which is good. The animation team try the hardest but are not to pushy and their party song will be stuck in your head buy the time you leave. My husband Ryan joined in with most of the activity’s and yan waited with us at the coach to say goodbye. The taxis are a good price 60 lev return to Varna worth a visit and pop into the zoo there which is 75p each. The water park is fun and five min walk away, not a who’s day thing so go at 4pm where it’s cheaper to get in. Things are the normal price inside so drinks etc are still cheap. Bad points. Not enough sunbeds which are most days gone by 8.30, one day out of seven the life guard removed towels the rest he left them. The life guard is rude and my daughter had a row with him as he told her the green cushions where for decoration when daily we saw these been given to family’s, the room is very the same no real choice , chips and meat in sauces every day and we craved roasts or mash just something different so we ate out quite a lot which is super cheap a crepe with Nutella is £1.50 a large Kabab £2.50. Large pizza slice £1.50. Pints are about £1.80. Steak places for 5 of us with cocktails cost about £55. Breakfast is better with a range of sausages and ur normal British breakfast items. Toasters need replacing as after three times through where still not toasted. Like I said we really enjoyed our stay and I’ll be reviewing the places we visited. We will be back for another stay in the future. Thankyou for our lovely holiday xx

Date of stay: August 2018
Trip type: Travelled with family
1  Thank Levylavida
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
MadaraHotel, Guest Relations Manager at smartline Madara, responded to this reviewResponded August 13, 2018

Dear Levylavida
We are glad to read that you had a wonderful stay with us.
We are also pleased that you have enjoyed the cleanness of our rooms, the animation program and the quality of our food.
I have passed to the Madara smartline staff all your praises about their friendly and caring attitude and they thank you very much.

I hope to see you again soon
Kindly regards

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Reviewed July 31, 2018 via mobile

Smartline madara well what can i say. Was our first visit to Bulgaria and couldn't have picked a nicer hotel. Dont listen to all the bad review's about how it only caters for the german guests.

We arrived at thd hotel on the 24th july and 38 other guests got off the bus. Check in was quick and speedy and was in our room after no longet than 10 minutes.

First impression was how clean and modern the lobby area looked and once we got onto floor 6 how clean and fresh the hall area smelt. We stayed in room 627 which had a pool view which we wasnt expecting. The room was big and had plenty of space with a large balcony over looking the pool and could see the sea. The beds where comfy and the air conditioning kept the room at a nice temperature.

The hotel grounds again where lovely with flowers and a little water feature which i loved. The pool was a nice size for everyone to use and was cool. There where plenty of sun beds and was pleased to see the rule of not reversing a sun bed was enforced in the morning.

The sailor bar staff allday and evening where a credit and always smiling. A good selection of alcoholic drinks and soft drinks from the dispenser. The afternoon snacks of pizza chips amd hot dogs was always lovely and enjoyed every bite pf pizza.

The restaurant was clean and tidy. There was a large selection of food and as a fussy eater i was able to find something every evening we ate at the hotel and the food tasted lovely. The breakfast had a large selection for everyone i especially loved the pancakes and chocolate.

The massage was the best my partner ever had and the cocktials you could buy at a small rate where brilliant.

All i can say is dont let other reviews put you off we loved every minute of our stay here at the smartline madara. Its a short walk to the beach and the shops and bars.

And last but not least YAN the animator he impressed me with his ability and friendly fun approach. He is great with kids and took time to speak to all the guests knowing everyone's name. He kept the fun and games coming all day and the evening entertainment made us laigh everynight. Make sure you keep hold of him he really makes the stay extra special and fun

Date of stay: July 2018
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
1  Thank Maximusjones87
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
MadaraHotel, Guest Relations Manager at smartline Madara, responded to this reviewResponded August 2, 2018

Dear Maximusjones87,
I would like to sincerelythank you for taking time to write such a wounderful and detailed review.I am delighted that you enjoyed your time as much we did by having you with us.I will make sure to pass on your lovely comments to the applicable departments.We hope that we will hopefully welcome you soon again at our hotel for one again an enjoyeable stay.

Kindly accept our warmest regards from hotel

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