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The Other Side To Egypt
Hilton Sharks Bay (Sharm El Sheikh)
Member Name: MollyWH
Hilton Sharks Bay (Sharm El Sheikh)
Advantages: Very clean, excellent staff, superb facilities, great location
Disadvantages: Food is not labelled very well
My boyfriend and 3 friends stayed in the Hilton Sharks Bay hotel in Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt in May 2006.
This hotel has been awarded 4 * and has 317 rooms.
We mainly booked this holiday to complete our PADI open water diving course as The Red Sea is meant to be one of the best places to do this, and we found that it was reasonably priced to stay in the Hilton so off we went...
Travel Time from The UK
We flew from London Gatwick and our flight took just over 5 hours which I consider to be a relatively short flight to get to somewhere so hot - not like my last flight which was 16 odd hours! Hilton Sharks Bay is very close to the airport and it took s about 15 minutes for the transfer which was included in the price of our holiday.
We paid £575 per person for 11 nights on an all inclusive basis which I thought was very reasonable. We were originally looking to go for a week until we decided that we wanted to do out diving course and we were surprised to find that an 11 night stay was only a tiny bit more expensive than 7 nights so this is definitely something to consider when booking.
Arrival And Check In
We were greeted by the very friendly staff once our coach arrived at the hotel. The staff were only to keen to carry your luggage for you and welcome you to Egypt.
In the reception area there is a metal detector which you walk through and the luggage you are carrying (not your suitcases though) are checked by the security guard who is sat to the side of the metal detector.
The staff at the reception desk were very friendly and during check in, they informed us of their bus time table which ran to Naama Bay and back to only £3 per person.
After a very quick check in, we were escorted to our room by a very friendly member of staff who took us in a little golf buggy (as our room was a little bit away from the reception).
All the staff at the hotel exceeded our expectations. They were extremely helpful and very well mannered. They looked very smart in their various uniforms and I couldn't help thinking that they must get awfully hot in their uniforms. They all speak a high level of English so there is no language barrier.
When we arrived at our room, the first thing we noticed was how clean and spacious it looked. We actually booked a room with a king sized bed but we were given a room with two Queen sized beds which wasn't the end of the world so we decided not to say anything and were still more than happy with the condition and lay out of the room.
The beds were large and smelt very clean. Each bed had a pillow on it and we were also provided with extra pillows if needed (these were kept in one of the cupboards)
In the room, there is a TV (with quite a few English/American channels as well as German and Russian channels) a fridge, a 2 seater sofa, a dressing table, chest of drawers, a large wardrobe with a free safe inside (which we thought was a nice touch as normally you have to pay extra for a safe), there is a bedside table beside each bed, with a small bedside lamp on each one.
The bathroom was fairly spacious and consisted of a large walk in shower with a decent power shower inside. There was also a sink and mirror area which was fairly large and plenty of room to store all our toiletries. There was a hairdryer attached to the wall in the bathroom so I wouldn't bother to take your own if you are staying here.
The hotel provided us with fresh, clean towels every day and these were left on the towel rail in the bathroom.
Also in the bathroom was a small rack on which free toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner and shower gel were provided by the hotel.
Our room had a great little air conditioning unit which also had a remote control! I was pleased to see that the air conditioning unit was fairly quiet when switched on as in some other hotels, the air con can be quite noisy. We found the air con was very useful during early evening when we came in from the pool and needed to cool down.
Each room has a balcony or a terrace and I should imagine that most room have a scenic view, we overlooked one of the 4 pools which was nice. There are sliding patio doors which lead out to the balcony, also meaning that plenty of light was let into the room. Our balcony was furnished with a small table and 2 chairs.
The rooms are cleaned to a very high standard and towels and bed sheets replaced every day. One thing we I thought was a very nice touch was that the cleaners make pretty designs from the clean towels, for example, during our stay we had towels in the designs of swans, crocodiles, boats, little men etc.
There are two restaurants in the Hilton Sharks Bay hotel as well as a bar which serves a few snack food at lunchtime so there is a fairly good choice of food and it is available from 7am until the early hours of the morning.
This is the largest restaurant and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is the only restaurant that serves breakfast which is served from 7am - 11am. Breakfast is self service in the form of a buffet. Breakfast was one of my favourite meals here, purely because there was so much choice - cereals, large selection of fresh breads, cakes, croissants, fruit, yogurt. There is also a counter where there are chefs behind coking various items fresh. These items included fried eggs, waffles, omelettes (various varieties) and pancakes. There was a selection of fresh juices which you could help yourself to. As well as all that, there was also a hot selection in the breakfast area which consisted of items such as scrambled egg, toast, sausages, beans, tomatoes and fried potatoes.
As I already mentioned the selection is huge for breakfast and the food is kept nice and hot despite the fact that it is buffet.
On entering the restaurant for breakfast, a waiter will seat you and will offer you tea and coffee throughout your breakfast.
Lunch starts at 12.30 and finished at 15.00. Lunch is served in Mahfouz Restaurant where is it self service again. Attached to Mahfouz restaurant is a BBQ area, which is on the floor beneath the main restaurant. This consists of picnic tables for you to sit at and there are various tables so you can choose whether to sit in the sun or the shade. This restaurant also serves lunch and food items consist of fresh cooked burgers and sausages, jacket potatoes, chips, bread rolls and a large selection of salads.
In Mahfouz Restaurant food items for lunch include fish cooked in sauce, chicken cooked in sauce, rice, pasta and vegetables.
Dinner is served between 19.00 - 22.00 and this is served in Mahfouz Restaurant as well as in the other restaurant Il Rustico. In Mahfouz restaurant, dinner items include pasta dishes, rice, loads of salad items, fresh bread, fish, chicken, 2 varieties of food so as you can see, there is plenty to choose between.
This restaurant is beneath the main restaurant Mahfouz. This restaurant is somewhat smaller but still serves a good variety of foods. There is a pizza counter here where the chefs make up any variety of pizza you could ask for. I loved this pizza and have to admit to eating them a lot!! They are made on thin bases and have extremely tasty toppings and the best part is you can literally ask for them to put anything on it for you. Also in this restaurant were a large variety of salad items as well as a few pasta and rice dishes.
Outside in the BBQ area, they serve Mediterranean cuisines and about 4 different varieties of curries etc. I never actually tried any of these as I am vegetarian and I was unsure whether they contained meat or not. That would be my only complaint with the food, it was not labelled very clearly and I would have found it very useful if they had stated which dishes were vegetarian and which weren't.
At lunchtime, the Sunset Bar (more about this later) serves sandwiches, crisps and hot dogs so if you only fancy a snack or are down near the beach and don't fancy the walk to the restaurant then you are able to get some food from here also.
On Wednesday nights, the hotel hold an 'Oriental Night' where all the tables are laid out around the main pool and all the restaurant are shut. The food is cooked and served around the outside of the pool and you are treated to some traditional entertainment such as belly dancing and traditional dances. There is a great variety of food on Oriental night and the best thing to compare the food to is Indian but its not as spicy.
The waiters serve you red or white wine or you can get your normal drinks (cocktails, beers etc) for the poolside bar.
There are four bars at the Hilton Sharks Bay.
This, as you would imagine is by the main pool. The bar is fairly large and always well staffed so you are served very quickly. One side of the bar, you are able to walk up and order your drinks and the other side is the side of the pool and the only was to reach it is to swim up to it. There are several seats in the pool which are this side of the bar.
As we were staying on the all inclusive basis, there were only certain drinks which we were allowed to have. These included all international soft drinks coke, sprite and fanta and well as local rum, whisky, vodka, brandy and gin. It was only the international drinks such as Jack Daniels etc that you are required to pay extra for so we just stuck to the local brands which were fine.
There was also a list of cocktails which we were allowed to choice from which we included on the all inclusive basis which I thought was a really nice touch as normally cocktails are extra. This list included cocktails such as Vodka sunrise, Pina Colada and Cubans (my favourite!)
The poolside bar is open from 9am - 2am.
This bar is the smallest of the lot and serves all the drinks mentioned above. This bar is located on the beach so is good for anyone sunbathing in the beach area as it saves a walk to any of the other bars. This only downside to this bar it that it is only open until around 5-6pm.
The Sunset Bar is located down near the Beach and was quite popular as it always seemed to be busy although not unpleasantly so as people tended to talk quite quietly so things were never too loud. This bar had entertainment some nights which consisted of someone singing on the little stage and they also played English music on nights that they didn't have entertainment.
The Sunset Bar had a fair amount of tables with wicker chairs with soft cushions which were very comfortable.
There is also an upstairs to the sunset bar which offers great views across the hotel and beach. Also upstairs is the Shisha Tent which is a great place to chill out in the evenings.
In the Sunset Bar a man walks around asking people if they would like to do a Shisha Pipe. We had a few of these pipes while we were there and I have to say they smelt lovely and didn't taste to bad either. The pipes are filled with totally natural ingredients and include flavours like strawberry, cherry, apple, lemon etc - there are many flavours to choose from and they are only £1.60 per pipe which lasts about 30 minutes. The best part was that there is no nicotine in the pipes so I didn't need to worry about getting addicted to cigarettes again! The man gets the Shisha pipe ready for you and gets it smoking and them brings it to your table and leaves you with it until it is finished, this was certainly an experience.
The Sunset Bar was open from early morning (the earliest we went there was 9am so it might possibly open at 8am) and doesn't close until 2am!!
The Chill Our Bar
The Chill Our Bar was open from 6pm until 2am. Drinks are the same as the drinks served in the other bars but they also have a large selection of international alcoholic drinks for you to buy if you wish to.
The Chill Our bar is located underneath reception and has full air conditioning which is very welcome after a day of sunbathing in 40 degree heat!! The Chill Out Bar is definitely the classiest of all the bars and is furnished very tastefully with nice wooden table and comfy sofas. There is a small wooden dance floor in the middle of the room and also two large plasma screen TV's on which they show football matches and music videos. There is English music that is played in here most nights and some nights they have entertainment such as singers and one night they had a Comedy Night in there.
The Hilton Sharks Bay hotel actually has its own private beach which can only be used by guests staying at the hotel. The beach is reached by walking down quite a few steps or a winding path down hill from the main pool area. There are loads of sun loungers with umbrellas. The beach has split levels with lots of beds on each level and steps between the levels taking you down further. Eventually you reach the bottom level which is the main beach and where the jetty of located.
The beach is a bit rocky and due to the protected corals, the only way you are able to enter the sea is from the jetty and not from the shore but this didn't cause any problems. The jetty is located over the top of the coral and there are metal stairs which allow easy access on and off the jetty. The water is so clear that even just walking along the jetty you can see a whole array of marine life lurking below. Many people scuba dive or at least snorkel from the jetty.
There are four swimming pools located at various places throughout the grounds of Hilton Sharks Bay. The biggest pool would have to be the main pool which has the swim up bar. The pool are fairly big and well decorated with bridges and small islands in the middle of the pool. There are loads of sun loungers with big umbrellas to ensure people that want shade can have it. This area seemed to be very popular and was always busy with young people (20-25) and also the families.
Another pool is nearer the beach and has a small wooden bridge going over the top of it. This pool was quite near to our room and was one of our preferred places as it was much quieter than the main pool and generally people who wanted to read and just chill out tended to lay by the pool. Again, there were plenty of sunbeds here although we did tend to reserve our sunbeds with our towels before we went to breakfast just to ensure that we would definitely get beds together.
The third pool is located near reception and this was the quietest pool by far. The pool itself was quite shallow and had small stepping stones throughout the middle of it. This pool is also located fairly near to the restaurants. I would have thought that this was a child's pool, due to the fact that it is so shallow but then it tended to have older people who read and sunbathed all day rather than children.
Finally, the last pool, the fourth one was located very close to the restaurants. The pool was a fairly good size with a shallow bit and also a deeper section. This pool was quite scenic and had a waterfall in the middle of the pool along with a waterslide which was great fun. I think this was meant to be the kiddies pool but to be honest it wasn't that busy with children although sometimes the slide could get a bit noisy! We also sunbathed here for a couple of days and it was peaceful enough with plenty of sun loungers to choose from.
There is towel station which is located near to main pool. Once you arrive at the hotel, you are given a welcome pack which is full of information about the hotel facilities. In this pack, you will be provided with 2 towel tokens (which are similar to a credit card) If you hand these tokens into the people behind the towel station then you are given a nice dark blue towel to use for the pool and the beach. You can change the towels everyday and then on your last day, just exchange the towels for your tokens which you will need to hand back into reception when you check out.
I did notice while staying at this hotel that it would be a great place to take children (as long as you take great care to protect their skin from the 40 degree heat).
The hotel caters for children very well with lots of children areas such as a kiddies area where they can play with toys, watch videos, colour in etc all under the supervision of the hotel staff so you know they are in safe hands.
As mentioned earlier there is a kids pool which will certainly keep them entertained for a while.
I also noticed that in the restaurant there is even a kiddies section where they have children's table and chairs and even a selection of food to choose from.
As I mentioned earlier, myself and my boyfriend completed our PADI open water scuba diving course while we were in Egypt. We completed this course through the Sinai Dive Club which is a dive school that is located within the grounds of Hilton Sharks Bay. They are a fantastic dive school with very friendly and efficient staff and I would certainly recommend them to anyone wishing to learn scuba diving. Considering they are an onsite dive school I considered their prices to be fairly reasonable and it was so handy them being located within the grounds of the hotel.
Other Hotel Facilities
This hotel has a lovely little Health club with a sauna, steam room and hot tub. Unfortunately men and women's areas are separate so I was unable to go in with my boyfriend but it was still a nice experience all the same and free to top it off! I was amazed at just how clean the health club area was and would definitely recommend it to anyone staying here.
There is a fully air conditioned Gym onsite at the hotel although I have to admit to not using this (I don't use one at home so certainly not using one while I am on holiday)
There is a hairdressers onsite which offers many services such as hair cuts, hair colouring and hair braiding.
This was located near to the Health Club. All massages cost extra but they were all fairly reasonably priced with a 30 minute massage costing about £25. There was a large selection of treatments that could be bought from here so this area is well worth a look for anyone one likes massages!
There is a Shuttle bus service from the hotel to Naama Bay for about £3.00 per person for a return journey. This needs to be pre booked at reception though. I would certainly recommend a trip to Naama Bay one evening.
I would certainly recommend this hotel to anyone wishing to visit Sharm El Sheikh. It is in a great location, near to the airport and near to Naama Bay offering a bit of variety rather than spending all your time in the hotel.
The all inclusive basis is definitely worth the money as you have a great selection of food and drink. The facilities are clean and modern and certainly meet the expectations you would have of a 4* hotel.
Summary: The Other Side To Egypt