I've been to Egypt 5 times (always for Windsurfing) and this was first time to Soma Bay. I had one week at the end of April 2013 with Thomas Cook.
Hurghada airport was quite efficient - shame they feel the need to charge everyone £15 for a "visa" - just feels like an opportunist money grab. The guy loading our cases onto the coach quite aggressively pestered us all for a 'tip' which was off-putting. Transfer of 45 mins was fine.
First impressions approaching the hotel were not great - a very desolate surrounding area with rubbish strewn everywhere and the entrance to the hotel was a half building site. However the hotel itself is an oasis from its surroundings and the staff were extremely helpful and efficient from the start all the way through to leaving. Check in was very quick and a guest services lady showed me around the hotel.
I was with Thomas Cook all inclusive and I do think this was very good value indeed - especially for the endless bottles of water needed in the heat - all the bars and restaurants had cold bottles available the whole time. The mini bar in the room also is re-stocked every day. Always depressing to me to see people tucking into beer at 10am but that is an option for those that wanted it.
The main restaurant (called Stella) buffet meals were okay - very good overall choice but quality was really varied in the dishes - but this is food on a very large scale so it's tough to have great dishes for hundreds of people at a time. I'm not a fan of seeing the same offerings for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day - such as the salads and cheeses and so on as it gives the impression of the ageing re-cycled food sitting there.
Of the five trips to Egypt this was the best food and best service in the restaurants, but it is relative. The waiters were extremely efficient and helpful.
The hotel is laid out over quite a large area and the rooms are either in the hotel main building or in 3 or 4 story wings. I was on the third floor overlooking the pool area. The room was a good standard - the air con just about worked okay but it this was April and for July it would not have been strong enough. A few of the fittings were tired and bashed about but overall the size and the room was very good with a large balcony - mine had permanent shade which I would recommend for anything other than winter as the ambient temperature was great without being fried by direct sunlight.
The shower was okay - always hot water but low pressure. The en-suite was very nice - very soft towels and all high standard.
All in all the best room/balcony I've had in 5 trips to Egypt.
I'm a windsurfer and the "Big Days" centre attached to the hotel was very poorly stocked compared to centres I've been to elsewhere - it's really much better for kites. Very few decent boards and rigs and I would not go there again frankly.
The lagoon type area is really amazing for learning to kite surf - a fantastic sand bar of shallow water and soft sand - I've been all over the world and not sure I've seen a better place to learn to kite so if this is your thing then I would highly recommend.
The first three times I went to Egypt I had no problem with stomach bugs but last time and this time I got badly affected. This time I was incredibly careful and really kept to bottled water, cooked foods etc.
I got a very bad stomach bug here but I can't say how many other people were affected. I'm actually giving up on Egypt for the forseeable as my last two holidays have been pretty much ruined by feeling terrible for over half the time. I'm 50 and been all the world and generally never suffered much at all so I don't think it's me. My 21 year old son went to Sharm last year and got really ill - as did many of the people on his flight.
Egypt does have a big issue here that really takes the gloss off so you may want to think carefully.
- Also Known As:
- Palm Royale Soma Bay Hotel
- Palm Royale Soma Bay Hotel Hurghada
- Intercontinental Abu Soma Hotel
- Intercontinental Hurghada
- Intercontinental Abu Soma
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