The Diamond Beach neither excels nor under-performs in any particular department with the exception of poor a la carte dining, appalling red wine and low public space to guest ratio. For the money however, it is an absolute steal and can easily be recommended. Read on for the detail.
Located one quarter of the way from Side back towards Antalya airport or around 35 mins by car from the airport, the Diamond Beach sits in a second-row position in a cluster of hotels in the newly developed coastal strip known as Gundogdu. Immediately in front and flanking either side of the path to the Diamond's private stretch of beach and its beach bar are the Royal Atlantis hotel and very fine Amara Beach Resort. There is a free beach bus laid on by the hotel three times per day but the walk is less than five minutes (take the exit from the pool area turn right up the hill then first left all the way down to the beach).
Immediately outside the hotels are several covered streets of shops selling the usual fake designer clothing, watches, bags, etc. with a couple of shops for basic provisions. We had not expected such an extensive shopping amenity on the hotel doorstep. We found the prices significantly lower than central Side. There are also numerous barbers and massage parlours. The going rate was 5 Euros for a hair cut, 3 Euros for a shave and 12 Euros for a 45 minute massage.
Dolmusses run to Side and to Manavgat every 10 minutes or so and cost 3.5 Turkish Lira single. There are also daily trips to Antalya bookable at nearby travel agencies that pick up from and return you to the hotel for 10 Euros (23 TL).
The beach is vast but, like the pool area, surprisingly densely packed with hotel sun beds. It is easy enough to get away from the crowds at the cost of being further away from the all-inclusive outlets. The beach bar offers pizza, chips, kebab and salad from 12:30 until 3:00 then a selection of sweets things from 3:45 to 16:30. However, at the first suspicion of cloud the next day, the food offering is withdrawn from the beach bar though drinks are still served.
The main buffet restaurant is on the lowest floor and faces to pool area. There is popular outside dining area (read get there early and occupy a table). The buffet fare is more than acceptable though a little chaotically arranged with salty soups, salads, a cooked-front-of-you daily special and other main courses that may have appeared in a different form on a previous occasion together with some of the best sweets I have ever encountered in a hotel - creme caramel, baklava, kataifi, flambe bananas, jellies, mouses, tarts and cakes. The evenings feature excellent outside grills and curiously, pasta fried to order.
Drinks in the dining room are waiter service to the table, elsewhere they are from the bar.
There is free wifi in the lobby area only. The password can be found on the German-language and generally inaccurate information sheet given at the time of check-in.
As is common with a mainstream hotel, the main noticeable compromise is the low space-to-guest ratio. This manifests itself with queuing for everything and a shortage of tables, seating and sunbathing area at peak times, e.g. for the coffee machines and freshly-cooked eggs around 9:00 at breakfast, around the pool, pool bar, beach and beach bar either side of lunch, the first hour of dinner and in the main lobby bar after dinner. If you prefer a quieter, more leisurely experience then avoid peak times and places with an early breakfast, late lunch and dinner (at least an hour after opening), use the pool bar at night, the beach bar on a cloudy day etc.. Just think what the crowds are doing and head the opposite direction.
From other reviews, I had feared that the Russians had taken over this hotel. I can report that this is not the case so while the majority German guests may fight to be first into meals and reserve their sun beds at dawn as is their endearing holiday tradition, at least they do not empty the buffet displays wholesale and take their sun beds to their rooms overnight as some Russian guests are known to do.
Staff generally speak German even when I speak Turkish to them. It is true that many of the staff have a very limited command of English but all those in the critical front line positions speak English well enough. A few words of Turkish usually go a long way when the average guest appears very rude to them with their lack of Ps and Qs.
The guest rooms are fine and fairly typical of a modern Turkish hotel with just a few minor variations. The seating area/extra bed is essentially taken off the balcony so that the resulting balconies are very small - barely two seats wide. The only exceptions to this are the rooms around the 'quiet pool' on the road side of the hotel which appear slightly larger and have full-sized balconies. The floors are laminate rather than carpet, the mini-bar is kept replenished with two large bottles of water (only) and there is a safe but comes at an extra charge.
One irritating aspect of the room is that the TV is programmed to switch on each time you enter the room and place the key card in the energy-saving slot.
Talking of energy-saving, most lighting in corridors and public WCs around the hotel is controlled by movement detectors on an overly-zealous timer setting. Consequently guests are forever being plunged into total darkness just when then are trying to find the slot for their room keycards or, far more seriously, the toilet paper. This is a consistent and systematic niggle that ought to be dealt with. The work around is to wave your arms around until the lights come back on but the timings should be adjusted.
Other niggles are few and far between which is an indication of a very well managed hotel at this price point. However it would be remiss of me not to mention consistently under-filled beer glasses, the very poor red wine that is served chilled (!) everywhere except the main restaurant and in very small glasses and the lack of tomato juice either included or at extra cost. My customary mention of dessert spoons being provided in the dining room for soup is, alas, also necessary. Napkins are paper at breakfast and lunch as is to be expected.
The a la carte restaurants however are a major failing. The Diamond Beach's implementation of these is the worst I have ever encountered in 50 or so stays in Turkish hotels. Guests may use either the Turkish or fish a la carte restaurants once per week. They are required not just make a reservation at least two days before but choose their main course at the time of reservation! The remainder of the 'a la carte' meal is set and therefore the opposite of 'a la carte'.
The restaurants themselves occupy little-modified shop units in the shopping arcade. They are utilitarian, with little compromise to any form of restaurant decoration or dining ambience and suffer from unpleasantly bright lighting. dining here is like sitting in a junk shop window. The food is worse than is available in the buffet and little thought had been given to presentation. Needless to say neither restaurant has its own kitchen and all food arrived plated on a trolley from elsewhere. We had such an unpleasant experience that we cancelled our second reservation. Until the hotel addresses these failings I would say the Diamond Beach a la carte restaurants are best totally avoided.
Overall we have enjoyed our stay at the Diamond Beach and obtained excellent value for money. We were most disappointed with the red wine because we are red wine drinkers and with the a la carte restaurant because this is usually a highlight of our stays in Turkish hotels. The hotel was surprisingly busy for November but we managed to avoid the crowds by sensible choice of venues and timings. I would like to see the hotel enforce a stricter dress code at dinner and I find the compulsory hotel armband degrading and demeaning but that is probably just me.
We stayed 28th October to 6th November 2012 for just shy of £20 per night (via Alpharooms.com) for sole-occupancy of double rooms on an all inclusive basis. We arranged our own flights and transfers.
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Rooms on the upper floors have partial sea views. The rooms facing the pool area on the lower floors...
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