First of all the holiday was very cheap. I went with my husband - it was actually our honeymoon. Unfortunately as we had spent quite a lot on the wedding, this meant we had to budget for the honeymoon, so we decided on a cheap package holiday somewhere hot that we had never been to before.
We flew from Glasgow to Varna, which was the first mistake. The transfer from Varna airport took 3 and a half hours, on a bus where the air conditioning wasn't working. It was an extremely uncomfortable journey. On arrival at the hotel, a porter came to get our suitcase to take it up the steps to the reception. A nice touch, or so I thought. We went to check in. We had been advised by our travel agent that she would tell the hotel it was our honeymoon and if we produced a copy of the marriage certificate they would make sure that our holiday was as perfect and special as possible, including the best of rooms etc. We did so, advising the receptionist that we had been told this, and he shrugged and asked us what we expected him to do with it. We explained what we had been told, and he shrugged again, said rooms were allocated, and it made no difference to him. This, in itself, was not a particular problemn apart from his attitude, but it went against everything we had been told. I asked if there was any chance of a cold drink from anywhere, even a cold glass of water, and was told no, in no uncertain terms. He then handed us a packed lunch box, which had been sitting in reception for hours with no refrigeration, and the porter showed us the way to our room, which was in the Magnolia Gardens, rather than the hotel proper. He then stood, obviously waiting for a tip - we had to give him 10 levs as we didn't have any change by that point. He must do pretty well on arrivals night. We did discover throughout the holiday that they have absolutely no concept of customer service skills.
The room was clean enough, with a double bed and a single, a desk and chair, and a small balcony, with absolutely no view, looking directly into the forest at the rear. It wasn't a huge problem. We unwrapped the unrefrigerated packed lunches to find half a cucumber each, 2 oranges and a limp nasty looking sandwich. There was, hiowever, a small bottle of water each which we drank fairly quickly! The best thing about the room was the excellent brand new looking air conditioning unit. The room was cleaned every day, but we did find it irritating that there was no do not disturb sign, and that the cleaners knock and come in without waiting for an answer.
Over the next few days we used the hotel restaurant a few times. The food is bland, and fine if you like pork. The cheese and bread are left out with flies over them and landing on them constantly. The pasta is horrible, and the salads are just cabbage. we did persevere for a few days in the hopes that the food would improve, but it didn't change from lunch to dinner, or even from day to day. By day 3 we both were suffering with bad stomachs, and were quite ill for 24hrs - luckily I had bought loads of the relevant medication in Glasgow Airport. We didn't eat at the hotel after this. We were given suggested meal times - we took umbrage at this as we assumed that we were restricted to these times but we asked the rep and she explained that they were just suggested times so as to avoid the busier times.
The pool was lovely, despite a few glaring health and safety issues (missing tiles, holes in the ground etc). We didn't try the poolside snack bar, although we did hear from other people that it was impossible to get served unless you were Romanian or Russian. It was easy enough to be served drinks. We didn't find that we were discriminated against at all actually, just for being Brits.
The Balkan Holidays rep Margarita was lovely, and she sorted out a problem we had with the dinearound - the receptionist - same one again, I think he's the head receptionist - had organised our lunch dinearound, but had told us that everywhere was full for the dinner one. We asked Margarita to sort this out, and she did. And in fact, when we went for that meal the restaurant was empty, so, after conversations with other people, we think he was after a backhander. By the way, if you have the dinearound, do not bother with the Ciel Bleu - the view is spectacular but the food is disgusting and bears absolutely no relation to French food!
We went on a couple of trips - Varna was a dump, but worth seeing, and Balchik and Kaliakra were absolutely beautiful. Well worth seeing.
We used the train up and down into the town a few times, and that was great.
In conclusion, we wouldn't not go back to Bulgaria, but we certainly would not stay at the Magnolia again. As I said in the title - you get what you pay for. We paid for a cheap holiday, and that is what we got. pay a little extra and stay at a better hotel. Albena is a nice resort, but the Magnolia lets it down badly.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The All-Inclusive Magnolia Hotel is situated on a green slope in the upper part of Albena, about 1,300 meters from the beach. It provides 340 well-furnished, air-conditioned rooms with balconies and great opportunities for recreation, away from the noise and intensity of the central parts. Safety-box and fridge can be rented at Reception. There is a main buffet restaurant serving a variety of local and international cuisine, lobby bar, snack bar and pool bar where guests can enjoy refreshing drinks. Guests can enjoy thematic and barbecue evenings and live-cooking throughout the week. Lunch is also offered on the beach at Dorostor Restaurant. A sun umbrella with 2 lounge chairs at the beach are available per room. A free shuttle bus service is available daily on every half an hour, driving guests from Magnolia hotel to the beach and back. Rich animation program is offered in the hotel six days per week. Free Wi-Fi at 1 Mbps is available in all public areas. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Magnolia Garden Albena