This is a classic beach hotel with large, manicured grounds, a wide beach with plenty of sun loungers, glass-clear water and fish swimming around in the water, I even encountered some flying fish!
Its strong points are the wide beach, clean sea and the hotel park.
Those are beautiful and the main attraction for returning customers.
We stayed there for 2 weeks, the last week of September and the first week of October.
There is a hut on the beach where tourists leave their old magazines and books, so there is always plenty of reading stuff.
Should you get sunburned, there is an indoors activity to pass the time: shopping at the Senzo Mall.
Senzo Mall is a small shopping centre about 10km south of the Grand Hotel with several clothing stores (Mango, Timberland, LC Waikiki, ...), a cinema, some very good restaurants (excellent lamb kofta at around 5€ and truly delicious fresh mango smoothie at 1.70€ in the Cordoba restaurant) and a hypermarket called Spinneys where you can get anything from Italian mineral water to a water cooker or an iron (found a truly impressive Japanese Panasonic iron there at 330 LE, i.e. about 35€ from which you probably already develop muscles just by looking at it, it must be at least 5kg).
To get to the Senzo Mall, you can either take one of the taxis waiting in front of the hotel, but don't pay more than 30 LE (3.30€). This is anyway about 3 times more than they would get from a local who would insist that they turn on the taxameter (and 30 times more than the 1LE that the mini buses cost that the locals use - however they only go by the main street in the back of the Grand Resort sister hotel to the Grand Hotel).
However, be prepared that the taxi drivers will try to cheat you, out of 7 trips only one taxi driver didn't try to cheat, and that was one we had picked up at random on the street, so those waiting in front of hotels and the in front of the Senzo Mall have made an art out of trying to cheat tourists, the ones outside the tourist areas are much more honest.
They have several ways in which they try to cheat, one is the old 50 piastre banknote trick, 50 piastres is 0.50 LE, i.e. about 0.55€. They try to pass if off as a 50 LE note, or they try to tell you that "you paid too much" after you have handed over the 20 LE and 10 LE banknotes and show you the 50 piastre note and give it to you so that you fork over another 20 LE. Or they try to suddenly charge 30 LE per person.
The way to deal with this is to negotiate the 30 LE to Senzo Mall before you get in the car.
When you get to your destination, first get out of the car and then hand in the previously prepared exact money through the window. If the taxi driver tries one of his tricks and starts complaining, say "Police, police" loudly and that will be the end of it. There are policemen in white uniforms everywhere, the hotel even has a bored looking one on constant duty sitting in a chair at the entrance to the hotel.
Don't fall for the taxi drivers' sob stories (persecuted Christian, etc.) the Christian ones (they have a cross hanging in their car) tried to cheat just as much as the Muslim ones, they were true brothers at least in that respect.
You could also take the Senzo bus back (a ticket costs 2.5 LE = 0.30€ per person), those are 4 clean buses that go from the Senzo Mall past all the hotels (also past the Grand Resort), then on to Sekala (e.g. past the Bella Vista and Sea Gull hotels) and then on to the original part of Hughada, El Dahar, where the fruit and vegetable market is, and back again to Senzo Mall.
Now with the few tourists it only runs every hour from about 1pm, it will let you off (and let you get on) wherever you want to on its route, and it passes along the back of the Grand Resort (clearly recognisable by the terracotta coloured towers out of 1001 nights and the drab run-down white apartment block on the other side of the big road where the hotel staff lives), so you can get off there and use the service entrance of the Grand Resort, walk through the Grand Resort itself and you will be back at the Grand Hotel.
Weak points of the hotel are the fact that the rooms weren't renovated 100% and that there were some impertinent younger waiters in the restaurants Arabesque and Le Bistro who seemed to think any female guest is fair game.
However, the waiters in the Blue Horizon and Mumbai were unfailingly polite.
Strangely enough, they also have some very well trained, professional waiters, e.g. an older, a bit more rotund gentleman who serves in the Mumbai restaurant who would have fitted right into a Michelin-starred restaurant.
So I ask myself, how hard is it to use this in-house expertise and have the older waiters train the younger ones how to behave?
Another problem is caused by the simple fact that they didn't have enough mugs at breakfast even now, when the hotel was only a quarter full. Every 10 minutes you had crowds of people around the hot water container who were waiting for the next charge of freshly collected and washed cups. This is a ridiculous situation for any hotel, much more so for a 4 star hotel.
How much can 100 simple white mugs cost en gross in Egypt? Maybe 75€, and for that amount they have this daily unpleasant scene at breakfast.
In the end we bought some souvenir mugs for 2€ and brought our own mugs to breakfast, just to avoid the stampede.
The rooms have been renovated, but not everything has been replaced. The furniture is solid wood and has been re-painted in beige tones, to go with the new curtains and the new hangings over the beds.
If the windows have a black frame they are also still the original ones, and you have to grip both frames in your hand and force them to close completely if you don't want to get visited by mosquitoes. If a room has windows with white frames then the windows have been replaced.
The taps in the bathroom are still the original ones and they certainly show their over 30 years.
The chairs and table on the balcony were part of the original furnishings, i.e. peeling and battered Rattan.
Then there were some stupid mistakes that really shouldn't happen.
Our bathroom smelled of drains, so I investigated and lo and behold, the sink had a flexible white drain that you could pull into any shape your wanted to. Only that the plumber had left it in a simple L-form and hadn't shaped it to form a standard U-formed stink trap so that there is always some water left in the drain as a barrier against the smell from the main drain.
It took just a 10 seconds of re-forming the drain to get rid of the smell - it doesn't get more simple than that.
Same with the doors and locks, they still have the original locks and open with a key and not a chip card. They first allotted us a room (room 320) where you had to jiggle the key for a few minutes in the lock and then - if you were lucky - the lock would open. Such a room shouldn't be allotted at all - much less if you only have 25% occupancy and therefore plenty of free rooms with supposedly working locks.
Then there are things like the 2 burned out light bulbs next to the beds, one was burned out from the start, the other popped when we were there.
Reported it both to the reception and the room cleaner and they didn't get replaced in all the days of our stay - and there cannot be a shortage of light bulbs in Egypt, I saw plenty in the Spinney's hypermarket.
The hotel has prominently displayed signs at the entrance saying in several languages that you are only allowed to consume drinks and food in the hotel that have been bought there.
So you have the situation that they charge 15 LE (1.70€) for a 1.5l bottle of water in the hotel, and that same bottle costs 3 LE (0.35€) in any of the small shops just 10m from the hotel.
Even all-inclusive guests only get a 0.5l bottle of water at a time at the beach and just open glasses of water everywhere else, so naturally people tire of this regime and buy big water bottles for their rooms in the shops outside the hotels and smuggle them back in their bags - and the hotel staff turns a blind eye since it's a rule they can't enforce without creating a big scene and bad publicity.
So why not drop the pretense and get rid of the signs?
It is all these small defects that add up and make me only give the hotel 4 out of 5 marks.
The entire hotel staff (with the exception of some German customer relations ladies) is male, even the room cleaners.
Ours was a nice, polite, respectful guy, he made the rounds every day, cleaning, changing towels if you had thrown them on the ground (there's a big sticker in the bathroom telling you that's what you have to do to if you want to have them changed), and changing the bed linens whenever you wanted it.
The hotel also has an offer of a tray with 2 mugs, 10 tea bags, 10 Nescafè sachets, sugar and some biscuits, a 1.5l of bottled water and an electric hot water cooker for 15 LE (about 16.50€) for your room.
The plugs in Egypt are the same 2-pronged ones as in mainland Europe, i.e. as anywhere from Portugal to Greece.
When you walk out of the hotel, turn right and walk 20m and your will reach the CIB bank where you can:
- get money out of their ATM
- exchange money at the exchange machine
- exchange money at the counter (closed on Fridays), and get smaller banknotes than than the 200s and 100s that the ATM spits out, simply first get your money out of the ATM and then walk into the bank and change it into 20s and 10s.
The served food in the restaurants is so and so, but you won't go hungry.
Breakfast and dinner is served for all guests in just 2 restaurants, the Le Bistro opposite to the reception desk and in the Arabesque just outside the lobby.
With the few tourists that there are, they closed the Royal Palm restaurant next to the reception desk.
The Le Bistro looks like a converted meeting room, just a few patio garden furniture tables, with improvised satin covers for the hard, typical hotel meeting room chairs.
The food there has a more European touch, and the desserts there are better than in the Arabesque.
The Arabesque restaurant has a more oriental carved wood design, and more Egyptian food, in the main the charcoal barbecue just outside the restaurant every evening that is presided over by a very good cook.
Breakfast (7am - 10am):
Omelettes prepared by a short-order cook, pancakes in a chafing dish, diced Galia melon, toast, small packets of Danish Lurpak butter, beef sausages, cheese, salads, and some staples of an Egyptian breakfast like beans and puddings.
They have Egyptian black (and other assorted teas like hibiscus and aniseed tea) tea bags, but for the real taste, just take along your own tea bags.
Lunch for all-inclusive guests is served at the Marina 5 restaurant just by the jetty where the diving boats leave. We had a look, and the food looked a bit tired, some pasta and other stuff in chafing dishes carted out there from the main kitchens.
We were glad we had only booked half-board, that way we could try other places.
The Blue Horizon has main dishes for about 6€, but the cook there needs to take lessons from the guy preparing the daily evening barbecue, while his dishes like kofta are mouth-wateringly spicy and delicious, the cook from the Blue Horizon managed to make them taste like paper. So do yourself a favour and just order some chips (call them french fries to make the waiter understand).
The Mumbai restaurant opposite the Grand Hotel, within the Grand Resort complex belongs to the hotel group and the food was good if a bit overpriced. Don't be misled by the Indian names of the dishes, they have certainly put an Egyptian spin on them, so it's not authentic Indian food, just think of it as Egyptian food and you won't mind.
Opposite the hotel to the left is a small restaurant called "Mainzer Anna" run by a German lady and her Egyptian husband (and their darling Jack Russell terrier).
The food there is good and cheap, around 5€ for a main dish including a beer. They also have an afternoon offer of a pot of coffee and homemade cake at 35 LE (around 4€).
If you walk about 600m to the left on the promenade you will reach a small Abu Ashara supermarket with fixed (low) prices, opposite the Steigenbeger Al Dau Beach Hotel. They have things like sanitary pads at a tenth of the price that the shops near the hotel charge, or fruit juice, Italian sparkling mineral water or Evian French mineral water or Coca-Cola at half the price. They also have fresh fruit, like mangoes at 22 LE per kg (about 2.50€ per kg).
If you turn right when you get out of the hotel and walk about 1.7km you will reach another hotel complex which has an excellent Egyptian restaurant called Gad (I saw locals getting take-away there so I knew it had to be good). They have things like lamb kebab or kofta with rice at under 4€ and an excellent babaghanoug (aubergine salad with parsley) at 5.5 LE (0.60€).
There is also a McDonalds, a Pizza Hut and a Kentucky Fried Chicken.
There you can also find another small Abu Ashara supermarket.
It is quite a walk along the palm-studded travertine promenade which was planned with thousands of tourists in mind, so it's a strange feeling walking there alone. You'll pass 2 mosques on the way, some patrolling policemen and plenty of closed shops that will hopefully open again once the tourists come back. The street is a one-way street, so on the way back you can get the Senzo bus at 2.50 LE (0.30€) per person to take you back to the corner where the Egyptair office is and from there it's only a 400m walk back to the hotel.
Dinner (6pm - 10pm):
Just outside the Arabesque, there was a charcoal barbecue each night, with either beef kofta or chicken, and a salad made up of lots of onion rings and tomatoes and cucumbers.
Inside the Arabesque there were 2 kinds soup, a salad buffet with acceptable tahina and unacceptable hummus (too grainy and no spices at all), heated Egyptian flat bread (delicious with the tahina), one beef or chicken dish, white rice, vegetables, usually zucchini in tomato sauce and something to tempt the Russian palate like cabbage in a cream sauce.
The salad buffet had some strange salads mostly made up of sliced cooked carrots, beetroot and other things I couldn't identify, but these salads were a great hit with the Russian tourists. They also had simple chopped up cucumbers and tomatoes with a bottle of oil and (Turkish!) balsamico vinegar so that you could make up your own salad. Apart from a few lost strips of iceberg salad in the salad at the barbecue I never saw a green salad.
The dessert buffet consisted of fresh dates, small bananas, semolina cake and an economic version of baklava: they had simply left out any nuts. I can understand the urge to save, but leaving out all the nuts did take it too far, I have eaten baklava at other Hurghada hotels and although they also didn't use walnuts, they at least used cheaper peanuts to have at least some semblance to the real thing. Let me tell you, just fido pastry and sugar syrup simply doesn't cut it.
At the Le Bistro there was a smaller selection, but more geared towards the European palate, but there were more deserts, though in other Hurghada hotels just simple sponge cake bottoms with some imitation whipped cream on top.
Should you crave real cakes, there is a French pastry shop called La Pomme halfway between the hotel and the airport on a street called Mubarak 2 where you can get delicious millefeuilles with vanilla cream (made with real cream) for 10 LE (1.10€) or mousse au chocolat concoctions for 14 LE (1.50€).
There was a double and a single bed in our room, with an ancient, defunct radio panel with some knobs missing screwed in upside down (somebody evidently couldn't read the western alphabet) in the space between the to beds.
This is one of the cases of less is more, it would have been better to simply put in a wooden board and paint it the same beige than to put in that old obsolete radio panel with no function from the old furniture.
The mattresses on the wooden beds were new, but the linens were a strange mix, all pillow cases were polyester, as were the sheets on the double bed, while the sheets on the single bed were sometimes cotton, sometimes polyester.
For a country that exports luxury cotton bed linens, it does seem strange to find that much polyester - and it is certainly much more unpleasant to sleep in than cotton.
There was a beach bag with two threadbare beach towels in the room, just talk to the room cleaner if you want to exchange them for washed ones, he speaks English, German and Russian.
The TV was an older 54cm diagonal CRT one, with 3 German channels (ARD, ZDF, RTL), two English news channels (CNN, NewsEurope), and 3 Arab movie channels that showed movies (new ones, that had only just been in cinemas) non-stop in the English original, with Arab subtitles (MBC2, MBC Action, C4), 2 Russian channels, and 3 Egyptian channels.
The beach was very well kept, each morning a guy raked together all the stones that the sea had thrown up during the night.
The sun loungers were made of wood, but have seen better times, the white paint is flaking off but they are still usable.
There are several changing cabins on the beach, as well as showers, and clean toilets attached to the Blue Horizon Beach restaurant.
At the edge of the beach hammocks were strung up between palms.
There is a beach volleyball field, and a small playground (there is also another one near the childrens' club, next to the Arabesque restaurant).
Near the main pool you can play table tennis, just ask the bar keeper of the pool bar for the rackets and a ball.
The hotel had an Italian girl and German guy, both around 20, who tried to get people to participate in water gymnastics, beach volleyball and other games, but there weren't many takers, with the few remaining tourists being either of retirement age or young families with toddlers.
There are waiters roaming the beach asking guests what they would like to drink and bringing them their drinks to the sun loungers.
For all-inclusive guests these drinks are free, half-board guest have to pay (everywhere in the hotel you sign slips and settle the account at the reception at the end of the stay) 15 LE (1.70€) for a 1.5l bottle of water or 25 LE for a 0.5l can of local Sakara beer.
They have shored up the beach around the lifeguard's seat at the middle of the 500m long beach (the lifeguard is in attendance from 9am) by dumping fine sand into the sea, so that even children can walk out around 10m into the sea and still be able to stand.
This was also a favourite spot for children building sand castles.
The sand on the beach has some smaller stones in it, the sand outside that shored up area some larger stones, but they are not a problem when walking barefoot.
The gardens with their wide walks and flowering bougainvillea bushes are a pleasure to behold, I even spotted a falcon there who seems to have taken up permanent residence.
There are 2 to 3 cats that seem to live on the grounds, they looked well fed and you can spot them in the evening when they come to collect their dues from the guests eating around the barbecue on the terrace in front of the Arabesque restaurant.
In all, this was a relaxing beach holiday, glorious weather (32°C), glass-clear and warm sea water (26°C), sightings of several kinds of fish right at the shore who don't seem to be afraid of people and nearly all of the hotel staff trying their best to make this an enjoyable holiday.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Recently refurbished but retaining its traditional charm, The Grand Hotel's low rise blocks occupy a prime location in the heart of Hurghada's modern resort district. A great value introduction to Red Sea Hotels, its stunning gardens and sweeping sandy beach with on-site dive centre make it a favourite with guests. Close to a wide array of bars, restaurants and shops, it is an ideal base from which to explore. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with TripOnline SA so you can book your The Grand Hotel Hurghada reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Red Sea Grand Hurghada
- Grand Hotel Hurghada
- Hotel Red Sea Grand