Stayed as a couple for two weeks, departed on 28th June 2013. Hotel was brilliant, though I'd like to share a few tips with you that I wish I'd of known before we booked it!
Arrival in airport
On arrival into Hurghada airport as soon as you get off the plane and are escorted by coach to the building, you will be ushered by what look like 'Thomas Cook' staff asking for £13 each for a visa. In the corner of the room there is a Bureau de change (it says bank on the top) where you can pay £10 each. They both provide exactly the same service although the 'Thomas Cook' staff don't actually work for Thomas Cook - they just wear t-shirts to make you believe so, and will charge you the £3 supplement (although you never would have known...).
Arrival in hotel
After a short airport transfer (under 20 minutes) we arrived at the hotel and were swiftly checked in in under 10 minutes and given our room key. The receptionist upgraded us to a honeymoon suite free of charge which should have been £10 a night extra. This was a nice touch.
WRISTBANDS <------ IMPORTANT!!!
When arriving at the hotel you will be given a wristband to wear to prove you are staying at the hotel. The colour of the wristband dictates the level of 'All inclusive' you are entitled to. When booking with Thomas Cook UK you receive a green band, meaning that you have access to EVERYTHING for 24hrs all inclusive. I repeat: this is ONLY Thomas Cook UK customers. If you do not book with Thomas Cook, you will be given a red band, and your all inclusive stops at 12:00am (at night). There were several Russians kicking off about this as they wanted to continue drinking past 12 but were being forced to pay. I have not seen one review on this site yet that explains this at all, so if you were wondering what the different levels of all inclusive were, there you go ^.
HOTELS AND SISTER HOTELS <--- ALSO IMPORTANT!
The Mamlouk palace is situated directly between two sister hotels - Crystal bay, and Sunrise Garden Beach. All three are owned by the same company (Sentido). Guests at the Mamlouk and Sunrise can use ALL of the other hotel's facilities, though none of Crystal Bay's. Crystal Bay guests can however use all of the three facilities (as this is the more grander and expensive of the three). This is a massive positive to the hotel, as you effectively have two hotels in which you can use. Both are set out similarly though have different bars. It is less than a two minute walk between each one, along a path clearly set out towards the middle of the hotel walkways. Crystal Bay also has an a la carte fish restaurant that you can pay for, though is not expensive and is worth a visit.
The hotel blocks are only three floors high and span the whole length of the complex. We were block 32 which was right near the beach, though be warned, it takes around 10-15 minutes to walk from reception to the last block as the complex is so long! You do get used to it though. The room was very spacious and clean, although the promised 'fridge restock' never actually occurred during any time on our holiday.
Outside the hotel
There is a large mall about a 10 minute walk away from the hotel, offering brands such as Adidas, Tommy Hilfiger etc., and a supermarket as well as a McDonalds. There are also several smaller shops opposite selling bags, purses etc where you can haggle (they all seemed very friendly).
We could not believe how friendly the staff were - they cannot do enough for you. Due to the hotel having a 'no-tip' policy (meaning they cannot ask for tips) you never feel pressured into having to hand over money for any service. There are tip boxes around if you so wish to drop in something, though it is not necessary if you don't want to! The only occasion where we had a problem was with the maid (a fella called Sareef?) as he came running after me on my last day complaining that the tip I left him of £4 was insufficient and he expected at least £10. This was a slight shock as he was the only one who demanded a tip, though as I say the rest are brilliant.
There is a small kids pool, a huge main pool and another pool further on near some water slides. We were very impressed with the pool and also the pool bar situated in the middle of the main pool, where there is space to swim up to the seats and chill out with any drink you require (Michael the barman there is superb).
In short: buffet - awful. A la cartes - wonderful.
The only thing that lets this place down was the buffet. At breakfast it is good, serving all the usual eggs, cereals, pastries, omelettes, etc., though lunch and dinner are dreadful. On the few occasions we ate there we literally came back with a plate of rice, and we are not fussy eaters. I do believe the restaurant is catered more towards Russian and Arabian guests.
The a la cartes however are brilliant. It is like eating out at a posh restaurant in the UK every night being waited on, though the best thing is you do not have to pay anything extra! You can book into each one as many times as you like, though do try to book at just after midnight. For example, if you stay up on Sunday evening past 12 o'clock at night into the early hours of Monday morning, say 00:05 - you can then book the restaurant for the Tuesday night. You could also try and do it on the Monday morning when you get up, though be warned they become fully booked fast.
There is a large selection of locally brewed alcohol. I personally found the Egyptian wine and beer to be very nice, though the Egyptian spirits all tasted a little funny. There is also a list of around 20 alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails available that are all included in the all inclusive, which were a welcome addition. The soft drinks are fairly standard (fizzy drinks like pepsi, apple/orange juices etc). You can also ask for bottled water at any bar and you will be given a half litre bottle with the cap firmly screwed on and the plastic packaging left on top to show that the bottle has not been opened before. There is also imported alcohol, though these are not included in the all inclusive (it is around £2 for a can of heineken, and £11 for a bottle of wine if you fancy a change).
Our rep, Nabil, was fantastic. He could advise us on anything we required and visits the hotel twice a day for over an hour each time.
We intended to visit Luxor but unfortunately the trips were cancelled due to the trouble in all major Egyptian cities to do with the overthrowing of the government. Instead we booked onto the jeep safari where were driven out into the desert and met a local Egyptian family. You are also able to ride a camel as part of the trip, and are shown around the village. You then head back and have an Egyptian BBQ and look at the moon/stars through powerful telescopes. We thoroughly enjoyed this experience.
The animation team was also brilliant. There are several activities available throughout the day, one of the most enjoyable being darts at 11:15am and 16:00pm. The hotel has recently employed two English reps to try and get more English people involved. Many people are reluctant to get involved on holiday and would rather sit in their sunbeds, though if they actually got involved a bit more they would enjoy themselves, as there are various things to do. There is also a show at night at 9:30pm each night, examples of which being firebreathers, bellydancers, etc. They is worth a watch.
The hotel is primarily occupied by Russians, followed by Egyptians, Germans, and finally English. The Russians can be rude regarding queues etc but they keep themselves to themselves and don't really affect you at all. The Egyptians are the same, though on several occasions we saw them picking up food in the buffet with their hands and putting it back down again (another reason to eat in the a la cartes rather than the buffets!!!)
Thoroughly enjoyed our stay here, and will be booking to go back to Egypt next year. The only thing that lets the place down is the buffet, though this doesn't matter as you can eat in the a la cartes as much as you'd like (though remember to book in).
P.s: a long winded review but thought it necessary to go into detail as the vast majority of reviews on here do not explain the wristbands etc.!
Thanks for reading.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Experience the Egyptian hospitality at the 5 star (local category) SENTIDO Mamlouk Palace Resort with the oriental flair and a special family friendly atmosphere and hotel facilities. The private sandy beach offers relaxing hours directly at the Red Sea. Here you will enjoy breathless sunset and fantastic views to the desert, mountains and the turquoise waters of the Red Sea. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sunrise Mamlouk Palace Hotel Hurghada
- Sunrise Mamlouk Palace Hurghada