We stayed 8th-18th November room 2331. Will try not to repeat too much what others have said but I echo the excellent cleanliness everywhere, wonderful room servicing every day inc fab towel art (thank you Ragab), great sandy beach, good food and drink....
First the good things to emphasise. The food is great if you enjoy varied bbq meat, stews, different rice dishes, potatoes, pasta etc, which we did. We heard one guy on the beach suggesting to customer relations they have English sausages?! Would an Egyptian get Egyptian food at an English hotel? No! Ok so they cater for mainly English, Russian and German guests, but when I go away I don't want to eat English food! Breakfast - I don't agree with the 'long queue' comment re eggs from earlier review. He has four frying pans on the go and at worst you have to wait 3-4 mins until he is ready to do yours. They had a second toaster towards the end of our holiday, so they do listen. It needed three passes to brown my toast but I'm sure this will be adjusted or replaced in due course. Fantastic range of very fresh rolls and pastries, cereals, loaves, cooked chicken, beef and veal sausages, porridge, grilled toms and beans. Juices and peach and lemon tea, massive range of teas, good coffee. First class.
The only thing I would say, on the fish night there was fish or prawns in most dishes and the salad. The choice was very limited for those who didn't like fish. Theming is OK but perhaps provide prawns and fish next to salad instead of mixed in it all, and provide a little more non-fishy food. Its difficult to get a balance with such things, we understand that, and if not careful the themed night is no different to any other.
Ali Baba restaurant not included on AI, so seemed very quiet most nights. Not advertised or pushed at all. Seemed a bit odd. The Borsalino Pub - nobody ever seen going in or out when we were eating at the Blue Marine restaurant? Seemed dead. Again something which needs promoting - maybe live music or something here?
We eat in the Italian restaurant and loved it, great food, chilled service but very friendly and we didn't want to rush anyway. The only gripe was the voucher said 'book the day before at reception' for the included one off meal in Toscana. We tried to book on Tuesday but earliest day available was Friday. So the impression given you must book the day before is wrong and if you leave it to the end of your holiday then do as it says on the voucher you won't get in. This was raised with Customer Relations so hopefully they will address this.
As for the 'hassle' on the beach. We found them all polite and friendly. We did get talked into a couples massage by Hossam from the Spa, but we really enjoyed this luxury and wouldn't have booked it unless he had persuaded us. Ditto Leema from the Beauty Salon, I had a pedicure which I never have had before and enjoyed it and no longer have manky man feet! Ok so I could probably get it cheaper at home but I was happy with what I paid. Hossam was lovely and came and chatted to us without any selling most days, and on the last but one day asked us if we were coming back to the Palace, I said "Yes - if we can afford it"... he fished out an Egyptian coin and said 'throw it in the sea, to come back'!! We did, and hope to. Really nice guy. Leema also tried hard to sell but we said no we can't afford more, then she just came and say hello most days and wish us a nice day. If it bothers you that much you can get 'do not disturb' signs for the beach. Nobody was aggressive, but yes they do need to be a bit pushy to sell.
Beach bar - the guys here are constantly rushing about and busy. When seated we found them quite jolly when serving, but just going up to the bar to get drinks for the beach often felt ignored while they were rushing about wondering if I would get served. Would like it if they acknowledged me and said 'will be with you shortly' maybe? Got used to the way they worked after a while but a bit offputting at first. If filling up the fridge say, they don't stop to serve you, so you stand there feeling ignored. Similar story at the Blue Marine restaurant which we loved. The first night we wondered down and didn't know what to do so stood around whilst they rushed about and then went in then stood around some more.... After this first night we knew the score - the guys are really friendly and happy but they are all busy busy. It would be good to have someone who only meets and greets maybe? Minor constructive criticism. Once we sussed it we would seek them out and they would always be jolly and welcoming then.
Customer Relations.... we saw them around every day but they didn't ask us every day. I'm not sure if they do random people (they passed by and spoke to others) or whether they ignored us the last few days (was going to say the above comments re bar and restaurant but didn't get asked if everything was ok on the last 2-3 days). However someone earlier complained on a review about being asked every day... so they can't win!
The pools seem inadequate for the hotel, quite small. That said we prefer the beach anyway, but just felt there wasn't a lot of pool space really.
We enjoyed Blankets on the Beach, would agree the music is good. We also enjoyed the Egyptian night - belly dancer and amazing spinning man! Excellent entertainment that was,
Youseff... didn't have a lot to do with him but felt he would make a fantastic childrens entertainer, possibly a bit of a round peg in a square hole with the clientele here, he was a bit noisy whooping etc when the boule tournament was going on, which was noisy when we were on sunbeds nearby, just felt he would be in his element clowning around with kids.
Signs said sunbeds couldn't be reserved, but this wasn't policed so it was a case of 'cant beat them, join them' - down at 8am to at least get the second row then back to room, go to breakfast, back around 0900-0930 to the sunbed. Some days we saw beds with towels on not used all morning.
Some have said about free laundry service on AI, I think this has ceased now this is a couples hotel? We saw no info for this and the sheet with the laundry bag showed itemised prices. Didn't bother us but one to check for those returning.
Aziz the boatman excellent and friendly. The timetable for the boat undersells it as Aziz will run back in between if you only want 30 mins at the coral beach. He is a lovely guy.
The 'Call to Prayer' at nearby mosques.... Not the fault of the hotel, obviously, but it is an issue. I sleep quite lightly and got woken around 0430 every morning by the 'waily men' as we called them. We spoke to others, the rooms on the other side of the hotel seem less prone to this noise. At first it really got to me but after a few days I'd just wake, know what it was, and go to sleep 10-15 mins later when it finished. On a similar note the boom boom music from hotel across the bay was a shame - it spoilt the peace and quiet. Again, not a deal breaker, but another reason I can't give a 5 (not their fault but ultimately the location is part of the package).
Don't change money before you go. Before we went you could only get around £8.20 Egyptian here for £1 sterling. At the Thomas Cook exchange opposite the Old Market we got £9.67 and no commission, but someone I spoke to on the plane said they paid for most things in sterling, many places would charge £1 sterling for £10 Egyptian. I also got £500 Egyptian out on my natwest debit card and it cost £55 sterling. So this is cheaper than getting Egyptian before going. At least two cashpoints in or by the mall opposite hotel. Porter quite happy with a £1 or £2 coin.
We didn't feel pressurised to tip anyone whilst here, which made a nice change from other hotels. Boxes are provided if you wish to place a tip either daily or as we did at the end of our holiday.
Would we go back to the Palace? Yes, and I hope we can return in November 2012. In a quieter location and slightly better meet and greet it would be perfect, but despite the minor criticism above this is still a very good hotel and despite the (hopefully) constructive comments, we had a lovely holiday - thank you to everyone at The Palace!
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- Also Known As:
- Iberotel Palace Hotel Sharm El Sheikh
- Iberotel Palace Sharm El Sheikh