Monday, 8 May 2017

Travel: Sunrise Holidays Resort (Adults Only), Hurghada, Egypt

If you follow me on social media you will probably be aware that in April I spent a week in Egypt. I travelled there on my own and stayed at the Sunrise Holidays Resort (Adults Only) in Hurghada. I had a great holiday and so wanted to write a review of the hotel and share some details of my time there. This post is written entirely independently and without any sponsorship.





I must admit I was initially rather unsure about visiting Egypt, but I wanted a relatively cheap holiday where sunshine was pretty much guaranteed, and Egypt ticked those boxes. I did A LOT of research online and decided I was comfortable travelling to Hurghada as all the major airlines still flew there, whereas they stopped all flights to and from Sharm El Sheik following the airline disaster in 2015. However, there were more troubles the weekend before I was due to fly out to Hurghada so I was feeling pretty nervous. I rang Thomson (after tweeting and emailing them and getting no response) and the representative told me they followed the advice provided by The Foreign Office, who maintained that travel to the Hurghada area was still considered safe, so my holiday was still on. I was worried, but tried to distract myself by focusing on the warm weather and relaxation that hopefully lay ahead.

As I had decided to go on holiday relatively last minute (about two weeks before departure), there weren't any package holiday options available to the hotel I wanted so I booked my flight, transfers, and hotel separately. My hotel was booked through Booking.com, my transfers were with Hoppa, and my flights were with Thomson.


I opted for an all-inclusive hotel as I didn't want to have to wander about on my own looking for somewhere to eat at night. I've quite happily done that on many occasions when holidaying alone in Europe, but as I had never been to Egypt before and wasn't sure about safety this was definitely the right choice for me.

I chose Sunrise Holidays Resort because it has great reviews on Trip Advisor, Booking.com, and everywhere else I looked. It's a five star hotel, which doesn't equate to a UK or US five star, but it's still pretty great. I'll go into more detail about the hotel later in this post, but from the pictures, details, and reviews I could see online it looked like an excellent option, and it was available at a very good price. And it was adults-only, which is something I'd never tried before but was intrigued to see what a holiday would be like without children around. I don't have any of my own but still always notice other people's children when I am on holiday so I couldn't imagine what it would be like without them.

The flight from London Gatwick to Hurghada took a little over 5 hours and was pleasantly hassle-free. The flight team were an absolute joy and smiled for the whole journey. I had a lovely couple sitting next to me on the flight and we chatted for most of the journey, which helped the time pass more quickly (I was reassured to learn that we would be sitting together on the flight home, too, so that took away my anxiety of wondering who would be my row-buddies on the homeward leg). I also had my Woollip travel pillow with me and used it for the first time. My boobs got in the way a bit but it was generally a comfy way to get a bit of sleep here and there.



I was so excited to see real desert for the first time!


On arrival at Hurghada airport we had to get a visa, which costs £25 per person. If you're travelling to Egypt make sure you have sufficient cash to cover this fee - they would have accepted sterling (which is what I paid in), Euros, US dollars, or of course Egyptian pounds. Make sure you get your visa from the official booth and not from the guys who call to you as you walk down the gangway - the latter will overcharge you. 

Once I'd collected my luggage from the baggage carousel I bid farewell to my new friends, who were heading off to board a boat for a week of diving, and made my way out of the airport, where I met up with the chap in charge of my transfer. I had to wait for a few minutes while he gathered other passengers, and then a small group of us were herded to a small coach, which was to take us to our respective hotels. I always feel a bit funny on airport transfer coaches - you're not usually told when the coach will be stopping at your hotel, so you spend the whole journey wondering if it'll be your stop next! Thankfully the transfer chap told us at the start of the journey the order in which we would be stopping, so it was one less thing for us all to worry about. He then proceeded to tell us a bit about Hurghada and the area, and also about trips we could book through him. I wasn't planning on going on any trips as my agenda was to lie on the beach all day with a few dips in the sea in between, but it was still food for thought.


After a 15 minute journey we stopped at my hotel first: the Sunrise Holidays Resort. I didn't get much of a look at the exterior of the hotel as I was whisked inside pretty quickly by the bellboy, but here's a stock photo for reference:



Image courtesy of www.travelway.pl

Check-in was pretty straightforward, and after being issued with my room key and all-inclusive bracelet I was escorted by one of the bellboys up to my room, which was on the top floor. 



This is El Gohary and he was very sweet and insisted on giving me a big 'ta-dah!' moment as he showed me the view from the balcony. Even though it was a cloudy day the view was still stunning:



I had booked a standard room, and it had everything I needed, including a mini fridge with bottled water, and a small safe. I would have preferred a double bed but the twin beds were fine.







The room could probably do with a revamp but it was perfectly serviceable and very comfortable. And most importantly it was super clean - serviced by the same chap every day, who also left me towel art, which was pretty cool! Many of the reviews I've read online have bemoaned the fact the rooms are rather dated, but when you go on holiday you aren't usually in your room much apart from sleeping and showering, so for me it doesn't matter all that much if the room isn't modern as long as I can sleep well and the shower is decent. 

I unpacked and after a quick bite to eat in the restaurant I headed to bed. Unfortunately I didn't have the best night's sleep as the bed felt wonky, so the next day I asked to change rooms and was advised I would be able to do so the following day as all the rooms had already been allocated. 

The view from my balcony was even prettier in the morning light with the clear blue sky:



And I tried to get a good picture of me in my bikini but the angle wasn't the best, so after this one I resorted to taking pictures inside my room with my phone balanced on top of my suitcase on a chair (we bloggers get very creative with DIY tripods!):



One of the main things I go on holiday for is rest and relaxation on the beach. Again, I had done a lot of research before selecting this particular hotel, and I knew it had a pool (although I am not a fan of chlorinated pools as the chemicals irritate my eyes and can give me migraines so I didn't spend any time there during the day) as well as a lagoon for swimming and a nice beach. I wasn't disappointed!


Morning view

 Late afternoon, just before the sun disappears behind the hotel


Late afternoon, shortly before dusk



It was pretty breezy most days during my holiday, so the sunloungers have windbreakers around them for a bit of protection. They are a great idea and also offer a little privacy as well. I liked the breeze, though, as it was 30C+ every day so the cooling wind was very welcome.



The sand on the beach isn't soft like in the Caribbean, and it's much coarser than the Mediterranean beaches I've been to. I found it quite drying on my feet, but not so much that it affected my holiday in any way. There is no need to wear sea shoes in the water as the entry into the sea is sandy and not at all rocky.

There is an artificial island that creates the lagoon, making a very safe area for sea swimming. It is possible to swim out into the open sea, but on this holiday I wasn't daring enough to do so. The water wasn't freezing cold but also it wasn't overly warm, so I didn't spend hours on end in the sea at a time like I often do when holidaying on the Mediterranean. Still, the views across the open sea are absolutely stunning:






I loved peeking over the edge of the island and gazing down at the shoals of tiny fish in the crystal-clear water below:



It was absolute bliss lying on the beach every day, enjoying the warm sunshine and swimming in the sea. I was able to properly rest, which for various reasons is something I haven't been able to do on holiday for quite some time. There are a multitude of beach staff who are available to help if needed; they don't bring drinks to your sunlounger (the Beach Bar is only a short walk away) but they will assist with things like windbreakers and taking away empty cups, and are always happy to have a chat if wished. They also take turns on lifeguard duty so it feels very safe on the beach.

The hotel provides a beach/pool towel for each guest - you are issued with a towel card at check-in and collect your towel from a kiosk near the a la carte restaurant - and you can get your towel replaced once a day. I made sure I used the same towel for the whole day as they dry out so quickly in the warm sunshine and excessive towel laundry at hotels is really bad for the environment. The towels are a really good size, too, and are nice quality. 

Sunrise Holidays Resort is adults-only, and I think this made a huge difference in the level of relaxation I was able to achieve on this holiday. Don't get me wrong - I absolutely love children - but it was wonderful being able to lie on the beach and enjoy the peace and quiet without the noise of youngsters. The whole vibe of the hotel was civilised, relaxed, and calm, which is just what I needed. Even things like the toilets on the beach were much cleaner and didn't smell of wee because there were no children there to have 'accidents'. The restaurants were a calmer and quieter affair, too, but more on that later.

After two nights in a wonky bed I was moved to a new room: one with a double bed and a bigger balcony, woohoo!





It was wonderful to wake up to this stunning view every day:



In the evening I would often sit on the balcony and listen to the live music playing nearby. So fab! 

The bed was a million times better than the one in my first room, and of course having a bigger bed is always a good thing as there is plenty of space to spread out. I have a super king size bed at home so it's never the most comfortable experience for me any time I have to sleep in a single bed.

The hotel has three restaurants: two of which are self-serve buffets and one that is a la carte. The is also a Beach Bar, which is open from 10am till 5pm. I didn't experience the a la carte restaurant as the other eateries were more than good enough. I had breakfast every day in the 'El Sol' restaurant on the second floor, which looked out onto the pool area:



I had dinner in 'El Sol' most nights, although once I went to the 'Arabian Nights' buffet restaurant on the third floor, which it turned out served exactly the same as El Sol, so I didn't go back as I preferred the vibe and layout of El Sol. 

Buffet food can get a bit repetitive, especially for someone like me who doesn't eat a lot of meat and isn't a fan of spicy food, but I was able to have lots of different things in the restaurants. Most importantly of all, there was always a huge range of vegetables - my favourite - and fresh fruit, too. I ate dishes with chicken, fish, and sometimes completely vegetarian, and not once was I bored or had trouble finding something good to eat. I didn't overeat either, which is something that can easily be done when on an all-inclusive holiday.


Image courtesy of www.go4hotels.com

I loved going to the Beach Bar for lunch - it's always so wonderful to eat al fresco on holiday, and of course it's important to get a bit of shade in the middle of the day. It was so refreshing to sit at a table in my bikini and beach trousers and sip a cool drink whilst watching the world go by. The vegetarian pizza was second to none and the salads were fresh and crispy.



They had a foam party on the beach one day, which I watched from the Beach Bar whilst I enjoyed my lunch. The entertainment team tried to get me to join in but I was very happy observing from my vantage point instead.



I was impressed by how so many people, both young and old, joined in with the foam party and had a great time.


View from the Beach Bar across the beach to the lagoon

The restaurants were kept very clean by friendly waiters, who served drinks promptly and took away the plates once they were finished with. The chefs were on hand in case anyone had particular dietary requirements, and I met some holidaymakers who had food made to order for them due to food intolerances.

I didn't often have pudding as the choices were mostly cake/pastry based and I wasn't usually in the mood for something that heavy, but on a couple of occasions I had 'konafa' (not sure if the spelling is correct but that's how it was spelt on the sign at the dessert station), which is a delicious traditional Middle-Eastern dish, and the very thought of it is making my mouth water as I type!



It's made up of finely shredded pastry, which is fried in a pan. Mine has softened dates added in the middle, whereas lots of other people went for a white sauce, which was similar to custard. Finally it can be topped with whatever you choose, and I went for chocolate sauce on this occasion. With the dates it's very sweet but absolutely scrummy.

Best of all, despite being told it was inevitable, I didn't get 'Egyptian tummy' even once on my holiday. The hygiene standards in the restaurants must have been very good indeed, as sometimes I can be prone to a sensitive stomach when eating at buffets, but I didn't have even a hint of it at the Sunrise. Brilliant!

There are myriad activities guests can take part in during their holiday. During the day, offerings include beach volleyball, aqua aerobics in the sea, boccia, Arabic lessons, belly-dancing lessons, and stretching (basic yoga). The hotel lays on entertainment in the evenings, including acts such as a fire-eater, a whirling dervish, live singers, and a belly dancer, and they also have more run-of-the-mill holiday events like talent contests and karaoke, too. The highly energetic entertainment team work tirelessly day and night to try to get guests involved in the goings-on, but they are also respectful if you prefer to keep yourself to yourself. Personally I very much enjoyed talking to members of the team but I didn't want to join in with the activities - I was happier to watch from the sidelines instead.



There are other activities too, but these require additional payment. Guests can book boat trips, coach trips to historic sites, diving courses and trips, fishing trips, and more. There is an on-site spa where massages are available, along with beauty treatments including manicures and pedicures. A small shopping mall is located in the centre of the hotel so guests don't need to leave the premises to buy souvenirs unless they choose to do so. There is a hairdresser, a tattoo shop, and a Shisha Bar. I didn't venture into any of these shops or do any of the trips/treatments but I passed the staff on many occasions and they were always friendly and happy to have a chat even if it didn't result in a sale.


Tipping is not expected but as with any all-inclusive resort it is the decent thing to do. I took US one dollar bills with me as they are easier to transport that £1 or 1 Euro coins, and I tipped whenever I felt I had received good service (which was all the time!). I made sure I left a generous tip for the chap who cleaned my room as he did such a thorough job and would always make a point of greeting me whenever I saw him in the corridor. In the restaurants there is a tip box but I also gave individual tips on occasion. As with all service staff in Egypt the pay is not generous so any extras they get from guests is always much appreciated.

I was very pleased with the level of service I received at the hotel from start to finish. Everyone was always ready with a smile and a polite greeting, and seemed to take pride in their work. That applied to everyone I encountered, from the reception staff, to the restaurant team, the entertainment crew, and even the maintenance team. The professionalism was really impressive, and yet the warmth and caring attitude exuded from the entire team.



As a woman holidaying on my own, I was prepared for some awkward moments with the men I would encounter. However, I am delighted to say that I had no trouble whatsoever from any of the hotel staff. On occasion I was paid compliments and there was some friendly chat, but it remained completely respectful at all times and not once did I feel uncomfortable. The same cannot be said for a few of the Egyptian hotel guests, though, who were keen to tell me their room number almost as soon as they said hello! I was a bit shocked the first time but after that I was ready and greeted such advances with feigned horror and disgust. Actually I found it all rather funny but I couldn't resist seeing the embarrassed look on the man's face when I rebuffed his feeble advances. I wasn't there for a holiday romance but I daresay some women do go for that; either way it's pretty gross that someone is suggesting going to their room within two minutes of starting a conversation, when there had been no signals from me whatsoever that I wanted anything like that. Oh well - it's a different culture and instead of being upset by it I found it all rather intriguing. It ended up being an interesting psychological study of how Egyptian men acted around Western women. Despite all this, I never once felt unsafe, and walked around the hotel complex at all hours of the day and evening without worry.

The clientele at the hotel were of a broad age range, and were mostly couples. As a single person I didn't feel left out, though, and there were some small groups of friends or two females or males holidaying together as well. The hotel has a very warm and welcoming vibe and I quickly made friends with several groups. During the day I was mostly on my own but at night I dined on occasion with my new friends or joined them for drinks afterwards. It's a very relaxed atmosphere where guests can enjoy their holiday without stress or pressure. I think some of that is to do with the fact there are no children - even parents who were holidaying without their offspring were mellow because they didn't have to worry about what their young ones were doing. 



I found my levels of anxiety were really low the entire week of my holiday, and I think it's because I had everything I needed within the hotel. I didn't have to worry about paying for things as it was already covered; I didn't have to go and buy food and water at a supermarket as I wasn't self-catering, I was all-inclusive; I didn't have to worry about finding and paying for a sunlounger as they were free of charge and plentiful; and I knew there was plenty to eat and drink pretty much any time I wanted. My only gripe would be the speed and availability of the hotel wifi: it didn't work at all for me on the beach, by the pool in the evening, or in the Beach Bar; it worked occasionally in the restaurant; but best reception was in my room...even then it wasn't reliable and the signal often dropped out. Most people probably wouldn't find that an issue but as a solo traveller and someone who uses social media a lot I found it disappointing and at times frustrating. I would have posted a lot more photos had the wifi been available in all areas of the hotel, so I hope it's something Sunrise will improve in the near future.

I was very sad indeed when my week-long holiday came to an end. That's a first for me - usually when I holiday solo I get feelings of loneliness and wanting to go home after two or three days, but this time I didn't feel lonely even once and I could have easily stayed another week (or more!). I loved my time at Sunrise Holidays Resort so much that I am hoping to go back again later this year. If you are looking for a reasonably-priced hotel with superb service, good facilities, and excellent food and drink, I can't recommend Sunrise enough. It's truly wonderful.

I am now hooked on adults-only hotels and am looking for my next destination. Let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations!

8 comments:

  1. Omg I was just looking at this hotel yesterday on Thomas Cook. Your review has convinced me to book, thank you soooooo much xxxxxx

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  2. My sister went here last year and had a great time, she said the same as you, great staff, excellent service, perfect holiday. I'm saving up to go in October, finger's crossed.

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  3. I have never considered going to Egypt because of the problems they've had lately but having read your review of this hotel I'm really tempted now! It sounds like a nice place to stay and I'm glad you had a nice time even though you were on your own. As a long time reader of your blog I think its great that your diversifying your content. You always write such detailed reviews and offer an interesting standpoint so now you are doing travel blogging too I think its brilliant. I look forward to your next post! Thanks, from Gemma x

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  4. after reading your review my next year world tour journey will be Egypt.

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  5. I used to go to Sharm at least once a year but stopped when the plane crash happened and all the fights got stopped. It was a lovely place to go on holiday though so I was gutted! But if Hurghada is as good as you've made it sound I might just give it a try as I love the hot weather in Egypt! Thanks for such a useful review! x

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  6. Hubby and I always go adults only as the entertainment team tend to be less intrusive and I don't have to worry about getting dive bombed when doing my early morning swims. I'm glad you had such a lovely, relaxing holiday. You deserve it x

    C x
    CurvyGirlThin.com

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  7. Great review!! Hope you go on holiday somewhere else soon so we can read more about your travels and share your vacation with you :)

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  8. I respect and admire you so much for going on holiday on your own. I would never have the guts to do it myself but good for you for doing it. My sister always goes to adults only hotels and she said much the same as you as in they're quieter, calmer, more laid back. I must get the confidence to travel alone as it looks like you had a brilliant time. Maybe one day eh x

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