This Summer I really needed some down time – a long holiday with zero stress. After all our recent city breaks I was more than willing to enjoy a more slovenly, poolside escape. And poolside escape it was! Booking via loveholidays.com we stayed at the Hilton Waterfalls Hotel in Sharm El Shiekh for 10 days in a gorgeous Kingsize room complete with balcony and the occasional cricket! Long lay ins, poolside reading and reef snorkelling was top of the agenda and with 5 pools to choose from and a beach complete with coral reef, this place was exactly what I needed.
As a very tourist driven area, Sharm is packed full of things to do and places to see. Local attractions close to our hotel which was located in Naama Bay included the usual camel rides, quad biking, boat trips, diving and market places. We opted for the ‘Lazy Day’ Boat cruise through our travel rep and enjoyed a day out snorkelling at 3 different beautiful spots along the bay. I can’t remember the exact cost but it was around £30 each which was very reasonable as the boat was luxurious and spacious and the cost of a private transfer was included. Don’t be afraid to leave your resort and go for a walk to local cafes, it is very safe.
Local markets include Old Market, Naama Bay and Soho Square. These were all VERY different experiences. Old Market was a series of pretty much the same open fronted shops with owners trying to get you in to buy their wares – most frequently ‘100% genuine fakes’, Egyptian cotton and cigarettes. We didn’t find this area very enjoyable and quickly retreated back to our hotel within 30 minutes of being there. I’ve been to other bartering countries and markets before, but there was something very unsettling about Old Market and if you don’t like being commented on or followed around I would stay away.
Naama Bay was much better. Still the same kind of shops but diffused by supermarkets, franchise eateries, Shisha bars etc., it was very much a friendly, welcoming place where you could buy pretty much anything you want and feel safe. We escaped here one night when we fancied something a little different and visited the Hard Rock Cafe. This is also where we were introduced to Shisha for the first time. The Shisha Cafes here are welcoming and packed full of both locals and tourists. The prices are usually around £2 and an accompanying beer or cocktail will set you back £3-5.
Finally for the 5* treatment check out Soho Square. More a street lined with Boutique shops, restaurants and shisha cafes, there is a very luxury feel about the whole place, most likely as it is part of the Savoy complex. This was a very nice way to spend an evening.
I really enjoyed my stay in Sharm. Due to its purpose built tourism nature, there is a lot of competition with other hotels to offer the most luxurious service and facilities so it’s the ideal place to get the 5* treatment for a good price, especially if you like hot weather (July temperatures are around 35-40 degrees). It’s not often I go all-inclusive as I like to sight-see and try local food and bars but on this occasion this was exactly what I needed and I would recommend it to anyone looking to get away from it all.
1. Tipping is customary, and is pretty much expected everywhere you go.
2. Don’t let the recent security alerts worry you, Sharm El Sheikh is pretty much its own world and is very safe. They rely on tourism so security is tight.
3. Most people trying to do business with you are friendly enough, a polite ‘no thank you’ will nearly always suffice.
4. DO NOT GET ON THE CAMEL! Roadside camel riders will try to get you on their camel for a photo, they will not let you off the camel until you pay them.
5. Go to the Shisha bar that has the most locals, this is where you will get the most authentic Shisha and quality service. Be warned though – each Shisha (although you would never guess) is equivalent to smoking 100 cigarettes!
6. This should go without saying but do not drink the water, only drink bottled water or you’ll spend half your trip in your room.
7. If you’re prone to mosquito bites beware of grassy areas, especially at night and bring a good repellent and After Bite.
8. Be wary of the food prices in the airport – for such a small selection you would be surprised at what you pay, keep around 150 Egyptian Pounds each for your trip home.
Now I’m on the painstaking 60 day countdown to New York!