Winter sun. You just can’t put a price on it. I decided after 6 days in the delicious Egyptian sun this November that from now on, I’m going on holiday every November. It is just so much more necessary and more valuable than a summer holiday, when England is actually pleasant to be in. And while when you return the weather is no better, you feel refreshed, tanned and energised, ready to take on the winter.
For those desperate for the sun right now, I highly recommend the Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh, on Egypt’s Red Sea.
Here are my reasons:
1) The Villas. There is something about having your own villa that makes staying at a hotel extra special. While they call all their villas ‘suites’, the Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh is in fact an all villa resort. The accommodation therefore feels really private and you won’t be disturbed by noisy neighbours. Each suite has a private terrace with sun loungers and a table which fits four. The bathroom is huge – with a big sunken bath and an excellent power shower. It’s more than comfortable.
2) The location. While Hurghada itself is a bit of a dump, if you don’t leave the resort then it feels very close to paradise. The style of the resort is Middle Eastern/Moorish and the resort is spacious, dotted with low rise villas and palm trees. It is also beautifully lit up at night. One of the best things is the beach – it is private and sandy and seems never ending. The sea is crystal clear. And views from the pool of the beach/sea is stunning.
3) The food. For a five star resort I thought the food was not only good value for money (their in-suite dining menu has more options at a more reasonable price than their two restaurants, and they only charge 50p extra for room service) but also quite varied and delicious. They offer a mixture of both international and local food (which we ate most of the time – their chicken Shawarma was insanely good, and they had wonderfully fresh bread) but since they are an Indian hotel chain they also have a good Indian restaurant. One thing to note is that they add on about 20% tax to the bill (comprised of VAT and service charge), which does increase the price substantially. Breakfasts were a highlight, with a buffet and a la carte menu. We had egg white omelettes every day. And yoghurt and fruit. And cakes and pastries. And American pancakes. It was hard not to want to eat everything!
4) Service. All the staff were an absolute delight. So friendly and helpful. The one time our Room Service order was half an hour late, they were deeply apologetic and gave us a bottle of wine. Even when you’re sunbathing by the pool or on the beach the service is still spot on – they constantly bring you cold towels, chilled water and complimentary snacks/juices. The minute they see you even slightly moving your sun loungers the staff run to your aid. I certainly wasn’t complaining.
5) Value. On booking.com the price per night in a Deluxe Suite (lowest standard of accommodation) with breakfast is about £200 a night (the prices are still very low in Egypt at the moment – so grab your chance and go now). If you want your own private pool with your villa then the price does double but you really don’t need your own pool. Their main pool is huge and usually very quiet.
6) Activities. People who love diving and snorkelling are in for a treat. The Red Sea is one of the best places to learn how to dive and the coral and ‘sea life’ is amazing. The sea is usually warm and quite calm, though in the winter the sea can get a bit cooler. The hotel offers daily complimentary activities, ranging from cooking classes, to outdoor cinema nights to yoga and pilates classes. We went to the pilates class and found we were the only ones who attended. So we had a private class outside on the lawn, with view of the setting sun and the beach. It was perfect. There is also a good gym which no one seems to use, so we had our own gym every morning which was ideal.
7) Flights. Easyjet fly direct twice a week. And, if you can bear being stuck on an Easyjet flight for 5 hours, then it’s totally worth it. We paid £225 for a return flight. And 5 hours is not long to get 30 degree heat when London is grey and miserable.