Earlier this month we spent a 10-day holiday at the Amar Sina hotel in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. We chose the Amar Sina because our preferred dive operator, Colona Divers, is located there. Online reviews of the hotel were mixed but mostly favorable. Here is my review of the Amar Sina hotel.
We booked our room through an online UK broker. We choose the all-inclusive service so our meals, drinks and snacks were included in the price. Booking the hotel via the broker and our flight independently via Arkefly.nl worked out cheaper than booking a package with a local travel agency.
The hotel is built in the style of a Bedouin village with the upper rooms having domed ceilings of exposed brink and colored glass. When we arrived at the hotel at about 8pm after our 4+ hour flight, check in was smooth and we were brought directly to our charming room.
We stayed in room 239, located on the upper level close to a pigeon shelter. Our room did not have a balcony – only about 10 of the approximately 80 rooms had balconies overlooking the courtyard and pool area. However we were very happy with our room location as we had a nice view of the courtyard from one window and a direct view on the pigeons from the other window (we like pigeons so this was perfect for us). The room was also conveniently close to staircases leading to the lobby level and the restaurant level below.
Our bed was partially built into the room with walls on two and a half sides. On the right side of the bed there was a nook built into the wall which was a convenient place to store tissues, alarm clock, and water. The bed itself sagged a bit in the middle and one of the wooden slats was too short so it fell down a couple of times, but this was not a big problem and we always had a good night of sleep (it helped that we were usually exhausted). Across from the bed was a TV sitting on a long narrow desk. We got mostly Arabic channels with a few European channels (German, Polish and Russian). Some channels were available for one or two days only so we had ESPN Classic one evening, MSNBC Europe one morning, Nile TV one morning. Under the TV desk was a small refrigerator stocked with drinks that were not included in our all-inclusive package. We took these out and used the fridge for snacks and drinks we purchased ourselves for the duration of the holiday – very convenient.
Beside the bed and TV area we had a roomy living area with a long couch, easy chair, coffee table and two ottomans.
The bathroom had a shower (no tub) and was clean. It was cleaned every day and hot water was always available, so no complaints on the bathroom. The soaps on offer were typically tiny hotel-sized bars and a bit gritty, but we brought our own (normal-sized) soap for showering so this was no problem. The sink was small but still had a stopper so we could wash a few clothing items and rinse our bathing suits and some scuba gear every evening without too much trouble.
Across from the bathroom we had a large open closet area where we could store our diving gear, clothes, luggage and shoes.
Overall we were very happy with our large, comfortable and clean room.
The hotel is located south of Na’ama Bay on Motelet Street (Motels Street). A taxi ride to Na’ama Bay took 10-15 minutes and cost 10-50 Egyptian pounds. Motelet Street is a fairly quiet boulevard. We did not have a car but we noticed that the parking area across from the hotel, in the middle of the boulevard, must be very handy for guests that have their own vehicle. The hotel is not on the beach but a 20 minute walk will bring you to the public beach (which we did not visit). The hotel does have its own beach (shared with about 6 other hotels) which was a short (5 minute) bus or taxi ride away. This beach is actually a terraced area on a rocky plateau by a shallow bay. The terrace was completely packed the one time we visited. It is not a place where you can spread out for the day – when we visited there were people occupying the beach chairs on all sides of us. Accessing the water means squeezing between the beach chairs everywhere. The water was warm and full of fish and corals so we had a nice hour snorkeling and swimming there. But we cannot really recommend the beach as a pleasant place to spend some time – at least for us (we are not beach people and certainly not crammed-in-at-the-beach people).
We stayed at the hotel on an all-inclusive basis and started with dinner on our first evening. Meals are served buffet style either in the large dining hall or outside around the pool in the courtyard. One thing we noticed in a lot of the online reviews of this hotel was that half of them raved about the great variety in the meals and the other half complained that all of the food was the same. How could this be?
Every evening for dinner there were two kinds of soup. These rotated among cream, mushroom, vegetable, chicken, and the highly recommendable potato soup. Then there were 8 to 10 different hot dishes. There was always rice, but this varied from Chinese-style fried rice to white rice with peas to saffron-flavored yellow rice. There was always pasta, usually with tomato sauce but at least once with a white cream sauce and one other time with tomato sauce and meat. There were always hot vegetables, which could be carrots, squash, peas, zucchini, or others, or a combination of these. Another hotplate always had some kind of potato, ranging from mashed with cheese to foil-wrapped baked potatoes with sour cream sauce to an au gratin casserole. There was always a dish of beef, a dish of chicken, and a dish of fish. We did not look at the beef or chicken so I don’t know if those were different every evening or not. The two times I took fish it was the same – a tasty tomato-based fish casserole. The rest of the hotplates would have something else, usually vegetarian, like vegetable casserole, or maybe a different style of rice or pasta, or French fries, or beans. So I guess you could say it was always the same: rice, pasta, vegetables, potatoes, beef, chicken, and fish. Or you could say the buffet was different every evening, with saffron rice, baked potatoes and cream pasta one evening, and Chinese rice, mashed potatoes and spaghetti bolognaise the next evening. We were very pleased with the variety of the hot dishes. Besides the warm food there was always a vegetable salad bar and dishes of mayonnaise- or egg- based salads and cold dishes like olives and goat cheese. The tomatoes were particularly delicious. There was also a well-stocked bread table. The dessert table is where we saw the most variety, with different cakes, puddings, cookies, pies and sweets being offered every night. I would not be surprised if we did not see the same dessert twice during our stay. We had eight dinners at the hotel.
We only had two lunches at the hotel. Here the variety was not as great but everyone seemed to only be taking the French fries anyway. Again there was salad, bread and dessert available at lunch time. Besides fries there were vegetables (different from the dinner offering), pizza, and a couple of other dishes we were not interested in.
We had about 8 breakfasts at the hotel. Here there was not much variety. There was a cold table with fruits (melon), cold cuts and cheese. A few kinds of cereal were offered with cold or hot milk. And a very well-stocked bread table with sweet and plain little pastries and breads along with honey, jam and butter. There was a chef making omelettes or crepes to order. Hot dishes were hard-boiled eggs, sausage, beans, tomatoes with cheese, and hash browns. Normally I took an omelette with peppers and hash browns and Arthur had a cheese and tomato omelette with some sweet bread with jam on the side.
Overall we were very happy with the all-inclusive food choices. We each got sick once during the trip. I was ill the day after we ate at Hard Rock Café and Arthur was sick the day after we had dinner at Felfela. We should have never left Amar Sina!
The hotel has its own internet café, with rates from 10 EGP per half hour. The connection was reasonably fast but the proprietors were invariably smoking in the small air-conditioned space which left us stinking like an ashtray after just 30 minutes of use. There are also a few small souvenir shops on the premises and a fairly well-stocked grocery store where shoppers can pick up a wide variety of soft drinks, cookies and snacks, and supplies like sun lotion, soap, toothpaste, and batteries. Prices here were very fair.
There is no ATM on the premises but the nearest ones are within a 5 minute walk from the hotel. Within walking distance there are also a few other hotels with their own small shops, grocery stores and restaurants. However for serious shopping, dining and clubbing most would consider Na’ama Bay the place to go.
Of course the hotel also has an outstanding dive shop on the premises, Colona Divers, which was the main reason we chose the Amar Sina. It was very nice to step out of our room and walk down to Colona every morning we went diving, rather than being shuttled around in a van or taxi.