Fort Arabesque, Hurghada
Updated: Aug 31, 2018
Flying from Birmingham to Hurghada. Flight length 5½ hours.
Hotel - Fort Arabesque in Makadi Bay.
Info: We booked through Thomas Cook however I'd recommend comparing prices online as they do vary.
I've been asked a lot of questions about currency when travelling to Egypt, firstly you can choose between Egyptian pound LE, GBP, USD or Euros. We always take some English money with us and then get LE when we are in Egypt as the exchange rate is better when out there. If you have some spare LE from a previous holiday it is worth taking it for tipping. You can tip in other currencies but staff will often ask you to change English coins and Euros into notes as they cannot bank the loose change; this is ok if you don't mind coming home with a pocketful of pound coins. We found tipping a £1-2 a day is plenty and staff are grateful for the tips, this means you will get a better service from them, i.e. extra drinks in your room, waiter service in restaurants etc., The exchange rate during our visit was 23LE to £1. Upon arrival at Hurghada Airport you must complete a Visa card, this currently costs approx. £20 and GBP/USD are accepted. There is a lot of confusion over the visa's and the cost of them. Some people said they weren't given change when paying in GBP and others were saying it is best to get the visa's from a bank. When we arrived they were selling the visa's as we passed through security, this caused minimal delay. There are smoking areas within the luggage collection halls. There is also a duty free shop which you can look in whilst waiting for your luggage to arrive. It is worth bearing in mind that to buy duty free alcohol and cigarettes this must be done within 48 hours of your arrival and you will need your passport to do so. The airport is military run, very clean with efficient staff. Transfers are from the front of the airport and easy to find. You will find travel reps waiting by the main doors who will check you details and provide you with your bus number. The bus is air conditioned and the transfer took about 30-40 minutes from the airport.
Upon arrival at the hotel, we completed the obligatory paperwork and were shown to our room. Fort Arabesque is not a big hotel therefore all rooms are in a good position for the beach, pools and dining rooms. We stayed in room 120, which was the beach end of the hotel. Rooms are big, there was two double beds, shower room with sink and toilet. There is a double wardrobe with free safe in it. One thing of note is that there are no tea and coffee making facilities in the standard rooms. We did ask about this at reception and they informed us we could hire a kettle for five Euros a day. Probably cheaper to buy a kettle than pay that.
Rooms have a balcony with a table and two chairs. Smoking is outside the room only. The west wing of this hotel has recently been refurbished, we did not see an apartment in this block but according to staff it has its own dining and bar area and is situated slightly further away from reception. This hotel also has villas and there are prices available for upgrades. When we asked about this we were provided with a comprehensive list of the prices and was then told, there are none available :S
The grounds at the hotel are lovely and well kempt, you see the gardeners cleaning, pruning and watering the grounds on a daily basis. All areas are well signposted and the beach is just a few minutes away.
Firstly there is a beach bar which serves hot and cold drinks and also hot and cold snacks at different times throughout the day and there are also toilet facilities here. The towel kiosk is on the beachfront and you can change your towels daily so no need to take wet towels back to your rooms. There is a beach service available at the hotel where you can reserve sunbeds, have a personal ice box with 2 beers, 2 soft drinks, 2 juices and 2 bottles of water along with 2 x fruit skewers. The charge for this is 5 Euros daily or 30 Euros per week. If you plan on spending most of your stay at the beach and want to guarantee a sunbed on the shore then this is made for you. The snorkelling is much better than the beaches in Hurghada itself, this is due to there being 'house reefs' just off the beach and this is the reason any people stay in Makadi Bay.
There was nightly entertainment at the terrace bar next to reception, this consisted of singers or a small band, you an also go to the arena where the animations team perform their shows nightly. Don't expect quality entertainment, it quite often sounds like karaoke but I guess if you've had a few drinks you might not even notice ;)
Buffet style meals, breakfast is served from 07.00 - 10.00 hrs, lunch 13.00 - 14.30 hrs and dinner 19.00 22.00 hrs. Compared to some hotels the food wasn't brilliant, I'm sure you can always find something to eat but we weren't overly impressed with the choices. There are three Al La Carte restaurants, The Beach Bar, The Grill house and The Villas Pavilion, these are all charged separately and there is no free A La Carte evenings, again something we felt let the hotel down.
One of the biggest negatives we found at this hotel is that the staff did not seem happy, there was the odd one or two that were friendly and helpful but on the whole it seemed most didn't want to be there. We have stayed at two other hotels in Hurghada and not come across this level of apathy in the staff before. Reception staff were not friendly or helpful so much so that we had to ask to speak to a manager on one occasion. When we arrived the safe was not working, we called reception and they said they would send someone over. This didn't happen and we had to go back the following day. After speaking to our rep, we finally managed to get them to change the safe to one that worked. The second complaint was harder to manage. The room we stayed in was at the end of the block and every morning and evening the bathroom stank of sewerage, we asked reception to send someone to look at the problem and once again they were very slow to react. It finally resulted in me being sick and my husband storming up to reception, demanding to speak to our Rep and then a Manager before we got moved to the room next door being informed 120 should not have been used due to the pipe system which had caused it to smell. Strangely enough the following day it was in use again! Oh and just to let you know for recompense we were offered a basket of fruit to make us feel better. Obviously that didn't go down well and we managed to barter a late room instead. Since returning home and a subsequent poor review on tripadvisor we have received contact from one of the hotel managers who seems keen to rectify the problems and resolve our issues. Time will tell if this comes to fruition.
The other issue we found with this hotel, unlike may others we have stayed at there is no free wifi at all. If you want to access the internet you have to buy code cards from reception. Our advice is to hire a wifi unit when you arrive, much cheaper and if you book this through a trip operator with whom you book your day trips you will find you get a much better deal. We used, Mohamed, better known as Elvis at https://www.facebook.com/groups/NabqToursHrg/
I will review our trips separately. You will find sales reps approaching you on the beach, our advice is not to use them as they will try to overcharge you, the tour operator prices and higher and again we found using a recommended trip operator much better and more personal as they only take small group bookings and you don't end up on a large bus picking up lots of people.
Makadi Bay is a lovely area to stay if you enjoy the quiet and snorkelling, however it is about 30 mins outside the main town and marina. A taxi to Hurghada will cost about £15 each way, again if you book through Nabq tours as above you can book your taxi for a better price. There is not a lot to do outside of the hotel although you can take a walk along the beach front and outside the other hotels. We were informed that there is a few shops at one of the other hotels but we never found it. If you enjoy shopping then head to Sheraton Street in Hurghada where you can haggle away to your own delight. you could tie this in with an evening at the Marina where there are lots of lovely bars and entertainment.
More photos can be found at https://holidaydestinationhurghada.blogspot.com/2018/01/fort-arabesque-hurghada.html
For info on things to do an places to visit, click here