Despite the fact that it stands opposite the airport, for better or worse, the Astral Sea Side is nevertheless the only 4 star hotel in Eilat overlooking the beach. Having been newly renovated in 2008, the decor here is certainly modern, but you'll soon see beyond the surface the lack of finish underneath. The guest rooms are large and the facilities decent enough so the hotel does offer good value for money on the whole.
This hotel review is a translation from the French published on our French site Easyvoyage.com.
In terms of location you'd be hard-pushed to do any better (or worse?) than this, depending on how you view being this close to the airport! Needless to say that whilst you can be in the hotel within minutes of getting off the plane, this also means you'll have to put up with the sound of aircraft landing and taking off nearby. Having said that, the hotel also stands facing the sea and virtually right on the promenade that runs along Eilat's beaches - perfect for those who fancy a browse around the night market or the neighbouring shopping centre, one of the most popular activities among tourists visiting the resort.
This is the only 4 star hotel to overlook the beach.
The hotel was originally built in the 70s and fully renovated in 2008, but it is still not the most welcoming looking place from the outdoor car park entrance. Inside, however, the modern decor is more charming and the spacious, comfortable lobby is undoubtedly one of the nicest parts of the hotel. Furnished with plenty of comfortable bench seats and adorned with a series of large photographs suspended from the ceiling, not to mention the subdued lighting, this is a great place for guests to relax outside of their rooms. It's just a shame that the smells from the neighbouring kitchens tend to hang in the air. The lobby bar, meanwhile, is open until 11:00pm, with entertainment provided every night.
Wandering around the establishment is a rather pleasant experience and the pool area is particularly nice. The ground has been designed to reflect the deck of a ship, with large wooden boards, whilst the 4 poster daybeds where guests can relax in the shade around the pool are topped with large, comfortable cushions. This profusion of white is of course extremely elegant but there is a downside to it: when you look a little closer you'll see the fabrics are rather dirty and worn. The large swimming pool, meanwhile, faces the sea and the nearby bar serves a selection of snacks. There is also a small mini-club on the basement level for children aged 5 to 12 which is open from 2:00pm to 5:00pm.
The 96 guest rooms at the hotel are spacious, with a floor area of around 20m², and thanks to the recent renovations both the furniture and the decor are now more modern. The materials used are certainly not what they could be and closer inspection reveals a few premature signs of wear; in fact, one of the suites we visited showed a clear lack of finish. Nevertheless, you'll find all the basic amenities, including a large flat-screen television. Bear in mind that lots of the rooms overlook the airport but all of them have a balcony. The bathrooms, meanwhile, are well-maintained and come with a hair-dryer and a bathtub. Free Wi-Fi is available on the 1st and 2nd floors; elsewhere, access is by a cable connection only and there is a charge for this service. Room service is available until midnight.
Guests staying at the Astral Seaside will have the choice between the bed & breakfast and the half-board formula, since only breakfast and dinner are served at the hotel. In the spacious and nicely decorated dining room, meals are served as a buffet, consisting of a combination of international and Israeli dishes, though theme nights are also organised now and then. The cuisine isn't really the hotel's strong point and some of the dishes are on the menu day in, day out, so a little more variety would be nice.
There is a charge for using the beach (about £2 for a deckchair and a parasol) but towels can be obtained free of charge from reception. The beaches of Eilat are a far cry from the Maldives, and although the water is crystal clear, the sand is pretty coarse and the seabed rather rocky so look out if you've got sensitive feet!
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