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Hotel Helnan Marina Sharm Hotel Hotel 4 star
Easyexperts
Naama Bay Sharm El Sheikh South Sinai Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt -
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Amy Adejokun Section editor

If there was a Sham el Sheikh hotel alumni, the Helnan would be part of the old boys club. This grand edifice right in front of the Red Sea is one of the resort's original hotels although you'd never know it from the way it has been looked after. Popular with foreign tourists (Italians, Russians, British) as well as Egyptians, it is suitable for families, couples or groups of friends. With a great location, good infrastructure and friendly staff you need look no further for your Naama Bay base.

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    Location 3.0 /10

    Being one of the first buildings, let alone hotels, to be constructed in the Sinai, the Helnan enjoys a prime sea front location on the far edge of the Naama Bay zone which is eight miles from the airport. The neighbouring zones of Hadaba and Shark's Bay are each a 10-15 minute drive away. To get to the beach you need only to cross the road in front of the hotel.

    Accommodation 8.20 /10

    Unsurprisingly, given its past, the Helnan is a smart, symmetrical, orderly looking affair, a little out of sorts with the buildings surrounding it. The gates, the flags and what look like watch towers incorporated into the main building all point to its military origins. Inside the lobby reminds of a cruise ship deck, although our judgment might be clouded by the presence of the word Marina in the hotel's name. In any case it is vast in comparison to others in Sharm and perhaps a little sparse too. Under the central glass chandelier is a seating area organised round a giant rug. In each corner of the hall and around the edges are yet more cosy sofas with the reception in the far right hand corner. Just off the lobby you'll find the bar and main restaurant as well as a few souvenir shops and the gold hand railed stair case leading upstairs. A cash machine is also installed for your convenience. The hotel has two simply shaped swimming pools, both exposed to the sun all day long and each with plenty of sun beds and parasols to go round. Between the two are a jacuzzi and a kids pool. The animation team is made up of six English-speaking animators who will keep the whole family occupied with activities during the day as well as shows in the evening. They also offer a babysitting service at the rate of 200EGP/hour. For those who like to keep fit while away, head to the decent gym and wellness centre where you'll find all you need to exercise as well as relax. On site you can play a number of sports including table tennis and pool while there are plenty more activities available on the beach. In case of any medical emergency there are both a clinic and pharmacy site and a doctor on 24 hour call. Wifi is free in the lobby where there are also internet connected PCs. As if in homage to its military beginnings, everything at the Helnan is prim and proper and both the buildings and common spaces are very well maintained. It is one of the few hotels which rises more than two storeys and as such the hotel has five lifts serving as many floors. The hotel also has a terrace which hosts some of the entertainment put on and from which the views of the Red Sea and the Sinai Mountains are stunning, however on our visit this was closed and due to reopen in November 2009.

    Overview 8.20 /10

    Five categories make up the hotel's 305 rooms, the smallest of which, the superior room, is actually quite pokey when compared to the rest of the standard rooms in Sharm and would not look out of place in a major European city. Despite its size the superior has a pleasant feel with good quality linen and bright curtains and pictures livening up the room. There is just enough space to walk around the bed past the dresser and baggage stand (both marble-topped) while the small balconies (fifth floor only) have sea views. The bathrooms, while small, have walk-in showers with glass doors, bowl shaped wash basins, toiletries and hairdryers and are in decent condition. Deluxe rooms, the next category up, share the same specifications although are slightly bigger and can accommodate up to four people (one of which should be a child). The middle category, Royal Club offers more comfort in the form of a king size bed, a couch and coffee table, flatscreen television with DVD player, tea and coffee facilities, a good range of branded toiletries and a tub in the bathroom. For even more space and luxury go for the junior or presidential suites. All rooms are equipped with safe, fridge or minibar and air conditioning.

    Food and drink 8.45 /10

    Sharm Café is the main restaurant which offers an international buffet which runs on a weekly cycle. The room has no particularly distinguishing features although the choice of cuisine is fairly wide and presented with care. The Marina Café is the à la carte option which proposes an international menu with a backdrop, just like the main restaurant, of the Red Sea and Sinai Mountains. There are three bars to choose from on the hotel premises, starting with the warm and homely lobby bar where Hollywood stars look down upon cushioned couches and velvet armchairs. The round pool bar, featuring Moroccan style tiling, is another option for beverages while, once the terrace reopens in November, you'll have yet another place to enjoy sipping a cocktail watching the remarkable view.

    Beach 8.45 /10

    The Helnan's beach is just across from the hotel. Both wide and deep, there is plenty of space for sunbathing without being on top of your neighbour and the parasols provide apt shade should you not wish to be directly in the sun. The sand is of a good quality and the descent into the water is slight. A jetty extends into the sea for all those wishing to snorkel while for those looking to dive or partake in some water sports, there are centres on the beach where you can book your trips. Not only does the beach have its own bar, but the Mermaid Restaurant serves up seafood and Italian specialities in an area at the back of the beach. A children's playground and massage tents are also to be found on the beach.

    To know

    Before being a hotel, the building was used by the Israeli military (during the time Sinai was part of Israel) to house their soldiers and their families. However in 1973 the building came under the Egyptian authorities as the Sinai became part of Egypt. Helnan took over the property in 1991 since when it has invested millions of dollars to make it what it is today.

    Equipment

    • Shuttle bus
    • Car park
    • Handicap access
    • Restaurant
    • Internet access
    • Air conditioning
    • Spa

      spa, wellness, beauty salon, massage, Turkish bath, keep fit, sauna

    • Swimming pool
    • Sports equipment

      gym, paddle boats, water skiing, sports, tennis, volleyball, fitness

    • Animals allowed
    • Safe
    • Meeting room

    Traveller Reviews

    • Overall Score nc/10
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