I hated Hurghada. Everything about it. The resort. The town. The food. Everything. Our tour group arrived by bus around 9pm on a Thursday night to what appeared to be a luxurious all-inclusive 5 star resort, the Montillon Grand Horizon Beach Resort. Little did we know, it was just a façade.
My room looked amazing. It was bigger than my apartment in Istanbul. Only one problem – like the rest of the hotel, it was all nice on the surface, but when you started scratching, it wasn’t what it seemed. The bed was as hard as a rock. The room wasn’t properly cleaned. The bathroom, let’s not talk about it.
The best thing about the room was the view of the Red Sea from the spacious balcony. I spent a lot of time out there just staring off into the distance.
At the giant food court, there was an endless buffet of Egyptian and “normal” foods, like chicken and vegetables. The food was of very low quality for a supposed 5 star resort. Half of the food was inedible. The other half was just plain bad. The dessert table was probably the worst. Rock hard cookies. Cake that felt like sandpaper. Eating the jello was like putting a handful of rubber bands in my mouth. Yet with all the complaining, I managed to pile up my plate and dealt with it.
On the first morning, all we wanted to do was sit by the beach. We were so exhausted from all the temples and the relentless schedule thus far that we felt we deserved this beach time. Only, there were no chairs in the “good” section of the beach where you can actually enter the water. Those were all taken, mostly by very large Russian men (who were redder than a fire truck) accompanied by their wives.
In the evening, it was time to say goodbye to half of the group. A few of us were continuing with the tour for a couple more days while several others were returning to Cairo because they had booked a shorter tour. It was a sad goodbye for some that we had spent nearly every hour of every day with, especially Kim, Aischa, and Zina from Belgium. They were great company and I hope to meet them again some day.
As for those of us staying longer, a couple of us went and played Monopoly and laughed for a few hours while most of the other 12 remaining people went to a nightclub (I wasn’t in the mood for that).
The next day was spent lazily on the “good” part of the beach, followed by a short exploration of the city of Hurghada. Not surprisingly, it sucked.
Our first impression of Hurghada wasn’t bad. Shortly after leaving the resort, we came upon a gorgeous mosque. The setting sun gave it an amazing glowing effect.
It was all downhill from there. The main street of Hurghada is full of crappy shops and unappealing restaurants. It was commercialism at its finest. The air was full of exhaust fumes and there were piles of garbage on the ground. Supposedly, there’s a marina with nice restaurants and promenade, but nobody could tell us where it was, or we got the excuse “it’s closed” (Note: I found out later it was under renovation at the time of our visit). We did have one nice surprise – the place we chose to eat at was excellent. It was probably the best meal we had in all of Egypt.
We returned to the hotel to prepare for our overnight bus ride to Cairo. Ana got sucked into a cosmetics shop and had an overly touchy Egyptian guy rubbing cream on her face. She broke out. It wasn’t good. Once that was over, it was time to ride yet another uncomfortable bus through the desert for 7 miserable hours.
As for your choice of a beach holiday in Egypt, remember that Hurghada sucks. It seems like the type of place tourists go to a resort and never leave the compound for their entire stay. I’m sure there are better resorts and I’m sure the marina is nice, but I can’t speak for them. My advice: Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Go directly to Sharm el-Sheikh. You’ll have a better experience and there’s more to do.