We stayed at the “Sunny Day Club Hotel” in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria from 28/06/2012 until 12/06/2012 .I should begin by expressing our opinions of the Hotel and then latterly of Bulgaria itself. We booked 2 weeks B&B. The Hotel was nice and clean with none of the problems that are shown in some of the pictures on this web page. The room cleaners came every day and they worked very hard to keep the hotel looking nice and clean. One of the first things to strike me was the overall look of the hotel and its features. On the photo’s it shows very clearly arches at the top floor, these are no longer there and the height of the hotel has increased since the old pictures with the new roof being flat with solar panels and water tanks. This does slightly spoil the overall aesthetics of the hotel a little; it is still not a tall hotel, which is good, as we do not like big tall hotels that look like 60’s tower blocks. Our room had the sofa bed assembled, which was to be expected, as we are a family of four. This made the room a little bit smaller space wise but we got on fine in it. Although there was a small fridge in the room, there was little else. There was NO kettle or drink making facilities so be warned; it costs 2 levs to hire a kettle each day so if you have a travel kettle, take it with you. Tea bags are for sale locally but are more expensive than teabags are back here in the UK and not as good. We was surprised at the lack of facilities in the room, maybe we was naïve in thinking that a B&B Hotel would have self catering equipment but we are unsure if you have to book a self catering room to get those facilities. This lack of Facilities meant you had to buy every item of food or drink from cafes or restaurants.
The cost of drinks in the hotel bar was quite reasonable at around 1.70 levs for a coke or fanta and considering the exchange rate was 2.38 levs to the pound, that worked out reasonable. In the Hotel Bar and restaurant the staff are very friendly but be warned, they always seem to be “struggling” for change, often they will round off your change in their favour which is quite a common practice in Bulgaria itself. If you have the correct money then they can’t do this. The sun beds in the hotel are the standard white PVC type but with NO cushions on so can get a bit uncomfortable. They do hire cushions out for a price, which we found expensive considering they are provided free at other hotels.
The pool bar wasn’t open for most of our stay but opened in the last few days we were there. The pool itself is very, very cold so ease yourself in steady LOL. As there are two really good slides into the pool its an obvious choice for those with kids, but you still get rowdy noisy people coming back to their rooms in the early hours with very little consideration for others. We think the Hotel could do with some signs asking residents to consider others when arriving late back to their rooms.
We upgraded to half board after our first evening eating out in a local restaurant, this cost us around £35 levs per night and although breakfast included drinks, this deal did NOT and drinks was charged extra which varied in price according to if you had the right change or not. In refection this was a very bad choice but at the time we didn’t fancy a nightly search for a decent place to eat that was a reasonable price. Night after night we was handed a single sheet of A4 size paper with choice of 2 soups, 2 vegetarian dishes, 2 main meals, and deserts which was the same every night, ice-cream, fruit or pancakes with chocolate sauce in them. The food was very cheap and very poor and we would NOT recommend anyone to upgrade to half board. It comprised mainly of chips, pasta, pizza, and reformed minced meats of differing kinds laden with spices. The breakfast was repetitive also with chocolate balls cereal and corn flakes with fruit and ham and cheese with a varying cooked breakfast with pot luck if bacon was on offer or not, also a selection of Bulgarian cakes and a toaster that takes three passes through to make your toast be not like just warm bread.
There is a reasonable exchange counter in the Hotel reception however DO NOT use this as an ATM, we wanted 500 levs from a cash machine so used their service, only when it came to sign on the line did we notice it said 540 levs and he only gave us 500, the rest was a charge of some kind. It is much better to exit the hotel, turn left, stay on the same side of the road and when you are at the traffic lights you will see a perfectly good proper cash machine which works very well. You cannot get a balance but can withdrawal your money from there without the charge from the hotel.
Outside the Hotel to the right, is the bus stop, the number one bus, for 1 lev each it takes you to Nessabar which is a beautiful place but has loads of women trying to sell magnetic necklaces and bracelets and although I said NO in three different languages, their response was simply (no problem) and it can take an awful long time to get rid of them, they also grabbed our daughters hand and tried the bracelet on her with out our consent, in a very pushy selling style.
Across the road from the hotel is a taxi rank, please discuss fares to and from destination before you even open the door if you intend to use one. A resident at our hotel got into an argument about a high fare for a short journey and the taxi driver ran off with one of his suitcases because he refused to pay his high fare.
As for Bulgaria itself.
We would describe Sunny Beach as a very warm version of Skegness.
The market stalls sell gimmicky toys like those barking puppy dog toys and radio controlled cars that would be cheaper if you bought them in the UK.
There are lots of over priced stores selling very cheap items each seller trying to fleece as much from you as they can.
Even price marked bottles of coke, which have 1.79 levs written on them, are re-priced with a higher price ticket on them especially for us visitors.
Walking along the seafront you get bombarded by promoters each saying that their food is the best and they do a kids menu etc etc.
We found most of the places to eat were all around the same price and they all sold the same kinds of foods with a family of four costing between 45levs upwards for meals and drink for us four.
Avoid “EMONA” restaurant, kept us waiting so long for a lunch order(over an hour) I told the staff that we came in there for lunch NOT dinner, so we left and ate at “FOOD BAR ISLAND” which is very close by. We got our order quite quickly but they forgot to bring my drink, which was charged for and they didn’t refund me when I mentioned this.
Almost every shop and market stall you go to, does not have change, this gets very annoying and repetitive, we think they are all hoping customers just say “keep the change” to save the hassle but don’t do this, insist on your change.
At any point of payment, whether a shop or bar or anywhere in Bulgaria, DO NOT say “thank you” as you pay. To a Bulgarian, to say thank you as you are making a payment means “keep the change”. Not knowing this, cost me, in the first few days wondering why I didn’t get any change.
Overall Bulgaria is a beautiful place to visit and the kids loved it there.
I personally would not revisit as the food is not very good on the whole and the kids did not like much that was on offer so almost lived entirely on chips.
I would compare Sunny beach to a low cost airline, it starts off sounding very cheap but almost everything is an optional extra that comes with a charge, even pubs charge you to use the toilets etc, so all those who say Bulgaria is cheap must look more closely.
Perhaps in a few years, when the locals learn what we like and dislike, then perhaps it will be a great place to visit. But for now, I would say its not an ideal place to visit but does have great potential and is a beautiful and lovely country with nice people.
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