Why Egypt is my go to holiday destination
If you're looking for sun, sea, sand and a touch of luxury on a budget, then Egypt may well be the holiday destination for you. An abundance of superb hotels along the coast and sunshine all year round and heaps of things to do make it a great choice for families.
Hi, I'm Claire and as a busy mum of three, my ideal holiday destination needs to do two main things. Firstly, it has to be fun and enjoyable for my kids because if they're happy, I'm happy. And secondly, it needs to make me feel a bit pampered so that I can relax. Not having to cook meals or clean for a week or more is what I'm after.
I've been to Egypt a few times and we're booked to go again this December because I just can't fault it. What really stands out for me is the quality of the hotels for the price that you pay. Whilst it might not be the cheapest holiday destination, it certainly doesn't need to be expensive, and with the prices of holidays shooting up all over the place, Egypt is a strong contender to replace a more traditional European option, in my view.
Egypt doesn't feel as fully 'on the map' for family holidays as it could or should be. So I thought I'd share some of the highlights of our last trip there and the reasons why we'll be going back in the years to come, to help address this. This review is based on my own personal experience of a holiday we purchased as a family and we would go back in a heartbeat.
We booked with TUI and the whole experience was faultless. In fact, I found the holiday online and then wanted to know more about the layout of the family room and was able to speak to a TUI rep over the phone who looked into it for me and was able to confirm everything there and then. Having someone to speak to was so helpful and reassuring.
We stayed at the Sunrise Diamond Beach Resort in Sharm El Sheikh which was as dreamy as it looked online when we booked. We chose this particular hotel as the family rooms were incredibly well equipped with separate sleeping areas, lots of storage and a modern design. Getting the room right is vital, as I love my kids but I'd prefer to have my own space when on holiday as it can get a bit intense. We also booked because of the amazing facilities... more on that further down.
We live in London and the flight time to Egypt is just under 5 hours, so not long haul by any means. I try to pack a good selection of activities to keep little hands and brains busy, from card games to fidget toys and you can read about it more here. I always also make sure I've packed a good snack box for each of my kids as it helps keep bad moods at bay. I also pack one for myself, if I've got time!
On arrival in Egypt, security was straightforward and there is a small Visa charge per person which is around $25. My top tip is to pay it when you arrive as you may end up paying more if you try to sort it out in advance. We flew in to Sharm El Sheikh Airport which is small but well run and it was easy to find our coach which was the transfer to our hotel, which took about 45 minutes.
Once at the hotel, we were welcomed with tea and given our room key quickly. Our luggage was taken for us to our room and it was a treat to find we were on the ground floor and our balcony opened up onto the children's pool. No need to worry about a sun-bed I thought, not that I would have needed to as there were more than enough. Our room was split into two parts, a children's sleeping area and an adult sleeping area with the bathroom and storage area with tea and coffee facilities in the middle with interconnecting doors. Everything was clean, modern and finished to a high standard, so I knew I could relax.
The food during our holiday at Sunrise Diamond Beach Resort was delicious and with kids in tow, we often ate at the buffet which was centrally located and had beautiful panoramic views of the resort and the sea. Whilst you serve yourself food, the drinks are via a waiter and so no annoying queues for coffee. In fact, there was a lovely waiter who got to know us during our stay and got our drinks for us without needing to ask which was a lovely touch. There were a selection of a la carte restaurants you could easily book in the hotel lobby - we had no issue getting reservations. You could also have an Egyptian breakfast experience by the beach - which we did - and absolutely loved it. When else do you get to do that sort of thing? And as our holiday happened to be over Christmas, we had a fabulous four course evening meal on Christmas Eve by the sea which I will never forget. Little touches like cocktails served on arrival at dinner really made the evenings feel special.
What made the holiday so easy was that the outdoor pools were heated, which the kids splashed about in all day long. The weather was beautifully warm but not scorchingly hot (in December) so it was perfect for our kids. The hotel has a fantastic kids pool, equipped with area for littler ones and a huge slide and flume section for older kids. It really is like a mini waterpark on your doorstep which was such a bonus. It was also very contained in one area so wherever you are, you'll be able to see your kids which I always worry about on holiday. This pool is where we spent most of our days but also also enjoyed the larger lagoon pool with swim up bar, overlooking the ocean. Bliss.
Excursions and experiences...
We didn't do any excursions whilst we were there but they are readily available. We got talking to other holidaymakers who had been out to the sand dunes which they had loved, although there is of course a cost. We wanted to go snorkelling but it would have taken up too much of our holiday to fully prep so decided against it on this occasion but would definitely consider it next time. We are however planning to go snorkelling next time we go and to make it super easy, we hope to do some of the prep work in our local pool who run sessions so we can get the most out of it when we are next away.
Photographs and extras....
We don't normally have professional photographs taken of us as a family but we got chatting to George, the photographer onsite at Sunrise Diamond Beach and decided to go for it. We weren't disappointed and he went the extra mile to produce some stunning pictures at sunset which we now have up on the wall in our living room. It is easy to turn down things like this on holiday but we're glad we didn't on this occasion. We did get asked many times if we wanted to have a treatment in the spa. Initially I decided against it and then remembered I was on holiday and changed my mind and booked a block of a few massages which worked out much cheaper than having them at home, and oh my, the were truly wonderful. It is important to treat yourself on holiday and I certainly felt myself physically relax after being pummelled for an hour!
The thing we found with holidaying in Egypt is that everything really is taken care of. The hotels tend to be really spacious with excellent facilities and lots of choice. The sun shines all year round and so it is the perfect location for some winter sun, as well as a great summer holiday destination if you don't mind the heat. I can't help but think that you get value for money by going that extra hour on the plane than some of the 'usual' European destinations and there is something quite exotic about Egypt that makes a holiday there particularly special.
We have partnered with TUI to bring you this article. The holiday was purchased and was not a gift and this review is an honest reflection of a truly great experience. This article contains affiliate links from which we may earn a small commission if used to purchase a holiday.