Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

The Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh

Egypt

This impeccably designed resort is a tour-de-force in contemporary Arabic architecture

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The Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh
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The Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh

Location

Sits on the Red sea

Travel Information

Hurghada International Airport - 20 minute drive

Top Tips

Diving is big here - whether you are a beginner or certified PADI, you should give it a go

5-Star X-Factors

Reminiscent of traditional Arabic style, the hotel boasts 40 acres, with a certified PADI dive center and private beach

MORE REVIEWS OF
THIS PROPERTY

Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh - Desert and The Red Sea
Romancing the Red Sea

MORE REVIEWS OF
THIS PROPERTY

Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh - Desert and The Red Sea
Romancing the Red Sea

Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh - Desert and The Red Sea

Did you know that over 90% of Egypt is desert? Surprisingly enough though, this does not leave a barren landscape in its sandy midst. It's mountainous, rich in animal life, and has some of the world's most spectacular sand dunes.

We flew from Cairo to Hurgada to stay at the Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh. Hurgada, once a modest fishing village, now spreads wide with much construction still under way. Ramadan was in full swing, and contrary to guide books implying it was a disruptive time to travel, we found it to be extremely peaceful and wholly welcoming. Arriving here feels a little like a moon landing. There is gravity, of course, but little else. En route to the resort we glided past several rather nasty excuses for hotels, all singing/dancing/water slides and rather Disneyesque. However 'our' oasis, the Sahl Hasheesh, was a genuine cut above the rest.

The Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh is beautifully designed, with Moorish touches and sits sympathetically within its desert and palm landscape, where trees, regarded as sacred, have remained untouched. The domed suites in sandstone hues, house courtyards with small green lawns which spill onto soft white sand. Nature plays the starring role here as a cashmere soft cream beach slides towards one of the planet's sparkling jewels, the turquoise and sapphire hued Red Sea, which is blissfuly crowned by a cobalt blue sky. Vermilion bougainvillea has wrapped its tendrils around soaring palms, which stand out against the pale camel coloured walls. Nothing here jars with nature, it simply compliments. It is THE place to stay on The Red Sea and is exceptional value for a hotel that sits comfortably among the most exclusive resorts worldwide. It just so happens though, that you also have two staggeringly spectacular natural phenomena to enjoy: the Red Sea and the Eastern Desert.

The X-tra Factors

The Wondrous Red Sea

If only I had really understood years ago that you didn't have to reach the Indian or Pacific Oceans to marvel at the underwater world. In less than five hours you can dip your mask into a sea inhabiting some of nature's most magnificent revelations. In the Red Sea, which was acclaimed by scientists in 1989 to be one of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World, you can marvel at the coral mountains rising from the sea bed, shallow reefs swarming with vibrantly coloured fish, coral encrusted shipwrecks, larger species from rays to turtles and reef sharks, in a wondrously translucent sea. The coastline reefs create shallow, calm lagoons, a perfect nursery for schools of smaller fish and for those less inclined to use aqualungs. Here there is both soft and hard coral in a myriad of reds, purples and blues and with over 1000 species of marine life. What's more, you get extremely fit snorkelling and burn up a vast amount of calories. For once, an extreme workout combined with extreme pleasure.

The Eastern Desert

This is a vast desert, rimmed by the majestic Red Sea Mountains to the East and the Nile Valley to the West. It holds an intriguing history in its sandy folds, including rock inscriptions, ancient gold mines, wells, watchtowers and religious shrines. It is also exceptionally beautiful and a trip out here is well worthwhile. Watching the sun setting over the mountains with such unique radiance is incredible and then the sudden drop exposing an overwhelming expanse of deep infinity is a humbling experience while the desert castelation that turns on is truly transfixing.

With Family

This is a great family destination. We took our two youngest, aged 6 and 8 and they both agreed it was their 'best holiday ever'. We did also stay a couple of nights in Cairo, which delighted, ignited and erupted their imaginations - See Mena House Oberoi. Bearing in mind that Egypt is only one hour ahead of Europe at this time of year, there is no jet lag and the flight is only around 4-5 hours. It's an obvious choice for short-haul exotica, relaxation and adventure. There is so much to do simply staying in and around the resort although we did a couple of exciting excursions as well.

Our Suites

We had interconnecting sea view suites that were stylish in design and authenticly decorated. The furniture is solid and attractive while super-king sized beds dressed in soft Egyptian cotton stretch out towards the courtyard, which has a dining table, chairs and teak loungers, perfect for star gazing. The sitting room is capacious and a well-stocked minibar sits within a large armoire-styled chest with intricate trelliswork. The bathrooms are sublime: a square sunken marble bath and enormous shower face a small private walled garden and are stocked with a generous supply of holistic, locally produced, spa products. 

Sans enfant

Several couples were enjoying honeymoons and romantic time-out at the resort; it caters neatly for both because of its undulating private layout and spacious pool, restaurant, and bar areas. You can dine almost anywhere, with notice. The wonderful curvy pier is fabulous at night, lighting up the turquoise sea to illuminate the fish, while a personal butler provides exclusive service. Or, the honeymoon corner, where we dined amongst rose petals facing a moonlit sea on earthy hand woven camel hair Bedouin rugs, with our fingers dipping into the cooling silky-soft sand. We chose a mixed seafood grill: prawns, lobster, catch of the day, with many spicy and exotic sauces on the side. Our candle burnt deep into the moonlight while our children slept soundly thanks to a watchful babysitter provided by the hotel. You can do it every which way at this oasis.

A Gastronomic Delight

Breakfast - a feast fit for Cleopatra and her court.
Lunch - Under the gazebo next to the pool and overlooking the sea is a real treat. We always chose catch of the day: chunky, meaty, perfectly cooked grouper, placed on a bed of lightly cooked vegetables. Dips and breads of all varieties are complimentary and we found an Egyptian white wine that was compatible. French wines are pricey here.
Dinner - You are quite simply spoilt for choice. The food is really good here, but I think the Indian restaurant was our favourite. We voted it the Best Curry Outside Bombay.

The Ubiquitous Service

The service is also special. On-the-button yes, but also extremely charming and always willing to compromise. Nothing is too much effort; room service is fantastic and eating by candlelight in your terraced garden with a starlit sky is a memorable option.

Excursions

There is no need to go anywhere else to see the magnificent array of sea life as you can drop into the sea from the pier and swim with parrots, damsels and angels galore and the reef itself is still alive and spectacular. However, we chose to charter a private boat for the day in order to explore the reefs farther afield. We used the dive centre, which has a base at Sahl Hasheesh, and had an amazing day. The children snorkelled in calm waters and developed both a love and technique, which will keep them in good stead for their next water adventure. We stopped at several reefs, lunched mid-sea on a fabulous spread of Egyptian cuisine and returned by 4.30pm for Thai massages in the soothing spa off the pool area.

Supper/Safari in the Desert

An afternoon and early supper at a Bedouin 'camp'. It is organised down to turning on the stars, so all you need do is sit back and enjoy the ride. En route to the 'Bedouin' camp you can ask the driver to stop for some album opportunities and sand dune roly polies.

The saddest part of this trip was naturally the departure. Not having a full week here we felt robbed of this extra time that could only have enriched our lives and would have relaxed us completely.

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant

Romancing the Red Sea

The Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh is the most luxurious all-suite resort on the coast of the Red Sea at Hurgada. Set in 48 acres of Palm scattered grounds and fringing 850 metres of silky soft white beach, this has to be a perfect setting for a chic retreat. The Red Sea is a diver's and snorkeller's paradise with rays, turtles and eels swimming among a variety of fancy fish darting in and out of beautiful coral. What a treat only a few steps from your suite!

Voted "Best Resort on the Red Sea" and here's why:

The Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh location is stunning, hugging hundreds of metres of sand, overlooking the exotic Red Sea and it has, of course, the unbeatable advantage of the Oberoi's platinum standard of service. Luxury is on tap here, both naturally and sophisticatedly. The architecture is exotic reflecting the Arabic influences of the region with domes and columns in sand-coloured stripes. It stands out in striking contrast against the blues of the sea and sky.

The Suite Review

The 63 Deluxe Suites and 21 Superior Deluxe Suites are spacious and elegant with extravagant bathrooms with sunken marble baths overlooking a private walled garden. The 12 larger Grand Suites have their own private pool, and this is heated during the cooler months.

There are six sublime Royal Suites: they really are for the Sheba's of this world, with a separate sitting/dining room, a pantry and a guest bathroom. They have too their own temperature controlled pools in a private courtyard with palms and bourgonvillia and they also have an outdoor dining pavilion for star gazing with stunning views over the sea.

Spa Spoiling

With a combination of sun, sea, snorkelling and Arabic sands, a rub down in essential oils in a serene spa is sensational. It is a beautiful spa run by Banyan Tree, offering holistic therapies based on ancient Egyptian and Oriental techniques. Relaxing after a treatment and massage, under the Gazebo, beside the incredible pool, is spa shangri-la.

Romantic Dining

The restaurant serves an a la carte menu of Continental and Oriental cuisine with sea views so you can dine al fresco marvelling at the illuminated domes under planets and stars. The Pergola is a poolside restaurant with views of the sea and offers great cocktails and light snacks throughout the day. Zaafran is for the more exotic palate offering an interesting blend of Oriental and Indian specialities. Live performances of the Oriental Takht take place in the evening and there is also a bar at the front of the pool serving a selection of drinks. Live instrumental music wafts out over the domes and beyond when the velvet night sets in.

Out and About

The Red Sea is a premier diving destination coveted by diving enthusiasts the world over. The visibility is fantastically translucent, with a depth of 30 metres of clear water. Near to the resort is Giftun Island where divers and snorklers can explore the coral reefs and swim freely among the exotic marine life. The incredible sites of Luxor, Karnak and the Valley of the Kings are a three-hour drive from the resort. There are also elaborate day trips on offer and desert safaris to Bedouin camps, which need to be arranged through the hotel.

Getting there

Hughada International Airport has flights to and from most European cities: Cairo is a mere 50 minutes flight away and a 6-hour drive and Luxor is only 3 hours away. There is also a ferry that departs from Sharm el Sheikh 4 days a week, arriving at Hurghada 90 minutes later. The Oberoi will organise all transfers.

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant


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