I like Egypt very much and have been there more than a dozen times for business and pleasure but it was my first time staying in Dahab. The Meridian is quite nicely designed, with every room having some sort of view of the sea. The cut-out quotes in various elements of the architecture and fittings aren't quite my thing but in the right places they cast some interesting shadows.
Our bedroom was spacious and everything worked. My wife was pleased to see a hand-held shower for the bath - a lot of places don't put one in, so women can't just wash their hair (which I have learnt is important). I was pleased to see a shaving mirror. We were both delighted that the climate control system really was one and not just an air cooler. That's because when we went, it was quite windy. That meant that after a swim, we become distinctly chilled (as in blue fingers chilled), so a blast of warm air was welcome. Other plus points - bath robes included, hair dryer effective, reasonable smellies and hair stuff in little bottles, linen and towels changed when you want, spotless housekeeping.
The staff could not have been better, attentive when you needed something, chatty when you wanted a chinwag, discreet when you wanted to be alone. The pool attendants went out of their way to ensure we had a place in the shade. The hotel's masseur is excellent and great value by European terms. Give it a go. Expect an hour to cost around €33-55 and talk to him directly. For some reason, it's cheaper to book with him direct rather than through the front desk. I have no idea why, given that the bill goes on your room anyway.
Food - breakfast is the standard international buffet and none the worse for that. The egg chef is nice and prepares them any way you like. Beef bacon takes some getting used to but the cats (there are several, very friendly and seem well looked after) like it well enough. We ate at the hotel only once. That night it was another buffet, not terribly exciting or adventurous but well cooked. In comparison to meals you can buy down the hill in Dahab, it was very expensive. I'd recommend getting the hotel minibus down to town each evening and doing an explore. That's free but book at the front desk to ensure a place.
Now for the minor niggles. Broadband is expected free from all hotels nowadays. I've stayed in tiny, remote places and there's been free broadband. And there is at the Meridian - if you know about it. Go to the reception area (which is vast) and you can log on at no charge. The trouble is, nobody tells you about this unless another guest lets you in to the secret. What is pushed is the USD25 a day service for WiFi elsewhere in the hotel. I asked the front desk why people weren't told about it and he said that guests are supposed to be told when they arrive. It would be good if that actually happened.
The hotel has five swimming pools, which is excellent, and they are big ones. The slight problem is that they don't look too clean, as in difficult to see the bottom clean, and while we were there at least, no pool bots were in evidence. I was told that they were cleaned every now and again by men in dive gear with scrubbing brushes and wire wool. I might be fussy but I like swimming in pools where the bottom isn't murky. Perhaps I'm over-sensitive.
And if you like your drink, be prepared to pay through the nose. A bottle of mineral water (the tap water is salty and undrinkable but fine for cleaning teeth) costs EGP15 (about £1.60) and you're going to get through a lot of them when it's hot. Buy downtown at EGP2-3 instead. Same goes for wine. In the hotel, it's EGP300 for a bottle of Egyptian wine (which has come on well in recent years and is now not bad at all), compared to EGP70-85 down the hill.
Given that most restaurants in Dahab do not have licences and are BYOs, this is a no-brainer. You'll get better food at cheaper prices and can bring your own drink. The town, if you are a nervous traveller, is perfectly safe, so do go out and about. The pester level is low and the banter often funny. For good eating, I'd recommend Essence (back from Dahab's bridge to the right, up some steps to a hotel) which is excellent. Try also the Thai at the blue house (turn left at the bridge, about 100 yards down the road on the left) and even the dubious-sounding Al Capone's. Their greeter was most persuasive and we were hooked when we said we'd eat there if we could get good mezze, which was not on the menu. No problem, he said, and it wasn't. Excellent mezze arrived with super flatbreads.
In a nushell, nice hotel, terrific staff and nothing so bad to put you off. It's an easy place to stay, relatively inexpensive and overall good value, if you avoid extraneous charges. I might well go back.
They are all much of a muchness - go for the cheapest unless you really want a suite. All have sea v...
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