In a small Bedouin fishing village, just 80km north of the bustling resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt lies some of the best scuba diving in Egypt and on the Red Sea. The town of Dahab is still extremely small and quaint, yet offers hotels for every type of traveler. The small fishing village still withholds its charm, including small buildings, building half erected and left to crumble, and families going about their daily lives. The revolution has truly affected this town, bringing tourism to a near halt and destroying the key income many people have come to rely on as the village transformed from a fishing village to a protected underwater playground for divers.
The village is great place to get in touch with nature, walk the streets and night, smoke shisha with locals, drink traditional Bedouin tea, or share a beer with Bedouins whose life has transformed as the dive sites were discovered. Unlike the bustling Sharm el-Sheikh, Dahab only has a few big resorts and all the resorts are south of the city on the bay (or locally known as the lagoon).
With the resorts more than a mile from town, the village keeps its small town feel. Good deals and amazing Egyptian food can still be found at rock bottom prices. Falafel for less than $1 and traditional Bedouin meals for less than $3 is possible in the center of the city. It also helps that the closest airport is in Sharm and tourists traveling to Dahab is dampened by poorly maintained roads and unreliable bus service. Despite this, Dahab is worth the trip to get away from the crowds and enjoy Egypt at its best. Not to mention, top notch diving and the famous Blue Hole!
After three nights in a local hotel in the center of Dahab, my travel companion and myself decided to move to the nearby Dahab Hilton. The Hilton is located next to the rest of the resorts in Dahab on the Lagoon and offers the best beaches in Dahab.
The city itself is not built on the beach, but instead a rocky shallow port which is not ideal for swimming or sun bathing. Prices were out of this world low at only $60 a night (inclusive of breakfast). This was a great excuse to stay in a 5 star hotel, but also obtain the final three nights I needed to maintain HHonors gold status.
The hotel offers a number of villas located around large sparkling blue lagoons and beach front suites that overlook the beach and bay. Upon check in we had opted for a standard room, but due to extremely low occupancy were upgraded to a deluxe room. Service was professional the entire time and the bell man walked us to our room.
Overall, our stay at the hotel was fantastic and we enjoyed lounging at the beach, but the highlight of the resort is that it is close to town, making it possible to walk just 20 minutes to the center of the city; meaning we were not cut off from locals or good traditional Egyptian food.
The hotel is currently getting ready to close down as Hilton is selling it off and the hotel will not continue to be part of the Hilton family after January 1st. During our stay, the staff was still unsure of who the new owners would be, but there were rumors that either Marriott, the Four Seasons, or Radisson were going to buy the property. Despite the possible sell off, the place was extremely clean, kept up, and functions to the standards of all Hilton Resorts. The only problem was the place was empty.
The breakfast buffet that was included in our room was decent, offering a wide verity of Egyptian and western food, but the western style items left lot to be desired. Potatoes were unseasoned and uncooked and the French toast was soggy. Despite this, the Egyptian food items were much better—and remember, the hotel is in Egypt, so of course the western food items aren’t going to be top notch! We only had dinner one night at the hotel, and again the food was just mediocre. Therefore, we decided that after breakfast each day, we were to have lunch and dinner, town where there were more options. The good news was that eating at the resort was very affordable. Prices for food and alcohol were not much more than eating in town and still extremely cheap by western standards.
Our hotel room was beautiful. Simple, slightly outdated but extremely well kept. Our room had a peak-a-boo ocean view, a large patio with a hammock and table (offered on all rooms), 2 twin beds, satellite TV, a love seat with a fold out bed, work station, and two fluffy bath robes. The hotel also offered little welcome gifts which included a large fruit plate (which was replenished each morning by housekeeping), his & hers sandals, and a book mark.
The downside to the room was there was no in-room wifi and wifi at the resort was only available in public areas. Another issue that came up was that Hilton HHonors elite only received one wifi code, which only works on one device and cannot be shared across devices.
Overall the resort was beautiful despite being in the final weeks before closing. Many of the restaurants were closed, but with the resort operating at only about 10% occupancy, it would not be financially viable for the resort to keep all their restaurants and bars open.
The Hilton Dahab is by far one of the nicest resorts in Dahab with extremely friendly and accommodating staff. I am sad to see that this resort will not remain a Hilton as it’s a great place to relax on holiday and there is no reason why with the right marking the hotel could not make a full recovery.
I just spent a week in the Peninsula of Sinai in Egypt (Dec 2013) and I happy to report that it’s extremely safe to travel and people are extremely welcoming. In Sinai there is no signs of political unrest and life is extremely peaceful. If you are considering a trip to the Middle East, I would HIGHLY recommend Egypt!