Classic Luxury at Egypt’s Hyatt Regency, Sharm el Sheikh Hotel

A diver’s paradise flanked by the Red Sea, on the Sinai peninsula, the city of Sharm el Sheikh is one of few Egyptian cities attracting tourists these days.

At hotels like the Hyatt Regency, you’d never know there were state department warnings about the area. American expats, Brits, Russians and Emirati families and couples populate the four main pools and private beach.

The Hyatt is a classic resort — cascading rooms allowing sea views for all, from basic rooms to diplomatic suites and villas. The concept of four different pools is the real standout. One is a wide circle, engulfing a lazy river with serious opportunities for Jaws re-enactments and superhero play with massive, cavernous coves and waterfalls. A water slide drops to flights into a pool, facing another one better for swimming, reflecting intuitive thinking about options for both kids and grownups camping out on the same deck. But the best one of all is the quiet pool, where it’s over 16s only, with plenty of laps logged.

It’s a 10-minute taxi ride to lively Na’ama Bay, the main commercial hub of Sharm el Sheikh, where there are several restaurants, both American chains and local seafood joints, as well as shopping, or haggling, as it were, galore. It may be worth the cab fare, as the Hyatt’s dining options are eye-wateringly priced to match London restaurants; a bit of home no one will welcome. In fact, although we enjoyed delicious, soft, spongy layered cakes for dessert, we were astonished to learn, at £6/$9.50, they were even more expensive than a big name chef’s recently opened restaurant in London, just near the Ritz.

It’s true, hotel food is never cheap, but there’s typically less gouging in Sharm hotels. We ate at the Souk, where half a dozen different restaurant stands offer a wide choice of cuisine. Each diner is given a cloth bag of coins, allowing you to mix and match, paying with the tokens, which are counted at the end.

Lovely idea, except it’s essentially a made-to-order buffet, which doesn’t work so well if you have any interest in eating together. And little things which normally come with the meal, like pappadums, or rice, are extra. It’s all a bit stingy, with little payoff, except those desserts. A better plan may be to head for Sala Thai, their signature restaurant.

Or, fill up on the breakfast buffet, which is so vast, a small taste of everything will ensure you have no room for dinner. A mini-pancake and waffle bar with toppings was a treat, and falafel was so light and fluffy, I couldn’t resist, even at 9am.

If big breakfasts and peaceful pool time is your thing, this is the place.