Sitting on the Black Sea, Sunny Beach is the most popular tourist destination in Bulgaria, attracting holiday-makers from across Europe including the UK, Russia, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, as well as from Israel. The holiday resort is well-known for its non-stop parties, cheap prices and, as it’s title would suggest, it’s sunny climate.
As we were only going to Sunny Beach for a week, we wanted to be right at the heart of the action, with all our food and drinks covered as part of an all-inclusive package.
We stayed at the 4* Hotel Kuban Resort and Aquapark because it was reasonably priced in comparison to other resorts and it offered an all-inclusive package for a small premium. Furthermore, being such a big kid, I couldn’t resist the sound of the on-site aquapark. We paid around £314 each on Booking.com to stay at the hotel for seven nights including full-board catering, all house soft drinks and alcoholic beverages (imported products were chargeable), and free WiFi (which was actually more reliable and faster than any I’ve experienced elsewhere). This wasn’t exactly cheap, but we booked last minute and we knew we wanted to travel during a specific week of June, so it was one of the best deals we could find. You could also try looking for Booking.com promotional codes which can enable you to save even more on hotel stays.
At first impressions, the tall tower block that loomed before me when our shuttle transfer arrived at the resort looked nothing like either the luxurious 5-star resorts, or the budget hostels that I’ve stayed in previously.
We wheeled our suitcases in to the hotel reception area, where we were able to check-in immediately. The check-in process was relatively quick and hassle-free – they simply checked our booking, confirmed that we had already paid, and put our passports in a safe to act as a security deposit. We were then escorted to our room by the friendly porter, George.
We had to wait a few minutes for the lift, because there were only three small lifts servicing the entire hotel. This was frustrating during busy periods, such as meal times, when we would sometimes have to wait up to five minutes for the lift to arrive.
When we entered our room, I wasn’t exactly blown away. It was pretty basic, the beige-brown colour scheme was dull and old-fashioned, and I suspect the bedding hadn’t been ironed.
The bathroom wasn’t too bad. Consisting of a toilet, sink, mirror and a bath with an overhead shower, it was somewhat cramped but it was spotless. As is often the case in hotels, the hairdryer in the bathroom was useless – good job I brought my own with me!
On the whole, despite being a little out-dated and basic for a 4* hotel, our room was clean and tidy, there was plenty of storage space and we had everything we needed – including a fantastic view over Sunny Beach from our balcony.
After getting settled into our room, we went to explore what else Hotel Kuban had to offer. I headed straight for the aquapark, keen to size up the slides that I would be throwing myself down over the next week or so. It was more of a swimming pool with slides than an aquapark, but it was the coolest hotel pool I’ve ever seen.
I can only imagine how much fun you could have here as a kid – I had a pretty good time myself! However, it’s worth bearing in mind that there are no lifeguards at the top of the slides – just one lifeguard next to the pool – so you may need to supervise your children on the slides.
Besides swimming, you can keep fit and ensure you’re looking and feeling your best during your stay at Hotel Kuban by visiting the spa and fitness centre, located on the ground floor next to the pool. This consists of a fully-equipped gym, sauna, Turkish bath and treatment room offering peeling, facials and massages; each available at an additional cost.
On the ground floor, you’ll also find a games room full of arcade and slot machines, and pool/snooker tables, not to mention the lobby bar!
The lobby bar is decked out in crisp white and black tones, with a large, wire-framed wall-clock and thoughtful quotes printed onto the wall creating an eclectic vibe.
Open from 10am – 2am, the bar served a range of house beers, spirits, wines and ciders, alongside imported varieties.
Feeling peckish, we took the lift to the first floor; where the restaurant is located. It has a buffet-style set up, with a number of different options available for breakfast 7.30-10am), lunch (12.30-2.30pm) and dinner (6-9pm)
That evening, we had a choice of meatballs, fish, chicken and veg dishes. I tried a bit of everything and, unfortunately, I was really unimpressed with the quality of the food. The chicken was so dry, it seemed like it’d been kept hot for ages, whilst the meat content in the meatballs was so low that they were unpleasantly soft and mushy. The breaded burger in the below picture was actually labelled up as chicken nuggets but the meat inside was so dark, I’m not 100% sure that it was even chicken.
The cheesy veg bake wasn’t too bad, but the rest of the food was enough to put me off dining in the restaurant for lunch and dinner throughout the rest of the holiday. Once we realised how cheap it was to eat out in Sunny Beach, we dined out most of the time.
Breakfast was a slight improvement, but still didn’t do much to improve my perceptions. The most appealing option was the continental breakfast, which included a range of salamis, cured meats and cheeses on display in a chilled cabinet, with a selection of bread rolls available.
The made-to-order pancakes and fried eggs were a big hit too; although it meant queuing for around ten minutes, as there was only one staff member cooking and serving. The French toast and pastries were delicious, too. One word of advice: if you sit on the terrace outside, don’t turn your back on your food for one minute – we waited ages for fried eggs, only for a seagull to swoop down onto our table and gobble them all up when we weren’t looking!
The snack bar next to the pool served food from 10.30am – 5pm when the restaurant was closed. Upon booking, we were told there would be a range of sandwiches and hot snacks available. In actual fact, the choice consisted of just one kind of pizza each day, French fries, pâté on sliced bread topped with cucumber and, sometimes, some leftover French toast from breakfast. From 3-5pm, the snack bar also served ice cream, cookies and cakes.
The snack bar also served as a poolside bar, offering a limited selection of soft drinks, spirits and beer.
Throughout the day and in the early evening, Hotel Kuban ran a children’s club next to the pool. Kids could take part in dancing, crafts and games, supervised by trained staff.
Later on in the evening, the entertainment was more targeted at adults, but it still had quite a childish nature. The ‘Mr. Hotel Kuban’ game, for example, involved grown men volunteering themselves to dress up as famous female pop icons (think Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Britney Spears) and perform dance routines to some of their most well-known songs. It was actually pretty amusing, although we would’ve tired of this cabaret-style entertainment pretty quickly, so we tended to visit bars and clubs on the main strip as opposed to staying in the hotel.
Casinos are pretty popular in Sunny Beach and Hotel Kuban had it’s own one on the first floor of the hotel, which could also be accessed from the street.
Hotel Kuban Resort and Aquapark is probably the most conveniently located hotel in the whole of Sunny Beach. The best beach is only around 150m away, whilst the nearest shops, bars and restaurants are just yards from the hotel. It’s also based right next to a taxi rank and the pick-up point for the blue tourist bus/train. Be warned that the taxi drivers will try to rip you off by charging you excessive prices, so either get your hotel to place the booking and confirm the cost for you in advance, or get prices from three different taxi drivers and go with the cheapest one.
On the whole, we enjoyed our stay at Hotel Kuban Resort and Aquapark. We were located right in the heart of Sunny Beach, with excellent views over the whole strip, and the customer service was really good, although some staff couldn’t speak basic English.
However, the basic appearance of our room and the poor quality of the food were not consistent with the standards I would expect from a 4* hotel, I was somewhat letdown by the aquapark because it was basically a swimming pool with a few slides, and we got fed up of waiting for the lifts. It definitely wasn’t worth going all-inclusive either, because it cost us around £100 extra each and we barely ate in the hotel, while drinks were so cheap to buy elsewhere.
This hotel would be best-suited to a family with children, who can make the most of the on-site aquapark/swimming pool, children’s club, night-time entertainment, and food and drink.
Kuban Resort and Aquapark
Sunny Beach Resort,
Sunny Beach, 8240,
Tel: 00359 5542 2309
What qualities do you look for when choosing a hotel to stay in?
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