Flight to Bodrum. Not much you can really say about any Easy Jet flight except that it does what is says, gets you there on the cheap and is no different in comfort from any BA economy flight except that Easy Jet seats don’t recline so that’s a massive bonus for a start, apart from that it’s a flying cigar tube and for three hours forty five minutes of purgatory it’s ok.
The wife and I decided to go racing and lose money once again so set off on a sunny morning walking along the Thames to Reading station. Finding out that we get (at least I think we do) an old farts over 60 discount costing us both £13.60 return, so leaving space for a few beers we booked the Hennessy restaurant on the top floor of the grandstand which is a great view but you are along way from going to the parade ring or a bookies. The food for the size of catering is excellent and a vast improvement on previous years. The biggest problem if your actually into racing is the majority of other diners who are all on a corporate piss up and have no idea or interest of what is actually going on, it this goes for most racecourses these days and I suppose it’s the only way a lot will survive. It’s still a good day out but slightly ruined by the loud guffawing Barrett’s head honchos getting very pissed on someone else’s money.
Ok now we love horse racing and booking the restaurant was a highlight to the days racing. At this course be very aware of where you are sat. The room is dull, boring and extremely tatty. Even though there are large glass windows overlooking the racecourse only the two front rows have any view at all which is good for them but all we and a dozen other tables looked onto was a dull wall and three doors leading to the private boxes. I’ve seen more interesting looking walls in public toilets than this with just one tv mounted high up on the wall and I’ve seen bigger in hotel bathrooms. The bar looked like I’d just popped down to B&Q for some screws and a bit of panelling another piece of tat.
The food is fine my other half said the soup was fine and my goats cheese was as well but how difficult is that. The beef was good, obviously water bathed but at least tasty, desert couldn’t say as im not into sugar so cheese was fine. The rest of the day was crap to be honest as we might of well been at home watching on a large tv from the comfort of my own sofa. The trek to watch or see a horse is a complete fag either two flights of stairs in the furthest corner of the room or down in a lift which was slower than a tortoise on speed. The young girl serving was lovely and nothing was her fault. We did complain that we should have been told that there was actually no view and that all persons in charge weren’t actually working and do care about our experience, really, have they actually sat at these tables. Will not be returning to the restaurant until it’s pulled down and rebuilt.
Unfortunately for any traveller Tunis Air is the only direct flight from the UK to Tunis and after this I’d prefer wing walking without the harness on a bi plane propelled by an elastic band. The thing that every Tunisian knows is that this airline possibly has the worst time table in the world making the UK rail system run as smooth as a Rolex. On boarding I wasn’t sure if the last pilot on this plane was one of the Wright brothers as I’ve seen more up to date tech savvy Space Invader games from the 70’s than was on this aircraft. The seats are like sitting on a park bench so knackered are they that we were sure a plank of wood had been screwed to the underneath to stop your arse falling through the seat. We had emergency exit seats so that the self opinionated it’s my right dick in front of us can’t recline their seat into your lap but on this flight I still cant work out if the seats in front reclined or was broken and just lurched back regardless, I’m sure it was the later as they all did this and recliners onto emergency exit seats are illegal in the air. Do take an iPad with films or something as there is nothing on these planes not even elevator music on boarding, boarding is a laugh as there was more luggage in the cabin than in the hold but this is nothing new on third world flights, it matters not a toss as to let’s board in rows from to etc I’ve seen more orderly scrums at Twickenham than this The crew and this is both ways were the most miserable buggers I’ve ever had, not a single word during service as they wheel the trolley to you and just look until you say water please. The food is utter tat a couple of dodgy tepid prawns ( wisely left), a small roasting tin of beef which was impervious to a hand held drill, tougher than my belt and two blobs of something else which smelt like old socks and used underpants. The Russian, Bulgarian, Romanian or whatevernext to me somehow wolfed the lot which left me thinking (and I did look) she’s going to regurgitate that lot as there were no sick bags in the seats.
That was the last we saw of the crew for the next 2 hours thirty mins of a 3 hour flight which was a god send as looking at them wanted to make me slit my throat. The rest of the flight was fine as long as you have earphones and something to listen to otherwise the rattles, jangling and every other lose bolt rattling away will drive you crazy. When the stormtrooper crew reappear it’s to tell you to turn everything off strap in pack all away and don’t move, all a good 45 mins before we even enter a holding pattern descend or throttle back to slow down so that a few more nuts and bolts can get lose. We arrive 3 and a half hours late and leave the plane with a stony look and no good bye, no I didn’t enjoy it thank you is a waste of breath to then be stuck in a queue at immigration with one board extremely slow immigration officer obviously enjoying his job and no ac in this concrete shed of an airport. As I said get the hotel car you’ll thank me for it. Oh god we have to return Tunis Air.
This hotel has got to be the cheapest Four Seasons anywhere. Maybe it’s because of the terrorist beach attack a few years back or because it’s just Tunisia which had a bit of a reputation for cheap all inclusive let’s get sunburnt to hell melanoma included , I can buy that in a bottle at home Brits abroard syndrome, but we felt safer here than walking through Knightsbridge. One sure fire thing to do is organise a hotel car from the airport. The reason for this is it’s Africa and no matter where you are all airports and queues are a free for all bum fight with a lack of cabs, also remember that the roll on Dove / Sure deodorant salesman hasn’t reached all of this part of the world yet and if you travel Tunis Air well you will arrive at any hour way way beyond the one printed on your schedule.
On arrival at the hotel the car is quickly scanned and the gates are opened onto a very Moorish design, what else would you expect I thought. Check in was efficient with all reception staff pre pressed and hair brushed to perfection all Four Seasons female front desk staff all seem to qualify for the front page of Vogue which also leaves me thinking that an amazing cosmetic dental plan is part of the package.
The hotel is a maze of corridors and small courtyards like rows of suburban semi detached Rihyads so losing your bearings is quiet easy. Our room 242 was at the very end with no one above and no direct neighbours. Dual aspect glass doors overlooked the pool, gardens and sea. All linens as expected are comfy as is the bed with a very thick mattress comforter. Wardrobe space is large and on both sides of the large entrance hall. Bathroom was well appointed with double basins, built in bath and very large shower. The bath could pose a problem if not entirely fit as it does bring a new meaning to can you get your leg over. Toiletries are not at all exciting L’ Occitaine if I remember correctly and not worth pinching.. Tv is easy to plug into HDMI though they do have the usual crap WiFi if you want to watch movies from your IPad, just read some of my other ramblings about the inconsistencies of this system.
The pool deck is well staffed and service is pretty good in most cases though some orders for water did come luke warm without ice but in general it’s good, sun loungers are comfortable and the amount of white fluffy towels you want is not a problem. The pool / beach restaurant is set out beautifully bar service can be hit and miss as you can wait an hour for the order but you’re on holiday so what the hell let the Americans moan about that one. It’s here that servers have a problem with English, ok it’s not their language but ask for something check that they understand and they say “yes sir” to check this say “is it ok if I kill you”, when they answer “yes sir” look for someone who does understand English. Food here is also hit and miss ie pizza nice and thin but tinned tuna on top, where did that come from it wasn’t mentioned on the menu. Note: Tinned tuna is very common on food in Tunisia, as far as I’m concerned that would be fine if I was a cat. The beach is small but private and the guys are happy to rearrange your lounger in the sun, free water is served along with the usual pay for it stuff. It’s cooler on the beach than at the pool.
The main restaurant “The Creek Bistro” is excellent, never have we eaten every night in a hotel. The exec chef is a Spanish guy called Omar and he has worked in many of the places we have eaten in Spain like El Buli, Sergei Arola etc and the food is brilliant, hurry because he’s off to a new Four Seasons Madrid at the end of October where we will be going. The hotel staff are great and nothing was a problem and all were very helpful on local restaurants for lunch. Really good hotel for 5 day flop.
Just a quick five day break with guaranteed sun usually staying on the Palm in the One & Only but with this new Mandarin opening and being much closer to down town and the Gold Souk and having a beach it seemed like a good bet. Arrival is impressive the guys outside are excellent at welcoming you and taking care of the luggage. Checkin was efficient and friendly though I did get knocked out of my stride when seeing that we were English was asked “ how’s Liverpool” ?. I had to think about this as I do have a London accent but remained at a loss until the bloke said he’s from Egypt and was referring to Mo Salah the Liverpool player. Mate listen if I was from Liverpool you’d be getting a translator in and being from Shepherds Bush have no interest in the prmiershite or Mr Salah. Anyway checkin completed we were shown to the room, the hotel is really well appointed with the Arabic favourite coffee and cake shop which they all love and was busy at 11.30pm ,check out Knightsbridge between June to September at this time of night to see what I mean.
Onto the room, it was nice but with Amex we do get an automatic upgrade if available, this was not offered. The Rottweiler knowing the hotel was pretty empty immediately requested to speak to management while I quietly sat in a chair in the original room not wanting to witness the decapitation of some poor midnight stand in. As per usual this should have been offered but for some reason the Egyptian supporting Liverpool fan had failed to inexplicably offer the upgrade. So in all fairness and I applaud the management ( though we are regulars of said hotel group) they upgraded us to a suite of 1,800 sq ft though what you do with all this space is beyond me. We also had to wait for housekeeping to check the room and so were shown to the bar for a drink. Not sure who designed this bar but we are talking dark so dark that I had to get the torch on my phone to read the drinks listIt. The room was excellent with his and hers toilets,Nespresso machine a microwave built into a cupboard but not sure why but came in handy to heat the milk for the coffee. Overly large sofa which sits about eight, dining table for four if you want some instant dinners in said microwave I guess and obligatory 50” flat screen. Bedroom was oversized, bed and linens excellent with another TV, extra overspill couch and coffee table. Bathroom all in marble with a shower big enough for a small rave, egg shaped bath and two sinks with very large Art Deco mirror covering the entire wall, all of this topped off with over the top gold bling taps to ruin it all, but we are in Arab land and after five years in Saudi they are like Magpies and love a bit of shiny bling. Everything here is automatic including lights blinds etc so have fun pushing buttons which is a man thing. If like us you have movies on your IPad and want to watch something on the tele we usually plug in an HDMI cable but not here. You spend about ten minutes farting around with the connect to WiFi instructions on tv screen only to fail time and again. Do persist as it does work but then the signal does fall out frequently, bloody annoying so didn’t bother.
Breakfast is excellent and beautifully laid out, everything you can think of is provided except in this part of the world real bacon so get used to beef or turkey bacon which is pretty good. Also if you are on the 5th floor there is the club lounge which also does breakfast which is quieter obviously and has a view of down town and the Burge Khalifa. The other advantage of this is happy hour where they serve Taittanger Champagne or anything else with freshly prepared nibbles so from 5.30 till 7pm it’s a must visit.
Pool deck service is the best we have come across, most of the guys are from various African countries and are really attentive and interesting to talk to. The pool is only a meter or so deep but is chilled in the summer months, a cool bag is provided with cool mist spray cool towels and water, an even cooler thing is the bloke who comes round with a tank on his back and a spray which looks like he’s going to spray bug killer or fertiliser but no he sprays you with chilled water then someone polishes your sunglasses, to top it all there’s freebies like frozen yoghurt, lollies and drinks served throughout the day.
Food in the main restaurant a sort of Zumba like copy is good though full of the expat brigade where most of the women wear less clothing than they do in London so amazing that all those in fillers and plastic bits don’t droop in the heat. This is an excellent hotel not far from downtown and with enough amenities to keep you occupied during the day.
Looking through Trip Advisor we picked this restaurant after reading some reviews without checking what other places reviewers had eaten in as this is mighty important as you kneed to know what reviewers are used to, what they deem to be expensive or cheap and to actually find out if they know what’s on their plate or are happy to pay for ambiance. The location is amazing with beautiful views over the bay and looking back at the Four Seasons on the other side. The restaurant is very impressive and beautifully fitted out. On entering the waiters were very attentive and helpful so everything was looking good. I had read it was expensive but we were not prepared for these prices which were equal to Michelin star prices in London but without the chef.
We Both chose a hot starter mine being grilled squid 28 euros, and the fair haired one
cuttlefish. Can’t complain about the cooking of the squid or the cuttlefish but if it’s advertised to be hot why did they both come cold ?. On returning the dishes it was noticeable that the waiters do seem to do a half marathon from kitchen to table but I can’t honestly be sure about the distance but said dishes did reappear luke warm so could have gone for third time lucky. My main was Sea Bass fillet which I asked to be undercooked which seemed to be no problem what arrived was a crispy skin covering some dry cotton wool the second attempt was not really any better than the first. So food is very hit and miss which at these prices does not mean good value or enjoyment.
Obviously this place has a following which by the look of the clientele are large older rich guys accompanied by their underweight daughters. I did mention on Trip Advisor that most diners here have more money than sense and got slated for being rude and using bad language by the management but I do stand by that fact and I can also applaud the restaurant for building a reputation on this type of punter and having places like the Four Seasons recommending it, but they do recommend anything that’s expensive and I have doubts as to whether the concierge actually knows what he’s talking about but the majority of those guests are loaded.
All in all this is an excellent establishment to pose in and some of the food while well cooked was nice but other dishes forgettable, service was polite and attentive but at the end of the day it’s a designer label lovers paradise so should do even better when the hordes of crap chat, mug book photo my self, my plate but don’t eat it Chinese tourists find this area.