My girlfriend's family lives in the small rural village of Stoyan Mihailovskiy in Eastern Bulgaria. It is located about 20km from the city of Shumen and about 70km from the major coastal city of Varna. Therefore, on our trip to visit them, we spent quite a bit of time in Shumen, but also wanted to sample the delights of the Black Sea. To do this, we decided to stay in an apartment her uncle owned and rented out to students. As term time had finished it was available and, importantly for us, it was free. However, the last tenants had left it in an appalling state. The floor was dirty, the kitchen ransacked and curtains torn from the walls. Therefore, I declared to my girlfriend that we ought to move on and find another place to stay. She suggested that we head 20km up the coast to the tourist resort Golden Sands.
We arrived in Golden Sands by bus with no reservations and no guidebook to give us tips on where to stay. The bus dropped us off about 2km from the sea-front on top of the hill that descends to the beach. So, as we walked down to the sea, we were searching for hotels at a good price. We found a few, but they seemed rather expensive (80lv) considering they were a good walk from the beach. So, we decided to walk to the promenade and take our chances. This plan did not start particularly well. Firstly, there are not actually not that many hotels on the promenade as it is taken up by restaurants and shops. Secondly, the first hotel we found was the Admiral, the most expensive in town (212lv per night – over 100 Euro). Thankfully, 30m away from the Admiral, not quite on the promenade but still overlooking the seas was the Emra. It proved to be a hit.
Without a reservation in the height of summer we were a little worried that we might have problems. And, we did a little. The receptionist informed us that the only rooms they had were without air-conditioning. However, as they were just 50lv (less than 25 Euro) we decided to chance it. The climate control aside, the room was very good. It was basic and quite small, but it was clean and comfortable. It came with a well-stocked (an reasonably priced mini-bar) and perhaps more importantly a balcony that over-looked the pool and then out onto the beach and the sea. We quickly thought to ourselves that we had enjoyed a stroke of good luck.
The facilities in the hotel were also very good. We absolutely loved the pool. The main swimming area was situated in front of the hotel and was an absolute sun-trap, making it perfect for a bit of sun-bathing. The pool was also very large and well-heated. Around this there were plenty of sun loungers upon which to relax and there was even a gazebo set aside for massages – these cost the rather reasonable price of 30lv for 30 minutes.
The only quibble I would have with the Emra was the food. As we had come at the last minute, the deal we had was for room only. So, we had to pay 6lv each for the buffet breakfast (about 3 Euro). This price was extremely reasonable and the selection was very large. However, I was disappointed by the quality of certain aspects. My girlfriend assured me that the Bulgarian white cheese was excellent., Sadly, I found the sausages and scrambled eggs to be inedible. There was also a rather disappointing selection of cereals and some less than alluring looking fruit that gave the impression it had been there at the previous day';s breakfast. I had to console myself with toast and mildly stale croissant.
For less than 25 Euro at the last minute, the Emra was a fantastic place to stay. The location was fantastic, the room was good and the facilities also very good. I would just go out for breakfast.