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The Mail checks right into a £40-a-night hotel on Sunny Beach in Bulgaria – and is impressed

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‘The largest mistake people make about Sunny Beach is to think that it’s just for teenagers.’ That’s what Bulgarian travel agent Tanko Kovalev tells me.

Later, stretched out on a poolside recliner, idly speculating concerning the ages of my fellow guests, I feel he is perhaps right.

I can see a superb spread of pensioners. The chap snoozing under a tree, sporting a white walrus moustache, looks like a time traveller from the nineteenth century.

Reasonably priced: Thomas W. Hodgkinson checks into Riu Helios Paradise in Sunny Beach (pictured)

Thomas writes: 'For a decade or so, the middle part of Sunny Beach - a pristine sweep of sand on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast (above) - has heaved with sunburnt teenagers getting drunk on £2 pints of beer. But stay at the bottom, or at the top, and you can avoid the wet T-shirt competitions and punch-ups'

Thomas writes: ‘For a decade or so, the center a part of Sunny Beach – a pristine sweep of sand on Bulgaria’s Black Coastline (above) – has heaved with sunburnt teenagers getting drunk on £2 pints of beer. But stay at the underside, or at the highest, and you may avoid the wet T-shirt competitions and punch-ups’

The Riu Helios Paradise is 'a 597-room, four-star behemoth in terracotta', writes Thomas. A hotel that 'slightly resembles the Harrods Furniture Depository on the Thames'

The Riu Helios Paradise is ‘a 597-room, four-star behemoth in terracotta’, writes Thomas. A hotel that ‘barely resembles the Harrods Furniture Depository on the Thames’

Thomas walks along the beach to Funny Pub (above)... 'where the action is'. He says it's 'Brit-central'. He adds: 'Nearby, I spot a lurid-looking restaurant.

Thomas walks along the beach to Funny Pub (above)… ‘where the motion is’. He says it’s ‘Brit-central’. He adds: ‘Nearby, I spot a lurid-looking restaurant. “We never close”, the sign outside declares’

For a decade or so, the center a part of Sunny Beach — a pristine sweep of sand on Bulgaria’s Black Coastline — has heaved with sunburnt teenagers getting drunk on £2 pints of beer. But stay at the underside, or at the highest, and you may avoid the wet T-shirt competitions and punch-ups.

The number-one appeal is how low cost it’s. Sunny Beach is alleged to be certainly one of the most cost effective beach destinations in all of Europe.

Bearing this in mind, I’m impressed by the looks of the Riu Helios Paradise, where I’m berthed.

A 597-room, four-star behemoth in terracotta, it barely resembles the Harrods Furniture Depository on the Thames. I’m paying £40 an evening, all inclusive (alcohol, too).

It has five restaurants. There are also 4 swimming pools. And should you’re feeling more adventurous, the Black Sea is on the doorstep.

Its water is oddly unsalty, so you’re feeling more such as you’re swimming in a lake. Neither is it black, by the way in which. The name is owing to its violent winter storms, that are bad news for sailors.

My fellow guests include German and French people, but they’re mainly Britons. John from Stoke Newington tells me he bought a house near here in 2005 for £12,000. Since then, he has done nothing with it. He just comes out every few years to have a look at it. I get talking to 2 women from Bristol, who’re on their honeymoon. They’re having a pleasant time but are finding it quiet in early May.

Thomas's fellow guests at the Riu Helios Paradise (above) 'include German and French people, but they are mainly Britons'

Thomas’s fellow guests on the Riu Helios Paradise (above) ‘include German and French people, but they’re mainly Britons’

Thomas reveals that one of his fellows guests 'had her handbag stolen off the back of her wheelchair'

Thomas reveals that certainly one of his fellows guests ‘had her handbag stolen off the back of her wheelchair’

TUI is offering all-inclusive, one-week packages, staying at the Riu Helios Paradise (above), starting at £520pp including flights

TUI is offering all-inclusive, one-week packages, staying on the Riu Helios Paradise (above), starting at £520pp including flights

One among them, Shelley, had her handbag stolen off the back of her wheelchair. This was ‘disappointing’, she says.

Within the evening, they recommend Funny Pub, which is ‘where the motion is’. A half-hour walk along the beach, it’s Brit-central. Nearby, I spot a lurid-looking restaurant. ‘We never close’, the sign outside declares.

On the bar, having fun with my £2 pint of local Kamenitza beer, I strike up a conversation with a person named Russell from Swansea. As a poetry fan, I ask him if he likes Dylan Thomas.

‘More for the drinking than the writing,’ comes the reply. Russell, too, has bought a small house, an hour’s walk inland within the village of Tankovo. Every evening, he strides all the way down to the beach to drink the low cost beer.

'Bounce' and ‘Viking’ are two of the most popular Sunny Beach (above) nightclubs. When Thomas checks them out online he finds 'photos of writhing, blissed-out adolescents: images of heaven or hell, depending on your definition'

‘Bounce’ and ‘Viking’ are two of the most well-liked Sunny Beach (above) nightclubs. When Thomas checks them out online he finds ‘photos of writhing, blissed-out adolescents: images of heaven or hell, depending in your definition’

A dip in the Black Sea (above, at Sunny Beach) is like swimming in a lake, Thomas reveals, as its water is 'oddly unsalty'

A dip within the Black Sea (above, at Sunny Beach) is like swimming in a lake, Thomas reveals, as its water is ‘oddly unsalty’

Thomas visited the ancient town of Nessebar (pictured), which is twenty minutes away from the hotel. 'It’s easy to explore and is home to incredible Byzantine churches,' he says

Thomas visited the traditional town of Nessebar (pictured), which is twenty minutes away from the hotel. ‘It’s easy to explore and is home to incredible Byzantine churches,’ he says 

TRAVEL FACTS 

TUI is offering all-inclusive, one-week packages, staying on the Riu Helios Paradise in Sunny Beach, starting at £520pp including flights (tui.co.uk).

Funny Pub is loud. The live band blasts out renditions of Can’t Help Falling In Love, Losing My Religion and Wish You Were Here. I ask the barman to recommend some clubs and he shouts back: ‘Bounce!’ and ‘Viking!’ Looking online, I find photos of writhing, blissed-out adolescents: images of heaven or hell, depending in your definition.

In the event you’re within the mood for culture, Sunny Beach offers that, too. 

Twenty minutes away, on a little bit peninsula protruding into the Black Sea, sits the traditional town of Nessebar. It’s easy to explore and is home to incredible Byzantine churches. The icons and murals are beautiful to behold.

Tucking into my kebab at Nessebar’s Hemingway restaurant (goodness, that guy got around), I reflect that I made the appropriate selection in coming to Sunny Beach.

Nessebar has been a discovery. However the highlight is spending one whole day beside the numerous pools of the Helios Paradise — reading, daydreaming and, at one point, helping myself to a banana ice cream.

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