Booked almost at random, based on the look of the place from internet searching after finding it on Holiday-Rentals and because we could get 6 of us there from Birmingham to Barcelona for a reasonable price during peak holidays.
Delighted with our choice all-round. A 90+ minutes drive South from Barcelona along an easy toll motorway with some lovely views of the Med. Then 10 minutes drive from L’Ampolla itself, past some quiet residential areas. The property is a complex of around 50 houses and a 4 star hotel sharing a small peninsular with a few dozen private villas. We chose a 3 bedroom house, in a rough circle around an excellent shared pool in beautifully maintained gardens. Other houses extended beyond the pool area but were less desireable as a result. Our house, like many others (but not all) had a private hedged garden opening onto the shared lawns, not 10 metres from the pool’s edge. Houses on one side of the pool had their gardens facing the street and the Med beyond but for me seemed less well appointed than ours.
Nice touches included a substantial tiled patio area with a range of furniture and small wall sections in the garden boundaries between hedges which included a fixed garden table and bench seating and an area for barbecueing.
The pool(s) were the highlight. A circle split by a boardwalk bridge, with a good sized ‘kids’ pool on one side with decent depths to around 1.2metres, then a 2 metre drop into the adult pool with depths of up to 4 metres, making for some outstanding jumping and diving opportunities. Both were enwrapped by lovely lawns with occasional olive tress for shade and some fixed park bench seating. Most of our two weeks was spent in the water or lounging on the lawns watching the kids.
The house itself was over two floors with a roof terrace, though most others were three floors and apparently slightly larger as a result. Ours was perfectly adequate for a family of six with two bathrooms, both with very effective showers and a full size tub in one. Comfortable beds, a balcony out front of the main bedroom, good sofas and full size open plan kitchen finished the package.
The hotel a short walk away through the gardens was very open and modern, with lots of covered sitting areas and good use of glass to give a light and upmarket feel. Generally shaped to face into the entertainment area of the numerous pools, tennis courts, kids play areas etc. We found the pools a bit soulless and returned to our ‘private’ pool after one visit. Just a personal view with four small kids but otherwise they were perfectly pleasant with partial views of the sea, loads of sunlounger space and an unusual set up of a number of conjoined rectangular pools which the kids enjoyed switching between. Also, despite being high season, the pool area was surprisingly quiet – but only in terms of foot traffic. Sadly, the eurofunk/pop trend has not gone away since my last Med stay many moons ago. Whether a couple of dozen middle aged French visitors and their selection of teenage kids really want to hear ‘Boom Bang a Bang’ type muzak as they recline in the sun seems a moot point as they seem to be destined to get it all day long.
The hotel also has a full spa which my partner used and enjoyed and, I believe, a rooftop pool for those staying in ‘VIP’ rooms. We didn’t use the restaurants but they looked very pleasant, again, very light and open leading to a feel almost of a central atrium area on two levels off from which all the facilities could be accessed. No real sense of a hotel ‘bar’ as such, rather than a couple of café bars serving the common areas generally.
Two shingle beaches could be accessed on foot within five minutes, one either side of the peninsular. The better sand beaches, two that we used, were 5 and 10 minutes by car on the way to town. Both were excellent, smallish coves with great sand, simple facilities, and rocky outcrops at each end to give the kids something to climb over, hunt for crabs in or allow the older folk a bit of hopeful fishing. We did some very good snorkelling in 1-3 metres of water, just metres off the beach.
The town of L’Ampolla has plenty for the quiet family or couple break. Perhaps 6 restaurants looking onto the marina and a few others dotted along the coast road or a block or two off the seafront. No more than a few gift / tourist shops, a half dozen relaxed café bars and a couple of adequate ‘supermarkets’. All very close together and accessible, but shopping-wise not of any use for strolling around. Just simple, practical shops to supply a holiday and pick up a couple of gifts. There are lots of options of day trips, to Portaventura theme parks, water parks, Tortosa etc but we just threw our plans out of the window and chilled out.
Couple of notes for the picky. Yes, you will need a car to even get to a shop and, no, there aren’t many Brits or English speakers around. This is a Spanish location with a large number of French visitors. You will need to learn a few basic words but to be honest, most restaurants had some element of English on the menus.
Catalan Ways, the letting agents, were outstanding. Excellent English speaking service before and during our visit. A very useful arrival pack including wine (though the previous residents’ failure to get very far into a bottle of gin was also welcome!) and some very useful restaurant guides and free wine offers that were honoured wherever we went. Of the restaurants, we used a few and were not disappointed. Like many ‘non-touristy’ resorts the restaurants were very similar with staple Spanish menus so location and service were often the key features. Special word for ‘Perales’ on both counts. For the best location, a short walk down a rocky path, across a small beach, then up some steps to dine beside the ocean overlooking a small cove. Take a torch for the walk back and for use as a blunt instrument when needed to attract attention from the particularly poor waitress who seems to be getting a reputation from what we can gather. Vanessa’s a ‘pizzeria’ disguised in a quiet residential area as a villa’s garden was a surprising treat. Lovely service in a very pretty garden and great thin pizza and salads for very sensible prices, including wines starting at 6 euros. Perfect for a stop off after an afternoon at Cap Roig beach, the pick of the beaches and only 100 metres from Vanessa’s.
Now all it needs is to keep this little gem a secret, so don’t go telling anyone about it!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC