This was the third hotel in Sardinia as part of our two-week drive around the island. By that time, I had already got an impression that the quality of top-end properties on Sardinia’s northwest coast is somewhat varied. This hotel was, however, a nice surprise both in terms of design and service and is something that you would normally expect from a good four-star plus hotel in Northern Europe.
As some other reviewers have already mentioned, the hotel sits on many acres of a beautiful pinewood and consists of the main building and numerous villas (family suites, to my reckoning) tastefully scattered in groups throughout the grounds. My first overall impression was that the place did have style and class.
If you are by all means looking for sea views, please note that the hotel does not have such rooms – a nice pinewood view is all they can offer. Although the reception staff told me that there is one villa close to the beach that does have “some sea view” (whatever it means in real terms), I got a strong feeling that this vague description was simply a wrapper for a glimpse of the sea through the leafy boughs of pine trees.
As regards the annoying construction works reported by earlier reviewers, you may be relieved to learn that there are none anywhere around the main building at the moment. I spotted that some works were under way on a couple of villas close to the golf course, but that was at least a mile away from the main premises and I really heard no noise at all. Another piece of good news for those who are going to rent a convertible for their island driving is that now you could be pretty safe getting to the place with the top down as now the stretch of road that leads to the hotel from the highway is almost fully paved.
Though we arrived on September 7 (Sardinia attracts huge crowds from mainland Italy during August, so if you plan your vacation for this peak season, you’d better make a reservation well in advance), the hotel was almost fully booked, so all they could offer was a classic room on the second floor of the main building. I cannot help mentioning a nice touch from the reception, who sent us a bowl of fresh strawberries, homemade cookies and a small flower arrangement just minutes after we had checked into the room (probably making up for their failure to accommodate us in the room we wanted as the hotel was fully booked).
Our room turned out to be fairly decent in size and had a balcony with two brown plastic-woven armchairs with white canvas cushions and a matching coffee table – plastic or not, it all looked pretty attractive. The room proper was impeccably clean and looked quite mint (the same goes for the bathroom). My wife and I liked the minimalist style and colour scheme they used (our cup of tea, but then again, it is all a matter of taste). I believe that the pictures on the hotel webpage (you may want to check out mine too) give a pretty fair idea of what to expect in terms of room design and such. So see for yourselves if this would work for you. The smart lighting arrangement in the room creates a cosy and relaxing atmosphere in the evening. Thumbs up for the bed too, which was comfortable enough and generous in size. The bathroom looked both aesthetically pleasing to the eye and functional – a lot of natural stone, a walk-in shower enclosure with a rain shower head and a separate hand shower, a bathtub, bathrobes, slippers and all that stuff that you usually find in a hotel of similar class. All in all, we liked the room - plain solid colours with purple, dark red and royal blue accents here and there. Conceptually, it reminded me of a room in the Andaz Liverpool Street (Hyatt) in London, a five-star hotel where I stayed on one of my business trips.
An easy five-minute stroll along a paved walking and golf buggy track through the pinewoods with its dry, woodsy, coniferous aromas (so relax, no dust anymore) takes you to what is no doubt a good beach for the Sardinian northwest coast.
Once you have passed a hotel coffee bar (so favourite with local wasps that I had to finish my espresso in one gulp) under a huge sail-shaped canvas shade just a few steps away from the beach and reached the top of the dunes, you instantly get a feeling that this long, deep strand of fairly fine sand is almost exclusively reserved for the hotel guests. The number of other vacationers in sight was indeed virtually next to zero. The hotel tanning beds and canvas sunshades are of good quality and the towel service on the beach is just excellent - no hassle with ridiculous towel cards or a limited number of towels per person.
As for the beach itself, it is indeed pretty nice – not the best we have seen in Sardinia, to be honest, as those on the southeast coast in Villasimius and Costa Rei, as well as in Golfo di Orosei, left us simply speechless – but is definitely better than any beach we had seen in Alghero and Bosa at the beginning of our trip. La Pelosa beach near Stintino with its turquoise waters was very picturesque too but grossly overcrowded. Here at the Is Arenas beach we found tranquillity, a hint of exclusiveness and clear warm waters with no seaweeds (they say it may, from time to time, be a problem for the northwest coast) in the company of an occasional friendly wasp. After dusk, the moonlit beach was absolutely deserted, creating the perfect setting for a romantic escapade under the stars.
The hotel a-la cart restaurant is okay both in terms of setting and menu. A dozen of antipasti choices, several pastas and three-four choices of each of fish and meat main dishes. The desert section of the menu appeared somewhat limited though. A fairly decent choice of mostly local and Italian wines, but since I like those, I would not complain. In case you are curious, our bill for two antipasti, two grilled fishes, a bottle of white Sella & Mosca and a Tiramisu was in the neighbourhood of 100 euros, which by Sardinian standards is very reasonable. The buffet breakfast (though not full English breakfast) was good too. Reasonably fast service, coffee made to order, fresh pressed juices, a decent selection of fruit, freshly baked pastry, sunny-side-ups, scrambled eggs, cheese, bacon, ham and such. No complaints in this department.
All in all, folks, the hotel is definitely worth staying at for a few days to unwind a bit while driving around the island as it sure does have it all to make you feel comfortable in a stylish environment and all at the right price. I would not hesitate to say that it is probably one of the best hotels on the northwest coast. In fact, after having stayed at the Is Arenas, we decided to explore other hotels in the Hotel Philosophy chain, to which it belongs. However, since there is not much to do there besides hang out on the beach and play golf (in case you are into it), any longer time in the Oristano area would be a sacrifice for the fantastic beaches on the southeast coast that, believe me, deserve all the praise they get.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC