As with all our trips, we researched on TripAdvisor where we would like to stay and we're glad we did. The outstanding reviews on here are entirely justified and this hotel is a breath of fresh air compared with the normal resort hotels found in Spain and Portugal. We arranged our own flights and booked our hotel through lowcostholidays after an exhaustive search to find the best price and obtained an excellent bed and breakfast rate.
As for location, the hotel is about a 10 minute walk from the bottom of the strip, positioned as it is in Santa Eulalia. The old town is a further 25 minute walk on. However, we made use of the tourist train which can be caught three-quarters of the way up the strip and travels on a circular route between there, the old town, and the Modelo supermarket opposite Mcdonalds. We also used taxis, which were easily found and very cheap, working out more economical than the tourist train when you factor in the walk from the train stop to the hotel which obviously you don't have with a taxi. Also, taxis are essential if travelling back from the old town after the tourist train finishes at 10:40pm.
It wasn't necessary to walk to the strip or go on to the old town to find good restaurants though, because Santa Eulalia has plenty of restaurants on the doorstep of the hotel that we would recommend. Turn right out of the hotel, cross the road at the pedestrian crossing next to the roundabout and follow the road with the supermarket on your left to find a host of quality restaurants on the left hand side. We would particularly recommend the Italian (the first one you pass) and the traditional Portugese next door to the Dutch bar/restaurant. Also, follow the path out of the back of the hotel down to the beach (a 5 minute walk) where the cafe/restaurant is also open in the evening, serves excellent authentic kebabs and seafood within yards of the sea.
Going back to the hotel itself.... the service was excellent - the staff could not have been more helpful, all speaking excellent English and nothing being too much trouble for them. They booked all of our excursions for us from brochures available in the hotel and only use established operators who provided a good service for us (we would particularly recommend the jeep safari).
Breakfast was varied and plentiful in buffet style. It was served 7:30 to 10:30, but was particularly busy in the last hour. Seating was available outside and inside. There was a full range of food, allowing continental or cooked breakfast, and as near as you will find to a full English in a Portugese hotel if that is what you're looking for. The local speciality cake and excellent coffee provided a nice alternative too. Asti spumante was available for free, chilled and unlimited, and very nice mixed with orange juice!
The outside patio area and pool area were modern and clean, as with everything else in the hotel. One complaint would be the same as in most other resort hotels - inconsiderate guests reserving sun loungers with their towels at breakfast and leaving them there all day, depriving others of using them. But we always found seating available outside when we wanted it, as neither of us wanted to spend huge amounts of time by the pool. The nearby beach was clean and had many loungers available at any time in any event.
Our ground floor room was the standard rather than upgraded type, which was all we wanted so no complaint there. It was on the side of the hotel, so our balcony overlooked some undeveloped common land and was by no means an unpleasant view. The sea could just be seen over the top of the trees. The room was serviced daily and kept clean and tidy as you would expect, with fresh towels as and when requested. There was a fantastic shower, albeit with a slight leak under the bath but this did not present us with a problem. The room had a safe at no extra charge and air conditioning that worked well and didn't disturb us at night whilst operating. We did have two single beds pushed together, but this is generally the norm so no surprise to us. The decor of the hotel is ultra-modern and the style would look absolutely in keeping with a typical European boutique hotel in a major city, which was a breath of fresh air compared with the typical resort hotels all over Albufeira.
I have answered 'yes' to there being a fitness centre as one appears close to opening as equipment was installed on the roof, but was not operational whilst we were there. Wireless and wired internet was available in the room at an additional cost. Don't miss the bar on the roof which is not well publicised but available from the stairway nearest the restaurant.
Other recommendations around the area would include to visit the restaurant upstairs at Wild & Co. on the strip - the steak is expensive but to die for and the atmosphere a million miles away from the tackiness of the strip and more in keeping with a top notch restaurant in a capital city.
Overall, as a fan of the Algarve, when I return to Albufeira, I would not stay anywhere else as the location was perfect for us as a young couple and the hotel outstanding from start to finish and great value for money.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Aqua Pedra dos Bicos is an island of serenity in Santa Eulalia, near the busy Albufeira and at 500 meters from the famous "Strip", one of the main nightlife atractions. The direct access from the Hotel to the Bicos Beach - 400 meters away - and the inspiring view over the Atlantic Ocean complete this unique Hotel in the heart of the Algarve. This 4-Star Hotel, from Details Hotels & Resorts, features a daring and modern architecture, offering a memorable and relaxing experience. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Pedra Dos Bicos Albufeira
- Aqua Pedra Dos Bicos Design Beach Hotel Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal