Myself and my wife Claire stayed at the Alisios for 2 weeks from mid June onwards and, on the whole, had an enjoyable and thoroughly relaxing time. We booked as part of a Thomson package holiday and the whole experience from booking to organisation of flights, transfers and excursions was seamless as usual from the well oiled Thomson machine. The holiday advisor (rep to me and you) Liana was very helpful and friendly.
I had researched the hotel and was aware of the steps down to the beach and the quietness of the local area. What I hadn't taken account of was the lack of any shops within at least half a mile. We couldn't even just nip out for a paper or a bottle of water without having to endure the angina inducing hills either up to the strip or down, up and back down to the old town.
On arrival the hotel looked just like the photos I had seen and was very pleasant and spotlessly clean. The reception area is beautifully furnished and very attractive. Check-in was simple and quick thanks to the staff who were all very friendly and welcoming with a good command of a variety of languages. Please be aware that the predominant nationality of your fellow guests will be German and on many occasions we had to remind the various staff memebers that we were English as they attempted to converse with us in German. A quick 'nicht verstehen' in my pigeon German put them right though. We had to leave our passports at reception which is pretty standard procedure. We were allocated room 218 which was just down a short ramp to the left of reception. First impressions of the room were that it was beautiful, well presented and furnished. The bathroom was enormous as was the shower within. It was well presented and included a lovely big sink and a full size wall-mounted pedestal with excellent space all around. There was also a hairdrier present. Toilet paper was of fairly poor quality but was in good supply. The towels were changed regularly and were of good quality. There is a soap dispenser by the sink and a shower gel and shampoo dispenser in the shower. These were all good quality Dove products. The water was hot and the pressure very constant at all times of the day or night. In the bedroom there is a large double bed which is actually 2 singles pushed together. There is a small bedside cabinet at each side with a very shallow drawer which could just about accomodate my 10 inch tablet PC and phone. The main dresser also contained a really shallow drawer which could just accomodate my massive billowing underpants. This would appear to be it for storage until you notice the other door by the side of the balcony doors which is where you will find the wardrobe and safety deposit box. There is plenty of room in here with ample hangers and drawer and shelf space for your needs. Don't do what I did and spend ages looking for the light switch for this room, it comes on as you open the door and goes off when you close it. A word about the safety deposit box, it is small and really only suitable for storing passports and cash etc. My tablet and cameras would not fit so these were left out. I never felt that they were in danger of being stolen or damaged though. The balcony is quite large with enough space for 2 comfortable chairs and a small table. We did note that at no time of the day did our balcony receive any direct sunlight. This actually meant that it was a little uncomfortable to sit out while the wind was blowing during the first few days of our holiday. Also it could be overlooked from the sun terrace. The view was beautiful overlooking, as it does, the excellent beach and the rather calm but cold Atlantic Ocean. To the right we could see the Old Town and the equally stunning Fisherman's Beach. The view to the left was simply of more beach and the large floating inflatable play area for kids. We didn't see anyone using this equipment as it seemed a rather long way out at sea for young kids to swim to and, as I said, the sea was really cold. So that was the room summed up other than to say that the aircon was on all the time and, in my view, only just cooled the room enough to ensure a good nights sleep. There was a complimentary bottle of water and a few oranges in the room when we arrived, the water was replenished once and the oranges not at all. There are no brew facilities and the fridge is in fact a mini-bar which remains locked unless you buy something to put into it. It is then unlocked for the duration of the holiday and it was a real godsend. We just ordered 2 beers for 6 euros and then had the use of a fridge for the entire 2 weeks, a good enough system I suppose. I forgot to mention the safety deposit box cost, there was a 10 euro deposit for the key and a daily charge of 4 euros I think. The door has a combination of a key and a security code to open it and a simple key turn to shut it again. That really does sum up the room so on to other facilities at the hotel. There is an indoor pool for which it is mandatory to wear a bathing cap. These are available at reception for 4 euros 50 cents if you do not own your own. The pool is on the lowest floor along with the breakfast room. More on breakfast later. Floor 3 contains the restaurant, bar and sun terrace. The sun terrace is apparently a fairly recent addition and is an absolute must for those not wishing to endure the steps down to and up from the beach. There are approximately 40 sunbeds and during the whole 2 weeks we never struggled to find one. It is good that the bar is also up here as cold drinks are a must throughout the day. The bar staff will bring drinks and snacks to your sunbeds too. The steps down to the beach can be accessed from the left hand front corner of the terrace and there is a swipe card access to prevent non-guests from using the steps. We didn't count the steps but we also didn't use them that much either. We walked down them twice and not up them at all, preferring to walk along the beach to the old town and walk back along the roads. This walk took around 15 - 20 minutes and involved plenty of hilly stretches. The final part of the walk up to the hotel entrance became known as angina hill for it's steepness. Then just as your legs were starting to ache there are the 10 steps up to the hotel. It's not that bad really and it's only my pitiful levels of fitness and additional weight that makes me mention it now. The beach looked beautiful and we are dedicated beach lovers but the staggering price of 12 euros per sunbed put us off and we spent virtually the whole 2 weeks on the terrace. Surprisingly it was most enjoyable mainly due to the peace and quiet, the quality of the sunbeds and the proximity to the bar/restaurant. The bar staff all seemd OK if a little slow on the uptake but this seemed to improve during the fortnight. It's worth mentioning the bar now, it was quiet, very quiet. If it hadn't been for the fact that it screened all the World Cup matches, I suspect it may well have been empty. There was absolutely no atmosphere and no permanent barman present. If one of the staff, who were more concerned with diners and stock-taking, happened to notice you lurking near the bar they would trudge over and serve you. Some with a smile and some not but in the main they were OK. Drinks were reasonably priced I suppose although soft drinks seemed over-priced, almost 5 euros for two small glasses of fizzy orange. I think a large beer, which seemed to vary between 40 and 50cl, was around 3 euros whichever size you ended up with. With a glass of house wine coming in somewhere around 5 euros, the prices were, as I said, OK. The only other occupants of the bar seemed to be small groups of very insular Germans wearing checked shirts. They seemed to have their own little clique going on and had very strange and annoying senses fo humour. One guy who really got up my nose was constantly laughing during football matches. It was obviously worse when England were playing and he laughed so hard he nearly fell off his chair when a poor Uruguayan player got kicked in the head, very weird. Other than being spoken toin German many times we had nothing to do with them. It sems that they expect all their fellow guests to be German and in the main they were. I started to wear my England t shirts more often to annoy them and also remind the staff that we were English. That about sums up the bar. The restaurant which basically shares the same space was very good and a lot of guests had booked half-board. We were on B 'n' B only but did take advantage of an offer of 3 evening meals for 2 complete with a bottle of wine for 150 euros. Not the cheapest but it saved us from negotiating angina hill for 3 nights. The food we enjoyed was superb with me being the most adventurous as usual. Claired ordered piri-piri chicken each night while I enjoyed pork fillet, lamb and the very impressive Nile Perch. Soup of the day was ordered each night and a variety of superb sweets were enjoyed too. Claire opting for the special of the day each night while I chose from the impressive sweet selection on the menu. 50 euros seemed a little steep at the time we paid it but the quality and service was worth every penny (cent). It would appear that the staff enjoy serving food more than they do beer. Oops nearly forgot, you get bread, olives and pate to start with. The house wine was really quite good too with my favourite being the white.
We booked a couple of excursions with Liana and they were both superb. One was to the staggeringly beautiful Cape St Vincent (the end of the world) which included stops at Silves, Lagos and the Monchique Mountains. There was also an optional lunch break in Monchique which provided us with a fairly low quality 3 courses for 13 euros with the main being the obligatory piri-piri chicken. It was all edible and filled a hole until dinner. The restaurant was called O Castelo and we were served by Ugly Betty or someone who looked remarkably like her. No offence intended. Our other tour was a landrover trip up the Monchique Mountains but this time to watch the sunset while drinking cheap spumante wine billed as Champagne and Sunset. In fairness the trip as a whole was fantastic with a bit of off-roading thrown in. The driver was brilliant and also very knowledgable and proud of his country and it's heritage. We travelled roads and visited places inaccessible to a coach and it was great fun. Luckily both me and Claire were in forward-facing seats as the back 4 seats were side-facing and looked a tad uncomfortable. The only downside was the weather which had been fantastic all day until we reached the top of the mountain to find ourselves enveloped in thick cold cloud. No sunset for us then but we still stood there drinking the fizz while wrapped in blankets which were provided.
I could go on but it's time for a quick round up:-
The hotel is beautiful but very quiet and fairly remote. We had our most relaxing holiday ever. The surrounding area is very hilly but also pretty and spotlessly clean. Yes there is some graffiti but there is no litter. The old town is great for your shopping and eating out requirements with a large range of restaurants to choose from. The strip is for the young boozers and clubbers only. Give it a miss. There is a little tourist train that helps to avoid some of the hills although it does not stop near the hotel. The escalators up and down from the old town are an absolute godsend when they are all working. The transfer from the airport is less than an hour. The beaches are fantastic. The sea is ice cold. The weather in June is changeable, we had cold winds and some rain but also 30+ degree days. We enjoyed it very much but were dissapointed by the sunbed charge which determined our prolonged use of the hotel sun terrace. A lot of people will try to encourage you into their restaurants. They are easily discouraged with a polite 'no thank-you'.
That's about it really, enjoy.....
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hotel located on the beach with direct access through steps. Indoor swimmingpool is heated with seawater. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Alisios Hotel Albufeira
- Hotel Alisios Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal