This is as much a review about the area as the hotel, as both significantly exceeded our expectations. To set the scene, we were looking for a bit of a cheapie holiday in the sun, but at the same time we're very picky ( i spend far too much time lost in tripadviser reviews ). This time last year we had a last minute trip to Bodrum in Turkey, expected not a lot, and it was genuinely excellent ( see Diamond of Bodrum review ). We were planning to try another area of Turkey this year, but Thomas Cook seemed to put prices up as we got closer to booking, and with a week to go we still hadn't booked anything. From a rapid last minute internet we came across this hotel for £890 for both of us through Thomson, including flights, transfers and half board ( B&B would have been our preference but seems you can only do h board ). we had real reservations about the Costa del Sol, having never been, but just imagining it to be full of fake donkeys, and England strips. In the last year we've been to Thailand, Paris, New York, and our main expense is holidays. Time is previous and the last thing you want is a wasted holiday. As regards the hotel, lets get a few negative/constructive points out the way first. If you had a room low down and towards the road side of the hotel then the view could be limited and the road would be a bit noisy, when you arrived you're then told that its a futher 15 euros a week to hire the safe in the room, and a further 3euros a day if you want a fridge. Not a big expense, but would create a better first impression if these were included. We always go B&B but ate in the hotel in the evening once. The food is perfectly passable, but no option to eat outside,but rather in a big air conditioned dining room...and thats where the negative points stop.
Room - we paid an extra 100 euros to upgrade to a Premium Sea view room , with a large corner balcony. We can't recommend this highly enough. Noted some comments about old carpets in the standard rooms,but these ones have lovely hardwood floors, big balcony, big bathroom. it had the usual 2 twin beds pushed together but obviosuly normal for european hotels
Food - passable for dinner if thats your sort of thing. Breakfast really good. wide selection of everything you could wish for
Staff- all helpful and friendly
Pool- not huge but big enough. We don't spend time lying by the pool but i went for a pre breakfast swim at 9 and then again about 5pm. had the pool pretty much to myself
Bar- lovely terrace with a great view of the sea
Location - could not have been better. Set right on the palm tree lined beach promenade, 10 min from the Marina with loads of bars, shops, restaurants ( plus other restaurants before you get there - try Cabana - tapas for 1.95 a portion and bottle of Cava for 9 euro). if you come out the hotel onto the promenade and turn right (away from the marina) then loads of excellent sea food restaurants and bars ( you reach the first cluster after about 5 mins, and the rest a further 5-10 mins on )
Age in the hotel - relaxing in that no kids, and yes the average age is probably over 50 ( we're 30s ), but not an issue at all. As a result the hotel is quiet and relaxing, and we always head out for "entertainment"
General area - we were really very pleasantly surprised. After being concerned about a tacky resort filled with yobs, what we found was a relaxing, couple and family friendly resort. loads of nice bars and restaurants, and not too expensive. Wiht price of a beer generally a reasonable indicator, in a posh marina front bar then about 4 euros, but bars along the promenade about 2 euros. We also went to neighbouring Torremolinos one night, for a "chav" night, and you know what..it was lovely!!! very nice big promenade, with a long street behind filled with bars/restaurants shops. You can catch a bus from outside the hotel, 10 mins into torremolinos, and then can eat and have a 30-40 minute wander back along the promenade to Benalmadena. We did however make a similar trip to Fuengirola. What a total dump!! It really was Blackpool by the sea...but more run down. A really grim looking place
Stuff to do - if you hired a car within driving distance of Puerto banus, Ronda, Granada. Within Benalmadena itself there is a cable car that takes you to the top of the mountains behind. Well worth it. Bus from outside the hotel to Malaga, lots of winding streets to explore and what looks like a huge castle, the Alcazabra - note closed on Mondays..when we were there
Other hotels - not that many hotels that were right on the sea front. can't fault the Riviera. We looked at the Torrquebrada, but was probabaly a 40 min walk into the Marina area. The Triton hotel is the other one that was next to the Marina
All in all a very pleasant, relaxing and surprising holiday. Walking along the promenade the other thing you'll notice is that the majority of the accents are Spanish rather than British. Felt a mile away from Blackpool!
if you look on the hotel website then the Premium Room does actually look like the website in real life. Also, we found that impossible to guarantee a seaview room when booking through Thomson ( very odd 0. We emailed the hotel email@example.com I think and asked for an upgrade before we arrived
Benalmadena is now surprisingly on the list of places we'd consider going back to
Other stuff we've remembered - you need to pay a 20 euro deposit if you want a beach towel, beach literally right in front of the hotel, there about 50 steps down from the hotel to the promenade ( there's a lift that lets you miss these out, but it was broken a few days we were there)
..and thinking about it, we've just upgraded this to 5 stars from 4. the hotel is not the Ritz, and you need to go aware that a 4 star in Spain is closer to a good 3 star over here. However, as a combination of hotel, resort, and importantly price, the overall experience was hard to fault
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Riviera Benalmadena
- TUI Sensimar Riviera By MedPlaya Benalmadena, Costa Del Sol