Valencia seems rather under-rated but while everyone else is flocking to more obvious city destinations, a stay at the conveniently situated Hotel Balneario Las Arenas will definitely put it on your favourites map.
Restoration from the original 19th structures has lent the hotel a distinct turn of the century elegance. Many of the floors are Italian marble. Its façade, particularly from the back, is rather grand, with ornate balconies and colonnades, and the sort of dramatic staircases you’d like to sweep down in a ball gown. Plenty of seating areas around graceful water features and tamarind trees set the tone- you’re here for unhurried pleasure.
The most striking feature has to be the prominence of the beach, just steps away. No meagre sliver either but an expanse of sand generous enough for sand sculptors to craft enormous Taj Mahals which are still dwarfed by the vast horizon.
The location of the hotel is intriguing. A lively paseo of eateries and bars lies on one side, offering a handy alternative should you wish to eat within ambling distance of the hotel. To the other is, well, nothing. Just huge beach, a wide, well-kept promenade and a series of crumbing, retro buildings. Yes, it’s run down, despite the regeneration attempts associated with the fleeting appearance of the Grand Prix. But it’s got great character and is rather charming.
The most notable aspect of the rooms, apart from the uninterrupted ocean views, is the bathroom ‘hydromassage cabin’. Which I can mostly closely describe as like a jacuzzi standing up. We visited the city in winter, and hotels often have a somewhat ‘echoey’ vibe off peak. Even so, the staff were impeccably helpful and despite their formal attire, took repeated and genuine pleasure from teasing our wandering toddler’s uncontrollable giggles. That gets a big thumbs up from us.