Ski resort hotels can tend to offer much the same — tired Alpine decor and a budget feel, often without the price tag to match! Luckily, the Melia Sierra Nevada avoids all the usual pitfalls. With a number of practical and luxury features, you can continue to have a fabulous experience after you come back from the slopes.
The recently refurbished rooms are cosy, stylish and comfortable. The huge waterfall style showers are just what you need to soothe away aches and pains without struggling to squeeze in. The rooms can be configured for extra beds whatever your family set up and there’s plenty of wardrobe space for the excessive amount of clothes ski trips require.
Driving into the resort after a few days of heavy snow we were relieved to find the Melia’s underground carpark. On the same level are secure and generously sized ski lockers, one per hotel room (with convenient benches for equipment assembly) so you don’t have to drag all your gear through reception.
Extra bonuses include an on-site English/sports bar and three restaurants if getting dressed up and venturing into the village for your evening doesn’t appeal. The buffet restaurant is great quality, with plenty of islands displaying fresh ingredients with vibrant colours from salads and cheeses, cakes and desserts, and a cooking station complete with a chef grilling to order — it’s everything you need to satisfy your post-skiing hunger.
There is a fabulously well-conceived kids’ club between 5:30 and 8:00 pm, so when your children STILL have boundless energy you can unwind for a couple of hours knowing they are t-shirt making, painting, crafting and playing in a cute fun-house just a few floors away.
The spa and pool area are delightful, with an array of treatments on offer plus steam room and sauna. Next door at the Melia Sol y Nieve, the pool is breathtaking, with what looks like geysers erupting to great height all across the water. It’s a child-free zone too, perfect for adults seeking some quiet R&R (although less helpful for parents relegated to accompanying their kids to the children’s pool next door).
For anyone trying to save a few euros on accommodation, the Melia isn’t that much more expensive than places offering decidedly average rooms and facilities. But the extra you get for your money is well worth it to add that extra touch of comfort, convenience and class to your trip.
The owner-run, boutique El Palacio de San Benito isn’t a run-of-the-mill hotel. Step back in time at this charming, museum-like, Home and Garden style abode. Book a room for a night or more or rent the whole property entirely for your own use.
About an hour from Seville city through gorgeous natural park scenery in a small white-washed town, this is an escape into peace and quiet. It is a luxurious homely hotel where you may well find the owner at home.
Skillfully and beautifully added to, renovated and decorated it’s very difficult to know where the original church and palace ends and where the addition begins. I had no idea it wasn’t all original. Using all reclaimed materials, beautiful old tiles and furnished with gorgeous antiques, you’ll think you’re in the traditional open-air patio or stepping through the hefty original doors of a centuries-old coaching inn.
I was in my element and loved the floral four-poster bed, matching lounging area and my own perfect tiny patio. The communal sitting areas full of squishy cushion-piled sofas, coffee tables stacked with magazines and surrounded by traditonal dark furniture, I could have stayed forever.
Then comes the rather quirkily decorated library and the dining room with hand-painted walls. It’s like a National Trust property in that you feel you should only look and not touch or as a child visiting an old aunt’s hauntingly lovely but old-fashioned home.
There in no restaurant but meals can be booked, the gorgeous tiny bar is for residents only and private functions are catered for. This is an escape from prying eyes, a touch of lost charm and if you wish you can have it all to yourself.
My favourite spot as an outdoor and plant lover was the plant-filled patio with its tinkling fountain and so many lovely details and individual sitting spots.
El Palacio de San Benito comfortable, charming and classic just my style.
Thalasso Hotel El Palasiet is not an ordinary hotel. Hidden away, yet perfectly positioned to overlook the long sweep of Benacassim beach only 50 metres away, you enter through delightfully wild foliage and a wrought iron gate. You feel like you are entering a secret garden.
The outside areas are the hotel’s strongest feature (not including the piece de resistance, but I’ll get to that). A large terrace complete with shady spots, radiant suntraps and discrete rows of loungers wraps around the infinity pool presiding over an expansive view of the bay. A long, sheltered veranda flanks the length of the building, with plenty of cushioned nooks for a lazy game of cards or afternoon tea.
The hotel’s décor is unusual, with Greek style friezes sitting shoulder to shoulder with religious iconography and traditional oil paintings. Although the main part of the building is a reasonably new addition (circa 2002) the laid-back and somewhat retro vibe very much derives from the original elements of the hotel which were built in 1945. Meals are served in a vast conservatory, lengthy 4 course affairs presided over by a maître d’ and waitresses clad in traditional uniforms.
There is a sort of faded glamour to this hotel. The view is more reminiscent of the French Riviera than the Spanish coast. The wide beach is flanked by a palm-fringed promenade, popular with cyclists and almost deserted in the warm autumn months. Grand but crumbling and abandoned properties line the tiled walkway. It’s like the rich and decadent left at some point mid-last century and only left an echo of their glamour behind.
On to the ‘piece de resistance’. The Thalassotherapy centre (or ‘warm sea-water spa’) resides in the 1940s glass-roofed conservatory, complete with 2 indoor and an outdoor sea-water pool and a wide range of therapy rooms. The main pool is glorious, filtered and heated to 36 degrees, enhanced with jets, fountains, Jacuzzis and delightfully buoyant water that eases aches, pains and troubles away.
Many visitors come here from France where the health and restorative properties of these mineral rich waters are well-known. There is a resident doctor on hand to advise on treatment plans based on individual conditions with the emphasis more on the clinical than the simple pampering you might usually expect from a spa. Not that you won’t feel pampered after an hour being pummelled by jets, soothed by bubbles and floated on mineral rich waters, followed by a steam inside the Turkish Bath and a luxurious massage!
Hotel Viento 10 offers a harmonious combination of ancient and modern. A small but perfectly formed boutique hotel on one of the narrow maze-like lanes of Cordoba’s Jewish quarter. Easy to miss (hubby and I did), then retracing our steps we were welcomed by Carmen as she opened the door onto a beautiful Moorish arched patio. We felt instantly at home, relaxed and wanting to discover every corner of this quaint hotel with its eight rooms around a typical old Cordoba patio open to the blue skies.
Just across from the River Guadalquiver and about five minutes walk to the Mezquita and main historical centre, the location makes it easy to discover Cordoba on foot.
Hotel Viento 10 has been carefully and charmingly converted by Gerard, owner and host. The blend of cool white minimalism, huge glass doors and Moorish pillars and arches is delightful. This old city house puts its small space to great use, though the bedrooms aren’t large — ours over the street room was the biggest with a high wooden ceiling and soft lights — everything is well thought out.
There are sun loungers on the roof terrace and a jacuzzi and sauna. If you fancy, a variety of massages can be arranged and zen meditation sessions are available on request.
The hotel doesn’t serve dinner but there is an honesty bar laid out for a late nightcap in the cosy lounge area with the aroma of fresh flowers, so just help yourself. Breakfast is served and what an array! No typical buffet breakfast here, but an abundance of breads, cakes, fruits, juice and coffee all lovingly laid on your table. Never have I seen a prettier start to the day.
There is no 24-hour reception, but with Gerard’s and Carmen’s phone numbers (just in case) and your own front door key, Hotel Viento 10 is a real home from home experience