Whatever kind of holiday goer you are, whether it’s the all-inclusive sun worshipper, an on the go adventurer or like us, a mixture of both, booking the right hotel is an important part of the holiday experience and requires a lot of boxes to be ticked before that final commitment in choosing to spend a week or more there!
Is it safe? Is it clean? Is it near restaurants, bars and shops? The beach? Is it near public transport? Do the rooms have balconies? Good views? A pool? Disabled access? Family friendly?
These are just some of the things that I often look for when booking a holiday, so I know how time-consuming this can be and with so many options to choose from, just where do you begin?
Personally, I love to start my search by reading the reviews that I find on sites like TripAdvisor but you have to bear in mind to take a lot of them with a pinch of salt. Generally, I find that people only leave a review on a hotel or restaurant whether they have had the best or worst of experiences and then there are people like us, who had a really good experience, enjoyed it, would return but nothing particularly of note to review.
Maybe that’s why I have decided to write this post now, there are so many places that we have stayed and would recommend to family and friends but have never written about, Symbol Las Arenas**** hotel being one of them.
The Las Arenas hotel is in the town of Benalmadena on Spains Costa del Sol and located on Av de Antonio Machado, just across the road (approx 50m) from the Santa Ana beachfront and near to the popular Benalmadena tourist attraction, the Bil Bil Castle.
As normal, we booked the coach transfer with our flight which is simply for ease and it took around 30 minutes from Malaga airport to reach the hotel, bearing in mind that there were a couple of stops before ours. We were dropped off just before the windmill roundabout and although there is parking available just outside of the hotel we were more than happy to trundle our suitcases the short distance, firstly to feel the blissful heat but also just to get a quick eyeball of the location. Primarily to locate the local snack stops. Priorities.
Thankfully, The Las Arenas Hotel is on the main strip making it an ideal choice for those that like to stay local as not only is it within a short distance of the beach, but also many of the restaurants, bars and shops.
Upon our arrival at the hotel, we naturally checked in first and foremost. This was very quick as they have very polite and helpful staff with all the information that you tend to look and ask for sitting right there on the desk for ease.
There was a board to let you know which hotel activities were on that day/evening, currency exchange, the free wifi code was printed on a card for you and potential day trip information such as the days, times and costs along with general bus, train station and public transport details was also available.
Our first impressions were that the Las Arenas Hotel was incredibly clean. The entrance area is a very large and open space which is mainly white and could potentially be seen as a little cold and clinical but I believe that they had recently had a refurbishment at the time that we visited so it was perhaps still in that transition period.
Keen to drop off our luggage, we made our way to the lifts to find our room. So many times, we have stayed in hotels without elevator facilities and with my short stature, so many times I have struggled to drag luggage upstairs so I was particularly thrilled to see these, but we spotted many visitors with mobility issues and although not particularly large elevators, I again, I viewed this as a further positive.
There are 7 floors in the Las Arenas hotel and from the reviews that I have read on Tripadvisor, they seem to be quite receptive to requests for particular rooms (Soraya Brown seems to be the main contact!). I know that some people especially prefer rooms that face the beach or with an afternoon sun so if that is something that appeals to you, there is no harm in asking!
The rooms are extremely clean, spacious and with all the usual amenities, TV, hairdryer and most importantly air conditioning and a fridge! All rooms come with a balcony or terrace and we had a balcony overlooking the swimming pool, so although the view and daylight weren’t the best options available at the hotel, we were still extremely happy with what we received and despite our room overlooking the pool, the noise was limited so we could enjoy some quiet time when we were feeling a little anti-social.
To be honest, we don’t spend an awful lot of time in the hotel room while on holiday so the information I can provide on that side is limited. For the basics, our belongings felt very secure as there was a safe in the room, we didn’t at all feel unsafe, the cleaners tended the rooms daily although we, personally, did not request this service daily and we found the beds to be quite comfortable with two single beds being pushed together to create a double bed.
We weren’t at all disturbed by the sound of other guests during the evening, although you could hear some walking in the hallways (usually the clip clap of sandals on the hard floor), it was nothing that would cause any unrest but this may be the time to mention that to my knowledge, Hotel Las Arenas do not accept hen or stag do’s so I don’t imagine you would encounter many rowdy visitors and would suggest that this hotel is perhaps more suited to couples, friends, families and older guests but I do believe that it may be more heavily marketed towards adults.
One thing that we both love on holiday is breakfast! I love nothing better than fresh fruit in the morning while abroad and I could happily eat watermelon all day every day, so we were very happy to see that breakfast was included in the price that we paid when booking the hotel. I know hotel breakfasts aren’t for everyone and I agree, they can be very hit or miss, quite often we will check it out on the first morning as we’re starting to wind down and ease into the holiday, to gauge whether or not to look elsewhere but we were really pleasantly surprised by the amount and variation of food on offer at the Las Arenas Hotel. And I don’t think we were the only ones as it was consistently busy. Evening dinner is also served in this buffet restaurant which offers some show-cooking and a large selection of Mediterranian and international foods.
Upon entering the self seated breakfast room located by the reception area, the service staff offer the option of tea or coffee on request but you are then left to your own devices as it is mainly self-service. There are a variety of choices available such as fresh fruit, yoghurts, a number of cooked breakfast items, numerous bread options for toasting or making sandwiches along with a choice of cold meats and cheeses, pancakes, cereals and the list could go on and on but I think you get the idea. The great thing about these breakfasts is that you can pick and choose between the different areas or pick up some of the packaged snacks and fruit if you have a day trip planned and don’t have the time to sit in. I also find it fun to try some different foods that you might not ever order but it gives you the opportunity to do a taste test.
The swimming pool is always one of the main focal points when people are looking to book a holiday and although we don’t spend much time sitting poolside, we do like to frequent the pool for a little downtime during the day. I am not much of a tanner but I do love sitting in the heat and reading a good book while Peter likes to cool down in the pool. The swimming pool at Las Arenas Benalmadena isn’t massive but it is quite big as there were a lot of people in the pool and it never felt crowded, there are showers for use prior to entering the pool and there is also a hot tub to the side which operates on 10-15 minutes cycles.
We all know that there are tourists out there that like to *ahem* reserve the best loungers in the house and that was definitely still the case at the Las Arenas and for us, not being that type of holiday goer, we were never the first to arrive but thanks to the location of the hotel and probably thanks to the fact that there are no buildings overshadowing the pool area and that it is on par with the second floor which is above street level, the sun felt quite evenly spread throughout the day. There was no need for the repositioning of the sun lounger to follow the sun as the days went on but more importantly, there were always sun loungers available and there is a sea view from the sundeck.
The Spanish sun can get quite hot, so it’s best to stay hydrated by making regular refreshment stops. Thankfully, you don’t have to travel far and there is a small bar area with tables by the hotel pool. There may be limited options available but you do have a choice of alcohol, juices and ice creams/lollies.
Should you want more options there is a large lounge bar area inside which also has large TVs that showcase popular sports in the evenings but this can get quite busy so make sure to arrive early to save any disappointment. The lounge bar does have a happy hour and during high season there are live singers, performers and acts every night of the week. If this isn’t your cup of tea, have no worries because you do not hear a peep of noise outwith the lounge bar area.
And with that, I think I have saved the best for last, the newly added Sky Bar which has excellent panoramic views overlooking the beach and main strip of Benalmadena. The Sky Bar is open early until late and serves drinks, light snacks and has its own selection of sunbeds, chairs and sofas to choose from. This is located on the seventh floor of the hotel and is a popular spot among tourists to relax with a good drink and an even better view.
We really enjoyed our stay at Las Arenas and would thoroughly recommend staying here when visiting Benalmadena. I’m sure you will see from many of the united reviews online, as I did, that this is a well-loved hotel as many families choose to return here year upon year thanks to the friendly staff and great service that is received.