The Costa Blanca has suffered from a bad press for the last couple of decades - and completely unfairly. Benidorm became the brunt of insulting comments from every journalist wanting to take a dig at Spain, most of whom had probably never even been to the town. But despite this, Benidorm, known since the late 19th century as la playa de Madrid, Madrid’s beach, because it was where the wealthy from the nation’s capital had their summer homes, has become the most popular resort in Europe, and has been for years. This popularity spread throughout the Costa Blanca, bringing with it people from all level of society, some wanting a simple bed and breakfast, others top-of-the-range luxury - and the Costa Blanca provides it all.
When people first visit the area they are often taken completely by surprise as to how close the beach is to the mountains, and the tranquillity of rustic life. This has led to a new breed of small hotel that caters for those who want both, but also offers those who want a week by the Med to get a close-up idea of what rural Spain is like.
Benidorm, in particular, probably offers one of the widest ranges of high-quality, good value hotel accommodation to be had anywhere in the world, as well as some beautiful, small, personal b&bs. It’s fair to say that the region is overwhelmingly tourist orientated, but this has had a positive effect for the holidaymaker in that there are some superb deals available for those who want to take the winter sun or a holiday outside the usual high-occupancy seasons. Some of the larger hotels offer extraordinary deals for pensioners, who spend up to three months all-found in four-star hotels for less than they would at home in the UK.
I don’t mention if a hotel has a television, safe-deposit box, hairdryer or mini-bar for the simple reason that they all do, from the smallest hostel to the most exclusive five-star. I usually mention when they don’t have a TV, so that it doesn’t come as a surprise. Unfortunately, this obsession with ever-large flat-screen TVs has almost overwhelmed hotels and sometimes spoils what can be a charming room.
Things to consider before booking:
- Very few hotels have fully come to grips with the difference between being accessible for disabled people and adapted for disabled people, the latter meaning with fully adapted bathrooms and other services. Sometimes what it offered is basically a wet room, but this isn’t always acceptable to wheelchair users. Check that the bedroom is accessible para personas con discapacidad or adaptada para personas con discapacidad.
- The infamous Spanish puente can affect the price of your hotel and how busy it is. The puente occurs when there is a local or national saint’s day (like bank holidays in the UK) on a Friday or a Monday, creating a long weekend. Many people take off for the weekend and hotels up their prices because they know they will be busy. It can also make it difficult to get a room on those particular dates. The days change on an annual basis, but it’s sometimes worth checking if the dates you are booking are on a puente (mainly during spring and autumn) as you may find you can get a considerable saving by delaying your trip a few days.
- A full programme of entertainment; dances, cabaret, bands and shows, is offered by almost every large hotel, particularly in Benidorm, depending on the season. Most of it is very professional.
- Meals in the larger tourist orientated hotels tend to be buffet service, but good value if taken on half- or full-board terms. Ask if they do an ‘all-in price’, which includes all food and drink, although the latter tends to be of lower quality than you would get if you bought in a bar.
- If you want a sea view, ask for it, don’t assume you will automatically get one just because the hotel is beside the sea. Sometimes you will have to pay a supplement.