We usually try to avoid peak season and big hotels when we book a trip, but this Summer I dared the crowds and the high temperatures and headed to Valencia in July.
I wanted to treat my mum so when I looked for a destination to spend just 3 days away I knew it had to be a short trip from Madrid and the sea had to be involved. Quickly Valencia came into my mind. In one hour and a half with the wonderful AVE (Spanish high speed train) we could find ourselves under the sun, surrounded by palm trees, savouring the best Paella. Of course, Hotel Balneario Las Arenas was the mandatory choice for our accommodation. A member of The leading hotels of the world, this hotel looked impressive, elegant and perfect for a mum – daughter getaway. Said and done: a few clicks and the holiday was booked. The joys of Internet!
However, when we arrived the size of the hotel made me feel uncomfortable. I usually book boutique hotels because I like privacy, attention to detail and quiet holidays. But this time the hotel proved me wrong… Our stay was perfect: the staff was incredibly nice, the hotel was big and fully booked, yes, but we still enjoyed an exclusive atmosphere and we didn’t have problems to find a sunbed by the beautiful swimmingpool designed in the 30s by Luis Gutierrez Soto or a nice breakfast spot in the lovely terrace overlooking the gardens.
The room was beautiful and comfortable, the bathroom was incredible, both the casual bar at the swimmingpool and the refined Brasserie Sorolla (perfect for special dinners) offered different yet wonderful meals and the breakfast had a huge assortment of possibilities.
Even though I set the alarm clock every morning to visit the Fitness Center, I didn’t make it. The bed was too comfortable and I’m too lazy. The drinks at night in the Sushi Bar didn’t help either… We didn’t get to visit the spa but with that wonderful swimmingpool and the beach just in front of the hotel, we didn’t need more relaxation.
This hotel is, in fact, a resort. You really don’t need to get out even if you have kids, because they offer lots of activities for them. However, we explored a little bit. We tried the famous Paella at La Pepica, something you shouln’t miss if you visit Valencia. This establishment was opened in 1898 and my grandfather used to eat there every Sunday when he was studying in Valencia before the Spanish Civil War.
We also dined at the new port one night. We enjoyed the sunset and a nice, fancy meal but nothing is better than grilled fish and a nice rice at La Pepica… what can I say? Easy does it! However, if you want to ditch the crowds, the port is definitely less visited than the promenade.
Our last day in Valencia we got up early for a last morning walk by the sea and headed to the city center to do a little bit of sightseeing. We were surprised because the city was lively and full of hidden treasures with a strong Mediterranean allure. We loved the central market, that still has that local everyday vibe to it, the little side streets full of desing shops and the impressive cathedral.
All in all, we had a great time and we were surprised by both the Hotel Balneario las Arenas and its perfect location, service and atmosphere and Valencia with its delicious food, sandy beaches and charming architecture. Valencia could be a cool, understated alternative to Barcelona if you are planning to visit the East of Spain!