“ Address: Camino de Pedraza S/N / Urbanizacion Duquesa Hills /Manilva / Andalucia / Spain. „
It's always tricky finding somewhere to stay for the Summer holidays. I seem to spend hours browsing, jiggling with dates,reading contradictory reviews and, having invariably left my planning to the last minute finding it difficult to find somewhere to suit. This year was no exception, I left it til late July to look for an August holiday in Spain (always the eternal optimist me!) but luckily I came up trumps with a holiday to the Pueblo El Goleto which is in Manilva, on the Costa del Sol about an hour away from Malaga airport and half an hour from Gibraltar.
My criteria was that I wanted somewhere within easy reach of a beach with at least 2 bedrooms, air conditioning and where I could self cater if necessary. I didn't want to stay anywhere that would be *too* lively and cost was also an important factor. These flats did fit the bill and we've just come back from a very good holiday having spent 8 nights in the flats for just under £100 per night - the package I made from expedia included flights, accomodation, insurance and car hire and cost about £400 per person excluding airport parking and additional baggage charges. Last minute rooms are available at the time of writing for £67 per night for a two bedroom flat, the complex has 1, 2 and 3 bedroomed flats, the rack rate for a 2 bedroom flat advertised by the hotel for the time we were there was 165 euros (£145) with a minimum 3 night stay. The hotel is a 3 star hotel, presumably as there is no entertainment or kids' clubs.
Having booked via expedia, Pueblo el Goleto was a good and affordable choice for us, though not without a few issues that just stopped it being a 5 star experience. I would have to be honest and say that I was a bit worried about staying at El Pueblo el Goleto prior to going as not all the reviews on expedia and trip advisor were glowing by any means and mentioned issues hard beds, poor frying pans and being hard to find - hopefully for anyone else looking to stay here I can dismiss some of those worries. As you will see I do agree about the frying pan....... but on with getting to the crux of the matter - what was it like to stay in these flats? (Do feel free to skim to the useful bits for you as, apologies, this is a long review, but I wanted to pass on the kind of info that would have been useful to me before I booked).
The Flats are located on the hillside above Sabinillas beach, which is part of Manilva. It's 1.5km down to the beach, as billed - and I would have to say you do really need a car if planning to stay here - it's only 5 minutes to pop down to what is a lovely sand beach but it would be an unpleasant walk particularly in the heat of the day as the hill is quite steep. The hotel mentions a free beach shuttle but I saw no sign of this during my stay and it certainly wasn't mentioned to us on arrival. The resort below the flats is lovely, and we managed to park for free there all day by arriving at the fairly early hour of 10, spaces fill up after that. Though there are plenty of English speakers in the town, it still feels quite Spanish - it won't be for you if you are looking for vibrant nightlife but it's a nice place for families and couples.
The flats themselves are part of a development just off the A7 highway that winds its busy way along much of the coast. I didn't find it as hard to find as the reviews I had read suggested, though if arriving at night it may prove tricky and the directions on the hotel's website could do with being re-written by a native English speaker - basically you turn off the roundabout next to the Eroski supermarket - which is signposted on bill boards from miles away, once you have turned there are signs to take you up the flats from there.
The development has very poorly surfaced roads that come to an abrupt stop, but the flats themselves look pretty much as they do on the hotel's website (link at the bottom of the review) though they could do with a bit of a lick of paints in parts - there did seem to be some painting going on discretely whilst we were there. The underground carpark is a boon, especially when it is 30 degrees or more, though spaces were a bit tight to turn into and there is only one way in and out which made for a bit of interesting reversing at times during our stay. Overall we were very happy with the location as we didn't necessarily expect to walk from the flats to the beach and had a car with us. Our flat had a big balcony with views over the mountains, from what I could see size and the outlook of flats varied considerably - some looked over the carpark entrance whereas others on what was a 3 floor development had balconies overlooking the sea.
The Flats Themselves:
The flats, which are in 5 blocks and of which there must be over a 100 - it's hard to know how many as part of them are owned by the hotel and others are privately owned, are pretty comfortable in my experience. Once I had got past the feeling that I was arriving at Butlins - I think it was the "block 1-5 signage" - I found the flats to be pretty good; they were clean, well maintained and perfectly comfortable. The picture which the hotel website displays showing their pool is a bit misleading as it looks like the pool has loads of grass in front of it, in actual fact there are flats around 3 of its sides and the pool is in the middle of many more blocks than you can see, but it's a nice enough complex.
Our ground floor flat looked into a courtyard and was airy and spacious having 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a large dining/sitting room, a compact kitchen and a balcony with plenty of space for eating and a tiled floor with enough room for the kids to play. The air conditioning, of which there was a unit in each room, was excellent and could be set to quiet mode, and the flat felt very secure with discrete bars over any accessible windows, an intercom and there was also a handy safe.
The stone floors and tiles to the bathroom were all neutral and the flats are furnished nicely enough with dark wood furniture. There was an odd jacuzzi bath in the main bathroom and a bidet, if either are your thing, and an ensuite with a shower and toilet. We did notice a few strange whiffs at times from the drainage in the bathroom floor but in the main we were happy with the bathrooms, showering experience and overall facilities in the flat. The cleaner came every 2 days and did a stirling job, and changed the sheets and towels as well as cleaning the floors.
It's a bit of a shame the CRT TV's haven't been updated but for those who wish to do so there were 3 British Channels to watch (BBC1, 2 and Channel 4), as well as Spanish and German channels. It's probably pertinent to mention the beds as they seemed to feature on most of the reviews I read, negatively. We didn't find the King Bed or twin beds in the second room were particulary hard or uncomfortable in all honesty though the strange sausage pillow in the main room which was a shared pillow was a bit weird, but presumably is a Spanish thing. The main thing was the beds were fine and we slept well. You could hear through the walls a little in the living room but we found the bedrooms in the main quiet and were only disturbed once or twice during our stay by people with greater staying power than us coming in at 2 or 3 and not taking care with the front doors which were liable to slam if care was not taken. Overall, though the flats were noticeably more occupied over the weekend of our stay we didn't feel like we were staying in an over large complex.
I will talk about the kitchen separately as, given the price of the euro, if staying here at some point you are probably going to want to cook - as already mentioned there is a supermarket very nearby. We had, in a very small space (albeit with nice granite worktops), a microwave, toaster, coffee machine, fridge, freezer, oven, hob, extractor, washing machine and of course a sink. The washing machine was very good and we had more freezer space than at home, which was handy for icecream storage.
I'd noticed many of the furnishings in the flat had Ikea connections, such as the clothes drying rack on the balcony - this extended to the kitchen which had a largish collection of glasses, plates and pretty well all you need to cook. Unfortunately the oven didn't have an oven tray - when I asked the friendly English receptionist about this and also about our awful frying pan - which you couldn't have cooked with as it had bits peeling off, she said the ovens were all the same. There was just a grill pan but no grill tray. This did limit what we could cook and though we were given another frying pan it was as bad as the first one. We ended up buying a frying pan from Carrefour for 4 euros which we left for the next guests, I did wonder if the local supermarket had wised up on the frying pan situation as the cheapest pan there was around 15 euros! In the flat that had a jacuzzi and great air conditioning it did feel they had scrimped on the cooking equipment. I would have gladly forgone the jacuzzi for an oven glove, a couple of tea towels and maybe some washing up liquid. There was no "welcome pack" or so much as any salt or dishwasher tabs, and all the cooking tools, from ikea (where else?) were metal for use on non stick. It probably would be a good idea for the hotel to splash out on 4 euro frying pans and a wooden spoon (if you have ever tried cooking anything without a wooden spoon it's actually surprisingly tricky) and a welcome pack would really be a lovely idea - but maybe they don't expect you to really cook?
These slight issues overcome we did in fact cook a fair bit, albeit mainly reheating tortilla and making spag bol, and the rings on the hob were fine, as was the microwave, though the toaster definitely had "budget" written all over it. There were some strange anomalies - no vegetable peeler but icecream bowls, and far more forks than knives (ironic?). I couldn't help but feel that the kitchen had been kitted out by someone who didn't cook.
Another small issue was that there was no information at all provided about anything in the flat - nothing about pool opening times, the restaurant or how to use anything, or any indication as to where the best beaches or restaurants were. Again this is an area that the hotel could easily and cheaply address and was a bit of a pity.
The hotel had a restaurant, which didn't at any point during our stay seem to be much frequented at all and neither was the bar - we didn't eat there so I can't comment on the food, but on the one time we did venture there they only had 2 icecreams to choose from the entire board. It didn't seem very popular.
There was a small spa with a sauna and bubble jacuzzi for those over 16 and also a swimming pool with loungers. This had a capacity of 56, but no lifeguard, but was clean and maintained, I saw the water being checked and the grass cleaned a few times before it opened every day at 10am. The shallow end was fairly small but there was a round children's pool that was plenty large enough for my non-confident swimmers to splash around in earlier in the week before building up their confidence. Mainly we had no trouble getting a lounger bar on a day where there was an influx of German guests with a penchant for leaving their towels unattended on the loungers for hours (don't you love it when a stereotype is true?), and the pool was a pleasant place to spend part of each day.
About 100 metres down the hill there was a lovely landscaped park for hotel guests, which seemed to be shared with the locals. For a 20 euro deposit you could play mini-golf and tennis for free and there was also a children's play area with swings, slides and the like. The park was quite large and well maintained and just lovely to wander around in the evening.
In the reception there was a small library of books for borrowing in several languages, some tourist information and free wifi. Though you could use your own device to access the net, the range was quite small - my husband used his i-phone a couple of times but I stayed blissfully internet free through my stay.
So would I stay again?
I enjoyed my stay and thought that the location was actually good - far enough away from the bright lights of Benelmedena and other busier resorts which aren't my scene but still with easy access to everything. The staff were all perfectly helpful and friendly (in particular the English receptionist there for part of our stay was very welcoming). I would stay again as I thought it was fairly good value at the price I paid, though I would take a frying pan next time! If you are going to stay here do take the time to wander into the hills and see a bit of the real Spain; we particularly enjoyed Casares which was only about 30 mins drive. You are well placed to go to Gibraltar too, and flying into that airport may even be easier than going to Malaga which is further away. Recommended overall, a 4 star stay that could so easily be 5 stars.
Review also appears on ciao.co.uk in my name