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‘My Favourite Hotel’ review – The Villa Side Residence, Antalya, Turkey (£26.75 per night, all inclusive!)

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Today, our ‘My Favourite Hotel’ review is from Antalya, Turkey. As always you can find all of the ‘My Favourite Hotel’ reviews by clicking here

This review is a little different. Tim is a long-term HfP reader and commentator who is often critical of what he sees as overpriced ‘international brand’ hotels compared to what is on offer from independents.

Review The Villa Side Residence, Antalya, Turkey

He offered to cover the hotel where he will, again, be spending a chunk of the Winter. Last year he paid £26.75 per night with food and drink included. How could we refuse?

Today’s hotel is the The Villa Side Residence in Antalya – A Winter-bargain if you want to escape the gloomy UK in exchange for some sunshine.

Here is Tim’s review:

Overview

At a little over 8,000 square miles and with 408 miles of coastline, Antalya Province is around the same size as Wales. There are over 20,000 hotels with over a quarter of a million beds (TURSAB figures). Despite this, Antalya is far less known to English-speaking visitors than Turkey’s Aegean coast, with Marmaris and Bodrum some 5-7 hours drive away. Indeed, Antalya Airport figures put UK visitors at only around 5% of all arrivals.

For me the Antalya coast has an unbearably hot summer – with temperatures regularly going over 40°C – but does have a very pleasant winter climate. It makes for the perfect extended escape from the dark days and persistent precipitation of my native, but otherwise beautiful, Yorkshire.

Choosing a winter hotel is no simple matter. Almost all hotels’ advertised facilities, service, modus operandi and even their reviews apply only to the summer season. Finding a great one is like finding a diamond in a coal mine. The Villa Side Residence – my new ‘favourite hotel’ – is such a diamond. I will share it with you….

Check in

On arrival, there is an audacious, verging on ‘bling’, international five star reception: smart bellboy with pantomime trolley to greet our transfer vehicle, ornate granite floors, plush furniture, polished brass, three scenic lifts (that speak Turkish and English!) facing the atrium to the roof above the the lobby.

Check-in took just seconds – scan of our passports, signatures and handover of printed ‘winter concept’ information to us – before the bellboy was despatched with luggage to give us tours of our rooms. It has never been slicker.

The hotel comprises two almost-equal sized wings, set at a ‘wide right angle’ to each other. They are connected by the atrium containing the reception lobby on the ground floor, with guests rooms on the seven floors above it.

Why Tim loves the (£26) The Villa Side Residence, Antalya

Rooms

Rooms are spacious and well-furnished with headline features: pillow menu, minibar replenished daily, tea and coffee station, 32” LCD TV with several English channels (including BBC); DVD player, generous toiletries down to dental and shaving kits, heavy, fluffy white towels and bathrobes, three layers of curtains – net, blackout and decorative, free safe, room wi-fi and air conditioning.

There was an included laundry service – a godsend for those of us who prefer to travel with hand luggage only!

Review The Villa Side Residence, Antalya, Turkey

Food and drink

Ether side of the lobby are two bar areas around the same size. In Winter, one is used as the main venue for live music and other evening shows. The other is the ‘quiet bar’ with leather sofa sets, library and card playing area for those, like me,  who want to avoid the entertainment. Waiter service in both is devastatingly efficient.

Review The Villa Side Residence, Antalya, Turkey

A range of imported spirits and international cocktails are included in addition to the usual all-inclusive fare.

Beyond the main arena is the patisserie / bistro which is used for afternoon coffee and cakes, as an all-night buffet and for late breakfast. Food and drinks are available 24 hours.

Review The Villa Side Residence, Antalya, Turkey

At level -1, or as the lifts put it “Minus first floor”, there are the three a la carte restaurants: fish, Italian and Turkish for which reservations and a €10 cover charge are required. I usually avoid the a la cartes – not because I am a tight Yorkshireman, but because of the sheer quantity of food. Over an extended stay, my clothes start to shrink. I tried the fish a la carte – superb but it took two days of fasting before I was comfortable in my suit trousers.

In the opposite wing is the main buffet restaurant. Its eating area has just five tables across and is broken up lengthways by decorative screens such that any one area feels like an intimate restaurant. Tables are decorated with cloths, runners and a little flower vase. Lunch and dinner have places set with two sets of hollow-handled cutlery and cloth napkins. Waiter drinks service is efficient. After a couple of days of asking for a glass of red wine, my wine usually arrived at whatever table I chose at the same time as myself.

The buffet runs the full length of the restaurant. There was a huge variety of food plus display cooking of the specials every meal. At lunch and dinner there was an international selection plus Turkish specialities, soups, always a choice of meat and fish options, several counters of sweets, fruit and at the very end, the  popular ‘ice cream man’.

At breakfast, there is every form of eggs including the delicious Turkish spicy tomato scramble, various other cooked items plus all the salads, cold meats, huge cheese selection, vast bread and sweets counters, cereals, strained yoghurt, preserves and honeys, dried and fresh fruit, etc etc etc. Food quality and presentation were consistently excellent – the best of any hotel or cruise ship I have experienced.

Review The Villa Side Residence, Antalya, Turkey

Facilities

The outdoor pools and terraces (one heated in the winter) are at “Minus second floor”. Sadly the swim-up bar was decommissioned for the Winter but a trolley service of drinks came around during the day (or so I am told – I was usually at the beach bar) and there was always someone to bring sun bed mattresses.

Review The Villa Side Residence, Antalya, Turkey

Inside on that level is the spa, indoor pools, shops and ladies and gents hairdressers with an extensive menu of beauty therapies, the doctor, gym and games room.

Review The Villa Side Residence, Antalya, Turkey

The beach bar, reached via a tunnel from the pool terrace, is open all through the Winter. The beach here is broad and sandy and part of a 10km stretch running West from the Side peninsula.

Review The Villa Side Residence, Antalya, Turkey

There is a full bar with waiter service and kitchen staff – in full costume. Inside, a self service buffet has soups, salads, cold starters, a couple of cooked main dishes. Outside the daily specialities alternated between a barbecue and a kebab rotisserie.

Conclusion

Overall: superb room, food and service, the facilities and activities of a cruise ship, the most generous all-inclusive system plus that private beach bar open through the golden sunny winter days.

I will be at the Villa Side Residence for six weeks this coming Winter with my office established at the beach bar – why work at home when you can work at the beach?

We paid £26.75 per night in February 2020 for sole occupancy of double rooms on an all-inclusive basis. We booked with Travel Republic but always check Trivago for the latest deals. The best prices tend to be found 6-9 months in advance – the current price is around £45 to £50 for the same dates.

(EDIT: Since Tim wrote this review, the hotel has decided to close for Winter 2020/21 due to reduced tourist numbers in Turkey. It is planning to return to Winter opening next year.)

Here is the hotel’s website if you want to find out more.

Comments (59)

  • Tom says:

    I’ve checked several dates over winter and all rooms say no availability, have you block booked them all 😃

    • John W says:

      I’ve just tried 27th December to 8th January and no availability !

    • ChrisW says:

      I guess not enough demand this year to set up that massive buffet every day!

      What is the occupancy of Villa Side during winter? Presumably extremely quiet hence the cheap rates? I’m surprised an all inclusive would stay open in winter.

      • TimM says:

        @CHRISW, we have stayed twice, January 2019 and February 2020 and both times, the hotel was operating at 100% capacity. One of our party was given a temporary room, the ‘granny’s room’ attached to a suite for one night because they had overbooked. They gave her a good upgrade the next day and all was forgiven. Still, it illustrated that the hotel is getting the price/offer about right to be able to fill it in the winter season.

        Almost all the five star hotels in Antalya Province are all-inclusive – a few thousand of them. There are just a couple of city hotels for business travellers that are not. They stay open because of the active winter season! It is an older, more seasoned crowd and they would never dream of visiting in the summer.

        • the_real_a says:

          I had the same “problem” when staying in Majorca for business last November. Remembering my childhood All-Inclusive holidays, and preferring to leave them behind i was very reluctant to book into the same – but there were no others options available. Turns out quality had increased massively. Really enjoyed my stay. For long term stay it was great to run to the buffet, eat and be back in the room in 30 minutes! Would certainly book again for a cheeky winter get away.

  • cinereus says:

    Finally, prices!

  • Waribai says:

    I know this place reasonably well. Agree with you about the food. Like much if the region, it is good. The rooms though as hinted at in your first accommodation photo are by and large rather tired and need a revamp. Beds are very hard and linen worn. In the peak months, service is very hit and miss especially with regard to housekeeping.
    If you can get it for £26 then all well and good, just be aware of what you are getting at that price and while “5 star” can have a rather liberal interpretation in Turkey, this place is just ok really and more akin to a decent 3 star in terms of room quality and service if you were to look at it in a more international context.

  • Tony says:

    Got talking to a chap in Krakow a few winters back who said it was cheaper for him to stay there, than to heat his house in Brighton.

  • TimM says:

    It is most unfortunate timing, I heard on Friday that ‘my favourite hotel’ is closing this winter – hence lack of availability. Still, as suggested, it will be time to book for winter 20021/22 in a few months’ time. We will instead be decamping to the smaller Side Star Beach, nearer central Side, which I have not sampled before. Options become increasingly limited at short notice and during a pandemic! £27.02 pn (sole-occupancy, all-inclusive) over November/December with TravelUp.

    • ChrisW says:

      What’s the weather like in Feb? Surely not warm enough to lie on the beach/by the pool?

      • Aston100 says:

        No absolutely not.
        February is the coldest month and the sea will be freezing.
        Certainly warmer than here, but hardly sunbathing weather.

        • ChrisW says:

          So what’s the attraction? Mild sunshine, cheap buffets and zero crowds?

          • Aston100 says:

            Pretty much yes.
            Turkey is outstanding value for money, but I’d personally only go there between end of April and October.

      • TimM says:

        February is ‘mid-winter’ but then winter only lasts around 6 weeks and there are still more sunny days than wet. I used to live and work in Side and as part of my time was spent as ‘an evil estate agent’, I could not appear pale in front of clients. I used to do all my sunbathing for the year in January and February – when it was bearable. The sea never gets as cold as the peak in the UK. Typically people are sunbathing on the beach until some point in January when the weather breaks for winter. They are back there in March. The climate stats mislead us from Northern European climes – the air temperature may be 14-16 degrees but the sun is powerful and will have you sweating instantly. I would never travel to this part of the World between May and September out of choice. You become a prisoner of air-conditioning and nocturnal to survive..

    • SammyJ says:

      Don’t touch travel up with a barge pole. Check the Travel Up (unofficial) Facebook group!

  • blenz101 says:

    Shame it is closed this season but credit where it is due this is a helpful and informative review.

  • JK says:

    Really interesting review, thank you! Just wanted to clarify one thing:

    “We paid £26.75 per night in February 2020 for sole occupancy of double rooms on an all-inclusive basis.”

    Sole occupancy suggests one person. But the reference to we and rooms suggests either two people in one room, or a person each in multiple rooms. So I just wanted to check if £26.75 was the rate per person, or for two?

    Cheers,
    JK

    • AJA says:

      I read that as £26.75 per room per night based on single occupancy of a double room.

      • ChrisW says:

        Surely two people sharing a room would double the price because it would be 2 x the food and drinks consumed ?

    • TimM says:

      @JK, We were a party of five solo travellers with one person in each room. I know, indulgent 🙂 The rate quoted therefore was both ‘per room’ and ‘per person’.

  • Erico1875 says:

    One October school week about 10+ years ago we paid £2 a night b+b double occupancy( so £1 each) at Marmaris Beach Hotel.
    We could have got an apartment for as little as 50p a night.

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