What is the best hotel in Gibraltar?
Earlier this week I reviewed the 5-star Sunborn Yacht Hotel in Gibraltar, where I stayed recently.
Gibraltar is neither large nor overrun with hotels, so it was easy to track down the other decent options during my time there. Under no circumstances should you consider what I have written below as any sort of in-depth review – it is simply a summary of what I found whilst walking around.
All of the hotel – and monkey – pictures are mine except for The Rock’s swimming pool.
Holiday Inn Express Gibraltar
The Holiday Inn Express in Gibraltar is the only points option in the territory. With cash rates currently sky-high due to Gibraltar’s position on the Green List, you would make a chunky saving if you booked a reward night here.
Looking at online pictures of the rooms, it seems like a perfectly acceptable hotel which looks like virtually every other modern Holiday Inn Express in Europe. You will get free breakfast as well, of course.
And yet ….
The location stinks.
Gibraltar’s Main Street is a 1km long pedestrianised thoroughfare which contains most of the shops in town. At the end nearest the airport it becomes Casemates Square, a European style piazza filled with cafes and restaurants.
- Sunborn Yacht Hotel is a 2-minute walk from Casemates Square
- The Eliott is 30 seconds walk from Main Street, about half-way down
- The Rock is a 2-minute walk from the other end of Main Street
All three of these hotels are very close to the action. The Holiday Inn Express is not. If you look at this picture:
…. the HIX is located in the tiny space between the rock and the airport (the area in shade in the picture). Main Street runs perpendicular to the runway along the other side of the rock.
Whilst nothing is too far from anywhere in Gibraltar, the HIX is on a busy dual carriageway and it is a soulless stroll down to the marina, Casemates Square and Main Street.
The only time that the Holiday Inn Express location would be an advantage is if you wanted to visit the beaches, which are on the east (left, in the photo) side of the rock. It is a modest stroll vs a taxi ride from any of the other hotels.
If you save a decent amount of money by staying here, go for it. For a modest saving over any of the other hotels, it isn’t worth it.
The Rock Hotel, Gibraltar
The Rock is the most famous hotel in Gibraltar.
It opened in 1932 and retains its original art deco styling. You will find it mentioned in most articles about the territory and it occupies a similar cultural position to hotels such as Raffles in Singapore or Reid’s in Madeira. The website is here.
It turns out that all of the things I had read about The Rock over the years gave me a false impression. In my mind, I imagined it sitting alone on a promentory overlooking the sea, set in huge grounds.
In reality, The Rock sits on a busy and very steep road, just off the far end of Main Street. To get to the impressive looking swimming pool, you need to cross this road (no crossing provided). It has no grounds of its own – the exterior photo above is taken from the public botanical gardens and the angle hides the road. It was a bit of a letdown.
I went in for a drink and was impressed by what I found. The restaurant and bar / lounge have great views over the sea and retain their art deco charm. It was 10x better than the soulless dining room on the Sunborn. I strongly recommend visiting The Rock for a drink or a meal even if you don’t stay there.
Reports suggest that the rooms are not as smart as the public areas. This is especially true of the bathrooms which seem to have been missed out during the last renovation. The upside is that all rooms have sea views, although not all have balconies.
Two other upsides are that the hotel is directly opposite the small botanical gardens and the cable car station, for the compulsory trip up to the top of the rock to see the monkeys:
The Eliott Hotel, Gibraltar
I was prepared to dismiss The Eliott (website here) because, frankly, it is an unattractive concrete hulk which sits unhappily in its surroundings. The lobby, which is as far as I got, is also soulless.
However, my mate Simon – a regular visitor to Gibraltar and indeed other places with ‘creative’ tax systems! – tells me that I am mistaken. He says that the rooms are bigger than Sunborn, the pool is better (not difficult but still worse than The Rock), the gym is better and that the high floor rooms have impressive views.
What I do know is that the Eliott sits on a pretty square about 30 seconds from Main Street. It is not exactly surrounded by high class establishments but the area is cute enough. Once you’re inside The Eliott, you can’t see the outside of The Eliott so I imagine the views are much improved!
If you pay for one of the better rooms, it seems to be more than acceptable. It just doesn’t have the history of The Rock or the ‘it’s a boat!’ novelty of Sunborn.
One other option: The Caleta Hotel, Gibraltar
Finally, a couple of readers flagged The Caleta Hotel, website here.
The reason I didn’t see The Caleta is that it is on the east side of the rock. There is very little, in general, on the east side but it is where the best beaches are.
Here is a picture of one of the beaches on the same stretch that I took from the rock:
The snag with The Caleta is that you have the rock between you and the rest of the territory, so getting around is difficult. It is probably a better choice if you have been to Gibraltar before and simply want to spend a return visit relaxing in the sun, rather than sightseeing or shopping.
With the Green List opening up, the rush to Gibraltar might start slowing down. This would be good news in terms of hotel prices which are currently at exceptionally high levels – assuming you can get a room at all at present.
Irrespective of other Green List options, I would recommend Gibraltar for 2-3 night break. The sun is usually out, it is very compact, you get to see some monkeys and you get to do some retail time-travelling to a world where Mothercare and Early Learning Centre still exist and artisan coffee shops are still only a dream …..
Hotel offers update – August 2021:
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