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Where else can you stay in Gibraltar? Holiday Inn Express, The Rock and The Eliott compared

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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

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.

Put simply:

  • 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:

Gibraltar hotels reviewed

…. 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 Holiday Inn Express Gibraltar website is here.

The Rock hotel Gibraltar compared

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.

The Rock hotel Gibraltar compared

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.

The Rock hotel Gibraltar compared

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:

Gibraltar monkey

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.

The Eliott hotel Gibraltar compared

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:

Gibraltar beach

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.

Conclusion

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 …..


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Comments (52)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Backpacker says:

    I really liked Gibraltar for a 3-day stay day and thought the people were lovely. There’s a lot of interesting history around also.

  • Sean Connery (RIP) says:

    Ah yesh, The Rock. Mish Moneypenny and I honeymooned there until SPECTRE abseiled down the rock and crashed into the DB5……..I blame my shelf.

    • Peggerz says:

      Surely Big Tam Connery would have said “Shpectre” & “absheiled “. Are you an “imposhter”?

    • AJA says:

      Wasn’t it the “serious” 007 Timothy Dalton who did the abseiling in Gib?

  • SammyJ says:

    The HIEx is a great location – views of either the rock, or the airport. Yes, the street itself isn’t great but there are a couple of handy shops and a great restaurant downstairs, and it has free parking out the back which is rare in Gib – something we took advantage of as our Ba flights last Oct would have cost £600 each flight only, but we’re £79 each flight+car! Even though it’s a small place the car was great to have and we spun round and round the ‘island’ dozens of times in 5 days, and saw loads of stuff we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

    • SammyJ says:

      It’s also a 5 minute walk to the east side where there’s a huge sandy beach.

    • Travel Strong says:

      As others have said previously – nothing is that far in gibraltar, so the HIX is still a contender with its 10 mins of walking.
      If staying for free (points) – it’s a steal.
      If paying cash though – i’ll shop around.

  • Mark says:

    Sitting here at the Caleta on a 4 night stay – so far everything is good, staying in an apartment/suite with lots of space & kitchen. Stayed at the Rock 4 days prior to “do Gibraltar” then sit by the pool/beach to chill out.
    The bus service is good, the walk although not the nicest is do-able and gets a thirst up for Casemates square. Taxi back £6.

  • Shaun Lindsay says:

    We have stayed at Elliott. Great location, great rooftop pool and restaurant. Pool big enough for a swim and very quiet when we were there.

  • Travel Strong says:

    Good point in the article about the Elliott gym – it looks really well equipped in tripadvisor images. Sunborn gym is okay – but a bit small and dark (black technogym branded equipment, limited weights). Rock and HIX have nowt. There’s also not many paid options down at the Rock ‘end’ of town. But there are plenty around sunborn and HIX. From the HIX there is a great gym a few doors down though (physique gym) that will do a day or week rate.

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      It’s been a long time since I was an IHG regular. I consider HIX the IHG equivalent of Hampton (as a budget brand that’s very consistent so you pretty much know what you’re getting). But it seems like HIX doesn’t come with a gym as standard but all Hamptons I’ve stayed at have had a gym. Do any HIX hotels have a gym?

      • Travel Strong says:

        The brand standards of Hilton is what makes it my 1st choice hotel scheme. Anywhere I go there is always a very consistent offering, inc. the gym. Hampton/HGI/Hilton/DT/etc all have similar requirements in the brand standard for the gym, just some are bigger than others.
        The newer hotels are only getting better too.

        HIX brand standard is unfathomable. ‘no gym’ feels like the default to me, but their brand standards portal would imply otherwise. Feels like there is a lot of freedom with IHG developments – maybe the brand standards only apply in the USA or something (I haven’t really investigated).

        • Harry T says:

          Agree on Hampton. Some HIX are absolutely grotty but others are great (new Melbourne one for example).

      • Tariq says:

        Yes HIX Manchester Trafford City has a gym – it’s one of the ‘new style’ properties. Was reviewed on here when it first opened.

  • Justin says:

    As someone who used to live and work in Gib and then return to regularly I don’t think that of the hotels in Gib are terrible, now that the Hotel Continental that stood at the bottom of Main Street closed. Even the Bristol was alright really.

    The Elliott is much better than it looks form the outside with a great roof top pool and restaurant. Great location for being central.

    The Rock needs some work on the rooms but still adequate.

    The HIX is not in a bad location, it’s 10 mins to the airport, World Trade Centre and 15 mins to Ocean Village and Casements.

    The Caleta is a lovely hotel and you missed out on that Rob. Fantastic restaurant and the biggest banqueting suite in Gib. In reality it’s only a £5 taxi ride or bus ride (free if you are a Gib resident) to Casemates.

    The Sunborn is my favourite for location, having lived in Ocean Village previously.

    It’s a shame that the development planned for midtown that was supposed to include a Marriott didn’t materialize, but just over the border in La Linea has a very nice AC by Marriott which is very comfortable, 5 mins from the town centre and 10 minute stroll to the border.

    • Travel Strong says:

      I stayed in that AC La linea and found it to be the most uncomfortable hotel bed i’ve ever slept on 😂 it ruined me. Every bit of the room was dented or dinged, and the gym was a really collection of flimsy leftovers in a back room. But I made it work – and it was only something like 40 EUR. It was not terrible overall, staff pleasant, breakfast suitable – but I checked out a day early and left for the sunborn instead (and I will never return!).

    • Travel Strong says:

      Regarding developments materializing, IHG is still reporting a new indigo to open in Gib in 2022, which would be great.

    • NFH says:

      I agree about the AC Hotel in La Linea. It’s very good and they treat you particularly well if you have status.

      What about the Queen’s Hotel in Gibraltar? I stayed there in 2002, and it was absolutely terrible. We had to leave after one night and go to the Caleta. Fortunately the Queen’s Hotel has since closed.

      • David says:

        As you say, queens hotel has closed.

        The Cannon Hotel has also closed – it was another very budget option.
        Plan is to reopen it as a boutique hotel, it is currently getting significant investment. Will be called “Cannon Place”.
        (In cannon lane, just of Main Street near the Eliot)

  • TG says:

    Is the Rock Hotel swimming pool still salt water?

    • Jake says:

      Yes – Parents went recently who reported it. They said it was nice though!

      • David says:

        You need to remember fresh water is very expansive in Gibraltar (as it’s all produced by reverse osmosis desalination).

        Indeed, every property in Gibraltar is actually connected to two separate water systems – fresh and salt (with salt water used in toilet flushing) – it’s actually illegal to flush a toilet with fresh water.

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