Magic Monika Hotel, Benidorm

Where to start with this hotel. It was both better and worse than our expectations. We normally stay in a quieter, family orientated all inclusive hotel in countries either known for their beauty or due to there being something we wanted to visit. Having had our preconceptions of Benidorm well and truly established by rumour and exaggerated TV comedy, it was the last place we thought to go and ended up here due to it being the best of the few remaining choices. That’s what you get for travelling last minute in the last week of the school holidays.

So, price wise. Actually pretty reasonable, the exorbitant pricing was in the return flights and not the hotel itself. For an all inclusive hotel the cost was reasonable. And this was the first all inclusive I have stayed at that included brand name drinks in the price. The drink portions were more than generous too. A regular rum drinker myself, even I was knocked sideways by the strength of the shots.

The rooms are a fairly decent size. We had a one bedroom apartment which had the 2 beds for the kids in the living area. But it wasn’t a squeeze, although if we had tried to use the little cupboard kitchen area I may have struggled. A kitchen area supplied with 4 saucepans, 2 plates, 2 bowls, 2 cups, cutlery for 2 and a nut cracker. Slightly limited for a family of 4 and as for the nut cracker . . .

The buffet meals were fine. Not a gourmet explosion but all perfectly edible and a fairly extensive choice of hot and cold meats, potatoes, salads and breads. The usual selection of puddings and cakes. However there was a complete lack of vegetables. Oh, every night there was a bowl of soggy broccoli but nothing tasty or crunchy. Not a hotel for vegetarians. Breakfast had a good variety of cooked and cold options and a huge pile of freshly heated pain au chocolate. In comparison to other experiences I would say the food was decent but not adventurous.

The problems in this hotel were in two things. The basic decrepitness of the building and the major overcrowding. The pool for example was a great size. Lots of swimming room. But every day there was a rush for beds (seeĀ Zombies versus Sunbeds for more details on that) as there just was not enough room around the pool side for the amount of beds needed to allow for all the guests. Not to mention the number of locals who came over and under the fence for a free swim and free meal in the poolside cafe.

The pool itself had broken tiles everywhere. The guttering around the edge was brown and the stench from the gutter was awful if you got close. Not helped by the Spanish kids who climbed out of the pool to pee in the gutter. And since we didn’t see a single Spanish child in a swim nappy, who knows where the rest of their leakage goes. (I went shopping for more swim nappies when we ran out and couldn’t find them in any supermarket!)

The pool has a bar in the middle (not for swimming up to, it’s just perched mid pool and reached by a bridge) which looks nice till you get close enough to see the peeling paint. There are two pillars in the pool, presumably fountains but actually just full of stinking stagnant water. There are slides for the kids and ours had a great time on them. Just don’t look too closely at the bolts holding it together. The kids pool has a seesaw (one cracked seat) and some rocking horses that no longer squirt water as they were clearly meant to. There were also some lifeguards dotted about the pool, something I haven’t come across abroad before. They were friendly and fair with the kids. It was a little off putting though watching the previously mentioned fence jumping locals then getting their generously portioned alcoholic cocktails (for free) and handing them to their lifeguard friends.

The restaurant is hard to describe. Picture a school canteen but with a paper tablecloth on each table and the entire ceiling covered in mirrors. Yes, a huge room with mirrors everywhere. It’s downstairs and window free. Not quite the views of the scenery while eating on the terrace of an eveningĀ one would hope for. Due to the sheer volume of diners passing through it was more of a case of grab, shove and snarl to get the food. The staff, to be fair, worked their fastest (if slightly surliest) to keep it clean, change tables over and maintain some order in the frenzied stampede.

Canteen at Magic Monika

Other observations were that there was a room of pool tables and every night there was entertainment, albeit a little repetitive. The bar staff were slow, but cheery. When it rained water poured in through the ceiling of the main foyer and bars. But every night the staff put away all of the sunbeds tables and chairs and cleaned the poolside. So, Magic Monika had good staff, the place is clean, plenty of facilities and potential but it is very rough round the edges. What it needs is a refurb, repairs and to reduce the number of guests by half.

All in all I would say that, once we got used to the masses and worked out how to join in the morning race for sunbeds, we had a good time doing what we came for, which was to lounge by the pool in the sun and relax with the kids. Would we come again? No. Next year we will book earlier for somewhere a little higher star and less crowded.

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