Friday, 6 May 2016

REVIEW: HOTEL ASTORIA PLAYA - MALLORCA

 
Si and I had been feeling a bit down about the fact we probably wouldn't be able to have a sun drenched holiday together this year (due to his touring commitments over the Summer), when this incredible opportunity to visit Mallorca and review the Hotel Astoria Playa came in via the superstars in Blogging Gals. We only had a days notice, so had a frenzied 24 hours sorting travel insurance, airport parking an rearranging work commitments we'd booked for the week ahead. The mania was well and truly worth it, as you'll see from the review ahead....


First Impressions
When the transfer bus first pulled up to the hotel at 2am I was worried that the area was a bit built up, there were lots of large and very high hotel buildings in the area, however the Astoria Playa stood out as nicest example in the area. As soon as we walked past the first stunning lit up pool and towards the reception, any worries quickly depleted  - I could tell this was a luxurious and sophisticated establishment and in flawless condition despite being a functioning hotel for over 40 years. When we entered the reception we were struck by it's clean and contemporary feel. The space was predominantely white with a few pops of red via some floral wall hangings and the comfy seats in front of the desks. Despite our very late/early arrival check in was swift and efficient. Our room on the first floor felt compact but perfectly appointed with all inetrior details finished to perfection. 


The Room

This space is pristine white, so much so it is almost too much for tired peepers. I absolutely loved this Instagram friendly aesthetic though - bloggers will love it as it is a dream for flat-lays and selfies. As an innately messy person, this flawless and spotless space encouraged me to tame my chaotic ways. It was so immaculate you didn’t want your personality flaw to ruin it’s perfection. Of course this look isn’t for everyone, Si felt it was a tad too minimalist and that it lacked cosiness. I argued that the embracing layout of the compact space gave it a cosy enough feel. I think this stark white look works so well when teamed accompanied by a view of glistening turquoise pool water, palm tree and sunshine and overall the space had a fresh and contemporary feel. The only small gripe is that there were not enough plugs for all of are techy work paraphernalia, and it would have been great to have a few more UK speaking TV channels on the amazing TV opposite our bed. (They did have NETFLIX though which is fantastic)


Simon and I were united when picking our favourite aspects of our temporary abode. There are two shower heads, one which is perfect for those avoiding getting their hair wet (Si has just dyed his hair and is trying to maintain the colour) and for getting sand off the feet and legs. Then there is THE shower head, a large rainforest style one that completely blew our minds. As you guys know Si is in a band that tours for a large chunk of the years, and I used to work at various websites reviewing hotels, so between us we have experienced a fair few showers.  This would without doubt the best shower we have ever used, and this is coming from a bath kinda gal. I don’t want to hark on too much about it, but it was such a lovely way to start/end a day, perfect pressure…and I could work it first time ( trust me, complicated showers is a thing in hotels these days).

If you are a bath person like me, do let the hotel know as they will always do what they can to accommodate you. 



Our Superior Double had two single beds pulled together, which we thought was odd at first, but actually enjoyed as we didn’t have our usual tussle for covers and space. Si did nearly fall down the gap when it came to morning snuggles, but that amused me greatly. It really didn’t matter that we didn’t have a double bed because what we did have was incredibly comfortable. I am someone that likes to get up early and make the most of each day on holiday, but I was in such a state of comfort and relaxation that it was incredibly hard to get up and make it down to breakfast before the kitchen closed. In a Vlog I’d watched before visiting hotel, a blogger had commented on the quality of the pillows, and I have to agree - they felt extremely luxurious, full bodied and cloud-like. 


One thing I dislike about holidaying in hot countries is a lack of duvet and the daily routine of getting completely tangled in layers of sheets. I understand the climates are too hot for UK style duvets, but I do like to feel cuddled by my bedding when I hit the hay. Astoria Playa have found the perfect middle ground with their thin duvets, and I felt completely blissed out whenever I got into bed. 


The addition of the fancy coffee machine is a nice touch and almost necessity for stressed out workers on their much needed break (who are used to starting their day with a fix of caffeine). We didn’t have any  coffee in our room when we went to use it, but we called down to reception and they were promptly brought up to us. I think one packet daily for each resident of the room should be a standard feature. 


There’s a grey sofa, perfect for resting all your gubbins and bits and bobs on, and a reasonably sized wardrobe (with hangers) and drawers if you want to ensure your attire is neatly stowed away and crease free. In the UK it’s a standard that most 4 stars have dressing gowns and slippers, but perhaps it’s just not needed in this climate…I do miss it though for those walks from the shower to wherever your clothes are. 


Visually the translucent glass bathroom sectioned off in the room is great, but it slightly falters in practicality. When you turn the light on, it makes the bathroom prism glow and light up the rest of the room. You risk upsetting your sleeping partner, so if you know they tend to get a bit grumpy if disturbed, your night-time toilet trips may have to be in the dark. The only other slight negative was that our toiletries were not restocked each day.

It’s extremely useful if something goes wrong when you are doing reviews because it allows you to gauge how well the hotel deals with customer issues. We had some fruit in our fridge, when we came to eat it we discovered that the fridge had stopped working. We called down to reception and within minutes a man was in our room replacing it for a new working one. Very impressive. Full marks! I’d never mark a hotel down for such issues…that’s life, things stop working. It’s how you deal with it that is the most telling. 


On the second to last day we came back to our room to discover a lovely new addition added to our vast balcony space. There was an white outdoor bed/lounger, so we could lie out in our own space if we didn’t fancy joining the residents by the pool. It was a pretty special way to enjoy our chilled fruit. It definitely delivered that VIP wow factor.

Room with a view?

We could see one of the stunning pools from our room, impressive palms, mountains in the distance,  as well as other hotels in the area. There is a huge expanse of flat room that is visible from a  lot of the rooms. It wasn’t a problem for us at all, but it could benefit from be utilised in some way (if planning allowed)…perhaps a lush and green roof garden.

The Food

Si is a big foodie as you guys will know by now. So much so that he has launched a Blog/Channel dedicated to cooking and food, so I was going to be using his feedback to form this part of the review. We were staying half board meaning that we would be enjoying buffet style breakfast and dinner.

The amount of visits Si would take to the buffet was enough to tell me he was enjoying the experience. Buffets can be rather hit or miss, but I have to say this was the best buffet I have experienced yet. The choice was incredible and every taste and persuasion seemed to be considered. The lauded chef had to been hired having built an impressive reputation elsewhere and although standard of cooking is always slightly hindered when catering buffet style, it was still extremely high. 


At breakfast you could choose from cereals, fruits, omelettes, crepes, breads, cold cuts, cheese, yoghurts and a vast array of cooked options. I’d usually opt for a something involving a hash brown, baked beans and some of their wonderful bacon. Si would make me feel bad and come back to the table with a plate laden with vivid and ripe fresh fruit. There really was an exceptional array of options. 

At dinner you were similarly spoiled. There was always a traditional Paella simmering away in its big black pan, as well as pasta, pizza, strews, currys, meat and fish in various forms and cooking style, as well as potatoes and vegetables to accompany. I love that they have chefs cooking and carving and serving you, it just makes it feel a more luxurious and interactive process. I always find my appetite is far less in hot countries and I’m more inclined to want something light. They have a wonderful salad area to tick that box, with all the oils, vinegars and creams you would want to jazz up your bowl. 


I was particularly pleased to see an area clearly signed for vegetarians, as well as a spread labelled locally sourced. I didn’t see a specified area for Vegans as such, but I am very confident they would have done what was necessary to ensure everyone’s preferences were catered for. 


The staff were incredibly efficient and helpful in the restaurant/breakfast room. You were always greeted with a warm and enthusiastic welcome, they’d try their best to help you find the best table possible, and you never had to wait long before your finished plate was taken away.


As you can see from the images above we had a fine selection of desserts to choose from. I say choose, I did nothing of the sort. I felt in my role as reviewer it was essential I tried every single pudding available. My favourite over the stay was a wonderfully light and flaky Mille-feuille, but of course you could find me enjoying the simplicity and indulgence of the chocolate fountain at regular intervals too.

Another nice feature of dining in the restaurant is that you can buy a bottle of wine and then save it for the next night (or till its finished). They will take your room number and bring in to your table the next night. We were recommended a lovely red wine that we made last for our stay. 

 Melted Nachos from the Snack Bar

The snack bar by the 25m pool had only been open a day when we decided to refuel. It has a little way to go before being on parr with the restaurant. The service was a little slow and the food a tad lacklustre, (probably just getting in the swing of things) but it was still a nice setting with lovely chilled music to keep you in relaxed holiday mode.

The Facilities

There are two uniquely beautiful pools. The first, the one we can see from our room, is a curvy pool with a bridge that takes you to a tiny island that plays host to two very tall palm trees. It is surrounded by various style of loungers, some sheltered by straw parasols, the rest either luxe bed style loungers or the more standard but still very comfy and cushioned single loungers. This pool seemed to be frequented by the slightly older residents and is the ideal pool for those wanting a break from basking in the sun. The palette is clean white and grey, with some added serenity and style flair courtesy of the buddha statues. 

The pools looked stunning lit up at night - towels require a €10 deposit which is given back when they are returned.

The other pool has a slightly younger feel to it, and with it's 25m length,  great for fitness fanatics keen on working off their buffet and maintaining their summer bods. The pop of hot pink courtesy of the sun loungers, and the bar at the end with it’s colourful mural, give the pool that fun and carefree holiday feel. There is a constant soundtrack of soothing and soft jazz covers too, which help you maintain that desired level of chill. 



I was desperate to try the little mini golf course, but sadly we ran out of time. At 5 Euros a go, it’s a fun little activity to break up a day of doing nothing by pool - us Brits love a bit of miniature golf don’t we?!


Currently there is no gym at the hotel, but I get the feeling this will change in the coming years. With the style overhaul of the hotel there has been an influx of younger adults wanting to stay.  To ensure they meet the needs of the fitness/health fanatic generation I imagine this will be an addition to in the not too distant future. I’m not going to pretend this is/was an issue for me, I personally think it should be illegal to exert yourself on holiday, but I know my friends (and Si) would look for a gym when booking a hotel. If you are determined to maintain part of your usual regime, then I recommend you run by the beach, which is only a few metres from the hotel. There is a long blue path the stretches the entire distance the beach, so you can take in the beautiful scenery rather than running on a treadmill and catching up on the antics of the Kardashians. 


There is a TV room on the ground floor, which was showing various sports during our stay and is sectioned off within in the bar area. The bar is in-keeping with the sleek and fresh feel of the rest of the hotel, with a few red accents here and there. There is a white grand piano and a projection screen which play their parts in the entertainment put on in the bar at night. While we were there we enjoyed a guy singing Motown and modern R&B music, he performed a number of classics and we found ourselves singing along. This sort of in house entertainment isn’t for everyone, I know, but you are so close to the beach and it’s strip or bars and restaurants, as well as the ones on the nearby streets you won’t be lacking in options. 


In Summary

The child-free nature of this hotel is one of it’s most endearing features. When we explored the beach and walked past some of the hotels with their sea views we realised just how good we had it. It’s not that they weren’t nice establishments, but we had just forgotten how much noise a pool full of children can make… and that’s just the well behaved ones! Despite being surrounded by high rise hotels and a fairly busy road, it really did feel like a sanctuary, and although sophisticated it never felt stiff or overly formal. They’ve managed to strike the balance of creating a high end feel but an environment that you feel you can fully relax in. 


The staff clearly take pride in their work, and due to their ethic and warm nature we were very fond of our waiters and host by the end of the trip. Our host, the glamorous and multilingual Sanaa Choull was one of those women you feel could accomplish anything she wanted. Very professional but  charismatic, and willing and able to sort out an issue that arose. I really feel that she will be a driving force to improving and evolving the hotel further over the next few years, and I’d be very excited to visit again to see the changes. 


In its current shape though, I would thoroughly recommend anyone to book a stay at the Hotel Astoria Playa. Spotlessly clean, wonderful pools, helpful staff, delicious food and in a fantastic location close to the beach. What more could you want?!

Thanks so much for having us….Hope to see you again. 


Thank you to Blogging Gals for this amazing treat too. Forever grateful. 


There's so much more I have to say about the area of Alcudia, so keep your eyes peeled on more posts about the magical Mallorca. 
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