A Good Holiday at Las Piramides
We stayed at the Las Piramides between the 27th July and 4th August 2006.
After a very long transfer with Mytravel the first impressions of the hotel were very good (be aware though that the transfer bus doesn’t pull up outside the hotel, it stops in the middle of the adjacent street), the reception area is big bright and airy, with plenty of comfy sofas and chairs.
The man on reception was friendly and helpful, checking in was quick and he informed us that there was a selection of cold food ready for us as we had missed the evening meal that night. This was a pleasant surprise, and very welcome at 12:30am having not had a lot to eat for most of the day.
The room we were allocated (No 331) was a suite, consisting of two large bedrooms, a reasonable sized bathroom and a very large double balcony with lovely views over the beach, pool and promenade. We didn’t pre-book or request a suite, but there were three of us in the group so they may be reserved fro larger parties.
Throughout the week we were there our room was cleaned thoroughly every day, with new towels being provided daily. The room décor was quite modern, but different from that in the brochure. The bathroom again was always very clean, but could do with some modernisation (particularly the tiles).
We stayed on a half board basis and were really impressed with both the selection of food available and the quality at dinner. If you like your food plain, simple and British this probably isn’t the place for you, however, if you like trying new things and are a fan of fish, you’ll love the buffet.
There’s a wide selection of salads, cold meets and cheeses and also a choice of two soups for starter. Main course comprises of lots of different fish dishes in a variety of sauces, meat in Spanish style sauces, a different pasta dish every night and contrary to previous reports chips are available every night! Sweet leaves a lot to be desired and is the usual selection of fruit, ice cream and some very strange cakes. Beware though; drinks are expensive (we stuck to bottled water at 2.50 Euro).
We felt there were two main areas that let this hotel down and made it more of a three, rather than four, star. Firstly the arrangements for breakfast were totally chaotic. The room breakfast is served in is different from the main dining room and is far too small to accommodate over 600 guests. There is a small buffet table in the middle of the room surrounded by tables and chairs and this leads out onto the terrace were most people eat breakfast.
If you come down for breakfast at about 9:15 it is absolute chaos, people don’t queue, there’s no room to get round the buffet due to the tables and chairs in the way. It’s just a case of take your tray and barge in where you can! However, the quality of food at breakfast couldn’t be faulted, plenty for everyone to choose from, both English and Continental. And again, contrary to previous reports the tea and coffee were always very nice!
Secondly, the pool and surrounding terrace area was far too small to accommodate the number of guests. The pool doesn’t open until 9:30am every morning and unless you are down there with your towel queuing at least an hour before you have no chance of getting a bed. It’s the same old case of people putting there towels down first thing in a morning and not coming back for hours. There are simple not enough beds for the size of the hotel. Also the pool area does look quite scruffy. There is an indoor pool in a sort of greenhouse type thing and a very small gym in a hut next to the pool
A big advantage of staying in this hotel is it’s proximity to the beach, you literally walk out the front doors, turn left and walk to the bottom of the road (20 metres), then across the road is the beach. The beach is lovely with plenty of sun beds and parasols available to hire, with two beds and a brolly costing 8 Euros.
However, a few things to be aware of, the sand gets really, really hot after mid day so flip flops are needed to walk down to the water. The sea is very cold, whatever time of day it is and is very stony near the shore. The water can get a bit choppy, so children need to be supervised and at certain times (particularly weekends) the water is full of rubbish.
The hotel is at the quieter end of Fuengirola, however there are still plenty of bars and shops nearby and a large supermarket situated about 5 minutes from the hotel. We felt the location of the hotel was ideal, there was everything you needed right on the doorstop, but the centre of the resort could be reached within 5/10 mins.
Some places to visit on a night if you don’t fancy walking into town include:
Magnums Bar: it is literally round the corner from the hotel. It’s owned by a couple of British blokes and the drinks are very reasonably priced, (Gin and tonic 4 Euro, with very generous measures of gin!), with friendly and efficient service. It does get quite busy later on, so make sure you get there early!
Sabor: A cocktail bar a bit further up the street from Magnums, run by a German lady who is very quick to take you order, a bit too quick in my opinion! Does really nice cocktails (try the Bora Bora), however, slightly on the pricy side, which could explain why it wasn’t very busy!
Sal’s Place: This is a very small jazz bar also near the hotel. It’s only open a few nights a week but it does have some really good live acts on. Apparently Smoky Robinson was on the week before we arrived. Sal was a backing singer for many of the big motown/blues acts in the 60s.
Gelatia 900: an ice cream parlour on the corner of the street opposite the hotel. Does ice cream cones to take away – literally hundreds of flavours. Also does coffee and cakes and film star themed ice cream to eat on the terrace. Quite expensive, but the Bom Bom and the Burt Lancaster are a must! Gets very busy late on a night ant doesn’t; shut while about 2am.
The centre of Fuengirola is very British (particularly along the front), with lots of English bars and cafes serving traditional English food. On a night it gets very, very busy, and personally we thought it became quite tacky and a bit like Blackpool in the sun! However, if you want something a bit more Spanish head off into the winding back streets, particularly ‘Fish Ally’. On a night this street is full of restaurants and bars and has a really nice atmosphere to it. There’s also some really nice shops in this area, independent boutiques and some more familiar names such as Zara and Mango.
We went on three trips to:
Marbella: caught the bus from the bus station in the centre of town, about ten minutes from the hotel. A bus is also available outside the supermarket that, for 90 cents, will take you to the bus station. The buses to Marbella leave every 20 minutes and single costs 2.20 Euros. The buses are packed at this time of year, and being in Spain, there is no queue, just get stuck in like the locals do! The bus does take a very long time as there are tons of stops along they way and the driver tended to stop at each one, getting Marbella took about 1 ½ hours. Don’t make the same mistake as us by getting off at the bus station, its miles away from the centre, instead get off near all the shops. You can also get back on here, and again the buses to Fuengirola are regular.
Marbella is a really nice resort, particularly around the marina area there are some lovely cafes and restaurants. There are plenty of shops to see in the main street, with lots of names familiar from home. However, the rich and famous that once frequented the resort seem to have moved up the coast to Puerto Banus, you can get a bus there from most stops in Marbella, or get a taxi as its not far.
Mijas: This is a small town up in hills above Fuengirola full of quaint whitewashed buildings. Again you can catch the bus from the station, it costs 1.50 Euro one way and the buses are about every 20-30 minutes. Mijas is a nice half day trip, there are plenty of craft shops to see and a great viewing area where you can see Fuengirola and neighbouring resorts (you can even see the pyramids on the roof of the hotel)! There are also plenty of reasonably priced cafes and tapas bars for a spot of lunch.
Gibraltar: Booked this trip through our rep, there are four different trips you can go on; the rock tour, dolphin spotting, a tour of the WWII tunnels or just a shopping trip. They are all different prices, with the tunnels being the most expensive. We chose the rock tour (30 Euros each); this consisted of a trip up the rock on a minibus with an English speaking and very informative guide/driver. The trip included stops at various different vantage pints for photographs, the best one being on the way up where you can see Gibraltar town, Spain, the coast of Morocco and on a clear day the coast of Africa. Once up the rock you get to go in St Michael’s caves and also stop at the ape den. The apes don’t bother you unless you have a plastic bag of food, which they will come and take off you, so leave your lunch on the bus!
You also get two hours free time in Gibraltar to go shopping etc. Can’t say I was particularly impressed with Gibraltar itself, I though it was really grubby. Not many bargains to be had unless you smoke or drink spirits, with a bottle of gin coming in at £3.50 and a pack of 200 cigarettes for about £4. They have all the famous British shops (Next, BHS, M&S) and you can pay in sterling or Euros.
The situation at customs on the way back is ridiculous, everyone has to get off the bus then walk through customs like at the airport where most people’s bags are searched. However, if you have too much stuff they will confiscate it and fine you, there are tight restrictions not only on cigarettes and booze but on other items e.g. clothes as well, you are only allowed to take back a certain value of goods (I think it was 175 Euros). However, if one person on the bus is stopped you can have a long wait; we were waiting nearly an hour because two people on our bus had bought loads of pairs of jeans!
Not what I was expecting, but you’ve got to go if you come to this part of Spain!
A couple of things to be aware of in Fuengirola: the ‘Lucky-Lucky’ men are a bit of a pain, especially on a night when you’re trying to have a drink, however if you just say ‘no’ they do go away. Also the time share touts, aka the people with scratch cards, they are apparently a particular problem in this part of Spain but we only saw a couple (probably because we were in the quieter part of town). If they approach you don’t stop, because they will actually scratch the card off for you, just say ‘no thanks’ and move on. They may tell you it’s not a con but it is, please don’t let them ruin your holiday!
Overall, we all had a really great holiday, the weather was lovely and we came back with very nice tans! The hotel was good, great location, really tasty food, good service and high standards of cleanliness. However, the pool and the breakfast situation do let it down, and it doesn’t really deserve four stars.
Fuengirola is great for people of all ages; there are different things to appeal to families, couples, young and old. It’s great that the resort is so big because you’ve got the noisier/lively side if that’s what you’re into and there’s the quieter, more Spanish area if that’s what your looking for. It’s a great place to come for a short break, however, staying for a fortnight a think you would get a bit bored. However, I personally feel that once you’ve seen Fuengirola you’ve seen it and there was nothing there that was outstanding enough to draw me back for another visit, and personally for me the same applies to the rest of the Costa del Sol.