After reading some of the bad reviews for this hotel, I was somewhat a little worried about going there instead of The Rock (which we also looked at before booking) but I have to say the Bristol is fabulous! The staff can't do enough to help you and are all so friendly that you immediately feel like a friend and resident of Gibraltar.
The hotel itself is clean and the rooms have all you need and more. The beds are comfy and the en-suite bathroom was fabulous – with both a bath and shower, both of which were good and with plenty of very hot water so you may want to add some cold water before getting in! The TV has numerous free channels that you have to pay extra for in the UK (such as Sky Sports and Movies) and the fridge is a good size with a freezer compartment that froze our ice cubes quicker than I've ever known happen before (which is good if you forgot to do it before going out for the day and want it for your gin and tonic when you return to your room after sight-seeing!) The room is equipped with both air conditioning and a heater so take your pick as to whether you want to warm up or cool down! Plenty of wardrobe space and equipped with enough hangers even if you over-pack like me! Lots of drawer space too. There are various lamps/lights that suit any type of activity you may wish to do in your room (from reading to romance)!
Both of the 2 lifts are quick and in good working order – they even have an up-to-date weather map for you to read as you go up or down the shaft! The swimming pool is a must unless you’re really boring! Yes, it was November when we went and yes, the weather was not particularly warm or dry that day but we had such fun doing it and had the pool to ourselves! If you go, take a gin and tonic with you (for medicinal purposes for when you get out of the pool) and take your cigarettes as you can smoke at the tables by the pool. You can get to the pool the quick way (which is out the hotel’s main entrance and across a little side street – about 10 footsteps in all) or you can go the longer way via reception and over the covered flyover/bridge inside.
In Gibraltar – this hotel has by far the best location as you are within walking distance to anywhere and everywhere that you may want to go. The cable car is about a slow 5 minutes walk away and well worth the money to go up to the top of ‘The Rock’. Views are outstanding and the apes are plentiful! Don’t get too excited about the café or souvenir shop at the top of the Rock – neither is particularly brilliant but the apes are the stars of the Rock! We saw loads – some with tiny babies and yes, they are semi-wild animals so hugging them (as some people tried to) would be stupid (i.e. one woman got her face badly scratched) but if you just watch them and leave them be – they are both fascinating and amusing. Allow yourself more time to look at the apes than you originally think you may want – we couldn’t get enough of them but had so many other things as well that we wanted to do or see and the time goes very quickly! The caves are interesting and better than I thought they would be but I wouldn’t say you’ve missed the best of Gibraltar if you don’t see them.
Shopping, Eating and Dolphins
The Main Street is literally around the corner from the Bristol Hotel and it has all the shops and bars/cafes you could want. If you are a smoker / drinker – leave some space in your suitcase for your return journey – 200 B&H for £21.50, a litre of vodka is £4.99 and a 3 litre bottle of Jack Daniels is just £30!!
At the end of Main Street, there is the gorgeous Casement Square and it is a must-see – both during the day (lots of little unique shops) and in the evening as it is so different. Go to the Lord Nelson in the evening for fabulous food at reasonable prices and live music that was also excellent (they also have lots of big plasma screens for every type of live sporting event going on in the world – but no sound so it doesn’t spoil the ambience). We also loved Ocean View – a very plush marina near Casement Square and it has lots of lovely restaurants and bars that are not over-priced and the food is excellent at all the ones we went to. There is also a casino there if you are feeling lucky! If you want to do one of the dolphin trips – go with ‘Dolphin Adventure’ (which is located at the back of the casino) – they are totally brilliant, you are 99.9% guaranteed to see countless wild dolphins and the crew we had (Shane and Tim) were exceptional. The trip lasted a good hour and a half and every minute of it was amazing. It is unbelievably cheap and well worth the £20 it costs per person.
The Rock Hotel verses The Bristol
We went and had a nose around the Rock Hotel and yes, it is a beautiful hotel and I imagine it has a great view of the Rock from your room. It depends what you want – if you like walking up a VERY steep hill to get to your hotel, prefer to pay more for a few more minor luxuries, then I suppose you would prefer the Rock Hotel. However, if you prefer friendly and personable staff, being within easy walking distance to everywhere else in Gibraltar (without a steep hill) and are satisfied with comfort and all-you-really-need from a hotel – go to the Bristol. People who have written negative reviews about this hotel are totally unfair and seem to think it is reasonable expecting their hotel to be like The Ritz after only paying Fawlty Towers prices!
We flew British Airways and it is well worth paying a little extra to go with them as opposed to going with the cheaper operator Easy Jet. British Airways were great in every way, the seats are comfy, you have more leg room than other short-haul flights and to top it off, you get free drinks (including alcohol) and snacks throughout the flight!
The landing at Gibraltar is a bit of a gamble (if you can actually land there) and it may be a bit bumpy to say the least but well worth the experience! Have your camera out during the flight and landing as there are some great views to take photos of! If you can’t land at Gibraltar (because of the cross winds or heavy cloud) then you are diverted to Malaga and travel to/from Gibraltar on a coach instead (which apparently takes 1-2 hours and customs may check you more thoroughly at both Malaga and the UK than if just going from UK to Gibraltar or vice-versa). British Airways never failed to land/take off but Easy Jet seemed to go to Malaga instead quite often whilst we were there. However, an airport official told us that Monarch Airlines “will land in any condition” so take your pick of the 3!
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.