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“A very disappointing “no frills” Riu experience.”
Review of Hotel Riu Monica

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Hotel Riu Monica
Ranked #4 of 37 Hotels in Nerja
Certificate of Excellence
wirral
Level 6 Contributor
89 reviews
56 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 109 helpful votes
“A very disappointing “no frills” Riu experience.”
Reviewed May 11, 2013

I know that many people like this hotel by the mainly positive reviews on Trip Advisor, and that is primarily why we chose to stay there for 6 nights in April, but we found the experience very disappointing.

I will start by putting our views into perspective. This was our 11th stay at a Riu hotel, although our first at the Riu Monica. Our previous stays have all been at Riu Palace hotels in the Canaries (for information see my previous reviews), and whilst we knew that this was not a Palace hotel, we also knew that it was a Riu 4 star hotel and expected reasonable standards given our previous good experiences of Riu. Unfortunately we were wrong, and had this been our first stay at a Riu hotel it would also have been our last.

In order to be balanced, I will start by saying that the hotel is clean, the food edible, the staff reasonably efficient, and the hotel is located overlooking a beach with good sea views. The cost for two of us for 6 nights half board (not including flights) was £541 + 600 Riu Class points (as we are Riu Class members).

The following summarises why we were disappointed in the standards of this Riu hotel, which purports to be 4 star but in our view falls far short of 4 star standards:

Location
The hotel, whilst directly on a beach, is located in what I would describe as a poorer area of Nerja. It is surrounded by high-rise apartments, many of which are in poor decorative order, and the hotel restaurant overlooks such an apartment block. The main beach in Nerja is Burriana, and that area is much more pleasant than Torrecilla where the Riu Monica is located.

Hotel Reception
Some of the staff were friendly and helpful and some were not. On arrival, we were not recognised as Riu Class members, and there was no offer of help to take our luggage to our 7th Floor Room. On checking out of the hotel, we were not even asked if we had had a pleasant stay.
Pool towels were available free of charge from reception, but the ones we were given were threadbare and very thin. When my wife returned them to reception she suggested that they should be binned.

Room
Our room was located on the 7th floor, and several people commented that the 7th floor rooms were the best. If that is the case, I wouldn’t like to see the other rooms! Whilst clean, the room was “tired” and the furniture dated. The bed covers were old and utilitarian. There was a TV but a very old one and not flat screen. There was plenty of wardrobe space, but the safe, for which we were charged 13€ for 6 days was small, inconveniently located on the floor of the wardrobe, and was key operated with the room number on the key – not very secure if the key was lost. The bathroom was clean but once again quite utilitarian, and the towels were very thin and a dirty brown colour. Whilst there was shower gel and shampoo, it was in paper sachets and only one each was provided per day. The room had a large terrace but it was poorly maintained and had the cheapest looking white plastic chairs and table which appeared to have been rubbed down and repainted white (see photographs). During our stay the terrace was not cleaned at all by the maids.
Overall not a welcoming and comfortable place to stay in.

Corridors and lift area.
I mention these because in a 4 star hotel you would expect some effort to be made to make these public area pleasing to the eye but they were cold looking, no pictures on the corridor walls and very bare lift areas (see photo).

The Restaurant and food
I can best describe the restaurant as a decent cafeteria with tablecloths.

What first struck us when we went for our first evening meal was how close the tables were. On our first night we were shown to a table, which was quite literally 2 inches away from the next table. I asked if we could sit elsewhere with more space, and whilst the waiter initially said it was impossible because they were full, when I insisted and pointed to a nearby area with more space we were reluctantly permitted to sit there. For the rest of our stay we sat in another part of the restaurant where there was around 8 inches between the tables – not good but the best that we could do! What was particularly annoying was that a large part of the restaurant was cordoned off and not being used as the hotel was obviously not full, with guests having to sit close together in the open part of the restaurant.

The food, whilst reasonably presented and cooked, can be best described as canteen food. There was little variety particularly in the hot food, and whilst there initially appeared to be a good selection, most of the buffet area was taken up with salads. Little attempt was made to make the food interesting and on a couple of evenings we found it difficult to put together a meal that we enjoyed. Breakfasts were better, with a reasonable selection of hot and cold food.

It also surprised us that white wine when served by the bottle was left on the table with no offer of an ice bucket to keep it cool. On the first evening my wife asked for an ice bucket and very reluctantly the waiter found one but she was the only person in the restaurant to have one. I think one of the reasons why they were not offered was that there was insufficient space in the restaurant to have them!

The waiters and the headwaiter were not particularly friendly, and were there mainly to take drink orders and clear dishes away. No attempt was made to replenish wine glasses, which we have experienced in other Riu hotels we have visited.

Whilst we saw the manager and assistant manager at the entrance to the restaurant, they made little effort to go around speaking to guests as we have experienced before concentrating only on a few guests who appeared to be regulars, and certainly made no attempt to speak to us at any time during our stay.

Bar and lounge area and entertainment.
Whilst this area was comfortably furnished, it was surprising that in the evening each table had tea-light candles, which remained unlit. One evening we asked the waiter to light our candle which she did, but why couldn’t this be done at all the tables – an example of little thought being given to the guests.

I know that different entertainment appeals to different people, but I would only say that we didn’t expect bingo in a 4 star hotel! The musical entertainment was very average, and as a result we only stayed in the hotel for a couple of evenings, and then only because the weather was not particularly good during our stay.

The gardens and pool area.
These were reasonably well maintained, although certainly less so than the other Riu hotels we have stayed in. Whilst there was a poolside restaurant open during the day, we didn’t use it mainly because we were so unimpressed with the main restaurant food, and because the choice in Nerja bars and restaurants was so much better.

Overall
This hotel does appeal to many people so this review is really aimed at others like ourselves who expect more of a 4 star hotel. Before arriving at Nerja, we stayed for 3 nights in Malaga at the hotel MS Maestranza, also a 4 star hotel, but infinitely better in location, standard of accommodation and service than the Riu Monica.

There is no way that we will visit the Riu Monica again, and because of our disappointment relative to our other stays at Riu hotels I have written to Riu to let them know our views, from the perspective of a disappointed but previously very satisfied Riu client.

If you are looking for a hotel with some style, luxury and excellent service, then we cannot recommend this hotel.

Room Tip: Suggest you don't visit until there is a complete refurbishment
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
9 Thank farrj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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South UK
Level 4 Contributor
28 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
Reviewed May 11, 2013

We love the Riu Hotels, and arriving at the Monica was like coming home. The "marble halls" are light and airy, the reception staff are friendly and helpful with excellent English. Registering is always easy, quick and efficient.

The food was lovely - and excellent selection of well presented, tasty food. The salad bar was particularly good. It was also particularly admirable that the manager and assistant manager were always present at dinner, chatting to customers and circulating around the tables checking that everyone was happy. The watch word of the hotel is "excellence" and they achieved this. If you were unhappy about anything, or simply wanted a change then you only had to ask. For example: my husband remarked to one of the chefs that he would have liked Gazpacho soup and 2 evenings later there it was. The chefs were also happy to chat about the food and discuss how they cooked it.

Our only complaint was swiftly resolved - we were there from 28th April to 10th May and we found out after arrival that the indoor pool was scheduled to close for the summer on the 1st May. We went to reception and explained that the indoor pool was one of the reasons for selecting the hotel and that since the first few days had been cool it was particularly desirable. The manager immediately said that he took that on board, he had believed that the summer closure was mentioned in the brochure (although we did not feel that the Thompson's brochure had stated this) and that he would keep it open until the weather improved and the outdoor pool heated up. In fact the weather improved within days, but the indoor pool was still open when we left.

The hotel was very clean and the pool area and gardens well maintained, with private access to the promenade and beach.


As well as a lovely hotel we found Nerja to be a charming town. There are several beaches, an interesting town with squares, cafes, shops, market and the "Balcon" to visit. A 1 euro bus trip takes you up to Frigiliana a charming "white town" in the hills and there is a regular local bus.

All in all one of our best holidays, we were sorry to leave and would definitely like to return.

Room Tip: All the Thompson rooms are advertised as "side sea view". The sun is on the balcony of th...
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank kingfisherSouthUK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Peacehaven, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
43 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed May 10, 2013

Just returned from a very enjoyable and relaxing week at the Riu Monica. We were visiting Nerja to see friends and they recommended this hotel. As we were married at a Riu in Jamaica could not resist staying here. Though on a smaller scale it did not disappoint. The staff were very friendly and made you feel very welcome. The only downside was being a vegetarian and the restaurant buffet service I found the food very limited. Nerja is a beautiful area to stay and the hotel next to the beach is ideal. On the whole I would definitely recommend this hotel.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank Lesley C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
hampshire
Level 4 Contributor
33 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
Reviewed May 4, 2013

Went again to the Monica with Thomson Holidays last two weeks in April.
Many cloudy days but enough sunshine to get a suntan.
As usual couldn't fault the hotel and staff were superb. Special mention to Rui the entertainer and Daniel the assistant manager.
Visited the donkey sanctuary twice and would recommend it wholeheartedly. The sanctuary has to move it's site unfortunately but might be a few months yet.
The Riu Monica is a lovely hotel and well worth a visit.

  • Stayed April 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank midshipman_9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sheffield
Level 5 Contributor
54 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
Reviewed May 4, 2013

I like Nerja, it has a charm and style not present across many resorts in the Costa del Sol, but it is short of good quality hotels, there are only 2 four star properties and the Monica is the best ( not saying much?)
That would be unfair, it is a nice hotel and has many pluses, notably the location, just out of town and just on the front facing the Mediterranean .The food is good, the staff helpful and the overall ambience is conducive to a good holiday. We have stayed there now twice, I reviewed it in 2011 and it is interesting to see if the points I made then are still valid, so here goes.
I said meal times resembled a scrum and the tables were too close together... Meals are still let's say a chase for the grub, but it is plentiful, but it did seem less frenetic than my last visit ,that may be that the clientele was almost exclusively 55+ age range, very few kids or TOWIES ( ask your kids what this means) but a few zimmers and walking sticks, the food frenzy was more pedestrian.The tables are still ridiculously close together , so you will need to polish up your dinner conversation skills, unless you can secure some of the small number of isolated tables.
The bedrooms are still a little distressed and are badly in need of an upgrade, better towels, flat screen TVs , but largely are OK principally that they have good views....however...
I had mainly 2 gripes, firstly the hotel was cold, the weather had taken a dip and the room temperature was chilly.My wife asked at reception and was given 2 blankets. I went down and was told it is not usual at this time of year, I asked to see the Manager and explained that I did not think it was good enough to have guests cold in their rooms, to his credit he instructed the staff to put the heating on...was I the only one to complain? They should have put it on without me having to pester.
Secondly, the last time we visited I booked directly with the hotel, this time I went through Thomson. It was a surprise, as it made the place feel like a holiday camp from the moment we got on the bus and were asked to shout " Hola"to welcome the driver, to the request to tell the Hotel Manager everything was "Excellente" if we were asked, at the welcome meeting. I gave up on holiday camps when I was 12 , and didn't like the Hi de Hi approach to holiday making , but plenty of my older colleagues did and enjoyed it. I did think that the Thomsons rep.Vee was a delight and gave a calm and helpful feel to the place so it was not all bad.
The one thing Thomsons need to learn is with regard to the flights which were awful, from the over priced and burnt limited choice food selection ( take your own) to the terrible check in and entry to the plane in Malaga...dreadful. I never thought I would miss the Ryanair approach to chuck em on chuck em off but I did.
The Monica is worth a visit because Nerja is a nice resort...next time I will go as an independent traveller and will miss the knobbly knees comp and Donkey derby!!

Room Tip: The walls are paper thin, Ok if you are deaf or like to eavesdrop. Rooms on the left of the hotel a...
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank GilbertSheffield
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed May 1, 2013

A friend recommended this hotel - and they are still our friend. This is a superb hotel - very professional, very friendly and very welcoming. Perhaps the bedroom could do with a bit of updating but it was comfortable and clean. The restaurant is buffet service but all the waiting staff are experienced - no holiday-time temps! Choices from the buffet dinners were excellent 6 days out of 7 - perhaps on the 7th we were being picky! The hotel is a short walk from the pretty town of Nerja and about a 60 minute bus transfer from Malaga. Indicative of the welcome, was the glass of Cava given to us as we were checking in.

Room Tip: We had room 18 which was underneath the restaurant. Hence noisy during mealtimes (chairs scraping o...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Ian G G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bolton, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed April 29, 2013

We just needed to get some sunshine after the long hard winter. Although the weather wasn't as hot as we would have liked it was warm enough to lie by the pool. We only booked 1 week but wish we had stayed longer. The reception staff were very welcoming from the moment we stepped off the coach and answered any queries immediately. The room was very roomy and spotlessly clean. It had a side sea view but was fine. The food was excellent with something for every taste. The only criticism was the wine glasses in the dining room. Spain produces some fantastic Rioja's which deserve to be served in decent wine glasses. We had intended this trip to be a relaxing one but we found ourselves joining in the activities around the pool as Rui, who was in charge of entertainment was such a bubbly character. We didn't see all the entertainment as we wanted to explore the area but what we did see was excellent.Definately one for a return visit.

Room Tip: Although we had a side sea view it was a better view than other hotel's when we have had suppose...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Louie W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Monica

Property: Hotel Riu Monica
Address: Playa de la Torrecilla | Nerja - Málaga, 29780 Nerja, Spain
Phone Number:
Location: Spain > Andalucia > Province of Malaga > Costa del Sol > Nerja
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Casino and Gambling Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#2 Luxury Hotel in Nerja
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Nerja
#6 Romantic Hotel in Nerja
#8 Family Hotel in Nerja
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Monica 4*
Number of rooms: 234
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
* Located in Nerja * 7-story building * 3,000 m2 of lush gardens * Separated from "Playa de la Torrecilla" beach only by the beach front promenade * 800 m from the center of Nerja * 800 m from various shops * 80 km from the Malaga airport * 50 m from a bus stop * Credit cards accepted: MasterCard, Visa, Diners ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Nerja Riu Monica Hotel

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