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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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