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Reviewed September 17, 2011

Chain hotels are not our usual choice but we'd driven from Portugal, it was evening, we didn't know where to stay and the off-season rate was good so we went for it. Excellent choice! Good, helpful staff, clean rooms, decent and varied buffet meals but best of all, just 400m through the dunes to one of Spain's best beaches.
The fishing port of Isla Cristina, near the Portuguese border, is not that well known outside Spain (not the easiest of towns to get to for international air travellers), but what a delightful place. Not only was the town clean, colourful and full of fishy places to eat, but the long sandy beach and clean waters were a dream.
The Barcelò was the nearest big hotel to this beach and while families with kids tended to keep to the hotel's pool area, we walked to the beach daily and stayed till sunset or later.
The drawbacks of this hotel are the number of families with kids (noisy!), the few elevators for its 300-odd rooms (though we discovered the stairs), and a lack of parking in the vicinity. Oh, and no English language TV - if that is considered a drawback. Given the choice, I would go out of season. It is probably even more busy in August.
On the plus side, the staff were charming, the rooms were fine though not flashy (we liked the choice of a fan and/or AirCon), the pool area was beautifully cared for and the buffet breakfasts, wonderful.
Isla Cristina is a great little town and a good choice for a beach holiday for people who want the simple life the Spanish themselves look for in a holiday destination: sun, sea, sand, tapas, vino and, in this fishing port, local sardines!

Room Tip: Pool side noisy, but with sea views. Road side much quieter but less pretty. Go for a room on the upper floors.
  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Fiona N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 1, 2011

We booked isla cristina via hotels4u.com to stay there in August 2011 on FB basis.

We looked for a nice, peaceful and relaxing hotel without English tourists ( I am sorry if it is offending). As a childless young couple, we generally dont mind children running around but what we were faced with was like a scene from a horror movie!!!

Imagine thousands and thousands children btw ages of 2mnths - 4 years x 500 rooms as it is a big hotel and I am pretty sure you ve got a clear picture. Also as you are probably aware young parents tend to lose the sense of what is appropriate in terms of nappy changing singing songs etc whilst next to the pool, so you can imagine enjoying a book by the pool when the sudden smell of poo hits you because parents change their childrens'nappies literally 25cm away from you because it is convenient . if you dont mind that - you ll be fine.

To comment on the overall standard of the hotel-well.... 4 star it is not!!! In fact we later found out that it is 4 suns (Ratings for resorts) rather than 4 stars lol !! The room was alright - no balcony though, no english channels available. We asked for english channels which were apparently available. After 4 phone calls to reception, eventually sb brought a new tv with BBC and Eurosport available.

I can complement cleaning services, as the ladies were very discrete and rooms well cleaned and toileteriess restocked on daily basis. In terms of food - well it was not too bad- though very repetitive! Staff well!! Most of them were very obnoxious and didnt even care for 1 smile! That might have had something to do with the fact that the staff hotel spoke very little english but still a smile wouldnt kill considering that we always orderd in spanish and tried to speak in spanish as much as possible.

Reception staff Dorota has misinformed us about red bracelets which we were offered to buy for 6euro per day a head in order to match all inclusive option. It turned out that we could only have water, beer and wine with dinner and lunch- no water available by the pool and I was even refused sangria during the dinner when neighbouring table had 4 glasses. I was told that they were on all inclusive option.

The gym was old, tiny and closed daily btw 1pm - 4pm, also closed on sundays as though hotel staff was on holiday themselves!!!

The public beach was a 15 minute walk, unfortunately quite dirty with shells poking your feet :) and definitely not cleaned in ages. Isla cristina itself is not worth the effoert- there is absolutely nothing to see or to do.

If you are a couple with children you may appreciate the evening entertainment for children only but then again when I get my own bunch - I will not go

  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank kedzierskaster
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 1, 2011

Hotel was very good and staff very efficient. Stayed on the half board option, it seemed like most people stayed on all inclusive which includes some drinks but not all. Food was excellent at breakfast and dinner, with a huge amount of choice and good quality and something different every day. The rooms were also great, cleaned every day and despite it being busy in the hotel it was very quiet in the rooms.

Entertainment in the hotel was orientated towards children and finished early (around 11pm each night). There were also activities in the pool every day but a few hours each day at lunchtime when the pool was empty. It did at times get very busy round the pool in the late afternoon but there were some gardens at the edge with sun loungers where it was a lot quieter. People are also stopped from reserving loungers which was followed quite strictly and a great idea.

Having arrived at Seville airport and travelled back from Faro I would recommend car hire if you are flying there and want to get around. It is a train and bus journey/40 minute taxi ride from Huelva and around 70euros in a taxi (45 mins) to Faro which we didn't expect.

The local town is only 10 mins walk away. It is a very small town but there are quite a few bars and great seafood restaurants. Don't expect any big shops/ department stores but there are little supermarkets and it was not full of tourists which was a nice change. The beaches are fantastic and mostly sandy. There is one around 10 mins walk from the hotel over a wooden walkway and through a small nature reserve which goes on for miles east along the coast. The beaches further along the coast are accessible by car and bus.

All in all it was an excellent, albeit different holiday which put a different perspective on the southern Spain break.

  • Stayed: June 2011, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank holidaylovinghan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 26, 2011

It's truely good hotel. Big, well equipped rooms, nice poolside, short walk from a very wide and long beach. Everything is ok until you hit the streets. Isla Cristina is probably the dirtiest town in Europe. Papers, bottles and other rubbish are everywhere. Locals (there are no many tourists in Isla Cristana) sit in bars and throw everything at their feet. The next thing is that Isla is rather unsightly and boring place. Nothing to do, lack of places to go for a walk, nothing to see... In conclusion - great hotel in poor place.

  • Stayed: August 2010, traveled with family
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3  Thank olaf_tr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 22, 2010

Barcelo Isla Cristina is a good quality hotel, The All Inclusive Service is similar to other spanish all-inclusive, from 08h30 to 23h30m and not every drinks are on the All Inclusive. But it has a good variety and the food on every meals is of good quality. The pool is quiet until around 11h30m, then the children start coming, and if you don't like children...it can be stressing!!
It is a good option for family vacations!

Stayed: July 2010, traveled with friends
1  Thank XavierCosta
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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