Why We Chose This Hotel
The English winter and a busy festive season often motivate us to look for a warm-weather break in January. While many head south to the Canary Islands or further afield, we have noticed that the Costa Blanca on Spain's mainland can be a favored spot for the weather. Good weather in January is not guaranteed and the temperatures might not reach the heady heights of destinations further away, but it can be very pleasant there.
An added advantage of choosing mainland Spain is that flight times are shorter from the UK and costs are cheaper. The Costa Blanca is well known for its tourist industry, with hotels in abundance. Supply exceeds demand in the low season, so there are bargains to be found.
My husband noticed Hotel Port Denia was offering good deals and also found cheap flights from the UK to Valencia, the area's main city. Reviews and photos of the hotel online looked good so we booked to stay here for a week.
Hotel Port Denia is 119 kilometers southeast of Valencia airport and 106 kilometers northeast of Alicante airport. By car, it takes around 1 hour 18 minutes from Valencia airport, and 4 minutes less from Alicante.
The hotel is located on the southeastern edge of Denia, a port town with a historic center and a castle offering great views. Ferries sail from Denia to the Balearic Islands.
Hotel Port Denia is a 2-kilometer walk from the historic center of the town. The edge of the port is a short walk across the road from the hotel. From here you can choose to follow the scenic coastal route to the southeast or head northwest past the working port, towards the center. A pharmacy and a small supermarket are located along this road.
We approached the hotel from Denia Port. As we came towards the end of the port area, we noticed a roundabout, with the hotel by the road on the opposite side. A useful cashpoint was located near the entrance. The ground floor with large windows was overhung by the seven-floor concrete structure above it. To the left there was a security gate, leading to an area of covered parking at the side of the hotel. There was a small landscaped area by the entrance, which was accessed via a ramp to the left or by the main steps. Large revolving doors dominated the entrance.
The big foyer, with its shiny, light wood-effect floor and high ceiling, was impressive. On one side there was a desk for the older Spanish visitors, 'Mundo de seniores'. Reception was at a large wooden-topped, curved desk to the right. An interesting 3-D mural on a dividing wall gave the area a focus. A nearby suitcase weigher could have been useful, but it was out of order. Further back armchairs and low tables were set around the supporting pillars. Three lifts beyond reception serviced the seven guest floors above.
Check-in and Welcome
Our check-in was quick and efficient. There was no friendly welcome and we were given a minimal amount of information. I had to return later to ask about a key for our safe and the location of the gym. Initial impressions are important and unfortunately, the welcome at Port Hotel Denia lacked warmth and useful information.
As we entered room 312, the door to the bathroom was on the right, and doors to a fitted wardrobe were on the left. Further furniture was arranged along the wall to the left, with the beds up against the wall on the right. In line with the main door, there were patio doors, which took up two-thirds of the opposite wall and slid open for access to the balcony. This was around 2 meters deep and ran the full width of the room. It was enclosed by full-length walls on both sides which ensured privacy.
The flooring was a medium wood effect, matched by the wooden furniture in the room. The walls were painted magnolia. The dimpled-effect ceiling was painted white, with layering around the edge, concealing the runner for the curtains. The overall decor was simple but effective.
A little color was provided by the full-length curtains in horizontal stripes of yellow, green, red, and orange, which concealed a full-length blackout curtain. The brown/orange theme was taken up by the twin bedspreads with a yellow floral motif. The rest of the bedding consisted of white sheets, a blanket, and a long thin white pillow.
There were two, brown-framed floral prints; a rectangular one above the bed and a square one on the wall to the side.
The patio doors were in a dark brown frame. Walls on either side of the balcony were painted magnolia, the floor was covered in large beige tiles and the barrier was of shaded glass in a dark grey frame.
The wardrobe had two large doors. There was a high shelf and a rail running across the full width as well as a small three-drawer chest on the right.
Beyond the wardrobe, as the room opened out, there was a wooden suitcase stand, with a fixed wooden backdrop behind it on the wall. Next to this, there was a free-standing desk/dressing table with a cupboard below it.
A wooden framed upright chair with a blue padded seat was by the dressing table and another wooden chair stood in the corner beyond. This had armrests and a blue padded backrest matching the seat.
Balcony furniture consisted of two chrome framed chairs and a coffee table.
Back inside, a full-width wooden headboard was attached to the wall behind the beds. Two single beds were pushed together below this and made up individually. On either side, there was a free-standing bedside table with two shelves.
There was a light in the ceiling near the bathroom door. A wall light with a cream shade was above the suitcase stand. This matched similar lights on the wall on either side of the bed. Additional lighting was provided by a free-standing lamp, with a bronze-colored stand and a cream shade, located on the dressing table.
There were two plug sockets near the dressing table and two more, one on either side of the bed by the light switches.
There was a very useful mini-fridge in the cupboard below the dressing table/desk. A flatscreen tv was mounted on the wall above the dressing table/desk and opposite the beds. There was air conditioning in the room.
Tips: Remember to pack adaptor plugs for electrical items.
If you would like the option of having hot drinks in your room take a travel kettle, cups, spoons, and flavored tea bags with you.
There was a safe in the wardrobe, which required a key. After enquiring at reception, I paid a 10 Euro deposit and an upfront charge of 1.80 Euros per day was taken.
Tip: Check your travel insurance. It often pays to use a safe. Insurance companies are unlikely to pay out for valuables taken from your room unless they are stored securely in the safe.
A large rectangular, wood-framed mirror was fixed to the wall above the dressing table. There was a useful drop-down drying rack attached to the balcony wall. A telephone took up space on one of the bedside tables.
Room 312 was located towards the road and sea end of the hotel. The view below was of a green roof and a patio area with tables and chairs, bordered by plant pots. There was a grassy area with palm trees and sunbeds. To the left, there was a fence and access road with sheltered parking for the hotel. Beyond this was the road, a line of trees with the sea just visible beyond. In the opposite direction, to the right, was the pool area (of which more later). Beyond the edge of the hotel grounds, there were further buildings. The built-up area petered out and the rocky hills could be seen beyond the town boundary.
Thoughts on Our Room
The room was of moderate size, but the balcony was a great asset, offering the option of a further seating area during the warmth of the day. The lights by the bed were not the best for reading.
Tip: Request a room at the back of the hotel, overlooking the pool, as these have balconies. We could just make out the sea through the trees, but higher floors would afford better sea views.
The bathroom was fully tiled and had a traditional rustic feel. Large square, marble-effect terracotta-type tiles in a matt finish, covered the floor. Matching large rectangular tiles in a gloss finish went a third of the way up the walls. These were topped by a narrow row of diamond-patterned tiles. Above this, the rest of the walls were covered with large rectangular marble-effect tiles in beige.
Fixtures and Fittings
A decent-sized white bath, with a shower over, ran along the left side of the bathroom. There was a chrome towel rack, attached to the wall, above the gap at the end of the bath near the door. There were two grab rails by the bath and a rack for toiletries. The area was partially enclosed with a moveable glass screen along half the bath length. The seal on the screen leaked, so water escaped when the shower was in use. The shower ran off the bath taps and the shower head was on an adjustable chrome rail.
A beige, curved marble-effect top ran along the adjacent wall. It was supported by a chrome plinth, with integral towel rails below the top. A white oval sink was set in the top. A large rectangular mirror was on the wall behind the sink. A hairdryer was mounted on the wall adjacent to the worktop. There was also a plug socket nearby and a light switch for the two lights near the sink area. A further light switch was located by the door. A wall heater, located below the sink area, did not appear to work.
A chrome circular towel rail, white bidet, and toilet were arranged along the adjacent wall.
Toiletries, Towels, and Additional Items
Two wall-mounted dispensers above the bath were full of shower/bath gel and shampoo. Bars of hand soap were provided near the sink as well as two plastic cups in wrappers. There was a white plastic stool by the sink and a large white plastic pedal bin near the right wall.
There was a useful bathmat, two hand towels, and two bath towels of moderate quality and size.
Thoughts on the Bathroom
We were pleasantly surprised by the size of the bathroom, which was larger than expected in relation to the bedroom. Although the leaking shower screen was a minor irritant, the pressure and temperature of the water were very good. The room was very clean and well-maintained.
Towards the rear of the hotel, near the lifts, armchairs were clustered around low tables and pillars. There was also a room, partitioned off with glass windows, where there were card tables, chairs, and board games. This doubled as a games room and a library.
The bar was in a large area to the left of the main foyer, with windows looking out towards the front of the hotel and patio doors at the back onto an outdoor terrace with tables and chairs. As many guests were on an all-inclusive basis, there was a bottled water dispenser, as well as drinks machines in this area. The bar was set in a curved shape with plenty of staff on hand to attend to guests.
This large area had a lot of low-level, comfortable seating and coffee tables. It was the location for entertainment by day and night, with a stage area used to good effect.
The large dining room was at the back of the hotel towards the right, with windows looking out towards the outside pool area. It was well-laid out with light wood effect modern square tables on a grey solid central plinth and matching chairs with beige padded vinyl seats. These were arranged around a central servery, which was used for the mains and salads. Another area was used for fruit, cold desserts, and hot desserts, with an area nearer the door for bread and soup or cereals and bakery.
The noise echoed around the dining room with its marble-effect orange mottled floor tiles and its high ceiling. Background music does not tend to be a feature of dining rooms in Spanish hotels. The room was well lit with lights inset in the ceiling and also some lower ones.
Shortly after arriving at the hotel, I went down to reception to enquire about the gym. I was extremely surprised to be told that it would be unavailable for three days, due to cycles being stored there. I returned three days later to pick up the key and be given directions to head out of the front entrance, around the side of the hotel through a gate to a door in the basement.
On my own, the location felt very isolated. My disappointment was not helped by the state of the equipment. There were two cross trainers, three uncomfortable rickety bikes, and a bench with no weights. It was one of the most poorly equipped gyms I have ever tried to use. I wondered if this was a temporary location.
The indoor pool was located at the rear of the hotel, with windows looking out on the outdoor pool area. These windows were painted white while we were there. This was one of the smallest indoor pools I have been in. At most the oval shape measured 10 meters across the middle. With its two water jets and jacuzzi section, it was more of a spa than a pool for the serious swimmer.
The area was dominated by a small number of Spanish ladies, who were older and larger than me. Before long I gave up trying to hold my ground (metaphorically speaking) and made a hasty retreat. I noticed toilets nearby and a bench by the pool, but I did not see changing rooms.
A plus point was that the pool and surrounding area were heated to a pleasant temperature.
Due to work being carried out on the outdoor pool while we were at Hotel Port Denia, the outdoor area was limited to the patio area near the bar and a small area of grass beyond it, where sunbeds were laid out.
This was our first meal in the hotel. The waiter at the door was inattentive and just waved us through to choose any table. There was a good selection of salads and cold meats. A whole salmon was being carved up. In addition to this, there were two other fish choices as well as chicken and pork. Vegetarian mains consisted of spinach lasagne, vegetable vol-au-vents, and veggie fingers. There was an impressive range of desserts: cakes, cold desserts, apple crumble, custard, yogurts, fruit salad, creme caramel, and fresh fruit.
There was plenty of cutlery and crockery, which is always good to see. It saves taking it from other nearby table settings when you run out. Staff were very attentive and quick to clear tables.
There was a reasonable variety of dishes during our stay. One evening had a Chinese theme, when a heated area near the door was given over to chicken in almond sauce, beef in oyster sauce, spring rolls, rice, noodles with vegetables, prawn crackers, and sweet and sour sauce. Another evening had a limited Mexican theme with sauces, chili, tortillas, and chicken in a sauce.
We were waved in to select any table. As is often the case in Spain, cereals were not great and consisted of porridge, oats, cornflakes, and sugar puffs. There was a plentiful supply of bread, rolls, pastries, and cakes.
The central buffet had a cold selection of cheeses, tomatoes, cold meats, and tomato spread.
The nearby hot buffet consisted of bacon, sausages, fried eggs, scrambled egg, fried bread, baked beans, plum tomatoes, and tinned mushrooms. This was reasonable, as Spanish breakfasts go, but not outstanding. Some days there were omelets.
There were also yogurts, sultanas, dates, prunes, tinned pineapple and pears, jams, fresh fruit, and small pancakes with toppings and cream.
The juice dispenser was disappointing, as the choice of apple, orange, and pineapple tasted like diluted squash.
There were two hot drinks machines, offering a selection of coffees. You took your chance with the tea bags, as they had very small writing on the tags. Nothing beats putting milk in what you thought was breakfast tea, only to find it was peppermint, to get your day off to a good start.
This meal was an unexpected bonus for us after we were upgraded. The food offering was good with a choice of two soups, a range of salads, two fish dishes, paella, two meat dishes, and assorted vegetables, as well as desserts and fresh fruit.
We were originally booked on a half-board basis. This covered breakfast and the evening meal. We were given a price list for drinks with the evening meal. A 1-liter bottle of water, usually the cheapest option, came in at 2 Euros. This had to be paid for at the desk, as it was not easy to transfer to the room bill. Once we moved onto the all-inclusive board basis, a selection of soft drinks and locally branded alcoholic drinks were freely available in the bar.
Overall Thoughts on the Food
We were very satisfied with the food offered at Hotel Port Denia. There was a reasonable variety during our week's stay and the quality was generally good. All meals were buffet service.
A Few Issues During Our Stay
You might have already noticed that everything was not quite as we expected at Hotel Port Denia. Opening the patio door and going onto our balcony for the first time, we were met, not with the pleasant vista of the outdoor pool with landscaped surroundings, but with a large building site. Clearly, there was a major refurbishment in progress. This was further compounded the following morning, a Monday when workmen announced their arrival on the site with the roar of their pneumatic drills.
The gym, which I had planned on using, was unavailable for the first few days.
The final straw was when workmen started drilling in rooms nearby, working on the electrics.
We talked to a receptionist, who noted down our complaints about the pool, gym, and drills. She promised to pass them on to the manager, who would not be in until 12.00.
At lunchtime, we debated who would go to see the manager, having decided that we deserved at the least a free upgrade to all-inclusive. Fortunately (as it later turned out) I pulled the short straw and went down. The manager was most unhelpful. His attitude was that the travel agents knew about the situation, therefore it was not the hotel's problem. We needed to go to our travel agent. That was fine in theory, but we had no travel agent, having booked flights and hotels separately on the internet. There had been no notice on the hotel website about the building work. Having hit a dead wall, I headed back to our room, with the parting comment that I would tell my husband.
Returning empty-handed, I related the conversation to my husband, who went straight down to see the manager. He returned a few minutes later, with a smug grin on his face and showing off a new all-inclusive wristband. " You need to go down and get your wristband", he said.
How to Handle Hotel Problems
- Do not suffer in silence.
- Decide on a reasonable resolution or compensation as your baseline. That way you are prepared if you are asked what you expect.
- Contact reception and explain your problem.
- If you are with a tour company or booked through a travel agent, contact a representative.
- If there is no immediate resolution, ask to speak to the manager.
- At all times remain calm and polite.
- Do not give in easily.
- Do not be embarrassed to ask 'Is that the best you can do?' You would be surprised how often better terms are offered.
- If there are two or more of you, consider splitting your team. Since our experience at Hotel Port Denia, whenever we have a problem now, one of us goes to reception. This leaves the other available as a backup later if required.
- Remember that it is in the best interests of hotel management to have happy guests. Online review sites can be powerful tools for boosting or harming hotel business.
A Quirky Hotel Poster
Our Stay Rating
This was not the best hotel experience we have had. Lying on a sunbed, looking at a green barrier whilst listening to the orchestra of workmen's drills was not the relaxing break we had anticipated. Unfortunately, the refurbishment was not restricted to the pool area. On the third evening of our stay, we were surprised to notice that an area of the dining room had been screened off with tarpaulins. Sure enough our breakfast the following day was eaten to the accompaniment of banging and drilling from behind the screen.
It is not unusual for hotels and resorts to make use of the low season as an opportunity to carry out refurbishments. We have just returned from a hotel in Spain, which was about to close for winter in order to carry out improvements. Hotel Port Denia would have been well-advised to do the same.
On the basis of our experience I have had no alternative, but to give Hotel Port Denia a low star rating. Management did little to help avoid this. A note should have been made on the website, warning guests about the disruption to hotel facilities. The management could have been more proactive in offering compensation.
In a recent conversation with a travel company, I was surprised to hear that Hotel Port Denia was their most popular location. When we were in Denia, their clients were far from impressed by the disruption. I can only surmise that, when Hotel Port Denia is running as expected, guests have a much better experience than we did.
This hotel has the potential to be very good. I hope that since the refurbishment guests have been able to enjoy all the hotel facilities in peace and quiet.
Explore the Area
- Top 10 Places to Visit in and Around Denia, Spain
This article explores highlights of Denia and the surrounding coastal region on Spain's Costa Blanca as far north as Valencia and as far south as Alicante. Plan your visit to the area and learn why this is a year-round holiday destination.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Liz Westwood