Hotel Review: Hotel Reina Cristina, Algeciras
“What on earth are you doing in Algeciras?” you might ask. This port city is mostly known as a passing through place en route to Morocco and the Spanish Enclaves, but not as a tourist sight on its own. What makes it a great place to stay is the proximity by bus and rail to Ronda, Tarifa and pricey Gibraltar, and the presence of a Grande Dame of hotellerie, the Hotel Reina Cristina.
If you are travelling by car, Algeciras is on the main coastal highway, and this Algeciras hotel is a great place to stay. The hotel is set in park-like gardens near the port. You’re in a quiet oasis with plenty of outdoor space, a pool, and ample free secure parking.
It takes about 10 minutes to walk to both train station and the pedestrian port entrance at Plaza San Hiscio with its ferry booking offices. The historical centre of Algeciras round the pretty Plaza Alta is another 10 minutes by foot. There is not too much to see there, although for a port city, its not too bad, and there is a real local community feel to it.
A few years back, I used Algeciras as a base to travel by public transport to Gibraltar, Ronda and Tangier, and stayed in the same hotel and really grown to like it.
The published rating is 4 Stars, which is appropriate, especially when you consider the generous proportions and maintenance of the property, and choose one of the partially refurbished “Executive” rooms.
Built in the late 1800s as a glamorous railway hotel, it has hosted royalty and artists, their signatures proudly displayed in a brass plaque by reception. It is now owned by the Spanish chain Globales Hoteles, somewhat of an odd one out considering they specialise in family and beach hotels.
They have maintained its interior in beautiful unfussy 1920’s style. The lobby looks like it has recently been renovated.
The hotel appeared well booked, mainly with business trippers and pensioners. This is hardly a place where you go on your party holiday or stag and hen trip. Quite on the contrary! One evening, when we set in the huge lobby enjoying our enormous and not-too-bad cheap cocktails, I heard some Rat Pack favourites from a side room. Following the swing sound, I came to the “Members Only” Saga Lounge… (Saga are a company offering leisure and financial services to the over 50s). Although I discreetly stood by the door watching some very sprightly over-70s dancing a very clean foxtrot, I was beckoned in, and asked to contribute by singing the next song or maybe dance with one of the gentlemen. Although I politely declined, I was happy that in a place like this, tradition lives on, and old age isn’t just being shuttled round in a coach.
When I stayed here six years ago, Saturday night was a big live music dance night, its large lobby filled with dancers of all ages.
Of course, we just booked the cheapest room. We arrived in the evening to a throng of conference visitors, but check-in was swift and efficient.
We had a small room on the ground floor next to the hotel entrance, meaning at 6am there was a coach loading, but apart from that, very little disturbance even with the windows open.
The decoration was really dated, but who cares! The bed was super comfortable, the room really clean, and we had an enormous bathroom almost bigger than our bedroom. They seem to have adapted partially to their older clientele with chair-free access, and grab rails everywhere.
I think the last refurbishment must have been 20 years ago for some of the older style rooms, which really shows now: ugly dark furniture, tiling on the walls, yet the room was still functional and extremely clean, and furniture was in decent condition. Some of the cheaper rooms appear to have been at least freshened up with some paint, or had new bathrooms installed. The WiFi strength in our room was okay for internet surfing. Generally, Wifi in hotels in Spain is on the weak side.
Again, as in quite a few hotels we stayed in, our double bed was rather narrow. This must be 1,20 or 1,40m. Unless you like your double bed really cosy, asking for twin beds might be a better option, as they tend to be at least 80cm wide, and take up more space, so you might actually get a larger room.
For a hotel this size, there are ample facilities, but they were really hard to find. One of the two restaurants was open in March, offering buffet meals only. The large central atrium lobby has a somewhat impersonal looking bar attached. Bar prices are cheap, cocktails were okay, but the food was some of the worst I had in Spain.
There is also a sauna and indoor pool somewhere there, which we made little effort to find. In March, the pretty outdoor pool and some of the terrace we still under maintenance and therefore closed. There are tennis courts as well. Apparently they have mini golf and table tennis as well, but we were out all day and didn’t look for them.
There’s secure parking on site, which makes it great for those on a road trip.
In good weather and when open, the garden is a lovely place to relax for an afternoon or two, Otherwise, the light lobby is beautiful and an atmospheric place to sit and watch people.
Its glory days may be over, but Globales are doing a great job in keeping this wonderful property alive and attracting enough guests to keep the hotel in its present form going.
Why should you stay there?
The Hotel Reina Cristina provides comfort and old-fashioned style in a welcoming green oasis in an unlikely place – the port city of Algeciras. The hotel is well maintained and refurbished sympathetic to its grand railway hotel roots. Its rooms, although somewhat dated, are clean, comfortable and quiet.
I highly respect to the Spanish Hoteles Globales chain for keeping this property in good condition and its history alive. Apart from good food and a slightly more atmospheric room, I really didn’t miss anything.
Lovely gardens, old-fashioned style, palatial architecture and a very comfortable place to stay for a few days, as a base to visit much pricier Gibraltar.
There is a regular public bus to La Linea, or ample parking just outside the Gibraltar border on the Spain side.
Address: Calle Paseo de la Conferencia, s/n, 11207 Algeciras, Cádiz, Spain
Telephone: +34 956 60 26 22
Hotel Website: www.hotelesglobales.com
We booked this room on Booking.com and paid 56 EURO in March 2019 for a double including free on-site parking.
Nearest Airport: Gibraltar International Airport (GIB / LXGB), 23km. The closest airports in Spain are Jerez (XRY / LEJR), 111km, and Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport (AGP / LEMG) , 132km.
Features: Free Parking, Escalator, breakfast (extra), bar, two restaurants, pool, sauna, indoor pool tennis court, minigoolf, table tennis, good transport links to Gibraltar and Morocco
Doesn’t have: good food, major attractions in town
Disclosure: This trip was entirely self funded. I have received no monetary or non-monetary rewards for linking aside from some affiliate links. I will only review and recommend places that I have stayed in myself. You can trust me for the whole, unbiased truth. In this case, this post contains come affiliate links to Booking.com. This means that I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you decided to book through the affiliate links. More details on my affiliate link policy are here.