ANY vaguely savvy tourist would only have to Google ‘The Beach Club Hotel, Torremolinos’ to feel slightly wary of their impending stay.
Finding a cockroach in your pasta, dirty water in the pool and guests spending several days on the toilet is not exactly a glowing legacy for this four star hotel.
Dubbed ‘the worst hotel in Spain’ by the tabloid press, scores of the unfortunate guests were struck down by a mystery stomach bug during their 2007 and 2008 stay.
Two months ago, as reported in the Olive Press, tour operator TUI was ordered to pay out almost €4 million in compensation to more than a thousand guests.
But five years on, does this hotel really deserve its bad reputation?
We decided to sample the delights of Spain’s very own Fawlty Towers to see if it’s as bad as reports would make us believe.
So one drizzly day last month (OK, we can’t blame that on the hotel) I headed for Torremolinos, one of the most prolific holiday resorts on the Costa del Sol.
It certainly doesn’t start well, after a desperate search around a packed hotel car park leads to a staff member to recommend that I drive half a mile down the road and park up by the side of a dark street, lugging my, er, luggage, back to the hotel.
I finally arrive at 8.30pm – tired, hungry and hoping for a cosy and comfortable stay.
Presenting my booking details and hunting down my passport from the bottom of my bag I hopefully look to the receptionist, who looks at me like I’ve just walked in from out of space.
Yes, a guest has arrived.
Being a hotel this is normal protocol right?
More bewilderment follows and I’m left to lug (I see now where the word luggage comes from) my bag up to the 8th floor to settle down in my room.
Then after two (yes TWO!) failed attempts to open the door and two trips back down to reception the key card finally works and I open the door to find a room that would make a Travelodge look spacious.
Noting the lack of toiletries (two dental kits and a vat of liquid soap isn’t going to get me very far with regards to keeping up appearances) I remember the sea view I paid extra for.
With great expectations I draw back the curtains hoping for the rolling ocean I had paid good money to see from the comfort of my balcony – but instead a massive hotel block and a bin yard greets me with the kind of embarrassing inevitability of an elderly relative turning up at your 16th birthday party.
If I risk my life by leaning over the balcony and look over to the far right, I can just about spot the elusive waves.
Ignoring the pounding dance music coming from below, which gives the impression I have just rocked up at a squat party rather than a 4 star hotel, I head back downstairs for dinner.
At the entrance to the dining area I am met by two burly security guard-types who look like they mean business.
They ask me to rub my hands with disinfectant from a dispenser attached to the wall, “only because it’s a buffet and people touch the food which can spread germs”.
Not massively reassuring.
So with the smell of disinfectant in the air and trepidation in my heart I enter the dining room.
The only dining area at the hotel where guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner as part of their all inclusive package, the low-ceiling room can only be described as a battle-ground.
An every-man-for-themselves free for all, where you queue for coffee and struggle with metal tongs to claim your piece of bacon or a fried egg.
While it’s clear hotel owners, Marconfort, have learnt from their mistakes following no doubt a stern word or two from health and safety bosses (you can’t give three generations of the same family and hundreds of people food poisoning without some kind of consequence) it’s still a very hands on, over-crowded experience that no amount of hand disinfecting will combat.
One olive and half a slice of pizza later I am left at the bar thanking God that at least the vino tinto should probably be OK.
No such luck….
At first I thought it was a bit of cork from the wine bottle…but as it wriggled around on my tongue it became apparent this thing was alive….poking my tongue out I discover a black insect!
On closer inspection, it seems the offending creature is as innocent as a fly in your glass of wine can be, and I resolve not to let ‘fly-gate’ ruin my Beach Club experience – so time to muck in with the other guests and enjoy the all-inclusive booze.
From a hoard of over-excited Glaswegian women on a hen-do to a group of lads from Cheltenham in search of fun in the sun – there’s no doubt tourists are still flocking here from the UK for an enjoyable holiday despite the dubious newspaper reports. Some guests even come several times a year and for Suzanne Cooper, 55, from Newcastle, the hotel’s bad reputation didn’t stop her and her husband booking a two week stay.
She said: “Most people know what happened and yes, people do talk about it but it really doesn’t bother me. I have stayed on cruise ships when there has been an outbreak of the norovirus. These things happen.
“They are doing a lot to stop germs spreading and overall I think the positives outweigh the negatives.”
And as I settle down to an evening of owl shows and a live concert, I have to agree.
Yes, the place could do with a bit of a makeover, some of the carpets could do with being replaced and a paint job wouldn’t go amiss…. oh and another restaurant would also improve the overall experience no-end.
However, generally speaking most of the staff went out of their way to be helpful and were much friendlier than those I have often found working in the more expensive hotels.
But perhaps most importantly of all, the guests seemed to be enjoying themselves despite the rain outside.
I must confess however that I did spend a few days feeling unwell after checking out of the Beach Club, and the case on what caused the sickness bug remains open.
Thank you for this very candid and honest article. We need more of this from various media outlets. I will NEVER go to this hotel thanks to you.
Trip Advisor? Phooey! Let’s have a lot more of this from O.P.
What a biased report! Yes the car park is small but i parked on the beachfront 100yds away, not a problem. Maybe your reporter is used to the dorchester, my family have stayed here many times. It a fair priced good family hotel. As for travel lodge being more spacious, what does he want to do in a bedroom – hold a barn dance. The food is plentiful, the place is clean as if he could hear music, well we were on the 5th floor and didnt hear a thing. I cannot see how the staff are to blame for the english yobs who want to drink spain dry and act like idiots. Makes me ashamed to be british. STOP the “give a dog a bad name” mentality. Not what i expected from the Olive Press, unless The Sun has taken over management!
Bet my comments dont make the blog page…..no matter, i shall not be reading the Olive Press again, because i dont think you are a fair and unbiased newspaper.
Are you sure you actually stayed at the Beach Club? The rubbish you have spouted appears to be hearsay, taken from the ridiculous comments on Trip Advisor. If it was that bad, why didn’t you ask for your money back?
Never stayed there… never would. This just isn’t the same Spain that I live in, and love. The nearest I’ve ever been to Torremolinos beach is to get off the freeway for the IKEA store, and then right back on again. But there’s not doubt that it is the Spain of beach high-rises that many visitors come looking for, and the quotes in your article (and some of the READER COMMENTS) seem to confirm that some things that horrify you and me don’t bother them at all. As they say in France: “À chacun son goût”, or in Crewe: “There’s nowt so strange as folk”.
We have stayed at the Beach club twice in the past and both times had an enjoyable experience. Don’t think it deserves the title of Worst Hotel as we have stayed in a lot worse over the years.
Complete and utter biased drivel. Blaring disco music in January – in Playamar – on the 8th Floor?? And don’t they have several fully functioning lifts to assist with “lugging” that luggage up to the 8th floor of this hotel which, funnily enough, is built on several floors?! I concede there may have been a mix up of sea view versus side-sea-view allocation (or maybe the mix up was by whoever booked and paid for the room perhaps?) and its always a pain when ones key-card doesn’t work (which can happen, and does) but I find it incredulous to believe that car parking was only to be found half a mile away – even if the car park was packed (again, this is the end of January no?) then the beach is only a mere 150m from the car park, with places right along it… But as for the real crux of this story, after what happened in this hotel 5 and 6 YEARS AGO you will now find the Beach Club to be one of the cleanest and most hygienic establishments on the Costa del Sol in terms of their standards of hygiene, systems of inspections and reporting. The “burly security guards” as you put it are no doubt those long-standing staff members who have been waiters in this hotel since their teens, and remain loyal each year despite such biased reporting damaging further the reputation of this business. The Beach club continues to cater for tourists through all seasons in this lovely area of the coast,(Alun have you actually ventured to the “new” Playamar and Los Alamos recently? it is nothing like you imagine from reading this same biased drivel) and lets not forget that this is where many other hotels now just close their doors all winter. Shame on you Olive Press, you should be supporting our Tourism businesses instead of trying to boost readership by slating them.
I gave up going to these sorts of package / holiday type places at the age of 22. Two weeks of eating that food, even if it does not make you sick it is bad enough. Throw a few chavs in…. Since 22, I have always gone independent, much better. Never had a problem and normally works out cheaper. Why pay more for less.
I think a lot of people are forgetting that a feature is meant to be in the first person and therefore it’s not a case of being biased but of presenting what she found. Fair enough if you have had a good time here but there are many who haven’t and everyone is entitled to their opinion.
In case you need a reminder here’s an article relating to the outbreak of sickness and diahorrea at the hotel in 2007-2008: “http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article4673294.ece”
Yes this is an opinion, but quoting the Sun newspaper article of 5 years ago, publishing an old photograph and being unfair, is not a comment, its a hatchet job. As for Alan Whitaker, get off your high horse, when did you last go down to Playamar, it, like the beach club is much improved. English snobbery is still rife in spain it seems. If spain is so common and awful, GO BACK TO UK.
My wife and I have just returned from this hotel and I can assure you that it still retains the worst hotel in Spain see my review in Tripadvisor.
As for the “worst hotel in Spain” has the reporter stayed in them all then?
It sounds like this person was just going in search of negativity from the start. Not surprised reception frowned at you! some complaints …key didn’t work until reactivated, no one to carry your luggage… low ceiling… a busy breakfast buffet… PLEASE STAY AT HOME!
from reading some of the more recent negative comments on tripadvisor and the genuine account above, I think I shall also be staying clear of this hotel, unless of course I need to loose weight fast that is. Thanks to the olive press for the heads up!…..
I wish I knew about this dump of a hotel before staying here. What a horrible experience our weeks holiday was. The bug is still here in 2016!