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I sometimes think that if you believed Trip Advisor you would never stay in any hotel, anywhere in the world. This hotel did not have good reviews, but we stayed there anyway, and it was, as they say, Not Too Bad. This week was Mexican Independence Day (celebrated on 16th Sept...incidentally the day the war of independence commenced, not the day it ended) and so we had a long weekend - 5 days for me, since I never work Fridays anyway. We decided to go to Acapulco for 3 nights, and through a combination of restricted budget and late booking, ended up staying here.
~~~ Arrival ~~~
We took a should-be-5-hour-but-holiday-traffic-turned-it-int o-6½-hours bus trip from Mexico City and arrived into Acapulco at about 4pm. There are several different bus terminals depending on your company, but they are all similar. A taxi from the Estrella Blanca terminal cost us 60 pesos. This is a set rate, from the "authorised taxi" stand at the airport. You can find out in advance how much it will cost since they have a massive board with all the hotel names on. The trip was quick - under 10 minutes - and we were soon dropped off at Club del Sol. There was no queue to check in but only one person out of the 3 hovering at the desk seemed to be working, so we had to wait until the family in front of us were dealt with. When it was out turn, they had our reservation ready (we pre-booked and pre-paid through GTA Hotels). We did not have to leave a credit card at the desk, mainly because the hotel does not have charging-facilities so we would be settling any bills as and when we accrued them. For a 200 pesos deposit we received the TV remote control and a key for the safety deposit box, and since we got the deposit back when we left, that means the latter was included free of charge which was a nice bonus. We also received two room keys, both on lanyards. I have read reviews that complain about this (picky people) but I found it useful as it meant we could wear the keys around our necks if we wanted, or store them as usual in purses or bags if not.
~~~ The Room ~~~
We booked the standard room on GTA Hotels and since it cost £31 per night (room only) we weren't expecting too too much, but if you get what you pay for then £15.50 per person per night actually pays for quite a bit in Acapulco. We had a kitchenette - something we were totally not-expecting - which boasted a full sized fridge freezer, enough cutlery and crockery for 4 people, and 2 electric rings. This was immediately there when you entered, and a breakfast bar with two stools separated it from the main room. Here we had two double beds, another table and two chairs and a "comfy chair" (not too comfy). To the right we had a vanity unit with drawers and a mirror (though annoyingly no plug sockets for straighteners....though the humidity rendered these useless pretty much
Pictures of Club Del Sol, Acapulco
immediately anyway). There was a large TV sitting on another set of large drawers, and this had maybe 70 channels though not all of these were tuned in well - we had the WB and Sony channels but the reception was appalling, though most of the Spanish language ones were ok. We had CNN (American and Spanish Versions), MTV, VH1...not a bad selection. We also had a balcony with a dubious view of the roof of the low building next to us, and of the Costera. This was furnished with two chairs, but no table.The bathroom was reasonably large and was apparently designed to include a small dressing area, since the "wardrobe" (a rail with some hangers) was located in here. We had all the basics too - shower with enough space to move around / step away from the water, toilet, large sink - though the freebies included just two small bars of "Rose" soap. Why do you always get Rose in these places?
The beds were comfy and made every day though the sheets were not changed. We had bedspreads (not shiny...and not of dubious hygiene standards like those you always find in American motels) but no quilts or blankets, nor were there additional pillows on offer. However we did not find the temperature a problem and kept the air con on most of the time. This was not your most modern of devices, and rather than a nice thermostat with digital numbers, boasted only off / low / medium / high settings, but it did the trick and was not too loud.
~~~ The Hotel ~~~
When we booked I was impressed to discover the hotel boasted 4 swimming pools. What I hadn't countered on was that this does not equate to 4 pool areas. Down on the ground floor there were 2 large pools and a baby pool but they were all next to each other in one area, sharing common terraces. Ditto on the adults only sun terrace, they had another two pools, barely meters from each other. The description didn't lie, but it made me jump to (false) conclusions. We only braved the 7th floor pools, and though there were plenty of loungers, and additional towels available, the pools themselves let down the area since they were not wonderfully maintained (chipped tiles, etc) and the water had a dubious film on the top, plus some nice clumps of hair. Fine for sitting on the edge with your legs in the water, but not a place I wanted to plunge my face.
In addition to the pools, the hotel had some pool tables scattered throughout but no other facilities to speak of. Except that is, for their restaurant and bar. The restaurant is across from the main lobby area and is buffet style. Breakfast costs 65 pesos, lunch and dinner 80 pesos each, with discounts for children. We decided to try the breakfast buffet but were disappointed. The food was served in large metal tins that made you immediately think of school canteens. They offered 5 hot dishes, traditional Mexican style, though only one of these was vegetarian (or, ok, two, if you were willing to pick the shreds of meat out of the scrambled eggs). They also offered cereal (just corn flakes), some yoghurts (not pots, but bowls that had been sitting out all morning) and some chopped fruits. Their bread deteriorated from chunks from a fresh loaf to boring sliced stuff as the morning progressed. Drinks included orange nectar (i.e. sugary 'juice') and tea and coffee, though if you wanted proper coffee you had to pay more. The one redeeming feature of the buffet was that they had pancakes, though these were small Scotch pancake style things, not the juicy American style pancakes you could get in the cafes across the road. If you ate meat, didn't mind the industrial kitchen approach to the food, and could tolerate the children shunning the tongs in favour of their fingers, then this is a reasonable buffet at a good price. However since we don't, we do, and we couldn't, we only went that one time.
~~~ The Location ~~~
Acapulco is a bay, and the road that runs along it is called La Costera Miguel Aleman. This hotel scores bonus points for being directly on this road, and just one block from the beach. Yes, it's where you will find all the fancy hotels, but this wasn't a posh hotel, so the location was a nice plus. We walked to La Quebrada where the cliff divers launch themselves from on a daily basis, and this took 90 mins. Walking to the Zocalo for the Independence Day celebrations took about 60 mins. Both of these can be done by bus, however, at a cost of 4.5 pesos per trip. The buses are easy to navigate - blue ones literally just run up and down this road, green ones go farther afield - and there is a bus stop right outside the hotel.
Closer to home we had access to KFC, McDonalds,, Dominos and numerous other fast food places. There is a 100% Natural a few streets away, the California Buffet restaurant across the street, and a 24 hour Sanborns cafe within spitting distance. We went to the latter two twice each, for breakfast and dinner, and the food was good and reasonably cheap. 10 minutes walk along La Costera in either direction takes you to various shopping centres, and at least 2 cinemas. There are some touristy shops right outside the hotel, an ice cream cafe across the street, and you can find an internet cafe in the complex on the other side of the road, a mere 2 mins walk away. The beach nearby was not crowded, even on Independence Day, and although people walk up and down it every few seconds offering you massages, quesadillas and silver so shiny you know it will turn your skin green, it is largely a peaceful place.
~~~ Problems and Comments ~~~
We had a nice enough stay at the hotel but a few things bothered me. On our last morning we came back from breakfast to find the door of the room had not been shut properly. The maids' carts were in the corridor, but there was no one in our room (and shouldn't have been since we were due to check out shortly). Since we had started to pack, we had opened the safety deposit box, and removed its contents - passports, spare cash, my iPod. Nothing was missing when we entered, but whether this was just very good luck is hard to say. The roof top terrace has big signs there and in the lifts saying it is for adults over 18 only. On the morning we went up, there were at least 3 families with children up there. The children were reasonably well behaved, but kids are kids, and they were jumping and splashing each other. The bar man, the only member of staff on the roof, seemed far more bothered about getting people to order drinks than telling them to go down to the kiddie pools.
The hotel did not provide us with any information on check in or in the rooms. We did not have a map of the hotel (which appeared to include several buildings), there was no local information, and the only signs in the room seemed to be telling us, in Spanish, that if we didn't show up we would forfeit the first night's fee, which seemed somewhat illogical since clearly we had shown up to be in the room reading that notice.
We started each day with 4 towels in the bathroom but would invariably return around 5pm to find just 2 available for us. Sometime during the evening another two would magically appear - all very odd, and slightly annoying since after a day at the beach, two girls generally want to shower and wash hair before dinner, which took some coordination with just one towel each. We did not have hand towels, and the bathmat only showed up on 2 out of our 3 days here.
The lifts in the hotel were slow and small, and we only had two in our block. Everyone was checking out together at 12noon, this being the kind of hotel where you want to keep your room until the very last minute, so getting down to the ground floor took some time.
On the plus side, they offered free drinking water on each floor.
~~~ Verdict ~~~
I have stayed in hostels that cost the same per night as this place, so I will not slate it they way those over on Trip Advisor do. It is not a luxury hotel, but it does not pretend to be one. Maybe we were lucky, but our room was large, well equipped and clean. The location is fantastic, and the low quality of the restaurant food matters little when you have so many other options on your doorstep. Despite the huge number of guests in the hotel, we heard no noise at night, and slept soundly. The staff speak some English, and are happy to slow down and mime when they're talking in Spanish. For a cheap and cheerful mini break this place is really not bad.
Address: Costera Miguel Aleman Y Reyes Catolicos Zona Hotelera Acapulco 39670 Mexico
The hotel's website can be found here: http://www.hotelesclubdelsol.com.mx/index.html though it is not entirely accurate or perhaps is just out of date. For example, there is no internet cafe although they show one on the map.