We’ve just come back from an amazing few days of sunshine, parties and parades in Benidorm. In the UK, classy and Benidorm are not words you often hear together. Benidorm has a reputation for being cheap, tacky and a little bit naff. We fully expected the resort to be full of fish and chip shops, cheesy t shirts and women pulling items out of their intimate areas (NESWFLASH: Sticky Vicky is not an urban legend). In reality, we were able to explore a more natural side of a rather classy Benidorm; we visited secret beaches, ate at stunning restaurants and toured the surrounding countryside. Whilst the tacky parts do exist, we are pleased to say that our trip to Benidorm avoided them; we were able to enjoy the resort in style without the clichés and most importantly without witnessing anyone pulling anything from out of their special area.
So how exactly did we have a classy Benidorm trip? We stayed in the Marconfort Hotel Essence, which is an adult only 4* hotel located on a quiet street away from the Full English Breakfast crowd. Although it was all inclusive, it felt a million miles away from a package holiday at the Solana with Joyce Temple Savage. We ate at a variety of gorgeous restaurants, from traditional tapas in Benidorm’s Old Town to luxury five star Spanish fusion food at beach side boutique eateries with stunning views. We also planned activities that we knew we would enjoy and that would show us a different side of Benidorm. With cheap flights and package deals from the UK readily available, it is easy to enjoy an up-market holiday in Benidorm without breaking the bank.
After a much needed first day lounging by the hotel pool, we took a short stroll to the old town for dinner. The cute streets and narrow lanes overflowed with intimate restaurants and wine bars, serving platters of food that were begging to be devoured. The Old Town is the heart of the Benidorm LGBT scene and we loved seeing the welcoming rainbow flags and so many visible members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community. We shared a traditional local tapas meal at Tragantua and as the wine flowed we soon settled in to our new, classy Benidorm lifestyle. Next we headed to the Mirador Del Castillo for the Benidorm Pride opening party. The stunning viewpoint is situated between two of Benidorm’s main beaches and was a wonderful place to get the pride party started.
The next day we took a trip to Aqualandia, a huge water park which sources its water from the sea and filters it naturally. The park has some impressive slides with huge drops, a childrens’ area, wave pool and all the usual water park features with the added bonus of being environmentally friendly. Sian is a bit of a wimp when it comes to water and Emily had an injured ankle so we didn’t experience any of the crazy rides but we did have a lovely time floating along the lazy river and working up an appetite for lunch.
We dined at Ulia, a lovely restaurant overlooking Poniente beach. We ate a long leisurely lunch of local Paella accompanied by some very drinkable Señorío De Benidorm Chardonnay. Having sat down at around midday we were surprised to find it was 3.30 by the time we finished lunch! With evening reservations for 7.30 we decided the best option for the rapidly fading afternoon was a good old siesta.
That evening we visited a five star boutique hotel located a stones throw from the Parroquia de San Jaime church in the square at the entrance to the old town. Villa Venicia is a five star Benidorm establishment boasting ocean vistas coupled with fine dining in an opulent setting. We ate a carefully selected, seven course degustation menu. Each dish was beautifully presented and cooked to perfection, with accompanying wines complimenting the dishes beautifully. Afterwards we realised it was probably the best meal we have ever eaten. That’s right, we’ve travelled the world and dined in some of the most well know culinary cities, but our favourite ever meal was in Benidorm! After dinner we headed over the Benidorm Pride White Party before calling in at local night spot Marrs Bar for a cocktail to end the evening.
A lot of visitors to Benidorm don’t realise that there is a national park right on their doorstep. There are several local companies offering a variety of ways to explore the surrounding hinterland. Tao Bike is an eco-friendly electric bike company offering E-bikes for hire. We collected our E-bikes in the city then bypassed the busy main beach with its pedalos and rows of holiday makers. The Tao Bikes made it so easy to ride up into the hills of the national park, as soon as you start to pedal the electric bike takes over and powers you effortlessly up the steepest of hills. We spent a wonderful morning cycling through the park, experiencing breath taking views across the cliffs and out to sea. We even stopped at a secluded cove and enjoyed a swim in the crystal clear waters of the bay. Our lunch stop was Bar Mal Pas where we enjoyed a hearty seafood and rice stew that gave us some much needed energy for the afternoon activities.
Next we explored the countryside on four wheels, taking a jeep safari with Marco Polo Tours. We saw some impressive views from high above the city and even experienced some off road driving in the surrounding hills. The view from the mountains gives a great perspective of how large the area actually is and of course how much natural beauty there is away from the high-rise hotels and bars. That evening we ate on the beach front terrace at Punto del Sal before joining the Benidorm Pride Black Party at the Auditorium Julio Iglesias, a huge outdoor amphitheatre and a great location for a party!
On our final morning, having partied a little too hard the night before, we took a trip to Enrique Mendoza’s Winery. For those of you that have been following our adventures since Australia, you’ll know how much we love visiting vineyards, we even contemplated changing our blog name to Wandering Winos at one point. We found the vineyards in Australia pretty laid back and not snobby as we imagined the Europeans ones might be. Pleasingly our experience at Mendoza’s was just as relaxed, our lovely guides Marta and Marta put us at ease straight away. We were shown the vines and given a tour of the winery with detailed explanations about the wine making process. By 10.30 am we were ready for our tasting experience. We sampled sizeable portions of six different wines accompanied by various meat and cheese platters. Needless to say by 11.30 our hangovers had evaporated and we were back on fine form! Before leaving the winery we picked up a few very reasonably priced bottles from the cellar door to add to our collection.
Our final afternoon and evening were spent living it up at the Benidorm Pride parade. We were invited to ride on one of the floats and had a great time partying with our hosts, dancing and having fun with the crowd as we travelled through the town. It felt like the whole resort had come out to party and the friendly atmosphere really made the day. The closing party was at the Auditorium Julio Iglesias with a huge stage show and party. We absolutely loved our time in Benidorm and would highly recommend visiting.