on February 11, 2012
~Room with a View~ Our room was on the larger side of average with a bit more space than normal – you can tell a place is bigger when there's just a bit more space between things. I spend half my time in hotels so I notice the differences. I know where to expect to have to squeeze and there were no squeeze spots in here. The bed was a very comfy king size which was a relief after the trampoline we'd slept on the night before. The bedding was clean but the duvet cover was a bit 'bobbled' through wear and age which I found oddly disturbing. A soft fluffy throw was arranged on the bottom of the bed.Two arm chairs and a large round table had been given almost as much space as the bed. A standard lamp stood in the far corner of the room and the windows opened onto a small balcony that was large enough for standing and looking at the view but not big enough to sit out on. A long desk in attractive solid wood took up much of one wall with a slightly too small flat screen television and a coffee and tea tray taking up some of the space but still leaving plenty for our things. A hair dryer in the top drawer was well placed for the mirror over the desk or the full length mirror to one side. The bag stand was big enough for both our bags so we didn't need to scrabble around on the floor. There was a small wardrobe by the door where we kept our coats and the bathroom was bright and clean with white tiles and black basalt counter and shelves. The shower cubicle was large and had excellent water pressure and plenty of soft fluffy towels were provided. I prefer a room with a bath but a sign explained that Gibraltar is short of water and I understood why they had showers instead. The only absurdity about the bathroom was that the light switch was nowhere near the bathroom and was hidden away next to the front door making it almost impossible to find in the dark. Oddly for somewhere with such a warm climate, the floors were carpeted rather than tiled suggesting the room design was a lot more Irish and a lot less Spanish. ~Top of the Morning~ Breakfast was served on the 8th floor in a room much too small for the job. There might have been enough tables if the rather elderly male staff had been a bit quicker about clearing the tables. I comment on the staff being male because I don't think I saw a single female member of staff except for a cleaner with a large trolley doing room service. I'm really not sure where the Gibraltarian women are as they weren't in the bars and restaurants either. It was quite a mystery. And most of the men in the O'Callaghan were older gentlemen.The tables in the breakfast room were jammed in very close together making it an obstacle course to go back and forth to the buffet. The food selection was pretty good and the hot breakfast included very 'anglo' things like baked beans and fried bread which you don't see often outside the UK or Ireland. Getting a tea or coffee was not so easy though. Next door to the rooftop restaurant is a small swimming pool and above the restaurant is a sun deck neither of which seemed terribly appropriate in the middle of December. The pool looked gorgeous and is protected from the elements by a rather weird set of what look like double glazed walls but no roof. I suppose it cuts down on any cross winds. The views from the sun deck were lovely and we could see across most of the city towards the sea or up towards The Rock.. Both nights that we stayed there were Christmas parties in the hotel – I can confirm that dresses not seen since Dallas and Dynasty in the 1980s are still the height of fashion in Gib. I did think we'd have a noisy time of it but aside from a slight base-note we heard very little. Our room was beautifully quiet with no noise from outside other than the occasional church bell and only the ping of the lift doors on the inside ~A Really Weird Place~ There are some great things about staying in Gib – perhaps things that others might think it odd that I value. UK 3-pin plugs mean you don't need to take your converters and they have proper British television channels – so we didn't miss the final of Strictly Come Dancing (sad or what?). On the other hand, internet access was stupidly expensive and requires you to have given your credit card details at check in since the system of buying a card with a code wasn't working – and according to Smiley Keith, it hadn't worked for a long time. Prices ranged from £5 for 2 hours going to £12 for 12 hours and something like £18 for 24. Fortunately most of the bars in Gib have internet access free of charge so we only paid for a couple of hours in order to do our online check in and a few other administrative things.We would be very unlikely to go back to Gibraltar. We had a very pleasant weekend but there really isn't much to do there unless you like buying extraordinarily cheap booze and cigarettes and shopping in places that look like a 1980s time-warp version of the UK. Whilst it's amusing for a few moments to be somewhere sunny and warm in December and to be surrounded by familiar shops ("Ooh look, BHS and M&S!") the novelty wears off very quickly when you realise you'd not bother going in those shops at home so why would they suddenly become interesting just because you're somewhere foreign.
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