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Gibraltar - Hotel Bristol - BEWARE

Just a note to fellow travelers headed toward Gibraltar that the Hotel Bristol listed in Rick Steves' guide to Spain is beyond awful. It should be called a hostel - not a hotel. And the lobby staff is just as hostile! They are Spanish and didn't even know basic things like how I could get to the Rock. Really? There is only ONE tourist site in this tiny place but they barely spoke English, didn't know anything about accessing it and didn't even know the names of the streets that their property was bounded by - as finally the 'manager' said - go up to the next street and turn right.' When I asked him the name of this street he didn't know it. It's a few hundred feet away! And surprise - it's called Main Street! Another one of the few tourist destinations of Gibraltar.
Additionally though there is an elevator, I had to drag my suitcases up several stairs to get to my room. The rooms were horrid, old, and stuffy and when I called to ask for more towels [we were two people and they left us one set], they told me to get it myself. IN short, this is a horrible hotel that is a fortune for what it is.
As a returnee to Gibraltar - went there 25 years ago - I must say the place has changed very much for the worse. It has become a little Monaco and I kept wondering about the empty apartments that have been raging in development. The old British feel is lost. That said, when I finally made it up to the top of the rock, the views were spectacular. That you can see Africa in the distance is surreal. [Though the 'monkeys' freaked me out - they are dirty and aggressive. Do not bring ANY food with you or they will snatch it.] I also went to Cape Europa at the edge of the peninsula to see the convergence [not discernible per se, but you know it's there!] of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and it was spectacular. This point also offers unusual views of the rock and made the trip worthwhile.

Posted by
769 posts

I'm surprised the Bristol is recommended in a guide book, at least without a warning that it's rather old-fashioned and very unusual. Perhaps your guidebook author has never actually stopped there? Anyway, I'd agree it's best missed unless you want a singularly odd experience. Though it is cheap.

PS I wonder if the staff were Spaniards. If they were then I'd expect they could speak reasonable English working where they do. I wouldn't be surprised if they were actually from eastern Europe.

Posted by
649 posts

I just looked at the Spain guidebook.
RS suggests people would be better off not staying in Gibraltar because the lodging choices are poor and overpriced. He specifically says the Bristol is basic and worn. Sounds like you agree.

Posted by
2594 posts

I walked by the Bristol when I was in Gibraltar a couple of years ago and saw what a dive it is.

As a woman traveling alone, I wanted to stay in Gibraltar for the safety of it as I like walking around at night & didn’t want to do that in La Linea.

I stayed at the Rock Hotel and got a great deal offered oddly enough by British air. Such a beautiful hotel. The public bus is right there so I could easily take it into town and back so public transport was a breeze.

There was another hotel called the O’Callahan. They were more expensive than the Rock and when I reached out to them beforehand to see if their construction were completed, I was told it was. In fact, it was not. I walked over there as I was curious. This was 2 1/2 years ago and from the reviews I am reading on TripAdvisor, they still haven’t completed the renovations and construction.

Posted by
11196 posts

Funny just had a Brit recommend we meet in Gibraltar or Malta - I’ve been to neither( but both have this myth like aura about them - ) however that Hotel sounds not very nice at all , and I’m not sure of seeing the actual rock of Gibraltar is worth visiting after all

Posted by
2594 posts

Pat, where else can you be surrounded by the Barbary macaque? 😂 It is quite an experience. If you have no idea what I am talking about, go to YouTube and look for the Rick Steves episode in which he goes to Gibraltar. 😊

Posted by
3 posts

Pat - you should absolutely go. The Rock is still worth seeing as are the views from the rock.

Posted by
3 posts

Nick - my guide book is that of Rick Steves! That is why I am posting here on his forum. Wish he would read this post! The book recommends only three hotels in Gibraltar - $, $$, $$$. Hotel Bristol is the $$ level and the entry states: ‘Bristol Hotel offers 60 basic, slightly worn rooms in the heart of Gibraltar- noise can be a problem...’ with a few more technical details. But that description is utterly inadequate to describe the horrible dark, dank, old rooms, terrible service, and inaccessibility of the rooms - accessible only via staircases! This is unacceptable for anyone with a suitcase let alone a baby stroller or wheelchair. Another outrage was the fact that for that kind of money there is no coffee maker in each room. There was a fridge which was a bonus but I had to buy coffee and refrigerate it for cold
Coffee the next morning. I paid $187 USD for two nights for his horrible place. Had I paid $50 a night then that bad room would have made sense. But poor service is never allowed for any amount of money. I have stayed in youth hostels for $20 a night and the staff was amazing.

Posted by
22266 posts

Although Rick Steves staff wander by here from time to time the Rick Steves Forums are a group of peers, not the company. A semi-anarchic group of fellow-travellers who are here because of their love of travel and love of helping others - and everybody learns from everybody else.

If you want to be sure that the staff see your comments you should click the "Contact Us" button down below and send them a note.

Posted by
22266 posts

You didn't mention in your initial review that you were trying to get a wheelchair and a stroller up the stairs!!!

No wonder you had such a bad time. But you did say there was an elevator. Was it not working?

Posted by
769 posts

"Another outrage was the fact that for that kind of money there is no coffee maker in each room. "

I'd not be surprised they didn't have a coffee maker given it's Gibraltar. I'd expect a kettle and tea bags, but apparently that's not offered either. Which is certainly an outrage and another reason not to stay there. Sadly, however, there are still a lot of European hotels which don't have kettles. To be on the safe side, it's a good idea to take a travel kettle.

Posted by
2927 posts

@Pat, and any that might be interested in Gibraltar (I haven't been), I noticed that today's BING photo page is an interesting picture of Gibraltar.