Melia Castelo Branco, Portugal
This is a review of Melia Castelo Branco, Portugal.
Rua. da Piscina, 6000-776 Castelo Branco, Portugal
+351 272 349 280
Introduction to the Melia Castelo Branco, Portugal
There were 3 things that really stood out for me at the Melia Castelo Branco hotel:
- The sense of space. The reception, lobby, lounge, bar and restaurant ooze space, with a grand piano in the lounge adding an edge of decadence as you walk through to access the lifts. The sense of space continues throughout the Health Club and Spa and superior bedroom we were allocated on the 4th floor.
- The views. The hotel is situated on top of a hill, providing panoramic city views. These are best seen from the shared areas, the bars balcony and on the 4th floor.
- The Health Club and Spa facilities.
Situated on top of a hill on the outskirts of Castelo Branco, it is a 5 minute drive into the historical city centre.
The hotel is a 1 minute drive away from the Castelo de Castelo Branco (Templar Castle). In the centre there are museums, churches, the Episcopal Palace garden and on the outskirts of the city can be found the Barrocal Park – a 40ha area with elements of geological, archaeological and natural value.
In the city you will find plenty of restaurants, cafes, supermarkets as well as retail shops, amongst the historical buildings, traditional Portuguese architecture (and tiles!) and quaint streets.
Castelo Branco is easily accessed from the A23 (motorway) or the N3 (national road).
There is a train station in Castelo Branco and taxi’s (including Uber) work in this area.
Style and Character: 5/10
As we pulled into the hotel car park, we were greeted with plenty of private parking that was well lit. Walking along the calçada Portuguesa (traditional-style pavement) to the hotel entrance gave the impression that we would be faced with a traditional style hotel, possibly with a modern twist.
Upon entering the hotel, it was clear this is a modern hotel, with the feel of a more upmarket chain hotel.
Throughout the hotel, the décor was typical of a chain hotel – modern and fresh. The lounge has sofas, armchairs and tables arranged into small clusters. On the tables are plants or candles. There are modern sculptures in the entrance way on a shelving unit separating the entrance from the lounge.
Despite the modern look, the hotel lacked personality and the restaurant lacked ambiance; it didn’t feel relaxing or comfortable. There wasn’t any music being played in the lobby or lounge area – which would have transformed and lifted the atmosphere.
There were building works taking place in the lift shaft throughout our stay. It was very loud, started before 9am and was the primary sound to be heard whilst we were eating breakfast and on occasion whilst in our room.
Our check in experience felt clinical. There is a high reception desk that spanned the length of the entrance area. There is a plastic screen to ensure we kept our distance from the reception staff. We received a warm welcome from the receptionist. She booked us in for dinner in the restaurant, upon request. I asked if they had received my email about us being vegan and was informed they could cater for us for breakfast and dinner.
We weren’t offered any information on the local area during check in, places to visit or recommendations for eating and drinking in the city.
Our check out was slightly impersonal. We simply handed over the keys and walked out.
We had breakfast and two evening meals in the hotel. The service was overall quite disappointing. The servers were not accommodating to our needs as vegans with hot food and they didn’t offer to provide alternatives for breakfast. For example, we asked for mushrooms and was informed they didn’t have any. We were then served them for dinner in the evening.
The ground floor of the hotel is a Health Club and Spa.
The Health Club includes a heated indoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna, Turkish bath and gym – with a wide range of cardio machines, strength building machines, free weights, bars and plates. There is also a studio space where group activities take place. There are massage rooms as well as tennis and squash courts.
With Covid prevalent during our visit, the Turkish bath and sauna were not available. I was informed the tennis and squash courts were also closed. The Health Club operated on different hours to their advertised hours – presumably because of Covid.
The Health Club facilities were very impressive. It is spacious, light and exudes a different atmosphere to the rest of the hotel.
The changing facilities offer lockers, toilets and showers. You have to wear a swimming cap in the pool. These can be purchased in the hotel.
The health facilities were fantastic and the gym was the best I have ever experienced when travelling. I wasn’t able to experience all the facilities of the Health Club due to Covid restrictions.
The thing that struck me when we walked in to the room was the amount of space. It was very spacious. We had a superior room which included a bedroom, lounge, dressing area and bathroom. It was clean but lacked character.
The bathroom was on the left as we entered the room. We had a shower over a bath, toilet, bidet, sink unit and hairdryer – the type where you hold a button down to operate and fixed to the wall. Toiletries were provided – spa quality products in bottles attached to the shower wall.
Directly in front of the entrance door, was the bedroom. There was a double bed (it was very firm and uncomfortable), a mounted TV, bedside tables and a desk area. Sadly, there were no tea making facilities or mini-bar and we were only given one bottle of complimentary water, on arrival. There was a large window spanning the length of the bedroom. There was a full-length mirror but no plug sockets nearby for plugging in hair straighteners! There were USB sockets for charging devices next to the bed. You could access the balcony directly from the bedroom.
In the room to the right of the bedroom was a lounge, with comfy sofa, urban style chair and large mounted TV on the wall. Again, there was a large window spanning the length of the lounge and you could access the balcony through the lounge.
Outside of the bedroom and lounge was a spacious open area. At one end was the dressing area. In the dressing area, there was a safe, drawers, hangers and a shelf to store suitcases and bags. We were provided with robes and slippers, extra pillows and another duvet. We placed the extra duvet on the bed to try to cushion the firmness of the bed. A number of the lights didn’t work throughout the suite and 1 lamp was missing a bulb.
Outside we had a balcony that spanned the length of the bedroom and the lounge, with 2 seats and a table where we could absorb the panoramic views of the city. The thunder and lightning storm was magical to watch from the safety of our balcony!
Food and Drink: 3/10
The restaurant doubles up as the breakfast room. It felt like a canteen experience. It didn’t exude any ambience, despite the music playing quietly in the background and it wasn’t cosy or comfortable. The lighting was harsh. Along one edge of the room spanned a window – overlooking the city below. There were tables next to the window so diners could soak in the panoramic views.
As vegans, the dinner was basic. On one evening we had the vegetables on skewers. They weren’t seasoned and the vegetables were under cooked. The second evening we had the Mediterranean vegetable stew, with rice and chips. This was much nicer than the vegetable skewers we had on our arrival.
On both occasions the server was impatient, was distracted by his phone and was keen for us to leave as soon as we finished eating. He was lingering around waiting to give us the bill, making us feel rushed and uncomfortable.
Breakfast was a little disappointing, considering we had been told the hotel could cater for us. It was served buffet style, with hot and cold options. There was a whole spread of hot food and pastries. There wasn’t a single option in this for a vegan, except for tomatoes which looked to have been cooked in butter.
The cold options for vegans consisted of bread, jam, a range of cereals, alternative milks (soya, rice and almond were offered), fruit pots, fruit juices in individual bottles. Coffee and tea were also available.
For non-vegans, they had a selection of breads, pastries, sausages (out of a tin), bacon, eggs. Sadly, it didn’t look fresh and as I looked around, many diners were leaving hot elements on their plates.
The hotel states they cater for vegans. From our experience, the hotel didn’t have a single hot option for breakfast and only two dinner options.
Value for Money: 5/10
Pricing on the Melia Castelo Branco lists for Room Only:
- Standard rooms from 96 euros per night.
- Superior rooms from 120 euros per night.
There is free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel but this is very weak on the top floor.
During our stay we saw mainly older white couples, with a handful of younger couples. I didn’t see any same-sex couples or guests with visible disabilities.
As we drove into the car park, I saw a billboard at the entrance to the hotel with what appeared to be 2 men. This gave the impression it was gay friendly.
As a gay couple, we didn’t experience any issues when checking in or when using the facilities.
A hotel with great views and high-quality health facilities, well situated to explore the local area and the Centre of Portugal.
- Fitness centre
- Tennis and squash court
Video Of Melia Castelo Branco, Portugal
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