THE British love Benidorm for its buzzing nightlife, beautiful beaches and bargain prices.
We even have a sitcom dedicated to the adventures of holidaymakers in the Spanish resort.
But head to the hills above the party town and you’ll find a very different world at the new 5H Barcelo La Nucia Palms.
There are champagne buffet breakfasts, a stunning rooftop pool with views across the Costa Blanca and a palm tree-lined pool. It’s a calm, serene oasis.
But you won’t be charged a king’s ransom for all this luxury — rooms start at just £68 a night.
So for those who want the best of both worlds, it’s the perfect base, just a 15-minute drive from Benidorm and the clubs on the Levante Beach strip.
And after a night on the tiles, the 148-room hotel promises everything you could wish for to recharge and relax.
This includes gorgeous swimming pools, two of which are heated in the winter, as well as an indoor pool at the swish spa and one on the B-Heaven rooftop bar with 360-degree views.
The rooftop is an Instagrammer’s dream, with trendy blue and millennial pink tiles, huge bean bags to sink into and cool curtained cabanas to lounge in as you admire the mountain vistas.
And it was easy to while away sun-soaked days drinking cocktail after frozen cocktail while lying in a lounger moulded into the oasis-style main swimming pool.
Go: Costa Blanca
COVID: All visitors over the age of 12 must present a Health Control Form and proof of vaccination.
Face masks are mandatory inside and outside.
Current UK rules require pre-departure test before returning to the UK and a PCR test on or before day two.
GETTING THERE: Ryanair has flights to Alicante, around 60 miles from the hotel, from Luton, East Midlands and Newquay with one-way fares from £9.99. See ryanair.com.
STAYING THERE: Double rooms with breakfast at the Barcelo La Nucia Palms start from £68 per night. See barcelo.com.
I didn’t even need to leave the hotel to try some of the finest Spanish food either.
The South American-meets-Spanish menu at the pool bar and restaurant La Santa Maria had everything from Cuban meat croquettes to shrimp ceviche with fried banana.
The breakfast buffet at the Naziha restaurant is small but includes classic continental options, along with an omelette station, fruits and pastries.
I obviously opted for the churros and champagne for a rather decadent start to the day.
If you’re looking to explore beyond the delights of Benidorm, car hire and taxis are cheap, giving you the opportunity to explore former fishing villages, hill towns and Sierra Helada Natural Park.
The mountain top village of Guadalest perches atop a rocky outcrop with stunning views into the valley of vineyards, a dam and its turquoise blue reservoir.
The walk up to the castle along cobbled lanes sees you enter through a 15ft tunnel carved out of the rock before emerging into the tiny village.
Reward yourself with an ice cream before strolling the streets lined with shops selling souvenirs, local crafts and honey.
Down on the coast we explored Altea and its Old Town. This pretty former fishing village has a quiet charm with its dramatic church and its blue tiled roof.
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Prepare to give the calves another workout in the Old Town along steep and narrow hillside streets lined with white houses and orange trees.
Here, you’ll find the studios of painters, potters and other traditional crafts.
Finish off with a stroll along the beach or marina to enjoy the sunset at one of the many bars.
Back at the hotel, I soothed my aching legs in the spa, opting for an hour-long full body massage, followed by a brisk jump into the ice pool, and ending in the hot tub, steam room and sauna.
With my limbs loose and fingers pruned, I was ready for a pre-dinner snooze.
Rooms at the hotel are contemporary and serene, with king-size beds and either balconies or garden terraces to enjoy the far-reaching views.
Bathrooms come with rainfall showers, fluffy dressing gowns and sustainable toiletries.
The bright lights of Benidorm may be just moments away but my stay at Barcelo La Nucia Palms proved a break here can offer relaxing luxury for less too. It’s a win-win!
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