MY GIBRALTAR AUGUST BANK HOLIDAY GETAWAY
Thursday 24th August @ 17:30 – It is the end of a long day, the sun is shining and whilst on a normal workday that would be welcome, it is the height of rush hour and we are 18 stops in on the Piccadilly line bound for Heathrow Terminal 4. As the train surfaces from the tunnel into the blinding sunshine I regret wearing the corporate cotton shirt that I periodically pull it away to prevent it sticking to me. I am tired and my body weary and the hypnotising rock of the train makes it difficult for me to keep my eyes open.
At last we emerge triumphant from the underground. With our suitcases feeling heavier with every step, we drag ourselves along the gruelling undercover grey concrete walkway that I thought would never end. I see a sign and there is a spring in my step. I roll my eyes and let out an exasperated sigh as the purple sign of the Premier Inn tells me that the Hilton is further on. I dig deep for a burst of energy that would get me and my suitcase to the end. Finally daylight breaks through at the end of the tunnel and I stifle an impatient sigh of relief as the Hilton sign comes into view.
HILTON HOTEL HEATHROW TERMINAL 4
The welcoming swish of that revolving door pushes my weary shoulders down and back. We approach the desk to check in and the concierge spontaneously steps forward and relieves us of our cases. My priority is to get into the room, collapse onto the bed, catch my breath, break open that 15% bottle of red smuggled into my suitcase, have a hot long shower relax and recharge. Check-in takes 2 minutes as I completed the preliminaries on-line that morning. We shadow the concierge to our room on the same floor, he places our bags in our room bids us a pleasant evening and leaves. I have an overwhelming feeling of tiredness. I kick off my shoes, collapse on the firm bed, close my eyes and exhale.
All too soon it is 3:30am on the morning of Friday 25th August and I have to reluctantly disengage myself from the warmth and comfort of the quilt, get up, get the underground to Terminal 3, check in our bags and board the plane by 7:15am.
We step off the British Airways plane in Gibraltar and embrace a whopping 32°c. At the end of a five minute ride from the airport, the taxi pulls up alongside the monumental permanently moored seven-deck five star floating hotel. Cushioned in the bay of the Ocean Village, dwarfing boutique shops, bustling bars, restaurants, buildings and yachts alike I look up in awe at the magnificent floating fairy-tale that was to be home for the next four days. My immediate thought was to text the girls and say "if ever there was a place to be courted and wooed girls this is it."
Unknown to us, the bejewelled lighting with black and white marble floor of the reception area was a prelude of the magical experience that was yet to come. While efficient fingers tap away on the keyboard behind the reception desk and our passports checked and verified we stand side by side sipping champagne, the soft sound of plucking Alhambra Guitars in background and held captive by the opulence of our surroundings. With our electronic keys encrypted we are given directions to our suite and assured that our luggage has already been delivered.
The crisp Egyptian cotton sheets and hypo allergenic bedding dresses an excellent king sized bed. Housekeeping, minibar, air conditioning, 24 hour in-room dining, the curtains, lighting and TV all controlled by a phone that would not be out of place as a prototype on the Gadget Show all went towards the convenience and enjoyment of the suite. The Champagne and fruit bowl compliments of the management was a lovely touch.
En-suite bathroom is a modest description of the opulent marble facilities provided. The shower and WC are housed in their individual smoked glass compartments. A sumptuous deep bath I couldn’t wait to sink into and never wanted to get out of. Both the bath and washbasin areas were adorned with complimentary toiletries that were replenished daily. A rainfall shower-head deliver's jets of water that pound down onto my shower cap and its at times like these I wish it didn't matter if I got my hair wet.
The vanity area, large mirror, space and light left this vane old woman wanting for nothing when it came to spreading out my makeup, getting dressed or indulging my inner woman. The words "I have topped up your glass" coerce me to slip my feet into the complimentary slippers and wrap my body in the indulgent, generously proportioned bathrobe. I am handed yet another flute of champagne through the wardrobe that can be accessed from either the en-suite or the bedroom.
BALCONY WITH A VIEW
Gold trimmed tinted sliding doors open out onto a fully furnished private balcony accessible from either the bedroom or the living room. The pungent smell of roses rooted in black steel planters lure you towards the chrome guardrails offering up an unparalleled, panoramic view of the village.
I was going to comment that the Wi-Fi was sporadic but having read the features of the Sunborn Yacht Gibraltar more closely I note that
while Wi-Fi is available in all rooms it is NOT always available in some public areas. Not ideal when you are seated on deck 7 basking in the sun, submerged in a deep sense of calm and well-being wanting nothing more than to impose that desirous image in the minds of family and friends back home via social media!!!
The Aqua Bar is the place for sun worshippers providing comfortable sheltered seating areas for those that prefer the shade and is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. N.B: The Aqua Bar is very popular and can become overrun by the visiting public during the day. While the number of public visitors is testament to the Aqua Bar, their service and cuisine it can leave in-house residents of the Sunborn feeling outnumbered or intruding on their “paid for” space.
The fusion of bespoke carpet in the corridors and oak flooring of the upper deck is seamless. The sofas, throw cushions make for a comfortable seating area (panoramic picture at the top of this page) while looking out into the harbour watching speedboats glide across the water like a scene from a James Bond movie.
Breakfast each morning in the Sky Restaurant with breath-taking views of the runway and surrounding neighbouring bay is a delight not to be missed.
While the bordering runway affords plane spotters an excellent view as a plane takes off a voice in my head prompts me to enjoy what time I have left as that soon will be us going home or a feeling of regret when a plane lands as I want to rewind time back to the moment we first arrived.
In keeping with its five star rating the walls of the hallways are lined with cabinets showcasing Krug champagne, jewellery and Swarovski crystal.
A chorus of stiletto heels click against the black and white marble floors as we follow other in-house residents towards the glass surround elevator with a view.
It is late on Saturday night when supporting cheers from the overflowing bars during the Mayweather vs McGregor fight mixed in with the loud music to Adele tribute songs blared out into the night and entices us from the tranquil confines of the suite to go out for a bite to eat. We don’t have to go far as we look over the balcony hypnotised by the twinkling lights of the bars and well-dressed tourists or high-rolling gamblers sauntering towards the red Hollywood style carpet lining the gangway to the La Sala bar and restaurant, ballroom and casino two decks below us. We make it through the crowded bar and seated on white buttoned leather chairs with a spellbinding view (picture below). We are delighted that the menu has finger dishes we can really get stuck into and can testify that the ribs were tender, sticky and tasty. Girly groups are loud and in high spirits. Couples hold hands or are looking lovingly into each other’s eyes while others, not so touchy feely, radiate a heart-warming aura that says we have done this before and we will do this again.
CONCLUSION: It is Sunday night and I am feeling disappointed that our time in Gibraltar is coming to an end. While packing I am trying hard to think of how I can stay and make the weekend last longer. My feelings of sadness are intensified as mechanically fold and pack while replaying the perfect weekend over and over in my mind.
There are excursions for those willing to explore the area i.e. glass factory tour, rock tour or catamaran ride to name but a few. It is also perfect for those of us who want nothing more than to remain horizontal for a weekend in complete comfort and luxury.
If you have the opportunity to take the 2 hour 55 minute flight out to Gibraltar do it. While you will enjoy it in different ways for different reasons I guarantee that you will love it!