Pin It

Hotel Review – Melia Hotel & Spa, Braga, Portugal

by in Europe, Features, Places, Portugal, Stay.

Image (c) Melia Braga Hotel & Spa

To end this week of Portugal coverage it’s time for a review of the other place I stayed while visiting Porto for the Travel Bloggers Unite conference. Disclosure is even more important here too, as this time we were on a 2 day trip under the auspices of the O!Porto! tourist board and our accommodation was part of the press trip.

Now that’s the kind of rate I like…

Clearly. But free or not the hotel isn’t escaping the usual Grown-up Travel Guide scrutiny. There are other places to stay in Braga so the point of this review is to decide whether you should choose to stay at the Melia rather than somewhere else.

If it’s good enough for the Portuguese national football team, it ought to be good enough for you?

That’s true – we were greeted by a barrage of press and TV reporters when returning the first night but any delusions that they were there for us were soon trashed as we found out who else was staying there. Anyway, read on…

 

Image (c) Melia Braga Hotel & Spa

Sheraton Porto Hotel & Spa, Rua Tenente Valadim 146, 4100-476 Porto, Portugal +351 (22) 040 4000

Website: http://www.meliabraga.com/en

Email: melia.braga@meliaportugal.com

When?

Early September 2012.

Vital stats:

Five stars. Opened 2010, 182 rooms over 12 floors.

Location, location, location?

Image (c) Melia Braga Hotel & Spa

The Melia Hotel is located near the University to the north-east of the city centre which can be reached in about ten minutes by taxi. Unfortunately it is also positioned right between two very busy roads which makes the outdoor pool area a noisy experience.

What about parking?

There’s free parking but spaces are limited; if they are taken you can park on the street in the surrounding area.

Why choose this place?

As previously mentioned my motives were a little different this time as I wasn’t involved in choosing the hotel, but it is Braga’s only central 5-star property and most modern hotel. The pools and spa facilities would be a deal-breaker for some visitors too I’m sure.

Room

Image (c) Melia Braga Hotel & Spa

The hotel offers standard rooms as shown here as well as suites. I was in a standard which was large and modern with the following features: LCD TV, air conditioning, lighting and climate control, blackout drapes/curtains, wired and wireless internet access, direct-dial phone, minibar, hair dryer, bathroom phone, bathroom scale, iron/ironing board, desk, in-room safe and cable television. The huge double bed was very comfortable. A rather neat feature was the inclusion of touch panels to control the lighting and heating next to the bed and in the entrance hall. I found the chair to be a little uncomfortable for working at the desk and ended up sitting on the bed instead.

Carpets?

Yes and no. Perhaps to please all visitors the Melia has opted for hardwood floors in the entrance hall and bathroom and carpet for most of the bedroom area. I’d have dropped the latter but it was a decent compromise.

Bathroom

The bathroom was a decent size with a large and stylish free-standing bath in the main room which was separated from the bedroom by a curtain; there was also a separate shower cubicle and toilet (again with a telephone – is this a Portuguese custom I wonder?) In what probably seemed like a good idea on paper the toilet and shower shared a large glass sliding door. The problem with this soon became apparent as after showering the inside of the door was wet; when the door was slid open this water then dripped onto the floor where it now stood, over the entrance to the toilet. There was no floor drain so this is going to cause a major problem for the floor over time. The hotel provides toiletries in single use size (again, not the best for the environment) and a hair dryer.

Free internet I hope?

Yes. Free wired and wireless with a simple code system. Excellent connection speed and seemingly there were multiple routers on each floor (at least from the scanning I carried out although these may be virtual access points). Full marks to Melia for doing the right thing by their guests.

Bar and restaurant?

Yes – there is a bar on the ground floor and a restaurant next to it which also serves as the breakfast area. I didn’t get a chance to try the restaurant but can report being pleasantly surprised by the reasonable bar prices. And large measures, at least with regard to the gin and tonic I ordered…bar facilities are available for the outdoor pool too.

Pool, sauna?

Image (c) Melia Braga Hotel & Spa

Yes, the Melia has two pools. one indoor and one outdoor, as well as a fitness centre and full spa facilities in the hotel. Again time was not on my side here so I couldn’t take advantage of any of these (not even the water gymnastics pictured above, unfortunately) and am thus unable to confirm that they charge guests for these either – according to the website there is a charge for the pool here too just like the Sheraton in Porto which suggests this is a quirk common in Portugal. So while the Melia gives with the free internet it takes back with the pool charge. I am waiting to hear from the hotel regarding this and will update the site when I get price information. On a positive note the pools were reasonably sized – especially the outdoor one – although the traffic noise was a little irritating for alfresco bathers.

The breakfast was included, right?

It was for me, but normally it depends on your room rate and is not included in the cheapest deals. Again I am awaiting confirmation of the price if you have to pay, but will say that the breakfast buffet was a little basic so you may want to consider eating in town instead.

Service

Service was very good and highly efficient. I had no issues and thus cannot report how good the staff are at rectifying matters but the fact that I was fully satisfied was praise enough.

Any points/miles to earn?

Yes, the Melia chain offers a loyalty scheme known as Mas rewards with points awarded based on your spend at the hotel. Melia has hotels in many different countries so sign up when you stay here.

Can they look after your bags after you check out?

Yes, they will be happy to do so.

Green or mean?

The information provided emphasizes the Melia group’s green profile and details how much water it saves each year. The Sustainable Development section at www.solmelia.com appears to be in Spanish only which is a little silly – I will update this section if I get more details from the hotel.

The Damage

As mentioned I was put up for free but the cheapest rates start at just under EUR 72 which is a major bargain. If you want breakfast included the cheapest deal I saw was EUR 82 which is clearly not bad either.

 

The verdict please your honour...

The Good

Excellent service and facilities. Great room, bed, free and fast internet everywhere in the hotel. Nice pools and reasonable prices in the bar for a change.

The Bad

The sliding door for both the shower and the toilet was a classic example of form over function. I’d have preferred a better chair for working at the desk.

The Ugly

Well, the location at a very busy road junction is a pity.

Closing comments:

The Melia Hotel & Spa Braga is another bargain luxury hotel. It offered all the facilities and comforts I needed, service was excellent and I only wish I could have tested the pools, spa and fitness facilities. I have no hesitation in recommending this hotel to anyone planning to stay in Braga while visiting Portugal.

Final score: 5/6

Please note: The author enjoyed free accommodation as a participant on a press trip – but no mention was made of the fact that a review would be written and the establishment was not informed of the author’s intentions. As always, the opinions expressed in the review are those of the reviewer and we provide impartial and comprehensive advice.

Tags: , , , , , , ,