First of all, I need to issue a warning not related to this hotel.
Do not book anything with Travel Republic ever.
You only need to check the web for many stories very similar to ours and I wouldn't want anyone else to have to experience what we did. In January 2012, myself and 3 other groups (couples and singles) booked 4 rooms at the Galeon Hotel, a hotel in Sitges we had stayed at previously and loved. We paid the deposit and paid the full balance in March 2012. Four days before we were due to arrive in Sitges in late June, we got an email from Travel Republic saying the hotel was overbooked and that they had booked us into another hotel and that it was 4 stars. We had all booked for two weeks with one of the weeks during Sitges Gay Pride week. We rang the Hotel Galeon and they had no record whatsoever of our booking. The hotel Travel Republic had rebooked us into was right at the other end of the beach. A good 30 minutes walk away from the town centre and it had pretty bad trip advisor reviews. And the nightly rates were less than what we had already paid. There was no way we were going to stay in a hotel so far away from the town centre so we went looking for alternate accomodation.
Central Normandie Hotel was the only hotel available that could actually take all of us for the whole two weeks. Four rooms x two weeks in peak season with two days notice! Probably should have rung some alarm bells (which it did) but we had no other choice.
Before I go on to tell the tale of Central Normandie, can I reiterate to all to not book with Travel Republic no matter how good the offer appears. Central Normandie is a one star property and ended up costing us 200 Euros more than what it would have cost us to stay at the Galeon (3 stars) with a very full breakfast and a pool. There's enough good reviews of the Galeon that I don't need to say anything about it. Travel republic promised to repay the difference but I have not seen a cent or had any communication from them since. They did refund our original money in full, but for some of our friends, kept some fees so they did not get all their money back.
JUST DON'T USE TRAVEL REPUBLIC EVER. You have been warned.
So, after booking in and finding the hotel, Jorge, the hotel manager, had put us all on the same floor so we essentially had the floor to ourselves, which was great. This was on the fourth floor and all our rooms had large balconies. They are supposedly the better rooms so if you have to stay here, I would recommend getting these. Just a couple of steps up to the lift area then a lift to the top.
The rooms aren't huge but they are adequate. The furniture is quite dated and the bed is very firm but we slept OK. We had a room at the back of the street which had quite a large balcony with two chairs and a table and two sunbeds. The sunbeds were newish but the chairs and table ancient and heavy. The balcony looks to the properties behind, one of which, directly behind, seems to be abandoned and now inhabited by pigeons. It's not exactly scenic but the balcony does get nice morning sun and is shaded in the afternoon which keeps the rooms a bit cooler. Also, as these rooms are the 'better' ones, they all had airconditioning, which was essential in late June, early July.
Back to the rooms, there is a desk with four small drawers, a chair, a double bed, two bedside chests with one small drawer each and a wardrobe with hanging space and two shelves. There was a distinct lack of drawers to unpack into so we had to fold most of our clothes into the wardrobe shelves. We were travelling for five weeks from Australia so we left a lot of our clothes in our bags, which wasn't really convenient. I prefer lots of room to unpack properly.
In the wardrobe is a safe. Much like any hotel safe around the world with a combination lock you enter at the front. However it was locked closed. When we asked if it could be opened, Jorge said he would need to come up with the key to open it and let us enter the combination. He couldn't do it now as he was busy but we could do it in the morning. I asked why he didn't just leave them open as everyone knows how to use these safes and he said people locked them shut when they left. And I said but you have a key anyway and if you just reopen them at the end of the stay then the next guest can use them. He went on again at length about how they get locked shut and he'd have to come and open it. In the end we didn't bother with the safe as not only did it all appear far too much hassle but we got the impression we would also be charged extra. Not sure if this is correct but don't be surprised if it is. One other thing to note is that there is no fridge of any sort in the room. This was possibly the most annoying thing about the room.
Our bathroom was ok. Certainly not flash but it had been retiled in the last two years - just not very well. Some of the fittings and fixtures were rusty and there was no shelf in either the bathroom or the shower. There is a single shower, no bath, although this suits me fine. Water pressure was OK but the temperature was occasionally MIA. Seems when everyone wants a shower at the same time, there's not enough hot water to go around. Wasn't too much of a problem if you waited long enough. The shower was a bit of a step up and the doors not really large so it was a bit of a hassle getting in and out of the shower, especially if your mobility is a little limited, like mine is. If your knees are good, it shouldn't be a problem. Some amenities are provided. I think there was a small bar of soap and some shampoo. Cleaning was a bit hit and miss. There was a fair bit of black mould in the shower and around taps which bleach would have got rid of pretty quickly. Toilet and sink was cleaned ok though.
The breakfast runs to 11am and is pretty basic. It certainly isn't the Galeon. There are croissants and white toast available and that's it. The saturday morning of the Gay Pride weekend when the hotel was full, there was one other type of pastry available. Woo hoo! They have an espresso machine and will do coffee and tea. They aren't real good with tea so I'd stick to the coffee unless you tell them exactly how to make the tea. The coffee is quite bitter and over extracted and too strong but it will wake you up. There is also orange and pineapple juice available. If you miss breakfast or want a change, there is a cafe close by that does very good coffee and a much wider range of food. Turn left out of the hotel, left at the intersection and it's just on the right. Does pizzas too and lots of pastries but they will do a good roll/sandwich too. All very fresh and cheap. There's an air conditioned section upstairs and ask for the menu as there's lots more on it than what it looks like is available at the counter.
Now don't get me wrong, you won't die if you stay at this hotel but it is a one star hotel and it's not even that cheap. It's best points are that it's quite well located and the people working there are very friendly. Sometimes too friendly but don't get on Jorge's wrong side. We had a number of adventures while staying here and they need telling to complete the story.
A couple of days afer arriving we decided to host a soiree on our terrace. Went shopping (the supermarket is close by) and came back with our drinks and nibblies. When we opened up the doors and stepped out on to the terrace, we found a dead pigeon on the balcony. These things happen and we understand that, especially with a pigeon colony right across the way. However the way it was handled beggars belief. My girlfriend went downstairs to tell Jorge and he told her that he was too busy and couldn't help. She said we had 10 people arriving in 30 minutes and there was a dead pigeon exactly where we were about to have food and drinks. He again said that he was the only person on the desk and that he couldn't leave at all. So she asked if he could give her something to clean it up. He found a mop and bucket and a plastic bag. When she came back up by herself carrying that, I couldn't believe it! We didn't really have much choice so she just cleaned it up, stuck it in the bag and took it back downstairs. No idea what he did with it but I was not happy about this at all.
Generally the room is cleaned to an acceptable standard but when we first got into the room, there was a large dead mosquito that had been squashed into the ceiling. It never got cleaned off the ceiling the entire two weeks we were there. It's more than likely still there.
As we had been travelling already, many of our clothes needed a wash. There is a laundry quite close by so that's easy enough but when we got back we wanted to iron the clothes. We asked Jorge and no iron and no ironing board for the whole hotel! Couldn't believe it. Still can't.
I also noticed when we first got the room that the lock on the balcony door was broken. In fact, not really broken, more completely missing. The balcony can't really be reached from the street and it's up quite high but it's still quite disconcerting when the door does not lock at all. Jorge told me it was fine and no one could get in and the part was on order. The locks are the same as locks on all the windows and there is a small window leading to a lightwell. I suggested he swap the locks from that window to the door as the window truly is inaccessible but the threads for the screws in the door had been stripped so it was not possible to even swap them over. And of course no part arrived and the door was not fixed during the stay and is probably still broken, despite my repeated requests for it to be fixed.
On the weekend of Gay Pride, when the hotel was full, one of our friend's room was broken into and his mobile phone and charger stolen. Nothing else. Looked like a very quick oportunistic theft as brand new quite expensive jeans weren't touched and nothing else was taken. When my friends reported it that night, the guy on the desk at night doesn't speak much (any) english so they did their best to make themselves understood and said they'd talk to Jorge in the morning. All the keys are kept at the front desk and you're not allowed to take them out of the hotel (and therefore be responsible for the security of your own room). It would be fairly simple to distract the guy on the desk and grab keys to access rooms. I am not in anyway insinuating the staff had anything to do with the theft and we most certainly do not believe this to be the case but the processes in place would make it relatively simple for someone else to get in and I had noticed a group of three getting out of the lift when I got home the night before that really didn't look like they would be staying at the hotel.
When my friends spoke to Jorge in the morning, he became quite aggressive about the whole thing. He kept saying the staff didn't steal anything, which no one had said they did and then started accusing one of our friends who was staying in another hotel of being the thief. They had asked that he be given access to their key to get something eariler so Jorge's logical conclusion was that he stole the phone. Considering they are all flatmates in Sydney, it's ridiculous. The whole thing was ridiculous as we were not accusing anyone of anything however it might have been nice to get an apology from Jorge instead of having one of our friends accused of being a thief. In the end they walked away and put in a police report which all went smoothly. A simple, "That's terrible, I'm so sorry, what can I do to help?" would have gone a long way.
The following day, the same friend's room did not get cleaned and when they approached Jorge about this all hell broke loose. They were all literally yelling at each other in the foyer of the hotel accusing each other of being liars. It was not pretty. Our friends wrongly though they had been targetted because of the altercation the day before. Turns out it was just a very busy morning when almost everyone was checking out and the room got started but not finished. Still, our friends had an unmade bed and no clean towels and again Jorge was saying he was too busy to fix it. Just diabolical. Once more, our friends were given clean towels and new amenities and told to fix it themsleves. Eventually someone came and did their room but by this stage our friends were extremely unhappy.
Jorge can be very friendly and in fact let us ride his electric bike which was great fun. But he also likes a drink in the afternoon and really has no idea what might constitute acceptable or professional customer service. He accepts responsibility for nothing and seeks to blame someone else when something goes wrong instead of just getting it sorted. It's not the way to run a hotel business.
So in summary, this hotel probably won't kill you but there are many better choices in Sitges.
Good central location in town close to cafes, restaurants, supermarkets, shops and clubs.
Air conditioning in deluxe rooms.
Large terraces in deluxe rooms.
Cleanish most of the time.
Free wifi in the foyer (but not in rooms).
Staff usually very friendly.
Dodgy hot water
Lack of storage
Hassle with the safe and may have to pay for it
Security badly managed.
No fridges in rooms.
No iron or ironing board.
Very easy to get in an argurment with Jorge.
Service completely lacking at times.
We can laugh about it now but it really was like something out of Fawlty Towers.
- Also Known As:
- Central Normandie Hotel Sitges, Province Of Barcelona
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