gibraltar-sunborn-travel-review

Sun, sea, and mischievous monkeys: why Sunborn Gibraltar should be your next trip

Yacht life!

While international holidays have felt like a gamble over Green Lists, Gibraltar as a British Overseas Territory has been a safe option for plenty of travellers - and after one short visit, I can see why.

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I enjoyed a stay at the Sunborn hotel and it ticked all boxes: seafront location (well, as a yacht, you’re quite literally on the sea!), incredible hotel food, and the opportunity for plenty of activities, whether it’s a romantic escape or family holiday.

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You can't miss the Sunborn Yacht, which is a short walk from the airport

What's it like staying in Sunborn?

Staying on a yacht may sound like the height of luxury, but to those prone to seasickness (AKA me), some may be hesitant - so Sunborn is the solution!

The five-star ship is permanently in situ, so you can have the novelty without the nausea. I was lucky enough to stay in the Rock Suite, which would probably have been large enough for a young family, but my parents still had a separate adjoining room: a Superyacht Executive, which would be perfect for a couple travelling alone.

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There are plenty of rooms and suites to fit your needs

The rooms had everything you'd expect in a five-star hotel: cloud-like beds (I really did feel like I was in heaven), state-of-the-art tech and entertainment (including being able to control all lights, curtains and air-con from the bedroom phone, which came in very handy in such a large space) and luxurious Molten Brown products in the stunning marble bathrooms (which made the waterfall showers even better - and that's no easy feat!).

My suite also had a sizeable balcony with a view over the marina (and so high up, the noise wasn’t an issue), and although the smaller room next to me didn’t have a terrace to sit in, their view across the sea from their Juliet balcony was even more beautiful.

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The view from our rooms put us straight into 'holiday' mode!

Where do you eat at Sunborn?

Hotel buffets are hit and miss, but Sunborn was a bullseye! Forget rubbery full Englishes and syrupy fruit juice - there was everything you could think of, and more. I enjoyed salmon and poached eggs most days and indulged in a full veggie breakfast if I’d had one too many wines the night before.

And the real treat? There were always plenty of open cava bottles on ice to turn your fresh orange juice into a mimosa (or, of course, just to have a glass to toast the day ahead!).

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Head to Barbary for a dose of fine dining

We also dined in the Barbary restaurant which packed a promise with the menu and most certainly delivered: tomato prawns, smoked aubergine, chicken caesar salad, steak with chips, and apple and hazelnut crumble - they were all light enough for hot weather but felt extremely comforting.

Plus, the waiters were exceptionally helpful, especially when helping us choose which wine to wash down each dish (it is a holiday, after all!).

What is there to do in Sunborn?

We only stayed for a short period, but spent any free time by the hotel pool - it’s on the deck outside the breakfast restaurant, so remember to take your towel up! The swimming pool was quite small for such a large hotel, but had plenty of sun loungers around the rear of the boat too, if you just wanted to sunbathe.

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The boat is surrounded by sunbathing spots, so bring your suncream

The bar was never too busy so we got through plenty of cold beers and Pina Coladas to cool us off as we worked on our tans, and the staff were very attentive. The entire area was completely in the sun for most of the day, but some parts were separated under umbrellas to have some shade, to read a book or reapply suncream. 

There’s also a state-of-the-art Casino which I didn’t visit - but have been assured it promises a fantastic evening!

What to do in Gibraltar?

One quick scroll of the Instagram location and I can guess what you’re putting on your list first: seeing the monkeys. We took the cable car up to the top of the Rock with our cameras and walking shoes, and the moment the door opened, the entire car dropped their jaws at seeing the mischievous Barbary Macaques (their proper name, if you want to take a fact with you!) in real life.

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Yes, this is really how close I got to the monkeys!

Although not threatening in any way, they are prone to swiping things off you, so don’t wear a loose hat or have things beneath a pram, as we both saw those get thieved within minutes. You can take a tour minibus around the Rock but we decided to walk - however, it was steep and in hot weather, I would recommend taking at least a bottle of water each.

The views made it worth it, though - they were breathtaking when you reached the highest points, and throughout the walk, there are clear signposts for any notable historical sites, such as O'Hara's Battery. Plus, I promise travellers of any age will love the cheeky monkeys, as we barely stopped grinning when we watched them playfully jump on each other and nibble at leftovers.

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The view from the Rock is simply breathtaking

Check the weather forecast for the clearest day and go to Europa point for sunset, as it’s one of the pillars of Hercules and definitely worth a visit. It’s sometimes tricky navigating around the island due to the Rock, so journeys as the crow flies often take a lot longer, but we headed to Catalan Bay for an early evening walk and quick dinner and then took a taxi to Europa.

You can see Spain and Morocco on a clear night, and not only was it one of the most breathtaking views of the trip, but it was also incredibly quiet and peaceful. We stayed there for a while after sunset just walking around the loop in the beautiful silence - just make sure you take a drink and some snacks with you, as there are no shops in the area. 

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This was my view during my walk to Europa Point - it's unmissable

Sunborn is perfectly located around the bustling Ocean Village, so definitely plan a few afternoon or evening strolls to grab a drink by the sea or people-watch by the bay. Chatham is also a stunning area for a wander, and try to head to Queensway for a cocktail by the port if you're wanting to explore.

The verdict

Overall, the staff were excellent, the food was delicious, the bedrooms were extremely comfortable, and even though my stay was short, I never quite got over the novelty of staying on a yacht. I’d visit again (I still think about my breakfast mimosa before starting a day of sightseeing!) and would definitely recommend it to anyone: friends, couples, or families. I can't wait to see the monkeys again, too...!

For more information and to book, visit sunborngibraltar.com

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