|The historic hotel
Reina Cristina in Algercias
Hotel Reina Cristina
The proudest hotel in the city of Algeciras is the Hotel Reina Cristina. Kings and Queens have stayed there. So have statesmen such as Churchill and Roosevelt and film stars like Rock Hudson and Deborah Kerr.
Hotel Reina Cristina was opened in 1901 and the building includes ancient ruins. There are parts of an 8th-Century Mosque and a Moorish well. The hotel is next to Algeciras Port. The beach is 10 minutes away.
It has indoor and outdoor swimming pools, 2 tennis courts a gym and a sauna. Mini golf and table tennis are also available. Free Wi-Fi is available in rooms and public areas. There is a library, a TV room and meeting rooms.
All of the 181 guest rooms have a balcony.
The hotel restaurant offers buffet meals. There is also à la carte dining at night. There are 2 bars and a café.
Details of the history of this hotel, and of the railway line to Ronda that was built at the same time, are told in the article "The train in Spain leaves the plain".
Overlooking the Bay
Once, the Reina Cristina's 20 acres of subtropical grounds overlooked a sandy beach and sea beyond; today, that view is marred by a sports stadium and the cranes and cables of a working commercial port. But on a clear day, you can still gaze out on the Rock and Pillars of Hercules and imagine you are transported back to the first decade of 1900 when garrison officers and their wives and wealthy passengers disembarking from P&O cruise liners en route to India and the Far East would enjoy the hotel's regular Saturday evening dances in its specially sprung ballroom.
So proud was the hotel of Algeciras's temperate climate, that guests were promised a refund on their room rate for any days between May and September spoilt by rain. Then, they would relax in front of the tiled fireplace in the well-stocked library, its bound volumes protected by ornately carved bookcases and read from the light cast by the tentacles of huge green glass chandeliers - still all there today. A roomy lounge with magnificent carved oak doors would keep revellers at bay, so players of poker or rummy could concentrate. In World War II, it accommodated a host of international spies, who insisted on ensuite rooms with a sea view so they could observe movements round Gibraltar. Bathrooms were converted into darkrooms to process film.
The King of Spain visited
Modern times dictate its use by conference delegates or members of the Algeciras Rotary Club. In the past, a frisson of delight would ripple through the guests when they spotted a famous face - actors, movie stars and even Royalty. King Alfonso of Spain and his English Queen Ena, granddaughter of Queen Victoria, were frequent visitors and it also hosted the politicians and delegates who attended the twelve nation Conference of Algeciras in 1906, called to decide on the partitioning of Morocco between France and Spain. This event, by the way, was reported on by a young English journalist called Winston Churchill.
His signature can be seen reproduces on large brass plaques adorning the reception area, along with those of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1937), Edward Heath (1976), Lord and Lady Mountbatten (1956) and the present King and Queen of Spain, Juan Carlos and Sofia (1968). Film stars who have stayed there include Joseph Cotton (1933), Orson Welles (1937), Deborah Kerr (1945) and Rock Hudson (1977), not to mention countless others.