The Plaza del Mercado Hotel is a place of great contrasts. From the outside it looks like a typical Valencian townhouse turned into a block of flats, and turning blue, but when you go inside you are met by a space age graffiti, one of two on the ground floor, that let you into a secret; this place is different.
Once in the small reception area, flanked by a spacious restaurant with two distinct eating areas: one for discretion away from the madding eye and ideal for Mr and Mrs Smith, and the other facing the Mercado Central through big windows which in turn look onto the terrace, you are met in the language of your choice by the friendly staff, led by Miriam.
You can’t help noticing the spiral staircase, and gratefully realize that you won’t have to keep the kids busy, as they are already running up and down it, instead of using the sensible lift, or the normal stairs.
The corridors on the four floors emphasise the contrasts; they are dark, with floor lighting that suggests you might just be on an alien spaceship, or approaching the bridge of the Starship Enterprise; and then you enter your room, or suite I should say, and everything is light and large and modern, but with that feeling of old fashioned elegance.
You even have a small kitchen and a sofa, some of which swivel (the sofas I mean, the kitchens are firmly nailed to the ground), and once again the kids will be entertained for a few hours while you unpack before hitting the streets of Valencia, in whose historic centre you find yourself.
Just across the street is the glorious Central Market, a self sufficient paradise of all the culinary delights known to man, but you are also in the restaurant district, if you choose not to dine in the hotel restaurant, taking advantage of its imaginative 12 euro menu.
If you arrive by car, the hotel has its own two floor underground car park, reached by an ample lift, with its own chunk of the old Arab wall of the city down on the lowest level; and if you arrive hot and sweaty from the airport, there is a spa where you can while away a couple of hours while the children exhaust themselves on the spiral staircase.
Here you can find some mood-setting slogans such as “I am part of the water, and the water is part of me.”
Call me old fashioned, but when I went in and was greeted by Marvin Gaye’s ‘Heard it on the Grapevine’, I just wanted to sink into the enveloping water and float back to the sixties.
There are 25 spacious suites, all a bit different, and one of which is an attic room, and all the usual nonsense such as smart TVs with 5 million international channels, Wi-Fi, cutting edge home automation lighting system, microwave, safe; and those annoying kids, once the novelty of the spiral staircase has worn off, will be delighted to find the TV screen in the lift, although it only seems to show promotional videos. Thankfully the lift doesn’t speak to you, something I personally find irritating.
The hotel opened in January 2016 after a year of reforms, and is clearly a labour of love into which a lot of thought has been put.
One of the nice touches is the fruit bowl in reception, where you can help yourself to some free vitamin C before hitting the streets, or hire a bicycle or any other kind of tourist service.