After considerable investigation on TripAdvisor and other sites myself and my three kids stayed for a week at the 4 Star Hotel Romana in Salou, half board in April of 2012. Hotel is easily accessed from the local Reus airport by taxi for a 31 Euro one way trip. First impressions were a spacious clean hotel with large open areas and efficient but not particularly welcoming reception staff who spoke very good English.
Opening at 10AM, to the left of reception was a very large entertainment, bar/stage area occupied in the evening by the kids entertainers who did an excellent job of keeping the under 6's happy (almost all Spanish when we were there). Off of this was a more comfy free internet area (wi-fi access code from reception). Internet connection was prone to drop out on a regular basis. There was also an area with poor condition pool tables (2 Euros a game) and pay internet access using a terminal (1 Euro for 10 minutes) as well as a number of pay video games. At the far end of the room there was a TV on the wall. Kids entertainer in the evenings tended to drown out anything in the area up until well after 10PM. Leading on from the large area noted above, there was a bar with a large TV on the wall displaying sport and a more relaxing environment. Bar prices were reasonable but beware of soft drinks prices where a small orange juice or coke cost over 2 Euros each. There was a shop in the reception area selling a limited amount of goods including tourist trinkets and chocolate. Outdoor pool was good, clean and tried briefly by my youngest son in the not so warm Spring sunshine. Open from 9AM to 7PM.
Floor below reception included an indoor swimming pool and other facilities including a gym area (large room with equipment dotted around). This was open between 9AM and 2PM and 4PM and 7PM. Gym equipment, sauna and steam room were limited to 16s and over only. While on the web site it sounds good, it's not great; pool was cold and two large jacuzzis were also unheated (attendant assured us that this is good when weather is hot. I am not do sure and others might see as a cost saving measure?) Steam cubicle and sauna were better. Swimmers using indoor pool must wear swimming hats available to buy from reception for 2 Euros each.
Hotel is also popular with school trip groups that were quite noisy a couple of nights around the pool until after midnight when we were there.
Worth noting there is a water bottle machine near the indoor pool entrance where you can buy a chilled 2 litre bottle of water for 2 Euros.
Late check out was available (till 6PM) for an additional fee of 30 Euros, provided there was availability. Reception unable to confirm if would be possible until fifth day of our stay, which they did and were able to accommodate.
Room access was by keycard although worryingly the door of the room we were in looked like someone had tried to prize it open around the lock with a tool of some sort in the past leaving gouge marks in the frame. Inside, the area around the handle also looked like it had been damaged but was now fixed. Room had two large single beds and a pull out couch acting as a further double bed. Not the most comfy single bed I have slept in and the pull out was basic with the metal support frame easily felt through the thin mattress. Pillows adequate but like the beds, not 4 star quality. General build and quality of the rest of the fittings in the room however were very good. Samsung 26 inch flat panel TV which, as already noted by others, had a range of channels, some of which programs (including Disney) can be set to English by selecting the Tools menu and changing the audio language away from the default Spanish. Built in fridge needed to be turned on by using the dial inside at the back. No tea or coffee making facilties.
Air conditioning in the bedroom had the temperature selector button removed and a sticker placed over (unsure if broken or deliberate?). When turned on, unit blew out warm air without the ability to turn to cold. Bathroom was clean with no mould, a good selection of quite hard towels, hairdryer, bidet, soap and other toileteries. Bath had a shower attachment off of the taps that had good pressure giving a satisfying shower. Second door between the main door, bathroom and the bedroom kept some of the noise down from the fully tiled floors in the hotel that are the norm in Spain. Being at the lift end of the floor, passers by were very noticeable especially those with wheeled bags. Pleasant balcony with view over the pool, a cheap white plastic table and three chairs.
There was a safe in the room that didn't work using the room card instead you had to pay an additional charge at reception. Guide in the room explaining services and facilities available in the hotel and the associated fees could have been a lot better.
My son spotted ants in the room by the patio doors on the first day which I reported to reception and a cleaner was in the room within 15 minutes with spray that appeared to kill the ants on the day. Colony returned later in the week so poison clearly ineffective. No alternative room offered. Towels changed daily and room made up by friendly cleaners. Bed sheets not changed daily.
First day was somewhat chaotic without any clear direction how to proceed other than 'there it is, get on with it' as you entered. After sitting at a table without cutlery and glasses, I got into trouble from a waitress when taking a glass from an open cabinet to get juice. Apparently we should have found her earlier and she would have directed us to an already laid out table (not obvious at all). Once sorted, the selection of buffet breakfast dishes on offer was very good with ample sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, cheese, cold meat, cakes and cereal. Pancakes made to order at an open cooking area. Drinks were from pairs of machines, one delivering a basic range of coffees and the other average tasting fruit squashes. Both were free to use.
More organised than breakfast with a helpful head waiter directing proceedings in a much more professional manner including allocating us a table. Very good range of buffet food including impressive salad table and range of cooked dishes. Like breakfast other dishes including noodles and chicken cooked at the side of the large area. No free drinks available at all, even water, which was 2 Euros for a 1.5 litre bottle. On the second night, I am guessing as not so many guests in the hotel, range of food had decreased, although still good. Restaurant tended to get busier later so best to eat nearer the 6.30 opening rather than the 9.30 close to avoid having to wait to get seated, queue for food and school dinner hall feel. While good for adults, other than chips and small pots of Walls ice cream, the food available to the younger less adventurous eating (fussy) child wasn't great.
Hotel is a ten minute walk from the beach front (local transport is available but not tried so unaware of the price) and, like most of Salou, is surrounded by numerous large hotels, the Romana looking to be one of the nicer looking ones. Also within a fifteen minute walk is the popular PortAventura theme park (turn right out of reception and left at the first round about, no need to drive) and also the interesting Bosc tree climbing park (similar to Go Ape in the UK) a similar distance away (very helpful and friendly staff).
Had my children been under 6, I am sure they and I would have loved the evening entertainment, singing and acting out the birdy song and other kids favourites, but being older this didn't appeal.
Coupled with an in door pool that closed at 7, evenings were not as good as hoped and a bit disappointing. Hotel itself tries to tick the right boxes to qualify as a 4 star hotel but for me didn't quite succeed. Majority of staff are helpful but I felt corners were being cut to save costs and as a result overall service had suffered.
Would I recommend the Hotel Romana? Yes, PROVIDED, the price was right (we were early in the season so got a good deal); you knew what to expect and/or were attracted by being close to PortAventura theme park. As we got a good deal, 4 out of 5, had we paid a less competative rate in high season, 3 out of 5.
WORD OF WARNING: When visiting PortAventura theme park, the automated ticket machine at the gate errored and failed to issue tickets but still debited my credit card. Subsequent communication with PortAventura including a visit not good and involved many hours of wasted time to resolve.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC