Spain with Kids: Ohtels Villa Romana Hotel Review, Salou, Costa Dorada

Looking for a fun family holiday to Spain on a budget? This TUI Holiday Review is all about Ohtels Villa Romana Hotel (Salou, Costa Dorada, Spain). I’ve included our experiences, photos, details about the hotel, info on visiting Barcelona, proximity to Portadventura Theme Park, distance from Reus Airport and everything else that you need to know. This was a brilliant base for exploring Barcelona – so I’ll share my tips on how to visit the infamous city on a budget with kids too!

We stayed at the Villa Romana Hotel for 7 nights in May 2023, after we found an amazing deal via TUI – combining a free child place and a money off offer (it was too good to resist!)… more on that below! So here’s what we thought, what we got up to and what we spent.

We always try to travel on a small budget, so if you’re looking to explore the UK and Europe with the kids (in an affordable way!) then have a browse around my blog for loads of money saving tips and budget family holiday reviews. And if you have any recommendations, please let me know – I’m always planning our next trip! (You can follow our travels on Instagram too!)

Holiday: May 2023


What was the swimming pool like at the Villa Romana Hotel?

The pool was a great size, and had deeper and shallower areas to suit everyone. It was freezing cold – perhaps it would be warmer later in the season – but the kids didn’t really care! There was also a paddling pool area which was great for younger children.

villa romana hotel, ohtels, salou, costa dorada, spain, frugal mum review, TUI holiday, swimming pool, photo

villa romana hotel, ohtels, salou, costa dorada, spain, frugal mum review, TUI holiday, swimming pool, photo

Each day they rotated an inflatable waterslide with a float game across the pool – my two adored the float game they called ‘wipe out’. The staff were fantastic with the kids and would play with them – pushing them in, wobbling it etc. They looked forward to it every afternoon.

villa romana hotel, ohtels, salou, costa dorada, spain, frugal mum review, TUI holiday, inflatable pool slide, photo

villa romana hotel, ohtels, salou, costa dorada, spain, frugal mum review, TUI holiday, swimming pool obstacles, photo

They also hosted activities like water polo, which Finn really enjoyed. This place was never short of entertainment! There were always staff and lifeguards around too to keep an eye on everything.

villa romana hotel, ohtels, salou, costa dorada, spain, frugal mum review, TUI holiday, water polo, photo

Down the side of the hotel, there was a children’s play area which led to a flume section at the back. They were a bit tame for Finn and Lola (who prefer the big Eurocamp slides!) but it offered a bit of extra entertainment.

villa romana hotel, ohtels, salou, costa dorada, spain, frugal mum review, TUI holiday, waterslides, photo


What was the entertainment like?

The staff were a real credit to the hotel – they organised pool games, bingo, ping-pong tournaments and all sorts during the day. There was a kid’s club too, though ours didn’t attend, and the team were so nice. A big shout out to Tony and Julio – Finn and Lola thought they were lovely, and they were always busy organising some sort of fun for both the adults and the kids.

The entertainment in the evening was good too – a mix of singing, acrobatics and a gameshow on the evenings that we were there. The bar area also had pool tables, which we enjoyed playing on with the kids. On one of the days it rained, so having the inside space to spread out and keep busy was great.


Local area: What is there to do near the Villa Romana Hotel?


The location was really handy – the hotel is only about 12km from Reus Airport so the transfers were quick and easy. TUI had coaches outside of the airport waiting for us after we’d collected our baggage, and we were picked up directly outside of the hotel for the return flight. The whole process was so easy and speedy.

Then, from the hotel, everything in the local area could be easily reached on foot. A five minute walk took us to supermarkets and a town area with restaurants and shops, and it was only around a 10-15 minute walk to the seafront. The hotel is also just around the corner from Portadventura Theme Park, also about a 10 minute walk, so if you fancy a day out on the rides it couldn’t be any easier.

villa romana hotel, ohtels, salou, costa dorada, spain, frugal mum review, TUI holiday, salou beach photo



In the other direction, it was around a 10 minute walk to the train station which we thought was brilliant – we love exploring and it allowed us to easily go further afield. We had a visit to nearby Tarragona and went to Barcelona for the day too – which was one the reasons we picked this hotel / area.

villa romana hotel, ohtels, salou, costa dorada, spain, frugal mum review, TUI holiday, tarragona ruins photo


Visiting Barcelona on a budget

It was much cheaper for us to travel in by train from our hotel than to book separate accommodation for our Barcelona visit. Good accommodation in the city can be really dear so staying at the Hotel Villa Romana kept things more affordable. The train journey from Salou to Barcelona took about 90 minutes, and cost around €60 for the four of us for a return trip – €15pp. It was a simple journey and the trains ran every few hours.

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Here’s how to keep costs down:

  • We clocked about ten miles on foot when we were there. The metro isn’t as cheap in Spain as it is in Italy – so although we used it for the longer stretches, we didn’t hop on and off as frequently as we did when we were in Rome. But, they did have a family ticket which saved a fair bit – so make sure that you look for that when buying your metro tickets.
  • I’m not a huge fan of fast food (though the kids love it!) but when we visit cities we’ll bring a picnic for lunch, and then have dinner at somewhere like Mcdonalds, to avoid pricey restaurants which can often cost a small fortune.
  • We only had one day in Barcelona, so I mapped out what we wanted to see and do beforehand to come up with an order that made things as time and cost effective as possible. Pre-planning an itinerary helps to lessen wasted time, money and leg energy when you get there.
  • Some of the religious buildings have free entrance periods for those who are attending mass – so if you’re happy to attend a service then you could get a glimpse inside – though I suspect this won’t allow you to view the whole building.
  • For more family city break money saving tips, check out my article: How to have a city break in Barcelona on a budget with kids!

City break in Barcelona on a budget with kids tips, family holiday travel tips, Spain, frugal mum


What are the best things to do and see in Barcelona?

Whilst in Barcelona, we visited the most amazing gluten-free bakery – Jansana! If you’re GF like me (or even if you’re not!) you HAVE to visit if you’re ever in the city – it was the best cake we’d ever had so they deserve a huge shout out!

costa dorada, spain, frugal mum review, photo, barcelona on a budget, gluten free bakery, jansana

We each picked something different, and cut each cake into four pieces, so that we could try lots of different things. Delicious!

barcelona, spain, gluten free bakery, jansana

We also went to have a look at the infamous Sagrada Familia – designed by Gaudi, it’s still being finished 140 years later! Though we didn’t go inside, as it was quite dear for the four of us, it was still magnificent to view it from the outside and we walked all the way around to appreciate it, as it’s different on every side.

costa dorada, spain, frugal mum review, photo, TUI holiday, barcelona on a budget, sagrada familia

We took a trip on the Telefèric de Montjuïc cable car which offered us fab views over the city – though it was a bit pricey for what it was (€52) as the journey was actually very short.

costa dorada, spain, frugal mum review, photo, TUI holiday, barcelona on a budget, Telefèric de Montjuïc cable car

We did have a nice wander around the castle at the top though (although we didn’t go in – as that was another extra cost) and we enjoyed looking at the views over the port.

costa dorada, spain, frugal mum family photo, TUI holiday, barcelona on a budget, Telefèric de Montjuïc cable car

costa dorada, spain, frugal mum review, photo, TUI holiday, barcelona on a budget, Telefèric de Montjuïc cable car castle

Telefèric de Montjuïc cable car, view of port, barcelona, spain

Later in the day, we visited Parc de la Ciutadella, and had a wander at Las Ramblas too. We always try to balance out paid activities with some freebies – so wandering around the parks, and taking in the city sights from the outside is a great way to experience what’s on offer without spending a fortune.

barcelona, spain, fountain, park, frugal mum and husband, photo

Other things that you might want to add to your Barcelona itinerary, if you have a bit more time…

  • The city beach – you can grab a cable car down to that too.
  • Barcelona Cathedral
  • Plaça Reial
  • More of the Gaudi buildings – so much of Barcelona was designed by Gaudi and it’s all so unique!


What was the food like at the Villa Romana Hotel?

Our stay was half-board and we were really impressed with the food at the hotel. Again, all of the restaurant staff were lovely (whoever hires the staff here is great at their job!) and there was a huge variety of food to choose from at every meal – you’d have to be super fussy not to find something that you’d like.

Each day they cooked meat and fish on the grills in front of guests too, and they had a giant paella on the go! The food was a buffet so you could try whatever you fancied and have a bit of everything which we enjoyed.

I’m gluten-free, and each night the chef would walk me around the restaurant to tell me what I could eat. The food was hot and tasty – and we ate way too much of it every night! 😂 In the mornings, the kids had pancakes cooked in front of them and, alongside a big buffet, you could have a custom made omelette too.


Was the accommodation good?

The room was basic but absolutely fine and we were comfortable. The kids’ bed, which was supposed to be for both of them, was too small for two of them at their ages – so we had Lola in bed in between us and Finn had the other bed. Our bed was large so it wasn’t a problem.

villa romana hotel, ohtels, salou, costa dorada, spain, accommodation, room, frugal mum review photo

The room was cleaned and the beds were made up each day. Towels were regularly changed too. The room had a TV with quite a few English channels, and there was a small fridge which was a fab added bonus for snacks and lunchtime food as we only had breakfast and dinner included.

There were no hot drink facilities in the room – luckily we knew about this after reading other reviews so we took a little travel kettle from Amazon and it was a god-send – so make sure that you pack a kettle!

villa romana hotel, ohtels, salou, costa dorada, spain, accommodation, bathroom, frugal mum review photo

The bath was lovely and long, so we made the most of some nice bubble-baths before dinner every day! The only issue with the room was the noise from other rooms above and next door which could be annoying when people were moving around late at night. The entertainment was fairly loud but it was indoors and it didn’t finish too late so that wasn’t too bothersome.


How much does a TUI Holiday at the Villa Romana Hotel cost – was it good value for money?

We don’t often do package holidays, but this was too much of a bargain not to! We took advantage of a free child place, AND a TUI offer of £100 off which was running at the time of the booking. Free child places can be a great way to save money on package holidays, and it’s great that TUI deals can be combined. For us, this holiday was really cost effective – we paid around £1000 for the four of us for a 7 night holiday at the Villa Romana Hotel. This worked out about £250pp which included the hotel, flights, transfers, luggage and half-board.

Considering that the hotel charged around £50 per dinner for a family of four, that was worth £350 alone. And the flights with baggage accounted for hundreds more of the cost. So broken down into the separate elements of the holiday, we actually couldn’t have booked it ourselves for less.

The location was great, enabling us to get around without the expense and faff of car hire. I’d always wanted to visit Barcelona, so this was a great base for a city day too. We thought this holiday was great value for money for everything that was included, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Hotel Villa Romana if you’re looking for a good deal on the Costa Dorada. Visit the TUI website for more info and to check out prices for your dates.

Booking with TUI? Check out my article: TUI Holidays Money Saving Guide – discounts and tips!

tui money tips, villa romana hotel, ohtels, salou, costa dorada, spain, swimming pool, flume, frugal mum child


Looking for a family holiday on a budget?

Check out these articles for more money saving tips:

25 tips for travelling abroad on a budget with kids – here’s how to save money on your family summer holiday!

How to travel abroad on a budget, frugal mum title page, save money on family holiday tips


The Ultimate Eurocamp Holiday Guide – and money saving tips!

eurocamp review, complete holiday guide, FAQs, frugal mum


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  1. Hi Natalie, thanks for this review it was really helpful as we have this hotel booked in June. We are also going half board and on other reviews people have said you can choose if you have lunch or dinner each day with the half board option, is this correct? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Kim,
      Hope you have a lovely time! Yes that was an option when we visited so I imagine it will still be the case. The food was really good – enjoy!
      Nat x

      1. Thanks for this review it’s really helpful. We are travelling here in a few weeks and my children are 7 and 3 will the pool facilities be suitable for my younger child as he can’t swim? Thanks in advance

        1. Hi Sheryl,
          There’s a paddling pool area, and then shallower areas in the main pool too but I would pop the little one in a lifejacket – we used them when our two were small and they could practice their swimming safely then even when they couldn’t touch the bottom. There’s also a little splash area down the side by the slides. Have a great holiday – the staff are fabulous at Villa Romana!
          Nat x

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