DESPITE the fact that thousands of Scots choose to holiday in Benidorm every year, some people look down on this Costa Blanca resort. I am looking down on Benidorm too. Literally.

From the lofty perch of the La Cruz de Benidorm, I’m watching the sun emerging from the shadow of the Cuillin-esque Puig Campana, to illuminate the freshly smoothed sands that will soon fill with sunseekers. So why do people flock to Benidorm and how does it stack up for a holiday?

This is not the first time I have looked down on Benidorm. A decade ago, I savoured a glorious week high in those mountains, hiking from peak to peak seeing more birds of prey than touts preying on tourists. From more than a kilometre above, the unlikely drama of Benidorm is impossible to ignore. This Manhattan on the Med sprouts up like a city-builder computer game around a lovely bay hemmed in by cliffs on either side.

It is easy to see why the owners of travel companies sporting new jet planes capable of whisking sun-starved northern Europeans on cheap holidays to the Spanish Costas chose this spot. The dramatic natural setting is undeniable and the great twin beaches of Levante and Poniente tempt; as do the calm local waters. I have been one of those flocking here – for a lads’ holiday in the 1990s.

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“Just look at the landscape around Benidorm. It has always been a beautiful place with beautiful weather,” smiles Alejandro, who works at the Melia Villaitana (, where I am staying for three nights with my family.

He tells me that the richest people in Benidorm were the fishermen who sold their houses to make way for hotels. I think of the Scottish Highlands and how different it would have been if people forced off the land had been similarly compensated.

“People from Scotland love it here – they really relax in the sun and forget about all their stress,” continues Alejandro.

Forgetting about stress is easy to do at the Villaitana. This purpose-build resort was sculpted into the foothills of those mountains away from the maelstrom of Benidorm itself.

I say sculpted and it was: its church, welcoming lighthouse and palatial buildings were designed to pay tribute to the architectural styles of the surrounding Alicante region and beyond into Andalusia. It is a real oasis, alive with half a dozen pools, a superb spa, a duo of golf courses and myriad things to see and do.

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We’re staying at the Level. It is worth paying extra for this exclusive section as you get to enjoy a lounge with complimentary drinks, quieter pools and dedicated complimentary activities. The breakfast restaurant here is an oasis of calm too for leisurely starts to the day.

With half a dozen restaurants on site – everything from Spanish to Peruvian-Japanese fusion – you could just stay here without going into Benidorm. Alejandro says many guests do just that.

I am here to check out Benidorm so only dine at the Villaitana once – a lovely Italian feast at Casa Nostra with creative options like pizza with comte, truffle and serrano ham. We don’t regret heading into town too.

At La Mejillonera Benidorm we tuck into both local paella (we’re not far from Valencia), as well as fideua (we’re not far from Barcelona). Both are excellent, as is the bottle of bone-dry local wine for €17. We feast too on Iberian ham and spicy potatoes – served with what resembles a whole loaf of lovely crusty bread – and all in for four of us the bill is under €100. We have great pizza too at Duetto and more quality seafood at Posada del Mar.

On many trips I seek out empty beaches for my girls to run free on. So Levante comes as quite a shock to them: a rollicking senses-testing onslaught of voices, splashes and sunbeds that feels more like Hampden than a haven.

Once they settle in, though, the water is bath temperature and clean. Soon they are asking about watersports and the cafes that line the waterfront – converts already.

We do seek out those quiet spots too: calmer coves in the Sierra Helada hills that lie just beyond the beaches. You could easily amble around the hills and coves here for a day. Swirl in longer adventures on two feet and two wheels in the mountain ranges that fringe Benidorm and the area becomes a paradise for active holidaymakers.

Our trip is drawing to a close as I write this watching the sun ease up over Benidorm.

The resort is an easy place to be snooty about – though on closer anecdotal inspection, a lot of the people who slag off Benidorm haven’t actually been – but it is a rare destination that manages to be all things to all people.

I have been to this deeply popular resort now on three occasions. I really hope this won’t be the last time I see the sun rise up over Benidorm.

EasyJet ( fly to nearby Alicante from Edinburgh and Glasgow