Kids' club has supervised activities for little ones
spot on the beach can be challenging during peak hours
dated in some areas
report restaurant food is bland and drinks are watered down
for Wi-Fi in guest rooms
Some rooms overlook the parking lot
Casino is dull and has out-of-order slot machines
The Barcelo Aruba is a three-and-a-half pearl hotel located on busy Palm Beach. The hotel’s 364 rooms are smart and tidy, offering minibars as well as narrow balconies or terraces. The decor could use a refresh in some areas, but on the plus side, the hotel features a gorgeous beach, lovely pool, and all-inclusive access at over a dozen restaurants and bars. Many more dining and entertainment options can also be found in the surrounding High-Rise Hotel district. Expect to pay extra for Wi-Fi in the rooms. Guests might want to compare rates with the nearby Riu Palace Aruba, a slightly bigger all-inclusive resort.
The Barcelo Aruba attracts the usual crowd one would expect to find at a big beach resort: There are vice-minded couples, groups, and friends ready to unwind, drink by the pool, and maybe gamble at the casino, along with a few families taking advantage of the restaurant variety and overall value offered by the hotel’s all-inclusive packages.
The resort is well-maintained, but the decor looks old-fashioned in some areas -- most notably the bland beige furniture and straight-out-of-the-‘80s bar found in the lobby. Other areas are remarkably chic, such as the Japanese restaurant, Zen, which features bold red tablecloths and an elegant little indoor garden. Although the Barcelo Aruba lacks a certain “wow” factor, it does offer direct access to a prime stretch of sand, a great pool, and free-flowing drinks -- and that’s exactly what many of its guests are looking for.
Buzzing location on Palm Beach, surrounded by shopping and nightlife options
The Barcelo Aruba is located on the island’s northwest coast in the busy High-Rise Hotel District. With other big resorts like the Hyatt and the Riu as its neighbors, the atmosphere here is usually lively. There are plenty of restaurants and bars found within a five-minute walk in either direction. The shops of Paseo Herencia Mall are less than a quarter-mile away, and restaurant options range from locally owned eateries to chains like McDonalds and Hooters.
The hotel backs onto Palm Beach, with Eagle and Malmok beaches also found less than a 10-minute drive away. Downtown Oranjestad and Queen Beatrix International Airport are less than seven miles away. Parking at the hotel is free and easy.
Pleasant rooms include large bathrooms as well as balconies or terraces
Guest rooms at the Barcelo Aruba are decorated with dark wood furniture and navy blue linens. Aside from dramatic two-poster headboards, rooms are simple and business-like with basic desks and a few pieces of modest artwork. Clunky cabinets hold flat-screen TVs and minibars, while additional squat cabinets are topped with coffeemakers. Wall closets hold hairdryers, robes, and personal safes.
Large bathrooms are decorated with pale marble tiling and stocked with hotel branded toiletries. Long countertops include tiny sinks, and shower/tub combos offer shampoo and shower gel dispensers. All rooms include narrow terraces or balconies, but many have uninspiring views of neighboring buildings or parking lots. Some suites feature bathrooms with walk-in showers, as well as jetted tubs in the bathrooms and on the balconies. Wi-Fi costs extra in the guest rooms.
Appealing pool with loungers and daybeds, as well as direct access to Palm Beach
The best feature at the Barcelo Aruba is a lagoon-shaped pool surrounded by palm trees, potted plants, and arched bridges. There are a few rock and waterfall accents, including a central island with two hot tubs. The pool is surrounded by a stone deck with navy blue loungers and beach umbrellas, along with a few canopied daybeds. There’s a swim-up bar, but it was closed for renovations during our visit.
The hotel backs onto a picturesque stretch of Palm Beach, with palapas and loungers available for guests. The palapas are widely spaced, giving each set of loungers some breathing room, but it also means guests need to arrive early if they want to grab one that's available. Guests from nearby hotels stroll by, as do vendors selling scuba diving lessons and boat rides (which are some of Aruba's main draws, thanks to its pristine, hurricane-free waters). The all-inclusive package includes activities at the pool and beach, such as volleyball and water aerobics.
There’s a small but modern fitness center with a disorienting, wavy carpet pattern. The center offers a good selection of cardio machines, free weights, exercise balls, and yoga mats. Tennis courts are available outdoors. The business center is located in a corridor near the lobby. It consists of a few personal computers set in niches around a circular table, along with a printer.
There’s a casino on-site, but many guests complain the atmosphere is dull, with limited tables and a number of non-functioning slot machines.
The hotel’s flexible meeting and event space can accommodate groups of up to 750 people. Wedding planning services are also available. The Kids’ Club offers supervised activities for children age 4 to 10. Wi-Fi is free in the lobby.
Seven restaurants and six bars which offer a mix of indoor and outdoor dining
The hotel’s main restaurant is the Palm, an international buffet open for breakfast, lunch, and theme night dinners. It’s a fairly average-looking buffet with white tablecloths and wooden tables. Seating is available in the sprawling interior or out on a terrace overlooking the pool. There are six other restaurants and six bars, but most were undergoing renovation during our visit. Cuisine ranges from Tex Mex to Italian and Pan-Asian. Guests report the food is generally mediocre at all, though it is included in the all-inclusive package. Some restaurants require reservations and have a dress code of closed shoes and long pants for men.