Monday, 4 October 2010

On Hotels

I am currently in that slightly awkward time between having breakfast and checking out, so whilst there may be at least the Prague part of the trip report tonight (when I can process the photos at home), this is acting as a filler in a number of ways.

These days, whilst I collect hotel points, I cannot gain any meaningful status with any chain, so the matter of collecting points is nice but not vitally important (it's not like flying and not getting miles which brings me out in a rash). This actually gives a certain freedom of movement which the dedicated point hound doesn't have.

The most important thing for me with a hotel is location, location is nearly everything. I like to be near where I am either working or visiting. No luxury hotels 10 miles outside of a city, or the cheaper levels of the chains in some suburban industrial park for me. 

Length of stay and amount of "free" time is important in a hotel decision. One night for work or even two nights with something like a conference and something to the standard of an IBIS is fine, if I'm only going to really be sleeping in the room. I dislike the IBIS bathroom, but I do like their breakfast.

For a longer stay, especially if it is tourism related, the level of comfort required can go up. I just can't manage every night out on the razzle these days and so a nice large (or well-designed room) becomes a requirement as I may well spend much of an evening in it. I also prefer an executive lounge, especially in places where I'm not familiar with the area. As a generally solo traveller, I tend to eat lunch as the main meal of the day (when it is easy to get the table for one) and snacks in the evening. A junior suite is nice, but not usually affordable.

I tend to hover towards larger four stars, there are some great B&B's out there, but I do occasionally like to bring trade back and therefore a bit of bland anonymity is fine. Whilst I know some great small hotels and B&B's such as the Ambassade in Amsterdam, which are lovely if I'm travelling with J or P (my two occasional travel companions), I might blush easily if I were dragging back at the sort of place where everyone knows your name. 

I also find very nice hotels at the top of the range slightly intimidating, there's nothing like a night at a Grande Dame in Paris or London to remind me that, at heart, I am a council house oik. Similarly, too much fawning as can be found in some Asian 5 stars makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. 

Other hotel amenities are relatively pointless. I'm not one to hang out in the hotel bar, I'm a beer and fine wine drinker not a fancy cocktails person. Hotel restaurants are usually pretty meh and often worth avoiding - restaurants with rooms are a different matter. If the hotel has a destination restaurant, then they don't want single travellers taking up their tables. The one exception to this is Sunday brunch, brunch can be very good the USA and Asia and increasingly so in Europe. The only other amenity that might sway things is a swimming pool, a nice pool can just tip a booking for me.

Return bookings are usually graded by me in a number of ways.

1) Was there any hanky panky with the bill, either at checkout or afterwards. There's a reason why this trip was to the Hilton Prague Old Town not the Hilton Prague.

2) What was breakfast like or what are local sources of breakfast like. If you are stuck somewhere with a poor breakfast and no good local sources of it, that's not one you want to return to. A latish breakfast can help on those rare times I've been a dirty stop out.

3) Internet access, crap internet access means no return visit. I'm usually paying through the nose for this, so it had better be decent.

4) Was I happy with the room, i.e. comfy chair, reasonably hard bed, decent bathroom that isn't over done (hello, Hilton Stockholm Slussen) and a bit of space (or a feeling of a bit of space) and not some freakish layout of the room.

5) Do housekeeping rattle the doors constantly from some early hour. Actually, are housekeeping good especially when replacing amenties etc. 

6) If there's a lounge, is it a pleasant environment with peace and quiet with decent refreshments or is it a hellhole packed full of the Greated Spotted Lounge Hog. Some can be either depending on the season or the night of the week.

There are a number of hotels I return to again and again, they may not be the best hotel in the area but they suit me down to the ground. 

Right time to gird my loins for another transit at Frankfurt.

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