Hospitality 2014


A lot of bloggers spend a lot of time writing about the minutia of their trips, doing “trip reports” where they talk about hotels, airlines, etc. Though informative, I’ve always found such entires to be rather odd, as if they are reviewing the hotels to get a free night in the future or are trying to show other hotels how great of a review they can write so as to get invited on a publicity trip, or, alternatively, to stroke their own traveling egos. Thus, generally, though while I may reference where we stay, I do not tend to go into the details of “this was our bathroom; these were the bath amenities; these were the robes; here was the type of iPod dock, etc.” Also, as can be seen from the dismally-behind nature of this blog, I truthfully do not have time for such things and would, most certainly, rather be traveling than uploading photo after photo of similar-looking toilets. (Plus, most of you probably do not care if the continental breakfast had eggs or only cold cuts and mini-cereal boxes.)

In 2014, we stayed at 33 hotels, ranging from non-airconditioned, bunkbed style hostels to luxury, five-star resorts and everything in between. We also stayed at many rental properties from VBRO and AirBnB when we were with larger groups or doing so made more economical sense. In total, we spent 63 nights at hotels and 21 nights in house/apartment rentals, for a total of 84 nights or nearly 1/4 of our nights in the past year. In lieu of multiple, boring, and motivationally-questionable trip reports for each, here’s a short rundown of our stays. This week we will be sharing with you our favorite hotel stays from the past year and why those particular properties stood out among all of the others. And, if you ever want to know how we “really felt,” you can check out our Tripadvisor profiles here and here.

First the hotels/hostels/pensions/and resorts:

In February we stayed a night at the plush Quisisana Palace where we dinned of giant black caviar and spent a day at the spa in the famous Carlsbad spa town. – Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

A welcome gift of lavender-scented bath salts at Quisiana Palace were a nice touch
A welcome gift of lavender-scented bath salts at Quisiana Palace in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, was a nice touch.

Hotel Nemzeti in Budapest, where we stayed for two nights in March, was a gem of a find with its upscale decor and breakfast spread worthy of movie stars. – Budapest, Hungary

Hotel Nemzeti in Budapest, Hungary, had cool interior decorating.

In April we visited Vienna and stayed for two nights at the Vienna Hilton Danube Waterfront where we were upgraded to the executive level and enjoyed cocktails overlooking the Danube. – Vienna, Austria

At the end of April we spent two nights in Amsterdam for King’s Day at the futuristic CitizenM. – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam's CitizenM has quirky "citizens" who help you with hotel life.
Amsterdam’s CitizenM has quirky “citizens” who help you with hotel life.

During the daddy/daughter Romania motorcycle trip we stayed at night at Hostel Fleda in Brno, Czech Republic, and single nights at many charming pensions, including Penzion Hoffer in Nitra, Slovakia, Talizman Panzio in Miskolc, HungaryPensiunea Agroturistica Huta Certeze in Marmarus, Romania, Complex Stejaris Vatman in Tirgus Mures, Romania, and Pensiuneau La Cetate on the Transfagarian Highway, Romania.

At the Pensiunea Agroturistica Huta Certeze in Marmarus, Romania, the concept is agriculture tourism, or farm stays. Here, the owner feeds his favorite pig, Georgie.

Throughout the summer we lived in hotels for nearly two months and spent one very short night at the Hyatt Regency Thessaloniki, a hotel that we wish we had much more time at so as to enjoy the beautiful grounds. – Thessaloniki, Greece

The Hyatt Regency Thessaloniki, Greece, had beautiful grounds. Too bad we did not get to use them.
The Hyatt Regency Thessaloniki, Greece, had beautiful grounds. Too bad we did not get to use them.

We also spent one night at the Domotel Les Lazaristes where we arrived around midnight to find we had been upgraded to the penthouse suite where we had a wraparound view of the city and breakfast on the deck of the pool. – Thessaloniki, Greece

In between those two was a night in the mountain refuge, Spilios Agapitos, Refuge A, half-way up Mount Olympus.

A heavy, hearty hikers' meal at Refuge A on Mt. Olympus. Not quite the food of the gods.
A heavy, hearty hikers’ meal at Refuge A on Mt. Olympus. Not quite the food of the gods.

We then spent six nights at the underwhelming Best Western Paradise Resort in Santorini. Next time, we’ll stay in Imerovigli. – Santorini, Greece

This was followed by three nights at the pension-style Liogerma Hotel on the stunningly-beautiful island of Milos, where the hotel left us a carafe of thick-as-honey port and souvenirs. – Milos, Greece

We were then back on the ferry and off to Paros’ Golden Beach, where we spent four nights at Betty Apartments, owned by, you guessed it, Betty, who did our laundry for us in her own washing machine. – Paros, Greece

Back on the mainland of Greece we spent two horrid repositioning nights at the Athens International Youth Hostel in the center of the city’s no-go zone in a room that smelled so nauseatingly bad we had to run to the toilet several times with our hands over our mouths. – Athens, Greece

Afterwards, we left on our Athens-to-Dubrovnik repositioning roadtrip with “Med Experience,” spending a night each at various pensions, including the Kosta Famissi Hotel in Kalambaka, Greece, at the foot of Meteora; Hotel Gega, a new hotel in Berat, Albania, and one of the city’s first hotel properties;  and perhaps the worst stay in a hotel last year in Hostel Propaganda in Tirana, Albania. On the same trip we also spent two nights at the basic, shared bathroom Resort Hotel Mario in Saranda, Albania.

After a week on the road in basic accommodations we then pampered ourselves for three nights at the over-the-top, all-inclusive style resort Sun Gardens. – Dubrovnik, Croatia

The spa at Sun Gardens in Dubrovnik, Croatia, was ah-mazing, and we visited every day during our stay.

After a bus trip through Bosnia to Split we then spent five nights at the rather disappointing Le Meridien Lav resort. – Split, Croatia

At least the sunset-facing infinity pool at Le Meridien, Split, Croatia, lived up to the hype.
At least the sunset-facing infinity pool at Le Meridien, Split, Croatia, lived up to the hype.

After that, it was off to Spain where we had two nights at the perfectly-situated Alexandra Barcelona. – Alexandra, Barcelona

At least
At least the Alexandra Barcelona hotel in Barcelona, Spain, tried hard.

After weeks of traveling, we ended our summer adventures with two nights at the basic but functional AC Hotel Valencia, our base for the Tomatino Festival. – Valencia, Spain

In the fall, after a month of settling into a daily routine at home in the Netherlands, we were off again to the amazing Hyatt Regency in Dusseldorf for a single night, when our hotel unfortunately caught fire during our stay. – Hyatt Regency, Dusseldorf

Our hotel may have caught on fire, but the view of the Medienhafen was unparalleled.
Our hotel in Dusseldorf, Germany, may have caught on fire, but the view of the Medienhafen was unparalleled.

November saw us for two nights at the velour-styled Edwardian Leicester Square. – London, United Kingdom

In December, we spent a night at the sewage-smelling Hotel Apollo in a basement room access by winding hallways and staircases. Luckily, it was directly across from the concert hall, so we could not complain too much. – Utrecht, Netherlands

We also spent two nights each at the basic-but-functional Park Inn by Radisson NurembergNuremberg, Germany, and Park Inn by Radisson Munich Frankfurter RingMunich, Germany, as part of our Christmas market and fairytale castle adventure.

Our last stay of the year was seven nights at the Relais San Giusto, a pension in the Dolomites of Italy. The hotel had a lovely bath and interesting decor scheme (neon orange fish) for a mountain retreat. – Campetillo, Italy

We also rented several houses and apartments in the past year:

There was the enormous, sixteen person ski Chalet Flocon des Neiges with a sauna, steam room, and hot tub in the Three Valleys, France, where we stayed for six nights for a ski trip in the French Alps.

This huge chalet could hold 16 people and had a steam room, a sauna, and a hot tub!

There were seven nights in an AC-less apartment in Istanbul’s Taksim area. – Istanbul, Turkey

Five nights in a luxurious penthouse in Athens, Greece.

A weekend in a well-loved and lived-in apartment near the Amstel, Amsterdam’s river. – Amsterdam, Netherlands

And, finally, another night in an Amsterdam-rental with a view of a canal. – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Make sure to check back in this week to find out what our favorite stays of 2014 were!

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