Jan 21

Hotel Review – Executive Hotel Pacific – Seattle

My friend and on a late summer trip to Seattle stayed at the Executive Hotel Pacific in downtown Seattle
When we booked the hotel all look great, good location, amenities, etc.  Right before the trip my friend and was checking things out again and noticed that the hotel was under construction and that there were complaints about the elevators being slow and noise from the work.  She called the hotel and requested a room away from the elevator.
Of course when we checked in we were awarded a room directly in front of the one working elevator. Tired and worn out, my friend did go and complain, but we couldn’t be moved until the following night, but in return would get a bigger room. In the end, there was some noise, but nothing too crazy and our bigger room was nicer with two of us in it.
As for the rest of the hotel.  The rooms tended to have odd shapes and layouts, which is actually something I appreciate, it gives each room a unique feel to it.  The beds were comfortable, the furniture was good and the service was good. The room thing was annoying, but they did do their best to rectify the situation.
The elevator was slow, and actually they completed one elevator and started the new one while we were there, my guess is that both are done now and normal operations continue.
The hotel had a nice cafe attached, good for breakfast in the morning or an ice cream in the afternoon. However, the room could have used more plugs in it, hopefully that’s part of the refurbishment.
Would I stay here again, YES! For the price, location and amenities, the hotel was a good value and offered all we needed.  Another friend visiting in the city stayed in another section and in a cheaper hotel and had no air conditioning and there was a bit of a heat wave for Seattle. We did NOT have that problem and is an easy thing to miss when staying in a hotel in a cooler climate.

Aug 01

The Lady Hamilton Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa

This was my first hotel and my second interaction with South Africans and although the hotel was a bit old, it had everything I needed and the staff was super friendly at the Lady Hamilton Hotel. The room was a little tired, but overall did the job and the best thing about it was that there were all sorts of different plugs and lots of them. Have a European plug, no problem! UK, North American, it’s all-good! I had to actually look for the South African plug in the room.

The room had two beds (which were comfortable), a safe, desk, chair and a heater/air conditioner. The hotel included breakfast (and the omelet maker was one of the best I’ve ever encountered) and drinks in the lobby all day. The hotel does offer Wi-Fi, but only in the lobby. You do need to take a Wi-Fi code from the desk that gave 500mb of data. However, they did not monitor how much data you used or how many codes you took, essentially giving unlimited Wi-Fi.

The staff there was very helpful in booking tours, or helping you find whatever you needed. Although the hotel isn’t in the best area of the city, it’s not in a bad area and there are shops and restaurants a block away.

If I were to offer two areas of improvement they would be in the dinner and the bathrooms. The dinner was just average, nothing exciting or anything that would suck you into dining there; I thought there were better options about 2 blocks away. The bathroom is the area where the hotel seemed the oldest. They could stand to have better ventilation and a counter or two in them. Otherwise the toilet, shower and sink all worked fine.

 

The hotel certainly isn’t a 5 star hotel, but it offered all the basic necessities and more. If you’re on a budget and looking for a nice, clean place to stay, this is a great option.

Jul 11

Novotel Brisbane Airport

Due to my wacky schedule in Australia I ended up flying into Brisbane late the night before my flight from Brisbane home, which meant I needed a place to sleep for the night. While it wasn’t the cheapest option, it was the easiest option; I stayed at the Novotel Brisbane Airport. This is the only hotel on airport property and offers a shuttle service from the hotel to the domestic and international terminals. There is a $5 charge each way, it can be paid in cash or added to your hotel bill.  If you are using this hotel you should check their website for directions on where to find the shuttle at each terminal.

The hotel was actually quite nice and geared towards the business traveler. It was also modern and stylish with lots of plugs for me to charge all my gadgets for my flight home.

The room had a Queen or King sized bed, a desk, seating area, and rack for your suitcase.  Pretty much all you would need for a quick stop over.  I think there was a coffee maker too, but don’t quote me on that.  The room wasn’t particularly large, but there was enough room to move around it.

While there I did have the opportunity to order room service (late flight and lots of repacking to do) and the pizza was actually pretty good for an airport hotel in Australia (I’m a NY Pizza snob).

There is a shopping center adjacent to the hotel. There wasn’t much open early on a Sunday morning, but there is a grocery store and a medical center there.

Check in and check out were easy, and they were happy to help me arrange my transfer back to the airport, as well as let me use all my random spare money to pay off part of my bill.  The hotel was also very aggressive with their wake up call. I forgot about my wake up call and went to the grocery store. When I returned I ran into the guy they were sending to my room to wake up me.  Opps!

The only thing I didn’t like was that they charged a fee to pay off your bill with a credit card.  Otherwise I would definitely recommend this hotel if you have an early flight, long lay over and need a place to crash for the day (they do have day rates) or even a late flight into the city.

Jun 13

Peppers Broadbeach

When trying to choose a place to stay on the Gold Coast, a friend suggested I stay in Broadbeach instead of Surfer’s Paradise due to construction going on in Surfer’s Paradise.  He also suggested I stay at Peppers Broadbeach.

I will caution that Broadbeach is a quieter area, compared to Surfer’s Paradise, but there is shopping and dining in the area. As such, I think this is a better area for couples or slightly older travelers.  As I was looking for a few days of relaxation after seeing Melbourne and Sydney and before starting my G Adventures Tour, I was happy with quieter location.

Peppers Broadbeach is a fancier hotel/resort and is not cheap to stay at. But for a two-night stay it was perfect.  I’ll admit that I hesitated initially due to the price.  But once I saw the prices of other places in the area, I thought the amenities here made it worth the extra money.

My room was a one-bedroom suite (I would classify it as a junior 4 since it had an office area), with a balcony overlooking the beach.  The “room” had a full kitchen, washer and dryer, tub, shower, his and her sinks, and of course a living room.  It was a bit too much for me, though I seemed to use most of the space while I was there.  I did take advantage of the kitchen though and made myself breakfast each morning.

The resort also had a pool, lounge, Zen garden, restaurants and an attached spa. There wasn’t much missing.  There was a shopping center next door and the beach was across the street.  There wasn’t anything that you would want there, that they didn’t have, or wasn’t immediately nearby.

The entertainment system on the TV did have free and for charge movies, which I did take advantage of one night when it rained.  I also took a quick swim in the pool, which had a nice view of the beach.  The best of both worlds.

Overall Peppers Broadbeach exceeded my expectations, the resort was pretty quiet, but offered anything you could need during your stay there and I would absolutely stay there again.

Mar 28

YHA Sydney on The Rocks

When I mentioned to some friends that I was looking for a hotel in Sydney, several recommended the YHA on The Rocks. I was a bit hesitant when I saw it was a hostel, but after seeing how much a hotel room in Sydney goes for, I decided to give it a try.  I’m not the most experienced hostel stayer, but this was the nicest one I’ve every stayed in.

 

Here’s what I liked:

  • The hostel had character, it was built on a dig site and that made for the theme of the public areas.
  • Rooms were clean, spacious and well designed
  • Luggage lockers had power outlets so you charge devices while you were out.
  • Beds had individual lights with power outlets, which also served as a nice little shelf for one or two personal items
  • Great location, not to far from Circular Quay, Downtown or Darling Harbor.
  • Great view of Sydney Opera House
  • Food was cheap

There was one thing I didn’t like about the hostel, and it’s not insurmountable.  It’s noisy.  I swear you could hear every step people made on the staircases and with some large youth groups, there were a few loud mornings.  So bring earplugs.  Otherwise, I would absolutely stay here again.

Feb 21

Courtyard Marriott Herald Square

In June I stayed at the brand new Courtyard Marriott Herald Square in New York City for one night when I had a night out on the town planned. My original reservation was for a city view room with two full sized beds.  When I checked in I was offered a non-city view room or an executive room (King Bed and Pull out sofa) with a city view. I’m usually not a fan of pull out beds in hotel rooms, but I figured in a hotel that was 2 weeks old the bed would be in good shape.

So up I went to room 911 with a view of the city (midtown). The room was obviously nice and fresh, being only 2 weeks old. When you walked in the room you’re in a hallway that has the bathroom at the end and the bedroom area to the right. The benefit to this design was that you can’t see the room from the hallway of the hotel.

The room had a king sized bed, a small couch (twin sized pull out bed), flat screen TV, coffee table, desk, small closet with THIN full length mirror, coffee maker and a mini fridge.  I found the bed and couch comfortable and although the closet was small, it was what I would expect in a hotel in New York City.

The room was quite spacious for 2 people (by New York City standards), but it would be tight with a third person in it for more than a day or two.  They layout was good for the space, my only complaint is that if you sit at the desk you block access to the rest of the room.

Also worth mentioning is that there is security at the entrance of the hotel, while the doors open automatically during daytime hours you need a room key to enter at night.  I like that extra bit of security.

If you’re looking for a reasonably priced hotel in midtown I would recommend staying here, it was clean, secure and the staff seemed to care.

Feb 14

Space Hotel (Melbourne)

For my trip to Australia I wanted to push my comfort zone and opted to stay in some hostels. In Melbourne I stayed at the Space Hotel in a single room.  I arrived after 11PM on a Sunday night and the staff was friendly and I was upgraded to a larger room on the 4th floor.  I got a full size bed for my stay and more space. 

 I had read, and it is true that the bathrooms are not that clean.  It’s not that they’re dirty, but with the amount of traffic they get they could be cleaned more often.  It would probably also help if they used better toilet paper that didn’t fall apart when you tried to pull it.  Each floor had 5 bathrooms and mine had 1 or 2 handicapped bathrooms.  If you can claim a handicap you might do better with the bathrooms.  I found the number of bathrooms to be sufficient even though I had to wait to shower one morning.  The bathrooms were situated with a shower, toilet and sink, so one stop shopping.  The bathroom would benefit from more counter space too, but it was workable. 

The room was nice, and included a flat screen TV and an iPod/iPhone player, though it was not compatible with new lightening chargers.  The bed was on the stiffer side, but at least there were no divots in it.  There were plenty of plugs in the wall, handy even though I only had one plug adapter.  The room temperature was adjustable and there was a closet, desk and 2 night stands.

As for the rest of the hotel…  There was a gym, which was on the small side, lounges, meeting rooms, a kitchen, laundry, a bar and a rooftop area.  The rooftop seemed like a nice area with lounge chairs and a hot tub, if I had more time I would have hung out there more often.

The location was just ok.  Although it was near a couple sites I wanted to see, it was not in the heart of the Central Business District so there was not as much foot traffic, restaurants or shops in the area, which was disappointing. 

Overall it was a nice hotel/hostel.  Although I would consider staying again, I would likely explore other options in Melbourne before jumping on this one again.

Dec 18

The Lodge and Spa At Breckenridge

While staying at Breckenridge I wanted a hotel with a view of the mountains, really, why stay in the mountains off-season and not see the mountain?  That brought us to The Lodge and Spa and Breckenridge.

The hotel is located across from the Breckenridge ski area, giving a great view of the mountain.  It had a great rustic Colorado mountain resort feel to it, with fireplaces, wood, and wood smell. The staff was friendly and helpful, making for a warm welcome.

Our room obviously wasn’t newly renovated, but it worked. The room had two beds, a desk with chairs, and a dresser that all matched.  The armoire though was a dark wood, which was odd and out of place, but also offered storage and a place for our flat screen TV.   I guess you can’t have everything.

We also had a balcony, allowing us an unobstructed view of the mountains with privacy.  The roof of it also shielded us from the snow. Unfortunately the snow also meant clouds were obstructing out view of the ski resort; fortunately, the weather cleared a bit in the morning.

When we checked in we were offered a visit to the spa and made appointments for massages.  The spa area, including the gym, which was not the most modern, but certainly did the job.  My massage was great, but my friend said hers was too strong, even after she asked the girl to go lighter.  Not sure what to say about that, other then I guess its luck of the draw like any time you go to a new place. In addition to the fitness center they also had hot tubs on the deck.

The hotel does include breakfast, a typical continental breakfast with a great view from the room of the mountains.  The hotel did also offer Wi-Fi throughout the hotel (a new feature).

If you’re going during the winter to ski I’m not sure this is the best place, as it’s up a big hill and a distance from the ski area. There does seem to be some sort of shuttle in the area so that may make it an easy ride. But if you just want to relax in the area, this is a nice lodge with great views.

Nov 20

Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge and Spa

The Glenwood Springs Lodge and Spa is the hotel associated with the Glenwood Springs pools.  So our two-queen size bedroom included passes to the pools for the day of check in and the day of departure.

 The hotel had a slight rustic feel to it, but not overwhelming.  The room was on the smaller side with the two beds, but still offered plenty of space.  There was free wi-fi, a flat screen TV, refrigerator, and full bath.  The furniture was higher end, with lots of lighting.  The only problem, outlets were hidden behind furniture.

The room also included breakfast at the grill at the springs, although it’s across the street, the location isn’t too hard to get to (unless you were going to steal a muffin while in your PJ’s.  The breakfast included anything offered at the grill, eggs, pancakes, fruit, muffins, cereal, bagels, etc.  The only thing missing was French toast.

If I had to list one complaint, the beds needed to be replaced. Mine had a decent rivet to sleep in, but was otherwise comfortable. If you’re visiting the springs, you have to consider this hotel; the location alone sets it apart from other hotels in the area.

Sep 25

TownePlace Suites Denver Airport at Gateway Park

I used this hotel primary as a place to sleep when I started my tour of Colorado. What I looked for when booking this hotel was an airport shuttle and being cheaper priced Marriott.  When I saw how cheap this hotel was with points, I used points.  The airport shuttle was another issue, which is not the hotels fault.

When I booked on the Marriott site it said the hotel had an airport shuttle, of course you needed to click through to find out that it has limited days and hours.  Ouch! I ended up having to take a taxi for $35 when I arrived, but I was able to take the shuttle back to the airport. But I’m still bitter.

As for the room, it was great!  Since this is more of an extended stay hotel the room is different than a tourist type hotel, but for it’s purpose, and mine, it was well designed.

The room was a studio but I could totally imagine staying here for a week or two.  There was tons of storage, a desk with a pull out surface (perfect height to use my laptop at), a kitchenette with dishes, dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave, compact stove.  It was better than compact kitchens I’ve seen in some apartments.

The room itself had a King size bed, couch (I think it was a pull out), TV, and lots of storage.  The outlets were well placed, so you could access them to charge all your phones, ebooks, laptops and whatever other electronic devices you have.  There was excellent lighting throughout the room, kitchen and bathroom.  My only complaints were that the hairdryer was weak and the TV was not placed for good viewing from either the couch or the bed, but the viewing angle was adjustable.

The included breakfast was ok, it was pretty typical of an included breakfast.  There was coffee, tea, yogurt, bagels, muffins, banana, apple, and cereal. The only hot food was make your own waffle.  Yes, there was a good variety, but nothing to wow you either.

I would definitely consider staying at this hotel again if I was in the Denver area.