Sunday, September 21, 2014

Hotel Reviews International - Europe

the good, bad, & 'what' across the world! = Europe
comment below and let me know your thoughts :)


As I have traveled the world, I have gotten to visit many cities.  Within these cities, I have stayed at many different hotels - some good, some great, and others not so much.  Hopefully my reviews will help you enjoy your travels in the good hotels and avoid the band ones.  Happy (and safe) travels!


Hilton Zurich Airport
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in May 2015
for pictures and additional comments on this hotel, visit my tripadvisor page  http://www.tripadvisor.com/members/0504Traveller

We had arrived late into Zurich and had an early morning flight the next day, so instead of travelling into the city we decided to stay near the airport. There are many hotel options connected to or near the airport - we choose to stay at the Hilton and overall it is a very good transit hotel that is comfortable and has a lot of amenities.

There is a free shuttle from the airport to the hotel and this runs every 30 minutes. The hotel is located on a hill and at the top of the hotel is the lobby - 4th floor - with rooms and over facilities on the floor below - 1 to 3. The layout of the hotel is a bit odd as to get to the elevator from the lobby you have to pass by the kitchen and prep room for the meeting rooms (and there was a lot of traffic at night). Also, there are very long hallways so sometimes its a bit of a walk from the elevator to the room.

The room itself are big and comfortable - we had a room with 2 twin beds and added a rollaway bed (for a cost). In spite of having 3 beds, the room did not feel cramped. When you entered into the room, on the right hand side was a closet with an ironing board and safe, and on the left hand side was the bathroom with a nice full sink and an open shower. The room had two twin beds - which were comfortable and provided a good sleep - and across from the beds was a TV stand with drawers underneath and a desk next to it. All around the room were power outlets which were greatly appreciated.

The hotel also provides some nice amenities include free wifi (for hilton hhonors members), a really nice and large fitness center that also includes a sauna, a business center, and many function rooms. There is a restaurant and room service available - and a nice customer service touch was free coffee and croissants in the morning

Overall it was a pleasant stay at the Hilton Zurich Airport and a great transit hotel (since its near the airport)


Ibis Geneve Centre Nations
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in 2015
for pictures and additional comments on this hotel, visit my tripadvisor page  http://www.tripadvisor.com/members/0504Traveller


Accor Hotels has many brands of hotels that range in price and quality. In Geneva, they have a wide range from Novotel to Ibis Styles to Ibis Budget and many Ibis hotels. Each of these brands are different in terms of quality and price. The Novotel is more a full service hotel, while Ibis is a mid-range hotel and Ibis Budget is a budget hotel. I have never stayed at the Novotel but have previously stayed at Ibis Budget and this time stayed at Ibis. If you know what you are getting into, then the hotels provide a good nights sleep at a decent price in a comfortable room. 

For the base price, you get a room with a bathroom in it plus free wifi (strong wifi as well). Everything else - including breakfast and other extras - cost additional cost. Ibis budget provided a compact room with a decent bed, a tv, a bathroom and free wifi (which was strong). Breakfast was extra. With the Ibis, you get basically the same thing but a more spacious room. In both, there are no fitness facilities and no pools (which are available at Novotel)

We had stayed at the Ibis in Zurich so decided to try out the Ibis in Geneva. Both had great customer service and really fast - and free - wifi. In Zurich we had booked a family room which comes with one double bed and one twin bed and the room itself had a lot of room. We had booked the same type of room in Geneva, but the room was not available at check-in so we received two rooms for the price of one. The rooms we received were standard Ibis rooms with one double bed - and these rooms were a more compact. 

As you entered the door, on the left hand side was a desk and immediately next to the desk was the bed and then a window - in between the window and the bed is very little room, just barely room to get to the other side. In front of the bed was the TV stand with the closet area (open closet) next to the TV stand and the bathroom - at an adjacent angle - next to it. The room is compact and could handle two people with minimal items. 

The bed quality was nice and this time they had multiple plug outlets - Zurich Ibis only had one plug in the entire room and it was not near anything! - but again the towel quality left a lot to be desired. 

Customer Service at the Ibis was very good as you can leave luggage at the hotel and they have two computers - with printers - downstairs that provide check in and internet facilities. 

In the end, if you know what you are expecting and prepare for that, then it can be a really nice and comfortable stay at the Ibis. They have free (and really fast) wifi as well as really nice customer service. It was also close to transportation and had stores next to it so it was centrally located (without being too noisy). Overall it was a pleasant stay with Ibis Geneve Centre Nations

Ibis Zurich City West
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in May 2015
for pictures and additional comments on this hotel, visit my tripadvisor page  http://www.tripadvisor.com/members/0504Traveller

Accor Hotels has many brands of hotels that range in price and quality.   In Zurich West, they have three brands all within one building - Novotel, Ibis, and Ibis Budget - and each of these brands are different in terms of quality and price.  The Novotel is more a full service hotel, while Ibis is a mid-range hotel and Ibis Budget is a budget hotel.  I have never stayed at the Novotel but have previously stayed at Ibis Budget and this time stayed at Ibis.  If you know what you are getting into, then the hotels provide a good nights sleep at a decent price in a comfortable room.  

For the base price, you get a room with a bathroom in it plus free wifi (strong wifi as well).  Everything else - including breakfast and other extras - cost additional cost.  Ibis budget provided a compact room with a decent bed, a tv, a bathroom and free wifi (which was strong).  Breakfast was extra. With the Ibis, you get basically the same thing but a more spacious room.  In both, there are no fitness facilities and no pools (which are available at Novotel)


As I said, in Zurich City West they have one big block which houses all three brands.  We choose to stay at the Ibis because we wanted a comfortable room to sleep that was close to transportation as we were going to the city to access all amenities (such as breakfast).  As we were three adults, we booked a family room which included one double bed plus a twin bed.  Overall the beds were comfortable and the room was spacious. 

At both Ibis and Ibis budget, the furniture is not of the greatest quality (think Ikea) but they do have a nice TV which you can plug into.  The bathroom is decent - a bit small but decent - and the only complaint I have is the towel quality.  At both the Ibis and Ibis budget the towel quality was nonexistent.  The towels were not comfortable at all and were a disappointment.  The amenities in the room are limited so they have a bottle next to the sink and in the shower that is a combo of soap/shampoo/bath gel.  We brought our own.

In the end, if you know what you are expecting and prepare for that, then it can be a really nice and comfortable stay at the Ibis.  They have free (and really fast) wifi as well as really nice customer service.  Additionally the hotel was very close to public transportation so it was very convenient to get from place to place.  
  
Overall it was a pleasant stay with Ibis Zurich City West


Hilton - Paris CDG Airport
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in 2011/2012
for pictures and additional comments on this hotel, visit my tripadvisor page  http://www.tripadvisor.com/members/0504Traveller

The Hilton Paris Airport is great hotel – depending on what you are looking for.  For a hotel convenient to the airport, a hotel with windows that have spectacular views of the runway, and for a good Hilton sleep then this is your hotel; if you are looking for a hotel close to the Parisian action, this is not your hotel.
photo courtesy of Hilton

I choose to stay at the Hilton Paris CDG because I was basically doing 2 transits – I was coming in from a flight, had about 1.5 days in Paris, then take a flight to another destination and come back to Paris, have about 14 hours layover, and take my final flight.  From the airport to the city center is about 30-45 minutes each way, so for me the best was staying near the airport and I found a comfortable stay at this Hilton.  Also, I used my HHonors points for a free stay as they were having their ‘points blowout sale’ so basically I got to stay here 2 nights for the price of one (check out the deals that Hilton sometimes has on international hotels – very good!)
There are two entrances to the hotel – one is on the main street while the other is connected to the Airport Train Station.  From the Airport Train Station, there is an exit with the ‘Hilton’ sign on there and it’s a 2-3 minute walk to the hotel --- be careful because it is outside so if it’s cold, so are you!
Access:  The hotel provides a complimentary airport shuttle (to Terminal 2 but the driver is really nice so he will drop you to whichever Terminal you want – but pick up is at Terminal 2).  Since the hotel was right next to the Airport train station, it provided easy access to the train to the city.


Note: the hotel is connected to the train by a path, but other than train access there are no restaurants or stores near the hotel.  There is a bus that stops at the train station which takes you to other hotels in the Roissy village – and in that village there are some restaurants and small (and I do mean small) convenience store/local store.  It’s about a 5-10 minute bus ride.

Service:  The hotel is very large.  The lobby is very big and next to the lobby is a big restaurant (with not-good food and slow service).  On the second level (accessible via stair or elevator) were meeting rooms plus the business/internet center.  The hotel can accommodate large groups, which was evident as many airlines had chosen this hotel for their staff (while I was there I saw a contingent from Qatar Airways --- about 25 in total!).  Check-in went smoothly, both times, and between my stays the hotel kept some luggage for me (which was a nice gesture).

The hotel does provide free wifi in the lobby area and in the room (depending on your HHonors status).  There is a business center available with printers but they charged for printing boarding passes (not cool).  I did notice though that the airline staff had their own lounge with computers and couches so they could relax and not compete with the guests.

Rooms: the rooms were very large Hilton rooms, and something that I was not expecting in Europe but welcomed – in Europe the rooms are usually smaller but this room was big, even for American standards.  As you enter the room the bathroom is on the right-hand side.  As you past the bathroom, you enter the main part of the room in which we had 2 double (very large and comfortable) beds with a night stand in between.  Next to the second bed was a couch with foot stool that looked out upon the windows.  When the curtains were opened, that is when the spectacular-ness of this hotel really shined --- the views were of the active runway so you could see planes taking off all day and all night (you could not hear the planes so it was a comfortable night sleep).

The room also had a closet, a chest with drawers on which the TV stood, as well as a desk.  All modern and up to date Hilton furnishings.

The bathroom was nice and very large.  There were double sinks, a toilet plus bidet, as well as a standing shower (which was very roomy).  I was expecting the small, somewhat-cramped bathrooms which I normally find in European hotels, but this bathroom was very big and spacious even for American standards

Amenities:  there is a fitness center (which I did not get to try), a restaurant (which I did get to try and regretted it as it was not good and extremely slow service), and transportation options (which I did get to try and which was very convenient).

Overall, it was a pleasant stay at the Hilton CDG and it served its purpose well.  If you have about a 1.5 days layover in Paris and want something close to the airport but also close to transportation, then this is the perfect hotel.


AC Hotel Malaga Palacio
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in 2011/2012
for pictures and additional comments on this hotel, visit my tripadvisor page  http://www.tripadvisor.com/members/0504Traveller

view from rooftop
We used this hotel as our base as we were travelling around Southern Spain and found it to be a great hotel.  The hotel is centrally located within Malaga so it is walking distance to everything within the city.  The hotel provides great customer service, free wifi in the lobby (a great perk/plus point), and allowed us to store luggage at the hotel. 

sea view
As we were 4 people, we booked two rooms (most European hotels can only fit 2-3 people within a room); one room had a King bed while the other had 2 beds.  
Both rooms were clean, modern, nicely decorated, and both beds were comfortable.  Both rooms had the same basic layout - as you enter, on the left side was the entrance to the bathroom.  As you passed that, you entered into the main part of the room with the beds and nightstands on one side.  On the other side of the wall was a desk, a chest with drawers that also had a tv stand on it.  The bathrooms were pretty big - bigger than most European hotels and big as compared to American hotels - and very clean and modern.  The hotel also provided amenities such as combs, toothbrushes, tissue packs, and shoe polish (a nice touch).  One room faced the seat and had a fantastic view from the balcony (also, a nice perk).  The other room was on the side and had a nice view of the surrounding city and architecture.  

Overall, the hotel provides a nice, clean, and modern room near the heart of Malaga.  It was a great stay at the AC Hotel Malaga Palacio and I would definitely recommend this hotel!



AC Hotel Palacio de Santa Paula (Autograph Collection) - Granada
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in 2011/2012
for pictures and additional comments on this hotel, visit my tripadvisor page  http://www.tripadvisor.com/members/0504Traveller

photo courtesy of AC Hotels
We were travelling around Southern Spain and wanted to stop in Granada.  We had enjoyed the AC Hotel in Malaga so decided to stay at the same hotel in Granada, and was not disappointed.  When they say ‘Autograph Collection’ they mean it – the hotel architecturally looked stunning.  From the outside of the building to the inner courtyards to the ways the rooms were laid out and decorated were all amazing; it looked as if we were entering a Palace.

The hotel is located on the main street within Granada so it is easily accessible and walkable to everything.  As you enter the front doors, in the middle is a raised platform on which guests can lounge and enjoy the free wifi (free wifi was available in the public areas) and to the right of the platform was the check-in counters, and to the left of the platform was a restaurant.

Check-in was efficient and smooth and we were shown to our rooms.  We were not on a high floor so we took the stairs through the raised platform, through the inner courtyard (which was really nice) to the hallway in which our rooms were located.

We were 4 individuals so most European only allow 2 adults per room so we needed to get 2 rooms – one with a king bed and the other with 2 doubles.  Both rooms were similarly laid out and both were amazingly decorated.  As you opened the door, you entered a little hallway on the left that led into the main room.  As you entered into the main room, in front of you would be beds against the wall (with a nightstand in between) and an armoire against the wall on the left.  In front of the beds was a sitting area with couches and chairs to relax and look out the tall windows which were on the other side of the wall (decorated in an old-Spanish style).  Across from the sitting area was the entrance to the bathroom (as you entered the hallway, on the other side of the hallway was the bathroom) which was spacious and had all the amenities. 

The room was very spacious and comfortable, but it was the design and decoration of the room that made it worthwhile.  The room was designed like an old Palace room so it had very distinctive Spanish designs, with red tiles and blue designs and shutters on the windows.  It was nicely decorated and a pleasure to stay in.

Overall, the hotel provided a spacious and comfortable room in walking distance to the heart of Granada; however, it is the architecture and design of the hotel and the rooms that make this hotel worth staying!


AC Hotel Cordoba
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in 2011/2012
for pictures and additional comments on this hotel, visit my tripadvisor page  http://www.tripadvisor.com/members/0504Traveller

We had been staying in AC Hotels all throughout the tour of Southern Spain, and we had enjoyed the hotels so we decided to continue the trend by selecting the AC Hotel Cordoba.

photo courtesy of AC Hotels
Unlike the AC Hotels in Granada and Malaga, the AC Hotel Cordoba is not located within the main part of Cordoba; rather it is located somewhat outside the main area.  It is only a 5-7 minute walk from the hotel to the main area and the hotel is surrounded by many amenities including shops and restaurants.  The hotel is located in between the train/bus station and the main city center --- so you are about a 5-10 minute walk or car ride away from either point.

Another distinction that this hotel has is its very modern architectural design, both the exterior and interior of the hotel.  From the outside, there is a wall of metal rings that surrounds the entire exterior of the building as a modern architectural facade.  As you enter the main entrance, on the right hand side is the restaurant (where breakfast and dinner are available) and straight ahead is the check-in area.  To the right of the check-in area is a guest lounge/relaxing area where free wi-fi is available.  Check-in again was smooth and efficient.

As in the other hotels, we got 2 rooms – one with 2 twin beds and the other with a king bed and both were decorated the same.  You entered the room on far right side next to the wall.  As you open the door, there is a little galley with a closet and mirror.  This is the odd part – the bathroom is located in between the galley and the main part of the room where the beds are so you have to cross the bathroom to get from the main door to the bedroom.  There is a door that closes to block off the bathroom from the galley as well as another door that closes the bathroom off from the bedroom.  This would be fine if you are staying by yourself but if you are staying with someone else, and they are in the bathroom and you need to leave or someone knocks on the door, if the bathroom doors are locked you are stuck.  It was an odd design.  The bathroom was modern, spacious, and nice and had many amenities provided (designed all in black and silver).

As you entered into the main bedroom, against the right hand side of the wall were the chest with drawers on the bottom and TV on top and a desk next to it.  On the other side were 2 very comfortable twin beds (or a king bed) and 2 nightstands for each bed (2 nightstands also available for the king bed).  Along with far wall were giant windows that would’ve looked out onto the city and the streets and would’ve provided a great view, however the views were blocked by the architectural ring façade.

Overall, it was a pleasant stay in a sleek and modern hotel.  The beds were comfortable, the staff were friendly and efficient (we asked staff at all the hotels questions about local landmarks and each took the time to answer questions and provide extra detail – a great plus!!), free wifi in the lobby and public areas, and the hotels were conveniently located to major activities. 


Holiday Inn - Paris CDG Airport
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in 2011/2012
for pictures and additional comments on this hotel, visit my tripadvisor page  http://www.tripadvisor.com/members/0504Traveller

I had come off a 26+hour flight and I had one full day and a night in Paris before I needed to take my other flights so I wanted a hotel near CDG but one that also provided access to the train so I could go into the city for a bit.  I also did not want to pay a lot since I was only using the hotel for a brief period – the Holiday Inn CDG Airport provided all that in a comfortable setting.

photo courtesy of IHG
Access:  The hotel is located in the Roissy village, which is the town/village located right next to the airport and where most of the hotels are located.  Unlike the Hilton, the Holiday Inn is not connected to the train station; however, there is a free bus that goes from the train station and makes a loop to the surrounding hotels in the area (it runs about every 10-15 minutes).  From the train station to the hotel was about a 5-10 minutes bus ride as it is located towards the back of the village.  You can take the bus to and from the hotel to the train station, but it does take some time so factor this in.

Even though the hotel is located towards the back of the ‘hotel’ village, it is actually closer to the real village so you can walk (about a 5-7 minute walk) to the village town center where there are some restaurants, coffee shops, ATM and bank, as well as a convenience store/market.

Service:  the service at the Holiday Inn was very nice.  The hotel looked modern and the lobby smelled really nice.  The hotel provided information on flights, weather, had free wifi, and was in contact with the bus so you could wait inside the warm hotel until the bus alerted the hotel that it was on its way (a nice touch!)

Rooms:  The room was comfortable and nice, updated, but not the biggest room in the world.  I had booked a room with 1 queen bed so as I opened the door, on the left was the entrance to the bathroom (also small) and then you entered into the main area.  The main area had a queen size bed against one wall, and on the other wall was a desk as well as chest with drawers and the TV.  Next to the bed was a small chair and table that faced the windows – there wasn't much to look at but the curtains were thick so they could block out most of the sun (if you wanted to sleep during the day).

The bed was comfortable and was a standard Queen-size bed that I would find in America (again surprised since I was expected smaller beds in Europe).  Overall, the room looked and smelled clean and comfortable.
The bathroom was also clean but very small.  It reminded me of a typical or standard European bathroom that I was expecting.  The bathroom had a toilet, a bidet, a shower, and a sink but it was all right next to each other with very little room to move.  The shower was also very small and tight.  The interesting and nice thing about the hotel was that they had dispensers for shampoo, body wash, and lotion instead of individual, travel-size containers – a nice eco-touch.

Overall the hotel was a good value and provided a nice, clean, and updated room with a comfortable bed and decent shower. The only negative was the ‘small-ish’ bathroom and the transportation via bus but both of those were small negatives as overall it was a pleasant stay.

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