Andy & Bev’s Travel Tales
Stories, tips & anecdotes from 33 years in the tour business

Discovering the world is one of the greatest experiences we can have and we want to sIf you have a bad stay in a hotel do you say: “I will never stay in that place again.”?  

Same thing with airlines.  one bad flight experience means never again? 

Most of us have “been there, done that”. But we realize that if we stuck to the never again idea, we would never fly anywhere and we would never stay in hotels. 

So, as we started out last week - How do you choose hotels?  

For us, a hotel is our home - even if only for a couple of nights. We want to be comfortable, we want to be able to put our feet up and relax. 

When we look for hotels we want to grab that intangible comfort feeling. There are times when we have gone back to a place where things didn’t necessarily go the way we wanted when we stayed there in the past. 

We went back because of that ‘feeling’.

Last week we told you about Sir Christopher Wren Hotel when they were preparing for a Royal Wedding and made a right mess of our stay. 

Once more into the breach...

Another time, same hotel. We arrived to discover one of our guests had a heart attack and had to be rushed to  hospital a day before the tour was to begin. Much sorting or notifying family, helping deal with medical insurance notification - and the fact that the victim’s husband, who was with her, was suffering from Alzheimers and was not capable of functioning on his own under there daunting circumstances. 

The hotel management team, realizing we had to begin the tour the next morning, which would mean leaving the man on his own, worked with us and assigned one of their people to take care of the husband. They made sure he was up in the morning and taken down to breakfast, they took him to the hospital to visit his wife; they took complete care of him until a son arrived a couple of days later. 

This was the same hotel that couldn’t do anything right a couple of years before. Why did we go back? Location, quality of the hotel - and a hope that it would work out.

Heading down...

Once upon a time we used a former shooting lodge on Skye which had been converted to a small hotel. The setting of the Duntulm Castle Hotel was picture perfect looking over to the ruins of - surprise - Duntulm Castle which was perched on a cliff overlooking the sea. 

It was a gem because of location and because of the care of the staff. The rooms were small, but immaculate, the food was excellent. It was one of those traditional little gems that are always looked for but rarely found. Then, unknown to us, the ownership changed.

We had been in the Spring and two more trips planned to Skye that year. When we returned, we entered an alternate universe. Same building, same view but that was all.
Staff had all been let go and relatives hired including a kid serving in the bar who couldn’t have been more than 15.  Rooms were grubby and unkempt; food was abysmal.

Needless to say we canceled the next visit. But so sad to see the collapse of what had once been so special. It’s now been sold off at auction for a fraction of its true value.

Don’t count on the stars...

The number of stars for a hotel are a guide only. We stayed in a four start resort hotel on Jersey or Guernsey - can’t remember which again with superb views, lovely rooms and a maitre d that Bev and I chased out of the dining room reminding him in a rather loud voices that we paid him and not the other way around. 

We found that in too many cases, the more stars, the more prestigious the place there was a real danger of officious, pompous and arrogant management who seemed to believe that we paid them for the privilege of being treated like lesser beings. 

In some countries stars are based on such things as an elevator or number of elevators, two or more dining rooms, the number of fixtures in a bathroom, parking facilities, the ubiquitous michelin stars for dining. It changes from country to country, often from state to state, from province to province but hardly ever, if at all, for the quality and friendliness of the staff.

Sometimes - quite often in fact - it all comes together.

When it all works...

When we did the South of France one of our favorites was a beach resort in Nice. It had it all, gardens, sea view rooms with private balconies, great cooking, lovely walks  and a wonderful staff. It was everything one could hope for. Incidentally, this was the place where we locked ourselves out of our room while dining on the balcony and where we broke the safe and the telephone. And they still seemed happy to have us back.

And any of the cave hotels we have used in Cappadocia, Turkey. Wow, an incredible time in an incredible place. As is the Kismet hotel in Kushadasi, Turkey. This little gem is still owned by the family of the last Ottoman Emperor. All the rooms have sea views, it’s small, it’s quiet and so very friendly. The last time we checked in the head of reception remembered the room number we had from the year before.

It’s always going to be a bit of a gamble but we’ve always found the best hotels are the ones where we enjoy and appreciate the staff - and where we get that home like feeling.

(Photos: View from our balcony in Nice. The Duntulm Castle Hotel with the ruined Castle in the distance.)

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