Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Best of 2015 - Hotels

Restored cars
Planes, trains, boats, buses and cars – we didn’t ride bicycles or motorcycles, but those are two of the few types of transportation that we didn’t take this year. This has been a great year for travel and we’re looking forward to more voyages in 2016! In this blog and the two blogs that follow are only the hotels, activities or restaurants that rated four carrots or better. You’ll notice that we’ve given high ratings to hotels, restaurants and activities that are rather divergent. How can a hotel in Lubbock compare with one in France? For information about my rating system, see Reading the Reviews.

Where we stayed
Four and one-half Carrots

Stateroom aboard the Viking Ship Irdun

Cities of Light tour with Viking Cruise had great accommodations on the ship. The bed was comfortable, the bathroom clean and there were even two trash cans in the room. (See Review of the Viking Cruise from Prague to Paris)

Four Carrots

The Cabana Bay Beach Resort (6550 Adventure Way, Orlando, Florida, 32819, 407-503-
Accommodations and view
4000) is a nice place to stay. Our room, on the 7th floor, was large, even with two queen-size beds. There were two trash cans (one of my requirements for a good hotel), and a small table with two chairs. The only nod to the current century was the flat screen TV, remote control, and a coffee maker. There were plenty of towels; the bed linens were very nice. While the mattresses were quite comfortable, the pillows were marginal. We could get the pillows lumped up enough for support, but that’s not the most comfortable way to sleep. There is plenty of light around the bed, so reading anywhere in the room is comfortable. The sink is separate from the rest of the bathroom, which makes it easier to share a room. The bath area is quite nice. The negatives for this room were that there is no air return in the bathroom, the shower is a drizzle, the fan on the air conditioner won’t stay on if the room is above a certain temperature, and the toiletries are limited to shampoo, conditioner, and soap. There is a free shuttle from the hotel to the parks; it is always on time with a pleasant group of drivers. From the people at reception to the maids, the service at this hotel was great. There was not a time we didn’t get a smile from the people providing service. (See Aliens and Spiders and Dinos …Oh My!)

The Elk Antlers Inn (501 S 6th St, Thermopolis, WY 82443, 307-864-2325) is an older property that has been turned into a funky place to stay. There are a plethora of bears and
Wooden Bears
antlers decorating the front of the hotel and lots of western, sports, and wood décor in the rooms. The people running the place are very nice and will work with you to make sure you get the type of room you need. There is a small refrigerator and a microwave in each room and several free bottles of water. In the office there are coffee, tea, and free snacks. The internet is a bit weird to get on, but once on, it works very well. (See Reviews of the Road Trip to Yellowstone)

Our hotel for our stay in Milwaukee was the Fairfield Inn (710 N Old World 3rd St,
Hotel Room
Milwaukee, WI 53203; 414-224-8400) and we were very pleased with the location. It is just a couple of blocks from the Wisconsin Center. The beds were quite comfortable, the bathroom roomy and the included breakfast substantial. The maids were nice enough to provide us with extra coffee and ‘fixins’, as well as cleaning the room at odd times to accommodate our schedule. The internet was free, in the room and was very fast. We were quite surprised that upon hearing that there would only be two of us in the room rather than four, the manager cut our charges in half. Had there been a restaurant, this would have been a nearly perfect place to stay. (See Meditating in Milwaukee)

The Hilton Brussels Grand Place (Carrefour de l'Europe 3, Brussels, 1000, Belgium, +32 2 548 42 11) is what is expected from a Hilton hotel, including the view of Don Quixote from
Don Quixote Statue
the window. There is a very good restaurant, a nice bar area, and a pretty lounge. The room was very nice with an extremely comfortable bed. The bathroom was large and well appointed. Breakfast (can be included with the room) was excellent. Both hot and cold offerings were included, along with special orders; I thoroughly enjoyed the fresh melon. The internet was included and was blazing fast. This is an expensive place to stay, but worth the price because of the location and the services. (See Review of Traveling through the Netherlands and Belgium)

Hilton Prague (Pobřežní 1 186 00 Praha; +42-0-224-841-
Sixth floor Statue
111) was what you’d expect from a four star hotel, except for the statue of a woman guarding the sixth floor. Service was very good, as was the internet connection. The room was spacious, comfortable, and well appointed. There was a coffee/tea service in the room. This hotel is a rather long walk from Old Town and in a business district rather than a tourist area. Breakfast was provided in the Atrium Restaurant; the buffet was extensive with quality foods. The restaurant was lovely with good service, food and prices. This is a good place to stay if you don’t have to pay for it; this hotel was included in our tour. (See Review of the Viking Cruise from Prague to Paris)

Hotel du Levant (18 rue de la Harpe, 75005 Paris; +33-01-46-34-11-00) is in the Latin Quarter and a real gem. The people running it are friendly and accommodating. I called the
Vegetable Market
front desk to ask about an issue I was having with the internet and they immediately re-booted the system so that the speed was even faster. The room was very comfortable; the bathroom was split into a shower area and a toilet area. There was a small refrigerator and a coffee/tea service. There is a tiny elevator that holds two people with a bag apiece, but it works well and isn’t particularly slow. Breakfast was on the ground floor of the hotel and consisted of a buffet of meats, breads, fruits, yogurts and cereals. If you wanted a boiled egg, there was an egg boiler available. The hotel is very near Notre-Dame, so it’s within walking distance of all of the major attractions in the center of Paris. This place is well worth the price; I would stay here, again. (See Review of the Viking Cruise from Prague to Paris)

The Park Hotel (Stadhouderskade 25, Oud Zuid, 1071 ZD Amsterdam, The Netherlands,
Canal near the Park Hotel
+31 20-6711222) is in a great location to visit the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. It’s also close to other things to do and is in a safe, clean part of Amsterdam. The hotel is nicely appointed with helpful desk clerks and staff. Our room was large, comfortable, and very clean; the bathroom was nicely laid out with a good-sized dressing area. The wait-staff in the restaurant were also very nice. It is much faster to eat at the breakfast buffet (can be included with the room) than ordering off the menu. There are both hot and cold dished on the buffet and you can get an omelet or eggs to order. The internet was included and was very 
fast. This is an expensive hotel, but worth the price because of the location and the services provided. (See Review of Traveling through the Netherlands and Belgium)

The Quality Inn (3430 W. Loop 289, Lubbock, TX, 79407, 806-780-4000) was a lovely
Windmills near Lubbock
place to stay. Everything was good, including the internet! Breakfast was acceptable, with coffee, juice, hot food, pastries, and cereals. I was told at check-in that if customers booked using their website rather than a more generic one, they would be asked what type of amenities they’d like in the room, particularly if a handicapped room or shower accessible room was preferred. (See Reviews of the Road Trip to Yellowstone)

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