Hotel Marmont, Split – April 2012

A quick overnight stay before we head off to the islands, I have never been the biggest fan of Split, only because of the amount of times I have spent waiting around for buses and ferries (well it is a port town after all!). So it was a nice surprise to find such a lovely hotel located in the centre of the old town. I am not a traditional tourist in Split, as I am mostly traveling through to see family, however it was a lovely treat to stay amidst cobbled stone streets, laneway boutiques and hidden restaurants and see things in the eyes of a tourist.

Hotel Marmont was a fairly cheap option, so I was not expecting such a modern and stylish hotel. A modern entrance, however the hotel immediately reflects its old exterior by the uncovered sandstone feature walls in the restaurant/breakfast area near the reception. The hallways leading to your room are plush , dark and comforting – preparing you for a blissful sleep inside the fairly large and comfortable rooms.

Things I like about Hotel Marmont

–  the personalised welcome letter. I know it might be cheesy, but it is a 10 second action by staff but makes you feel important and valued as a guest. I am all about the quick wins, and they hooked me.

–  Quality furnishings and layout – I often think that the hotels in Croatia are either brand new (and thus exxy) or a bit tired. This hotel proved that you can get great value and a great product.

– A free fruit plate is a nice touch, though mostly left alone given my need to eat as many Croatian comfort foods on my short trip.

Hotel Marmont

Zadarska 13  21000, Split, Croatia

http://www.marmonthotel.com

DoubleTree by Hilton Istanbul – April 2012

After the mix up around our rooms at the Pearl Hotel, we were hoping for a fuss free check in at the Hilton. A carpeted oasis from the hustle and bustle of downtown Beyazit, the hotel instantly provides a sense of calm, comfort and not the kind of place to lose our booking.

The staff were immediately attentive and helpful when I explain we only made our booking 10 minutes earlier. No problems here. We even get a warm cookie to keep us occupied. A WARM COOKIE. What is this place??????

The rooms are Hilton standard – and that is fine by me. At least you know what you are getting wherever you are in the world. Our last minute booking means that we have a twin room, but I am pleasantly surprised that each individual bed is still as comfortable as a large one.

Things I like about DoubleTree by Hilton Istanbul

–        The Hilton’s commitment to leather bound goods is outstanding – writing pads, garbage bins, REMOTE CONTROL HOLDER.

–        Cute little pillows on the bed embroidered with ‘sweet dreams’. Awwwww….

–        Free bottled water – as it should be.

–        rainfall shower – always scores high points with the tall man and I.

–        Crabtree and Evelyn toiletries in Citron, Honey & Coriander – a great pick me up.

–        Walking distance from our favourite Kebab shop ‘Aksoy Doner Fast Food’ – the charismatic water knows one thing about Australia: Harry Kewell. He liked to say that to us over and over again. Hillarious.

 

Things I don’t like about DoubleTree by Hilton Istanbul

–        Reuse & reduce (changing the sheets every three days) – I get the cost cutting exercise cleverly masquerading as environmental consciousness (what? Me? Cynical?), but not changing the sheets when you are paying over $50 for a hotel sounds a bit unreasonable to me.  I want crisp, fresh, clean linen when I am in a hotel. If I could take a page of Karl Lagerfeld’s book and have my sheets changed daily at home I would. But as I am not fast becoming an international designer with a giant bank balance, I am going to request this little slice of luxury while staying in a hotel.

–        No Wifi – if budget hotels can provide it, why don’t the big guys? No one pays for this anymore. Well except in Australia because we are ridiculous.

 

DoubleTree by Hilton Istanbul – Old Town hotel

Mimar Kemalettin Mh.  Ordu Caddesi 31, 34130 Fatih, Turkey

Pearl Hotel, Istanbul – April 2012

Hmmm who to blame? When a hotel is booked through a 3rd party, who do you point the finger at if they can’t find your booking?  It is a tough one, as you can’t tell if the hotel genuinely got double booked (with so many 3rd parties booking rooms it is possible) or if it is just being dodgy and trying to get you to stay with their mates down the road.

When no money exchanges hands, the traveler is not too disadvantaged. Oh, of course unless you just spent half an hour trying to get to a hotel that no one has heard of, have a car boot full of luggage and need more than one room at short notice.

But perhaps it was a blessing in disguise. The hotel reception area can only be described as a 1980’s wedding reception venue. Tacky lampshades covered in pearls. Over-the-top furniture covered in alternating red velvet or pearlescent ‘leather’. Clam shell accessories with…you guessed it, pearls. The photos on the website make it look semi modern – but in person it was nothing but tacky and tired décor. The rooms were advertised as quite simple and clean, and perhaps they were in better shape than the entrance.

The upside of our drama? The first use of the Expedia app on my iphone. With a ‘hotel nearest to your location’ this was particularly useful when left stranded with luggage, and a general disdain for walking more than 10 minutes to another hotel. We were able to locate our next hotel (around the corner) and book quickly, easily and get on our way!

I would stay at the Pearl Hotel for a laugh, and it wasn’t too expensive. However, if we return to Istanbul, I would pay the extra $$ and head to a less pearly option.

Pearl Hotel

Saraç İshak Mh.  Mollabey Sokak 10, 34122 Fatih, Turkey

Tria Hotel / Elegance Hotel , Istanbul – April 2012

Our stay at the Tria hotel was not off to a great start when we realised that our rooms were not at Tria, but in fact their sister hotel next door. Tria Elegance was definitely more modern which was great, however entering your hotel through a restaurant with diners half way through their meal was a little distressing.

The rooms were a little on the small side, but were pleasant enough for our short stay. The odd furnishings which took up most of the room such as a huge armchair shoved in the corner of the room were strange, and the overall feel of the room would have benefited from the extra space rather than extra useless couches. In contrast, the bathroom was unusually large, with a full spa bath that took up 80% of the space. Not bad, Just odd.

 

Things I like about Tria Hotel / Tria Elegance

–        great location – perfect for walking around to all the tourist sites, and close enough to the water to appreciate the views.

–        Rooftop terrace – great views, pity it wasn’t open for our breakfast and instead had to eat in the dark underground restaurant.

Things I don’t like about Tria Hotel / Tria Elegance

–        charging us for water – Don’t put it next to the free tea and coffee if you are going to make us pay for it. If it is not in the fridge with all the overpriced drinks, we assume it is free.

–        Slight smell in the rooms – we were quite lucky and there was only a slight smell, but our friends in another room were certain that the lovely little frangrant bags left on our beds & flowery spray in our rooms were actually to mask the  smell of sewerage. Hmmm not so lovely.

–        Crazy room rates – the difference in rates from mon-fri to the weekend were insane. Like 5 times the price insane. If I had paid the Saturday night rate I would have been bitterly disappointed.

 

http://www.triahotelistanbul.com

http://www.triaelegance.com

Süleymaniye Mh.  İstanbul Üniversitesi 7, 34100 Fatih, Turkey

An anniversary in Paris, Le General Hotel – February 2012

The Le General Hotel is located just off the main intersection of Republique, which is perfect for London travelers heading over to Paris for the weekend as it is two stops away from Gare du Nord. We have previously stayed in this area before, and it has to be my fave part of Paris as it is a great neighbourhood. Close enough to the centre of action in the Marais, but not touristy, so you feel like a real Parisian. Well apart from the not being able to speak French thing. Minor detail.

The weekend was to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, and thanks to the lovely staff (and the low season), we were able to get a Suite i.e. a room not the size of a shoebox. In fact, it had a SITTING ROOM. The rooms were stylishly furnished with dark wood furniture and pink accents, monochrome framed photos on the wall (which would be cheesy in any other city than Paris, but because it is Paris I love it). A great selection of fashion mags in the sitting room, made for great pre-outing reading and daydreaming.

The bedroom was huge, and the king size bed and ten pillows easily enveloped us after a long day walking the streets of Paris. The bathroom faces the bedroom which I love, but I understand this might be a dealbreaker for some. At least the toilet is separate, and located at the front door for your discretion.

Things I love about Le General Hotel

– Great staff – the hotel manager booked us a table at a nearby restaurant on a cold and rainy evening where our afternoon nap seemed to drag on a little (I blame those cloud like beds) and we awoke only to realise we hadn’t made dinner arrangements. Not only did he suggest somewhere, but he got out the menu and then booked us a table.  Brilliant.

– The rubber Ducky in the bathtub. Too cute.

– Apples on the pillows – a healthier alternative to chocolate.

– A healthy supply of L’occitane products in the bathroom, now featuring in my travel bag.

 

Things I didn’t love about Le General Hotel

–        nothing. Our stay was perfect.

 

Le General Hotel

5/7 Rue Rampon, Paris

www.legeneralhotel.com

 

 

Paris tips

Rose bakery

A favourite of uber chic French fashion photographer/writer, this is a great start to the morning in Paris if you want something a little healthier than croissants. I am pretty sure I pushed breakfast into brunch by getting a giant slab of pumpkin quiche and seasonal salad, and it took all my strength not to order something sweet on my way out. Feeling a little out of the loop, I knew about the Rose Bakery in Paris, but didn’t know there was also an outpost in the too-good-to-be-true designer mecca that is Dover st Market. I loved the cookbook, and will definitely be picking up a copy on my next visit to Paris, which is just around the corner (thank you Eurostar for your £69 pounds return fares).

Rose Bakery
30 Rue Debelleyme, Paris
Closest metro: Files du Calvaire

 

 

Fave new restaurant – Le Chemise

We stumbled across this little restaurant after our very kind hotel manager suggested it to us one cold and rainy evening in Paris – i.e. we didn’t want to stray too far from our hotel. It was literally across the road, so that was the first thing that was perfect. The decor was warm and enticing, and then the owner not only took special time to seat us, but came over and explained the WHOLE menu to us…in English. We usually spend most of the time in Paris embarrassed we can’t speak a word of French, so it was so lovely for him to be so kind to us. Of course, it worked out well for him too, as his descriptions made everything sound so fabulous we ordered a two course meal and a bottle of wine (and yet it was still half the price of our expensive fancy meal out the next night….which was not as nice!)

Le Chemise
42 Rue de Malte, 75011 Paris
Area: République

http://www.lechemise.fr/

 

Great bookshop in the hood

http://www.ofrsystem.com/

Tablet hotels

I can spend my entire lunchtime break on Tablet Hotels, daydreaming about all the fabulous places i could visit with my imaginary gold card and bottomless pit of cash.

Today this little hotel caught my eye.

Bože moj (oh my god).

http://www.tablethotels.com/Grand-Hotel-Convento-di-Amalfi/Amalfi-Hotels-Amalfi-Coast-Italy/115945#right

I believe they call this perfection.

If ANYONE would like me to review this hotel, i will happily be on the next flight to Naples and will WALK THERE FROM THE AIRPORT.