Category Archives: Accommodation

Information about accommodation in Europe; reviews of hotels and holiday apartments in Europe, from budget to luxury accommodation.

Review of the Kyle Hotel in Kyle of Lochalsh

I stayed at the Kyle Hotel in Kyle of Lochalsh in the Scottish Highland in October 2017. It’s hard to find a cheap hotel in Kyle of Lochalsh, as it’s a small town and its proximity to the island of Skye makes it popular.

The cheapest single room which I could find was £50 a night, including breakfast, booked through Superbreak.

The Kyle hotel is located a couple of minutes walk from the railway station.

My single room was a reasonable size. I had a sea view from my bathroom. The room was lovely and warm, which was welcoming, as it was dreich, wet afternoon.

There wasn’t a proper chair in the room, just a stool at the desk. It wasn’t ideal for me working on my computer, The free WiFi was very good. It said on the hotel description that free WiFi was available in the public areas, I think that my room was above the public areas.

The main issue that I had was the very creaky floorboards in the corridor outside my room and in the room above. I was awakened by other guests moving around.

The bathroom was a spacious with a good sized bath. I really enjoyed a soak in the bath after my three hour delay on the journey from Stirling to Kyle of Lochalsh. The bathroom looked as though it had been recently refurbished.

There was a buffet selection of cereals, tinned fruit (they don’t seem to serve fresh fruit in many Scottish hotels), fruit juice, yoghurt and some very tasty croissants. A hot breakfast was cooked to order. I thought that giving me one rasher of bacon and one fried egg was a bit stingy. In keeping with local tradition, the tomato was tinned.

Check out time was 11.00. As my train didn’t depart until just after 12.00. I requested a later check out time of 11.45, which was granted.

I wouldn’t rave about the Kyle Hotel. The room, although it was rather dated, was comfortable and cosy. with good WiFi, You have to expect creaky floorboards in an old building.

Click here to check availability and price at the Kyle Hotel in Kyle of Lochalsh.

Review of Britannia Edinburgh Hotel

I stayed at the Britannia Edinburgh Hotel on a Thursday night in November 2017. It cost £40 for the night on a room only basis, booked on the Amoma website.

I really like the location of the Britannia Edinburgh Hotel on the banks of the Water of Leith. It takes around 20 – 25 minutes to walk to Princes Street from the hotel. It’s a five minute walk to the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art from the hotel.

There’s a car park for guests, which costs £5 for up to 24 hours. You need to enter you car registration number when you buy your parking ticket at the machine. Then take the ticket to be stamped at reception as proof that you are a guest. This must be to discourage commuters and shoppers from parking at the hotel, as £5 for 24 hours is very cheap for parking in the area.

I arrived at the Britannia Edinburgh Hotel around 12.30. Check in time wasn’t until 3pm, but I wanted to park my car at the hotel and walk up to the Odeon Cinema in Lothian Road. The very cheerful and friendly reception allowed me to check in early.

I had requested a room with a view of the Water of Leith which was granted.

The hotel was formerly a Travelodge, so a lot of the room fittings and the shower room were very familiar. There was an addition of a table lamp on the desk, an armchair, an iron and ironing board and a glass bedside table.

Britannia Edinburgh Hotel

I didn’t try to WiFi at the Britannia Edinburgh Hotel as I was out for most of the evening and I had a good signal with my Three mobile broadband. I found the bed to be very comfortable. There was only a small electric panel heater in the room, but I don’t like the bedroom to be too hot, or a I can’t sleep at night.

I enjoyed my stay at the Britannia Edinburgh Hotel. At £40 for the night, It was good value for money for the location. It was great to be able to park for only £5 and my room was quiet and comfortable.

Click here to check availability and price at the Britannia Edinburgh Hotel.

Review of Hotels.com Rewards Loyalty Programme

Hotel.com is one of the best known hotel booking websites. Their Rewards loyalty scheme offers one free night’s stay if you book ten nights through their website.

Initially, it seems appealing to get something for nothing.

However, it’s not that straightforward once you scratch below the surface.

Not all hotel stays count towards the free one night stay. You have to check that the hotel night(s) which you are booking will count as qualifying stays.

You will still need to pay fees and taxes on your free night. To see the cost of fees and taxes, you need to press the book this room tab. The cost of fees and taxes varies between hotels, it doesn’t appear to be a set percentage.

If you use a discount coupon when making your booking, or it is part of a special promotion, that stay doesn’t count towards the the required ten nights.

Your free stay is redeemed at the average price of the ten hotel nights booked, which equates to around a 10% discount.

Therefore, you would think that a discount code would need to be for at least 10% to make it worth missing out on the night(s) counting toward the ten nights.

But you have to take in to account that Hotels.com may not always offer the lowest price for all hotel night(s) that you book. So you probably need to do a quick check on a hotel price comparison website, to see if you can find the room cheaper on another site.

If you find the room for less on another site, it’s also worth having a look for voucher codes on a website such as Voucher Butler, which can be used on the booking site which offers the lowest price for the hotel.

It all sounds like a bit of hassle. Hotels.com’s Rewards loyalty programme tempts you toward just booking all your stays on their website. Fair enough, it is a loyalty scheme. But the question is does loyalty pay for the customer?

One of the good points on the Rewards scheme is that you have plenty time to redeem your free night, as qualifying hotel nights are valid for twelve months from your last completed booking.

Personally, I’d be inclined to book my free stay as soon as possible after hitting the ten qualifying nights, just in case there were any changes to the loyalty programme.

Also, there are no black out dates for redeeming your free night, so you could use it during peak periods, although the price per night will probably be a lot higher during peak periods.

One of the best ways to get the most from Hotel.com Rewards is to book longer stays e.g. a ten night stay or two five night stays. That way you wouldn’t have to do so much price checking to ensure that you are getting the lowest price available by booking through Hotels.com.

I don’t think that the Hotels.com Rewards programme will entice me to book all my hotel stays on their website. If I could find a voucher code for Hotels.com I’d probably use it. I’d rather have a definite discount at the time of booking, than wait it out to amass ten qualifying nights in the Hotels.com loyalty scheme.

Review of Peebles Hydro Hotel

i stayed at the Peebles Hydro Hotel in the Scottish Borders on a Wednesday night in November 2017. I paid £36 for a single room, including breakfast, on the Amoma hotel booking website.

I arrived at the hotel around 3pm, just as it was starting to rain. I couldn’t find a space to park the car at the front of the hotel, but there were spaces in the small car park a little way down the hill.

There was a beautiful fountain opposite the entrance to the hotel.

The exterior of the Peebles Hydro is pretty impressive

As is the staircase up to the reception desk.

The receptionist who checked me in was very friendly.

I was happy with my single room, as it was a good size.

It was located at the rear of the hotel. The window looked out on some trees.

The room was quite low key with muted colours apart from the curtains. I found the bed to be very comfortable. The WiFi was very good.

The bathroom was also spacious. The bath was large.

The breakfast was much better than in many other Scottish hotels in which I have stayed recently. The fresh fruit salad and fruity yoghurt were tasty.

The restaurant was rather grand with several chandaliers.

As it was dry that morning, I had a walk around the grounds of Peebles Hydro.

There was an archery area, tennis courts and outdoor chess/draughts.

Overall, I enjoyed my stay at the Peebles Hydro Hotel. At £36 for bed and breakfast, it was good value for money. The location is beautiful. My single room was much larger than the single rooms in most hotels. The breakfast was good quality and all the staff were focused customer service.

Click here to check availability and price at the Peebles Hydro Hotel.

Booking a Hotel on the Expedia Website

I’ve been thinking about spending the night in Broughty Ferry, near Dundee in Scotland, for months. When I spotted the Fisherman’s Tavern, one of the most highly rated places to stay in Broughty Ferry, for only £34 for a Monday night for a twin room, including breakfast, in a sale on the Expedia travel website, I quickly booked the room.

I very rarely stay in hotels on a Friday or Saturday night, as it’s hard to find cheap rooms. Strangely, it was £38 to stay on the Sunday night, £4 more than on the Monday night. That’s unusual, as Sunday in generally the cheapest night to stay at hotels.

I like booking hotels on the Expedia website for several reasons, which I’ll discuss below.

Expedia don’t charge a credit card fee, some other travel websites do make you pay an additional fee to pay by credit card. I pay for as many goods and services as possible by credit card, in order to receive the 0.5% cashback on my Nationwide Select credit card. I know 0.5% it’s not much, but is money for nothing, as I’d be paying for these things anyway.

Expedia also give normally you 200 Nectar points when you book a hotel on their website. This equates to £1, but during events such as Sainsbury’s Double Up, the value of your Nectar points is doubled for certain purchases.  During promotions Expedia give you 400 Nectar points when booking a hotel through their website.

Expedia has recently started the Expedia+ programme. I was already an Expedia member, which unlocked special member’s prices for some hotels. Expedia+ enables you to collect points, on top of Nectar points, which you can redeem against the price of future stays, or access benefits such as room upgrades or flexible check-in. I’m not sure how many Expedia+ points you’d need to be able to get a free stay.

When you first join Expedia+, you are a +blue member. Once you either spend £5,000 or stay for seven qualifying hotel nights, you move up to +sliver membership. If you either spend £10,000, or stay for fifteen qualifying hotel nights, you are elevated to +gold membership. I found the Expedia+ programme far too complicated.

As with all purchases, I checked to see if I could find any Expedia hotel discount codes before making the booking.

I always look for the lowest price when booking a hotel. I wouldn’t be swayed into paying more than an additional couple of pounds to book on the Expedia site in order to get Nectar or Expedia + points.

To me, getting a voucher code from a website such as VoucherButler, which gives me an immediate reduction on the price paid, is better than loyalty programme points. Companies such as Expedia can change the terms and conditions of their loyalty schemes. They are probably hoping that you won’t check the price of the hotel on other travel websites, because you will be focused on building up your points.

 

Review of the County Hotel in North Berwick

I stayed at the County Hotel North Berwick on a Sunday night in mid September 2017.

I’ve visited the Scottish east coast town of North Berwick many times on day trips, but I was tempted to stay for the night when I found a single room for £19 for the night, on a room only basis, on the ebookers hotel website. As I had £3 in my ebookers Bonus+ account, the price of the room was reduced to £16.

The County Hotel is located on the High Street in North Berwick. I checked in a the bar, and was shown to my room by a friendly young man.

I was allocated a twin room, although I had paid for a single room. I was grateful for the extra space, as single rooms are often very pokey.

My room was a the back of the hotel. I was happy with this, as it meant that I didn’t hear any road noise.

I didn’t find the bed to be that comfortable, I could feel some springs sticking into me. The shower room was really small. You couldn’t fully open the door into the shower room, due to the proximity of one of the beds.

If I’d paid the standard price of around £60 for a room at the County Hotel North Berwick. I wouldn’t have judged the room to offer good value for money.

But at £16, I enjoyed my stay. I saw a different side of North Berwick in the late evening and following morning, when there were hardly any other visitors around.

Click here to check availability and price at the County Hotel North Berwick.

 

Review of the Royal Hotel Oban

I stayed at the Royal Hotel Oban on a Thursday night in late September 2017. I’d always wanted to do the railway journey from Glasgow to Oban, so when the Scotrail £17 return flat fare for Club 50 members came up, I decided to stay in Oban for one night. The stay was for two reasons, It would be a long day to do the return trip in one day. I reckoned that with the very variable Scottish weather, that doing the journey on two different days doubled my chances of having decent weather on at least one leg of the journey.

I set about searching for the best deal on a hotel in Oban. I decided to stick to hotels. Quite often check-in times at bed and breakfasts are later than at hotels and check-out is earlier than at hotels. Plus, bed and breakfasts don’t always offers a left luggage service.

The lowest price which I could for a single room in a centrally located hotel in Obanwas £50, including breakfast, at the Royal Hotel, on the Agoda website.

It’s always worth checking out if you can get a reduction on the price paid by using Agoda voucher codes. I prefer voucher codes to cashback, as with a voucher code you get the money off at the point of purchase. Whereas, you have to wait for cashback and it’s never guaranteed.

My Agoda booking confirmation advised that check-in time at the Royal Hotel in Oban was 2.30pm. I arrived around 2pm in hope of being able to check-on a bit early, or, at least, leave my backpack at reception. I was informed that check-in was in fact 3pm. Fortunately, it was a dry, sunny afternoon, so I left my backpack and went for a walk.

Upon my return after 3pm, I was allocated a single room on the second floor. My first impression when entering the room was that it was very dingy. This was due to the dark wooden furniture and the fact that the room faced a shady courtyard. I was happy enough that my room was at the back of the hotel, as it meant there would be no traffic noise.

There was plenty of space on the desk for me to work on my Chromebook and a couple of electrical sockets at desk level. The bed was acceptable, not the greatest, but I’ve had a lot worse in hotels. The bathroom was spacious.

Free WiFi was only available on the ground floor. If you wanted WiFi in your room, you had to pay an additional fee. I was able to tether (set up by own mobile hotspot) using mobile broadband included in my Three monthly plan.

I was awakened before 7am by noise from the plumbing in the neighbouring bathroom.

Breakfast at the Royal Hotel in Oban is served between 7.30 – 9.30am daily. Tea or coffee and toast is ordered at your table, everything else in buffet service.

I enjoyed my porridge with honey. The orange juice and bacon were good.

Overall, I thought that Royal Hotel in Oban could do with a total refurb. Both my bedroom and the public areas looked rather tired and dated and the plumbing was noisy. My room was clean and fairly comfortable. But at £50 for the night I wouldn’t rate it as great value from money.

Anytime that you are booking a hotel, remember to take a look at tbe VoucherButler.com website to see if you can save money by using a voucher code.

Review of Sky Lodge Perth Scotland

I stayed at the Skylodge Perth in Scone on a Saturday night in late May 2017. I searched for the cheapest single room in the Perth/ Blairgowrie area on the HotelCombined price comparison website. The Perth Skylodge was by far the cheapest. I found a single room for £27 on Laterooms.com.

When you turn into Perth Airport, you take the first turn to the left to reach the Skylodge. There appear to be quite a few industrial units and domestic dwellings on the site, so it wasn’t that easy to spot the Sklylodge on the signs.

Check-in is in a separate building which looks a bit like a portacabin. There were no spaces left at the car parking area closest to my room, so I left the car near reception.

My single room was in a single storey block.

The room was nicer inside than the exterior had led me to believe.  There was a pine chair, desk and a small bedside chest of drawers. However there was nowhere to hang my clothes, so initially I laid them out on the bed. Then when I went to bed, I hung them on the back of the chair.

The single bed was comfortable. I didn’t try the free WiFi. I had a good mobile broadband signal. A notice in the room advised that the WiFi was only suitable for checking emails and light browsing.

The shower room wasn’t great. It was small and there wasn’t a towel rail or a shelf for toiletries.

I knew that I’d arrive at the room in late evening, so it didn’t bother me that’s it’s located outside Scone. But if you want a short walk to a choice of pubs and restaurants, Perth Skylodge won’t suit you.

Check-out time was pretty early 10.30am.

For the price of £27 on a Saturday, Perth Skylodge offered clean, quiet accommodation.  My main recommendation to improve the room would be to add some hanging space.

Click here to check availability and price for Skylodge Perth.

Review of the Angus Hotel Blairgowrie

I stayed at the Angus Hotel in Blairgowrie, Perthshire in Scotland, on a Friday night in late May 2017. I was looking for the cheapest room that was located fairly close to Alyth, where I was attending an arts and crafts festival that weekend.

I started off searching on the HotelsCombined price comparison website. I found a single room at the Angus Hotel costing around £41, including breakfast, on several hotel booking websites. As I had an 11% discount voucher for Hotel.com, I booked through them, paying £37.

The hotel looks quite traditional from the front. But the majority of the rooms are in more modern buildings at the rear.

There is free parking in front to the hotel. But there were no spaces left. However I found a space at the nearby free public car park.

It was 27 degrees Celsius when I checked-in at the Blairgowrie around 5pm.  My single room felt so hot. I opened all the windows wide. That didn’t seem to make much difference to the temperature in the room.

Then I discovered that the radiator in the bedroom was on. I had a fiddle with it, but there wasn’t an obvious knob to turn, as there was on the bathroom radiator (which was off). On my way down to reception to report the radiator, I spoke with anther guest, who had informed reception that radiators in the corridor where on. Evidently, that guest had been told that there was no way to switch them off. I came to the conclusion that some of the radiators must be on the same pipe system as the hot water system. As there was  a queue at reception and I wanted to go for a walk along the River Ericht, I didn’t bother reporting the fault then. But, I did mention the hot radiator to the receptionist when I checked out.

 

I took the duvet out of its cover. I was warm enough during night with only the duvet cover.The bed was firm and comfortable.

My room overlooked the courtyard. I thought that it might be quite noisy until late. But there was no noise after 10pm. However, with all the windows wide open, I could hear traffic noise all night. I could hear every move made by the guest(s) in the room above, as the floor was really creaky.

I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the bathroom and the fact that it had two windows. Many hotel bathrooms have no natural light. The bath was a good size.

I didn’t try the hotel WiFi, as my mobile broadband signal was good, and I spent very little time online.

There was no fresh fruit for breakfast, only tinned mandarin, and grapefruit, and prunes. The yoghurt in glasses with various jam like fruit at the bottom was good. The cooked breakfast was buffet style. I didn’t like the look of the bacon and sausages, I stuck to mushroom, tomato and fried eggs. Tea or coffee and toast is served to your table.

In summary, I think that I may have enjoyed my stay at the Angus Hotel in Blairgowrie during cooler weather. My room would have been a more comfortable temperature and I wouldn’t have heard so much road noise if the windows had been closed. However there would have still been the issue of noise from the room above and the not too great breakfast.

Click here to check prices and availability at the Angus Hotel Blairgowrie.

Review of the Hotel Royal Gothenburg

I stayed at the Hotel Royal Gothenburg for two nights in August 2016. I was hosted by the West Sweden Tourist Board.

The hotel is a five minute walk from Central Station.

Upon entering the hotel, my attention was drawn to the beautiful painted ceiling above the reception desk.

hotel royal gothenburg painted ceiling in lobby

After check-in, I decided to have a cup of tea and some homemade cake in the lounge before going up to my room. You can make yourself a complimentary hot drink at any time, but the cake appears in the afternoon.

The staircase was very grand.

hotel royal gothenburg staircase

I stayed in an economy single room. I thought that the room was tastefully decorated and was spotlessly clean.

hotel royal gothenburg economy single room

The room was small, but the large window meant it was light and airy. The bed was comfortable.

The desk area was large enough to fit my Chromebook, my phablet, camera phone and my paperwork. The free WiFi signal always provided me with a fast connection, both in my bedroom and in the lobby.

hotel royal gothenburg desk in single room

I had requested a quiet room. My request was fulfilled, as my room faced the inner courtyard.

hotel royal gothenburg view from my room

The bathroom was a good size, with a large window, which was the same size as the window in the bedroom. As bathrooms in most hotel bedrooms don’t have natural light, this was a bonus. The botanic toiletries were lovely.

The breakfast buffet was very good.

breakfast buffet at the Hotel Royal Gothenburg

There was a wide selection of cold meats and cheeses.

hotel royal gothenburg the breakfast buffet

There was a waffle machine. I decided against using it, as I thought that there was high chance of me making a bodge of it, e.g. overfilling the machine so the batter leaked out. It wasn’t such a sacrifice as there were ready prepared pancakes in the hot food selection.

Waffle maker at breakfast buffet at the Hotel Royal Gothenburg

I’d recommend the Hotel Royal Gothenburg. It oozes charm and character, combined with high standards of quality and service, and it’s in a central location.

Click here to check availability and prices for the Hotel Royal Gothenburg.