Category Archives: Accommodation

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

Review of Dryburgh Abbey Hotel in the Scottish Borders

We stayed at the Dryburgh Abbey Hotel in the Scottish Borders on a Thursday night in mid March. I paid £38 for a double room, including breakfast, on the eBookers website. The original price was £58 but an eBookers loyalty club bonus of £20 was deducted from the price.

Check in time was 3pm. There’s plenty of free parking at the front of the hotel.

We were allocated room 107, on the first floor, which was at the back of the hotel. Each room has a name, ours was called Blue Elver. I assume the hook in the name plate was the best type for catching an eel.

The room was very nicely done. I liked the wallpaper on the wall behind the bed and the soft furnishings. But the room was an on the small side for a double, with hardly any space to move around with two guests in the room.

The hotel WiFi was very fast. I was able to watch a film on iPlayer without any spinning balls. Just as well that the WiFi was good, as my mobile broadband signal was weak.

The bathroom was a good size.

The weather was awful during our stay at the Dryburgh Abbey Hotel. Cold, windy and wet. However, I wanted to venture out to have a look at the hotel grounds. There are some good views of Dryburgh Abbey from the path by the stone wall of the hotel grounds.

The hotel is on the banks of the River Tweed.

The public areas in the hotel are beautiful. We had the first lounge to ourselves.

Breakfast is served in the first floor Tweed restaurant.

By going early for breakfast, we were able to sit at a window table.

The breakfast was really good. I particularly enjoyed the Fresh Fruit Salad and the pastries. Most of the breakfast was self service buffet style, but a member of staff served you the cooked breakfast from the chafing dishes.

There was a fire alarm on our morning of departure. We had finished breakfast, but it was annoying having to vacate our room. Fortunately, I had come by car, so I was able to sit in the car. It took around 30 minutes for the Fire Brigade to arrive and give the all clear.

I thought that the Dryburgh Abbey Hotel was excellent value for money at £38 for the night. The hotel is in a lovely location. The room was very clean and attractively furnished with a comfortable bed, the WiFi and breakfast were good and the staff were friendly and efficient. At the price, I can live with a small room.

Click here to check price and availability at the Dryburgh Abbey Hotel.

Review of the Station Hotel Perth, Scotland

I stayed at the Station Hotel In Perth on a Thursday night in November. It cost £40 for the night for a double room including breakfast, booked through the ebookers travel website.

The Station Hotel is a grand Victorian building. There is free parking for guests at the rear of the hotel. You need to get a permit from reception when you check in.

The dark wood staircase from the lobby up to the bedrooms had beautiful flower shaped carvings.

There were also lovely stained glass windows by the staircase.

I had a fair degree of difficulty unlocking the door of my room. My first floor room was pretty large for a standard room. I was happy that it was at the side of hotel. Although that meant that the view was over the railway station roof, it was nice and quiet. I reckoned that you might hear some road noise when staying in the superior rooms located nearer the front of the hotel.

The desk had plenty of space, I could have my Chromebook, both mobile phones charging and paperwork laid out and still have space to boil the kettle. It was also great to have a light directly above the desk.

The shower room was a bit tight. I could hardly wash my face in the sink due to the shelf above the sink.

Initially I thought that the firm bed was really comfortable, but I woke up in a sweat, to discover that there was a plastic backed mattress cover on the bed. I appreciate that hotels want to prolong the life of their mattresses, but I can’t sleep on a bed with plastic underneath me.

The restaurant was nicely done, with grey wooden tables and chairs, and fresh flowers on every table.

The buffet breakfast was really good, with a wide selection of fresh fruit.

In summary, I thought that the Station Hotel offered good value for money at £40 a night for two guests, including breakfast. The room was large and quiet. The only real negative was the plastic mattress cover.

Review of the Fisherman’s Tavern in Broughty Ferry

I stayed at the Fisherman’s Tavern in Broughty Ferry, a suburb of Dundee, in Scotland on a Monday night in November 2017. I paid £34 for the night, including breakfast, booked through the Expedia website during their sale.

I’d been keen to stay the night in Broughty Ferry for a few months, but I was waiting for the combination a cheap room and dry, bright weather.

The Firsherman’s Tavern is located in Fort Street, a one minute walk from the seafront. There is free parking in Fort Street and on the seafront, but it is hard to find a space during to park during the day.

Check in time at the Fisherman’s Tavern was 2pm. As I wanted to make the most of the day light, with a long walk along the seafront towards Monfieth, I checked in around 3pm.

The Fisherman’s Tavern stretches across three adjacent buildings.

My twin room was located in the middle part, on the second (top) floor, facing the garden and storeroom at the rear.

There was view of the Tay Estuary over the roofs when I stood right next to one of the windows.

I liked the fact that the desk area was situated at the back corner of the room. next to one of the two windows. The downside was that the desk area was up a step, which I forgot about a couple of times. There were plenty of teabags and coffee sachets. Some hotels, Travelodge and Premier Inn spring to mind, only leave two teabags and two coffee sachets per roon.

The bed was comfortable. The WiFi in the Fisherman’s Tavern was supplied by The Cloud. As I had a good 4G signal and plenty data for tethering on the Three Mobile plan, I used that.

I felt that the room would have been a bit on the small side if there had been two guests staying there.

My main beef with the room was the state of the grouting in the shower cubicle. It really needed to be redone. One of the bedside lights wasn’t working. I did report this on my departure.

Breakfast on a weekday was served between 7am – 9am. I went down around 8.15am. There was a lovely real fire burning in the breakfast area. There was self service fruit juice, cereal  and fresh fruit.

The cooked part of the breakfast was prepared to order. It was very good with tasty bacon.

I wasn’t sure of the check-out time. On my Expedia itinerary it said 11am, but on the back of the door in my room it said 10.15am. I didn’t bother asking for clarification about this, as I intended to leave by around 10am.

In summary, I thought that the Fisherman’s Tavern in Broughty Ferry offered good value for money for £34 for the night. It’s in a good location near the seafront, convenient for a stroll along the waterfront, either towards Broughty Ferry Castle and Monfieith, or towards Dundee. If you came to Broughty Ferry by train, it would only take you a few minutes to walk down from the railway station. The staff were all friendly, the room comfortable and the breakfast was good. The main negative was the poor condition of the shower cubicle in my twin room.

Click here to check price and availability at the Fisherman’s Tavern on the HotelsCombined price comparison website.

Holiday Home Search Tips

Feeling in the vacation mood already? And do you wish to take a trip to for example Spain this summer? Get inspired by vacation home websites that show you all the great villas or apartments that could be yours. Whether you are interested in buying a vacation home so you take a break whenever you want or if you would like to rent a place for some weeks, the options are overwhelming. If you visit a specialist website such as www.immoabroad.com, you’ll see thousands and thousands of potential listings for your dream holiday home abroad.

All the potential is wonderful, but you want to condense your search as much as possible. With these simple tips you’ll be able to find your dream home in the sun without letting your budget run away with you – that holiday home really can be yours! So let’s discuss three simple, yet effective tips.

Write Down Your Requirements

Spend a few hours before writing down on a piece of paper the various needs you have of your dream home. Potential locations, number of bedrooms, whether you’re going to rent or buy, do you want a pool, a community garden etc. – no detail is too small. You will quickly see you have a lot of choice available, so you’re able to be fussy and specific. It’s your money you’re spending; make sure it’s what you really want.

Plan Your Budget

When thinking of buying or renting your next home in the sun you need to think hard about how much you’re willing and able to spend. Set yourself a maximum limit and then account for a little more overrun again for unforeseen expenses. Most importantly, when you find your budget – stick to it! You may find the home of your dreams but if you can’t afford it you might jeopardise yourself trying to get it.

Know Your Region

Not only do you have to consider the property, but also some research on the regions you would like to go holidaying will help. Think about the process of going there; is it easy to get there by plane for example? Do they speak English? Are there proper amenities like supermarkets or gyms? Spain for example is a great country to visit, but also remember that English is not the best spoken language there.

With these simple tips you will not only narrow down the field of thousands of potential dream homes, you’ll also make sure that when you do find the one you want that your trip is easy and stress free!

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.