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.
We’ve all heard the scams about cockroach infested hotels, legionnaire’s disease, unclean nylon sheets, paint peeling off the walls, dirty windows….if you’ve watched ‘The Hotel’ in the UK you’ve probably seen some of them. Fawlty Towers is not the done thing these days. There are many ways to book your holiday and choose your hotel online. Probably two of the most well-known if you are in the UK are trivago.co.uk or tripadvisor.co.uk where you can read reviews about your hotels and rate them yourself. One such example is the IBEROSTAR Anthelia hotel in Tenerife, one of the most popular all-year-round holiday destinations for Brits.
There are literally hundreds of reviews online now. The Iberostar Anthelia hotel, for example has close to 3,000 reviews to date on Tripadvisor. The review rating is out of five stars and is classified on tripadvisor.co.uk as ‘excellent’, ‘very good’, ‘average’, ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’. If you’re wise, you can trust the people. It’ll save on the budget Budapest ‘hotel’ that turns out to be a youth hostel and doesn’t have towels any bigger than a flannel and is full of students. Mind you, if that’s your thing, you must read the reviews…
With the insurance claim culture so high, hotels and other tourist attractions are bending over backwards to get you to write good reviews for them. In a restaurant in Madrid my party gang showed the Lonely Planet review of the restaurant and got it free meal for all of us – it does have its perks. As the waiter ran off to photocopy the review for the rest of the staff, they upped their game and smiled a lot and let us stay late into the night when most people had left.
Tripadvisor and Trivago give an overview of amenities in the hotel, let you know about wifi signal availability (in the rooms or the lobby for instance), whether there’s a pool or spa – it even rates the breakfast and offers information on whether there is air-con.
The hotels are writing back too – this is their chance to put the record straight if they are criticised, or welcome the praise. Online reviews are now a two-way dialogue and reviewers can sometimes be a little too harsh with their criticism. It gives a chance for neutrality to be achieved.
Online reviews are the world we live in, we have reviews for almost everything we buy online now. Amazon.co.uk will give you feedback and offer you ideas about what other people who bought your item bought, you can review literally most things you buy somewhere online. The digital footprint just got onto higher ground and you’d be a fool not to a part of it. If you go on holiday based on a sales rep telling you it’s a great place, you’re not considered ‘with it’. The majority of people take a sneaky peek at what their hotel is like before stepping there. Don’t be a fool – make sure you are not the one with critters in your bed… join the online reviewing revolution! Vivre la revolution!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I stayed in an economy single room. I thought that the room was tastefully decorated and was spotlessly clean.
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.
I had requested a quiet room. My request was fulfilled, as my room faced the inner courtyard.
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.
There was a wide selection of cold meats and cheeses.
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.
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.
We stayed at the Mayor Capo Di Corfu, formerly the Aquis Capo Di Corfu) for a week in early October 2015, It was part of a dynamic package holiday from Travel Interaction, which was featured in the Travelzoo weekly newsletter.
We paid a total of £688 for the holiday: £371 for an all inclusive seven night stay at the four star Mayor Capo Di Corfu, the easyJet flights from Newcastle to Corfu cost £314 and there was a £3 debit card payment charge.
I had been on the lookout for a reasonably priced package holiday at a hotel on the beach with good reviews for some time. The Capo Di Corfu fitted the bill perfectly.
We picked up our hire car at Corfu Airport. It took us around the best part of two hours to get to the Mayor Capo Di Corfu.
Although we were on the main road to the south of the island, the road was windy in parts and went though many villages. I was using Google Maps to find the hotel, but we missed a turn and ended up in the one way system of Lefkimmi. It turned out that the Google Maps directions were wrong. It should have been relatively straightforward, merely follow the road to Lefkimmi Port and turn right towards Kavos at the crossroads.
Official check in time at the Mayor Capo Di Corfu is 3pm, our room was ready when we arrived around 2pm.
The lobby at the Mayor Capo Di Corfu was large and airy, with plenty of seating.
We went straight to the restaurant for lunch. I was impressed with the views from the restaurant over to the mountains on the Greek mainland. The food was pretty good too. All the meals were buffet style with a wide selection of hot and cold food. There was indoor and outdoor seating.
After lunch we went for a coffee at the Amos pool bar.
The Mayor Capo Di Corfu is laid out in village style in pretty gardens.
We were in a standard garden view room. The view from the terrace of our ground floor room was spoilt by some construction work which was surrounded in green netting.
I could have gone back to reception to request another room. But I felt that as the accommodation had been excellent value at £371 for one week, that I shouldn’t expect one of the best rooms. Plus. I wasn’t planning on spending much time in terrace. I was happy that the room was far from the bar areas, so it would be quiet in the evening..
The room was comfortable. There were tea and coffee making facilities in the room, which is usual in hotels abroad (it’s pretty standard in UK hotels). There was also a fridge which was handy to keep water cool.
It was pretty noisy on grass cutting days, even inside the room. The lawn mowers and strimmers seemed to be operational for hours.
The hotel has a private beach. We swan in the sea a couple of times most days.
My favourite spot in Mayor Capo Di Corfu was Il Pirata beach bar. We could sit in the shade there close to the sea.
The smaller of the two swimming pools was located there.
The larger swimming pool was close to the restaurant and the Amos pool bar.
There’s a third bar above the restaurant. It was a good spot for me to do some work during the day, as it was quiet and had great sea views due to the elevation.
The hotel provides beach towels. You need to pick them up from the Amos pool bar. You can change them every day.
I felt that the hotel did profiteer out of this situation. They quoted over 960 Euro (around £873) for a week on an all inclusive basis, and 738 Euro (around £666) for half board. We had paid £371 all inclusive for the original week. I appreciate that I have to factor in the drop in the value of the pound to the Euro since booking in April 2016. However, there was commission to Travelzoo and the Broadway Travel to be paid from the original payment of £371 for a one week all inclusive stay.
As I had to pay for the additional week’s accommodatin upfront, and then reclaim from easyJet. I thought that I’d better stick to half board, as I didn’t know how long it would take easyJet to reimburse me. It says on the easyJet site that you can claim reasonable expenses after a flight cancellation, with no definition of reasonable.
Now while it wasn’t exactly hardship to spend another week in Corfu, I did have plans for the following week.
We had a hire car for the first week, enabling us to do some trips to nearby beaches. As I was pretty sure that easyJet wouldn’t pay for another week’s car hire. the car had be returned to the airport on the original date of the return flight. As as the resort is in the far south east of Corfu, we felt a bit stuck there. Plus, there were two consecutive days of thundery, wet weather during the second week.
Initially, the WiFi was excellent everywhere in the resort. I thought that with the dispersed layout that the WiFi might only be good in the main building. However in the bad weather during the second week, there was a power cut and the WiFi was down for four hours.
In summary, I enjoyed my stay at the Mayor Capo Di Corfu. The original week on all inclusive was excellent value for money. I loved the location on the beach, the accommodation was comfortable, the food was good and the staff were all friendly and helpful. For the majority of my two week stay the WiFi was very good in our room and all over the hotel grounds.
Click here to check availability at the Mayor Capo Di Corfu
We stayed at the Hotel Ranga, in the south west of Iceland, for two nights on a complimentary basis in late October 2016.
The transfer from Keflavik Airport took around one hour forty minutes. As our taxi arrived in the hotel car park, just after midnight, many guests were out at the front to see the Northern Lights. Evidently there had been a good show prior to our arrival, which was fading fast by the time we got there.
If you wish, reception will phone you during the night if the Northern Lights appear. So that you can dash out fast. there are padded suits hanging in the lobby that you can grab on the way out.
There was a tapestry map of Iceland in the lobby.
I loved the Icelandic scene in the painting in the lounge across from our room.
We stayed in room 9 which faced north. There was what I assumed to be Icelandic writing above the bed. I liked the fabric used for the curtains and bedspread, but maybe lighter colours would have made the room brighter.
The bathroom was large, with a jacuzzi bath.
The king size bed was comfortable. The timber clad room was a very pleasant temperature during the day, but we found the duvets a bit too warm during the night. The WiFi was excellent throughout our stay.
All rooms at the Hotel Ranga have French doors leading to a terrace with a bench.
I really enjoyed the hot tub. There are three hot tubs on the south side of the hotel facing the River Ranga.
I laughed when I spotted the bar stools.
I liked the mountain view art in the bar.
The restaurant had ceiling to wall glass on three sides. The breakfast buffet offered a good selection of cheese, cold meat, fish, fruit, cereal and jams. There was a hot selection including scrambled egg, sausage, bacon and beans. You could make your own waffle; the batter was pre-measured in small jugs.
After breakfast on the first day, I had a walk down to the river.
Dinner that evening kicked off with a salmon and pea amuse bouche.
My husband didn’t eat his lightly cured and smoked sea trout starter. For him, the fish still tasted raw. I tried the trout and it was very good.
As I wanted to try something different, I ordered the smoked puffin starter. It was described as having slightly fishy and gamey flavour. I didn’t detect any fish flavour, it tasted like beef to me.
My husband enjoyed his Arctic Char (a cold water fish of the salmon family).
My lamb main course was so good. The lamb was tender and complimented by the pea cream, carrot puree and brown cheese sauce.
My husband’s cheese board was impressive.
My carrot dessert consisted of carrot cake, mousse and sorbet with chocolate crumble.
We hoped that we might see the Northern Lights that evening. As you never know if they’ll appear, we thought that we’d do some star gazing at the observatory in the hotel grounds. We enquired about opening hours at reception, and were told that it opened at 9pm.
Around 9.30pm, we attempted to walk to it. However, the red lights that supposedly demarcated the path to the observatory were so far apart, that I didn’t feel comfortable attempting the walk. My husband walked there alone, but it was locked.
Whilst I appreciate that you don’t want to create light pollution near an observatory, the path needs to be clearer. It might be useful to have a sign in reception informing guests if the observatory is open, as that’s dependent on the sky being clear.
We had lunch at the Hotel Ranga prior to our taxi transfer to the airport. My husband had Artic Char again. I opted for the Baconburger, as I was wanted something to fill me up for the forthcoming journey. It was one of the tastiest burgers which I’ve ever eaten. The beef in the burger was lean. The addition of bacon, fried mushrooms, cheese and bearnaise sauce made the burger too large and heavy for me to safely pick up, I had to use my knife and fork and couldn’t eat it all.
For dessert, we both had ice cream served with almond crumble and berries.
In summary, I really enjoyed my stay at the Hotel Ranga in Iceland. I wished that I’d had more time around the hotel in daylight. On the first day, we were out for seven hours on a Golden Circle tour. On the second morning, we went Icelandic horse riding. Our room was comfortable and cosy. It had a kettle, but I wasn’t in the room long enough to use it at all. The food at the Hotel Ranga was superb. The staff were friendly and helpful.
Hotel Ranga offer a three night Stargazing and Northern Lights Package until 31 May 2017 (excluding some dates during the festive season). Prices start at 942 Euro for two guests in a standard room. The price includes breakfast and a three course chef’s choice dinner every day.
I was glad that the hotel was so centrally located. I arrived in Gothenburg on the bus from the airport around 8pm after a ten hour door to door journey from Berwick upon Tweed. It took me around five minutes to walk from the bus terminal next to the Central Station to the Scandic Europa Gothenburg.
The room was a good size. It felt a bit stark, but was functional and spotless. I found the bed to be a bit soft for my liking.
My room was at the front of the hotel facing the Central Station. But I couldn’t hear any exterior noise. I loved the fact that the desk was by the large window. This meant that I could work in daylight while admiring the view. The free WiFi had a strong signal.
I liked the black and white tiles in the bathroom. It took me quite a while to work out how to get the water to come through the shower head. You had to push the base of the mixer tap up.
The lobby area is large and comfortable, with plenty of sofas.
I wasn’t able to take any photos of the breakfast buffet, as there were too many guests around. There was a wide selection of quality food and drink, including scrambled eggs and sausages.
Although my room didn’t have much character, it fulfilled its purpose admirably. The quiet room meant that I had a good night’s sleep. The central location was very convenient. I went for a short walk around the city center before dark. The departure point for the cruise was a five minute walk away. The breakfast was very good.
Click here to check availability and prices for the Scandic Europa Gothenburg.