Where to visit in Europe & travel photos of top European destinations
Category Archives: Save on Travel
How to save on travel; find cheap flights, cheap hotels, promotions, discounts, deals and cashbacks to save you money on your European trip. It does take a bit of research to save on travel but using price comparison sites can cut out some of legwork. You can do some cheap travelling in Europe if you go in low season, book in advance with a low cost airline and shop around for the best money saving deals.
Welcome to my blog, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!
When visiting Seville, eating out can be a chew up a large part of your travel budget. Whether you eat tapas or enjoy a nice restaurant, the cost of food can add up quickly. Here are my tips for cheap eats in Seville, so you’ll have more money to spend on Seville attractions such as the Alcazar, the Cathedral, the Bascilica de la Macarena, the Barrio Santa Cruz, and Flamenco dancing.
This isn’t to say eating cheaply means eating poorly. You can find some healthy meals while enjoying unique, local experiences in Spain when you are traveling. Eating cheaply means going where many tourists aren’t going. Eating cheaply can mean sharing a few tapas and making it a meal rather than going to a restaurant. While there are many options out there, here are a few places to find some cheap meals, and great experiences.
The local university - While in Seville, take a walk around the university. Universities and colleges are fascinating places to explore and see what life is like for young people. While wandering through the university, we stumbled upon a cafe filled with university students grabbing a bite between classes. We decided to try it out and had a couple of chicken sandwiches and a drink for less than 10 euros. More importantly, it was fascinating to watch the students interact and just enjoy being college students.
Department stores - In many countries, big chain department stores, like El Corte Ingles, often have grocery stores on one of the floors. Wandering through the aisles to see all the foods that Spanish people eat is quite an experience – some are familiar while others are quite foreign. Buying bread, meat, fruits, and vegetables can be a great way to sample Spanish food, see how the locals eat, stock up for a picnic, and save money. Not only can you get a cheap meal but you can also buy plenty of healthy snacks to help you save money as well.
Cheap meal – Chinese food in Spain (Credit: Jeremy Branham)
Cheap restaurants - Not all restaurants are expensive. Wandering through certain neighborhoods, you can check out the menus and what the daily specials are to see what they have to offer. While wandering near the Cathedral, we stopped at a local Chinese restaurant and had fried rice, an egg roll, chicken with almonds, a drink, and a dessert for 6.50 Euro. Not only was it a cheap meal, it was good as well. We were the only ones in the restaurant and it was a great experience to hear Chinese people speaking Spanish.
Enjoy some of the great restaurants and food that this Andalusian city has to offer. However, if you want to save money, you can take my Seville budget travel tips.
Being a freelancer, means that I can go on holiday whenever I like. I can jump on a plane and work on the other side of the world for a month if I want to. But, no one pays me to take holiday. Going on holiday isn’t easy. It means losing work (and thus directly losing money that would pay for your holiday) or doing twice as much work in the weeks before you leave.
So I tend to go look for a budget accommodation option. And couchsurfing is a really good place to start. I went to Sicily on my own a few summers back and my whole trip was made because in-between hotel hopping around the island, I did a little couchsurfing. I’m still friends with the guy I stayed with (he’s just had a baby, so cute!) and I’m itching to try it again. Galway in Ireland is next on my list.
But I can afford to stay in hotels now. So why go and stay with a complete stranger? Well, there are more advantages of couchsurfing than merely saving money. I’m not against travelling on my own (I’m single and I don’t necessarily have friends who can run off when they like). Being on holiday alone is fun during the day, there’s stuff to do, things to see, sunshine to play about in. And then, it gets really really boring. Drinks and dinner just isn’t something I enjoy on my own. I like conversation.
Couchsurfing is a sort of stop gap between hostel dwelling, and holidaying on your own. You’re unlikely to be with your host 24/7, so you still get time to do your own thing. But then you get to hang out with them, meet their family, spend time in places you’d have never found otherwise. That’s how I found myself whizzing around Palermo on a scooter, and visiting the ruined church which is now a classical music school that puts on regular concerts in the courtyard.
Evenings were spent with my host’s girlfriend and daughter, eating proper Sicilian food. Or in little bars with friends. And sometimes with midnight drives to the beach. They were spent having adventures with someone who loves where they live. And having little parties on balconies and being far too silly in the early hours.
Is there a safety issue? Not that I could tell. There’s a risk in staying and meeting people you don’t know. Of course there is. And there’s no doubt that some people use the service to meet travellers of the opposite sex. But Couchsurfing.com allows you to comment on your host, and your experiences, so if someone has a very bad review, you’ll know to avoid them. And you’ll find that some hosts avoid first-timers as well. Why? Because some people see it as a free bed for the night and nothing more. It’s very much a two way experience.
Most hosts I’ve met do this to meet people, to show people their town and to have fun. They don’t get paid, so it’s only polite to hang out with them, or at least buy them dinner one night. You’ll find sometimes that your schedules don’t quite work properly, but you can at least make an effort. Because when you do, you have a better holiday for it.
I’d recommend Couchsurfing to anyone who likes the idea of going away on their own, but gets bored easily. It’s a fantastic way to meet new people, and see new things when you’re away. If you’re lucky, you’ll make friends for life. The money-saving aspect is always a plus, but you can get so much more out of couchsurfing than you’d imagine.
Eating at restaurants in Sweden can be expensive. Very expensive. Too many times I have looked at the bill only to start converting in my head to find I paid two or three times what I would have in the US. It’s a horrible habit and one that I have to break. At the same time, it helps me to find meals that are worth eating without feeling like I’ve thrown away money as I convert from kronors to dollars.
That’s what makes dagens lunch (the day’s lunch) so great as a Swedish budget travel tip. Every day, restaurants throughout Sweden offer a set menu for a very reasonable price. It’s one of the few opportunities for cheap meals in Sweden. It usually includes a salad, bread, a drink, the main course, as well as coffee. But it’s Thursdays that stand out. Because nearly every Thursday you’ll find pea soup and pancakes on the menu.
It sounds like a horrible combination. And let’s be honest, pea soup is not the most visually appealing thing you can eat. Despite the initial reaction of many, pea soup and pancakes on Thursdays is amazing. The split pea soup is filled with ham and most people add a dollop of mustard for a little extra kick. It is a national staple in Sweden that has been dominating Thursday menus in Sweden for generations.
The pancakes end up being a very filling dessert to follow the already filling pea soup. Covered in whipped cream, either fresh berries or a berry jelly, and maybe a little sugar if you’re feeling adventurous, it’s a filling, and delicious, lunch.
Swedish pancakes stuffed with blueberries by norwichnuts
It’s not just restaurants that serve pea soup and pancakes on Thursdays. The Swedish military eats it every Thursday. Schools serve it. Even your average Swedish household will make pea soup and pancakes on Thursday. I, due to my complete inability to make a Swedish pancake that is not too thick or too burned, do not eat pea soup and pancakes at home on Thursdays.
Next time you’re looking for a reasonably priced meal on a Thursday in Sweden (and who amongst us doesn’t do that on a regular basis?) be sure to find the nearest dagens lunch deal and order the pea soup with pancakes. You won’t be disappointed. You won’t be hungry for the rest of the day either.
If you haven’t made it to Sweden yet, make your own pea soup and pancakes this Thursday. Enjoy!
I recently decided to try one of the Groupon’s My City Deals to check out how it works. I bought a voucher for Kilau Cafe in Aberdeen, as I knew I’d be visiting Aberdeen during my Summer 2010 Scotland Blog Tour. I paid £8 for a voucher which could be exchanged for lunch for two people up to value of £23, representing a saving of around 65%.
I received my Groupon My City Deals e-voucher the day after making my purchase online. The voucher isn’t personalised for your use by the purchaser, so you could buy vouchers as gifts for someone else. There is a security code on the voucher. You need to check the terms and conditions on the voucher e.g. times during which the offer if available, if any items on menu are excluded from the offer and if you need to book in advance. The voucher didn’t specify lunch only, although it was lunch which was specified on the Groupon daily offer page. I asked Kilau Cafe for clarification on Twitter and they told me that the voucher was valid any day, any time.
I arrived at Kilau Cafe on a Saturday evening around 6pm. I handed over the voucher before ordering. I was hungry having only eaten fruit and yoghurt for lunch so I reckoned I could probably chomp my way through quite a bit of food. I initially ordered fruit smoothie, spicy spinach and mushroom soup and a goat’s cheese and apple salad. After I’d eaten that, I went back up to the counter to ask how much of my voucher I’d left to spend and wasn’t given a straight answer. Now this was probably because this was a different employee to the one I’d spoken to earlier. I was tempted to have a chocolate brownie with a hot drink. However as it wasn’t clear how much credit was left and I did feel that I’d already gotten excellent value for my £8 spend on the voucher, I just ordered a mocha. The food was very good, my only niggle being that the mocha was lukewarm. The cafe also had excellent free wifi, a big bonus for a blogger on the road, as mobile internet isn’t great for uploading videos.
So I can say that my experience of using a Groupon’s My City Deals voucher went very smoothly and it was good value for money for the my £8 purchase. I really didn’t press the point about how much credit I had left on my voucher but it’d probably be better to keep your own tally of how much you’ve spent as you order, to avoid any confusion.
Here is my personal opinion on the “Travelodge versus Premier Inn, Which is Better?” debate. I made my evaluation by looking at four criteria; price, room quality and amenities, customer service and location.
I’ve managed to book many really cheap Travelodge rooms, from as little as £9 a night in their promotions. However I’ve noticed that it’s getting harder to find the really cheap rooms in the Travelodge sales, the £9 rooms often sell out within a couple of days and it can be hard to actually book the cheap rooms as the site keeps crashing. But there is generally some availability of £19 and £29 Saver rooms midweek in low season. I observed that Premier Inn now advertise rooms from £29 a night, so I have looked at their site several times in the last year but haven’t been able to find any £29 rooms at locations and/or dates that were suitable to me.
I’ve always found the lowest prices for Travelodge and Premier Inn to be available on their own sites, as opposed to on hotel price comparison sites. However, unless you can find a Travelodge or Premier Inn room at £29 or less, don’t assume that either will offer the lowest available price for your destination and dates. I’ve found some fantastic prices at other chain and independent hotels using the HotelsCombined price comparison site.
I’d have to say that in my experience, Travelodge wins on the low price front.
Room Quality and Amenities
Premier Inn promotes itself as a superior budget brand with the tagline “Everything’s premier but the price” but what do they mean by premier? From the point of view of extras not found in Travelodges, premier means a bathmat, a hairdrier, a soap dispenser at the sink, a gel/shampoo dispenser by the bath and telephones in some rooms of some hotels. Nothing earth-shattering so far then. As I never use a hair dryer and take my own toiletries with me and have a mobile phone, it’s only the bathmat that is useful to me. I have to say that the beds in the Premier Inns were all very comfy. Whereas some of the Travelodge beds weren’t great and to make matters worse some like Edinburgh Cameron Toll have plastic mattress covers which makes pleasant sleep virtually impossible. Premier Inn rooms seem to be larger than some of Travelodge rooms, especially when in newer Travelodges the double rooms can be pretty small and seem to be becoming very utilitarian.
Both brands make hefty charges for wifi access. Travelodge’s charges are £5 per hour or £10 for 24 hours, Premier Inn is £5 per hour or £12 for 24 hours. I have an 02 mobile broadband contract, which allows up 3GB of data, for £15 a month. This is much better value than paying these sorts of prices for hotel wifi and I get a decent signal in most parts of the UK.
However, there is a major problem with consistency of room quality with both brands. I’ve stayed at some older Travelodges in need of a refurb such as Travelodge Stirling which had a mouldy bathroom ceiling but I had a fab room at Travelodge Harrogate. I was allocated a sub standard room at Edinburgh Dreghorn Travelodge in November 2010 In my limited experience, there was also a great variation between some Premier Inns, with Premier Inn Elgin not living up to the premier tagline in terms of room quality but Premier Inn Stirling having newly refurbished rooms. The brands really have to ensure that all rooms meet a minimum standard as one sub-standard hotel or even room can tarnish the whole brand in the customer’s eye.
Premier Inn offer a “Good night’s sleep guaranteed or your money back” whereby if you’re not entirely satisfied with your stay, you can ask for a full refund. I’d be interested to hear if anyone has been able to claim this refund.
Premier Inn is the winner for quality of rooms, considering the generally high spec, the larger size of most rooms and the Good Night Guarantee.
The Travelodge site states that they operate 380 hotels in the UK. The Premier Inn site says 580 hotels in the UK and Ireland, I couldn’t find a figure just for the UK. Desired location depends, to a large extent, on the purpose of the stay and the individual guest’s preferences e.g. if you just want a convenient location near a major route for an overnight stay, or are planning a cheap city break.
Travelodge Edinburgh West End
I stayed at Travelodge Falkirk which practically sits on the motorway, luckily I was able to change to a room at the other side of the hotel a bit further away from the traffic. Travelodge Edinburgh West End sits in a fairly quiet location, next to the Water of Leith, a 15 minute walk from Princes Street, and offers free parking. Premier Inn Aberdeen Central West is in a handy location just off the Aberdeen ring road with plenty of free parking, but then it’s a trail into the city centre for the nightlife. Premier Inn Dundee Central is located right on the Tay Estuary, so you can even have a river view if get a room on that side of the hotel. There’s free parking, it’s just across from the railway station and a few minutes walk to Dundee attractions, shopping, restaurants and nightlife.
Premier Inn Dundee on the Tay Estuary
Now, you’d think you could judge a hotel location by a quick look at a map. Well not always, it depends on the exact position of the hotel. Travelodge Edinburgh Learmonth is set back off the main road in a terrace, but the rooms at the front of the hotel have beautiful large original windows which let in a lot of traffic noise. The Premier Inn Aberdeen Central West is just off a very busy dual carriageway, but because it’s set back from the road and has decent double glazing I didn’t hear any traffic noise.
I’d advise you to look at the exact hotel location on a Google satellite map. Of course there will still be differences between individual rooms with regard to views and noise. If you can check in early, you have the best opportunity to ask for a room at your preferred side of the hotel.
I can’t come to a conclusion with regard to the better UK budget hotel chain for location. Although Premier Inn do have more hotels, I can’t judge if they are in better locations than Travelodge. I think that’ll depend on which hotels exist in your destination, the type of stay and your personal preferences.
Overall I’ve found Travelodge staff to be pretty friendly and helpful. However, I would say that Premier Inn staff seem to be more focused on the guest and on delivering good customer service. I received a warm welcome and was told about the Good Night Guarantee at check in at each Premier Inn. Whereas check in at some Travelodges has been pretty perfunctory.
In my opinion, Premier Inn offer better customer service than Travelodge.
So it looks like Premier Inn comes tops as it’s the winner on two counts, room quality and amenities plus customer service, with Travelodge being better for low prices, and no firm conclusion on location. In many ways it’s realistic to expect lower Travelodge prices to equate to lower quality of rooms. I’m actually beginning to wonder if Travelodge and Premier Inn are direct competitors. I see Travelodge rooms becoming smaller and more basic in the newer lodges and in refurbs e.g rooms only having a shower as opposed to a bath with shower, window blinds instead of curtains, less desk space and plain white walls with no pictures. Whereas Premier Inn seem to be concentrating on positioning themselves as a superior budget brand.
To a large extent, which UK budget hotel brand brand is better depends on the individual hotel, the location, the price (which partly depends on how far in advance you book and/or if you book during a promotion) and the customer’s requirements and expectations.
Update October 2011 – Travelodge now offer free wifi in the Bar Cafes.
Update November 2011 – The breakfast served at Premier Inn is much better than the Travelodge breakfast, although prices are similar at around £8. At Premier Inn the hot items are cooked to order whereas at Travelodge it’s a hot buffet. The quality of food at Premier Inn is higher and there’s a better choice in the cold buffet.
I’ve asked for feedback from other Travelodge and Premier Inn guests on Twitter and Facebook. You can also leave your opinions on the Travelodge versus Premier Inn debate as a blog comment and/or take part in the poll below.
@eurapart on Twitter commented on the TwtPoll that “Premier Inn pip Travelodge, for locations, service and amenities.”
@markkcurtis on Twitter replied to my tweeting asking if anyone had successfully claimed under the Premier Inn Good Night Guarantee. He received a refund after he voiced his dissatisfaction with a room at Premier Inn Luton.
Lynda Hamiltonvia Facebook “I’ve experienced similar (variations between the 2 brands) but Premier Inn has been better by far – even though I was pretty disappointed the last time. My last experience in Travelodge was a room stinking of smoke… and dog! There were dog hairs everywhere and …it really wasn’t that clean. The first time I stayed at Premier Inn, I ended up getting the room for free because my daughter’s bed was infested by ants that were coming through a crack in the wall. Other than that, it was great. However, the last time there, I found the room smelly and, again, not very clean. There was even something cream and sticky all over the door. I dread to think what that was. Staff at Premier were very friendly though and went out of their way to help – even bringing us drinks to our room.
I stayed at the Premier Inn Stirling for one night in August 2010 on the final night of my Summer 2010 Scotland Blog Tour, on a complimentary basis. The hotel is located on the outskirts of Stirling, just down from the services roundabout where you can join the motorway to Edinburgh or Glasgow. There’s a Brewer’s Fayre restaurant next door where we ate on the 2 main courses for £9 offer last year. It’s a couple of miles into the city centre if you want to find a choice of restaurants.
The receptionist who checked me in was super friendly. There were baskets with tea bags, standard and decaf coffees sachets and milk on the reception desk. I’ve already commented that Premier Inn are a bit mean with the in-room tea, coffee and milk supplies, only giving you two sachets of regular coffee, four milks and two teabags. Therefore it’s a good idea to stock up when you check in, to save you having to come back down to reception later when you run out or milk of fancy a decaf coffee.
My room was on the first floor at the side of the hotel with a lovely view towards Stirling and the distant mountains.
The view from my room at Premier Inn Stirling
The room had obviously been recently refurbished and was looking very good with a spacious desk and a separate small shelf for tea and coffee making attached to the wardrobe. I though it was practical to have the kettle away from the desk, to give more desk space and in case of spillages on mobile phones or laptops. My only niggle with the room was the double glazing which wasn’t effective in blocking the exterior noise from the nearby road. The window did look quite old, so I reckon that new double glazing could probably mean no road noise at all. In saying this, I have to admit that it’s very quiet traffic wise where I live, so I am easily disturbed by the whoozing of passing traffic.
The breakfast buffet table in Stirling was constantly replenished with plenty of yoghurts, cereals, fresh fruit salad, milk and the water in the flasks was hotel enough to make a decent pot of tea. There were even freshly baked croissants and there was still plenty left on the buffet when I left at 9.10. Staff were going around the tables asking guests if they wanted anything else from the kitchen. Breakfast isn’t included in the room price, it costs £7.75 for a full breakfast and £5.25 for a continental breakfast but kids under 16 eat free when accompanied by an adult.
I stayed at four Premier Inns on my Scotland Blog Tour and Stirling was the best overall in terms of the standard of my room, the breakfast and the super staff. I’d rate this as one of the best budget hotels in Stirling, especially if you can find a room for £29 with the Premier Offers.
I stayed for one night at the Premier Inn Elgin, on the third night of my Summer 2010 Scotland Blog Tour, on a complimentary basis. It’s located a couple of miles from the town centre, just off the main road from Inverness. There’s a restaurant attached to the Premier Inn but apart from a McDonalds close by, you’d have to drive into Elgin for a choice of restaurants. You should try to go into Elgin to see Elgin Cathedral and the Biblical Gardens.
Premier Inn Elgin exterior
I was allocated a room facing the car park at the back of the hotel, a good distance from the road, so didn’t hear any exterior noise. I thought my room was looking a bit tired and the chairs had seen better days, one had a stain on the cushion and both were worn and grubby around the ends of the armrests. The bathroom was showing some signs of wear too around the sink and bath plug holes. In my opinion, Premier Inn really can’t claim they are a superior budget brand on the basis of a room like this.
There are only two sachets of regular coffee, two teabags and four small pots of milk (no biscuits) in a Premier Inn room, which seems a bit skimpy. You’re told at reception that you can ask for more supplies but once you’re settled in your room, you don’t really feel like trailing down to reception again. The bed was very comfy so I did have a good sleep.
My room at Premier Inn Elgin
Breakfast at the Premier Inn Elgin was not an enjoyable affair. Serving hours are 7 – 9am on weekdays and 8 – 10am at weekends, which I don’t think is late enough for leisure travellers. I reckon breakfast should be served until 10am on weekdays and 11am at weekends. Anyway, I turned up at 8.20 and had to wait for about 10 minutes to be shown to a table. I ordered my cooked breakfast and had some cereal and yoghurt from the buffet. Every time I went to the buffet table something was missing e.g. no hot water, no cups or no milk. I didn’t see croissants or fresh fruit salad on any of my visits to the buffet table. I went to the buffet table at 9.15 to get some more toast and tea and everything but everything had been cleared away. I spoke to some other guests who were also a bit bemused by the fact that their breakfast had come to an abrupt end.
Premier Inn quote room only rates, a full breakfast costs £7.75 and a continental breakfast is £5.25, kids under 16 eat free with accompanying adults. I asked if the restaurant had wifi and was informed it didn’t. Fortunately I have an 02 mobile broadband subscription which costs £15 a month for up to 3GB, as Premier Inn charge guests a hefty £5 for an hour or £12 for 24 hours for internet access.
If you need a bed for the night in the Elgin area and can find a cheap room at Premier Inn (rooms start from £29 a night), fair enough, the rooms aren’t that bad, but certainly not really premier. Just make sure that you go for breakfast early.
I stayed at the Premier Inn Aberdeen Central West for one night in August 2010 on a complimentary basis. It was the second night of my Summer 2010 Scotland Blog Tour. The hotel lies just off Anderson Drive, on the Aberdeen ring road. However the hotel is set back from the road so I didn’t hear any external traffic noise during my stay. The hotel is a couple of miles from the city centre and has a large free car park.
I was allocated a room on the 4th (top) floor, which had a small window set in a sloping ceiling. I found the room to be a bit dark but spacious and well maintained. The bed was large and very comfortable. The bathroom was pristine.
There was plenty of space to work at the desk. However wifi access at Premier Inns is priced at £5 an hour or £12 for 24 hours which I think it too expensive. I used my 02 mobile broadband which costs me £15 a month for up to 3GB. However there is free wifi, with a good signal, in the restaurant right next to the Premier Inn, where breakfast is served.
My room at Premier Inn Aberdeen Central West
Everything for breakfast at the Premier Inn Aberdeen Central West was laid out as a buffet (unlike other Premier Inns at which I stayed, where the cooked breakfast was freshly prepared to order). While this was a good thing as you could get your cooked breakfast at the time that best suited you, some of the items weren’t hot enough. There was a good selection of cereals, yoghurts, fresh fruit salad, fruit juices, croissants and muffins. You could make your own toast in one of these conveyor belt machines, which never seems to do a good job.Hot water for tea and coffee were on the buffet table in flasks. I didn’t find this arrangement worked well, as the drinks were lukewarm as opposed to hot.Breakfast isn’t included in the room rate, most Premier Inns offer a choice of either a continental breakfast for £5.25 or a cooked breakfast for £7.75.
The rooms at Premier Inn Aberdeen Central are very well presented. The location is good if you don’t want to be staying in a potentially noisy city centre Aberdeen hotel. All the staff I spoke with were very friendly and helpful. You’d probably need a car to stay here, so it would be handy as a base for day trips from Aberdeen. The quality of breakfast items is very good but I think preparing the breakfasts to order and bringing freshly brewed tea and coffee to guests tables would ensure a hotter, fresher breakfast. I think that Premier Inn should reduce or abolish their wifi charges.
I stayed at the Premier Inn Dundee Centre for one night in August 2010, on a complimentary basis. It was the first night of my Summer 2010 Scotland Blog Tour. The hotel is in a great location right on the Tay Estuary, just across from Dundee railway station. This is an ideal hotel for a Dundee short break with Dundee attractions such as Discovery Point and Sensation Science Centre, as well as a selection of shops, bars, cafes and restaurants, within a 5 minute walk from the hotel. Guests can park free of charge, with parking pass available at reception, in the pay and display car park at the front of the hotel.
Premier Inn Dundee Centre by the Tay Estuary
I was fortunate to have a room at the back of the hotel with an estuary view and the Tay road and rail bridges. There’s s walkway along the estuary but I didn’t hear any noise from there after midnight. The rooms at the front of the hotel face the car park and a fairly busy road.
View from my room at the Premier Inn Dundee Centre toward Tay Road Bridge
My room was a good size with a comfy bed. Some of the room fittings were a little bit old fashioned, I didn’t like the plastic wood effect on the sink and toilet casing.
The staff are all very pleasant and helpful. I arrived at the car park just after 11.00am, check in time is from 2pm but I was given a free pass for the car park from the receptionist which I was told would be valid for the whole of the next day too.
Breakfast was mainly an all-you can-eat buffet but the cooked breakfast was freshly cooked to order. I managed to get a table with an estuary view. It was a bit chaotic at the buffet table, due to the number of guests. There was a fresh fruit salad, various cereals, fruit juice, yoghurts, toast from a toasting belt machine (which only seemed to do one side), croissants and muffins. Hot water and coffee were available in flasks but were just about lukewarm. I think that it’s be much better for staff to serve fresh tea and coffee to guests’ tables, so that the hot drinks would actually be hot and the buffet table wouldn’t get so crowded. Breakfast isn’t included in the room rate, most Premier Inns offer a choice of either a continental breakfast for £5.25 or a cooked breakfast for £7.75.
Wifi access is priced at £5 an hour or £12 for 24 hours, which I think it too expensive. I used my 02 mobile broadband which costs £15 a month for up to 3GB. In my opinion, Premier Inn should offer guests free wifi.
I’d recommend the Premier Inn Dundee Centre for a city break or as a base for various day trips, for example to Fife, Perthshire and Angus. It’s a good Dundee budget hotel option with rooms starting at £29 a night, kids under 16 stay free in family rooms. For every adult who orders a cooked breakfast, two under 16s can eat free of charge. I’ve included the Premier Inn Dundee Centre in my top 5 Dundee hotels.
I’ve stayed at Edinburgh First at Pollock Halls University of Edinburgh student residences quite a few times over the years but not since 2008. I thought that the rooms were a good budget option especially for single travellers. I stayed here again for one night over the weekend of 24-25 July 2010 and to attend the Taste of Spain event and the Edinburgh Travel Tweet Up . However on this occasion I stayed in the John Burnett house, a new hall of residence on the campus. That’s because at £32.50 per night, including breakfast, it was £5 cheaper than a room with shared bathroom facilities in the other halls. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of the communal female shower and toilet room, preferring the four individual toilet/shower rooms per floor in the older buildings, as it offers more privacy. But as it was only for one night and I liked the sound of top floor room with a balcony in the John Burnett rooms (and paying £5 less), I booked up there. Ensuite and double/twin rooms are available if you’re prepared to pay a higher price.
Pollock Halls at Edinburgh 1stwith Arthur’s Seat in background
I was very happy with my room. John Burnett House opened in 2009, so all the furniture and fittings were in good condition. The room was a good size with a sink behind a partition. The single bed was very comfy. My room even had a TV which I’d never had in my stays in the other halls. It was bit noisy at night and in the morning from all the banging bedroom doors, bathroom facilities doors and corridor fire doors.
It was very light in my room as there was glass along the exterior with a patio door out to the balcony. The views from the balcony were great down towards the Pentland Hills. However I think the views over Arthur’s Seat from rooms at the other side of the building are probably even better.
View from 4th floor room at John Burnett House
The communal bathroom facilities were very clean. As access to the facilities requires your keycard, it’d be easy to get locked out of your room if you forgot to take your keycard with you. Then you’d be stuck in the corridor, unable to get back into your room or into the bathroom facilities.
Each floor had a pantry with a large fridge, a microwave oven, a toaster, an iron and ironing board. However there was no crockery or cutlery.
Pantry at John Burnett House
The campus restaurant has been renovated recently and is more like a cafe now than the previous dining hall layout. You can go for breakfast any time between 7-10am. The food is as good as ever and it’s all self service. I had a vegetarian breakfast with haggis, sausage, egg, tomato and mushrooms. There’s a good selection of cereals, croissants, pancakes, rolls and fresh fruit.
Overall I’d rate Edinburgh 1st very highly; I love the location, free parking, the very good breakfast with long serving hours and the clean, comfy rooms. I’m not a great fan of shared bathroom facilities but wasn’t prepared to pay more for an ensuite bathroom. There’s a charge for internet access, I’m not sure how much, as I was using my mobile internet dongle.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.