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Category Archives: Hotels Reviewed by HH

Nothing Zen – Just Crop the Swimming Pool Photo

I56A0475 Zwembad gr

I56A0475 Zwembad

Nothing Zen – Just Crop the Swimming Pool Photo

Recently I was on a short city trip to Madrid.

When I prepared for the trip I was looking for a hotel with a swimming pool, as Madrid can be hot in September.

I choose the hotel on the basis of a photo like the first photo. I took this photo myself. The first photo is a crop of the second photo. I used a booking portal (OTA) to search and book the hotel.

When you look at the first photo, like me, you are likely to book the hotel if it features prominently on the booking site….When you look at the second photo, like me, You are unlikely to swim in this swimming pool ever with all those eyes that can peek at you from the surrounding high rises.

That is why I post this in the Zen category with the “Nothing Zen” connotation: With all the technique of Internet progressing and helping I still feel strong that you should watch your back and watch out for conman trying to lure you into something you do not want. Lucky for us it was too cold in Madrid to care for a swim and lucky for us the hotel had other amenities that fitted us well during this stay.

Wakeup Copenhagen Borgergade – Hotel Reviews by HH (1)

Wakeup Front I56A1375The front of Wakeup Copenhagen Borgergade

Introduction to numbered “Hotel Reviews by HH” – cooperation with Hotel Designs

My wife and I became hoteliers in 2000 after having fulfilled creative and caring professions unrelated to hospitality. In 2000 we started to convert a dilapidated terraced house next to our own house into a luxury 3 suites “Hotel” or Luxury B & B and operated it under the name Haagsche Suites (i.e. Suites of The Hague) until we’d closed it in December, 2013. Currently I am an almost full-time blogger on several blogs, Happy Hotelier and Chair Blog being the closest related to Hotel Design.

Shortly after we closed Haagsche Suites I’ve contacted Patrick Goff of Hotel Designs which has a section of Hotel Reviews. I remember being very proud having Patrick review our Haagsche Suites. I also remember saying to my wife when Patrick stayed at our place:”Whenever we stop Haagsche Suites I want to do what Patrick does”. So Patrick and I met in spring and decided to a cooperation between the Blog Happy Hotelier and his site Hotel Designs. Patrick will be paying for a couple of “Hotel Reviews by HH”. To celebrate and remember our deal I’ve changed the header image of the blog from a garden view of Haagsche Suites into a view of the Brighton wheel, Brighton being the place where we met. The current review is the first. I Hope Hotel Reviews By HH will become a distinct qualification or maybe label by itself. Next to the more formal styled reviews I will continue to review hotels we’ve visited in a more informal way. Oh and you can read more about Patrick in my 10 Questions Interview with him.

Wakeup Copenhagen Borgergade

I come from the opposite end of hotel design spectrum. I believe(d) the guest needs to get as much room as economically feasible in order to feel well. Nevertheless I’ve closely followed the other end of the hotel design spectrum, noticing the market seems to undergo a change towards this idea guests don’t matter how small the room is, as long as its design is up to standard. So I was curious how the chain who owns the Wakeup would tackle this in Copenhagen, one of the top centers of “design”, especially furniture design. While writing the review it appeared there are many more hotels in this segment in Copenhagen.

Why chose the Wakeup Copenhagen Borgergade?

In May 2014, when I prepared for a city trip to Copenhagen two things drew my eyes to the new Wakeup Copenhagen Borgergade:

  1. It is very well located in the city center near Kongen Nytorv, Nyhavn, the Danish Royal Palace Amalien Borg, the Danish Design Museum and the city’s main shopping walk Oestergade. Actually its location is better than many of its competitors in the small rooms, but “design” hotel, segment.
  2. The fact that it is the second Copenhagen Wakeup. That means that the first must be a success which could be repeated

Wakeup Copenhagen I56A1378 SmallThe dark gray brick of the exterior is a nice addition to the other buildings in the street

Location

At the time I visited the Wakeup was approximately 2/3 finished. The 1/3 unfinished is an office building right of it which is being converted. When finished this Wakeup will count approximately 500 rooms.

As I pointed out already, the hotel is nicely located for the aspiring city hopper. A plus is it provides for rental city bikes. Copenhagen doesn’t have a cycling plan like Paris for example. Metro station not far away, approximately 15 minutes walking distance. With your own car approach is no problem at all and it is located next to a parking garage which after the building in the basement of which it is located will been completed, will be part of the hotel. The entry to the parking garage is next to the hotel. Ladies traveling alone by car don’t have to be afraid to be bothered while reaching the hotel in the night.

I usually also look at the way the hotel fits in its environment and this Wakeup does it nicely with its contrasting dark gray brick as opposed to an adjacent building in red brick. Height is the same as other buildings in the street. The street is wide. Even the rooms in the front don’t suffer from cramped feelings because there is another high building near by.

Rooms

I conclude this summary here with 3 photo’s of the rooms and suggest you move over to Hotel Designs for the “Real” review

 

Standard Room I56A2138Standard room


Shower I56A2142 smallTo your right is an en-suite bathroom in the form of a glass in-room pod with round shower stall

Sink and Toilet small I56A2140Flush buttons above the lid when up would have been more convenient

 

Not easy to make a proper video;-)

 

Read more at Hotel Designs.

(All photos and video © Happy Hotelier and Hotel Designs)

Nativity Secrets of Hotel Sonne

Father Helmut in the middle checking out the terrace in front of the porch to the courtyard

Courtyard of Hotel Sonne in Offenburg, GermanyThe courtyard with private parking space and the breakfast room at your left.
Here it is clear that the old part of the building is really old.


Nativity in the wood


Roman style Nativity


Close up of another Nativity


The three Kings


For the less religious there is the showcase with a persiflage of the hoteliers family

You may know that I’ve frequently visited Hotel Sonne in Offenburg, Germany. The hotel is operated by Gabi and her husband Horst. However the father and mother of Gabi, Helmut and Brigitte, who must be well in their 80ies still help their daughter out almost every day. The same family operating this hotel already for over 150 years.

In my prior review I’ve just showed one photo. Here I have some more, also to point you to their little secret: One forebear of Brigitte loved to collect little wooden figures and loved to make showpieces of them, mostly with Nativity as subject. Time permitting Brigitte will love to show them to you. They occupy a couple of their hotel rooms, but soon they will disappear as the hotel rooms will be refurbished in due course and be added to their inventory.

Chateau Eza – an Eagle’s Nest Hotel

Chateau-Eza-IMG_8185Full Moon and a view on St Jean Cap Ferrat

Chateau-Eza-IMG_8198An excellent place for Super Yacht spotting, here the 90m Lauren L, built in 2002 in Germany

Last year we took a few days off from our hectic life as hoteliers to visit the south of France.

I was able to make a last minute reservation for one night in a suite of the magnificent Chateau Eza.

However, there are a couple of things to note:

  • Eza is the old name for Eze. It is a little picturesque medieval and hence car free village on a rock approximately 500m above sea level with a magnificent view of the Mediterranean. It is the first village west from Monaco and not far from Nice and Nice Airport. It is draped like an Eagle’s Nest on a steep hill. Hotel Chateau Eza is situated on top of the village, about 20 minutes walking on a steep uphill path, partly with stairs. It’s an excellent place for Yacht spotting.
  • If you travel by car like we do, you should be aware that Eze village is a bit of a tourist trap with few parkings. On busy days it is hardly possible to park your car somewhere in the neighborhood of the entrance to the village. Many buses drop by. If you want to make a day trip by car to for instance Monaco or Nice, it takes about 1/2 hour before you reach your car and you have no guarantee you’ll find a parking spot when you return after your trip.
  • Eze can be foggy, even if the rest of the Riviera is sun blazed. Just be aware of this, if you booked for the view as we did.
  • They run an excellent restaurant, but they don’t give hotel guests a guaranteed seat for a session in the restaurant, what amazed me for a 10 rooms only hotel.
  • Checking in into the hotel is a somewhat peculiar experience, as there is a little office for the concierge in the main street not far from the car park, approximately a mile downhill form the hotel entrance itself. The hotel site is not clear about this feature. It should be in my opinion. The confirmation of the reservation gives some directions, but are not very clear. The porter does a good job bringing your luggage to the hotel. All in all it took us 2 hours from arrival by car until we were checked in.
  • Friends of us stayed somewhere in the not too distant neighborhood, and we would have liked them to meet us at the hotel for lunch, however when we were settled Eza had closed the kitchen, notwithstanding they advertise, even today, on their site: Tapas service and à la carte salads are served from 12h30 to 18h00. Moreover with a 5 stars rating you may expect 24/7 room service for tapas and salads. No flexibility at all and that annoyed me most.
  • As a final observation: The neighborhood is rocky. On the night vision photo above you look West and see the light glow of Nice behind the hill and the traffic on the secondary road. It means if there is no wind, there is a lot of traffic noise amplified by the steep rocks around. Traffic goes on all night.

All in all it was quite an, but not so quiet, experience which I won’t repeat.

Chateau-Eza-IMG_8207

After a wonderful, but bit hazy, breakfast on the terrace we left for the Burgundy region.

Review: Grasse – Bastide Saint Mathieu – A Real Gem!

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Bastide Saint Mathieu: Entrance

I’ve preluded to this review a long time ago in French Riviera and The Art of Booking Online: Nothing Zen! Part 3. I didn’t publish this review earlier, because I had terrible problems organizing my photos last year. That problem I only solved recently.

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Front

In July 2007 we were probably among the last guests of the Dutch couple who had started Bastide Saint Mathieu:

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View from our James Gordon Bennet Suite

A French Bastide recently restored with meticulous care, surrounded by 2 hectares of its own gardens and parkland. It Sleeps 14/17 in beautiful large bedrooms, with marble ensuite bathrooms. Fine terracing and gas flare lit cuisine d’ete for outside parties and entertaining. Huge swimming pool, boules piste. Great views; splendour and privacy in the triangle between Mougins, Grasse and Valbonne; 15 minutes Cannes, 25 minutes Nice.

Bastide-St-Mathieu-04
our beautifully appointed sitting room

It is a villa with 2 suites and 4 rooms, 1 of which is a single room.

Bastide-St-Mathieu-06
Our Bathroom

All rooms are individually and elegantly decorated with period pieces, open log fires, air conditioning and all of today’s facilities. The property is also available fully staffed on an exclusive basis with catering arrangements made available to suit the individual wishes of guests. In a corner of the typical Provencal garden is a lovely pool and sun deck overlooking the olive groves and hills of Mougins. There guests can spend some lazy hours soaking up the sun rays and enjoying the fragrances of lavender, flowers and herbs bordering the area. It is surrounded by various old villages and a vast choice of restaurants and golf courses,

Bastide-St-Mathieu-08
View from the outside breakfast area over the garden

Bastide Saint Mathieu offers a truly unique ambiance of luxury, charm and tranquility.

The former Dutch owners had sold to the present British owners who would start operating it August 2007. That was another reason for publishing this not immediately. It is my view that a lot of the fun of a staying in a hotel is made out by the way the owners/staff receive you. I am glad I could find two recent positive reviews in the meantime.

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The Pool

We stayed two nights in the James Gordon Bennet Suite, which has a separate sitting room and bedroom and we were pampered well by the former owner Inge.

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La cuisine d’été

Since our stay they have added a pergola to the swimming pool and made a covered area on the terrace for Al Fresco breakfasts, lunches and dinners. They have a marvelous photo gallery on their site.

I wouldn’t mind going back.

Post Alia: Still Nothing Zen!
While doing online research for this post, I found out that sites like Tripadvisor really are putting the smaller hotels like Bastide Saint Mathieu to a disadvantage vis a vis the big chains: Usually not many guests do write in a hotel’s guest book, I would estimate one out of 4 guests. If they write in the hotel’s guest book, they are not likely to write an online review. So my estimate is that less than one out of twenty guests writes an online review. Then the big question is where the review is written online, as there are many possibilities….
So Bastide Saint Mathieu has only 3 reviews on the US Site of Tripadvisor and the same three on Tripadvisor’s UK site. However when I looked at their UK an French sites three weeks ago, the UK site couldn’t find Bastide Saint Mathieu and the French site had 7 reviews….I see now the same 3 reviews. Probably they have now acknowledged he change of ownership…

It used to be a member of Chateaux et Hotels. I’m not sure it is now. Ah, darn, they still are! I wasn’t sure, because Chateaux et Hotels deemed it feasible to change their site. If you now are searching a hotel on their site you only can search for available hotel rooms. If the hotel is fully booked, you can’t find the hotel on the very site of their own marketing organization. This is Mighty Stupid! Chateaux et Hotels took away their maps……Why make it easy (as they did in an earlier version of their site) when you can make it difficult?