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Category Archives: Zen

Would you consider staying in a notel in stead of a hotel?

You might consider a notel after visiting a new site on the block: Hotel Haiku, curated by Garri Rayne.

Hotel Haiku has taken up the idea of describing Hotels and, more importantly notels in a real Zen way, with a Haiku:

haiku [ˈhaɪkuː] n. A Japanese lyric verse form having three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables, traditionally invoking an aspect of nature or the seasons.

I’m particularly attracted to the term notel, because when I started out as a hotelier and was developing our own unique 3 suites only “hotel” Haagsche Suites, I had for some time the idea of naming it Not a Hotel. Eventually I decided to name it “Haagsche Suites” (i.e. suites of The Hague), because Not A Hotel sounded a bit negative. Never thought of notel.

I congratulate Hotel Haiku with the invention of this term notel. As they describe it:

notel [nəʊˈtɛl] n. An exceptional, often architecturally designed, holiday and vacation rental property that draws inspiration from the design hotel phenomenon.

So notel is beyond Hotel, beyond Hip Hotel, beyond Boutique Hotel, beyond Design Hotel or beyond what hotel have you and at the same time it is below the usual hotel radar. Thank you Hotel Haiku!

First Hotel Haiku (@hotelhaiku) found me via Twitter and I noticed it without paying much attention. Then I found out more about the site via our friends over at Tnooz. I refer to their review of the Hotel Haiku site.

I’m set to explore the phenomenon further and created even a notel category, because I’ve featured some notels here on the blog already.

As Garri pointed out in his comment the undercast n is essential for the idea behind the term notel , so I have edited all, but couldn’t withstand to add little bit of my own: red :-)

Last edited by GJE on April 1, 2011

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.


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

Real Zen – First post on the New Server


After I imported the posts of Happy Hotelier from the old server to the new server, this interview with Robert Pirsig came up as my first draft in my drafts ghetto.

Whenever I see or hear the term Zen I associate it with the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance.
Currently I’m awaiting the DNS switch from old server to new server as the two have been in the air next to each other. In the meantime I have replaced a keyboard because the w key kept hanging because of ash with coffee in it.
Well I was pondering the new set up for my categories as they seem to be misfits anyway.

Three notes to self evolve:

  1. Zen will remain as category
  2. Art as well
  3. Have to read this book finaly

The Seventies bestseller Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was the biggest-selling philosophy book ever. But for the reclusive author life was bitter-sweet. Here, he talks frankly about anxiety, depression, the death of his son and the road trip that inspired a classic.

Born 6 September 1928, Minneapolis.

Family Father was a law lecturer and mother was Swedish-born. Pirsig married Nancy Ann James in 1954. They had two sons: Chris, and Ted, now 48. Now married to journalist Wendy Kimball, with whom he has a 25-year-old daughter, Nell.

Education Judged to have an IQ of 170 at age nine. Went to University of Minneapolis at 15, but joined the army in 1946, serving in Korea before returning to the university to study philosophy. Then studied at Benares in India.

Last edited by Happy Hotelier on November 21, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Searching for a Cool Maastricht Hotel in a Busy Weekend – Nothing Zen!

hotelicopter-output-for-maastrichtThe Helicopter search result

Actually I’m proud of my Zen series of posts. It describes from time to time how much effort it takes me to find a nice last minute hotel room. I consider myself reasonably knowledgeable about hotels and enough of a geek to find a cool hotel room via internet. But each time I am asked to find somebody a cool hotel, I find it becoming more difficult to find something special at a reasonable price via internet. It demonstrates to me time after time that the internet is not such a nice tool as everyone, including travel marketeers wants us to believe. To me these exercises demonstrate time after time again the Hospitality- and Destination marketing industry still has waaaay to go before they “get it”.

This time my unfortunate dance partner “Dancegirl” asked me to find her a nice hotel in or around Maastricht for tomorrow. As Asuncion Day is a Dutch Bank Holiday and the weather is nice, this is even more difficult, as there will be not many vacancies in and around Maastricht tomorrow.

So, actually the “Zen” tag is sometimes more of an euphemism for a good old rant….

This time my first search was on Hotelicopter. Please note it is spelled with one ‘l’ in the middle – just wondering why they didn’t scoop up the hotellicopter domain.

Recently I ranted really about them.
They rate the Maastricht Kruisherenhotel as the best of their Maastricht portfolio. That goes without saying, because I know, as my own review of the Kruisherenhotel on their site is a raving one. Only Dancegirl won’t be able or willing to pay their rate.

My rant about Hotelicopter is still valid: Despite Adam Healey promising me that “their own” – I mean their community’s, more precisely “our” reviews – which they hid when they relabeled themselves from VibeAgent into Hotelicopter, will be back soon, you still cannot check those reviews on their site. How long do we have to wait, Adam?

On a positive note: Their search machine doesn’t confine itself to an area within country boundaries. Especially important in the case of Maastricht as it is located near our borders with Germany and Belgium.

On a negative note: they didn’t catch the euro 150 no refund St Gerlach offer described here below.

I looked at Tripadvisor with and without availability search and it didn’t come up with something interesting quickly enough.

I looked at Booking.com, but got lost in the preferred position of various big chain hotels.

Then I looked at my favorite Dutch Hoteliers site. Already my favorite because I use them as a white label online booking engine for my Haagsche Suites (and consequently am always featured on their home page as the second best guest rated hotel of their portfolio in The Netherlands), but also because the site is easy to use. Their model is a fee based one. Nothing commissions from the hotels. They came up with a non refundable offer from St Gerlach, owned by the same owner as the kruisherenhotel and they happen to be a member of the same small chain of Historic Hotels of the Benelux we’re a member of.

In the meantime, via Twitter, I got two suggestions from twitter followers:

One very funny one from Patrick Geoff twittering as @HotelDesigns who suggested Haagsche Suites and referred to his own kind review. He wasn’t aware that my search was was for Dancegirl She actually does know Haagsche Suites by heart, as she replaces us in minding the guests occasionally. Some guests even prefer her minding them over this old goat:-).

The second suggestion came from Hotel Calculator. They did come up with the same St Gerlach offer, but now via Agoda. Hotel Calculator quoted Euro 154, but when you landed on Agoda, the price reduced by a sort of refund policy of Agoda… When I asked Hotel calculator about the difference, he answered that it probably is due to exchange rate imparities in the scraping process.

Agoda being the same OTA that Hotelicopter came up with, this also shows that not all meta search engines are equal. In an earlier post I commented that there was apparently a lag between Hotelicopter’s availability and Agoda’s availability. Hotel calculater claims their engine scrapes real time….

As Dancegirl liked this offer and booked it, this ends as a bit less time consuming and more zen alike post:-)

I’ll keep your posted about Dancegirl’s verdict of the St Gerlach.