As I spent most of my time bitching about Europe, I didn’t write my typical review-style blog entries. But I do feel it is my moral obligation to write reviews to post on Tripadvisor, as I use that site for everything I book (I believe in a kind of internet karma). Today I took some time and wrote reviews for the places we’ve stayed–I’ll get to the restaurant reviews…some day. Maybe. I’m including all of these reviews as a post, in case anyone is interested in staying at any of these places.
Please note, I have no affiliation with any of these establishments, and paid to stay at each one (so no one is paying me to write nice things–clearly, as not all things written are nice!) Also please note, these were written to be posted on Tripadvisor, which is why there are references to star ratings.
Hotel Thirty Thirty–NYC
This was a great little hotel. The desk staff was helpful, the room was clean and large enough (by NYC standards, of course), the lobby was lovely, there was a bar next door we didn’t try (but had great happy hour deals posted) and a great little bar across the street that we did try and loved (The Crooked Knife). Additionally, the hotel was well located–we walked to the Empire State Building/Herald Square/Macy’s (we were only in town for one day on our way to the airport, so we weren’t really sightseeing). We would definitely stay here again, especially considering the great price. Check out Brasserie Les Halles around the corner–friends took us here for dinner, and it was fantastic.
Yes, the rooms are very small. However small you are imagining, they are smaller, and the reality of that smallness is a bit more shocking than you think. We had a ‘large room with window’–the most ‘expensive’ room you can get (I think we paid something like $60 USD) which is a deal in London. The shower was a bit of a challenge, as it was so small, standing under the water caused one’s elbow (or hip or butt or belly) to turn the water either off or to very hot or very cold–but the good news is that the water DID get very hot! The location was very good–we walked to Westminster Abbey, and with Victoria station right there, you have access to almost every tube line and bus line in the city. My husband and I stayed here for one night and were fine–I don’t think we could have handled two nights. Though traveling alone, I would stay here for a week without hesitation. An additional note–due to a flight snafu, we had to email them to make sure we could have a VERY late check in–10am the morning AFTER we’d booked. They had no problem with this, and check in was easier and faster than any check in I’ve ever experienced–very important after a red-eye transatlantic flight!
I so wanted to love this hotel. It got such great reviews, and we got a really good deal, as we booked in advance and were staying
over the weekend, which is (much) less expensive. Well, I now know why it is much less expensive–because the tube station down the street is closed on Saturdays and Sundays, and the next closest station is a twenty minute walk through a questionable neighborhood that is currently under construction (think homeless people and guys with jackhammers–not a nice stroll) and, to add insult to injury, the two lines that ran through that station were closed that weekend. We ended up spending enough on cabs to have stayed at a better located hotel.
Now, of course, none of this is The Hoxton’s fault, and that’s why I’m giving it as many stars as I have (I gave it three out of five). The hotel itself was fantastic–the staff were friendly and helpful (we were allowed to check in at nine am!), there’s a great lobby/lounge area, the breakfast was reasonably priced and great, and the rooms were top-notch (free wifi, great showers, mood lighting) There was literally nothing more I could have asked for from the hotel itself–aside from, perhaps, quiet. The admittedly very cool atrium off the lounge area is beyond busy at night–and why not, it’s a cool place to hang out (one of the cab drivers that dropped us off remarked that he never knew that The Hoxton was a hotel–he thought it was a club!) so it is VERY loud at night–and we were on the 6th floor. However, it always stopped right around midnight, and we’re not early sleepers, so it wasn’t that big of a deal–but it is certainly something to think about for those who are the early to bed type.
All in all, it is very difficult to rate this hotel. If given the option of five stars, I’d typically assign one star to each of the following categories: staff, room niceness, atmosphere, location and price. The staff and rooms were great (two stars), the atmosphere was half good and half bad (because it was so ‘cool’, it was also loud–half of a star), the location was terrible, and the price was good, but the cost of transport to and from everything we wanted to do offset the cost of the room, making it a much more expensive choice (half of a star, for a grand total of three stars). I would not stay here again. I would stay somewhere less cute and less hip (and even less clean!) in exchange for quiet and a convenient location.
The Paris Apartment
We very much enjoyed our stay at this apartment. The location was great, the building was secure, and the apartment was clean and spacious. When I booked the apartment, I had several concerns; I am assuming others will have the same concerns, so I will address each of mine–none of which turned out to be valid.
Concern number one was the lack of air conditioning. I realize this sounds like a silly concern, but living in Pennsylvania, I cannot imagine spending two weeks at the end of July without AC. I was very concerned, and actually seriously considered a different, more expensive, much smaller apartment rental based solely on the fact that that apartment had air conditioning. That would have been a stupid decision. First of all, it was warm maybe two out of the fourteen days we spent in Paris–and by warm, I mean warm, not hot. It maybe went up to 80 degrees. And even with that ‘heat’, the layout of the windows in the apartment allowed for a great cross breeze, and we were never hot. The other twelve days we were there, it was so cool at night that I would wear a sweater to walk down
the street for gelato. We were never hot in the apartment–not once.
Concern number two was the size of the apartment. I’ve seen apartments and hotels in NYC, and I was afraid of living in a shoebox for two weeks. This apartment was so spacious, I wondered how it was possible that it existed in a large city. I could live there–with my husband–365 days a year.
Concern number three was location–you never really know if you are in a good location when you visit a city for the first time. This apartment is well located for three reasons. One, it is less than half a mile from the Notre Dame, the very center of Paris, which means yes, you can stroll along the Seine whenever you want. Two, it is in a little neighborhood that has everything you could possibly want–produce stands, a butcher, multiple restaurants and cafes, a pharmacy, three places to buy wine (very important), a Monoprix–there was nothing that was not within easy walking distance (as in less than two minutes). And three, you are steps away from the Rambuteau metro stop, making getting around the city a breeze. From the Louvre to the door of the apartment was less than 10 minutes total if you took the metro–if you wanted, you could walk, and it would take maybe 30 minutes.
Aside from my concerns being unfounded, this apartment really did have it all. Giant windows that opened onto the dining area, making it feel like we had our own little cafe. A washing machine that made packing light a joy–we had only backpacks for our three weeks overseas, and honestly, I could have brought LESS. The kitchen was great–I cooked dinner twice, and had everything I needed to do so. Even the decor was nice–the furniture has recently been updated, and the photos on vrbo do not do the place justice. If we ever return to Paris, we would definitely stay here again, and would encourage friends and relatives to do the same.
The Convent Hotel–Amsterdam
This was a great hotel from top to bottom. The location was great–a less than ten minute walk from the train station, and directly across the street from a tram stop. The room was clean and quaintly decorated, with a little sitting area and a minibar that had room in it for your own things–should you want to chill a bottle of wine. The bed was, and I quote myself, ‘like sleeping in a giant marshmallow’–I have never been so comfortable. The staff was warm and friendly, and the lobby was well appointed. There was a little bar with giant overstuffed chairs that we would have visited if we would have stayed longer. I cannot find any fault with this hotel at all. Oh–and if you care about this sort of thing during your stay, it was two doors down from a not-so-scary-looking coffee shop (some were scary looking), and next door to a great little pastry shop that sold fantastic apple turnovers (my husband had three in the two days we were there!) We will return to Amsterdam, and when we do, we will stay at this hotel.
All I can say is–what a fantastic idea. They should have these kinds of hotels everywhere. We stayed at the Gatwick Yotel because we had a very early flight home–6:25am. We checked in at 7pm and out at 5am. Had we stayed in London, we would have had to get up at an insane hour to be safely at the airport in time for our flight. Instead, we took the Gatwick express from Victoria at the end of our last day, checked into the Yotel, had several drinks in one of the airport restaurants, and
got a good night’s sleep and a great shower before leaving in the morning. As Gatwick is open 24 hours a day, I saw several people sleeping on the floor, with piles of their stuff around them, and all I could think was ‘why didn’t they just get a room at the Yotel?’ It wasn’t even that expensive! Additionally, when I had to change the dates of my booking because I changed the date of my flight, they emailed me back within twenty minutes that of course I could change the date–no questions asked, no problems whatsoever. Great customer service, a great experience, and a great concept!
Please note: when I say ‘we’, I am referring to my husband and I, but we each had our own rooms. They are very, very small, so I would not suggest trying to share one, unless of course the alternative is sleeping on the floor of the airport!