Christopher Pratt (cpratt) wrote,
Christopher Pratt
cpratt

Hotels.

Best value for money: the outrageously luxurious Stamford Plaza (I think it was in Auckland). For the price of a Motel 6 room in San José, we had it all: marble bathroom, view, doorbell, elaborate breakfast, huge bed, and a signed letter from Madeleine Albright waxing poetic about the place.

Noisiest: the Mercure Severinshof Cologne. I didn't realize they were renovating the place; the jackhammers were unpleasant when they started at 7 in the morning. At least it was cheap.

Most disgusting: some unnamed motel just off the I-5 in National City, CA, just north of Tijuana. It was late, we were tired, and no place had vacancies. Got in the room, took one look at the stains all over the bathroom, and had to leave immediately. I'm still not sure what they were, but I'm thinking it was blood.

Most chic: Córdoba, Spain, in a renovated mansion from the 18th century. The room had twenty foot ceilings, marble floors, and furniture that would give any Italian designer a hissy fit of envy. Add an elaborate feast on no fewer than three room service carts accompanied by a gran reserva something or other, and I was well on my way to feeling like Patsy and/or Edina.

Most unnerving: the hotel I stayed at in Tbilisi. To begin with, the two beds had no sheets on them; instead, there was a small pile of something that looked vaguely like those British pot holders, the ones that have pockets for both hands and connecting fabric in between. The rusty water and insects crawling around the bathtub didn't add to the ambience, and when the sun came up accompanied by noisy traffic, I nearly lost it.

Worst location: the Hyatt where they've been having Bear Pride for the last couple of years, in Chicago. No public transportation, not near anything worth looking at, totally unappealing.

Strangest room: that same Hyatt; "suites" are made by closing a door at the end of the hall that's normally left open so that you can get at one of the two corner rooms; the other corner room is the "suite", filled with nothing more than a bar, a dining table, and a sofa. In 1999, the place got so crowded that a couple of guests' rooms were actually just the "suite" part with a roll-away bed. Very strange.

Best breakfast: the Senats Hotel in Cologne. All I ask for in a hotel breakfast is perfect bread and perfect coffee, and this place had both. The best rolls I've ever had, in fact.

Wettest: the other hotel I stayed at in Tbilisi, which had a Korean air conditioning unit that basically haemorrhaged water all night long. In the morning, there was standing water all over the hardwood floor, and the mattress had become a giant sponge. I tried not to notice and concentrated on actually having a/c in the middle of summer in the Caucausus. Thankfully I was not charged for water damage.

Hottest: a hotel in Santiago de Chile across from a park, directly above a major road. One night was absolutely enough - you couldn't get a breeze in there to save your life. We checked into the Embassy Suites the very next day.

Most like a mental hospital: the Cannon Hotel in Gibraltar. The room had... well, two beds and that was it. No heating, but big comforters. Depressing as hell.

Friendliest: After approximately twenty-four hours' travel, we finally pulled into Coromandel, NZ, and headed for the fanciest place in town: the Coromandel Court Motel. The owner (proprietress?) welcomed us with the biggest smile I've ever seen, showed us around our two bedroom apartment, made us tea, told us how to get to the restaurants in town, and said she'd hoped we'd love New Zealand. After that, how could you not? Total cost: US $40 a night, including a pint of milk.

Best value for money: probably Hotel the Golden Bear, in Amsterdam. Nothing fancy, but given the location (Amsterdam city), an absolute steal at about $50 a night. Sure, the rooms are plain, the toilet's down the hall, and the breakfast is Spartan, but the cat's friendly and it's absolutely spotless. I love the place.

Most overpriced: the Orongo Bay Homestead, New Zealand. Minimum two nights' stay, cost about $400. Sure, they were friendly and the (included) food was superb, but the wine list was overpriced as well, and the toiletries were exactly the same as the $40 hotel in Coromandel. What really pissed me off was, however, the Schott-Zwiesel stemware they served the wine in. At those prices I should have demanded a decent glass instead of the heavy $1 glasses they sell at Trader Joe's, especially when wine shops in NZ had Spiegelau glasses for about $5 a pop. Please. (The oyster soufflée was really good, though.)

Best hotel meal: at the Parador in Ronda, Andalucia. Three courses, wine, coffee, dessert. I was too tired / drunk to pay attention to what I was eating but I assure you it was without peer. The most impressive thing of all must have been the service, though: it had been over ten years since I experienced service on that level. Yeah, it made me feel underdressed, but I was delighted to see that some places still do things the old fashioned way.

Other best hotel meal: at the ryokan I stayed in in Kyoto, the one whose name I never figured out, I had one of those fabled Japanese meals that came in approximately twenty dishes, mostly containing things I didn't recognize, but which were indescribably delicious. And heck, it was cheaper than the Andalucian meal, and it was served by a beautiful woman in kimono in my own room. Woohoo!

Best English breakfast: actually in Singapore, at The Duxton. It was nice to have the beans-tomato-sausage-rashers-eggs-fried bread preceded by wonderful fresh mango slices, if anything. :)

Smallest room: Hotel Tre Sma Rum, in Stockholm. What do you expect from a hotel of that name? Small rooms. What did we get? A really small room. Once you set down your bags, there wasn't any room left save on the beds. Not a bad value considering Stockholm prices, though.

Grandest hotel: Hotel Termas de Puyehue, in Chile. You know that big hotel in The Shining? The Overlook? Well, this place wasn't like that. It was more like The Awahnee, but affordable ($70) and almost completely devoid of paying guests. What was once a big destination back in the days of rail travel is now largely forgotten, but still utterly lovely. To have a pisco sour out on the grand porch, looking out over the green hills in front of huge volcanoes... wonderful. Utterly wonderful. The fact that part of the hotel had actually collapsed just made it that much more romantic.

Best hotel room feature: the in-room washer and dryer at the CityLife hotel in Wellington, NZ. Hardly believing my eyes, I planned a trip to NZ just so that we could stay there two nights in the middle of the trip to... do the laundry. The room itself was amazing - three rooms, beautiful almost Asian furnishings, a full kitchen, and... the all important laundry set. We had Malaysian takeout while drinking NZ sparkling wine and waiting for our pants to dry. Ah, bliss.

Most amazing bed and breakfast ever: the Fresh Egg retreat, a few hours' drive from Wellington, NZ. Run by two Americans who emigrated to NZ a few years ago, you can expect the best bed in the history of the universe and one of the best dinners you'll ever have in your life. All of this out in the middle of nowhere, deep in farming country, utterly peaceful. If you're ever in NZ, it's worth a very long detour.

Worst bed and breakfast ever: the Auberge de les bons matins in Montréal. Nothing really wrong with the place per se, but we were unlucky: our neighbors went out and left their TV on at high volume, probably to scare away potential thieves; the other neighbors left their alarm on, and it was one of those ones without auto-shutoff. Finally, at 2 AM I'd had enough and dragged the manager out of his bed down the block to come break in to the other rooms, shut everything off so I could sleep... entirely unpleasant. Oh, and the breakfast service was impossibly chaotic, although the salmon benedict was good enough.

Best American motel: the Ghost Ranch Lodge, I think it was, in Tucson, AZ. A bunch of old school motel rooms and cabins scattered across a typical 1950s American cactus garden, picnic area, playground kind of thing, once out in the middle of nowhere but now surrounded by tacky strip malls. It's the kind of place I imagine Humbert Humbert would've appreciated.
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