- Travel and Places
European Hotel Reviews
European Hotel Reviews and Recommendations
Here is a selection of hotel reviews and recommendations from my many travels (both business and pleasure) around Europe: UK, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Italy, Sweden, Estonia, Poland and Russia and many other countries.
From England there are reviews of beautiful old English hotels in the Cotswolds, pubs by the sea in Somerset and various other hotels in the West Country. In Italy, Russia and Sweden, some good business and tourist hotels and in Poland and Estonia some good inexpensive tourist hotels. I have also included some hotel recommendations from Tuscany in Italy.
Map of Europe
Dial House, Bourton-on-the-Water, The Cotswolds, England
Fancy Dinner in the Cotswolds
I stayed at The Dial House Hotel with my partner, after reading a rave review. I was expecting a wonderfully decorated room with antique furniture and a four-poster bed. Not that I had requested that, but I had jumped to the conclusion that this is what I would be getting, so I was quite disappointed when I was shown to a rather small newly decorated room by the manager of this small hotel. He proudly showed us the "jacuzzi" (i.e. a small modern bath with some water-squirters) in the brand-new modern-styled bathroom. The room was on the ground-floor with french doors onto the patio where other guests were enjoying afternoon tea and immediately behind the bar, which we were assured would close by about midnight, so it shouldn't be too noisy. There was a strong smell of paint and we suspected that we may have been the first occupants of the room since renovation. We had only paid Â£140 for the room, including breakfast, so we were perhaps expecting rather too much for our money at the peak of the season in the Cotswolds.
The manager was very pleasant and friendly, but we did feel a bit disappointed. We decided to go out and explore and the beautiful town of Bourton, and come back for our pre-booked dinner and hope that it would be better than the room. We came back and decided we had to move rooms because of the smell. The manager apologised and immediately put us into a much bigger room in the Coach House next door, with antique furniture at no extra charge. There was still no four-poster, nor the jacuzzi, but we were much happier. We went to the very pleasant little bar for canapes and an aperitif and to peruse the menu before going through to the small dining room for dinner. The food was excellent modern English cuisine and the service friendly rather than excessively formal. Starters cost about Â£8 and main courses about Â£20, so, with the aperitifs and bottle of wine from the less expensive end of the menu we spent about Â£100. Breakfast the following morning was possibly even better and included in the room-price.
I would certainly recommend this hotel for a night and for dinner. There is a two night minimum at the weekend. There are more expensive rooms with four-posters (one of the staff told us to ask for room 3 next time) but the larger room we occupied was room 10 in the Coach House and the smaller modern one was room 5 in the main building.
The hotel is situated on the main road running through the village, and very centrally located, but set back from the road, with a small car-park entrance which is quite easy to miss.
Some of the rooms are excellent, spacious and decorated and furnished in a style appropriate for this lovely old building, whereas some are quite small, modern and characterless.
The buildings are very pleasant and just what you might expect in a Cotswolds Village. There isn't really a lobby nor a grand entrance, but the reception is very friendly with helpful staff. It is the sort of place where the guests are friendly and chat to strangers in the bar, which is a splendid, cosy old fashioned place.
Food and Drinks
This is certainly a place to stay and eat at. The dining experience is relaxed and pleasant with good service and very good quality food.
The location is ideal, right in the centre of this small village. Everything of interest is within easy walking distance of the hotel. There isn't much nightlife, apart from a few traditional English pubs.
Victoria Pub/Hotel, Burnham-on-sea, Somerset, England
Simple pub accommodation near the beach
The Victoria is a traditional pub just a short walk from the beach in Burnham-on-sea, which is an old Victorian sea-side resort town. The rooms are a reasonable size, newly decorated, with good modern, simple bathrooms. The pub bars are fairly busy at the weekend and there is some noise from them and from the skittles/bowling alley underneath some of the rooms, but the bars close at midnight at the weekend. Traditional pub food is served in the bars all day and a reasonable traditional B&B full English breakfast served in the morning.
The rooms are big enough for two people to move around easily with a double bed or two singles in some of the rooms and a reasonable sized newly fitted bathroom. The rooms are simple and newly decorated with a small TV and DVD player, but no mini-bar or room service and "smelly food" is not allowed in the room. There is no view apart from of the car park or street.
This is a traditional English pub of a Victorian style with two bars. There is no lobby and when checking in you have to go to the bar. The staff were helpful and friendly. The food is basic "pub-grub"; inexpensive and simple. There are no other facilities apart from the small garden or seating area at the front.
There are only six rooms so the ambiance at breakfast time is quieter and more refined than in the evening. The food is simple, basic fried English breakfast.
The immediate surrounding are fairly uninspiring, but the beach is seven miles of golden sand running all the way to Brean Down peninsular. An old wooden lighthouse on stilts stands on the beach and a couple of miles away there is an old wooden wreck and an old, broken, disused Victorian stone paddling pool for when the tide went out. There is a golf club and other sports centres near the town. The shopping opportunities in the town are minimal, but Weston Supermare is a half hour drive away. There are a few other pubs, some with live music. The location is fairly quiet, but there is some noise from the bars and bowling alley.
Lake District, England - A few hotel recommendations...
There are many wonderful old hotels in the Lake district. Here are few of my favourites:
Applegarth Hotel in Windermere. A great location for the town. Quite old fashioned but very comfortable. A good restaurant and there are plenty more good restaurants nearby in the town.
Bridge Inn, Buttermere. Wonderful location. Not much more than a couple of pubs (This one and the Fish Hotel Pictured above), a lake and some sheep. Nice easy walk round the lake and reasonable packed lunch from the pub/hotel. Either of the pubs would be good for a night or two. The Bridge Inn does a good "5-course" dinner or bar-food. Not much else to do apart from the pubs though (Which is fine by me)
Wordsworth Hotel, Grasmere. Posh and old-fashioned. 5-course dinner and pleasant bar etc. right in the centre, with plenty to see without using the car.
Ivy House Hotel, Hawkshead. Very small, friendly, Georgian, Grade 2 listed, but comfortable with great food.
None of these are modern hotels, but they were all comfortable and charming.
There are plenty more to choose from though.
De la Ville, Monza, Italy (near Milan)
Best Hotel in or Near Milan
This is one of the best hotels in or near Milan. It is small, friendly with huge a amount of style and character. I lived in this hotel, during the week, for about six months when on a work assignment in Milan. I had initially stayed in the centre of Milan, but found the relative peace and quiet of Monza to be far more enjoyable, and after trying a few hotels, chose this one to live in. It is a luxury hotel in an excellent location opposite the Royal Park and the Summer Palace and a short walk from the centre on Monza with its selection of restaurants, bars and shops. The interior is decorated with an eclectic mix of beautiful antiques, and the bar and restaurant make a wonderful place to relax.
There are just 69 bedrooms of various sizes, and the single rooms or small doubles that I occupied during my stay were more than adequate in size, although not huge, but had good furniture and were well thought out with stylish decoration and all the usual features, such as multi-channel TV and mini-bar.
This is a small, very friendly hotel with a lovely ambiance and charm. The desk staff even sang happy birthday to me as I came down for breakfast on my birthday (well I had been living there for several months by that stage and felt that knew them all quite well) The bar is old fashioned and comfortable.
Food and Drink
The restaurant has a great ambiance and a reasonable choice of high quality dishes and fine wines.
The location is good, with a main road running nearby, so there is reasonable access to airports, although the main Milan central railway station is about 20km away and the journey by car into central Milan can take a while, depending on traffic. The Royal Park opposite is very pleasant and Monza itself is a good place to go out for drinks or dinner. There are some good shops, although central Milan is the place to go for nightlife and of course shopping.
The Royal Victoria Hotel, Pisa, Tuscany, Italy
A good place to stay in Pisa is The Royal Victoria Hotel: old hotel with views of the river and antique furniture. An ancient tower. Good location a short walk from the main square in the historic centre. Pleasant small 4th floor roof terrace. No bar but drinks can be ordered at reception and served in the room, 'hall' or roof terrace.
Pisa, Siena or Florence all make a good starting point or base for a trip to Tuscany. There isn't a great deal to see in Pisa, except for the iconic leaning tower and beautiful Duomo. Florence however has enough art, architecture, excellent food and culture to keep you busy for days.
Hotel l'Antico Pozzo, San Giminignano, Italy
Places to Stay in San Giminignano: Hotel l'Antico Pozzo, Via San Matteo 87, San Gimignano: a 15th C palazzo once visited by Dante, with antique furniture Euro 110 to Euro 135 for doubles
Mueble I'll Riccio, Montepuluciano, Italy
Mueble I'll Riccio (Pictured Above)
Places to Stay in Montepuluciano: Mueble I'll Riccio Euro 116 a palace built in 1280 with a roof terrace overlooking Valdichiana Valley. Small to medium sized double rooms. Nicely decorated and wonderful lounge/breakfast room with high ceilings downstairs.
The medieval hamlet Montepuluciano is the highest hill town in Tuscany at nearly 2000 ft and has excellent views of the local vineyards. Famous for the excellent red wine of the same name. There are many places offering 'free' wine tasting
Hotel San Luca, Cortona, Italy
Hotel San Luca just outside the town-wall, in Cortona, Tuscany overlooking a lake in Umbria and a wonderful view (see above)
A nice easy drive from Montepuluciano to Cortona via Castiglione del Lago in Umbria (not much to see there apart from the castel on the hill and the lake Lago Trasimeno. Parked in supermarket carpark and had a short walk to the lake) but Cortona is another beautiful historic hill-town.
There is free parking on the way up the hill so it is easiest to dump the car and walk to the entrance of the walled town.
Hotel and restaurant Fattoria di Montagliari, Panzana, Chianti Road - Between Siena and Florence on the "Chianti Road" wine region
Hotel and restaurant Fattoria di Montagliari a wonderful vineyard, restaurant and hotel, where you can drink their wine (Fattoria di Montagliari Chianti Classico bottled in Italy by David Migliorini, Panzana www.montagliari.it)
The "Chianti Road" to Greve In Chianti via Radda In Chianti is an excellent route to take through the Chianti vineyards of this famouse wine region. Greve In Chianti is the biggest town en route, but staying at a vineyard could be a more pleasant experience.
Volterra, Tuscany, Italy
Places to Stay in Volterra: Albergo Nazionale. Basic room, but with a balcony overlooking an excellent view down the hillside. No mini bar, fridge, or icemaking facilities, unpleasant staff and awful breakfast, but very close to lots of good bars, cafes and restaurants and that beautiful scenery and an underground carpark just outside Centre Storica a few hundred yards away.
Volterra has Roman ruins inside the city walls and the usual piazza Duomo etc. Surprisingly large amount of traffic negotiating the narrow streets.
Lucca, Tuscany, Italy
Places to stay in Lucca: Hotel: Alla Dimora Lucense, Via Fontana, 19 (0583 495722) guest house associated with La Luna Hotel (which was full) very comfortable room. Good decoration and bathroom.
Lucca is bigger than many of the other hill-top Tuscan towns and is the best place to go shopping, but still has the charm and history and big tree lines town walls and the famous tower with trees growing out of the top.
Memory Hotel, Kista, Srockholm, Sweden
Thanks for the Memory
The Memory Hotel is a good Swedish business hotel a short train journey away from central Stockholm, but its main purpose is to serve the small business area in Kista, where there are few alternatives. It is comfortable, if a little clinical in terms of styling, with fairly minimalist feel to the rooms and the decor. I have stayed in this hotel many times over the years and even lived in one of the separate annex apartments for a while, during an assignment in Sweden. I would recommend it for a business trip, but not as a home.
The rooms are very typically Swedish in style with simple clean lines to the furniture and light coloured wood, which gives the impression of space. I have stayed in several standard rooms, which are of a reasonable size, with a bed, desk and other seating and enough space not to feel cramped. I have also "lived" in a serviced apartment in a separate annex which was similarly furnished, but significantly larger. The beds are typical Swedish style with a thin soft top mattress and a thicker harder mattress underneath which makes them quite comfortable.
The architecture is quite modern and not very exciting, but this is a functional, business hotel. The lobby is big and open and a bit uninviting, but the staff are helpful and friendly. The bar is surprisingly good for a business hotel. It is bit and open and reasonably comfortable, with very friendly staff. The hotel has a sauna, although I never used it.
Food and Drink
The food in the restaurant is a bit limited, but reasonably good for a business hotel. There is a surprisingly good selection of beers in the bar, from all over the world, at fairly high prices even for Sweden. The dining area is open and quite canteen like in feel.
The Memory Hotel is next to a large car park very close to many of the businesses in Kista, which makes it ideal if you are working there. It is also a short walk through the big shopping mall to the train station, which takes you into Stockholm centre in about 15 minutes. There is a good range of shops in the mall and of course plenty of shopping opportunities in Stockholm. There is very little nightlife in Kista, so a trip into Stockholm would be required for a night out, although there are several dining options in the shopping mall, which locals seem to rate very highly (although I wasn't particularly impressed)
St Olav, Tallinn, Estonia
This hotel is situated very close to the main square in Tallinn, Estonia, with reasonably comfortable rooms and a lot of character at a reasonable price.
The room I stayed in was just about big enough, with space round the single bed to move around. Some other rooms were longer and narrower, making them a bit awkward, but sufficient. There was a flat screen multichannel TV and a minibar and the decor was simple and quite pleasant. There was no view from the room.
The staff were helpful, and while not apparently knowing much about Tallinn, were able to access the internet to answer my questions. The atmosphere in the hotel is pleasant and maintains some of its old character.
Food and Drink
I didn't eat in the hotel, but there was a reasonable minibar. Given the proximity of other restaurants and bars, this is a place to use as a base, but not to spend the evenings eating and drinking.
Everything of interest to the tourist is a short walk away, but taxis are readily available from nearby. There are plenty of eating and drinking establishments very nearby and some clubs within a short walk from the hotel. There is not much traffic, so it is quite peaceful here too.
Globetroter Hostel, Krakow, Poland
Basic inexpensive hotel in the centre of old town Krakow
This hotel is simple clean and very inexpensive, very close to the main square in old town Krakow. The rooms are surprisingly comfortable, given the price and the hotel has plenty of character and charm in a small courtyard, set back from a small square, access through a passage through the first row of buildings. This is fairly basic accomodation, but newly decorated with new bathrooms and free internet access available, but most importantly it is right in the heart of the action in Krakow.
The room was a twin with two standard single beds and adequate space around them and a small TV, kettle and tea/coffee were provided. The bathroom was new and the rooms were newly decoraded and clean. There is no view from the room, but a walkway outside provides a view of the courtyard around which the hotel is built and a chair located there gives the impression of being on a balcony.
The architecture is simple but has plenty of character, with rooms arranged around a small courtyard. The lobby is a small dark room with a sofa and a front desk, but the staff are very helpful. There is no restaurant, but there are many with in a very short walk outside the hotel. There are no sports or spa facilities in the hotel, but this is an excellent place to stay if you want to enjoy Krakow cheaply.
The location is just a couple of minutes walk from the main square, on a small quiet square. The surroundings are good, but not as impressive as the main square itself. There is a taxi-rank immediately outside the hotel and all other transport is very nearby because of the central location. There is plenty to do in Krakow, much of which is just a short walk away.
Courtyard Hotel, Moscow - Marritott
Comfortable Business Hotel Near The Kremlin
This is a fairly typical Marriott business hotel, but is close to the Kemlin (i.e. very central Moscow) and has the pleasant feature of being built round a courtyard with a high glass ceiling, which gives a pleasant light airy feel to the lobby area. It is a fairly expensive hotel with all of the facilities you would expect from a business hotel of this type, comfortable seating area in the fairly large lobby, off which can be found an American style bar and grill and a European/American style restaurant and conference facilities. It doesn't have much character and is certainly more international in style, than Russian, but does at least have comfortable rooms.
A very comfortable room, nicely decorated although not much character. The bed was big and comfortable and a television was provided with a selection of US, UK and European channels. The bathroom was also a good size with a bath and a reasonable shower: powerful, although with a tendancy for the shower-head to move randomly showering the whole room. The view from the rooom was down into the lobby/courtyard.
The lobby has a money exchange desk, front desk, comfortable sofas all covered by a glass ceiling. The Board Room is at one end, and the American style "Flat Iron Bar and Roadhouse" and "Terraneo Cuisine of the Sun" restaurant at the other.
American style "Flat Iron Bar and Roadhouse" and "Terraneo Cuisine of the Sun" restaurant provide a reasonable range of food especially if you like American food, although if you were hoping for a Russian experience you may be dissappointed. Breakfast is typical business hotel buffet with eggs or omletts cooked to order. Reasonable service, but nothing special.
The location is good, not far from the Kremlin in the centre of Moscow, although still a few minutes walk away and there are hotels nearer to the Kremlin, Red Square and St Basil's Cathedral, which would be better for tourists. There are Metro stations nearby and taxis available to order from the lobby. An ideal location for a business trip, perhaps. There are several theatres, museums and lots of bars, restaurants and nightclubs near by.
Hotels in Germany
German Hotel Reviews - Grand Hotels in Berlin, Germany
Mitte is the most central district of Berlin (meaning middle) The roads Unter den Linden and Friedrichstrasse run east-west and north-south through Mitte. Linden is a grand avenue ending at Alexanderplatz (centre of old East Berlin)
A good hotel in Mitte is The Westin Grand, Berlin, Friedrichstrasse 158-164, Berlin 10117 Germany
Phone: (49)(30) 20270 Fax: (49)(30) 20273362
The Westin Grand Hotel is indeed a grand hotel with foyer open right up to an ornate ceiling on the 7th floor. Reasonable sized bright rooms with fairly poor air conditioning. Nicely decorated if a little sombre in some areas. Just Euro 130 per night for a double make it rather less expensive than a similar hotel in Paris, Rome or London, although breakfast is not included in the price and at Euro 29 each it is probably worth venturing out to a good cafe. The buffet breakfast was a slightly superior version of the usual posh hotel fayre, although I'd still rather have a proper breakfast cooked for me, rather than have to fight the hungry bleary-eyed hoards. Eggs cooked to order.
The hotel Westin Grand, also has a good outdoor bar with a small section of the Berlin Wall on display and a more subdued foyer bar with Grand Piano. They serve a pleasant Dunkel Weissenbier.