Sunday, September 22, 2013

Il Giglio d'Oro B & B, Florence, Italy

Il Giglio d'Oro B & B 
Via Antonio Pacinotti, 11,

Florence was the second stop on out Italian itinerary. In Rome, we stayed in a B&B right in the center of Rome. So it was great to stay a bit away from the centre of the city in Florence. It felt more homely and less touristy.

Edo was a great host. He and Celia manage the place themselves, so it was more like staying with friends than in a B&B.

On one of our days in Florence, we just wanted to sleep in late to counter the exhaustion of sightseeing in Rome and Florence. We had a very restful and quiet sleep, even though we woke up quite late.

Edo introduced us to a lovely bakery/pattiserie nearby that served the most awesome breakfasts we had in Italy. And for a change the cappuccino there was served steaming hot.

The balcony attached to our room was excellent. We would come back after a long day and just sit in the balcony enjoying the quiet and the clear skies. The bathroom was nice and large and clean.

While we did have to take a bus to get into town. The buses were frequent during the day. The bus on the return journey stops right in front of Giglio D'Oro.

Edo will also do a load of laundry for you for extra charge. While there are a few laundromats around, this service really helps, because you just leave your laundry with him in the morning and it is all ready for you when you return at night and you don't have to wate any of your sightseeing time, by monitoring your laundry.

The only drawback was that given that this is a residential and non-tourist area, the supermarkets and restaurants/trattorias/ osterias etc, all close quite early (around 10). So if you plan on returning late, then pick up water and have dinner in the center of the town itself.

Room Tip: We loved the large room on the first floor with the attached balcony.

Rating : 5 / 5

Value : 5 / 5
Location :  4 / 5
Sleep Quality : 5 / 5
Rooms : 5 / 5
Cleanliness : 5 / 5
Service : 5 / 5

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Hotel Le Isole, Venice, Italy

Hotel Le Isole
Castello 4661
Fondamenta del vin,
30122 Venice

Its a beautiful Hotel set in a 16th Century Monastery, but refurbished in a completely modern manner.

Its very conveniently located. If you use the water bus to get here from the station, you can actually reach the hotel in 5 minutes, without having to climb any stairs.

Theres always a lot of staff around who will help with anything from carrying your luggage to offerring you free ice tea in the lounge.

Breakfast was a huge buffet spread of Continental food and hot cappuccinos, which was a welcome change from most other breakfasts (on the go) that we had eaten in Italy.

Mini bar was free with beer, water, sparkling water, juice that was refilled every alternate day.

They had a tea/coffee machine in the room and would bring hot milk if we needed it.

They don't have a restaurant inhouse (except the buffet breakfast), but there are plenty of lovely places around to eat at.

Rating : 5 / 5

Value : 4 / 5
Location : 5 / 5
Sleep Quality : 5 / 5
Rooms : 5 / 5
Cleanliness : 5 / 5
Service : 5 / 5

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pensione Barrett B&B, Rome, Italy

Pensione Barrett
Largo di Torre Argentina, 47,
00186 Roma, Italy
+39 06 686 8481

Pensione Barrett is ideally located. We walked everywhere! We only took the bus from the Station and back and an electric bus to Villa Borghese (to save time), everything else, we walked.

The Area Sacra (where Julius Ceasar was murdered) is right opposite the Pensione and now houses a lovely Cat Sanctuary on its premises.

The Room was on the smaller side, but filled with every convenience. We never tried the TV, but we used the back and foot massage daily and truly appreciated them given how much we were walking around town.

The bathroom was compact, but had everything we needed.

There were all kinds of breads, cheese, meat etc to fix breakfast if we wanted to. But we like our breakfasts hot, so we ended up eating breakfast on the go from one of the many bakeries around on most days. However , my husband did have a coffee each morning and loved the coffee machine in the room. One of the days, he even tried the croissants and said that they were excellent.

Michael was extremely helpful, when we met him (we started most days before 8am and returned after 10pm) and we weren't disappointed with any of his recommendations. They were all excellent. The restaurant he recommended near Santa Scala was brilliant. We were in 2 minds about visiting some locations and he gave us a very clear description about what to expect, which helped clear our thoughts.

However, the restaurant that the night manager recommended in the vicinity turned out to be a disappointment. I'd go with Michael's recommendations blindly, but not the managers.

While we did have help carrying our luggage up to the second floor on the day we arrived, there wasn't anyone to help us carry our luggage down on the day we left. So do keep that in mind when packing/booking.

They charge extra 10Euro/day for air conditioning, which we thought was worth it, given that there are no ceiling or pedestal fans in any of the hotel rooms in Italy.

Rooms are cleaned daily and I think we were given fresh towels daily too. We had booked a double room, but were given a room with a third bed which was helpful for opening our luggage, I'm not sure how much space for luggage there is in the other rooms though.

We will definitely stay here when we return to Rome.

Room Tip: “We chose the room overlooking the Area Sacra and used the Air Conditioning. Street Noise was not a problem for us at all. (but we are reasonably heavy sleepers)”

Rating : 5 / 5

Value : 5 / 5
Location : 5 / 5
Sleep Quality : 5 / 5
Rooms : 5 / 5
Cleanliness : 5 / 5
Service : 4 / 5

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Milan Marriott Hotel - Milan - Italy

Milan Marriott Hotel
Via Washington, 66,
20146 Milan,

The husband had a 4 day meeting in Milan and we planned a 15 day trip out of it. We stayed at 3 smaller B&B's in Rome, Florence and Venice which were excellent, but the Marriott in Milan was a complete and utter disaster.

Husband is a Marriott Glod Rewards Member. We had requested a doublebed room 3 months in advance when this meet was scheduled. When we arrived at 11pm, we were given a twin room and told that there were no queens available, but they would shift us in the morning. (In the morning, I took a look at the Queen sized bed room, but that was much smaller than the twin room, so I elected to stay put in the room we were originally given, even though we were there for 5 days.)

While most people attending this conference were booked for 5 nights. My husband and a few others had booked for 5 nights. The Hotel claimed that they had not been intimated of the extension.

The next thing they told us was that something was wrong with their credit card system, so instead of blocking the amount, before the stay, they would charge us before the stay.

Next we were told that the wifi was under maintainance and would not be working. It took over 14 hours for the wifi to be up and running, which was when we were told that we would be charged 12 euros per day per device for accessing wifi in our room. Every other place we stayed in, in Italy gave us free wifi in our rooms with excellent speed.

They said that they provided free wifi in the lobby, but after a long day of work (husband) sightseeing (me), who wants to go down to the lobby to surf basic news, mail and fb? We just want to lounge in bed for an hour or so in our pyjamas, read up on whats happenning in the world before we crash in bed. Given how well dressed people in Milan are (a lot of them visiting the bar opposite the lobby) it felt embarassing to come down in slippers, but in a day or 2, we just couldn't care anymore. I neeeded to access the internet to plan my next days trip and mail family back home.

After checking into the room, we realised that there was no tea / coffee maker in the room, which was a pain because Milan was really cold and all I really wanted was to constantly sip on some warm water in the room, so I wouldn't catch a throat infection.

Breakfast was the only bright spot at this hotel. A wide range of good tasting food.

One night we ordered soup (you have to order before 11, if you want any hot foods, otherwise your options are cold sandwiches or soup) because husband wanted some hot liquid down his throat. The soup was more solid than liquid. It was tasty, but chock full of vegetables, potatoes and pasta. It was barely 10% liquid and 90% solid. Not what he wanted at all.

The staff is sweet, but something seems seriously wrong with this Marriott. We have stayed at other Marriotts across the world and the only Marriott that could compete with this one for last place is possibly the one in Luxor.

If you are forced to stay here and don't want to pay 4Euros + service tax for water, walk across to the supermarket opposite and pick up half liter bottles for 25p

Also the hotel is quite far away from the Duomo and the City center, so it isn't ideally located for sightseeing either.

We would not recommend this hotel to anybody.

Room Tip: Avoid the hotel itself as far as possible

Rating : 2 / 5

Value : 1 / 5
Location : 2 / 5
Sleep Quality : 3 / 5
Rooms : 2 / 5
Cleanliness : 4 / 5
Service : 4 / 5