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Where to stay in Bogota: The Hilton

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Confession: There are times when I feel a little bit intimated when visiting a new place. It doesn’t happen often, mainly in massive cities I’ve never been to, like Hong Kong or Mexico City. And I’ve found the best way to make myself feel more at ease and comfortable in a case like this is by staying in a nice place.

Bogota was one such place. When I planned my trip to Bogotá and pulled up a map of the city, I felt intimidated immediately. 7 million people – Bogotá is gigantic! And it doesn’t have the best reputation.hilton bogota glass decorationsSo staying in a nicer neighborhood for the first few days was important for me, and I was told that the Chapinero area would be perfect for me. It’s one of Bogotá’s nicer neighborhoods, with a lot of big international companies having their offices here, and plenty of fancy coffee shops, restaurants and bars.

When I found out that the Hilton had a hotel in this neighborhood, my decision was made. I often prefer small independent boutique hotels, but sometimes I opt for the familiarity of a brand I know and appreciate, and in this case I wanted to go with a brand I knew, I trusted and I liked.Hilton Hotel BogotaI knew that I made the right decision as soon as my taxi pulled up at the hotel and the concierge got my luggage out of the car quicker than I could pay my driver. Throughout my entire stay, I was amazed by the level of outstanding customer service at the hotel. And even though I arrived before 2pm, I could check into my room without any problems and take a refreshing shower after my flight.

The spacious, glass-walled shower with a powerful rain showerhead might have been my favorite thing about my room, but then there were also the splendid views from the oversized windows that I couldn’t get enough of, and my uber-comfortable king size bed. It was hard not to feel at ease here!Hilton Hotel Bogota RoomSince I was a little hungry, I decided to go out and find something to eat and to check out the neighborhood at the same time. I could’ve just ordered something from the extensive in-room menu which I found very reasonably priced and which had several options for vegetarians, but I wanted to get a feel for the neighborhood before going out at night. To my delight, there were several restaurants, coffee shops and convenience stores within a couple of blocks of the hotel, and after picking up a salad at a health food store, I couldn’t help but popping into Devotion, the coffee shop on the ground floor of the Hilton. One of my favorite coffee shops in Brooklyn is named Devotion, and I was ecstatic when I found out that it was actually the New York branch of this very coffee shop! The coffee was amazing, but I didn’t have any doubt that it wouldn’t be anything less than terrific, and I loved the contemporary stylish design of the coffee shop so much that I ended up bringing my laptop here to do some work. For coffee lovers, Devotion is a must-visit – 17 different types of grains are offered here, and coffee aficionados can choose between pour overs, espresso drinks, sifón or French press coffee, and there is a Kyoto Cold Slow Dripper for tasty cold brews.Hilton hotel Bogota DevocionSpeaking of contemporary and stylish – that’s how I felt about the Hilton in general, I loved the modern look of the lobby and the artsy design features throughout the building. One evening when I left for a night out, there was even a red carpet event in the hotel’s Levels bar, which was still going strong when I returned – the Hilton Bogotá seemed to be a happening place at weekends, but of course you wouldn’t notice any of this in the quiet rooms above. Even though the hotel sits right on the busy Carrera 7, I never heard any street noise through the double glass windows – in fact I had some of the best nights’ sleep here that I had in all of Colombia!Hilton Hotel BogotaAfter checking out the amazing breakfast buffet the next morning, which was one of the best and varied breakfasts I’ve seen in all of Latin America (not exaggerating here!), I felt compelled to visit the gym, which turned out to be much bigger than expected. A pet peeve of mine is a hotel advertising a gym and then only offering a tiny room crammed with machines – but the Hilton knows how to do it right. A spacious, bright gym equipped with top-notch workout machines and equipment. Especially in a city like Bogotá that isn’t great for running because of congestion (and its altitude! Let’s not forget that Bogotá sits at an altitude of 8,612 feet.) I really appreciate a gym to work out in.hilton hotel Bogota breakfastThe gym opens up right to a large outdoor pool, by the way, and since Bogotá never gets cruelly hot, you’ll be delighted to hear that the water is heated. And during my stay it was actually hot enough to make me want to lounge by the pool for a couple of hours.Hilton Hotel Bogota Gym and poolThe highlight of my weekend at the Hilton was without a doubt the scrumptious Sunday brunch at La Ventana Restaurant. This is not your ordinary hotel brunch – instead, you have world class chefs (under Executive Chef Nicolas Piatti) cooking up delicious dishes that range from fresh fish to homemade pasta, prepared right in front of you by a chef who knows what it takes to make pasta that tastes as if it came straight out of an Italian mama’s kitchen.Bogota Hilton HotelThe generous brunch buffet, which follows the farm-to-table concept and focuses on using fresh local produce, was filled with more food than I could possibly try: exotic Colombian fruit, freshly baked bread, a cheese selection and salads, made-to-order egg dishes and waffles, to name just a few, and my favorite section: the desert buffet, which was out of this world! The dessert chef is one of the most acclaimed chefs in his field, so I made sure to leave room for a sweet treat to finish my meal and i am so glad I did. It was divine – but everything I had during brunch was worth every single calorie. An extra bonus during brunch? The coffee served comes straight from Devocion!hilton bogota brunchSince brunch isn’t only open for hotel guests, I recommend checking out the Sunday brunch at the Ventana Restaurant if you’re looking to treat yourself to a special meal in Bogotá (even if you’re not staying at the Hilton) – be it brunch or a fancy dinner.

As I mentioned before, the location in the Chapinero neighborhood is fantastic – there are a ton of excellent restaurants nearby or just a short can ride away in Zona G. The helpful and attentive concierge and reception staff can give you recommendations for pretty much anything, and arrange dinner reservations for you.Hilton hotel Bogota ColombiaTwo shopping malls, El Castillo and Avenida Chile Shopping Center, are both a short walk away, and if you want to visit Bogotá’s historic center, it doesn’t take longer than 20 minutes to get there by cab. Taxis are cheap and plentiful in Bogotá, so you’re not really far from anywhere, and my ride from the airport to the hotel only took about 25 minutes.

No matter if you find yourself in Bogotá for business (the Hilton sits right in the heart of the financial district) or for pleasure – the Hilton Bogotá is a solid choice for both. I couldn’t have asked for a better environment to start my time in Bogotá in – from my comfortable room to the food I’ve enjoyed to the coffee at Devotion and to the fabulous pool, plus the fabulous attentive staff – my time at the Hilton was perfect.Hilton Hotel Bogota Room

Details

  • Location: No. 72-41, Avenida Carrera 7, Bogotá
  • Price: King rooms start at $190, suites start at $300 (+ city tax)
  • LGBT Friendly: Yes
  • Digital Nomad Friendly: Yes
  • Amenities: Heated outdoor pool, gym, bar and restaurant, breakfast buffet, free wi-fi, parking, meeting facilities
  • Website: Hilton Bogota
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Lignano: the perfect beach vacation in Northern Italy

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When people think beach vacation in Italy, places like Tuscany, Sicily or Sardinia come to mind first. And then there’s the Adriatic coast, with Rimini being an old-time favorite, but too crowded for many.

So why not look further north? Lignano Sabbiadoro, about an hour north of Venice. You can even combine a beach getaway with a city break to Venice and Trieste! I’ll share more information on how to get to Venice from Lignano further below, but first let me introduce you to Lignano.L'Alba al Solito Faro di Lignano - Dawn over LighthouseLignano has an 8km (over 5 miles) long stretch of a wide, sandy beach. It is regarded one of the most stunning beach resorts in the upper Adriatic Sea. The city is a perfect family destination, too, with a zoo, tennis courts, spas and golf courses.

Its unique Terrazza a Mare, a pier housing shops and a bar, makes for inviting evening strolls, and Lignano’s marina is not one of the largest in all of Italy, but in all of Europe. Lignano’s old town is lovely and has plenty of excellent restaurants where you can enjoy fresh sea food and typical Italian dishes. Shell Island, a 7 kilometer long island which forms a natural boundary between the Marano Lagoon, in which Lignano is located, and the Adriatic Sea, makes for a lovely day trip by boat.

If you want to combine your beach vacation with city trips, both Trieste and Venice are easy to get to by car and public transportation. Spend a day in cosmopolitan Trieste or tour the canals in Venice in a gondola for a day without having to worry about sky-high hotel rates.

How to get to Lignano

Lignano is located halfway between Venice and Trieste. If you are not traveling by car, the closest train station is in Latisana (20km away). You can get from Latisana to Lignano by public bus for only €2.55. Trieste and Venice are both about 75 mins by car from Lignano, or about an hour from Latisana by train. Note that train tickets are cheaper than parking in Venice – a return ticket is €11.90.

The closest airports are Trieste-Ronchi dei Legionari TRS, Venice Marco Polo VCE and Venice-Treviso TSF. All have public transportation to Lignano.

If you arrive by car, take the A4 Venice-Trieste motorway and exit in Latisana. Then continue on road SS 354 towards Lignano for about 18 kilometers (11 miles).

BEACH EXTREME 2

Where to stay in Lignano

For your stay in Lignano I recommend Hotel Mimosa, a small 3-star hotel right in the city center of Lignano, just 400 meters from the beach and close to Hemingway Park. It is conveniently located in the center of it all – close to golf courses, shopping, attractions and restaurants. Rooms are equipped with elegant, wooden furniture, and each room has a balcony and AC. A buffet style breakfast is included in the room rate, and the hotel’s restaurant also serves Mediterranean lunch and dinner specialties. With only 20 rooms, every guest is given extra attention and Hotel Mimosa prides itself for its intimate, cozy atmosphere.hotel mimosa

Photo credit: (used under Flickr’s creative commons license) Lignano sunset by Stròlic Furlàn – Davide Gabino; Lignano by Marlo;
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It’s back: Corinthia Hotel’s Awesome Annual Sale

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Now that 2015 is wrapped up and I looked back at 20 unforgettable moments of travel of the past twelve months, it’s time to plan some exciting trips for 2016! I’m still in the process of figuring out where exactly I’ll be traveling this year (not even my South America plans are set in stone yet, and I am leaving for Colombia next week!).

As I am browsing the Internet for good travel deals (January is a great month to book flights!), I wanted to share some of the great deals I’ve found online, like Corinthia Hotels’ annual sale, in which you can score 50% discounts for their fabulous 5* hotels in Europe (30% off their London Hotel rooms), and snatch a room for as little as €64 for your Europe trip later this year!

Before I share the fantastic deals that come with Corinthia’s annual sale, a few words about Corinthia: Corinthia is a family-founded hotel collection with 9 hotels in London, Malta, St Petersburg, Lisbon, Khartoum, Tripoli and Budapest. Each hotel takes pride in integrating local architecture and culture in its properties, and feels like an independent hotel. Corinthia Hotels have made a name for themselves thanks to their pure luxury concept and their outstanding service.corinthia malta bedroom

Corinthia Hotels 2016 Annual Sale

So what are these great deals, you want to know? Here are some examples of Corinthia’s 2016 Sale:

corinthia budapest spaIf you’ve traveled in Europe before, you will know that these rates are a true bargain, and paying so little for a 5* hotel is almost unheard of. Travelers from the U.S. still benefit from the current Euros – Dollars exchange rate: 1 Euro is worth 1.09 US Dollars at the moment, and the exchange rate hasn’t been that favorable for Americans in years. That’s why I recommend visiting Europe now – it’ll save you hundreds (if not thousands!) of Dollars and who knows when the Euro gains strength again… it might happen quicker than expected. As for the deals mentioned above – the Corinthia St Petersburg will cost you just under US$70 at the current rate, and the Corinthia Prague is only US$87!corinthia lisbonBut the fantastic exchange rate is not the only reason why you should take advantage of this sale – there’s more:

Additional benefits

By booking your room directly through the Corinthia website, you will not only get these unbeatable prices, but also extra benefits such as free wi-fi, complimentary room upgrades, late checkouts and discounts for food and drinks in the hotel restaurants and bars.corinthia budapest

How do you get these deals?

Corinthia’s annual hotel sale starts on 11 January 2016 and ends on 24 March 2016. These rates are valid for stays until 31 December 2016. The annual sales is only available if you book directly through the Corinthia website.corinthia malta palace

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Christmas Giveaway: Win a €150 gift card for a Radisson Blu and Park Inn Hotel!

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2015 is coming to an end soon – and I don’t know about you, but to me it feels like this year flew by faster than any other year. I feel like it was just a short while ago that my sister and I were baking hundreds of Christmas cookies and that I got ready for a three-month stint in Asia. Where did the year go? I feel lucky that I got to spend another year running this website, travel the world, live in the best city in the world again, make dozens of amazing travel memories and new friends around the globe.park inn berlin bedOf course none of this would be possible without all of you who are reading Globetrottergirls, and I wanted to say Thank You for your support throughout the year, for your comments, messages, questions and words of encouragement. Whenever I have a not-so-great day and get an email from someone thanking me for inspiring them to start their own journey or simply thanking me for a specific travel tip, article or hotel recommendation – this is what keeps me going. And so I wanted to Thank You with a Christmas giveaway – if you’re planning to travel to Europe, the Middle East or Africa next year, this could already cover one or two nights accommodation in one of the cities you’re visiting! I stayed in two different Radisson hotels this year and loved both – the Radisson Blu Royal in Helsinki (I raved about it here) and the fabulous Park Inn by Radisson in the heart of Berlin (which you can read about here). I hope I’ll get to experience more Radisson hotels next year. park inn berlin welcome plateI’ll share the details of the giveaway with you below, but first let me introduce you to my top three Radisson hotel choices if I was winning this giveaway, to give you an idea what to expect:

1 The G&V, Edinburgh

The G&V belongs to Quorvus Collection, which is the luxury 5* arm of the Rezidor Hotel Group, to which Radisson Blu, Park Inn and Park Plaza hotels belong. Quorvus Collection only has four hotels so far, each of which is divine (the other three are in London, Kuwait and Muscat). Self-described as ‘a new generation of expertly curated luxury hotels inspired by the lifestyle and sensibilities of the contemporary global traveler’, these hotels are right up my alley and combine individual design with the highest level of excellence. I have no doubt that I would love all Quorvus Collection hotels, but the G&V, the only 5* hotel right on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, seems to be fabulous.G&V Edinburgh2 Radisson Blu Style, Vienna  

Despite having lived in Austria, and passed through it dozens of times on my way from Germany to Italy, I’ve never made it to Vienna. I hope that I’ll finally be able to visit Vienna in 2016, because people keep telling me what a wonderful city it is (and: Sacher Torte!). The Radisson Blu Style seems to be perfect for city explorations, located right in the heart of town and it is called ‘Style’ for a reason!Radisson Blu Vienna

3 Park Inn, Cape Town

If you’ve read my 2016 Travel Wishlist, you already know that I am dying to go to South Africa, and everyone I meet who’s been to Cape Town is raving about the city – some of my friends even say it’s their favorite city in the world. I have a feeling that I’ll fall hard for Cape Town when I finally get there, and the Park Inn in Cape Town’s upmarket Newlands neighborhood seems to be exactly the kind of stylish & chic hotel that I love to come back to after a long day of exploring – and it has a pool to lounge by!cape town4 Radisson Blu, Amsterdam 

I loved my time in Amsterdam earlier this fall and would love to go back for a longer visit – the Radisson Blu Amsterdam, housed in a complex that comprises of a 19th-century vicarage, 18th-century merchant houses and a former factory, centrally located right on the Kloveniersborgwal canal, would not disappoint, I think.Radisson Blu Amsterdam5 Park Plaza in Pula, Croatia

I went to Croatia’s Istria peninsula a long, long time ago, and years later, I can still remember how clear the water of the Mediterranean was there, and how much I loved the beautiful coastal towns there – especially Pula, with its well preserved ancient Roman ruins (including an amphitheater similar to the Colosseum!). Pula is the perfect base to explore the gorgeous beaches, and the Park Plaza Histria Pula with a fabulous pool and sun loungers that look out over the ocean finds the right balance between elegance and contemporary design, and is known to be great value for money.  Park Plaza Pula

How can you enter the giveaway?

Simply leave a comment on this blog post telling me which hotel you’d like to use the gift card at, and what you’d use it on. Afternoon Tea at the May Fair in London? Drinks at the fancy Cuckoo’s Nest bar in Gothenburg’s Radisson Blu Riverside? To make things easier for you, have a look here at all the Radisson Blu Hotels worldwide – but note that this giveaway is for hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa only). The giveaway is running until 24 December 2015.radisson blu royal cocktails

Where can you use the gift card?

The gift card can be used at any of the 300 Rezidor Hotel Group’s properties, which include Radisson Blu, Park Inn by Radisson, Park Plaza and Quorvus Collection) locations in 39 participating countries.

What can you use the gift card for?

The gift card can be used on hotel stays, but also on food in the hotel restaurant, drinks at the bar, and spa treatments.

Happy Holidays!

P.S. I am also giving away a copy of Frommer’s brand new Europe guide book – see the details for this giveaway in my Holiday Gift Guide.

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A new hotel room booking service will change the way you travel

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You all know how excited I get when I find a new website / company that helps you save money on accommodation, plane tickets or travel in general… which is why I’m happy to introduce you to Roomer today, a marketplace for unused hotel rooms. Not only can you buy unused rooms at discount rates, but you can also sell your room on Roomer when you know you won’t be able to use it, saving you the cost of a cancellation! Read on for more information about Roomer…

Unused reservations are a big problem for the hotel industry. In the US alone, 220,000 hotel bookings are cancelled every day! And when that happens, the hotel loses out on in-house revenue, even though they won’t give refunds.This is why some hotels panic when they think a guest is not going to arrive.

Yet now there’s a solution. An innovation by a company called Roomer has solved the problem for travelers, hotels, and the unlucky person who has to cancel his booking.dani reefs edge hotel

Recycling hotel reservations, so that all rooms are filled

We all know that the best laid plans can come to nothing. Which is why reservations are so often cancelled. When this happens, Roomer comes to the rescue. The concept is surprisingly simple. Instead of cancelling his or her booking, the frustrated traveler lists it on Roomer for a discounted price. Others then buy the booking, getting a cheap vacation while the seller makes some money back. reefs edge hotel beds

There are great deals…

When you visit what Roomer calls the “hotel marketplace”, you find accommodation at incredible prices. Roomer recommends that sellers discount their rooms at a minimum of 50%, but many discounts go as high as 80%. These discounts are not on substandard rooms either. Many of the best deals are at 4 and 5 star hotels. But the cheap prices are not the only perk.reefs edge hotel sun chairs

…all the reservations are verified!

When using Roomer, you’ll never arrive at your destination to find that your booking has been given away or did not exist in the first place. Roomer provides the service of verifying that you won’t be swindled. Roomer even ensures that all the details of the booking are accurate. You will never get anything less than exactly what you were promised. This makes Roomer the best option even if you’re not looking for discounts. It’s one of the factors that had Roomer chosen as one of USA Today’s top 3 travel websites/apps.

LKF hotel Hong Kong breakfast
Secure payments and peace of mind

Payment is also very secure. Although you’re technically buying your reservation from a stranger, you never exchange details with the actual seller. Roomer acts as the perfect middleman, collecting payment and only passing it on once everything has gone off without a hitch. That is more than you can expect from most other bookings websites.era beach by jetwing swimming pool

The hotel industry benefits

Since Roomer helps ensure that all the hotel’s rooms are filled, hotels no longer have to worry about no-shows or cancellations. Sometimes hotel cancellations will happen at the last minute regardless, but they won’t be the major problem they once were. Many hotels are partnering with Roomer to provide exclusive deals, so that more and more people use the service. This means that you can find a verified room, at a cheap price, no matter where in the world you want to go.era beach by jetwing bed1

Relax

A vacation should never be stressful. Roomer ensures that you can relax, knowing that no matter what, your accommodation is taken care of. Use Roomer next time you travel. You’ll save money, and you’ll save yourself the stress as well. era beach by jetwing frangipani

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Where to stay in Berlin: The Park Inn Berlin Alexanderplatz

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When I planned my latest trip to Berlin, I planned it mainly around two things: shopping and the Festival Of Lights. I wanted to get all of my Christmas shopping done over the weekend, and I wanted to be in walking distance of most of the landmarks that were transformed into stunning light installations during the Festival (which I highly recommend visiting, by the way – if you happen to plan a trip to Berlin in the fall, check the exact dates for it! You can see some of my photos of it on Facebook.)

I came across the Park Inn by Radisson, which, if you’ve ever been to Berlin, chances are you’ve either heard of it or even seen it, because it is known for two reasons: its terrific location right on Alexanderplatz, with an amazing rooftop observation deck which I’d already mentioned a few years back when I wrote about the best views over Berlin. Because nothing beats the view that has the TV Tower actually in it, as close as you can get! The Park Inn is also the tallest hotel in Berlin (492 feet / 150 meters) and the second largest hotel in all of Germany with 1,012 rooms.Park Inn Berlin AlexanderplatzThe second thing the Park Inn is famous for? Its base flying activity. If you’re crazy daring enough, you can throw yourself off the 4oth floor, face-down, cheered on by hundreds of shoppers down below on Alexanderplatz. I have to admit that just the thought of doing it causes me sweaty palms but I wish I was brave enough to do it. A 410 feet (125 meters) controlled fall at nearly free fall speeds is certainly not for the faint at heart but probably the best adrenaline rush you can get in Berlin! Behind closed windows, however, I felt safe enough to take in the 27th floor views from my room at all times, in fact I came back one day just to watch the sunset from up there. The views were probably my favorite thing about the Park Inn.park inn berlin viewAs you would expect from a 4* hotel, my room was impeccable, and I was a big fan of the open bathroom. While toilet and shower were behind milk glass doors (separated from one another), the sink and mirror were right next to the room without any walls, which meant I could follow the news on the TV while putting makeup on and brushing my teeth in the morning.Park Inn Berlin Alexanderplatz RoomYou can choose to include the breakfast when you book the room, and I’d definitely recommend opting for breakfast, which is served buffet style in two different areas – in the ground floor Spagos restaurant & Lounge (specializing in Euro-Californian Cusine) and the Zille Stube restaurant on the first floor where you can try some local Berlin specialties in a rustic atmosphere. I found the selection of breads, sweet pastries, eggs, fruits, cereals, cheeses and cold cuts, salads, jams, honeys, juices and coffee drinks to be fabulous and it was the perfect way to fuel up for a day of shopping. Park Inn Berlin Alexanderplatz BreakfastBecause I couldn’t stop myself from sampling the various pastries and croissants, I was happy to discover that there was a gym in the hotel, complete with a sufficient number of cardio machines and weights. There is also a spa at the Park Inn, and I wish I could’ve squeezed in a treatment or a massage, which would have been the perfect way to relax after the long evening of walking around Berlin to see the Festival Of Lights installations.Park Inn Berlin Alexanderplatz

Stand-out feature: Location, location, location

The location couldn’t have been more perfect: in walking distance to all the shopping around Alexanderplatz – Galeria Kaufhof, C&A, Primark, the Alexa Mall (a 4 minute walk) and other shops around the ‘Alex’. I was a ten minute walk from Hackescher Markt with its many bars, and there are plenty of food options when you walk to Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse / Diercksenstrasse (five minutes away). Even Prenzlauer Berg with all its fabulous cafes and bars is in walking distance, as is Berlin Cathedral, the lovely historic Nikolaiviertel neighborhood, and Museum Island. For me, I couldn’t have asked for a better location and I prefer the shopping here over Kurfürstendamm. Since Alexanderplatz is such a big transportation hub, you have S-bahn, buses, underground and trams right in front of the hotel’s doors.Berlin Mitte

Room for improvement

The only thing I found to complain about was the fact that there is a daily charge of €9.90 for the wi-fi. This was the first time in years (really, YEARS!) that I was charged for wi-fi use, and I was also surprised because wi-fi in the Radisson Blu Royal in Helsinki where I stayed earlier this year (and which I loved, as I told you here!) was free of charge. Seeing that Park Inn belongs to Radisson, I would expect the same pricing policy for the Park Inn. Looking at Berlin’s competitive hotel market, where wi-fi is usually free of charge, I think the price of wi-fi should be incorporated in the room rate instead of being a surcharge.Berlin Park Inn Alexanderplatz1

Overall

If you are looking for a solid 4* experience in a fantastic location right in the heart of Berlin, look no further – the Park Inn is an excellent choice – especially considering the very reasonable room rates (a standard room starts at $72, a city view room starts at $89)!

Details

  • Location: Alexanderstraße 7, 10178 Berlin
  • Price: Rooms start at $72, superior corner rooms with city views start at $102
  • LGBT Friendly: Yes
  • Digital Nomad Friendly: If wi-fi was free of charge and available for more than two devices, then it would be.
  • Amenities: Buffet breakfast (at extra cost, if room not booked on a B&B basis), 3 restaurants, sauna & spa, gym, rooftop observation deck, concierge desk, tea & coffee making facilities (in some rooms), parking (at extra cost)
  • Website: ParkInn-Berlin.de

park inn berlin bar

 

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Where To Stay In Reykjavik: Loft Hostel

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When I researched places to stay in Reykjavik, one of the first places I came across was the Loft Hostel. It was one of those hostels where I knew right away: that’s where I wanted to stay. The pictures of the rooms looked amazing, the location was excellent, customer reviews were great. But only because a place looks good on paper doesn’t mean that it really is great – there’s still the chance that something is missing, the vibe’s not good, or service has just gone downhill.Reykjavik Loft Hostel1As soon as I arrived at Loft Hostel and stepped into the busy top-floor bar, I was relieved to find out that my doubts had been completely unfounded and that I didn’t have to worry about anything. The reception, located on the fourth floor of the building, is right next to the common area, which was filled with people when I arrived at night, travelers who were sharing stories over happy hour beers. The lively atmosphere pulled me in immediately, making me want to join in instead of crashing in my room after a long day of travel.Reykjavik Loft Hostel2The deluxe private room I was sharing with Rease was fabulous – I loved the modern artwork on the walls, which is such a simple way to pimp up a room, and yet many hostel rooms still have bare white walls. An extra armchair and a small desk made the room more livable and added to the cozy atmosphere. The desk actually got some use, since the wi-if worked perfectly in our room (as well as in the communal loft on the top floor).Reykjavik Loft Hostel RoomBut my favorite part? The bed! Our double bed was so comfy that I was tempted to stay in bed the next morning when I woke up to rain. I did eventually get up though, because my tummy was tumbling and I had read that the hostel breakfast was excellent value for money – of course I needed to find out if that was true.Reykjavik Loft hostel Iceland1And yes – the breakfast was definitely worth every cent, or every single one of the 1,550 krona (US$11.86) I paid for it. If this number seems pricey to you, wait until you get to know prices in Iceland – it’s not necessarily a bargain  country.

We were able to load up our plates as often as we wanted, and the breakfast buffet included several breads, bagels, cheeses and cold cuts, yogurt and cereal, fresh fruit and unlimited coffee and tea. Plus – and this alone was so worth having breakfast – fresh chocolate croissants which were heavenly.Reykjavik Loft Hostel BreakfastFor more budget-conscious travelers the hostel has a fully equipped kitchen, with spices and condiments and leftover foods from other travelers – definitely one of the cleanest and best equipped hostel kitchens I’ve ever seen. While the lounge was rather quiet during breakfast, it really comes to life at night when everyone gathers up here to mingle and meet new people, and the hostel makes you want to hang out up in the loft, providing comfy couches, lots of tables, and even a projector to show movies. I wish it would have been a bit warmer so that I could have taken advantage of the rooftop terrace – but that’ll have to wait until my next visit.Reykjavik Loft Hostel IcelandThis time around, I got to take advantage of one more great feature of the hostel though: its prime location. Located right on Laugavegur, the main street in downtown Reykjavik, lined with shops, bars and restaurants, I couldn’t have asked for a better location. Within a few short minutes you reach Reykjavik’s famous Hallgrimskirkja church, the Sun Voyager sculpture & viewpoint, the concert hall and souvenir shops as well as grocery stores. I thought that parking in such a prime location might be a problem, but given that Reykjavik is tiny (at least for a capital) with only 120,000 people, I was able to find parking right around the corner.

And if you need anything in particular, don’t hesitate to ask at reception – I found everyone I encountered at the check-in desk to be incredibly helpful and friendly. Overall, the Loft Hostel was exactly the hostel experience I love: comfortable, social and friendly, with all the amenities I could possibly ask for.

Thumbs up for the Loft Hostel in Reykjavik !Reykjavik Loft Hostel

Details

  • Location: Bankastræti 7a, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
  • Price: 8-bed dorms start at $28.48, female six-bed dorms are around $43, double rooms start at $87. Private room for 4 persons starts at around $143. Deluxe Double Room, with shower and toilet, Sheets & Towels included, Breakfast included starts at $130. Please note that prices increase during the high season (in the summer)
  • LGBT Friendly: Yes
  • Digital Nomad Friendly: Yes, excellent wi-fi connection in all areas
  • Amenities: Free wifi, buffet breakfast available for ISK1,550 (US$11.86) , top floor bar, rooftop terrace, tour desk, happy hour offers, communal lounge with movie projector, fully equipped kitchen
  • Website: www.lofthostel.is

loft hostel reykjavik bar menu

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Where to stay in Hong Kong: The LKF by Rhombus

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When I started my research for outstanding hotels in Hong Kong, one of the first hotels that caught my attention was the Pennington by Rhombus, a sleek boutique hotel right in the center of the Causeway Bay shopping area on Hong Kong Island. The best part was that it was not only sleek, but also affordable, but that meant it was in high demand and didn’t have availability for my dates.LKF hotel Hong Kong lobbyHowever, while further researching the hotel, I discovered that the Pennington was part of the Rhombus group which had three more hotels in Hong Kong – the Bonaparte, Hotel Panorama and Hotel LKF. LKF stands for Lan Kwai Fong, which is a popular nightlife area in Hong Kong, and so I didn’t need to think long: I wanted to stay there, right in the middle of Lan Kwai Fong, a neighborhood made up of a maze of little streets and alleyways that are home to more than 90 restaurants and nightclubs.LKF hotel Hong Kong signThe first thing I noticed upon arrival was the elegant and classic theme of the hotel which runs like a thread through the entire hotel, from the lobby to the rooms and the stunning rooftop bar (more on this later).LKF hotel Hong Kong lobbyAll rooms at the LKF are equipped with illy espresso coffee machines and tea making facilities, a 42-inch LCD TV (which admittedly I didn’t have time to switch on once!), mini bar and comfy bathrobes and slippers. For a city like Hong Kong, where space is sparse, the rooms are unusually large – the superior rooms are an enormous 500 square feet and the suites are almost twice as big with a size of 950 square feet.LKF hotel Hong Kong bedThe spacious bathroom doesn’t only come with high-quality toiletries, a hairdryer and a scale, but also with a bathtub, and indulging in a bubble bath after a long day of sightseeing felt glorious.LKF hotel Hong Kong toiletriesMy favorite feature of the room? This would be a tie between the incredible views over Hong Kong and the super comfy king size bed that made me wish I had an extra day, or a rainy day. I swear I wouldn’t have left the bed – the crisp cotton linens and Flexi pillows lulled me into a sound sleep as soon as I hit the sheets after a late night cocktail at the Azure Bar on the 30th floor of the hotel.LKF hotel Hong Kong pillowsWhile I didn’t have time to try the restaurant up there, I had to at least take in the night views over the city at Azure, which was ranked as one of ‘The World’s 20 Best Sky Bars’. Azure sure lived up to my expectation, even though it was rather quiet on the weekday evening I visited, but I can imagine how busy it gets on a weekend night. And have I mentioned these views?LKF hotel Hong Kong night viewsIf Azure isn’t enough to quench your thirst for a good night out, fear not: staying at LKF means that you literally have dozens of restaurants and bars right at your doorstep. Lan Kwai Fong is by far the best neighborhood to be in if you are looking to sample Hong Kong’s nightlife, or just to eat your way through the seemingly infinite number of restaurants. Staying here also means that you are in walking distance to Central’s endless shopping facilities and the yummy eateries of the trendy Sheung Wan neighborhood. I also walked up to the Peak from the LKF, which was an excellent workout thanks to the steep hills, and the road up the hill is easy to follow from the hotel.LKF hotel Hong Kong lobbyIf you prefer a more conventional workout, the LKF has a small, but functional gym, to make sure you won’t feel too guilty when indulging in the fabulous breakfast buffet, which is served in the Azure restaurant every morning – no better way to start the day than with these sweeping views and a buffet style breakfast that includes fresh fruit, yogurt, a selection of bread, and hot dishes.Hotel LKF by Rhombus BreakfastSpeaking of views – almost all of the rooms have stunning views, and the large panoramic windows allow you to fully enjoy them. Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience and even though I was looking hard for things I thought could use some improvement, the only flaw that I could find was that the gym could have a bit bigger.LKF hotel Hong Kong viewsThe LKF was named one of ‘Asia’s Top 5 Business Hotels’, has received several ‘Certificate Of Excellence Awards’ by TripAdvisor, won ‘Best Boutique Hotel’, ‘Best Business Hotel’, ‘Trendiest Hotel in China’, to name just a few, and these awards are well deserved – the topnotch facilities and excellent service make staying here a stress-free, pleasant experience that I’d like to award with the Globetrottergirls Stamp Of Approval!LKF hotel Hong Kong azure sofa

Details

  • Location: 33 Wyndham St, Central, Hong Kong
  • Price: Superior Rooms start at $215 per night
  • LGBT Friendly: Yes
  • Digital Nomad Friendly: Yes
  • Amenities: Complimentary high-speed wifi, complementary use of iPad, illy espresso maker in every room, 42-inch LCD TV, breakfast included in room rate, complimentary newspaper, gym, rooftop bar and restaurant, laundry service, bathrobes and slippers
  • Website: www.hotel-lkf.com.hk


Hotel LKF By Rhombus RoomTip:
Check the LKF website for special room packages that include complimentary cocktails and hors d’oeuvres or exclusive discount prices!

You can also check Booking.com for special rates for the LKF hotel.

Want to get a more in-depth tour of the hotel? Check out my video:

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Where To Stay In… Brighton: Bed and Breakfast Snooze

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Usually, when you book a B&B in England, you know what to expect – a traditional British home, with a few lovingly decorated old-fashioned rooms that evoke a homey feel. I love staying in B&Bs – you usually get to talk to the owners because they’re so small, and the experience is much more persona than a large, anonymous hotel. Sometimes, however, I feel that the rooms have a bit of a grandma feel and be decorated in a funkier way.Brighton Snooze Bed and BreakfastWhich is exactly what Tony and Paul, the minds behind Snooze in Brighton, did. Instead of your traditional British B&B you get a B&B experience with a twist here: I would call it B&B extravaganza. Brighton Snooze B&BFrom the moment you enter the B&B , you can’t escape the funky vibe that is maintained throughout the entire building. There is original artwork on the walls, painted in bright colors, even street art, with the center piece being a giant mural on the ceiling of the breakfast room, and a hotchpotch of random furniture and accessories placed around the house, collected over the years in various flea markets and antiques shops in Brighton and beyond.Snooze Brighton DecorationI particularly loved the collection of old bottles in the breakfast room. snooze b&b brighton bottlesAt Snooze, no room is like the other, each one has a different theme, mostly related to music. My bedside table for example was a drum, and the walls were decorated with album covers.
snooze brighton bed and breakfast bedI had the chance the peek into one of the suites, and see for yourself: snooze brighton bed and breakfast roomIsn’t that a fabulous place to spend the night in? I feel like that’s where rockstars in the 70s would have loved to stay!
snooze brighton bed and breakfast bedNo matter where in the house you looked, the one thing that was obvious everywhere was just how much love and attention to detail had been invested here, how much effort and thought had been put into making Snooze what it is today. The owners’ love of music, art and design is visible in each and every little nook and cranny at Snooze, and it was fun to explore all these little details, to reminisce about bygone eras and to wonder what Brighton must have been like in the times of the mods and rockers.   Brighton Snooze Bed & BreakfastWhen Paul and Tony (and their spouses) took over Snooze in 2006, it was a run-down B&B, not known as Snooze yet, and in urgent need of renovation. It has taken years of renovations and collecting of the memorabilia to give Snooze the retro look it has now, and I am sure more artwork and little gems of bygone decades will be added in the future, adding to its quirkiness. snooze brighton bed and breakfast roomSnooze is small, with only 6 rooms and 2 suites, which gives it a cozy feel, and enables you to get to know the other guests in the breakfast room while munching on eggs, beans and toast and everything else that goes into a traditional breakfast. In addition to a full hot breakfast, guests can fill their tummies with yogurt, muesli, cornflakes or porridge, fresh fruit, toast and jams.Brighton Snooze B&B breakfastThe vintage feel of the B&B also fits in wonderfully with the kind of town that Brighton is: eclectic, weird, and funky. A place like Snooze feels right at home here, and sitting right in the Kemptown neighborhood with its quirky eateries and bars, it is the perfect place to get the perfect ‘quirky Brighton’ experience.Brighton Snooze RoomsAnd speaking of the neighborhood- not only are you right funky Kemptown, but Tony and Paul also make sure that you aren’t accidentally walking into a mediocre bar or restaurant, by leaving an extensive folder with a number of detailed restaurant and pub recommendations in each room. snooze b&b brighton we love brightonI’ve never stayed in a B&B that felt as trendy and young as Snooze, and I don’t know if I’ll ever have the chance to – simply because Snooze feels so unique that I doubt there’s anything like it out there.snooze b&b brighton viewIf you’re looking for a B&B experience out of the ordinary, Snooze is your place!

Details

  • Location: 25 St Georges Terrace, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 1JJ, England
  • Price: Double rooms start at £75, twin rooms at £80. The suites start at £95. Please note that prices increase during the high season (in the summer)
  • LGBT Friendly: Yes, very much so!
  • Digital Nomad Friendly: Yes
  • Amenities: Free wifi, breakfast included in room rate, tea & coffee making facilities and hairdryer in each room, TV and an extensive free dining guide in each room
  • Website: SnoozeBrighton.com

Brighton Snooze Bed & Breakfast England

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Travel Tip: How to find the best vacation apartment rentals with MeshTrip

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For more practical travel tips, such as how to start travel hacking, how to find cheap flights or how to travel around Europe on the cheap, check out the rest of my Travel Tips series here.

The longer I travel, the less appealing are hostels and hotels to me. Especially hostels – while they were still fun and a novelty when I started traveling full-time in 2010, they’re now usually places that are too noisy for me to work in, to get enough sleep, and they aren’t set up for longer stays. Don’t get me wrong – I still stay in hostels, but I also run a business while I travel and often need more privacy than a hostel can give me.

Which is why I have turned more and more to apartment rentals in recent years. But I’ve always found the process of finding and booking a decent apartment complicated and tedious. AirBnB is without a doubt the most popular apartment rental website with the most available places, but I like to compare their prices with rentals on other sites like Roomorama who have fewer apartments listed but often better prices. And by the time I’ve researched in which part of town I wanted to stay, looked up apartments on all different sites and compared prices, half a day was over. But the process of booking the apartment was far from over – now I had to write the host, introduce myself, and inquire about availability. Oftentimes the apartment I wanted wasn’t available or I didn’t even get a reply and I felt like I had wasted hours.

santiago apartment
I researched for hours until I finally found an apartment with rooftop pool in Santiago De Chile

But then I learned about MeshTrip.com.  

MeshTrip is a website (and app) that congregates vacation rentals from all the popular apartment rental websites like AirBnB, Roomarama, HomeAway, WayToStay, HouseTrip etc., in one place – it basically saves you the pain of having to check available apartments on all the different vacation rental sites by putting them into one place.meshtrip main siteAnd the best thing? All apartments listed on MeshTrip are instantly bookable. No more inquiries, no more waiting to hear back if the apartment is available for your dates. It is basically like Expedia for vacation rentals. I was hooked right away.

When I knew I was going to spend time in Berlin this summer with a friend who also prefers staying in apartments, I immediately turned to MeshTrip.

And I was surprised about the amount of available apartments MeshTrip presented, including many apartments from rental companies I had never heard of. There was one company in particular that had some fantastic properties, and I would have never found them without MeshTrip. Or maybe I would have – after hours of research, time that I can spend in more productive ways. But especially because the vacation rental market is growing so fast, with more and more companies offering vacation rentals and private hosts offering their apartments, it is fantastic that MeshTrip saw that there was a gap in the market: a place where all available apartments for a destination are congregated in one place.
Meshtrip partnersThe search function is similar to any other accommodation search engine: you type in your dates and your destination, and if you are overwhelmed by the number of choices, you can filter the search by amenities you want – for example the entire apartment vs. a room, apartments that allow pets, how many bedrooms, apartments with AC or with pool, etc.

I also like that I can choose a price range for the rental which filters out options that don’t match my budget and love the map which shows me right away where the apartment is located, which is how I discarded most places that were available in Berlin (fantastic apartments, just not in a neighborhood I wanted to stay in).meshtrip more filtersWhen I finally chose an apartment, I was ecstatic that I could simply book it instead of sending an inquiry or booking request first. MeshTrip is the only platform that offers instantly bookable rentals only, by the way. Once I had booked the apartment, the process was pretty similar to any rental website: I got an email that my booking was confirmed, and the host got in touch with me later that day to give me some further information. He also sent me text message so that I had his phone number right away, in case I didn’t find the apartment or needed anything during my stay.

The next time I wanted to book an apartment through MeshTrip I noticed that it had integrated Booking.com into their search engine – which just so happens to be my favorite hotel booking website. Initially I wasn’t sure how I felt about seeing hostels and guesthouses offered on MeshTrip, but since I tend to look up which hotels are available in the place I am visiting anyway, it saves me another step of research. And I have also found several apartments I booked in the past via Booking.com, like the one I stayed in during my second visit to Santiago de Chile, and so I guess it adds even more options.

Venice Meshtrip apartment
The place I booked through MeshTrip in Venice

As of now, MeshTrip offers 1.3 million rentals in 190 countries – a staggeringly higher number than just one vacation rental website.

I just used MeshTrip again this week when I realized at the very last minute that I had forgotten to book a room in Venice, a city known for its low-quality hostels and hotels at outrageous prices. After looking at the available hotel options, I was ready to cancel my trip. Instead, I turned to MeshTrip again.

I didn’t even have to look hard, right on the first page of search results was a newly-furbished room in a shared apartment that included kitchen use and free WiFi – for considerably less money than a room in one of the crappy hostels I had looked at! If you’ve ever stayed at a hostel, you know that communal kitchens can get pretty disgusting – but in an apartment with a few rooms only, you can expect it to be much cleaner. Not only was my room super comfy, the bathroom spotless and the kitchen well-equipped – my host also offered free breakfast. Without MeshTrip, I would have ended up in an overpriced hostel or guesthouse with terrible reviews.Meshtrip Venice roomI also ended up staying in a local neighborhood instead of Venice’s tourist areas, and if you have been to Venice, you know how frustrating it can be to be limited to overpriced and mediocre tourist restaurants, no supermarkets around you, and hordes of cruise ship tourist groups traipsing through the streets from morning till the sun goes down. Instead of that, I had a giant supermarket around the corner from my apartment, café bars that serve cappuccino for 1.20 and I had an overall more authentic experience, now knowing where and how the ordinary Venetian lives. Plus, having been a host myself in the past, I know how nice it is to have an extra income and I am always happy to support the local hosts.italy cappuccino and briocheWhat about you? Do you prefer apartments or hotels? Have you used MeshTrip yet?

You can download the MeshTrip app for iOS here and for Android here.

 

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