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Where to stay in… Playa Del Carmen: The Grand Hyatt Resort

hyatt playa del carmen

When I heard that the new Grand Hyatt Resort in Playa del Carmen was awarded with the AAA Four Diamond Award after operating for only eight months (!), I was intrigued. If a hotel receives this honor after such a short time, it had to be exceptional.

The other aspect of the Grand Hyatt that piqued my interest was the fact that it was designed by the acclaimed Mexican architect Sordo Madaleno, and the award-winning New York-based Rockwell Group. I knew I had to check this new resort out for myself during my recent road trip across the Yucatan Peninsula.Grand Hyatt Resort Playa del Carmen

The Grand Entrance

Even just my arrival at the hotel was an impressive experience: We drove up a spacious driveway and at the end of it, we were greeted by a massive fountain, which resembles a Mayan step pyramid.grand hyatt playa del carmen fountain1

The intention to incorporate the local culture and natural beauty of the area  was apparent not only at the entrance, but throughout the entire property – when you access the grand entrance area you immediately see the vast mangrove gardens, which were preserved in the process of building the hotel.grand hyatt playa del carmen mangrove

The rooms are set in U-shaped four-story  blocks that surround the center section  of the hotel. The wide open central section  was designed in a way that offers terrific sea views, and can best be described as a covered walkway (Paseo) where you find the reception, a concierge desk, a coffee shop and a couple of snack bars.grand hyatt playa del carmen1

While the receptionist was checking us in, we were handed two ice cold glasses of champagne – the perfect way to start off our time in such breathtaking surroundings and to relax us after the long day of travel  (which involved a flight from New York and the drive to Playa del Carmen from the airport in Cancun ).grand hyatt champagne

We loaded our bags onto a luggage cart and a porter took them up to our room, leaving us free to continue sipping our champagne. Walking through the long, open corridors on which the rooms are located, we noticed right away the finishes and materials that were thoughtfully sought out for the property: wood, sand colored stone and lots of plants on the open side, always emphasizing the connection with the natural environment.grand hyatt playa views

And then there is the tasteful artwork – I don’t think I have ever been to a hotel with so many carefully selected pieces of art, featuring materials such as  wood and metal. Much of the artwork was created by the artist César López-Negrete, who conceptualized many of his pieces exclusively for the Grand Hyatt. I found myself constantly impressed with the design of the hotel, especially in the mornings, when I walked down to the Paseo. I was stunned by the grand architecture every time.
Grand Hyatt Resort Playa del Carmen art

The Rooms

When we were shown our room, I felt immediately at home: it was elegant and spacious, with  contemporary furniture, sun loungers on the balcony, and a bed that looked so comfortable that I knew right away I’d be able to get a decent night’s sleep.grand hyatt playa del carmen beds

There are 14 different room categories at the Grand Hyatt, ranging from regular ocean view rooms to more luxurious swim-up rooms which have access to a private pool (which is shared with the other swim-up rooms). The rooms with the most stunning vistas are without a doubt the executive suites, which are located on the fifth floor of a bridge that looks right over the translucent waters of the Caribbean sea.grand hyatt playa del carmen infinity pool view

All of the rooms are big enough to feature their own dining area, and come with flat screen TVs, iPod docking areas, coffee machines, and a bathroom that is half open to the room and features large double sinks. I loved the modern yet timeless interior design with a touch of nature thanks to the wooden features that were incorporated.grand hyatt playa del carmen bathroom

A fantastic extra? The mosquito spray that was included in the toiletries (which are organic) since the mosquitos can get annoying, especially after a rainstorm or at dusk and I truly  appreciated the hotel’s thoughtful gesture. Sometimes it’s little things like this that can make a huge difference.grand hyatt playa del carmen toiletries

The Showstopper of the Grand Hyatt

Despite the rooms being so gorgeous, the only time I ended up spending in my room was when I was sleeping, because the real showstopper at the property are the three infinity pools (the Cenote Spa would be a very close second, but more on that later.) I was tempted to extend my stay as soon as I saw the beautifully designed swimming pools and sun loungers, some of which were conveniently placed right in the water.grand hyatt playa del carmen infinity pool1

But I also loved the bigger ‘nests’, which almost felt as if somebody had taken a super comfy canopy bed and placed it by the pool – I didn’t want to leave mine! And the best bit: you don’t really have to. The attentive wait staff serve food and refreshments  right to the sun loungers, so the only thing you need to do is to get up from time to time to enjoy the views from the infinity pool during a quick dip in the water.grand hyatt playa pool area

Guests who prefer the actual beach can lay down on sun beds in the sand, right by the turquoise Caribbean waters Playa is famous for. The Grand Hyatt has a 460 feet /140 meter beachfront, but it doesn’t really matter if you lay out on the beach or in the pool area, because they’re just steps away from one another.grand hyatt playa del carmen beach

The Award-winning Cenote Spa

If laying by the pool is not relaxing enough for you, head straight to the Cenote Spa. I’ve seen quite a few spas and wellness centers  in my life, but I don’t think I’ve ever been as impressed with one as I was with the enormous 6,000ft Cenote Spa.Grand Hyatt Resort Playa del Carmen spa

My first thought on a stroll through the spa was that the spa alone should win a prize for its architecture and interior design, and funnily enough I later learned that the spa did in fact win the Interior Design Best Project Of 2015 award. That’s how stunning the Cenote Spa is – I am afraid the photos can’t even do it justice.grand hyatt playa del carmen cenote spa chairs

The centerpiece of the spa resembles a cenote, a natural underground swimming hole that are unique to the Yucatan peninsula . Inside the igloo-shaped cenote there is a circular pool, which is extraordinary. This place is in fact so breathtaking that couples can book romantic dinners for which tables are set up right by the cenote pool, lit by intimate lights – a wonderful spot for a dinner for two. It is  also a fantastic spot for morning yoga, and luckily for yoga enthusiasts , that is exactly what you can do there.
Grand Hyatt Resort Playa del Carmen Cenote Spa

The spa treatments are designed with the Mexican culture in mind too, with unique treatments such as the Mayan head massage with cocoa and tequila oils. In addition, the Cenote Spa is equipped with a steam room, sauna, cold plunge pools, a Jacuzzi and a lap pool.grand hyatt playa del carmen cenote spa2

I was also happy to discover a bright, airy gym, which is much bigger than most gyms at hotels of a comparable size. The machines and equipment are all brand new, and I have to admit that I needed to use a treadmill after enjoying the decadent breakfast buffet maybe a little too much. Yes, let’s talk about the food:grand hyatt playa del carmen the grill menu1

Food & Drinks

There are three restaurants at the Grand Hyatt – La Cocina, The Grill at 1 26 (referring to the cross streets the hotel is located at – 1 Avenida and 26 Street), and the Raw Seafood Bar. In addition, there is a coffee bar, El Paseo, conveniently located in the covered walkway area. Both La Cocina and The Grill at 1 26 have amazing sea views, bordering the pool area, while the Raw Seafood Bar is located in the center building with a more casual flair.
Grand Hyatt Resort Playa del Carmen Breakfast Buffet

I had dinner at The Grill at 1 26, where you can get some of the best steak and grilled seafood in Playa del Carmen. My travel companion was excited to try a good steak, and I have to admit that I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t find something vegetarian on the menu, but there was nothing to worry about: the restaurant has a special vegetarian menu!

Sadly, I didn’t get to dine at La Cocina, which offers international food and focuses on fresh, local ingredients, but I got to experience the restaurant during breakfast and loved the atmosphere inside as well as out on the terrace, overlooking the beach.grand hyatt playa del carmen the grill margarita

The breakfast buffet was one of the best I have experienced in any hotel, with an extensive selection of European, North American and Mexican dishes. Every single dish I tried was scrumptious, and I couldn’t resist sampling pretty much every single pastry that was on the buffet, simply because they looked so mouthwatering good. And let me tell you: they are worth every single calorie.Grand Hyatt Resort Playa del Carmen Breakfast Buffet

One thing I appreciated about the Grand Hyatt was the fact that the hotel is not, like most resorts of a similar size in Playa del Carmen, an all-inclusive resort, but encourages guests to also go out and sample the many nearby restaurants on 5th Avenue. If you do prefer to eat at the hotel however, you can add on a meal plan to your room – just dinner (US$40, at La Cocina or The Grill); dinner and lunch (US$59) or breakfast, lunch and dinner (US$74).grand hyatt playa del carmen bar

Extra Fun!

Along with everything I have mentioned above, there is also a  coffee shop onsite, so there is really no reason to leave the hotel. And if you are afraid you might get bored: fear not, there is so much to do at the resort, it is impossible to experience even the slightest hint of boredom.grand hyatt playa del carmen restaurant2

Not only is there a movie theater (including a popcorn machine for an endless flow of fresh popcorn!), but there is an entire room dedicated to entertainment. A ping pong table, gaming consoles, table soccer, board games.. you name it, they have it. That would be where I’d be hanging out if I found myself in the Grand Hyatt during the rainy season (that said, I’ve never experienced a lot of rain in Playa, even when I was there during the rainy season… after a shower, the sun usually comes out again quickly). This room is named ‘Teen Arcade’ but judging by my own excitement over this room, I am sure that adults enjoy it just as much.Grand Hyatt Resort Playa del Carmen Entertainment Room

For families traveling with kids, there is a great kids room with plenty of toys – I know that my nieces and nephew would love it there – and experienced staff, so you can also enjoy some kids-free time during your vacation. There is even a children’s dinner on two nights, so that parents can enjoy a romantic dinner for two during their vacation!grand hyatt playa infinity pool dani

If you are looking to get married, the Grand Hyatt Resort can arrange your dream destination wedding right on the beach, and with 314 guest rooms and suites, you can rest assured that all wedding guests can be accommodated.grand hyatt playa sun loungers

Location, Location, Location

Another huge plus factor of the hotel? Its location! Playa del Carmen’s main shopping and entertainment drag, Fifth Avenue (Quinta Avenida), is just two minutes away. Right away you’ll find yourself in the middle of shops, bars and restaurants, and the new Quinta Alegria Shopping Mall is only a five minute walk from the hotel.

Most of the hotel resorts in Playa del Carmen aren’t actually in town, but stretch along the beaches north and south of the center, which means you have to take a taxi every time you want to go into town. I really appreciated that at the Grand Hyatt, you can just walk out of the hotel and are in the middle of it all. And the beach where the hotel is located, Mamita’s Beach, is one of the best beaches in Playa.grand hyatt playa del carmen mamitas beach

The Verdict

So what’s my verdict? The Grand Hyatt Playa Del Carmen gets five Globetrottergirls gold stars! I was trying hard to find something to complain about, or room for improvement, but I honestly couldn’t find anything.

A stylish, elegant hotel with a gorgeous pool area and stunning spa, comfortable rooms, sophisticated restaurants and attentive staff – it’s impossible to leave the Grand Hyatt and not feel refreshed and relaxed, no matter if you’re there for a quick weekend getaway or a week-long holiday. I am already dreaming of a return to this incredible hotel.Grand Hyatt resort Playa Del Carmen pool area

Details

  • Address: 1a Avenida esquina Calle 26 Colonia Centro, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77710 Playa del Carmen
  • Price: Rooms start at $199, suites start at $549 (room rates vary depending on season). Check the Grand Hyatt website for special deals & packages
  • LGBT Friendly: Yes
  • Amenities: Buffet breakfast (at extra cost, if room not booked with a meal plan); three restaurants; three infinity pools, spa & gym, concierge desk, rooms have iPod docking stations, flat screen TVs, tea & coffee making facilities; wedding and events space; parking (at extra cost); kids club; entertainment room with movie theater; beach cabanas
  • Website: PlayadelCarmen.grandhyatt.com

Grand Hyatt Resort Playa del Carmen Mexico

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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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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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Where to stay in… Brighton: YHA Hostel Brighton

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The minute I set foot in the new YHA youth hostel, I knew I would have a splendid time there. I saw the tasteful, stylish decor on the walls and I wondered: Am I in a hostel or in a boutique hotel? Instead of walking up to the reception, I was drawn to the bar & restaurant area, because they were so pretty.

I mean look at this:YHA Hostel Brighton restaurantEven though I had such an amazing first impression, I had no idea if my room would be equally as nice. Upon opening my door with a key card (also more hotel-like than hostel-like!) I was blown away by how spacious and how gorgeous the room was! Located on the top floor, not only did my room come with jaw dropping vistas over the promenade, but it came with a bathroom nearly as big as the room itself. It was among the biggest bathrooms I have seen anywhere I’ve ever stayed! And the best part: it came with a freestanding old-fashioned tub. Despite the old-fashioned look bathtub and shower (yes, there was an additional shower) were brand new, as was the sink. Added bonus: There even was a hairdryer!YHA Brighton private roomMy room had a little area with two cushions confined by a waist-high wall, but in all honestly, I just wanted to lay on my bed and enjoy these amazing views.YHA Hostel Brighton private room viewIn addition to private rooms, the hostel has 3 and 4-bed rooms and several dorms, categorized in 4, 6 and 8-bed rooms. If you opt for a private room, you are provided with towels and soap, there is a dressing table, and some bathrooms come with a bathtub like I had. And if you want to indulge in the amazing sea views I got to enjoy, I recommend splurging on one of the 12 deluxe rooms, all of which come with a view and truly feel like a hotel rather than a hostel.YHA Hostel Brighton private roomOn the ground floor, there is a big breakfast room and the aforementioned bar/restaurant, which got quite lively in the evening and would be the place to mingle with other travelers. The prices for drinks are very reasonable which makes it easy to convince travelers to stay here and have a drink instead of going out, with glasses of wine for around 3.25, bottles for around 10 and pints of beer for around £3.25.YHA Hostel Brighton sofaA full English breakfast can be purchased for only £5.25, and if you prefer making your own food, there is a fully equipped self-catering kitchen.YHA BrightonWhat makes the YHA Brighton stand out besides its excellent interior design and hipster factor is, without a doubt, its location. It took me about one minute to walk down to the beach, one minute to get to the Lanes (where most of all Brighton’s amazing restaurants, pubs and cafes are), and two minutes to the Royal Pavilion. If you want to go out at night, Kemptown’s gay bars and clubs are just a couple of minutes away, and so are all the other bars close to the beach.YHA Brighton communal areas

Details

  • Location: Old Steine, Brighton, E Sussex, BN1 1NH Price: Dorm beds start at £16 per night, 5-bed ensuites start at £95, 6-bed ensuites at £115. Double ensuites start at £40, premium doubles at £50,single ensuites at £25, twin ensuites start at £40, triple ensuites at £60
  • LGBT Friendly: Yes
  • Digital Nomad Friendly: Comfortable communal areas with good wi-fi
  • Amenities: Free wifi, breakfast (£5.25), bar and restaurant, luggage storage, kitchen, towels provided in all private rooms
  • Website: www.yha.org.uk/brighton

YHA Brighton collage

 

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Where to stay in Hong Kong: The OZO Wesley in Wan Chai

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When I arrived at the OZO Wesley, I immediately liked the beautiful stylish entrance – but it was when I walked through these doors that I was truly stunned.ozo wesley hong kong entranceThe swanky, bright and spacious lobby has hands down one of the funkiest designs I’ve ever seen in a hotel. The waved wooden lines that cover parts of the ceiling and walls paired with bright red furniture reassured me immediately that I had made a good choice with this hotel, and I hadn’t even seen my room yet.Hong Kong Ozo WesleyI’d wanted to stay in Wan Chai, a neighborhood of Hong Kong that I wanted to explore more of, and the location of the Ozo seemed perfect. A tram station and several bus stations right outside the house, two subway stations (Admirality and Wan Chai) are each a a five-minute walk away. The other thing that had spoken to me was that their website promised ‘stylishly designed urban accommodation for on-the-go global nomads’. Well if that’s not the perfect hotel for this globetrottergirl, then I don’t know!Hong Kong Wesley Ozo HotelThe check-in was efficient and quick, and within five minutes of arriving I found myself opening the door to my room on the 18th floor, and yet again, was pleasantly surprised about the comfort and the design. Hong Kong is, similar to New York, known for its tiny hotel rooms, but the Ozo manages to make the most of every single inch – there is even a small desk next to the bed. The blue and grey painting of the city skyline that covers the entire wall behind the bed adds to the nifty and modernistic feel of the hotel.Hong Kong Ozo Wesley RoomLast but not least, my favorite part: the sofa reading nook in the bay window! I started looking forward to the occasional downpours because it meant I could make myself a cup of tea (every room has an electric kettle and tea) and relax with a magazine in my little nook, or draft some articles. It was my favorite little detail of the hotel.ozo wesley hong kong room with window1However, the reading nook isn’t even what the Ozo is all about – the Ozo is all about getting decent sleep. Everything in the rooms is designed for guests to have the best possible night’s sleep, the best ‘dream experience’. This means super comfy beds, thick curtains that block out the sunlight in the morning, double glass windows to keep out the city noise, and even includes a sleep timer on the TV that comes with sheep jumping across the screen. I couldn’t help but smile every night when I turned the TV on, eagerly awaiting the friendly sheep to put me to sleep with their monotone jumps.Ozo Wesley Hong Kong dream tvAnd my sleeps at the OZO were indeed always uninterrupted, and the bed was so cozy that I was tempted to spend all day in it, instead exploring Hong Kong. But after a good night’s sleep I was way too energized to stay in bed. Another thing I loved about my room was the fact that I opened the larger-than-your-usual-minibar fridge and found it EMPTY!Hong Kong Ozo Wesley room amenitiesFinally a hotel that understands that most guests are tired of paying for overpriced minibar drinks and snacks and rather go to 7-11 to stock up on exactly the items they want. The OZO gets it, and instead of forcing you to empty the minibar just so that you have room to store your snacks and drinks, and then putting all the minibar items back in before check-out, they leave you an empty fridge to begin with. Marvelous! And for those who don’t want to go out to get snacks or drinks, there’s still the 24-hour cafeteria in the lobby that has things like cookies, chips, fresh fruit and drinks.Hong Kong Ozo WesleyOn my first day at the OZO, I went for a run on the Bowen Road fitness trail, which I had discovered thanks to googleMaps, was only a short run up the hill from the hotel. Once you’re up there, you can run for miles straight along the rocks of the hill, surrounded by lush jungles, and with splendid views over Hong Kong. This became one of my favorite running routes in Hong Kong, but the hotel is also just a short run away from the Central and Western Distric Promenade which goes along the water all the way to the harbor, another scenic running route.Hong Kong Ozo Wesley ViewsWhen I woke up to rain on my second day, I decided to check out the hotel gym instead and was stoked to see a rather big gym, fully equipped with cardio machines and weights. I’ve noticed that when a hotel states it has a gym, it can be hit or miss – sometimes it’s okay, but often it’s tiny and neglected. This one was definitely one that was well taken care of and equipped with modern machines.Hong Kong Ozo Wesley GymThe one thing you need to refuel your batteries after a morning workout? A strong cup of coffee. And the OZO has exactly that: instead of simply providing a coffee pot in the breakfast room, like many hotels do, it offers two coffee machines that make exactly the coffee you want, either a simple espresso or americano, or cappuccinos and lattes. The other parts of breakfast were absolutely sufficient for me: fresh breads, cheese and cold cuts, jams and peanut butter, yogurt, a selection of juices and salad. The only thing I wished I would have had a larger selection to choose from was fresh fruit, especially since the hotel is making a point of serving healthy breakfast.Breakfast Ozo Wesley Hong KongOverall, I think the hotel is perfectly located to explore Central, Wan Chai and Sheung Wan, and Kowloon is just a quick subway ride away. As I said before – I was never too upset when it rained because I was looking for an excuse to spend more time in my room – and that barely ever happens!Hong Kong Ozo Wesley Hotel Room

Details

Location: 22 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Price: Starting at US$142 per double room
LGBT Friendly: Yes
Digital Nomad Friendly:
Absolutely – super fast wi-fi and desk, multimedia connectivity panels, comfy bay window seating
Amenities: Free wi-fi, complementary breakfast, gym, interactive orientation screens with city information, lobby lounge with snack bar, in-room coffee & tea making facilities
Website: www.ozohotels.com/wesley-hongkong
Hong Kong Ozo Wesley Hotel

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Where To Stay In Helsinki: The Radisson Blu Royal (+ Giveaway for two free nights for two!)

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My criteria for choosing hotels usually depends on the kind of trip I’m taking and on my destination. In a scorching hot city like Bangkok I always make sure to book a hotel with a pool so that I can cool off after a day of sightseeing. If I’m by the beach, I look for a place close to restaurants and shops, I don’t like resorts that feel secluded but require a long drive to the center of town or simply a coffee shop. When I go on a city break, I try to stay in a hotel that’s right in the heart of the action and has comfortable rooms to relax in after hours of exploring. Throw in a filling breakfast to energize me for the day, fast WiFi to research things to do, a nearby coffee shop and some restaurants, and I’m completely satisfied.Radisson Blu Royal HelsinkiNot only did the Radisson Blu Royal in Helsinki tick all these boxes, but it exceeded my expectation. Fast WiFi? Make that a lightning fast internet connection. A filling breakfast? Make that a breakfast buffet with so many yummy things to eat that I had a hard time stop eating. Nearby restaurants? More than I could possibly try, because it was located smack dab in the center of the vibrant Kamppi shopping district with lots of cafes and restaurants. And with an excellent martini bar onsite, I didn’t even need to leave the hotel if I didn’t want to, which is especially great in the winter. How often have I sat in a sad hotel bar, neglected by both staff and guests. Not at this hotel though: here, the bar was buzzing with people on a Friday night when a DJ who played chilled tunes did not only attract hotel guests but also the after work crowd of some nearby offices. And my verdict of the self-proclaimed ‘best martinis in Helsinki’? They might be right. (Since I didn’t try any other martinis in Helsinki I don’t think that I’m qualified to judge this but the one I had at the Grill It! bar was fabulous). Radisson Blu Royal HelsinkiI was impressed by how effortless the Radisson Blu Royal switched from business hotel to leisure hotel – how often have I stayed at business hotels that offer great weekend rates to attract city break tourists in order to fill their rooms over the weekend, but have a distinct ‘business-y’ feel to them. Not so the Royal: even though it is undoubtedly a business hotel during the week, with 13 meeting rooms that hold up to 500 people, plus a large conference room (which can be transformed into a ballroom), it manages to attract city breakers just as much as it attracts business travelers, thanks to a funky design and a more laid-back feel than your standard business hotel.

As far as business goes, I have to say I was impressed by the hotel’s concept of experience meetings which allows businesses to choose lighting and seating arrangements according to the nature of their meeting or in accordance with their company colors. And my absolute favorite part was the Brain Box breakout room which was the most innovative meeting room I’ve ever seen. I’d probably call it brainstorming room rather than meeting room as it was equipped with couches, funky lighting, fresh mint plants for tea, and iPod docking stations so that you can brainstorm while listening to your own music or stream the music of your choice. I have never seen a room in a hotel that inspired me to be creative in the same way the Brain Box did!Radisson Blu Royal Helsinki Brain boxNo need to go to a meeting room to get some work done though, since all guest rooms are equipped with a desk and a sufficient number of plugs for all your electronics. The best part of the modern and chic rooms was not in any way business or work related though, but focused on pure relaxation: the Magic Dreams beds, a feature you find in all Finnish Radisson Blu hotels (including the other Radisson Blu properties in Helsinki – the Radisson Blu Seaside and the Radisson Blu Plaza as well as the nearby Espoo Radisson Blu). Together with Finlayson, the Radisson Blu developed a unique double-spring foam mattress made of intelligent visco-elastic. The foam, originally designed by NASA, conforms to every guest’s individual body shape, and this combined with the uber comfortable duvets and pillows make for a wonderfully relaxing and refreshing night of sleep. I have to say that even after several very short nights with only a few hours sleep, I always woke up feeling relaxed and re-energized, ready to take on the day.Radisson Blu Royal Helsinki RoomWhat got me out of bed was not only a quick espresso shot straight from the Nespresso machine in my room (all room categories except for the standard rooms, which only have a kettle, are equipped with one: the business rooms, junior suites, executive suite and royal suite), but also the prospect of the generous breakfast buffet. A pet peeve of mine is when 4* and 5* hotels serve stale pastries and breads (which I’ve experienced quite a few times), but no need to worry about that at the Royal where not only do you get to choose from a wide range of fresh and crunchy breads and pastries, but also have a fresh waffle station, an omelet station, fresh fruit, a large selection of cheeses and cold cuts, salads and jams, cereals and nuts. If you don’t have time for an extended breakfast, you can take advantage of the Grab & Run takeaway breakfast – a great service for travelers who are in a hurry.Radisson Blu Royal Helsinki Breakfast Buffet I’ve already mentioned that the hotel is located very central, ideal to explore Helsinki’s sights and its culinary scene, but you don’t have to venture far for some of the city’s best food: the onsite steak restaurant Grill It! offers some of the best charcoal grill steaks in the city, and judging from the fact that it is Michelin-related and from the 4* rating on Tripadvisor, the restaurant seems to be a great choice for meat lovers.Radisson Blu Royal HelsinkiLuckily, there is a gym just outside the hotel which can be used for free by hotel guests and was much needed to offset all the breakfast croissants I couldn’t stop stuffing myself with. Travelers who are in need of relaxation instead of a workout will be happy to hear that there is a sauna in the hotel, making it easy to unwind after a day of sightseeing. If sauna isn’t your thing, you’ll be delighted to hear that you can purchase a movie package of 75 movies for only €5. How cool is that?! On a rainy day, I was seriously tempted to stay in my room all day and watch movies.

All these fantastic features come at an extremely affordable price tag, with nightly rates including breakfast starting at €139. Considering the prime inner city location of the hotel, the high-end amenities, excellent breakfast buffet, WiFi, gym and amazing Magic Dreams sleeping experience, this is a steal!Radisson Blu Royal Helsinki

Take a tour

To get a better picture of the Radisson Blu Royal, which is also known for its architectural features, take a virtual tour of the hotel via this short video:

Giveaway

And if you’re planning to visit Helsinki, you can win a 2-night stay in a business class room for two persons including Super Breakfast – the details of the giveaway will follow in my free May 2015 newsletter on 15 May, for which you can sign up here, if you aren’t signed up already.

Details

Amenities: free Wi-fi, breakfast buffet, sauna, gym, in-room NESPRESSO coffee machine or electric kettle (depending on room category), hairdryer and toiletries, parking (extra charge), flat-screen TV with movie packages, bar and restaurant on site.
Location:
Runebergsgatan 2, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
Price:
Standard rooms start at €162, packages incl. sparkling wine, fruit & chocolate plate, bath moods products start at €284
LGBT Friendly:
Yes
Digital Nomad Friendly:
Yes, definitely
Website: Radisson Blu Royal Helsinki

Radisson Blu Royal Helsinki

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Where to stay in Thalpe Beach, Sri Lanka: Era Beach by Jetwing Hotels

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Imagine you have an infinity pool that looks out right at the ocean and you only have to share it with a handful of other people. You take your cocktail to the pool, listen to the clashing waves in front of you, and enjoy the peaceful bliss of the moment.era beach by jetwing pool and vaseAt Era Beach on Sri Lanka’s south coast, this is not a dream, but your daily reality. With only eight rooms, it is one of the most exclusive boutique hotels I’ve ever stayed at and it almost felt like I was in a private villa instead of a hotel. Even at full capacity, the hotel can never feel crowded, and you will have the pool or the sun loungers almost to yourself. If you are looking for an intimate, luxurious beach getaway in Sri Lanka, there is no better place than Era Beach by Jetwing Hotels, the country’s leading chain of small boutique hotels.Jetwing by Era BeachThe rooms are spacious and comfortable, equipped with dark wooden furniture that complement the overall feel of the elegant colonial villa. The bathrooms can only be described as huge, almost as big as the room itself, with a shower big enough for two (just sayin’ 😉 ). The rooms all have a tea and coffee maker, best enjoyed on the balcony outside the room which offers the best view over the dream pool and the gorgeous grounds. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this:era beach by jetwing pool viewBut you won’t be spending a lot of time in your room while you’re at Era Beach – the pool area, nestled in between two lounge areas, one of which has a well-stocked bar and the other one the breakfast / dining room, is where you would want to spend most of your time. The saltwater pool is one of the most beautiful swimming pools I have ever come across, and just like everything at the hotel, it was designed in an effort to catch your eye and is without a doubt the star of the property.Jetwing by Era BeachNo matter where you look, the decor at Era Beach has been selected thoughtfully to match the overall feel of the property – sophisticated, luxurious and exquisite. Giant flower vases that resemble the Dutch-colonial style meet contemporary art and sleek furniture in the outdoor areas – one thing I loved about the resort was that all the common spaces were designed in a way that they had an open feel to it – wide open colonial doors and windows, or fully open terraces.Jetwing by Era Beach gardensEra Beach is so exquisite that they even offer a butler service, but I found the staff to be extremely discrete, always on call, yet never intrusive, adding to the elitist feel of the boutique resort.Jetwing by Era BeachUnder a few coconut palm trees right by the beach, eight sun beds are lined up, allowing you to look out at the ocean while relaxing and working on your tan. Because that’s about all you should be doing here: relax, recharge your batteries, chill out, and get a nice tan.Jetwing by Era Beach beachThe only time you might want to get out of your chair would be after the generous breakfast, to walk it off, so that you can order some fresh seafood for lunch. You get down to the beach via a set of stairs and walk on the soft sand for at least a kilometer in either direction. You won’t come across many people, only a few local fishermen and a small number of tourists from other nearby resorts. Following the beach to the right (when facing the water) would bring you to Unawatuna, a small nearby beach town, only a short 15-minute tuktuk ride away.

In Unawatuna, you’ll find everything you need from funky beach bars to tourist souvenir shops and Ayurveda centers.Jetwing by Era Beach sri lankaThere’s not really any need to leave Era Beach, however: the food is absolutely divine and you can order lunch and dinner a la carte – the menu offers a mix of local cuisine and Western dishes – in addition to the breakfast which is included in the room rate and comes with fresh fruit and yogurt, fresh breads and pastries and a full hot breakfast on top of it. You’ll be dining outside, on the covered terrace on either side of the pool, enjoying the sunset and the absolute peace and tranquility around you.Jetwing by Era Beach breakfastIt is impossible not to relax at Era Beach – if you are looking for a romantic getaway, tranquility, solitude and five star service, you will love Era Beach.

Stand out features

What makes Era Beach unforgettable is the exclusive and private feel that the resort has. The beautifully designed property, something that all Jetwing Hotels are known for, the excellent quality of food and service, and the breathtaking pool are what make a stay at Era Beach an absolute exhilarating experience.Jetwing by Era Beach decor

Room for improvement

The Wi-Fi situation was not very satisfying for me. While a few of the other guests were able to connect to the Wi-Fi in some downstairs areas, I could only ever connect in the reception area, and that’s the last place you want to spend time in at this resort. Whenever I was online, the connection was still painfully slow. I hope this is something that can be improved, but I am saying that from a standpoint of someone who works while traveling. For people on vacation, it might actually be a nice break from the digital world and sometimes you need to be forced to let go. In an enchanting environment like Era Beach, you shouldn’t be anywhere else but right there in the moment.

The other thing I thought could use some improvement were the bathrooms which were very big, but lacked in character. But then maybe that’s part of the minimalistic design.Jetwing by Era Beach bathroom

Details

Amenities: Saltwater pool, complimentary breakfast, tea and coffee maker in the room, free wi-fi, butler service, bar and restaurant
Location:
834 Galle Road, Talpe, Galle, Unawatuna Beach, Unawatuna
Price:
Lobby rooms start at $80 per night (including breakfast), $104 per garden suite, $144 per sea view suite. Room rates vary depending on the season – please note that prices are considerably higher during high season (Dec – March). Half-board and full-board can be booked for an additional fee.
LGBT Friendly:
Yes

Digital Nomad Friendly:
Yes

Website: www.jetwinghotels.com/erabeachJetwing by Era Beach

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