Tag Archives: hotel

Eat and sleep in Strasbourg

Now it is time to write about my accomodation in Strasbourg and also to share my experience in some restaurants, the ones I really suggest you to go. As you now I like luxury but especially to have some unique and comfortable experiences. You already know how I check the hotels and as always I chosen the structure considering the location in the city and the services provided.

 

The hotel

The five star accomodation is located directly on the river in Petite France neighborhood close to the half-timbered houses and to the most characteristic restaurants of the city. It is the best position to start the visit of the city and to enjoy a lovely view of Strasbourg. The Régent Petite France Hotel offer a restaurant with a terrace from where admire a great panorama.

The ideal place to visit the city and the proximity with the shops and the attractions are not the only strenght of the structure. The building was built in XIX century and it was an ice factory, not the shape is the same, but there are modern elements and especially inside the setting is modern style, in the lobby as in the rooms. Elegance is anyway the main feature in every corner.

Inside there is a spa and a fitness center, but I did not have time to use them, I preferred to go around in the city. About the rooms I can underline the big space and a contemporary style of the furniture and of the décor. The bathroom are made with marble and the suite has a balconie from were to enjoy the view of the Petite France buildings. The modern equipment helps the comfort of the stay.

The restaurant of the hotel, Le Pont Tournant, offers the traditional cuisine in a light version, with an innovative touch. To accompain the meal there is the riverside terrace, a nice environment especially for dinner. The menu is seasonal made. The Champagne Bar is always ready to give drinks and some snack as steak tartare or club sandwich. Last but not least it is the breakfast, prepared as a big buffet with cold and hot dishes and a good variety of cheese, cold meat, toast, fruit and sweets recipes.

 

The restaurants

The first one that I want to mention is called Au Crocodile, the name is quite original, meanwhile the menu starts from the tradition with some innovative creation that offers delicious tastes obtained by selected local and seasonal ingredients. The elegance and the impeccable service are the elements that make the restaurant a must for who wants to have a unique gastronomic experience. In the desserts list there is a space dedicated to the cheeses, with a selection of Alsace and French best products. Oh, I forgot to mention that it has a Michelin star.

A bit hidden from the street, in a Petite France courtyard, the restaurant Perles de Saveurs proposes a setting made by artworks of some loal artists and it has a typical French menu. The tradition let the space to contemporary recipes, always connected to the country cuisine. The fish dishes are superb and in this case I suggest to taste the lemon cake (tarte au citron), in my opinion very delicious. Maybe you can skip the cheese.

A small restaurant managed by a wife and an husband represent a small Alsatian jewel. La Cuiller à Pot offers regional cuisine with traditional dishes prepared at the moment. The quality of the ingredients is very high and there are homemade specialties. Among the special dishes there are the escargots, but since I do not like them I can not express any opinion about them. Anyway the various choice is able to delight every person. If you like cheese, just ask to them and you will taste some of the most delicious products of the Alsace.

Not far from the cathedral there is the restaurant Le Clou, a bistro typical of France with an old but elegant and characteristic decor and furniture. The regional recipes are served with professionality and the ingredients used are coming from a quality selection of the local products. They have of course a good cheese to be tasted after the second course and it is a must since it is one of the strenght of the French cuisine. The staff is very kind and the prices are quite cheap compared to what is offered.

 

Bars

I can not recommend specific bars, but going around Petite France you can find squares full of places where to drink something in the evening and have fun. The city has a lot of offers for all tastes and you can find also various types of music and entertainment, also because Strasbourg is a tourist destination and headquarter of the European Parliament, so open to people from all around the world with different cultures and age. I suggest you to try to enter in more bars, so you can experiment the different atmospheres.

Safety

There are no specific tips regarding the safety, it is a well protected city, of course it is good to pay attention, but it is full of young people quite open minded but at the same time serious and friendly, as people in general are, because they are used to meet foreigners.

Just an episode that happened to me during one of my visits to Strasbourg. Close to the cathedral a small group of drunk guys were trying to approach people and disturb them. In less than one minut the police, by bike and by walk, came and surrounded the group. They checked those guys and took them away. The police was not standing in the square, but somehow they are always around and ready to act.

Of course it is the main part of the city, the heart of Strasbourg, but in a very discrete way the police is always present, so be careful if you want to be drunk 😀

Anasa

Booking flight and hotels

The number of platforms dedicated to travels are increasing, especially the ones that offers the way to find and buy plane tickets, holidays and hotel reservations. I have to say that they are useful, but are the deals convenient? Generally there are good rates offered, but if you compare them with the proposals present on the hotel websites you can be surprised with better prices or with some extra benefits as the free minibar with soft drinks, the complimentary transfer and so on.

Many hotels complain about the platforms because they are useful to support the different structures helping them to occupy all the rooms, but they ask for an high commission. Also some hotels are not present on those websites. It is then easy to establish a cooperation between the companies that are managing the travel and booking sites, so they can find the way to have a deal and give less advantages to customers.

The same problem happens with flights, when you search for a ticket you just compare thousands websites and meanwhile your reserch become part of the site data, so if you go back to the same page, you will see an higher price. This tricks are common and well known, but in last period Google started to offer a new service. You can directly directly on Google Flights about the connnection you need and the prices. I noticed in the past months that generally there are always the higher prices.

Today I red an article on The Scottish Sun that describes how the improved Google Flight app reveals to readers if the flight and hotel fares are a good deal or not. The journalist underline the opportunity that you have receiving the alerts from Google when the price decrease. With some graphics you can check how the rate goes and the app helps to recognize the best offers using the colours about “cold” and the “hot” fares.

The application works for flights and hotels and I have to say that the service provided is really better than the past, but I have still few doubts. For instance I saw that they also propose the best deals on business class, but of course the cheapest fares are referred to the connections with the stopover, so you need to stay around the world more time before to arrive at your destination.

Meanwhile I was reading the article and checking the new app it cames to my mind the Austrian Airlines promotion, started few years ago and not only one among the airline companies. With your economy ticket you can bid an upgrade to business class. You make an offer and if it will be accepted, according to the amount and the different bids received, they can decide if accept and let you travel in business class with a bit more than what you spent for the economy ticket.

We all know that to find the best deals we need to check the dates, try to change them, to try to change airport, to make the reservation in a specific day of the week and so on. I agree with all tricks, but since the algorithms are changing so fast, I generally keep always in mind these advices, but I always prefer compare the official websites of the hotels and of the airline companies, deleting the computer chronology step by step to non influence the sites and their results, with the different booking services.

How do you reserve your flights and hotel rooms?

Anasa

Hotel’s butler: be a VIP in your room

It is becoming popular among hotel services. But not all the people know exactly what has to do the hotel’s butler. What about this support offered as complimentary service of the best suites? People who approach for the first time to this service they have not a clear idea about what to expect. And they don’t know what to ask the dedicate staff member. Maybe it is useful to clarify some aspects.

The number of structures that propose the hotel’s butler service up to request or complimentary is increasing. Generally, it is paired with special, signature or the biggest suites of the main brands. It happens to the mountains, to the sea and as well in the city. To have a butler means to be helped in managing the room and the stay. Of course, this professional is properly trained to satisfy most of the needs that a guest can have during the stay in the hotel.

It is important to know that hospitality companies offer the hotel’s butler to create a loyalty relationship with the guest. Obviously, the staff has to please the client and not the opposite. So you have to treat them with kindness and they have to reserve you courtesy and professionality. But you as a customer have to use the service and to ask what you need. Just keep in mind the competencies that they have.

 

The tasks of the hotel’s butler

Each hotel has different rules and this makes some differences in the service provided. Starting from the time: in some cases, the hotel’s butler is available only during the day. In many hotels, it is a 24 hours service. Anyway more or less the do the same things. What is common among the different structures are the unpack and pack, draw a bath and reserve a table to a restaurant.

Usually, the butler has also the task to superintend to the room cleaning. In order to keep always in perfect conditions the suite. So what a guest can ask (you should follow these indications in case you have a hotel’s butler service in your hotel room) concern mainly the management of the room. It is included the organization of an in-suite meal. Sometimes the complimentary service gives the availability of a chef and a dedicated concierge. So the butler can coordinate the contacts between the guests and those staff members.

 

What the butler does

The first approach of the hotel’s butler with the guests is in the room. She or he welcomes the clients of the suite and show them the different internal ambients and the amenities. This staff member explains as well the facilities of the entire structure. She or he generally tells to the guests what are the task that the butler has to accomplish to serve the customers in the proper way.

In this first meeting what is important for she or he is to understand the people who are in front of her or him. Why? To please them it is necessary to know what they want and need, providing customized service.

After that, the hotel’s butler manages the check-in, unpack the luggage and press clothes. if it is necessary and according to the hotel policy. She or he takes care of the room, meanwhile, in general, the concierge work on external need. For instance the reservation of a restaurant, the ticket purchase for some events and so on.

There is not a precise rule, so hotel by hotel these tasks can be done by the butler as well. For example, the task of the hotel’s butler is also to refill the minibar and the room with drinks and snack. Then this staff member brings the newspaper, the breakfast and a cup of tea in the afternoon or a glass of wine before dinner.

For any need, the guest can call and ask the hotel’s butler that will be discretely positioned close to the room. Or she or he will just be somewhere else with the mobile phone switched on. In order to answer immediately to the call or to the messages got from the guests. For instance, during the late night, you can write an SMS with some changes or orders about breakfast and she or he will provide to organize.

Some hotels are using the new technologies and this means that the hotel’s butler gives to the guests a tablet to manage the room. This is useful as well to interact with the staff. So the client can ask what he needs by the device and the butler will work to satisfy the request. In many hotels in the night, the butler cleans the guests’ shoes for the day after. During the day or the evening, this staff member prepares the bath and aromatherapy, where available.

 

Details and tip

When you book in some accommodation you can find more details about the hotel’s butler service. In some cases, they send to you a paper to be filled with your needs and interests. So they can personalize the assistance before your arrival. This will help you also to understand better what the butler will do for you during your stay. Then there will be specifics about other staff members dedicated to supporting you.

About the tip, it is totally up to you. It is of course not mandatory and the service received is included in the room rate. But if you think, at the end of your stay, that the hotel’s butler was particularly kind and professional or if she or he helped you also in some tasks not mandatory, well a tip is always welcome by the staff. Do not think anyway that the activities depend on it, otherwise, it means that the service is not well provided.

Updates

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Book your luxury hotel and get familiar with the butler‘s service. You will be satisfied.

From the airport to the hotel

One of the challenges for the travellers is the transfer from the airport to the hotel. It depends on the place and on the country, but in the main cities there are many options and it can be difficult to choose the proper one. It is not a matter of price, even if it counts. Buses and trains are cheaper but they have a lot of stops and they are not going directly to your destination. There are some exceptions, as it happens for example in Budapest where you can go on a minibus that does a tour of the hotels, according to the passenger needs.

The taxi is a good option to go faster, but if you are a tourist and you are not prepared in some cases the driver can cheat on the price. It happens also to find fake taxidrivers. The best solution? I do not have the answer but in many cases I use the rent with driver. It is not always convenient, it depends on the city, but in most of the cases is the faster option with a well proportioned cost.

When I visit a new place I check on internet the transfer options via airport website, if available the dedicated section. Especially I search about the rates in order to not waste money. I mean I like luxury and I am available to spend more for a good service, but not to spend more than what is normal according to the country that I am going to visit. Often I travel for work reasons and I need to save time and to go directly to my destination. That is why I try the fastest solution and also to move with comfort.

 

Hotel transfer

What are the options? Call the hotel booked and ask for a transfer from the airport, in case you did not get a complimentary one included in your room rate. Generally hotels have their own cars or they have deals with some agencies. The cost is higher than a direct booking with those service providers. This procedure will cost you around 30% more.

 

Taxi risks

With a taxi you have the direct connection with your hotel, but the driver can choose a longer way to get more money and the risk is to find a fake taxi that will cost even more. It is not valid every where because there are honest people and also in some places the rates are not so higher and there are not different alternatives to be fast and to have a comfortable trip from the airport.

 

Private car with driver

If you have a bit of time to organize your transfer (I suggest you to find it) you can search the agencies that rent cars with drivers. They have luxury car and fixed prices according to the trips. To connect the city with the local airport there are usually competitive prices, meanwhile to go in different cities the cost can be quite high. Anyway it is a luxury transfer and you need to keep it into consideration.

It is not hard to find the various transfer service providers online, in some cases there are already showed the rates, otherwise you can ask via phone or email. It is a good idea to contact directly the agencies, so you can compare the offers. I suggest you also to ask precisely what type of car they will send to pick up you, because there are companies that use not huge and luxury car but they ask the same price of who is going to send Mercedes Class E or S, Bmw and so on. For an higher prices it is available also Rolls Royce.

The advantages of the rent with driver compare with a simple cab are:

  • a fixed price that does not change in case of some road traffic or deviation;
  • the driver waits for you at the arrivals;
  • the car is comfortable and clean, also inside;
  • the driver already know the destination and he or she already planned the best way, according to the road works and to the traffic, to arrive to your hotel;
  • especially in summer and in most of the cases but not all, there is a fresh bottle of water waiting for you on the car, so you can drink during the transfer.

Of course it is always good to check and then to evaluate the service, so if you will be back in the same city or you are using some company that is present in more cities and countries you know if you can call it again or search another one.

 

Experiences

Just to give you a better idea on how it works I write some examples of what happened to me in years of travel. There are also some tips related to the transfers in some cities that I visited in recent time. Starting from Italy I can say that in Rome: the cost of a car with driver from the airport is the same of a taxi, but you can have more comfort and the driver waits for you at arrivals. The company that I chosen for my trips generally call me via phone when I land and we find a meeting point to be fast.

In the Italian capital the distance from the airport to the city centre requires around 45 minutes by car and the cost of the ride on the luxury car is about 45-50 euro. With the taxi you can even spend more, also because it is necessary to add a fee to carry the luggage. The situation is different among the cities, infact in Naples you can find a similar offer, also if the airport is about 20-30 minutes far from the centre. Anyway the rent with driver cost generally 40-50% more than a taxi.

Of course you have advantages, but it can be a bit much. If you choose the taxi in Naples do not forget to choose the fixed rate. The taxidriver always ask to you and it is better than to use the taximeter because he can prefer a longer way. The price from the airport to the centre is around 20-25 euro. If they ask more it is wrong. Keep in mind that they usually ask a couple of euro as tip, it is not mandatory, but it is up to you.

If you go to Sofia, Bulgaria, you will find as it happens in many places, a lot of people ready to offer you a ride, but they are fake taxi. So at arrivals you can directly go to the taxi reception. A girl will ask you the main information and she will give you a code and you can go out and find your taxi ready and especially legal. In Tirana, Albania, there are some companies at the airport, as Avis, that provide cars with driver.

The same in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, with some local companies. If you go to Bucharest there is, like in London, the black cab, the taxi company with luxury cars available for the transfers from the airport and as well to take people around the city. It costs more than a taxi but it offers a very professional service, with more clean cars and well equipped.

These are just few example on how you can move with rent with driver around Europe, but anyway I suggest you to check before to leave. In Turkey for instance in the airport managed by TAV offer different services, included the transfer. It works very well and they operate with huge Mercedes and BMW with professional drivers and they also proposed the transfer perfectly coordinated with the meet and greet service inside their airports, starting from Istanbul. There is also the option with the speedboat for the transfer via sea.

 

The evaluation of the service

How to evaluate the transfer service? This is the last question that can help you to choose the best company. First of all it is important to check how fast they are in answer to the request. Also it is possible to verify the information, if it is complete, and as well the courtesy used. The it comes the way to book, you control if it is easy or not. Naturally comparing the services you have the chance to check the price according to the service proposed.

After the first contact you can evaluate the transfer answering to these questions: was easy to find the driver? Was she or he on time? How was the car in term of comfort and cleaning? Was the driver kind? Did you arrive at destination without problems? The questions are covering the main elements that you need to consider to decide if the service was good and if you will use it again calling the same provider.

I had the chance to use different transfer services in Italy and abroad and always I use those questions to make a check and select the best ones. Going to the conclusions I want to make a couple of examples more. Once in Rome a driver during the trip from the airport started to talk about a person, telling me name and surname, who had bad habits. He told me almost everything about the trips of that guy, for 40 minutes… Well better have another driver, don’t you think so?

In New York I had a tour of the city in a limousine and after that the driver proposed to me to follow my movements for all my stay for a better price. He wanted to deceive the company and he sent me a friend of him. It was impossible to meet each other on time and in the place where I needed. The service was the worst one. This happens especially when you don’t need only a transfer, but a car with driver to go around in the city, so be careful when you say yes to a better price with a sub-agreement.

Anasa

 

How to check an hotel

Reading my blog you noticed that my articles are telling positive feedbacks from my experiences, that is why I want to give you some information about places, restaurants and hotels you should visit. My bad experiences do not deserve to be published. I need anyway to take into consideration that not all opinions are the same, that is why I use high quaity experiences.

Writing about the good part of my travels is the way to tell you: “there you can go and you will be satisfied!

When I prepare an article I think to be brief, to not annoy my followers and readers, but what I write is the synthesis of a precise analysis. For instance about an hotel I observe different elements. I am not an inspector by profession, but I travel quite a lot and I am doing it since many years ago, that is why I developed my personal criteria.

The stay in a five stars hotel it does not mean that everything is perfect, but of course it is the proper place where to pretend a tailor made service and high standards for the accomodation. Especially when I travel for work reasons I need to have comfort as a good equipped and quiet room and also a professional staff ready to answer properly to my needs in terms of assistance in the facilities or reservation of external services.

I have anyway to respect the workers of the hotel, because kindness is always welcome everywhere and guests can be better served using it. So what are the main features to evaluate an hotel? The following points are just used by me to make the selection and be sure that telling you about some structure you can have a great stay. Of course it is not my job, so I take into consideration the features that are more important form my personal comfort. Anyway some hints can be useful to you, my readers, as well.

 

The reservation

The evaluation of an hotel starts at the moment of the reservation. Of course you can book through internet using websites not directly related to the hotel, but also in this case you can check how the management acts. For example once I used Booking, I completed my reservation and one day later I got an email from the hotel booked. They wrote to be closed and they did a mistake accepting the reservation by the system. Everything was cancelled and then I searched for another accomodation. You can imagine my feelings and what I thought about them.

If you contact directly the structure, as I do generally, the staff has to answer with courtesy to all your questions, even the strange ones. They have to explain the rates and give you the best offers, proposing the different options, if they have some special proposals for the period.

 

The pick-up and the transfer

Before the reception you may have contact with the driver if you asked or received the complimentary transfer from the airport with your reservation. The car has to be on time at the airport, the driver need to be there to wait for you with a paper with your name written and then to ask to you how are you and take you fast and with comforts to the hotel. About the private transport services there are many things to say, but I will dedicate an article about it.

 

The reception and delivery of the room

When you enter in the hotel you go directly to the reception. In this occasion you should find a well prepared staff. They should already know about you and your reservation or at least find everything when you say to them your name. They have to make the copy of your passport, ask for your credit card and for a signature on the registration paper. They have to be kind and fast manwhile they give you all the information about your stay and the facilities.

In some hotel the guests of the best suite can benefit of the in room check-in and this needs to have anyway the same features of the service given at the reception. Generally it is easier because they send a well prepared staff and they pay attention only to the room guests. It is part of a special welcome reserved to who is going to spend a huge rate for a special suite.

 

The room

After the check-in you enter finally in the room. First of all it is a good idea to check the cleaning level, starting from the bathroom and the bed. After that the control has to be done on the equipment, to be sure that everything is working and also to see the features of the room. According to the type of hotel and to what the guest booked the features of the accomodation have to satisfy different standards. Minibar has to be well furnished.

If the guest is accomodate in a signature suite of a five stars hotel it is possible to receive a butler service included in the rate. In this case the butler has to be present at the guest arrival, take care of the luggages, put the clothes in the wardrobe and be available to answer to the requests and the needs of the guest. The presence of this member of the hotel staff and his attention to the client has to be evaluated, because the butler is going to be the closest referent during the stay.

 

The stay

During the days spent in the hotel each client has the chance to try some services and their ”perfections” is part of the evaluation. To evaluate if services are good it is necessary to consider the offer in all the aspects, starting from the breakfast. That has to be complete, so with a big selection of salty and sweet food to be chosen by guests. The staff has to be ready to answer to the specific needs, maybe to prepare a coffee or explain where to find a specific food, as well the ingredients used in order to prevent allergies and intolerances.

In Bucharest I had one of the best experiences in terms of breakfast, a big dining room with real departments for the varaious types of food, including meat and fish. It was necessary to walk a bit around to find everything, but the staff was always ready to help guests to find what they were searching for. Any taste can be easily satisfied there. That means to give high grades for the evaluation.

Using the bar or the restaurant it is important to check the offer, the variety of drink and food, the professional staff and of course the prices well calibrated with the quality. About rates it is anyway necessary to say that i every hotel of the world the prices of food and drinks are always higher than in outside restaurants and bars.

If there is the chance to use the room service also in this case the evaluation is focused on the variety of food and drinks available, then the attention is on the staff: how much they are kind and fast, starting from the call to arrive when they arrive in the room. In general to put at the centre of the attention the client is a must for a good hotel, so kindness, ability to answer to the different need are very important, as cleaning and order in the rooms and in common spaces.

If there are other facilities as the gym, the spa, an internet corner or meeting room, it is a good opportunity to check how they are managed. The offers and the equipments are the main elements to evaluate the level of the hotel. The features should help the guest to feel in a safe environment and to feel like at home.

Also the concierge is a staff member to have a big role in the guest stay. He can suggest some places to visit, reserve tickets, deliver specific services, reserve restaurants and so on. His task is to give a real support to customers, to find the way to satisfy them. If there are complimentary newspaper or evening cleaning of the room and bed preparation, it is important to be sure to have the newspaper every day and to receive the visit of the waitress before dinner.

Some hotels then offer tailored experiences to tourists as a private show made by a musician, a visit to a fashion workshop of a famous brand, a special cuisine experience or supercars tour around the city and so on. In this case the evaluation depends mainly on personal taste and on a perfect organisation of the activity, without any time loosing or delays.

 

The departure

The moment of the check-out concern the last minutes spent in the hotel. The guest goes to the reception to pay the bill. It can be the occasion to give a feedback on the structure and maybe to complain about something. Part of evaluation is also the management of the complaints. The staff and the manager have to be professional and to try to find a solution, without be rude, also if they are right, in orther to fix the situation and to not loose the client.

If there is the transfer they have to make the car and the driver ready for the exact moment, so when you leave the hotel. They can take care of your luggages if you leave the room but not the place and thank you for your stay, in order to make you comfortable and interested to visit the accomodation again in future.

 

Other elements

It is more part of the choice then the evaluation, but the good connections of the hotel with the main attractions of the centre of the city is quite important. To have an underground station very closed, to be located in the main square and to have some taxi in front of the hotel door is surely useful.

In last years the respect of the environment protection became a priority in the world and also many hotels are doing their part. In some structures it is easy to find a card close to the bed and in the bathroom with a message: if the guest wants to change bed linen and towels it is necessary to put the them on the floor or tu put the card on them and so on.

This is good, but the question is: if you spend hundreds or thousands euros or dollars for a room and they change daily linen and towels, why if you decide to reuse them and the hotel save money you do not have any benefit. It is great to save nature from the pollution, but the price must be reduced. Starwood Preferred Guest found a solution. It is the fidelity program of Sheraton, Westin and many others hotel’s brands connected also with Marriott Reward. If you choose to not change the towels you get points to be used for services in the hotel and to add to your collection for free nights.

The ones written are the main elements that I always check when I go in a hotel and if it pass the “exam” I mention it in my articles, to recommend the best among the structure where I have the chance to stay.

Anasa