H10 Rubicon Palace Lanzarote: Review

I had such high hopes for this five star hotel, but all I can truly say in its favour is that the room was lovely.  The rest of it was just OK, nothing wrong with it, but all a bit ‘meh’.  IMG_3156

I think my judgement was coloured because we started off on the wrong foot.  The hotel allocated us a room which was barely completed (ie the paint was still wet) and there was a huge noisy digger right outside our window making the whole block tremble. I was off down to reception sharpish to complain but was told they could not move us until the next day.  I complained to Thomas Cook who couldn’t do anything about it.  Very disappointing.

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We were moved next day to a lovely bungalow room with a sea view which was mercifully quiet.  Because we had been inconvenienced on day one, we were compensated with a superior room which I have to say was lovely.  We were also invited to have dinner in the Vulcan restaurant which is for Privilege guests only and was excellent.

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The bathroom was great and the bathrobes were a nice touch.

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The hotel is big, with several restaurants to choose from and plenty of pools, should you be inclined to take a dip.  Not for me unless it’s 28 degrees outside!  There is a really nice piano bar where you can take advantage of the all inclusive drinks package while you listen to some good live music.  There’s also a sports bar where we spent a couple of nights.  Service in the piano bar was a bit patchy but the sports bar was better.  Drinks quality in both was excellent.

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One of our favourite spots was Mike’s coffee shop where you could get a nice cappuccino and sit in the sun with a book.

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The food was overall good, but not great.  I’m not veggie, but I do like a good amount of vegetables and this is where I found it lacking.  There were plenty of salads but cooked vegetables were disappointing.  Breakfast and dinner were a bit of a scramble – hard to get a cup of coffee as I think the place was understaffed; cutlery, crockery and condiments were on a ‘steal it yourself from a spare table’ basis and there were long queues for speciality things like fresh pancakes.  Fresh juices at breakfast was a nice touch but often the jugs were empty.

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Lunch was a delight as it was warm enough to sit outside and I think the burger bar tempted some people away from the restaurant so we had more space and better service.

The location of the hotel was OK.  There is not much to do or see in Playa Blanca, but for a week of just getting some sun on your face, it’s fine.  Lanzarote is notoriously windy and our week was no exception.  You need a cardigan or sweater in March and a jacket for evenings.

What I did enjoy was the opportunity to wear a dress in the evenings as the hotel felt dressy enough.  Quite often these days everyone is in jeans and I do like to dress up now and again.

One mistake we made, and entirely our own fault, was that we booked a week that overlapped with the start of the Easter holidays, so that by the last couple of days the place was inundated with children.  No-ones fault but our own! Really must be more careful with dates.

I enjoyed our week, but I think that the poor start definitely clouded my opinion and I wouldn’t return.  This was our first stay with H10 and I can’t see me trying any of the others in the chain.

 

Hotel San Gil Seville: Review

Set in the back streets of Seville’s old town, we picked this four star hotel for our two night stay based purely on its Moorish architecture.

We were on our home from Jerez De La Frontera as part of our train journey around Andalucia and I wanted to spend some time in Seville to see the Alcazar without the tourist hordes that had accompanied us on our previous one day visit.

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The hotel certainly is a stunner with its mosaic tile covered reception area and bar plus its riad style central courtyard.

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It’s about half an hour walk to the Alcazar.  It would probably have been less if we had gone the right way, but there are so many nearby narrow streets to explore and diversions to take that it probably didn’t matter.

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We arrived at the Santa Justa train station after dark and took a taxi.  Good job as we would have never have found our way through the alleyways on public transport and it is about a 35 minute walk to the station, assuming you know where you are going, which of course we did by the time we were leaving for the train back to Malaga.

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Our room was on the ground floor and had a window facing out onto the courtyard.  You couldn’t draw back the curtain as everyone could see in.  I think it was a disabled friendly room as the bathroom was exceptionally large with a walk in shower.  All good stuff and no complaints there.

I do have one very big gripe though.  On our final morning, we were woken around 7:30 by a smell of chemicals so strong that my eyes were streaming and I was coughing as if my life depended on it.  I dashed out of the room, looking like a mad women and went to reception to ask what was going on.  The receptionist said that someone had accidentally allowed bleach to get into the aircon and not to worry!  Wowzers!  I’m asthmatic, so not for taking chances, we packed up and left immediately.

Anyway, notwithstanding the poor attention to health and safety, everything else was fine.  The breakfast buffet was extensive and the coffee was good.

There are lots of bars and restaurants to choose from in the nearby streets, but beware the tourist menu of insipid paella – there is so much more out there if you seek out the proper menu.  This squid was exceptionally good and cost about eight euros.

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This hotel was a good enough base for a two day stay, but based on our experience I would not recommend it.  By all means pop in and have a drink at the bar though as you can appreciate the architecture for the cost of a coffee!

 

 

Radisson Blu Manchester Airport: Review

When we have an early flight we often stay over at Manchester Airport in one of the airport hotels.  Last month we tried out the Radisson Blu for the first time and it was really relaxing.  The great thing about staying over is that you can check your bags in (for some airlines anyway) the day before and avoid that horrible wait at stupid o clock the next day when everything is just too much trouble!

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This time we checked in at two p.m. then spent the afternoon drinking coffee, browsing and shopping for books in WH Smith and then lazing in bed!  There is a pool but I had just had my hair done so no way I was going to spoil it with a swim.

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The rooms are large, as you would expect, with great quality bedlinen, shower plus bath, flat screen TV and wifi.  Check in is efficient and you can do it all when you arrive so no timewasting next day having to check out.  There is a restaurant on site but we walked through the tunnel to the airport to grab something to eat.

There are lovely This Works beauty products, fluffy towels, decent tea and coffee and an iron/ironing board should you need it.  The room was quiet despite proximity to the runway and aircon worked just fine.

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When it was time to leave, we were too early for breakfast, but the hotel provides a free grab and run service for early risers so you can pick up a coffee, some fruit and a cereal bar which you can take with you as you make your way to the airport.

As we had already checked in for our flight, we clocked the huge queue snaking to the door and thanked our lucky stars we could go straight to security.  We were on the other side in no time.

We have decided to do this for all our early morning flights from now on.  The cost can be combined with a Meet & Greet parking deal so the cost isn’t too bad.

I am most definitely not a morning person and this works just fine for me!

 

Hotel La Palma Princess & Teneguia Princess: Review

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We’re just back from a winter break at this popular hotel in La Palma, Canaries.  It’s popped up many times in our holiday searches and we’ve dismissed it because of remote location, but as we’ve had a mad few months we thought we would give it a go.

It certainly is a place to rest, with over ten pools to choose from and loads of sunbeds. One pool is heated and this was naturally the busiest, but there were lots of secluded places to nip off to and read.

We were all inclusive and generally speaking the quality of the food was good – especially the veggie selections.  I can vouch for the rose wine and cava but the coffee was dire and completely unpalatable. There is a kettle in your room, so my advice would be take your own.

We took breakfast on the terrace at the La Choza restaurant and it was fab to start the morning with a sea view.

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The hotel is set in lush sub tropical gardens which was a real joy.  Loads of wildlife too – including lizards, egret and a couple of kestrels which flew over every day.

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Our room was colonial in style with an excellent shower, separate bath and marble basin.  The room was huge with a large verandah looking out towards the gardens.  My only complaint was that the room was cool because it got no sun at all.  Fine in the summer, but in the winter, not so good.  We enquired about upgrading but the hotel was full so we stayed put and they gave us extra blankets.

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The hotel is fairly isolated, but there is a little bar about 25 minutes walk where you can get decent coffee, as well as a good selection of fresh fish and wrinkly potatoes with freshly made mojo sauce and alioli. The view from the bar is fantastic too.

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We took the bus to the capital one day – an hour away over the very tortuous mountain road.  It has really good shopping plus some very pretty houses with traditional balconies.  We enjoyed some excellent tapas too.  The bus ride is not for the faint hearted – in fact the lady behind me threw up because of all the twists and turns!

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We picked a bad day to go into town unfortunately as it poured with rain and was pretty cold – but it gave me an excuse to buy a jacket!

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The hotel is surrounded by banana plantations which we found fascinating – there were little trucks carrying bananas about and lots of processing plants along the road to the hotel.

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Evenings at the hotel were spent in the huge riad style bar/lounge. There is a separate entertainment lounge for those who prefer to watch a show, but we were happy to chat to anyone and everyone in the bar.  The hotel appeals to a diverse range of nationalities and we enjoyed some fun conversations with new friends from Aarhus to Essex.  Bar service was hit and miss at busy times with no-one clocking who was next in the queue, so that those who shouted loudest were served.

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I think I would return if I wanted a complete rest – I read eight books in two weeks which was pretty relaxing!  There is a little library where you can swap books and I made full use of it.  The hotel is four stars and it just about gets there….better coffee would make all the difference!

 

Bosworth Hall Hotel & Spa: Review

From the outside, this beautiful building looks the perfect place for a luxurious weekend away.  Standing in generous grounds, yet just a five minute walk from the chocolate box village of Market Bosworth, it would seem an ideal choice for a quintessential British break.

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Check in was quite encouraging – the entrance is a grand affair, with a huge chandelier and some interesting sculptures in the lobby and plenty of information about the resident ghost: the Grey Lady of Bosworth Hall who met a very sticky end.  So far, so good.

The room wasn’t bad either.  I loved the bedroom furniture – my guess it was early to mid 20th century and original too.  It gave the room a bit of old fashioned Cunard style elegance.  There were some very nice lampshades which set off the style beautifully.

However, here began the issues.

One of my pet hates in hotels is windows that are jammed shut.  As lovely as the original sash windows were, I am a woman in my mid fifties and I need to get the window open guys!  Especially as the heating was blasting away and there appeared to be no way to turn it off.

The next issue arose at dinner (a carvery affair which was included in the very reasonable dinner, bed and breakfast price).  The restaurant was too small for the number of guests, resulting in a bit of a bun fight.  Tables were cleared as fast as the staff could manage, but inevitably there was plate scraping in situ (yuk!!) as bums were accommodated on seats.  The food was generally OK at dinner although we went for mains only as the soup looked gloopy and the salad offerings were heavy on the mayo.

The overspill from the restaurant meant that the bar was full of people waiting to eat and at times, the queue for a drink was ten deep.  The smokers’ outdoor area was right next to the bar and dining room so a right royal gale was blowing through.

We slept well despite the overheating as the sheets were good quality as were the pillows. The Grey Lady didn’t make an appearance – although she is said to roam the corridors at night.  Eek!  Should have checked for ghosts before I booked.

The breakfast experience was similar to dinner- too many people, lots of waiting to get into the restaurant, hasty plate clearing and scraping.  The food was motorway service standard.

In fairness to the hotel group (Britannia Hotels) it must be a nightmare to run this type of building and make a profit.  They have adopted a pile it high and sell it cheap approach which clearly works, as the place was bouncing.

In an ideal world, this grand old building would be home to a superior holiday offering, with tinkling champagne glasses, a piano bar and a fine dining experience to match.  But, as they say: you get what you pay for.

We had booked the hotel via Late Rooms, not specifically looking for a country house hotel, but just somewhere close to the Bosworth Battlefield Centre, where we were attending an event.

I wouldn’t rule out staying again as overall the accommodation was fine.  However, I would book on a room only basis and try out one or two of the pubs and restaurants in Market Bosworth for dinner and perhaps a grab a pastry from a local coffee shop for breakfast.

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If you are a Richard III fan (as I am), then Bosworth is a great place to base yourself.  It’s about a three mile walk to the actual battlefield where Richard died fighting Henry Tudor.  The Battlefield Centre has a restaurant, picnic area and museum where you can read up on the events of 1485 and there are a series of walks around the area, dotted with plaques explaining how the battle unfolded.

The village itself is absolutely gorgeous and so worth a visit.

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Sensimar Medina Gardens, Marrakech: Hotel Review

Marrakech has been on my bucket list for years, but Steve has never been keen.  However, in the spirit of ‘just do it’ he agreed, in a weak moment, to spend a week at the Medina Gardens which is located within the Medina and close to all the action.  We chose this hotel for a few reasons.  Firstly, it is all inclusive and great value for money.  We don’t mind paying for all inclusive then eating out too – it doesn’t work out that expensive, plus you are limited for places to drink alcohol outside of the hotel, which is fair enough.  Secondly, this is a way to do ‘Marrakech light’ if you like, a namby pamby way to see all the sights without full immersion in the culture. Thirdly, the location really appealed to us as we like to walk everywhere if we can when on holiday and everything is literally on your doorstep.  I will write about Marrakech soon, but concentrating just on the hotel, this is what we thought.

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The gardens are fabulous!  The air is heavily scented with neroli from the orange trees which were in blossom during our March visit.

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All the herbs for the kitchen are grown in the gardens which is great to see.

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They have pet tortoises which are partial to a banana smuggled out of breakfast.

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The food was fabulous – if you like tagines and veggie dishes with lots of pulses, this is for you.  It suited me perfectly. The wine is a bit on the rough and ready side – it was called Kasbah (of course it was!) and we found the rose to be the most palatable.  Steve couldn’t get on with the beer at all.

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Our room was a garden room, so no view, but it was adequate.  I have to say there were maintenance issues – the wall light fell off, the wardrobe doors stuck, coming perilously close to preventing a change of clothes, and the sink had a tendency to block.  We fondly dubbed it Fawlty Towers, but it was OK really.

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The service was on the whole, poor.  Hard to get a drink in the bar.  Another downside was that although our holiday started in thirty degree heat, later in the week the temperature plunged to eight degrees at night and there was limited space to sit and chat indoors.

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The Thomson rep service was good and nothing was too much trouble.  We very rarely go to a welcome meeting because we like to make our own mistakes (ha ha) but this time, we took planned trips to make sure we didn’t miss anything.

At dusk, sitting around the pool and hearing the call to prayer from the Koutoubia Mosque I have to say it was quite magical.

If you are looking for an easy way to see Marrakech then you could do worse than give this a try.IMG_1219

 

 

 

 

A Night At One Of The Most Haunted Hotels in Britain: The Adelphi, Liverpool

Why I booked myself into the Adelphi when I am scared to death of ghosts and ghouls is beyond my comprehension, but anyway I did it.

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We were going to a concert at the Liverpool Philharmonic, the Adelphi is on route, it was a bargain price on Late Rooms (£49) and I really didn’t engage my brain.  I just clicked ‘book’.

Then (and I always do this after the fact) I checked Trip Advisor which mostly went along the lines of ‘do not stay at this hotel’.  Hmmm – have I made a mistake here I thought.  People said it made Fawlty Towers look good, or that it was like staying in the Grand Budapest Hotel.  But no-one mentioned ghosts.

I don’t mind camping out in a dodgy hotel if the price is right and it’s only for one night (you can always sleep clothed on top of the covers after all).  I also tend to take Trip Advisor with a pinch of salt as I never review anything myself and I suspect many like minded folk are the same. So I thought, oh well, let’s go with the flow.

Then, a little niggle popped into my mind.  Hadn’t this hotel been on the telly?  Hadn’t I read somewhere that it was haunted.  I always avoid haunted hotels as I know I won’t sleep a wink, so it seemed a mighty cock up had been made here.  Anyway, to check, I googled ‘Adelphi haunted’.

What popped up was terrifying.  Not only is it haunted, it is haunted by multiple ghosts and people actually pay to go on ghost hunting breaks here.  Flippin’ heck – this was getting very scary.   The third floor in particular is said to be possessed by a demon with people reporting being violently ill, feeling someone watching them, or in some cases, seeing someone rifling through their belongings who then disappeared into thin air.

Deciding to man up I turned up on the day and was delighted with the architecture of the public rooms: simply stunning and exactly what you would expect from a grand old hotel built in 1911.  It’s all marble walls and crystal chandeliers – faded grandeur at its best.

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Checking in, we were given a key …..to the dreaded third floor!  I had a momentary panic and thought about asking for another room, but not wanting to look like a nutter, I smiled and said thank you.

The room was huge and although minimally furnished (one tea bag between two people anyone?) it was clean.  The mattress was a little thin but I had no qualms about sleeping here.  Until about 11 p.m. when we were back from the theatre and the reality set in…..I was about to spend the night in a haunted hotel!

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Giving myself a talking to, I dropped off for a little while, only to be woken at midnight by that feeling you get when your mind is alert but your body won’t move.  I get this all the time, so no matter, but it did unsettle me and I decided the best course of action was to sleep with one eye open until at least four a.m. as I figured there would be no hauntings in the morning hours.

I had five blissful hours sleep from four ’til nine and have to say, the Adelphi was actually fine.  No ghosts, no poor service, no dirt.  A bit shabby chic maybe, but I can live with that.

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Would I stay again? Absolutely – although maybe not on All Hallows Eve: don’t want to go looking for trouble do we?