10/16/2013

Best Hotel Choices for Travelers

Because where you sleep is as important as where you visit, choosing best hotels before heading off on an adventure is pretty important.

I can attest to the fact that the Hilton Garden Inn in Baton Rouge was not only fairly inexpensive, but darn comfortable, too.  I really needed the comfort of a good bed after driving seven hours from San Antonio so I could enjoy strolling around haunted plantation homes, and running off to New Orleans for dinner. 

The Marriott in Central Cardiff offered a decent room at an affordable price (thanks to help from our friend, and Cardiff native, Janine, who somehow charmed the desk clerk to upgrade our room for the same price we booked online after we discovered that they had shoved us into a box of a room).  Sometimes hotels will be pull a bait and switch, and you find yourself needing to battle it out for a better place to your head. 

Photo credit: Holiday Inn Express, Berlin website
By far, the best hotel I encountered abroad, surprisingly, was the Holiday Inn Express in downtown Berlin, Germany (Stresemannstrasse-49).  My room was decorated with contemporary furniture, had a lovely bed, and my bathroom was huge!  The contintental breakfast offered each morning was a rather sumptuous buffet in a wonderful cafeteria-styled room with floor to ceiling windows that allowed me and my traveling buddy views of the city while we dined.  The staff were very helpful and courteous as well. 

Needless to say, Berlin was fun. 

Conde Nast Traveler just released their Reader's Choice Awards 2013 for the best hotels around the world. 

Image credit: Mokara Hotel&Spa website

The list includes Mokara Hotel and Spa in San Antonio, Texas (my hometown) which features rooms with 12 foot ceilings, natural earth tones and hand-cut metal decorations - all set in the middle of downtown next to the Alamo and a convenient short walk to the historic River Walk.  Rivercenter Mall is nearby as well for great shopping, and if you haven't dined in San Antonio, you're missing out on some great food!  Mi Tierra Cafe & Bakery is just down at the end of Commerce Street in the middle of several artisan shops known as Market Square.  Rosario's, a wonderful corner restaurant located at 910 S. Alamo in the downtown district has the best homemade salsa around offered with light, crispy tortilla chips at every table.  For a little something different, Guenther House in the King William Historic District offers outstanding breakfast and lunch dishes right next to a newly extended area of the River Walk.  Guenther House is the home of the Pioneer Flour Mill's family home. San Antonio has a lot to offer.



Photo credit: Design Hotel/Soho website
Traveling to London?  Why not stay at the Soho Hotel in London's trendy West End?  Art, theater, dining, and fun can all be found along with fabulous shopping right here.  Some of the upper floor rooms have smashing views of the city, but all rooms have distinct elegance in choices of color, fabric, and furniture.  According to the Design Hotel's site, "The Soho Hotel has 85 guestrooms and suites, as well as eight private apartments with separate entrances, two drawing rooms, a Bar and Restaurant, two screening rooms, three private dining rooms and a fully-equipped gym"

Looking to enjoy a round of golf and some good wine?  Travel to California and stay at the CordeValle, San Martin.   Private rooms and bungalows with views of vineyards  and gardens are what's to be had here at this hillside paradise.  For dinner, check out Il Vigneto for fine Italian dining.  Enjoy the majestic views of mountains and green golf courses.  Splash around in the pool or partake of a professional massage.  You can't go wrong with this one.  It's a great getaway for business types.

Photo credit:  CordeValle San Martin website/Tingo.com
We all have one or two memories of "the worst vacation of our lives", but checking ahead on accomodations can eliminate the need for regrets and help make holidays exactly that; a holiday.

Tip:  Check to see if the hotel you choose offers either continental breakfast or gift cards for dinner.  Read the fine print and be aware if wi-fi is free or if there is a charge.  Hotels can sneak in a load of fees, so be sure to ask if all amenities are inclusive and what is separate.