Ocean Terrace Inn in St Kitts – colourful, contemporary style in Basseterre

Stepping out onto the white painted balcony I breathed in the warm Caribbean air, edged with the freshness of morning. Below me the pool area was still, except for the murmur of running water. Over the tops of the palm trees a cruise ship was moored in the bay at Port Zante, with the green slopes of Mount Liamuiga rising beyond. This was Ocean Terrace Inn in St Kitts where I stayed recently, a stylish 4 star hotel that is looking fresh and bright after its recent renovation. Read on for my review.

Ocean Terrace Inn St Kitts

Where are we staying?

On checking in I was shown to my bedroom, in one of the lower hotel buildings built on the hillside. Thank goodness for the helpful young man who carried my bag across the terraces and down all the steps. There are around 50 rooms here, mostly in the modern buildings around the pool that were built in the 1960s and have recently gone through a full renovation.

In my bedroom I found bags of space, with two queen beds just for all for little old me, cool tiled floors and cheerful yellow, red and green scheme that reminded me of the colours of the St Kitts flag. By the window was a cushioned built in seat and out on the white painted balcony, a couple of wicker chairs and a table to sit overlooking the pool area.

Ocean Terrace Inn on St Kitts Heatheronhertravels

Ocean Terrace Inn on St Kitts

I wondered whether my room was exceptional in its size but when I had a look around some of the others, I found they were just as spacious, with dark, plantation style wood, fresh colours and contemporary style.

My bed was extra comfy, the ice bucket filled ready, with a percolator and ground coffee should I need to make some in the morning. The air conditioning kept everything comfortable, although having just left the chilly UK, I was more interested in feeling the warmth of a Caribbean than in shutting the heat out.

Ocean Terrace Inn on St Kitts Heatheronhertravels.com

Ocean Terrace Inn on St Kitts

My huge bathroom with separate bath and shower incorporated a dressing and wardrobe area, with open hanging space, shelves and a small safe (although disappointingly not large enough for my laptop). The iron and ironing board was most welcome since the clothes in my case were looking a bit sad and crumpled.

Bathroom at Ocean terrace Inn

My view of the Pool area

One of the favourite things from my two night stay at Ocean Terrace Inn was the view from my balcony over the landscaped pool area towards the bay and the island’s capital of Basseterre. There was often a cruise ship in port and I can see why the hotel is a popular choice for cruise guests and crew to come and spend the day by the pool.

View from OceanTerrace Inn Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View from my balcony at OceanTerrace Inn

The hotel is built on several different levels with most of the rooms overlooking the pool area. In some places the water was shallow for children to splash about, in others deeper for swimming. Everything was beautifully landscaped with local stone planted with palms, shrubs, and purple flowering bougainvillea, as well as a swim up poolside bar.

Ocean Terrace Inn, St Kitts Heatheronhertravels.com

Ocean Terrace Inn, St Kitts

The jaunty turquoise sun loungers matched the turquoise of the pool with orange and white cotton sunshades completing the colourful scene. Even though I was out sightseeing most days so didn’t get much sun lounger time, I found the a walk around the pool and gardens before breakfast with the sound of the cascades and waterfalls very soothing.

Around the hotel

From the pool and surrounding garden area, steps led up to two tiled terraces for guests to sit outside. Wooden pavilions and green sunshades offered protection from the heat of the sun and colourful seating provided a relaxing place to sit, with flowering shrubs and palms to soften the tiling.

Ocean Terrace Inn on St Kitts Heatheronhertravels.com

Ocean Terrace Inn on St Kitts

Continuing to the upper level, the reception and main hotel entrance adjoins the quiet residential road where a taxi will drop you off and opposite was the Verandah restaurant with more attractive planting and a water feature at the entrance.

Ocean Terrace Inn on St Kitts Heatheronhertravels.com

Ocean Terrace Inn on St Kitts

Breakfast and Sunday Brunch

Ocean Terrace Inn on St Kitts Heatheronhertravels.com

Ocean Terrace Inn on St Kitts

On my arrival I enjoyed a late lunch in the Verandah restaurant, at the end of the Sunday Brunch buffet which is quite a tradition on St Kitts. Sunday is very much family time on St Kitts when everyone will go to church in the morning and than relax with a big family lunch at home. Those who prefer not to cook will treat themselves to leisurely Sunday Brunch at one of the local hotels or restaurants around the island, so this is a popular weekend event.

Ocean Terrace Inn on St Kitts Heatheronhertravels.com

Ocean Terrace Inn on St Kitts

Those who aren’t having an extended Sunday brunch will probably be found at the beach just liming (that’s the St Kitts version of relaxing and chilling out with your friends). I arrived at the end of the buffet when most guests had left but enjoyed the excellent spread of salads, and hot dishes both local favourites and international dishes.

Ocean Terrace Inn on St Kitts Heatheronhertravels.com

Ocean Terrace Inn on St Kitts

The bright and airy Verandah restaurant, with traditional dark wood flooring and colourful paintings, is also where you’ll also have breakfast. Rather than sit inside, I preferred a table on the terrace with a view over the bay. My only quibble was that the clear plastic blinds were rolled down masking the view, due I think to catering for American tastes to keep everything fully air conditioned.

Ocean Terrace Inn on St Kitts Heatheronhertravels.com

Ocean Terrace Inn on St Kitts

I didn’t get the chance to eat at Verandah in the evening, but their Carib-Asian menu using local island produce infused with an Asian flavour looked delicious.  I also enjoyed my breakfast from the a la carte menu, and decided to order the bush tea which I’d heard about, made of local herbs like basil and lemon grass with an inbelievably fragrant aroma.

If you are from the UK or Europe where a breakfast buffet in normally included in your room rate, you should be aware that the hotel follows the American approach of breakfast being charged separately. You can either select from the a la carte menu or choose in advance to book breakfast under a set price meal plan. ($15 Continental buffet breakfast, $20 Full breakfast). Depending on how you book, be sure to check whether a breakfast package is included.

Ocean Terrace Inn on St Kitts Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Trying bush tea at Ocean Terrace Inn on St Kitts

Dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf

During the stay I tried the Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant which belongs to the hotel, although it’s just across the road at the bottom of the hill (the security guard will let you out through the gate by the pool). The restaurant is set right by the water with an open verandah and a beautiful view over the lights of Basseterre and the port.

Ocean Terrace Inn on St Kitts Heatheronhertravels.com

Ocean Terrace Inn on St Kitts

As the name suggests, Fisherman’s Wharf is all about the seafood, a highlight of St Kitts since it’s all locally caught and the fishing boats offload their catch along the seafront nearby. Typical island dishes are on the menu with starters of conch chowder or coconut crusted shrimp and for a main course Grilled Mahi-Mahi with a citrus salsa or Lemongrass scented grilled snapper.

Of course I couldn’t go without trying the lobster with ginger lemon butter sauce which was delicious, but if you are looking for meat dishes there are also several options such as steak, ribs or ginger chicken with passionfruit sauce. The restaurant is open evenings only from 6.30pm to 10.30pm Monday to Saturday, closed Sundays.

Are we being served?

From the reception staff to the guy who carried my bags down all those flights of stairs, to the waitresses in the restaurant, I found all the staff at OTI were friendly and enthusiastic, falling over themselves to be helpful. I’d heard that investment in staff training was part of the refurbishment programme and re-opening and it certainly showed in the positive attitude of everyone I met at the hotel.

Are we in the digital age?

The free wifi worked very well for me, both in my room and in the restaurant and reception areas – not bad considering the hotel is spread over a number of different buildings. You can also keep up with hotel news and happenings on the social media channels on Twitter @OceanTerraceInn on Facebook and on Instagram

Location Location

Ocean Terrace Inn is set on the hillside, on the edge of the island capital of Basseterre, overlooking the bay towards the north of the island. It’s a pleasant 10 minute walk along the sea front into town or to the cruise port of Port Zante where there are plenty of shops catering for tourists. The location is ideal for those who want to be located close to Basseterre, but have a base to see the rest of St Kitts, since you’re a 15 minute drive from the beaches of the south east peninsula or the historic sites of the northern-east part of the island.

Pool view of Ocean Terrace Inn in St Kitts Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Pool view of Ocean Terrace Inn in St Kitts

Who is Ocean Terrace Inn best for?

Ocean Terrace Inn will suit leisure or business travellers looking a relaxing base for visiting Basseterre and the rest of St Kitts. The friendly atmosphere and medium size will suit couples, solo travellers and groups of friends as well as families with school age children. Because the hotel is built on multiple levels, visitors with mobility issues or with very young children may find it difficult to manage all the steps. The hotel is a short taxi ride from the airport, so would be a good choice for those who want to explore Basseterre and the surrounding area at the beginning of their holiday, perhaps combined with a stay at another hotel by the beach for a few days after that.

To Book Ocean Terrace Inn

Book your stay at Ocean Terrace Inn on their website at OceanTerraceInn.com and follow their social media channels on Twitter @OceanTerraceInn on Facebook and on Instagram. To compare prices and book for hotels on St Kitts use my Hotels Combined Booking comparison page.

Good to know

  • There is no shop on site or close by so you might need to get any local items in Basseterre (10 mins walk) or walk along the seafront to the shops in the cruise shop, Port Zante (10-15 mins walk) if you need tourist items.
  • If you’re visiting St Kitts on a cruise, the hotel can also sell you a day pass for use of the pool area and other facilities.
  • The hotel offers a free daily shuttle service to the beaches on the south-west peninsula of the island.
  • If you are there on a Sunday, be aware that shops will be closed and everything very quiet in Basseterre as this is considered a day of rest when Kittitians like to go to church and spend time with their family.
  • If you want a change from eating in the hotel’s Verandah or Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant, there’s also Serendipity next door serving both Caribbean and International cuisine, with a view over the bay.
The Circus in Basseterre St Kitts Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Circus in Basseterre St Kitts

What to see in Basseterre

Your stay at Ocean Terrace Inn is the ideal opportunity to visit the island’s capital of Basseterre and some of the other things nearby. Here’s what we recommend;

  • Wander around the streets of Basseterre, especially Fort Street and Bank Street to get the feel for the relaxed island capital of St Kitts. If you are looking for something in paricular don’t hesitate to ask for help from any of the locals, the Kittitians are known for their friendliness.
  • Check out the green Victorian-style clock at the Circus roundabout, modelled on London’s Picadilly Circus and have lunch as Ballahoo with an open terrace that overlooks the Circus.
  • Pop in to the National Museum close to the Circus. While the displays are rather old fashioned, there’s plenty of fascinating information about the island’s history.
  • Walk through the shady and green Independence square that was once Basseterre’s slave market, noticing the doors to the cellars in the houses around the square where the slaves slept.
Carnival costumes in the National Museum St Kitts

Carnival costumes in the National Museum St Kitts

  • Visit the Gallery Cafe on the north side of Independence square, featuring the work of local artists with a charming cafe serving home made cakes, fresh juices and coffee which you can enjoy in the shady courtyard garden.
  • If you need tourist souvenirs, you’ll find plenty of choice at Port Zante, including a craft market. The covered Pelican Mall has more small shops and also offers free wifi.
  • At lunchtime, especially on Fridays and Saturdays, check out the vendors along the Bay Road and in the steets of Basseterre selling all kinds of delicious street-food and local food specialities.
  • Take a short taxi ride to Ital Creations close the airport, a small organic farm with a food trailer selling delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes at lunchtime as well as fruit smoothies and juices.
  • The closest beach is a 10 minute drive away at Frigate Bay, normally quiet during the day but a popular place for locals, expats and visitors to enjoy a drink and a meal in the evening when all the beach shacks and restaurants are open on “The Strip” – we enjoyed the relaxed sports bar style and excellent local dishes at Boozies.
  • If you’d like to explore further afield, there are plenty of beautiful spots on St Kitts – read about the 10 perfect postcard shots of St Kitts.

Have you visited St Kitts and if so, what did you enjoy?

Visitor Information for St Kitts

To plan your visit to St Kitts check out the tourism board website at www.stkittstourism.kn or follow their social media channels: Twitter @StKittsTourism | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | Pinterest |

British Airways flies to St Kitts from London Gatwick twice a week on Saturdays and Wednesdays with the flight going on to nearby Antigua. There are regular ferries every day to Nevis, with a journey time of 45 minutes from Basseterre, making it easy to plan a combined stay on both islands.

To start and end your holiday on St Kitts in style, the YU Lounge offers a private terminal at the airport. A private car will meet you from the plane and whisk you to the luxurious lounge where snacks and drinks are available. While you are waiting your luggage will be picked up and you’ll be cleared through security by the YU Lounge staff.

Thanks to Ocean Terrace Inn who hosted Heather’s 2 night hotel stay and to the St Kitts tourism board who provided Heather’s visit to St Kitts.

Read more about St Kitts

10 perfect Postcard Views of St Kitts
A Stylish Guide to St Kitts
A taste of Caribbean Luxury at Ottley’s Plantation Inn

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This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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Electra Palace Hotel Athens: classic, elegant and close to the Acropolis – video

Ah, the smell of Athens in springtime, the aroma of eucalyptus warmed by sunshine with a whiff of cigarette smoke curling through the air. The freshness of winter lingers, the dust and heat of summer is yet to come, the sun warm enough to relax in a pavement cafes of Plaka to watch the world go by.

Electra Palace Hotel Athens Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

I was visiting Athens for a weekend break with my parents and sister who lives in Greece, staying at the 5 star Electra Palace Hotel, in the Plaka district at the foot of the Acropolis. It suited us perfectly for our weekend stay, since we could walk easily to most of the ancient sites and have a haven of calm and luxury to return to at the end of each day.

I hope you enjoy the video below about Electra Palace Hotel

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The Electra Palace Hotel is one of a family-owned group of five Electra Hotels celebrating 50 years since the first Electra Hotel opened in Athens. The group includes the Electra and Electra Palace in Athens, as well as hotels in Crete, Thessaloniki, Rhodes and the soon to be opened luxury lifestyle Electra Metropolis in Athens. We could feel the slick professionalism that you get with a major hotel chain but perhaps with a little more personal touch from being a smaller hotel group.

Electra Palace Hotel Athens from the garden Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Electra Palace Hotel Athens from the garden

Our 5th Floor Bedroom

Our bedroom on the fifth floor was classic and elegant with Italian style wooden furniture and muted blue, gold and cream in the colour scheme with red woollen patterned rugs on the floor. The lighting fittings were of heavy brass with cream shades and a large gilt mirror on the wall above the desk.

Bedroom at Electra Palace Hotel Athens Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Bedroom at Electra Palace Hotel Athens

Outside the French windows we found a balcony where we could sit on wicker chairs at the marble table separated from our neighbours by olive plants and admire the view of the Acropolis across the rooftops. We had all the conveniences: a kettle to make tea and coffee, a fridge and mini bar, a large safe with room for my laptop and towelling robes and slippers for lounging around after a bath.

Bedroom at Electra Palace Hotel Athens Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Bedroom at Electra Palace Hotel Athens

The bathroom was in similar classical design, with pale blue marble edged with mosaic tiles and a bath with powerful shower above. In the recess of the ceiling was painted a blue sky with white fluffy clouds to remind us we were in a land where the sun always shines.

Bathroom in Electra Palace Hotel Athens Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Bathroom in Electra Palace Hotel Athens

One of the delights of a luxury hotel is to be spoiled by the toiletries and Korres is one of my favourite Greek brands, known for its natural products. We tested out the citrus shower gel and body lotion as well as the handy shampoo and conditioner with aloe to smooth away the frizz.

Breakfast in the Motivo Restaurant

In the large Motivo restaurant on the ground floor we relaxed over breakfast, finding our favourite table by the window with a view of the garden. The decor was again classic with comfortable green upholstered chairs, wooden parquet floors and sparkling square chandeliers.

Breakfast in the Motivo restaurant at Electra Palace Hotels in Athens Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Breakfast restaurant at Electra Palace Hotels in Athens

We tried a wide selection of breads including the Greek sesame rings that are found on every street corner, as well as a spread of cereals, yoghurt and fruit, cold meats, cheeses and hot dishes like scrambled egg, bacon, beans and mushrooms. There seemed to be something to suit every taste of the international guests, including a range of healthy choice yoghurts, cheeses and meats and even a machine where you could make your own waffles and douse them in maple syrup. Apparently the hotel is a popular choice for American guests.

Motivo Garden Terrace Restaurant

Garden terrace at Electra Palace Hotel in Athens Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Garden terrace at Electra Palace Hotel in Athens

Leading off the reception and adjoining the ground floor restaurant was a courtyard garden that became my favourite place to sit in the sun with a coffee. The tables were laid at lunchtime and the flowering pots under the large palm tree made a welcome retreat from the narrow streets outside the hotel.

The Pool Terrace with a view of the Acropolis

Roof terrace pool at Electra Palace Hotel in Athens Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Roof terrace pool at Electra Palace Hotel in Athens

Up on the 5th floor we got another perspective on Athens from the rooftop pool terrace. In summer the sun loungers are laid out and the pool bar is open so you can relax in the heart of the city with that Acropolis view that any self respecting hotel in Athens with a roof terrace aims to offer.

Dinner in the Electra Roof garden restaurant

Adjoining the pool terace was the Roof garden restaurant with a wall of windows to make the most of those Acropolis views. In summer they open all the windows and you can dine outside too, which would be perfect for a romantic dinner.

Electra Palace roofgarden restaurant in Athens Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Electra Palace roofgarden restaurant in Athens

The food is a fusion of Mediterranean dishes that incorporate Greek produce and fresh flavours. Our dinner managed to strike just the right note, balancing elegant dining with familiar tastes so that everyone found something to enjoy. To start my father tried the ravioli which was stuffed with pumpkin, ricotta cheese and smoked ham drizzled with basil oil.

Dinner at Electra Palace Roofgarden restaurant Athens Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Dinner at Electra Palace Roofgarden restaurant Athens

I ordered the veal fillet which was juicy and tender, served with polenta and a flavoursome tarragon sauce, while my sister had the lamb chop with gnocchi and wild mushrooms. Finally we tried a light but delicious desert of poached apple with halva mousse on a bed of crumbs made from dehydrated chocolate and milk.

Dinner at Electra Palace Roofgarden Athens Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Dinner at Electra Palace Roofgarden Athens

I’d recommend this restaurant for a very enjoyable dining experience, with delicious food and friendly and professional service, especially once the weather makes it warm enough to eat outside.

Starters €10-18, Pasta €14-17, Main Course €19-26, Deserts €8-9. With a nice wine our bill was around €40 per head.

The Pool and Spa

After walking around the Acropolis all morning, I felt I deserved a relaxing afternoon and headed downstairs to try out the hotel spa. There’s an attractive small pool with a jacuzzi at one end which is open to guests from 8am to 9pm and to children with their parents up to 3pm. There’s a small gym and a spa which is best reserved in advance so the staff can prepare it for you, since there is room for three people.

Swimming pool at Electra Palace Hotel Athens Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Swimming pool at Electra Palace Hotel Athens

After changing into my robe and slippers I was shown into the treatment room for my relaxing massage followed by a facial. The spa uses products by a Greek company called O.live which is based in Crete and uses organic products based on olive oil infused with essential oils of lavender, eucalyptus and mandarin. As my back was massaged I drifted away to the sounds of the sea washing on the pebble beach and the wind blowing through the pine trees, transporting me to Greek summer holidays past and future.

Treatment rooms at Electra Palace Hotel Athens Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Treatment rooms at Electra Palace Hotel Athens

Next my face was cleansed using a gentle chamomile cleanser, with an exfoliation treatment and face mask with green argyle followed by a massage with calendula anti-aging cream. By the end my skin truly felt glowing and soft and I relaxed on the loungers outside the treatment room drinking green tea with honey and breathing in the steam of hot water with eucalyptus to revive me after the treatment.

Heather after the spa at Electra Palace Hotel Athens Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather after the spa at Electra Palace Hotel Athens

If you’d like to try a spa treatment, all guests are offered a voucher for a complimentary 15 minute massage on arrival, or you may see the therapists as you come out of breakfast to arrange an appointment.

Massages are from €60 including the Ancient Greek massage with relaxing hot towels to remove tension and the Cretan massage that uses oil mixed with raki to sooth tired muscles. Facial massage starts at €25 with a full facial €65. I’d also recommend the lovely O.live products that are on sale in the spa using different fragrances such as lavender for calming, green tea to revitalise and mandarin to energise. If you’re a fan of Jo Malone perfumes as I am you’ll love the O.live mandarin, lime and basil that’s just like the Jo Malone signature fragrance.

Are we being served?

All our party agreed that the Electra Palace Hotel had a lovely atmosphere of calm and professionalism combined with friendly and attentive service. The cool, spacious lobby with marble floors and chandeliers felt like an oasis as you stepped off the street after navigating the narrow streets of Plaka or the bustle of Syntagma square. The staff always greeted us with a warm smile, helped us with directions and restaurant reservations and were quick to offer help with bags and taxis, so we felt very well looked after, which was especially important for my parents who are in their 70s.

Reception of Electra Palace Hotel Athens Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Reception of Electra Palace Hotel Athens

Are we in the digital age?

It’s so nice to find an upscale hotel that offers good free wifi for all its guests and at Electra Palace Hotel I had no problems at all staying connected. The free standard service was pretty good and the passwords were easy to remember and only required logging in again every few hours. If you need faster internet access for business, this is available at an extra charge. You can follow the hotel news on their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels too.

Location Location

Location is a major reason for staying at Electra Palace Hotel as it is set in the heart of the old town Plaka district, with atmospheric bars and pavement cafes. You’re just a 10 minute walk from the Acropolis museum in one direction and from Syntagma square in the other so it’s an excellent base to see the sites on foot. All the nearby streets are full of bars, cafes and restaurants so it’s easy to find places to eat and enjoy the evening nightlife.

Restaurants of Plaka in Athens Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Restaurants of Plaka in Athens

 Who is Electra Palace Hotel best for?

Most of the other guests at Electra Palace Hotel were aged 40+ with a few families with school age children. We heard that many of the guests are from the USA, UK and Greece as well as a broad range of other nationalities and the hotel had a cosmopolitan, international feel. Because of the location close to all the sites, Electra Palace Hotel is an ideal base if you are visiting Athens for a short break and want to make the most of your stay. If you are looking for a luxurious hotel with classic and elegant decor and friendly service, this is the hotel for you. Double rooms for a weekend stay in spring for 2 people including breakfast are from £150 per night and in peak season from £200 per night.

Electra Palace Hotel, 18 N. Nikodimou Str., 10557 Athens, Greece | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Have you stayed in the Plaka district or at the Electra Palace Hotel? If so do let me know what you enjoyed in the comments.

Getting there

The taxi from Athens airport takes about 30 minutes outside the rush hour and costs €40-45. Alternatively you can get the metro from the airport to Acropolis station which again takes 30 minutes and costs around €8, then walk 10 minutes to the hotel.

Good to know

From summer 2016 there will be a new hotel in the Electra family, the Electra Metropolis. Located close by the Electra Palace Hotel the Metropolis will be a 5 star luxury lifestyle hotel, with modern design and style. With high speed internet everywhere, smart TVs and smartphone gadgetry, this will be the place for those who like to stay connected while travelling in style.

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Read about our stay at Electra Palace Hotel in Athens

Thanks to Electra Palace Hotel who hosted Heather’s hotel stay in Athens

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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How to choose the perfect hotel for your European Weekend Break

I often get asked which hotel I’d recommend for a short break in Europe, which is a tough one since we all have different ideas about what makes the perfect hotel. Instead of reeling off a list of lovely hotels that I’ve stayed in (although you can see a few below), I thought instead I’d walk you through the process I use to find my ideal hotel. Using these tips you should be able to find the hotel that suits you best and enjoy a fabulous weekend away.

Bristol Hotel in Bristol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com


Read more about the Bristol Hotel in Bristol | Compare prices and Book for the Bristol Hotel

Why is a hotel best for a European Citybreak?

Before I share how to find the perfect hotel for your European city break, let’s consider why I’d recommend choosing a hotel at all? After all you could book a friendly B&B or local apartment, as I have done myself on occasion. I’ve found that if you are spending a relatively short time in a destination and planning weekend breaks for couples or small groups then a hotel is usually best. Here’s why.

With apartments and B&Bs there’s less flexibility with the check in times. You may have to meet the owner or key holder at a certain time and there’s no opportunity to arrive earlier. With a hotel there’s always someone at reception, so you arrive at your convenience, drop off your bags if your room isn’t ready and get out to start enjoying your weekend break. If you prefer to relax there’s normally a hotel lounge where you can get a coffee, but either way you won’t be hanging around the streets with your luggage. I typically book an apartment when I am staying for a week or more, or am travelling in a large family group. Then those precious hours waiting to check in are not such a big issue.

Intercontinental Budapest Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Have a coffee in the beautiful lobby of Intercontinental Budapest

Read about our stay at Intercontinental Hotel Budapest | Compare Prices and book for Intercontinental Hotel, Budapest

Finding a hotel that matches your budget

One of the biggest considerations for weekend citybreaks is how much you can afford to spend on a hotel and what it will buy you. Sometimes there’s a trade off between price and location but we’ll come to that in a moment. As an example, you might be planning a trip to Stockholm and want to check roughly what your budget will buy you. This is where it’s useful to do a quick check on the going rate for the price of different levels of hotels in Stockholm to see if we’re talking pleasantly affordable or need to take out a second mortgage.

I typically use a hotel comparison site like Hotels Combined that shows the best prices from a range of different booking sites; you can try this out on my Heatheronhertravels hotel booking page which is powered by Hotels Combined. By putting in your chosen city and dates (or tentative dates if you’re not sure) you can then filter on the 3 star, 4 star or 5 star hotels to see what you can get within your budget. For a further comparison you might change your search to another city such as Gothenburg and find that prices are lower than Stockholm which could influence your decision on where to go. Occasionally there’s a big event or conference in town that inflates the hotel prices, so if you have flexibility in your schedule, check the price for a few different dates.

Elite Plaza Hotel Gothenburg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Elite Plaza Hotel Gothenburg

Read about our stay at Elite Plaza Hotel in Gothenburg, Sweden | Compare prices and book for Elite Plaza Hotel, Gothenburg

Location Location

Having established what kind of hotel you’re likely to find within your price range it’s time to look at different locations in a city that work best for you. There are a few things that might influence you here such as:

  • A hotel that’s walking distance from the main sightseeing area.
  • A hotel that’s well located for a specific place you want to visit.
  • A hotel that’s well located for transport links, for instance close to the metro or main train line from the airport
  • A hotel that’s in a well lit, mainstream location if you’re a solo traveller.

Personally, if I’ll only be there for a few days, my first priority is to find a hotel close to all the main sights so that I can see as much as possible in the time I have. At this stage you could have a quick look at the destination’s official tourism website to establish where the major attractions are located, and if it’s a larger city perhaps to look at the metro or public transport map since there may be multiple areas for sightseeing. Having established where the main sites are, you can filter based on distance from a key tourist spot or just click through to see the hotels on a map.

Riad Star in Marrakech Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Riad Star in Marrakech was well located in the heart of the Medina

Read about our stay at Riad Star in Marrakech | Compare prices and book for Riad Star 

Find a style that suits you

As everyone’s idea of a perfect hotel may be different, you’ll want to consider the style of the hotel. Some of you may like clean modern lines, others classic elegance or a trendy boutique style and I’ve enjoyed stays at hotels that offer all of these styles. Use the filters on the booking comparison website to see what’s available in different categories such as luxury, romantic, boutique/design. You may also want to do an online search for something like “boutique hotels in Stockholm” to see what hotel names keep popping up. This is the time to look at the photos on the hotel booking page or hotel’s own website to give you a feel for whether the style is right for you. After all, one person’s vintage charm is another’s outdated and shabby.

Qube hotel in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

What’s your style? Sleek and modern at Qube hotel in Heidelberg

Read my article about Qube Hotel and what we did in Heidelberg | Compare prices and book for Qube Hotel

What facilities are important to you?

If certain facilities like a gym, spa or free wifi are essential to your enjoyment, now would be the time to put these into the filters of your hotel comparison website and make sure you are selecting hotels that have what you need. You may need to prioritise your wish list, as in smaller cities the perfect hotel with everything you require may not exist, or at least not within your budget.

Kurhotel Skodsborg Spa Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

What facilities are important to you? Kurhotel Skodsborg in Copenhagen has a wonderful spa!

Read my article about Kurhotel Skodsborg in Copenhagen | Compare prices and book for Kurhotel Skodsborg

Make a shortlist

Having considered price, location, style and facilities it’s time to make a shortlist of hotels. You should aim to have a list of 5-10 hotel names that would broadly match your requirements and jot them down somewhere with space to add comments beside them.

Read the reviews

Now it’s time to read the reviews. While most hotel comparison websites, such as Hotels Combined, have reviews I find the best place for this is Tripadvisor. Although there’s been a bit of discussion about fake reviews on TripAdvisor I’ve generally found that if you scroll through and scan at least 15 reviews posted over a few months, you will get a balanced overview of the hotel. Things that reviews will often cover are:

  • How well located the hotel is for sightseeing
  • The staff and service – is there one member of staff singled out for criticism or praise?
  • The style of hotel, decor and general upkeep.
  • Mention of any building work or renovation going on in the hotel or nearby. If so check the date as this may now be complete.
  • Mention of hidden charges, things that weren’t working, rooms that were noisy.

When reading the reviews take a balanced view to consider whether any concerns raised by reviewers would affect your enjoyment of the hotel or are just unfortunate one-offs. Note how the hotel management answer the reviews, especially any negative ones.

If you scan through the reviews for your shortlist of hotels, you will probably eliminate a few of them based on the comments and ideally get to a list of around 5 hotels to investigate in more detail.

Absalon Hotel Copenhagen Photo:Heatheronhertravels.com

Check the travel reviews before you book – Absalon Hotel is one of the top hotels in Copenhagen

Read my article about Absalon Hotel and what we did in Copenhagen | Compare prices and book for Absalon Hotel

Shop around for the best price

With your shortlist of five hotels I’d go back to a hotel comparison site such as my Heatheronhertravels hotel booking page powered by Hotels Combined and do a price check for the dates you require. The beauty of Hotels Combined is that it scours a wide range of booking websites to come up with the best price deals. Of course you need to be sure you are comparing like with like. Check whether breakfast is included, that you’re comparing the same standard and type of room and look out for extras like local taxes. If any of your shortlisted hotels don’t have availability for your dates, it may be worth e-mailing the hotel directly just to check.

Moorland Gardens Hotel in Devon Photo:Heatheronhertravels.com

Moorland Gardens Hotel in Devon Photo:Heatheronhertravels.com

Read about our stay at the Moorland Garden Hotel in Devon | Compare Prices and book for the Moorland Garden Hotel 

Check the cancellation terms

Be sure to check the cancellation terms, which can be quite generous on hotel comparison and booking websites, but not always so generous when booking direct with the hotel. I was once in a situation where my plans changed before a hotel stay I’d booked and I found myself liable for the whole bill – read my article on how to avoid hotel cancellation fees. If there is a claim of ‘free cancellation’ check the small print to see what this actually means.

Get the maximum benefit

Perhaps you’re down to a much shorter list of just two or three hotels that meet all your requirements, so now it’s time to make sure you’re getting the most for your money. Scrutinise the deals on sites such as Hotels Combined to check whether there are any other benefits that would save you money, such as free parking. It’s also wise to check the hotel website to see if they have any special offers, for instance 3 nights for the price of 2, or packages that include extra benefits that would interest you. In the spring and autumn when hotels have to work harder to fill their rooms, they are much more likely to offer extra benefits to entice you.

Hotel Weissen Rössl at St Wolfgang in Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hotel Weissen Rössl at St Wolfgang in Austria

Read about our stay at Hotel Weissen Rössl at St Wolfgang in Austria  | Compare prices and book for Hotel Weissen Rössl

Make your booking!

I normally find that it takes around an hour to do the research I’ve described above, but for me that’s time well spent if I choose a hotel that’s perfect for my European City break. Now it’s time to make your booking, taking care to save or print off the confirmation, then relax until it’s time to go. Hope you have a great time!

Do you have a favourite approach to choosing the perfect hotel? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments.

Disclosure: If you book through my Hotels Combined booking page on this site I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you which helps support this site.

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Read how to choose the perfect hotel for your European Weekend Break

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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