Tag Archives: hotel

Hotel Review – Bayside Hotel Azur Takeshiba – Tokyo

When we decided to travel to Japan and to spend few days in Tokyo, most of the best hotels in town were already fully booked or with only super expensive suites available. Among the ones with rooms available at an affordable price, we opted for Bayside Hotel Azur Takeshiba hotel that is conveniently located at 7 minutes’ walk from Hamamatsucho Station, which offers links to the major JR Lines (Yamamote in first place), the airport monorail and subway system.

It’s location is superb if you land at Tokyo Haneda Airport, especially at night, since the hotel can be easily reached in 20 minutes from that airport. Moreover, the hotel  is close to Tsukiji Fish Market and Hinode Pier from where you can get a boat and explore the bay or cruise the river up to Asakusa district.

The hotel is a bit anonymous, with very little decorations and the main entrance is tricky to be found. Just remember that the lobby is located at the 4th floor, hence you need to get the elevator from the 1st floor (note also that the ground floor does not exist in Japan. They start counting from 1).

Bayside Hotel Azur Takeshiba

The hotel is conveniently located close to Hinode Pier and Hamamtsucho Train/Metro Station – photo from Google Images

The hotel staff was very helpful but no one speaks a fluent English. However, they managed to handle a simple discussion about timings, rules and basic information.

As common in Tokyo, the room was very small with enough space for the bed, a tiny desk with chair and very few amenities. We had issues in managing our luggage since there was space to open only one bag at a time. We are 1.90 m tall and found the space just enough to survive even though the bed was surprisingly big enough.

The bathroom was minimal with a smart toilet, sink and shower. A hair drier and some toiletries were available as well as towels. Both bathroom and room were always very clean and in order.

When I booked a standard double room with city view, I was optimistically hoping to have a superb view of Tokyo. Unfortunately, our room no. 715 offered only close buildings and the elevated train rail.  The room is perfectly sound-proofed and we did not get disturbed by any noise coming from outside. However, you might prefer to try a bay view room for a hopefully better view.

The hotel offers a free WiFi connection that works perfectly in the lobby but has sometimes problems in the room. We did not have any meal at the hotel, therefore I cannot provide any comments.

The hotel accepts credit cards (useful to specify in Japan, since many commercial activities accept only cash).

Hotel Review: Mediterranean Hotel Limassol – Cyprus

We stayed in this hotel during our stay in Limassol and we were positively impressed by the beauty of the hotel and its facilities and by the almost perfect service offered. Quality of the food and management of pools and beach facilities are outstanding as well as the provided entertainment and security services. The hotel had just few negative points that you might want to consider in order to keep under control your expenses and properly plan your stay.

We reached Limassol from Paphos by using the Intercity Bus, a very convenient mean of transportation that connects the major cities in Cyprus and hopped off at Old Limassol Port. From there we caught Bus 30 and reached the hotel in 20/25 minutes. Indeed, the hotel indeed is quite far from the city centre.

When we arrived at the hotel, the doorman (a single doorman) was busy with someone else, hence we had to carry our luggage by ourselves. The check in was quick and hassle free and appreciated the warm welcome the desk operator gave us.

When we reached our room, we found a bottle of spumante (sparkling wine from Italy) and a chocolate mousse cake to celebrate our anniversary. Really a nice touch we have appreciated and the cake . . . wow it was super good. The room was spacious and well-furnished and the bed very comfortable.

The washroom was alright even though there weren’t as many amenities as we expected. No shaving kit, no toothbrush or paste, hence you might want to take them with you and no bathrobe or slippers. The shampoo and soap provided, on the contrary, were of great quality.

The best part of the room was the balcony and the fantastic view offered.

Mediterranean Hotel Room View

The breathtaking view from our Mediterranean Hotel Room – Photo rights reserved

We have immediately enjoyed the beach and the pool facilities that looked so inviting. We had to collect our towels from the gymnasium and select an available chaise lounge. We were impressed by the cleanliness of  the hotel and by the efficient security service that were patrolling the facility and quickly block beggars or unauthorized sellers.

The beach facility was very well maintained, clean and enjoyable. The hotel policy is that you cannot secure your bench for more than one hour in your absence. This solution guarantees a constant availability of lounges and reduces the number of complaints from other guests. The sand is dark color and it gets very very hot during the day, hence remember to wear flip flop or other beach shoes to move comfortably from/to the sea and around.

Mediterranean Hotel Beach - Limassol by AndreaDetto

The beach facilities at Mediterranean Hotel are great. – Photo rights reserved

One negative note is the price of food and drinks served at the beach or the pool. After few hours under the sun, we had to order some drinks: a big bottle of water and a lemonade. Nothing special but we ended up paying few Euro for a bottle of local water that in the street shops in front of the hotel costs 0,50/0,75 Euro. Same for other drinks and cocktails that are slightly more expensive than the average prices we have paid outside the hotel. Food is superb even though a bit pricey if you decide to go A La Carte. The most convenient option is to get advantage of the excellent daily buffet that is cheaper and provide you with a great variety of food options.. Just to have an idea: we had a lunch buffet for something around 20 Euro per person, while a single main course was around 15 Euro. We found the service always excellent and attentive.

Mediterranean Food Selection - photo by AndreaDetto

The food quality and taste was excellent as well as the service. In this photo sea food salad and halloumi sandwich – Photo rights reserved

The hotel is very alive and provide a great selection of entertainments that is weekly repeated. We had the chance to enjoy a Greek buffet at one of the many restaurants available and the entertainment was amazing with Greek music and dancers and an extraordinary equilibrist who was holding a tower of 20 glasses on his head. there were other organized nights with Italian buffet, live Jazz music and so on. Definitely a nice stay. The only little problem is that if you have a sea view room and want to stay in your room and relax, you might be annoyed by the music and laughs that, however, eventually stop at 11pm circa.

Mediterranean Hotel Interiors - photo by AndreaDetto

The hotel is very well decorated both inside and outside. – Photo rights reserved.

The WiFi coverage is great and works perfectly in the rooms, restaurants, pool and beach area. Concierge and front desk operators were very helpful and polite and ready to answer to all our questions.

Regarding the expenses, remember that water is not daily provided in your room and hence you are forced to buy it from within the hotel. As already said, it is more expensive than outside the hotel and therefore you might want to smuggle it in your room from a local shop. It can seem silly, but if you drink an average of 2 bottles of water a day per person, you might easily save a 10/15 euro per day.

The shops that are in the hotel should be avoided if possible. We have found magnets and other souvenirs costing even 10 times more than outside the hotel and swim suites costing up to 200 Euro while in the shops in Limassol city there are much cheaper options. Moreover, we asked for a late check out that was granted for few hours for a small fee of 15 Euro.

If you have to go to the airport from the hotel, ask the concierge to book for you a shared taxi. It is really convenient because it will cost you only 12 Euro per person and it is much faster than the available buses.

That’s how Booking.com managed the Best Price Guarantee policy . . . incredible!

I like travelling and exploring the world with my partner. We usually organize our trips using some well known website and looking for hotels’ and places’ to visit reviews before booking anything. We rarely use a tour operator since we like to book things by ourselves and avoid paying overheads and end up in tourist traps as many agencies’ packages try to do.

For hotels, I started booking directly with the hotel but soon realized that sometimes some websites have discounts or special fares to enjoy. Among those I noticed Booking.com was one of the best in terms of user interface and rates. Moreover, I found their smartphone app really useful and easy to use, hence we started using it copiously. One of the feature I like the most is the possibility to download an off-line guide of the City you are going to visit after the booking.

I have never got a problem and most of the time we managed to save some money by booking through Booking.com.

We recently visited Cyprus and after a quick screening of the hotels available and applicable rates, I have booked two of them through the app. I have immediately sent the booking confirmation to my partner who quickly replied (a bit upset), that she found a better deal on another website of a local travel agency. She asked me to cancel the booking with Booking.com and re-book with the other company.

I wasn’t very happy to book with a never-used-before website even though the better deal meant saving almost 100 Euro, a non-negligible amount. Stuck in the dilemma booking.com or not booking.com, I decided to write to the customer care and let them know.

Amazingly, they quickly replied that they verified the better deal I mentioned in my e-mail and they were going to refund the difference thanks to their Best Price Guarantee policy..

Booking.com  e-mail

The e-mail I received from Booking.com with their Best Rate Guarantee implementation. Some info omitted for Privacy.

As instructed, I went to Cyprus, enjoyed the hotel and the island and paid the bills accordingly. Once back in the usual routine, I scanned the invoice of the hotel bill and sent a copy to the customer care. I thought: “now they will let me wait ages before processing my refund request”. I was wrong. Two days later an agent from the Customer Care in London called me and verified if I was fine with receiving the refund on my debit/credit card. She gave me few easy instruction to follow saying that an e-mail with a link was on the way.

Booking.com e-mail refund

Booking.com refund confirmation and instruction e-mail.

I received the mentioned additional e-mail the day after and after having inserted my debit card details, I had to wait just 3 business days to receive the refund on my account. Superb.

I was positively impressed by the hassle-free management of the issue by Booking.com and was talking about it with some friends when I received a further e-mail from the booking company. “Something wrong” I said aloud while reading the e-mail on my smartphone. “What’s going on?” my friends promptly asked.

“Ah no, everything is superb!”  I exclaimed. Since I have used Booking.com quite often during the past year, they promoted me to a Booking Genius hence they have unlocked the Genius discount that gives me a further 10% discount  on a wide range of hotels.

That’s why I will never stop using Booking.com for my booking needs. 

Hotel Review: Constance Ephelia Resort – Seychelles

We visited Seychelles some time ago and found the Islands amazing. There are many reason to visit Seychelles, as well summarized in this article.

It is quite complicated to rate this hotel because it has great potentials and various pros but also many areas of possible improvement that sometimes generate disappointment. We stayed in the hotel, one of the most expensive in Mahe island for 4 days enjoying a special offer granted by the Entertainer Middle East with a free night.

General Pros

One of the pros of the resort is that it is located in a 120 hectares of tropical forest and includes many protected areas where it is possible to admire spectacular flora and fauna. There are few Albadra giant turtles, one of which is 104 years old; there are many species of birds and crabs, a mangrove forest and many fruit bats that fly just before the sunset.  The presence of the coral reef on the northern beach of the resort allows snorkel lovers and scuba divers to enjoy the beauty of the sea life.

The resort architecture is brilliant. Very elegant and clean with a lot of well maintained tropical plants all over the property. Being so widespread, a system of boogie transportation is available to transport you from south to north and vice versa in case you might be tired and do not want to walk some 20 minutes from one side to the other.

Peacocks are present on the island as well

Another plus for this resort are the available free activities to entertain in an easy and nice way the guests whether it is a sunny day or a raining one. We tried the Fruit and Spices tasting, where a local guy described the local production and allowed you to taste some particular fruit like the star fruit, passion fruit and so on. We tried the photographic tour around the resorts during which a local guide brought us in stunning places ideal to take nice photos while he told to us many interesting facts regarding Seychelles, its people and its culture. We enjoyed the Hiking tour that is a medium level trek. You will be asked to walk in sometimes difficult terrain and conditions and as such is not for everybody. No flip flops, no technology with you because you will be asked to walk few meters in the sea. A nice activity is feeding the turtles every day at 4 p.m. – a must see for kids even though it is worth paying a visit for ‘older’ ones too.

Daily sessions of gym, meditation and abs are also scheduled and could be very useful to kill some hours in case of a rainy or cloudy day. Free availability of kayaks and other marine equipment help the guests to enjoy the beautiful sea.

The resort is the perfect destination for honeymooners, families (they have a kids zone and separate villas for them) and couples in general, however if you inform them that you are in honeymoon the resort will shower you with presents that are not available/offered for normal couples.

The staff is very polite and attentive and always providing a smile and a happy face whenever you encounter them. The locals are even more positive and friendly, ready to talk to you and greet you on whichever occasion. Having been a French colony, the majority of the crew speaks French other than English; however considering the amount of Italians guests, the hotel employed some Italian native speakers and the locals learnt enough Italian to understand and be able to answer basic questions.

The food is very nice and served in different restaurants that provide different cuisines. Corossol, the main restaurant for BB, HB and FB guests, offers a great breakfast and dinner buffet with a mix of English, Italian and Creole food that should guarantee to have everyone happy.

The south beach from the helipad

General Cons

We experienced some difficulties during our stay and would like to share with you all in order to help you in better planning your stay in this resort that is anyhow very respectable.

In the first place, we had some problems in booking our room via e-mail. Or better, the room was duly reserved by the appointed personnel but we received the confirmation only a few hours before our departure from home. We called many times and it was impossible to find the right person at the working station. Maybe we are a little spoiled being used to Dubai standard, but a 5* resort should have a dedicated task force to manage such a important thing.

We were assigned to a Junior Suite at the extreme east of the property (on the right on the map) that was very well furnished and decorated. There were many amenities available like soap, shower gel, hair drier and the like, with the exception of toothbrushes and toothpaste. Hence bring it from home if you do not want to be forced to buy one there where surely it is more expensive.

Based on my experience, I would suggest to get a Junior Suite on the first floor: more privacy, generally a better view and a different feeling in staying on a veranda instead of the ground floor where people could possibly walk in front of you all the day long.

We experienced many troubles with the boogie service that rarely passed in front of our accommodation when needed. Many times we called the reception for it and awaited more than 20 minutes before deciding to walk all the way to the reception. Not a big deal if it is sunny, but a very annoying thing if it rains.

We were on a Bed & Breakfast basis and hence we could enjoy the breakfast buffet at Corossol restaurant and then we had to pay separately for lunch and dinner.

The first day for lunch we had two sandwiches, one beer and one water at Cabana, the little kiosk located on the north beach, for 550 SCR (around 42 USD)!!. So we decided to stuff ourselves at breakfast and tried to skip lunch whenever possible.

For dinner the cost calculation is more complicated. We were offered to upgrade from BB to HB for 50 Euro each (total of 1,640 SCR per day per couple). Well, considering that an open dinner buffet is 1,900 SCR per couple (drinks are excluded), it is convenient to upgrade to HB.                       However we had dinner in Adam&Eve restaurant and paid a la carte for 2 appetizers, 2 mains, 1 side dish and 2 desserts together with a beer and water only 1470 SCR!! Much less if compared to the 1,640 SCR for 6 dishes and drinks excluded. So be careful with the hidden costs that can reach a significant amount at the end of your holiday.

Another area of improvement is the beach management. The south beach is abandoned. Almost no service, a few lounges, no towels. Just sand and the sea. The Junior Suites have a series of pools available well equipped, but if you want to enjoy the beach you have to go to the north one. Once there, if it is peak time, you will find that almost all of the beach chairs are taken and start walking up and down as looking for a parking spot in a very busy mall. The beaches are quite small but surrounded by a gorgeous tropical flora that provides a natural shelter when the sun is stronger. In relation to this, please note that the sun is very strong and as such you are recommended to bring a sun lotion of medium to high coverage degree,

Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the peak days whereas the other weekdays seemed to be more quiet.

Conclusion

The resort is very well equipped and definitely can assure you a pleasant stay. Just take note of the few problems we encountered in order to be ready and prepared minimizing the disturbances and lowering the extra budget of your stay.

Hotel Review: Costantinous Bros Athena Royal – Paphos, Cyprus

We stayed at the Athena Royal hotel for 4 nights during our 8 days holiday in Cyprus. The hotel is amazingly arranged with bars, restaurants, 2 outdoor pools and one indoor pool, spa, mini market and a wide garden where sun beds are available for the guests.

Upon our arrival, we noted there is no doorman to welcome you in or take care of your luggage. A service that we found in almost every hotel we stayed in around the world (with the exception of Milan and Rome in Italy).

The reception personnel were of the utmost friendliness and extremely helpful. Our check in and check out went through without any kind of trouble.

We were assigned to room 3342, a partial sea view room, very nice and comfortable and with a little balcony available.

Athena Royal Double Room View

The view of our room was a nice partial sea view

In the room we found some balloons, a card wishing happy birthday to my partner (it was her birthday that day) some wine and complementary fruit, a kind touch from the management that we appreciated.

We had a tv, an espresso machine with complimentary capsules and some tea bags. The toilet was alright with enough toiletries (shampoo, body lotion, soap, liquid hand soap) but without hair conditioner, shaving kit, tooth-brush and tooth-paste, hence you might want to bring them with you.
The room was cleaned daily and some consumables replenished with the exception of coffee capsules and water. Just note that the service starts very early in the morning (before 8 am) and you might be waken up if you plan to sleep some more.

Wi-Fi coverage in our room was fair or absent inside and decent on the balcony. However, room 3342 and the adjacent ones, are located very close to what seemed to be the kitchen and a continuous noise of cutleries and dishes being moved and thrown can spoil your tranquil moment in the evening.

The hotel targets adults only, hence there are no kids around, making the place very quiet and relaxing. However, the majority of the guests (let’s say 90% of them) are very mature couples and with it I mean pensioners above 60.

For a young couple, then, it might be awkward and sometimes boring to be in such an atmosphere.

The hotel provides an efficient tourist support, with different representatives coming regularly to propose and book events in town or outside either by boat or bus. We took advantage of the service to book a cruise with Paphos Sea Cruises while we explored the city by ourselves.

There are many restaurants available and bars to calm down the thirst during the day. They all serve decent food and good cocktails and the prices are very reasonable.
One very positive point of this hotel is that they do not try to cheat you charging a ridiculous amount for drinks and food at the pool/beach/shop.

Athena Royal Garden

The garden where the majority of sun beds are located is very well maintained

Other than the pool side, the hotel offers a nice garden where the majority of the sun beds are located. The beach, instead, is very poor and consists in few meters of sand with wild vegetation and rocks. Not really the best if you look for a sandy beach and easy access to the water.

Regular events are organized like live music, special night events and cinema nights. We participated to some of them but we realized that we were not the targeted audience and hence felt a bit bored. The other guests were, on the other hand, pleased by the proposed activities and enjoyed them very much.

Breakfast wasn’t as good as we expected even though the variety of food available was great. There are eggs, bacon, sausages, cheeses, yoghurt, pastries and pancakes, fruits, coffee, milk and juices.

We just found that bread, pastries and other products weren’t always freshly made but displayed until consumed. We had bad experience with the croissants, cereals and bread that tasted old and were tough.

We had also an omelette prepared by the chef and did not like it because it was prepared  superficially with ingredients not completely cooked and mixed properly. My omelette was without salt, my partner’s one was salty and both were very oily. While waiting for the omelette we noticed that fried eggs, pork bacon, pancakes and French toast were cooked in the same place. Not really the right way to do it.

The breakfast is served in a very lovely location, by the pool or indoor as the guest prefers.

Breakfast at Athena Royal is served by the pool. Lovely location

Breakfast at Athena Royal is served by the pool. Lovely location

We enjoyed lunch at the Olive Tree restaurant few times and found it all right. We had a chicken gyros, hallomi sandwich and a salad and found them ok.

The service quality is just ok. There are a lot of young staff with seasonal jobs working in this hotel. Some of them, like the lovely front desk operator who worked in Abu Dhabi before, were super efficient and friendly. Others were apparently less trained but still suitable for the role.

We understood from some guests that a significant percentage of them (above 30%) spend their annual summer holiday in this hotel, someone since 10 years or more!!! For this reason, at the moment of checking out, we were granted a loyalty membership card that will allow us to get discounts from our next stay (if any) in the same hotel or hotel chain in Paphos.

In conclusion, we enjoyed the stay at the hotel, however, probably not as much as the elderly guests do.