Posted by dan on January 1, 2011
The Colosseum, Rome
As of today, 1st of January 2011, a new tourist tax came into effect in Rome. According to officials, “the tax is expected to raise much-needed revenue for the city, whose palaces, churches and monuments are in urgent need of restoration.” From today people staying in a hotel in Rome will have this tax added to their bills.
“DETAILS OF FEE:
Camp sites 1 Euros per person per night max 5 days
Farm Inns 2 Euros per person per night max 10 days
B&B 2 Euros per person per night max 10 days
Rented Rooms 2 Euros per person per night max 10 days
Holiday Homes 2 Euros per person per night max 10 days
Holiday Apartments 2 Euros per person per night max 10 days
1, 2, 3-Star Hotels 2 Euros per person per night max 10 days
4, 5-Star Hotels 3 Euros per person per night max 10 days”
“This comes after the highly debated nightly hotel tax was reported after Prime Minister’s Berlusconi’s government planned to slash €200 million euros from its annual contribution to the city of Rome. Therefore Roman officials had proposed a hotel tax of up to €10 euros per person, per night. The tax amount would be based on the number of stars assigned to a hotel by the Italian government.
Many hoteliers were up in arms and urging the city to find other revenue sources.
Meanwhile, Italian officials are seeking to raise some €25 million euros in private money to finance the restoration of the Colosseum. They will be accepting bids from possible sponsors.”
See also blog post: “Environmental hazard which uses too much oil”
Posted in Hotels, Rome | Tagged: Colosseum, hotel, Italy, Rome | Leave a Comment »
Posted by dan on December 7, 2010
I used to travel and book hotel rooms without checking reviews and I almost never had any problems. There are good guide books I trust and I am probably not a fussy traveler anyway. However, looking up reviews recently of some hotels I know, I just couldn’t believe some of the posts – had I read those posts before I wouldn’t have stayed in the particular hotel. Maybe a personal revenge due to unrealistic expectations, a misunderstanding or bad luck, or even campaign by unethical competitors, these negative reviews can do a lot of damage to a hotel. So what can a hotel do if this happens? I just found an interesting article, titled “Top tips for hotels when responding to reviews on TripAdvisor” by Brian Payea, head of industry relations at TripAdvisor. The bottom line is, if there is a review which you think is not fair, do respond – don’t let it affect your good name. And as for customers, if you have any problems, discuss it with the hotel staff, if necessary with the manager, before you write something really bad. Most often there is a solution.
Top tips for hotels when responding to reviews on TripAdvisor: http://www.tnooz.com/2010/09/30/how-to/top-tips-for-hotels-when-responding-to-reviews-on-tripadvisor/
Posted in Hotels, Travel tips | Tagged: hotel | Leave a Comment »
Posted by dan on November 24, 2010
No opinion is absolutely objective – and I am not talking about obviously biased ones. If nothing else, it all comes down to personal taste and the experiences one had during a trip. A hotel room – strikingly modern in the style of Karim Rashid, with neon green walls, pink furniture and absurdly contemporary design – might make one rave, but others would be put off to say the least. The experiences one has during a trip depend on many factors, including expectations, interpersonal communication skills, instinctive sympathy and pure luck. So the more opinion we can have, the better picture we can make. Reviews on the popular travel sites can be a good resource, but you have to be aware of a few things.
As a common practice in statistics, disregard the best and the worst reviews. There might be fake reviews either by the hotel to boost its rating or by unethical competitors to drag it down. I have recently noticed a very bad review about a hotel which has hundreds of reviews – virtually all positive. This single one with an unbelievable story just stands out somehow. A bad story can come from a real customer too, who takes revenge for something or blows a small problem out of proportion. I often found that budget hotels have more mixed reviews – I know some of these hotels and they are fine as long as you don’t have unrealistic expectations. Reversely, there can be suspicious reviews raving about a place that receives steadily mediocre-average reviews and giving it the highest score – often these are posted by users who only contributed one or two posts.
There are forums which themselves are biased – a couple of months ago I had a post removed from a site which claims to be impartial and to provide the best advice for travelers. I pointed out that for a 3-night stay booking at a particular hotel would be significantly cheaper directly than through their site – I understand that’s how they make money, but this is not in the best interest of the traveler.
Among the popular travel portals TripAdvisor is a good exception. They don’t make money on bookings, I believe, so they don’t push their hidden agenda. They even have the possibility to compare prices on different booking sites, although it would be better if there was a direct link to the hotels official web-site as well. While many forums are dormant, TripAdvisor is alive and free – the more opinions there are, the better it is for the visitor, the hotels and probably even TripAdvisor which remains to be the leading travel site.
Summerizing it all, forums and reviews are useful – you just have to be able to read between the lines to make informed decisions.
See video of the Semiramis Hotel in Athens by Karim Rashid to decide if this is your style.
About Karim Rashid: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karim_Rashid
Official Karim Rashid site: http://www.karimrashid.com/
Posted in Hotels, Travel tips | Tagged: hotel | Leave a Comment »
Posted by dan on November 21, 2010
Located close to the upper gate of Monceau Park (the Rotunda), Hotel Elysees Parc Monceau is in an ideal location for those who like to enjoy Paris at a slower rate. With Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe only a short walk away, this is an elegant and charming Parisian neighborhood – green streets and parks, simple and upmarket shops, cafes and restaurants. Hotel Elysees Parc Monceau, as the name suggests, is just around the corner from the tranquil park, a great location for all ages. Located in a smaller street, traffic noise is not a concern either. The hotel is a simple 3-star hotel – a bit of old fashioned elegance with a touch of the contemporary. The lounge area is nicely done, the rooms are good but nothing fancy. The breakfast room certainly has a beautiful character. All in all, it is worth the money, especially if you can get a good deal as it is often the case.
The hotel is in a little street
Parc Monceau is just around the corner
The facade of the hotel
The lobby area of the hotel
Double room of the hotel
The modern bathroom
Parc Monceau – for all ages
The Arc de Triomphe, Paris
The Champs Elysees with the Arc de Triomphe
Hotel Elysées Parc Monceau ***
38, rue Cardinet – 75017 Paris France
Tel. +33 (0) 1 47 63 88 60
Official site: http://hotel-elysees-parc-monceau.com/
See also blog post: Parc Monceau – a secluded garden in Paris
Posted in Hotels, Paris | Tagged: Arc de Triomphe, booking, Champs Elysees, hotel, nature, Parc Monceau, Paris, shopping, special offer | Leave a Comment »
Posted by dan on November 12, 2010
To a big extent the success of any trip depends on the accommodation, and it is not always easy to find something that you really like and suits you in every way.
In the beginning there was no internet… you had to rely on the recommendations of friends and call the hotel you wished to stay at in advance, or just hope there will be a room available somewhere when you arrive. Books like Let’s Go and Fodor’s were your friends – Lonely Planet still didn’t make it into Europe. Then came the euphoria of the World Wide Web – we thought everything is on it or will be on it and we can always find what we really want. Back then Yahoo had a good directory (the Google search empire still didn’t make a name) so if you wanted a place and a sense of security you could look up the independent hotels one by one and send an email to have a room confirmed. With the corporate recovery after the balloon of the dot.com dream burst, the big players moved in arrogantly and started to monopolize the net. As a hotel, or any other independent operator, you had no choice but get the middle man involved. From a customer’s point of view this could be fine, with all the places listed on one portal together with first-hand reviews to help to decide (see blog post: Forums and hotel reviews). However, often the hotels can offer better rates if you deal with them directly and not through a third-party booking portal, so it is worth checking the official websites. Although it is not difficult to google up a hotel’s official website, not everybody is comfortable with computers and a direct link would be helpful for everybody – however, most travel and booking portals do not do that. That’s why I was very happy when I found recently two sites which list hundreds of places from all around the world and actually provide a direct link to the hotels. One of them, called Explorotel, lists a lot of special deals as well and I like the idea of the “Price Heat Map” – the way hotels are marked on the map with colors according to price. The other is called Qype, and has also useful information and deals. I still have to explore the sites a bit more, but my initial reaction is thumbs up.
Find hotels from around the world with direct links to their official website:
Explorotel – http://www.explorotel.com
Qype – http://www.qype.co.uk
If you have any travel related questions, a good forum to get advice is TripAdvisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com
Posted in Hotels, Travel tips | Tagged: booking, hotel, special offer | Leave a Comment »