We spent Labor Day weekend in Amsterdam and we stayed at a pretty weird hotel. When I was writing my post about our weekend, I decided that our weird hotels needed a post of their own.
I should start this post with a disclaimer: We do not intentionally stay at weird hotels! For the past four years, we have been stationed in Germany with the US Army. It has been, at times, like a paid vacation. We have access to Europe by car, train, plane…and within a few hours, we can be at our destination. The Army gives its soldiers a 4-day weekend every month in order to compensate them for the long hours and frequent weekend assignments. We love these 4-days. We rarely spend one at home. Instead, we bop around Europe, exploring city after city.
Spending four days a month on vacation in Europe can get pretty pricey. Airfare, gas, hotels, food, souvenirs…it adds up quickly. Have you looked up the conversion rate lately for dollar to Euro? It sucks. For every one Euro you spend, you're actually spending roughly about $1.50. And traveling in Great Britain or Scandinavia? It's almost DOUBLE. So a 4-day weekend in Europe, even with the thriftiest budget, can easily end up costing $700 for the two of us. Easily.
So I, as our travel agent, always look for deals on hotels. I'm always looking for a great location but at a great price. I've come up with a lot of great hotels that way! We've stayed right in the heart of a city, in a nice hotel, for relatively cheap. I have plenty of examples of that…but we'll save them for another day!
Today I want to show you a couple of my mistakes. Epic fails, if you will!
I'll start with Amsterdam.
City Partner Aalborg Hotel is a three star hotel, according to Booking.com. They describe the hotel as having "modern rooms" with "private bathrooms and TV." (Can you believe in Europe you could still book a hotel with a common bathroom??) The hotel also has free WiFi throughout. It says you can request a balcony, room with a view, flowers, champagne, even a massage! And it's only 500 meters from the nearest tram stop. Sounds great, right? We paid about $525 for a 3-night stay…and this is what we got:
I'm pretty sure this qualifies as a closet and not a room! Certainly not a room that costs $175 a night! Our TV remote didn't work, but then again, most of them don't work without batteries. It didn't matter, though, because our TV didn't work anyway, which probably had something to do with the wires hanging out of it. The bathroom (see the dark shadow on the left?) was small, but not bad…as long as you ignored the fact that the cold knob on the sink didn't work. Cold water is overrated anyhow. It was also pretty warm in Amsterdam that weekend - almost 90 degrees during the day - and the hotel had no air conditioning.
When I was looking for a hotel for our trip, I called this one and asked if they would put a crib in the room for us. The woman said, "Of course!" So I added a crib request to our online booking form. When we arrived, we were amazed that we could fit ourselves and our bags in the room. A crib was certainly out of the question…which meant the Bee was sleeping with us.
Not quite the 3-star hotel we had envisioned. It's just another reminder of how little you can get with American dollars in Western Europe these days. At least it was very conveniently located near public transportation.
My other epic fail in hotel bookings was in Bratislava, Slovakia. We drove to Bratislava last March for a 4-day weekend. I found what I thought was a great hotel. It was centrally located - literally just across the street from the old historic town. It was really affordable and had on-site parking (something we always have to be careful of with our SUV in these small, European towns). I was so excited because this hotel was listed as "retro." How cool is that?!?!
You know the saying: Hind sight is 20/20? Well, here is where I should have stopped and remembered some of my AP European history from tenth grade. A "retro" hotel from the 1970's in Slovakia…? Oh, Andrea. Nothing built during the Soviet era in Eastern Europe would be a good place to stay!
We arrived at the Hotel Kyjev at almost midnight, parked, and went inside to check in. The lobby was very old looking and it was starting to dawn on me that maybe "retro" wasn't the way to go. (Had we arrived during the day we would have seen the outside of the building and probably kept going!)
We took the elevator to our room and I was scared to death. Romas said that elevators need to be inspected often, so I shouldn't be so nervous. (I kept looking for the "passed inspection" sticker with the date, but I couldn't find one.) We got to our room and we were amazed. Our room was tiny and probably hadn't had new paint or carpeting since it was built. We had a little cement room, with a window, and two beds (gotta love the European idea of a "double bed"). There was no other furniture and certainly no TV. Romas made the executive decision that we sleep on top of the blankets and I decided that socks were a must. Sounds charming, doesn't it?
This picture is from their website…we didn't have a TV, but look at the one in the picture!! Do they even make them like that anymore?? I guess you get a "retro" TV as part of your "retro" room now!
Again, I had found a hotel with an incredible location…but the accommodations were less than stellar. At least in this case we really did get a good deal on our room!
These are two of the less than great places we've stayed in while traveling. We've definitely had more good experiences than bad though. Maybe I should write another post about some of the amazing hotels we've found along the way...Pin It