Hotel Alminar

The Joint

Álvarez Quintero, 52
41004 Sevilla, España
Phone: 954 293 913
Email: reservas@hotelalminar.com
Web: http://www.hotelalminar.com

I was very pleasantly surprised by this hotel. After looking at several options on booking.com, the Hotel Alminar had the combined advantages of great location (one minute walk to the Cathedral), great rating on booking.com and TripAdvisor and the right rate. That said, I don’t put that much stock in TripAdvisor reviews, but it’s useful for cross-checking.

Arriving in the early evening, we found the hotel pretty easily and were greeted by the very friendly desk staff, who got us checked in and gave us some good dinner suggestions. The hotel itself is in a small building in a very small street and the “lobby” and breakfast rooms take up as little space as possible. We went up to find out why – the modern room with dark wood ceiling beams and white and beige decor was quite generously proportioned! There was plenty of room for us to take off backpacks and put down our suitcase without jockeying for position. It was even easy to walk around the bed. The amazement continued into the bathroom – a nice, roomy shower cabin, fully enclosed with glass wall and door, a spiffy sink, all made out of one piece of transparent glass and pretty beige and gold tilework. The room also had a good-sized closet with safe and minifridge in it and a small bench, perfect for holding the suitcase. The bed was just okay – two twins pushed together – and the pillows were a little meager. To our delight, though, there was in-room wireless, easy to connect to with a strong signal. The room was immaculate and very comfortable.

The next morning, we went down to the breakfast in the tiny breakfast rooms. Again, given how generous the guest rooms are (and there are some located on the ground floor), I understand why the breakfast area is so small. They manage to provide seating for up to 12 guests at once. There was coffee available from an automat (not adequate), juices, milk, cereal, bread, sliced meats and cheeses, yogurt and fruit. They also had a very strange “toaster” that consisted of a carousel part and a grill-like part, neither of which toasted the bread beyond “tastes sorta stale.” So, we were less than impressed with the hotel’s spread. Luckily for us, it cost guests 6€ each for breakfast, so for the following days, we just opted out.

We asked one of the desk attendants for some help in planning our time in the region and she truly went above and beyond. We told her about our plan to go out to Granada to see the Alhambra, a three-hour train trip each way. In spite of having repairmen there asking her questions, answering the phone and working with a trainee, she took the time to really lay out the pros and cons of our plan and even told us that the information we’d picked up at the tourism office was 3 years out of date! Given our short stay, she suggested Córdoba as an alternative day-trip. It was only one hour each way and, in her opinion, the town itself is nicer than Granada. All in all, she must have spent 20 to 30 minutes with us just going over our options and said over and over again, “Please come to us with any other questions! We are here to help!!”

I would definitely recommend the Alminar to anyone staying in Sevilla. The rate we paid for a double was 90€/night, not including breakfast. Checkout time was noon and the desk staff was happy to hold our bags until we were ready to head for the airport. Another important point – the building is accessible to the disabled. There are no thresholds on the floors, there is an elevator and a gentle ramp at the street door. In Europe, this is a rare find in a medieval core.

Hotel Löwen

The Joint

Klosterhof 41, Ulm-Söflingen, Germany, 89077
+49 (0) 731 388 588 0

Heading further South and East from Burg Hohenzollern towards, we stopped in Ulm for the night at Hotel Restaurant Löwen. Sarah found it through booking.com. Our expectations were rather low, since we just wanted a place to sleep, and initially didn’t plan on eating there or exploring Ulm (native Franks and Bavarians had warned us that Ulm is not worth exploring), but I guess we were just lucky because this place was super. The price, at 112€ a night for a double with breakfast the next morning, was a little more than we like to spend, but just having cheaped out at Hôtel Aux Trois Roses, we could afford it. And it seemed like it was worth more than 112€ anyway.

Our room was very modern in design — lots of ultra-euro shapes and angles and surfaces, including a solid glass sliding door for entry into the bathroom, a fixed glass sprayguard half enclosing the shower cabin. When we asked about the WiFi network, the reception clerk apologetically handed us an ethernet cable (haven’t seen one of those in awhile!), because the signal wasn’t strong enough in our room. I thought that was a nice touch; usually you just get “well, it works in our Lobby…”

We ended up eating there that night and were very impressed with the atmosphere and attitude of the staff and quality and value of the food. This was my favorite breakfast spread of the road trip; a waitress came around to ask if we were sure we wouldn’t like some individually prepared eggs. And when I said “yes, thanks, one over-medium for me please,” she whispered in a mock-conspiratorial tone “Two is customary…are you sure you wouldn’t you like two?”

I like that. I’d stay there again for sure.

Hôtel Aux Trois Roses

The Joint

7 Rue De Zurich
67000 Strasbourg
France

http://www.hotel3roses-strasbourg.com/

The location of this hotel is pretty great – right across one of the myriad bridges leading into the heart of the old town. The gentleman at reception was very patient with our questions and even let us check in early, as our rooms were already prepared. I find in French city hotels, the rooms tend to be very small, and Trois Roses lived up to my expectation. Our double room was dominated by the double bed. Affixed the wall at the foot of the bed was a set of two large shelves – one high for the TV and one low for a small suitcase. Given the tightness of the room, the suitcase shelf was an absolute necessity. My brother’s single room down the hall was similarly cramped. When I walked in, he said “It feels like an airplane.” He wasn’t wrong. Here’s the kicker – the bathrooms were of normal size!

The stay was comfortable enough and the breakfast and parking were NOT included in the room rate (69€ for the double, 51€ for the single). Which was fine – what fun is it to stay in France and not go croissant hunting? I would consider staying there again if we go back to Strasbourg due to the price – but a little more elbow room might be worth a little more cash.

Hotel & Boarding House Deutscher Kaiser

The Joint

Hotel & Boarding House Deutscher Kaiser
Mühltalstr. 41
69121 Heidelberg
Germany
+49 (0)6221 71495 00

We were immediately intrigued by the logo. Who wouldn’t want to sleep over at Snidely Whiplash’s grampa’s house? As we rolled up into the Innenhof, the innkeeper, greeted us warmly from smoke break porch perch. She was extremely friendly — the kind of friendly that normally makes me suspicious, but this was genuine — and helped us out with some tips for getting to the Hbf to meet CN&D. There was apparently a SNAFU regarding our booking.com request for a third bed; she was only aware of two guests, but it all worked out swell in the end. I think we even got a sort-of-free room upgrade out of it.

The room itself was spacious and comfortable. I noticed it could have used a touch-up paint job in a few places, but for 120€ total for three adults per night, I can overlook that. The breakfast spread the next morning was nice. I’d stay there again the next time we arrive in the Heidelberg area by car (kind of out of the way for a train trip, but it’s still doable with the #5 or #23 trams out to Handschuhsheim).

Hotel Sully Saint-Germain

The Joint

Hotel Sully Saint-Germain
31 Rue des Ecoles
75005 Paris – France

http://www.sully-saint-germain-hotel.com/

Sarah

We reserved this hotel due to the price, location and wireless connectivity. Well, two out of three ain’t bad. The price was fixed and the location (a short walk from the Maubert-Mutualité Métro station) was ideal. The design of the lobby and the rooms is quite attractive. The basic double room is fairly small by American standards, but has lots of storage space (closets and drawers, etc.).

Unfortunately, the promised internet was not accessible in the rooms. To use it, you had to bring your laptop and other materials down to the lobby, then jockey for position with the rest of the hotel guests set up for surfing. We like to bring our laptop with us to help with planning our outings, so reliable, room-accesible internet is important to us. We were a little disappointed on that score.

There were a couple of other odd occurrences. There was a brief power outage one evening – about 30 seconds with no lights. Not a big deal to us, but we did overhear another couple complaining to the concierge about another outage the previous evening that happened while the woman was in the shower. So I guess that happens with some regularity. Also, on the morning of our checkout, I couldn’t get the water temperature to cooperate. It started out normal, but then started switching between burning hot and freezing cold. It made rinsing my hair an adventure.

The breakfast included in our rate was adequate, except for the coffee (it was dreadful). The elevators are extremely small, so occasionally taking the stairs is the best option. Generally, it was a pleasant experience. It is by no means a luxury hotel, but as a place to sleep, shower and keep your stuff while you’re out experiencing Paris, the Sully Saint-Germain is a good choice.

Cliff

Sarah hit all the points I’d make. Location was the most important aspect for me — it’s an easy walk to the Ile de la Cité or the Louvre or just hop onto the #10 Metro line to get out to other parts of the city or a bigger train station.




Hotel Lasserhof

The Joint

Lasserstrasse 47
Tel. +43-(0)662-873388
Fax +43-(0)662-8733886

Cliff

I am pretty disappointed with the Lasserhof. Last time I stayed here, with buds Potter and Gabe, when we did the Sound of Music tour back in November 2005, we thought the place was great. This time, we got stuck in a poorly-lit room with its only openable window in the bathroom. It’s pretty easy to get to from the train station and the pricing was reasonable, but maybe next time we’ll spend a little more and get a better place (the NH, with their 14€ breakfast buffet and 24-hour Sound of Music channel, comes to mind). More disappointments from Sarah’s perspective below…

Sarah

What the hell happened here? Cliff was nearly glowing in his review of this place from his first trip to Salzburg, so I was pretty excited about trying it out myself. The reservations staff was very helpful when I got conflicting information about availability back in February during the trip-planning stages. Check-in was a breeze, but after that things started to go wrong. The minifridges in the rooms weren’t actually cold, and yes, we did check to see if they were plugged in. What’s more, the TV in my parents’ room had a bad picture and the volume was unchangeable. And then the window issue in our room made it muggy and stifling. Plus, the guy at the desk gave my dad a hard time about getting a spare key for his room, however, I think this guy was just having a bad day, because he ALSO tried to give my parents’ room to some other guests. I managed to get the issue cleared up, but he wasn’t real pleasant about it. The breakfast was pretty adequate and other than the keymaster, the staff was very helpful and accomodating, but the cons outweigh the pros, so I don’t think we’ll be going back.

Little Texas

The Joint

Stradela Moara de Vant 31
Iasi, Romania 700376
Phone: +40.232.272545 Fax: +40.232.272545

http://www.littletexas.org

Oh my goodness. I never would have believed it, but this place has the best TexMex I’ve ever had in Europe. Bar none.

I am seriously thinking about trying out their hotel facilities on my next trip to Iasi instead of staying at the Hotel Unirea (my “usual” pad, you might say).