When travelling do you choose the all familiar feeling of a well known hotel chain, or go with something a bit different, an unknown?
In the US, I stay with the familiar, it's home and I want that familiarity in the hotel. I want my expectations to be met. I'm not one for bed & breakfast type of places, I prefer the anonymity of the hotel. I once stayed in a bed & breakfast, and once was enough. I don't find them romantic, I find them intrusive but that is my personal preference. At home, give me a good well known hotel any day of the week.
That being said, in Europe, my preferences change, I choose the boutique hotels, the unknown names. I find them charming, sometimes worn with age, some sporting facelifts, but the essence is the same, they reflect the romance and adventure of the city they live in.
Hotel Lutetia in Paris is one such place, Art Deco meets the Belle Époque, it's at the center of Paris, easy access to most sites and a 40 minute walk to the Rodin Museum.
The Royal Crescent in Bath, England is another such delight. It is part of a small chain of the Von Essen Hotels, each one is unique, old architecturally significant buildings and castles have been converted to magnificent hotels.
Take a chance and look for the unique, not the familiar. Prices vary based on the season, go off season-like airfares, hotels are discounted.
In many cases if you travel to and plan on spending a few days in a major city, you can book a vacation through the airlines. There are some lovely prices included in the hotel and air package, even half day tours to get you acquainted with the city. My favorite way of finding a new hotel is simply to Google hotels in a specific city and do a bit of research on line.
Local transportation is easy and you do not have to speak the language to get around, but learn a few words of the local language, and be careful and aware of your surroundings. Be a vigilant tourist, whether it's at home or anywhere else in the world.
I don't like to take tours ala the 'If this is Tuesday it must be Belgium' premise. (Funny movie by the way.) If I'm going to Paris, London Rome, Berlin, Hong Kong or Venice, any major city, I stay put a few days to get to know the city and its pulse.
Check prices on-line sites like Expedia, (not a big fan) but don't forget to deal directly with the hotel. I e-mailed the Crescent hotel in Bath and got a fantastic price, they had a special off season rate that was unbeatable. Now, I get e-mails from the Von Essen hotels notifying me of other deals. They have a terrific medieval castle in Edinburgh, Scotland I plan to visit soon. Falconry and archery anyone? Never tried either one, but certainly plan to do so in the very near future.
Till next time.
A Hotel in Paris