INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL, PORTO, PORTUGAL

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The five-star Intercontinental Porto lies in the heart of Porto’s historic centre and is the gem of the city’s accommodation choices. The hotel stands prominently at the end of Porto’s main avenue, Avenida dos Aliados, and is hence in the most central part of the city. The São Bento train station is just 100 metres away and the iconic Clérigos Tower is a three-minute walk. The lively large square is a hive of activity but the hotel’s soundproofed windows block out most of the noise.

I was welcomed by charming staff, check-in was done swiftly, and I was escorted to the room. The hotel’s neoclassical design was spectacular. Swarovski chandeliers illuminate the bright, marbled foyer and lobby; and velvet armchairs create comfortable seating areas with an elegant ambiance.

My room was of average size, facing the square, and was decorated in stylish but heavy dark colours. There were all modern amenities including a Nespresso coffee machine, minibar etc.  The bathroom was spacious and bright. The bed was luxuriously comfortable and I slept very well. Plenty of power outlets were conveniently located on the nightstand and throughout the room. 

The breakfast was my highlight of the morning. The hotel restaurant offers an enormous selection of international dishes. Local and international specialities are offered and, besides the buffet, the staff offer special egg dishes to be served at the table. I had a big pleasure to enjoy this and along with the wonderful service of the hotel’s staff throughout the premises I had an excellent stay. 

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https://www.ihg.com/intercontinental/hotels/us/en/porto/prtha/hoteldetail

 

 

 

DAVID INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL, TEL AVIV, ISRAEL

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The hotel’s massive lobby is anchored by two chandeliers of floating brass tubes and features Israeli art work behind the check-in counter and along the walls.

I arrived in the middle of the night was given a warm welcome. The agent was super-friendly and explained all features of the hotel including the different breakfast options due to the late arrival.

My room was on the 22nd floor and had a nice city view. The room was decorated in shades of brown and beige and seemed to be a clean standard business traveller room. However, it offered plenty of thoughtful perks for the frequent traveller such as USB ports and power outlets on both sides of the bed, as well as on the working desk. There was a water kettle and I missed my Nespresso maker. Minibar was empty and only filled on request.

The bathroom was of a good size with modern lighting, a separate bath tub and a large shower including a rainfall type shower head.

The bed was equipped with ample pillows and a comfortable blanket for a good night’s sleep. 

The gym seemed to be small at the first glimpse but it was well equipped and was nicely illuminated by a blue light. There is a large pool area with plenty of loungers, a pool bar and plenty of tables to sit and sip a coffee or have a drink and overlook the beach.

The David Intercontinental Hotel is located at the southern end of the beach which makes it easy to go out for a stroll along the sea which I enjoyed very much and made my stay very pleasant and relaxing.

https://telaviv.intercontinental.com/

GRAND HOTEL KEMPINSKI, RIGA, LATVIA

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The Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga was originally built in the 19th Century situated in the heart of Riga. The National Opera house is opposite and the world heritage history centre (Old town) is in comfortable walking distance.  

The hotel offers 141 rooms and suites, a rooftop restaurant with indoor/outdoor seating, a bar, a cigar lounge and an all-day-dining restaurant on the main level. The hotel features the Kempinski Spa with 6 treatment rooms, a full gym and a swimming pool and sauna.

I booked a deluxe room which offered a generous size of 44 sqm with a separate walk-in closet which could be fully closed. The room was tastefully appointed and everything was still very new. A minibar, a coffee maker and water kettle was available.

The large bathroom was equipped with a separate toilet, a bathtub and a shower which had a rain-shower option. The usual luxury amenities were available and a nightly turn-down service was performed. I found the bed super comfortable and I slept very well. 

The breakfast was wonderful with a wide choice of breads, cereals, fresh fruits, cold cuts and salmon, a hot section and a chef who prepared fresh egg dishes daily. A daily “healthy-shot” was offered as well as all the usual breakfast drinks and juices including sparkling wine. 

The hotel is pet-friendly and offers special features to guests which travel with their little loved-ones. (Pic of the “hotel-dog”)

I tried the gym and the swimming pool and found the facilities very modern and chic. Unfortunately, I did not have to time to do any spa-treatments or massages.

The best asset of this luxury hotel (beside the location) are undoubtedly the staff members. Everybody that I have met from the check-in agent to the concierge, the breakfast team and even the housekeepers were all very friendly and helpful. I felt like I was staying with friends and I can only praise them. I highly recommend this hotel and already look forward to staying there again.

https://www.kempinski.com/en/riga/grand-hotel-kempinski-riga/

ANDAZ by HYATT, MUNICH, GERMANY

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Andaz by Hyatt is an upscale lifestyle boutique-style hotel chain intended for cosmopolitan travellers. The Andaz Munich Schwabinger Tor is strongly connected to the heart and soul of Munich.

The hotel features the city’s highest rooftop bar, a full-service spa with swimming pool, event and meeting areas, and four food/beverage outlets. The M’Uniqo is the hotel’s trendy rooftop bar which offers a stunning view over Munich and the nearby Alps. The Lonely Broccoli restaurant is the hotel’s main dining restaurant where breakfast, lunch and steak-house style dinner is served. The Andaz Lounge Bar is more than a classic hotel lobby bar. There is a classic bar, a lounge type seating area which invites guest to sit down, unwind, have a drink, charge their mobile devices  or use the golden brezel for Instagram photo shots. (I found the lower lobby restroom to be the most popular Instagram hotspot). Bicicletta is a coffee bar where healthy smoothies, bowls and other savory snacks and coffees are served. The is a small outside terrace available for smokers or people who prefer to get some fresh air.

My check-in at the Andaz Munich was smooth and efficient. My 9th floor room was large, bright with a fantastic view over Munich and the nearby Alps. The decoration was contemporary and stylish. There was an openly designed bathroom with an oversized shower sporting a rainforest showerhead. The toilet was separate and a small walk in closet was provided. Flat screen TV and a complementary minibar with local drinks and snacks were also offered.

I found my stay at the Andaz Munich Schwabinger Tor very pleasant. This new lifestyle hotel concept, when combined with the hotel’s super-friendly staff, made me immediately feel at ease and at home.

https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/germany/andaz-munich-schwabinger-tor/mucaz

CONRAD HOTEL, DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

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The sky-scraping Conrad Dubai is a view-star hotel with popular night sports, a premium spa, and a completely unexpected palm-filled pool deck for this downtown hotel. 

The World Trade Centre Metro Station on Conrad Dubai’s doorstep provides easy access to several attractions, including Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa, both just three stops away. The airport has a station too, but the 10-minute cab ride is quicker. 

I arrived late night with my Uber and was led to the Executive lounge right away to complete my formalities there. The agent was very efficient and within minutes I was done. She explained all the facilities to me and offered me a drink before I retired to my suite.

I booked a King Deluxe suite which was 100 sqm. with a separate living room, a large bed, a bathroom and a separate guest toilet. There was a small kitchenette as well and it was located on the 43rd floor offering splendid views of the city. A Nespresso maker completed the usual luxurious amenities.

I enjoyed the size of the room very much and the services at the Executive Lounge were fantastic. Breakfast offered a wide choice and many items were available upon order as well. 

The Happy Hour offering comprised a full buffet of pre-dinner snacks and a wide selection of beverages. Staff was always attentive and very charming, ready for a little chat when times were more quiet.

The gym was open 24hours and unfortunately I did not have chance to try the spa, but overheard other guest being happy about their treatment.

The pool area was very nice and large enough to accommodate large numbers of users. The pool had a refreshing waterfall and was nicely decorated.  What I did not like about the pool was the very loud music and the ugly cream coloured plastic loungers. 

My stay at the Conrad Dubai was very pleasant and I would return to this hotel without hesitation. The Executive Lounge was the highlight of my stay.

https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/dxbcdci-conrad-dubai/

FAIRMONT HOTEL, BARCELONA, SPAIN

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This five-star resort is located on the prestigious Avenida Diagonal, which is known for its wealth of high-end restaurants and shopping opportunities. The hotel is located approximately 6km (just under four miles) from the city centre, which is accessible by a 15/20-minute taxi ride or a 30-minute metro ride.

The imposing lobby area draws on ultra-modern furnishings and a palette of silver and gold to achieve a look of tasteful decadence. The space is flooded with natural light which enters via a huge window that reaches up through the entire height of the building. It looks and feels like very much like a luxury cruise liner. Avant-garde art installations and intelligent partitions create smaller spaces within the bar, lounge and reception area, adding intimacy and plenty of opportunities for peace and privacy.

I found the check-in procedure to be dreadful. There were about 20 people standing in line for 3 open desks and the handling of each check-in seemed to take forever. It took me full 30 min to get my turn and then another 10 min of processing which I could not understand. I had a pre-paid room and all the agent needed to do was to swipe my credit card for incidental costs and make a photocopy of my ID card or passport. When I complained the agent told me that this was normal as the hotel was full. I was given a voucher for a drink and I told her there should be a manager or someone in charge to help out during busy check-in periods.

All of the nearly 400 rooms and suites are soundproof and are fully renovated. The room amenities featured the usual, and the bathroom was fine too. There was a kettle but no coffee maker.

I slept very well and enjoyed the breakfast in the morning which consisted of a good choice of food and beverages and a nice service.

There are 2 pools available in the huge green garden area. One is a family pool and the other is adults only. The guard was very determined to make sure that the rules were followed and sent away all families with small children. I appreciated that. However on my second day they were no pool towels available until about 1030 am. (Pool opens at 9am). I could not understand how this could be possible in a large hotel like this. 

My stay at the Fairmont Barcelona was fine, but I expected more in terms of service. I guess the takeover of the Fairmont hotels Group by the Accor Group was not a move to make things better and more exclusive. – 1 Star for this hotel down to 4 would be appropriate. 

https://www.fairmont.com/barcelona/

HOTEL RUNGHOLT, SYLT, GERMANY

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Sylt is an island in northern Germany part of Nordfriesland district, Schleswig-Holstein of and well known for the distinctive shape of its shoreline. It belongs to the North Frisian Islands and is the largest island in North Frisia. The northernmost island of Germany, it is known for its tourist resorts, notably Westerland, Kampen and Wenningstedt-Braderup as well as for its 40-kilometre-long (25-mile) sandy beach. It is frequently covered by the media in connection with its exposed situation in the North Sea and its ongoing loss of land during storm tides. Since 1927, Sylt has been connected to the mainland by the Hindenburgdam causeway. In latter years, it has been a resort for the German jet set and tourists in search of occasional celebrity sightings.


I stayed in Kampen at the Hotel Rungholt which is family managed in the third generation. My room was average sized with a skylight window offering a magnificent view over the sand dunes to the North Sea. Amenities were good, the bed was very comfortable and I slept well. 

The hotel has a spa where massages are offered, a large indoor pool area with sauna and more. 

The picturesque village of  Kampen is only steps away and the beach is within walking distance. I found the location of the Rungholt hotel excellent. 

The hotel has a garden with the typical Sylt loungers. There is a beautiful lounge area where snacks and drinks are served all day. It is cozy and inviting to have a drink or a coffee and cake in the afternoon. The hotel has a main restaurant where a delicious breakfast is served and half-board guests enjoy their dinner. A bar is available in the evenings.

I had a pleasant stay at the Rungholt Hotel and would stay there again without hesitation. 

https://hotel-rungholt.de

THE REGENT, BEIJING, CHINA

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The Regent Beijing is located about a 3-minute walk from Wanfujing shopping street, 2 kms from Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Dongdan Railways station is less than 1 km away, while Beijing Capital Airport is a 40-minute drive from the hotel. A subway station is right around the corner.

The hotel is a tranquil and luxurious retreat and offers 5-star facilities such as a spectacular indoor pool and spa. It boasts breathtaking views of Beijing.

Spacious with floor-to-ceiling windows, rooms are decorated with modern artworks and fitted with flat-screen TVs, a safe and tea/coffee making facilities. Classy designs are used, showcased by the comfort sofa, hardwood furniture and patterned carpeting. The marble bathrooms come with a bathtub and toiletries. 24-hour room service is provided. Housekeeping is doing a great job and always checking back if more bottle water or anything is needed. 

Gym  workout is possible at the Regent’s modern fitness centre and guests can relax at the heated pool or hot tub. The Serenity Spa provides indulgent massages and beauty treatments at fair prices.

All the 4 international dining venues would definitely satisfy all different tastes, such as Daccapo serving delicious Italian cuisine, Lei Garden with authentic Chinese dishes, plus Morton’s of Chicago, a Chicago-style steakhouse. For cafe-style fare, you may opt for Jinbao 99. Also, the delightful Deli is a nice choice to sample light bites such as sandwiches and pastries matched with coffee. I also tried the breakfast buffet which offers a large choice of local and international dishes.

Beijing’s Dongcheng area is a great choice for travelers interested in monuments, sightseeing and temples. My stay at the Regent was very pleasant and I found the staff always friendly and helpful. 

https://www.regenthotels.com/regent-beijing/