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/

MAXX BY STEIGENBERGER HOTEL, VIENNA, AUSTRIA

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MAXX Hotels by Steigenberger is a new brand of Deutsche Hospitality which combines the famous Steigenberger quality with urban coziness. 


The MAXX Hotel Vienna is conveniently located between Vienna’s Westbahnhof and the city centre on Margaritengürtel. All 195 rooms and suites are furnished in a modern style. Cozy comfort and good facilities provide an environment to have a good time and relax.


I stayed in a Superior Room which was about 24-30 sq.m. and facing the street. The room was spacious with wooden floor and floor-to-ceiling windows. The furnishings were contemporary and modern. A bottle of water, a Nespresso machine and a small minibar as well as free Wifi was provided. The bed was comfortable but had only one small pillow and a small mini blanket. I found this a bit too economical and would have appreciated at least a second pillow.


The hotel also offers a gym on the top floor with a sun terrace. There is also a spa with massages and a Finnish sauna, steam bath, showers and relaxation rooms.


Breakfast at the MAXX Hotel Vienna was delicious with a large choice of breads, cold cuts, cheeses, an egg station and a turbo juice maker where guests could make their favourite fresh juice or smoothie. I found the staff working at the breakfast area a bit uncommunicative. There was no one greeting the guests upon entering the restaurant and besides one word questions such as “coffee?” I didn’t see or hear any interaction or conversations with any guests. I found this a bit sad given the high-level hotel brand and the fact that the breakfast was of high standard.


I enjoyed my stay at the MAXX Hotel Vienna but if they are seeking to compete with the numerous high quality hotels found in Vienna I would recommend they make more commitment to staff training. MAXX Hotels provides competitive rates and are definitely a brand that I would consider to re-visit in the future.

https://www.maxxhotel.com/en/hotels/all-hotels/austria/vienna/maxx-by-steigenberger-vienna