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Greece, Hotel/Accommodation, Travel

Santa Maria Village Milos, Greece

October 7, 2019

Finding a place to stay on a Greek Island is pretty easy especially during the off-season but finding a place that is comfortable, has an incredible view with amazing staff is more difficult to find. This is what I found when I stay at Santa Maria Village in Milos, Greece. Please note that this stay was complimentary but all views are my own.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

The Location

Normally in one of these hotel review posts, I don’t cover the location first, but the location made this hotel. Not because it was close to anything but because of the views from the hotel. From the pool, the hotel faces west and you can see the port town of Adamas, Milos. It also means the sunsets from here are stunning. Watch the sunset till it gets dark as it changes as the sun dips further down.

Sunset from the Santa Maria Village Hotel

Milos is a narrow island at some points and because of Santa Maria’s location, you can also see the sunrise. The best place to see the sunrise is from right in front of the door to reception.

The hotel is a short drive away from the port and you can walk it if you don’t mind a small hill. One night, after we had dropped off our rental car we walked back and it was pretty easy and most of the path was lit.

View of Adamas from Santa Maria Village Hotel

The Room

The room size was good. My friend and I shared a room and they had set it up with two twin beds. It even had a twin bed that acted as a sofa. I ended up sleeping on the sofa as it was a bit softer than the regular bed. While the room wasn’t updated, it was comfortable and there was a new air conditioning unit. There was plenty of space for two people.

Santa Maria Village

Our room overlooked a garden area and had a patio to sit on. It was very quiet, which I loved. Our room was across from the pool so we had easy access to it without the pool noise.

The Facilities

All of the Santa Maria Village hotel was beautiful and the pool was outstanding. It was large and very clean. There was plenty of poolside seating. Even though the hotel did not have a restaurant, the poolside bar offered sandwiches and pizza.

Pool at Santa Maria Village Hotel

Breakfast was served in the lobby area with seating outside under the pergola. It was a lovely setting. The breakfast itself was great. Lots of options including eggs, pastries, deli meat and cakes. We had to leave before breakfast was served but it was ready and they welcomed us to take some things with us.

There is also a spa, which we did not have the chance to use the spa but we spoke to someone who used it and they said it was great. They mostly only offer massages but you could also get your nails done.

You need a car to properly explore Milos and you would need one to get to and from this hotel. However, the quiet location and views made it worth it to me and I would definitely return.

Want to book the Santa Maria Village hotel, click here for rates.

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Sunset over the pool

Apartment, Hotel/Accommodation, Travel

5 Things I Look For In An Airbnb

June 8, 2019
Airbnb bedroom with bathroom i

Things to know about Airbnb

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Frequently I am asked about what I look for in an Airbnb. I don’t just rely on the description give by the host though. You must look at the comments left by other guests. Reading between the lines is also important to do. Many people want to leave a good review because the host was nice but the place may not have been as nice.

Here are some things about Airbnbs I look for in the description and the reviews and how to pick the best Airbnb in the city you are taking a vacation in.

Bed comfort

I have arthritis and back pain so I need a comfortable bed, otherwise there will be no sleeping. Obviously, this information will have to be found by combing through the comment section. If the bed is truly horrid, most people mention it right away.

If the bed is comfortable, they may not mention it at all. Look at the pictures to. Is it a real bed or a sofa bed or futon? You know what you can handle and what you cannot.

I have stayed in Airbnbs were I am sharing the apartment and usually that means you are getting the guest bedroom. Usually this means the bed is good and comfortable. However, I found that pillows are not always great.

Host responsiveness

This isn’t just how quickly they respond to your initial contact about a reservation, but how they respond if there are any issues during your stay. Personally, I haven’t had any issues, but you want to know that they will fix issues. Many people state if they have had issues and if they have been resolved.

I once was looking at a place in Istanbul and all the reviewers said the host changed the apartment to a different one once they arrived. This was a huge red flag for me. I didn’t consider any of his listings.

Recently, I was looking at a place and had a question about a table since I work while I travel. The host responded quickly and said he could add a table. So look for solutions and ask questions to the Airbnb host.

Shower size

This may sound silly, but showers in Europe are tiny. The Rome apartment I stayed had a small shower and people had commented on it. I thought well, I am small it won’t be a big deal. It was even a tight squeeze for me to get in and I had to step in sideways!

If you are tall, look and see where the showerhead is located. Nothing worse than bending over to wash your hair.

Location

Not as simple as it seems. Being near the tourist attractions can be more expensive in some cities. In Rome, I opted to be in Rome but further out from tourist things, but close to public transportation. I really enjoyed this as it felt like I actually lived in Rome.

Being near good public transportation is key for me, but you may want to be close to the action and walk. You should keep in mind how much transportation from your location will cost, as it doesn’t make sense to spend a fortune on transportation and save money on the accommodation. If you are unsure about the location, contact the host and look at what the reviewers are saying too.

A great Airbnb host will provide information after booking or at check-in with transportation options or maps.

Noise

Remember you are staying in an apartment with neighbors that if they are loud there is probably nothing you can do about it. Not that this doesn’t happen in hotels too. Sometimes street noise is also a factor and not much you can do about it. I have seen several listings for lovely places, but everyone has complained about the noise. Now when I travel, I always bring earplugs! One Airbnb host gave me earplugs even though they were not needed.

Sometimes you will see recent negative reviews and I always consider those a warning sign to stay away. However, sometimes the negative reviews are quite old. Look to see if the host has responded and see what more recent people have to say. In the beginning of some being new to Airbnb, they may have made some mistakes and have learned from them. Also, remember you get a rating as a guest too so keep the place tidy and follow the rules!

Airbnb is giving out $25 credits for everyone that signs up through my link. I do get a $25 credit if you stay and $75 if you host, but nothing else and this was not given to me as incentive to write this up.

Hotel/Accommodation, Travel, UK

The East London Hotel Review

November 12, 2018

The East London Hotel

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Recently, I was invited by The East London Hotel to stay a night. While I was their guest, all opinions are my own. The East London Hotel opened in September of this year in a former wine warehouse. The hotel prices are affordable, especially for London, but also because it feels like a boutique hotel.

The Room

My room at The East London Hotel was a standard double room with a window. Some rooms do not have a window, so if that is important to you, make sure you double-check when you book. I arrived at night so I couldn’t see much of the view till the next morning.

While the room is on the small side, it is well thought out and I had enough space. The bed takes up much of the room and is one of the most comfortable hotel beds I have slept in! Plus it had four pillows and I love having tons of pillows.

The East London Hotel

Under the bed is storage for your suitcase, which if you had two people in the room you would need. Inside the headboard are built in reading lights that turn on when you pull them out. Right above the bed is a massive flat screen tv which is great when you come back to your room and want to chill before going to sleep.

The East London Hotel

The bathroom is also compact but never felt too small. It feels luxurious with the rainfall showerhead and modern design. Hot water was almost on instantly and the hotel’s toiletry brand is Rituals, which I love.

The East London Hotel

In the morning, I raised the window shade and was greeted with a beautiful view of the park across the street. I enjoyed looking out over it while I enjoyed a coffee from the Nespresso machine in the room.

 The East London Hotel

The only drawback about the room for me was that they did not install any international plugs, which would have been easy to do in a new hotel. The one USB plug was a good alternative though.

The East London Hotel

Since I only stayed one night, I am unsure of how the good housekeeping was once a room was slept in. What I loved was the switch inside the room that changed the color of the sign outside the door. Red was for do not disturb and green was housekeeping requested. I hate those hangtags and loved this alternative.

The East London Hotel

The Breakfast

Breakfast is served on the ground floor of the hotel. This area is also the reception area but feels more like a coffee shop or bar. Rather than it being a breakfast buffet, which I was expecting, it was a sit-down breakfast. You had the choice of a bagel or sourdough break with two toppings. You also got a coffee and juice. Then you could add a pastry or yogurt.

The East London Hotel

I opted for a bagel with cream cheese and bacon on the side with yogurt. The service was fast and the food was good. I wished there had been a healthy option like oatmeal though. There was also no water offered during breakfast.

Reception

In what is probably an upcoming trend in hotels is that there was self check-in. Despite this, I was guided through the process with the help of a staff member. After entering your last name and confirming your dates, you are instructed to take a key card and place it on the reader. The card is then made. You can make more than one if you need. Check-out was a similar process and you just turn in the key card in a drop box.

What I liked about not having a reception was that it allowed the room to be used for other things throughout the day. In the morning, breakfast is served. Later the room is a coffee shop and a bar. People were working on their laptops or watching the television. It seemed like a way for people to meet others like you would in a hostel setting.

The East London Hotel

Another trend I see happening in hotels is the lack of phones in the rooms and offering contact via Whatsapp. The East London Hotel also operates on this model. I messaged them a question and was immediately answered. The drawbacks to this are the inability to give you a wake-up call, which if you have an early flight to catch it could be an issue, and you have to have Whatsapp downloaded.

The Location

Obviously, The East London Hotel is in East London but the great thing is that is two blocks from the Bethnal Green tube station, which means you can be in Central London in about 20 minutes. The V&A Museum of Childhood is right across the street as well as the museum park and Bethnal Green Garden. Behind the hotel is Paradise Row with several restaurants and bars. The location makes it a great place to base yourself during your London trip.

Overall, I enjoyed my stay at The East London Hotel and would definitely stay again. I loved the cozy vibe of the main floor and the English feel of the rooms and while it doesn’t have tons of amenities, the great location makes up for that!

Europe, Greece, Hotel/Accommodation, Travel

Kritikakis Village Hotel Ios, Greece

October 23, 2017
Kritikakis Village Hotel

When deciding where I was going to “live” for a month on the Greek island of Ios, I knew I wanted to be able to cook while I was there. This meant I needed to find a place with a kitchen and I was hoping for a place that had a monthly rate as well. I did lots of research trying to find the right place including Airbnbs and looking at smaller hotels. The Airbnbs were further away from my preferred location and some only had a shared kitchen. Finally, I found the amazing Kritikakis Village Hotel. Not only did each room have a small kitchen, I was able to ask for a monthly rate and they had two pools!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

The Hotel

The hotel is set up like a small Greek Village and has all the lovely characteristics of that including whitewashed walls and blue doors. There are less than 50 rooms and it feels like even less. The reception area is located outside the village right on the road from the port. You can walk from the ferry to Kritikakis Village Hotel.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

The two pools are located on two different levels. One has the pool bar and the other has built-in sunbeds and is smaller. The smaller pool is also more shallow. The pool offers great views of Yialos beach. Breakfast is served a few levels up with a small cold breakfast and offers traditional Greek yogurt and delicious local honey.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

The Rooms

There are many room options to choose from at Kritikakis Village Hotel. You can choose from a studio with many single beds or a double. You can also choose an apartment style room that has a separate living area. The great thing about these rooms is that it allows for groups of friends to split the cost of a room and each have their own bed. The apartments are great for couples or people with small children.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

I chose an apartment since I really didn’t want to look at the kitchen for a month! When I contacted them about a monthly rate, they offered me a double bed apartment at a discounted rate. This was something you definitely had to contact them about and it may not be available during the high season. It was more than I wanted to spend, but I was very happy that I chose to do this instead of the studio.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

The benefits of staying in a hotel for a month was that I had daily maid service if I wanted. This meant no washing sheets and towels or mopping floors, which is definitely a plus while on vacation. It also meant I had help planning things or calling restaurants for reservations.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

Kritikakis Village Hotel

My apartment had a large terrace with a table and chairs and umbrella. Many mornings were spent here having my breakfast. The hotel also faces the west so you can catch a view of the amazing sunset on Ios. You are also close to the port and I could hear the ferries come and go, which I enjoyed. I preferred this location versus the village or the party beach of Myloplotas. I was close to the port, a grocery store, Yialos beach and many great restaurants. The bus stops right outside of reception and it takes you to the village or Mylopotas beach. You can also walk the path to the village if your legs are up for it. The path is also right next to Kritikakis Village Hotel.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

The Staff

By far the best thing about this hotel was the friendly hotel staff! They made my stay very memorable. Many times I would come back to my room to discover fruit or chocolates. One day I had a knock on the door only to be presented with a plate of fruit and loukoumades, Greek donuts!

Kritikakis Village Hotel

I chatted with the staff almost every day and made good friends with them. One night they even asked me to have dinner with them. It definitely made my time in Ios less lonely and I would have missed out on some great restaurants without their help. When I checked out they gave me a Kritikakis Village Hotel t-shirt! Which I have worn in Portugal a few times.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

The Location

As I mentioned before, Kritikakis Village Hotel is located not far from the port in Ios, Greece. There is also the bus stop right outside the reception door. The bus takes you directly to the Chora(village) and then onto one of the best beaches. In the port area is many restaurants, a grocery store and a bakery. Kritikakis is located in the best spot in Ios, Greece!

So if you are planning a trip to Ios, Greece, I highly recommend staying at the Kritikakis Village Hotel, check rates here. You will feel at home right away and be close to all that Ios, Greece has to offer!