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Hotel/Accommodation, Prep, Travel

The Year of Traveling Fearlessly: Picking your Accommodation on a Solo Trip

May 27, 2016

Picking Your Accommodation on a Solo Trip Picking where to stay on your trip is probably the most daunting task when booking travel outside of deciding where to go. This is not just a solo traveler issue either, but it becomes more pronounced when you are traveling alone. There are many things you may want to consider when picking a place. Hotels are not your only option! Here are my tips for picking the type of accommodation you want and what other factors you should consider when booking.

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.

What Kind Of Accommodation?

What is most important to you when picking the kind of place you stay in? This sometimes varies depending on your location and the time of year you are traveling.

Hotels –  Good for shorter trips when you don’t have lots of time and need to be close to the attractions or public transportation. Hotels are also great since you can ask staff for advice or the maybe even the concierge to book things for you. Also, they are good if you have mobility issues as most will have an elevator and or have ground floor rooms. Don’t think you can’t book a hotel because it will be expensive! Not all hotels are expensive.

Hostels – Hostels are good if you are watching your budget, which doesn’t always mean they are cheap and uncomfortable! Hostels are slowly changing their image and many have private rooms at a fraction of what a hotel would be. It just may mean you have a communal bathroom or a small room, but who cares you aren’t living there forever right! Hostels are also great if you want to meet people as they usually have communal areas and sometimes free tours or happy hours. Several other travel bloggers I follow on Snapchat have been staying at hostels and I have been amazed at how nice they are and they have some amazing art on the walls! The Hostel Girl reviews hostels all over the world and is a great resource if you are looking for a hostel.

Apartment or Airbnb – If you want to live like a local, then I highly recommend that you stay in an apartment or Airbnb rental. The apartment gives you a feel for what living in that city is truly like. If you stay with someone in an Airbnb then they can give you the local’s insight into the city. In many cities, Airbnb is cheaper than a hotel. The other advantage is that you may have access to a kitchen allowing you to cook for yourself and save money. If you are traveling for a longer period of time then cooking for yourself is very helpful to the budget. Also, you may have access to laundry facilities in an apartment or Airbnb.

House sitting –   Another great option if you are staying longer in a location. If you are not familiar with house sitting, basically you look after someone’s home for an extended length of time. Usually, there are chores involved, such as taking care of pets or garden. The upside is that this is usually an exchange of services and you don’t pay any money to stay at their house. You will also get to experience living like a local and have access to a kitchen.

Couchsurfing – While Couchsurfing sounds similar to Airbnb, it differs in a huge way in that you are not paying to stay at the person’s apartment or house. However, you may actually be sleeping on a couch! This is definitely not for everyone and you need to check other’s reviews for safety factors.

How Do I Chose Where I Want to Be?

Once you have decided what kind of accommodation you want to stay in, then you can research where you want to stay. Here is what I look for in a place to lay my head.

Reviews! – My first stop is TripAdvisor for hotel reviews. I know lots of people discount them since some people have claimed that negative reviews have been deleted, but not all of them are and I have found it is a good place to start. I especially like that they tell you the most popular places in town and the map view. Keep in mind that one negative review does not outweigh all the positive reviews or vice versa. One person could be incredibly picky or have unrealistic expectations of a place. Pay attention to what negative things people are talking about because it could be about things that don’t bother you. I frequently see complaints about small rooms in Europe and I know that small hotel rooms in Europe are normal and I don’t care! Some people complain about outside noise, but I know that some people like outside noise as it helps them sleep. Airbnb and Couchsurfing also have reviews.

Location, Location, Location – Next to finding out the scoop on the places on reviews, is to look at their location. Do you want to be close to the attractions or do you want to be away from them? The convenience of being near them may mean higher prices and more noise. If I am only going somewhere for a short period of time then, I tend to stay near the sights so I don’t waste time getting there and that is worth paying more to me. You also want to consider safety along with the location. Reviews may have information regarding safety, but you may have to dig deeper into blog reviews or other sites to find this out. Also, is the hotel safe itself? Are there deadbolts and key cards? If after the first night, you don’t feel safe, change accommodation. This may cost you money, but your safety is worth more!

Amenities – Is there a pool? Do you want to have spa treatments? Think about what you want in a place. Some Airbnb places will rent you the room, but may not let you have access to the kitchen, which if you were planning on cooking then you’re in trouble. Last summer, I was looking for a place in Verona, Italy that had parking available for my rental car. Each type of accommodation will have different amenities available, so check out the place’s website and don’t rely on reviews for what is offered as they may be out of date. I have also emailed hotels and gotten great responses and most of them respond in less than 24 hours.

Comfort – Just because you are on vacation and not sleeping in your own bed does not mean you shouldn’t be comfortable. My biggest thing is to look for reviews stating that the bed was uncomfortable. I hate soft beds as they make my back hurt, but again you have to look at more than one review as each person has their own preferences. The next thing I look for is noise in my hotel. The worst experience I had in a hotel was because the walls were so thin and each night I could hear the people in them and each night was a new set of people, including a crying baby. I didn’t get much sleep that week and was attending a conference, not a good combination.

Most of this you may already know, but it can be hard to remember all these things when looking for a place to stay. Hopefully, you can use these tips will help you pick an excellent space on your next trip!

Need a place to stay in Venice, Verona, Bangkok, Doha or Goa. Click on the links to see my reviews of hotels I have stayed in. What do you look for in a hotel?

Hotel/Accommodation, Qatar, Travel

Staycation at the W Doha

May 23, 2016

Staycation at the W DohaSometimes you just need to get away from your normal, but you don’t have time to get on a plane and go to another place. If I was living the US, I might have considered a weekend road trip. However, I can’t go too far in Qatar and can’t cross the border. A staycation was in order. I had wanted to do a staycation for a while, but when I saw the weekend offer at the W Doha on their Snapchat, I was sold. Currently, they have a weekend rate of 777 Qatari Riyals that can be used Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The best part is that you can check-in at noon and check-out at 6 pm the next day! It is almost two days in the hotel, and it includes breakfast.

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 W Doha was already one of my favorite places in Doha for food and drinks, so I wasn’t surprised by the excellent service I received right when I walked in the door. The service started before then even because I told their social media person on Snapchat that I was coming, and she said she would try to get me an upgrade. This stay was on me other than the upgrade. They were able to get me to a higher floor, which offered a nice view of the Arabian Gulf.

Staycation at the W Doha

Most W hotels are known for their modern interiors with bold colors, and the W Doha is no exception. The lobby is black and white with bursts of purple and hot pink. The hallways to the rooms are black and purple with black lacquer chandeliers. The bold colors extend into the room, but geared towards relaxation and sleep in shades of blue and gray.

Staycation at the W Doha

Staycation at the W Doha

Once inside the room, I hardly heard anything from the outside. There is a lush, heavy carpet to dampen noise and floor to ceiling blackout curtains to block the bright Middle Eastern sunrise. The modern chair by the window made me want to sit there for hours watch boats zip back and forth.

Staycation at the W Doha

The luxury extended into the crisp, white bathroom and had one of my favorite things with the separate shower and bathtub. The W Doha also knows me well, and the bathrobe wasn’t gigantic and actually fit me. All the towels were large, and there was an abundance of them. My favorite thing about the bathroom was the Bliss Spa products including shampoo, conditioner, lotion, face wash and mouthwash!

Staycation at the W Doha

Staycation at the W Doha

After a nap, I decided to get ready for dinner, which included a long soak in that amazing tub! It is deep enough to cover your whole body with water. The only issue for me was getting out, which was difficult due to the depth of the tub.

Staycation at the W Doha

W Doha is home to my favorite restaurant in Doha, Spice Market. Spice Market is an Asian restaurant with an ever-evolving menu. Not only is the food excellent, but the service is also spotless. I decided to order something different than my usual and got the Miso Glazed Black Cod and a side of Steamed Edamame with Yuzu Butter. The other thing I appreciate about Spice Market and all the restaurants at W Doha is that they are willing to alter the food to your needs. As you may remember from a few months back that I am trying to lose weight, and I asked the Edamame to have the butter on the side. It was still excellent, though, and the fish was spicy and had a great crispy skin.

Staycation at the W Doha

Dinner wasn’t my only meal at W Doha, of course. I had breakfast and lunch at Market by Jean-Georges. Breakfast was a buffet, and you could order as well. I was disappointed by the breakfast buffet as there wasn’t much I could eat besides oatmeal and the fruit. I didn’t want to pay extra to order from the menu. However, lunch was fresh and light! I had the express lunch as it offered the best value for your money. I ordered the Steamed Shrimp Salad, the Roasted Hammour and the Fruit Salad sans ice cream. Yes, I ate a ton of fish, but I loved it all! Both meals were just enough to keep me full without leaving me feeling heavy and sleepy after eating, which can be difficult eating at a hotel.

Staycation at the W Doha

Staycation at the W Doha

After lunch, I enjoyed working at the desk in the room. Although, my one complaint was the only universal plug was inside the in-room safe, which meant I couldn’t work in the amazing chair next to the window. There was another nap in the extremely comfortable bed. Since I didn’t have to check out till 6, I strolled around the hotel later just to get some exercise. I did have access to the gym and the pool, but I decide not to try them out as the pool isn’t large and there were kids in the pool. As for the gym, I was just lazy!

Even though I was still in Doha, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my stay at the W Doha and would happily have another staycation there in the future. Every staff person I spoke with offered excellent service, the food was outstanding, as always, and the rooms comfortable and relaxing!

Have you taken a staycation? Tell us about your best staycation experience in the comments!

This is not a sponsored post.

Hotel/Accommodation, Thailand, Travel

The Continent Hotel – Bangkok, Thailand

November 30, 2015

 

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.

Many of you know that I was in Bangkok for TBEX Asia, which is a travel bloggers conference. TBEX had provided us a long list of hotels in Bangkok and many of them had offered us discounted rates for the week of TBEX. Knowing that I needed to be at the conference center for several days, I began to look at what hotels were closest and then narrowed it down from there. After looking at prices and services offered, I decided on The Continent Hotel. I didn’t really look at hotels not on the list because there are so many hotels in Bangkok and I was already feeling overwhelmed.

The Continent Hotel

Booking the hotel and getting the confirmation was seamless and they gave me a 30% off coupon to use in one of their restaurants during my stay. Because I had heard traffic is terrible in Bangkok, I opted to take the train into the hotel. It meant changing trains, but it didn’t seem like it would be that hard looking at the map. The hotel looked close to the train stop as well. The one thing I hadn’t counted on was the humidity! By the time I arrived hauling my suitcase, I looked like a sweaty, frizzy-haired, exhausted person. Fortunately, the hotel was a half a block from the train station and I easily spotted it from the road. It was a bit pushed back from the road.

They greeted me with a cold shot of juice, which was much appreciated. I mentioned that I was there for TBEX and much low talking ensued. They made a phone call and then they told me they were trying to get me upgraded to a higher floor. After a few minutes, they succeed. As you can see from the picture above, the view was good. I was not too high up to see what was happening on the street below either.

The Continent Hotel in Bangkok

While I was grateful that I had been given a higher floor, I think I paid the price as I was put next to the storage room for the housekeeping supplies. Every morning I could hear them getting stuff in and out and the door would slam. Fortunately, I was usually up early for breakfast. There were not many rooms on each floor and I could hear people talking in the halls. However, it never woke me up. I could hear my noisy neighbor one night through the wall, which isn’t too bad since I was there six nights.

The Continent Hotel in Bangkok

The room itself was nice decorated. It was modern and felt cozy. The room was not large, but I was not expecting it to be. The bed was comfortable and had plenty of pillows. There were plenty of power points around the room and a good sized desk. The closet was small and was hard to get to since it could only be accessed by closing the bathroom door. I like to unpack, so this was sometimes an issue.

The Continent Hotel in Bangkok

The bathroom was a good size and the shower was huge! There seems to be a trend lately of hotel rooms that have windows from the bathroom looking out into the room. This is okay if you are staying by yourself, but can be awkward if staying with a friend. This bathroom had blinds, which helped. The best part of the bathroom was the rainfall shower head! That felt so good after a day of sightseeing. Just wish there had been a bathtub as well.

The Continent Hotel in Bangkok

Staying at The Continent Hotel in Bangkok is a great place to get a great view of the city. Not only did my room have a great view, but so did the restaurants and the pool. The breakfast was served in their Italian restaurant that had floor to ceiling windows with amazing views of the city and the trains going by. The pool overlooks the city with a glass wall. I am only sad that I didn’t get to take a swim in it, but I didn’t have time. There is another restaurant up higher and I went there to eat one night but had to stay in the bar area because of a private party. I never did get to see the view from there.

The Continent Hotel in Bangkok

The Continent Hotel in Bangkok

The best part of all these views was being able to see the balconies and gardens of the citizens of Bangkok. I felt like I was getting a glimpse into their world. Although, I never did see anyone on the balconies or in the gardens. It was clear that people spend time on them, but maybe it was still too hot.

Overall, I would recommend The Continent Hotel in Bangkok. The room was comfortable, the location was perfect, the views stunning and the food was great. Just make sure you ask for a room away from the elevator and you should be fine. Also, see if you can score a higher room as the views are worth it. Check here for rates!

Getting there: From the airport take the Airport Rail Link train to the Makkasan station. Walk over the sky bridge to the MRT station, the Phetchaburi station. Take the train in the direction of the Hua Lamphong Station and get off at the next stop, which is the Sukhumvit Station. The hotel is about one block away. It is tucked away off the street so be sure to look for the sign that faces the street.

Hotel/Accommodation, India, Travel

Vivanta by Taj Fort Aguada, Goa Review

October 14, 2015

Vivanta by Taj Fort Aguada Goa Review

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.

Not sure if I told you all, but the purpose of the trip to India was to relax. That is why I picked Goa. I wanted a nice place by the beach so that I could relax. It also meant I needed to find a place in Goa that had a nice beach, a pool and everything available at the hotel. I didn’t want to be taking taxis everywhere to eat or go to the beach. It also meant I wanted a more of a luxury experience. There were lots of options, but a friend of mine at stayed at a Taj Resort on her trip to Kerala, India and said is was very nice, and the service was excellent. The Taj hotels actually have three hotels in Goa!

After doing some research, I decided to book the Vivanta by Taj Fort Aguada. I choose it because it was on the beach, and the pool looked amazing. The reviews on Trip Advisor were also pretty good. Unfortunately, the room I wanted to book was no longer available online, and I had to call the hotel directly. I ended up paying more but got a better room for not much more. This is where the trouble started. If you read my post about my India Trip Jitters, then you recall I was nervous. After calling and making the reservation, I never got a confirmation email. After several emails back and forth, I ended up calling for the confirmation number. In the end, it all worked out and I there was a car waiting for me when I arrived.

Vivanta by Taj Fort Aguada Goa Review

This was my room! I arrived early in the morning when it was still dark outside, so I wasn’t that impressed at first, but I appreciated it more in the light. The first picture is the view from my room and the small patio I had. I couldn’t have asked for a better view. In the end, I was glad I had paid more for this room because I could walk out from the patio to the pool and the restaurants. If I had been in the room I originally planned for; I would have had to walk out the back and had to go down the stairs to get to the pool. You get what you pay for! The best part was, I could hear the waves crashing on the beach, which is the best sound in the world.

Vivanta by Taj Fort Aguada Goa Review

The bed was very comfortable and while I was checking for bed bugs, as I always do, I noticed the mattress was new. My friend complained that her bed was uncomfortable, so it may be a matter of taste or my mattress really was new. The room was small, but fine for it just being me. The property is an older property. I believe it was built in the late 1970s, so that explains the small room and bathroom size. It was clear the rooms decor had been updated, though.

Vivanta by Taj Fort Aguada Goa Review

Vivanta by Taj Fort Aguada Goa Review

The rest of the property was also great. The pool was an infinity pool with plenty of lounge chairs. It was a bit small, so one of my friends would go to the Vivanta by Taj Holiday Village pool that was just down the road. It had a much larger pool that you could swim laps in. Unfortunately, the waves at the beach were too rough for swimming as it was still monsoon season. I had to be content with walking on the beach instead of swimming it. The beach was very clean and not crowded, although during the high season, I know that this beach will be packed with people and huts. This was another reason to come during monsoon season.

Vivanta by Taj Fort Aguada Goa Review

Both Vivanta by Taj hotels had excellent restaurants. My favorites were the Italian and the seafood places at Fort Aguada. You may be thinking, you went to India to eat Italian food!? I eat Indian food on a weekly basis in Qatar due to the high Indian population in Qatar, so it wasn’t a big drawn for me. The wine selection was also amazing. I even tried some of the Indian wine and was not disappointed. Holiday Village has a Goan restaurant that was good and offered all the traditional Goan cuisine. It was easy to get to Holiday Village as they had free car service to the other resort.

I had a massage at the spa. The massage itself was great and I felt very relaxed afterward. However, the environment for the spa was not ideal. There was no place to relax before or after your appointment. I could also hear people talking and doing things outside the treatment room door. The spa is also not at either resort, but in a small villa between the two. I took a car there but walked back.

Overall, my stay was a pleasant one and I would recommend the resort. During the off-season, it seemed like a lot of Indian families were staying there, which made me feel good about my choice as female traveler. I also enjoyed seeing the families interact with each other, which brought an unexpected cultural experience. Next time I go back, I want to stay at the Holiday Village as they seem to have villas and not hotel rooms. These also might be suited to families better as they looked bigger.

Have you stayed at a great place in Goa? Where was it?