Monday, November 2, 2015

A review of hotels in Switzerland

I mean, not all of them, obviously, but the ones we stayed in on our recent trip.

The Hotel, Lucerne

Overall: A very nice hotel, located in a quiet street across from a park but very close to everything.
The room: Small for a suite but not tiny.  Interesting ceiling with a still from a Fellini movie on it.
The service: Excellent.  Staff were lovely and always helpful.
The airconditioning: Not that good.  Struggled with the great European Heatwave of 2015.
The best thing: The breakfast was exceptional.  Restaurant and bar staff were a delight.
Would I stay there again:  Yes.

Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel, Interlaken

Overall: Amazing hotel in an amazing location.
The room:  Lovely.  Decent size and a very big bathroom.
The service: Could not be faulted.  Everyone was excellent.
The airconditioning: Not fantastic as it turned off overnight.  Not that helpful during the great European Heatwave of 2015.
The best thing: Hard to pick one thing.  If you are looking for old world glamour without the stuffiness, the Victoria Jungfrau is pretty hard to beat.
Would I stay there again: In a heartbeat.

Royal Plaza, Montreux

Overall: May have once been a five star hotel but isn't any more.  The food in the restaurant was very good.
The room:  Spacious but decor not updated for a long time.
The service: Let's just say it's on the French side of Switzerland and leave it at that, shall we?
The airconditioning: Exceptional.  And thank goodness as it was about 34C every day.
The best thing: Location right on the lake was quite good.  Automated shade sails that extended over the balcony every day at just the right time were clever and useful.
Would I stay there again: Unlikely.

The Omnia, Zermatt

Overall: You would have to search very hard for a better hotel anywhere in Switzerland.  From the secret tunnel entrance, to the terrace bar looking up at the Matterhorn, this place is wonderful.
The room: Gorgeous.  Blonde woods and white walls, two bathrooms, very spacious.  Just about my favourite from the whole trip.
The service:  Faultless.  Every single staff member was wonderful.  The restaurant manager was practically our best friend by the time we left.
The airconditioning:  Non existent.  Thankfully Zermatt sits at an elevation of 1600m and it was therefore a lot cooler than the rest of the country during the great European Heatwave of 2015.
The best thing: The setting is spectacular.  But then again, everything about this hotel is wonderful.
Would I stay there again: I would move in if I could!

Kempinski Grand Hotel des bains, St Moritz

Overall: Lovely hotel.  St Moritz is not the most exciting town during summer but I'm betting in winter it is an amazing place to visit.
The room: Very nice indeed.  Spacious and well appointed.
The service: Don't think you could find nicer restaurant staff anywhere.
The airconditioning: Not bad but again, at altitude it's not so essential.
The best thing: The food in the restaurant and at breakfast was delicious.
Would I stay there again: Yes, especially to experience St Moritz in winter.

Hotel Belvedere, Bellagio (Italy)

Overall: If you complain about Lake Como there is something wrong with you.
The room: Very small but the bed was extremely comfortable.
The service: Very good.  Restaurant staff in particular were a delight.
The airconditioning:  Brilliant.  And just as well, as the temperature in Bellagio was 39C each day during our stay.
The best thing: Location at the top of the hill gave us some wonderful views.
Would I stay there again: Probably but I'd splash out on a bigger room.

Schweizerhof Hotel, Lucerne

Overall: An excellent location overlooking Lake Lucerne.  Service was a bit hit and miss.
The room:  Very nice.  And a universal power point provided!
The service: Average.  Disappointing really, for what could have been an exceptional hotel experience.
The airconditioning:  Very good.
The best thing: Handy location.  View across the lake was delightful.
Would I stay there again: No, I'd go back to The Hotel instead.

The Alden, Zurich

Overall: A wonderful hotel.  Absolutely loved it.
The room:  Spacious and wonderfully decorated, a homey feel to the luxury.
The service:  Could not complain.  Everyone was wonderful.
The airconditioning:  Brilliant, especially during the great European Heatwave of 2015.
The best thing: All the elements of the hotel combined to make it a tremendous experience overall.
Would I stay there again: Absolutely.

Armani Hotel Dubai

Overall: I am not sure it gets more glamorous than this hotel.
The room:  Excellent and spacious, with very comfortable furniture.
The service: Good but slightly impersonal.  Don't think I was allowed to open a single door for myself the whole time.
The airconditioning:  Brilliant.  They know how to do airconditioning in Dubai.
The best thing: The location in the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world).  And if you're interested in that sort of thing, a secret entrance to the Dubai Mall which means you don't have to go outside in the scorching heat to go shopping.
Would I stay there again: Probably although there are so many hotels in Dubai it would take a long time to try them all for comparison.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Switzerland Part 3

From Lake Como we went back into Switzerland to Lucerne.  We travelled on the Wilhelm Tell ferry, which was a lovely way to see even more of the gorgeous countryside.


After one night in Lucerne we went to Zurich.  For reasons unknown I didn't take many photos in Zurich but it was just as pretty as the rest of the country.


After two days in Zurich it was time to start the long trip home.  We decided, given we were flying Emirates, that we would stop in Dubai for a few nights on our way home.  We went on a desert four-wheel-drive tour, and had a BBQ at a bedouin camp in the middle of nowhere.  To be fair, everywhere is the middle of nowhere in the UAE :)

(literally the middle of nowhere)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Switzerland Part 2

Our next stop was Zermatt, at the base of the magnificent Matterhorn.  Zermatt is a car-free town, there are only electric buggies and horse-drawn carts.  It is beautiful.


The Matterhorn is wonderful.  The cog railway that goes up there passes through some wonderful scenery, and then you get this.




Our next stop was St Moritz.  We were only there for one night, on our way to Lake Como.  I'm willing to bet that St Moritz is quite amazing in the winter, and I think I'll go back sometime to confirm that.  Again, the scenery from the train was well worth the trip.



Our next stop was Lake Como in Italy.  The second the train crossed into Italy you could feel the difference, it was just more... chaotic.  And beautiful.  I will go back any time.

Alp Grum0001



Sweet baby cheese was it hot in Lake Como.  About 39C every day.  Luckily there are plenty of gelato shops to help with that.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Switzerland Part 1

We spend three weeks in Switzerland during June/July, and had what we consider one of the best holidays we've ever been on.  We travelled by train right around the country, and it was magnificent. In a couple of posts you'll find a review of all the hotels we stayed in, so I won't bother telling you about that stuff now; just sit back and enjoy the scenery.

Our first stop was Lucerne.  I absolutely loved Lucerne; if someone told me I had to live in Switzerland this is the place I'd choose.  It is just beautiful.



The crying lion is a statue dedicated to Tuileries war heroes.  It is in a lovely little park.


We left Lucerne and went by train to Interlaken.  Switzerland is insanely pretty.


Interlaken is probably the most gorgeous town I've ever been to.  It is very clearly a tourist destination, but it's so pretty you just don't care.  You can see the Jungfrau from the main street:


And you can catch the train (actually three of them) right to the very top of the mighty Jungfrau.  Which you should absolutely do, as it is spectacular.



After leaving Interlaken our next stop was Montreux, which seems to be a whole other country half the time.  They speak French instead of German, it was STINKING HOT, and the mountains were not as big.  However, the lakes were still amazing.



Monday, October 19, 2015

Around Australia

In January (I know, so slack of me to wait until now to write about it) we went on a bit of a driving holiday along the east coast of Australia.  Our first stop was Mallacoota, which is a gorgeous corner of Victoria.

Mallacoota 01

The weather wasn't fantastic, but the beaches there are lovely. As we were leaving, we saw some kangaroos having a bad day:

Mallacoota 02

Our next stop was Batemans Bay in New South Wales. Again, the weather was not on our side for the first couple of days but once it cleared up, it was magnificent. The beach at Batehaven is just gorgeous.

BatemansBay 04

BatemansBay 05

Our next stop was Wollongong which also has a lovely beach:


And then we went to Sydney. We stayed at Bondi Beach, which is probably Australia's most famous beach. It is by no means the nicest, but it's still not bad. It gets extremely crowded on the weekends though:


We also visited Taronga Park Zoo, which has the nicest setting for a zoo, possibly in the entire world.

Sydney 02

Whilst at the zoo we stumbled upon the keepers feeding one of the sea lions so we stopped to watch.

Sydney 01

We drove home inland and stopped at the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains, it is quite a spectacular sight:


We stopped in Parkes to see the CSIRO's radio telescope. The very exciting thing was we saw it being repositioned. It was VERY HOT in Parkes.

Parkes 01

We did stop in Yarrawonga for a night on the way home but that wasn't very exciting, more to just break up the long drive. There are so many gorgeous places to visit in Australia and we still have more to see!