Linos Inn (Cyprus)
I think I wanted to write about this place for a long time and was always afraid I won't do justice to it. It is a magical village thrown on the map and once discovered you can't keep yourself from falling in love hard! This village by it's name Kakopetria has still kept its originality and roots by preserving the core of it and some ... smart people took advantage of its beauty and came up with the idea of Linos Inn, which actually is a project of restoring as many houses as possible with the scope of polishing what was once shining like little gems under the sun and mould as one the past with the present to be shared in the future.
Even though all this is done to make a profit from the investment, I truly believe many other sites gone to ruin would have been better off with such fate as people would have had the opportunity to relax and enjoy a holiday while learning history, bask into tradition, eat the best local food and drink the greatest refreshments each region has to offer.
Linos Inn is in the heart of Kakopetria Village, which is up in the mountains, on your way to Troodos, actually on clear days the high mountain can be seen in its splendour. As a concept Linos is mostly small house scattered about and you can book one according to their accommodation facilities, location and how many people it can host. Or you can simply book a room that's above the main body of this Inn.
Kakopetria is the best place to be during winter, as it is not as freezing, but if you are lucky you can catch the days with flakes making their way to land, and during summer to breathe some fresh air and cool yourself down. And if you are a fan of eating trout, here's the best place to find it, some restaurants and eateries cook it better than others, but for sure they do know what they're doing as the fish tastes just madly good!
It is not as near, or a smooth road, but once you are up here all the rest doesn't matter any more, believe me, I love tradition and history and this place delivers both.
First time I came across their site I could not believe what they were advertising, it looked too good to be true. I mean Kakopetria has many B&Bs and one famous hotel, Mill, which is build on the side of the rocky hills, making you believe it just grew there as the rest of the trees.
In 2010 where not as many rooms as there are right now, and the ones available then where greatly advertised by each small detail, making my choice so much easier. I look for spacious rooms and with lots of light and if possible to be separated by a wall and have a balcony to put my husband on at night when he snores. While roaming on their site I came across one such room, though with no wall to split the space in two. It said it could accommodate 4 persons and that it was a suite.
The price was not something I could afford every weekend, but because this one was special, my husband came to celebrate his birthday I thought what nicer surprise than this. I chose one room and set to call and reserve it. At the time, when talking with the nice guy on the phone I was told that the suite was available for 115 euros a night and that the check out is at 10 AM but they are flexible on off seasons and can stretch it until noon.
I gave my credit card details and booked room number 20 for 2 nights and hoped for it to make a great gift for my other half, though I think I was the one being most eager to explore those narrow streets and examine this Inn.
On their site they advertise the sister location of this Inn, Hani Protopapa, where the guests from Linos have free access to their pool, down side is that it is 2 km away from Kakopetria, but if summer begs for you to bask in the sun rays, then the pool is for sure a plus.
After a long day and a long drive, Friday at 7 PM we arrived in Kakopetria, on the road to the Inn we saw a sign pointing to Linos parking, which is behind an old wall that has on it one huge poster with what Old Kakopetria Village is all about. We turned in, parked on one of the slots and luggage in hand we started towards the old stone paved road.
One thing the site doesn't mention is that to be safe not to get stuck with the car on the narrow roads or scratch it for that matter, it's safest to park outside the old location and you'll have to cover the rest of approx. 500 m distance until the reception, by foot. If you happen to own an original '70 Fiat 500, then you are in luck, because it might fit just fine.
Because of the stoned road, it is greatly advisable to wear flat shoes, otherwise it might prove quite challenging to walk that road and arrive to destination in one piece; lucky I was inspired as I usually wear high heels.
Down the road, the view at night is fantastic, small houses peaking at you from behind the trees at the same time stone and wood buildings climb the hills in all their splendour. As I was taking everything in, I heard water flowing along with us, and was told by my other half that Kakopetria is full of springs and many people come here just to fill their barrels with water to have for drinking instead of buying it from supermarkets. With all these beauties spread before my eyes, I almost missed the sign of Linos Inn to the reception.
Once I stepped inside the interior yard, which looks more like a keep, I think my face mirrored a cartoon character and I believe my tongue flew out like Jim Carrey's in The Mask. Simply gorgeous and you'll just have to trust my words written here until you'll have the chance and be there to see it for yourself. Everything was restored to perfection, every detail in place and the only thing that was missing was the keeper of the place with those large pants and funny shoes to appear and check us in. Stone pavement, wood stairs that were leading to the rooms above the main building, long smoky dark tables with benches covered in traditional carpets, unique and charming. On the right hand as you enter this keep there's a small kiosk looking like reception, made of course of wood and dressed up in red coloured ornaments and rugs and one nice receptionist lady with a genuine smile on her lips welcomed us in.
The check in was a quick deal, once the keys were handed to us we were asked to follow her out again, down the road for about 20 meters to get to our house. We were wished a nice stay and the lady went off. It was dark and the light was not so great, but there are stairs, kind of steep because I almost tripped over 3 of them, and there are only 8 if I remember correctly, though narrow too; these steps lead up to a nice spacious terrace with a table and two chairs and a double wood latched door was the entrance to the room.
Once the creaking door opened and the lights came on, the room welcomed us with its faint smell of smoke from the fireplace, freshness from the linens and pine used for ceilings and furniture. The room looked glamorous in its traditional fashion, the four poster bed dressed in white, the single bed by the window covered with a pleated blanket, the cupboard carved by masterful hands and the 4 chair table all came together as if they came out of a painting. The couch was not exactly from the 1800s, but I guess modern furniture is more practical in front of the hearth, than sitting on a rug on cold days.
The mini-bar was actually a normal fridge, full with all kind of things to eat and drink that were free of charge (it seems suites get this kind of gift). By the sink there was a tray with a kettle on top, cups, and a great selection of coffee, tea, sugar and milk.
Opposite the entrance is the door for the balcony, but it does not fit a person on it properly, to my disappointment that is, but it may be a great way to relax and watch the bees' traffic and swallows passing by. Here the wall feels shorter and it is not a great deal of a distance from the ground up, makes it easy to jump, not that it is advisable, just an observation.
The bathroom was the best surprise of it all, the perfect example of how modern can mesh with tradition. The door is similar to the one at the entrance, the same for the windows without glass only with double barn shutters with a latch and it is best to keep it closed while having a bath and it is winder as you might just freeze or never come out from the tub. Now, the tub is a mini jacuzzi with all the powerful jets and bubble gadgets, makes not get out of it one in, though it is only for one person which makes it kind of impossible to enjoy a bath in two.
I later found out that every perfect thing comes with a trick, and here the trick was the hot water, if you're not careful you might burn yourself or you might get a cold shock while having a shower, I guess the boiler is to blame for it, it does not succeed to heat the water while on shower mode if it is the maximum power jet used.
The only thing I might add is that the bed was fantastic, the crispy white sheets smelled fresh and the pillows where fluffy and made me rest like no other time. I guess the room itself gave me peace and made me totally relax and imagine I was in another time entirely.
Breakfast is included in the price of the room, and of course it is a must up here as most of the things served are locally made and are fresh freshness. That's the only reason I woke up and got out of the bed the next morning, to taste some of the cheeses and sausages that Kakopetria has to offer.
As the sun was up I could see that my terrace view was over the river and on the left side other 2 houses had numbers on, stating they were Linos property, but without neighbours in. Lucky in a way, we had our small corner all to ourselves.
Out on the road, turning up for Linos main entrance a new paradise revealed in front of my eyes, I barely held myself in check not to start exploring before eating! Inside the keep people were already eating, it was a sunny morning, perfect to eat outside, and we noticed no places were available for us to chose the same option. We entered the restaurant, which I might add is split in three: up restaurant, pub corner, low level restaurant. The breakfast buffet could be found in the upper restaurant, a place that looked cute and made you think everyone should step with care not break something. Seriously, this place, small in size, nothing great, had everything arranged in such a way that it made it look a lot bigger. Of course that even here, everything was decorated in dark wood, table cloths in red, floor tiles in red and the famous stone walls made the picture perfect.
Once in front of the buffet, I was amazed with how much food it can be made for guests to have a choice and eat a great breakfast: cheese, feta, sausages, salami, kaskavali, olives, a great selection of fresh vegetables and fruits, coffee, tea, milk, cereals, nuts, muffins and the choice to order English breakfast, pancakes, and/or eggs. The fresh fruits where the best for me, as those were made from local production, what else can you ask when in the country side, than a glass of fresh juice squeezed right then and there from the village's fruits.
I was impressed and I kind of over did it; I for one barely eat in the morning, if ever, but this time I really had enjoyed my breakfast.
Diner time came and we were assaulted by charcoal smell and made the decision to eat inside the inn and not go down into the village like we did lunch time. Once we were ready we went to have our meal. This time I did adventure to put on high heels, and I have to say I'm really glad that from the parking up to the reception I was wearing flats otherwise I know for sure my adventure was to end in crutches.
Again we entered the keep, crossed through the up restaurant, pub/bar area, got out of this building, crossed one narrow road to enter another building. Welcome to the most beautiful room ever! It looks like a cave, a beautified one at that, small and cosy, not with too many tables but strategically arranged not to feel crowded. It was designed like the rest of the Inn and the red table cloth was present here too, though the bar it is smaller than the one in the upper one. One important thing that's advertised about this restaurant is the live music. While the program is on it is hard to hold any kind of conversation, even with the waiters you communicate through signs when the band goes at it.
The menu is not big but not small either. The food is a choice between local meze and international dishes. For me going on a trip it always rules the international cuisine out, local food is the must try thing, no change on this night's schedule. We had local meze, which I thought the dishes will never stop coming, they were good, the halloumi was fantastic, the mushrooms were the best thing I have ever tasted, the village salad is still vividly remembered by my taste buds and that marinated chicken still makes me sigh. When it came to choose something sweet, I just had to pass, otherwise I was to explode right in the middle of the restaurant! One thing I need to say I was impressed with, their local wine was great and cheap and not the usual rip off! So the restaurant is highly recommended.
Sports Bar/Summer Pub
This place I don't know what to say about it, it operates as it fits best for every season. Mostly it is another building, next to the diner restaurant, for people that would like to watch the games and have a glass of alcohol without going deaf by the loud live music.
During summer, the huge terrace at the back is open and the view is exactly the small narrow neighbourhood roads and houses under it, this is something very picturesque and unique; I think I over use some words, but it is just that.
The only complaint for this part of the inn is that if there are not too many customers to be tended to, the staff tends to make itself scarce, and it is not exactly the greatest pleasure to chase after them in all that maze of buildings and rooms to find the right one for the bar for a refill or the check.
What it is nice though is that here too the modern makes a perfect mesh with tradition and comfort is just at home. The couches are really welcoming and after a day of roaming about it feels like they just hug and soothe your aching muscles.
Other Linos Inn attractions
Believe it or not, it has a pottery shop which sometimes hosts pottery classes, I have not been too one as there was not one hosted at the time but I'd have to believe the manager on his word. The shop is loaded of items to choose from: dishes, vases, decanters, ashtrays and so many other strange looking things all reasonably priced. Above the shop of course there are two rooms, the famous jacuzzi ones.
Further down this time after the small and gorgeous church, there's a museum. It has quite a small entrance, I hit my head when I entered and when I exited the place. Inside can be admired all kind of agricultural tools and machines, and wine makers and pots and the stories about the place where these things were found and what they actually are. Several small screens are showing different short clips with Kakopetria village pictures or places to visit about. I was impressed about it and the fact that they thought to do something as this. It is not to be missed as some interesting things are to be learned while the jacuzzi is filling up and waiting for your return.
I've been to Linos 3 times already, twice stayed in the same room, as it was during winter and once in a jacuzzi room, number 15. Here the jacuzzi was a proper one, with lights and everything; it took lots of time to fill up though as the water had no pressure.
Both rooms are almost the same, the decorations, furniture, 4 poster beds and flat screens. One has a fireplace that you can light up a fire if you pay a little bit extra for a sac of logs at the reception and the other one has a huge jacuzzi that you can relax and enjoy your muscles say thank you for thinking of them.
Room service is available, and you can even see it coming on the road towards your room, though not on a push cart as you can imagine, but brought by waiters or room maids which are polite when they want.
I guess the only thing they could improve is training their staff not to shout at each other around houses that have guests in, not to swear in their native language believing no one else can understand them, some electrical things could work better (boiler), but I guess it has to keep up to the authenticity of the place; the water pressure could be improved in the jacuzzi room if the guest is to have a soak in the next 24h.
On the other hand I love the attention to detail over their guests, each time one towel was used it had been replaced while we were out for a stroll, the same goes for the tray of goodies and toiletries. I really do appreciate this, I like when they are doing their job without being told at least once!
All in all this little gem of a Inn should be given a try at least once. The place is not only original it sells tradition and good food at a reasonable price. The air and the views are just a bonus.
Their website is worth giving a go, if only to see their 360 panoramic pictures.
A suite now can be booked at 125 euros/night
Suite with cooker and extra facilities is 135 euros/night
Jacuzzi room 105 euros/night
One standard room is 95 euros/night
I tell you go for the suites and you won't be disappointed and ask for number 20 or 18 and you'll have dream rooms.
That's about it, I know there's more to write about it, but it would spoil the surprise for some and it would become way too much to read for others that's why I hope you enjoyed reading so far and thank you for taking the time in doing so.
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Rainforest Resort (Malaysia)
My boyfriend and I recently had a wonderful holiday in Malaysia. As part of our trip we decided we would like to visit Taman Negara, reputed to be the oldest jungle and the best kept tropical rainforest. Some friends of ours had been before and they recommended we stay at either the Rainforest Resort or The Woodland Resort. After ... comparing the websites of the two we decided to go with the Rainforest Resort.
The Rainforest Resort is situated in the Malaysian village of Kuala Tahan in Pahang. The village itself is really quite small and is mainly consistent of accommodations which serve as base camps for accessing Taman Negara. Kuala Tahan is approx 70km from Jerantut, 260km northeast of Kuala Lumpur and 280km west of Kelantan. The village is accessible by either road or boat - for ease (and because it was a lot quicker) we opted to get a taxi there from Kuala Lumpur.
From the Rainforest Resort it is a short walk (5-10 minutes) to the riverside where you catch a boat (RM1 per person each way - roughly 20p) across the short width of the river to the entrance of Taman Negara.
Rooms and Rates
The Rainforest resort has 6 choices of room available - Deluxe, Superior Deluxe, Premier Deluxe, Family Suite, Junior Suite and Executive Suite. According to the website these rooms range in price from RM207 (£42.80) to RM621 (£128.40) per night, however I am not sure how up to date these prices are as we actually booked a Deluxe room and paid RM185 per night which is obviously less than the website states. They also appear to offer packages for a few nights accommodation with meals included although Im not sure if this is up to date either (see below my comments on dining)
The reason we chose the Deluxe room was basically because it was the cheapest available and we couldn't see any difference on the website between this and the Superior Deluxe, and although the premier Deluxe offered a king size bed instead of the single and Queen size bed we had, the difference in price, we felt, was simply not worth it.
Our room was a decent enough size - certainly big enough for the two of us. It featured a single bed and a Queen size bed with a couple of bedside cabinets, a small fridge inside a TV unit with a TV on top and had an ensuite bathroom. The bathroom too was adequate for our needs and we were never short of hot water in the shower.
The Rainforest Resort is an open resort so you do not need to go through Reception to enter it and our room was in a row of rooms with another row facing us across a small courtyard area. All if the rooms in this block were just one level, so everyone is on the ground floor and everyone has a balcony on the back of their room. Unfortunately we did not get the opportunity to see any other rooms so I cannot comment on how these were laid out. One key is given for each room, but there is no key deposit taken.
The cleaners came every day to straighten up the room and make the bed, and left small free bottles of drinking water too.
We were satisfied with the room we had and the only issue we had was that our back door to the balcony (a sliding glass door) did not fit along the runners properly so you could not slide it closed but rather had to lift it to close it into place. The balcony outside did not have a view of anything but it was nice to have your own outdoor section and it was a reasonable size with a couple of chairs.
Breakfast for 2 people was included in the price of the room. For breakfast you just needed to walk over to the cafe dining area next to reception and find yourself a table. Breakfast was fairly basic - there was cereal, juice, tea and coffee and then a selection of Malaysian cooked food such as noodles and curry, but it was sufficient.
The area in which you had your breakfast is open all day for you to sit and relax in and there is a small shop there where you can buy snacks and drinks. With regards to any other dining we were quite confused - on their website they advertise a cafe, a coffee house and an outdoor BBQ but we only found the cafe area where we had breakfast. On our first day there we arrived about 2pm so we went over to explore a bit of the Rainforest then headed back about 5 and had something to eat on one of the small restaurant/cafe boats on the riverside. We then headed back to our room and around 9pm thought about going to get some food - my boyfriend went over to check it out but couldn't see anything happening so asked at reception to be told that the restaurant closed at 6pm and the only place to get food after that was one of the riverboats. Luckily we had some snacks and things in our room so just ate these and for the rest of our time there we went back down to the river to eat dinner at night. This wasn't a problem for us as the food on the boats was very nice and cheap too but we did find it a bit strange that there was no food available at the resort.
The Rainforest Resort offers a range of activities on its website and I believe these can be booked either online or at Reception. We did not book any activities through the resort as everything we wanted to do we could do by ourselves ie jungle trekking and the canopy walkway but they did also offer a night safari, a trip to small village, rapid shooting and paintball.
Booking a room here was very simple - I simply went to the Booking Online section of their website and entered my information. I believe I had to enter my card details but no payment was taken until we checked in. After booking I received an email confirmation from them which I printed out took with me. They do charge you for one nights stay if you cancel with less than 7 days notice.
The only downside to our visit here was not, I believe, the Resorts fault however it was quite unpleasant. On our first night we thought we would sit out on our balcony and share a beer that we had bought from the hotel shop. We turned on the outside light and immediately noticed about 10 large (small mouse size!) flying insects outside on the balcony - seriously these things were huge and very mean looking. I have no idea what they were but they were scary and there were loads of them everywhere and they made an horrific noise. We had noticed the noise a bit earlier but it sounded so regular that we thought it was some kind of alarm or something but turns out it was these flying creatures. (Also later in the night they started making another noise which was rather like cats fighting!) We decided against going out on to the balcony and later on went in search of the restaurant (as above) and saw these things were everywhere out the front door too! I am not good with insects generally so these things really freaked me out although I am sure they couldn't do you any harm as otherwise there would be some info or a warning about them in the hotel - wouldn't there? We did see these outside of the hotel as well although not in such high numbers - they appeared to be attracted to light which is why I think there were so many around the hotel as they had all the lights on around the rooms so you could see your way. As I said I don't blame the hotel for this but it was a shame that we couldn't sit out and enjoy a nice evening on the balcony.
I believe this hotel is slightly overpriced as Malaysia is generally pretty cheap, however given its location I can understand that they can charge more because there is not much choice available. The hotel itself could do with fresh coat of paint as it is starting to look a bit shabby but to be honest that is not much of a problem for me. It is well located to access Taman Negara which is what we were there for and the room was sufficient for our needs so I would definitely recommend this hotel should you be visiting the area - although the lack of dining may put some people off.
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Westcord Art Hotel (Amsterdam)
~Warning~ I hope you're sitting down. I hope you're not holding anything breakable because you're in for a surprise. Despite my reputation for being rude about Dutch hotels and restaurants, take a look at the rating I've given. At last - it's not a mistake - this is a 'nice' review about a Dutch hotel. Well, mostly nice. If ... you want to pretend I've turned soft overnight, skip what I have to say about the herring sandwiches.
We recently held a meeting and invited around thirty colleagues from across Europe to come and join us in Amsterdam for two days. The company's head office doesn't have a room that can handle that many people and it's not in a particularly nice area of the city. We looked for a hotel with meeting rooms so we could keep the accommodation and the meeting all in one location. After many weeks of getting quotes from various different hotels, the boss's secretary finally took the decision to go for the WestCord Art Hotel in the north west of the city.
I thought I knew most of the hotel chains by now but WestCord was a new name for me. A little research revealed that it's a Dutch family-owned company and my expectations dipped. I have a very low opinion of Dutch hotel chains but I tried to keep an open mind about this one. I've previously stayed across the road from the WestCord Fashion Hotel in Amsterdam and I recalled that when I looked out of the windows of my horrible Bastion hotel room (Bastion - another Dutch chain but one to be avoided) I looked with envy at the Fashion Hotel. I was optimistic that the Art Hotel might not be awful but realistic enough to not expect too much.
If you track down Art Hotel on the WestCord website, it's quite confusing. They list that there are two hotels - an Art Hotel which is 3-star rated and has 130 rooms and another with the same name with 4-star rating and just 60 rooms. It was only on our final morning at the hotel that a colleague solved the mystery. Both Art Hotels are in the same place, separated by a glass corridor which links them. We were sleeping and eating on the 3-star side and having our meeting in the 4-star part.
The hotel (or hotels, if you prefer) is located on Spaarndammerdijk in the Westerpark area in the North West of Amsterdam. This is not an area I've visited before but it's easily accessible from the city centre. Buses 22 and 48 run from the Central Station (look for bus stop F) and take around 10-15 minutes. Take care that only the 48 actually stops right outside so you'll need to ask the driver to tell you where to leave the bus if you're going on the 22. For the 48, you get off at the bus stop called Hempoint. If you go by car, there's a secure basement car park but one of my colleagues scared herself half-silly trying to get into it on a snowy morning. The Dutch are generally not good at dealing with steep slopes due to the absence of hills on which to practice hill starts.
~Check in and First Impressions~
I arrived by taxi with one of my colleagues at about nine in the evening. We could have taken the bus but we'd both already had a long day with flights and trains and taxis and working out the bus was just one step too far. From memory we paid around Euro20 which is ridiculous for quite a short journey but typical of Amsterdam taxis.
The reception area is rather striking for having some shockingly awful but very colourful large canvases hanging on the walls. That's OK, it's an 'Art' hotel, not a 'good Art' hotel. The check in desk was just inside the entrance and two receptionists came to check us in at the same time. They were friendly, keen to answer any questions and to explain where breakfast would be and where our meeting rooms could be found. They then explained that the room key was needed not only to get into the rooms, but also to get into the lift and into the corridors on our floor. This did seem slightly like a security over-kill and I wondered why it was necessary to get your key out three times over to get into your room.
Arriving on the 7th floor, I went through one security door and my colleague the other, only to discover when we stepped through them that the corridor linked the two behind so we really hadn't needed to use both doors. For a self-professed 'Art' hotel, I was surprised that there were no pictures in the corridors.
~Room with a view - of swimming pools and trains~
My room was on the back of the hotel, overlooking two outdoor swimming pools which I later learned are public pools but are free for hotel guests to use although the first week of February is not going to be a busy time. I also over-looked a lot of trains but there was no noticeable noise so I assumed they were just parked up there.
The room was a bit on the small size compared to the Novotel where I normally stay in Amsterdam. However, this is a more central location and space is at a premium in the city and I can't recall too many central Amsterdam hotels I've stayed in (and I've stayed in many) which could really be called 'spacious'. The Art Hotel room might have seemed a little larger if they hadn't been trying to squeeze quite so much furniture into the space. My first impressions were quite mixed. My first positive thought was "Hooray, there's a bath and not just a shower", though this was quickly balanced out with "Wow, where did they get that ugly industrial sink unit from?" So let's start with the bathroom.
The bathroom was small but not oppressively so. On a cold day, there's nothing I like more than warming up in a hot bath so I was pleased to have a bath with a shower over it. The sink unit was made of metal and whilst that might have been intended to look funky, it just reminded me of industrial sinks in factories and in low-maintenance public toilets (the type where the entire place looks like it could just be hozed down with disinfectant. The mirror over the sink was pleasant but not particularly well lit. I'm not a make up user so that's not an issue for me but would be for many. There was a hairdryer mounted on the wall and the usual shampoo/shower gel/body lotion bottles were lined up on the sink surround.
The bathroom is tucked to the side as you enter the room, leaving a corridor between the door and the main room. Closest to the door was a bag stand, then a sort of wardrobe unit with a hanging rail, a tea and coffee tray and a few shelves. Other colleagues said they had things from their minibars, but if there was one in my room, I didn't spot it. The presence of the wardrobe between the bag stand and the main room meant that the area was really dark. Whilst I appreciate a bag stand, I do rather expect to be able to see into the contents of my bag and that just wasn't possible. I couldn't even leave the bathroom door open with the light on to brighten things up as it would have been impossible to move. My bag found itself moved onto the bed.
The bed was two singles pushed together, each with a single duvet. That's not unusual although I found it a little chilly and would have preferred a larger duvet. I could have tugged the extra duvet off the unused bed if it wasn't held down by the suitcase that I'd moved from the bag stand. There were two noticeable and surprising things about the bed. Firstly was the astonishing fact that the bed was actually quite firm and comfortable - not to be expected in a Dutch hotel since national belief is that soft beds are good for your back. Secondly was the enormous canvas on the wall with a painting of the hotel's emblem who we named "SuperCow" and his friend, 'not quite so super cow'. SuperCow sits on the grass bank in front of the hotel and we debated which superpowers a SuperCow might have. Most of my colleagues came up with things relating to making ice-cream and yoghurt. Anyway, it's good to reflect that it doesn't really matter what a hotel sticks on the walls as you're going to have your eyes closed when you're sleeping.
Other things in the room included adequately sized bed side tables (no complaint there), and a small desk and chair. There was enough space on the desk despite the flat screen television being placed on it. I only found the one electrical socket by the desk which was enough for what I needed but would probably frustrate anyone with lots of stuff to charge up. In the corner of the room were two small armchairs and a small square table. I'd have preferred they chucked out all three items and replaced them with a single comfy chair as there really wasn't room for so much furniture. The carpet was probably worth of note, being a wide striped affair that seemed to be making some kind of statement though I've no idea what it was trying to say. If anyone thinks stripes make a room look bigger, then they should be aware that sticking too much furniture in the room has the opposite effect.
The lighting in the room was poor despite there being at least four different lamps spread around the room. When I checked out and they asked if everything was OK, I did pass on my comment that the lighting needed to be brighter and the receptionist said they've heard that many times. I can look the other way to strange cow paintings, striped carpets and even the ugly sink unit so long as the room has a good bed and free, easy to access wi-fi. The Art Hotel scored on both points.
~Eating and Drinking~
I ate two breakfasts and two lunches at the hotel and also had drinks in the bar. Service in the bar was very swift and our bums were barely on the seats before the waiter was hovering to take orders. The bar is a bit of a 'dark wood moody atmosphere' place with an unexplained centrepiece of a large motorbike plonked in the middle of the room. No explanation was offered and I chose not to ask nor to think too much about it.
The breakfast room was light and airy and looked out over the gardens. The food was a pretty standard 3-star mix of bakery items, cereals, fruit and cold cuts and hot dishes. The coffee came from a machine but was of pretty good quality. I was a little frustrated by the location of some of the crockery and cutlery - for example there are no plates near the hot food or the cold cuts and there are no spoons near the fruit salad. I'm not a morning person and I don't enjoy having to forage for my breakfast. I had fruit salad followed by a soft boiled egg which really was still soft (not an easy trick to pull off in a restaurant) and a pile of mushrooms which were so tasty that I went back for more.
For a fishitarian like me who's also going through the agonies of Weight Watchers the lunches were pretty dire. If you look up 'vegetarian' in a Dutch dictionary, it says CHEESE and that's as far as the Dutch chef's imagination can stretch. Even vegetable soup will routinely be made with meat stock which is really annoying. It's not like it's hard to use a vegetable stock cube. The hot food on offer was also meaty - quiches wouldn't be quiches if you didn't stick a bit of meat in them, apparently. On both days I had to skip the soup and go with tuna pasta salad on the first day and vegetable cous cous on the second day. On the second day I had a bread roll with herring in it - I had to take the herring out, it just turned my stomach to see, touch and smell it. Now of course it's good to offer 'local' food on a buffet but with a large international group, it's probably wise to remind the kitchen that very few people who haven't grown up with raw herring are going to love the chance to try that out.
The meeting room we had was quite pleasant with plenty of natural light and a superb pod coffee system. The downside was that acoustically it wasn't great due to being two rooms put together by removing a partition down the middle. This meant the shape was long and narrow and those at the back could hardly hear anyone at the front of the room. We also had horrible problems with the temperature which rarely crept above shivery on the first day. On day two they brought in some portable heaters which made life more bearable but there were still cold drafts in the room. All the audiovisual equipment went well and we were kept well supplied with food and drinks throughout. The breakout rooms were set up in rooms originally designed as the bedrooms for the four-star side of the hotel and were quite pleasant. One small grumble would be that there are no toilets anywhere near the meeting room so you have to go down two flights of stairs to the basement or down one set and along a corridor to find the loos by reception.
~Art is in the eye of the beholder~
I love art, especially modern art. I didn't, however, love the ugly canvases on display in the Art Hotel. My guess would be that what you see will depend on when you go and who's being featured but I wouldn't give houseroom to any of the paintings on display. I was mildly amused by the photographic exhibit on the ground floor which involved lots of cows and religious imagery. I can't swear I understood them, but they made me smile.
My invoice shows I paid Euro105 per night but I would suggest you don't pay too much attention to that as we may well have arranged for the room hire and lunches to be included. I'm not sure. A quick check on the comparison site Trivago suggests you can get rooms for less than £60 a night. If you can get a good price and you don't mind being less central, I would say this is well worth considering. It's a much quieter area to be than the city centre and you can reach the centre quickly by bus. A one day pass for the public transport is Euro7.50 so if you build that into your costings, it may well be a better option than a higher priced more central hotel.
I'm not a big fan of Dutch hotels but compared to its peers, the Art Hotel offers a decent quality room, free easy-access wifi, a fairly priced bar and a lot of (in my opinion) rather poor art to look at. The staff by local standards were excellent - which means I didn't get mad at any of them and none of them were rude or surly. Quite the opposite would be true. We had no hiccups on the administration of our meeting - everything was where it should be, when it should be, and the service was so understated that we barely noticed the staff at all. The Art Hotel gets a pretty enthusiastic thumbs up from me.
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