The Mirage (USA)
My family and I were booking a twin centre holiday last year for April - May this year for a few special occasions that we were celebrating whilst away. With the first location being Las Vegas, we were looking at places to stay and we'd heard that the Mirage was one of the best. We got a great deal at approx £400 per person. My ... partner and I had never been to Vegas before so were really excited about the holiday; I was like a kid at Christmas leading up to day we flew!
*Booking* - As there were 12 of us going to the USA, we booked with a private travel company in our home-town, we booked for 4 days 5 nights in Vegas and then 10 days in Orlando. It was a really easy booking, we had no specific special requests and there were a few of us that had never been to Vegas before so didn't really have any expectations.
*Arrival & check in* - We landed in Vegas at approx 4pm and went straight to the hotel all feeling pretty jet lagged after the 10 hour flight! We arrived after the usual check in time (3pm) so had no problems checking in, waiting no longer than about 5 minutes.
The gentleman was really helpful and went out of his way to give us the best view, in the end settling on a room just above the volcano which I must say was amazing! The man directed us to our room and provided us with a map of how to get there and back to the local amenities.
Our luggage was taken straight away and was in our room when we arrived which was a small touch, but we felt like stars (we're easily pleased)! The lobby was huge, one of the biggest I've ever seen (well until I went into some of the other hotels), it is classy and constantly buzzing, the staff were very helpful really going out of their way to ensure that we were happy with the floor we were going to be put on and to try and keep our large party near each other.
*Hotel rooms* - I think the hotel room for me was a slight disappointment, only because I'd heard that they were amazing, however on arrival it was very much like every other hotel room I've ever stayed in. I think had I not had that expectation I'd have been more than happy with the room.
The room was pretty large with 2 king sized beds and I have to say that it was quite possibly the comfiest bed I have ever laid on! You just sank right into it, and the bed was made with fresh sheets every day. There was a fridge that was full, however you were unable to use this to chill any water etc, which again was disappointing, they even went as far to have sensors in the fridge so if anything was removed to put your items in they would know and would use that to charge you (unless the cleaner determined that the item was placed back & the items weren't cheap!), the other facilities in the room were basic, there was a hairdryer, an iron and ironing board, and thankfully quite a few hangers (about 20). The view from the room was amazing, as soon as you walked into the room, the window was the main feature and being quite high up (floor 20), we could see straight down the strip, and on a night it was exactly like you see in the movies - it made up for the initial let down of the room!
*Pool & grounds* - The hotel is big, much bigger than any hotel I've ever stayed in, the grounds are well kept, especially around the volcano, it looks brilliant and there are constantly people walking around and ensuring that the hotel is kept in great condition. The pool was brilliant, probably my favourite part of the hotel, it was huge, regardless of how busy the pool was there was always somewhere to sit (definitely a struggle for a big party). The waitresses were constantly there, you never had to wait too long for a drink, however the prices were ridiculous, I mean I know I'm in Vegas, but when you can get a bottle of Budweiser from the shop a block away for 2 dollars, and then pay almost $15 left us feeling a little ripped off, and we ended up bringing our own (sneaky I know). You received free towels when going to the pool, and had to just show your room key when wanting access. There is a pool bar with a restaurant where you can buy the usual poolside snacks e.g. chips, hot dogs etc. There is also a private pool called the bare pool, which is adult only as it's one of the few pools that the women are able to go topless, I didn't go in, however my female cousins did and received free drinks for 2 hours between 15:00 - 17:00 (the perks of being women).
*Casino* - The casino for me was probably the biggest let down, when I initially arrived, having never been before, I was in awe, however I soon realised that compared to the other hotel casinos, well there really isn't a comparison. The other hotel casinos are bright, spacious and just seem really classy; however the Mirage casino was very small in comparison to some of the others, and really dark with a strange smell, partly down to the fact that you can smoke freely in any casino in Vegas. The range of machines however was good, and the croupiers were very helpful, especially for casino virgins like me.
*Hotel Facilities* - The hotels facilities can't really be faulted, there are restaurants for all occasions, there are 7 upper class restaurants, which were always full and then approx 8 cafes which included a deli, burger joint, starbucks and a frozen yoghurt shop. As there is so much choice in Vegas we struggled on where to eat, and only ate in the Mirage once. We decided to try the breakfast buffet at Cravings, and it was lovely. The food was delicious, there was so much choice from the hot meats, eggs, cereals, pastries, toast even steak! As with all buffets it was a serve yourself set up, and unlike most buffets in the UK, the orange juice cups were pint sized and the juice fresh and not watered down. I highly recommend the buffet, and my partner's family said that it was their favourite buffet for an evening meal.
There are also a few bars, some of which are high end, some a little more casual. We tried Rhumbar, as it had an outdoor terrace where we could sit and drink cocktails, however one day we decided to have a few drinks as there was an offer on for 5 bottles of Budweiser/Coors for $10, however the stipulation was that you couldn't sit outside. No where on any of the posters did it say this, and although it may seem a small niggle, it was definitely irritating when we took our seats outside (with a couple moving from the large seating area to a smaller one to accommodate us), only for us all to be told we would need to drink our drinks in the bar rather than on the terrace. It just seemed petty and resulted in us not going back.
There are plenty of other bars however, and the 1Oak nightclub which although we didn't go, heard some great things about it.
The hotel also has numerous shops where you can buy anything ranging from a signed picture of the Rolling Stones to a Kardashian key ring!
*Location* - The location of the Mirage is definitely one of the main reasons that we chose to stay at this hotel. The Mirage is pretty much in the middle of the strip and within a 10 minute walking distance to the Venetian, Caesar's Palace and the Wynn. A 5 minute walk to the nearest McDonald's, a god send when you crave a fresh orange juice or water and don't want to pay $5 for it! There is also a Walgreens near by which sells the usual pharmaceutical products, along with snacks and alcohol. The shuttle service stops right outside the hotel and we took advantage of this on a regular basis when we were tired from all the walking.
*Other info* - The hotel has free wi-fi which seems to be expected nowadays, the staff were brilliant, with the maids coming and changing our towels on a daily basis.
As we were flying down to Orlando late in the evening, the hotel allowed us to keep the room on until 6pm for $60 which we felt was a good deal, once checked out, they also stored our bags free of charge until we were ready to go for our flight, considering how busy they were, I think this is definitely a popular option!
The volcano show is definitely worth a look; we watched it out of our window one night and then down from the street and it really was great, I like the fact that a lot of the hotels have some sort of attraction each night.
The hotel also shows the Cirque du Soleil show 'The Beatles Love,' which I've heard is amazing and definitely worth a look, however there is so much to see and do in Vegas.
So would I stay at the Mirage again? Probably not, but in no way shape or form down to the hotel, but purely because some of the other hotels are truly amazing and I think it would be a shame to go back and not experience another hotel. The main downside for me would be the casino; it's very small in comparison to some of the others and can seem like a step down when you have been in some of the others as it's very dark and seems a little seedy.
I would recommend the Mirage to others as it was definitely an experience, and the location makes up for pretty much any of the downsides!
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Riu Tikida Palmeraie (Marrakesh)
Riu Tikida Palmeraie is a four star all inclusive style hotel in Marrakech, Morocco. We stayed here for a week last month as part of a package holiday to the city. We absolutely loved our stay because the hotel is lovely and the staff are wonderfully welcoming and genuinely want to make you have a fantastic stay. The hotel isn't perfect, ... but it was absolutely everything we wanted for our holiday.
The hotel is located outside the old city of Marrakech in the Palmeraie district. There isn't much in this area but it is only a fifteen minute (at most) taxi ride to the old city where all the action is. We loved the fact that we weren't actually staying in the thick of it because one of the main reasons for our holiday was to relax knowing that there was something to do nearby if and when we fancied. This hotel certainly fit the bill for this purpose. It is easy to get a taxi from outside the hotel; just ask at reception and they will call one down for you in a matter of minutes. It costs about £7. Alternatively you can use the hotel's shuttle bus which is free of charge and drops you off in and picks you up from the centre of the old city. It runs about five times a day from morning until evening and you have to book in advance. They recommend booking the day before, but we booked a couple of times on the day of travel and we managed to get a city on the fully air conditioned coach quite easily.
The airport is about 25 minutes' drive away and, again, you can get a taxi easily. Aside from that there isn't much else. If you are into walking and enjoying your local surroundings, this is where the hotel isn't perfect because it is literally in the middle of nowhere. There is a supermarket and a petrol station (one of a comically huge number of petrol stations in the city we noticed!) which you can walk to in about 20 minutes or so, but that really is your lot.
We arrived late at night on our first day, well beyond when the restaurants in the hotel close, but we were nevertheless welcomed with a genuine smile, a rather delicious and much appreciated non-alcoholic cocktail and the offer of dinner in the buffet restaurant which they had kept open for us. I think that they kept it open because it was a substantial amount of people arriving at the same time, but I got the impression that even if you were arriving of your own accord, they'd have happily provided you something to eat.
Checking in was exceptionally easy and quick, helped by the number of staff they had at reception even at this late hour. It was nice to see that they'd had the common sense to plan for the number of arrivals, rather than making us wait in a long queue. We were offered assistance with taking our bags to our room, but opted to find them ourselves using the directions the receptionist had given us. I'd recommend taking up the offer of assistance, because the hotel complex is absolutely enormous and not easy to navigate in the dark. If it hadn't been for the kindly security guard that showed us our room, I reckon we'd still be wandering round trying to find it now!
The reception area is lovely and large with nice luxurious touches including a funky water feature and a huge chandelier. It is a nice airy area and is exceptionally presented and maintained. This goes for the rest of the resort too, which is immaculately maintained even though you don't ever seem to see anyone maintaining it - maybe they have little cleaning fairies that come out in the night! The grounds are lovely and very natural looking, with huge ponds and grassed areas lined with sunflowers and palm trees. It is very pleasant to walk around. The buildings are all orange in colour and low rise so that it feels more like a little man made village than a huge hotel complex.
As I said, the buildings that house the rooms are low rise and in actual fact only two stories. We had one on the ground floor although we'd have much preferred an upper floor one for a couple of reasons. Firstly the floors are all tile, so if you get someone who is heavy footed (like the herd of elephants that seemed to be staying in the room above us), you'll hear every step they take. Secondly, on the upper floors you get a balcony but on the ground floors you get a patio leading onto a little garden. It was very pleasant and nice to have, but some of them (unlike ours fortunately) are not surrounded by hedges, so there is very little privacy.
The rooms themselves are lovely and very neutrally decorated in beige and orange colours. They are huge rooms too; in fact everything about this place seems to be pretty spacious. Our room had a double bed (which was actually two generous sized singles pushed together) as well as a sort of lounge area with a sofa bed in. The bed was a little on the firm side, although comfy and we had no problem sleeping at all. There was plenty of storage space, with not one but two wardrobes and a long, tiled counter type thing where you could put things - cue the untidy room from me! There is a dressing table and a small television that we didn't turn on once, so I couldn't tell you what the reception or channel choice was like, I'm afraid. There was an easy to use electronic safe in one of the wardrobes. There was a small mini bar although it was empty. You do get two large bottles of water which are replenished as you use them, but we thought it would have been nice to have a couple of cans of pop or something in the mini bar really.
The bathroom was small although had everything you need and was nicely presented. The toilet is in a separate room from the bath and sink, which is surprisingly useful really. The bath looked a little bit worn, although the shower pressure and temperature of the water was always very good. There is a small selection of toiletries although not nearly enough - you are better bringing your own - and there is a hairdryer in the bathroom that works really well.
===Eating and Drinking===
As is always the case in all-inclusive resorts, there is no shortage of food and drink choices available. You can eat pretty much any time of the day - with the night time being the only exception (and I'd bet they'd get you something if you asked nicely enough!). Breakfast and evening meals are taken in the large buffet hall in the main building.
At breakfast, the choice is very good and includes everything you could imagine and some you can't. There are hot cooking stations were you can order eggs and omelettes as well as pancakes and waffles. There are all kinds of hot and cold foods including cereals, salads, fruit, sausages and Moroccan foods. The toast maker is as useless as they always are but the selection of fresh rolls and pastries means you can skip toast easily. At dinner the choice is equally good and includes Moroccan tagines, Italian food and everything in between. They have theme nights twice a week and whilst they make the effort in transforming the seating area, it is hard to discern the difference in the food. The food is very good and the choice is extensive, so even fussy eaters will find plenty to eat. I was amazed at how hot they managed to keep everything because cold or lukewarm food is often a problem with buffets, but not so here. Lunch is taken in the poolside restaurant and is equally full of choice, plus you get the added bonus of a barbecue where they do burgers and hot dogs which are very good actually.
We found that the layout of the main restaurant was very good too because you weren't shoe horned in like you sometimes are because the place was so big. We also liked that the tables were away from the food area, so you didn't get people shuffling past all the time and knocking your chair whilst you were eating.
There are two other restaurants that you have to pre book for; one Italian and one Moroccan. We were a bit disappointed to find that they were both buffet restaurants as well although they do make the effort by putting little menus on your table! The atmosphere in these two is a lot quieter and it does make a nice change. We found that the food in the Italian wasn't as hot because the turnover wasn't as quick which was a shame. The Moroccan is not for fussy eaters, because there or no 'safe' options, although the food is delicious and the atmosphere in the restaurant a lot more authentic and pleasant. The only problem we found with the Moroccan was that it was a lot smaller and the tables were wedged in pretty closely, meaning that we felt as though we were sharing a table with the couple next to us.
There are plenty of bars scattered around the resort so you don't need to go far to get a drink and they all have menus at them so you can see what cocktails and things are on offer. We particularly enjoyed sitting in the bar near reception in the evening although they do allow smoking inside here, so it gets quite smoky. The drinks are good although not brilliant. The rose wine was fine, the beer a bit fizzy and the cocktails ranged from mediocre to very tasty.
There is plenty to do in the resort whether under your own steam or under the guidance of the animation team. The star feature of the hotel is the absolutely enormous pool which is more than capable of hosting water activities at the same time as giving you room to have a good swim. It's not heated though, so don't go diving in too quickly if you don't want a shock! In other outdoor activities, there are tennis courts, a football pitch and volleyball kit and you can borrow all the equipment you need.
Entertainment was, there is a full programme of activities that ranges from bingo to learning Arabic and you can take part in as much or as little as you want. It isn't really our thing so we didn't do any of it but we really enjoyed the fact that we weren't pressured into taking part. We also found that everyone who did take part seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves. The animation team are very enthusiastic and really quite friendly so they do a good job. There are evening shows every day too, which we skipped but included things like cabaret, Michael Jackson tribute and Far East night - make what you will of that selection!
The hotel has a focus on being child friendly and there are plenty of things for them to do. There is obviously the pool to start with which doesn't have a children's area specifically but slopes at a very slow gradient to the deeper bit so there is a large portion of shallow area that they can and do use happily. There is a kid's club that operates for a couple of hours each morning and afternoon and seemed to include activities like face painting (there were lots of Spidermen walking around the resort) and games. There is also a kids area that can be used at any time of the day (although only under parental supervision outside of the kid's club hours) that has climbing frames and swings. Each evening there is a kids disco before the nightly show, which includes dancing to things like The Wheels on the Bus. Food wise there is plenty of food at any meal time for kids to choose from including all the usuals like burgers, pizzas, chips. There are also build your own ice cream stations with a selection of sauce toppings that they can put on themselves.
The hotel has wi fi that is free to use in the reception area. The signal is pretty lame especially if there are a lot of people trying to use it at the same time. We found that the signal strength was better during the day and was only really terrible once.
There is a spa that offers a full range of treatments for an additional cost. There are leaflets with details in the rooms. There is also a pretty good gym area that has everything you'd need although it does say that you must wear appropriate clothing and footwear. There is also an indoor swimming pool here although we only used it once because it isn't massive, nor is it heated. The main problem though was that it was really full of chlorine and so wasn't that comfortable to use.
There is a gift shop where you can also get any essentials that you have forgotten, I'd recommend not forgetting though because it is typically overpriced. You can also get a pretty good selection of western chocolates and crisps in here.
The staff are all wonderful and are one of the main things that make this resort great. Everyone from the night security to the waiting staff are genuinely friendly and helpful and it isn't just because they are wanting a tip. We didn't actually tip very much at all whilst we were there but still received excellent service. I think it would have been handy to have had some kind of tip box at reception where the money could be shared by everyone, because we found that we were served by so many people that it was hard to know who to tip and who'd pick up the money if we did. There are so many staff too that you find you are never waiting for anything - for example at the bars and at reception, we were always served straight away, which was nice.
Absolutely yes. We paid about £500 each for a week for our package, which included the flights, hotel and tranfsers. There was a sign on the back of the door that said the rack price of the hotel is about £100 per night on an all-inclusive basis, per room. Even at the latter price it was exceptionally good value for money, considering the facilities, food and standard of service but at the package rate you can't go wrong really.
We found that the hotel offered us a relaxing place to stay whilst being close enough to the action of the centre of Marrakech that we could explore freely and easily. The hotel and its facilities are plenty big enough to accommodate the number of people that stay here and I would absolutely recommend it for a cheap place to stay. It isn't perfect, but it only needs little tweaks and you can overlook them at the price you pay.
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Hotel Atlante Star (Rome)
For my 40th birthday, I was extremely lucky to have a trip to Morocco paid for by my Mum. Deciding to leave my partner at home with the kids, my sisters and I had a lovely, girly, long weekend away and enjoyed every single second. When it came to my middle sister's birthday, the same thing applied, the only difference being my eldest ... daughter came along too as she was celebrating her 21st. I'd decided on Morocco as it ticked off one of the places to visit on my 'Bucket List' but for Sarah, the seasoned globetrotter, it was somewhere a little closer to home that tickled her fancy. A trip to Rome was decided upon, and that's how I came to stay at the Hotel Atlanta Star, with this review discussing my/our experience.
~ * ~ LOCATION ~ * ~
Hotel Atlanta Star is a four star hotel, and while I've never stayed anywhere of this calibre, I'm more a Travelodge kind of girl (awww); I was quietly impressed when we pulled up at the kerb to see a canopied entrance, with floral arrangements either side. It reminded me of 'The Ritz' with the golden balustrade leading you up the stairs into the main reception area. Sadly I couldn't see any disabled access but I'm sure assistance could be arranged. There were around 12 steps and while they weren't particularly high, they were steep.
Situated at Via Vitelleschi 34 - 00193 Roma, at almost the midway point between Castel Sant'Angelo and boundary to the Vatican City, both are within easy walking distance. It takes approximately 10 minutes to walk either way, but a nice leisurely stroll (traffic permitting) would take about 15. Rome's layout seems to be in a grid system, so even if you get lost around Rome, it's easy to get back to the Castel Sant'Angelo, and you'll quickly find your way back to the hotel. You follow a few main roads, and go down a side street or two but it's nothing too confusing if you make notes of certain shops and bars as checkpoints along the way.
The following information is taken from the website: If arriving by rail, you'll probably roll into Termini Station, from here a taxi should cost no more than 15 Euros or you can take the Metro on the red line. From the Metro station the Hotel is a 10 minute walk away. Simply exit the station and walk down Via Ottaviano towards the Vatican Wall. Walk anticlockwise around Piazza Risorgimento at the bottom of the street and then turn left onto Via Stefano Porcari. This becomes Via Giovanni Vitelleschi and the hotel is on the corner of Via Tibullo on the left hand side. (That's exactly what I said before. ;) )
~ * ~ BOOKING AND PRICES ~ * ~
As a party of four adults we occupied what you could call a suite, but there was no separate seating area, so it was more like two bedrooms and a shared bathroom. The price for this room today (June 2013) is 275 Euros per night, breakfast included, but we didn't take the breakfast option thereby reducing the price a little. One might think that booking for an extended period would reduce the price a little, but alas the price goes up. A room for double or twin room costs 155 Euros per night (£133 at today's conversion rates), which is quite reasonable in my opinion, considering its location and that breakfast for two is included.
I didn't deal with any of the booking, my sister dealt with that personally. I do remember though that she carefully crafted an email in Italian (a result of evening classes, especially for our trip), regarding the complimentary transfer to the hotel from Fiumicino Airport and our expected arrival times and flight number, and was quietly impressed, if a little disappointed, to receive one back in English. The complimentary pick up is for a maximum of four people and only available if prearranged and during the hours 7.30 to 22.00hrs.
~ * ~ CHECKING IN ~ * ~
As you leave the staircase, you are greeted with the Reception area to the left of you. Checking in was extremely efficient and promptly executed. The area was bright, airy and freshly decorated, but a couple of chairs would have been a nice touch. Although it wasn't a particularly long trip, my youngest sister doesn't travel too well, and as seat would have been hugely appreciated. During our stay there were several receptionists on duty over the time, and all of them spoke fluent English so we had not trouble at all communicating.
Our party of four arrived at the same time as another couple, and we were all told to leave all our baggage in reception and the concierge would bring them to our rooms, which I thought was a nice touch. However, the other couple checked in first and were shown to their room before the concierge was available, therefore he didn't realise there were two parties luggage and brought the lot up to our room. While I didn't mind taking it back down to the reception area, I would have been extremely annoyed if it had been the other way around. Trying to persuade the concierge to take back the luggage was a different matter, as he spoke no English, and I couldn't speak to the receptionist as he was on the phone. I waited until he noted my presence, pointed to the suitcase, he nodded that he understood (still on the phone), and I made my exit back up to our room.
~ * ~ COMMUNAL AREAS ~ * ~
The room to the right hand side as you come off the main entrance is the meeting area/ bar/lobby. This, along with the reception, is the only place where you are able to access the Wi-Fi. Although we didn't make use of this room during our stay, we did sit in here while we awaited the taxi to take us back to the airport. It was tastefully decorated but they did overdo the burgundy velvet/velour plush somewhat, and while the reception was bright and welcoming this room inevitably, felt a little dark and dismal during the day, but would be somewhere nice and cosy to sit of an evening I feel.
~ * ~ THE ROOM ~ * ~
Our rooms/suite was on the fifth floor, and after our journey we were glad to make use of the one and only lift. There was a plaque on the wall that stated it was safe to hold a maximum of 8 people, now In my opinion, they would have to be 8 very small children, there was absolutely no way on earth you could get more than four adults in there. I was extremely pleased that the concierge had followed us up with our luggage at this point as there was barely enough room to breathe let alone swing a proverbial moggy.
After accessing the main door with our 'key ' we were greeted with a little area, I can't really put a name on this, a hall is too grandiose, on a house I suppose it would be called a porch or an entrance; and it's where we kept our cases and shoes, so while not cluttering up the main rooms, they were still secure behind a locked door.
Directly in front of us at this point was mine and my daughter's room. This was a smallish size, but certainly adequate for us, we tend to use a hotel as a base and somewhere to sleep more than anything. The window immediately drew us towards it. Huge doors opened onto a cast iron balcony, and although it was only a foot or two deep, it certainly made an impressive sight.
There were two fold out bed settees, and as we were to be using them, they were already unfolded and made up for us. The bedding matched the curtains and was completed with quite a heavy brocade throw. We had two pillows each and they seemed fresh and fluffy, rather than flat and tired. The chair beds were of foam construction, and over use, the foam had flattened to one side and sagged terribly in the middle. Therefore when we lay down, it was almost as if we were folding in on ourselves and it was almost as if we were reclined with our feet as high as our head, rather than being flat. In simpler terms we were like a v shape with our sagging bottoms. It didn't make for a restful night's sleep but after exploring the city from sunrise to sunset, we were exhausted and didn't care. There was a small table in a teak coloured wood in here, with a lamp sat upon it. While we needed to get out of bed to turn it off, it wasn't a huge inconvenience.
My sister's shared a room which on appearance seemed to be a huge king-sized bed, but after checking, it was two twin beds pushed together. This too was furnished quite tastefully but was obviously dated and in need of renovation to refresh the look. The built-in wardrobes were of superb quality being made from solid timber not some of this MDF rubbish. A desk/dressing table was fashioned from the same wood, and wooden screens were added to the very small window in place of curtains, and completed the effect. The gilt edged mirror above the dressing table did nothing to reflect light back into the room but was large enough for dressing and hairstyling if someone was occupying the bathroom. This room was very large, but the dark furniture and screened off tiny window made it feel gloomy even during the daytime, one benefit to this though, was that despite the temperature outside, it was always cool. There was a safe available underneath the dressing table, close to the floor, and next to it was a mini fridge for keeping drinks cool. We were provided with fresh glasses every morning when someone came in to provide fresh towels and empty bins etc. In this room there were two spare sockets for charging phones, camera batteries, and utilising the hairdryer.
The corridor interlinking the two rooms had an air-conditioner/heater but we didn't need to utilise this as we were warm enough and if we got too hot, it was nicer to open a window. On the right hand side of this corridor is where we found the shared bathroom.
~ * ~ BATHROOM ~ * ~
The bathroom although white and clinical, was just a little lacklustre. The bidet, toilet, basin and shower above the bath were all kept spotlessly clean, but these too were showing their age with the greying grouting. There was too much crammed into this room, and I personally would have forgone the bidet if I'd designed it. We had to laugh when we saw the bath, at my home we aren't able to have a full sized bath and own a three quarter sized one so it will fit, but this bath must have been a half sized one. To compensate for its lack of size, to its credit it was very deep, but no good for soaking and relaxing in. We had to keep our wash bags on the floor underneath the basin as there were no surfaces or shelves on which to store anything.
~ * ~ TRAFFIC NOISE ~ * ~
We all slept fairly well, especially my sisters with the 'proper' beds, but despite being on the fifth floor, our rooms overlooked the main road and there was the inevitable traffic noise. It was nothing that we're not used to at home, but Italian Police sirens are not the quietest things on earth, they are simply deafening with their droning screech. It's not the hotels fault, but even shutting the screens to, couldn't drown out the noise.
~ * ~ BREAKFAST ~ * ~
Our room didn't come as bed and breakfast but we decided on the last morning to treat ourselves to breakfast on site rather than go out to eat. We simply had to show our room number, and breakfast was automatically charged to our bill on checking out. The cost was 12 Euros (about £10) but was worth it just to experience the views from the 6th floor where you can eat in full view of Saint Peter's Basilica.
We could sit anywhere we liked, and although there were waiters and waitresses hovering around, you helped yourself, buffet style. They had three different types of juice available, all freshly squeezed. A whole range of teas, and coffee was also on tap. Breakfast consisted of a range of different cereals, yoghurts and pastries with appropriate condiments, as well as a tempting array of cold meats and cheeses. It wasn't until we'd had our fill that we noticed that they were serving hot food too, but had simply run out and were cooking more when we arrived.
After breakfast we tried to make our way up to the roof garden that's mentioned on the website, in order to take the last photos of the panorama. Alas this wasn't to be, as we were informed that access was denied to us with no mention as to when it would re-open. It wasn't too much trouble as we were leaving in a few hours, but if you should like to visit and see the vistas, I would suggest that you ask at reception beforehand and maybe they will open it up for you. It would have been nice to see what we had viewed via the webcam a few months previously.
~ * ~ WHEN IN ROME ~ * ~
In the surrounding area to the hotel you are within walking distance to The Vatican (100 metres), Castel Sant'Angelo (100 metres), Trastevere (0.5km), Piazza Navona (1km), Spanish Steps (1.5km), Colosseum (2km) and the Trevi Fountain. These distances are the ones taken from the hotel website and should be taken with a pinch of salt. All I can imagine is that these are taken as the crow flies, but people and roads cannot travel that way; certainly everything is within easy reach, but if you're not up to walking too far, the buses and metros are an easy and affordable way to travel around the city.
~ * ~ MY THOUGHTS ~ * ~
Despite the aging décor, I cannot fault the service that this hotel provided. From the moment of booking, to the moment we arrived at the airport to fly home, we were taken care of and very minute detail was looked after. The hotel staff were exemplary and although not as friendly and welcoming as I'd like, they certainly performed their jobs well. Perhaps it's the language barrier thing going on, not many Romans speak Brummie. :)
I'd recommend this hotel as being perfectly situated just outside the Vatican City, so you're close enough to where you need to be, but without attracting the extortionate prices that a premium location would afford. If I made a return journey I would like to see the décor and soft furnishings updated, and most definitely Wi-Fi available in the bedrooms, but if you, like me, you feel that a hotel is a place to sleep rather than home from home, you'll be fine. All in all, I feel can award the Atlanta Star four star hotel, my own four star rating along with my recommendation.
~ * ~ FURTHER INFORMATION ~ * ~
Hotel Atlanta Star
Via Giovanni Vitelleschi
34 - 00193
Phone No: 3906686386
Website : http://www.atlantestarhotel.com/
Photo Gallery of the rooms: http://www.atlantestarhotel.com/photo-gallery/
Virtual Tour available here: http://www.atlantestarhotel.com/virtual-tours/
Trip Advisor also awards this hotel 4 stars: http://tinyurl.com/qyt4apy
Read the complete review
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