“ Address: Ataturk Bulvari 84 / Kusadasi / Turkey „
Of the ten or so hotels in Turkey I recently stayed in, I arrived hopeful that this would be one of the most promising. One of the potential tour spoilers is having no control over where you stay, but I did a little research before going hopeful that being forewarned would mean not finding any nasty surprises. Kusadasi - Kus meaning bird and ada meaning island reflecting the number of migratory birds stopping over - has a more Mediterranean feel to it than most of the locations we stayed in. Which is not surprising as it is not only situated on the Aegean coast but as the Kus might fly it overlooks Greek islands such as Samos. First impressions... .. were good. The town has around 60,000 residents which nearly rises tenfold in high season. Aside from being a beach resort, it owes its popularity to the proximity of Ephesus. Thankfully Kusadasi isn't reminiscent of some trashy Spanish resorts though, and this hotel stands at a modest four floors. With 80 bedrooms it isn't hideously huge either, nor is there likely to be room for another tour group to be staying at the same time. ~ Pouting at the grouting ~ Rather optimistically the Grand Onder website describe their rooms as debonair. Perhaps something was lost in translation, but I wouldn't come here hoping for some Manhattan boho chic. Our room and ensuite while perfectly acceptable, were if anything more shabby than urbane. The first thing I noticed was the carpet. Odd maybe, but I personally dislike carpeted rooms in hot countries. Tiled or wooden floors would surely be easier to clean and feel cooler under foot. That said, it may well have helped with the sound proofing as I slept soundly both nights. The second thought was more cheering in that the room was a decent size, unlike some of our other Turkish dwellings. The decor was a neutral beige but the tired CRT television, although it worked perfectly, wasn't really a nod in the direction of sophistication. The ensuite was more disappointing. Too small to fit a bath and the shower surround was a cheap plastic which didn't feel all that secure. One place black feels neither urbane or suave is when it's the colour of choice for grouting as it is here. It merely reminded me of mould which is unfortunate as the ensuite didn't have a working extractor fan so the room tended to fill with steam easily. Oh well, if I haven't done a good job of selling the hotel so far it's because I've saved the best till last and that is the views. The same steep lane the Grand Onder is situated in that proves a pain for coach drivers is fantastic for those with sea view rooms. Although the hotel is a five minute stroll to the waterfront, our balcony had a wonderful view of the bay and the harbour. Breakfast and dinner are both buffet meals and we sat and watched from our balcony as poolside tables were laid on the swimming pool terrace by staff the first evening we were there. ~ Advantages ~ There are tables in the dining room inside, but provided the weather is good (which it was even in late September when we were there) dining alfresco is a must. Watching the sun rise over the harbour sets the day up wonderfully. The food too was good. Cereals, fresh watermelon and other fruit, the obligatory toast and yoghurts were both plentiful and fresh at breakfast. Our tour provided for dinner on the first night but not the second. We stayed two nights and our package provided for dinner on the first night but not the second. We opted to try a local restaurant on the promenade the second evening. The buffet at dinner the first evening was good though, and all the better for having reasonably priced wines to wash it down with. Despite some of its tired features, the hotel and rooms are nevertheless well maintained. That perhaps might prove harder in high season, but despite the grouting and carpets, I couldn't fault housekeeping. The same went for the pool itself and surrounding area when we were there - we had a few free hours before dinner the second night we stayed and like several others on our tour took advantage of the warm weather and splashed about a bit in the pool. Space is at a premium in Kusadasi and so there aren't any gardens as such, only the pool terrace. Still, what there is is kept spotless. It's a short drive to the Greek and Roman ruins of Ephesus. Those who, as John Lennon said, should rattle their jewellery are more likely to opt for a cruise. We saw several large cruise liners docking overnight. ~ Disadvantages ~ Perhaps the Grand Onder has had issues with previous guests, but there is a strict policy of allowing no food or drink in rooms or they threaten to charge you for them. Not only are there notices at the entrance but in the rooms too. The oldish mini bar didn't get used during our two days here. Normally I'd be only too happy to keep some shop bought water cooling in the fridge, but not with those signs. Rather regimental In these days of customer friendliness I thought. Not all the rooms will have a sea view. It you travel here under your own steam I would suggest asking for one at check in; the location really is the making of the hotel. There is no indoor pool. Given that the hotel is open all year around that makes swimming here unlikely during the cooler months. Recommended? Given there are more positives than negatives then yes. The Grand Onder is located in the north of Kusadasi bay. Not only is it very convenient for a walk along the seafront and to the shops and restaurants, but perhaps more importantly it's a short drive to Ephesus. Having covered what seems like huge distances during the course of our tour, it was a relief to know that for once we wouldn't have an early morning start. Both my mother who has arthritic knees and I scrambled down the steep road and returned like billy goats, probably thanks in part to the wine with our dinners. It's near enough the beach and town to not feel isolated, yet far enough away to not hear any noise from bars or traffic (Incidentally, the lovely promenade is lit up with fancy blue lighting after dark). Some reviews on Trip Advisor had warned of surly staff, but I didn't find that to be the case. Check in and out were both smooth and pain free and we had no other reason to contact reception. Address: Ataturk Bul. 4.Sokak No : 10 YatlimanI KarsIsI, Kusadasi 09400, Turkey.