Hotels in 2015

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Fifty of them through the year – well some of them rented houses, a villa in Bali, an old mansion house in Transylvania. Lots of them just for a night, but a number for a week. Plus two boats (Sea Cloud II in the Mediterranean, Katharina around the Komodo Islands). No overnight train trips, but too many overnights on aircraft. And a few nights staying at friends’ places.

Usually there’s something really cheap during the year, a night in a mission guest house somewhere, some backpacker place, a night under canvas. None of that this year although there were a few nights in New Zealand tramping bunkrooms, but they weren’t cheap. Nevertheless here are a half dozen of the year’s overnight highlights:

IMG_2586 - Alila, Ubud - 270

◄ I stayed in a number of places in Bali including, with a group of friends, at the delightful Villa Pantulan just outside Ubud, during the Ubud Writers Festival. Before moving into the villa I had a couple of nights enjoying this wonderful swimming pool at the Alila Ubud overlooking the Ayung River.


A blast from the past I also spent a night at Poppies Cottages at Kuta Beach, before continuing down to the Komodo Islands. This photograph of the Poppies’ swimming pool was taken 27 years earlier with my young son Kieran jumping into the pool. The pool – and indeed the whole place – is just as beautiful as ever although when I stayed there in the 1980s it seemed like quite an expensive treat. Now at US$110 it seems a wonderful bargain. And it is still a wonderful hotel, I was delighted to stay there again, an amazing little escape from the nearby noise and confusion of Kuta. ▼TW-9103 - Poppies, Ubud - 540
IMG_0986 - Oxford - 270◄ With some friends we spent a couple of nights at the wonderfully olde English Le Manoir Aux Quat Saisons at Great Milton, just outside Oxford in England. The gardens ponds feature some marvellous metal sculptures.

Again with a group of friends we spent several nights at the old Hungarian Apafi Manor in the village of Mâlâncrav in Transylvania, Romania. Staying here is like travelling back to a the medieval era, although with mod cons. Every morning a woman came up from the village fixed us breakfast, the bread baked in the village, the milk fresh from a village cow, the eggs just laid by a village chicken, the jam from the berries in a village garden. This is a view of the back of the manor house with its adjacent church. ▼Apafi Manor, Malancrav, Transylvania, Romania

IMG_0975 - Hotel Piazza Carlina - 540▲ I stayed at the Hotel NH Collection Torino Piazza Carlina (now there’s a mouthful) in Turin, Italy. Outside it’s a very fine old building, inside it’s built around a courtyard with very modern glass and steel contrasting with the old stonework. The fine old building was originally low cost housing or a rooming house where the residents included Antonio Gramsci who went on to co-found the Italian Communist Party. Then it was empty and derelict for years before the very sympathetic renovation turned it into today’s five-star hotel. Which prompted local protests, the former home of the CPI’s founder turned into a five-star hotel? Please no.

IMG_095 - Radisson Blu wine tower, Stansted - 270◄ Nothing special about the rooms at the Radisson Blu Hotel at Stansted Airport, just a straightforward hotel where I stayed simply because I had a very early morning departure to Turin with Ryanair. At ₤114 the room cost three times as much as the airline ticket. The hotel did, however, have a very interesting atrium design around this central wine tower.

I’ve already mentioned the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore with its rooftop swimming pool, the Urban Hotel in Madrid with interesting art and I’ll post on some wonderful places I stayed in northern Australia.