Hotels of 2008

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll post some lists of my travel favourites over the last year. Books, movies, flights, views, photographs, drives, transport, exhibits – and we’ll start with 10 interesting hotels from the past year.

Zombie HotelTen hotels in ascending order of cost (from US$12 to US$574 a night) which I stayed at during 2008. All of them interesting for some reason! Unfortunately I didn’t get to stay in Haiti’s zombie hotel, they’re not currently taking guests.


My hotel list includes places in Colombia, England, Haiti, Italy, Kazakhstan, Russia, Taiwan and the USA.

The zombie hotel in Jacmel, Haiti



and the Playpus Hostel in Bogota, Colombia

Platypus Hostel
1. US$12 – Platypus Hostel, Calle 16 No 2-43, Barrio La Candelaria, Bogota, Colombia – the curiously Australian name came about because German Escobar, this popular hostel’s well-travelled owner, got on very well with the many Australian travellers he met while exploring Africa.

2. US$72 – Confucius Hotel, 4 Nanmen Rd, Tainan – I liked this interesting and busy city in the south of Taiwan and the Confucius Hotel was reasonably priced, comfortable and very central. Did Confucius have a saying about always being prepared? If so then he might have found the contents of my bedside drawer interesting.

3. US$ 74 – Hotel Oloffson, 60 Ave Christophe, Port-au-Prince, Haiti – in Grahame Greene’s The Comedians this is the Hotel Trianon and the (fictional) body of Papa Doc’s Secretary for Social Welfare is found in the swimming pool. Well that certainly makes it worth a stay in Port-a-Prince!

4. US$96 – Hostellerie du Roi Christophe, Rue 24B, Cap Haïtien, Haiti – King Christophe built the imposing Citadel near Cap Haïtien to keep the French at bay and his namesake hotel is a charming place with some real colonial era flavour.

Orvieto Cathedral
The cathedral in Orvieto

5. US$200 – Hotel Palazzo Piccolomini, Piazza Ranieri 36, Orvieto, Umbria, Italy – at the end of a very pleasant week’s walk through Tuscany and Umbria this was our final destination. A stylish hotel in an exceptionally picturesque hilltop town.

6. US$228 – Hotel Rouge, 1315 16th St NW, Washington DC 20036, USA – another well run and interesting hotel in the Kimpton Hotel group. It’s a smallish hotel, very conveniently central (you can walk to most places of interest) and everything works.

7. US$250 –  Sputnik Hotel, 44 Koroleva St, Baikonur, Kazakhstan – there’s nothing special about the Sputnik Hotel, it could easily be a featureless US motel with a rather elevated price tag, but the name is well earned, Baikonur was the Cape Canaveral of the old USSR and all Russian space launches still blast off here. I’d gone to Baikonur to see a ‘space tourist’ go into orbit.

8. US$295 – La Merced, Calle Don Sancho 36-165, Cartagena, Colombia – Cartagena is an absurdly attractive walled town on Colombia’s mellow Caribbean coast and this elegant little boutique hotel fits the mood perfectly. Great views from the roof.

9. US$570 – Golden Apple Boutique Hotel, 11 Malaya Dmitrovka St, Moscow, Russia – Everybody says it, Moscow is not cheap, but if your credit card can stand the damage this is a very efficient and very centrally placed boutique hotel, in fact it claims to be Moscow’s first boutique hotel.

Hard Day's Night Hotel10. US$574 – Hard Day’s Night Hotel, 41 North John St, Liverpool L2 6RR, England – OK, England can do absurdly expensive hotels as well. In fact when it’s comes to value for money England has hotels which are as bad as it gets! This is the new Beatles theme hotel in Liverpool, just round the corner from the site of the Cavern Club, and my money did get me a statue of George Harrison standing on the window sill. And some interesting door hangers.