Category: European hotels

A blue and white paradise

The ‘first impression’ can be particularly important for a hotel.

Our reaction on arriving at Hotel Aethrio, on the Greek Island of Santorini, was an unrestrained “Wow”!

White stone fence, blue gate, white-and-grey cobblestones, blue window surrounds, white stone buildings, blue sun roof – and a sparkling blue swimming pool.

Now that’s what you call street appeal!

We couldn’t wait to enter the hotel, perched high on an escarpment amid the scenic beauty of Oia village.

And we weren’t disappointed! The warmth of the welcome we received was matched only by the Santorini sunshine.

Our host led us to a fully equipped, two storey cave apartment in a prime position overlooking the pool and sunset deck. A wonderful few days had started.

Here’s our full review of the Hotel Aethrio:

Q: Was the booking process simple and problem-free?

A: Yes, online booking of Hotel Aethrio couldn’t have been easier. After comparing prices and location, we used the hotel’s website to book.

Q: Does the Hotel Aethrio have street appeal?

A: The hotel is off a narrow laneway, but Martin greeted us at the bus stop and carried our bags to our apartment. All we did was marvel at the beauty of the area and the hotel itself.


Q: Is the hotel close to facilities etc?

The Hotel Aethrio is within easy walking distance of the heart of Oia. As we had a fully equipped apartment, we walked to local bakeries and supermarkets to buy ingredients for our meals, coffee etc.

The location is less than one block from the bus terminal where coaches run regularly to the island ferry port, airport and the tourist shopping and restaurant hub of Fira.


Q: How did check-in go?

A: Smoothly. The reception staff were professional and fast – but thorough.

Q: How was the room’s accessibly for seniors?

A: Unfortunately, there are no lifts in a cave apartment. However, if you are able to cope with a moderate number of stairs, the atmosphere makes it all worthwhile. The curved cave roof and cool walls need to be experienced to  be fully understood We loved it all.



Q: Were the rooms big enough?

A: The rooms could not have been better. They were spotlessly clean and large. There was plenty of wardroom space, and the downstairs area had a stove, kettle, plates, cutlery, lounge and TV.


Q: Was the bed comfortable?

A: It was comfortable and, as the cave apartment was completely insulated from traffic and other noise, we slept soundly

Q: Were there adequate charging points?

A: We had seven electronic devices, including phones and camera equipment, but our Hotel Aethrio apartment catered for this with ease. As well as plenty of power points, there was one either side of the bed, ideal for using mobile phones as alarm clocks.


Q: Was there free wifi?

A: Yes. There were strong wifi signals in our apartment and in the pool area. Top marks for this.

Q: Were other facilities adequate.

A: Yes. Although we didn’t use it, the living room had a big screen TV  –  and the pool was beautiful.

Q: Was the bathroom to the expected standard?

A: Certainly. There was a large shower recess and a roomy vanity area. As with the rest of the Hotel Aethrio apartment, the bathroom was spotlessly clean and equipped with luxury toiletries.

Q: Did you get breakfast?

A: Breakfast was included in the room rate. There was a well appointed and modern eatery and the food couldn’t be faulted. It was first class.


The breakfast area, bar and, in fact, much of the main part of the hotel was a former sock factory that had been beautifully rebuilt for its current purpose.  There was plenty of space and some of the factory’s former machinery was on show, which gave an interesting touch to the room.


Q: How was the hotel’s service?

A: The Hotel Aethrio staff were friendly, efficient and particularly professional.

We were given valuable information on local bus routes and the best places to view the famous Santorini sunsets.

Nothing was too much trouble for the hotel – and staff certainly looked after us.


Q: Was there anything you didn’t like about your stay?

A: No. We decided to stay at Oia, rather than Fira township and review the Hotel Aethrio after readers mentioned its great location, facilities and service. They were right. This is a hotel that is doing everything right.

Duration of visit: three nights

Q: Would we return?

A:  Without hesitation.

Special mention: the hotel’s swimming pool and sun area is superbly presented and looks awesome.

 

 

 

Review: Hotel Atrion, Heraklion, Crete

The Hotel Atrion got off to a good start during our review visit to Heraklion, Crete, in September 2017.

After we booked online, the hotel kept up an email conversation to see if it could help further with arrangements.

And, when we asked for assistance arranging an airport pick-up, Hotel Atrion staff were extremely helpful and efficient, communicated promptly – and a driver and car was waiting for us at Heraklion airport.

Here’s the full review:

Q: Was the booking process simple and problem-free?

A: Yes, online booking of Hotel Atrion couldn’t have been easier. After comparing prices and location, we used the hotel’s website to book.

Q: Does the Hotel Atrion have street appeal?

A: The hotel is in a narrow and busy street, but looks modern, clean and appealing from the street.


Q: Is the hotel close to facilities etc?

The Hotel Atrion is within easy walking distance of the vibrant heart of Herkalion, close to a number of good restaurants and less than one block from the city’s waterfront and old Venetian fortress. It is a perfect location if you don’t have transport, close to a main bus terminal and a short bus trip from the ferry port and international airport.

Q: How did check-in go?

A: Smoothly. The reception staff were professional and fast. We had been flying for much of the day and previous night – and were exhausted. However, we were quickly shown to our room without hassles – just what we wanted.


Q: How was the room’s accessibly for seniors?

A: Not bad. We could get most of the way by lift, but then there were a few steps – but not enough to be a problem with our bags. Hotels in Greece have a reputation for small lifts. This one was narrow, but adequate.

Q: Was the room big enough?

A: The room could not have been better. It was spotlessly clean and large, with ample room either side of the bed. There was plenty of wardroom space and a writing desk, which was put to good use.

Q: Was the bed comfortable?

A: It was particularly comfortable and as the room was free from traffic and other street noise, we slept soundly.


Q: Did the room have adequate charging points?

A: We had seven electronic devices, including phones and camera equipment, but our Hotel Atrion room catered for this with ease. As well as plenty of power points, there was one either side of the bed, ideal for using mobile phones as alarm clocks. The Hotel Atrion certainly deserves full marks for this aspect.

Q: Were other facilities adequate.

A: Yes. Although we didn’t use them, the room had a big screen Tv and a minibar.

Q: Was the bathroom to the expected standard?

A: Certainly. There was a large shower recess with modern curved glass screening and a roomy vanity area. As with the rest of the Hotel Atrion room, the bathroom was spotlessly clean and equipped with luxury toiletries.


Q: Did you get breakfast?

A: Breakfast was included in the room rate. There was a well appointed and modern eatery – and the food – which included lots of Greek and Cretan cuisine – couldn’t be faulted. It was first class.

Q: How was the hotel’s service?

A: The Hotel Atrion staff were friendly, efficient and particularly professional. We didn’t have any complaints, but on two occasions we sought assistance with calling a taxi. This was arranged promptly and the taxi arrived within minutes. Nothing was too much trouble for the hotel – and staff certainly looked after us.

Q: Was there anything you didn’t like about your stay?

A: No. We decided to review the Hotel Atrion after readers told us about its great service. They were right. This is a hotel that is doing everything right.

We could not fault the Hotel Atrion and thoroughly enjoyed our stay

Duration of visit: three nights

AccorHotels continues growth in luxury market

The prestigious Raffles, Fairmont and Swissotel brands are now officially part of AccorHotels Group.

The acquisition of FRHI Hotels & Resorts, which was mooted early in 2016, boosts AccorHotels standing as a leading player in the global luxury accommodation market.

Newcomers to the management portfolio include the iconic Savoy in London; Raffles Singapore; Fairmont San Francisco; The Plaza New York City; Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec; and Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris.

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Raffles Singapore

AccorHotels said the move “increased long term growth potential and profitability” and “significantly expanded” the company’s footprint in North America, the world’s biggest and most influential consumer market.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Sebastien Bazin, said the move lifted the AccorHotels international presence to unprecedented heights.

“We remain committed to providing guests with unparalleled service, while also keeping the ambition to deliver exceptional return on investment for our shareholders and hotel owners.

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“By leveraging the operational synergies between FRHI and AccorHotels, we are well-positioned to accelerate the growth of our luxury brands and offer guests even more exciting hotel choices and destinations to explore.”

Between them, Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel’s has 154 hotels and resorts (of which 40 are under development) across 34 countries and five continents.

They employ more than 45,000 people.

Review: Hotel de France, Vienna

Right in the heart of romantic Vienna on the Danube sits the truly memorable five-star Hotel de France.

Located on the famous Ringstrasse, one of the most striking boulevards in the world, the hotel offers a high standard of luxurious accommodation and facilities close to transport and sightseeing attractions.

With a history that stretches back to the 1873 World Exhibition in Vienna, the Hotel de SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFrance is part of the Gerstner Imperial Hotels and Residences Group, known for providing high quality accommodation in iconic buildings and setting across Austria and the Czech Republic.

Grand foyer

The luxury and elegance of the Hotel de France is obvious the minute you arrive.

Visitors step into a grand foyer, bathed in warm light and exquisite furnishings.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

And the first impressions continue throughout the hotel, which boasts 194 rooms and suites decorated in quality traditional and modern styles.

Efficient and warm welcome

On arrival for our stay, we were greeted warmly by reception staff, who booked us in quickly and efficiently.

Without asking, we were given a map of central Vienna; shown the location of major attractions; and given information about the nearby light rail, metro railway, shopping and banking districts.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESExcellent facilities

Our room contained all the luxury and facilities that you expect at a five-star hotel, wrapped in old world charm.

Bright, large and spacious yet insulated from street noise, the room was perfect for recharging the batteries after a long flight.

A superbly comfortable bed beckoned, preceded by a long soak in the bathtub, which was complete with snuggly bathrobes and slippers.

The room was also fitted with satellite TV and a tea/coffee-maker and there was free wifi and plenty of power points for recharging phones, an electric razor and our iPad.

Now that’s a breakfast!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

One of the highlights of our visit to the Hotel de France was the high quality breakfast included in our room rate.

Rarely have I seen such a variety of food on offer at a buffet breakfast – including a huge range of fresh fruit and cheeses – and the friendly staff were on hand to top-up your coffee cup as often as required.

Location, location, location

The Hotel de France is well located to view the stunning city of Vienna.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Trams glide past the front of the hotel on the city’s efficient light rail network, while there is an underground station almost across the street.

Newcomers to Vienna often marvel at the city’s sparkling clean and modern rail system.

The stations almost shine; rail routes are colour-coded for ease of use and – like many European metro systems – there are remarkably sleek and steep escalators descending to the underground platforms.

 

A short stroll to sights

The Hotel de France is only a short walk to some of Vienna’s most striking buildings, including the city’s university which was inaugurated in 1884 and St Stephen’s Cathedral, widely regarded as Austria’s most eminent Gothic edifice.

An incredible sight in daylight, Stephansdom is lit by brightly-coloured spotlights at night, creating a rippling rainbow effect over the stone towers and walls.

A glass of wine and thee

After a day of sightseeing and dinner in one of the world’s most romantic and inspirational cities, there’s nothing more relaxing than sipping a good wine in the Hotel de France’s  Atrium Bar.

Also stylishly furnished with warm lighting, the bar features piano music and offers views of the glass-covered atrium.

Take a bow Hotel de France for providing classy and luxurious accommodation with more than a dash of traditional Viennese hospitality in one of the most memorable destinations on the planet.

Was the hotel difficult to reach?

No.  Vienna has a highly efficient public transport system and  the Hotel de France is on a major street in the centre of the city.

See how to get there.

Would I return?

Certainly.  I don’t see how anyone could become weary of Vienna – and the quality, professionalism and charm of the Hotel de France only adds to that experience.

Read more about the hotel and see how to make a reservation.

Exterior photo of hotel courtesy of Hotel de France