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10 Travel Tips to Plan Your Trip


In terms of preparedness, your fifth international trip is going to look a lot different from your first, and your fifteenth will look wildly different from your fifth. It was no different for us.

The first time Tracy and I left the country we had a great time, but we made a lot of mistakes. We spent too much on flights. We didn’t find the right budget hotel. We planned too much for the wrong things and not enough for the right things. We spent too much time doing the wrong things, and not enough time doing the right things. We spent money in the wrong ways – wastefully, and we made what we now know are cardinal sins when you travel. We know much more about the best tips for couples for travel together often, and can get pretty creative in terms of saving time and money.

Did we still have a great time when we made the small mistakes? Of course. Could it have been better, had we exercised a few of the tried and true basics we hold to steadfastly now? Without question. It’s through our mistakes that we hope you’ll avoid making mistakes of your own, learning from our missteps on the road. This is advance beyond simple knowing what to bring, or creating a checklist, but rather keys to enjoying and making the most of your trip, and avoid some of the mistakes most make while traveling.

Use Google Maps to Book Hotels

If you’re like us, sometimes it’s hard to figure out not only which hotel to book, but what area in which you should be looking. There’s one little trick we use in Google Maps to figure this out.

Go to Google Maps and search for “hotels near (city), (country)”. You will see a scatter map of red icons indicating the location of hotels in that area. In the example below, we’ve done a search on Google Maps for “hotels near Berlin, Germany”.

Given that hotels are built in areas with the best things to do, including tourist attractions, restaurants, museums and public transportation, you want to zoom in on an area of these clustered red dots indicating the presence of a hotel.

As you zoom in, you will notice that prices will populate next to the red dots, as well as the hotel name. This will also update the listing on the left side to only include hotels that are visible in the frame you are looking at. As you move the cursor around and view the map, the bar on the left will continue to update with the name, pricing, photo and brief description of the hotels within that area. You’ll quickly be able to see if the hotels in the area fit in your budget.

As you can see, we’ve zoomed into a dense cluster of hotels along the Spree River in Berlin with immediate access to public transportation (marked by the “U” on German maps). In the center-left of the screen, we see “Hotel Allegra” listed at only $60 per night! Let’s zoom in and find out more.

Here the information becomes clear – Hotel Allegra is a four-star hotel only a few hundred feet from the Spree, with access to nearby restaurants, cafes and bars. We can click on the area to the left and book our stay!

Cabs

Only black cabs in London, if you want to get where you’re going.

Use cabs when necessary, but only when absolutely necessary. There are simply too many better ways to get around a place like London without spending the money, which is always more than what you will plan or budget for. We know, we thought the same way. “Maybe we’ll have one or two cabs rides a day, maybe $5 or $10 a piece.” Do the math on that. If you take a cab twice daily for a week, and each ride is $10, you’ve now spent $140 on simple transportation in a week. Now, this is with the estimate being what you’ll find through any online research, but it will nearly always be more.

Taking a cab from the airport to the hotel? Probably necessary if your flight gets in super early or very late, but bank on the fact that it’s going to be double of what you think it is. Why? A few reasons. First, cab drivers will take advantage of your ignorance. This happens not only overseas, but right here in the good ol’ U.S.A., also. When we went to Boston, a simple cab ride from Logan Airport to the Harborside area cost us $40. We could have taken a bus for $5, and maybe 15 minutes longer in duration to get there, but the anticipation of getting to the hotel led us to take the first thing available. Internationally, we’ve made the mistake a few times of taking cabs from the airport to our hotel, obviously not locals nor speaking the language, and it’s busted our budget more than a few times.

Secondly, you don’t know where you’re going. They do. If a five kilometer route is fastest, and available, expect the slightly longer route. This doesn’t make them bad people, it simply makes cab drivers business people who are looking to grab a few extra bucks. You, the weary and inexperienced traveler, just happen to be the goat in this case.

So, when should you take a cab? It’s always wise to use Google Maps in the cab, as soon as you sit down. Seriously. This keeps drivers much more honest than than they would otherwise. Pull up your route on your phone and tell them you know where you’re going. Often, we’ve even deferred saying the destination, provided we knew the language in the city in which we were traveling. “Take me to X Hotel” gives cab drivers a lot of liberty. “Go straight about two miles and take a right on X road” let’s them know immediately that you know where you’re going, and makes them less likely to play games.

If you don’t have the benefit of technology, try and use whatever is the official cab where you are. Every city has official drivers, and ones that are hucksters. In London, take black cabs. Always. Forever. Learn what the legitimate companies are when you come into the city, and only ride with them.

Pack a Scarf

Light-weight scarves like these are perfect to tie around your backpack handle, and great when it gets chilly!

Tracy does this religiously, and I’ve started doing the same, but you should definitely pack a scarf, sarong or something similar. Typically she’ll take a thin scarf, made of cotton, viscose, silk or something lightweight, and tie it around the handle of her backpack. This has innumerable uses as an eye mask, headrest, towel or even to actually use as a scarf if you get cold. You won’t believe how handy this will come into play when you actually need it, and it’s a cheap and unobtrusive accessory.

Have the Right Power Adapter

Make sure to check your destination country, and bring a universal adapter.

Something Tracy was on top of that I didn’t even consider prior to our first trip was the need for an international power adapter. There are dozens of different configurations for wall adapters, and each country and currency zone has their own. These can differ even between neighboring countries, and it’s vital to have the right one before you take your trip.

Power adapters aren’t the easiest thing to find in some countries, and the ones you do find can be three times as expensive as what you might find online – or more! There are great deals on Amazon for universal adapters that should help you get around most major countries without much of an issue for under $10. Waiting until you enter the country to buy one of these can cost you $30-$40.

Use a Money Belt

Travel belts hold a surprising amount of documents, and keep you secure.

If you travel anywhere, pick-pocketing is a real thing. This doesn’t make a place dangerous, it’s simply a reality that sometimes people steal. Most tourists do a terrible job of “blending”, and as such stick out like a sore thumb to these small group of thieves.

Using a thin money belt under my shirt to keep my wallet, passport and phone has saved our tails on more than a few occasions, including when we were in Paris. Our first time visiting, as soon as we stepped out of the Gare du Nord we were approached by two girls who were obviously a part of some scam to distract you while having your pockets picked. The first girl stepped in front of me with a clipboard, asking for donations for some type of charity, while the second snuck behind us while distracted, and attempted to take my wallet out of my back pocket. I actually felt the jostling on my back pocket, and turned around to see the second girl standing behind me and drawing her hand back. After this, there was a bizarre exchange of expletives hurled in our direction before we simply ignored the event and walked on. Why? Because my wallet was secure in my money belt, under my shirt and jacket.

Now, we aren’t talking about a fanny pack. Buy a thin money belt that lays flat and has RFID protection to prevent identity theft on your credit cards and passport. The one we use is on Amazon, and is only about $16. These are completely inconspicuous under your clothes, including warm-weather wear.

Back-Up Documents

Make sure to take photos of your ID page, both sides.

Whether at the risk of pick-pocketers or simply human error, you can lose your important documents. People generally think travel is more dangerous than it is, forgetting that often our biggest threat can be our own forgetfulness. I’ve walked away from restaurant booths and seen my wallet still sitting in the seat, and I’ve left my credit card on counters after using it – perhaps you have to. It is absolutely vital that you take a picture of your passport and driver’s license (with your phone), and email a copy to yourself. The process of getting back home becomes much easier if you have a way to get a visual ID of yourself, as well as your passport and license number.

When you do this, you have two levels of back-up. If you simply lose the document, you have a back-up on your phone. If you lose both the documents and the phone, you have a cloud-based way to retrieve the information. It’s best to make a checklist of whatever documents you’ll need so that you can keep track of any spare copies you have lying around.

Take More Photos

Take as many photos as possible when the opportunity presents itself.

On our first few trips, we hesitated to take the amount of pictures we wanted to for a few reason. Among them, we were afraid of looking “touristy” or drawing attention to ourselves, but the reality is that no one cares if you’re taking photos. Neither should you.

It’s a regret of ours now that we don’t have the volume of photos from those first few trips that we do from our more recent trips, and unfortunately that’s something we can’t redo. If you really think about it, photos are one of the most valuable things you can bring back from a trip. Photos are free. Souvenirs are not. Photos remind you of where you were, while sometimes your memory can be off. Want to remember what the Cliffs of Moher looked like? Make sure to have the photos.

It’s also paramount to back-up your photos, no matter what device you’re using. Being iPhone users, we pay for extra cloud storage for just a few bucks a month, which has saved us on a few occasions when our phones were lost or stolen. If you’re using a professional camera, make sure to load your photos on your laptop or tablet at the end of each day, just in case.

Take a Small Umbrella or Poncho

Umbrellas are essential during any travel.

Umbrellas and ponchos can be live-savers, no matter where you’re traveling. One thing you want to make sure of is that you buy these at home, as these types of of accessories are always going to be marked-up 200-300% if purchased in an airport or other tourist trap. Make sure the umbrella is short and small enough to fit in your backpack, and don’t unpack the poncho. These always come very compressed in their packaging, which will afford you the space in whatever luggage you decide to use.

Speaking of luggage…

Backpack More, Suitcase Less

If you’re like us, you prefer mountains and backpacks over suitcases and posh hotel rooms.

We have never lost our luggage. Why? Because we never check bags.

Most people take way more on vacation than what they need. When you overpack, you need a bigger piece of luggage such as a massive suitcase. We don’t even own these types of suitcases, but instead take the bare essentials in our backpack, and plan on re-wearing clothes as often as possible.

Most places you go will afford you the opportunity to wash clothes, either at the hotel or at a laundromat somewhere nearby. It’s worth doing this once in any city in which you stay, as it’s a cheap expense that can save you space, time and money in the airport by allowing you to pack half the amount.

Snack More, Dine Less

When we ate out in Barcelona, we made it count!

You probably don’t eat out three times a day back home, and there’s no reason to while traveling.

There are two things Tracy and I do that allow us to spend less on food when we travel. First, we buy inexpensive, healthy snacks we can take with us. On our first few trips, we ruined our budget by eating out for every meal, thinking that we weren’t “experiencing” the place we were traveling unless we were eating out or drinking out. This is absolutely not true.

Secondly, buy food for the room. Most places will have a small store, such as Albert Heijn in The Netherlands or Tesco in the UK, where you can buy pre-made sandwiches and small meals that are surprisingly good, as well as non-perishable items you can keep in your room.

Our rule of thumb is generally this – out of our three daily meals we’ll have one in the room, one on the road and one eating out. It saves us a ton of cash and helps us use that money for other experiences. Also, when you do decide to eat out, you can really make it count!

If you stick to tips like these, you’re going to travel better and travel more. From money-saving travel tips to safety advice when traveling overseas, learn from our mistakes and make your travel worry-free.

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Review: Lisbon’s Miraparque Hotel


Lisbon is a subtle, stunning city along the Atlantic coast of Portugal in which you can find many wonderful surprises. When choosing a hotel is this gem of a city, you want something that is going to provide access to the best food, music and drinks the city has to offer. You want a location that will enable you to experience all that Lisbon has to offer. You will want, if you can find it, one of the cheapest hotels in Lisbon, and also one of the most perfectly centered.

What you want is the Miraparque Hotel.

Located within a few hundred yards of the central Marques de Pombal Square, a roundabout area that serves as both a business district and thriving tourism area, the Miraparque stands as one of the best located hotels in which we’ve stayed in Europe.

Quaint and affordable, the Miraparque sits just up-hill from the Square as is aptly named for its location alongside the popular Parque Eduardo VII in the city center.

Upon entry, the Miraparque Hotel has a slightly dated, older feel, however obviously clean. The front desk staff was accommodating, helping us to find information on the local tours and hop-on, hop-off bus that departed at the park across the street.

After some time waiting for our room to be prepared, we were allowed inside (still prior to our planned check-out time) and were greeted by one of the more spacious European, budget hotel rooms in which we’ve stayed. The room was vast, with a courtyard-facing window that, while not scenic, allowed for a nice breeze to sweep across the room.

The hotel offered the standard amenities, from a small, pleasant hotel bar to a fitting hotel breakfast buffet that was prepared in time each morning about 6:00am. The breakfast offered standard European breakfast far, with simple, cured meats, popular cheeses, scrambled eggs and various fruits and cereals. In addition, the coffee was hot and fresh, served with local milk used as creamer. Typically before our morning breakfast, we would enjoy a quick workout in the hotel’s roof-top gymnasium.

The hotel bar could serve 6-8 people, but was an excellent place to have a drink or two before heading out for a night on the town. We were pleased with the results on a few classics such as the Negroni, and with their Sangria being homemade.

The biggest advantage to the Miraparque was, quite simply, the location and the price. It is another in a long line of boutique hotels in which we’ve stayed where we were able to find an excellent location in a popular city for under 100USD per night. Convenience was key about our stay here, and provided us to have memorable, late nights on the town without having the fear of wondering how we would be able to make our way back beyond the time when the Metro was running.

From the Miraparque, you are within a short walk to countless bars, restaurants, markets, and museums. Not only this, but within minutes you can be ocean-side and enjoying the wonderful vistas along Portugal’s Atlantic coast.

While not flashy or stunning, the Miraparque is a perfectly comfortable hotel that is secure, clean and most of all, overwhelmingly close to so much of what Lisbon offers. If you are like us, and judge a hotel based on what you get in return for the cost, you’ll make the Miraparque your home on your next stop in Lisbon.

Our verdict: Recommend.

Contact:

Website 

Address: Av.Sidónio Pais,12
1050-214 Lisboa Lisbon
Portugal

Phone : +351 213 524 286

 

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Review: Amsterdam’s A-Train Hotel


No matter where we travel, we look for the same three things in the hotel where we stay – location, affordability and security. We’re far from high-brow, mind you, as what we’re really seeking is a trust-worthy location that allows us to enjoy the area in which we’re traveling. Sometimes, however, we get surprised by the small, boutique establishments where we call home during our short visits. Somehow, we find hidden gems.

The A-Train Hotel was one such gem, and its undoubtedly one of the best hotel deals in Amsterdam

Located on the Prins Hendrikkade, a prime location facing Amsterdam Centraal Station, the A-Train is a warm, beguiling place. While seemingly blending in with the shops and restaurants along the main thoroughfare where bicyclers, tourists and revelers of the day and night wandered, the A-Train enraptures you upon entry. The small entry gives way to a shotgun-style lobby with old, stained wood supporting a mammoth collection of travel memorabilia – true to the thematic title the A-Train bears. The entire hotel has a great feel as a type of old train car, itself,

The reception was warm, with multi-lingual host staff manning the entry desk and a secure front entry that made us feel both at home and secure. The tiny elevator, adored with more early 20th-century travel collectibles, opened to a well-lit hallway where we found our room adjacent to the opening of the doors. The rooms? Small, in a general sense, but none-the-less cozy and comfortable. The room had a feeling of crisp cleanliness, and we were surprised to see a widely outward-opening window which gave us a bird’s-eye view of the warm rooftops of the neighborhood that lay behind the primary street on which we were staying. This only added to the feel of “home”.

Our view from the room- quaint and idyllic.

First, let me say that the location was splendid. Not only were we within steps of the Centraal Station, but in front of the station was the primary canal that separated Amsterdam by north and south bank. Here, you could rent canal passes, sunset cruises and hop-on, hop-off canal boats that made for easy access to the greatest sites around the city.

To our right, within 50 feet of the entry way, was the more than 400-year-old Cafe Karpershoek – an Amsterdam landmark that opened in 1606. Beyond that was a number of excellent restaurants, pubs, coffee-shops, and the primary walkway that led approximately ten minutes to the Red Light District. Lastly, we stocked our room on numerous occasions with the groceries and beer sold at the Albert Heijn market, which was directly next door. We used this ideal proximity not only for groceries, but also to get cash, ask for directions and even for aspirin to help us get over our first Amsterdam hangover!

You simply couldn’t get a better location.

The affordability of the A-Train can’t be overstated. We actually booked our trip through Tripmasters, a site we have used myriad times to explore the world, and A-Train was one of their favored locations. If you are booking independently, the A-Train can be had for less than 100USD per night. The hotel next door? More than twice that amount. I’m not sure about you, but I’m not paying double for 30 extra square feet in my hotel room. When all was said and done, we paid about 65USD per night through Tripmasters for our room at A-Train, which really is one bar-tab more than the cost of a hostel. I’ll take the security, privacy and coziness over the bunk-beds, thank you.

The room was comfortable, clean, and cozy.

Lastly, our room included a morning breakfast that was more than simply continental fair. Fresh, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and a litany of fruits, breads and juices were available each morning upon arrival – even when we had to leave at 6:00am for our early trip back to the airport! The coffee was strong and hot, the food was delicious, and it had us well on our way toward exploring the city.

In all, you simply can’t do any better for the price you pay than to stay at the A-Train. Along with Venice’s Hotel Vecellio, it’s among the happiest we’ve been with a hotel selection in the entirety of our travel experiences.

Our verdict: Highly recommend.

Contact

Website 

Address: Prins Hendrikkade 23, 1012 TM Amsterdam, Netherlands

Phone : +31 20 624 1942

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Review: Ibis London City Hotel – Shoreditch


London is a city with endless possibilities for discovery and entertainment, as well as art and history. With tourism continuing to rise significantly over recent years you’ll also have endless choices for hotels!

On our most recent trip across the pond we stayed at the Ibis London City hotel, a funky and accommodating place near the Whitechapel area of the city. A few steps away from the Aldgate East tube stop, we found everything we needed within walking distance, as well as by short underground trips around London. Just fifteen minutes on foot to the Tower Bridge and the famous River Thames, you’ll find its location convenient no matter what your plans for the city.

Convenient lobby bar with great, full service.

Upon entering the lobby, the décor is strikingly modern and colorful, rife with reds, blues, artistic geometric dividers and warm brick walls. Combined with comfortable chairs and beautifully lit sitting areas, we utilized this space quite a bit in the mornings before we headed out to our destinations, as well as in the evenings to relax and have a drink before retiring. In addition to the casual and inviting conversation areas, the Ibis is home to Fogg’s, a full service bar right in the lobby with friendly and attentive service. After a long ride from Heathrow into the heart of the city, that was our first stop, even before checking in!

We arrived earlier than the typical check-in time, as many travelers do, but the staff at the front desk was accommodating and helpful, finding the first available room for us to check into after such a long day. Available 24-hours a day, you’ll never find yourself without assistance if need be! One early morning I found myself needing a pair of scissors, of all things, and they gladly lent me a pair. Next to the concierge desk they also have free Wi-Fi stations where you can search for things to do around London, send an email, or just check Facebook.

The rooms at Ibis are clean, comfortable and conveniently located in Whitechapel.

The room itself was quite modern, clean, and cozy. As with many of our hotel experiences in Europe, the room’s design and efficiency were outstanding, with enough space to comfortably unpack, relax, take a shower and watch TV after a long day. Electrical outlets are conveniently placed next to the nightstands so you’re able to charge your phones and browse your computers while reclining. The bed was comfortable and we slept quite well after each day of city-wide excursions. We rarely spend more time in the room than while we’re asleep when traveling, and the Ibis’ welcoming décor and warmth definitely exceeded our expectations.

The hotel offers a generous spread for breakfast for a nominal fee (I believe we paid around ten Pounds), where you can find everything from eggs, bacon and sausage, to yogurt, cereal and fruit (in addition to many other options!). To find a quick bite when the Ibis’ restaurant isn’t available, simply walk next door to the conveniently located Tesco Express where we visited quite often whenever we needed snacks, toiletries, water (and, of course, beer!) or a quick sandwich to tide us over on a tube ride.

The fun and festive Spitalfields Market, walking distance of the Ibis London City.

The Ibis is located an easy walk away from the lively Whitechapel area, home of the expansive and bustling Old Spitalfields Market (one of our favorite places to visit in the area) as well as the infamous and legendary scenes of Jack the Ripper’s mysterious reign of terror in London. While in the area, make sure to check out the historical Ten Bells pub, directly across the street from the Spitalfields Market, our staple watering hole when in this area of London – and also one of the places where Jack the Ripper is rumored to have found some of his victims! For a quick drink – and an additional Ripper experience – check out the White Hart Pub, where we started a few of our daily journeys with a pints and delicious potato soup!

Stay at the Ibis, and have a few drinks with friends at the Ten Bells – where the Ripper roamed!

Our experience at the Ibis London City was welcoming, convenient and comfortable. With around the clock concierge we found it easy to come and go as we pleased, and with an on-site bar we found it easy to imbibe as we pleased as well! The location is excellent, the rooms inviting, and the staff accommodating.

Our verdict: Highly recommended

Contact

Website 

Address: 5 Commercial Street E1 6BF – London, UK

Phone : (+44) 207/4228400

 

 

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Review: Vienna’s Austria Trend Messe


Repeat after me – I do not have to stay in a hostel to save money. I do not have to stay in an expensive hotel to have a good time. When I choose a hotel, I will chose one with a great hotel bar.

There, doesn’t that feel better? If you’re looking to make good on your promise above, and you’re planning any time in Vienna, Austria, you would be wise to consider the Austria Trend Messe.

Austria Trend Hotel in Vienna (or, Wien, to the Austrians) is a hotel chain, albeit small, with additional locations in Salzburg, Linz and in neighboring Slovakia. With just over 20 locations, we aren’t talking about an overly commercialized or homogenized HoJo here, but rather a well-run, clean, fun establishment that is strategically located in a great area of Vienna near Rathauspark.

When you think of Austria Trend, think small, clean and modern.

In fact, there are numerous locations in Vienna. Among them is the Austria Trend Messe – Prater, so-called because of it’s proximity to the small, if not strange “Prater” park. The Prater is home to the Riesenrad, a 212-foot ferris wheel that played host to 1949’s film noir “The Third Man”, starring Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles.

This is where we called home while in Vienna.

Now, I fight as I begin writing this to not talk about how great Vienna really is. How beautiful the Christmas markets are or how besotted I am with this fair city. No, that will be for another time and another post. Just know that, if you’re looking for a great hotel that is close to the city center and inexpensive, the Austria Trend in Prater will give you access to anything you want.

Larger than you would think, warmer than you think, the Austria Trend in Prater isn’t flashy. You aren’t going to pull up in your cab and find yourself gripped by it’s beauty or opulence. Not should you. Great hotels for under $100 per night shouldn’t stun you. They should surprise you.

The rooms are fairly standard for budget hotels in the Euro zone – smaller in size, comfortable beds and small bathrooms that leave a linebacker-sized gent like myself a bit short on elbow space. I’m used to this when we travel, and quite honestly consider this my litmus test for hotels – if the shower doesn’t bruise my elbows, we paid too much. The style is stark, mostly white with faux wood along the headboard and setting behind desks and stands, with the basic amenities one would expect.

The location is good, not great. We cabbed regularly from the Trend, each time with the front desk agents (who were, by the way, incredibly well-trained and helpful) calling a local number for us which arrived within mere moments each time. The prices were always fair and the prices were consistent. Additionally, information about the city was easy to come by and communication was a breeze. Despite Tracy’s German ability, my relative inexperience in the language made me pleased that they did, in fact, speak English.

A view from the hotel restaurant

The Trend has a great breakfast buffet, open early enough to please the early birds and late enough for those nursing a hangover. Among the food is a wild assortment of simple fair such as bread and cereals to eggs, bacon, sausage and potatoes done multiple ways. The quality of the food is surprisingly good, and the restaurant, as well as the rest of the hotel, is supremely clean. Get your juice, get your coffee and some great grub, hail a cab and Vienna is yours for the day – from only a short distance away.

The Trend in Prater lies a bit on Central Vienna’s east side – only about 1,000 feet from the River Danube. We loved the location, although I would say it was a bit further from the city center than we originally realized. Great restaurants nearby? Well, yes. One, in particular, and we had a great time at L’Osteria, just a mere 200-yard walk from the front entrance of the hotel.

However, what will absolutely stand out about The Trend were the consecutive nights, sluggish from Christmas markets and jaunts around an absolutely break-taking city, where we were greeted by masses encircling a small hotel bar that we barely noticed other than to say “oh, there’s a bar” upon arrival. The small bar comes alive, stays open late and is somehow quietly withheld from the unknowing, the tourist, and in general people like us. Dozens of locals mix in discussions with one another, somehow without the general presence of the actual people staying in the hotel, who seem to enter the front entry and walk straight to their room, missing the best part of an otherwise fairly normal, nice hotel.

A few of the new friends we met at the hotel bar – open late!

Oh, what that bar did to us.

We met one at first, then two. Then five. Then pictures happened to prove the experience, and the next thing I know I’m drinking some sort of flaming thing in a hotel bar at 4am with a stunning group of people – from artists and photographers to business magnates and models. It was strange, but it was, in fact, surprising. It was fun. It was completely unexpected. It was what we hope for.

That’s how we like hotels.

That’s how we like travel.

The Austria Trend in Prater is what you want when you travel, with few bells and whistles but completely clean, inexpensive and reliable. The best part however, about hotels, restaurants and life itself, are always the surprises – and we had a few.

Our verdict: We recommend

Contact

Website: https://www.austria-trend.at/en

Address: Messestraße 2, 1020 Wien, Austria

Phone: +43 1 72727

 

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Review: Venice’s Hotel Vecellio


On our recent trip to Italy, Tracy and I followed a constant we follow that has always served us well – local, boutique hotels. We found an absolute gem, and one of the best hotel deals in Venice.

To us, there’s something about avoiding the commercialism of global chain hotels, something that adds to the ambiance and cultural imbibing of our visits. There’s something stellar and romantic to us about staying in a small hotel with local flavor that adds both comfort and a sense of local taste. Perhaps this isn’t for everyone, but for a traveling couple who would rather spend our budget on something other than accommodations, it seems to work.

In Venice, the hotel in which we stayed was the Vecellio, a 500-year-old establishment reputed to be the former home of the Venician painter Tiziano Vecellio (known in English as Titian). Vecellio sits idyllically on the Adriatic, pointing toward the famous glass-making island of Murano.

The outside entryway of the Vecellio marks its history as well as a nod to its former tenant.

This location, without question, is stunning. From our hotel window we could conveniently overlook the passing of the vaporetti, the Venician water taxi that serves both around the city via lagoons as well as a direct path to the Venice Marco Polo Airport. If you’re looking for which vaporetti stop is nearest to Vecellio, Fondamenta Nuove is merely a handful of feet away from the front entry-way. There are so many things to do close to this hotel, even by simply just walking outside to the canals and watching the day pass.

Vecellio has what we seek in a European hotel – small, comfortable and romantic with a helpful desk staff willing to give you locals-only tips to the city. This staff is family, literally, as the hotel is now family-owned, and conveniently English-speaking for monolingual travelers. For under $100 per night, we were surrounded by small, quaint cafes that lined the sea, facing the distant Dolomite Mountains and the crisp morning breeze pouring in from the Adriatic. It was an excellent way to wake up – coffee-stirring, smelling the waft of fresh pastry being put out all along the seaway. We booked our trip through European Destinations, a sister company under the TripMasters umbrella.

This was an area, while a stones-throw away from the Rialto Bridge and a 15-minute walk from St. Mark’s Square, felt just off the beaten-path and out of the way of the hoards of tourist which flocked to the area daily. After a day of walking the city or touring Murano and Burano, we could slip back into comfortable solitude while watching the evening pass. It was in Burano that we had possibly the best meal of our lives at Trattoria al Gatto Nero, after which we took a simple boat back to the hotel and avoided stumbling through crowds of passers-by.

The recently-renovated lobby serves a delicious, simple breakfast and helps one to feel immediately relaxed upon entry.

The rooms at Vecellio are small, yes, but also romantic. In fact, we found them to be among the most romantic hotel rooms in Europe. The beautifully-aged interior speaks to classic Venice, and the plush, red upholstry could easily move the couple looking for quite time together. They were equipped with the standard needs – comfortable queen-size bed, shower, towel warmer, large bathrooms, ample closet space and excellent service. Additionally, Vecellio is a pet-friendly establishment for those with small, furry friends in tow.

Recently renovated, Vecellio has updated it’s look to abide by the times without losing it’s unique Venician energy. Can you shell out hundred of euros per night and stay along the Rialto? Of course. However, the location of Vecellio truly is central if you consider the proximity to Murano and Burano, and you simply can’t beat the convenience and charm of this absolutely adorable location.

Our verdict: We absolutely recommend.

Contact

Website: http://www.hotelvecellio.com/

Address: Sestiere Cannaregio, 5039, 30121 Venezia, Italy

Phone: +39 041 523 8743