Review: Staying with @Housetrip in Lisbon

Yellow Vintage Tram in Lisbon Portugal

Travelling long term and living in hotels is not fun. You have no privacy, no space and no possibilities to cook. Even for short stays it’s nice to have your own space like at home and you don’t have to worry about housekeeping knocking on the door at 9am. That’s why I mostly stay in apartments these days so I can live like I would at home and experience the destination like a local.

Lisbon Apartment with Housetrip.com

The Location

This was my first visit to Lisbon and even though it was a short trip I was determined to experience it like a local. I was provided with an apartment in the Marques de Pombal area of Lisbon by Housetrip.com to use during my stay. It’s a great area with a few cafes, supermarkets and the metro nearby but it’s not a touristy area so you’re mostly on your own with the locals.

The Apartment

I stayed with a group of seven people in a massive apartment which sleeps up to 12 people. I’m not sure how 12 people would go sharing one bathroom (though there is a second WC) but this apartment would be perfect for a large family or two couples sharing. Of course HouseTrip has many other apartments in Lisbon to choose from and it’s an incredibly affordable was to stay. Our apartment was only £38/night for two people which is so much cheaper than a hotel. There is an additional charge for extra people but it’s usually only an extra £10 or £15 per night depending on the apartment.

Housetrip Apartment in Lisbon

The Kitchen

Lisbon has fantastic food options including amazing fresh fish and seafood dishes and their famous spicy piri piri Portuguese chicken.

Fresh SeafoodPiri Piri Chicken in Lisbon

But sometimes it’s more relaxing (and cheaper) to eat at home and this apartment has a wonderful modern kitchen where you could cook up a storm.

Living Like a Local in Lisbon

The Bathroom

The seven of us managed surprisingly well with only one bathroom. I was a bit worried at first as to how it was going to work out be we were all very considerate and managed without any problems! That second WC definitely came in handy though.

The Modern Bathroom

The Bedrooms

The bedrooms were clean and tidy. I got a great room with loads of natural light and plenty of space to hang my clothes.

Cool Apartment in Lisbon

Living in Lisbon Like a Local

I really do prefer this way of travelling. I’ve had enough of staying in sterile hotels and would much prefer to stay in an apartment when visiting a city. This is a trend nowadays with more and more people choosing to stay in apartments over hotels and hostels and it’s not surprising when you consider the price savings and the better experience.

Mercure Hotel Trier Review

Trier is a popular destination in Germany for tourism. The city is famous for its Roman history with many well preserved buildings and some ruins remaining from the Roman period. Most of these sights are located within a short distance of each other so it’s handy to stay in a centrally located hotel. On my recent trip to Trier I stayed at the Mercure Hotel Trier Porta Nigra ideally located opposite the city’s number one attraction, the Porta Nigra.

Mercure Hotel Trier Porta Nigra View

The Room

The room was very large and the bed was typical German style with two single beds pushed together and individual bed covers. When I first travelled in Germany I found this kind of setup strange but I actually quite like it now. We each have plenty of space and there is no fighting over sheets or blankets!

The Bathroom

The bathroom was also on the large size with a shower over the bath. The hotel is a little on the older side but as with most hotels in Germany is was spotlessly clean.

The Breakfast

While the breakfast itself was not particularly memorable I’ll never forget the view from the restaurant. The above photo of the Porta Nigra was taken while I had my breakfast. I happily lingered over my toast and tea while I took it all in and imagined the Romans living in the city all those years ago.

The Location

It’s obvious from the Porta Nigra photo that the location is perfect. You just need to cross the road to be through the city gate and into the old town. If you are arriving by car the Mercure Hotel Trier has private paid parking and finding the hotel was very easy.

Summary

As part of the Accor brand, Mercure hotels are fairly standard but that also means they are very clean and well taken care of. The Mercure Hotel in Trier is well worth it for the location and that fab view.


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Hip Hotel in Heidelberg

Heidelberg is a fairytale-like town on the Neckar River in the west of Germany. It has a sandstone hilltop castle which overlooks the historic old town which is nestled along the pretty riverside location. It’s one of the most visited cities in Germany and it’s a young, dynamic university town.

The Hip Hotel in Heidelberg is located more or less in the centre of the old town on the main pedestrian street a few minutes from the Marktplatz main square and the river. You couldn’t pick a better location and the renovated boutique hotel has a range of rooms which aren’t numbered but named.

Hip Hotel Room Names

The Room

We were lucky enough to be upgraded to the Heidelberg suite which is a massive room on the top floor with its own terrace with a glimpse of Heidelberg Castle. I wasn’t sure what to do with so much space, especially considering it was much larger than my Paris apartment, but it was definitely a nice change for us. The bed was comfy and we each had slippers which is a necessity if I want to feel a little spoiled. 🙂

Heidelberg Hotel Germany

The Terrace

The terrace was unexpected but welcome. It was nice to sit outside and relax or in my case listen to the cheering from below from the 1000s of football fans following the European Cup. This would be a great spot to have breakfast or to enjoy a little picnic on a sunny day.

Roof Terrace in Heidelberg

The Bathroom

The bathroom was modern, as expected. I wasn’t crazy about having to take a shower in the bath, especially as that meant water going everywhere because there was no curtain but otherwise the bathroom was clean and fresh.

Hip Hotel Bathroom

The Breakfast

Breakfast at the Hip Hotel was pretty standard except for the champagne that came along with it. I love champagne breakfasts and haven’t had that in years! It was such a nice surprise.

Champagne Breakfast at the Hip Hotel

The Restaurant

I don’t usually eat at hotel restaurants but I was feeling tired after a long drive and we had a 10% discount so we decided to go for it. The Hip Hotel restaurant has modern German cuisine which basically means grilled meat and veges presented in a very nice way. I had some very tender lamb and F had a steak which he said was great. My order got messed up a little but they took it back to the kitchen and quickly redid it so all was good in the end. I think this place is a little pricey compared to other restaurants in Heidelberg but the food was definitely prepared to a high standard so it depends on what your priorities are.

The Location

As I said earlier, the location of the hotel is pretty much perfect if you’re spending a few days sightseeing in Heidelberg. It’s situated on the main pedestrian street which is right in the thick of things. Heidelberg is a small city so the hotel is walking distance to pretty much every place you’d visit on a typical visit to the city. If you have a car you can drive down the pedestrian street to drop off you bags at the hotel and the reception will give you the easy directions to the nearby public car park.

Summary

I stayed at the Hip Hotel courtesy of Heidelberg Tourism and the hotel but I couldn’t have chosen a better hotel myself. The service and quality of the rooms was excellent and the location unbeatable.


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Renting a Villa in Catalonia

Catalonia is one of my favourite regions in Spain. You have the Pyrenees mountains, medieval towns and the beautiful Costa Brava coastline. There is a great mix of things to see and do and if you’re planning on spending a bit of time exploring the region I suggest renting a villa to use as a base and then take day trips to nearby towns and beaches.

I’ve visited Catalonia a few times now and on the last occasion I was a guest of Charming Villas Catalonia. They offer a range of accommodation in the region from apartments in Barcelona to luxury villas on the Costa Brava. Here are some of my favourite villas from my recent stay in Catalonia.

Huge Villa Near Girona

If you have a large family or can get a group of friends together this villa just near Girona would be perfect. There are countless rooms and bathrooms plus a huge kitchen and dining area where you can enjoy your own meals. The villa is away from the highway and main village so you have complete privacy here to relax by the pool or to do a little hiking.

Charming Villas Catalonia

Villa Near Girona

Medieval Village Home in Besalu

I love medieval villages and Besalu is one of the most popular in Catalonia. The village house Mas Tallaferro is a luxurious residence right in the centre of the old town. Basing yourself here has the benefit of being walking distance to cafes and restaurants and a short drive to other Catalonian cities like Girona, Figueres and Cadaques. We also made paella in the back garden.

Paella in Besalu

Villa in Besalu Catalonia

Quiet Village Home

This 3 bedroom 3 bathroom villa is ideal for a smaller group. It’s centrally located not far from Figueres and the Costa Brava beaches or you can hang out in the villa and enjoy the private pool.

Villa Near Figueres

Renting a villa in Catalonia

Unbeatable Luxury on the Costa Brava

Eight bedrooms each with a private bathroom, multiple living areas including a theatre room, huge stainless steel kitchen and a spectacular infinity pool. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in a more luxurious villa and you can even arrange for a wine tasting evening or private chef if you really want to spoil yourself. This villa near Cadaques is unbeatable if it’s in your budget.

Villa with an infinity pool near Cadaques

Luxury Villa Cadaques

Renting a villa can work out to be a cheap way to stay in Catalonia, especially if you can get a group together to split the costs. Even staying in a luxury villa can be affordable if the cost is shared between 3 or 4 couples and it’s the perfect base to use for visiting Catalonia in Spain.

Living Like a Local in London

Living in London

More and more people are choosing to rent a holiday home when travelling rather than a hotel room and I can totally understand why. You get to live like a local. You can shop in local markets and cook your own food. You have plenty of space to live in and you don’t need to be bothered by the cleaners knocking on your door at 9am. Renting a holiday home especially makes sense if you are interested in slow travel and prefer to spend weeks or even a month or more in the one location. The longer you rent the cheaper your accommodation costs will be and the more you’ll feel at home in your destination.

One Fine Stay

Not all short stay holiday home sites are the same however. OneFineStay.com is a little different than most you see around as they focus on upscale houses and apartments with all the amenities you’ll find in a top hotel. You book online as you would with a hotel and you have the option of daily maid service. Another benefit is that the owners leave tips for things to do and places to eat in the area. I’m trying to focus on slow travel but I still like a little luxury so this is the kind of accommodation I’m leaning towards using.

Where to Stay in London

I lived in London for a while, just near Little Venice and briefly in East London but neither are my favourite parts of the city. If I was recommend a place to stay in London it would be one of the following areas.

Borough Market

The Borough Market is a fantastic foodie market with loads of little stores selling fresh food and pre-prepared meals. You can get delicious olives, cured meats and fresh cheese and plenty of wine and international beer. For dessert you can pick up cupcakes, French pastries and even Aussie Lamingtons. The Borough Market/Southwark area is one of my favourite parts of London and mostly likely the area I’d choose to live if I was to return to London.

Covent Garden

I’m not sure Convent Garden would be a great place to live long-term as it is constantly packed with locals and tourists but it’s undoubtedly one of the best spots in London for shopping. If the primary purpose of your stay in London is shopping then this might be the area for you.

Notting Hill

Notting Hill Gate is one of the most popular areas in West London where you’ll find great restaurants, markets, bakeries and pubs as well as quiet parks to get away from the noise of the city. This is a lively area and a great place to immerse yourself in London life.

Those are a few of my favourite places in London. Where would you recommend staying in the capital?

Hotel Am Terrassenufer Dresden

Immediately upon entering my hotel room at Hotel Am Terrassenufer I saw this:

Hotel Am Terrassenufer Dresden

I went out and took some night photos of Dresden and the next morning I woke up to this:

Hotel Am Terrassenufer View

I know there’s a lot more to a hotel than the view but that’s a pretty good start and you won’t find a view like this in any other hotel in Dresden.

The Room

The room was huge, one of the biggest I’ve stayed in for quite some time. The bed was huge too, with two separate doonas which is commonplace in Germany. Wifi was fast but not included in the price of the room which unfortunately is also commonplace in Germany. There is no air conditioner in the rooms. Of course the view of the city skyline is the main attraction and I suggest asking for a room with a view on a high floor when you book.

Hotel Room in Dresden

Room With a View Dresden

The Bathroom

The bathroom was quite basic with just a shower with a shower curtain but it was spotlessly clean.

Dreden Hotel Bathroom

The Breakfast

The breakfast buffet is served downstairs overlooking the garden. There was plenty to choose from, all kinds of sliced meats, cheese, hot food, cereal, etc. The breakfast staff didn’t speak much English but they did their best to understand me and were very friendly.

The Location

Located right on the Elbe River and a 10 minute walk to the Frauenkirche, museums and opera, the Hotel Am Terrassenufer is perfectly situated. If you are arriving by train, the hotel is a short tram ride away from the main train station and the tram stops just in front of the hotel at the New Synagogue tram stop.

Summary

The clean large rooms, great location, friendly staff and of course the view make the Hotel Am Terrassenufer a great choice if you’re looking for a hotel in Dresden.


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