Friday, 21 July 2017

Taxi Scam Alert! A Stay at Sheraton Bucharest

A Bad First Impression of Bucharest

First Taxi Scam in a long time!


Stayed October 2016


After an overnight stay in Athens, I arrived in Bucharest in the late evening.

Why Romania?

Thanks to a certain tennis player named Simona Halep (who disappointingly was runner-up in this year's French Open) and that I saw some of my friends visiting the country (Ms Moon L. and Ms Stacie T!).

After reading many horror stories about the taxis in Bucharest, including kidnap and murder, I made a point to read about the best way to get a cab at the airport.

My research concluded that I should order a taxi from the booth at the airport and the booth will issue me a ticket stating the company and taxi number. While using the booth, I had to choose which taxi company from the various rates offered. The cheapest one kept timing out and resulted in a long queue at the booths. It took me 30 mins to get a cab and after choosing a slightly more expensive company.

The ride was fine and when I reached the hotel, I was quoted a fare 3 times than my research prepared me for.

And so, I asked him again for the fare several times and he insisted on the high amount.

It was late and there was no staff at the entrance of the hotel so I paid up and entered the hotel.

At the front desk (to the right of the lobby), I asked about the usual fare from the airport and despite the slightly more expensive rate, I definitely paid at least twice as much.

Front Desk

The staff apologized for my bad first impression of Bucharest and Romania and proceeded to call the taxi company to complain about the driver.

The ticket printed at the booth supplied the information needed and I was told Bucharest is trying to improve her image and reduce such taxi scams. Unfortunately, I still ended up a victim.

Granted it was a small amount equivalent to 20 Euros, the feeling of being cheated still didn't feel very good.

Thankfully, it was all great from this point!

My platinum elite status granted me breakfast as my elite gift, and lounge access, as well as a complimentary upgrade to a suite.


Brightly lit corridors

Living Room of Suite

Toilet

Bathroom

The comfortable bed

Standard Sheraton Toiletries

Complimentary Drinking Water

Complimentary Fruit
Bucharest is indeed a rather affordable city, looking at the prices of in-room snacks.

Sorry for the unclear picture!


The view of Bucharest from the hotel revealed a somewhat sobering image of decaying buildings amongst new constructions.




The Executive Lounge was a mid-sized room which didn't serve breakfast but was good for tea and evening cocktails (read: early dinner).


Business Room at the Lounge







The Japanese restaurant at the hotel is named one of the best in the city and I was glad about seeing sushi at the lounge.

However, I would say the taste and texture is rather different from what I am used to.


 A small and empty gym exists in the hotel as well.


Breakfast was served on the second level and was a good spread, the staff were relatively fast considering the number of people at breakfast daily.

The spread was fair, typical of a Sheraton.











I would say I enjoyed Bucharest for the affordability, but I wouldn't be back anytime soon.

I also wonder what became of the complaint to the taxi company about the taxi scam.

Most importantly, this is a reminder that no matter how much research and planning, things can still go wrong.

Happy and Healthy (and safe) travels!


Friday, 16 June 2017

The Best Athens Hotel, A Revisit to the Hotel Grand Bretagne

Still one of the Best Experiences despite a hiccup

The Bane known as DCC


Stayed October 2016
Written June 2017

Ouzo!

After leaving Dubrovik and the delightful Hilton, my next destination would be Bucharest in Romania via Athens. I had a night to spend in Athens and I was thinking of the Sofitel at the airport, the nearby Holiday Inn or back to my favourite Hotel Grand Bretagne in central Athens.

After much deliberation, I decided to go to back to the GB (my previous sterile review is here) as I did not want to waste time around the airport. Similar to my previous stay, I received an email prior to my stay and gave some feedback on my last visit.

The hotel is the usual place for interviews of celebrities and politicians in Athens as the Parliament House is in one view and the Acropolis in the opposite view.


Friday, 19 May 2017

Closest to the City Walls, the Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik

King's Landing for GOT fans

The Grand Old Dame of the Modern City


Stayed October 2016
Written May 2017

City Walls and Monastery


From the Sheraton, I moved to the Hilton which is in Dubrovnik and is located right outside the City Walls.

The proximity allowed me to visit the Old Town easily both in the day and at night.

View from the Gate



Entrance

The hotel is quite small and intimate and the Front Desk is tucked by the side of the entrance.


Hotel Lounge


Corridors

As an elite member, I was thankfully upgraded to a Executive Room with a view of the City Walls from the balcony.


Orange seems to be the dominant colour which is rather unusual but decidedly unique.



The toilet was unfortunately really tiny and cramped. It would perhaps be better without the bathtub.


Hilton Diamond status granted me access to the lounge as well as complimentary breakfast at the restaurant downstairs.




The lounge offers afternoon tea and evening canapes. Some lounges offer quite an insane amount of food during cocktail hours sufficient for dinner, but this wasn't one of them.





Breakfast was not too bad and many of the tour groups leave pretty early and the place clears out for a peaceful meal.









During my stay at the Hilton, I went on day trips to Mostar and Kotor as well, and had fun taking a great number of photos. Being one of the most well-known hotels in the city, tour pickups were not an issue at all.





A short walk from the hotel would bring me to the cable-car station for an elevated view of the Old Walled City of Dubrovnik, with the opportunity for pizza at a famous shop along the way.


One of the surprises was receiving a printed copy of LianHe ZaoBao, the Chinese version of the Singapore newspaper. I much prefer to read the Straits Times in English although I have no problem reading Mandarin, being effectively bilingual.


Turn-down service was fine too, with some additional snacks on the table and a piece of chocolate.




The gym was not very big, but there were hardly any users anyway, so there's lots of space!

Spa and Gym Reception




I didn't have time to explore the spa and indoor pool, but the pictures from the hotel's website look pretty nice!

Credit: Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik


Last but not least, remember to go to the top floor to get some pictures of the Old Town!




Happy and Healthy Travels!