Tuesday, 19 September 2017

A tired Intercontinental Prague at the Edge of Old Town

With a Rolls-Royce Showroom, Poor Wifi

And Great Shopping!

Stayed Mar 2017

After the once-in-a-lifetime stay at the Gritti Palace, I found my way to Prague in the Czech Republic (Or Czechoslovakia for those stuck in a time machine) where the residents are supposedly unimaginably good-looking as I was told.

A quick fuss free ride from the airport put me in the hotel lobby in no time!

The check in was not that fast and as I want to get to my room to rest as fast as possible too, I think I wasn't too patient. I also opted for the breakfast the next morning as it was not included in my rate.

Having read previous reviews, one thing I noticed was that it was pretty old and another was the Rolls-Royce showroom.

From the lobby to my room, it was indeed obvious that the hotel is pretty old and it felt rather like the late 80s in the elevator.

The room looked rather worn as well but the toilet was rather fine, and the marbled walls reminded me of the incomparable bathroom in the Gritti Palace.

I believe I was upgraded to a bigger (corner) room but I wasn't paying attention at the front desk as I was really tired. On the table was a plate of snacks and 2 bottles of water with another bottle of wine, and I still have no idea what Qvijote means even after plugging it in Google Search.

One issue I had was the poor WIFI in the room. I endured it for a day and called the front desk the next day. A router was sent to my room and it solved the problem.

Breakfast was served at the restaurant to the side of the lobby and I felt it was not worth the price, although I was intrigued by the 'Chinese bowls' available.

Perhaps to cater to Chinese tourists??

The hotel is really at the edge of the Old Town and a quick 5 to 10 mins walk gets one to the Town Square and the famous Astronomical Clock.

The Charles Bridge and Prague Castle were nearby too but in another direction.

There were many famous brand boutiques in the old houses near the hotel as well and fans would be delighted to find quite a number of items priced at 30-40% less, including LV and Tods.

A pair of Bally shoes bought at the store at the hotel went at 30% less as well.

My UOB credit card had a really good workout in the city.

Before leaving the hotel, I finally took a look at the Rolls-Royce showroom, followed by complimentary drinks at the lobby bar as part of my elite benefits.

I was so glad to see 'Singapore Sling' listed!

I didn't have a chance to use the gym and pool but merely took a look and photo.

Gathering my thoughts and opinions, I would say this is an excellent hotel if location is important, but otherwise I am not impressed with the hardware nor the service.

The price of 75 Euros per night was defnitely a mitigating factor.

And I didn't opt for breakfast on subsequent days too.

Happy and Healthy travels!

Friday, 25 August 2017

Testing my 360 camera at The Gritti Palace and the Carnevale di Venezia

If it's good enough for Scarlett Johansson

Attended the Carnival incidentally

Stayed Feb 2017  

The Santa Maria della Salute
The highlight of this particular trip was Venice. Italy has always been a place to visit for me, and in fact, I made my refundable bookings for Venice in Jun 2016, even before my visit to Rome in October 2016.

I had always been interested in the Gritti Palace which has been frequently featured on many 'The Best' lists and is probably the best hotel in Venice.

I first knew about the hotel 2 years ago when it was featured on the Starwood Hot Escapes site and yet the discounted rates were still almost 1000 Euros per night!

So, I searched for a good rate and decided on 28th Feb 2017. It was still more than 400 Euros per night at a refundable rate but that was the lowest I've seen it at. Subsequently, the rates increased and even the prepaid rates were more than that.

I made a booking at the Westin as well, but due to changes to my flight itinerary, I cancelled it some time later.

Closer to the trip I realized that Feb 28 was the last day of the Carnevale di Venezia which definitely was a factor in the increase of the hotel rates.

Easily missed Sign

Looking for the hotel was not very easy as the buildings in Venice looked pretty ancient and the hotel did not look particularly outstanding.

On the other side of the door is expectedly a transformation from the plain exterior to an opulent interior.

Key Deposit
Lobby and Check-in
Side of Lobby
Check in was done seated and done by Ms Frederica who informed me that I have been upgraded to a nice suite!

However, it wasn't ready yet and I was asked to spend some time in the waiting area.

Waiting Area

While waiting, I explored the ground floor a little as well, looking at the décor as well as the outdoors.

Random Object
Entrance to Restaurant Club del Doge
Ancient Chair

The hotel has its own jetty for guests arriving by water taxi which costs 110 Euros per way. This is actually just double the price for a group of 4 as the water bus still costs 15 Euros per way per person but is so much slower and only arrives at designated stops.

Private Jetty
To the left of the jetty is the great view of the Santa Maria and indeed magnificent.

The Santa Maria
There is a lift in the hotel and the keys are still in use rather than magnetic cards. The corridor was contrastingly plain to the other parts of the hotel.

Room Key with a Nice Tassel
The suite I received is named the Serenissima Suite and has a toilet in the living space.

Living Room
Toilet in the Living Room

On the table were the welcome gifts and fresh flowers. Inside the box were some chocolates and the box is currently sitting on my dining table.

Welcome gifts galore!
Fresh Flowers
The spa menu was on the table beside and the prices expectedly steep.

Spa menu
Insane Prices
Taking out my tripod and new camera I took a photo of the living room and voila!
Living Room Gritti Palace Suite - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA
The bedroom was also as opulent as can be and I definitely felt like a king on the bed.

The comfortable bed!

The door to the left led to the dressing table, the wardrobe and the very ostentatious bathroom.

An Aged Mirror
A peek at the bathroom
A full marble bathroom with Murano glassware made my day as I would probably never spend money on such an ornate setting in my own home.

Double Basin
Gorgeous Bathtub
Murano glass for rinsing the mouth? Sure!
Acqua Di Parma products
 Of course I had to take another 360 photo of the bathroom!
Bathroom Gritti Palace Suite - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA
After a good rest in the suite, I went out to attend the last day of the Carnevale and to enjoy the costumes on display! But, please leave your key at the hotel key deposit. Many of the locals were very nicely dressed in the traditional costumes and masks and I think some of the tourists looked more than they were celebrating Halloween.

As the celebrations ended, I returned to the hotel for a good dinner at the Club del Doge. The staff really do remember which room the guests are in as I was given the correct key without asking upon reaching the counter. The setting of the restaurant was warm and calm and the service was attentive. A great end to an exciting concluding day of the Carnevale.

Restaurant Reception
Restaurant Interior
Bread and Olive butter
Seafood Pasta
No idea
Seafood Fry
Complimentary Venetian Dessert
And I was back in the morning for breakfast! Prices are also quite steep so it was great my rate was inclusive of breakfast!

Morning View
Fruit Spread
Yummy Pastries
Cold Cuts
Morning Drink anyone?
Water for me
Pies and Tarts
Nice Display!
33 Euros for a simple Continental Breakfast? I'll take the buffet
53 Euros per person? Glad my rate includes breakfast!
A la carte menu
What I ordered
Even lemons come with a ribbon

After a great breakfast, I took another walk around Venice and explore the famous sights including the Rialto bridge. Before leaving the hotel, I took a look at the 'Hallway of Fame' for the celebrities who have stayed here. Of course, Ms "ScarJo" is there.
Scarlett Jo

As well as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

And many others, past and present.

Greta Garbo
Elizabeth Taylor
Margot Hemingway

A wonderful stay at a hotel that I have been looking at for several years. A good upgrade to a suite which was going for 2.3k Euros per night.

Onwards to the next destination!

Happy And Healthy Travels!