Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pillow Talk

Where to lay our weary heads is a big part of the travel adventure for us.

Although our budget is always tight, we have found ways to get around a huge hotel bill. Our criteria: clean; safe and central location; elevator. What we are willing to sacrifice: room service, American-style beds, in-room movies, and an international reputation.

For a big city, I always search the Rick Steves guide books first. His recommendations for hotels are usually well-priced, especially in the off-season. He sometimes suggests staying away from the center of town for cheaper hotels, and we don't like to do that. Then I research it myself.

I look at a city map and locate the 5-Star hotels, and the nicest restaurants in the guidebook. With those addresses in mind, I google the name of the city and find listings of small hotels nearby with less than ten rooms. That is an indication that they are family-run, which means the owners take pride in making everything as clean and charming as possible.

Small villages don't have many alternatives and we just take our chances.

This ancient Czech hotel boasted recent renovation and "new wall-to-wall carpeting." Literally. It was everywhere; it even lined the inside of the elevator doors! There was nothing on the walls to distract from the new towel racks, no hooks, no cupboard knobs, no hangers. It seemed a shame to spread our wet coats and towels on the lovely carpet to dry, but there was no other option.

There was a lovely view, however.

Every time I looked out the window I had to take another picture of this scene
in Cesky Krumlov.
Who needs a towel rack?

There wasn't much room in the bathroom anyway.
We really had to suck in just to climb into the shower (the door is wide open in this picture.)
I dropped the soap and had to get out in order to bend over and pick it up!

The Hotel Kaiserin Elizabeth in Vienna had beautiful front doors.
It probably had towel racks, too, for $350 a night.

Around the corner was our hotel,
Pension Neuer Markt.
Low season price was $156.

The hotel was on the upper floors of the building, so we took this green lift up to our room. (Remember the chain-pulled elevator in the movie Charade?) It was just a tiny bit bigger than our shower, and encouraged honeymooners with the tight fit. Creaking and wheezing, it took us to a little lobby with a breakfast nook. We've noticed that the less expensive the hotel is, the bigger the breakfast is, and it's always included. The Kaiserin Elizabeth charges extra for theirs.

Our room in the Neuer Markt featured a spacious closet (with hangers,)

...another fabulous view.

We were asleep before our heads hit the pillow.


i'm kelly said...

i've been loving your recap & all your travel how-to's... lots of fun to read. i'm so ready to go on a trip .

Ashlee said...

I just love the carpet on the walls. :0) Such a great idea. Would be a pain to vacuum though.

Bridget said...

Wow, those views are beautiful! One of my favorite trips with my husband was to Norway where he served his mission. We took a night train one night from Oslo to Bergen. It was of course a tiny little fold down bed for each of us but the views out the window and the motion of the train falling asleep was amazing.

Jessica said...

I wish I was going somewhere internationally soon, so I could use all this clever advice!

kenju said...

Your views were wonderful! The beds in the top photo looked great; I hope they were as good as they looked.

mama jo said...

what great the shower...