Lisbon and Spain • March 2016 / 4
How do you write one post and include all the hotels? I’ll give it a try. I already did toiletries in their bathrooms, so now it’s just how we slept while on the trip. There’s more variation in this than one might imagine.
Av. Praia da Vitória 30, Lisboa, Portugal
The Olissippo, in Lisbon, is normally a $200/night hotel, but since we were off-season, it cost it about half of that (I can’t help but compare our bare-bones hotel in Geneva for that same $200/night to the relative luxury of the Lisbon digs, and the two stays were only one month apart). This room was spacious, the bed was a perfect mattress with no “roll-you-together” mattress, and the pillows were nice.We had places for both our suitcases–one up here on the left of the desk and one on shelf in the closet. And look! Two chairs! A true luxury, along with plenty of electrical outlets for the five “devices” that we were carrying: 2 mobile phones, 2 iPads, 1 computer.View out the window. Cool hallway that lit up when you progressed.Interesting decor in the lobby, delineating the reception area from the bar area (we never saw anyone sitting in the bar).Elevator sign. It reminded us to get used to the 0-floor being our American 1st floor.
Calle Farnesio 6 y calle San Jose, 10
Barrio de Santa Cruz, 41004 Seville, Spain
We’d sat down before we left home with an internet site and figured out which hotels we would use mass public transit to get to, and which we would use a taxi. This one was taxi, but he could only get so far, as the entrance was up a side street and no vehicles could get there. (I later saw carts of goods arriving to our hotel; it reminded us of Venice, with all the goods arriving by sea. . . and then by cart.)
So he pointed when we arrived, and we schlepped our luggage up to find this lovely welcoming entrance. We stayed in The Amadeus Hotel in the old Jewish ghetto (Santa Cruz) of Sevilla. There were restaurants everywhere, and the cathedral was only a five-minute walk away. Great location.
Our room was that door up there, but luckily they had an elevator in the corner, so we could get our luggage upstairs. Yes, it’s a music-themed hotel. Our room was “Mozart.”Looking down from our room (you can see the elevator).
Tile in our room.And…the view from above. On the top floor was a small eating area for breakfast. We decided to try it the last day and after waiting for 20 minutes, just to get a place to sit down, we skipped it.
The bed was good, the room was small, there was no place for luggage. Dave used the bottom shelf of the rounded cupboard in the corner, and I used a small bench. The room was full of stuff: bench, portable air conditioner, two bedside tables, corner hutch, console on one wall, but it all looked nice even though there was no space. Plugs: a decent amount, as long as you used the one in the bathroom and the one behind the bedside table.View down and outside our window.View across the way. The first afternoon, we crashed for a while, but the little boys from the apartments across the way were loud and wild in their game of soccer, so we gave up. We thought they were probably school-aged, but were surprised to see there were three boys, aged about 5 and 6. Future opera stars with the way they projected their voices. A/C unit to the right, two wooden doors that folded back, and a tiny 1-foot wide balcony, with windows that folded inward. All charming.
C/Tomás Conde, 10, Cordoba, 14004 Spain
Moving on to our next town: Cordoba, and Las Casas de la Juderia. We took a taxi from the train station to this place, and the driver turned in on the cobblestone streets, as we were in the old town section, not too far from the Mezquita. The check in went smoothly, with uniformed staff and there was a picture of the King and Queen of Spain on the wall, letting us know we were in a Swanky Place. No kidding.We didn’t get driven around in this, but this hotel did have some excavations going in one part of the hotel, showing its historic importance. Okay, that’s two things to check off the hotel list: (1) King stayed here and (2) Important Historical Site.Oh, but it’s so pretty!
There were two courtyards, and our room was off the left one, complete with water feature, fountains, sculpted shrubbery in the gardens and little tables: shades of Southern Spain.The door to our room.
Large bank of closets, with lights that turn on when you open the doors. It also had a room safe (we’ve come to really depend on these), real glass glasses, art on the walls, and decent lighting.I’ve come to really like room maps, as I get to see what other rooms are like and the layout of the hotel. It’s true, our window looked out onto a stairwell, so it’s obvious that the room rate we were paying was discount, but this hotel’s priciest room was going for four times what we paid. But then, we’re not the King and Queen of Spain.The public rooms were like well-equipped libraries. With rugs.When we came back to our rooms after dinner, the lighting made the place magical.
C/ Mesones, 15 18001 – Granada, Spain
If Cordoba’s hotel was where the King and Queen stayed, Granada’s hotel was were their footmen would have stayed. We’d put on our request that we get a quiet room with a double bed. So right off the bat, the guy behind the desk asks us if we’d like to “upgrade” to a quieter room on the interior of the hotel with a double bed. Eye roll. It’s like they use you, against you. So we got keys to both rooms, went and looked and decided that for the extra money we’d put up with it.
This was the view out the window in the bathroom, down onto the pedestrian street below. The bathroom had a set of glass doors that opened up onto a wee balcony. The bedroom’s windows were hard to get to, as they were behind a chair and the curtains didn’t open easily.I have to mention the clever writing on the toiletries in the bathroom. Check out the hairdryer post for more. Looking straight ahead out the bathroom window. I liked the view.
The two beds were pushed together, so we made do. They were pretty good mattresses, good pillows, really good towels in the bathroom (interestingly, they got some things absolutely right) and it was clean. We also had two chairs, a desk, the ubiqitous TV (that we never use) and an array of snacks to purchase.Sign on the front door.
Calle de la Victoria 4
Puerta del Sol, 28012 Madrid, Spain
And. . . if the hotel in Granada was where the King’s footmen might have stayed, Hotel Victoria was where the people that clean up after the horses might have stayed. You can see by the map above what I thought about our hotel: useful only for a reference to the fabric shops in Madrid’s center. We arrived at night, but I’d done my homework and navigated us via the Metro system to the hotel. We had made our reservations over 3 months ago, but when we asked for our double bed, the 20 year-old chick behind the desk looked like we’d shot her. “I’m so sorry,” she began, but we were insistent. So she gave us our room key, and it was on the first floor–not the quietest room in Madrid. We pointed that out to her, and she said, “Oh it will be quieter on Monday. The weekends are always noisy.” This did not inspire confidence. We schlepped our stuff up to the room, and couldn’t get the key to work. A passing guest — a college-aged student with his girlfriend (this should have been our first clue) gave us tips on how to open the door. We pushed it open and couldn’t really get our luggage in more than three feet. The bathroom was off to the left, and in front of us were two twin beds and a double bed. Right. We went back down to ask for a better room.
“There are no other rooms,” she said. “We are fully booked.” Hackles are raised. We persist. At that point of her basically telling us to take it or
shove leave it, the manager from the restaurant attached to the hotel shows up. He intervenes, taking two keys with us and showing us two other rooms. They are basically dorm rooms. Everyone we see is college-aged. Tired tourists that we are, we finally put two+two together, realizing that we’ve booked ourselves into a crash pad for traveling students. It’s two nights. It’s late. We’re tired. We will survive. The hotel manager helps us rearrange the furniture to get the two twin beds together, and we take the room.
The chick at the front desk will not even look at us after that.
This is the only picture I have of our room, with the bags from the laundry slung onto the bed. Round-up: minimal plugs (we were able to get a three-plug adapter from the front desk), okay beds (my head slanted slightly downward), feeble pillows, one chair, one skinny desk, a round table that floated somewhere near the door, and because we’d moved the beds (I need to be able to roll over my snoring husband in the night), I turned off the lights every time I put my pillow up to sit up in bed. Luckily we weren’t there much. In the middle of the night, I heard a party going up the hall, then down the hall, and we could see hordes of youth throughout the hotel’s public areas. The good? It’s very clean and the location is great.
Provenca, 279, 08037 Barcelona, Spain
Dave, a major lover of breads if there ever was one (having to go gluten-free is his nightmare), found us this last hotel: a charming little hotel over the top of Baluard Bakery in the L’Eixample neighborhood of Barcelona. It was a perfect place to wrap our our trip to Lisbon and Spain.I keep saying little, because it was snug quarters all around, but the fact that it exuded charm made up for its small space. The door you see above is the entrance to the room. We go through the bathroom to get to the bed, but what fabulous tile, right? Lots of shelf space for our toiletries, not so much for our suitcases. Dave put his on the shoe rack in the bathroom, and I used my end table (switched with the ceramic round corner table) for mine. Since we arrived at night, I opened the window beyond the bed to see this street scene. We are down the block from La Pedrerara and not too far from La Sagrada Familia.The view out the window in the morning. Wrap-up: good bed, good towels and pillows, cramped space (but who cares, here?), decent amount of plugs, very clean, double bed (double happinesses), new construction (built in 2104) so everything was in good repair.
I don’t really know what it says, but my impression is that it’s giving a giant rah-rah! for bread.
It is interesting to think about our trip in terms of where we stayed and how each place reflected part of the character of that city in some way. But as always, there’s no place like home, where we can stow our suitcases in the closet until the next trip.