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Entries about brussels

Radisson Blu

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Radisson Blu, Malmö

Radisson Blu, Malmö

I really do not remember how I came to choose the Radisson Blu for my 2 night stay in Malmö. Location? Price? Brand?

Certainly the first two possibilities turned out well. The cost for 2 nights was SEK 1,760 (£141 or €166) including breakfast, and I was upgraded to a junior suite! The city centre location, close to the railway station, was ideal.

Malmö Radisson Blu

Malmö Radisson Blu

The brand…

In the 1990s when I travelled a lot for work, it was always one of my favourites. In those days it was SAS, and part of the airline. Then it was Radisson SAS, and now it is Radisson Blu.

I remember stays in several of the SAS hotels in Copenhagen, plus the Royal Viking in Stockholm and one in Oslo.

Radisson Blu Royal, Copenhagen

Radisson Blu Royal, Copenhagen

Their London hotel was my first choice there, and an oasis of style in a city which is full of 3rd rate, overpriced hotels. The Brussels SAS was excellent too, but it had plenty competition. The Amsterdam SAS was a real favourite too.

However, it was in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia where they really came into their own for me. I was reminded of this by a set of articles in the in-house magazine in my room in Malmö.

They invested in privatised state hotels very soon after the Communist walls came down. The Astorija in Vilnius was one of their first. Having stayed there in 1993 when it was state run, I knew how much had to be changed - pretty much everything.

Aušros Vartụ, Vilnius

Aušros Vartụ, Vilnius

They now own the Lietuva in Vilnius too, which I have never stayed in. However my firm represented the government in its privatisation so it will always be special for me.

Vilnius

Vilnius

In Rīga, the Daugava was their first. I stayed there several times. The location just across the river from the city centre was ideal. The walk across the bridge was the perfect way to leave a day’s work behind.

Rīga

Rīga

I see they now own the Latvija too - the former Intourist high rise.

Their first hotel in Tallinn was one of my stopovers. I do not remember it’s name. It was a boozy trip. Thanks, Aivar.

Tallinn

Tallinn

I see they now own the Olümpia too - another former Intourist tower block, built for the Moscow Olympics. The yachting events were held in Tallinn. My stay in the Olümpia was much more sedate. I had 7 meetings in one day, so I had no time or energy left for getting into mischief.

Tallinn

Tallinn

Well guys, thanks for bringing back some memories as well as helping to create new ones.

(As a wee footnote, and declaration of interest, I worked in hotels quite a bit when I was a student and eventually reached the dizzy heights of being manager of a small beach motel in Westhampton Beach, Long Island. It has made me a very critical hotel guest! If I praise someplace, it is well earned.)

Posted by IainT 13:53 Archived in Sweden Tagged stockholm oslo england sweden belgium norway estonia brussels denmark copenhagen malmö sas riga tallinn vilnius lithuania Comments (0)

Brexit

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Escaping

Escaping

Thursday night (30th January) was tough. I had been diverting myself all week by keeping busy at work, and with other stuff at home, but that night the barrier collapsed.

Brexit Blues

Brexit Blues

Yesterday (31st) was better, with more diversion therapy. I took a flight to Copenhagen, and from there took a train to Malmö. I have never been to this part of Sweden before, unless you count passing through on a sleeper train from Stockholm to Copenhagen.

My mood was helped by the hotel - Radisson Blu - upgrading me to a junior suite.

Radisson Blu

Radisson Blu

After settling in I went to find something to eat in the dark, in a strange city, and in drizzling rain. I was half expecting to end up at a fast food place, but only 100m away I found a great wee pizza restaurant.

Pizza Time

Pizza Time

Excellent food and friendly service. My mood lifted even more.

No 25

No 25

Well that’s what I did on 31st January 2020.

Goodbye

Posted by IainT 13:18 Archived in Sweden Tagged planes trains food beer scotland restaurants sweden transport belgium flights ice_hockey brussels denmark copenhagen airlines brexit Comments (0)

Best of 2019 (3)


View Athens & Krefeld & Sheffield & Nottingham & Tbilisi 2 & Belfast & Faroes & Iceland & Orkney & Tbilisi & Sheffield 2 & Sheffield & Dublin & Belfast & Barcelona & Manchester & Dundee & Vilnius 3 on IainT's travel map.

The Storehouse

The Storehouse

This category is for the various types of accommodation I enjoyed over the year.

What a variety!

When I think back over the last 12 months, that is my impression of my accommodation choices.

I had several Airbnb experiences - Barcelona, Tbilisi, Yerevan, Reykjavik and Athens. I was very happy with all of them, and indeed I went back to the Tbilisi place for a second visit. In fact I would happily return to any of them.

Apartment Terrace

Apartment Terrace

When it comes to chain hotels, yet again Novotel was my preference. I used them in Sheffield and Brussels. I used an Ibis in Nottingham and the Sofitel at Athens Airport - Accor brands as well.

I stayed at Marriott’s AC Hotel in Belfast twice and would do so again - price, location, style…

AC Hotel

AC Hotel

I stayed in quite a few airport hotels in 2019. I tried the Moxy brand at Aberdeen Airport - yes, I would use that one again. At Edinburgh Airport I stayed a Hampton by Hilton for the first time - I guess it is a budget/airport type sub-brand. It was OK, but nothing special.

Inter City Hotels seems to be a mainly German brand, part of the Steinberger group, and the one I used at Berlin Schönefeld Airport was ideal. It is a short walk from both the terminals and the railway station. It is great value for money - at least on a Sunday night.

Radisson Blu was my choice at Manchester Airport - it was good, but expensive. It is walking distance to the airport and the railway station, which was the attraction for me.

When it comes to independent hotels, my second visit to Georgia introduced me to several - 5 Rooms and Ilja’s in Tbilisi, Chateau Bruale in Tkhilitstskaro (in the Kakheti region) and Hotel Vache in Stepantsminda. I would happily go back to any of them - clean, comfortable, quiet, stylish and good value.

Ilja's

Ilja's

Chateau Bruale is a bit special because it is part of a vineyard, and I was there at harvest time. I also tried their 2017 produce. Zero air miles…

Top Class

Top Class

Hotel Vache is also special, but for its amazing views of Mt Kazbegi and the horses running free in the street outside.

Morning Visitors

Morning Visitors

I loved my first visit to the Faroe Islands and whilst my hotel (the 62⁰N) in Tórshavn ticked all the usual boxes, it was never going to be good value for money. It is a very expensive destination.

Kirkwall was an expensive destination too - at least in accommodation terms. Maybe it is an island thing. I had 2 nights in The Storehouse. It is excellent, but not cheap.

In Köln I chose the Lint Hotel. It is a small family run place, and really good. For me, the location was part of the attraction, being in the Altstadt and a short walk from the main railway station.

Lint Hotel

Lint Hotel

Last but certainly not least - I was back in Istanbul and stayed a few nights in the Terrace Guesthouse. It has been on my list of special places for a long time, and it has been a “Best of” winner before.

Sunrise, Terrace Guesthouse

Sunrise, Terrace Guesthouse

No doubt I have forgotten one or two, but I suppose that means they were not memorable.

In the end for my favourite of the year I have gone for the Hotel Vache.

Mt Kazbeg

Mt Kazbeg

In addition to the views and the horses outside my bedroom, the breakfasts were superb and the quality of the room was excellent.

Posted by IainT 00:27 Archived in Georgia Tagged barcelona greece germany athens turkey berlin istanbul belgium georgia aberdeen manchester brussels köln iceland orkney belfast tbilisi yerevan armenia reykjavik sheffield faroes kakheti nottingham kirkwall torshavn stepansminda tkhilitstskaro Comments (0)

Brussels - Travel Tips

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When in Brussels...

When in Brussels...

I flew to and from Brussels (from Edinburgh) with Brussels Airlines (the successor to Sabena, for those who can remember before 9-11). The cost was £104 return, with hand luggage only. Both flights left a little late, but arrived more or less on time.

Otherwise, they were pretty good. Perhaps I have rose tinted spectacles of course, as Sabena was a favourite.

I used the SNCB airport trains to travel to and from the city centre. It is important to know which station you want to use in the city - Centrale (close to Grand Place), Midi (where many Thalys trains arrive and depart) or Nord. The train costs €8.90 each way to any of those stations, and runs about every 20 minutes with a journey time of about 20 minutes.

SNCB Cool

SNCB Cool

Over the years I have stayed in so many Brussels hotels it makes my head spin, but like most cities, location is important. For this trip I wanted a place in the city centre and close to one of the railway stations. I fixed on something near Gare Centrale as I know there are lots of places to eat around there.

When it came to price and value for money, the Novotel was the one I chose. I am in their loyalty programme, so that usually gives a 10% discount. It was their hotel at rue du Marché Aux Herbes, 100 metres from the Gare Centrale. The room cost me €127, without breakfast.

Novotel

Novotel

Breakfast was going to cost €22. I found it difficult to imagine what kind of breakfast is worth that much, especially as I would be out of the hotel for 8am to catch a train. I opted for 2 croissants from a nearby bakery.

Dinner on the evening I arrived was quick, cheap and easy - a small tray at an Exki close to the hotel.

Posted by IainT 11:18 Archived in Belgium Tagged trains restaurants transport belgium flights brussels airlines brexit Comments (0)

Brussels

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Galeries Royales

Galeries Royales

Back at the end of March I took a trip to Dublin and Belfast to celebrate my freedom of movement while I still could, ahead of the UK’s promised crash out of the EU. As an aside, the Brits who drool over a hard or no deal Brexit should be locked up for their own safety.

Well, April arrived without a Brexit. Next deadline - the end of October (but it looks as if that has been postponed as well).

This time I decided on Köln as my destination, via Brussels and - dare I say it - Krefeld.

Revisiting Brussels is always great for me. It is like going to visit an old friend. For several years during the 90s I visited the city regularly. I was on the management board of a multinational joint venture based in Brussels, and also had lobbying to do - mostly at the EU Commission.

Brussels Dawn

Brussels Dawn

The whole journey there was just like an attack of déja vu. Brussels Airlines to Brussels - it used to be Sabena until the 9-11 economic shock killed it off. The SNCB train from the airport to Gare Centrale. The short walk to my hotel.

SNCB Airport (semi) Express

SNCB Airport (semi) Express

Just opposite the station are 4 modern hotels built around a square - Ibis, Hilton, Carrefour de L’Europe and a Novotel. Until now I had stayed in 3 out of 4, and this time I stayed in the Novotel to make up the full set.

Novotel

Novotel

Usually it would have been outside my budget but Brussels hotels are often full all week and then quieter at weekends, so cheaper deals come up. I knew I was unlikely to need their breakfast with an 8.30 train to catch in the morning, and at €22 it was going to be easy to find a sensible alternative.

Fast (Green) Food

Fast (Green) Food

Between getting to the hotel about 8pm and that early morning train, I had little time to do more than eat and sleep, but just being in those familiar places was really enjoyable.

Posted by IainT 10:56 Archived in Belgium Tagged belgium brussels brexit Comments (0)

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