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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)

Best of 2019 (5)


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.

Winter Gardens

Winter Gardens

Sports travel is the category for this award.

2019 brought several sports travel trips, mostly linked to my son’s ice hockey team’s games.

Those took me to Sheffield three times, and to Nottingham, Manchester and Dundee.

Downtown, Chinatown

Downtown, Chinatown

My visits to Sheffield now have a pattern - I stay at the Novotel. I take the train, although I did fly to Manchester once and take the train from there.

I went to Krefeld via Brussels and Köln on a sentimental journey to see ERC Ingolstadt play ice hockey. It was fun and they won. It was another journey combining plane and train.

DB Bahn ICE

DB Bahn ICE

Belfast hit my itinerary twice - also for ice hockey. In March it was to watch the home team play Dundee Stars, and in August to see them take on Augsburg.

Pub Life

Pub Life

As with previous years, I was looking for an opportunity for trip to watch rugby or horse racing, but nothing suitable ever came up. I did go to see Glasgow Warriors play in the final of the Pro 14 (rugby), but the game was in Glasgow and that hardly qualifies as travel.

My visit to Yerevan was a sports trip in a sense, as climbing Mt Aragats was a key part of it. I would have gone anyway, so the climb was not the only purpose in going.

Mt Ararat (Turkey) in Background

Mt Ararat (Turkey) in Background

This category produces an easy winner. It is my trip to Sheffield in April to watch my son playing ice hockey. The match was the playoff for the British Universities Division 1 Championship. Edinburgh (his team) as winners of the North group played against Cambridge as winners of the South pool. Edinburgh won.

Winners!

Winners!

It was the biggest achievement in his ice hockey “career” and it was wonderful for me to be able to be there to see it.

Posted by IainT 23:33 Archived in England Tagged trains england germany sport ireland transport belgium ice_hockey manchester köln krefeld belfast dundee yerevan armenia aragats sheffield Comments (0)

Sheffield - Love or Hate?

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Winter Gardens

Winter Gardens

Sheffield is on my “frequent visit” list.

It is not entirely a matter of choice. Apart from one occasion, I have always been there to watch my son play ice hockey. It is where British Universities ice hockey has its end of season tournament, and Sheffield Universities’ team has always been in his team’s pool for the league competition.

The city suffered badly during the Thatcher era, losing a lot of its heavy industry, although steel is an important part of the economy even now. Ice Sheffield is in the Don Valley, so past and present steel industry is all around.

Canal Basin

Canal Basin

The city centre has been redeveloped to a significant degree, and lots of it looks great if you enjoy modern architecture. A lot of it remains quite grimy, however.

Although several hotels are available close to Ice Sheffield, I almost always stay in the city centre. I could mention one dreadful hotel experience there - the Holiday Inn - and one which was disappointing - the Hilton. I usually stay at the Novotel. It is modern and stylish and it does not have a function suite, so it is quiet. I have found it to be reliable. It is a short walk from the railway station, so it is convenient for me too.

Novotel

Novotel

Finding something good to eat in Sheffield has been a problem. I have tried several places, and usually end up disappointed to some degree. A few times I enjoyed good food at Café Rouge, but it is gone now, replaced by another chain restaurant - which is what the city centre seems to attract.

On my last visit I found a great wee coffee shop close to the Novotel - HowSt in Howard Street.

HowSt

HowSt

I also tried a Malaysian place - Noodle Doodle - for a dinner. It was a mixed experience and I am in no rush to go back.

Noodle Doodle

Noodle Doodle

The end result is mixed feelings about the city. I have some good memories of the place, and some dreadful ones.

Posted by IainT 12:10 Archived in England Tagged england sheffield Comments (0)

Nottingham - Travel Tips

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Hopkinson - the Store

Hopkinson - the Store

The city is not easy to get to from central Scotland, unless you enjoy 5-6 hours driving (mostly on very busy English motorways) or the equivalent on a meandering cross country train.

I was in Sheffield anyway, so getting to Nottingham was just a 55 minute journey… on a rambling cross country train. I paid £4.60 for my one way ticket on Northern Rail. I got discounts for paying in advance on a “this train only” basis, and for having a senior railcard. It was fine, and ran on time, even if it stopped a lot.

Nottingham College

Nottingham College

In that part of England you have to be very aware of whether your ticket is valid with other train operators. East Midlands Railway (EMR) also serves the route, and my ticket was not valid on their trains.

Downtown Nottingham

Downtown Nottingham

I flew home from East Midlands Airport with Loganair. The airport is 40 minutes by express bus from Nottingham. The service runs every 30 minutes during the day and costs £6.50 single. It is not very “express” in fact, and snakes around quite a bit on the way to stop at a university, a park and ride, a business park and a freight distribution centre.

East Midlands Airport

East Midlands Airport

The airport is small and was very efficient, no doubt on account of being almost deserted. I suppose Monday lunchtime is off peak.

Airport Lunch

Airport Lunch

Loganair was fantastic. The flight to Edinburgh left 20 minutes early, and arrived 30 minutes early. Within 10 minutes of the plane arriving at the gate I was on my bus to Fife, to connect with a train home. I paid £58.92 for the one way flight (hand luggage only) which is just about half what I paid for my train ticket from Fife to Sheffield.

Scotland's Airline

Scotland's Airline

In between, I stayed at the Ibis in Nottingham. After being used to Novotel’s level of service, Ibis feels quite cheap, but it was - £40.85 including breakfast. My stay was a Sunday night, and I imagine that will be the cheapest night of the week. It was clean and comfortable, and it was a buffet breakfast with hot food. The location was ideal for me - in the city centre close to the railway station and the ice arena.

Ibis Breakfast

Ibis Breakfast

I did not venture into any of the city’s restaurants - the massive hotel breakfast I had in Sheffield skewed my appetite a bit. However, I did enjoy a coffee shop near the railway station as I recovered from the journey.

Hop's - the Coffee Shop

Hop's - the Coffee Shop

Hop’s is quirky. It is part of a small second hand “department store”. I did not test my bargain hunting skills, but enjoyed the coffee and cake in a relaxing and friendly venue.

Posted by IainT 13:54 Archived in England Tagged trains england sport transport flights ice_hockey airlines nottingham Comments (0)

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