Still summarising 2009, here – in no particular order – are my favourite hotels of last year:
1. In February/March, I spent a long weekend in London and got a very good deal at Rydges Kensington Plaza on Gloucester Road. Nice hotel in a great location – a short walking distance from the museums, Hyde Park, the Royal Geographical Society and that cosy little breakfast place, Le Pain Quotidien.
2. In April, the girls and I had a look at the United Arab Emirates. To Cat’s delight, we spent the entire stay in one place, Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa in Dubai, a comfortable hotel, very centrally located in Bur Dubai. We were across the street from Dubai Museum and the old Bastakiya historic quarter; just metres away from Dubai Creek and the Old Souk.
3. Klækken hotell, near Hønefoss in Norway has an excellent kitchen. This area has 2500-year-old grave mounds. Also, fabulous finds indicate lots of contact between this area and Rome. Lots of Viking history here, as well as more contemporary history, albeit of a sordid nature: during World War II, the hotel was taken over by the German occupying forces and used as a Lebensborn maternity home for Norwegian women about to give birth to “biologically fit and racially pure Aryan children”, fathered by German soldiers.
4. Cat and I spent a long weekend in Sardinia in May/June and stayed at the charming little Aigua in the middle of Alghero’s old town, a B&B with self-service breakfast; all the ingredients are provided upon arrival.
5. I stayed at the very cool and contemporary Clarion Hotel Sign in Stockholm for a meeting in June. Fabulous rooftop pool and spa – and lots of black: black, slanting board sinks in the baths, black serviettes, black toilet rolls (felt a bit weird, that).
7. In Jersey, the girls and I stayed at the Radisson SAS Waterfront, a very nice hotel right in the marina – a slight walking distance from the centre of St Helier. The breakfast buffet was all-encompassing.
8. Lovely Le Friquet Country Hotel: Set in a beautiful garden, complete with manicured lawns, a little bridge and a nice swimming pool, this Guernsey hotel was one of the girls’ favourite sleeps of the year.
10. Pension Nossek is one of my all-time favourite lodgings and I stay here whenever I’m in Vienna. Nice, airy high-ceilinged rooms, pleasant staff and good, very Austrian breakfast; all for EUR 80. The location couldn’t be better: on elegant Graben Street, just metres from Stephansdom. For me though, the best of all is that Mozart lived in this house. From 1781 to 1782, this is where he wrote The Abduction from the Seraglio. There are few things I enjoy more than opening the heavy wooden door to Graben no. 17 with my own key (which you have to after 21:00), knowing that Wolfgang Amadeus would have done the same 228 years ago. Time is not of the essence. In fact, time doesn’t exist.
11. During my solo journey in the Arabian Peninsula in autumn, I stayed at Le Meridien Towers in Kuwait, another cool and contemporary hotel. For KD 50, I had a very comfortable room and one of the best breakfast buffets ever: every Western breakfast item imaginable, plus delicious Arabic fare. The rooms are very modern indeed; free-standing glass sinks in the bath and cool LCD-lighting in the bed’s headboard. I really liked staying in this hotel, but would have enjoyed it even more in a more convenient location. It was close to … nothing, really.
12. In Bahrain, for practical reasons, I spent one splurgy night at Mövenpick Bahrain, by the airport on Muharraq Island. Airport hotels are normally anonymous and rarely exciting, but this is beautiful, most especially the swimming pools. The Mövenpick is high up on the list of the best hotel chains. Minus points for charging extra for absolutely everything, though.