When I started blogging it was Neily’s blog I kept coming across on Twitter and Google over and over again and it’s remained one of my favourites ever since. I met Neily a few weeks ago at the Urban Villa launch and it was so lovely to put a face and a person to the blog I’ve been a fan of, and it’s made her posts and words all the more familiar and trustworthy (although they always were anyway). Neily has visited some amazing hotels ranging from the brand new to the classics, and the luxury to the budget so it’s safe to say she knows her stuff when it comes to hotels and what’s available so with that in mind, let’s crack on.
What’s your must have hotel amenity?
A cosy bathrobe and free wifi in the room always make me feel at home.
What’s the most creative or quirky hotel amenity you’ve come across?
When I stayed at YOTEL New York I had the chance to use Yobot, the world’s first luggage robot to store my bags after check-out. The technology bamboozled a few guests, but they have some very patient staff and I found it fun to use.
What hotel could you happily return to again and again?
Le Bristol Paris has a special place in my heart. It’s a palace hotel without even a hint of snobbery and it even has two pampered Birman cats.
For you, what makes a great hotel?
An interesting location, thoughtful touches that show the hotel cares, and a meticulous approach to service. I also can’t resist a hotel with a swimming pool – the outdoor heated pool overlooking Kowloon at Hotel ICON Hong Kong felt very cosmopolitan and cool. A reasonably priced destination restaurant is a bonus as I like the luxury of rolling up to my room after a meal and drinks.
What is your welcome amenity of choice?
I have a sweet tooth and am always ready for something yummy to perk me up after travelling. One of my favourite welcome amenities was a hamper full of gourmet treats and free minibar soft drinks at The Greenwich Hotel New York.
Do you interact with hotels on social media before arrival?
I often connect with the hotel on Twitter before visiting to get the conversation going and share photos during my stay.
In your opinion which hotel is continuously great at social media?
Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon is so switched on with its snapshots of the city and interactions (it even has its own blog). It’s hard not to be lured to Lisbon if you follow them.
What are your basic expectations for every hotel?
Impeccable hygiene, a good bed and helpful staff.
Which hotel has the wow factor for you?
Shangri-La Bosphorus Istanbul is truly impressive with beautiful interiors, an amazing spa and incredible views over the Bosphorus.
Hotel wifi – do you ever pay for it?
Luckily many hotels are waking up to offering free wifi and I’ve never paid for it yet. If a hotel really must charge for in-room wifi, a good compromise is free wifi in the public areas.
What is your hotel pet peeve?
Flimsy pillows, not enough clothes hangers and old room service trays cluttering up the corridors.
Is there a maximum you’ll spend per night on a hotel?
It depends on the occasion and my travel budget but there are definitely some hotels with eye-wateringly expensive prices that I’d find hard to justify.
What’s an absolute hotel no no?
Dirty or badly-maintained rooms – there are no excuses.
Do you use hotel minibars or avoid them like the plague?
I always like to take a peek and appreciate a tempting minibar but rarely use them due to the enormous mark-up. I love it when hotel rooms have an empty fridge or offer a complimentary minibar that you can raid guilt-free.
Luxury to one person may not be luxury to another. How do you define it in relation to hotels?
To me luxury is all about the small touches that set a hotel apart from the rest, like exquisite bed linen, high end furnishings, top branded bathroom products and a personalised welcome.
Do you generally stay in budget, design, standard or luxury hotels?
I tend to stay in interesting hotels at all levels. Luxury hotels can be a real treat and make you feel like a million dollars but some of my favourite hotels are often more accessible ones that redefine the hotel experience or impress with innovative design.
Do you prefer boutique or chain properties?
I like the originality and surprise element of boutique hotels when they’re done well. However, respected chains can be reliable and some have really exciting brands like Marriott’s EDITION Hotels. In fact, some of the kindest hospitality I’ve experienced was at Marriott Philadelphia.
When staying in a hotel is it important to you that staff use your name or do you prefer a more anonymous stay?
I have a long name that can leave some hotel staff flustered trying to pronounce it correctly – I try to help them out but it can be awkward. When it’s used warmly and not just part of a robotic script, I appreciate the personal touch.
Do you ask for an upgrade upon arrival?
No, I leave it to the hotel’s discretion. I have been lucky to score some very generous upgrades on occasions though.
If/when something goes wrong during your stay, do you complain or grin and bear it?
If there’s a problem, I’ll speak to the Front Desk in the hope that it can be resolved. I’ve found most hotels are happy to help when given the opportunity.
Which hotel is on your wish list?
Sandy Lane (Barbados), Hotel Cipriani (Venice) and The Upper House (Hong Kong).