Hotel Q&A with… Journey with Woots

‘Journey with Woots’ was created by Em, the writer behind the blog, to share her travel tips but also her life – her journey. Travel has always been high on Em’s agenda. From a young age she was tiring family and friends with her lengthy travel wishlist. As a youngster she mainly explored Europe but after finishing university she packed her bags and finally got to visit (some of) the places she had been longing to visit. That trip only added fuel to the fire, and when she returned, Em dove into a career in luxury travel. Today, with her taste for luxury and eternal thirst to travel, Em has been lucky enough to visit every continent (bar Antarctica) and stay at some of the finest hotels and lodges there are. So, let’s see what she looks for in a hotel.

What’s your must have hotel amenity?

It’s a toss-up between a gym and WiFi. I run a fair bit and like to keep up with it whilst I’m away. WiFi is also a must, to keep in touch and make others jealous with my holiday snaps!

What’s the most creative or quirky hotel amenity you’ve come across?

NIYAMA in the Maldives is home to an underwater club which I had big expectations for before I arrived – the opening night included Tinie Tempah on the decks! It was definitely a very cool spot to dance the night away, with a great DJ and windows looking out onto the coral reef. Now I’ve been, however, I don’t pang to return.

What hotel could you happily return to again and again?

Saruni Samburu, Kenya. I’ve already been there twice and would happily go back for more. If it isn’t the views that cast you under their spell, it will be the spacious villas, charming guides and star-studded night skies that will!

For you, what makes a great hotel?

A great hotel for me is one that offers excellent service and food. There is nothing that I hate more than poor, sloppy service or rude staff. Aside from having high expectations of service, as a food lover I like to stay somewhere that serves up delicious, fresh meals – particularly an impressive breakfast!

What is your welcome amenity of choice?

Chocolates, macaroons, cake… basically sweet treats are the way to my heart! Or spa products.

What are your basic expectations for every hotel?

Hot and cold running water, friendly and helpful staff, a clean and comfy bed, a hearty breakfast, and a good location. I don’t ask for much…

Which hotel has the wow factor for you?

I’m afraid I can’t narrow it down to one. Saruni Samburu (Kenya), Ol Malo (Kenya), Alfajiri Villas (Kenya), Nikoi Island (Indonesia), Kasbah Bab Ourika (Morocco), and Cleopatra’s Farmhouse (South Africa) have all seriously impressed me in one way or another!

Nikoi Island, resort, hotel, travel, Singapore

Nikoi Island

Riverside picnics at Ol Malo, Kenya

Riverside picnics at Ol Malo, Kenya

Saruni Samburu, Kenya, view

Saruni Samburu view

Hotel WiFi – do you ever pay for it?

If I’m away for work – yes. However, on personal trips – no way! I really think that no hotel should charge for WiFi any longer (hotels – if it’s down to costs include it in your rates!).

What is your hotel pet peeve?

Rude or inattentive staff. It can ruin a stay!

Is there a maximum you’ll spend per night on a hotel?

I am willing to spend a fair bit if it’s a special occasion, if the hotel is really known for its wow factor OR if it’s going to be an unforgettable / once in a lifetime experience. For example, if I were planning to go on safari I know that really good quality accommodation comes at a pretty punchy price – from $500 / $600 per person per night. But I know it’s worth it because all your meals and drinks are likely to be included and your guides will be some of the best – not to mention, a safari is a truly unforgettable experience.

Do you use hotel minibars or avoid them like the plague?

I avoid them completely. They are ridiculously overpriced! If you can, pack your own snacks for holidays just in case you get the munchies.

Luxury to one person may not be luxury to another. How do you define it in relation to hotels?

Luxury, in terms of hotels, is…

  1. Impeccable and personal service. The staff know your name, get to know what you like and do little things without a cue.
  2. An amazing bed. Being able to hop into a large king size bed, melt into a sumptuous mattress, and drift off quickly is the best.
  3. Mouth-watering food. As I’ve already said: I love food! Therefore if a hotel can serve up delicious meals, I’m very, VERY satisfied!
  4. An outstanding view. I’m not sure what it is but having a great view is something I just love! To wake up and lie in bed whilst looking out at an epic landscape or a significant sight is such a luxury and the best way to start a day.

Do you generally stay in budget, design, standard or luxury hotels?

Thanks to my work, I have been lucky enough to stay in a number of luxury hotels.  Therefore I have developed a taste for 5 star travel! Once upon a time I slung a backpack on my back and stayed in hostels. Nowadays I tend to check in to either 4-5 star luxury boutique hotels or cosy owner run properties.

Do you prefer boutique or chain properties?

I do prefer boutique properties as, in my experience, they tend to be more relaxing and offer a more personal service. However, I’m not adverse to a chain hotel as sometimes it’s good to know what you’re getting – especially when travelling for business.

When staying in a hotel is it important to you that staff use your name or do you prefer a more anonymous stay?

I love personal service. It is the reason I tend towards staying in boutique and owner-run hotels / properties. If I’m travelling solo it’s so lonely if you are just seen as another guest. Plus when staff know you by name, it makes you feel really special!

Do you ask for an upgrade upon arrival? Do you get it?

Never. I always book the room category I want. I don’t hope for the best as I don’t want to be disappointed. If I do get upgraded however, then bonus!

If/when something goes wrong during your stay, do you complain or grin and bear it?
It depends on the severity of the situation. If it’s a small and simple mistake then I’ll grin and bear it. However, if I’m given consistently poor service or if my room is not up to standard then I will say something – I am not going to spend my stay not 100% happy. Also, there is nothing a hotel can do if you return and complain. If you complain then and there, then a good hotel will go above and beyond to impress you and resolve the issue.

Which hotel is on your wish list?
There is never just one hotel on my wish list! The top five on my hotel wish list are:

– Babington House, Somerset, UK – for a weekend away.
– Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, USA – this has been on my list for some time and think it’s going to have to be a very special occasion to stay there!
– Shutters on the Beach, Santa Monica, USA – I’ve heard a lot of great things about this place and having walked passed it when I was last in LA, it was firmly put on my wish list.
– Le Chalet d’Adrien, Verbier, Switzerland – I’ve been lucky enough to have dinner here (it was AMAZING!) and so I’d love to stay there.
– La Réserve Ramatuelle, France – somewhere a little closer to home, La Reserve looks like a beautiful place to escape to.

Verbier, Switzerland


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