This week’s Hotel Q&A with… features Chloe Gunning who has spent the last few years on some serious adventures. Last year Chloe visited 12 countries, including spending three months travelling around Mexico, Cuba and Central America, and over the next few months she’ll be jetting off to Turkey, Greece and Croatia. She launched her blog Wanderlust Chloe to share her stories, tips and photos with the world. Alongside this, she also blogs for The Huffington Post. In particular, Chloe loves to travel on her own and has written extensively on the topic of solo female travel. She also enjoys exploring the luxury market and has written about many of the top hotels in the Riviera Maya area of Mexico, so with that in mind here’s Wanderlust Chloe’s hotel likes, loves and loathes.
What’s your must have hotel amenity?
A comfy bed! I can live without an amazing shower or wifi, so long as I can get a good night’s sleep!
What’s the most creative or quirky hotel amenity you’ve come across?
I loved the VW Beetle art pieces designed by Tommy Hilfiger at Hotel Cacao in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. They were so iconic. Someone had actually sliced through a car and stuck the pieces to the wall! It was covered in shells and then painted. So striking!
What hotel could you happily return to again and again?
I really enjoyed my stay in January at Hotel Corral Del Rey in Seville. It’s a boutique hotel, set in a 17th Century Palacio. They’ve maintained many of the original features of the building, but created a comfortable modern environment inside. The staff were exceptionally helpful and the location was perfect for a few days of sightseeing.
For you, what makes a great hotel?
I’ve stayed in some luxury hotels that are perfect in every way, apart from the staff and their attitude… so, for me, a great hotel is about great service. I want to be welcomed from the second I arrive and looked after until the moment I leave. If the coffee is good, that’s a bonus!
What is your welcome amenity of choice?
When I stayed at the RoomMate Hotel in Granada, Spain last month, they left a big bowl of jelly beans on the desk! It was a really nice touch – they obviously knew I had a sweet tooth!
Do you interact with hotels on social media before arrival?
Sometimes, but I’m more likely to once I arrive of after I leave.
What are your basic expectations for every hotel?
Cleanliness. If they can’t get that right, there’s not much hope for the rest of the stay!
Which hotel has the wow factor for you?
Grand Velas in Mexico was stunning. The grounds were so well kept, the beach was gorgeous and the infinity pools were incredible. I loved the plunge pool on my terrace and the relaxing views over the Zen area. There were plenty of restaurants to choose from, including one serving Michelin star level cuisine. They really understood the importance of great service and presentation.
Hotel wifi – do you ever pay for it?
Yes… but I’d rather not! I feel like it’s a standard service and should always be included in the price of the room.
What is your hotel pet peeve?
Showers that are so complicated you soak yourself and the whole bathroom trying to figure out how to turn it on. Bad coffee is another thing that bothers me.
Is there a maximum you’ll spend per night on a hotel?
I think it’s possible to book a really decent hotel for around £50 a night – you just have to know where to look. In terms of maximum, it really depends on the occasion and location.
What’s an absolute hotel no no?
Lots of stairs! I stayed at a hotel last year in La Fortuna, Costa Rica where the lift had broken. I had to carry a 24kg case up 6 flights of stairs. I nearly passed out when I finally made it to my room!
Do you use hotel minibars or avoid them like the plague?
I’ve stayed at a lot of hotels recently that included mini bars in the room price. It was a nice touch to be able to help myself! One (Moon Palace, Mexico) even had full size bottles of spirits on tap in the mini bar. That was a real luxury!
Luxury to one person may not be luxury to another. How do you define it in relation to hotels?
Luxury for me is where you arrive somewhere and feel completely relaxed. That can happen with amazing service, beautiful surroundings, or a combination of the two.
Do you generally stay in budget, design, standard or luxury hotels?
A real mix. I spent a lot of time last year in budget hotels and hostels in Central America. I wasn’t there for the hotel experience, it was just a bed to sleep in after a busy day seeing the sights and immersing myself in a new culture. However, I also had the opportunity to stay in a lot of 5-star hotels in Mexico which was a completely different experience. I liked both options for the different experiences… but I probably had more fun in the budget hotels!
Do you prefer boutique or chain properties?
Boutique every time. I love the unique style and personal touch you get with an independent hotel. There’s a sense of freedom too – no restraints of instructions from Head Office or strict brand guidelines to adhere to.
When staying in a hotel is it important to you that staff use your name or do you prefer a more anonymous stay?
Sometimes the personal touch works well, although I’m not keen on being called ‘Miss’ or ‘Madam’. I prefer it when the service isn’t overly formal. When I stayed at Grand Residences in Mexico, all the staff seemed to know all the guests’ names – it was very impressive!
Do you ask for an upgrade upon arrival?
No, I never have… although I did get one in Panama City when I booked an extra night at a hotel I had stayed at for a few nights. I was really pleased to be upgraded from a standard double room to a beautiful suite on the top floor.
If/when something goes wrong during your stay, do you complain or grin and bear it?
In general I would alert reception to the issue as you’re paying for a service. I had a LOT of problems at a hotel in Cuba last year (including water gushing through a cupboard of electrics!) so I felt like I spent a lot of my holiday complaining! When you’ve paid for a room though, you expect it to be comfortable – and not to be at risk of electrocution!
Which hotel is on your wish list?
One day I would love to stay at The Ritz in London. It’s such an iconic building and has so much history. I think it may take quite a few years of saving!