Hello, hello! Hotel Q&A with… is back! And this time it’s with Sara Frost, a New Zealander living in London with a passion for travel and adventure. She blogs over at Big world, small me about travel, food, activities and life in London, and with a love for photography you can expect some lust worthy pictures. This year she’s been to Germany, Norway, Scotland, Ireland and Ibiza with many more adventures planned for the second half of the year and her favourite destinations are Iceland, the Maldives and New Zealand (maybe a little biased). Hotels are often a just place to rest her head on trips but on the odd occasion she splashes out on luxury hotels around the world.
What’s your must have hotel amenity?
Most definitely wifi, I hate to say it but my phone is somewhat part of me and without internet access I can’t use it! Also extra pillows, I hate turning up to a hotel and only having one pillow each, I always end up folding it in half.
What’s the most creative or quirky hotel amenity you’ve come across?
At the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel if you are a Chamber Rooms guest you get complimentary breakfast, snacks, afternoon tea, wine and beer all day and all night. Yes, afternoon tea included scones with jam and cream and macaroons along with their signature beer. Another creative hotel amenity that I loved was at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. They have a gig venue both inside the hotel and by the outdoor pool, if you are a guest of the hotel you are able to attend these events free of charge or sit on your balcony and enjoy!
What hotel could you happily return to again and again?
Reethi Beach Resort in the Maldives was without a doubt somewhere I could go every year. Not only is the destination stunning (of course) but the hotel totally stole our hearts. We loved the food, the guests, the staff and we also loved how eco-friendly it was. We met so many guests who returned every year and we soon realised why.
For you, what makes a great hotel?
For me, first impressions last and that’s how I feel about hotel staff. A great hotel that always has a warm welcome from friendly staff who are knowledgeable and helpful from the get-go no doubt makes a hotel great.
What is your welcome amenity of choice?
Bottled water. Or if you are arriving in a hot destination or somewhere that the tap water is not drinkable a complimentary drink that is refreshing is also helpful. Thailand is very good for this!
Do you interact with hotels on social media before arrival?
I sometimes interact with them on social media but I tend to do it during or after my stay and I always send them a tweet once I have published a blog post about a hotel.
In your opinion which hotel is continuously great at social media?
I love St Pancras Renaissance’s social media accounts because they are always posting guests pictures from this iconic hotel and I love to see them. They also host a variety of events at the hotel such as 1920s parties, gigs, weddings and other social events so it’s nice to see what else is going on.
What are your basic expectations for every hotel?
My basic expectations is a room that is clean and tidy, somewhere to hang my clothes or drawers to put them in, and a towel!
Which hotel has the wow factor for you?
The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. The view from the Cosmo is either the Bellagio fountains or Paris’s Eiffel Tower. The food, service and staff were amazing throughout our entire stay and our room was bigger than our flat in London!
Hotel wifi – do you ever pay for it?
I never pay for it because in this day and age it should be free throughout the hotel and if it’s not I’m pretty good at sniffing out wifi at cafes, restaurants or wifi hot spots throughout cities.
What is your hotel pet peeve?
Noisy rooms. I can’t stand being woken up in the middle of the night by noisy guests because the walls are too thin.
Is there a maximum you’ll spend per night on a hotel?
For special occasions I tend to spend more, for my honeymoon our water villa was £300 a night including breakfast and this was obviously a once in a lifetime occasion. On a normal trip I wouldn’t spend more than £120 per room.
What’s an absolute hotel no no?
Uncleanliness, there is no excuse for a room not being clean.
Do you use hotel minibars or avoid them like the plague?
Avoid, avoid, avoid! I don’t think I have ever taken anything from the mini bar, it’s just not worth the cost and there is always a shop nearby.
Luxury to one person may not be luxury to another. How do you define it in relation to hotels?
I’m more of a flash packer rather than a luxury traveller so actually staying in a hotel rather than a guest house or hostel is luxury to me, but in saying that luxury is a nice soft bed, a good central location for a city break and when breakfast is included. For other destinations a luxury to me is having a view. In Kotor, Montenegro, I was graced with a balcony with the most incredible view and that to me is total luxury.
Do you generally stay in budget, design, standard or luxury hotels?
I tend to stay in budget and standard hotels but every so often I go luxury for special occasions such as my wedding night, honeymoon, birthdays etc.
Do you prefer boutique or chain properties?
I tend to stay away from chain properties, not for any particular reason but I like to stay in a variety of places rather than hotels that are the same. When I book hotels I am first and foremost looking for a good deal with a great location and good review scores.
When staying in a hotel is it important to you that staff use your name or do you prefer a more anonymous stay?
This is not particularly important to me but I must say it is nice when you check into a hotel, especially a small one, and as soon as you arrive they greet you with your name.
Do you ask for an upgrade upon arrival?
I have never asked for an upgrade, it is not something I feel comfortable doing but I guess you don’t ask you don’t get so maybe I’ll give it go!
If/when something goes wrong during your stay, do you complain or grin and bear it?
It really depends what the something is that goes wrong. If the room is not quite what I had thought it would be I would just grin and bear it but recently we stayed in a hotel where the toilet stank, the room I booked was a double but was clearly a single and it was noisy. It smelt so bad we couldn’t stay so we did complain and we were moved to another room and given free breakfast for the duration of our stay so all was well.
Which hotel is on your wish list?
I would love to stay at Claridge’s or The Ritz in London for just one night. I would also love to stay at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore so I could get to the rooftop pool that overlooks the entire city, or the Ice Hotel in Sweden.