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since 16/01/2006


Best Western Le Donjon Les Remparts, Carcassonne 27/08/2009

Best Western Le Donjon Les Ramparts certainly not Best Value

Best Western Le Donjon Les Remparts, Carcassonne Travelling through France to northern Spain we decided to spend a night at the medieval city of Carcassonne in the Languedoc area. First Impressions From a distance the walled city looked stunning, but to be perfectly honest that was the best bit. For those of you that have visited and enjoyed your stay I will apologise now but we absolutely hated it, if I had wanted a theme park I would have gone to Disneyland! The city was full of the most horrendous ‘tat’ gift shops selling everything from fake suits of armour to tee-shirts with knights on them and really awful ‘attractions’ (I use this word loosely) such as the haunted manor and weapon museum. It was a little better at night when the shops had closed and the restaurants opened, however, teenagers staying around the city became very bored, got very drunk and succeeded in annoying practically everybody right into the small hours. I digress, the purpose of this review is to warn of the hotel and not the place itself! Parking The Hotel Le Donjon Les Ramparts is situated within the city walls, so we made sure we checked on parking facilities for which we were quoted 10 Euros per night. It wasn’t until we arrived that we were informed that we could only take our cars in after 10.30pm at night and had to remove them before eight in the morning. We left ours outside the walls of the city! Check In On arrival we followed directions to the hotel only to find that it was split into three parts and reception was in another ... 07/04/2009

It asda be a good choice! I am really sorry abour the title! Well the credit crunch finally took hold and I had to re-think my grocery shopping habits. Those of you who have read my previous reviews will know that I shop online and that I favour one supermarket in particular, well all good things have to come to an end and they were a little on the expensive side. I had tried Sainsburys in the past but was so disappointed with their service that I could not bring myself to go back. So I decided to give Asda a go and have now been using them for quite a few months. I am impressed to say the least! Logging in Straightforward, email address and a four digit pin number. Delivery slots A bit disappointing, they start at 10.00am and finish at nine pm and the delivery slots are two hours. I have used the 6.00pm – 8.00pm slot and my shopping has arrived at 8.00pm, I was starving at that point! Delivery Charges Varies from £4.00 to £5.00 depending on the day. Once you have booked your delivery slot you have three hours to shop and check out, but you can go back in and amend the order up to 5.00pm the day before delivery. The Site Ok it is not the most modern or colourful site, it can be slow and a bit frustrating at first but it remembers previously bought items so you can use that option or you can set up to 10 shopping lists, such as; Weekly items, monthly shops etc. The descriptions can leave a lot to be desired, pictures of the wrong product, no idea of weight. It ...

Best Western Hotel Meteor Plaza, Prague 27/03/2009

Meteor Plaza, one of their best!

Best Western Hotel Meteor Plaza, Prague The first grumpy free break for some years, he was rock bothering in Italy (environmental stuff) so where could we go? After debating and a bottle of wine we decided to try Prague and checked on the Best Western site to see what delights and bargains they had to offer. For those of you that read my reviews you will notice that we tend to use B.W a lot and there is good reason for doing so. Firstly they are all different, some quirky, some modern, big and small and secondly I can book them all through central reservations, I can easily change hotels, nights and add rooms etc, nothing seems too much trouble. Where did I choose? The Best Western Meteor Plaza and what a good choice it turned out to be. At the time of booking they had a two for three night offer bringing the price for 3 nights B&B in total £150.00, bargain! Location It is situated outside the famous Powder Gate which was one of 13 entrances to Prague's Old Town and was originally known as the New Tower until its name was changed to the Powder Gate in the 17th century when it was used to store gunpowder. The location could have not been any better, a two minute walk and we were in the old town square full of restaurants beautiful buildings and their famous astrological clock! Now I could go into a bit more detail but the review is about the hotel and there are some good reviews about the Prague experience on Ciao already! Reception & Check In Quite a large reception area with leaflets, tour ... 23/09/2008

I knew there was a reason! With the recent credit crunch upon us, I decided that it may be time to change my internet shopping company. I have been with Ocado for a few years and had no complaints except that the prices seemed to be creeping up and up. Before that I had used Sainsbury's, but had given up after the most ridiculous substitutions and items with a short shelf life. However, the best one came on the day I parted company with them way back in 2004. I had ordered a leg of lamb, some chicken breasts and pork chops, easy enough? The groceries at this time were picked from a large store in Coventry and not from my local store. When the shopping arrived the driver unpacked it all and then informed me that he was sorry but they had run out of ……….. ""MEAT!"" No meat in the entire store, so I packed everything back up and sent him away. I have since found out that they now pick from my local store and as I often nip in there for bits and pieces I know what stock they carry so I decided to go back. First book your delivery: Sainsbury's deliver 7 days a week, prices range from £3.50 to £5.50 and delivery can be booked in one hour slots between 10.00am and 10.00pm. Spend over £100 and get free delivery on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Orders under £40.00 cost £6.00 to deliver. Then Shop: The web site itself is pretty good, it is fast and easy to search around either using the aisle system such as Bakery, Bread, White, Rolls, Sliced etc with other headings: Fresh food, Food ...

Persil Small & Mighty Colour Care 28/08/2008

Seduced by the smell

Persil Small & Mighty Colour Care I had always been happy with my washing tablets in the past (anything to make life easy) but I was asked by a market research company to test Persil small & mighty colour care and I am so glad I agreed as I still use it 6 months later. It was advertised as 'the next generation of liquid detergent that is kind to colours', this is quite important to me as most of my clothes are black (slimming you know) and 'grumpy teenager' wears a selection of different coloured tee shirts so anything that doesn't strip colour is a bonus and the product states it does not contain bleach. The bottle arrived, not particularly exciting, grey with a purple plastic top but, unlike other liquids, it fitted under the sink! To be honest I have never been keen on liquid detergents, I hated the ball in the machine and was always losing them or finding them bouncing around in the tumble drier so I was pleased to see that this detergent is dispensed straight into the drawer. Ok so far, nothing special, then I opened it and had my first whiff! It smelled lovely, not flowery, not soapy just a fresh clean smell. I was impressed (little thing please little minds!). I admit to being one of those people who try lots of different fabric conditioners to get nice fresh smelling clothes but they never seem to last so I was quite hopeful. The bottle does not have a pouring spout so I expected drips all over the place; however, the opening is quite wide so it didn't cause too much spillage. 1 ...

Hotel Maristel, Estellenchs 19/08/2008

Did I mention the view?

Hotel Maristel, Estellenchs Location and a bit of history Estellenchs is in the western part of the Tramuntana mountain range in Mallorca. It's an incredibly beautiful and peaceful small town, housing fewer than 400 inhabitants. It is a small maze of tiny stone streets surrounded by beautiful mountains and scenery. It has 3 small hotels, 3 restaurants and a couple of bars. Two of the restaurants spill out onto the steps opposite the local church of St John the Baptist. It was good fun eating while balancing on stone steps! The town seems to appeal to walkers as there are many signposts giving walking distances and times, (anything over 10 minutes and I'm in the car!) There were many people out at the crack of dawn with their walking poles and back packs, but I came for a nice peaceful break and that is exactly what we got. The other attraction is Estellenchs beach, not quite what most people expect as it is rocky and surrounded by cliffs held up with netting. The cove is great for snorkelling and boating and there is a small bar set in to the rocks. However the trip comes with a warning…. Walk and it takes 40 minutes, drive the car at your peril! The road gets narrower and narrower you pray there is nothing coming the other way, but there is and you have a choice: Wall or shear drop! A ten minute car ride has never lasted so long! I wouldn't do it again, it was worse on the way back up, part of the road was so steep we kept wheel spinning. Anyway enough about the town lets get on to the ...

Protur Floriana Resort, Cala Bona 11/02/2008

Self Catering? I think not!

Protur Floriana Resort, Cala Bona Floriana Resort, Cala Bona, Mallorca Having stayed here twice previously when 'grumpy teenager' was younger I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was still in the brochure and that we could pick up a week in October half term for less than £900.00. Location Just a few minutes walk from the delightful little harbour area of Cala Bona. The resort itself is quiet, with just a few really good restaurants set by the water and a couple of bars. The promenade leads directly to its noisier neighbour Cala Millor, but it is still a pleasant walk, very flat, clean and well kept, ideal for the less mobile. It's lined with cafes and bars all the way up, so plenty of opportunity to rest! The Beach in Cala Bona is split into small areas and is well maintained with sun beds and brollies to hire. Personally I prefer to travel to other coves as we like to snorkel and the last time we tried there was far too much sea weed. Apartments There are numerous blocks of apartments scattered around three swimming pools, its well spaced out (can be easy to get lost) and is beautifully kept. The gardeners work constantly to keep the areas looking their best. The majority of the apartments have a pool view, with others overlooking the tennis courts or gardens. It's a good location, peaceful and not crowded at this time of year. Each Apartment has heating and air-conditioning controlled by you and not centrally, a safe deposit box (extra charge of 2Euro per day) a TV with some BBC ...

Monarch Airlines 10/10/2007

A Quick Getaway!

Monarch Airlines This is about Monarch scheduled flights not charter, I thought it best to make that clear! Monarch scheduled flights operate to Spain including Alicante, Barcelona and the Balearics, the Canary Islands, Portugal and Cyprus. It uses most UK airports, but mainly Birmingham, Luton, Gatwick and Manchester. I have used them regularly over the past four years and 'touch wood' have not had too many problems. They are certainly not the cheapest no frills airline, but have excellent service, and a good record of departing on time. I have only ever had one small delay for 30 minutes on the tarmac, while the air-conditioning was fixed. So off to the web. Their website is easy to navigate, choose your airport, destination and date and the site will usually show you a choice of days and times, both for departure and return. Click on your preferred flight times and continue to the next page, this is where those naughty 'add ons' appear. While I understand that the advertised prices are before taxes it can still be quite a shock at the end, observe! Pre allocation of seats: You do not have to pick your seats and can leave it until you check in at the airport, however, if it is during the school holidays or at busy times, beware! Not more than a couple of months ago we were approached by a desperate family of 6, including three young children who were going to have to sit in different areas of the plane, they wanted to swap seats with us as we had ...

Best Western Premier Acacia, Bruges 03/09/2007

Perfect break

Best Western Premier Acacia, Bruges First Impressions The hotel is situated on a quiet one way street, within a two minute walk from Bruges's fantastic square. It has an impressive entrance opening onto a rather stylish lobby complete with chandelier. Further away are places such as Ypres and Flanders Fields at around 50KM and Brussels at 90 KM. Reception On arrival we were greeted by a look of complete horror as the receptionist explained that they had misread the email from Best Western and had only reserved a double room rather than a family room. She couldn't stop apologising and offered to put an extra bed in our room. To be honest that was all we expected when booking a triple room. This was dealt with immediately and a porter was dispatched. Also in reception was the cutest parrot happily talking away in it's cage and making phone sounds, 'Grumpy Teenager' proceeded to teach it how to sound like a dripping tap. It picked this up really quickly so we made our escape upstairs before it was taught anything else! Room There are 48 rooms over 2 floors, served by 2 large lifts. Even with 'grumpies' extra bed the room was large and well furnished. Plenty of room for all three of us. It contained the usual furniture with the added bonus of a small table and chairs, air conditioning and tea and coffee making facilities. It was well kept and well decorated. Bathroom Very well equipped with a huge shower, hairdryer, numerous toiletries and……. A bottle of wine!! Strange but true! ...

Port Marine, Sète 21/08/2007

Your car is too big!

Port Marine, Sète Residence Port Marine, Sete, sounds lovely doesn’t it? Read on…… Booking We found the hotels website fairy easily and to be honest it looked great (the site did translate into English), so we contacted the hotel by email, booked the room and paid a small deposit of around 30 Euros. Location On top of a hill just of the main road about 10 minutes walk down to the port. Arrival After a gruelling 8 hour drive down to the South of France we arrived at the port of Sete only to find that it was their annual water jousting tournament and traffic in the port was horrendous. However, armed with our trusty sat nav we edged our way through the badly parked cars up the hill towards our hotel. We were so glad that we had taken the trouble to pre-book parking within the hotel. We arrived at last, tired and a little ‘cranky’ only to find that the drop off point in front of the hotel was completely full of parked cars and as we were being followed by irate French drivers we followed signs for the hotel car park at the rear. This was not easy, every available space was filled with cars and ‘hubby’ had to manoeuvre his estate around all these obstacles, eventually coming to an underground car park. He left the car and headed to reception only to be greeted by the rudest female receptionist I had ever met, who insisted he brought the car back to the front and that she would ‘explain the parking’. How on earth he managed to reverse the Passat in between all those badly ...

Best Western Hotel De La Paix, Reims 13/08/2007

Star Trek meets the Brady Bunch!

Best Western Hotel De La Paix, Reims The hotel is very conveniently placed, right in the heart of the city, close to restaurants and shops on Rue Buirette. The cathedral is only 1km away. 177 Rooms over 9 Floors. First impressions were good; the entrance is airy, large and colourful. Reception was efficient and helpful, directing us to their secure car park and then to our rooms on the third floor. The lift doors opened on floor 3 and I got the impression that the entire ‘changing rooms’ squad had been let loose with cans of grey spray paint for the walls and doors! I think it was meant to look modern and space age, but to be honest it looked cheap and nasty. The Room We had two average sized adjourning rooms, Grumpy’s had a double bed, wardrobe and safe, ours was well equipped with flat screen TV, air con and expensive mini bar it would have been perfect if not for the 1970’s wood panelling over one wall and the space age plastic table and chairs in the corner. Still the bed was really comfortable the air-conditioning worked well and the room was spotless. Bathroom Stunning, a huge deep bath, modern double basin and large walk in shower, all beautifully tiled and decorated……..except the doors! They were grey, plastic and sliding, I could not help making the ‘swish swish’ sound from Star Trek every time I went in. Seriously though the room and bathroom were fine for one or two nights. Breakfast Don’t!! They charge 12Euros per person and served it in what I can only describe as a ...

Armadams Hotel Majorca, Palma de Majorca 24/05/2007

A little Gem!

Armadams Hotel Majorca, Palma de Majorca A very odd looking building designed by Dr. D. Guillermo Forteza and built in 2000. It is situated behind the front row of hotels on the marina. It is 8km from Son St Joan airport, 1km from the city and 100m from the nearest bus stop. It takes two minutes to walk down to the marina and about 15 minutes to get to the old town. If you do not fancy the walk, reception will call you a taxi and it only costs about 4 Euros to travel into the town. Lobby This is inviting, with large red sofas and an oak panelled bar, leading to a small reception desk. The receptionist was extremely friendly and helpful a most welcoming start. The room This was amazing, we had booked a triple room so I expected three beds in an ordinary room……………..No we got a suite!!! Yeah. ‘Grumpy’s’ bed was in the living area, containing a sofa, TV, sideboard, minibar (not too sure that was a good idea) and its own air-conditioning. Our room was the other side of sliding double doors and was equally large with a whole wall full of fitted wardrobes and a TV. Rooms also contain internet access and direct dial telephones. There was a minus side to the sliding doors as ’grumpy’ managed to break them within 30 seconds, but this was not the hotels fault. Over all it was a fabulous room with an amazing amount of space. View Backs of the other hotels, but to be honest this was not important as we spent very little time in the room and as this end of the city is very busy, we never had the windows open. Ps the ...

Catalonia Mirador Des Port, Minorca 24/04/2007

Mirador Des Concrete Works!

Catalonia Mirador Des Port, Minorca Mirador Des Concrete Works! We decided to spend a long weekend in Minorca’s Capital, Mahon and found this hotel through Octopus Travel; we paid £454.00 for 4 night’s bed and breakfast for three adults in a triple room over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend. Location: 8½/10 The Hotel is situated in a nice quiet residential area about ten minutes walk from the centre of Mahon and only 5kms from the airport. It is set on a cliff above the port which can be reached down a long and steep road at the back of the hotel or by a large set of steps from the centre of the city. Appearance: 8½/10 Quite modern and well kept, with a large terrace area at the side. Parking: 0/10 None! Be warned if you hire a car as you will have to park some way from the hotel and the local police just love to ticket hire cars! Lobby: 8/10 Reception and lounge are in the same area, the reception staff are extremely helpful and friendly, they can arrange car hire and will give you a local map of the area. The lounge is bright and well decorated with cane furniture and glass tables. Bar and Terrace: 8/10 The bar is next to the lounge and is quite small. It serves bottled beers and a selection of spirits, wines and soft drinks you can also order sandwiches up to 11.00 pm. To be honest it is very expensive compared to the city bars and is also closed most of the afternoon, which is a real pain if you fancy a coffee as room service does not start until eight in the evening. The terrace has ...

Sol Gavilanes, Menorca 19/02/2007

Life's a beach!

Sol Gavilanes, Menorca The Hotel Gavilanes is built into the cliff overlooking the beautiful bay of Galdana it is not the most attractive hotel from the outside. It is, however, slightly unusual with the reception, bar and pool area being on an upper floor and most of the rooms being below. I have noticed that there are plenty of ramps for pushchairs and wheelchairs around the hotel and all the main doors are wide access. Reception It is bright and airy with settees and tables and an Internet area. The reception staff are extremely friendly and helpful, they all speak exceptional English and will explain how to get to your room and arrange for a porter to take your luggage. It is a good idea to use the porter as there are only 4 lifts and they are not terribly big, so trying to get the whole family plus luggage to your room needs military precision. The lift area can become busy during meal times and also when coach loads of people come to visit the beach, as tour operators use the Gavilanes for their stop off point. Rooms The rooms are of an average size, modern and tastefully decorated to a high standard. All come with a furnished balcony, it is certainly worth paying for a sea view, as it is stunning, you look out right across the bay. Also available is an excellent laundry service, usually taking 24 hours to return clothes beautifully cleaned and pressed and a pillow menu! (Choose your own shape and size if the ones in the room are not to your liking). They have a good ... 05/01/2007

You get what you pay for! I have, over the past few months tried three online grocery-shopping companies, mainly due to the fact that I am fed up with rushing around supermarkets and lugging huge amounts of shopping in and out of the car! Yes, I am a bit lazy but I am getting on a bit and the old legs can't take it anymore. The best of the three in my opinion is Ocado (Waitrose partner) for the following reasons: REGISTRATION: It is easy to register with Ocado, just give them a signing in name and password then address and telephone number. DELIVERY TIMES: This is the first thing you must do before you shop and this is where Ocado excels. The delivery times are in hour slots (not two like other stores) they start from 6am and go on until 11pm. This is really handy for me as I can have my shopping delivered before or after I go to work. I have never had an order delivered later than the hour I have booked and I have even had a phone call from the driver asking if he could come earlier as he had finished his other deliveries. You can book a delivery up to twenty days in advance, which is really handy, if you want shopping delivered the day you come back from holiday. The page looks quite comical with little purple and green vans within the allotted times. The green vans mean that there is already a delivery booked for your area and that if you choose this slot it will save fuel. If there are no vans at all it means that that hour is not available. Just click on the time you require and it is ...
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