It’s with a heavy heart that I share that the Gilded Age architectural gem, the Palmer House Hotel is in foreclosure.
The hotel was built by Potter Palmer, a real estate tycoon, for his young bride as a wedding gift. The hotel has faced disaster in the form of fires and financial problems before. I hope it’s not closed for good.
I can see how the lockdown and looting has affected all the downtown hotels.
I used some points to stay at the Sofitel in Kunming. Although they were extremely busy with a meeting between Yunnan and Taiwan, the staff went out of their way when I checked in and whenever I was in the lobby to see to it that I received good service and my questions were answered.
My room was sleek, modern and comfortable. I even had a TV in the bathroom, which seems to be a Sofitel standard on the club floors. (N.B. If you belong to the Accor loyalty program and travel regularly, you’ll soon earn Gold status which offers upgrades.)
I was on the club floor and had access to the lounge, where guests can indulge in afternoon tea and then in cocktail hour. The sweet and savory options were delectable and while there was a lot of seafood, which I don’t eat, there was no excuse for going hungry.
Since there was a big meeting between Taiwanese government officials and Yunnan provincial big wigs the club was off-limits for regular guests. The Chinese required that the Taiwanese delegation be sequestered and watched at all times. So breakfast was only offered in the main restaurant which is large and offers the biggest variety of quality cuisine that I’ve ever seen for a breakfast. In fact the breakfast deserves its own post.
As spectacular as the food was, I think the personal attention that Sofitel offers is what I liked most about my stay. At every meal or any time I asked for directions, the staff were warm and informative. They know how to show that they care.
For its downtown location and good price, I chose to stay at Novotel’s Central Sydney. I’ve been happy with the size of room and the modern bathroom and stylish room. It was just an 8 minute walk from the train station.
My first night I tried to order room service, but no one would answer the phone. It wasn’t a huge problem. I decided to eat in the restaurant and my fettuccini with sun dried tomatoes was great and could have served two easily.
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I just stayed one night at the Novotel Blackfriars in London, but I’d definitely go back. Though small, my room was nicely decorated and the bed was so comfy that I felt like a princess, like the princess in “Princess and the Pea.” The small bathroom was stylish with slate floors and chic toiletries.
Best of all, the location was great. I could walk to the London Eye in 10 minutes and to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey in 15 minutes. It’s half a block from a tube station.
Of course, there’s free wifi and a fitness center, which looked clean and up to date.
As a gold level member, I usually get a plate of fruit and an upgrade. On my stay I didn’t get either. Perhaps there were no bigger rooms available. As for the fruit, which I missed, I got a free drink voucher. I’d hoped for fresh orange juice at the adjacent restaurant, but all they had was standard concentrate. Novotel should just get some fruit to welcome us.
I didn’t eat any meals there. They have a breakfast buffet for $13, but there were several other choices where I could get a good breakfast for less.
We returned to the Grand Mercure on Sunshine Street for Easter Brunch. This time there were 150 other guests and around noon it was chaotic. (So go early if you go.) While there were plenty of non-desserts on offer, the pastry chef did a remarkable job with Easter themes.
The Grand Mercure Dongchen offers beautiful rooms and good service. I actually reserved a room here by accident. I wanted to book a room at the Mercure by Beijing’s South Cathedral, but inadvertently booked this location.
I found the staff welcoming and the room, a junior suite modern and comfortable. (I’ve stayed at enough Accor hotels this year to get upgrades for each reservation.)
One nice touch was that they printed their hotel guide on scrolls to harken to Beijing’s past.
The hotel is within walking distance of the Yonghegong Tibetan Temple and the Drum and Bell Towers, but these sites are really, in my opinion, of interest for travellers who’ve already seen Beijing’s most famous sites like the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven, and Summer Palace. They’re nice but not essential to see. It’s nowhere near the cathedral I wanted to get to and got lost finding. While I think it’s a lot newer
It’s not very crowded and the cocktail buffet had meagre offerings compared with busier hotels.
All in all, I’d suggest staying here if business brings you to north central Beijing but don’t bother with the Executive Lounge as you’ll probably need to eat more anyway. Room service would be the way to go.