Category Archives: Hotel Reviews

Business Travel and European Hotels

I believe I have always paid attention to cultural differences in various parts of the world.  My career and the nature of my job have been very important factor in allowing me to see various countries (many of them on multiple occasions) and interact and experience their subtle or major differences.  Admittedly, I am not exactly someone with a fixed and stable origins and background – my own life has developed over the years across three continents and in several countries – you can say – major identity crisis – but one thing I have had as a common experience – that has been my last 20+ years in hi-tech companies in the US with occasional long term or short term stints overseas (besides just business trips)

Long introduction to my posting – but I thought it will be important to establish a point of reference.

In my travels, I have stayed in many hotels – many of them chains (Hilton, IHG, Sheraton, Marriott, Hyatt, Shangri-La, La’Meridien….) and many boutique ones.

My latest trip which included hotel stays in both major chains – Hilton (at CDG-Paris) and JW Marriott (Bucharest) – and boutique ones: Auberge Du Pecheur (in Ghent, Belgium),Germany-Boutique-HotelLandaus Am See (in Garbsen, Germany), and Prinzregent (Munich, Germany).

I was very surprised to conclude that while on business the European traveller does not care to conduct business in their respective hotel rooms.   Why do I say that?  Well, empirical evidence from multiple hotels across multiple European countries !   All the hotels that I listed above with the exception of the JW Marriott in Bucharest, Romania, had one MAJOR flaw where business travel is concerned – the only telephone that one could find in the rooms was right next to the bed and with a short cord on top of that.

So here is the scenario – in my multi-year experience – when you are traveling on business there are two things that ALWAY happen:

  1. You have plenty of business related meetings during the day
  2. When you return to your hotel room you inevitably have to check tons of emails (that have accumulated while you were at the business events) and in most days you would have a conference call with the home office or another office of the most likely global company you work with.

Now, what do you do if you have a business related conference call?   Well usually, you would like to

a) have a good work area / desk for your laptop and a comfortable seating – hm….how about the hotel desk and chair…

b) have a phone to use as most likely using your own mobile phone while roaming internationally for a hour or longer conference call could be expensive.

If you agree with the above setup – then guess how many hotels in my recent business trip in Europe offered those simple business related amenities …?   Well, I sort of already stated that – only ONE !!!

Following the train of thought then, what can one conclude – the usual traveller staying in these hotels is either (a) not a business traveller;   or (b) business travelers in Europe enjoy the stay in their hotel room for other purposes and not conducting business calls …

My experience from the stays in these hotels was definitely different – picture this – a person hunched over a telephone (due to its short cord) on a bed by a bedside table trying to balance a laptop with reference material… What an experience…..!   I would help you – not a pleasant one…

On the positive note – JW Marriott obviously cares…..!   Thank you JW Marriott staff…

Brussels-Hannover-plane Interesting-Hotel-Lille Paris-France  Lille-France-Hotel

Hilton Hotel in Paris Resorts to Duct Tape

Have you seen the (I believe) famous Canadian comedy show The Red Green Show?  I liked it a lot (10-15 years ago) – it was shown on PBS…The main character Red (Steve Smith) is the leader of Possum Lodge and a self-proclaimed handyman who is constantly extolling the virtues of duct tape (“the handyman’s secret weapon”).

Well, on my recent business trip to Paris I relived my happy memories of watching Mr. Red….but I also had the bad experience with the Hilton at CDG-Paris.

I arrived late (around 10pm) and checked in quickly into a nice room – exec room on the hotel’s 2nd floor.

In the morning though I had rather unpleasant experience when I tried to take a shower – the hotel shower = a handheld shower with a grip bar – turned out to be broken and fixed with….yes! you guessed it DUCT TAPE  (Mr. Red would haven been proud!)

There were two problems with that

a) the shower was broken and fixed by a questionable housekeeping handy person

b) with Duct Tape that would not hold the handshower in place as the water started flowing through it, the grip would release and the shower would fall to the floor….

Hilton -Charles De Gaulle   The Duct Taped Shower You can see the shower setup on these two photos I took with my iPhone – pretty interesting usage of duct tape after all…

I took a shower eventually – gasp! – by holding the handheld shower in one hand…not convenient but, hey, it is only a Hilton!!!  Not..!

Then, later that morning, the second surprise came about – I wanted to get to the airport.  The helpful front desk staff told me “Yes, of course – which airline?”  I told them “British Airways”.   The response was “Sure – terminal 2….please wait for the shuttle”.  I waited for about 20-minutes and finally the shuttle was there.  Well we boarded, and made it to the airport, but to Terminal 2E!!! We were told here you are for your flights….I asked them “Is British airways here?” the response was “yes”

Come to find out – indeed – BA was in Terminal 2 – but Terminal 2A…. A helpful airport employee smiled and said – “you better hurry…you have a bit of a walk ahead of you”

I guess I needed it – indeed, it took quite the walk to make it from 2E to 2A…. But my frustration was with the Hilton staff.   I bet there are plenty of guests who fly BA

Why not drive to the proper terminal to start with?   Hopefully someone from Hilton will see my gripe and do something about it.

The Prince Sakura Tower Tokyo, Autograph Collection

The Prince Sakura Tower: Renovated Hotel, but Value for Money is Average

Prince Sakura TowerI have stayed in this hotel quite a few times since 2005. The hotel was renovated recently – in the last year or so, my last stay was actually in the Prince Takanawa hotel near by as this property was being redesigned.
The new furnishings and overall setup is definitely nicer. But there are some issues that I wish were resolved – and to be honest make me wonder was the redesign just cosmetic…?
My biggest issue – the shower in the bathroom. Take this
* the rooms are large
* clean, new carpets
* comfortable bed

But the bathrooms are small and the showers tiny!!! More about the showers:
* In a upscale / expensive hotel – why would you put a shower that is really 1980s?
* There is hardly a spot / shelf to put more than a bar of soap — Why? I had to put the small bottles of shampoo over the frame of the shower door as the small shelf was occupied by a soap and a razor…that’s it…

Additionally, I was very surprised not to find electrical outlets that can work with US plugs. In most hotels I have stayed, at least at the desk you will find power outlets that accomdate multiple standards including US ones for electrical outlets – but not in this hotel.
So, if it is a hotel accomodating business travellers – why not put at least a couple of outlets with more than just Japanese standard???? Very strange and inconsiderate
Further on the fit for a business hotel – the hotel room has a desk area (rudimentary I may add, but it is what it is), but no phone at the desk…! Another strange configuration I must say…What do you think? Would you want to have a phone on the desk? If you are like me – you have multiple business related conference calls and those usually require you to reference material from your laptop. So in the Price Sakura Tower hotel your option for a business conference call is the bed!!! Why? The phone is on the bed side table, NOT on the desk.

So good luck hunching over your laptop as you talk on a short cord telephone…
(I wish there was at least a cordless phone…)

So, my overall assessment – if you are a business traveler and if you have options, look for another hotel…!