45 Second Cheap Hotel Advisor – Istanbul

Sphendon Hotel
Akbiyik Degirmeni Sk no:46
Istanbul, Turkey

That is the view from one of the two small rooftop terraces. It’s taken with a zoom but yes, this budget hotel is really that close to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district. Pretty nice, no?

The rooms were a bit small but comfortable, there’s free wifi throughout, and the breakfast (included) was quite good, a blend of western and local, with the emphasis on the local. All that, plus a very hospitable and welcoming staff, for 35 EUR/46 USD/night (I booked through venere.com).

What’s most appealing is the location, set on a quiet mostly residential street but less than a 10 minute walk from the Blue Mosque. Both the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market/Eminonu Square were a leisurely 20 minute stroll away. Nearest tram stop is Sultanahmet (2 TL per ride), roughly midway between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, is also a 10 minute walk. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants just a short walk away as well.

It’s a bit difficult to find initially, so be sure you give your cab driver the exact address. Taxi ride to the airport (40 TL/16.50 EUR/22 USD) took just over 20 minutes in mid-morning but you should probably give yourself twice that.

Oh almost forgot: the wall surrounding the courtyard is 1600 years old.

(I stayed at the Sphendon for three nights, 12-15 March 2012).

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35 second Hotel Apoksiomen (Mali Lošinj) Advisor

Hotel Apoksiomen
Riva Lošinjsih Kapetana I
51550 Mali Lošinj, Croatia
Visited 5-9 May 09

Very nicely done. Casual semi-statelyiness. Friendly, pleasant staff, night and day. It’s named after a 2nd or 1st C. BC bronze statue found between the islands of Lošinj and Veli Orjuli where he rested beneath the waves for about 1800 years. He’s being cleaned up at the moment and is expected to return to Mali Lošinj next year.

A terrific deal at 59 EUR/night via HRS, 10 EUR more for a portside room; two have balconies. Mine was nice. Great views and lots of sun. Don’t expect that price during the summer months.

It’s part of Vienna International group, which also has properties in Poland, The Czech Republic, Germany, France, Austria and Romania, and which claims that the cheapest rates can be found directly from their website. If not, they’ll pay you the difference. I didn’t check out the claim, but you can here.

Wifi throughout, and it was free via my HRS booking. Breakfast was OK+.

One complaint: They really need to fix that large bump in the floor that divides the breakfast room in half. That’s not something a guest needs to be wary of when carrying a cup of coffee and a glass of juice across the room before 8 in the morning. OK? Thanks.

hotel apoksiomen 2009-05-06-Mali Lošinj 02, originally uploaded by pirano.

30 Second Cheap Hotel Advisor – Athens

29 Athinas
Athens, Greece

This is the view from the rooftop bar of the Hotel Attalos, just a few steps up from the sixth floor. Nice, no?

As big cities go, the 48 EUR/night price is right. It’s two stars, which are enough if you don’t spend too much time in your room. There is free wi-fi in the first floor reading room, along with a couple of computer terminals, an extremely nice touch. Breakfast not included.

But best about the Attalos is the location. Just a couple hundred meters from the Monastiraki underground stop, there’s plenty in the immediate area to keep you thoroughly amused and on your feet for the duration of your stay: the Plaka, the flea market, scores of museums, ruins and parks.

FYI, Monastiraki is roughly 30 minutes from Port at Piraeus, and 40-50 minutes to the airport, no change required for either.

I’ll definitely return. Soon.

acropolis, originally uploaded by pirano.

30 Second Cheap Hotel Advisor – Syros

Omirou 3
Ermoupolis, Syros, Greece

There are plenty of accommodations similar to this in Ermoupolis, so little need to devote 30 seconds to Paradise. It’s a good rule to always be wary of a hotel that describes itself so immodestly, but to be fair, this was perfectly acceptable, simple and clean. I was told that I could have done better in the off-season for 35 EUR/night [through Venere].

Just a five minute stroll from the Ermoupolis port exit, but on arrival it’s a little difficult to find. Once you navigate through the few alleys that lead you there, it’s easy to get oriented. Very close to everything in Ermoupolis, mainly because everything is close to everything in Ermoupoli. Simple breakfast included, but I took my morning coffees from various cafes along the port.

Syros 001 – Paradise, originally uploaded by pirano.

30 Second Cheap hotel Advisor – Stuttgart

Mercure Hotel Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt
Teinacher Strasse 20
Bad Cannstatt

There’s nothing cheap or budget-minded about this place, so I’ll spare you (and me) much of these 30 seconds. At about 140 EUR/night, it’ll work for business travelers (or for those who aren’t paying themselves).

WTF is up with hotels these days? 25 EUR/day for Wifi? I’ve stayed in tiny dives for a quarter of the price with FREE wifi. Unforgivable.

The room was decent, there are smoking rooms available, breakfast is quite good (at 15 EUR extra), and there’s a nice park nearby. Note that Bad Cannstatt is a suburb of Stuttgart; public transport (a tram/U & S bahn combo) will get you to the main Stuttgart station in about a half hour at best, depending on the connections.

I don’t think I’ll ever stay here again.

mercure-stuttgart-10-sept-08, originally uploaded by pirano.

30 Second Cheap hotel Advisor – Lausanne

Hotel du Marche
Rue Pre-du-Marche 42

When I’m on the road and paying my own way, the only rule I’m guided by is to find the cheapest room available with a private bath. Hostel days are behind me. In Switzerland though, nothing is cheap, and rules are meant to be broken.

I embarked on the search too late, and all I could come up with that was reasonably inexpensive in Lausanne was this place, and at 70 CHF (44 EUR), shared facilities notwithstanding, it was a terrific deal.

The location was great, easy to get to via public transport, pleasant staff, and free wifi throughout. I particularly enjoyed a Vietnamese restaurant just around the corner.

I’m definitely returning.

Hotel du Marche – Lausanne, originally uploaded by pirano.

30 Second Cheap hotel Advisor – Paris

Hotel De La Paix
19, rue du Gros Caillou – 75007 Paris

I liked this place! Located on a pleasant and quiet street in an otherwise fairly lively neighborhood –a couple minute walk from the Parc du Champs de Mars, and perhaps 10 to the Eiffel Tower– it’s about as off-the-beaten-path as you can find in Paris.

Rooms are cozy, free wifi throughout, and an extremely pleasant owner and staff. There are plenty of bars/cafes in the vicinity that won’t break the bank, along with a few wines shops that will. Nearest metro is Ecole Militaire, and you can order a shuttle to De Gaulle Airport at the front desk (17 EUR, about 40 mins).

The hotel’s website is here; for Paris I generally book through venere.com.

I think I’ll definitely return.

Hotel De la Paix – Paris, originally uploaded by pirano.

30 Second Cheap hotel Advisor – Rome

Hotel Luciani
Via Milazzo, 8
00185 Rome, Italy

Luciani is one of the dozens (or perhaps hundreds?) of little hotels that appear in every nook and cranny near Rome’s Termini (main) train station.

A tiny room, Spartan bed, old bedstand, barred windows and rickety closet gave this place the feel of prison chic. But looks can be deceiving, since you are allowed to come and go as you please and you don’t have to share a shower. Breakfast –a pile of bread washed down with coffee from a cheap machine– lends itself nicely to the incarceration theme.

In fairness, you can’t expect much more in Rome these days for 50 EUR/night to enjoy 2-star comfort.

Upside? It’s less than a five minute stroll to platform 6 at the Termini station. Wifi is available, 5 EUR/6 hrs.

I will not stay here again.

Luciani – Rome, originally uploaded by pirano.

30 Second Cheap hotel Advisor – Milan

Cityhotel Central Station
Via Giovanni Battista Sammartini 15
Milano, Italy

True to its name, this place is a five-minute stroll from Milano Centrale Station. As you can see, I had a fairly large room, with a big window overlooking a boulevard through which I learned, among other things, that Milanese streetcleaners are particularly loud at 3:30 in the morning.

On the plus side? Free wifi (that doesn’t work everywhere) and the parakeet in the lobby with a firm command of English, Italian and Mandarin Chinese. And a decent and relatively inexpensive sushi joint a few doors away.

59 EUR/night for a single, w/private bath.

I’m never one to say never, but I shall (probably) not return.

Cityhotel Central Station – Milano, originally uploaded by pirano.