Granada| RoomMate Hotel Leo

roommate leo granada

Behind a discrete door in a quiet pedestrian street in the centre of Granada is one of the best of the city’s boutique hotels. The building is traditional, but has been completely refurbished to the highest modern hotel standards, though access to the main lift is down a twisty ramp that seems left over from an earlier age. I have to say that I’ve quite fallen in love with RoomMates all over Spain – there is something comforting about knowing you’re going to get excellent quality but not ever feel like you are dealing with an impersonal corporate hotel chain. It always feels like coming home.

roommate leo collageThe location is between the Bib-Rambla square and the Cathedral on one side, and the main shopping street on the other, and is also close to the bustling bars and restaurants around Calle Navas. Plaza Nueva, the Alhambra, and the Albaicín are within easy reach.

The hotel serves breakfast throughout the morning in a pleasant little breakfast room in an interior patio, but the star of the show has to be the comfortable lounge on the top floor with a roof terrace outside that has a stunning view of the Alhambra.

roommate leo upstairs

There are 32 rooms, the majority standard double or twin, but also Executive suites. My room was a spacious standard, decorated in black, white and gold, with a big mirror, desk, and square leather armchair. Nice bathroom with a proper hairdryer (not one of those attached-to-the-wall types) and  the usual fabulous RoomMate toiletries. Free Wi-Fi that actually worked and a good sized wardrobe with plenty of hangers.

roommate leo rooftop

RoomMate Hotel Leo
Mesones, 15
Tel: 958 535 579

Jaén | Hotel Xauen

jaen - hotel xuaen (1)At the end of my Jaén Getaway I met up with my friend and fellow trip planner Rachel Webb, who lives just outside Jaén city. I’d just got in from Úbeda so she picked me up at the bus station and brought me to the hotel, which was easy enough to access, with a place to park temporarily while I signed in and took my luggage up to my room.

First impression of my room was that it was a bit dreary. It had a balcony and nice view of the square, but the old-style furnishings and bed covers seemed a bit tired and quite a contrast from the slick modern art and decor in the common rooms, breakfast area and bar. The rooftop bar and solarium is also smartly decked out and offers a splendid view of the city.

jaen - hotel xuaen (2)Breakfast was good, with fresh coffee and juice made to order at the bar. Once again the WiFi only seemed to work in the common rooms downstairs, so I made use of that over breakfast to catch up on emails.  And dreariness aside, my room was comfortable, though I’d say if you are a light sleeper then ask for a room that doesn’t face the square as the bars there stay open quite late. Basic comfort, great location, good for a night or maybe two in the centre of Jaén.

Hotel Xauen
Plaza Deán Mazas, 3
Tel 953 24 07 89

Baeza | TRH Ciudad de Baeza Hotel

baeza - hotel trh (1)

The TRH Baeza proved to be in a perfect location just inside the old town, and just around the corner from the Paseo de la Constitución – the town’s social centre (we were there immediately after the local feria, and the awnings were still up) – and the local market. The hotel itself, although making much of the fact that it’s in a 16th century convent, doesn’t really have a historical feel, though it retains the ground floor of the original colonnaded courtyard (a pleasant space with tables where you can enjoy a coffee, drink or snack), with the bars, restaurant and other public areas arranged around it.

For the rest it’s an essentially modern building, and none the worse for that. Our standard double room was comfortably spacious, with pleasant enough décor. The first room we were shown had very noisy air-conditioning, but we were moved straight away to the mirror-image room next door, which didn’t. Breakfast was okay, a fairly typical hotel buffet.
baeza - hotel trh (2)A few complaints. The WiFi really didn’t work well, and I was told the hotel “was having a problem with Telefonica” (this has happened in almost every hotel I’ve ever been to lately). The cheap wall-mounted soap dispenser in the bathroom was weird enough in itself, giving a “public bathroom” feel, and then fell off the wall just after we got there. Also I wasn’t told when booking a couple of days earlier that there were roadworks in the narrow street outside our room (and the hotel entrance). I know that roadworks are outside the hotel’s control, just feel I should have been told, although in the end it didn’t really affect our stay.

The convenient location was what really saved this place for me. I did check out a couple other boutique hotels while I was there, which were charming, but up (and I mean UP) small winding streets further from the “action”.  I’d say the TRH Baeza is good for a short stay – it’s comfortable, next to everything, and good value.

TRH Ciudad de Baeza
Concepción, 3
953 748 130

Madrid | Room Mate Hotel Mario

mario superior room
Third time totally lucky! This was my third stay at a Room Mate Hotel, and this time it was Mario, the original Room Mate hotel, in the heart of Madrid just off Plaza Ópera. An easy metro ride from Atocha station, I was there within half an hour of arriving in town. Check in was quick and welcoming, and I really appreciated that complimentary bottle of mineral water (why don’t more places do this?).

My spacious superior room was on the first floor with a balcony facing the street. Bright and charming, I loved that I could open the balcony doors and enjoy a pretty leafy green view. Super comfy bed (as usual at Room Mate) along with plenty of closet space, which included a mini bar and safe. The attractive grey & white tiled bathroom had a full bath and shower (with detachable shower head). I’m getting a bit hooked on the lovely bath products at Room Mate, especially the body lotion, but those hairdryers! Useless for anyone with longish hair. Also, the bathroom lighting could be better – I had to do makeup in front of the full-length mirror next to the balcony. Not a serious hardship, but thought I should mention it.

mario collage[click on image to enlarge]

As I always travel with three devices (notebook, iPad and iPhone) I was very happy to see lots of well-placed electical sockets around the room, and I was also pleased with the excellent (free!) WiFi connection. This time I had breakfast included but mostly went for fruit and coffee as I had lots of serious eating to do throughout the day (occupational hazard!). Have to say I’m not a fan of the “buffet breakfast”, but I did enjoy my coffee in the sunny breakfast room. It was a nice start to the day.

I think what I loved most about my three-night stay was feeling like I was in a cosy barrio, and overlooking that pretty street scene every day. A home away from home.

Room Mate Mario
C/ Campomanes 4
Tel. 915 488 548

Antequera | Parador Hotel

parador antequeraBack in February I won a free night for two including breakfast at the Parador of my choice and had decided to stay at the fabulous castle one in Carmona, but then found out that this wasn’t included in the list of available choices for Andalucía. So I ended up going to Antequera, which turned out to be quite serendipitous as I had never been there before and I was keen to do some research for my new trip planning biz. To wit I asked to book a second night along with my free offer, and I’m very glad I did. My friend Peter @SVQconcierge joined me for the first night and I stayed on by myself for the second.

The Antequera Parador is a modern 4 star hotel on a hill at the edge of town, with an easy walk to the town centre and monuments. Reception was friendly and efficient, and although we arrived quite early our room was already ready for us. One odd quirk that results from its hillside location with reception and “ground floor” at the top, is that the first and second floors are numbered in reverse, so that our second floor room beside the pool was the lowest level. Although we didn’t get to spend any real time there, the pool area was attractive with a terrace area and bar on one side, but otherwise the public areas, though clean and comfortable, seemed a little lacking in personality.

parador antequera collageOur room was quite spacious, with comfortable twin beds, a big desk, lots of cupboard space (with mini bar and safe) and a nice view of the pool outside the window. The bathroom was also roomy, and had some nice touches – twin sinks, big mirror, cleverly positioned make-up/shaving mirror with excellent lighting, and a sensibly simple shower in a full bath. I also really liked the pale green opaque coloured glass wall that separated it from the bedroom, but it could have been better ventilated. And it was a bit of a shame that the complimentary bathrobes and slippers didn’t show up until the second afternoon. But these are very small “complaints”.

Breakfast was typical large hotel fare (though with spectacular views from the dining areas). There was plenty of choice, from coffee and toast to fruit, to full English, but everything pre-prepared and a bit bland. It set us up for the morning, but I think hotels generally need to rethink how they do breakfast. I actually preferred the simple tostada & churros breakfast we had at a nearby bar when we first arrived.

But as you can see, I have no serious complaints at all. It was a lovely and luxurious getaway in a beautifully quiet and peaceful spot. A perfect introduction to Antequera. I’ll be back!

Parador de Antequera
Paseo García del Olmo, 2
Tel 952 84 02 61
Antequera, Málaga