Nothing Zen – Just Crop the Swimming Pool Photo

I56A0475 Zwembad gr

I56A0475 Zwembad

Nothing Zen – Just Crop the Swimming Pool Photo

Recently I was on a short city trip to Madrid.

When I prepared for the trip I was looking for a hotel with a swimming pool, as Madrid can be hot in September.

I choose the hotel on the basis of a photo like the first photo. I took this photo myself. The first photo is a crop of the second photo. I used a booking portal (OTA) to search and book the hotel.

When you look at the first photo, like me, you are likely to book the hotel if it features prominently on the booking site….When you look at the second photo, like me, You are unlikely to swim in this swimming pool ever with all those eyes that can peek at you from the surrounding high rises.

That is why I post this in the Zen category with the “Nothing Zen” connotation: With all the technique of Internet progressing and helping I still feel strong that you should watch your back and watch out for conman trying to lure you into something you do not want. Lucky for us it was too cold in Madrid to care for a swim and lucky for us the hotel had other amenities that fitted us well during this stay.

Wakeup Copenhagen Borgergade Review

Introduction My wife and I became hoteliers in 2000 after having fulfilled creative and caring professions unrelated to hospitality. In 2000 we started to convert a dilapidated terraced house next to our own house into a luxury 3 suites “Hotel” or Luxury B & B and operated it under the name Haagsche Suites (i.e. Suites … Continue reading “Wakeup Copenhagen Borgergade Review”

Introduction

My wife and I became hoteliers in 2000 after having fulfilled creative and caring professions unrelated to hospitality. In 2000 we started to convert a dilapidated terraced house next to our own house into a luxury 3 suites “Hotel” or Luxury B & B and operated it under the name Haagsche Suites (i.e. Suites of The Hague) until we’d closed it in December, 2013. Currently I am an almost full-time blogger with several blogs, Happy Hotelier and Chair Blog covering areas which are the closest related to Hotel Design.

Shortly after we closed Haagsche Suites, I’d contacted Patrick Goff  who owned a site dedicated to Hoteldesign which also featured Hotel Reviews. I remembered being very proud having Patrick review our Haagsche Suites. I also remembered saying to my wife when Patrick stayed at our place: “Whenever we stop Haagsche Suites I want to do what Patrick does”. So Patrick and I met and we decided to cooperate in creating hotel reviews. This review is the first. Update: And then the cooperation ended after this one review, because  Patrick managed to sell his site. The new owners kicked out many hotelreviews including this one.

You can read more about Patrick in my 10 Questions Interview with him.

Why chose the Wakeup Copenhagen Borgergade?

The Wakeup  belongs to the categorie hotels with small rooms, affordable, but carefully designed to please the guest and to offer as much luxury as feasible. No bathtub, but a showerstall and a very good bed.

I come from the opposite end of the hotel design spectrum. I believe(d) the guest needs to get as much room as economically feasible in order to feel well. Nevertheless I’ve closely followed the other end of the hotel design spectrum, noticing the market seems to undergo a change towards this idea guests don’t matter how small the room is, as long as its design is up to standard. So I was curious how the chain who owns the Wakeup would tackle this in Copenhagen, one of the top “design” cities, especially furniture design. While writing the review it appeared there are more hotels in this segment in Copenhagen.

In May 2014, when I prepared for a city trip to Copenhagen two things drew my eyes to the new Wakeup Copenhagen Borgergade:

  1. It is very well located in the city center near Kongen Nytorv, Nyhavn, the Danish Royal Palace Amalien Borg, the Danish Design Museum and the city’s main shopping walk Oestergade. Actually its location is better than many of its competitors in the small rooms, but “design” hotel, segment.
  2. The fact that it is the second Copenhagen Wakeup. That means that the first must be a success which could be repeated.

Near Amalien Borg where you can watch the Change of the Guard

Location

At the time I visited the Wakeup was approximately 2/3 finished. The 1/3 unfinished is an office building right of it which is being converted. When finished this Wakeup will count approximately 500 rooms.

As I pointed out already, the hotel is nicely located for city hoppers. A plus is it provides for rental city bikes. Copenhagen doesn’t have a cycling plan like Paris for example. Metro station not far away, approximately 15 minutes walking distance. With your own car approach is no problem at all and it is located next to a parking garage which after the building in the basement of which it is located will been completed, will be part of the hotel. The entry to the parking garage is next to the hotel. Ladies traveling alone by car don’t have to be afraid to be bothered while reaching the hotel in the night.

The dark gray brick of the exterior is a nice addition to the other buildings in the street

I usually also look at the way the hotel fits in its environment and this Wakeup, designed by Danish architect Kim Utzon, does it nicely with its contrasting dark gray brick as opposed to an adjacent building in red brick. Height is the same as other buildings in the street. The street is wide. Even the rooms in the front don’t suffer from cramped feelings because there is another high building near by.

Entrance and Lobby

The entrance is either through the front using three steps or through a recession in the building to the right of the entrance where a ramp is available for the disabled. To the right of the recession there is a gate to the back of the building which has a small garden and a storage for the bicycles the hotel offers for rent.

Entrance of Borgergrade Wakeup in CopenhagenThe entrance via the steps

Disabled ramp to Wakeup entranceThe adjustable platform is right in the recession where the disabled ramp to the frontdoor is located

When entering the lobby you will be pleasantly surprised by the fact that the lobby, with its ceiling over 5 meter above your head, gives you a sense of entering an ample luxurious space, with some designer chairs draped here and there. Such luxurious feeling is unusual for budget hotels. It is even unusual for some 5 star hotels where you enter and feel as if you will bump your head so low as the ceiling is.

Floorplan of Borgergrade Wakeup Hotel CopenhagenThe triangular plan (here of the top floor) with the glass covered courtyard for breakfast in the middle

In addition, although from the outset it seems a rectangular building, you’ll be even more surprised by the depth of the lobby you are entering, as the breakfast area is situated in a triangular courtyard inside the triangle the building actually is.

The breakfast area is separated from the Lobby by an entire wall of double glass doorsThe breakfast area is separated from the Lobby by an entire wall of double glass doors.

View from the liftcluster towards the front desk

From the main entrance you will find the frontdesk on your right.

On your left hand is a cluster of 6 lifts and beyond that the “Business Center” which basically is an area with cluster of 6 desks with wide screen computers  free for use by guests.

I believe the comic sans lettertype indicating the floorlevels is a bit out of place here.

Throughout the hotel there is free WiFi protected by a password. Around the “Business Center” you will find various seating compositions to meet fellow guests or other people.

View on the ramp from the insideView on the ramp from the inside. Left part of the drinks available at the check in desks.

The brickwork outside  has a double function as smokers’ “bench”

View from the lobby into the garden

A front desk with ample cooling storage for drinks.A front desk with ample cooling storage for drinks.

Very cleverly the front desk has a double function: They sell drinks (wine and beer included) and some snacks. I find this much more hospitable and personal than those premises with mere vending machines like the Citizen M hotels.

To use the lift to go up, you need your key card

A clever design and security feature is the fact that you are not able to use any lift without using your key card. They even though of programming it so that you can go down from your floor to the ground floor. On the other hand they overdo it if they require the same to go by lift to the basement where the toilets are and require it even from the ones who use the toilets in the basement. I suggest they announce this with bigger signs on or in the lift as it lasted 5 minutes before we understood this and the reception guy forgot to explain this to us.

View from the frontdesk: The pillar obstructs view on the entrance and the rest of the hall.

Danish designer Arne Jacobsen’s Swan Chairs for comfortable easy seating anddecoration.

The breakfast room is not open for hotel guests during the day, which amazed me.

This brings me to what I consider a design flaw: The check in desks are located too far from the entrance. In addition they don’t have a good uninterrupted view of the entrance because there are two big pillars in the way. Also there is no way for the receptionists to have a clear view on what happens either in the area where the lifts are clustered or the area where the business center is located or the Breakfast area. In my opinion the Front Desk should have been designed as an Isle opposite the entrance. To cover the entrance and have a better view of the Breakfast area. That would also facilitate acces control for breakfast.

Breakfast

My breakfast issues: Breakfast is not included in the room price. We have not used breakfast, because the Wakeup does not serve cappuccino, nor does it serve warm milk. In my view this is a capital sin against hospitality. Luckily there are plenty of good breakfast cafe’s throughout Copenhagen, so we didn’t suffer, but I noted they used the very expensive professional German WMF coffee machines in the breakfast area and I happen to know that this brand also provides for excellent machines that serve not only ordinary coffee, but also excellent cappuccino or macchiato…. In order to get paid for breakfast they post one employee in front of one set of double doors and he collects the vouchers you have to buy at one of the front desks. However usually there is a lineup in front of the desks. Why in this automated era isn’t it possible to have a vending machine issuiing breakfast vouchers? Or, alternatively why don’t you give entrance to the breakfast room with your keycard and have the keycards in one way or another have a breakfast as an extra? Finally I noted the breakfast room is not available for guests during the day. I really think that is a waste of expensive space.

The Rooms

Wakeup corridor

Two types of Rooms

The top floor rooms have a little piece of the roof as a privat “garden”

In general there is one room type of 9 m2. However on the topfloor there are two types. The part on the front that recedes has wider rooms. They are 12 m2. On lower floors there are rooms that have a connecting door that can function as family rooms: Mum and dad in one room and the kids in the other room. I personally do not fancy a double bed against a wall so that I have to crawl over my partner going in or out the bed. It is not so bad as in the CiticenM where you have to crawl over your partner. Here with some gymnastics you can crawl toward the foot part of the bed. In the standard room you will not be able to shuffle away from the bed without touching it and thus waking your partner. In the bigger rooms that is less of a problem. Rooms with a view? Topfloor rooms are a bit more expensive as they are advertized as having a better view. I have a feeling the marketing on the hotel’s site is derived from the other Wakeup hotel. This one’s top floor in the front has no extra view. Maybe a bit more sky. That’s all. However in the back there is more to see. As you can see from the plan there are rooms with a view on the courtyard. Glad to see you won’t look directly into the rooms of another wing.

Standard room

Enter the standard room. Left a suitcase standard a small desk with chair. Above it the TV screen which is not adjustable thus causing some tension when watching from the bed. The bed itself is fixed to the back of the room an the right wall. The headboard is rounded which gives it a little playful effect. The reading lights offer not enough light and are not adjustable. Fixed so high that you hinder your partner when you want to read. No cupboard. An excellent working silent airco….and you can open your window, which is more than you can do at some pod hotels who simply have no windows.

En-suite bathroom in the form of a glass in-room pod with round shower stall

Flush buttons above the lid when up would have been more convenient

The faucet is a bit small for my big hands

Conclusion

All in all the design is well thought out (with minor flaws) and creates a nice atmosphere.

And here is my first hotel review video:

Not easy to make a proper video;-)

Post alia: Part of this review was published earlier at the blog Happy Hotelier, but after HotelDesign.blog was created we moved it here.

 

Nativity Secrets of Hotel Sonne

Father Helmut in the middle checking out the terrace in front of the porch to the courtyard

Courtyard of Hotel Sonne in Offenburg, GermanyThe courtyard with private parking space and the breakfast room at your left.
Here it is clear that the old part of the building is really old.


Nativity in the wood


Roman style Nativity


Close up of another Nativity


The three Kings


For the less religious there is the showcase with a persiflage of the hoteliers family

You may know that I’ve frequently visited Hotel Sonne in Offenburg, Germany. The hotel is operated by Gabi and her husband Horst. However the father and mother of Gabi, Helmut and Brigitte, who must be well in their 80ies still help their daughter out almost every day. The same family operating this hotel already for over 150 years.

In my prior review I’ve just showed one photo. Here I have some more, also to point you to their little secret: One forebear of Brigitte loved to collect little wooden figures and loved to make showpieces of them, mostly with Nativity as subject. Time permitting Brigitte will love to show them to you. They occupy a couple of their hotel rooms, but soon they will disappear as the hotel rooms will be refurbished in due course and be added to their inventory.

Chateau Eza – an Eagle’s Nest Hotel

Chateau-Eza-IMG_8185Full Moon and a view on St Jean Cap Ferrat

Chateau-Eza-IMG_8198An excellent place for Super Yacht spotting, here the 90m Lauren L, built in 2002 in Germany

Last year we took a few days off from our hectic life as hoteliers to visit the south of France.

I was able to make a last minute reservation for one night in a suite of the magnificent Chateau Eza.

However, there are a couple of things to note:

  • Eza is the old name for Eze. It is a little picturesque medieval and hence car free village on a rock approximately 500m above sea level with a magnificent view of the Mediterranean. It is the first village west from Monaco and not far from Nice and Nice Airport. It is draped like an Eagle’s Nest on a steep hill. Hotel Chateau Eza is situated on top of the village, about 20 minutes walking on a steep uphill path, partly with stairs. It’s an excellent place for Yacht spotting.
  • If you travel by car like we do, you should be aware that Eze village is a bit of a tourist trap with few parkings. On busy days it is hardly possible to park your car somewhere in the neighborhood of the entrance to the village. Many buses drop by. If you want to make a day trip by car to for instance Monaco or Nice, it takes about 1/2 hour before you reach your car and you have no guarantee you’ll find a parking spot when you return after your trip.
  • Eze can be foggy, even if the rest of the Riviera is sun blazed. Just be aware of this, if you booked for the view as we did.
  • They run an excellent restaurant, but they don’t give hotel guests a guaranteed seat for a session in the restaurant, what amazed me for a 10 rooms only hotel.
  • Checking in into the hotel is a somewhat peculiar experience, as there is a little office for the concierge in the main street not far from the car park, approximately a mile downhill form the hotel entrance itself. The hotel site is not clear about this feature. It should be in my opinion. The confirmation of the reservation gives some directions, but are not very clear. The porter does a good job bringing your luggage to the hotel. All in all it took us 2 hours from arrival by car until we were checked in.
  • Friends of us stayed somewhere in the not too distant neighborhood, and we would have liked them to meet us at the hotel for lunch, however when we were settled Eza had closed the kitchen, notwithstanding they advertise, even today, on their site: Tapas service and à la carte salads are served from 12h30 to 18h00. Moreover with a 5 stars rating you may expect 24/7 room service for tapas and salads. No flexibility at all and that annoyed me most.
  • As a final observation: The neighborhood is rocky. On the night vision photo above you look West and see the light glow of Nice behind the hill and the traffic on the secondary road. It means if there is no wind, there is a lot of traffic noise amplified by the steep rocks around. Traffic goes on all night.

All in all it was quite an, but not so quiet, experience which I won’t repeat.

Chateau-Eza-IMG_8207

After a wonderful, but bit hazy, breakfast on the terrace we left for the Burgundy region.