Now it is the award for accommodation. I can count the choices on the fingers of one hand.
I started 2020 in my lovely Airbnb in Athens, feeling less than lovely after spending Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve to the rest of the world) with the Airbnb owners in their home. A lot of Greek food and wine. It would have been rude not to enjoy myself. Sadly, I had to get to the airport that morning for my flight home.
The superb Radisson Blu in Malmö was my next stop, at the end of January. I loved it. The price was fair. The location was ideal. The room (an upgrade) was excellent, as were their buffet breakfasts. It is a short walk from the railway station and ideal for me.
Then… the pandemic.
Fast forward to the end of August, when I gathered up my courage and went to a hotel overnight for the first time under our new hygiene and distancing way of life. I choose the Knockomie in Forres – that’s in northern Scotland almost on Speyside. The reasons are not important, but it was excellent. I felt safe. They were getting it right.
I ate dinner there, which is something I would not usually do, but it saved trying to get a table at a restaurant. I only stayed one night, but I would go back any time – I have family in the area, but for obvious reasons I would not stay with them at the moment.
With a little confidence under my belt, I had another trip in September – to Aberlour on Speyside for 3 nights. My first choice for my holiday that month was Ukraine, and Albania was Plan B. Travel abroad had become to risky again by then, so Speyside it was. I stayed in Dowans Hotel – a similar quality and style to the Knockomie.
I was very happy with it, and that included the anti virus arrangements. Again I “ate in” at night.
Then the last place to consider is the cottage I stayed in for 4 nights in October – on Speyside again, just south of Elgin. It too was absolutely ideal for my purposes. Clean, modern, quiet… It had the benefit of being free of the hygiene and distancing regime which hotels need to have.
My choice for award winner is the Radisson Blu in Malmö. It was wonderful at the time, and obviously I had no idea it would be the core of my last foreign travel on 2020. It is bitter sweet to look back on it from that angle.
Radisson is a brand which was always one of my favourites when I was doing a lot of work travel in the 1990s, so it has a soft spot in my heart. I loved being “back” and being reminded of how it came about.
ⓒ iain taylor, 2020