This category in my annual awards is for accommodation. The year brought me a lot of variety in terms of the kind of places I stayed in.
I used hotels in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dublin, Gdańsk, Lisbon, Durham and Bratislava, all with a lot of enjoyment. I stayed in more prosaic hotels in Rotherham and Washington (County Durham – not the other ones), but I knew what to expect and could have made different choices.
The hotels in Gdańsk and Durham were conversions of older buildings which gave them much more character than the typical new build hotel.
Having said that, one of my stays in Edinburgh was in the Moxy (part of the Marriott chain) and they go out of their way to make the brand quirky – to appeal to younger customers I reckon. It works for me too.
For my longer stays in Porto, Évora, Bratislava and Rīga I used Airbnbs despite my qualms about the company’s business model. I also used an Airbnb in Speyside when my original plans fell through at the last minute.
The latter was a cottage, whereas the others were all apartments. All were excellent in their different ways. The one in Bratislava stood out because it was furnished with the kind of personal possessions you just never see in an apartment which has been bought for the purpose of being a short term let. I reckon it had belonged to the owner’s parents judging by the nature of the contents.
I even stayed a week in cabin in the Scottish Highlands, generously offered to me by friends.
Taking the hotels first, my favourite was the Dwór Uphagena in Gdańsk. My room was great – spacious, quiet and comfortable. The hotel building was lovely – a converted hospital. The location was easy walking distance from the main part of the city centre. The staff were efficient but friendly too. The food was excellent – I ate dinner in the restaurant several times, as well as breakfasts.
As for the short term let stays, I have to go for the Bratislava apartment as the best. Again it was spacious, comfortable and quiet. It was right in the city centre and a short walk to whatever I needed. It had a good bakery around the corner – essential if I am to enjoy my stay.
As for choosing between them for the 2022 award, the task is difficult. In the end I have gone for the Bratislava apartment.
ⓒ iain taylor, 2023
Your blog posts always prompt memories of my own travels. Bratislava? My first visit was more than 50 years ago on a cold February day in the bleak years after the Prague Spring and subsequent repression by the Russians – yes, some things never change – when I changed a few dollars and wondered how I would ever spend them. I ended up drinking beer at one of the ubiquitous kiosks that were a feature of all socialist paradises. Years later I returned to Bratislava and found that the bowed babushkas with their net shopping bags had been replaced by slinky Slovak barmaids pouring pints in Irish pubs.
Thanks for the travel memories.