Silken Hotel Ordasa Torla

Ordasa National Park Pyrenees

Located just outside the Ordesa y Monte Perdido national park the Silken Hotel is a perfect location for exploring the Pyrenees Mountains. The hotel is very friendly, probably looks a bit better in the photos than in real life. Our room was a fair size, bathroom was tiny. The walls are paper thin, I was woken up with a shock one morning when the people next door turned on their shower…..can hear everything which is not good. I didn’t fancy trying the hotel restaurant but i’m glad I did as the food was really good and the hotel/restaurant staff were very helpful and friendly. In fact I would have to say the staff were the best thing about the hotel. There is a large swimming pool which was welcome after a long days walking…..water was freezing !!

Silken Hotel - Ordasa National Park

During the Summer months you have to catch a bus from the information office in town,  the bus regularly takes walkers inside the park to the walking start point.  Here there is a small bar, toilets and a walk tourist office, they can give maps/details of walks etc. We choose a 7 hour round walk which started with a 750m climb up the side of the mountain and then followed a mountain path along the tree lined canyon to a waterfall 4 hours later. I can honestly say the views along the walk were the best and most breathtaking I have ever seen anywhere in the world. I can definitely recommend Pyrenees mountains. The 3 hour walk back was along the canyon valley floor following the river…..absolutely beautiful. After 7 hours walking extremely tired but in a good way. If you don’t fancy risking your life with the 750m climb (if you are scared of heights do not do this climb, there are narrow paths with sheer drops to the side) you can take the valley route there and back (5-6 hours). This walk is a must do, buy yourself some walking shoes and pack a lunch/water, you do not have to be super fit to do it but if you’re a couch potato its best to stick to the valley route.

NH Ria Hotel – Bilbao

BilbaoWe stayed at the NH Ria Hotel in Bilbao which I can highly recommend, its located on the banks of the river 2 minutes from the pedestrian bridge over the river and 10 minutes walk from the Guggenheim museum which is well worth a visit. The hotel was modern, rooms were spacious modern and clean, as was the bathroom. Its worth paying for the breakfast, its really very good with options for healthy juice shots. We stayed in Bilbao August 2018 during the 9 day city festival…………should have done our research before hand as it was manic….hundreds of beer tents each with there own live band, pintxos bars overflowing with people, bins overflowing all over, fireworks every night and absolutely packed with merry people. I really liked Bilbao, you have the old town on one side of the river and the newer ‘posher’ side on the other which had some fantastic bars, restaurants and pintxos bars as well as all the shops, el corte ingles etc……but I will never go back during this 9 day festival, it was bonkers and I’m too old !!

Parador Olite Navarra Spain (Part of road trip Northern Spain)

Olite CastleThe castle in Olite is like something out of a Walt Disney fairy-tale movie, its rebuild started in the 30’s and finished in the 70’s, it almost looks brilliant but a tad fake…….saying that, it’s a must see if you are passing through the region. We had a half day exploring all its rooms and glory. Olite town is also very pretty with lots of little cobbled streets with a few cafes and restaurants dotted here and there. Other than the castle there is not much else going on. Olite is a good base if you are planning to explore Pamplona or Logrono (La Rioja) which are well worth visiting and within an hour or so drive. As regards the Parador in Olite, its very nice, not the best Parador I’ve stayed in, rooms are as you would expect in a parador, lots of wooden furniture and old paintings on the walls, very spacious but you couldn’t swing a cat in our bathroom.

Parador Olite

The Parador restaurant was very good as usual with all Paradors. Only complaint is being charged 9 Euros for a plate of chopped tomatoes. In hindsight I think the best plan would have been to stay in Pamplona or Logrono as there is so much going on……museums, tapas bars and restaurants and take a day/half day to visit Olite and its castle fairy tale castle.

Parador – Alcaniz Teruel Spain

Stopped  at this Parador as part of our journey to the North of Spain, wasn’t sure what to expect as its was the first Parador we have stayed in. Really pleasantly surprised, this beautiful ancient building was perched on top of a hill overlooking the town and local countryside. Our room was spacious and well decorated with wooden furniture, the bathroom was very spacious and clean….really very impressed with the Spanish concept of Paradors !! Our evening meal was fantastic, really good quality accompanied with fine local wines. There is also a very nice courtyard with seating serving drinks and meals less grand than the restaurant.  As regards Alcaniz, it’s a perfect stop over place, not much going on apart from the Parador and the awesome church. I would definitely recommend staying at this Parador if you are passing through.

Furnishing a new build property in Mar De Cristal Spain

Convasa - Mar De Cristal new build villas Mar De Cristal is becoming increasingly popular as regards value for money when purchasing a Spanish property; local property developer Convasa has designed and built fantastic 3 & 4 bedroom villas, spacious and modern duplex villas and they are in the process of building a new apartment complex with communal pool and landscaped gardens. Prices are significantly cheaper than crowded Villamartin & Cabo Roig 30 minutes north. Buyers can see the obvious benefits of the area including its beautiful beaches on the Mar Menor, newly refurbished harbour, proximity to Los Belones with its 20+ restaurants; as well as being 5 minutes drive from the 5 star La Manga Club Resort and its facilities, as well as the breathtaking beaches and mountains at Calblanque National Park.

Jewell Furniture SL have experience in furnishing modern style villas and apartment and offer 8 stylish quality furniture packs suitable for new build Mar De Cristal properties. All packs are flexible, its possible to add or remove items, if you don’t want a pack that’s no problem, working with over 200 furniture manufacturers in Spain we can certainly furnish your house to exactly meet your ideal furniture vision.

Invest in Quality Garden Furniture

Garden Furniture Spain - Muebles de jardin EspanaIf you are a holiday home owner in Spain you will appreciate how much time can be spent outdoors,  choosing outdoor furniture is a very important part of creating the perfect alfresco living space for you and your property. Alfrescofurniturespain.com have the largest range of garden furniture products which are available for delivery through out Spain. Collections include sofa sets, dining sets as well as loungers and luxury daybeds.

Invest in Quality
We highly recommend that you invest in quality. Garden furniture has to withstand a lot of hardship, especially in the heat of the Spanish sun, your garden furniture will be a focal point in your garden or terrace so it needs to look good in the long term as well as short term. Investing in the best quality garden furniture will enable you to benefit from a more durable, comfortable and stylish garden furniture that lasts and looks good. The same goes for the cushions, think wisely about the cushion colour and how easily it will mark, also investigate the different fabric options available and how it will cope with the elements of the Spanish weather.

Options Available – 

Quality Rattan Furniture –  Choose a quality rattan product with a sturdy aluminium frame. rattan garden furniture comes in a range of colours normally brown, white, tan and grey. Dining sets and sofa sets in numerous sizes and styles.

Rattan Outdoor Furniture Spain

Aluminium Garden Furniture  Long lasting and light weight aluminium garden furniture is the trendy thing to have in your Mediterranean garden. Choose from a wide selection of Sofa sets , dining sets, sun loungers and even stylish daybeds.

Aluminium Garden Furniture

Contemporary Garden Furniture –  Beautifully designed contemporary furniture, matching lounge and dining sets incorporating aluminium, teak wood and rope and rattan weaves.

Contemporary Garden Furniture

Luxury Garden Furniture –  Fantastic collections from all the top designers and manufacturers in Spain, ranges include matching sofa sets, dining sets, sun loungers and amazing daybeds.

Luxury Garden Furniture

Having invested in a quality garden furniture product it is sensible to take care of it, we recommend that outdoor furniture is either covered when not used or stored away from the elements.

-1 Star Novotel Stansted

Novotel Hotel StanstedBooked a twin room at the Novotel Stansted for the night of the 17th Feb 2018, we had an early flight the next morning. I had previously stayed in a double room at the Novotel a few months earlier and actually been quite impressed.  Arrived at the hotel about 7pm in the evening and checked into our room, first impressions were that the room was a bit small for a twin, beds were a bit narrow too. We went to the restaurant and ordered bbq burger and chicken noodles, 45 minutes later we are still sitting there waiting, food finally arrived, nothing to write home about in fact a bit bland and certainly not worth £16 each.

Thought we ought to hit the hay about 10.30. at least we could catch five and half hours sleep before our 4am alarm call.

This was probably the worst nights sleep i have ever had in a hotel, the mattresses were awful, not only were they as light as a feather but the squeaked and made a noise every time either of us moved or turned over and they were terribly lumpy. On closer inspection the beds were more like a fold out bed with the cheapest nastiest mattress laying on top, the slightest nudge would send the mattress halfway off the bed.

The Novotel Stansted is a 4 star hotel, i certainly wouldn’t class room 107 even as a 1 star quality. The 3 star Premier Inn a few miles down the road would have provided a far better room with guaranteed comfortable mattresses and the restaurant would offer equally as good food. This is totally unacceptable Novotel !!

Update 05/03/18 In Fairness to the Novotel Stansted they have given a full refund for this booking.

Novotel Hotel Stansted Airport

Novotel Hotel StanstedHaving stayed in the Hilton Stansted many times over the years, I was very interested to see if it had changed at all since being taken over by the Novotel  chain.

I was immediately impressed as i walked into reception as i saw straight away that the dacor had been revamped as had the furniture. The whole reception had a more luxurious feel about it. The layout is the same with the restaurant and bar being just to the left of reception. The bar area has a larger sofa area and is quite a nice place to relax and enjoy a drink.

Again my room was completely refurbished, it had a new bathroom which was a big improvement in the tired old Hilton ones. A really comfortable bed/mattress and an enormous flat screen tv as wide as the bed. Breakfast is pretty much the same arrangement and transfers cost £3.00 each way and run every 30 minutes.

The Hotel offers deals for room only or hotel and parking, all at competitive prices considering it is classed as a 4 star hotel. I was very impressed with the whole experience and have already booked my second stay due in February. I can certainly recommend to anyone looking for a good quality hotel servicing Stansted airport.

Luxury Daybed Spain

Luxury Daybed SpainIf you own a luxury property in Spain you will know how much time is spent in the outdoors enjoying the wonderful weather and alfresco lifestyle. If you are lucky enough to have a swimming pool and terrace space you might like to consider complementing your property with a Luxury Daybed enabling you to relax and unwind. Daybeds are available in various designs and styles and are usually only available from Designer garden furniture manufactures. Ranges are normally designed within Spain and then manufactured in Asia, they are normally finished in Spain to meet strict Spanish industry standards.

How much do they cost ?
Daybeds come in two catagories, entry level and Super Luxury, there is no inbetween. The most affordable Daybed that comes with a two year warranty and choice of cushions is the Kamasutra Daybed, it can be purchased for 1350 Euros, we would categorise the product as a medium range garden furniture product and would be considered the kamasutra as an entry level daybed that is certainly affordable to most holiday home owners.

DaybedYou can certainly see the difference in design and quality between entry level and high end daybeds. Ranges such as the Romantic Daybed as seen at the top of the page and the Shade Daybed as seen below can be purchased from between 2900Euros to 5500 Euros respectively, delivery to mainland Spain can be arranged between 1-2 weeks. Designs are stunning and beautiful and if money is no object any of the high end daybed ranges will truly take your alfresco living space to a higher level of luxury.

Luxury Daybed Spain

to take a look at more examples of Luxury daybeds and luxury garden furniture available for your property in Spain visit www.Alfrescofurniturespain.com

 

Greenmotion Car Hire Stansted & Gatwick Airports

Due to business commitments I hire cars regularly at Billund, Copenhagen, Stansted and Gatwick Airports, have done for years using all the top car hire companies without any problems. Last year I hired a car at Stansted Airport using a company called Greenmotion, I’d never heard of them before but as they were the cheapest I thought I would give them a try. I arrived at Stansted on a Sunday afternoon and had to get the transfer bus to The Hilton which is where Greenmotion are located. I had my driving licence and car hire voucher as always and of course the credit card used when I booked online. This information is normally all I have ever needed when hiring a car. After being in the queue for 20 minutes I finally got to speak to the sales assistant who’s English was very limited, she asked for my papers which I provided and then asked for my National Insurance number which  they needed to my amazement to check if I had a clean driving licence. I’m not sure if it is only me but I have no clue what my NI number is and haven’t set eyes on it since I was about 17, I’m now 48. If I couldn’t give them the number there and then they refused to hire me the car. Bear in mind I had rented a car 4 weeks previously from Hertz and not been asked for an NI number. Luckily, I managed to find an old email with my NI details but I was pretty annoyed by the whole situation. I have since hired cars with Hertz, Europcar and Enterprise and not been asked for it once. So why do Greenmotion need it ?

My second run in with Greenmotion (Can’t believe I booked with them again) was in April 2017, I hired a car at Gatwick for 1 week, had to wait 25 minutes at the bus stop by North Terminal and was then taken to the Green motion office by a driver who complained to me the whole way about how stupid his car rental customers are. The transfer took 10 minutes but seemed a lot longer.

As always their offices are noisy and hectic with a load of pushy sales assistance calling me ‘mate’. After my last booking experience, I had planned ahead and read their T&C’s, apparently now they are asking UK licence holders to log into the DVLA website and obtain a code which is valid for 12 days which again shows them that you have a clean driving licence. The whole process is a complete pain but I had all the paperwork required to hire the car.

The thing that annoyed me this time is that the car I was given was not cleaned properly inside and out and I was then asked to look around the car for scratches and chips on the bodywork, alloys and windscreen. You can imagine how difficult this was with the car not being cleaned properly. I complained to the pushy sales assistant who told me that it was they only car they had spare, he said that if I found more scratches I could call them before 9am the next day. Every car hire company I have used in the UK and Europe have provided me a full list of scratches and marks already on the car and I have then been asked to look for additional marks.  Everything about the experience seamed dodgy to me, as I drove away I noticed the car only had a quarter of a tank of petrol left and was not at all full. I immediately called they sales office who apologised and noted it against my rental.

I don’t understand why there are always problems with Greenmotion, I personally think they are unprofessional, their staff are not trained properly and their whole set up gives me the feeling they are trying catch the public out and overcharge with extortionate extra costs and penalties. My advice is that even though Greenmotion may be £15 or £20 cheaper online to hire a car for a week, don’t use them, in the long run it’s not worth it with all the bad service, pushy sales people calling you ‘Mate’ and their un-valeted cars.  You will have a much better experience with a reputable car hire company.