Our Best Ever Hotel Experiences
We’ve been to a lot of hotels over the years and most are the typical run-of-the-mill, unmemorable hotels.
But a few hotels have stood out as great – or at least memorable – experiences.
Some of our best ever hotel experiences in this post.
Hotel Staubbach, Lauterbrunnen (Switzerland)
A cosy hotel in one of the most beautiful locations we’ve ever been.
Hotel Staubbach is in Lauterbrunnen, in Switzerland’s Berner Oberland. It is a region that contains many of Switzerland’s highest and most famous peaks – The Eiger was featured in several movies including “North Face”, while Schilthorn is famous for the James Bond movie “On her Majesty’s Secret Service”.
Besides incredible views, Hotel Staubbach is the setting for one of our strangest encounters. The woman behind the desk had problems understanding our Canadian accents. The reason? “We get a lot of people coming here from the Southern US States. Y’all don’t have the same accent”.
More on Lauterbrunnen and the Berner Oberland
Tamarind Village, Chiang Mai (Thailand)
We don’t usually stay in luxurious hotels. An exception was the Tamarind Village on our 1st ever visit to Chiang Mai (a place we’ve revisited many times since).
A gorgeous hotel with all the aesthetic of traditional Thai buildings: lots of dark wood, lots of colourful Thai carpets and pillows, and lots of nature within the grounds of the hotel. The hotel is located right in the heart of Chiang Mai’s old city but feels like an oasis. It has a pool, a spa, and a restaurant serving great Thai (and other) cuisine. The beds had the most comfortable blankets and pillows we had ever experienced.
We were only a few days in Chiang Mai (after a stressful few days in Bangkok) and Lissette got pissed off whenever I wanted to go out sightseeing. She didn’t want to leave the hotel. It was the ultimate in luxury.
Lots on Chiang Mai (we spent several months there).
Hotel Divisadero Barrancas, Divisadero (Mexico)
One of my greatest trips ever was taking the famous train (“El Chepe” as it’s nicknamed) from Chihuahua (in the desert of Northern Mexico) to Los Mochis (on the Pacific Coast). And the highlight of this great trip was a stop at the Copper Canyon in Divisadero.
There I stayed at the Hotel Divisadero Barrancas. An old style, “Mad Men” hotel, it is a comfortable hotel perched on a cliff overlooking the canyon. The views are beyond phenomenal. I spent 24 hours there, going for hikes, going to Copper Canyon Adventure park, and just enjoying the views. A highlight of all my travels.
Why you should visit Divisadero
More on Hotel Divisadero Barrancas
The Gate Hotel, Tokyo (Japan)
The Gate Hotel was our home for the first few days of what would be 5 weeks in Japan. It’s in Asakusa, our favorite area of Tokyo (home to the Sensoji temple and Tokyo Skytree).
It’s a beautiful hotel with great views of the city. Directly below, seen through the huge glass window at reception (located on the 13th floor), is the Sensoji temple. If you step out onto the terrace, you’re right across at the Skytree. The setting is perfect.
We arrived late at night and, starving, went to their 24 hour restaurant where we had lamb and paella. It was the best meal we’d had in a long time.
Our room was cosy with its own coffee machine and a Japanese toilet featuring a warm seat and various spray options.
I’m not sure why we enjoyed the Gate Hotel so much. Maybe because it was just the perfect introduction to Japan for us. We have really fond memories of our stay there.
Our full review of the Gate Hotel
To book a stay at the Gate Hotel.
Horizon Hotel & Yoga center, Santa Teresa (Costa Rica)
I had booked this place entirely for Lissette. She wanted a “yoga retreat”. I didn’t do yoga and I didn’t know if I could eat vegetarian for a week.
It ended up being us most incredible hotel “experience” we’ve ever had.
Every day we would do yoga at 9:30. It would last 90 minutes. Then we would have an incredible healthy breakfast with home made bread, eggs and fresh fruit. They had a huge selection of smoothies and we would always have a smoothie or two. They had pizzas, salads, wraps…Best food I’ve had. We would talk to other guests, interesting people from around the world. And we would sit on our little balcony watching some of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve ever experienced. I don’t think we ever felt as relaxed as we did during our week there.
I’ve said it before: we don’t really like Costa Rica. But we would come back just for this incredible experience again. Look at the Booking.com reviews – it gets a 9.6. People LOVE this place.
More on our experience in Santa Teresa and the yoga center.
Houston Airport Marriott at George Bush Intercontinental, Houston (USA)
I like Airport hotels, I’m not sure why. But one thing for sure – nothing beats the convenience of an airport hotel and I love rolling out of bed, taking a shower, and walking 10 minutes to an airport terminal for a flight. Takes a lot of the stress out of travel.
One of our best memories came on a day where everything went wrong. We were supposed to fly Montreal – Charlotte (NC) – San Jose (Costa Rica) with US Air. But the flight from Montreal never took off. We sat on the tarmac for 2 hours before US Air decided to cancel us (full story here).
Long story short: after a very long day of waiting around the airport, we ended up flying Montreal – Toronto – Houston. We would overnight in Houston before flying on to San Jose the next day.
It was 8 pm when we arrived in Houston. We picked up our baggage and walked through a tunnel to the Marriott hotel.
After a long, shitty day it was paradise. We took showers. I ordered a thick steak and Lissette salmon from room service. We had a couple of beers and fell asleep.
The next day we did as I said at the top: rolled out of bed, took showers and – feeling refreshed – checked in for our flight to Costa Rica.
Adler Spa Resort Thermae, Bagno Vignoni (Italy)
The more luxurious place either of us has ever been to.
A few years back I had a new job and didn’t have a lot of holiday time. So we booked Adler Spa Resort for Lissette – she would spend a week there. I would meet her a week later in Florence and we would spend 10 days travelling around Tuscany.
It was the most incredible place and Lissette would write me about her experiences: the beauty of the place, the heated swimming pools and the saunas, the fantastic meals and wine choices. Adler was run by an Austrian company and most of the clients were Austrians and Germans. Lissette would tell me of the excursions the hotel would have to the nearby towns of Montepulciano and Pienza and all the wine tasting they would do. She made friends with the other guests and the friendly staff.
Her biggest tip though: don’t come here by yourself. This is a place to come with a partner. It’s a romantic, luxurious place for relaxing. Although she loved the place, she spent the week wishing I was there with her.
Totoco Ecolodge, Isla Ometepe (Nicaragua)
From the most luxurious to one of the most simple hotels.
Totoco Ecolodge is pretty basic but is located in a fantastically beautiful location overlooking Lake Nicaragua and Concepcion Volcano.
I came here in 2011 with my mom and we had a good sized shack with two separate bedrooms which both included beds covered with mosquito netting. But the food was great and the setting spectacular – every night we had the most incredible sunsets.
If you can come here do so.
Parador de Toledo, Toledo (Spain)
Spain has Paradors, state-owned hotels usually located in historic buildings or scenic spots.
The Parador de Toledo is built on a scenic spot overlooking the city of Toledo (one of Spain’s most famous cities and a place to add to your itinerary if visiting Spain). We came here early this year on a 1-month trip through Spain and staying here was a highlight.
Built in the 1960’s, the Parador is a warm, romantic hotel with large rooms. The huge terrace is the most scenic spot in the city and many people come here for drinks even not staying in the hotel. As with all paradors, it has a restaurant serving local specialties. So you don’t have to go anywhere for your meals.
See our post (and video) on the Parador de Toledo
Keio Plaza Hotel, Tokyo (Japan)
I had planned this for a couple of months.
The Keio Plaza Hotel is famous for having some Hello Kitty rooms. The only ones in Tokyo. I knew it would excite Lissette.
It was one of our weirdest hotel experiences. I wrote a lot more about it here.
Hotel am Markt, Bacharach (Germany)
Hotel am Markt is a small hotel over a bar. But it is comfortable, was inexpensive at the time, and is right across from a great restaurant (the Altes Haus, where I proposed to Lissette).
Our detailed guide to Bacharach
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Tanja/the red phone box travels
I like the look of your Switzerland and Tokyo hotel:) and I’ve must have walked by your hotel in Bagno
The Intercontinental in DaNang, Vietnam. Incredible resort, real value on points. Golden Temple Residence in Siem Reap. Very nice hotel with ideal location and reasonable price. Conrad Macau. Over the top luxury and still reasonably priced. Ariyasomvilla in Bangkok. Amazingly private, quiet sanctuary in the center of one of the busiest cities in the world. Kashiwaya Onsen in Shima, Japan. This property really strives to accommodate foreigners into the onsen experience. Not inexpensive but the price includes everything. Just an amazing experience.
Thank you very much John!
Ps That place in Bangkok is amazing.
Some Norther European suggestions: I love Hotel Pigalle in Gothenburg, opulent 19th century French style and very cosy. Yasuragi in Stockholm, Japanese style spa hotel in the archipelago with pine trees and outdoor hot baths. Villa Copenhagen in Copenhagen. Hotel Oderberger in Berlin.
You have expensive taste! I had a look at them and linked them above – all very beautiful places.