Luxury meets nature in Ubud – Chapung Se Bali + Jungle FishWhere to stay in Ubud - Chapung Se Bali + Jungle Fish

With so many resorts to choose from, “where to stay in Ubud?” can be a tough question to answer… until you feast your eyes on Chapung Se Bali, that is! It’s one of those resorts where once you’re there, you won’t want (and don’t need) to leave. You may have already heard of its famous infinity pool and open-air restaurant: Jungle Fish, also known as the beach-less beach club in the middle of a jungle.

Where to stay in Ubud: Chapung Se Bali + Jungle Fish

Location & Space

Sitting high above the Osh Valley you’ll find Chapung Se Bali tucked away in a lush jungle. It’s hard to believe this secluded paradise is only 10 minutes away from the hectic Ubud Centre, and steps away from the scenic Campuhan Ridge Walk. This makes it the perfect home base for exploring Bali as you’re in the center of it all.

Tip: The resort offers complimentary shuttles to Ubud Centre upon request. Pickup/drop-offs are at Ubud Palace.

Over the years, the resort has evolved with new facilities and finer aesthetics. On top of the famed Jungle Fish, Chapung Se Bali has its own fine-dining restaurant, amenities room with a pool table and bar, and spa facilities. It even has its own mini rice terrace! The whole property screams luxury with an emphasis on natural wood and dark tones.

Note: The resort is undergoing construction in some areas as they continue with their improvements. (i.e. new gym with TRX training and a new pool)

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Ubud

Where to stay in Ubud – Chapung Se Bali’s own rice terrace

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Ubud

Where to stay in Ubud – Chapung Se Bali’s own rice terrace

Villas & Suites

Chapung Se Bali offers four kinds of villas and suites: Deluxe Suites, Deluxe Pool Suites, 1-Bedroom Pool Villas, and 2-Bedroom Pool Villas. After touring all of them, we can safely conclude that you can’t go wrong with any room category. While the villas are more intimate, the suites offer an incredible jungle view.

We stayed in one of the brand new Deluxe Pool Suites and fell head over heels for the open floor plan and luxurious decor. The gigantic sliding doors let in plenty of natural sunlight during the day. Complete with a private plunge pool and day bed, contemporary furnishings, spacious living area, walk-through closet, and king-size bed, these suites are probably bigger than our apartment back home!

Where to stay in Ubud – Deluxe Pool Suite at Chapung Se Bali

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Where to stay in Ubud – Deluxe Pool Suite’s private plunge pool

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Chapung Spa

Pamper yourself with a rejuvenating treatment (or two) at Chapung Spa. Many of the products used are natural and homemade. We were blown away by our 60min Balinese Massage with Suda and Dewa. I was a little iffy about having a male therapist but Suda’s massage was ah-mazing. Our treatment ended with a fruit salad and warm cinnamon tea.

Highly trained therapists aside, the setting is breathtaking! Birds chirping. River flowing. The treatment room looks into endless greens, letting in a refreshing breeze.

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Ubud

Where to stay in Ubud – Chapung Spa at Chapung Se Bali

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READ MORE: Heaven on earth at Munduk Moding Plantation

Di Abing Restaurant

Candle-lit tables fill this open-air restaurant with an incredible jungle view. From the moment we entered we knew it was going to be a fabulous meal. Picture an upscale restaurant in your home city with a 5* rating  on Yelp that’s in the $$$$ price range. That’s Di Abing- quality, romantic fine-dining except it’s at an affordable price.

Budi was extremely attentive- perhaps the most professional server we’ve encountered in Bali. The mister and I shared the pulled beef rendang, crispy pork belly, rib-eye steak, and chocolate lava cake. Every bite was better than the last!

It’s a shame this restaurant is not more frequented since it’s not in Ubud Centre. The quality of food and service here is definitely one of the best we’ve had in Bali.

Tip: The restaurant opens at 6pm; go early to enjoy the view before night falls.

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Jungle Fish Restaurant

Breakfast is served in your room (à la carte) or at Jungle Fish Restaurant (buffet style). Do both! Like Di Abing, diners can swoon over spectacular views while they indulge in delicious food.

READ More: 12 Things to do in Bali for first-timers

Jungle Fish

This jungle beach club is a “must-do” when you’re in Ubud. Guests of Chapung Se Bali can avoid the afternoon rush and get first dibs on seating. Grab a daybed, order some food, slather on sunscreen, and soak up the sun at this breathtaking infinity pool.

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Ubud

Jungle Fish Pool Bar serves delicious pasta and burgers! Dont miss the chocolate milkshake

Where to stay in Ubud - Jungle Fish at Chapung Se Bali

Where to stay in Ubud – Jungle Fish at Chapung Se Bali

Where to stay in Ubud - Jungle Fish at Chapung Se Bali

Where to stay in Ubud – Chapung Se Bali + Jungle Fish

Other tips & Info

  • Rates start at $350CAD+ for Deluxe Suites, $420CAD+ for Deluxe Pool Suites, $600CAD+ for 1-Bedroom Villas, and $700CAD+ for 2-Bedroom Villas.
  • Breakfast is included in the nightly rate.
  • Call the front desk in advance to book the complimentary shuttle service to/from Ubud Centre.
  • Entry to Jungle Fish is free for guests, or 150,000IDR for visitors.
  • For more information and current promos, visit their official website, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

Where to stay in Ubud - Chapung Se Bali + Jungle FishDisclaimer: Many thanks to Chapung Se Bali for hosting our amazing stay. As always, all opinions and experiences are honest and our own. We wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves!

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Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Ubud

Perfect base to explore Nusa Penida and Nusa LembonganKollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Just a short ferry ride from Sanur are the Nusa Islands. We missed out on this part of Bali last year so we were eager to cross it off our list this time! Deciding on where to stay in Nusa Lembongan and Penida was easy- a quick search using any hotel booking engine will show you Batu Karang Lembongan Resort & Day Spa sitting pretty at #1. It became clear to us that this ranking is no joke from the moment we landed in Denpasar.

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

4:30pm. Our driver, , had waited over an hour for us but we were still in the immigrations line. Worried we weren’t going to make our 5:30pm boat ride from Sanur we called Luca, the bar manager, who got in touch with Putu and Rocky Fast Boat. By the time we hopped on the car it was already 5pm. It was a bad day for traffic at DPS- it took us an hour just to get out of the airport!

6pm. Putu had spent the last hour driving as fast as he could through that crazy Bali traffic and begging the boat to wait for us. We were still on the road when the last boat sailed. Our hearts sank. The general manager called and said we’d have to stay in Sanur for the night before catching the earliest boat over to Lembongan the following day.

Read more: Luxury meets Nature at Chapung Se Bali, Ubud

Then a miracle happened. “Lembongan! Lembongan!” Bursting with joy, Putu put the pedal to the metal and told us to get ready to run- a boat was waiting for us at Sanur! It was 6:11pm and we were the only 2 passengers on the way to Nusa Lembongan. By 7pm we were sipping on our welcome drinks at Batu Karang!

Where to stay in Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida

Location & Space

Batu Karang Lembongan Resort & Day Spa is footsteps away from the speedboat harbour, where Rocky and Scoot dock. The famous yellow bridge connecting Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan lies on the other side of the resort, just a short ride away. You can reach Nusa Penida within 15 minutes by speedboat from the yellow bridge. This makes Batu Karang the perfect home base for exploring the Nusa Islands.

Because the property sits on a slope, all villas and common grounds have a breathtaking view of crystal clear turquoise waters. Golf carts are available to transport guests who have rooms up the hill and those requiring mobility assistance.

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Villas at Batu Karang

Facilities & Amenities

Get pampered at the Lulur Spa after a long day of exploring the Nusa Islands, or chill by the pool. Two is better than one, but what about 3 pools, including one with a swim-up bar? Those looking to stay in shape on vacation can take advantage of the gym and steam room. A day lounge is also available to facilitate early arrivals and late departures. There’s even a mini movie theatre!

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Villas & Suites

Whether it’s a double room or a 3-bedroom villa, all 6 different room categories capture the essence of being home away from home. The villas and suites are luxurious and spacious; designs reflect traditional Balinese architecture with a modern flair.

We stayed in the air-conditioned 1 bedroom villa, furnished with a comfy king size bed with mosquito net, personal safe, workstation, and plush robes. The large balcony was perfect for yoga morning sessions and relaxation on the daybed. On top of a fully stocked mini bar and coffee/tea-maker, complimentary bottles of drinking water are replenished daily. Our favourite part was the private outdoor shower and beautifully hand carved bathtub.

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Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Drink & Eat

Muntigs Bar & Restaurant, The Deck Cafe & Bar, The Howff, The Balcony- all of Batu Karang’s on-site bars and restaurants offer a stunning view of the beach and Mount Agung in the distance. Grab a seat and enjoy a beautiful sunset over delicious food and drinks. Luca and his staff will take care of your dining experience; Wiran and Ray really stood out as fantastic servers.

Breakfast is complimentary at Muntigs or The Deck- the Islander Bowl was so good that I had it every morning! Muntigs also offers fine dining in a gorgeous setting. The seafood laksa and beef rendang set the standards high for the rest of our trip.

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Muntigs Restaurant at Batu Karang

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Our personal favourite were the drinks and tapas at The Howff Whisky, Gin, & Wine Bar, a romantic speakeasy tucked away from the island bustle.

For a more laidback meal head to The Deck; their burgers are finger-lickin’ good! Happy Hour is from 5 – 6:30pm every day with 25% off selected cocktails and beers. There’s also live music with DJ’s spinning from 5-8pm at Sunday Sunset Sessions.

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Other tips & Info

  • Rates start at $260CAD+ for Twin Rooms, $290CAD+ for Double Rooms, and $325CAD+ for 1 Bedroom Villas.
  • Breakfast is included in the nightly rate.
  • WiFi signal is strong throughout the whole resort! h
  • Rocky Fast Boat is the recommended boat service from Sanur; 500,000IDR for a round-trip transfer. The resort can arrange this for you.
  • Pickup/drop-off in mainland Bali is available for a fee.
  • For more information and current promos, visit their official website, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa
Disclaimer: Many thanks to Batu Karang Lembongan Resort & Day Spa for hosting us. All opinions and experiences are honest and our own- we wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves!

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Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Hotel Jama in Postojna Cave Park

Predjama Castle and Postojna Cave are two historic sites that cannot be missed in Slovenia. Rated one of the best hotels in Slovenia, Hotel Jama is the best option for travelers visiting this region. First opened in 1971, renovations were completed in spring 2016 with brand spanking new guestrooms and facilities.

Read more: Visiting the Predjama Castle and Postojna Cave

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Hotel Jama – one of the best hotels in Slovenia

Location & Space

Feel like VIPs as you walk on a red carpet to the hotel’s entrance. A spacious and inviting lobby sits behind the main doors with two large seating areas. Surrounded by nature, every window boasts stunning views of the forest or the park.

Hotel Jama is a mere 100 meters from Postojna Cave, and only 10 minutes away from another world-famous attraction: Predjama Castle. Day trips to Ljubljana and Bled are also totally doable; both are less than an hour’s drive. If you want to hop over the border to Italy, Trieste is only 30 minutes away.

Guestrooms

All 80 guestrooms are equipped with LCD TVs with cable and satellite channels, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, a minibar and an in-room safe. We loved how sophisticated and modern the rooms have been redesigned.

Tip: The superior rooms have balconies facing the front of the hotel. These rooms have the best views!

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Read more: Itinerary – 24 hours in Ljubljana

Staff & Service

Hotel Jama takes the cake for the best service we received in Slovenia, hands down! The lovely front desk agents were all smiles and knew us by name.

Andrej, one of the waiters at the onsite restaurant, blew us away with his charm and humour. His presence made up for the mediocre dining experience we had the previous night in Ljubljana.

Dining

Enjoy a hearty buffet-style breakfast at Magical Garden, the onsite restaurant. Choose from a variety of fresh pastries, cured meats, cheeses, and hot foods. Who says you can’t have the famous Bled cream cake first thing in the morning?!

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For dinner, let the master chefs pamper your taste buds with the finest cuisine. We celebrated AS’s birthday with a perfectly cooked steak and flavourful squid ink ravioli. To top it all off, Andrej surprised us with cakes at the end of the meal.

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Other tips & Info

  • Rates start at 130€+ for double rooms, 140€+ for superior double rooms with a view, and 170€+ for superior family rooms.
  • All hotel guests get free access to the Postojna Cave Park, regardless of room type!
  • Parking is free for guests staying at the hotel.
  • Pets are welcome!
  • For more information and current promos, visit their official website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

Image courtesy of Postojnska Jama

Disclaimer: Many thanks to the Slovenia Tourist Board and Postojnska Jama for hosting us. All opinions and experiences are honest and our own- we wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves!

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Kollecting Koordinates - best hotels in Slovenia

Unbeatable location in Ljubljana – Grand Hotel Union Business

Opened in 1905, Grand Hotel Union was the first modern hotel in Slovenia’s capital. In supporting Ljubljana’s political and social ties with the the world, the hotel has hosted many important figures over the last century including Dalai Lama, Bill Clinton, and Queen Elizabeth. After an expansion and renovations, the Grand Hotel Union Business was born. Its amenities, culinary offerings, and central location are why we think it’s the best place to stay in Ljubljana.

Read more: Itinerary – 24 hours in Ljubljana

Best place to stay in Ljubljana – Location and Space

Located only 5 minutes on foot from Plečnik’s picturesque Triple Bridge, guests have front-of-the-line access to the old city. Ljubljana’s major attractions, restaurants, shops, and nightlife are all at your fingertips once you walk over this architectural gem from Prešeren Square.

As a modern business hotel, the space is clean, large, and inviting. The hotel can also host up to 800 guests in its 20 halls and rooms intended for cultural and social events, weddings, and business meetings.

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Best place to stay in Ljubljana – Guestrooms

Each of the 127 rooms and 6 suites are equipped with complimentary Wi-Fi, large working spaces, coffee makers, and LED satellite TVs. Housekeeping takes cleanliness to the next level with disinfected remote controls.

Our Studio Double Plus had a large balcony with a view of the Ljubljana Castle. The best part? The Keyton massage chair right next to our bed- perfect after a long day of exploring.

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Dining at Grand Hotel Union Business

We can’t do without yummy breakfast spreads while on the road, and Grand Hotel Union Business didn’t disappoint with its luxury self-service breakfast! With what seemed like an endless choice of both hot and cold foods to choose from, we wish we had bigger stomachs!

Treat yourself to meals prepared by an award-winning team of chefs at three fine dining restaurants: Restaurant Union, Restaurant and Bar Atelje, and the Union Cellar. Guests can also indulge in fine coffees, aperitifs, and snacks at the Union Cafe or Aperitif Bar.

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Read more: Predjama Castle and Postojna Cave – Unmissable beauties in Slovenia

Best place to stay in Ljubljana – Wellness and Fitness

Guests can enjoy a little R&R from Sense Wellness. The 8th floor swimming pool offers an amazing view of the Ljubljana Castle. Sun tan on the open terrace, revitalize in the Finnish sauna, or unwind with a massage ritual.

Tip: Those looking for more intimacy can book the VIP suite, which includes an infrared sauna, whirlpool bath, and couple massage treatments.

The newly opened fitness center is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Multi-functional training sessions, consisting of a dynamic high-intensity workout, are offered daily at 5PM, 6PM and 7PM.

Other Tips & Info

  • Rates start at 135€+ for double rooms and 155€+ for studios.
  • Breakfast buffet is included in the nightly rate.
  • Small pets are welcomed for a cleaning fee of 30€/night.
  • Parking at the secured underground lot is 20€/night with in-and-out privileges.
  • Check out their official website for more information and current promotions.


Disclaimer: Many thanks to the Slovenian Tourist Board and Ljubljana Tourism for hosting us in the Ljubljana region of Slovenia. All opinions and experiences are honest and our own- we wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves!

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Feel the extraordinary at the oldest hotel in Italy: NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa

In search of the best luxury hotel in Florence we were on the hunt for a place that’s different- a place that’s extraordinary. With a real medieval tower and original frescos from the 13th century, NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa Hotel is considered the oldest hotel not only in Florence, but also Italy. We felt like VIPs while staying here, right in the center of this iconic Renaissance city.

The best luxury hotel in Florence – NH Collection Porta Rossa Firenze

Location and Space

Located only minutes from Piazza del Duomo and Uffizi Gallery, NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa is right in the center of it all. It takes no more than a 10-minute walk to access all major attractions. We’re talking 6 minutes to the Duomo, 5 minutes to Ponte Vecchio, and 2 minutes to Piazza della Repubblica.

A stunning stained-glass ceiling graces the lobby of this historic establishment. The main hall and the lounge are tastefully decorated with antique furniture and neo-Renaissance architectural fittings. The vaulted ceiling makes this space even grander than it already is.

Staff and Service

From the front desk reps to the breakfast team, the entire staff is friendly and helpful without losing professionalism. We were surprised by tea and treats upon checking in, and were spoiled with hazelnut chocolates every evening.

Guestrooms

72 guestrooms are spread across 5 floors. Each room is different and unique in their own way; some contain original frescos like the famous Room 121. Using natural wood and warm tones, rooms are laid out in an elegant yet minimal style.

Tip: Guests staying in the Torre Monalda Suite are spoiled with a 360-degree view of the city from the medieval tower.

Our humongous suite came with a comfortable queen-sized bed with lots of natural lighting. The entire space is squeaky clean without a speck of dust! There’s a separate powder room attached to the large washroom, where we enjoyed relaxing baths and rain showers after long days of walking around Florence.

Each room is equipped with a kettle, coffee machine, slippers and plush bath robes. Luxury NH Collection bathroom amenities are restocked every day.

Note: Instead of those weak, wall mount hair dryers, I was most impressed with them providing a real hair dryer! I’m sure all you ladies (and gentlemen) with long hair would appreciate this.

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Dining

Indulge in an extravagant breakfast spread very morning at the buffet, with a wide variety of fresh pastries, fruits and juices, savoury bites, meats and cheeses, and made-to-order hot dishes. Have you ever had Prosecco and truffles for breakfast? Well you can, at the best luxury hotel in Florence!

If you want to take luxury dining to the next level, try the exclusive truffle-based menu for lunch or dinner. NH Collection Porta Rossa Firenze, in partnership with Savini Tartufi’s Truffles Experience, is the first hotel in Italy to offer this one of a kind gastronomic experience.

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Other Tips and Info

  • Rates start at 230€+ for Superior Rooms, 250€+ for Premium Rooms, and 315€+ for Junior Suites.
  • Breakfast is included in the nightly rates but you can opt out when booking your stay.
  • Late checkout until 3PM is available upon availability.
  • Off-site parking is €26/day.
  • Small pets are welcomed for €20/night.
  • For more info and current promotions, check out their official website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

Disclaimer: Many thanks to NH Collection Porta Rossa Firenze Hotel for hosting our stay. All opinions and experiences are honest and our own- we wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves!

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Kollecting Koordinates - NH Collection Porta Rossa Firenze

The most centrally located hotel in Salzburg – Hotel StadtkrugKollecting Koordinates - most convenient Salzburg hotel 26

Imagine living in an Austrian house that dates back to the 14th century, long before Mozart was even born. Looking for a place to call home in Salzburg, we came across this charming family-run hotel. Not only is Alstadt Hotel Stadtkrug one of the most characteristic hotels we’ve stayed at, but also the most convenient Salzburg hotel.

1353 marks the year this historic building was first documented on paper. It was originally a brewery in 1492, which later became a bakery before turning into a restaurant towards the beginning of the 20th century. The Lucian family took ownership of the building in 1987 and transformed it into what we know today as Altstadt Hotel Stadtkrug.

The most convenient Salzburg hotel – Hotel Stadtkrug

Location and Space

Situated on the picturesque corridor of Linzer Gasse, Hotel Stadtkrug is steps away from the Salzach River and a stone’s throw from Mount Kapuzinerberg. Everything is within a 20-minute walk, making it the most convenient Salzburg hotel. You can reach HBF (main bus and train terminal) in 18 minutes, Mirabelle Gardens in 6 minutes, Mozart’s Birthplace in 5, Monchsberg elevator in 16, University Square in 7, and the furnicular to the fortress in 12.

Feel immersed in the Middle Ages with warm palettes, stone floors, arches and alcoves.  There’s even a rooftop patio on the fourth floor! The first and second floors carry the most charm and are kept in their original state. There is no central air conditioning because the building is protected by the City. Installing new windows or making breaking down any walls is prohibited by law!

The family also owns a ranch north of the Flachgau county. Proudly on display in the lobby is the mounted head of the owners’ first highland cattle. You can even see their grass-fed cattle roam freely on the Juhu Ranch through a webcam.

READ MORE: Exploring the City of Mozart with the Salzburg Card

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Kollecting Koordinates - most convenient Salzburg hotel

Guestrooms

There are 7 bedroom styles: single rooms, 4 types of double rooms, and 2 types of suites. Each comes with a flat-screen TV, sitting area, and a modern bathroom. The famous Mozartkugel (chocolate pistachio balls) awaits you every day!

Note: 4- and 6-bed fully equipped rooms are also available for large groups.

Our comfort double room was extremely clean with lots of natural sunlight. Similar to many European hotels, the mattresses are separate- which means no fighting for blankets or bed space!

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Staff & Service

You know you’re in good hands at family-run hotels, and Stadtkrug was no exception! Three generations of the Lucian family live in the same building. Jessica and Dominik, daughter-in-law and son of the owners, welcomed us with open arms. That homey feeling is hard to come by when you’re on the road and we were glad to have found it here.

Other staff were friendly and helpful, especially Mohammad who always has a warm smile on his face. We learned much about the history of Hotel Stadtkrug from Günter, the General Manager and family friend of the Lucians. We felt a little sad to say goodbye to these guys!

Dining

Enjoy a variety of cheeses, cured meats, fresh pastries, and our favourite- smoked salmon, at the breakfast buffet! Hot dishes are made to order and are included in your nightly rate.

The roof garden is the perfect place to chill over a glass (or two!) of wine along with some snacks. Don’t forget to make a dinner reservation at the restaurant, where only premium local ingredients are used. Try the beef! They use only certified organic cattle from their own ranch.

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Other Tips & Info about the most convenient Salzburg hotel- Stadtkrug:

  • Rates start at $150CAD+ for single rooms, $230CAD+ for double rooms, and $280CAD+ for suites.
  • Breakfast is served between 7-11am.
  • Non-guests can also enjoy the breakfast buffet for 16€.
  • WiFi is available free of charge.
  • Shuttle service from the train station or airport can be arranged for a fee.
  • For more information and current rates, visit their official website and Facebook page.

Disclaimer: AS and I were invited guests at Alstadt Hotel Stadtkrug. All experiences and opinions are honest and our own- we wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves!

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Kollecting Koordinates - most convenient Salzburg hotel

Overnight layovers in London – Sleep easy at YOTELAIRKollecting Koordinates - overnight layover in London 1

This was our third time with an overnight layover in London; making it our third sleep at YOTELAIR. We usually avoid lengthy layovers like a plague but we don’t mind them in London thanks to this innovative airport hotel! With two locations, one inside Terminal 4 at Heathrow and another inside the South terminal at Gatwick, YOTELAIR has become our new best friend in London.

Read more: Walking guide – How to see London in 24 hrs

Overnight layover in London at YOTELAIR

Just imagine rolling out of bed, pressing the UP button on the elevator, and scanning your boarding pass for security clearance for an early morning flight within minutes. Or getting off the plane after an exhausting flight, and being able to hop into a comfy bed right away.

Similar to the capsule hotels in Japan, YOTELAIR is where innovation meets comfort. The space is smartly designed so that you’ll find everything you need in a cabin that’s no larger than 110sqft. Every inch of space is used for something, like luggage storage underneath beds.

Our Premium Cabin came with complimentary WiFi, a foldout desk, flat screen TV, and en-suite bathroom with monsoon shower. With a touch of a button, the convertible SmartBed glides to any position to work, lounge, or sleep.

Note: Standard cabins are also available for solo travelers.

YOTELAIR is not only convenient for those with an overnight layover in London, but also travelers with connection times of awkward lengths. Booking is available by the hour, with a minimum stay of 4 hours.

Read more: Viewing London from 800ft above the ground

Having stayed at both locations, we prefer Gatwick just a tad more simply because of the gentlemen at the Mission Control (YOTEL talk for reception desk). This is where you can order complimentary hot drinks and bottled water 24/7. What’s impressive is that we found their service to be on par with hotels that are 4-star or higher- perhaps even better than some!

Other Tips and Info

  • Rates start at £49.00+ for a minimum stay of 4 hours, and £95.00+ for stays longer than 12 hours.
  • Bottled water, espresso coffee, tea and hot chocolate are free all day!
  • Food can be ordered at Mission Control- staff will bring your meal to your cabin when it’s ready.
  • For more information and current promos, check out their official website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

Disclaimer: We were invited guests at YOTELAIR Gatwick. However, all opinions and experiences are honest and our own. We wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves! 

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Kollecting Koordinates - overnight layover in London 2

 

The best home base to explore Northern Montenegro: Hotel SOA

Ever since we visited Croatia we’ve been itching for more Balkan countries. Jaw-dropping national parks, canyons, and lakes were waiting to be checked off our Montenegro list. We were wondering where to stay in Montenegro on our road trip- where to make our home base to explore the northern region of perhaps the most picturesque country we’ve ever been. The answer was simple- Hotel SOA in Zabljak! We’re big fans of boutique hotels and family-run properties for their intimacy, and this one was no exception.

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Read more: 9 Must-Do’s in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Where to stay in Montenegro – Hotel SOA in Zabljak

Location, Space, and Staff

In the heart of Durmitor National Park lies Zabljak, a small town that turns into a ski resort in the winter. Hotel SOA is conveniently situated in the center of Zabljak, only steps away from the famous Black Lake, restaurants, and local markets. It’s minutes to the entrance to Durmitor National Park, 30 minutes away from the Tara Bridge, 1.5hr from the Piva Canyon, and 1.5hr from Biogradska Gora National Park.

Note: If you’re ending (or starting) your Montenegro journey in Kotor like we did, it’s just under 3 hours on a very scenic drive.

The property was originally planned as a family home but the owners turned it into an 18-unit hotel, inviting guests from all over the world to explore their beautiful country. Some are double suites, others are apartments large enough to accommodate groups of up to 5 guests. A contemporary approach is used in the hotel design along with elements of Mount Durmitor’s traditional architecture.

Because it is a small boutique hotel, you’ll come to know everyone who works there. Matija, the owner, works day shifts at the reception and always has a huge smile on his face. We did have an unpleasant encounter with the other front desk staff but that was quickly resolved by Matija. Count on the dining room manager, Novica, to ensure your culinary experience is nothing short of the best. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to meet the family’s big friendly dog!

We were pleased with our clean and spacious Junior Suite, which came with a separate sitting area along with a modern bathroom. If you did a quick search for hotels in Montenegro you’ll find that these traits aren’t easy to come by!

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Amenities, Facilities, and Dining

Guests can enjoy the wellness center (all to themselves!) for up to 1hr every day. The wellness center includes a Turkish bath and sauna, available for private use by reservation.

Tip: Reserve your time slot as soon as you check in! The hotel was so busy that we didn’t get a chance to use the wellness center.

All units have a mini bar, satellite TV, and complimentary WiFi. There’s a restaurant (undoubtedly the best you’ll find in the area) on the first floor, where guests can enjoy meals with a view of the majestic Durmitor massif.

Our favourite part of the stay is the complimentary breakfast buffet! The breakfast spread at Hotel SOA is no joke- its vast selection left us stuffed every morning. All the ingredients are fresh, featuring local dairy products and cured meats.

Tip: Don’t miss the homemade yogurt and pear pie!

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Other tips and info

  • Rates range from 75CAD+ for single rooms, to 140CAD+ for junior suites, to 220CAD+ for luxury apartments.
  • Tap water is safe to drink.
  • Parking is plentiful and free.
  • The hotel restaurant is the only non-smoking restaurant in the area.
  • For more information and current promotions, check out their official website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

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Disclaimer: AS and I were invited guests at Hotel SOA. However, all opinions and experiences are honest and our own, and we wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves! 

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Crystal Lodge & Suites – The Perfect Place to Stay in WhistlerKollecting Koordinates - Whistler

Named ‘The Best Ski Resort in the World’ for many years, Whistler is only a 2-hour drive from home. Although there are slopes closer to Vancouver for us, AS and I make an effort to drive up to Whistler every ski and snowboard season. And this year is no different! We usually do it in a day trip but we decided to stay overnight this time at Crystal Lodge Whistler, or Crystal Lodge & Suites.

Read more: The perfect winter getaway at the No.1 ski resort – Whistler

Crystal Lodge Whistler Location

Situated on the corner where the two main paths meet in the Whistler village, Crystal Lodge and Suites is really at the center of it all. We were literally a stone’s throw away from everything: tons of shops and restaurants, the liquor store, a market, and most importantly- the gondolas and lifts.

Kollecting Koordinates - Crystal Lodge Whistler

We’ve stayed at other locations in the past but it was always a hassle getting to the gondolas. We either had to walk a few blocks in our ski and snowboard boots (which is super uncomfortable even just for 10 minutes!) if we rented a cabin, or wait for complimentary shuttles if we stayed at a hotel. It was amazing being able to hop on the gondola as soon as we stepped outside Crystal Lodge Whistler! 

Rooms at Crystal Lodge Whistler

With 158 guestrooms and 16 room types, it doesn’t matter if you’re traveling solo, as a couple, family, or a large group of friends. The largest are the Three Bedroom Suites; you can also link the traditional Crystal Rooms together if you’re traveling as a group. Since it’s just the two of us, we stayed in one of the 85 newly renovated Crystal Rooms in the South Wing. 

Kollecting Koordinates - Crystal Lodge Whistler

Kollecting Koordinates - Crystal Lodge Whistler

These rooms have been redesigned with contemporary decor using blue and grey hues. Each features bright lighting, plush bedding, flat-screen TVs, and huge soaker bathtubs. Ours also had a large balcony that would be perfect for sunbathing in the summer.

Amenities at Crystal Lodge Whistler

Traveling with your fur baby? The lodge is pet-friendly and your four-legged family member can stay at no extra charge!

There’s complimentary ski/snowboard valet in the winter and bike valet in the summer. If you don’t participate in alpine sports, you can spend your day relaxing at the outdoor heated pool and hot tub, working out at the 24-hr fitness center, or browsing and eating your way through 20 on-site retail shops and restaurants. There’s even a sauna and a games room!

If you need to be online at all times while traveling (bloggers and IGers, I’m looking at you!) you’d understand the struggle in staying connected. Well, you don’t have to worry about that here. The folks at Crystal Lodge aren’t lying about their complimentary high speed Wi-Fi!

Guests also receive the Crystal Advantage Card, which offers discounts on many dining, retail, and salon establishments in the Whistler village. This includes complimentary yoga on Sunday mornings at Lululemon, which is just downstairs.

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Service at Crystal Lodge Whistler

What really makes Crystal Lodge & Suites stand out is its commitment to guests. The staff go out of their way to make guest experiences warm and welcoming, with huge smiles on their faces. We had very pleasant encounters with all their staff, especially the front desk and ski valet.

If you take a quick look on Tripadvisor you’ll see that the General Manager takes time to respond to each review. The redesign of the South Wing was completely based on guests’ reviews and feedback that they’ve received over the years. Now that’s dedication!

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Dining at Crystal Lodge Whistler

There are six on-site restaurants and bars, including a Starbucks for those that need daily caffeine fixes! Guests can receive discounts on their meals with the Crystal Advantage Card.

WILD WOOD BISTRO & BAR

Using Pacific Northwest ingredients, Wild Wood offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus in a cozy bistro setting. We ordered the ‘Eggs Rockefeller’ and ‘Wild Breakfast Bowl’ for breakfast- the portions are huge! It was enough fuel for an entire day on the slopes. Check out their website for the full menu.

BASALT WINE & SALUMERIA

This is a new restaurant within the Crystal Lodge building, which can also be accessed from Village Stroll. The patio is the perfect place to chill with some vino and fondue, both in the summer and winter (it comes with a fire pit!), and the interior is super trendy. Featuring European-style cured meats and cheeses and international cuisine and wines, you can enjoy a 3-course meal for just $25 CAD!

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We had a characuterie board to share, followed by 3 courses which were all delicious and beautifully presented. Our favourite of the night was the ‘Thyme Basted Cornish Game Hen Breast’. Chicken breast is usually dry but this was so tender and juicy!

 Other Tips and Info

  • Check-in is at 4pm; check-out is at 11am. The front desk will call you if your room is ready early.
  • Rooms with an odd number have a view of the Village Stroll.
  • Self park is $22CAD + tax in a heated underground lot; valet parking is $26CAD + tax. Hybrid vehicles receive free parking.
  • Dining at Whistler can get pricey; the $25CAD 3-course menu at Basalt is an absolute steal.
  • Whistler is expensive in general, so make use of your Crystal Advantage Card.
  • The lodge donates $5 per day to the AWARE program when housekeeping is not required- stay green, folks!
  • For more information and current promos, check out their official websiteFacebookTwitter, and Instagram pages.

Kollecting Koordinates - Crystal Lodge Whistler

Disclaimer: AS and I were invited guests at Crystal Lodge & Suites. However, all opinions are our own and we wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves! 

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Kollecting Koordinates - Crystal Lodge Whistler

Our First Ryokan Experience in JapanKollecting Koordinates - Miyajima Ryokan

Kollecting Koordinates - Miyajima

Mount Misen was cloaked in white as our ferry approached the pier at Miyajima Island. We could see the bright red torii (a traditional Japanese gate at the entrance of a Shinto shrine), ever so faintly amidst the fog. After docking, we asked the nice gentleman at the visitor booth to make a call. Within 10 minutes, Watanabe-san appeared to greet us (with the most sincere bow ever!) and loaded our bags into his van. AS, my mum, and I were all giddy on the short ride through the ancient alleys of Miyajima. Not only was this her first time traveling with us, it was also our first time staying at a traditional Japanese inn- a ryokan.

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We received a warm welcome from Watanabe-san‘s wife and snacked on momiji manju while we waited. These are maple leaf shaped cakes loaded with azuki paste; they’re also Hiroshima’s most popular souvenir!

Read more: Planning your visit to the sacred island of Miyajima, Japan

After being shown to our rooms, we washed up and changed into yukata.

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The Location

Watanabe-Inn is a short drive from the pier. Watanabe-san picked us up and dropped us off in his van (the signature white van in many Japanese anime series I grew up watching- so nostalgic) so we didn’t have to haul our luggage. The famous torii and Itsukushima Shrine are about 10 minutes away on foot, and the stairs to Daishō-in‘s main entrance is right outside the inn!

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Our Rooms

There are only 4 rooms at Watanabe-Inn (for maximum service!) and each comes with a Japanese cypress tub. These are Japanese style rooms with tatami mats, meaning you sleep on a super comfortable futon that’s laid out for you on the floor.

AS and I stayed in Momiji which was awesome, while my mom stayed in the peasant room (kidding, hers was dope too because it came with a loft!). We liked ours just a tad more because it came with an attached sitting area for tea that overlooks a beautiful garden and pond.

Remember that cypress tub I was talking about? Not only does it smell refreshing, it fills by itself and stops once it reaches a certain level. And it keeps the water at the temperature you set!

Read more: How to see Kyoto in 2 days

Food

Food. The best part. This is the main reason why we wanted to stay at a ryokan– to experience Kaiseki-ryori, which is a traditional multi-course Japanese meal originally served at tea ceremonies.

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These guys use only fresh seafood caught from the Seto Inland Sea and present every dish beautifully. Seriously, just leave it to the Japanese when it comes to immaculate culinary details with a homey touch. Needless to say, our taste buds were very happy and thanked us (and the chef) for the delicious meal.

The traditional Japanese breakfast was exactly what we expected. Rice, miso soup, some proteins, and pickled vegetables as side dishes. It was so yummy- I don’t normally eat rice (even though I’m Asian- weird, I know) but I finished the whole thing!

Service

I think it goes without saying that the Japanese are one of, if not the most polite and well-mannered people in the world. Watanabe-san and his wife are perfect examples of what hospitality should be. They lent us umbrellas and rainboots, and did everything they could to ensure our stay was on point.

Have you ever stayed at a ryokan? Tell me about your experience below!

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tips

  • If you’re looking for an authentic ryokan experience, pick somewhere that’s not in the big cities (i.e. Kyoto or Osaka). We were so glad we did this on Miyajima Island- the remoteness and serenity made our stay extra special. Our friend stayed at a ryokan in Arashiyama and he loved it.
  • A night’s stay isn’t cheap, but it’s totally worth it! Rates range from $230-280CAD per night per person.
  • Pick the Momiji room if you do end up choosing Watanabe-Inn.
  • Stay longer! We regret spending only 1 night.

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Kollecting Koordinates - Ryokan