Categories: Hotel Recommendations, Travel Planning

Nadine’s Top Hotel Picks

by Nadine Dirksen - Thursday, July 28, 2016

She’s Not A Hotel Critic

But she’s dreamed of being one.

I have a confession to make. It has been somewhat of a secret dream of mine to be a hotel critic. There you have it, the cat’s out of the bag! But, thanks to my job, I now have the opportunity to join an ExperiencePlus! tour each year, making my dream come true – in a roundabout way.

While on tour each year, I open a number of hotel windows and breathe in the fresh and fragrant air while gazing out at the beautiful surroundings. Depending where our ride finishes each day, I climb marble steps or rustic wooden stairs and transition from a sun-lit, bustling town center to our accommodations for the evening. My first test in each hotel room – to see just how at home I feel – is to jump on the bed. Just kidding! However, it is true that I do love trying out new hotels, especially if they seem to have particular personality and charm.

Without further ado, here is a shortlist of my favorite hotels from my most recent trips.

The best surprise

The best surprise I’ve received from a hotel was at the Hotel Commercianti in Bologna. (Our Italian Culinary Delights Tour stays here.) All the rooms have names and ours was fittingly called “Il Giardino Segreto” – the secret garden. Upon stepping inside this elegant room I was thrilled to discover a little balcony brimming with flower blossoms, lush green plants and a hanging basket chair inviting me to take a seat and relax. True to its name, the secret garden overlooks a quiet residential court yard and was a welcome calm oasis in the bustling liveliness of Bologna. It couldn’t help but wonder what kind of surprises the other rooms hold!

The sweetest welcome

Some hotels may still maintain the custom of putting chocolates on your pillow. The ultimate welcome gesture, in my mind, were the sweet, juicy chocolate-covered strawberries waiting for me at the Hotel Imperator in Nimes! This was the best imaginable start to the magical experience I had on our South of France tour. Overall, the Imperator found a special place in my heart with its 19th century grandeur and my room overlooking the picturesque court yard. Sweetness indeed!

The most magical night

It seemed appropriate to be gazing over a double-rainbow spanning the fairy tale valley of the Gardon River while enjoying an exquisite dinner at the hotel’s restaurant one evening in France. The restaurant of this hotel is a destination for epicures far and wide and offers modern and local culinary creations skillfully paired with excellent wines. The 3 Barbus featured on our South of France tour is a jewel nestled amidst forests that are out of this world, nurturing body and soul.

The most impressive setting

The city of Split, Croatia is truly spectacular. If you enjoy long summer evenings and relish the feel of a gentle sea breeze while listening to live music and sipping a drink, the Peristyle Plaza is where you want to be. Fortunately, Hotel Peristil is right around the corner and within the impressive city walls, so your way to a well-deserved good night’s sleep in the heavenly beds is within reach. We recommend this hotel to complement our Islands of Dalmatia tour.

The best combination of quirkiness and class

The Hollman Beletage is a perfect example of Vienna’s ability to bridge the gap between past and present, and it does that with a quirky twist. You can experience this typical and unique Viennese specialty in the hotel’s delightful interior which boasts a seamless combination of modern sophistication and traditional grandeur in each room. Aside from the decor, it offers many attractive amenities including a sun-dappled back patio with a calm atmosphere and an open bar, an exquisite breakfast, and so many more special touches that make your stay unforgettable. Enjoy this hotel before or after cycling along the Danube.

And now, if you wonder which hotel I’ve declared as my absolute favorite for bed-jumping… I can’t say. You’ll have to test them out for yourself!

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Nadine Dirksen - A German native, Nadine is a happy Colorado transplant who moved from lush Bavaria when she married. She left the land of pretzels in 2012 and has been enjoying a fun life full of cycling, mountain biking, CrossFit, hiking, running and any other outdoor activity that involves her little black Dachshund-mix. When not having fun outside or at work, she tries her hand at different craft projects with varying success. She helps our travelers by answering all their questions before their tours and she can't wait to help you bring your dream trip to reality!

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