Accommodations Review Edinburgh Braid Hills Hotel

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Braid Hills is an area in the south of Edinburgh that is typical of a sleepy suburb in Scotland. Rows of grey stone houses and rolling hills with a great little park or two. I stayed 3 days in a hotel in the heart of it. If you like to have a quieter stay in a big city in Scotland, this is the kind of area to stay in. However, you will have to travel a while with public transit if you need to get into town. It depends on the types of views you like and if you just like quiet, not the bustle of city life. The neighborhood is mostly upper middle-class and has fairly safe streets to walk on. The hotel caters to weddings and people staying for the golf course.

Best Western South Braid Hills Hotel $$$$ ♥♥♥
134 Braid Road, Edinburgh, Lothian Scotland
After a long train ride and a cab hop from the station, I came into this well situated hotel at the top of the hill. I had a very small room in the middle of the hotel off the landing. The bed took up most of the space, but the bathroom was really nice and modernized. Have I mentioned that in Scotland the toilets are rather immaculate in most accommodations? I found that most of the places I stayed and public toilets I used were very clean and functioning, putting some American equivalents to shame.

The room had a lot of cupboard storage spaces and deep casement windows that I found I could climb up in and sit with my tea and look at the very green hills. It was also convenient while observing the scottish wedding that took place while I was there. Many larger hotels are packed every weekend with weddings and anniversary occasions in the UK. It makes for a wait time for hotel staff as they are very busy. But you do get a nice view of men in dress kilts, which can make up for it.

Pluses:
Clean rooms, great bath. Great view. Plenty of light. Bed was pretty good. Hot pot and the other tea making utensils were available. Flat screen was in order. Great little park for morning exercise called Braidburn Park. Staff was very attentive even during the extreme wedding hours, and the dining and bar area was fairly good. I ate most of my meals off site. There is an attached restaurant.

Minuses:
Long ways into Edinburgh proper, cab fares can be steep as is the hill. There is a bus stop but it is quite literally a staircase drop that is very narrow off the parking lot and would not work for someone elderly. Depending on room placement, small single rooms tend to be right on main hall and foot traffic can be a bit much. Plop a pillow at the crack.

For my next foray into Edinburgh this August, I will be staying closer in off one of the cresents to experience the Fringe Festival. Stay tuned for more reviews.

Fraser Suites and St. Enoch Apartment Service Apartments Glasgow

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Ratings ♥ to ♥♥♥♥

My last 2 stays in Glasgow were two different types of accommodations. One was a standard small boutique affair, Fraser’s Suites, and the other was a service apartment off the Clyde in St. Enoch’s shopping area. Both were in the heart of the city. If you like to be in the thick of it, downtown is the place to be.

Central

Fraser Suites Glasgow $$$ ♥♥♥
Albion at Trongate, Glasgow, Scotland 44+ 141 553 4288

The pictures are quite charming, a rambling set of rooms in the Trongate area. Well, what I stayed in was not a suite. I came off the plane and dropped my cases. The very small and cramped room was as far away as i could get from the very busy pub down below, and next to a car park. No need for an alarm, because you have seagulls waking you at 05:00 am. It was basically a place to get over jet lag and get a footing in Scotland before I continued with my journey. For the most part it was clean, and there was a small gym where no one seemed to bother me at the weird hours I went in. I said jet lag, right?

This is where I first experienced Glasgow’s expansive nightlife. The noise of it can be going till the wee hours of 03:00 easy. Massive groups of people clamped on for dear life and the love of their city. So, just remember to try to get the rooms a floor more above the busy restaurant.

The apartment was a serviced apartment in a one room style with kitchenette. The room was small, and a bit tired. I could see this was set up to be a more business staying affair with desk and small living area. The lecky plugs monitored very heavily. The bed was hard. For the most part it was clean, which a clean place and monitored hotel is sometimes what you need when you just get to a country. You are not your best on jet lag. There was a hotel safe which was convenient. I did not use the breakfast services, what I could see was very limited. The staff though was very friendly and as helpful as they could be.

Plus: Location for first time in Glasgow with transit and access to George Square where many of the tour buses depart from. You are walking distance from the train stations and the Clockwork Orange (tube). The prices are manageable and there is a full staff and it’s accessible most hours. The kitchens are fairly well equipped.

Minus: Bed is hard, the rooms a bit warn. There were recent remodels but still a bit sterile. Great to just crash, and the room was actually larger than some I stayed in in Glasgow previously.

Clyde Side

St. Enoch’s Apartments $$$$ ♥♥♥♥
101 Maxwell Street, Central Glasgow , Scotland
Sweeney Service Apartments 00 44 (0) 141 423 2001

This is where I fell in love with the rented apartment concept. The serviced apartments I had stayed at before had been very sterile, this had more of a home feeling about it. I thought as my last splurge on the way out of my trip, I would have a furnished apartment by the Clyde. I live by two rivers and enjoy them, walking the bank side parks are always a great treat. So I booked 3 days in a service apartment and lived among Glaswegians in the St. Enoch’s area.

St. Enoch’s is by the Clyde river, north side across from Laurieston. It’s in the heart of the shopping district and plenty of music and pub venues are in the area for your entertainment. Access to parks are a plus, and public transport hubs make it easy to get around if you are not walking. Noise is a bit of an issue, music venue around the corner, but the apartment was an interior one and buffered a bit. Also the view was narrow, you could see the Clyde, but a bit squished. The apartment had two rooms and could sleep up to 4 comfortably. Facilities were working, but the at the source water heater was a bit tricky, with the fuse switch chain having to be a bit of a twiddle.

Plus: Location was great for the second time in Glasgow. My first had been very close to George Square that was even more busy. If you like vibrant and somewhat busy, this is a good place. You have a tranquil side facing the Clyde that allows for a good morning jog or hike. The kitchen was well equipped. You are close to some of the downtown marts like Tesco which means you can get by, get things in a pinch. But if you want whole foods you will need to travel into the West End or outskirts to a super. Visit a wine merchant.

Minus: Price. The apartment was really too large for me, but when booking was the best I could find for the dates price wise. You are stuck with downtown restaurants. The heart of good food in Glasgow is usually in the West End and Northern parts, around the with some East End food areas getting to be rather tasty. But one of the pluses is to use the kitchen and supplement your eating. Inner city markets are very pricey and limited. Noise level is high on Friday and Saturdays. Check for weekend events as this is a transit hub area.

My first few visits to Glasgow were amazing, and I am heading back. However I will be staying in the West End this season as I found I was spending a great deal of time there each day and found that area around the university more to my type of neighborhood feel. I had one service apartment cancel on me due to building sale, so we will see how this trip goes in the West End as I check out other lodgings.

Top Service Apartments and is this an Option for You

regent_terrace_frontThe service apartment is a great option when traveling abroad, if the price is in your range and you plan on spending more than 1 to 2 days in a particular city. If you have traveling companions and can split the bill, you can rent these for comparable if not less than some finer hotel rooms. You just have to take the time to  look and check out the reviews. Why a service apartment? Do you really like staying in a hotel room more than a day or two? Some people love doing this, they think it’s the lap of luxury, to be catered to and wear plush white robes. I always find a day or two of this and I am pretty much over it. My comfort comes from being more at home in a place. Some B&Bs are a bit home like and stays there can be good, especially if you have that first meal of the day prepared. It depends if you like being catered to or need a more home-like environment and being self sufficient. But, you may have to do some shopping.

Hint: Be prepared for a lot of Scottish or Irish Breakfast in these places. Massive. After a few stays on your trip you may get an over do. Do a lot of walking so you can breathe.

Service apartments are what we think of as extended stay in the US. Or you can also opt in for the rentals like through a company like Air BNB where you stay in someone’s flat. There are some pros and cons to these arrangements, you have to weigh the options for your needs. Also, cooking or preparing some of your own meals can help your budget, if you want to do that. But be aware, just like eating out can be expensive, you are in a country that may have higher food prices in general, so be prepared for sticker shock. So if you are at a city with an outdoor farmers market scheduled or stationary, check it out as you will be helping locals feed their own.

I like the serviced apartment option if I am staying somewhere for a length of time and really just want to feel like part of the community for a few days. You see how some of the people live in the city, granted not everyone is represented in the area you are staying, a neighborhood, but you get a better sense of how people truly live  when you are not in some steel and glass hotel. You usually have to make arrangements with the company/letting agency that runs the apartment to meet, this could end up being not until 4 or 5 pm which means you are stuck with cases for the day. Check with the agent as some of them do have a check in and some do not. They don’t all have a office you can go to, so this can eat up some of your time of the day waiting to meet them. Hotels have a concierge so you can check in bags before your stay. Most service apartments come with all the amenities of a home away from home, just like when you left yours. And sometimes you can use their laundry facilities in the kitchen and refresh from your travels. Plonking down on a sofa with a book or watching telly can be really refreshing after trudging around all day. If you are lucky, previous fellow travelers may have left you food treats or teas, check the cabinets before you shop, and some leave books behind with a note to have a good read. However, some self service can get expensive depending on the real estate area and style. Keep checking for better deals. Some can be moderate and comparable to hotel pricing, if not cheaper. You need to shop around. Check reviews on specific companies as well.

Some Useful Links and Articles for Planning

Top 6 Edinburgh Self-Catering High End

Home Away Listing Site for UK

Dublin City

rentbyowner.com

Staycity – London, Dublin, York, Edinburgh, Paris, Manchester, Birmingham

Corrib Galway Self Catering Summer (NUI Campus) – Rent from the University , a lot of features for student summer rental housing. Public transit friendly.

Gallway top 5

Belfast Self Catering

Glasgow City Flats

Note: I do not receive funding or perks from any of these sites or companies, I merely list here to help your search.

Check Out Street View Before Booking Accommodations

heqader2-1024x764You have spent days fiddling with your itinerary for flights and you are working on booking all your hotel or B&B bookings. You get blasted with many choices, read, look at pictures. All accommodations are trying to sell you their space for rent, lure you away from other prospects. You think you have a sweet deal, but look on the map for the location. You may find that you are either way isolated and don’t want to be, or smack dab in the middle of it and prefer quiet. Have you checked Street View websites with the actual address? If you were buying a house right now, what would you do to check out the neighborhood if you could not get there to physically see it? Yes, check the neighborhood you are staying in and see where it falls on the map.

If you don’t mind walking in a bit through neighborhoods, many B&Bs in the UK are in smaller neighborhoods away from downtown. This is great as you get to spend time in a real neighborhood with real people going about their lives. But this also means it probably has the local, or pub attached or underneath. Check out street view for the address and see what kind of establishment it is. Because as luck will have it, you will get the room above the pub and that means little sleep until 1 am or so. If you like to be out on the town and busy until the wee hours, this is not a problem. But if you need your rest, check out street view and see if it looks like it may be a rabble rouser bar. Also, check the transit maps for the area. If you are staying in a relatively small town, you may be walking everywhere regardless. If you are staying in a larger city, transit is more frequent, but a safe place to board or depart from may be a ways away from where you are. Taxis can get costly.

Along with looking at Yelp or other review sites, you can safeguard your stays. Be prepared however to have at least one of your accommodations not be so grand. You will just have to tough it out as booking for alternative when you get there may get real costly. Check reviews, see if there have been complaints against the establishment.

With that said, have a grand time on your tour after having a great rest.

What to Stay In; Finding Accommodation that Really Suits Your Needs

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Some people have limitless money and can stay in marvelous hotels. That’s nice. I have stayed in hotels large and boutique, inns, bed and breakfasts, and service apartments in the UK. Each has their perks. It depends on where you are going and what you are doing, and for how long that determines the places you stay. The following are choices I have made and what I have learned from the places I have stayed.

Your average nightly stay in the UK if you are lucky starts at $100.00 US, but usually $150.00. If you can find B&Bs in the country for multiple days, you may get better. Budget motels as we call them here are available, but usually on motorways or outside main city centers. Hint: If you are staying in the city center, check the crime watch apps for the area, some places are nice, some are dicey. Do Google Earth and street view and do the 360 to scan the neighborhood a bit.

Hotels $$$$

Some people love staying in hotels. It’s vacation luxury at it’s best. You are in the thick of things and central to the action. The air is recirculated and food is expensive. I usually only stay in a hotel if I can find no other accommodation as I really dislike sleeping in packed box style living. However on this trip, I will need to in Belfast as I could not find a place to my liking on the dates that I needed it, and if it’s just for 2 days renting an apartment did not make sense. Plus: Most have a concierge where you can stash cases while you explore the city before check-in.

Inns $$$-$$$$$$

Inns are very nice and can be in some of the best and sweetest countryside. Many Europeans prefer this route because it’s traditional and well, there are some fantastic locations. Inns can be great, unless you get the room that’s above the pub. Depending on how remote you are, that could not be too bad as some pubs don’t go too late. But if you have been hiking the passes or Munroing, you’ll be too tire to notice. Some inns are like B&Bs in that you will get a breakfast included if you book in advance that way. Because some of the Inns are in great locals and may be the only gig around, they can get very high in price, some being mini resorts. But, if you are traveling with family and have several to a room, it can become economical. Check your travel apps to compare pricing. If you are traveling lochs and loughs there will be several around and they do compete.

Bed and Breakfast $$$$$

These are very homey and comfortable places to stay, but these romantic getaways can get extremely pricey. I did luck out in Oban last year and got a harbor view with seats and binoculars right next to a tea set and luxury bath, the largest I had seen in my stay. And the price was very good. Full Scottish breakfast the next day, enough for 3 people. Yeah, the breakfast can be huge and you won’t need to eat for the rest of the day.

Serviced Apartment/Flat $$$-$$$$

If I am staying for more than 2 days in a city, I try to do a rented apartment option. I find if you can do one in a neighborhood, you can actually get a feeling for where you are staying and the community that people live in there. You also have more privacy, and if you are traveling with friends, this can be a very thrifty stay for you if you are splitting fees. These places have full kitchens and you can shop for some food to keep budget and calories down on your stay. There is usually full WiFi and cable services for when you are in the apartment, but hopefully you will be out and about. I find this to be more relaxing because I don’t feel so cramped and you are staying in a neighborhood which really allows you to get a feel for the people that live in the city. Price also depends on size of room. A studio which is more than enough for 1-2 people can be really reasonable.

You can book these places either at a booking site or a place like AirBNB. Keep in mind that they usually have late check-in situations and you will want to find out if you can store your luggage in the morning while you see sites. Running around town with cases is not fun, and it screams tourist.

http://www.reserveapartments.co.uk/glasgow/find?gclid=CNKRj-iN5NECFZeXfgodvtQIYw