Friday, November 03, 2006


Hello and welcome to my travel blog. As a budget/business traveller, I'm generally a fan of ichotels, the hotel group that includes InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Express by Holiday Inn and others. They usually provide good value for money and safe, clean, comfortable rooms.

I have stayed or eaten at InterContinental Hotels a few times. Some of the best meals I have had were breakfast buffets at InterContinentals. One was at the Belgarde InterContinental just before the start of the Balkan War of the 90s, and the other was an Easter brunch at the InterContinental in Amman, Jordan near the start of the current Iraq war. The latter was complete with a guy in a pink bunny suit.

Mostly I stick to Holiday Inn and Express by Holiday Inn for monetary reasons. I have visited three of them this year. The first was the Express by Holiday Inn Berlin City Center in the down at heel Kreuzberg area of Berlin. I had a small but quiet and pleasant room for 58 Euros a night, about $75. And yes, there was also a very nice breakfast buffet. As you may have discerned, I am a fan of big breakfasts when travelling --sometimes I skip lunch after one and have a relatively early dinner.

The Express Berlin City Center is very close to the ruins of the Anhalter Bahnhof, which is a U bahn stop, and to a large section of the former Berlin Wall that has been preserved. An ivy covered section of brick wall on the street where the hotel stands was part of the fortifications standing in front of the Wall. I'll tell you more about my Berlin trip later.

I also stayed at the Holiday Inn Georgetown in Washington DC. It was more expensive but also a good choice because of its location --I love Georgetown, where I used to live. However, I was annoyed that on a two night stay the price rose for the second night. When I protested at checkout, the clerk pointed to a place where the higher price was initialled. I thought, though, that I should have been informed verbally about the rate increase. It never occurred to me to ask about it. As the Romans said, caveat emptor. If I ever return to that hotel, I will be sure to ask about the price for each night.

The Holiday Inn Tyson's Corner in northern Virginia was a better bargain --only $89 a night for a larger more elegant room with free parking and a very large indoor swimming pool. Both of these Washington area hotels offer free shuttle service, a big plus especially in Tyson's Corner, which is an incredible suburban maze. Rates were relatively low at both these places because it was late August, one of DC's emptiest periods. In a later post I'll say more about visiting Washington in August.


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