What makes a stay in a particular accommodation or town a good one?
What are the factors that sway our opinion from ‘meets our needs’ to ‘exceeds them’? Or makes for ‘below expectations’?
The accommodation providers and booking.com and the like ask questions such as:
-were the staff friendly and polite?
-was the check in and check out process smooth and efficient?
-was the room clean?
-& how affordable was it?
These are all factors at play however for me there are other things that trump these many times over. Here are some although these might not make someone else’s list.
–A supermarket or other food market that is easy to locate and walk to. I eat my own picnics and cook quite frequently when I travel so it is important for me that I can go and buy some cheese and crackers, some teabags, milk and biscuits, and a few eggs and tomatoes. It is also quite comforting and a cultural experience in its own right. (I had a few words with a local in Rome last visit who was trying to push past me in the queue, …we had a great cross-cultural exchange 🙂 )
The best Italian biscuits in the world that one simply must have at hand at all times while traveling particularly on train journeys and when reading in bed during the after lunch nap.
–Drinkable water available. Block your ears but I mostly drink water from the tap in Italy. It is more environmental than contributing to the plastic pollution problem. I have my refillable bottle and utilise the public fountains from which the water is beautiful. If I have any doubt when I am visiting somewhere new I ask, ‘e’ potabile per favore?’ which is pidgin for is it drinkable please? Occasionally I have had to suck it up and drink from bottled such as in Syracuse in Sicily where the water was so awful it made me gag. In such sites it is such a blessing when a kind accommodation provider has supplied a free bottle or two to get you started before you need to venture out to buy more.
–Air Conditioning. I often stay in convents and monasteries. I’ll just point out here that they often don’t have air con, nor a kettle in your room, & sometimes no TV either. Now normally none of this is a problem for a hardy kiwi gal that goes camping in a tent on a roll mat on the ground for fun but I learnt first hand at the end of June this year in 37 degree (centigrade) days and 24 degrees nights that these units do have a place. I will check from now on if I venture that way over the summer months again.
–A nearby laundromat or washing machine. An actual washing machine in my bathroom is like an endangered species, harder to find than hens teeth and highly prized. When I have had an encounter I have made the most of it by washing every item I own. The warm rooms during an Italian summer dry the lot overnight. Next best option is knicker rinsing daily with a weekly or fortnightly visit to the local lavanderia.
–Good lighting between accommodation & shops. Just because I’m a chicken shit at night on my own.
–Hosts that will supply maps & call local tourism providers or taxis. I love booking.com hosts or convent staff (errr, nuns) that are helpful. It is a really big deal for me to try to speak a good enough version of Italian to call and arrange something over the phone so I just can’t stop giving hugs and kisses when they will help. They don’t have to and I value their patience when they will.
–A decent breakfast. So an included breakfast in my experience can range from a banquet of meats, cheeses, breads, cakes, pastries, jam tarts, fruit, cereals, and yogurts right through to a voucher for a croissant and coffee at the cafe down the road and across the street and round the corner and up the alley. Go for the first option. It makes a joyous start to the day.
This is very typical for Italy, they love fette biscottate or packaged toast with nuttela.
–Public transport nearby and that actually goes to the tourist sights. Some cities and towns have this sorted. It is like a magic trick when you step out of the train station at Pompeii or Caserta or the metro at Piramide and the sight you have come to see is squarely in front of you. It is a bit more tricky when you have to figure out which direction to take, find the local bus, get off again, find the ticket seller, go back to the bus…And then the whole thing is just stupid when the only bus there goes at 4pm and the only one returning is at 6.30am. (This was the case in Calabria when trying to get from Crotone to Santa Severina. I have whinged about this before but I guess the tourists hire a car.)
These ones below are harder to negotiate for cultural and historical reasons:
-I have a preference for No smoking in the cafes and restaurants outside the door/window to my room and I’m not keen on cigarette butts in the entrance way. Or watching people poking the butts into drains like they do and seem to see nothing wrong with?
–Garbage not lining the entrance doorway to your rooms nor the access to local shops is desirable when travelling. I’m not sure what sort of complacency would lead you to not bother to try to have a quick pick up of the rubbish around your shop entrance when it is your business at stake??
This is an exaggeration. I have never seen anything like this in Italy, this was a one off news event but I have seen many examples of some rubbish along roadsides, outside shops and in doorways just as I have at home.
-I’m not overly keen on aggressive beggars. I appreciate the plight of many people but am not keen on the stand over tactics used by some beggars such as when eating my gelato within the walls of a cafe in Matera, or trying to get near the door of the Mole Antonelliana in Turin. I may have had a wee paddy in this particular event and made the Roma ladies tut and shake their heads at my bad behaviour. (Have I confessed my bad behaviour too freely in this post?)