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Archive for August, 2010

Review of Hotel Touring in Bologna in Italy Aug 12

Hotel_Touring_Bologna_entranceWe stayed at Hotel Touring in Bologna from July 21st to July 26th 2010. We chose this hotel as it was located near the city center and we wanted to explore the city by foot. I booked the hotel online and went for a gold room costing 119 € per night. We arrived late at night at the hotel – the city is only about 15-20 minute taxi ride from the airport. Check in was fast and we got room 333. The tiny lift was not big enough for us and our two large suitcases so I sent my wife together with the suitcases in the lift and went for the staircase myself. The room had a small corridor leading into the room and on the left hand side was a bathroom. The room itself had light wooden floor and was painted in light colors with some yellow/gold wall paper behind the bed. The room was not very large so fitting our two suitcases in there was a bit of a puzzle. The wardrobe area included a tiny TV with a few channels (but only 1 English speaking channel), a few hangers, shelves and also a safe large enough for our laptops and a tiny fridge with a small selection of drinks – the fridge was not very good as it could hardly keep the drinks cold.

Hotel_Touring_Bologna_bedThe bed only included a thin blanket as duvet so finding the right temperature at night was a bit tricky – the aircon only included two buttons saying “Too warm” and “Too cold” so it was easy at least. The bed itself must be one of the most uncomfortable beds that I have had in a hotel as it was way too hard for my liking. There was also a tiny desk and a chair and there were sockets on each side of the bed so charging phones etc was a breeze. The bathroom seemed quite new and it was tiled in light tiles – the room included a toilet, bide, sink and for once just a shower – I think bathtubs should have been left out of hotel rooms as I hardly use them. The shower was quite large and featured a sliding door to enter it. There was a large rainforest showerhead but the only problem was that the drain didn’t seem able to keep up with the shower – the shower would very quickly turn into a footbath. Maybe it is a genius way of getting people to use less water when showering. There were not that many amenities but there were shampoo, soap and shower cap at least.

Hotel_Touring_Bologna_room_terraceOne of the first things we noticed when we came into the room was the pleasant and sweet scent – there were sticks in a small bottle on the desk and I guess it is a signature of the hotel as they had the same in the reception etc. When we woke up the next day we also noticed that we had gotten a room with an enormous balcony. The balcony included two chairs and a table, one sun bed and one reclining chair. In the afternoon we had sun on the entire balcony – but I’m not sure that it was a great idea to put cast iron chairs in the sun on the balcony. When sitting down on one in the afternoon I felt like I got branded as they were so hot. If you don’t get a room with a large balcony you can head for the rooftop garden on the 5th floor. From here you get an amazing view of Bologna in pretty much every direction. I think you can also get drinks served there in the afternoon if you don’t want to walk out of the hotel to find a place for you aperetivo.

Hotel_Touring_Bologna_deskThe breakfast at the hotel was served in the vaulted rooms in the basement – the breakfast was simple but included the basics of cereal, bread, fruit, juice etc and if you ask nicely you can even get a proper espresso or cappuccino. If you want to iron something they have an iron and ironing board located in the room next to the breakfast room – just ask and they will set it up for you.
The location of the hotel is great – located more or less next to Basilica of San Domenico and it took us only a few minutes to walk to Piazza Galvani and from there to Piazza Maggiore (it is only 600 meters to walk Piazza Maggiore). If you like your high-end shopping you’ll be glad to know that the hotel is also close to Via Farini which includes stores like Hermes, Louis Vuitton etc. We had our aperetivo a couple of times at Caffé San Domenico located on the Via Giuseppe Garibaldi and I can recommend the Aperol Spritz ;-)

Hotel_Touring_Bologna_wardrobe_TVIt seems like Hotel Touring has gotten on the list of “Most charming hotels” and they seem confident with their product. When I checked out I even got a little note saying “Remember to post your review on TripAdvisor” – ah, the power of the internet. But there are a few things that could have been improved. When we checked in I think I asked about the Wi-Fi and I was told it was 10 € pr day. The next day I tried to use the PC in the reception and I needed a password and the girl that was working said that as I was staying in a gold room the Wi-Fi was free and I got a username and password. It would have been great to get this when checking in.
I have already mentioned the other things – the shower drain was not very good and the bed was soo hard that I had problem sleeping.

Conclusion
Hotel Touring is a charming hotel with a good location in the Bologna city center. The staff was helpful and smiling at all times. The room seemed to be fairly recently refurbished and even if it was a bit on the tiny side we still enjoyed our stay there and the balcony that we had was amazing. But the bed was the real drawback for me but I guess it all depends on what kind of bed you like. All in all, if you can handle a hard bed this is not a bad hotel for checking out the city center of Bologna.

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View from the rooftop terrace

Hotel_Touring_Bologna_rooftop_view

Hotel_Touring_Bologna_shower

Review of Savhotel in Bologna Aug 10

Savhotel_Bologna_entranceWe stayed at Savhotel in Bologna from July 26th to July 30th 2010 after we had stayed at Hotel Touring in the center of Bologna first. The reason for choosing Savhotel was that it was a bit in the outskirts which made it easier for us when we wanted to drive out of Bologna to explore some of Emilia-Romagna. At the same time the rate was low, it is a fairly new hotel and close enough to the city center so that we could enjoy restaurant in Bologna at night. After we picked up a rental car at the Marconi airport in Bologna we had a bit of problem finding Savhotel_Bologna_deskthe hotel as the street of the hotel was not in our GPS. But we figured it out by putting in one of the streets nearby (Via della Liberazione) and after that we just followed the signs. Savhotel seems to be a very new hotel located just north of the ring road of Bologna – the area around the hotel seems to be a mixture of flats, new office buildings etc. We got room 303 and the room was quite inviting when we first entered the room. The room was setup with a modern design but it was not that big. The floor was laid down with dark wood and the walls had light wall paper.

Savhotel_Bologna_bedThe centerpiece of the room was a king-size bed that was firm but far better than the mattress at the Hotel Touring that we had stayed at the previous nights (see separate review). On each side of the bed there were cubes that acted as both as a small table and lighting as they were illuminated from within. The reading light on each side could have been better as it was not very bright and rather flimsy. There was also a desk facing the window with a good light over it and a plug for the laptop – excellent setup.

Savhotel_Bologna_TVThere was a tiny flat screen TV in the room that has a good selection of channels and both CNN and BBC – but I would have liked to see a bit larger TV. The wardrobe area included hangers, shelves, a small fridge with some sodas/beers/snacks and a safe that was large enough for storing the laptop. The bathroom was tiled in light tiles and included a toilet, bide, sink andSavhotel_Bologna_bathroom bathtub which included the showering option. There were not that many amenities but as long as there is some shampoo I’m happy. The shower option in the bathtub worked out pretty good as a glass wall acted as a shield preventing splashing everywhere. The ventilation in the room was not that great so after we had taken a shower the humidity would pour down from the walls and mirror. The bathroom was separated from the room by a frosted glass door.

Savhotel_Bologna_breakfast_selectionThe breakfast area was right next to the reception and it included a decent breakfast. There was small selection of cereal, some buns, some options of mortadella ham, cheese and salami to put on the bread, ricotta, nutella and also some cakes, fruits and even egg and bacon. As usual, we had to ask to get a proper espresso but that was brought to our table with a smile. The parking facility at the hotel wasSavhotel_Bologna_wardrobe excellent – there was a parking area in the basement and we could take the lift straight to our floor. They also kept the bicycles in the parking area and we could borrow these free of charge – the only annoying thing was the form that I had to fill out every time I picked up the bikes. The bikes also came with large locks and according to one of the guys in the reception it was important to use the locks when parking in Bologna as bike thefts are not uncommon. The bikes were in great condition.

As mentioned, the hotel is located just north of the city center and it was easy to bike into town. There was a bike lane leading towards the city center and from there we just biked in the streets. Getting into Piazza Maggiore didn’t take more than about 10 minutes biking at a slow pace (it is 2,5 km/1,5 miles to Piazza Maggiore).

Savhotel_Bologna_breakfast_areaLet’s talk about some of the things that can be improved at the hotel. It was great with the free Wi-Fi but it was annoying that we had to call the reception to get a cryptic username and password and it also expired in the middle of our stay and I had to call the reception again to get a new username and password. The Wi-Fi signal was quite weak and I was not able to pick up a signal with my iPhone 3G in the room (but my wife got a signal with her 3GS). When we checked in, our clothes had been in and out of our suitcases and were in desperate need for some ironing. But the room did not include this and when we called the front desk we were told that we were not allowed to have an iron in the room and they did not have a room where we could do the ironing. So the only option was sending the clothing to the laundry service for ironing – this is something that I think the hotel has to rethink.

We were a bit surprised to find that the hotel is quite “noisy”. As it is a pretty new hotel I thought there would be better sound insulation between the rooms and hall. But we could hear the TV from the next room and it was easy to hear the cleaning personnel doing their job in the morning. Another thing that was a bit noisy was the aircon. When it was running it was not a problem but when starting and stopping it made a bit of noise.

Conclusion
If you have a car this hotel is a great option to use as a base for exploring the region as it makes it easier when it comes to driving (as driving in the city center seems to be a nightmare) and it is still close enough to the center to make it possible to enjoy restaurants there at night. The rate was 62€ for the room and that is not bad when it included taxes, breakfast for 2, free Wi-Fi, free parking inside, bikes that we could use etc. But if you are just in Bologna to check out the city center I would recommend finding a hotel within the ring road and in a more charming neighborhood.