Sunday, 17 May 2015

Ramada Hotel, The Mailbox, Birmingham.

This weekend I stayed at the Ramada Hotel at The Mailbox in Birmingham, and I was a little disappointed, both with The Mailbox itself and the hotel.

The Mailbox seems to be the place to be in Birmingham so I was expecting a little more from a hotel in it.

It is a beautiful walk up from across the canal and over the footbridge where lovers and couples have placed padlocks signifying their love but the hotel entrance was pretty difficult to spot.

I had booked an executive room.

This was my view.

Admittedly it is unusual these days to find a city centre hotel in the UK which does have opening windows, so that was a bonus.

The hotel was quiet, less so the other clientele.  I was awake most of the night thanks to the next room who seemed to feel necessary to make as much noise as possible at 11pm, 2am and 4am.  The noise outside started about 5am.  As soon as my alarm went off at 6am everyone went quiet.

There is free wired internet available in the rooms but wifi is only available downstairs in the public areas of the hotel.

I would stay here again, but it would not be my 'go to' choice of hotel.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Not having the best of luck with Monarch companies.

Last year you may remember that I had an issue with my holiday accommodation booking where I was moved to a cheaper hotel by Somewhere2Stay who refused to acknowledge that the hotel was cheaper than the one I had booked and paid for, they also saw fit to wait several weeks until the day before travel to advise me of the change.

During the course of my complaint and attempt to obtain a refund of monies owed, I discovered that Somewhere2Stay is a subsidiary of Monarch Travel Group Ltd.

Initially I said that I would not be using any Monarch Travel Group company again, but I relented once I realised that I would have to travel to either Manchester or Luton to fly to Barcelona if I no longer flew Monarch, so I gave them another chance.

Four days ago I received an email telling me that whilst they carry out a review of their schedule certain flights would be covered by Jet-Time, a Danish company.  Apparently the planes used by Jet-Time are a different configuration to those belonging to Monarch so the extra legroom seat that I booked is not available, I have received a refund for the small amount that this cost me.

I have emailed Monarch with a few queries, to which I have yet to receive a response.

Although I have lost my extra leg room, do I still keep the pre-booked seat? (Paid for).

Can I still check in online? (Paid for).

Is the hold luggage the same, I have 23kgs, Jet-Time's website says that their limit is 20kgs. (Paid for).

Next year I think I will be travelling to Manchester for Vueling or Luton for Easyjet.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Do you keep a holiday washbag ready?

I was recently discussing holidays with a friend and the fact that we both hate packing came up.  We both said that we wished we had enough money so that we can buy all we need at our destination and then leave it all there when we return home (*note to self, possible business idea here).

We complained about the fact that every electrical device we take with us needs a different charger, I don't use my phone when abroad, it gets locked in the room safe, so that is one charge I don't need, but there is still my Kindle, iPod, iPad and camera.  Plus you have to remember the adaptor to change the plug to fit local sockets.

What did surprise me was that my friend did not keep a stocked holiday washbag, instead having to pack this after getting ready to leave regardless of the time of the flight.  In the past this was not such an issue as it could just go into the carry on bag, but now space has to be left in the case for it to be squeezed into.

I have had a travel ready wash bag for as long as I can remember, and certainly since I starting travelling alone, which is 25 years+.  It can also be used as emergency stock if I am at home and have run out of toothpaste or deodorant.

I treated myself to a new washbag this year, my last one have served its time well.  It is labelled as a man's, but it was half the price and twice the size of those labelled as women's, and the toiletries won't know.  It is massive so there is plenty of room to store my suncream and aftersun too, usually these are just stored in my beach bag in the suitcase pocket.

Do you have a travel ready washbag, or do you have to pack yours the day of travel?