Archive for the ‘Hotel Reviews’ Category

Kloster Hornbach, Germany

Day 4 of 365days2play’s Honeymoon in Luxembourg, Germany & France

Even before our honeymoon trip to Europe, Kloster Hornbach was one of the hotels I kept raving about to my friends and on Facebook, simply for the fact that the building dates back to year 742! Yes that’s 3 digits, not 4! Obviously back in 742 it wasn’t a hotel as we know it today, but the Monastery of Hornbach. Infact, there is still a working church just adjacent to what is now the hotel portion, which opened in 2000.

Hospitality is one of the key components of the Benedictine life-style. In his rule, Saint Benedict says “Let all guests that come to the monastery be received as friends. For, one day, he will say : "I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

There are thirty-three rooms and suites to choose from, each tastefully decorated and designed in different styles. The inspiration for the interior design is influenced  by Mediterranean, Shaker, Asian or African-design. Following the feedback of guests, Kloster Hornbach also has 2 rooms specially designed to look like the cell of a monk in a monastery!  I suppose there’s no worry about those rooms being too spartan, because a Bose sound system and CDs are still provided. I quite liked that several DVD movies were provided, for the benefit of guests who just want to laze in their rooms.

Kloster Hornbach (25)

As you can see below, we got the African themed room. I have to agree that the design is extremely tastefully and subtly done. The last thing I want is to have a huge lion or elephant staring down at me as I attempt to sleep after a hard day’s touring. I have seen such hotel rooms, mind you, they do exist.

Kloster Hornbach (4)

Kloster Hornbach (5)

I love hotel rooms with lots of windows. We got a room on the 2nd floor so when the windows were opened, it felt as if my room became extended! And as you can see from the pictures, each window has a heater beneath it, so no chance of you freezing under the covers at night.

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Gourmet de l’Ile – Strasbourg

Day 3 of 365days2play’s Honeymoon in Luxembourg, Germany & France

Restaurant Gourmet de l'Ile - (2)

Day 3 – We were generously invited to dinner during our stay at Château de l’Ile & Spa in the Strasbourg/Ostwald region. Château de l’Ile has 2 restaurants. The Restaurant "Winstub de l’Ile " has all the charm of an Alsace brasserie with its typical welcoming decor: traditional benches, solid rustic chairs, decorated ceiling, and tinted windows. You can enjoy regional dishes at this restaurant.

The other restaurant, which we eventually chose as our dining venue for the evening was Restaurant "Gourmet de l’Ile". It is decked out to look like a 19th century bourgeoisie house and serves fine dining French cuisine.

We perused the menu and concluded that the Tasting menu at 74 Euros was the most value for money, yes even though 74 Euros doesn’t sound cheap on its own. The starters were already above 20 euros while the main courses were above 30 euros, so it made very good sense to get the Tasting menu, even if we had to take 3 hours to finish the meal!

Restaurant Gourmet de l'Ile - Lentil soup with bacon

Lentil soup with bacon

As with all fine dining, you always get more than what you’ve ordered! There will be “surprises”, more “surprises”, “mouth washers” literally, and chocolates after desserts! Don’t be planning to go home early when you dine at a fine dining restaurant! This here was the appetiser of lentil puree soup with a stick of bacon in it. It was an amazing starter as the graininess of the lentils and smokiness of the bacon really gelled together very well, kick starting the whole meal.

Restaurant Gourmet de l'Ile - Pan-Fried Foie Gras, butter muesli, apple compote & Caramel (2)

Pan-Fried Foie Gras, butter muesli, apple compote & Caramel 27 Euros

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Château de l’Ile & Spa – Strasbourg

Day 3 of 365days2play’s Honeymoon in Luxembourg, Germany & France

After our train arrived at Strasbourg, we went to the Hertz car rental company to collect the car we had rented for our trip through the Alsace region, Burgundy and Lyon. Driving in a foreign country is always a slightly jittery affair although it has become much better a few years ago after we acquired our own GPS. There’s no way I would drive around holding paper maps anymore, it’s just too cumbersome when you know that a GPS can make life so easy.

The most jittery part about driving in France of course is that people drive on the right side of the road, ie the wrong side. I’ll admit that the 1st half an hour was quite harrowing, not helped by the fact that the French roads are not marked clearly like in Singapore or New Zealand. But you do get used to driving on the right side after a while and we were like a duck to water the next day. Interestingly, it’s quite easy to remember that you have to drive on the right. You remind yourself before you start each journey, the GPS unit can be programmed to remind you too. When you reach a turning junction, repeat the mantra “Drive on the right”!

Even though it is not cheap to rent a car, I really wanted to drive in France because I wanted to be able to visit the countryside easily. With trains, you’re mostly stuck with cities and towns. Also, I wanted to be able to stay in the chateaus or countryside manors in France, and there’s just no way that the chateaus (chateaux) are going to be in the middle of town.

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Lovely blue sky day at Chateau de L’Ile… picture courtesy of the hotel

Was very happy with the decision I made when we arrived at our first Chateau of our holiday in France. This 19th Century castle is ideally situated within a tree-lined bend in the Ill River, only 5 kilometres from Strasbourg, and 6 kilometres from the airport. With its half-timbered style and flowery balconies, it reflects traditional Alsatian architecture and is ideally suited for leisure or business tourism. Strasbourg by the way, is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Strasbourg is definitely a must visit city when you are in the Alsace region! More pictures on Strasbourg in my next post.

Château de l'Ile - Strasbourg (7)

Before we even got into the hotel itself, we were already mesmerised by the pretty flowering trees in the carpark!

Château de l'Ile - Strasbourg (50)

Nice touches like this always perks me up. Thank you Mr Bernard Urbain, I did have a very pleasant stay in Alsace.

Château de l'Ile - Strasbourg (47)

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The Albert Premier – Luxembourg

Day 1 of 365days2play’s Honeymoon in Luxembourg, Germany & France

The Albert Premier Luxembourg (17)

Luxembourg was our official first stop in our 14 day trip through Luxembourg, Germany and France. We made the conscious decision that we were not going to stick to just the mega cities like London and Paris, and that we wanted to be able to experience “country living”. After massive planning, we came up with this very unique itinerary of first arriving in Paris via Singapore Airlines, followed by taking the TGV train to Luxembourg (part journey by coach), taking another train to Strasbourg before collecting our car and travelling to Hornbach (Germany), Alsace, Burgundy and Lyon.

I am quite confident in saying that few Singaporeans have visited these areas that I have mentioned because I hardly saw a Chinese person in those areas, let alone a Singaporean. So if you’re planning to go somewhere to escape the Singaporean crowd, try Luxembourg and Alsace!

While walking the streets of Luxembourg, I suddenly bumped into a hoard of Chinese tourists, probably the only Asians I saw in my 2 days in Luxembourg. They were all so happy to be able to finally have dinner at the Chinese restaurant. I have to admit there’s just nothing quite like having comforting food that you are familiar with, especially if everything else has been so foreign the entire day.

Luxembourg is a lovely little city. The country is only about 3 times bigger than Singapore, but has only a population of 524,853 (as of October 2012). You can read more about Luxembourg in my previous post. I loved that Luxembourg was my 1st stop in my European trip because it is such a relaxing and pretty city to be in. I love city centres which are cordoned off from traffic so that pedestrians can wander the streets easily. Did you know, the official country motto for Luxembourg is “We want to remain what we are”. It’s admirable that there can be a country brave enough to recognise that maintaining its heritage and culture is as important as building a better economy. Despite the motto, Luxembourg is one of the richest countries in the world. Contrast that to Singapore’s motto, which is Majulah Singapura, aka Onward Singapore.

Things are not particularly expensive too. I had the best steak tartare sandwich of my life in Luxembourg, from a cafe costing just 5 Euros! Be warned though, that Steak tartare is referred to as steak à l’Americaine over there. I didn’t even know it was Steak tartare, and ate it 6 hours later. It was so delicious I decided to risk any possible stomach upset, but luckily all was fine.

The Albert Premier Luxembourg (2)

Lobby Lounge of the Albert Premier Hotel

We stayed at the Albert Premier for the 2 nights that we were in Luxembourg, courtesy of the Albert Premier and Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The Albert Premier is a nifty little boutique hotel providing 40 elegant rooms and suites, fine dining in our gourmet restaurant, a library and a fitness and steam room. The hotel is located just off a main road, but we weren’t disturbed by noise at all. The hotel is about 10 minutes walk away from the heart of Luxembourg City. Along the way on avenue Monterey , you will pass a park, which has a huge playground with a Viking Ship! If you have children, you must make this a visit! I’m sure the kids will absolutely adore the place! Just across the street from the hotel is a small supermarket chain called the Alima, should you need anything. As with all hotels that we stayed during our trip, WIFI is free! Get your coupon

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Citadines Suites Louvre Paris

Day 10 of 365days2play’s Honeymoon in Luxembourg, Germany & France

We spent our 1st night in Paris at the lovely Citadines Suites Louvre Paris. Although Paris wasn’t our first stop in France, I’m starting with this post first because the Citadines Suites Louvre Paris is managed by Singapore’s very own Ascott Limited, a member of Capitaland. Also, it was the only service apartment we stayed at in our honeymoon trip to France.

Citadines_Suites_Louvre_Paris_Facade - Copy

The hotel is slightly difficult to identify because there isn’t a grand entrance like most hotels in Singapore. You do have to keep your eyes peeled for the Citadines logo and the entrance at the side of the building. However, once you enter the lobby, I assure you that you will feel mesmerised, as I was. From the bustling and noisy streets of Paris, I felt as if I was being transported into an oasis of calm. The lobby is stylishly decored in a pale blue grey theme, as is pretty much the rest of the areas of the hotel.

Citadines Suites Louvre Paris (39)

Citadines Suites Louvre Paris (29)

We got a lovely suite on the 6th floor. The truth be told, when I first stepped into the hotel room, I was just breathless at how soothing yet stylish the room looked. Suffice to say that the Citadines Suites Louvre Paris has given me the inspiration to furnish and decorate my new home in a similar style.

Citadines Suites Louvre Paris (10)

Love the hanging bedside lamps.

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