Split, Croatia: Guest House Vlado Is A Scam And Hotels.com Could Care Less!


Guest House Vlado
Split, Croatia

Guest House Vlado in Split, Croatia is a RIP-OFF!  Do not book a room with this “so-called” guest house. Do not fall for the lies they tell in their description on Hotels.com and don’t expect any help from Hotels.com if you have any problems with a reservation.

I made a reservation from Dubrovnik the day before we left for Split.  Here’s the description Guest House Vlado gives on Hotels.com:

“Enjoying a beautiful Mediterranean climate, crystal clear seas and warm sands, this fascinating area of Croatia is also home to the Guest House Vlado, Split , where guests can take advantage of affordable 3 star accommodation .”

This is no 3-star accommodation and it is not a guest house.  The room we were eventually shown was on the 3rd floor (no elevator) of an old building with a 2-star “Sobe” sign on the front (a Sobe is a private residence in Slavic countries and anything below 3-stars has minimum essentials).

 “A warm welcome awaits you at this attractive property, and you are assured all the benefits you would expect to find in an upscale hotel. Located close to the Diocletian Palace and the beautiful Bacvice beach, visitors have no excuse not to relax and soak up the sun and the culture. Do not hesitate to ask the experienced staff for local tips and advice. Please Note: This guest house only accepts payment made by cash. “

The Hotels.com map locating Guest House Vlado near the bus/train station and Split’s Old City is a total lie.  I booked the room the day prior (and agreed to pay 80 Euros – $103) because we were only staying in Split for one night and needed to catch a train the following evening, so I was willing to pay extra so we didn’t have to drag our bags all over town.  We followed the map as shown on Hotels.com (with all of our baggage in tow), but Guest House Vlado was nowhere to be found.  When I asked several people where 86a Matice Hrvatske (the address listed on hotels.com) was, we were sent on a wild goose chase around Split for the next 1½ hours, finally locating the address about a mile from the station where we had arrived.  In fact, Diocletian’s Palace was 1.06 miles from Guest House Vlado, not 400 yards as advertised on Hotels.com.  The “warm welcome” was an old hag (woman I believe) with a beard sitting in front of a worn out apartment building in a very seedy area.  She was extremely rude and condescending, even when I pointed out all of the inaccuracies of her description and the amenities listed on Hotels.com:

Amenities (all rooms include)

·         Air conditioning
·         Balcony
·         Cable television service
·         Ceiling fan
·         Kitchen
·         Non-smoking only
·         Television
·         Air-conditioned public areas
·         Bar/lounge
·         Garden
·         Grocery/convenience store
·         Number of rooms: 15
·         Restaurant(s) in hotel
·         On-site car rental
·         Room service (24 hours)

This is not a hotel, but several (five according to the old hag) sub-standard properties located in some terrible areas.  There was AC in the room we were shown and a very small balcony.  There was a TV on the floor, but we did not stick around long enough to find out if there was cable.  There was no AC in public areas because there were no public areas.  This is a room on the top floor of a building.  There was no ceiling fan, bar/lounge, garden, grocery/convenience store, car rental agency, room service, or restaurant in the “hotel” because THIS IS NOT A HOTEL.

When we finally got to the room (2½ hours after we had arrived by bus from Dubrovnik), the hag said “Everybody always says thank you so much for this beautiful room, is it not a beautiful room?”  I said, “Actually, no it’s not” and proceeded to tell her about all of the beautiful rooms we had stayed in on our journeys, rarely paying more than 50 Euros for rooms directly on the sea.  She became very rude and threatening at this point, so I told her that we were not going to pay 80 Euros for a room which was falsely advertised and misrepresented on Hotels.com in order to trick me into making the reservation.  She showed me a list of about ten names (with prices ranging from 70 to 130 Euros) which she was expecting from Hotels.com bookings, saying “see how much they are paying, you have a very good price”.  I told her that I refused to be swindled or bullied into staying in (and paying for) a room which was misrepresented in the advertisement, so we told her so and left.  She and her friends followed us for a while as we searched for a place to go (it was now around 7:30 PM), but we finally lost them when we got on a bus for the train station. We were very concerned because of her aggressive nature and did not know what their intentions were.

I immediately bought an international calling card (which cost me another $10) and called Hotels.com’s 24-hour “emergency” number, knowing that they would be very supportive and help us out of our predicament.  Wrong!  After getting cut off the first time, I finally spoke with Melvin (Employee # 5262899) at the Hotels.com toll-free emergency number where they advertise their “RISK FREE BOOKING”.  After explaining our situation to Melvin, he said he was sorry, BUT “there is nothing we can do because we are merely a booking site, a middle man, between the property and you.  If you have a problem with the property, you need to work it out with them”.  I asked him how Guest House Vlado could be allowed to lie and cheat people out of large sums of money and Hotels.com doing nothing about it.  He said he was sorry again, there was nothing he could do, the property could still charge us even though we did not stay there, and was going to hand me off to somebody else to try to find us a room.  I had had enough by this point, hung up the phone, and called my bank in the U.S. to warn them about a possibly fraudulent charge on my credit card.  We went directly to the train station and booked the first train out of Split, headed for a much more civilized country, Slovenia.

I have booked many rooms over the years with Hotels.com and never had a problem until now.  They are apparently unconcerned about their customers and allow fraudulent business practices on their site (Guest House Vlado is still advertizing rooms and tourists are getting ripped-off two days after our complaint to Hotels.com).  I tried to post a review, warning other travelers about Guest House Vlado, but Hotels.com does not allow it, even though I have an account and have been a customer for many years.  They make you wait for an e-mail with a link “a couple days after your stay” to submit a review.  I finally received the email 5 days later (Aug 19th), but when I clicked on the link, the message I received was “Sorry, you are not eligible to submit reviews”.   More and more Hotels.com customers are being ripped-off by Guest Housel Vlado as I write this, even after warning their employee (Melvin) on 8/14/2010.  We will never book a room with Hotels.com again and I urge you to consider doing the same!!!
Boycott Hotels.com until they show some concern for their customers and stand behind the “risk-free” booking they so proudly claim!

“We never charge a cancellation or change fee because it’s just not fair.  At hotels.com, we understand sometimes your plans fall through. Or, perhaps you just decide you’d prefer to spend your vacation lounging on the beach rather than visiting your in-laws.  Hey, it happens. That’s why we never charge you hotels.com change or cancel fees. Other travel sites may charge you a fee to change your plans, but with hotels.com just go online or call 800-2-HOTELS (800-246-8357) to change or cancel your plans. Please note, you may still be subject to change and cancellation fees that the property itself may impose and require us to pass on. So go ahead, be free to change your mind.”

It’s all a lie!  Guest House Vlado is still listed on Hotels.com, Expedia, and other travel sites, so they could obviously care less about the consumers…US!  READ ALL REVIEWS BEFORE BOOKING ON THESE SITES!!!

CombatCritic Gives Guest House Vlado And Hotels.com 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A spot On My ‘WALL OF SHAME”

One Bomb Equates To:
“Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Split, Croatia: Guest House Vlado Is A Scam And Hotels.com Could Care Less!

Key Words: Croatia, guest house, Guest House Vlado, Hotels.com, problems reservation book, RIP-OFF, room, scam, Split, CombatCritic, travel, value, TravelValue, hotel, review

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Yachats, OR: Drift Inn And Try To Find The Front Desk Or Someone Who Cares … Good Luck!


Drift Inn
124 Hwy 101 North
Yachats, OR 97498
Phone: (541) 547-4477
Prices: $$$$
I found the place on Airbnb and the price was right at $50 per night, but the room was the size of a large closet and the reception I received upon arrival and in the restaurant’s bar was inadequate.

There is no reception for the hotel, so I had to find a server in the restaurant to show me to my room. It was small, but semi-functional with a queen size bed (that took up most of the room), a TV and DVD player, and a small table and folding chairs. When a single chair was unfolded, it was impossible to move or store anything in the room except for under the bed (which I did).

The reservation said “bed and breakfast”, but when I inquired with Gretchen, who I assumed was one of the owners/managers, she said “it was a mistake”, but grudgingly giving me a coupon for coffee and a muffin for ONE of the three mornings I was staying there.

The food in the restaurant was overpriced and the bartender (and co-owner), Ernie, was a rude jerk. Required to sit at the bar even though tables were available (because I was alone I guess), I tried to make conversation and ask a question about the local draft beers to Ernie, but he was either too busy or too important to respond. The guy is a bit of an ass**** and the food was mediocre, so I do not understand why they are so busy. Must be Ernie’s jovial personality!

I stopped for a beer on my way back to the room after eating at Heidi’s Italian Dinners (where the food was good and the reception friendly BTW) one evening around 9:15PM and after being there for about a half hour (it was 9:45PM) I asked for a final draft beer before going to my room, but was told rather rudely by Ernie that they closed at 9:30 and it would not be possible. No “last call”, a crappy attitude, and a bar that closes at 9:30pm … what kind of place are they running?

In all, it was a cheap, very small place to stay, but they obviously do not care about hotel (and I use that term loosely) guests, focusing on keeping locals happy and drunk. Yachats was a quiet, lovely, small town and I had much warmer receptions at other bars and restaurants nearby where I spent most of my leisure time and money.

Combat Recommendation: Call Gordon Ramsey and have Hotel Hell come and give you some tips on how to properly run a hotel, restaurant and bar.

CombatCritic Gives Drift Inn 3 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Three Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Yachats, OR: Drift Inn And Try To Find The Front Desk Or Someone Who Cares … Good Luck!

Key Words: Drift Inn, drift, Inn, Airbnb, in, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, hotel, bar, Yachats, Oregon, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: SNAFU = “Situation Normal, All Fucked Up”

Editorial: Airbnb Condones Unprofessional Behavior And Discrimination By Its Hosts


Airbnb
San Francisco, California

I have noticed a recent trend on Airbnb, in Eureka, California at least, where hosts have either canceled after having made a “confirmed” Instant Booking or ignored my requests to reserve a room posted as “available” on their calendar during the applicable dates.

I requested a reservation on two different occasions at Jennifer’s Garden View Room for a upcoming trip to Eureka, changing the dates due to unforeseen circumstances, but never getting a response despite promises to get back to me the “in next day or so”. Here is the transcript of messages:

July 6, 2016

Hi Jennifer! 

I’m thinking of coming to Eureka for at least a week. Your calendar looks clear and I’m finalizing the rest of the details, but want to make sure your place is available and for how long before I make reservations in other towns. 

Look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thanks!

Chris

——–

July 6, 2016 

Hi Chris! 

Nice to hear from you. I will have to check with a couple of possible renters and get back to you in the next day or so. 

Thanks! 

Jennifer 

 ———-

July 9, 2016 

Change of plans out of my control … Please let me know if your place is available (during these dates) or know (of) another option. Not much available in my price range in town during that period. 

Thanks! 

Chris

——- 

July 9, 2016 

Hi Chris. Good to hear from you. I need to check my calendar tomorrow and get back to you. 

Jennifer

—— 

Not one, but six days later and no response from Jennifer, I sent he another message: 

July 15, 2016 

I’ll take the silence as a no. Not having much luck with Eureka hosts. Thanks anyway! 

Chris 

—— 

July 16, 2016

Sorry Chris, I haven’t been able to check my phone or work on your questions. But I think I’ll pass on this one. 

Extremely unprofessional behavior and bordering on discriminatory, considering the fact that the room is posted as available, but she refuses to accept my reservation. Maybe I should change my profile:

About Me 

School: Los Altos High School (Hacienda Heights, California); California State University, Los Angeles, California 

Work: Retired Air Force Officer, Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in the treatment of PTSD with military and Veterans 

Languages: English, Italiano

After being ignored, then refused, by Jennifer, I checked Airbnb for other options in Eureka during those dates and, oddly enough, Jennifer’s Blue Room – Arcata, CA, United States was still available for the exact dates I was requesting. It seemed obvious that Jennifer did not want me staying with her for some reason. Maybe she does not like Veterans because that was all she knew about me based on what is in my profile, that and the countless positive reviews from hosts we have stayed with.

As I mentioned earlier, I made an “Instant Book” reservation (for the very first time) at Terri’s “Serene Views”, a different private room in Eureka, California. Instant Book is a feature that allows you to enter your dates of travel and if a listing’s calendar has no occupancy during that time, you can get an instant “confirmed” reservation instead of waiting for the owner to get back to you. Sometimes it takes days to get a confirmed reservation from some of these ding-a-lings, so when I saw what looked like a nice place at a good price, I cancelled a reservation I had made on another site in the interim and booked with Eureka Terri … BIG MISTAKE!


An hour-and-a-half later, I got a message from Terri:

“Looking forward to meeting you!”

BUT … nearly four hours later, as I was prepping for my trip, I received this surprising, inadequate and unprofessional excuse from Terri:

“My family requests a visit during this time. Hope you find a suitable replacement. Thank you.”

Here is Airbnb’s CONFIRMATION OF MY CANCELLATION:

UNSAT … FUBAR … My week in Eureka was now Tango-Uniform  and I scrambled to find a place to stay in my price range … thanks, for nothing Jennifer, Terri and Airbnb!

I had to pay hundreds of dollars more because a couple of Airbnb Airheads, an unprofessional newbie and a tree hugging liberal, could either not keep their calendars up-to-date or simply discriminate against guests based on the information in our “verified” profiles. It makes Airbnb look bad because they condone this unprofessional behavior and it should not have been allowed. 

What is the purpose of Instant Book if your confirmed reservation can simply be cancelled on a whim by the host? Useless … both Instant Book and Airbnb’s response to the situation … because when I sent them a message communicating my dismay, all I got was an automated response telling me, to paraphrase: “we’re too busy and important to respond to every customer … sorry, you are on your own bub!”

Here is the message I sent to Airbnb, telling them about the discriminatory behavior by their hosts:

I requested a room for these exact dates on two occasions with Jennifer and she told me there was no availability (just yesterday), yet this room in her home is advertised as available during that period. She told me twice that she’d “get back to me” the next day, but failed to contact me after more than 5 days both times, leaving me hanging without a reservation. 

She is the second inconsiderate host in Eureka, having Instant Booked a room at another house (with Terri), only to have (her) cancel four hours later.

Airbnb should police their hosts a little better to prevent unprofessional behavior and/or outright discrimination against Veterans (and many others according to the NY Times and numerous lawsuits). It’s obvious that these “liberal” hosts don’t want a male, conservative, retired, military officer staying with them and that is not just wrong, it’s illegal.

If you don’t do something about it, I will. 

Thanks!

Chris S

I have yet to receive a response from Airbnb, hence, I am writing this editorial. If you would like to read the New York Times article on Airbnb’s condoning of discriminatory behavior by their hosts, you can read more here: New York Times: Discrimination by Airbnb Hosts Is Widespread, Report Says

CombatCritic Gives Discriminatory Jennifer, Cancellation Terri And Airbnb 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On MY WALL OF SHAME … More Bombs Are Better!

 One Bomb Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Editorial: Airbnb Condones Unprofessional Behavior And Discrimination By Its Hosts

Key Words: Airbnb, room, apartment, stay, Jennifer, Terri, Eureka, Arcata, CA, California, accomodation, hotel, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, service, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog, airbnb.com

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = “Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”

Airbnb – Eureka, CA: Terri Dropped The Ball And Airbnb Fumbled For A Safety


Serene Views (Terri)
Eureka, CA, United States
As a frequent traveler and regular Airbnb customer, I made an “Instant Book” reservation for the very first time at Terri’s “Serene Views”, a private room in Eureka, California with this description:

“My place is close to close to beaches, Old Town, Henderson Center, Hiking, Parks, great views, restaurants and dining. You’ll love my place because it is in a beautiful, private, quiet neighborhood overlooking the golf course, tucked into a green belt forest with a comfy bed, private bathroom, use of the kitchen and big private backyard”

It’s “close to close beaches”, must be pretty damn close, anyway … Instant Book is a feature that allows you to enter your dates of travel and if a listing’s calendar has no occupancy during that time, you can get an instant “confirmed” reservation instead of waiting for the owner to get back to you. Sometimes it takes days to get a confirmed reservation from some of these ding-a-lings, so when I saw what looked like a nice place at a good price, I cancelled a reservation I had made on another site and booked with Eureka Terri … BIG MISTAKE!

Here is my confirmed Instant Book reservation:

An hour-and-a-half later, I got a message from Terri:

“Looking forward to meeting you!”

BUT … nearly four hours later, as I was prepping for my trip, I received this surprising and inadequate message from Terri:

“My family requests a visit during this time. Hope you find a suitable replacement. Thank you.”

Here was Airbnb’s CONFIRMATION OF MY CANCELLATION:

UNSAT … FUBAR … My week in Eureka is now Tango-Uniform  and I am scrambling to find a place to stay for a week in my price range … thanks, for nothing Terri and Airbnb!

Now I’m going to have to pay hundreds of dollars more because some Airbnb Airhead, an unprofessional newbie, could not keep her calendar up-to-date. It makes Airbnb look bad because they condone this behavior and should not have been allowed. What is the purpose of Instant Book if your confirmed reservation can simply be cancelled on a whim by the host? Useless … both Instant Book and Airbnb’s response to the situation because when I sent them a message communicating my dismay, all I got was an automated response telling me, to paraphrase: “we’re too busy and important to respond to every customer … sorry, you are on your own bub!”


CombatCritic Gives Eureka Terri And Airbnb 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On MY WALL OF SHAME … More Bombs Are Better!


One Bomb Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Airbnb – Eureka, CA: Terri Dropped The Ball And Airbnb Fumbled For A Safety

Key Words: Airbnb, Airbnb.com, Terri, Eureka, California, room, private, serene, view, accommodation, hotel, reservation, confirmed, cancellation, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, review, Yelp

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = “Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”

Adios TripAdvisor! Sketchy Business Practices And Zero Customer Support Led Me To Delete My Account


TripAdvisor Inc.
400 1st Avenue, Needham, MA 02494
Phone: 781-800-5000

I was, and the operative term is “WAS”, a TripAdvisor “Top Contributor” until recently with hundreds of reviews and photos in many of the 41 countries I have visited. My reviews are honest and as objective as anybody’s opinion can be and I received hundreds of “Helpful” votes for my reviews and photos.

TripAdvisor is very selective about the reviews it posts, unlike Yelp (where I have been “Elite” since 2014), refusing to post reviews willy-nilly based on criteria only they are aware of. I think the operative answer is, if a review does not conform to a “standard” which favors the business that is paying them for advertizing, then it does not conform and is not posted.

For example, I have written several reviews that TripAdvisor refused to post, claiming that the content was “too similar to that found on the internet”. Basically, they were saying that I plagiarized my content from a website, something I have never done nor will I ever do. I may use information from a website or pamphlet as background for readers in a review or copy the ingredients for a recipe from their menu for simplicity’s sake from time to time, but never word for word and I always edit the material into my own words and style. Sometimes they simply refuse to post a review with no reason given as was the case with my review of the Villisca Axe Murder House, having submitted the review numerous times without it being published and without explanation.

TripAdvisor would not exist without the reviews of travelers, so I find it extremely self-serving and deceiving to refuse to post reviews from Top Contributors that do not conform to their paying advertiser’s demands. I put a lot of time and effort into my reviews as evidenced by the 40,000+ visitors to my blog each year and the 40,000+ views of my reviews and photos on Yelp each month. My content is original, honest, and objective as any reviewer can be, so when TripAdvisor recently refused to publish my review of Cataldo’s Italian Restaurant in Brooklyn recently (because the content “was not original” … BULLSHIT!) for the umpteenth time, I deleted my account.

The other reason I deleted my account is because TripAdvisor, as I found out, has zero integrity themselves, allowing people to post reviews whether they have been to a restaurant, hotel, destination, or attraction or not. There is no requirement to having been a customer (as Money Magazine reported in a recent issue – see excerpt from Money Magazine below) to write a review, so businesses can use robots and fake review websites to fluff their ratings, making them relatively useless. I have found during my travels to 41 countries that TripAdvisor may be good for general information about a business or location, but the ratings rarely accurately reflect the experience and now I know why.


Yelp on the other hand uses complex algorithms and your GPS location to ferret out fake reviews. They also have “Elite” members, reviewers like myself that are hand selected by the Community Manager (CM – each major metro has one, a paid Yelp employee) with several face-to-face and virtual interactions taking place between Elites and CMs each year. So if you really want to ensure you are getting a valid rating and honest review, use Yelp and sort reviews or pay attention to those only written by “Elites”.

TripAdvisor does not appreciate the countless number of honest reviewers out there, refusing to interact one-on-one with even Top Contributors. Trying to get an explanation for a decision they make or get an question answered is impossible with TripAdvisor, unlike Yelp where you get an answer from a Yelp employee every time you have a concern or question.

My recommendation: Dump TripAdvisor and download the Yelp App on your phone or tablet. You will be glad you did!

CombatCritic Gives TripAdvisor 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On My “WALL OF SHAME” … More Bombs Are Better!








One Bomb Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Adios TripAdvisor! Sketchy Business Practices And Zero Customer Support Led Me To Delete My Account

Key Words: TripAdvisor, trip, advisor, trip advisor, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, hotel, attraction, destination, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, integrity, reviews

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = “Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”

Philadelphia, PA: Nice, Clean Airbnb Room With Shared Bath in Central Philly … Excellent Value!


Airbnb

Leane’s “A Fabulous Night’s Stay”
Website: Airbnb.com – A Fabulous Night’s Stay

The room and home were very clean and the price reasonable for such a central location near downtown Philadelphia. 

Pros: 
1) Easy walk to the bus or Metro and central enough that you can walk to many places around downtown. 
2) There are markets, pharmacies, shops, and restaurants within a 10-minute walk of the house. 
3) The room is reasonably large and private, having nearly everything needed for a short stay, including a large closet, fold-down desk, and folding chair. 
4) The shared bathroom is very big and has plenty of supplies (hair dryer, shampoo/conditioner, extra toothbrushes, etc.) 
5) The neighborhood is clean, well kept, safe, and the people in the area were friendly. We felt safe and welcome in the neighborhood and were not concerned about our safety, even after dark. 
6) There is a washer and dryer in the home. 
7) The wi-fi is fast, free, reliable and we never had a problem connecting, loading pages, or watching video/movies. 
8) The host stays to herself mostly, does not “hover”, and was helpful when we asked questions about the area. 
9) Coffee, tea, instant hot chocolate and cookies are provided in the dining room downstairs for breakfast. 
10) No TV in the home, so you can spend more time seeing Philadelphia! 

Cons: 
1) Parking on the street near the house was scarce when we arrived, but I managed to find a spot down the block after dropping our bags. 
2) The bedrooms are upstairs and the staircase is narrow, making it tricky to maneuver large bags to the room. 
3) The bathroom is shared among three rooms and access was occasionally a problem. 
4) There is no ice or bottled/filtered water available, so bring/buy your own if you like ice and do not want to drink tap water. 
5) The coffee was nearly gone and the host unavailable when we awoke on our first morning, so I had to figure out where the coffee and filters were stored to prepare more. 
6) The host did not respond to the text and email I sent the day before arrival nor did she answer two phone calls I placed when we first arrived and had difficulty locating a parking place. However, she did answer the door once I found a temporary parking spot to drop our bags and was very responsive thereafter. 
7) No TV in the home if you want to catch up on news or your favorite show(s). 

In summary, Leane is a very personable host, the room an exceptional value, and the home in immaculate condition. A comparable hotel room would cost well over $100, making this Airbnb option an excellent value if visiting central Philadelphia. 

CombatCritic Gives Leane’s “Fabulous Night’s Stay 2” 8 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!
Eight Bombs Equates To:
Leane’s Response:

“Thank you so much for the review. It was lovely to have met you both and I am pleased you would stay again when in Philly. Sorry I missed your call, I have a 100% response rate and take communication very seriously. On occasion I will miss a message because I am physically unable in the moment, but fortunately we spoke within 10 minutes of your call. My response time is within a few minutes if I happen to miss you, which most of my guests will tell you rarely happens. It is so funny you mentioned about bottled water. Before seeing your review I actually went out and stocked the fridge with sparkling water, an assortment of flavored, natural lemonades, orange juice and of course… bottled water. There is also ice, chocolate fudge and vanilla ice cream and fruit bars available in the freezer for guests. You should have stayed one more day! Now folks can make iced coffee and oreo cookie sundaes to beat this Philly heat! Lol! Thanks again for all the feedback and happy travels!”

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Philadelphia, PA: Nice, Clean Airbnb Room With Shared Bath in Central Philly … Excellent Value! 

Key Words: Airbnb, Philadelphia, PA, Leane, Pennsylvania, Philly, room, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, hotel, motel, B&B, bed and breakfast, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: WTFO! =“What-The-Fuck … Over!”

Indianapolis, IN: $85 For This Dump? DO NOT Waste Your Money!


America’s Best Value Inn (East Indianapolis)

7314 E. 21st Street
Indianapolis, IN 46219
Phone: (317) 359-5500
Website: americasbestvalueinn.com

The room was a dump (cigarette burns on the bedspread and around the sink, broken and mismatched furniture) and breakfast was pitiful (coffee and packaged sweet rolls). I’ve stayed in nicer hotels in India while paying less than $5 per night. How they got a 7.5 rating on Booking.com and $85 of my money is beyond me.

The only reason I did not give them a single bomb was because the bed was reasonably comfortable and the sheets appeared to be the only clean thing in the room.

CombatCritic Gives Americas Best Value Inn Indianapolis East 2 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!


Two Bombs Equates To
“Tits Up” 


Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

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Title: Indianapolis, IN: $85 For This Dump? DO NOT Waste Your Money!

Key Words:  America’s Best Value Inn, East Indianapolis, Indiana, INCombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, hotel, accommodation, motel, dump, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Washington DC: Airbnb – Private Suite Near The Capitol


Private Suite Near The Capitol!
1644 Gales Street NE #B
Washington, DC 20002
Host: Kelley And Summer

Prices:
$75 x 6 nights             $450
Cleaning Fees        $10
Airbnb Service Fee    $55
Occupancy Taxes*     $74
Total                       $589


Not sure why we paid $75 per night when the room is advertised at $65, but the room was clean and the price very reasonable for a central location in DC just a 10-15 bus ride from the National Mall. 

Pros: 


1) Easy walk to two buses, the X2 which takes you down H Street to the White House and the X8 which goes down Maryland toward the Capitol, terminating at Union Station (for transfers/Metro).

2) There are Safeway and Aldi supermarkets within a 10-minute walk of the house.

3) The room/bath are private and have nearly everything needed for a short stay (microwave/small fridge/Keurig coffee maker).

4) The neighborhood was relatively clean and people in the area were extremely nice, courteous, and helpful.

5) There are numerous diverse and reasonably priced bars and restaurants along Benning/H Street and within a short walk from the location.

6) There is a washer and dryer in the home (see cons) as well as a laundromat just a block away.

7) The wi-fi was fast, free and reliable. Never had a problem connecting, loading pages, or watching video/movies.

8) We were alone in the home the majority of the time, except for Lola (their sweet chihuahua) who kept us company occasionally, and it was relatively quiet (for a big city).

9) Ample parking on the street near the house and we were provided a city parking pass for our entire stay, never moving the car.

10) No TV

Cons: 


1) No Metro in the area and the X8 bus only runs until a little before 10pm, so plan returns wisely.

2) The room/bath are small and there is no place to put clothes. We had to keep everything in our suitcases, storing one under the bed and one on the sofa, leaving only one space on the sofa and the bed on which to sit. If you have a lot of luggage (more than one or two bags), this may not be a good option for you. 

3) The neighborhood is a bit on the rough side. The homes in the area are somewhat run-down compared to areas near the Mall and we observed some rather “sketchy” characters (I won’t elaborate on what they were probably doing) around the laundromat two blocks away on Benning. A man we met at a bus stop told us that someone was robbed at gunpoint one evening just two blocks from the house. However, we felt relatively safe and welcome in the area, and were not concerned about our safety, even after dark.

4) We were “discouraged” from doing laundry in the home due to complaints of “high water usage” by Airbnb travelers.

5) We were alone the majority of the time, but it would have been nice to meet both of our hosts (we met Summer on day one for a few minutes), get to know them a little (one of the perks of Airbnb), and get some “local flavor” and tidbits about the area and city. 

6) No TV

CombatCritic Gives Kelley And Summer’s Private Suite 7 Bombs Out Of 10

Seven Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Washington DC: Airbnb – Private Suite Near The Capitol

Key Words: Airbnb, Washington DC, Washington, DC, Kelley, Summer, private, suite, Capitol, US, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, hotel, accommodation, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Translation for Civilians: S&G = “Shits & Grins”

Somerset, PA: Quaint B&B And Superb Hospitality Equates To An Excellent Value


Somerset Country Inn

329 N. Center Avenue
Somerset, PA 15501
Phone: (814) 443-1005
Website: somersetcountryinn.com
Prices: $$$$

If traveling in South Central Pennsylvania, just off of I-70/76 in Somerset, Pennsylvania sits the Somerset Country Inn. Run by Dan and Joyce, a wonderful couple who made us feel welcome from the get-go, this five bedroom Victorian home is decorated in period furniture and as clean as can be. 
Dan and Joyce have obviously put a lot of work, money and love into the property and grounds. The yard is perfectly manicured and the inside of the house is nicely decorated and comfortable. They are some of the nicest people we have met in quite some time and enjoyed chatting with them upon arrival and over breakfast the next day.
Our large bedroom had a comfy queen size bed and private bath ($95/night including breakfast). We also had the first tube television I have seen in quite a while, one small detail that needs correcting. There was plenty of room for us, our two large suitcases, and a couple small bags even without a large closet.
We ended up driving to Rizzo’s in Windber, about 25 miles away, for dinner the night of arrival because it was our anniversary and nothing in town looked that appealing. The next morning we awoke to hot coffee, sweet orange juice, fresh fruit, and delicious French toast stuffed with cream cheese and covered with a fresh blueberry sauce.
We then said our farewells to our new friends and headed off into the cool, drizzly spring morning, looking for some covered bridges and the Flight 93 National Memorial about 20 miles away.
CombatCritic Gives The Somerset Country Inn 8 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!


Eight Bombs Equates To:

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Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Somerset, PA: Quaint B&B And Superb Hospitality Equates To An Excellent Value

Key Words: Somerset Country Inn, Somerset, PA, Pennsylvania, country, inn, B&B, bed, and, breakfast, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, hotel, accommodation, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Translation for Civilians: WTFO – “What-The-Fuck … Over!”

100,000+ Visitors … That’s Our Goal!


With 2,867 blog views last month, and growing exponentially daily, we are on-track to have over 100,000+ views in the next year thanks to you!
 
The phenomenal growth and positive karma since my trip to meet His Holiness is a wonderful reminder of the quality, objective, unbiased products we provide, all free of charge, to our readers.
 
We will be expanding the CombatCritic’s TravelValue eZine in the near future, adding city and country guides with tons of information, maps, and links to reviews of local restaurants, hotels, and attractions. 
 
So SUBSCRIBE NOW if you have not already and do not miss another TravelValue review by CombatCritic!
CombatCritic Gives TravelValue eZine 10 Out of 10 Bombs … More Bombs Are Better!

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: 100,000+ Visitors … That’s Our Goal!

Key Words: views, view, visitors, Blogger, blog, subscribe, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, hotel, destination, review, reviews, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Forget Overpriced Florence Hotels, Rent A "Little Florentine Retreat" For Your Best Value And Comfort


Little Florentine Retreat
Via di Pilastri 36, Firenze, Italia
Web: Airbnb
Prices:  €  € € 

Accommodations: Apartment

Via Pilastri and Chiesa Sant’Ambrogio (Far Right)

We spent two months in Florence, one month in July 2012 and the other this past July (2015), staying in apartments both times. The first apartment was small, but nice in the Santa Croce/Sant’Ambrogio area and the cost a very reasonable $1000 a month or a little over $33 per day. It had a small kitchen and bath, living room, loft (open) bedroom, air conditioning, wireless internet, and a clothes washer.

Living Room

We tried to rent the same apartment this year, but the owner was not cooperative, so we found another place in the same area, our favorite, and are we happy we did!

Main Bedroom

This apartment, just around the corner from the Jewish Temple and down the street from Chiesa and Mercato Sant’Ambrogio, is on the top floor of a historic villa. With no elevator, the 54 steps (no elevator) to the apartment became tedious over the month, particularly with heavy bags and 100 degree temperatures practically every day, so we limited are exits and entries as much as possible. After all, who wants to spend most of the day in an apartment when in one of the most beautiful and culturally abundant cities in the world?

Main Bedroom and Wardrobe


Kitchen

The owner greeted us warmly upon arrival, explaining the intricacies of the small, but very functional two-bedroom apartment. One decent size bedroom with queen size bed and wardrobe and one smaller bedroom with a pullout bed, desk, and chair were all we needed for the two of us and the occasional guest. Entering into the small kitchen-living room area, the bedrooms and bath were readily accessible. The small bathroom has a shower and bidet as well as a skylight providing ample natural light. The bedrooms both have air conditioning, but the kitchen, living room, and bath do not. However, with the bedroom AC units on and doors open, which we used sparingly, the main living area’s temperature was tolerable in the 100 degree heat. The apartment has a TV with limited English language broadcasts, fast (cable optic) wireless internet, a dishwasher and clothes washer. The furniture was modern and functional, and everything necessary to live comfortably (pots, pans, dishes, silverware, toaster, microwave, etc.) was provided.

Entry and Kitchen

The apartment has been renovated inside, but still retains some of the charm of a historic building with exposed wood beams and terra cotta tile roof. The floors were also terra cotta tile. There are windows in each room, medium sized in the main bedroom and living room with views of the pallazzo across the street and a small window with no view in the smaller bedroom. The windows have wooden shutters which can be closed to provide darkness for those who may be sensitive to light when sleeping.

There are two supermarkets (Conad and Carrefour) within a five minute walk as well as shops, restaurants, bars, hardware stores or pretty much anything else you could find elsewhere in Italy. Santa Croce is a ten minute walk, and the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, and the train station are just fifteen to 20 minutes away by foot. The best pizzeria in Florence, Il Pizzaiuolo, is close by, serving delicious Neopolitan-style pizza at fairly reasonable prices. Mercato Sant’Ambrogio (open 7:30am – 2:30 pm Monday thru Saturday) is also a short stroll away where you can buy clothing, shoes, housewares, fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, meat, salami, cheese, bread or anything else you might need in the kitchen. They also have a small restaurant where you can get an inexpensive lunch for less than €10 per person. It is much smaller than the touristy Mercato San Lorenzo (a ten minute walk away), but has everything you need, is frequented mostly by locals, and has better prices.

Bathroom


The owner has recently listed the apartment on Airbnb at $106 per night, but if you plan on staying for a length of time, contact the owner to see about getting a reduced rate. As I mentioned earlier, we paid $1100 for the month of July, about 1/3 of the published daily rate, so it is worth a try!

Bedroom 2


At $106 per night, you may find better values in Florence ($75-$80 per night would probably be a more appropriate price), but for the $1100 per month that we paid, this was an exceptional value and I highly recommend it for long-term stays.

 
CombatCritic gives  8 Bombs Out of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!






Read more reviews of Florence restaurants, attractions and day trips as well as ways to save money in CombatCritic’s “Definitive Florence (Italy)” …

Wood Beam and Terra Cotta Celing
View
Main Entry


Read Reviews By CombatCritic:
Yelp – “Elite ’14/’15”
TripAdvisor – “Top Contributor” – Tabelog – “Official Judge (Bronze)
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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Forget Overpriced Florence Hotels, Rent A “Little Florentine Retreat” For Your Best Value And Comfort

Key Words: Florentine, retreat, apartment, hotel, accommodation, Pilastri, Santa Croce, mercato, Sant’Ambrogio, Duomo, restaurant, Airbnb, Italy, Florence, Firenze, travel, value, definitive, review, guide, 

A Bit Dated, But Otherwise Excellent Value If Visiting Montevergine


Hotel Mercurio
Viale San Modestino, 7
83013 Mercogliano, Italy
Prices: $$$$$
Wanting to visit the Santuario di Montevergine, we found a good price on a “Booking” website and made a reservation for a Friday night at just €40 for a double room, including breakfast, at the base of the mountain in the town of Mercogliano and a 20-minute drive to the Abbey of Montevergine.
Mercogliano is a quaint, quiet hillside town about 30 miles (50 kliks) and a world away from Naples, Italy, very close to the famous abbey. Montevergine has been the site of religious orders dating back to the 12th Century and sits almost 5,000 above the base of Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples. It was reportedly the hiding place of the Shroud of Turin during World War II and is home to the massive and celebrated Byzantine painting on wood of the “Madonna” (Blessed Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus).
Hotel Mercurio is clean, but a bit dated in architecture and furnishings, reminiscent of the 1970s. The staff were friendly and very helpful, giving excellent directions and recommendations for meals and shopping. The restaurant next door, Pizzeria La Tavernetta, was outstanding and very reasonably priced, garnering 10 out of 10 “Bombs” by this critic. We were given a nice size room with a balcony and a view of the valley below, nearby Avellino, and the mountains in the distance. The bathroom, on the other hand, was small and a bit cramped, making it somewhat difficult for a moderate sized person to shower and use the toilet.
The only complaints I have were the surprise parking charge that I later found out was hidden in the small print on the booking website’s confirmation and the “indoor pool” which was actually a community pool a half-block’s walk from the hotel. There is no street parking nearby and the lot across the street is free, but only for two hours, so we paid the minimal fee of €5 for the convenience and security of indoor parking under the hotel.

Breakfast was decent, your typical Italian selections, including choice of coffee (cappuccino, caffe latte, espresso, Americano, etc.), yogurts, cereals, juices and water, bread rolls, salami and cheese, and cornetti, a Southern Italian croissant filled with various crèmes and jams. They have a large dining room, but being a beautiful early-June morning we chose to sit on the veranda overlooking the tennis courts, valley, and mountains. Breakfast is served from 7am (although the server was a little late that morning) to 10am, a reasonable period to expect breakfast.
Hotel Mercurio is an excellent value, providing clean accommodations and very good service at a very reasonable price.
CombatCritic Gives Hotel Mercurio 7 Bombs Out Of 10 With Deductions For The Hidden Parking Charge, Community Pool, and Dated Look … More Bombs Are Better!



Read More Reviews By CombatCritic On Yelp And TripAdvisor … And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Title: A Bit Dated, But Otherwise Excellent Value If Visiting Montevergine

Key Words:  Hotel Mercurio, hotel, albergo, Mercurio, Montevergine, abbey, mountain, Avellino, Viale San Modestino, 83013, Mercogliano, Italy, CombatCritic, TravelValue, review

Clean, Safe, Fair Priced and Unlike Anthony Bourdain … Some Reservations


Hotel Heritage Home

1603/4 Main Bazar, Pahar Ganj

Near RK Ashram Metro Station

New Delhi 110055, India 

Phone: +91-987-352-9223

Prices: $$$$$

New Delhi (Paharganj), India: I found Hotel Heritage Home on TripAdvisor and made my reservation on Booking.com after reading numerous good reviews. The hotel is just a few blocks from the Ramakrishna Ashram Marg Metro station (opposite end from the train station) on Main Bazaar and just around the corner from Café Festa. It was easy to spot because of the good signage in front. It has a clean, open, rustic feel with a long entry through automatic glass doors, a small reception along with a travel office, an elevator and a rooftop restaurant. The area around the station is seedy to say the least, but vibrant, energetic, and colorful although filthy as is the case around much of Delhi.

Arriving at 1:30 AM after a 30-hour journey, I decided to defer to the hotel to pick me up at the airport. My driver spoke little English, but was right where I was told he would be with my name on a sign. The drive took about 25 minutes with little traffic due to the early hour. The trip was quoted at 900 Rupees ($14.65), not unfair by American standards but 500 Rupees more than the “standard” (400 Rupee – $6.50) fare from the airport to Delhi. In fact, when I inquired about my return trip to the airport, I was quoted 400 Rupees, so maybe there was a “late arrival surcharge”, an not totally unreasonable assumption.

I booked a “standard” room (1200 Rupees/night – $19.50), but found out the next say I was upgraded to a “deluxe” (normally 1800 Rupees – $29.25). The room was basic with marble floors, a large king bed, flat screen TV and cable, a small wardrobe, mini-sofa and table, and a bathroom that also serves as a shower due to the lack of a curtain or door. The room was fortunately in the back away from the street with no windows, which is not a bad thing considering I am sensitive to light and noise when I sleep and Main Bazaar is extremely loud due to the crowds below and the incessant honking of horns that Delhi drivers seem to thrive on.

The hotel’s travel office is convenient and helpful, but based on the prices I was quoted you may be better off booking your (train/bus/hotel/sightseeing) reservations online or directly with the provider as travel agents (and most other businesses) in this area are notorious for overcharging tourists. I will defer my opinion until I can compare quoted charges with online/counter prices through the respective purveyors.

Their rooftop restaurant is “relatively” quiet and inviting with plants, three parakeet cages, and local furnishings with several tables sitting below their own canopy for shade from the warm Delhi sun. The waiters speak barely passable English, but are attentive, efficient, and friendly. The menu has few beverage options, including bottled water, coffees (30-35 rupees – 55 – 60 cents), teas, shakes and other local drinks as well as vegetarian breakfasts, appetizers, pastas, sandwiches, and several options from India. There is no Diet Coke or other low calorie soft drinks and the coffee adequate, seemingly instant and likely Nescafe. The offerings are cheap by American standards, but not great. In two visits, I tried the egg and potato breakfast (80 Rupees – $1.30), accompanied by two pieces of toast (butter and jam), and a coffee with milk (35 rupees). It was adequate, but an excellent value. For dinner I went with the butter chicken (170 rupees – $2.75 – normally, one of my favorites) and an order of garlic cheese naan (60 Rupees – $1.00). The butter chicken came in a tomato-based sauce that tasted like sweet spaghetti sauce, not the creamy, savory variety I have come to love in restaurants in the U.S. and England, and the naan was slathered in butter/oil, a bit too much for my taste.

My biggest disappointments were the unexplained airport surcharge mentioned earlier, the horrible and nearly non-existent internet, and the phantom (500 Rupee) SIM card charge for my iPhone. The internet seemed to work OK upon my arrival and I was fortunately able to Skype with my wife and let he know I was alive, but it was “down” the next two days (the manager said it was their service provider’s fault) and accessible the next two, but so slow that my browsers gave up trying to load. Google also locked me out of all my email accounts because they thought someone was trying to hack me from India, but I could not access my ten accounts to resolve the issue due to lack of internet. What fun! When I told the manager that I wanted to get a local SIM card for my phone, he gallantly offered to have a colleague help me out. I was quoted 500 Rupees ($8.15 for a SIM card) and 495 Rupees for 2GB of 3G data. The data is an excellent value compared to American standards, but when I went to the Vodaphone store in Connaught Palace the next day because I could only get 1G data service throughout Delhi, I was told that “SIM cards are free, you should not have been charged for one”. Oh well, live and learn!

There are much cheaper (and more expensive) options available in Delhi, but if you are looking for a reasonably priced hotel, centrally located near the Metro in an area not abundant with clean, modern facilities, then Hotel Heritage Home is a good option, but be careful about add-on services as they are likely highly inflated.

CombatCritic Gives Hotel Heritage Home 6 Bombs Out of 10 

… Would Have Been 8 If Not For the Airport Surcharge, Internet Fiasco, and Extraneous SIM Card Charge .. MORE BOMBS ARE BETTER!

Title: Clean, Safe, Fair Priced and Unlike Anthony Bourdain … Some Reservations

Key Words: Hotel Heritage Home. hotel, heritage, home, New Delhi, new, Delhi, metro, train, Main Bazaar, main, bazaar, budget, travel, value, TravelValue, CombatCritic, TripAdvisor, trip, advisor

CombatCritic QandA: (McLeod Ganj, H.P, India) Are there places to stay with kitchenettes?


Q:

las habitaciones tienen kitchenette? (Are there places to stay with kitchenettes?)
CLAUDIAGESELL  
villa gesell

A:
 
There are apartments with kitchens/kitchenettes available, but you’re going to have to look once you get there. Stay in a hotel for a day or two and ask locals. You’ll find something fairly quickly at a low price if you like. Gandhi House (below Pink House) has rooms with kitchenettes, but may require a long-term stay (one month or more. Ask the staff at Mountain Lion Cafe, they may know.  Tell them CombatCritic sent you.  Hope this helps!
 

Title:  McLeod Ganj, H.P, India: Are there places to stay with kitchenettes?

Key Words: McLeod Ganj, mcleod, ganj, kitchenette, kitchen, hotel, apartment, dharmasala, dharamshala, India, travel, doubts, concern, question, answer, CombatCritic. TravelValue, travel, value

Cottage … Maybe, Swiss … Not, But A Fair Hotel Value


Hill Top Swiss Cottage
Swiss Cottage Complex
Rishikesh, India
Prices: $$$$$
 
View of Ganges River Valley From Room
Hilltop Swiss Cottage sits in its own small self-contained village atop the hills of the High Bank of Rishikesh’s Tapovan area and a little over 1 kilometer from Laxman (Lacksman) Jhula (bridge), the northern most bridge over the Ganges (Ganga) River in town. The “Swiss Cottage” area has seven or eight hotels and guest houses, an equal number of restaurants (Raasta and Nirvana Cafés, Swiss Garden, and Oasis to name a few), a couple of small markets, a laundry, travel agancies, yoga studios, and massage parlors, so you never even have to leave the hill if you desire. It is a relatively quiet area compared to town, but is an easy walk to restaurants, the river, or numerous ashrams and other attractions.
There are cheaper options even within the Swiss Cottage compound (200 rupees/$3.20 per night and up), but I had a nice, large room with a view of the river valley below, flat screen TV with cable (no CNN or BBC), relatively fast Wi-Fi, and a bath with Western toilet, tub, and a great shower with plenty of hot water for 800 rupees ($13) per night.
The staff are not overly friendly and I got the “evil eye” from numerous locals during my stay, but otherwise I would say westerners are well “tolerated”, unless you are an attractive female in which case you are given a great deal of (unwanted) attention.
Their restaurant, The Oasis, was empty every time I walked by and other than a pot of coffee and an omelet my first morning I steared clear because the place was absolutely freezing. There were also a couple of characters there, one Dutch (I believe) and the other appeared to be from the Middle East, that were odd to say the least. The Dutch guy tried to whistle tunes with no melody and went off on a couple of Indian men for no apparent reason and the other guy kept whispering something to me I could not undertsand while looking at me like he wanted to slit my throat. Unnerving, so I ate breakfast at Raasta Café from that point forward.
They have their own yoga studio and meditation hall, but when I stopped by at the appointed times on my first morning, I had apparently awoken the instructor who appeared at the door disheveled from sleep and not ready for a class as advertized. Nothing opens before 8am in the compound, so if you are an early riser be prepared to keep yourself occupied until then. The room did have a small fridge and a boiler (kettle) for hot water, so you can buy some coffee, tea, milk, or soft drinks to have in the room (no alcohol because Rishikesh is a “dry” town).
Being December and in the foothills, Rishikesh is chilly when the sun goes down and the room (and everywhere else for that matter, because India apprently has not figured out central heat yet) was freezing. When I booked the room on Booking.com I clearly saw “heater” advertized in the room, but when I arrived there was none to be found. I asked the manager and he told me that I had reserved the “standard” room without  heat, but when I checked my reservation again I was in-fact correct and he quickly brought me a heater, a small space heater that barely kept the room warm.
CombatCritic Gives Hill Top Swiss Cottage 6 Bombs Out Of 10 … Bombs Are Good!
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Title: Cottage Maybe, Swiss It Is Not, But A Decent Hotel Value

Key Words: Hill Top Swiss Cottage, hilltop, Swiss, cottage, Tapovan, Laxman Jhula, laxman, lacksman, jhula, jhula, Rishikesh, India, hotel, review, Raasta, Nirvana, CombatCritic, TravelValue, YouTube, Facebook

You Will Not Find A Better Accommodation Value In Goa … Casa Praia Is THE BOMB!


Candolim Beach

Casa Praia

Vaddy, Candolim, 
Bardez, Goa, 403515, India
+91-997-044-4666
Prices: $$$$$

With a dearth of available options over the New Year 2015 holiday in Goa, a last minute cancellation gave us an opportunity to book a room at Casa Praia (4,000 rupees/$64 per night), a relative bargain at a property with an unprecedented 9.9 rating on Booking.com and 5-star rating on TripAdvisor.  I jumped on it and am I glad I did!


4,000 rupees per night will get you a 3 or 4-star hotel in many places in India, but Goa is unlike anywhere else in India thanks to supply and demand, and hotels and taxis are at least triple the price of anywhere else I have been (Dharamsala, Rishikesh, New Delhi, Jaipur, Pushkar, Cochin, Varkala). But this is Goa, Candolim Beach in particular, a beachside party town packed to the gills with Russians and Brits ready to party, and just two budget-minded Americans that I knew of … my wife and I.

Paul (or “Hardip” as he likes to be called) and Sophia, the owners and hosts of Casa Praia, greeted us by email immmediately after our booking and offered to send a taxi to meet us at the airport at the standard government rate of 1,100 rupees ($17.80), so we took them up on it as their property is an hour’s drive from the airport and the hotel/guesthouse is somewhat secluded and not easy to find. Our driver met us outside the terminal as promised with sign in hand and we proceeded to Casa Praia.

Being early evening on New Year’s Eve, Hardip, Sophia, and some other British guests (Brits) were sitting around the pool enjoying a beverage and chatting, and after showing us to our room we were invited to join in the celebration. We enjoyed a wonderful night of conversation and commaraderie with our new friends and former rivals, the Brits plus one Swede (Sophia).
Our room was large, well appointed, and very tastefully decorated with three sets of French doors, one opening onto the garden with the pool not far away. The stone tile floors were immaculate, the queen size bed had fresh sheets, plenty of pillows, and a mosquito net tasefully draped near the headboard and there was plenty of storage space for our clothes and personal belongings. A decent size flat screen TV with cable was provided, along with air conditioner and ceiling fans (2), a small refrigerator, sink, cups, plates, bowls, cutlery, and plenty of filtered water throughout our stay thanks to Raja, a friendly, attentive young Goan that works on the property. The bathroom large, it had all the necessities, including toilet paper (a rarity in Indian hotels), and plenty of hot water thanks to the solar panels on the roof. I have to say that although somewhat expensive by Indian standards, it was the nicest $64 room I have ever stayed in.


Breakfast is included and Sophia and her cook, Jessica, cheerfully greeted us each morning with a choice of yogurt (curd) with granola and fruit (bananas and pomegranite were in season while we were there), oatmeal (porridge to the Brits) with accompaniments, or eggs (any style – I liked the cheese and onion omelete with green chilies), along with fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee or tea, and toast with butter and jam (get some peanut butter for the Americans Hardip – Delphino’s has a nice locally made butter for 250 rupees per jar). Seriuosly, the breakfasts were marvelous, the food fresh and hot, and we never walked away hungry like some places we have stayed.

The property has four buildings, two large two-story structures with four guest rooms each, a small kitchen building, and the Hardip residence where Paul, Sophia, and their two beautiful (and very well behaved) children, along with Feni their sweet cat, live. The grounds are lush and well maintained with a medium size pool (relatively new), plenty of stone tile deck space, lounges, tables, umbrellas, and chairs and is surrounded by a six-foot concrete wall with locked gates for added privacy and security.

Casa Praia sits midway between Candolim Beach (250 meters) and the main beach road (150 meters) in Candolim (not sure if the road has another name), so you can exit one gate and walk to the beach for a day of sun, the Arabian sea and lounge chairs, umbrellas, drinks, and food at one of the countless beach “shacks” along the coast (the place we went to had a 400 rupee/$6.40 minimum, but all the comforts were included if you spent that much, a relative bargain) or through the other gate for a stroll into town.


There are an overwhelming number of restaurants, bars, and shopping options within a stones throw of Casa Praia, so you do not have to venture far unless you are so inspired. We ate at Floyd’s our first day and were unimpressed, The Mango Grove our second and were equally unenthused, but on our third and fourth days we found The Bistro, which was a continental delight, and Tuscany Gardens, an Italian restaurant with nice, relatively authentic food. Please click on the links above to read my full reviews.

And if you staying over a Saturday night, you must go the the Saturday Market, a 20-minute ride (350 rupees for a Tuk-Tuk/500 rupees for a taxi) away where you will find an international food court with numerous options and a maze of countless stalls selling everything from Kashmiri scarves and hand painted boxes to local and name-label clothing, jewlery, and everything in between.

Old Goa is also worth a visit, so hire Garesh, one of the few “Goan” taxi drivers in town, and a very honest and warm person (his English is very good too, another rarity in India where one of the National languages is English BTW) to take you there with a stop by the two local forts on the way back. Old Goa has some nice, old Portuguese (Catholic) churches, one being the Basilica of Bom Jesus where Saint Francis di Xavier (their patron saint whom is encased in a glass casket and brought out for his festival which is only held every ten years – we were there during the festival, but opted not to atttend because of the reported massive crowds and traffic jams), Se’ Cathedral (a large, but unispiring church), Saint Augustine (a Portuguese Catholic church in ruins, but well worth a visit), and Saint Francis Church (adjacent to Se’ Cathedral, smaller, but much more ornate) which has an archeological museum attached (closed on Fridays, the day we were there of course).  Fort Aguada and its lighthouse are also worth a visit, but are not overly impressive, and Reis Magos Fort, a smaller, more attractive option (50 rupees entry, includes van ride to the top) with beautiful views of the river, the Arabian sea, and the cliffs below.  We paid 1,200 rupees/$19 for the six-hour tour (taxi), a bargain by Goa standards, so just ask Hardip to contact Garesh or contact him directly at +91-901-194-8499 if you need a lift anywhere.

Saturday Night Market

On a final note, I was ill during our stay and realizing I had become dehydrated and needing medical attention, Sophia and Hardip jumped to attention and without hesitation rushed me to the local hospital, a large clinic with beds actually, where I was given IV fluids and kept overnight. Hardip returned later that night to drive to five pharmacies to find the potasium I needed (the hospital did not have any), and again the next morning (twice) to pick my wife and I up (she had spent the night in the bed next to me) and deliver us back to the hotel where I spent the next few days recovering. We also needed to extend our stay by three days, and good thing we did because of the unforeseen emergency, so Hardip shifted some bookings (we basically displaced Sophia’s older daughter, who was visiting from Scotland, we found out later … you’re a gem Sophia!) so we could remain the in the same room even though they were “fully booked”. All I can say to Paul and Sophia is “thank you for your unparalleled compassion, extreme kindness, and oustanding hospitality”.


Without a doubt, Casa Praia is “THE BOMB” and deserving of my highest rating, rarely bestowed on a hotel or restaurant …
CombatCritic Gives Casa Praia The Maximum … 10 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!



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Title: You Will Not Find A Better Accommodation Value In Goa … Casa Praia Is THE BOMB!

Key Words: Casa Praia, casa, Praia, hotel, guesthouse, guest, house, Candolim, beach, Goa, Bardez, India, Arabain Sea, sea, ocean, CombatCritic, review, TravelValue, travel, value

CombatCritic Q&A: "Hill Top Swiss Cottage, Rishikesh"


Hill top Swiss cottage, rishikesh
Has anyone stayed at Hill Top Swiss Cottage? We are staying there for the whole of March 2015. I am wondering what the access is like as it looks very high up.

Helen T. (Nottingham, England, UK)

———————————-

15 December 2014, 09:27

Re: Hill top Swiss cottage, rishikesh

I’ve been staying for 2 of 7 nights and the property seems a good value. Rooms are big and bright, internet fast by Indian standards. 

It is a bit isolated from the Ganges (Ganga) and town, but offers a quiet environment and a few shops, restaurants, yoga/meditation/massage options.  I have bad knees, but the walk to the river takes only about 15-20 minutes and is not a bad climb up or down.

There is a wonderful new Italian restaurant a short walk away, A Tavola con Te (atavolaconte on TripAdvisor) owned by an Italian couple from Milan that make wood-oven pizzas, pastas and desserts. 

Let me know if you have any questions.

Chris S.
aka CombatCritic

Key Words: CombatCritic, question, answer, TripAdvisor, trip, advisor, TravelValue, travel, value, questions, and, answers, Rishikesh, Hilltop, hill, top, Swiss, cottage, hotel, guest, house, India








Stairway To Heaven … NOT!


Pink House Hotel
Jogiwara Road – Below and Across From Yongling School
McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, H.P., India
Prices: $$$$$

Balcony View – Room 204

Javid, the owner of Pink House, was very helpful and friendly, answering questions about my reservation and upcoming visit to Dharamsala. He arranged for a ride from the airport in Gogol for 700 rupees ($11.35) upon arrival, which I thought was a decent price by US standards for a 10-mile taxi ride. Considering that the taxi from my hotel in Delhi (where everything is more expensive than in Dharamsala) to the airport was just 400 rupees ($6.50 for a 13-mile journey), it turned out not to be such a great deal after all. The driver dropped me on the street and pointed to some extremely long, very steep, dangerous looking stairs in varying degrees of disrepair (note to self #1 … is this the only access point?”) and said “look for the sign”.

Second Floor Room (Corner – Room 204)
The hotel is nice enough, not swank and not a dive, with many rooms having balconies and views of the foothills and Himalayas. Javid was updating many of the rooms during my stay, making them more comfortable, but also causing noise problems and clutter while the repairs were being made. The rooms have differing views depending on which direction you are facing and which floor you are on (1st floor rooms have poor views), but all have cable TVs (old CRTs), balconies, large beds, cabinet (no closet or wardrobe), bath with western-style toilet, sink, and a shower with no enclosure (your bathroom is your shower in India), but no heating system in sight (note to self #2 … “it seems awful chilly in here”). There is also Wi-Fi throughout the hotel (note to self #3 … “I hope the Wi-Fi isn’t as slow as it was in Delhi!”), with a router on each floor, so the signal is strong everywhere … WOO-HOO!
Balcony
The first few days I had breakfast at the “rooftop café”, which is just barely that, a roof with a couple plastic tables and chairs, no roof, no cover, and no heat on cold November mornings. Still recovering from jet lag, I was up early each morning watching the gorgeous sunrises and noticed that the servers first arrived to take orders at varying hours, sometimes 7:30 am, other times well after 8:00 am (note to self #4 … “I wonder what time they start serving breakfast?”). The Tibetan bread, which became my morning staple, with locally made peanut butter (70 rupees/$1.15) was tasty and a pot of milk coffee (warm milk with varying degrees of instant coffee added) set me back another 80 rupees/$1.30, so $2.50 seemed fair enough (note to self #5) for a decent, not great breakfast.

Steps – View From Street (Top)
I quickly became exhausted by and very concerned (see note to self #1) about the hundreds of stairs from Pink House up to Jogiwara Road. Being a disabled Veteran with very bad knees and back, the stairs, which are extremely dangerous by day and treacherous by night (very little light), vary widely in height, have loose or missing rocks and bricks (many steps are crumbling), and many are constantly soaked with the water escaping from the numerous pipes crisscrossing the steps (another tripping hazard). I stumbled on several occasions due to varying heights and uneven surfaces, twisting my knee on one occasion and nearly tumbling head over heel down the steep incline on a few others. Having made a commitment to stay long-term (I was visiting for 7 weeks and received a small discount on my room), I decided to stick it out until I felt my health or life was in danger.
Pink House staff are very friendly and helpful most of the time. Rooms can be cleaned if you make the journey to floor number 4 to drop off your key in the morning and inexpensive laundry services are also available ($1.00 to $2.50 for a few shirts, pants, socks, and undies), dropping items off (again on the 4th floor) in the morning and picking them up the same evening.
Steps – View From Bottom
Being November and at an altitude of over 5,750 feet (1,750 meters), days were very comfortable when in the sun (plentiful this time of year) and a bit chilly in the shade, but nights dipped into the 30s and 40s and the rooms quickly became very cold (see note to self #2). In-fact, I had not seen a heater anywhere in India since my arrival, including restaurants, other businesses, and hotels, which may not have been an issue in Delhi, but made for some mildly uncomfortable experiences in the mountains. After a nearly two weeks of freezing my bum off in the middle of the night when I had to use the toilet (loo) and in the morning, I asked about the possibility of getting a heater in my room, but was told “you have two blankets don’t you?”. I decided to suffer a little rather than make an issue out of it because the steps were making it likely I would not be there much longer anyway.

The Wi-Fi signals were great due to the routers on each floor, but unfortunately the internet was extremely slow (note to self #3). Being an avid blogger, TripAdvisor “Top Contributor”, and wanting to upload reviews and photos, as well as keep in contact with my family and friends via Skype and Facetime, the Wi-Fi was woefully inadequate. Beside the numerous and frequent power outages in McLeod Ganj which resulted in no Wi-Fi (or TV), the Wi-Fi quickly became an issue due to the inordinate amount of time it took to do anything and the frustration caused by Skype and Facetime calls home where I could only hear every fifth word being said.

Again, after the first few days, I decided to move indoors to the “relative” warmth of my room for breakfast, not knowing when the servers would arrive on the roof each morning (note to self #4). I asked when breakfast was available each morning and was told 7:30 am, but I found that the staff in general do not seem to awake early because when I called at 7:30 sharp each morning I either spoke to someone who had obviously been awakened by my call (staff sleep in the reception office, which is not on the ground floor, but on the 4th floor next to the rooftop café) or someone else who barely spoke English. Most of the time, my breakfast arrived within 15 minutes and the young men delivering it were friendly and helpful. However, on a few occasions my order did not arrive after 45 minutes to an hour, causing frustration and late arrival to my 9:00 am (not including the nearly 30 minute walk UP THE HUNDREDS OF STEPS and down Jogiwara Road from McLeod Ganj) Buddhist Philosophy class at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archive. I also inquired about an early breakfast during the Dalai Lama’s teachings (November 11-13 2014 – 8am – 12pm daily with arrival NLT 7:30am), but was told “the kitchen opens at 7:30am” … maybe), so I ordered my breakfast the night before and drank cold coffee and ate stale Tibetan bread for three days. After 20 years in the Air Force, I have experienced worse conditions.
I never ate anything at Pink House other than breakfast because I avoided navigating the dreaded steps except for a trip up each morning and one down each night. The menu was extensive and from what I saw the food looked pretty good, but the value is questionable based on my breakfast costs and comparable meals in town. Having paid $2.50 for a small pot of weak coffee, a piece of local bread that can be purchased for 10 rupees (16 cents) in town, and a tablespoon of peanut butter, in comparison to the wonderful $3.00 dinners I regularly ate, the food did not seem like such a great value after all.
After 3 weeks, I had enough of the treacherous stairs, painful knees, and risk to my existence on Earth, the widely varying and undependable breakfast hours (they probably got tired of me waking them up every morning at 7:30), and the very slow Wi-Fi, so I decided to find a place closer to the road, the Tibetan Library, town, and my yoga instructor … mostly the deadly stairs … finding a comparable room and view at less than half of the price (333 rupees per night or $5.35), being centrally located between destinations WITH NO STEPS!
At first glance and in terms of western standards and prices, Pink House appears to be an exceptional value at $10-$20 per night, but comparatively speaking in McLeod Ganj and Dharamsala, that did not necessarily turn out to be the case. The longer I stayed in the area and the more people I spoke to, the more I realized that Pink House was one of the more expensive and isolated places in town. A Buddhist monk friend paid 2,00o rupees per month ($32.00) for his centrally located room, a basic but clean room with shared bath, and another was paying 300 rupees ($4.85) per night for a double room at a monastery just off the main market with a private bath, so $15 per night was quite expensive in this neck of the woods.
Like Jessica1100 (TripAdvisor), my 880 rupee ($14) deposit was not applied to my bill at check-out even though it was meticulously itemized down to the rupee, taking close to 20 minutes even though I told them I would be checking out that morning. I am not saying that it was done intentionally, but considering that they do not accept reservations without a deposit equaling one night’s stay, it should be a standard inclusion in the billing process.
If Pink House where in the U.S., Europe, Japan, or Korea (among other more expensive destinations), they would get 8 or 9 Bombs Out Of 10. But in terms of other local (India in general, Dharamsala in particular) establishments, on which I base my “VALUE” determinations, Pink House is very middle of the road. Therefore, if you have great knees, do not mind the cold or paying a bit extra for the convenience of eating in your room, and enjoy beautiful views, fair service, and in-house laundry services, then Pink House is a fair choice. But be warned, there are better values out there, particularly for those visiting for extended periods where significant discounts of 50% to 70% can be had over nightly lodging prices … and make sure your deposit is applied to your bill!

CombatCritic Gives Pink House Hotel 4 Bombs Out Of 10Deductions for Dangerous Stairs, Slow Internet, Varying Restaurant Hours, No Heat, and Missing Deposit … More Bombs Are Better









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Key Words: Pink House Hotel, pink, house, hotel, rooftop, café, menu, wi-fi, internet, laundry, McLeod Ganj, mcleod, ganj, Dharamsala, Dharamshala, India, travel, value, Yongling

Marsana Wellness in Rincón, Puerto Rico Is Neither A Beachhouse Nor A Spa


“Marsana Wellness Beachhouse and Spa” is neither a spa nor a beach house, it is a large house with four guest rooms a couple blocks from a beach with hardly any sand and with an empty hot tub.

When we arrived after having informed the owner of our exact arrival time, his daughter Marina met us at the gate and asked “can I help you”, not in a friendly manner but as if we did not belong in the neighborhood. Once I told her we were guests, she was very friendly and escorted us to our room. We did not see her again for the next 7 days although it would have been nice to get some local information.

The room was nice, medium in size with a queen size bed, pull out futon-type sofa, a small fridge, wardrobe, TV with cable, and an air conditioning unit. Our room faced the back yard and had a large terrace with a table, two chairs, and a hammock and where we spent a majority of our time. The small bathroom was functional with a large tile shower, toilet and vanity.

Marina’s brother Yuri was around more than she was, doing odd jobs around the house and although friendly enough, never stopped to talk. The house is a work in progress and has a large terrace taking up 2/3 of the roof where there are tables, chairs, and the empty hot tub. The stars at night were fantastic as Rincón is a fairly small town far away from the bright city lights.

There are plenty of restaurants in the area, including Das Alpen Café, a German and Italian restaurant in the center of Rincón with small portions and large prices, El Tapatio, a good, inexpensive Mexican restaurant just north of the house on PR-115 going toward Aguada, and several bakeries, the best being Panaderia Eileen just a block south on 115 where you can get wonderful pastries ($1 each), cheap sandwiches ($2.00-$3.75), and assorted drinks and beer. The bakeries in Puerto Rico have a little bit of everything, including a hot table with carne guisada (beef stew – $2), ribs, chicken, rice, beans, and other local foods. They are a great place to pick up a quick lunch or take some food home for dinner and many have tables where you can eat your toasted sandwich or carne guisada.

Being winter, the winds blew from the East most of the three weeks we were in Puerto Rico, making for poor snorkeling and challenging swimming. The seas around Rincón were rough most of the week we were there, so we found a very nice beach about 10 miles north in Aguadilla called Crash Boat Beach. Crash Boat is clean, has nice sand, a shallow, sandy bottom, and because it faces southwest it avoids the swells and large waves from the north, making for clear water and good snorkeling. There is a bar in the parking lot with cheap beer (Medalla – $1.50) and drinks (piña colada – $4), and there are a few food vendors adjacent in the lot with grilled chicken, pizza, frappes and other snacks. There is not a reef in the area and few rocks, but the visibility was 40-50 feet and there were occasional visits by small schools of fish and a few large Jacks from time to time.

The only snorkeling beach in Rincón at this time of year was Balneario Rincón, a small beach just north of town of Route 430 with a reef that can be accessed from the small sandy beach on the north end past the boat ramp. Steps Beach, named after the set of concrete steps precariously perched on the reef, is reportedly the best snorkeling beach in the area and is quite beautiful, but the water was inaccessible during our stay due to the rough seas and lack of a sandy bottom, only reef. We saw Sandy Beach and Pools Beach, a mile or two north of Steps, but although quite pretty, neither were good for anything but sunbathing because they face north and water was rough.

The description of the property on AirBnB was deceiving because there are no spa services available, no meals or breakfast as advertised, and parking is a challenge with just two spaces available (unsecured) for at least four rooms. The “Jacuzzi” was empty and there are no doctors on staff. The highlight of the week were their four dogs who kept us company and were the sweetest they could be. If you do not like or are afraid of dogs, this is not the place for you. There is an outdoor kitchen for guests to use with few plates, utensils, or pots/pans, so cooking would prove challenging if so inclined. But at $45 a night the room was a decent value, but nothing special. I saw that they raised their rates to $60 since we booked and believe you can find better value elsewhere in the area, possibly on the ocean or with a sea view.

CombatCritic Gives Marsana Wellness Beachhouse and Spa 6 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBAS ARE BUENAS!


PostScript: AirBnB asks guests to review the properties where they stay as well as providing feedback to the host. This is the feedback I provided to Dr. Michael Morales, our host, who was not on the property during the week we stayed at “Marsana Wellness Beachhouse and Spa”:

“We enjoyed our stay, especially your sweet, wonderful dogs. We were pleased overall with the accommodations, but felt your description was misleading. As a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, honesty and integrity are very important to me and I do not like being misled. My decision to stay at your “beachhouse and spa” was partially influenced by your description:

“mountain-beach views” 

– I could barely see the water from the roof, not a beach in sight 

“organic natural macrobiotic and vegan cuisine” 

– Yuri and Marina may be eating it, but we were never told about it

“wholistic therapies, treatments, classes” 

– Where, when? Why were we not informed of these options and who was leading them? 

“natural foods catering, meals available” 

– Again, we were not informed of this option 

“concierge services, natural beauty care treatments” 

– If you call the 5 minutes Marina spent with us the evening we arrived “concierge services”, that is misleading 

“2 naturapathic doctors on site” 

– Are Yuri and Marina naturopathic doctors? 

“acupuncturists, herbalist, nutritionist, physical therapist ,massage therapist, cooking classes and surfboards available” 

– Available where? 

“we have installed our outdoor Jacuzzi” 

– True, but it was empty the entire time we were there and by the rust on the metal, it looks like it probably does not work 

My recommendation is to be more honest in your description or actually provide the options you say you have. My 6 Out of 10 rating is very generous and strictly based on the value of what we got for what we paid ($45 a night for a basic room) and I did not deduct for the deceiving description. 

Again, we were not displeased with our stay, only the misleading description. 

As a travel critic I have the duty to report honestly and accurately to my readers and followers and would be doing them a disservice if I omitted the facts I described above. Because this review will be published  on AirBnB and my blog, http://www.CombatCritic.com, I would be remiss if I were not completely honest. I hope you understand. 

Finally, I think you should consider reducing your rate to the $50 per night range as your new $60 rate is probably more than the room is worth. 

Thanks for having us!”

Key Words: Marsana, wellness, beachhouse, spa, AirBnB, hotel, room, beach, Rincón, Aguada, PR, 115, Puerto Rico, puerto, rico, CombatCritic, combat, critic, TravelValue, travel, value 

Punta Santiago Apartment: Spacious, Friendly, And A Bit Noisy Dog Lover’s Delight


Punta Santiago Apartment: Spacious, Friendly, And A Bit Noisy Dog Lover’s Delight


First of all, Bonnie, Tony, and the boys and girls are a delight, wonderful human beings and dogies (all 10) who made our stay in Punta Santiago comfortable and caring … THANK YOU ALL!


Found on AirBnB at $75 a night, the apartment was the most expensive of the three we reserved during our 3-week stay, but it is an entire private one-bedroom/one-bath apartment with a kitchen/dining room, living room, and a HUGE terrace just a few blocks from the beach.


Furnishings are basic and somewhat dated, but in working order with the exception of the stove which we were unable to use. There are AC units in the bedroom and living room and were sufficient in providing cool sleeping conditions. The apartment gets plenty of air from trade winds, so the AC really is not necessary much of the time. There is an older color TV with cable in the living room (be sure to ask Tony how to get rid of the “blue” screen) and the wireless internet worked well the entire week we were there.


There is a market down the street with most everything you need at reasonable prices and several small restaurants (see Taco Rico review) and bars just across the street, so food is abundant. Playa Naguabo (ten minute drive North) has several seaside restaurants including Waterfront Cantina and an outdoor cafe with three food stalls that serves fresh fish to hundreds at a time arriving on busses.

The towns of Humacao and Fajardo are close by, so restaurants are abundant and the islands of Vieques and Culebra are a little over an hour away by ferry from Fajardo. The Humacao Nature Reserve is less than a 10-minute drive, offering trails, a secluded beach, wildlife, and mangrove swamps.

The primary drawback as other guests have mentioned is the noise at night from the bar across the street, blaring music at decibles in the hundreds as well as the occasional vehicles with custom stereo blaring music at all hours of the day and night running up and down PR-3 adjacent to the house. Bring earplugs and/or a white noise machine as we did and unless you are a very light sleeper, you should not have any problems.

If you love dogs, the sea, friendly people, and life in a relatively quiet fishing village, you will love the time you stay with Bonnie and Tony in Punta Santiago.

CombatCritic Gives Bonnie and Tony’s Punta Santiago Apartment 7 Out of 1o Bombs … BOMBAS ARE BUENAS!

Key Words: Bonnie, Tony, Antonio, Punta Santiago, AirBnB, punta, santiago, Humacao, Puerto Rico, puerto rico, travel, value, CombatCritic, TravelValue, apartment, room, hotel

Luxury? Inn and Suites – Silverthorne, Colorado



The cheapest, I didn’t say “cheap”, lodging in Keystone Resort (Colorado) area is the Luxury Inn and Suites. Located in Silverthorne, Colorado just north of I-70 and one block east of the main drag, the hotel/motel is conveniently located near shops, restaurants, markets, and more.

I paid $69 weekday and $90 weekend on Hotwire, but when I got to the hotel they were advertising $54.95 weekday rates. My payment to Hotwire came to $320 plus tax for four nights, which seems a bit high for a 1 STAR property, but the rooms are clean with a small fridge and microwave, AC, TV with HBO, small indoor pool with Jacuzzi, and continental breakfast included. Even though I paid an average of $80 per night, a value in this overpriced tourist area, I do not appreciate paying $15 more than the advertised rate people simply walking in off the street pay. Hotwire.com should be ashamed of themselves!

Breakfast is “OK”, with hot coffee, bagels, English muffins, and donuts still in the plastic box from the supermarket … classy!  The staff are not very friendly, but helpful when pressed into action.  They seem to care less that you exist, much less being a breathing human being and “valued” customer? Checkout is at 10:00 AM, so do not plan on sleeping in.  I was lucky enough to talk the manager (owner?) into an 11:30 AM checkout on my last day, but it took some persistence and smooth talking to get him to grudgingly agree.

The rooms are moderate in size and fairly clean, although the tile in the bathroom was cracked and some of the furniture looked as though it was purchased at the local Goodwill. Wireless internet is free, but slower than molasses in January…aargh, aargh. The “king” bed I was supposed to sleep in was a few testicles short of kingliness, looking more like a “queen” to me (no disrespect intended to my LGBT audience). It was fairly comfortable nonetheless.
The indoor pool was small, yet clean, with a decent size Jacuzzi that had whirlpool jets with a prostate problem…not a very forceful stream if you know what I mean. 

Exterior doors are open all night with no supervision, so if you are looking for security, keep on looking!

CombatCritic gives the unluxurious Luxury Inn and Suites 4 OUT OF 10 BOMBS for travel value…and they only did that well because everything else is a rip-off in the holiday destination of Keystone (Silverthorne/Dillon/Frisco), Colorado. 

Read more travel, hotel, restaurant reviews … AND MORE on my blog:


CombatCritic … OUT!

Key Words: accomodations, basic, breakfast, clean, Colorado, convenient, disrepair, hotel, inn, internet, luxury, luxury inn and suites, motel, overpriced, security, Silverthorne, suites, 

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