We have asked Michele Robson of Turning Left for Less to share her thoughts with us about her love for travel and hotels, and Amberlair, of course. And before you ask, a #BohoLover is a Boutique Hotel lover … just like us!
How do you choose a hotel when you travel?
I am pretty detailed in my hotel research before making a decision. As I usually spend quite a lot of money on a hotel, I like to make sure I am getting my money’s worth. When I am looking for a hotel, I usually start by narrowing down a pretty specific area that I want to stay in based on nearby restaurants, attractions and nightlife. My next step involves looking at reviews by the specific destination. I look at photos a lot as a picture often tells a lot when taken by an actual guest. I always look for a bath as well as a shower and a pool or spa is usually a must too. Once I have narrowed it down to 3 or so hotels, I will then look at how to get the best deal on price before making my final decision.
If you had to choose 3, which were the most special (boutique) hotels you have ever stayed at and what made them so special?
It is a tough question as I have been lucky enough to stay in lots of fabulous hotels, but if pushed I would chose The Sanchaya in Bintan, Indonesia, Lympstone Manor in Devon, UK and the Four Seasons in Oahu, Hawaii.
The overriding factor in all of them was service and personalisation. The Sanchaya is in a fairly isolated beach location in a magnificent colonial style house where you feel like you could have stepped back in time. Everything is personalised and you can even chose not to sign for anything in the hotel and just get a bill at the end. At the pool, hampers are presented with chilled towels, still and sparking water and a water spray to cool down.
Lympstone Manor is a newly opened hotel from Michael Caines, the Michelin starred chef. Again it is a beautiful Manor house building but the attention to detail and reflections of the estuary surroundings were what made it special and of course the wonderful food from Michael. Each room was named after a estuary bird and decorated in the birds colours. There were lots of little extras such as gin tray, homemade biscuits and fresh milk to go with your tea or coffee and 2 different sets of toiletries in case you didn’t like one fragrance.
The Four Seasons is situated on a lovely lagoon away from the strong waves and currents on Oahu. The rooms are newly decorated and the pool side service is second to none. There is an adult only pool where staff will come round with sunscreen, water and frozen treats on a regular basis. Service is superb in all areas of the hotel from the beachside fish restaurant to the Hawaiian influenced spa. Your name is used at all times by the staff and service feels very personal.
If you had your own boutique hotel, what 3 things would you make sure existed?
- Service and service recovery is very important, guests can overlook short comings if you have great service!
- I think making sure the guests have everything they need in the room such as high quality toiletries, a great coffee machine, a comfortable bed with high thread count Egyptian cotton sheets and a pillow top mattress are important.
- Finally I love a good soak in the bath, so I would have large free standing soaking tubs big enough for two in my bathrooms.
Name 3 things you loved in hotels you stayed in before…
- I recently stayed in the Aria Sky suites in Las Vegas and when you walked into the room the curtains drew back automatically to show you the view whilst music played. That was a pretty special entrance.
- I also loved at the Sanchaya that all your preferences were noted so that if you ordered sparkling water or coffee for example, they would bring you that next time you were in the restaurant.
- Another favourite is little gifts or extras such as the Gin tray at Lympstone Manor complete with lime and tonics or a nice pillow spray at turndown service.
Name 3 things you wouldn’t want to experience in a hotel ever again.
- Being locked out of our hotel for the night during the Vegas shootings was something I hope to never repeat. At the less extreme end I really hate the trend of open plan bathrooms with glass walls and doors, if any at all. No matter how much I love my partner I really do not need to be that intimate with them and it is definitely a no-no with friends!
- Noise is a big factor for me, as I recently had a room in a very well-known hotel that appeared to be above a nightclub that went on into the early hours.
- In Asia I have had a cockroach in the room of luxury hotels a couple of times. Just thinking about that makes me shudder!
I think in a lot of cases it is often not just the fact that something is wrong, it is also very important how the hotel deals with your complaint. I always mention if something wasn’t right so the hotel can correct it for the next guest but often all I get is a thank you letting us know, not even an apology!
How do you feel about the Amberlair concept?
I really like the Amberlair concept. It is certainly a very unique way to develop a hotel by involving guests from the very beginning. All too often hotels are built solely on designers concepts of what looks good rather than what a guest actually wants.
Where are you off to next?
My next 6 weeks are a repeat visit to a fantastic hotel in the Algarve, the Conrad, Abu Dhabi to try Etihad Airways First Class apartment and my first trip to Mauritius.
Michele Robson is the Founder and Editor of Turning Left for Less and has spent the last 23 years working in the travel industry. Her passion for travelling has now turned into something of an obsession! This along with a taste for the finer things in life has necessitated finding the cheapest way to indulge her habit which she now shares with readers of her blog. Last year alone she flew over 85,000 miles on 37 flights but used miles, discounts and sales to never pay the full price.