Tourist First

Travel notes and advice from around the world. Above, the daily flight from Managua at the San Carlos, Nicaragua, airstrip.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

What I Want in a Hotel Room

This overdone room at an inn in Alberobello, Italy,
featured a bed on a glass floor that appeared to float
over a bed of rocks. The chair in the foreground is
an uncomfortable antique. The tiny room, which
looked like a stage set, had no space for luggage
and little space for people. After one night, we were
able to move to a much larger space, though still
pretty odd -- it was in a trullo, one of Puglia's
iconic conical houses.

Sometimes looks count, and sometimes you just want comfort.  Sometimes photogenic hotel rooms turn out to be supremely unpleasant places to stay. Antiques may conjure feelings of coziness and authenticity, but they can also be uncomfortable to sit on and easily damaged if you put your luggage on top. Rooms in some super-trendy hotels (I'm talking about you, Mama Shelter, in Lyon, France) can feel like afterthoughts, as if the designers had never stayed at a hotel where they had to open a suitcase, recharge a phone, or brush their teeth.

I wrote a short New York Times article on what I want (and don't want) in a hotel room. Click HERE to read the article. 

Avoiding Credit Card Ripoffs Abroad

It's happened to Jane and me, and it has probably happened to you if you used a U.S. Visa or MasterCard credit card in a foreign country.  You give the hotel desk or the store clerk or the restaurant server your card, and when you get the receipt, you notice that the amount of the charge is given in dollars, not euros or whatever is the currency of the country you're in.

The business is supposed to ask your permission before doing this, but it happened twice to us in Thessaloniki, Greece, without our being asked, once at a restaurant and once at a hotel. At the hotel we persevered in getting the dollar charge voided and the having the charge done again in euros. If we had stuck with dollars, we would have paid more -- a needless conversion fee and an unfavorable exchange rate. The hotel said its bank automatically does this.  Now when we're abroad, we make a point of saying up front that we do not want the charge to be in dollars.

The New York Times recently ran an excellent piece explaining dynamic currency conversion. Click HERE for the article.