18 September 2015 | BARCELONA, ESPAÑA
Sorry for no postings but...we were on a road trip to Andorra and since our SIM cards were NG there, and the hotel had SloFi/NoFi...I just couldn't go through the blog update process.
We arranged to meet Dave and Becky in Andorra. I'm not sure why, but it seemed to be a good idea at the time. It was not going to add another country to our visit lists (me: 52; Ken: 59) since we had been there in 2002 with our buddies, Myrn and Milly. Nevertheless, we booked our rooms at a "modern 4 star hotel in the center of town, with a spa". The price? €70 per night. What? How could that be? The TA reviews were excellent.
We took a wonderful three hour bus ride through some magnificent valleys, past small farm villages, alongside running rivers. My pix from the bus window couldn't do it justice, so we'll stop along the road when we drive back. (We haven't been on a bus ride in years. I was pleasantly surprised with the comfort of the bus...and free wifi. It kept me entertained for the ride.)
We arrived at the hotel to a beautiful lobby and helpful concierge. We (pro forma) asked if breakfast was included, and they said no...it was €12 pp but if we pre-order, it would be only €9. Truth to tell, I really am not much of a breakfast eater, but since EVERY hotel we have been to in our travels abroad includes it in the rate, I've gotten used to doing as the Romans do. So, we all ordered it. Captain Ken asked about the spa with sauna and pool. The concierge gave us the hours...and let us know it costs €9 for two hours.
We went up to our room and...it was lovely: huge (as big as the great room in my home), with wide windows overlooking the river and mountains (see pic above) and a king-sized bed. The bathroom was large, beautifully tiled and immaculately clean. It had a fridge (always a plus), lots of electric outlets in which to charge our devices (which had all run down on the bus ride), and free wifi.
Later, when we all got together for a pre-dinner drink, Dave realized we needed ice. They don't generally have ice machines on this side of the pond (as opposed to every two-bit motel in the US of A which has one on every floor....not that I'm saying that we stay in two-bit motels......). Dave called room service and they muttered something about the price and tip for delivery. He couldn't read the receipt without his glasses but if past performance is any indication of future results....I'm willing to guess.....€9. When the ice bucket arrived, it held the motherlode of ice cubes. I have NEVER seen such big ice cubes. Maybe €9 was a bargain. Since we didn't use even a small percentage of the cubes, I took some to our room, and put them in the mini-fridge. Believe it or not, they were still alive and well the next morning...for our water bottles. We got what we paid for. (After I wrote this blog, Dave got the ice bill: €8.70. Darn, I was close.)
In hotels in other parts of the world, they often have a system where you have to put (and leave) your key card in a holder on the wall near the door to turn on the electricity, and when you remove the key when you leave the room, the electricity gets shut off...a good power (and money) saving system. The problem is that if you need to charge your devices when you leave the room, this will not work. So...we needed to get a second key card to leave in the room holder. (We do turn off everything except the few outlets). Ken mentioned that he was going downstairs to get the second key card. I said "OK, that will be €9" He believed me. Gotcha'. It was free.
So, this inexpensive, but lovely hotel must be owned by RyanAir ("No printed boarding pass? €50. True. Do you think you will want to use the restroom in flight? €25. Probably on the drawing board....) I call it a la carte pricing. If you add up all the extras, it was still worth it, but it is annoying to be nickeled and dimed (or euro'd). Of course, I may have changed my mind on the value had we paid the (special for hotel guests) €22 per day parking. Fortunately, the boys found a €5 per day lot across the street.