Archives for Accomodation

Airbnb booming in Spain – is it  a good experience?

News that the number of tourist beds in Spain offered by Airbnb operators now outnumbers hotel beds is an interesting development but not necessarily a welcome one. AFP quotes a survey by the Spanish tourism sector body Exceltur that in Barcelona 64 per cent of available rooms are offered by online home rental services. Airbnb and other similar sites now list 2.7 million beds in Spain (December 2014 figures) compared to 2.4 million beds at hotels and other lodgings. Tourism accounts for about 11 per cent of all economic activity in Spain and for one in nine jobs. But apart from quality issues there are two other drawbacks from a national economic perspective. The number of jobs generated from home rentals is just 9.8 per 100 beds, compared to 53 jobs per 100 tourist beds at a hotel, according to Exceltur. It also estimates that up to $1.3 billion is lost in tax due to undeclared earnings. From the tourists’ perspective Airbnb may be cheaper, but I think the practice raises questions about quality. I used an apartment in Brooklyn
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Auckland Copthorne faded jaded but clean and well located

The Copthorne Harbourside on Auckland’s waterfront has been there for years and it shows. It is clean enough and has the amenities you expect in a hotel, a restaurant, a bar, reception, tour desk. The rooms are adequate but tired. Beds are firm, the shower works, there’s tea and coffee making in the room, an iron, hair dryer and son on. The air conditioning sort of works, but looking out on to Quay Street and next to Auckland’s waterfront playground, the rooms can be noisy at night (and was when I stayed just recently). Breakfast was awful. Two choices of tinned fruit. The fresh fruit salad was gone (but later replenished). There was just white bread for the toaster (the wholegrain was replenished – eventually). But the worst feature was the cooked breakfast. At 9.15, the scrambled egg was stick to the bottom of its tray, and there were nine baked beans completing their metamorphosis into pellets. Worst of all, the bacon was fatty and undercooked. It looked like it had been boiled, not grilled, fried or roasted. So it
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Whangamata is my favourite beach place

  Whangamata is my favourite beach resort because in summer it combines reliable weather with good swimming and enough shops and other attractions to occupy my time enjoyably. In January it is buzzing, so much so that the police draft in extra officers, close streets and keep a watchful eye on proceedings over New Year. Not that there has been any trouble for many years. If you want fishing and deep sea activities then go to Whitianga, where deepwater activities are top rate, but the beaches and swimming are second rate compared to Whangamata. At the northern end of Whangamata is a marina which opened in 2009 and is based on the harbour inlet. Apart from providing moorings for dozens of yachts, the area around the wharf has developed into a lovely place for young children to frolic and paddle unchallenged by waves. The main beach faces east and runs several kilometres to another estuary, this time with the Otahu River. The town now has 3471 permanent residents, but this swells to two or three times that in peak summer
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A fine breakfast at Simpsons in the Strand

Simpson’s in the Strand is a name that connotes luxury, empire, tradition, majesty and upper class-ness. In London recently I didn’t have the time for lunch, for which they are rightly famous for their servings of beef or lamb carved off massive haunches at the table. But I can manage breakfast. I know what I am having well before I get there. It’s a treat I have promised myself. The Great British Breakfast at Simpson’s is “Cumberland sausage, streaky and back bacon, Stornoway black pudding, fried mushrooms, baked tomato & egg (fried, poached or scrambled)”. It is just wonderful. Beautifully cooked and served hot (how rare is that) on a warmed plate and eaten with silver cutlery on a linen table cloth with a copy of the Times next to me. I read the court circular recording the activities of the Royal Household with particular interest. The room is left over from the 17th century – a high ceiling with dark panelled walls, festooned with pictures including one over the mantelpiece at the end of the room, showing a meal
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