Travel: Where I’ve Stayed Part 3: 2021 – ?

Posted by in Culture, Travel

Manchester in the time of covid.

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Welcome back again! Part 3 covers the 2020’s – following a pretty shitty time due to covid the world would slowly reawaken and I began with some long overdue domestic travel.

MANCHESTER – TRAVELODGE (CENTRAL ARENA)

These were the first places I stayed post-pandemic which has not only murdered lots of people but the places they stay, especially the humble hostel dormitory. So to the staycation and the upgrade to hotel which had much in common with the hostel e.g staff who disappear and rather cheekily wouldn’t watch bags on my day of departure. 

Nonetheless it was a room to myself, had a desk, bed and shower. The only downside was a measly 30 minutes internet and I couldn’t cook. They did however give me copious refills of tea, coffee and sugar. So a so so time.

Pros: Clean, quiet and in a non touristy area and the floors are named after Manchester‘s famous musicians.

Cons: No view but considering it was near Strangeways prison there wasn’t too much to see and also across a busy road near the Manchester Arena.

In the pool!

LIVERPOOL – TRAVELODGE (CENTRAL STRAND)

This was delightful, a view right over Albert Dock and the Tate and an ensuite room for around £25 a night, the way budget travel should be.

Pros: Liverpool had a view of the Albert dock and famous Liverbird building. Staff mostly good considering it’s a three star.

Cons: The 30 minute wifi and the naff artwork in every room of every hotel – the only things that ruin the Travelodge.

More Travelodge, cheap but cozy.

BIRMINGHAM – TRAVELODGE (AIRPORT)

Cool hotel with a view of the runway and airport workings, including the unfortunate souls who work all hours.

Pros: Great views of the runway at all hours.

Cons: The measly wifi and the wrong side of the airport but a taster for travel again. Quite a way out of Brum, but lots of eateries nearby – about a 20 minute walk.

HOUNSLOW – TRAVELODGE

This is easily the most tired or worn of the Travelodge’s I’ve stayed in so far, obviously a refurb (nothing wrong with that) but I made a mistake and should have booked with the IBIS BUDGET a touch further down the same road. Both close to the Hounslow central tube station.

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ST JULIANS (MALTA) – ST GEORGE’S PARK HOTEL

This place is humongous! And one of the buildings has concreted slabs blocking its revolving door so is completely empty – what a waste of a building. I got the impression that some of the guests were migrants, still what’s wrong with that? 

The plus is for 500euros a month you get a serviced room which is more like a studio so perfect for me. There’s even a pool! But I’m as aquatic as a brick so had no need for it and it was on the cusp of winter. My room had a desk with a light, kettle and fridge so I could make sandwiches or small meals which saved on dosh. Even fast food in Malta can be pricey.

Winter hideaway but covid was waiting in the wings.

The shower was not amazing but better than none, could also bath if I needed too. The downside? You have to be careful with the mozzies at night and early morning – if you keep the balcony doors open you’re asking for trouble. I travel with mozzie repellant so was ok. 

Another some may consider a neg is the TV has about 4 channels; one of which is German pop music and one is BBC World News but there is wifi. Staff and housekeeping pretty accommodating with needs considering it ain’t the Hilton but it did for me and I was grateful.

Pros: In the heart of St Julians

Cons: Cheap so attracts some hoons as it’s in party central.

Home again.

CARDIFF – IBIS BUDGET

This irony of ironies is all I wanted from a room (desk, chair well stool not too comfy, wifi, tv, shower). Only problem is nowhere to cook. Unlike the Travelodge they don’t give you a kettle and you have to make tea/coffee near reception and faff about with the door card for the lift and room, not easy when carrying a hot drink. 

Being a hotel the prices fluctuate – not good. Some moderate noise like the doors of other rooms and some revellers in the early hours (fortunately they didn’t last long). Co-op opposite for bakery, busy road considering it’s a backwater of Cardiff. Staff so so.

Pros: Great room, smart design has everything for the budget nomad needs, except…

Cons: No kettle in the room, why not let all the guests use the lounge area?

Good if you drive, the Travelodge Pencoed and right, the nearby Harvester.

PENCOED – TRAVELODGE

The things I do to save a few quid, why there is a hotel here at all is a mystery – it is definitely out of the way and for those of us walking from the train station a good 20 minute walk but not as far as it looks on a map (but far enough). Still need to negotiate a healthy dollop or two of horse poo on the lane from the main road. 

Reception will stick to the 15:00 check in time to the hilt, so you may incur further expense at the nearby Harvester (nice place to chill, pity the hotel didn’t factor in a lounge!) This is the one Travelodge which is a lodge more so than a hotel and ties with Hounslow for being a bit more on the rustic side. 

Room keys are actual old school keys not a card, rusty taps in bathroom, towels a little rough and smell of marzipan! TV that goes on the blink if there is so much as a breeze outside which being rural Wales is often, so similar to Malta in that respect. Staff not bad but some better than others.

Pros: It’s near a Harvester.

Cons: Just about everything else.

Swansea in the first degree!

SWANSEA – CWTSH HOSTEL

My first time in a hostel for years as Swansea is a bit lax on central hotels. The Cwtsh is brand spanking new and not without a few teething problemsFirstly the doors are code generated which can be a bit of a pain (there are no key cards, and some use an app but you can enter the code manually as I did). The room was a 12 bed which I seldom stay in but was clean and had two shower/toilets. 

When I was there getting hot water was an issue but as it’s new there were bound to be the odd hiccup so I wouldn’t begrudge them and they fixed it in the end. My real beef was with the cage lockers beneath the bed (take your own padlock) and the fact there are no curtains on the bed capsules so if someone has their bed  light on (sometimes all night) they can be very bright!

The kitchen and lounge are in one big room, again spotlessly clean with a great view of the central square. Like many hostels the kitchen comes with an obligatory bag of flour in the left over food cupboard – why the hell do people travelling buy a whopping great bag of flour!? Even on Pancake Day you’d be hard pushed to use it all. 

Some of the other residents were pleasant including a fellow writer and an African family with very curious and energetic kids! Staff pretty good but there may be the odd stag night in attendance so be careful of that one. Overall it was ok for a few days but I’d rather another Travelodge or IBIS Budget if truth be known.

Pros: Fresh, clean, new and in the centre of town.

Cons: You run the risk of some hoons staying, especially on weekends.

In the lap of luxury.

GRAFENDORF – PENSION WALDHOF MARA

Now this was something else and a work related stay with a fellow teacher in deepest Austria! Quite a mansion away from the main building but still quite rural. Always warm and cosy and with its own kitchen too. Only one small problem was the bed was slightly too short for me and only one shower/toilet which in such a big place was a hard to believe but otherwise very much an experience to remember. 

Pros: Amazing place!

Cons: Very rural.

So, where to next?

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PLAYLIST AND CREDITS

Thanks for reading here, should you be interested in my work; principally writing, photography, and teaching, check out the MEDIA page, and/or the UNIVERSITY page for my teaching ethos. 

Meanwhile, stay tuned with things here at Kulture Kiosk via THE ATLAS or on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram where you can see some of my photos from around the world.

PLAYLIST
in my thoughts!

Photos: KH