Feeling at Home at the Home Hotel, Buenos Aires

Monday, July 23rd, 2012 | Posted under Argentina, Hotels, Reviews

A hotel review? It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? Home Hotel in Buenos Aires was our little home away from home for the first part of our time there (We spent three days at beginning of our trip in B.A. before returning again after our time in Patagonia).

I’ll say that I tend to like hotels with a little “oomph”? Some might call it trendy or a little chichi, but I’m going to say that if I’m not going to be sleeping in my comfy bed at home or sitting on my couch, then I’d like to enjoy my surroundings. Home Hotel’s swagger was definitely about its design and vibe, and that’s okay with me.

Like most city hotels, our room at Home Hotel wasn’t very big. I chose the Standard Plus room, which is a step up from the slightly smaller Standard room. ย There was essentially room for a bed, side tables, a desk, and a credenza for the TV. That was fine with me since when I’m visiting a new city, I like to be out and about anyway. The room was bright, simply decorated but colorful.

Home Hotel Buenos Aires Bed

Home Hotel Buenos Aires TV

Home Hotel Buenos Aires Desk

Fancy? Nah, but it definitely did the trick in between our days and evenings pounding the pavement in Buenos Aires. I also appreciated that the bathroom was bigger than the one in my own apartment.

Home Hotel Buenos Aires Shower

Our shower: Big shout outs to the Home Hotel for the ample (and I mean AMPLE) shower gel.

While our room was simple, I have to say that my favorite parts of Home Hotel were the public spaces, particularly the bar and pool area.

Home Hotel Lobbyย The Lobby

Because it was late summer in Buenos Aires, Husband J and I spent a fair amount of time hanging out near the pool and bar area. No, we weren’t downing drinks, but Home’s pool area really was a little garden respite from the busy streets of Buenos Aires. We spent time here just reading and enjoying the late summer breezes. If you do want to know, the drinks were very good. We made friends, with the bartender, Elina, and we chatted about Buenos Aires in English and Spanish (She encouraged me to practice). We dug our time at the hotel just as much as hoofing it around Buenos Aires. It was nice feeling like we could come back to the hotel and really just hang out, if we wanted to. I know that should be a no-brainer for a hotel, but you’d be surprised at how many places DON’T have that kind of atmosphere.

Home Hotel Buenos Aires Garden

The garden: They even decorate the trees!

Home Hotel Pool Area

Home Hotel Buenos Aires Pool Area Close-up

Home Hotel Buenos Aires Bar Area

The bar area and outside dining area

ย I know some people enjoy a pros and cons list for reviews, because let’s be honest: Nowhere is perfect.


1. Friendly and helpful staff. From the front desk to the bartenders, every staff member was helpful and went out of their way to make sure we got the most out of Buenos Aires that we could. Whether it was calling taxis or restaurants (There were many closures for Easter weekend), the staff took care of us. In case you’re not interested in practicing Spanish, everyone speaks good to excellent English.

2. Cute guidebook with suggested restaurants, bars, shopping and activities. I loved this little book that we received at check-in filled with suggestions from the hotel. Even with my preparation (okay, occasional over-researching), I still found a few places to try and even went to some of the recommended clothing stores. I’m not a big shopper, and I had to stop myself from buying a few things.

Home Hotel Guidebook

Our mini-guidebook courtesy of Home Hotel

3. Palermo Hollywood location – Home Hotel is located in the neighborhood of Palermo Hollywood. I was worried about not being in the center of much of the restaurants, shopping and nightlife in the well-known adjacent Palermo SoHo neighborhood, but being a fifteen minute walk away is not a downer. I like that Palermo Hollywood was actually a little quieter than Palermo SoHo. There are lots of restaurants, shops, bars, etc. right on Honduras, the street where the hotel is located. We probably could have stayed in Palermo Hollywood for eating and evening options if we wanted to.

4. Great breakfast including made-to-order items upon request. Aaahhh…the hotels serves their medialunas warm, plus eggs, spreads, fruit, coffee and more.

Home Hotel Medialuna

One of the better medialunas that we had on our trip was from Home Hotel


1. Far walk from the the subte – Taxis are cheap in Buenos Aires. To cut down costs, Husband J and I actually took Buenos Aires’ subte (subway). Home is close to a 15 minute walk (depending on your pace) from the Ministro Carranza stop on the D Line, and it did get a little old after awhile. At least you’ll get some exercise in.

2. Palermo Hollywood location – While I did like being in Palermo Hollywood, it was a walk across the train tracks to Palermo SoHo (Don’t worry. It’s not dangerous). It wasn’t a total inconvenience, but being in Palermo SoHo would have allowed us to be even more centrally located to some of the places we would have liked to go.

3. Paying more for Easter Weekend – I hate mark-ups. We would have had to pay more regardless of where we stayed in B.A. on Easter weekend, but that doesn’t make me feel better.

My main cons were location-based, and the folks at Home can’t really do anything to change that.

So, fun, comfortable and not over-the-top, made Home Hotel feel like home to me. By the way, Husband J was looking over my shoulder as I wrote this post and kept mentioning how much he had liked the hotel. When he does that, I know I picked a winner.


Home Hotel

Honduras 5860

Buenos Aires, Argentina


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Back Trackin’ – Cocos Hotel, Antigua

Monday, February 13th, 2012 | Posted under Antigua, Back Trackin', Hotels

For those of you in the middle of winter, this is for you. Daydream, if you will…

While I’ve written about the hotel where we stayed in Antigua this past August, Sugar Ridge, I haven’t written about the one we stayed in back in 2008 for Husband J’s first time in Antigua. Cocos Hotel is actually in the same general area as Sugar Ridge (you can see it from there actually), but it couldn’t be a more different resort.
I would say that Cocos is the exact opposite of Sugar Ridge. Sugar Ridge is modern with all of the comforts you could want with opportunities to eat high end food. Cocos is a much smaller resort with rustic rooms, and its own beach, which Sugar Ridge clearly lacks. You could honestly stay there the entire time at Cocoas and never leave, which I know is very common for many people’s trips to the Caribbean.
When I say that Cocos’ rooms are rustic, I mean it. The rooms are sparsely decorated with a bed with netting, no TVs and just a dresser and a small refrigerator. There is NO air conditioning, which at times even I wanted (I LOVE heat. Give it to me, but even I need to cool off eventually).
The bedroom (I forgot there was a fan.)

My favorite part of the room was the outdoor shower. At first, I was worried that someone might be able to see me, but I usually think “If I can see them, then they can see me.”
Since I couldn’t see anyone, I figured I was safe.

Cousin C (remember him?) testing out the outdoor shower.

Cocos is beachfront and is actually right next to a larger resort complex and beach called Jolly Harbour. It’s nice when the beach is right there.
Cocos’ beach area + Husband J’s feet

Cocos’ best feature though is the views. All of the little bungalow rooms are built into rock and have beautiful views of Ffryes Bay and the Jolly Harbour area. Unfortunately, you have to work to see it all. The walk up and down to the beach and possibly to your room is not for the faint of heart or the out of shape. It’s up a cement path that can have steep inclines in some parts. Also note that we got a room with a nice view (you can specify) because that was all they had left. ๐Ÿ™‚
Can you see the incline in the path up from the beach?
Cousin C and Husband J ahead of me on the walk up. It’s a crazy incline, and it gets worse at some parts of the path.

When you are rewarded with a view like this, then you realize that the walk up was worth it and a good way to fit in exercise.

The bedrooms open up to a large covered balcony/verandah. I had fun taking this picture from the bed.
If you look closely, you can see the sand on my feet.

As for the food and service, it was fine. I am usually worried about the food at all-inclusives, but the food at Cocos was very good and exceeded expectations. I think because it’s a smaller resort, food isn’t going to be mass-produced as much. The staff was very friendly.

If Acari, the bartender, is still there, then you are in luck. He arranged this ridiculously delicious lobster lunch that I wrote about here for us and another couple. He made sure that I got some of the local drinks that I like when I visit Antigua, and I appreciated that so much.

Some homemade ginger beer that Acari made for me

Some things you should know:

Don’t come here if you want a happening hotel with a hopping party scene – Cocos is about relaxation, and since it’s a smaller resort there really is no bar/party happening. One time there was a steel drum/pan (as we call it in the Caribbean) group, but that was it. The resort is pretty quiet by 9pm (at least it was when we went). If you want a party, go to the neighboring Jolly Harbor or to other spots on the island.

Don’t come here if you want to be totally sequestered away on the beach. Some hotels try to patrol their beach, but Cocos does not. You’ll get folks selling their wares and services. That’s just how it is.
A necklace I bought on the beach

Don’t come here if you want luxurious rooms – The rooms were clean and comfortable with breathtaking views, but just simple. Honestly, you’ll be at the beach most of the time anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚

Do come here for a quiet (really quiet), relaxing, beach focused vacation. Husband J was looking at these pictures as I was writing this post, and he remembers only good things about Cocos.

Me, too.

If you’ve been on a beach-y vacation, what types of resorts do you prefer? Large ones with options for dining and entertainment or smaller, quieter places? Weigh in in the comments section!


Return to Wadadli – Sugar Ridge Hotel

Monday, September 19th, 2011 | Posted under Antigua, Hotels

When people think of Caribbean resorts, they think of beachfront all-inclusives. Well, Husband J and I felt like being contrarians and decide to stay somewhere practically across the street from the beach and not have everything included in the price of our hotel stay. I acknowledge that we can do this because we leave the hotel when we visit Antigua, and we know that there will be opportunities to eat and do things elsewhere. Our hotel for this stay, Sugar Ridge, offers just a breakfast option, and we decided that would fit our needs best for this trip.

What I really really liked most about Sugar Ridge is the modern feel of the buildings and the rooms.
Each building contains four rooms. The lower rooms have plunge pools.

I think one of the best aspects of Sugar Ridge is that the rooms are very new, and the decor is really tasteful. It’s not the cheesy decor that you will sometimes find in Caribbean resort rooms.

Our bed on arrival. I think those were freshly picked bouganvillea.


Very large terrace. There is an option to have a smaller terrace with a plunge pool.

So while we were not right on the beach, we did get to see the ocean from our room.

So what are the disadvantages to not being beachfront? Here are my observations:

1. You can hear the cars go by – It’s not transporting to hear cars passing by every few minutes. It’s not like Antigua has heavy traffic or anything, but it can take away from the peaceful relaxing experience that being by the beach can be.

2. Sometimes we just wanted to make a quick run to the beach, but you can’t really. Husband J, who is infamously impatient, didn’t necessarily like waiting for the hotel shuttle for the beach. Each time we waited it was no more than 15 minutes. If we were beachfront, we wouldn’t have to wait at all. A small thing for sure, but there were moments where we would have wanted to just walk down to the beach even for a few minutes.

Continuing the tour….
The public spaces also have the same simple streamlined contemporary feel.

The reception area

Sugar Club, the hotel’s main bar and lounge area

I personally like to go to the beach, but there were quite a few people at the pool throughout our stay.

View of the Sugar Club from the pool area

Since Sugar Ridge is not by the beach, you do get a nice view of Antigua’s hills.
It was greener than usual in Antigua since the island had been getting a lot of rain from tropical storms.

Here are some pros and cons of staying at Sugar Ridge:


1. Nice new rooms. Have I mentioned how much I like the rooms? ๐Ÿ™‚ I will say that the rooms were much smaller than I expected, but again still nice.

2. Great food. The food at both the Sugar Club, Sugar Ridge’s main restaurant, as well as Carmicheal’s, the premiere restaurant as quite good, especially for hotel food. I’ll have posts about both of these places soon.

3. A NON all-inclusive option. I do like the fact that we could just have our breakfast included. It encourages folks to go out to try other places not at the resort. At the same time, I know that’s difficult for most people nor do they want to. We actually found that we spent less than the rate for all-inclusive. We could have gone the all-inclusive option, if we were willing to spend an additional $90 per person per day, which we didn’t on any of our days there (even with drinks!).

4. Not being beachfront – While it may not be ideal, not being beachfront allows you to see MORE beaches close to the hotel (there are many). The hotel provides a shuttle to a variety of beaches within a reasonable drive (5 options). Our favorite was Turner’s Beach, and we also liked Ffryes. You can also walk to Jolly Beach, essentially across the street. I think it allows visitors to see and experience more of the island that way instead of the same stretch of beach. The hotel has an arrangement with some of the local beach restaurants/bars so that you can eat the meals included in your all-inclusive plan there.

5. Free wi-fi. It worked quite well. This is pretty rare still in many hotels in Antigua. If you need or want to be connected while in Antigua, then you should consider Sugar Ridge.


1. Not being beachfront – See my reasons above.

2. Service missesI actually think the hotel’s service overall was good, but there were some moments that sometimes left us scratching our heads (several that require stories that I have to admit I’m too lazy to write. Just trust me on this one). Sometimes it was if people just didn’t take the time to think things through, or we had to ask for something multiple times (not twice, multiple). Often the service in the Sugar Club restaurant was quite slow, especially at breakfast. I know that you’re supposed to be on vacation, but slow service is still slow service. Ya know? We are not people that need to be waited on hand and foot either. At the same time the staff is very friendly, and some go above and beyond to make you feel very comfortable. Some are excellent at their job.

3. Saturday night party – I’m not sure if this is a weekly thing, but there was a party the weekend we were there. Since you are on a ridge, sounds travels up, and we weren’t far from the Sugar Club. It was LOUD. On most occasions we would have been there partying too, but Husband J wasn’t feeling well. ๐Ÿ™ It went on until at least 3am (I heard a great dancehall reggae set on my way to the bathroom at that point. Yes, I know..TMI). I hope for the sake of all guests that this is not a weekly event. Yes, I know that’s an old lady comment, but I do like my sleep when I can get it.

Some tips

-The Jolly Harbour complex is close by. Go to Epicurean Foods, the local supermarket chain, and get some water. For those that are water obsessed like me, it’s much better to buy some big bottles of local bottled water for yourself. The hotel only sells Fiji water, which I love but not at $6.50 USD a pop! The hotel will drop you there, or you can take a walk there (I think it’s about 10 minutes walk).
Go to Carmicheal’s at sunset. Gorgeous! Make sure to lather up on the bug repellent though.
People on Trip Advisor with rave about Vorn’s nature hike. Just know that it actually costs $12 USD.
I’d definitely like to stay here again!
Sugar Ridge Hotel
Jolly Harbour


Touring Turkey – Argos Hotel in Cappadocia

Monday, June 20th, 2011 | Posted under Hotels, Turkey

Okay, I lied. I’ve got one last Cappadocia mention, and that goes to our hotel, Argos Hotel. Be forewarned that there is actually another hotel in Turkey called Argos, but it’s on the Mediterranean side. I really enjoyed our stay there, and I would definitely go back just to experience it in much warmer weather. Like many of the hotels in the Cappadoccia region, Argos is built into rock and incorporates stone into the architecture of the room.

I chose the deluxe style room, which was one step above the standard. I think that the main difference between the standard and deluxe was perhaps a little extra room? Argos is about simple, rustic design yet everything felt really luxurious and comfortable.
Bed and desk in our room. Do you see the stone walls?

The bathroom was pretty awesome and has double sinks and a huge shower (I’d say four people could fit in there…really). For some reason, I didn’t get a pic of it. I guess I was too busy enjoying it.

Even with the simple modern theme, there was still Turkish elements like the fireplace below. Be forewarned. To light it, you’ll need to fork over 20 Euro to the hotel.

I wish it had been a bit warmer, so that I could enjoy the hotel’s grounds a bit more.


I personally thought the hotel’s restaurant was quite good. We ate dinner here two out of the three nights we were in Cappadocia, and I really enjoyed the meals (a few reminders of what we ate there). There isn’t much going on in Uchisar, and Goreme is about a ten minute cab ride away. I think in warmer weather, Goreme is much more happenin’, so there are more dinner options there that are less expensive.

After experiencing cold weather all day, it was nice to settle in with a warm fire, meet and chat with other guests and catch a little TV at the lounge. There are no TVs in the rooms. I was fine with that, but I know some people might not be.
Fireplace at the Argos lounge area

Some things you should know (they’re not bad things, just things you should know):

1. Ladies, keep your heels at homeSince the hotel (and most of the town of Uchisar) is built into rock, the grounds of the hotel have stairs and in a few places you need to walk on a cobbled stoned street uphill. For our room, we had to walk on this very road for a very short time, but I was glad that I brought a pair of cute flats. You should too.

2. The joys of being in a place with a prayer call – Husband J and I live very close to a mosque in New York City that sends out a prayer call. It’s a part of our daily life, so we are actually pretty used it. What we are NOT used to is that fact that the prayer call includes the one VERY EARLY in the morning (we have a noise ordinance in NYC that prevents projected noise during certain hours). For us during our March stay, that meant the prayer call started at 4:30am.
I think the minaret was about 200 feet from our room. It felt like it was IN our room.

Okay, overall review?
1. Rooms – very comfortable, modern with great amenities. Definitely up my alley. The rooms include spacious bathrooms and no TVs as mentioned above. Some of the rooms required a short walk up the road from reception. If you have physical challenges, you might want to request one that doesn’t have you walking very much, if at all. The grounds were beautiful, and everything was tastefully decorated.
2. Location – I did really like being in Uchisar even if it’s one of the sleepier towns in the Cappadocia region. It also seems to have some of the nicer hotels in the area. I think things would have been livelier in warmer months, but with such long days touring the Cappadocian countryside, I was pretty fine with a quieter hotel experience. If you want more action, get a taxi into Goreme, or rent a car and check out Urgup. Uchisar suited us fine. Plus, we loved the views from our room.

3. Great breakfast and dinner with wonderful service at the restaurant.
Cons ( I may be reaching a bit here)
1. Iffy wi fi – I’m being pretty picky here, but if you advertise wifi, it should work. We found that the closer you were to reception, the better the wi fi worked. Since we weren’t close to reception, the wifi in our room was practically non-existent. Luckily, we had a small easily portable laptop with us, and it worked fine in the hotel lounge.
2. Make sure to get a room on an upper level. In some cases there are rooms on top of each other. I didn’t necessarily work out for us to be a on a lower level room. At one point, it sounded like the guests above us were dragging chairs from one end of the room to the next for what seemed like forever. It was definitely loud and slightly annoying. If you can, try to be at the top level.
3. Front desk staff – Everyone at the hotel was very nice and helpful. There were a few times that we asked for advice or assistance, and I think they forgot about us. That’s fine. I have the internet and my guidebook, but I think it’s important to follow-up with informational requests made by guests.
As you can see, I’m nitpicking here. We really liked Argos and would definitely go back, if staying in Cappadocia again.
If you’re interested in other hotels with a similar vibe, check out the Museum Hotel or the Cappadocia Cave Resort & Spa.


Touring Turkey – Hotel Sultania, Istanbul

Thursday, April 28th, 2011 | Posted under Hotels, Reviews, Turkey

In my old age (hee!), I’ve realized that I like to spend a little extra on hotels if I can. Not necessarily 5 star (we were NOT rolling up to the Four Seasons, y’all), but a little extra comfort and perhaps some quirky details aren’t so bad. For the first portion of our time in Istanbul, we stayed at the Hotel Sultania, and it was definitely full of both comfort and some off-beat flavor.

Each room is named after a wife of an Ottoman sultan. The rooms mix contemporary decor with Turkish details.
Our bed
Each room is named after a wife of an Ottoman sultan. Ours was named after Sehsuvar, who was originally from the Ukraine, taken to be a part of the sultan’s harem and then his wife. The hotel provides a little narrative about her.

There are some things you should know about this hotel. There’s kind of a bathroom and kind of not. The basin area is actually right next to your bed and is cordoned off by a very pretty screen. I’m not describing this very well, so just check the pic below. Since we didn’t splurge for space at this hotel I didn’t mind. It’s in the old city, where all of the buildings are rather small. We weren’t going to be spending very much time in our hotel room in Istanbul anyway.

The toilet and shower have one door that serves as both the door to the shower and between the toilet area and the rest of the room. Essentially it means that one person can’t take a shower while the other uses the toilet (ya know, just in case you want to do that).

Shower/Toilet area with the door closed
So there’s the shower/toilet area. Kind of a racy painting, isn’t it? Girlfriend is wearing a thong and pasties. I’m not making this up. I had no idea the room would look like this.
Another thing you should know is that there is lots of funky lighting throughout the room.

Underneath the bed

Around the TV

It’s kinda fun to appreciate and admire, although it does get to be a pain when you are looking for the light switches to turn off all of those lights right before going to bed at night.

I will say that I really liked many of the Turkish details like this little tray.
When you open it, there are little treats.

I think it was little date bar with pistachios covered in coconut. They were good and were refilled each day. I appreciated a free snack.
Here’s what I thought of the Hotel Sultania, and I’ll do it in the form of a Pros & Cons list:
1. Cute decor and room – While obviously not for everyone (see above re: bathroom), I did like the room and thought it was comfortable, clean and modern.
2. Great breakfast buffetYou’ve already seen what I had for breakfast, but there was something a little different each day that we were there.
3. Centrally located to all major sites– Hotel Sultania is just minutes away from all of the major sites in Sultanahmet that I’ve blogged about so far, If you have a short time in Istanbul and want to be close to the Blue Mosque or the Hagia Sophia yet not far from the Galata Bridge, then this is a fabulous location.
4. Cute on-site gym, spa and pool – Although this area of the hotel is not that big (it’s actually quite teeny), it’s still nice to have. Unfortunately, they charge 10 Euro to use the sauna and hammam (Turkish bath) even if you stay there. I think it should be free.
5. Extremely helpful staff – A woman named Ozlem was the concierge and was very nice and helpful to us. She also sent an e-mail after we left asking about our stay. I appreciate gestures like that.
6. Free transfer from the airport – A free transfer from the airport is included. I have to admit that it was nice to not have to think about a taxi when we landed (not like that would have been a problem). Our flight was 1 1/2 hours late, and the driver waited. A nice perk for sure.

1. The walls are paper thin. I mean really thin. How did we know? Let’s just say we heard one set of neighbors “enjoying” themselves one night. The other night, I think our neighbors (perhaps a different set?) thought Husband J was watching TV at a noise level that they didn’t appreciate. Banging on the walls ensued. I have to admit that I might have agreed with them (on the noise level not the banging). We also heard some folks right outside our window. They sounded like they were right in the room.
2. Centrally located but in the middle of lots of touristy restaurants/touristy central. I guess you take the good with the bad. Maybe it was because we were there during the slower season, but sometimes we felt like we couldn’t walk without having to stave off folks from the nearby restaurants and bars trying to get us to come in. I know they’re just doing their job, and I also shouldn’t count this against the hotel.
Not so bad cons, right? Would we stay there again? Yes. Recommend to others? Why not? I have to admit that if we do go back, I’d like to stay at the other Istanbul hotel we stayed in at the end of our trip. That’s for another post. ๐Ÿ™‚
Hotel Sultania
Ebusuud Cadessi
Mehmet Morak Sokak No. 4
Sirkeci, Istanbul


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