I have been lucky enough to
travel widely, and sometimes get asked to recommend
good hotels. Here are my experiences of some top
hotels around the world. Please note that these
are at the top end of the range and that this
selection is inevitably a personal selection and
cannot, by its nature, be at all comprehensive.
I have travelled to: Austria,
Australia, the Bahamas, Belgium, Canada, Czech
Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Hong Kong,
Indonesia, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya,
Latvia, Malaysia, Morocco, the Netherlands, New
Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Scotland, South
Africa, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey,
the USA, and Zimbabwe. During these travels I
have stayed at some fine hotels and also had some
dismal experiences, even in supposedly luxury
hotels. I hope the notes below are useful when
choosing a hotel.
These may sound obvious to the
experienced traveller, but just in case:
- You can never have
too many power adaptors
- Food poisoning is a
significant risk in many countries (the worst
in the world is Egypt, followed by Mexico, then
Pakistan, in a survey published in the Economist).
The most common cause by far is unsanitary water
and poor food hygiene, so if travelling anywhere
where the water is not something you would happily
drink out of the tap (for which read, all of
Africa, much of Asia and a lot of Southern Europe)
then avoid anything washed in water e.g. salads,
fruit that someone other than you has washed,
and stick to freshly prepared hot food. I have
travelled safely around India and Africa on
multiple trips without problems using this rule.
I broke the rule once, just for one meal in
Istanbul: I was vomiting for ten days as a result,
and have never broken the rule since. Also,
brush your teeth using mineral water, and don’t
lick the stamps.
- Try and avoid checked
luggage if possible – just under 1% of
checked luggage goes missing, and while it almost
always turns up eventually, there is nothing
like making that key business presentation dressed
in shorts and an Hawaiian shirt.
- In most of Africa,
dry cleaning is an experiment you will only
try once. I once handed in some trainers to
be cleaned after walking in the bush in Kenya,
and they came back two sizes smaller –
they had put these trainers in the washing machine.
- Be careful of officialdom
in countries where the president always wears
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