The Courhouse Hotel, London

When I was planning for a trip to London and comparing hotels online I came across The Courthouse Hotel in Soho.  As I am a big history buff it got my attention as an ideal place to stay while exploring the city.

Everything is well done at this hotel.  The owners wisely incoperated the buildings previous life as a courthouse into a five star establishment.

One can now drink in the plush bar built in the space of the former holding cells, sleep in the former judges chambers, and relax and workout in the stylish spa and workout center.

Mick Jagger and John Lennon once slept here by necesity, today it feels like staying at a private club for lawyers in the middle of London´s hot Soho!

Hotel Monopole

Myself and a friend recently rented two single rooms in the ‘hotel’ Monopole, Amstel 60, Amsterdam, to the tune of €60 per night for four nights (€250 + city tax) on October 11th -14th.

My heart sank when we got a look at the first room; a small, dank place with twin cots, dirty marks on one wall, a tatty thin carpet, old fixtures and fittings and a unpleasant view of what appeared to be an industrial building with a grimy roof.

The second room three floors up a break- neck stairs into the attic, was similar to the first but icy cold and dull in the day time, with more dirty marks and a fist-sized hole in one wall. The single sheets which covered the matresses seemed clean but the dank duvets on top looked like they hadn’t been washed in several weeks; there was a dark brown cigarette burn hole in one. Having viewed the warm and inviting looking rooms on their website, my friend and I were quite upset about the arrangement. When I asked to be moved from the attic to another room, I was told that we had gotten a special offer and that ‘rooms in this part of Amsterdam generally go for €90 or more’.

We had to lug our own bags to our rooms. That night we discovered that the club behind (ironically called ‘Escape’ – at this stage I wanted to) had little to no sound-proofing and that it went on until 4.30am (bar Mondays when it shut its doors at 2am). Strangely, the hotel Monopole makes no mention of this or the bar/club right next door to them on their website.

On the third evening when we arrived back at the hotel, we found our towels hadn’t been changed, or rooms/ toilets cleaned or toilet rolls replaced. In fact the only thing touched and removed was the cups we had requested (much to their astonishment) the night before.

Some kind of hammering and building was going on in one of the rooms for much of the time we were there (daytime only).

My view of Amsterdam was sullied by the very poor accommodation and lax approach offered at the hotel Monopole. However, aside from the hotel, I did get to see beautiful Dutch architecture, ground-breaking painting, creative theater, layers of history and the wonderful buzz of such a diverse European city.

Hotel Barbacan

Dorm style room accommodations and smaller rooms available.

In 25 years of travel, this is the worst hotel in which we’ve ever stayed. It was dirty, cramped, and in disarray. There is no elevator, our room was the size of a hamster cage, and the phone, one window, and one of the two naked bulb lamps were broken. The carpet was threadbare and stained, the sheets had holes, and our room overlooked an abandoned building, complete with debris, broken glass, and rotting vegetation. We fled after one horrendous night and felt like escaped POWs, except the Geneva Convention requires that POWs have more rights!

Don’t be fooled by the three-star rating or the "family hotel" hype. The only family this place evokes is the Adams Family. If the only room in the city is at Hotel Barbacan, you should fight the junkies for a park bench!