Hotel Villa de Ábalos, Spain (2014)

Hotel Villa de Ábalos has been among my favorite places to stay in Spain. It is located in the center of a small village with tiny streets and an almost medieval atmosphere.

Facade of Hotel Villa de Ábalos, Spain.

Facade of Hotel Villa de Ábalos, Spain.

However, the hotel is decidedly modern within its historic shell. You’ll have all the modern conveniences in every room. Here’s a look:

Room 12 at Hotel Villa de Ábalos, Spain.

Room 12 at Hotel Villa de Ábalos, Spain.

The bathroom features everything you need to be comfortable:

Bathroom of Room 12, Hotel Villa de Ábalos, Spain.

Bathroom of Room 12, Hotel Villa de Ábalos, Spain.

You’ll also find inviting common areas where you can gather with fellow travelers to relax and share stories from the journey:

Second floor common area at Hotel Villa de Ábalos, Spain.

Second floor common area at Hotel Villa de Ábalos, Spain.

And another similar space on the ground floor:

Salon at Hotel Villa de Ábalos, Spain.

Salon at Hotel Villa de Ábalos, Spain.

I stayed at this hotel four years ago, and it was a pleasure to return. They added a small bar in the reception area where you can enjoy a glass of wine and various tapas. Locals from the town stop by and it was fun to chat with them, learning a bit about life in the Rioja area. The owner of this hotel makes his own wine, which is not yet available in the United States. While there, you definitely want to try it because it is among the best I’ve had in Spain. I’ll post more about that and the meals at Villa de Ábalos soon. Check back frequently so you don’t miss anything.

Clarence Hotel, Windsor, England

The Clarence Hotel in Windsor, England, was a lucky find. It is located only a few blocks from the beginning of a nice pedestrian shopping/dining area, and only a few minutes more walking to Windsor Castle.

Clarence Hotel, Windsor, England.

Clarence Hotel, Windsor, England.

This is a cozy place with friendly and helpful staff. Because I stayed two different nights several days apart, I had the benefit of two different rooms. Here’s a look at the first room:

First floor room at Clarence Hotel, Windsor, England.

First floor room at Clarence Hotel, Windsor, England.

During my second stay, I was in this room, which I believe was called the “Emma Suite.”

Emma Suite at Clarence Hotel, Windsor, England.

Emma Suite at Clarence Hotel, Windsor, England.

And here’s a look at the bathroom, which was kind of like the one you might find on a cruise ship:

Bathroom of the Emma Suite at Clarence Hotel, Windsor, England.

Bathroom of the Emma Suite at Clarence Hotel, Windsor, England.

There’s a lovely garden on the grounds, a great place to relax, enjoy a beverage, and recuperate from a day of sightseeing.

Garden at Clarence Hotel, Windsor, England.

Garden at Clarence Hotel, Windsor, England.

As mentioned above, staff are very helpful, assisting me with the printing of my boarding pass, as well as providing a “full English” breakfast that you see in the next photo:

"Full English" breakfast at Clarence Hotel, Windsor England.

“Full English” breakfast at Clarence Hotel, Windsor England.

A big breakfast is part of my day, and The Clarence Hotel did a great job with the one you see above. I would recommend this place for those looking to have the comfortable bed and breakfast experience. Enjoy the journey and all the stops along the way.

Buffam’s Tropical Haven, Aruba, video

My shack in Aruba needed some major interior work, which meant I was going to be out doors for a few days. This wasn’t the first time, but luckily, I have a great place to tuck in, and that is Buffam’s Tropical Haven. This is a bed and breakfast type of establishment with just a few suites available. Here’s a video that shows you Buffam’s rooms and common areas, as well as how to get there from the main highway.

As you saw in that video, Buffam’s is a cozy spot. You have a swimming pool, the barbecue, and those patios almost all to yourself. And check out their prices! You’ll be surprised at how reasonable it is to stay there, which means you can stay longer or have more cash to enjoy during your visit to the island. I’m back in my own digs but still stop by Buffam’s for coffee and a chat because, well, it’s a comfortable spot with great hosts.

Casa de Madrid

Casa de Madrid is a marvelous place to stay. It’s difficult to categorize because it is more residence than boutique hotel and yet has more high-end comforts than a bed and breakfast. In the first place, it is located two floors above the street and occupies the entire level. A visitor would not know where it is without good directions. There is a nondescript doorbell which you can see here:

Its very private location is one thing I like about this place. There is no through traffic the way there would be at a big hotel. Therefore, this is the right place if you prefer to be left alone or maybe host a special client on some serious business. For example, there is a main salon with couches and chairs where you could hold that soiree, preferably with a glass or two of wine:

The other side of the room offers more seating as seen here:

Let’s go in for a closer look at that little bar, just in case you’re curious.

Perhaps you enjoy reading, working on your laptop, or doing a bit of writing. Well, there’s another library-type of space as you can see here:

Some guests take their morning tea here, which is served in the following manner:

Quite cozy, isnt’ it? Upon coming through the door, you check in at this desk, which is staffed by a person capable of taking care of the small things you may require while visiting Madrid.

There are more small touches too, like the fruit plate brought to your room in the evening as seen in the next frame.

These small things make you feel at home, welcoming you into a place that may not be your own but frequently feels that way. Casa de Madrid may seem expensive until you consider the convenient location. It is only a few minutes walk to the Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor, Plaza del Sol, and many other attractions in the old part of the Madrid. The Teatro Real is only steps away. I’ve stayed here on five separate trips and would recommend it to anyone looking for something special.