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Radisson Blu Conference & Airport Hotel (Istanbul, Turkey)

4 Case Rating
Location Hotel is located about 2km from IST airport. Its right at the end of the runway next to main highway. They do operate a shuttle of which is suppose to leave international arrivals terminal from airport at 30 past every hour but where to locate bus at this time is very difficult. There is no specific spot that it stops at and the mini bus looks much like all the others that drive thru airport. I stayed at hotel 4 days coming from airport every day and never was able to find it. Taxi's here can be the worst in the world and seem unimpressed when you want to go to this hotel, since its close- so they try and rip you off. They should charge no more than twenty lira but expect sixty and above and they can be very rude. Recommend Turkish Uber called Bitaksi an app for smart phones that is very easy use. With that it is about 12-15L and you should look out for the registration seen on app, it is the same yellow taxi but they can't overcharge. Getting to airport is fine since the hotel shuttle goes on the hour. To get to old town or main touristic district, it can take up to 1.5 hours or 40 minutes depending on traffic. Within area is a few Kebab restaurants in a town behind hotel or by the gas station, 50 metres from hotel. Room What they call the business class room was in a long room with bed at the end. It was spacious. Large king size bed was comfortable with plenty of pillows & each side are reading spot lights in addition to lamps. Euro two pin plugs are also located there and switches for all lights. No alarm clock. The long rectangular room had a wooden desk, mirror and TV to one side. TV has about 30 channels that includes BBC, CCTV, RTL and National Geographic. Two comfy armchairs, one with stool and coffee table is offered. Large wardrobe cabinet with a nesexpreso coffee machine and 2 pods plus two bottle of water are included. A laptop size safe, robe and slippers inside. On wall is a trouser press combined with ironing board. The bathroom offered a combination of a bath & shower in one. Mini bottle amenities of body lotion, shower gel, shampoo & conditioner but no dental kit. Overall room was clean but dull colours but with good working digital AC and was comfortable. It was just a bit noisy with constant plane noise thru the night. Once your asleep its ok and they do provide ear plugs. Plus black out drapes. Facilities Hotel provides free wifi with room credentials not sure how many devices but worked with two for me. Catering includes a lobby bar and separate restaurant. This is where breakfast is at and though they have a large selection both western and turkish, hot food is a but disappointing quality wise. However breads and cheeses are good. Leisure facilities include a modern gym. They did have a swimming pool but its closed for the near future. Business facilities include a business centre, plus in lobby is a large room full of computers and printer. The hotel has large conference facilities. There is also a shop with souvenirs, magazines and snacks. Staff Staff are ok, check-in was fast and polite. Restaurant staff can be a bit lazy, of 4 days I stayed 2 I got offered coffee at breakfast, no self service facility and twice staff just hang out on phone at the entrance during non busy times. Overall great for airport but those who are noise sensitive maybe consider elsewhere because you are literarily end of runway here with take-offs frequently thru the night. However it was good value for money. There is no point to stay here if you plan to do tourism stuff in old town.
[geo_mashup_map enable_scroll_wheel_zoom="false"] Kartaltepe Mahallesi, E-5 Karayolu No:20, 34295 Küçükçekmece/İstanbul, Turkey
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Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara (Salalah, Oman)

Location The Al-Baleed resort is located on a secluded beach area down the coast with no neighbouring hotels. It takes about 25 minutes from Salalah Airport and about 15 minutes to the small city centre. Very private and secure resort. Next door is Al Baleed Archaeological Park & land of Frankincense museum. Included in the price is access to 4 Unesco world heritage sites in the region. Room The one bedroom garden villa is one of the nicest room products I've stayed at & well worth the upgrade. Upon entry you have walled private slate garden that offers your own private pool of decent size for a couple or young family, not lengths but perfect for a dip & small swim in privacy. The garden also includes your own two person cabana with pillows, drapes and adjustable roof for sunbathing or fully covered. There is also a garden outdoor soft chairs and a upright table for dining. Along with plants & trees it's of a very relaxing setting. Inside a lounge welcomes you with a long sofa that faces a huge TV with all multiple input slots. A full size desk is at one end & behind a sink, multiple drink ware and nesexpresso coffee machine. A comprehensive premium mini bar is to the side. The desk includes a hotel branded Frisbee & foot ball and x2 litre bottles of water are complimentary. Behind all this is a door to a small outside area. Enter the bedroom you will find a spacious marble finished room with a large very soft and comfortable king size bed. Large ceiling to floor windows at one end show a view of your own pool. At the other end is a small sofa that includes a sarong and a Panama hat. The bed offers marble bed side units with an alarm clock with USB sockets and a Jamo Bluetooth speaker unit with superb sound. There is also an arm chair in the room & again a huge TV with 77 multi-regional channels. TV's worked well but there was some issues with getting past the main TV menu screen to channels, at least in the lounge room. The wardrobes, laptop size safe, ironing board are in a small separate corridor allowing a bedroom free of clothes. Two kinds of robe & slippers, flip flops & yoga mat is offered. The bathroom is kind of small in comparison to room since it only has one sink but its large and again marble finish. The bathroom offers direct door to pool access. There is a large oval shaped pool with a pillow to relax, rain shower and separate shower extension. Multiple soft towels and comprehensive amenities include local brand Amouage. They also offer a soap menu with some nice health based soaps. Also after sun lotion in which is handy. The toilet in a separate frosted glass cubicle has a bidet. All rooms have individual digital AC controls but the centralised AC can be loud if your fan is on high. The decor is as one expects, Omani artistic local colourful furnishings expected for a beach side villa finished in white and brown wood with grey marble and glass candle lanterns. The garden offers fake constant candle creating a nice mellow ambience at night. Overall a nice room but found the lighting to be somewhat hard to configure. Facilities Catering includes an all day dining restaurant but also a buffet for breakfast. A Mediterranean beach bar and restaurant. Plus a South East Asian restaurant. Also 24-HR in room dining. Food quality is of an excellent standard and both restaurants had a relaxing ambience. Leisure facilities include a SPA that also offers various wellness programs that also includes the only Hamman in Salalah with traditional mud rasul treatment. Off course there is a very large pool and plenty of sun lounges, cabanas beds at the pool and beach. You can hire (for free) kayaks, cruiser bicycles (great for cycling around the resort), and other water sport type activities such as fishing or hobie cat. For kids there is a kids club and teens a club that has Xbox or wii with board games, table tennis, table foot ball etc. Classes for adults include cooking, mixology and wine masterclass. There is a modern gym with personal trainers plus a tour centre for multiple excursions such as dolphin watching or diving. In addition a volleyball and football pitch are set up on the beach. Also a flood lit tennis court. Business facilities include free open fast wifi (free for 4mbps, cost if need faster). Also a library building that includes a computer. There is also a boardroom available for hire. In addition there is a bank, ATM, souvenir shop and laundry services. Staff Staff are as one expects at this level of hotel very proactive, approachable and all round very friendly and trained to the top standard to please each and every guest. After this relaxing experience, I certainly look forward to staying at Anantara again.
[geo_mashup_map enable_scroll_wheel_zoom="false"] PC 214, Al Mansurah Street, Al Baleed, Salalah 360, Oman
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Le Passage Cairo (Cairo, Egypt)

3 Case Rating
Location Le Passage is about 5 minutes away from Cairo Airport, very convenient for flights and very secure. If you feel like venturing out, 10 min drive or 10km is Heliopolis, a wealthy district with stunning archietcture with great dining and clubs such as Ayadina or Sachi. And see the famous Baron Empain Palace. The Pyramids are about 60km away or 1 hour by car. Room The charcterless room on the executive 4th floor is quite small offering a comfortable double bed with wooden glass top bedside tables on both sides with a phone and touch pad lightning controls (the only thing that is innovative otherwise it feels like your visiting your granny in her retirement home). A single two pin Euro plug is under one of the tables. Facing the bed is a decent size TV with DTV channels in Arabic, French, Italian, Russian,Chinese,Indian, English movies and Regional Gulf and African countries. Caters for almost everyone. Glass top desk, more ideal for women doing make up than working on a computer. Though a UK plug socket is close by plus an arm chair and small side table. Though not particularly comfortable or new. Plenty of space for clothes in a large wardrobe with amble amount of coat hangers as well as cupboard that contains a laptop size safe- though credit card swipe system is the function to use it, in which I didn't really like the idea of, so didn't use it. There is a mini bar fridge in corridor and offers soft drinks, beer, some chocolates and nuts and a ... random white t-shirt. The bathroom offers a combined bath and shower but with very basic unbranded amenity bottles of shampoo, shower gel and conditioner. Bring your own toothbrush, shower gel and body lotion as the products are not attractive to use. The bathroom looks quite dated and grimy around the edges. There is a digital AC unit that worked well. Overall the room feels clinical with an ambience that feels like it might be main stream in the early nineties. It also lacks functionality for the business traveller with only two plug sockets which differ. However it is fine for a night between flights but you will feel depressed if you want to experience an authentic Egyptian hotel experience. Facilities The hotel has free open WIFI and worked ok, not super fast but sufficient. There are 4 or more catering options that includes an Italian , Chinese and international Ala carte plus a lobby bar. I had breakfast and it was disappointing not so much the food but the chaos in the buffet restaurant at 6am. It was so busy that all tables are taken on my first day, takes ages to queue up to even use the basic coffee machine with hundreds of people and the cleaning standard is slow and poor with one having to ask staff to clear tables. Perhaps I was just there are wrong time but it did have an overly congested buffet and then searching endlessly for somewhere to sit and eat. The bar to be fair did look more chilled out in the lobby but like the room feels like it might be exciting if it were 1992. This hotel has a casino, discotheque, and whole load of other things none of which I visited as tired between flights but it looks like there is plenty to do looking at the endless signage. There is also a large swimming pool and kids pool, in which was heated. I believe there is a business centre & gym as well. In the lobby there are some shops from jewellery to souvenirs. FOR NON - SMOKERS, be wary this hotel has ash tray everywhere though they are cleaned frequently, the lobby can be smokey depending if there is a Chinese tour group all smoking, there are even ash trays in the corridors for rooms, its seems like a smokers paradise here as ash tray is every 10 metres but this is Egypt where everyone appears to love good smoke. My room even had an ash tray but I couldn't smell smoke, though didn't have that clean fresh smell one expects. Staff Staff seem ok, quite friendly and hospitable in all areas. They do make effort and acknowledge and wish you a good morning which is a nice effort. Slightly pushy in the shops though. Overall though they make some effort. Check-out took a while with only one staff handling a line of guest despite 4 or 5 other desks open. In terms of value for money in which is around 150USD with breakfast (02/2017) I would say the room even on executive floor feels over priced but it is quiet and clean. The only reason to stay here is to be close to airport and is perfect for a smokers that love gambling but its not an interesting hotel experience for someone that travels unless its your first time out of jail. Saying that the staff are nice but breakfast is just chaotic and almost not worth it with mediocre buffet and stress (if you go in rush hour pre 7am). I would only stay here if I had to but wouldn't choose it- the room is just dull and smoking is everywhere.
[geo_mashup_map enable_scroll_wheel_zoom="false"] Cairo International Airport (CAI), Sheraton Al Matar, Qesm an Nuzhah, Cairo Governorate, Egypt
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Oman – Royal Army of Oman (Muscat)

Shangri La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa-Al Husn (Muscat, Oman)

Location Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah resort is located 45 minutes drive from Muscat Seeb Airport. If your looking to save on expenses, Its worth hiring a car as its overall less expensive than a one way taxi. The roads in Muscat area are of a very good standard & gives you opportunity to explore the mountains & deserts if you decide to leave the resort. Parking is done by staff for you. The location is very idyllic with the coastline bordering the mountain range. The resort consists of three hotels all part of the Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort. Al Waha Resort is the less expensive more family orientated resort (full of children but great facilities for them), Al Bandar is an more up market business hotel and lastly, the hotel I am reviewing Al Husn is their most premium product. Various staff describe it as the VIP hotel when I asked what differed to the others. This is because of the exclusive facilities for Al Husn guests only. In short this is the most premium product of the resort and where I was told Sultans and other Royalty have stayed at. Room The room I stayed at was perfectly positioned facing the bay of hotels of the main beach. Very spacious 6 star standard of room from the exceptional attention to detail in creating a luxurious Arabic ambience with decor that includes a detailed classical thick but soft carpet, wooden detailed crafted walls and gold taps,switches and plugs. It feels cosy, glamours, a palace feel thanks to the luxury furnishings, wall designs and lighting . Artistic Omani framed pictures & photos enhance this ambience. The room is large with a long full mirrored corridor from entrance leading to very spacious bedroom. Large comfortable bed with clean white Egyptian standard of cotton bedding. Spacious, decorative with soft pillows. Either side is marble top built in bed side tables, both offering drawers with the one having a phone & a classic leather framed clock and nearby plug sockets. The highlight however is seen above both of the bed side tables; unique lanterns hanging overhead in creating the distinctive Shangri-La mellow Asian feel to the lighting, full room switches conveniently below. The back wall of the bed has an original artistic detailed wooden facade with a back white light relaxing and mellow. The craft design is consistent in other areas of the room such as the back wall behind the glass top desk that faces the bed. This is accompanied by an upright but comforatble burgundy leather chair. A large antique looking mirror above additional plug sockets, telephone, small nesexpresso machine plus drawers containing a hair dryer & handy plug adaptor. The table also contains a bose blue tooth speaker system- portable and connects to all blue tooth devices. Both sides of this large desk are small oval art deco lamps, again creating warm mood to further enhance the cosiness. A silver suit hanger that also holds cufflinks stands nearby. The room has two options of seating, a small classic sofa for two people that faces the TV. A glass top finish wooden coffee table plus a large classical velvet chair facing it. I was presented with some fruit and sweet snacks on top. To the left is a small wooden cabinet that contains the free mini bar- this include a collection of canned soft drinks, juices, perrier water and Budweiser and even some sweet & savoury snacks - all complimentary, replenished every day included in room rate. Generous sized Bombay Sapphire, JW Waker & absolute vodka is also available at a price. The cabinet also contain a kettle for making tea and the expresso capsules. Nice glass ware and mugs are also offered. Sony flat screen TV of decent size and clear clarity offers a generous 140 channels with convenient TV guide with programs from literally all over the world including news to movies channels and everything else. Beyond the thick black out curtains is a decent sized balcony, deep and private from neighbours offering both a small sofa with soft pillows a glass table with chairs for smokers. My room 1113 offered an impressive view of the main beach displaying the other hotels and sandy mountains in the back ground. Very nice for sunrise & general view of the resort. Great for relaxing & getting out of the sun. The bathroom is directly located by the entrance and is very spacious offering a complete marble finish to walls and floor with gold faucet taps in all areas. A large bath with window into main bedroom is present like in Asia but the Shangri-La offers sliding wooden doors for privacy when needed. Relaxing scented bath salts are offered in an artistic Arabian pot. There is a closed shower cubicle with both overhead rain and separate head's - all classical design & exceptionally clean. Toilet in opposite room with bidet- again gold faucets. A volume switch for the TV exist if you wish to listen while in bathroom. Amenities offered are extensive and generous that include L’Occitane branded Jasmin & Bergamote Shower gel bottles, shampoo, and conditioner, body milk and even Colgate total mouthwash. There is the standard full set of amenities such as dental kits, shavers, vanity sets, combs etc by Shangri-La. Another classical but glass clock is also on the spacious sink area. 4 water bottles are provided. Within bathroom is an inlet side room area with a convenient large luggage rack shelf. Staff have prepared your bags before you even arrive in there- its that efficient. There open wardrobe above has plenty of coat hangers and it also offers an iron, iron board, plus a laptop compatible safe and complimentary comfortable Shangri-La branded flip flops and slippers- so don't worry if your forget them. As standard branded robes are also offered. As I express such detail, i feels like your are in an Arabian palace guest room, soft classical carpet, cosy ambience and honestly in the many rooms I have stayed at, the Al Husn room had nothing you could fault. I really enjoyed just relaxing before retiring to sleep by just having the mellow lights on and absorbing the decor. Facilities There are way too many facilities to mention since this hotel covers all of the complex. However Al Husn guest's have exclusivity & benefits in addition to use of the whole Shangri-La Resort of three hotels. The main noticeable aspect of these is that its has a child-free policy to keep in line the luxurious ambient atmosphere. The other two especially Al Waha is full of children with busy pools and kids running everywhere. The Al Husn avoids this with the child-free policy at its private beach & the infinity pool that offers splendid views of the coast below. Jacuzzi's palm tree each side with soft comfortable sun loungers that face the ocean- the other hotels have very busy pools full of children but Al Husn is quiet and relaxing with plenty of space at both beach and pool to have your own privacy, in contrast to how busy the lawn of the main beach of the other two hotels was. The private beach you can walk down (5-10 minutes) or staff will happily drive you down with a golf cart. This beach is much nicer than the main beach of the other two hotels, positioned much more intimately between the rocks and cliffs, the sandy beach has many sun loungers that face two sides- one side offers a view of the large bay where the local marina of Yachts is nearby and where you can see the stunning sunset over the mountains behind. Beach staff offer canoes and other equipment for your convenience. Plus cold refreshing mist, bottled water and cold towels. There is also a beach bar in this area. Its is great for photos since one of the rocks that sticks out has a nice hole in it that boats stream thru. Sunset is mesmerising plus the sea seemed less wild in this area. There is a 24 hours gym - well equipped with weights and cardio, quite small but staffed readily there handing out towels and cold water bottles. A library exists with both apple and windows computers with printer plus off course comfortable arm chairs with plenty of shelves of interesting books of all kinds. Great place to rest and read especially in the main heat of the day time sun. In terms of catering there are two restaurants (at Al Husn) one of which offers the complimentary afternoon tea, enjoyable small selection of mini scones, sandwiches and cakes- very British with a large selection of teas offered from the proactive staff. This is also where the buffet and ala carte breakfast is served. An excellent offering of menu dishes with fresh international and Arabian choices plus a buffet full of delicious breads,fruits, meats and cheeses. I was impressed with my Salmon on Scrambled egg and Beef tenderloin. Another restaurant nearby is the most premium fine dining of all the 10+ catering facilities across the whole complex- I did not try this so cannot comment. Both areas have indoor and outdoor seating. There is also a complimentary pre-dinner glass of wine of mixed liquor drinks offered between 6-7. The Al Husn has beautiful decor both in lobby lounges and nice carpeted corridors scented with what I belief to be frankincense. There is also a Omani Coffeee and date station that door staff are ready to offer you upon arrival, in addition to the delicious tropical juice drink. Since there are so many facilities on sight of the whole complex, please look at picture of map but some items to mention in main areas (at the other hotels) include a lazy river (moving river) where you sit on lidos that carry you along between the other hotels- quite fun. Tennis court, SPA, Kids area, Volley ball and multiple water sports like banana boat and snorkelling plus a diving centre is also on site. Large selection of catering outlets across the whole site both Arabic and International foods. There is also an Art gallery, shops, outdoor Shisha/Hooka lounge, Mini Golf,and excursions amongst others. There is even a daily return transfer service to various sights in Muscat. A unique highlight though is Turtle beach where around late afternoon if your lucky, small turtles come to the beach in a small cove in an area of the resort close to Al Husn side. Its a 5 star resort with no reason to leave, full of activities but the Al-Husn goes further in fitting the 6 star standard with its additional facilities and attention to detail from both the product and staff service. Staff Staff are exceptional. I was welcomed upon arrival by with an authentic Omani Uniformed door man, dressed with the local traditional sword, ready to park my car, offer you a date and the Arabic local coffee available in the lobby. With bags taken and automatically delivered to your room while your checking in. A delicious welcome drink and refreshing cold towel with eager reception staff ready to personally accompany you to your room and explain the facilities and what the Al-Husn offers very clearly. Staff at afternoon tea are sincere and professional in their efforts to ensure your needs. This is also the case with the friendly staff down by the beach and even when visiting the main resort, staff in all areas are very attentive to the presence of the guest, consistently acknowledging you in a friendly manner with eye contact and a smile regardless which hotel you are at. In the evening I spent some time at the Shisha place to relax and look at the stars and the staff there were easily approachable and chatty noticing I was on my own. I walked around the others in the evening and daytime and the main difference is simply not the staff but atmosphere of the guests, the others two hotels are just very busy with lots of children. Overall the Al-Husn is very impressive product that I certainly feel is worth upgrading especially if your on a honeymoon or prefer a relaxing environment. A place that leaves a lasting impression of experiencing the true Omani Hospitality together with room decor comparable to an Arabian Palace. I hope to return here soon to experience more, since I was only there 24 hours.
[geo_mashup_map enable_scroll_wheel_zoom="false"] Al Jissah Street, Qantab, Muscat, 100, Oman
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Oman – Muscat Palace (Muscat)

Oman – Traditional Dress (Muscat)

Qatar – Skyline (Doha)

Saudi Arabia – Camel

Saudi Arabia – Mecca

Saudi Arabia – Jeddah

Bahrain – Stuffed Camel Recipe

Turkey – Istanbul Letters

Turkey – Ayasofya Museum (Istanbul)

UAE – Sheikh Zayed Mosque (Abu Dhabi)

UAE – Burj Khalifa Tower – Dubai

UAE – Burj Al Arab Hotel (Dubai)

UAE – Burj Khalifa (Dubai)

Bahrain – Kingdom of Bahrain Camel

Bahrain – Bab Al Bahrain Market

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