Hotels: Tirant Hotel

We came in to drop off our bags at 930am as we got in earlier than we had planned and we were lucky that rooms were available. We were even upgraded to a couple of deluxe rooms, and the staff gave us a quick run through and explained to us that there were ongoing renovation works right next door and to let us know if we found it too noisy and they would help us change rooms or move to another hotel.

Tirant Hotel

The location was right in the middle of the Old Quarter, about a ten minute walk to Hoan Kiem lake and the nearby shops.

Our room was spacious with clean, classic furnishings - furnishings may have been a little bit dated, but otherwise well maintained. Air-conditioning worked well, and the room had the basic amenities including toiletries, welcome drinks and a well stocked mini bar. Our toilet had glass walls, but it wasn't see through - although it did seem a bit unusual at first! Hot water was responsive and water pressure was good.

Breakfast was up on the 11th floor, with a rooftop view. Spread was slightly above average, with a selection of fresh fruits, an omelette corner and a different selection of hot foods and average pastries.

Staff were definitely very helpful, from helping us organize local tours to always greeting us with smiles, to helping us post our postcards at the local post office to prompt room service. It was really fantastic service! Their staff were definitely the strongest asset to the hotel!

CONS: Because of renovations, the room is noisy during the day. Renovations stop at 630, so if you're out all day it doesn't make too much of a difference, but probably not for families with young children who need a nap. Also, in the lower rooms with the windows, you'll be directly facing the restaurants on the opposite side of the road, which can be noisy up to about 10pm.

Otherwise it was a good hotel base to explore Hanoi and the old Quarter, to walk down the winding streets and see the way the locals live.

Hotel: El Nazar Cave Hotel

I had pre-booked the El Nazar Cave Hotel online and communicated with the manager, Ilyas through e-mail prior to coming. We arrived late night due to a delayed flight but Ilyas had pre-arranged transport for us so we weren't stuck at the airport which was such a relief!, and he was waiting for us at reception at midnight when we arrived.

El Nazar is one of the many cave hotels in Cappadocia, and was located halfway up a hill.

The room was a good size and as pictured, with a spacious attached bathroom. Clean, heated and comfortable - was especially thankful for heating since it was freezing the first few nights we were there!

El Nazar - Bedroom

The bathroom was surprisingly large, with a jacuzzi abthtub and tiled floors. There were your bath toiletries and a hairdryer. Water pressure was good, and the hot water was responsive.

El Nazar - Bathtub

The breakfast spread was good and we were always offered a choice of omelette; and the view over the city was pretty good and you could actually see the balloons up in the sky while having breakfast!

El Nazar - Breakfast

It was an easy walk down to the city, probably about 5 minutes to the Main Street that ran through town. Location was great, really close by the bus station and restaurants.

Ilyas was also a wealth of information and helped us arrange our balloon tours and connecting tickets to Olympos and was ever ready to give advice with regards to directions, places to eat and things to do.

It's a nice enough hotel, but it's Ilyas and the staff that make the place all that it is.