It’s been a little bit quiet on my blog over the last month or so. If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you’ll know that I’ve recently started working full-time in London, which has meant lots of early nights and weekends spent wanting to do nothing more than lounge around watching awful TV.
It hasn’t been all ‘work-work-work’ though – in June I managed to sneak in a week’s visit to the world’s most northern city, Reykjavik!
My friend Helen and I spent five nights exploring the sights and segways of the Icelandic capital. We stayed in Home Luxury Apartments, a hotel with a name packed full of promise. In our minds, we envisioned a glamorous, cosy nest in the centre of the city. But did it meet our expectations?
First of all, the design of the apartment lends itself amazingly well to all the amenities you could possibly need. The flat flows round to allow space for a hallway, bathroom, lounge, dining area, kitchen and bedroom. The room wasn’t exceptionally large but utilised what space it had well. Having never stayed in an apartment before, I quickly realised there were both pros and cons to this kind of accommodation. Yes, you save money by having the facilities to cook evening meals and make lunches on the cheap – but it also meant we may have spent more time than was necessary relaxing in the apartment, rather than exploring the city.
|My favourite corner of the apartment|
There’s no doubt that Home Luxury Apartments is perfectly located for getting the most out of Reykjavik. Nestled right next to the main street Bankastraeti in the down town part of the city, it’s just a 5-10 minute walk to main attractions including Tjörnin lake, Hallgrímskirkja church and the Old Harbour. There’s also a supermarket round the corner which is ideal for last-minute ‘I DON’T HAVE ANY KETCHUP TO GO WITH THIS PIZZA’ panics. On this point, the flat definitely scored full marks.
Sadly, however, that was the best bit about the place. As much as I really wanted to love this apartment, there were significant flaws in certain areas that, sadly, left me less than impressed.
The best way to my heart is a comfortable bed. Comfort, comfort, comfort is all it takes to make me happy. Our ‘bed’ in Home Luxury Apartments? It was just a mattress sitting directly on the floor. I’m not sure if this is an Icelandic thing, but it was less than ideal for getting up and out of bed in the morning – and I’m in my early 20s! The mattress was also very firm and made of memory foam. My friend adored it, but it made my back ache. I ended up sleeping on the sofa pretty much every night with a flimsy scarf wrapped round me to keep me warm.
|Our bed on the floor|
Secondly, although the city itself was incredibly peaceful, every night we were woken up by neighbours in the next-door apartments having parties at 2am. On our first night we were woken up by someone outside screaming “I LOVE ICELAND!!’ Great, but could you maybe leave that until a more acceptable hour? The notice in the apartment said that any loud guests would be asked to vacate the property, yet this went on every night. On our final night, next-door decided to have a party right outside our front door. Don’t get me wrong, parties are great but not at 3am when we have a long day of checking out and flying back to the UK. It ended up with me opening the door and politely asking the nearest person to keep the noise down a bit. True, the behaviour of the other guests isn’t the hotel’s fault, but better regulation to ensure noise is kept to a minimum so as not to bother other visitors could be improved.
Although Reykjavik wasn’t as cold as we had expected (it even reached the sweltering heights of 12 degrees on one day!) our apartment was like a sauna. We ended up turning all the radiators down and having half the windows open just to breathe. At nights, coupled with the amount of noise outside, it was unbearable. We ended up having to shut all the windows and having to suffer through the stuffiness.
|The terrifying wax doll picture hanging above the bed|
Finally, we have an incident we lovingly termed ‘rubbish-gate.’ This traumatic incident was enough to slowly drive us mad over the course of the holiday, especially in our sleep-deprived state (see above). The apartment’s information sheet advised to leave any rubbish we needed collecting and taken away outside the front door between 9am-4pm only. We did so and hopped off for a day of sight-seeing. When we arrived back, the rubbish was still there. We ended up having to take it back in to stink out the room for the night.
The next morning, we put the rubbish out early in the morning and went back to sleep for a little nap. We were then woken up by the sound of seagulls squawking outside the apartment. Thinking it was not that unusual since we were so near to the harbour, I rolled back to sleep. Helen, however, jumped up and opened the front door.
“You know the rubbish that was outside?”
“You know the rubbish that was outside?”
The seagulls had had a field day with our rubbish. They’d picked up one bag and spewed the contents across the patio. The second bag was nowhere to be seen, so God knows which poor person ended up with our leftover dinner across their front garden. So, our morning was spent picking up old teabags, toast and spaghetti off the wooden floor panels.
Over the next few days we phoned up reception numerous times asking where we could put the rubbish or requesting someone come pick it up to prevent the seagulls having yet another play-day. Eventually, the rubbish was picked up – but not before driving us slowly mad in the intervening period.
|The kitchen: the site of many of our failed attempts at cooking|
So there we go. The apartment definitely wins on style and location but, unfortunately, not on functionality. Despite the promising name and positive Expedia reviews, sadly the Home Luxury Apartments didn’t provide us with the relaxing retreat we were hoping for. In fact, I ended up feeling relieved once we had checked out – and feeling horribly sorry for the couple checking in.
Total: 2 and a half stars
Have you ever stayed in a hotel that didn’t meet your expectations?