19 April 2015

Hotel The Bird in Amsterdam Review

The Hotel The Bird is a newly refurbished building in the heart of Amstel area, just a mere 15 minutes walk from the Amsterdam Central Station. It is a nice little hotel near food outlets, groceries, the Bloom Market and Dam Square, Rembrandtplein and Delft Experience. It is also very near  the headquarters of my favourite hotel booking site in the world - Booking.com.

My friend and I booked a twin room for 4 nights. It is not a very big room but enough to accommodate the two of us who are fairly "small." We loved the room and the hotel as a whole for the reason that we got a good location, it's not noisy, the beds are super comfortable and the Front Desk staff named Evie was so nice and helpful to us. We felt really special and welcome in the hotel.

What I like:
The location was superb! It is located in Amstel, very near the Flower Market, the Delft Experience, Dam Square, Rembrandtplein, National Opera, Amsterdam Central Station and many more tourists attractions within walking distance.  The hotel is very near groceries (Albert Heijn To Go), fast food, tram way and has a good view of the canal.

The bed is super comfortable. It is just the right firmness for a good rest especially after a long day of walking. It is new too as most of the stuff inside the room are.

The rain shower head! I like the shower head a lot because I can fully wash my hair without having to use tiny handheld showers. Also, the water temperature is well regulated. It's easy to set the temperature setting for the hot water or if you prefer to shower with lukewarm water.

The bathroom is clean and the fixtures are brand new. The shampoo/body wash and liquid soap are in big, squeezable containers so there's no worry of running out of them. Even if, you can always buy your bath paraphernalia in the grocery just adjacent the hotel. There's also a hairdryer!

The big flat screen TV. I am not sure how big it is. I am not good at that but I know it's big. There are available English channels too so I had time to watch before going to bed.

The lighting is great. I didn't find the room dark as there are plenty of lighting options to choose if you want a dim or bright room. There's also a big window so during the day, you can keep the curtains on the side to get natural light in.

The hotel is actually refurbished. It smells new, the lobby is clean and well decorated and lit.

The Front Desk agent named Evie is so nice and friendly. She spoke really good English and had given us tips and free map to use if we wanted to explore Amsterdam on foot. She was there every morning and at night, we would see another agent (a male) and I have missed to get his name. Both of them are very courteous. This is one of the reasons why I may find myself booking in this hotel again soon.

The whole time we were there, our rooms were cleaned and the towels replaced. On the last day of our stay, we just informed the housekeeping staff not to clean the room anymore since we were leaving the next day.

The wi-fi connection is free and available in the hotel premises.

Here are more pictures of the hotel:

Most of the hotels in Amsterdam do not have lifts (elevators). I am pleasantly surprised that this small hotel has. It was a big help especially if you have a luggage to carry.

What I don't like:
NOTHING to like in this hotel. I like this hotel a lot!

Booked a total of 4 nights and 5 days for €440++ via Booking.com. Rates were getting high around Amsterdam and I booked this hotel around last quarter of 2014.

Meal option:
There's no meal option attached to our rate. I don't think they offer room service. I am not sure though.

Nearby attractions:
Dam Square
Flower Market
National Opera
Amsterdam Dungeon
Ice Bar
Amsterdam Museum
the canals

My recommendation: 5 of 5

I am really satisfied with my stay in this small hotel. It may not be 5-stars in quality and value but the feeling of being special in their property is enough to make it stand out. I like the courteous staff, the warm welcome, the fast check-in and out and of course, the location of this property. I highly recommend this hotel to families, business travellers, solo travellers and small groups.

The hotel has 15 rooms.  Hotel The Bird is located at Amstel 30, 1017AB, Amsterdam, Netherland.

Search for hotels and rates here:

This hotel review is my personal review. I have paid for this stay and in no way sponsored by the property nor Booking.com. I love to book via Booking.com because I always find a very competitive rate or great deals when compared to other booking sites. My opinion is 100% mine and may vary from yours.

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16 April 2015

Little Passport's 6th Birthday Celebration Offer

**The links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Little Passports is turning 6 this month and let's celebrate with a fanfare! To celebrate, they are generously offering 15% off  on ALL Subscription Plans! All you need to do is use code  this code: BIRTHDAY at check out. Celebrate soon, this brilliant birthday sale ends April 20th!!

Fine print: **Offer valid on new subscriptions only and cannot be combined with any other offers and/or applied retroactively to previously placed orders. 15% discount is applied to the first month only on Monthly Plan subscriptions. Offer excludes shipping and taxes. Offer valid from April 16th, 2015 at 8:00AM EST to April 20th, 2015 at 11:59PM EST.

Don't miss out on this fabulous offer and give your kids the chance to learn more about the world around us.

To give you an idea on the various choices you have in Little Passports, check out these items:
Little Passports USA Edition
Little Passports World Edition
Early Explorers 

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10 April 2015

The Keukenhof Garden Experience at Lisse, Netherlands

I have been dreaming about stepping my foot in this magical garden for a long time. When I have finally visited Keukenhof Garden last March 29, 2015, it rained like crazy! But, I didn't let the rain stop me from taking pictures around the area and savour each moment I had while inside the Keukenhof Garden.

If it wasn't for the strong, gusty winds, the biting cold with torrential rains, I would brave the inclement weather and go around Keukenhof. However, the trees around me seemed like they were going to fall on me each the strong wind blows so I wasn't able to go around the entire garden to check out other areas. I was able to visit the Juliana Tulip Pavilion and checked out Tulpomania because it was near the entrance where there are covered sheds and cozy seats to get comfortable.

This year's theme is about the commemoration of the 125 years since the death of the famous Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh.

There are also other events happening in the garden so it is best to check the website if you plan to visit.

What can you see in Keukenhof Garden?

Flowers! You can see plenty of flowers like hydrangeas, hyacinths, crocuses, carnations, calla lilies, bluebells, narcissi and many more; not to mention the over 800 varieties of tulips planted all over the Keukenhof Garden. Aside from flowers, there are ponds, petting farm and playground.

Aside from what you can see there, the entire family and everyone visiting the garden can enjoy riding bikes outside the garden (biking is NOT allowed inside Keukenhof) and children can have fun in the petting farm and go on a treasure hunt for free!

When is it open?

It is open only once a year during spring time and the date of opening varies year per year depending on the weather. This year, the garden is open from March 20 to May 17, 2015. So, flower-loving visitors all over the world fly to the Netherlands to soak in the lovely splashes of colour from the many beautiful flowering plants in the garden.

Where is it?

Keukenhof Garden is located in Lisse, Netherlands. It is accessible by train, car, and public transportation.

Where to book/buy tickets?

You can directly purchase from their website or through travel agencies around Amsterdam. I booked mine through Viator with a combination tour to Volendam, Marken and Zaanse Schans. The tour is operated by Lindbergh in Damrak, stones' throw away from Amsterdam Central Station.

Here are few of the pictures I have managed to have snapped in Keukenhof despite of the heavy rains. My bucket list is just half-ticked because I haven't seen the full glory of what Keukenhof has to offer. I will definitely visit again next year and I'll make sure my visit will count.

(There were more beyond this shot but didn't venture much because of the gusty winds and very biting cold and wet weather.)

(I was so tempted to take one tulip home as souvenir. They're so pretty and there were so many varieties too.)

(I wanted to dive in this sweetness! They smell so good and looked very fluffy too.  Their colours are much better in person than in this shot.)

The pictures didn't justify the real beauty right in front of my eyes. You actually have to go there to admire the flowers and the surrounding. Some of the flowers were in bloom already and I could imagine how beautiful the whole garden would be when they are all in full bloom (and no rain!). The sight will be spectacular!

Visit Keukenhof Garden when you are in Netherlands during spring. You still have time until 17 May. It is best to visit during mid-April when the flowers are in full bloom and the weather is not as rainy when I visited. There are nearby accommodations too in Lisse if you want to book one. Check out Booking.com.

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04 April 2015

Review - ibis budget Hotel Amsterdam at Badhoevedorp

This is the first time I have ever booked a hotel near the airport and also the first time to be in Netherlands after many years of planning, cancelling, planning and finally really going. I am very happy with this decision to book a night's stay near the airport as my friend and I were first timers in Netherlands and we didn't know the place yet. Arriving at night is also one of the great factors I have considered when I chose this hotel at Badhoevedorp area just few kilometres away from the Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport.

As usual, I always book my hotels at Booking.com and I get good rates because of their "secret deals" offered to subscribers. I am glad I have booked in advance because hotels in Netherlands are fully booked now until summer.

The ibis budget Hotel Amsterdam is a very nice and cozy hotel just near the airport. It is part of the ibis/Accor hotels chain. Here are my feedback about this quaint hotel but good enough to satisfy a comfortable stay.

The hotel offers 200 budget rooms, all equipped with flat TV, phone, and toilet/shower and free wi-fi all throughout the building. It also has wheelchair access for those with disability.

What I like:
The fast check in and check out. It didn't take us more than 5 minutes to be checked in. Check out was super breeze! I just had to inform the staff I was checking out because my friend and I already paid the stay upon check in.

The staff are all friendly, from the shuttle bus driver, to the check-in/out staff, to the housekeeping staff. Everyone was willing to give us a hand in carrying our luggages down the fire exit staircase when the power went off in the whole of Amsterdam last 27 March. Even the lady concierge staff offered to assist me with my luggage while I was going down the stairs. I declined because I didn't want to inconvenience her since I could manage but the fact that she didn't only ask me, she also asked the others going down the staircase that time. The other staff offered to help other guests too with their luggages. Also, they were all friendly and offered help when needed. I just felt so special in that place.

The bed! Oh the bed is ultra comfortable! It's not too soft nor hard for my back. I had a good night's sleep. I requested a twin bed but my friend and I were given 1 big double with a single bunk bed on top. Actually, a family with 2 kids or 3 adults can stay in the room.

The shower area is clean.

The apple green wall! Yes, I liked the colour a lot because it's soothing and relaxing for me. It may seem to be odd for some but I find it nice.

The location. It is just a mere 7-10 minutes drive from the airport.

There is a free shuttle bus that picks up guests from the Amsterdam Schiphol airport to and from and it runs every 15-20 minutes. There is a timetable in the bus stop designated for ibis budget/ibis Hotel guests just across Sheraton. There is also a timetable in the hotel lobby.

There is a free wifi. Since our room is only at the 2nd floor, we didn't have any issue on the connection. It was fast and okay.

We paid for a buffet breakfast for only €7 each. I am not sure if that is cheap by European standard but the breakfast consists of several choices of freshly baked breads, cereals, yogurts, cold cuts, sausages, coffee/tea/juices and cheese, spreads and butter.

The big flat TV affixed on the wall so it didn't obstruct anything.

Has access for wheelchair

Has vending machine in the lobby if you need a late night snack and drink.

Pets are allowed.

What I don't like:
The toilet. Well, this is the first time I have seen a toilet that is separated from the shower area in the bathroom. I found it very unsanitary to use the toilet with just the tissue to use and no water hose to clean myself up afterwards. I literally have to get up and move to the shower room with a frosted glass door to fully wash myself or use the sink outside, near the bed. Hmmm, I don't know why the set up was like that. The hotel could have just made 1 small cubicle and placed the toilet side by side the shower area with the wash basin inside too. Just thought the set up was so weird and very unsanitary. The shower room's door does not have a lock.

(no lock in the shower area and the door is just a frosted glass...not much coverage)

The lighting was not as bright as the other hotels I have been to. The lights in the room were sufficient but not bright.

The windows can be opened which I find not good for security reasons. It was good to open the window probably during summer because I didn't notice if there was any air condition unit in the room. So, it must be okay to have a window that opens during summer.

There's no closet which makes sense because the room is not very big.

The shower area does not have any hook where you can hang your towel.

Room type:
Standard room with 1 double bed and bunk bed

Meal option:
None but you can avail of the €7 buffet breakfast

€49 (excluding taxes) per room per night from Booking.com

Nearby attraction:
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
Amsterdam City Centre (approx 8 kms. from the hotel)

My recommendation: 4 out of 5

I find this hotel a good one to stay for shorter period of time because it's clean, quiet, away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. It offers free shuttle from and to the airport which can save you money. I like how nice and friendly the staff were and I felt really welcomed in this property.

I do recommend this to families, business travellers, solo travellers and even for couples. It is also great for those who cannot leave their fur babies behind as they accept pets. I actually saw a cute dog being walked at the parking area by one of the guests of the hotel. I didn't realise then that they allow pets in the hotel.

ibis budget Hotel Amsterdam is located at Schipholweg 1851171 PK - Badhoevedorp, Netherlands.

If you wish to book this property, please check availability and the very competitive rates (subject to change without prior notice) offered in Booking.com. Also, don't forget to ask about their pet policy before you book as it may change.

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This hotel review is my personal review. I have paid for this stay and in no way sponsored by the property nor Booking.com. I love to book via Booking.com because I always find a very competitive rate or great deals when compared to other booking sites. My opinion is 100% mine and may vary from yours.

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