Boutique/Pensions vs Large Hotels

Old Oct 14th, 2004, 04:11 AM
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Boutique/Pensions vs Large Hotels

Just looking for opinions on this. We generally prefer small hotels or B&B type hotels for the personal experience and the price. However with the price of even these small hotels in Prague and Budapest at near 3000 kc or more and Vienna at 175 euros I am wondering about the value. Considering that most time is spent touring rather than at the hotel, is staying at a hotel like the Maximillian, with larger rooms and beds better. How much cultural exchange have Fodorites experienced at their hotels?
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Old Oct 14th, 2004, 04:44 AM
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I sometimes stay at small hotels with character, and sometimes stay at large chain hotels. It depends on the city. For example, in Hong Kong I would stay at a large, spectacular chain because they seem to do that really well (and, in my limited experience, they're not so great at "shabby chic"). But in Paris, I'd opt for a small hotel with character - because somehow Paris seems to do "shabby, charming characterful" hotels well - so do Italy and Lisbon. Sometimes, however, after a week or do of "charm and character", which also often comes with narrow, somewhat lumpy beds and quaint but less than fully functional bathroom fixtures, what I really want is a giant impersonal Marriott bed and a shower I can stand up in.
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Old Oct 14th, 2004, 05:51 AM
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It's a good question, but hard to answer for a few reasons. One is that one person's 'quaint' is another person's 'shabby' as we so often see here. Another is perceived value: people have different expectations for the money they pay, some compare the hotel room they get in one city to what they are used to at home or in other cities for the same price, and they find themselves disappointed or they feel taken advantage of, forgetting that each place has its own economy and tourism culture. I think many people agree for example that London, an expensive city, has some dicey low-budget hotels in iffy neighborhoods that are not recommended.

Prague has several places "with character" that are in a low-middle range ( less than the Maximillian) that are almost always recommended: there are the Certkova, the Cloister Inn, and others. But I've read that the Maximillian is a charming hotel.
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Old Oct 14th, 2004, 05:58 AM
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Well, in Prague I stay at one of the most expensive hotels in town and it has plenty of "character" IMO along with marble bathrooms.

Cultural exchange??? With whom? The front desk staff? The housekeeper? The guest you run into in the hallway?

personally, I think a lot of this notion that you are going to meet the locals in a smaller hotel is bogus. You can meet locals and have "cultural exchange" in ANY hotel if YOU make the attempt. Only difference will be the people you encounter.
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Old Oct 14th, 2004, 10:42 AM
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I've stayed at the Maximilian twice and really liked it. It's not Czech, but Austrian, actually (the owners and usually 1-2 of the personnel). It is certainly not a "large" hotel, though, it's a renovated small townhouse, typical size in comparison to hotels I usually use in Europe (around 40-100 rooms). It has about 70 rooms. The furnishings and comfort is very nice, which is why I like it. It makes my stays very enjoyable.

I don't like B&Bs, but this is within the range of a small hotel, to me. I don't see what difference there would be in terms of cultural exchange in a hotel of 25 rooms versus 70 rooms. I have no interest in cultural exchanges with hotel owners and staff, though, I am busy visiting things and out and about. I'll admit I don't even know what you mean, exactly. Of course you speak a few words to the people working in the hotel here and there, but beyond that, not much.

I stayed at a pension in Vienna which probably fits your bill and I talked to the woman running it a bit when checking in or asking her directions, but that was it. Nobody was even around in the evenings. I didn't have any more cultural exchange at that place than a regular hotel, in fact, much less.

If you really like small B&Bs and cheap hotels, I wouldn't recommend you stay at the Maximilian because it isn't cheap and it sounds like you would judge it not worth the price from some of the things you said. Yes, it is better for me, or I wouldn't stay there, but I care about comfortable beds, great showers, pretty decor, etc. even though of course you aren't spending 24 hours a day in the hotel. I agree "most" of your time is not in the hotel (but I imagine I spend about 11 hours a day there as I like to get 8 hrs sleep, and relax 1-2 hours between daytime activities and going out to dinner/events, plus perhaps showering and dressing for the evening activities. I don't spend most of my time in my house at home, either, but I like a nice and comfortable home.

There are places in-between cheap pensions and the Maximilian, for sure, why don't you go for the mid-range.

AS for me, I think I have more cultural exchange than most people because I do travel alone, so interact with others more, I have read up and studied about an area and what to do, and I usually study the language before I go and try to use it. My opinion is most of what you experience in a foreign culture is outside your hotel or pension, not in it. If you really want to experience the culture, try going to some neighborhoods or areas or things that are not main tourist sites, try to learn the language, shop in a regular grocery store, etc.
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