News & Reviews News 2021 Summary

With travel being illegal until May and punishable by having Prince Andrew stay the night in your home, it came as no surprise that my blog became the sewage of the internet, and for once that wasn’t from something I’d written.  We took the first opportunity to get out of the country in May and I’ve been writing at a ferocious rate of a blog post per month since.  If you all miss me so much next time, I’ll happily review my daily walk to Waitrose to pick up a sandwich.  I’m sure even that annoys me enough to get a thousand words out.

The Connaught

Ahhh, familiarity.  After our 12 years-a-lockdown ended, or however long it was, we made our way to The Connaught and returned many times since.  There is still something inexplicable about my love for The Connaught.  Except for the specialist suites (Terrace, Library, Mews, The Apartment, Prince’s Lodge and Eagle’s Nest) the rooms are poor; the spa therapists are amazing, but the spa facilities are weak and the swimming pool is often so cold that they could film the end scene of Titanic here without any visual effects.  Yet the location is unbeatable, F&B is the best in the city and continually improves, service is extraordinary and having been a regular for close to ten years they treat us exceptionally well.  It makes it hard to ever want to stay anywhere else.

Hotel Caruso

I have little understanding of why I liked Hotel Caruso, but I still managed to wrestle out a review to try and convince you to go, even though I may never return.  It either has an indescribable quality to it, or my literacy level of a twelve-year-old can’t describe it.

It’s erm blue and has water. Not convinced?

Hotel de Russie

If you insist on having a hotel with a garden that’s near a Brunello Cucinelli store this is your dream, otherwise, Hotel Eden is far better.  Fingers crossed for Bulgari Rome to finally offer a quality option to one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Reschio

The property is beautiful, but you have to be prepared to spend for their top suites and villas to make it worthwhile.  Does that then cost so much it’s not worthwhile?  Go and tell me and remember to send your complaints to blackhole@dorsiatravel.com

Le Grand Controle

A splendid hotel, let down by everyone not involved in the construction of it.  That is, the soft product needs a lot of work.  I’m a big fan of Les Airelles, which is why they invited me here in the first place, so I truly believe they will get it right, but it needs to come soon as I continue to hear negative feedback on the service.

Four Seasons Athens

303 rooms.  The entire Spartan army could have stayed here and found it less luxurious than the Battle of Thermopylae.  I exaggerate.  It’s not that bad, but at 303 rooms it has the feel of a resort, which is not what I want from any property, let alone one as expensive as here.

Four Seasons Prague

This is the de-facto choice when visiting my in-laws.  It’s perfectly acceptable, does the job and could be better.  The hotel, just to be clear.

Amanzoe

Still quality, but the one-bedroom is five times worse than their four or five-bedroom villas.

Hemingways Nairobi

Probably the best hotel in Nairobi, but that’s like saying your wife won first prize in an ugly competition.

Sirai Beach

Absolutely brilliant.  It’s a shame that the lack of beach will cost them so dearly when it comes to winning new clients, and they’re in a malaria zone so I can’t easily return with my daughter.

Segera

It’s a good property, you just can’t call it great once you’ve been to Arijiju.

Arijiju

Even better than brilliant.  My favourite property of the year.  If you are travelling as a family or group to Africa then you’ll not only likely save money by staying at Arijiju, but certainly have a better experience.

Giraffe Manor

The type of property that makes you pleased to be alive…so you can come online and tell everyone not to come.

Angama Mara

If your nature viewing is bloodthirsty and you must be in Kenya, this is a good option.  If you love luxury, less so.

Velaa

Probably the best resort in the world.  I would love to hear people argue the case for somewhere else that has a better setting, activities, F&B, service whilst boasting so few rooms. You just have to ignore said rooms, as otherwise I’ll lose this contest.

Four Seasons Landaa

There is a recurring thought: I might not like Four Seasons as much as I thought.

Conclusion

Velaa, Arijiju and Sirai Beach stand out as the highlights of this year.  What do they all have in common?  They’re all owner-run businesses, with not a hotel chain insight.  Furthermore, the owners stay and have their own residence at all these properties.  Whilst owner backed businesses are no guarantee of success, and sometimes their stubborn mindedness results in terrible decision making, the best hotels frequently meet these criteria.  Reschio and Le Grande Control are proof that owner backed businesses can do better, and Amanzoe is evidence that a run-for-profit business can also thrive.  Yet ask me to pick one and I’ll be taking the owner led business nine times out of ten.  It’s just a shame they’re becoming rarer than unicorn shit.

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Tom Cahalan

Written by Tom Cahalan on 2nd Jan '22

Dorsia Travel’s co-founder Tom Cahalan’s take on travel is reliably candid. Here’s his take on what’s good, bad, and luxurious.

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