I have a hotel bucket list longer than my arm these days and it’s growing by the day with so many magical looking hotels almost opening daily around the world.  One hotel that was on my hotel bucket list was the Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville.

Spain Travel Inspiration - Thinking of visiting Seville on your next vacation to Europe then why not check out hotel review of the iconic five star property, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain with it's gorgeous decor and spacious rooms. Click the link to read more of my hotel review of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

My little sister had stayed at this property a few years ago and loved it and I was hoping to fall in love with the property as well.  Hotel Alfonso XIII is part of the Luxury Collection Hotel chain operated by Starwood Hotels so I knew to expect a grand hotel and exceptional service.

Spain Travel Inspiration - Thinking of visiting Seville on your next vacation to Europe then why not check out hotel review of the iconic five star property, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain with it's gorgeous decor and spacious rooms. Click the link to read more of my hotel review of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

^^one of the lovely ladies that greets you…stained glass perfection!

We left Hotel Casa 1800 in Seville and walked to Hotel Alfonso XIII with our bags…apparently this was the quicker option than jumping in a taxi and it was a rather lovely walk in the sunshine for a few minutes so I wasn’t complaining.  First impressions…no doorman and a number of stairs to drag our bags up…there are doormen but just never there when you need them unfortunately!

Spain Travel Inspiration - Thinking of visiting Seville on your next vacation to Europe then why not check out hotel review of the iconic five star property, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain with it's gorgeous decor and spacious rooms. Click the link to read more of my hotel review of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

We waited to be checked in as apparently on Valentines Day the hotel is packed (and charging silly money hence the reason why we didn’t stay…if they can get away with it why not says the accountant in me!)...we had to wait over 5 minutes to check in as a number of folks were checking out…I would like to say we were checked in with a smile but we weren’t…I dislike reception staff that look like they’ve sucked lemons all day…and they were like this the whole time during our stay!  Smiles are free people!

Spain Travel Inspiration - Thinking of visiting Seville on your next vacation to Europe then why not check out hotel review of the iconic five star property, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain with it's gorgeous decor and spacious rooms. Click the link to read more of my hotel review of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

So are you ready for a snoop inside our room…we found our room which was impressive in size BUT…there’s going to be a number of BUT’s in this review…sorry…the room wasn’t sound proof as the windows didn’t close properly (G managed to fix this by shoving a few posh magazines into the window frame to make it sound proof)...

Spain Travel Inspiration - Thinking of visiting Seville on your next vacation to Europe then why not check out hotel review of the iconic five star property, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain with it's gorgeous decor and spacious rooms. Click the link to read more of my hotel review of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

…and as G pointed out…there was dust all over the glasses in the mini bar (and you thought I was picky!).

Spain Travel Inspiration - Thinking of visiting Seville on your next vacation to Europe then why not check out hotel review of the iconic five star property, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain with it's gorgeous decor and spacious rooms. Click the link to read more of my hotel review of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

…the room was very spacious…you could probably swing at least 5 cats in here no sweat…the rooms are tastifully decorated…if I was to be honest I thought they were a bit beige in nature (i.e. my polite way of saying boring) compared to the rest of the hotel…

Spain Travel Inspiration - Thinking of visiting Seville on your next vacation to Europe then why not check out hotel review of the iconic five star property, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain with it's gorgeous decor and spacious rooms. Click the link to read more of my hotel review of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

…but that chair was just perfect for getting cosy with a good book…

Spain Travel Inspiration - Thinking of visiting Seville on your next vacation to Europe then why not check out hotel review of the iconic five star property, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain with it's gorgeous decor and spacious rooms. Click the link to read more of my hotel review of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

…the bathroom was huge and I mean HUGE…

Spain Travel Inspiration - Thinking of visiting Seville on your next vacation to Europe then why not check out hotel review of the iconic five star property, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain with it's gorgeous decor and spacious rooms. Click the link to read more of my hotel review of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

…where Elemis toiletries could be found lurking behind every shower curtain.

Spain Travel Inspiration - Thinking of visiting Seville on your next vacation to Europe then why not check out hotel review of the iconic five star property, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain with it's gorgeous decor and spacious rooms. Click the link to read more of my hotel review of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

We popped into the bar to check out out their drinks menu and maybe consume a beverage or ten…we waited and waited and waited to be served…we actually left as the staff were too busy talking amongst themselves to serve us or even clean the tables around us…we decided to forgo the whole idea of having afternoon tea treats at the hotel as well.

Spain Travel Inspiration - Thinking of visiting Seville on your next vacation to Europe then why not check out hotel review of the iconic five star property, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain with it's gorgeous decor and spacious rooms. Click the link to read more of my hotel review of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

^^the bar is lovely if you can find someone who is willing to serve you.

G and I also had dinner at the hotel on our first night and we weren’t impressed…once again the service in the restaurant was haphazard and we had numerous people serving us…we had one fabulous waiter who knew what silver service was and understood gluten free requirements…the rest were just appalling…they forgot to charge us for our drinks…seriously if you want free drinks in Seville then head to Hotel Alfonso XIII (I did inform reception on check out to add the drinks onto our bill and her response, oh well they should have charged you at dinner…okay!)  The gluten free options were limited…and I mean limited…to a couple of fish dishes only.

The gluten free breakfast options the following morning were a lot better…a huge variety and a gluten free corner with so many options…nice to see Starwood upping their game when it comes to gluten free breakfast…

Spain Travel Inspiration - Thinking of visiting Seville on your next vacation to Europe then why not check out hotel review of the iconic five star property, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain with it's gorgeous decor and spacious rooms. Click the link to read more of my hotel review of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

…plus all the fresh fruit you could eat!

Spain Travel Inspiration - Thinking of visiting Seville on your next vacation to Europe then why not check out hotel review of the iconic five star property, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain with it's gorgeous decor and spacious rooms. Click the link to read more of my hotel review of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

The hotel itself is just breathtaking…the courtyard is truly stunning…

Spain Travel Inspiration - Thinking of visiting Seville on your next vacation to Europe then why not check out hotel review of the iconic five star property, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain with it's gorgeous decor and spacious rooms. Click the link to read more of my hotel review of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

…the details…

Spain Travel Inspiration - Thinking of visiting Seville on your next vacation to Europe then why not check out hotel review of the iconic five star property, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain with it's gorgeous decor and spacious rooms. Click the link to read more of my hotel review of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

…another snuggle worthy spot to read a good book…

Spain Travel Inspiration - Thinking of visiting Seville on your next vacation to Europe then why not check out hotel review of the iconic five star property, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain with it's gorgeous decor and spacious rooms. Click the link to read more of my hotel review of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

…and don’t get me started over the staircase!

Spain Travel Inspiration - Thinking of visiting Seville on your next vacation to Europe then why not check out hotel review of the iconic five star property, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain with it's gorgeous decor and spacious rooms. Click the link to read more of my hotel review of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

The stairway to heaven!

Spain Travel Inspiration - Thinking of visiting Seville on your next vacation to Europe then why not check out hotel review of the iconic five star property, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain with it's gorgeous decor and spacious rooms. Click the link to read more of my hotel review of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

Strangely enough…I thought the Hotel Alfonso XIII would be truly amazing however the service was truly abysmal to say the least which just shows you can spend all the money in the world on a 5 star hotel and not receive 5 star service.  What makes a great hotel…for me, it’s service hands down!  The hotel itself is exquisite and I love the history that surrounds the hotel.

I did have a look through the trip advisor reviews over the days we stayed and most people were having similar experiences to ours…as one staff member pointed out to us…the hotel is running at full capacity due to the Valentine’s Day holiday…hmmm she got my are you freaking joking face…that’s not my problem…if you can’t handle the hotel at full capacity and offer your guests 5 star service then don’t book it to full capacity!

Spain Travel Inspiration - Thinking of visiting Seville on your next vacation to Europe then why not check out hotel review of the iconic five star property, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain with it's gorgeous decor and spacious rooms. Click the link to read more of my hotel review of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

Would I recommend – ummm if you can get a special deal then check it out but in all honesty if we were to go back to Seville we would stay at the Hotel Casa 1800 and pop into Hotel Alfonso XIII for a snoop around…we didn’t think it was worth the money at over 250 euros a night off peak!

We did stay at the Grande Bretagne in Athens which is another Luxury Collection hotel by Starwood and loved it…plus we have booked two Luxury Collection hotels in Peru next month so am hoping this was just a little blimp in the Luxury Collection brand.

Spain Travel Inspiration - Thinking of visiting Seville on your next vacation to Europe then why not check out hotel review of the iconic five star property, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain with it's gorgeous decor and spacious rooms. Click the link to read more of my hotel review of Hotel Alfonso XIII.

So have you stayed at Hotel Alfonso XIII – did you love or loathe it?  You can read more about my trip to Seville here.

xx

If you liked this post on Hotel Review: Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Spain then why not come and join me on TwitterGoogle+InstagramFacebook and Pinterest – I won’t bite!

I love exploring…Dora the Explorer and I would be the best of pals!  When I bought my car last year it gave me the sudden freedom to explore more of England; I now think nothing of driving two hours in search of the unknown but sometimes I like things to be a little closer to home hence why I explored Houghton House in Bedfordshire on the weekend.

England Travel Inspiration - Exploring Houghton House in Bedfordshire, an English Heritage property which is free to enter.  The stair case is now inside the Swan Hotel in Bedford. Click the link to read more about Houghton House and my travel tips for the county.

Houghton House is located on the outskirts of Bedford, a market town in…you guessed it…Bedfordshire!

England Travel Inspiration - Exploring Houghton House in Bedfordshire, an English Heritage property which is free to enter.  The stair case is now inside the Swan Hotel in Bedford. Click the link to read more about Houghton House and my travel tips for the county.

Houghton House is an English Heritage managed property situated in the middle of nowhere…along a drive that makes you think you’re trespassing on someone’s private property…it’s all very rock and roll and a bit muddy at the same time.

England Travel Inspiration - Exploring Houghton House in Bedfordshire, an English Heritage property which is free to enter.  The stair case is now inside the Swan Hotel in Bedford. Click the link to read more about Houghton House and my travel tips for the county.

The property is free to enter…for English Heritage members and non members and it’s definitely worth a visit if you liked ruined old buildings or enjoy photography.

England Travel Inspiration - Exploring Houghton House in Bedfordshire, an English Heritage property which is free to enter.  The stair case is now inside the Swan Hotel in Bedford. Click the link to read more about Houghton House and my travel tips for the county.

Houghton House was an old Hunting Lodge that has had various famous owners in its lifetime including the Dowager Countess of Pembrokeshire whom the lodge was built for, then the Earl of Elgin and then onto the Duke of Bedford who lives in Woburn Abbey. (The Duke of Bedford lives in Bedfordshire…unlike the Duke of Norfolk who lives in Arundel Castle in West Sussex…it’s all so confusing this English title business!)

England Travel Inspiration - Exploring Houghton House in Bedfordshire, an English Heritage property which is free to enter.  The stair case is now inside the Swan Hotel in Bedford. Click the link to read more about Houghton House and my travel tips for the county.

The story goes that the Duke of Bedford emptied the contents out of the house and then ripped off the roof…apparently he was upset over the death of his father…which is a rather sad sad story (the poor man)...so let’s spin it and say he came home and found his wife in bed with his brother and in a fit of rage he demanded the house be partly destroyed…a slightly better story…he never married or had any children.

England Travel Inspiration - Exploring Houghton House in Bedfordshire, an English Heritage property which is free to enter.  The stair case is now inside the Swan Hotel in Bedford. Click the link to read more about Houghton House and my travel tips for the county.

The staircase is now located inside the The Swan Hotel in Bedford which is a rather pretty hotel but with pretty appalling customer service at times…and don’t get me started about the dry gluten free cake that almost made me choke to death…seriously it was almost death my cake!

England Travel Inspiration - Exploring Houghton House in Bedfordshire, an English Heritage property which is free to enter.  The stair case is now inside the Swan Hotel in Bedford. Click the link to read more about Houghton House and my travel tips for the county.

I adore columns so I got my column injection in the nick of time…I haven’t visited Athens this year you see.

England Travel Inspiration - Exploring Houghton House in Bedfordshire, an English Heritage property which is free to enter.  The stair case is now inside the Swan Hotel in Bedford. Click the link to read more about Houghton House and my travel tips for the county.

Even though I almost got blown away while exploring Houghton House, we did manage to get a little bit of sunshine…

England Travel Inspiration - Exploring Houghton House in Bedfordshire, an English Heritage property which is free to enter.  The stair case is now inside the Swan Hotel in Bedford. Click the link to read more about Houghton House and my travel tips for the county.

…and enjoy the beautiful rolling hills of Bedfordshire in the distance…oh wait there are no hills…it’s pretty flat in Bedfordshire and never trust anyone when they mention a hill in this county…they’re talking about a slight incline!

England Travel Inspiration - Exploring Houghton House in Bedfordshire, an English Heritage property which is free to enter.  The stair case is now inside the Swan Hotel in Bedford. Click the link to read more about Houghton House and my travel tips for the county.

I can’t wait to head back when there is a blanket of snow on the ground to photograph Houghton House…and I can’t understand how I didn’t know about this place sooner.

England Travel Inspiration - Exploring Houghton House in Bedfordshire, an English Heritage property which is free to enter.  The stair case is now inside the Swan Hotel in Bedford. Click the link to read more about Houghton House and my travel tips for the county.

Don’t you just love finding places like this right on your back door step.

England Travel Inspiration - Exploring Houghton House in Bedfordshire, an English Heritage property which is free to enter.  The stair case is now inside the Swan Hotel in Bedford. Click the link to read more about Houghton House and my travel tips for the county.

What hidden gems do you have dotted around you that you like exploring?

England Travel Inspiration - Exploring Houghton House in Bedfordshire, an English Heritage property which is free to enter.  The stair case is now inside the Swan Hotel in Bedford. Click the link to read more about Houghton House and my travel tips for the county.

xx

If you liked this post on Exploring Houghton House in Bedfordshire then why not come and join me on TwitterGoogle+InstagramFacebook and Pinterest – I won’t bite!

For last Christmas, I bought G an English Heritage Membership as he wanted to venture to Dover Castle to check out the war tunnels.  I had to remind him recently that his membership was coming to an end so we rattled our dags and made our way down to Kent to go castle hunting.

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

We aren’t known as early risers…well during the week we are but on the weekends we sleep in so our intention was to get up early on Saturday and head to Dover…we left home just before midday and then hit traffic…doh!

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

We eventually arrived at Dover Castle just after 2pm and I thought that would give us plenty of time to explore the castle and tunnels so we could visit the home of Charles Darwin and Hever Castle…oh how wrong I was.

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

You need a full day to explore Dover Castle…from the moment they open the gates till they close them…it’s huge and you can only enter the tunnels on a tour.

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

As soon as we arrived we joined the queue for the Hospital Tunnels and took the tour which lasts approximately 30 minutes; it’s rather interesting to see the conditions that the medics were working under during WW2.  You can’t take photos inside the tunnels unfortunately.

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

^^You can see part of the tunnels here against the White Cliffs of Dover!

We then checked out the Medieval tunnels…where I safely spotted this chap…I was in the tunnels and he was on the outside…I was a sheep whisperer and managed to get him to turn around for a photo…G found this highly amusing…possibly as I’m a Kiwi and you know what they say about Kiwi’s and sheep…I have a rather crass reply to this that make the English quiver and me giggle…ahhh I love being a crass Kiwi.

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

I had a play on the cannons…what girl doesn’t like something huge and powerful between her legs…there’s that crass Kiwi coming out…she’s being hiding!  And on the English Heritage website it states to wear sensible footwear so of course I took that to mean glitter toe ballet flats…I’m 5!

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

Obviously then I had to try and get off the cannon…which is not as easy as you think…G decided to photograph the car crash…

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

^^I messaged the top photo to my family in NZ; mum came back asking if I had fallen over and torn my jeans – I had to tell her I bought them like that…then Lisa told me that I looked like I was trying to pass wind…I wasn’t just in case you were wondering.

^^^Note to self: my calf looks skinny in the middle photo…must remember to photograph my calf from this angle in future!

We had a wander around the grounds and watched the sun set over the castle.

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

G and I then realised that it was almost closing time and decided to head back first thing in the morning when they open the gates (I’m pretty sure you know how this worked out!)…thankfully we had our membership as a day pass costs £18.00pp!

So what did we do…we went shopping at the Ashford Designer Outlet…it’s not as luxury driven as Bicester however G managed to get a few new items from A&F (I won’t tell you what I think these letters stand for) and guess what…this is the only time you won’t need a torch to enter an A&F store…the stench of cheap perfume isn’t as strong either.

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

I bought a few things from Ralph Lauren and we had dinner at Pizza Express; the best gluten free cheat meal out there…when it doubt, Pizza Express it!  I went for my favourite chicken and goats cheese salad and then tried the gluten free brownie for dessert which I wasn’t a fan of…it was too dry.

G has told me to stop spending and that I had to find a cheap hotel for the night…something about me going home for a month and then heading to Seville…Peru…and I might be looking at booking a trip to France in January but we won’t tell G about that cheeky little trip and oh I’m going to Paris in December…so I booked us into the Holiday Inn in Ashford which is part of my favourite hotel chain, IHG…unfortunately on this occasion the Holiday Inn failed me…the room look grubby and the air conditioning was blowing out musky air…it was more of a Holiday Inn Express than a Holiday Inn.  It was only for a night so we didn’t care too much!

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

Of course we slept in and got to Dover Castle a lot later than planned…we had missed breakfast as well…oops…so while we queued to enter the war time tunnels (which is a total must do) I popped up to the cafe to grab us a cup of tea each and some gluten free biscuits.

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

The Wartime Tunnels Tour takes approximately 45 minutes and it’s fabulous…all interactive and really explains what happened and how the site was used…

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

….and especially how this gentleman organised the retreat from Dunkirk.

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

G enjoying the gadgets inside Dover Castle especially since he could spy on the folks down at the Dover Ferry Terminal!

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

Once finishing the tour we needed some grub so we decided to hit the main restaurant within Dover Castle…they do a gluten free sunday roast (even the gravy is gluten free!)…I asked while grabbing our cups of tea…always thinking of my next meal.  I won’t say it was the best meal I’ve ever had but it was cheap and cheerful and was just what the doctor ordered…everything in this pic is gluten free…G may have eaten half of it as my eyes are bigger than my belly.

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

So our next stop was to venture inside the castle itself….

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

…over the bridge…

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

…the views from the top of the castle over Dover are pretty darn wonderful (along with the stairs which didn’t freak me out once…I have a stair phobia!)…

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

…now are you ready for a snoop inside Dover Castle; yay for being able to photograph inside English Heritage properties…

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

…the downstairs kitchens…

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

…a crown fit for a princess…

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

….the banqueting hall and racy bedrooms…

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

…me on my throne and needing a step to get onto it!

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

While we were on the war tunnels tour we were informed that we would be able to watch the Vulcan fly over Dover on one of it’s last journeys.  G was excited…me…well not so much…I hear about planes every day at work.

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

We popped inside church for a little nosey…

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

…then hit the English Heritage shop for some yummy jams…they do a rather mean passionfruit curd which sits pretty well inside a victoria sponge!

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

So have you visited Dover Castle before…did you enjoy the tunnels and the castle?  What’s your favourite English Heritage property in the UK?

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascination World War 2 history.

The IHG are currently running an Accelerator Points Promotion and by staying at a Holiday Inn I can earn more loyalty points.

England Travel Inspiration - The perfect day castle hunting in England visiting Dover Castle, an English Heritage property which is an easy day trip from London by train. Click the link to read more about this amazing castle in England where you can see the white cliffs of Dover and learn about the fascinating World War 2 history plus the gluten free food options you can find in Kent.

xx

If you liked this post on Exploring Dover Castle in Kent then why not come and join me on TwitterGoogle+InstagramFacebook and Pinterest – I won’t bite!

So as promised, I’m starting my Luxury Travel Masterclass posts on how to get yourself free or cheap luxury hotels and have decided to start with my favourite hotel chain, IHG.  I want people to understand that the holidays that I blog about are actually all paid for by me and most of the time I’m using my points to stay at luxury hotels for free….means more money for shoes…that’s the way I roll.

Luxury-Travel-Masterclass-Cheap-Luxury-Hotels-with-IHG-Intercontinetal-San-Fran

^^The view from the Presidential Suite at the Intercontinental Hotel in San Fran!

I think a lot of people don’t like using a hotels within a brand as they think they’re lacking personality and the rooms are tiny…trust me this isn’t the case!  Some of my favourite hotels are part of a huge hotel chain.

What brands do IHG cover?

IHG has a great selection of hotels starting with the very basic Holiday Inn Express Hotels (great for budget travellers and your stay includes a free breakfast), Holiday Inns, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza and the very luxurious Intercontinental brand.  There are a few additional brands within the group but these are the most recognisable.

I’m very fond of the Intercontinental brand…who doesn’t want to stay in a five star hotel but I also like their Holiday Inn brand as the beds are comfy, locations are fabulous, the rooms are tidy and they’re great value for money.

What properties have I stayed at? (Putting my money where my mouth is!)

I’ve stayed at a lot including (in no particular order)…

Intercontinental Hong Kong

Luxury-Travel-Masterclass-Cheap-Luxury-Hotels-with-IHG-Intercontinental-Hong-Kong

Intercontinental Marseille

Luxury-Travel-Masterclass-Cheap-Luxury-Hotels-with-IHG-Intercontinental-Marseille

Intercontinental London (including partaking in afternoon tea at the hotel a number of times!)…

Luxury-Travel-Masterclass-Cheap-Luxury-Hotels-with-IHG-Intercontinental-Park-Lane-London

Intercontinental Porto

Luxury-Travel-Masterclass-Cheap-Luxury-Hotels-with-IHG-Intercontinental-Porto

Intercontinental Berlin

Luxury-Travel-Masterclass-Cheap-Luxury-Hotels-with-IHG-Intercontinental-Berlin

Intercontinental Vienna

Luxury-Travel-Masterclass-Cheap-Luxury-Hotels-with-IHG-Intercontinental-Vienna

Intercontinental Dusseldorf

Luxury-Travel-Masterclass-Cheap-Luxury-Hotels-with-IHG-Intercontinental-Dusseldorf

…and a number of other properties!

G and I may have made it our goal to stay at all the Intercontinental properties in Germany a few years ago (we did it!) and trust me this isn’t a full listing of the hotels we’ve spent the night.

Locations of their Hotels

There are over 4,900 hotels scattered all over the world and for me the winner is that they’ve got a number of properties within the UK to stay at…making it super easy to earn free nights overseas from spending a night or two away from home on staycations.

I’ve noticed while researching for my Peru trip that IHG haven’t got a great selection of hotels in Peru but my first night in Lima is going to be spent at their Crowne Plaza property; all paid for with our points hence I’m not paying a cent!

Luxury-Travel-Masterclass-Cheap-Luxury-Hotels-with-IHG-Intercontinental-Marseille-View

How good is the IHG loyalty program?

The IHG loyalty program is definitely my favourite and it’s free to join!  You can join up here.  It has some great little perks like free wifi when staying plus the ability to collect points easily to use for free or cheap hotel stays at a later date.

If you stay at the Intercontinental branded hotels frequently then I would highly recommend purchasing (either with cash or using your points) the Ambassador Loyalty Membership as it gives you late check out (perfect for city break weekends!), a free welcome gift, a free movie, a free night voucher and some pretty grand upgrades.

The Levels of the IHG Loyalty Program

Club Membership

The benefits of a Club Membership include no black out dates when booking reward nights, complimentary newspaper and internet.

Gold Elite Member

This will be awarded if you have stayed a minimum of 10 nights or earned at least 10,000 points during a calendar year.

Benefits of a Gold Elite Membership include the above plus Priority Check in and a 10% bonus on base points earned during stays at an IHG property.

Platinum Elite Member

This will be awarded if you stayed a minimum of 40 nights or earned at least 40,000 points during a calendar year.  Or you can take the easy route and apply for an IHG credit card to gain instant Platinum status (more information shortly on this travel cheat).

Benefits of a Platinum Elite Membership include all of the above plus a 50% bonus on base points earned during stays at an IHG property, guaranteed room availability and upgrades subject to availability (we’ve always received an upgrade since becoming Platinum members).

Spire Elite Member

This will be awarded if you stay a minimum of 75 nights or earned at least 75,000 points during a calendar year.  I’m rather close to this level now…I can almost touch it….!  This is also just a new level that IHG have added to their loyalty program.

Benefits of a Spire Elite Membership include all of the above plus 100% bonus on base points earned during stays at an IHG property and having the ability to share some of these benefits with family and friends.

Is it easy to earn enough points for free or cheap luxury hotel nights?

Yes!  From our three nights in Hong Kong, I managed to earn 37,510 points which is a lot…I only need 50,000 points to redeem a free night at the Intercontinental Park Lane in London…so well over half way there.

50,000 points is the highest value you will pay for a hotel room and this is within an Intercontinental hotel but you can get some pretty great deals on hotel rooms paying as little as 5,000 – 10,000 points.

The points that you would earn at a Holiday Inn properties do add up quite quickly as well and IHG are always running point acceleration promotions…meaning more points and getting yourself into an Intercontinental property quicker…hello free luxury hotel room!

Other ways to earn IHG points

As we as earning points on stays; you can earn more points by applying for a IHG Premium Points Credit Card.  The credit card is through Barclays and offers instant Platinum Elite status within IHG which means you get some nifty benefits (see above).  Here is all the info you need to know about the card; including that you will earn 20,000 IHG reward points for just making a purchase.

Luxury-Travel-Masterclass-Cheap-Luxury-Hotels-with-IHG

I have this card, along with my British Airways American Express which allows me to travel in First Class with BA for only £500 (yes you read that right!).

The biggest benefit that this credit card offers is that if you spend over £10,000 within a 12 month period that you will receive a free night voucher that you can use at any of their hotels…so make sure you use this voucher at the most expensive hotel…I’ve got my eye on the Intercontinental Carlton Cannes in France…oh lala but without paying a penny!

If you treat the credit card like a debit card, you can hit the £10,000 limit quite easily…just make sure you pay it off in full each month and never get into debt just to get a free hotel room (this is Kelly speaking with her accounting hat on!).

Is it easy to redeem your points?

Yes!  Actually it’s so easy that I’ve booked a free night the morning of us arriving at a hotel once and you can do it easily on line by just picking Rewards Night as your payment option.  I’ve yet to run into a problem with booking myself a free night.

You can also pay with points and cash; handy if you don’t have enough points in your account.

Does IHG offer good upgrades?

We’ve had some great upgrades over the years including staying at the Presidential suite at The Mark Hopkins in San Fransisco…this was pre-blog just in case you were wondering!

Each hotel offers different upgrades to it’s loyal guests.  If you’re an Ambassador staying at an Intercontinental property then you can expect at least one level above what you’ve booked…some hotels (Intercontinental Dusseldorf) offered two levels above the room I’d booked.

Customer Service

For me, customer service makes or breaks a hotel – I’m not going to say that I’ve had a perfect stay every time as that’s a giant fib but overall I have to say I’ve had some pretty great customer service moments at IHG hotels over the years and I’ve always felt welcomed.

A hotel is your home away from home and for me, if I don’t feel welcomed then I feel uncomfortable in the hotel – I’ve always been greeted with big smiles on every stay and even been greeted with a glass of bubbles while checking in.

Luxury-Travel-Masterclass-Cheap-Luxury-Hotels-with-IHG-Intercontinental-Vienna

The Intercontinental Hotel in Vienna was definitely a stand out for me…an eye sore from the outside but inside the hotel is gorgeous and the customer service is impressive from the great concierge right through to the staff at breakfast who knew as soon as I gave my room number that I was gluten free and was shown around the breakfast buffet.  A customer service win and I would quite happily return to this hotel over and over again!

Social Media Prowess

On the weekend we stayed at a Holiday Inn in Ashford and received our upgrade which was the disabled room however it wasn’t the nicest and it smelled (thanks to a air conditioning unit blowing out musky air).  I tweeted my disgust (as you do rather than calling the front desk…within minutes I was chatting to the Duty Manager and offered a different room).  That’s what I call fabulous customer service via social media…the twitter team had contacted the hotel with my concerns.

Instagram is my social media crack and unfortunately I think IHG have fallen behind on Instagram as the account is slightly boring and uninspiring – I booked 3 nights at the Intercontinental Marseille after seeing a photo of Instagram a few years ago!  I would love to see the return of great photos on this account at some point in the future.

Price Guarantee

As I’ve stayed a lot at IHG properties over the years and booked directly via their website, I’ve never worried that I’m not getting the best price.  The Price Guarantee that IHG offer is the best of any hotel chain…get this…if you can find the hotel cheaper on another website within 24 hours of making your booking (with the same terms and conditions) then IHG will give you your first night free…that’s how sure they are that you’re going to get the best price on their own website!  None of this 10% or 20% discount that almost every other hotel chain offers…you get your first night free…it doesn’t matter if you’re staying one or ten nights!

So have I converted you to signing up for a free IHG membership and trying out their brand of hotels?

Since this is my first Luxury Travel Masterclass, is there any other information that you want me to add?  I hope this post will help you get some free or cheap luxury hotels for your next holiday.

xx

If you liked this post on a Luxury Travel Masterclass: Cheap Luxury Hotels with IHG then why not come and join me on TwitterGoogle+InstagramFacebook and Pinterest – I won’t bite!