Hotel

Panama City – Intercontinental View

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Tel Aviv, Israel from San Francisco for $648 on United / AIrCanada

Wonderful beaches? Beautiful beachfront towns like Jaffa? Historic and biblical sites short distances away? Get yourself over to Tel Aviv soon. Almost 50% off normal airfare prices. 

Tel Aviv Beaches. Photo from IsrealTourism udner Creative Commons License (https://flic.kr/p/cKSETC)

Tel Aviv Beaches. Photo from IsrealTourism udner Creative Commons License (https://flic.kr/p/cKSETC)

  • Availability: November 2015 – March 2016 with blackout dates for major US holidays. 
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  • Sample Dates: Nov 17 – Nov 27, 2015
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Hotel Review: Wyndham Apollo Amsterdam – Two Hotels in One.

Hotel Provided Photo - Looks Great from the outside.

Hotel Provided Photo – Looks Great from the outside.

Hotel Provided Photo of their guestrooms.

Hotel Provided Photo of their guestrooms.

Hotel Photos vs. Reality

Every frequent traveller knows that the photos that hotels show you are often far from reality. Marketing teams have gotten really good at their jobs and with a bit of Photoshop and Lightroom they can make light poles, wires and even whole buildings disappear. Or they can make tiny rooms look huge with wide angle lenses and smaller than normal furniture etc. Its gotten to the point where I almost never trust the stock photos provided by a hotel and go to review sites like Yelp or Tripadvisor to see what rooms and properties look like in reality.

Hotel Choice / Property Location

When I have a choice I usually try and stay at IHG properties (where I have Platinum Ambassador status) or Marriott properties (where I have gold status). However, during our winter trip to Amsterdam my wife was going to a conference so her company picked the hotel, which ended up in is staying at the Wyndham Apollo Amsterdam located in the Amsterdam-Zuid / Amsterdam-Oud-Zuid area. Its outside of the city center by around 10-15 minutes tram ride or 30-40 minute walk. Mostly a mixed residential and business  neighborhood it is right on an intersection of a few canals. Not great, but not bad either – just close to the conference center at the Okura Hotel. 

The Wyndham is easy to find, but note that the entrance is not actually on the street that Google Maps lists it on and rather you need to walk around a large gym next door and through a small parking lot to get to the front entrance. Not a great design, but not the end of the world. This is pretty much where the positives ended. 

Room Review

What do you get for over $200 USD a night? Look at the photo the hotel provides above? Pretty nice right? Now look at reality. The photos look better than it actually was. Most of the furniture was broken or had heavy wear marks. Room smelled moldy and the heater barely worked (not good for winter in AMS). There was a super loud knocking sound coming from the HVAC unit next door for which the staff said they could not fix. Don’t bother opening the window – the view was of a wall and HVAC unit. 

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Tiny room. With old furniture.

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Bed looks nice, but lumpy and dirty.

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“Modern” bathroom that had mold and leaked water from shower so that the whole toilet was soaking wet.

We had so many issues with this room. Water in the bathroom leaked from the shower and covered the entire toilet. There was black mold around the surfaces which indicated lack of cleaning. The room heater barely worked and there was super loud banging coming from the HVAC unit. The hotel confirmed the loud noises, but refused to do anything or move us to another room. 

Why was it so bad? I later learned that there are really two hotels here. One is the very shitty one we stayed in. The other is the newly renovated tower that the hotel markets everywhere. There is no price difference, only a huge difference in how bad you stay will be. The major negative mark on the this hotel is the staff’s lack of professionalism or helpfulness. They had to have know about the problems with these older rooms but are more interested in hiding the facts to milk every last cent of profit. 

Would I stay again? Hell no! There are so many choices in Amsterdam. This hotel is to be avoided at all costs unless you know you can stay in the newer tower.