LETTER OF THE WEEK
I was amused to read that many hotels no longer provide wardrobes as people don't hang things up (Traveller, August 6). I was moved to start a blog on what we, as travellers, want in hotel rooms and here are the main things necessary for a modicum of comfort, most of which are usually absent.
A spot for two bags and not just one. And a drawer, or shelf or cupboard for your toiletries – often there is nowhere to put your toilet bag, other than, well, on the toilet. It can't be that hard folks.
Somewhere to hang a towel would also be helpful and we'd like room to be able to turn around without having to open the door. A good hairdryer and not a useless piece of chained-to-the-wall-hose that does nothing.
We would like a decent reading light, not some artful lamp that throws a romantic glow, but a real light that illuminates the book we're reading (or would if we could see it). We want opening windows so we don't feel entombed in an airless space.
We want a bar fridge that isn't stuffed with things we will never eat or drink and a kettle and a coffee machine. Good Wi-Fi, good free Wi-Fi. Breakfast that uses local produce such as fresh fruit and tomatoes (points to Spain on this) and not, please , tinned pears or peaches, a la the 1960s.
If you build it they will come. And if you give us wardrobes (and shelves), we will hang.
Debbie Wiener, East St Kilda, VIC
STAND AND BE COUNTED
I commiserate with Marilyn Bell (Traveller Letters) on her frustration over the lack of places to put more than one suitcase in a room.
We've travelled extensively overseas and can confirm it is the exception rather than the rule to find more than one luggage stand in a room.
My wife and I take it turns as to whose suitcase goes on the stand and whose on the floor; the one on the floor invariable being the source of the dreaded stubbed toe syndrome. Hotels could do their customers a big favour and include two stands in each room.
Nick Brown, Montmorency, VIC
TOUR OF DUTY
On a recent trip to Italy we purchased a dozen bottles of wine and shipped them home, little realising the hefty taxes and duties we would have to pay.
The wine cost us $203, add to that freight, which was another $194, and then we were slugged $224 in import duty, GST and other hidden government taxes – more than the original purchase price. A note therefore of caution to travellers. If considering shipping it home, expect to match the purchase cost with that of freight and then again for taxes. Better yet, drink and enjoy it there; we will from now,
Julian Meagher, Ivanhoe VIC
It was great to see the Maldives' local side of life being acknowledged (Traveller Letters). Both volunteers and tourists are welcomed to local islands, where guesthouses have been allowed to operate since 2011. Now is the time to visit and experience the "real" Maldives.
Ruth Franklin, Hulhumale, Maldives
Don't be disheartened Rhonda Seymour (Traveller Letters), the Tiwi Islands are a terrific destination. My husband and I visited in July and had a wonderful day on the island.
While we did fly, giving additional time on the island compared to the boat trip, we found the tour to be well organised and the local people delightful.
We were given a view of traditional life, various art works, trips to most beautiful bush settings, isolated billabongs, rivers and beaches. Also an understanding of community values (including control of liquor). Furthermore, the devotion to AFL is legendary.
Jenny Dempster, Balwyn, VIC
In response to Miranda Blake's request for advice about Cuba (Traveller Letters), the cheapest travel option seems to be via Dallas or Los Angeles and then Mexico to Havana.
At this stage you still need to have the Cuban ticket separate from the US ticket. While you will see stories about direct flights from the US to Cuba, they are only for Cuban expats or US citizens who satisfy one of 12 criteria for travel.
Although some people say that this US autumn there will be lots of flights to Cuba, it's said more in hope. Nothing has happened yet to allow foreigners to travel directly from the US and probably will not for quite some time.
Cuba is generally very safe and hiring a car to self-drive is possible, but I would recommend some knowledge of Spanish, since maps are not terribly good.
Signposts are also lacking in many areas, so the only way to find a route may be to ask directions from locals. I've driven all over Cuba but it can still be challenging and I speak Spanish.
You can buy the Cuban visa at the check-in counter in Mexico City airport, for about 340 Mexican pesos ($US25), as against paying about $100 through the Cuban embassy in Australia. Allow yourself enough time to change money into Mexican pesos.
Alex Danilov, Naremburn, NSW
BREATH OF FRESH AER
I recently booked a flight with Aer Lingus for the trip from Heathrow to Dublin and imagine my surprise last week to receive an email from the airline offering an online check-in up to 30 days before my departure date.
Thirty days? I could hardly believe it as every other airline I have flown with only allows online check-in 24 hours in advance of the flight.
The result? I now have my boarding pass for a flight almost two weeks away and more importantly, the peace of mind that comes from having just one less thing to do.
Well done, Aer Lingus.
Peter Fenton, Parramatta, NSW
WE WELCOME YOUR TRAVEL-RELATED OPINIONS AND EXPERIENCES
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