I never do hotel reviews; namely because I don't think a hotel is what makes your trip. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule where your accommodation is really the crux of your trip - I'm thinking glass igloos in Finland and luxury safari lodges in the Serengeti! Because of that, I don't splash out on hotels and the two things that I really look for during the booking process are a) good location and b) cleanliness. I'm an easy to please sorta girl! So, you might be wondering why I've decided to write about a chain restaurant? Well, the Marriott group have excelled themselves with the Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel. Primarily because the location is so unusual, but also the AH-MAZING food.

Location

suite_bi_level_bed_6291Photo Credit: Photo of room with stadium view is taken from the Renaissance Toronto Downtown website
This hotel is located partly INSIDE the Roger's Centre (home to the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team) which is pretty unique in itself. The window in my parent's room looked into the stadium - so if you're an avid baseball fan, you'd be able to catch all of the action from the comfort of your bedroom! Myself and my sister had a somewhat less appealing view of a railway line from our window - so if you're not into baseball and want fantastic window views, this may not be the hotel for you. Although, maybe don't disregard it so quickly, it has a lot more to offer! If you've ever been to Toronto, you'll know that The Roger's Centre is directly next to the CN Tower, so this hotel is a great for a lot of the tourist attractions including the CN Tower, Aquarium, Steamhouse Brewery etc. Given that the the hotel is close to the waterfront and Toronto is a large city, depending on the time you have and your walking capabilities, you may need to get a taxi to some of the more Northern tourist attractions such as Casa Lomas.

Rooms

IMG_3870 v2.JPGIMG_3866 v2.JPGThe combination of modern decor, high levels of cleanliness, ample space and all the amenities you could need make for a very comfortable stay. My absolute favourite thing about the rooms were the beds. Those things were so damn comfy - if I could have packed the pillows, duvet and mattress in my case, I definitely would have!

Restaurant

IMG_3888 v2IMG_4090 v2 Now, this is where the review gets really good (and not because of the small Starbucks inside the hotel - however, that was convenient). The hotel has a Mediterranean restaurant called Arriba inside and the food is out of this world (mainly at breakfast). Most people have heard me say that hotel breakfasts are, in many cases, overrated (and I still stand by that statement). however, Arriba really pulls all of the stops out in the morning. It's not the cheapest breakfast in the world, but the money is well worth it when the food is so good that you go to bed excited to wake up and eat! My favourite breakfast was the banana bread french toast stuffed with bacon cream cheese with sliced banana, bacon crumbles, fresh berries, toasted almonds and maple syrup (it would be rude not to have maple syrup whilst in Canada after all!) We did also eat in Arriba one evening and the dinner menu was much smaller than the breakfast selection but the food was great regardless!

Overall

[cws_sc_progress_bar title='Location' progress='90' progress_style='thin' custom_colors='0'][cws_sc_progress_bar title='Food' progress='100' progress_style='thin' custom_colors='0'][cws_sc_progress_bar title='Cleanliness' progress='100' progress_style='thin' custom_colors='0'][cws_sc_progress_bar title='Staff' progress='85' progress_style='thin' custom_colors='0']   Yes, it's a chain hotel. Yes, hotel's don't make your entire experience while travelling. Still, would I recommend this hotel to a friend? Most definitely. If you're interested in booking this hotel, be sure to check out prices here! Have you ever been to Toronto, what is your favourite hotel?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post (although it does contain affiliate links) and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1

Booking.com

Now this is a blog post that I have had FAR too much fun researching. To the point where I had a dream that I won the lottery, rented a castle for a month and surprised my friends and family by flying them out on a weekly rota to come and live with me (I've since day-dreamed about this idea multiple times and have bought more lottery tickets than I care to admit). So without further ado, here are 10 castles that you might be able to rent for cheaper than a hotel! 1) The Medieval Keep & The Pavillion (France) The Medieval Keep InteriorThe Medieval Keep France Interior
  • Location: La Flocellière, Pays de la Loire, France
  • Bedrooms: 5 (Medieval Keep) & 6 (The Pavillion)
  • Sleeps: 10 (Medieval Keep) & 10 (The Pavillion)
  • Bathrooms: 3 (Medieval Keep) & 5 (The Pavillion)
  • Avg. price per night: £412 (Medieval Keep) & £366 (The Pavillion)
  • How to book: AirBnb (The Medieval Keep) and AirBnb (The Pavillion)
This is the particular castle that I dreamt about. I mean, does it get any better than this? There appear to be two properties on the grounds that you can rent (one being The Medieval Keep and the other being The Pavillion). A grand total of 20 people can therefore stay in the 2 properties for a combined £778 per night - an incredible £39 per person! If the exterior wasn't grand enough, I am absolutely in love with the curved painted blue ceiling in one of the bedrooms in the Medieval Keep! Now I need to stop dreaming about eating croissants in the French sunshine and look up some more castles.... 2) The Castle With a View... And A Pool (Italy) Castle With a Pool and Garden Italy Castle in Italy Luxury Dining Room
  • Location: Venturina Terme, Toscana, Italy
  • Bedrooms: 10
  • Sleeps: 18
  • Bathrooms: 8
  • Avg. price per night: £1384
  • How to book: AirBnb
Slightly pricier than the first option but at £77 per person per night (providing you have 16 guests), it's still cheaper than many hotels! This castle appears to be mainly used as a wedding venue and up to 90 guests can attend! Make sure you check out the photos on the AirBnB link, there's some amazing views from this property! There's an added bonus with this castle... a pool! 3) Château de Barnay (France) Small Turret Castle FranceInterior Small Turret Castle France
  • Location: Saint Martin de Lixy, Saône-et-Loire, Burgundy, France
  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Sleeps: 7
  • Bathrooms: 2
  • Avg. price per night: £115
  • How to book: AirBnb
Okay, so you don't have THAT many people that you want to enjoy your castle experience with (I felt slightly intimidated at the thought of 90 venue guests on the castle above!). Round up 7 of your nearest and dearest and head to South Burgundy to enjoy this little treat. This castle has a much more modern interior which is great if old buildings can spook you out a bit (I am included in this category). The stand out feature of this property HAS to be the price! You could pay £115 for a hotel room for one person, let alone a castle for 7 people! At an amazing £17 per person per night, I don't know what's stopping you!

4) La Serenella West Wing (Italy)

La Serenella ItalyLa Serenella Italy Interior

  • Location: San Pietro In Cariano, Veneto, Italy
  • Bedrooms: 7
  • Sleeps: 14
  • Bathrooms: 4.5
  • Avg. price per night: £458
  • How to book: AirBnb
Okay, so it might not technially be a castle, but it's a pretty swanky villa and I feel like it has the credentials to be on this list. I mean have you seen that interior? And the exterior? And the gardens? I feel like this property is Perfection (with a capital "P"). And if you really feel like splashing out, the owners can organise a private jet at an extra cost - now THAT is what you call fancy! You might think that a property this big would in the middle of nowhere, but you couldn't be more wrong! The villa is a 15 minute drive from Verona and 25 minutes from  Lake Garda, this sounds like the perfect Summer retreat! And all for £32 per person! 5) Bernstein Castle (Austria) Bernstein Castle Austria Ariel ShotBernstein Castle Austria Sunset
  • Location: Bernstein im Burgenland, Burgenland, Austria
  • Bedrooms: 1
  • Sleeps: 2
  • Bathrooms: 1
  • Avg. price per night: £120
  • How to book: AirBnb
The ultimate romantic retreat. Who wouldn't want to watch the sunset over the Austrian countryside with their (arguably) better half? Sign me up immediately! I found hotels very expensive when I stayed in Salzburg, so this whole castle for £60 per person is an incredible deal!

RELATED: Thinking about spending a lot of time in Austria? Salzburg is a 3 hour 45 minute drive away - you can read my top things to do in Salzburg here

6) Cumbrian Castle (England)

Cumbria Castle ExteriorCumbria Castle Interior

  • Location: Cumbria, England, United Kingdom
  • Bedrooms: 10 (whole castle) or 1 (Private Room)
  • Sleeps: 16 (whole castle) or 2 (Private Room)
  • Bathrooms: 8 (whole castle) or 1 (Private Room)
  • Avg. price per night: £6303 (whole castle) or £160 (Private Room)
  • How to book: AirBnb (whole castle) or AirBnB (Private Room)
Okay, this castle is expensive if you want to rent the whole thing (a whopping £394 per person per night), however there is a great alternative to just rent one room for £80 per person! Damn you England for being so expensive! Located on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales and an hour's drive from The Lake District, this is the perfect setting to enjoy the countryside.

RELATED: I visited an English Castle recently! Read all about my time at Arundel Castle here

7) The Bright Pink Castle (Poland)Bright Pink Castle PolandPoland Castle Interior

  • Location: Warmatowice Sienkiewiczowskie, Dolnyslask, Poland
  • Bedrooms: 5
  • Sleeps: 10
  • Bathrooms: 5 
  • Avg. price per night: £229
  • How to book: AirBnb

Whilst it may not look like your stereotypical castle, this style building always reminds me of Eastern Europe and I absolutely love it - it's bright pink for gods sake! Another bonus is that the AirBnB host can arrange for dinner to be cooked/served to you and your guests for an amazing 10 EUR per person! Result!

The castle is located 60km west of Wroclaw and is close to highway A4 connecting Germany with south Poland. Given the location, £24 per person is an absolute steal for this beauty!

8) The Uber Modern Castle (Croatia)

Modern Istria Castle CroatiaModern Interior Croatia Castle

  • Location: Grožnjan, Istarska županija, Croatia
  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Sleeps: 8
  • Bathrooms: 5 
  • Avg. price per night: £384
  • How to book: AirBnb

Now I'm not sure if I completely agree that this is a castle (yes, it has a big turret, but I think that's about it), but it's listed as a "castle"  on AirBnB, so the owners clearly want you to believe this notion! According to the listing, the property has been reconstructed from the 500 original ruins.

I couldn't not include it because I feel in love with the property! Set on a hillside in Istria (Croatia), for the amazing price of £48 per person, you get a beautiful "castle" with an amazing pool looking out over Istria. And the interior is gorgeously modern!

9) The Iconic Building of The Island (Greece)

Windmill Castle GreeceWindmill Interior Castle Greece

  • Location: Alónnisos, Thessalia Sterea Ellada, Greece
  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Sleeps: 6
  • Bathrooms: 1
  • Avg. price per night: £142
  • How to book: AirBnb
This cute little fortification/windmill structure is located on the island of Milo in Greece. "Milo" means "windmill" in Greek, so this is the most iconic building on the island! A recent crowdfunding exercise has renovated the property to the gorgeousness that we see today! It's an absolute steal at £24 per person! This sentence on the listing makes me VERY excited - "We do recommend renting a scooter or a car (rental available at the island) so you can be free to follow your own schedule and reach the more remote places, where true natural beauty awaits to be discovered". 10) Manorbier Castle (Wales) Wales Castle DaffodilsWales Castle Interior
  • Location: Manorbier, Wales, United Kingdom
  • Bedrooms: 5
  • Sleeps: 12
  • Bathrooms: 4
  • Avg. price per night: £600
  • How to book: AirBnb
Located on the Pembrokeshire Coastline, you can expect long sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, picturesque villages and plenty of country pubs! You just need to pray that the UK weather holds out! This huge castle can be yours for just £50 per person! 11) Chateau Bouffereille (France)

French Castle DrivewayFrench Castle Interior Fireplace Bath

  • Location: Le Temple-sur-Lot, Aquitaine, France
  • Bedrooms: 6
  • Sleeps: 12
  • Bathrooms: 6
  • Avg. price per night: £773
  • How to book: AirBnb
It would be wrong not to finish on a French castle, because the French definitely excel in this area! I mean look at that entrance! And it could all be yours for £65 per person! 12) Bonus - UK Castles You Can rent A Room In! Maybe you don't need a whole castle to yourself, in which case Historic UK have a great list of all the castles in the UK that you can rent a room in! The Boring Bit It goes without saying that any listings shown on AirBnB are likely to fluctuate in prices throughout the year. I have used the average price shown at the date of writing this article (October 2016), however I imagine prices could be a bit steeper in Summer! Please also note that AirBnB have various additional costs such as service charges and extra person surcharges. Please research the properties fully before making any bookings. The "per person" cost also shown above is only applicable where the property is booked to it's full capacity.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1

Copenhagen Hostel Generator Common Area and Recpetion Copenhagen Hostel Generator Dorm Sleeping Area Ljubljana Slovenia Zeppelin Hostel Common Area Fun
The photos above are from various hostels that I have stayed in, however all photos are taken from Hostel World and credit is given to the original authors... apparently I make too much mess to keep a hostel photo-worthy!
Last year I took my first solo trip and therefore experienced my first proper hostel experience (prior to this, I'd stayed in private rooms in hostels with friends). So, for anyone that's a newbie on the scene like I was, this is your ultimate guide to what you can expect!

RELATED POST: Why I love solo travel! 

Firstly, How To Find Your Perfect Hostel? There are plenty of different types of hostel to choose from (as with hotels). If you're travelling style is to move from one party to the next, then a party hostel is where you will be happiest! Whilst party travelling isn't my style, I've heard pretty mental things about Retox in Budapest. If you want to stay in a cosy hostel where everyone socialises in the social area and has a chilled out vibe (my favourite), look for a smaller hostel. My favourites are the ones run by ex-backpackers, they know exactly what you will need! The Zeppelin Hostel in Ljubljana is perfect for this. If you want a hostel that feels more like a hotel, try a large hostel. I stayed in the Generator Hostel in Copenhagen in a private room with friends and it felt just like being in a hotel! My friend referred to it as a "posh-tel". The same goes for Safestay Edinburgh. My favourite website to find hostels is Hostel World, make sure you read all of the reviews from fellow travellers to make sure your needs will be adequately met. What To Pack  Staying in a hostel is very different to hotel and that starts with the things you need to bring!
  • A Padlock - I'm not ashamed to admit it, I made the ultimate rookie error on my first hostel experience - I forgot a padlock. Luckily, the hostel had a bunch spare that I could use for a small fee. This obviously wasn't the strongest or most secure padlock but I was in a lovely little hostel and didn't feel like my stuff was unsafe in the locker.
  • Flip flops - Flip flops will become your best friends in communal showers. You don't want to get foot fungus from showering where so many people have already planted their dirty feet! Short of a) demanding the area be deep cleaned before every shower you have or b) not showering at all (that's one way to not make friends in a hostel), flip flops are the only option!
  • Towels - This isn't a five star resort, don't expect animal sculptures on your bed made out of towels every night you arrive back at your room. In fact, don't expect a towel at all. Once that towel is safely packed, you also then need to remember to actually take it to the shower from your dorm room! I did have to rescue a traumatised Belgian girl who had got into the shower without remembering to pick up her towel... I think I'm safe in saying she probably didn't make that mistake again.
  • Ear plugs - I'm not a fan (I'm sure my ear holes are smaller than the average human, those plugs just don't co-operate with me), but if you struggle sleeping, I'd recommend ear plugs! You never know what kinds of snorers will be in your dorm!
  • Toiletries - As well as the towels, make sure you always bring your own toiletries, you won't be getting any freebies! And remember to pick them up when you leave the shower, or someone will be quick to snap them up! Don't fret though, normally the hostels have a big box of toiletries that have been left behind. If there's something you're desperately in need of, you could be in luck!
  • Sanitary Items - You might also want to pack some tissues and hand sanitiser - the best hostels will always make sure the toilets are well-stocked but you might be caught out!
A Few House Rules
  • Ditch The Introvert Side To You - I get nervous in a lot of situations, I am by no means the most confident person in the world. But if you're going to make the most of your time in a hostel, don't let nerves get to you. You get that booty into the common room and chat to people, I guarantee you are bound to make life-long friends.
  • Staying Up Late - This won't really be an issue if you're in a party hostel, but if you are in a quiet hostel, be a bit considerate when you come fumbling back into your room late at night. But by all means, go on that pub crawl, have the time of your life, you're only young once.
  • Early Mornings - On the other hand, you don't want to be the person bashing through their bags early in the morning. This was me once and I haven't yet forgiven myself for it! I was in a top bunk and accidentally dropped my TINY locker key to the floor at 7am in the dark and I had to be on a tour at 8am. At first, I thought it was in the bunk below me, so had to sneakily rummage through a guy's bed while he slept. He woke up and helped me (without asking too many questions). Big shout out to that guy - you're a legend.
  • Don't Be a Snob - If you will only settle for 5 star luxury accommodation, it's probably best to steer clear of hostels. If you come in with the wrong attitude, you're destined not to like it.
  • Clean Up After Yourself – A number of hostels have a communal kitchen area, and a lot offer a free breakfast each morning. Usually it’s a “do it yourself” breakfast – make sure you clear away all of your used cutlery/crockery – nobody wants to be cleaning up after you!
  • Have The Time of Your Life – You love travelling, you’re surrounded by other people that love travelling. Everyone has the common mentality to have the time of their life. Yes, I have plenty of friends and family that I could travel with, but pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and meeting new people from all over the world will be an experience you never regret!
Now, this isn't a complete bible on how to act/pack when staying in a hostel. But it can be a pretty daunting prospect (I know plenty of people who swear they will never do it!), so hopefully this post helps somewhat! Have you ever stayed in a hostel, what was your first experience like?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1