Just booked a 5 night reward stay at the Grand Flora Rome for November. Anyone know what the likelihood is that I'd receive a Platinum upgrade at this property during this time? While I'd love a suite or Jr. suite, even an upgrade to a king room from the standard would be much appreciated!
I really couldn't tell you, Kharada. On our 2012 trip, we received an upgrade to a beautiful room where you walked in to a large living room (with extremely tall ceilings), and then through a door at the far end of the room which lead into a very spacious master bedroom with a good sized bathroom. The thing is, they had muffed up our reservation (there were three of us), and so I don't know if the upgrade was a result of fixing the mistake or due to a platinum upgrade. On a previous trip, we had little status and no upgrade, but the room was still quite fantastic. Plenty large (felt like much more space than in the standard room we had at the Champs-Elysees), two beds, sitting area and large bathroom. Both of our stays at the GF were on points, and no complaints, only praise! Perhaps others will weigh in. One thing is certain: you picked the right hotel! It really is a special place.
I was a bit worried because the sample picture of the standard rooms looks a little small. My main objective is to get a room with a king bed and a view, doesn't have to be a suite, though that would be nice! I'm hoping that the fact that we're going in November will help!
Try getting in touch with the GM or Asst. GM at the hotel...seems to be the best bet.
I've read where some of the standard rooms are so small that you cannot fit 2 people and 2 suitcases in the room and be able to open the suitcases.
Here is the view from the breakfast room. I must have deleted my pics of my room.
I would contact the property manager/assoc. manager to introduce yourself and request an upgraded room. Couldn't hurt.
How many luggage bags are you planning to take with you? How many days is your trip? Too much luggage is not a lot of fun when travelling!
Very nice picture! Can't wait to go snap some of my own!
Between my wife(to-be) and I, we'll have 3-4 suitcases between the two of us and will be at the Grand Flora for 5 nights. it'll be the last stop stop on our trip to Italy and France. The whole trip is 2.5 weeks, so we have to bring clothes for that and for gifts to bring back home. So, I'm hoping the bag situation doesn't get out of hand, as you are right! Too many bags make traveling not fun! Especially since we'll be using rail for all intra-Europe travel!
Kharada ... I am most envious of your 3-4 suitcases ... we are limited to 2 at a maximum of 20KG for our nearly 3 months of travel!! We are doing a few local flights where there is s strict limit ... I guess that we'll be making a lot of laundry stops ... but, as you say, it will make travelling a lot easier. We stayed at Grand Flora a few years ago but we had to pay ... just couldn't get a Rewards stay, but it was in the Spring. We didn't get a significant upgrade but we did get a nice room and there was plenty of space ... no view though. The staff were excellent and there are some lovely pavement cafes along the Via Veneto. It may be worth letting the GM know that this is the last leg of your 'memorable' trip when asking for an upgrade?
Wow, that's harsh! But yes, I intentionally made our honeymoon in the off-peak season in hopes that it would be easier to get rewards reservations on the airline and at the hotels. How is the restaurant on property? The Cabiria I believe? Not sure if we'll be up to venturing out when we first arrive!
I've just signed on for the first time for a few days and your posting has got a fascinating set of responses. It's great when you get such excellent feedback from so many hardened travellers, eh?! There is some great info on packing light etc.that I shall make a note of ... we always like to do some serious hiking when on our travels and always have to wear our walking boots on the flights ... they take up too much of our weight allowance in the baggage! But I am going to try and convince my wife to think along GemP's lines on her packing ... at the moment, she just puts things in the case until it's full ... (I just hope that she doesn't read this posting) ...
We only ate breakfast in the Grand Flora ... there were just so many lovely little family style restaurants around Rome that we ate out every night and grabbed a light lunch wherever we happened to be. You shouldn't have a problem finding excellent food in Rome at a reasonable price.
Here's a picture of my Grand Flora Welcome Gift and the view from my room.
Traveling with 3-4 bags may be difficult depending on the size and weight. Getting on and off trains can be difficult due to the narrow and very steep steps. But, with two of you, your new wife can stand at the top of the steps while you hand the bags up to her.
My trips are also 18-19 nights. I usually travel with one 25" bag, my briefcase and my purse. I do take a collapsible soft-sided bag in my suitcase to carry home any souvenirs. I've only taken the train once (I usually drive). And, it was a total pain getting on and off the train by myself. I keep telling myself that I AM GOING TO LEARN how to travel lighter!
I suggest getting compression bags to reduce the amount of space taken up in your bags. Maybe using them will cut you down to one bag each plus your carry-ons. They don't make your bag any lighter, but you can fit more stuff in your bag. I like the medium size Eagle Creek compression sacks.
Traveling in Europe, I usually use a carry-on roller bag, backpack, oversized purse as there are many instances where I have to carry my bags. You can not count on having elevators or escalators, and often have to do anywhere from 1-3 flites of stairs for trains and mass transit. I also like to carry my bags on to flites, and not check them as there is alot of wasted time and money in checking and picking them up in airports.
I like to pick a color scheme, antd then select 2 of each item, so I can wear one, while washing the other. Even for a cruise where I need formal wear this works. its easier for warm weather destinations, and more challenging for the cold weather though they now have alot of warm thin fabrics. My typical packing list is 2 long pants with matching jackets, 2 day time tops, 2 long skirts and evening tops, 2 shorts, 2 teashirts, bathing suite, bathing suite coverup that doubles as nightwear, gortex jacket & pants. Usually I pack black or navy clothes, and several changes of jewelry and scarves which makes them look like different outfits. I can get the above into my backpack by rolling it (trick from my dad who was in the navy). I only buy fabrics that do not wrinkle and can be washed in a sink.
Thanks for the tips! I was thinking of doing that too, but I need to find out if the hotels we're at have public laundry rooms. I doubt it, though, and I don't want to pay for the hotel to do it! I've done the rolling trick too, but it gets everything SUPER wrinkled last time I tried. My dress shirts are largely no-wrinkle type, but everything else isn't. Even our winter outerwear I'm having difficulties figuring out. I know this year it was 40-50s in Paris and in Rome in November, while I get cold when the temperature drops below 70!
kharada, when I stayed at the GF last summer, I hand washed and wrung my jeans in the bathtub. I feared they might never dry, but I hung them over the valet, and low and behold, they were completely dry (and clean!) in 24 hours. We found that the hand washing and rinsing (and some ironing) was a much better alternative than lugging excess luggage around through trains and airports, etc. as we are frugal with taxis, and only use them when necessary (and I hope you are not feeling brow beaten. We're all just excited for you!)
Thanks for the images! I took your advice and was able to get an Executive King room confirmed on my reservation
You know, I was thinking of that too, as I did have to lug around two medium sized suitcases and a rather large backpack in Tokyo once. That wasn't fun, especially since it's so crowded there! I think we've settled at 3 medium suitcases max, 2 "personal items" as defined by the airline, a large rolling carryon, and a small duffle bag shoved in one of our suitcases if we really need extra space. I really do need to learn how to travel lighter too... My fiancee really needs to learn to travel lighter even more than me! haha.
I'll look into the compression bags too. That sounds like a good idea, especially when coming back.
Here's a link to my itinerary and restaurant suggestions for my trip to Italy. Scroll down to find the Rome piece (it was my last destination). There's a restaurant, La Bruschetta, that is a block or two from the hotel which was good. And, much less expensive than eating in the hotel. And, the list includes much pricier fare also for when you do want to get out! LOL!
In the picture of the view from my room, you'll see a lit up square towards the bottom with people heading towards it (directly to the right of Harry's Bar). It's an escalator to underground where there is a large, grocery store. You can pick up wine, water, snacks, etc. there for your hotel room!
3 medium suitcases and a large carry-on in addition to your carry ons? What is the size of the medium suitcases? Sounds like a lot. Remember there will be other people trying to get on and off the train at the same time as you... and the trains don't stop for very long at each station.
Good luck and have fun!
Thanks newhiltonmembr! This is really good information! I'll have to thoroughly review your itinerary to help me along with my plans.
As for the suitcases, I am a bit concerned about that. The medium suitcases should be in the 24-26" range, not really too sure. The large carry on would be just under American Air's maximum allowance. The other carry ons would be a laptop/camera bag for me, a purse for my fiancee, and a duffle bag packed inside one of the medium suitcases for extra carrying capacity if need be.
Now, I need an expert opinion. Where would be a good place to stop between Paris and Rome? Right now I'm debating between Torino and Bologna, but am open to another city/country. I'd prefer a locale with a decently priced Marriott in a convenient location if possible.
Kharada, while I'm certainly not an expert and haven't been to Torino or Bologna... my recommendation would be the gorgeous, romantic Venice!
There is an AC hotel there but check reviews by others here on MRI.
I used Hilton points there for a wonderful suite in a lovely hotel. I've read that you can get it pretty cheap on Priceline.com. It is located on Guidecca. They do have a private ferry/boat that runs every half hour and there are vaporettos that are within a 10minute walk to vaporreto stop on Guidecca. Prof. Chiara like the Best Western in Venice 'proper'. I haven't stayed there but based on her reccos, I would look into it!
DO NOT stay at the Courtyard by the airport!!!!! It's probably a nice hotel but toooooo far to go back and forth to during the day/evening when you want to relax and freshen up.
Bologna is a large city known for its food but somewhere I think I'd save for amother trip. I don't know much about Torino either so can t comment.
My second recommendations would include either Florence, San Gimignano and/or Siena. I loved everywhere I went in Italy!
Thanks for the recommendations! I'd love to experience Venice, but we'll only have 1 whole day in the city that needs deciding on. We'll probably leave pretty early on the last day to arrive in Rome as soon as possible, and I have no idea what time we'd arrive at. That really depends on how long it takes to get there from Paris. That and the hotels are quite expensive there. So, I thought it would be kind of a waste to go there.
I did see a beautiful and affordable Renaissance in Florence, but everyone says you need to have a car if you're going to stay there. I'm not familiar with San Gimignano and Siena either.
Would like to minimize transit time from Paris to destination and from destination to Rome. I know, complicated and a bit nit picky! I just want to maximize my money and time.
kharada, I'm not sure of where to recommend to you. But, it appears that the trains from Paris have a connection in either Turin (Torino) or Milan. I'd suggest that you do take an overnight train to minimize your loss of siteseeing time. There are only 2 TGV trains during the day and that would waste your entire day! Take a nignt train, get a sleeper compartment and arrive very early at your in-between destination. The costs also vary widely depending on the day of the week that you are traveling.
Or, better yet, fly from Paris Orly to Pisa on EasyJet. There are baggage checking restrictions (20 kg = 44 lbs) per person for 14 euros per bag (total weight per person is 20 kg, no matter how many bags you pay for.... doesn't make sense to me but you can look at their website) plus 1 free carry-on per person (22 in x 18 in x 10 in). You can pay for additional weight up to 32 kg on the checked baggage but that gets pretty expensive. The flight is only 1 3/4 hours and if you can keep the checked luggage to 1 per person at 44 pounds, it is probably cheaper than the train.
The trains take much, much longer (Paris -> Turin is 5 1/2 hrs on the TGV and Paris -> Milan is 7 hours on the TGV and 9 1/2 hours on the overnight Euronight train).
If your only seeing Paris and Rome, I would suggest that you see a smaller, hill town in Tuscany or Umbria. Flying into Pisa, you could stay in Pisa or go to Lucca (you could actually see Pisa and Lucca in the same day) or go to Florence easily. But, I really loved San Gim, Siena, and Assisi as smaller hill towns!
I'd also recommend that you take a day trip to Orvieto from Rome (although it will be hard to pull yourself away from Rome with only 5 nights!)
Yes, there is an AC Hotel in Florence. Check out the reviews on www.tripadvisor.com .
BTW, if flying or training into Pisa or Florence, you don't need a car. Trains run between Pisa, Lucca and Florence.
I thought about doing air, but I gotta look into it more. I figured with the transit time to & from airports, as well as all the waiting at the airports, it would take just as long as taking the train, with the addition of those crazy restrictions! I'm shooting for an aggressively early departure time, as I figure we could just crash out on the train if need be. That way we won't have to eat on the train either!
You know, I was really considering Tuscany, especially after seeing pictures on here from the Renaissance in Tuscany, but the airport shuttle lists the transportation cost to that hotel as 130 Euro! And using the train to get there require a lot of different connections, so I said forget it.
I'm also open to driving if that isn't too intimidating and if there are benefits to doing so, though this would likely be from Milan/Torino or an airport if we go that route. I've never driven anywhere outside of Hawaii though...
Anyhow, has anyone been to Naples? I'd also consider visiting there. Birth place of the classic Margherita Pizza!
Exploring nhm's air idea further, last June, our original thought was to train to Italy from Paris, but then we did in fact fly (Air France) from Paris to Venice. Round trip was a really good deal (about $220 if memory serves correct - over $700 one way, but $220 round trip, go figure, and we just abandoned the return flight). You might find an even better deal in November (off season). Our flight left at 10:30am out of Paris, and arrived in Venice at about 12:30pm. We left the hotel at 8:30am. That isn't nearly as long as a train ride.
As far as driving, I've driven in Italy, between Sorrento, Naples and Pompeii and Rome (FCO, not Rome proper). It was as easy as driving at home (or rather, anywhere in the U.S. that you are unfamiliar.) I was also driven around by my brother in Florence, Pisa, Lucca, and yes, Rome (from the Grand Flora) to Frascati. From the back seat, it seemed easy enough! (Although I harbor a secret about the brothers driving, which is hidden in another post! )
I picked a Sunday morning 7am flight on Sept. 29, the fare was 45 euros/person on EasyJet without checked baggage purchase. The 7:05 flight arrives in Pisa at 8:45am.
Obviously, the time and day of the week you fly is also going to make a difference in the cost.
The airport in Pisa is very close to Pisa. I would stay there (and do Lucca and Pisa that day/night) or take the bus to Florence from Pisa Airport for the day/night.
Or, you could even check your luggage at the Pisa train station (make sure they have a left luggage storage first!), go see the Field of Miracles, pick up your luggage and take the train to Lucca (do the same with your luggage there), tour around Lucca, then take the train to Florence and check into a hotel, have dinner, walk around beautiful Florence that night, leave from Florence SMN train station the next morning for Rome.
Here's the bus schedule from Pisa Airport to the center of Florence (by the train station). It takes 1 hour from Pisa Airport to Florence:
pluto77, that's an amazing rate! $220?! I'll have to look into that. But, as you pointed out, Pompeii is near Naples... Perhaps that might be a better destination? Any experience traveling in that area? A co-worker mentioned to me that Naples is a bit "rough" and Anthony Bourdain said there were garbage issues when he visited to make his show...
newhiltonmbr, thanks for that info as well! I'll have to look into that... It's tempting!
newhiltonmembr & pluto77,
I've been looking into all that you guys have talked about and started to fidget around with other things. I found CHEAP airfare and think I'd have a great/convenient Marriott stay in... BERLIN!! Any thoughts? This is way out there compared to Torino, Tuscany, Venice, and Naples, I know. I'm being wishy washy, but I want least hassle with good value that will be worthwhile (but doesn't everyone??)
Nhm's suggestions just keep getting better with each reply. I love the Pisa, Lucca idea, with Florence thrown in. To be honest, how can you make a first trip to Italy without visiting Tuscany, especially since it's on the way to Rome? I wouldn't waste my time in Torino or Milan. Can't speak for Bologna. Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance. You have to see Michelangelo's David... It's truly stunning. The food is divine in Toscana. Go to Tuscany (where all the towns Nhm has mentioned are) or Venice.
To answer your question about Naples, Kharada, yes, its reputation for being a bit rough is legitimate. Pompeii is terrific though...
pluto77, that is true and newhiltonmember makes an excellent point! But, someone found out that the Berlin Zoo is one of the best in the world and has one of the largest collections of animals... That someone would like to see this, if ya know what I mean!
That and there's a desire to keep major movements to a minimum (keep bags in hotels while we explore). So, if we do go to Tuscano, we'd probably just stay put in Florence for the duration. Anyone stay at the AC in Florence? How about the Marriott in Berlin? Any experiences with Air Berlin would be appreciated as well!
Since you started your planning early, you still have plenty of time to tweek your itinerary. It's nice to explore options. As far as Florence, we've stayed twice at the Hotel Maxim. It's not luxury, but it is clean and affordable, a stones throw from the Duomo, and has a very family run sort of feel. The proprietors are very hospitable and helpful, and they offer a free cold breakfast in the morning room. The towels were wierd though. Not terry, but smooth, like bath sized tea towels. Same with the wash cloths. I prefer terry.
If you'd like to see more images of the Grand Flora, I just found this review by oyster.com
I never knew of this metro entrance or the market in there! We always walked down to Piazza Barberini (and back up). What a difference perspective can make. Your room obviously looked out over Via Veneto. It's so interesting the differences between any two persons visits to the same city, staying in the same hotel, but very different experiences.
Kharada, with all of your luggage (I know you've mentioned paring down, but you'll find it's still a lot - GemP has some really good clothing tips), when you arrive at the train station in Rome, follow the signs to the taxi queue (to the left as you leave the platform/track area at Roma Termini). That's where the legitimate taxis (who won't rob you with usuperous prices) are. You'll definitely want to spring for a taxi to the Grand Flora. It's about 10-12€ plus a luggage tip and worth every cent. There are a lot of stairs in the underground.
Yes, my room did overlook the Via Veneto. Right across the street from Harry's Bar where I had to have a bellini with some new found friends that I met in Sorrento a few days earlier!
There is a grocery store, parking, and an entrance to the Spana metro station (although still a bit of a walk but if the weather is not cooperating, it can be quite helpful!) through that underground walkway. There may be other stores down there but I don't really remember.
I completely agree with your advice regarding the taxi from the train station!
Nhm, which direction is this? I never saw anything (view) from the roof as fine as this. It's terrific. But then I was looking straight out from the terrace in my photo above, and all that could be seen were the unattractive rooftops of buildings close by, along with lots of tv antennas.
Oh for crying out loud! That is the church towers at the top of the Spanish Steps and the dome of San Pietro in the background!! Can't believe I missed it!
I thought I was satisfied and therefore done with Rome. I just might need to go back. And I think the underground in that area is a massive labryinth. I believe you can enter there next to Harry's bar and find your way all the way to the Spanish Steps from in there (or is that what you were just saying?) Indeed, it's huge from my experience (entering it from Villa Borghese, it seemed like we walked for "days" under there), and I didn't even know it connected at the top of Via Veneto. Humph!
Kharada, again, perhaps others who have stayed there will weigh in with better info, but I'm not aware of any rooms that have a view of much. My first stay, the room had a window along the "left" side of the building (as you look at the hotel from the front) and the "view" was of the Villa Borghese area. Nothing spectacular. The most recent stay (in the upgraded room), the window looked out to a side street (faced out the wall on the "right" side of the building), but if you hung your head out, you could see the main street (vittoria veneto).
Here's some photos of the hotel to wet your whistle. Sorry I don't have any of the room. That would've been helpful.
Grand Flora Lobby
Grand Flora Staircase
View from Rooftop Terrace where breakfast is served daily.
Rooftop Dining Room
I wish I woul've gotten a couple of snaps of the people serving in the dining room. They were fabulous.
I just returned from a 5 night point redemption stay (2 rooms for 5 nights for 320K points) at the Gran Flora Dec 26-31, 2012. It was lovely and breakfast was included for our room,we did get a king upgrade and we received a 2 for 1 breakfast coupon for the additional MR points room. We also booked an additional room for cash- that room received no breakfast or wi-fi benefits. The hotel is quite popular and while we had a nice enough room looking out onto Via Venetto, we were not able to get an upgrade to a suite even at an additional costs the hotel was fully booked in every category above standard. The location adjacent to the Villa Borghese Gardens is superb especially if you have kids along- ours teens really enjoyed the park, even more than the classical sites.