Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Hostal Isabella B&B, review

Continued from San Sebastian, Arrival

Our destination was Hostal Isabella B&B. To be fair from the onset, I'd chosen them because I couldn't find anywhere else that was within our budget. Besides, they had rather good reviews, but here's my frank opinion.

Their best point is possibly the view from our room. It wasn't bad...

Isla de Santa Clara, San Sebastian
Rooftops and Santa Clara
Monte Igueldo, Isla de Santa Clara, San Sebastian
Mount Igueldo & Santa Clara

The location is a bit far off, about 30-40 minutes to the old town, walking along the promenade. It's close to the Ondarreta beach and to the Peine del Viento (more about this in a later post) and in a not so touristy district.

Isabella is basically a large flat (or perhaps two, I'm not sure, but I believe the family lives there) and has 4 rooms converted to let; two of these have en-suite bathrooms. The shower cubicle is small, so if you're biggish, you will have some problems. The decoration is somewhat quaint and quirky, kind of fortune-tellerish. I didn't find it displeasing, but would have preferred the parquet instead of a multitude of assorted rugs. No doubt, they're there to prevent guests from damaging the floor.

The room is small, the sort you'd expect in cities where house prices are sky-high. We were three, so there was hardly room to swing a cat. If there are only two of you, it may be a little better. I didn't even take any photos of the room, which is highly unusual, but I suppose it was because there wasn't even room for me to do it! LOL

The flat is on the sixth floor, served by two lifts. The second one is through another set of doors to the right of the main lift. If you've got suitcases, the main lift is better as the second leads to a step or three on the ground floor.

Isabella was welcoming enough. The "staff" was  helpful - if you ask them for something, if they can, they'll help - but not intrusive. The only negative tick I'd put on this was the way Isabella was rushing us off at checkout time.

Breakfast was a very basic affair - bread (there was a toaster), butter, jam, tea bags (there's a kettle in the room), milk, some cheap cakes and croissants off the supermarket shelf... No cereals, some cut watermelon, not much else. There was a large kitchen with a large table in the centre, which would have been perfectly usable for the guests. It brings back memories of the days when I was living in guest houses in Indonesia (especially) and breakfasts with the other guests were often the highlight of the day. But, sadly, no. The kitchen was out of bounds, like.

All the breakfast was laid out on a piece of furniture in the hallway, just outside the kitchen. You take what you want and bring it back to your room, where there isn't even a table. There is a bureau, so, ok, maybe two of you could squeeze your food on it, and sit on the bed (no chairs) and scoff it - the breakfast, I mean - down. I was usually up before the rest so I normally had my breakfast first, always packing away the laptop prior to that...

which brings me to their Internet. They'll turn it off at 11pm to avoid bad energy and electromagnetic waves affecting your health and good night's rest, haha. Where's the router anyway? In practice, they usually turn it off a little later than that. They don't turn it on again until 9 or so - depends on what time they get up and if someone remembers to turn it on. I guess.

All a bit of codswallop, if you ask me. They can't force their guests to turn off their smartphones, can they? Perhaps someone ought to tell them that routers consume very little electricity. Because my guess is they're trying to save a few cents off their power bills...

The revealing question, then. Would I return? Aka my verdict.

Yes, if I can't find anything else in the same price range. I've stayed in worse places, but frankly, a few little changes can make this "hostal" a far better place.