Croatia hotels. Glasgow hotel. Saint Petersburg guides. Reykjavik apartment. Munich restaurant.

This item appears on page 4 of the September 2011 issue.


My wife, Eileen, and I and another couple traveled independently in Croatia, May 27-June 7, 2011. Two hotels stood out on this trip.

• The fabulous Hotel Luxe (K. Zvonimira 6, 2100 SPLIT, Croatia; phone +385 021 314 444), a beautifully refurbished boutique hotel within a block of the walled city and marketplace. The location was fantastic and the staff was friendly and helpful. We paid $200 for two, including gourmet buffet breakfasts.

• At Hotel Neptun (Kardinala Stepinca 31, DUBROVNIK, Croatia; phone +385 20 440 100), they were most accommodating and upgraded us to a lovely, larger room in the newer part of the hotel with a view of the sea. $200 for two people, including full breakfast.

The city bus comes right by and takes you to the Walled City.

• I also want to mention the Best Western Premier Hotel Astoria (Petrinjska 71, 10000, ZAGREB, Croatia; phone +385 014 808 900), a very cozy, San Francisco-like hotel in the heart of the capital city. $150 with breakfast.

We received a parking ticket because, not being able to read the signs, we parked in a limited-time zone across the street from the hotel. The hotel staff was kind enough to call the city, successfully getting the ticket rescinded. The hotel does have a parking lot.

All in all, the trip was just terrific, and Croatia is still a bargain, as it is not yet a part of the EU.

— Jack Morgan, Monterey Park, CA


REPORT on Glasgow...

We stayed in Glasgow at Principal Hayley Hotels’ Grand Central Hotel (99 Gordon St., Glasgow, Scotland G1 3SF, U.K.; phone +44 [0] 141 240 3700) the night of June 16.

Beloved for many years for its comfortable accommodations and exquisite French restaurant, this hotel is in a great location at the Central train station. However, to the vast disappointment of one of my travel companions, who has stayed there many times, the newly refurbished hotel, reopened in February 2010, is horrible.

Rates are £79 ($126) double or £99 with breakfast. Although somewhat reasonably priced (but adding £20 to include the quite ordinary breakfast is outrageous, and if you want it brought to your room it’s an additional £5), it’s difficult to see what the £20 million remake bought besides gloomy surroundings and bad design in terms of function and convenience.

In our room, the bed was hard and too high to get into comfortably. The bathroom doorstop was positioned such that you couldn’t open the door fully. The shower was in a tub with sides so high that even my six-foot partner could hardly climb into it. Everything just seemed as uncomfortable and poorly made as possible.

The food in the new Tempus restaurant was adequate, at best. Dinner for four, with three glasses of wine and one dessert, cost £107. The staff was very kind and efficient.

— Jane Albusche, ITN



During a Baltic cruise in July ’11, my husband and I spent three days in St. Petersburg, where we had a wonderful tour guide, Sergey Akopov (e-mail

We found him through Palladium Travel (Hotel Rus, Ulitsa Artilleriy­skaya 1, St. Petersburg, Russia; phone +7 0812 279 6584), which was very responsive and delivered everything that they promised at a very competitive rate.

For about $800 for the two of us, we had a full day with a car and driver plus all admissions; another full day at Peterhof Palace with no driver (we went by hydrofoil), and a half day at the Hermitage with our guide. We did not need transportation on that third day either, as the museum was within walking distance of our ship.

Sergey was a wonderful guide and a pleasure to have as a companion. He was extremely knowledgeable and was able to get us into all the places we wanted to see without our having to spend hours on lines. I recommend him most highly.

By the way, taking the hydrofoil to Peterhof saves over five hours of driving time. It takes under half an hour to get to Peterhof from the Neva River berth (near the Hermitage) via hydrofoil.

— Mary Kirson, Philadelphia, PA


My husband, Herb, and I were in St. Petersburg, May 9-15, 2011, and had the most wonderful guide, who we found through the ITN MART.

From the minute she picked us up at the airport until our departure, Natalya German-Tsarkova (Engles pr.43-12, St. Petersburg 194017, Russia; phone +7 921 3911894, did everything to make our stay incredible. She is an art historian, so, needless to say, all our experiences at the Hermitage, Peterhof, St. Catherine’s, etc., were truly memorable.

But it was the little things she did that made her stand out as a truly exceptional “five-star” guide, including driving us to the Kirov Ballet (for which she obtained great seats) and then picking us up afterward; arranging for a private guide for the Military Historical Museum and staying with us the entire time, even though we had not hired her for the day, and suggesting restaurants and places to shop.

For the five days, we paid her approximately $2,300, which covered airport pickup and delivery, Russian invitation (if you’re not on a tour or cruise, you need this from a tour guide or hotel), all museum entrances and a lovely private boat trip.

We highly recommend Natalya. Feel free to e-mail me with questions at

— Margie Cohen, New York, NY

Report on Iceland…


• My boyfriend, Len, and I stayed for five nights at the Embassy Luxury Apartments (Gardastraeti 40, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland; phone 354 511 2166, fax 562 9165 or e-mail, May 20-23 & May 27-28, 2011.

The location is fantastic, in a quiet neighborhood and only a two-minute walk from shops and restaurants.

Our apartment (No. 90) had a large bedroom, a kitchenette and a living room with cable TV and free WiFi. They clean every day and provide fresh towels if you desire.

This place is a bargain, for Iceland! Booked through, it cost $170 per night for two.

— Marlene Lomas, Honolulu, HI



• While visiting Munich in June 2011, of the several restaurants located in the plaza surrounding the Sheraton Arabella Park hotel, my wife and I found Zum Rosenkavalier (Rosenkavalierplatz 15, 81925 München, GERMANY; phone +49 89 235 414 47) a tasty choice. We liked it so much, we ate there twice.

Entrées ranged from Wienerschnitzel or Zwiebelrostbraten (beef and onions) to kabeljaufilet (fillet of cod) with olive tapenade. Vegetables accompanying the entrées were not only cooked perfectly but artfully displayed on the plates. An amuse bouche accompanied each meal, and salads were included with many offerings. The wine list was small but varied.

Our second night, we conversed with the Syrian-born chef, who graciously provided a complimentary crème brûlée festooned with sliced strawberry, kiwi, kumquat and mint in a spun-sugar basket.

The tariff for two, including wine and tip, averaged $60 per night.

— Al Standish, Port Ludlow, WA