accommodations

Checking in to London’s Greenest Boutique Hotel - Qbic Hotel

Last November, Andrew and I set off on a four week, seven country adventure to visit and capture Europe’s Christmas markets with Urban Adventures. London was our last stop, and, for a couple of reasons, it was the destination I was most excited about.

My mom is from England, so, I’ve visited London a couple of times before with family, but, on both occasions, I was barely a teenager. I was old enough to like the city… but I wasn’t really old enough to appreciate it.

This time around, things were really different. I was excited about revisiting London, but was also looking forward to visiting my family there. It was the first time in my life I’d be visiting them by myself, and also the first time I’d be entering the UK on a British passport!

I was also pumped for our London trip because we were going to be staying a couple of nights in one of the coolest areas… at the city’s most eco-friendly (and cutest) boutique hotel - Qbic Hotel London.

London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld

About QBIC Hotel London

The Vibe + mission

In one word, Qbic Hotel is super cozy. Picture your typical, stuffy, corporate chain hotel… and then think the exact opposite. I was a big fan of their trendy decor, art filled walls, and the staff’s laid back and welcoming attitude.

Qbic says, “We use local, innovative designers to create refreshingly different interior design that is authentically unique and holds an inspiring story.”

They are dedicated to reducing their environmental impact and support eco-friendly charities in the local community. One of these is Cafe Art, London based initiative that aims to reconnect people affected by homelessness with society through Art. Qbic showcases some of the artists work in their hotel and has even given Cafe Art a space to run the charity in the hotel’s basement.

London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld

From the solar panels on the roof to their use of chemical free cleaning products, at Qbic Hotel, being “green” is more than just empty words or a marketing slogan.

They provide guests with organic toiletries and natural, organic beds made from sustainable and renewable resources. They also offer free bike rental and encourage guests staying two or more nights to conserve water and energy, by skipping room cleaning (in exchange for a free drink at the bar). Qbic Hotel believes this incentive will encourage guests to make greener decisions.

Though their aren’t in-room coffee makers, each floor is equipped with a free coffee and tea area. You won’t find any plastic water bottles here. Instead, guests are provided with free filtered water in their room’s refillable glass bottle. Qbic hotel also uses sustainable, re-usable metal straws instead of single-use plastic straws.

London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld

The rooms

Compared to other hotels in, our room at Qbic smaller. We didn’t have all of the bells and whistles you might find in other hotel rooms, but, we found that we did have everything we needed.

I was pleasantly surprised by the sleek, modern, clutter free design of the room, and impressed by the rooms defining wall art and highly efficient reusable pod that stood center-stage.

The “Qbi pods” in each room are sustainably built, aluminium pods that contain everything you need in a fully functioning hotel room… and I mean everything from the bed, tv, lights, outlets, and USB ports to the toilet, sink, and waterfall shower. It’s such a genius and innovative concept.

Guests have the choice of a smart room, cosy room, or a fun room. So, what’s the difference?

If you’re looking for a crashpad where you can get a solid nights sleep, go for a window-less smart room. If you want a bit of daylight, go for a cosy room like we did. If you’re travelling with two or three people and want a bit more space, go for one of their larger fun rooms (complete with a couch).

London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld

Motley Bar + Restaurant

Motley, Qbic’s in house restaurant and bar, is popular amongst travellers and locals alike.

They offer breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner throughout that week and several delicious options for sharing (…or keeping to yourself). Their menu has lots of healthy, vegetarian friendly dishes made from seasonal, sustainable, and locally sourced produce.

The restaurant and bar was always pretty quiet during lunch (and at 5am when I took the photos below), but it got really busy after working hours. We stayed here during the week, so it was a great spot to grab a bite to eat and get some work done, but it’s probably much busier for brunches on the weekend!

Hours

BREAKFAST: Mon-Fri 7:00-10:30 Sat-Sun 8:00-11:00

BRUNCH: Sat-Sun 11:30-15:00

LUNCH & DINNER: Mon-Fri 12:00-22:30 Sat-Sun 15:30 - 22:30

BAR: Sun-Wed 16:00 - 00:00 Thu-Sat 16:00-2:00

Click here to view Motley’s various menus.

London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld

Rates + Booking

To check current rates or to book your room at Qbic Hotel London, use the search bar below!

Booking.com

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London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld

A Night Behind Bars in Ljubljana - Checking in to Hostel Celica: Slovenia's Prison Turned Hostel

I never imagined I’d be spending the night in a Slovenian jail cell

I also never thought I’d be doing so willingly… that is, until I started planning our trip to Ljubljana and discovered that the city is home to Hostel Celica - an ex prison turned hostel. Then I was all like, “A night behind bars!? SIGN ME UP!!”

For a unique accommodation experience during your visit to Slovenia’s capital, you have to stay a night or two at Ljubljana’s former prison - Hostel Celica.

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History + Transformation

In the 1880’s, “Hostel Celica” was a prison…

…and it remained a prison for over 100 years.

In 1991, the building was abandoned, and local artists began trying to formally obtain the empty premises. They wanted to preserve the building, and, in doing so, to preserve a piece of Ljubljana’s history. These artists were strongly opposed by the local government who answered their attempts by trying to have the building demolished in 1993.

Nearly 10 years later, the city finally approved creative plans to transform the building into a youth hostel in 2001. For the next two years, more than 80 local and international artists collaborated to transform Hostel Celica into the beautiful, eclectic work of art that it is today.

In 2003, they welcomed their first guests, and, today, it is the most awarded hostel in Slovenia.

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Not Your Average Hostel

Yes, Hostel Celica does have your standard hostel common areas like a bar/cafe, and various lounges… but it also has an on site Art Gallery featuring monthly exhibits by local and international artists, a unique, spiritual room called the Point of Peace, and, in the basement, you’ll find the Museum of Confinement.

POINT OF PEACE

The Point of Peace is the only jail cell in Celica which has had the bars removed from windows and doors. This symbolizes openness and acceptance, a point that is further illustrated by what is actually in this spiritual room.

On their website, Celica says:

The Point of Peace represents the meeting point of all travelers who want to get in touch with their spiritual side or just give themselves a moment of peace and quiet. There are 6 niches where each represents a world religion – Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism. The sixth one is left empty and opened for any other religion, your own belief.

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MUSUEM OF CONFINEMENT

If you’re bold enough to wander downstairs to the Museum of Confinement, you’ll see the prison’s old solitary confinement cells and can learn more about Celica’s dark history. The location of this museum in relation to the point of Peace and third floor common room also has an interesting, symbolic meaning:

The solitary confinement cells, which are part of the museum, are located right under the Point of Peace, which rises up into the lightest point of the building, the common room. The vertical symbolizes how the old prison building opens itself from its darkest corner into its lightest point.

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Be sure to check out all of these spaces to learn more about the property’s history and evolution over time.

Read more now: Hostel Celica - More Than a Hostel

Room (aka cell) Options

Sold on a stay at Hostel Celica? GREAT!

…Now you’ve got a pretty wide variety of room options to choose from. Stay solo in a private room, or bunk up with a few cell mates in one of Celica’s dorms.

For the full experience, I recommend spending a night behind bars in one of their 20 cells.

These cells were transformed by artists during the prison’s transformation, and each one has its own unique story and concept.

We stayed in Cell 116, “The Eye”… which was pretty cool, but there’s one catch… you can’t choose your specific cell - and theres a meaning behind that too.

Guests are assigned the cells at the moment of booking and cannot choose them according their tastes or wishes… The same way the prisoners could not choose theirs back at the time - A nice element of surprise, completely free of charge.

Read more about Cell 116’s concept and check out the other cells here.

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Property Perks

Hostel Celica offers several property perks…

…in addition to all of the unique aspects mentioned previously.

Their check in desk is open 24-hours a day and the ground floor has a common space, cafe, and bar where you can pay small, reasonable prices for meals, drinks, and their buffet breakfast. Upstairs, you’ll find another lounge, a shared kitchen, and laundry area.

Hostel Celica also offers bike rental, city maps, and a variety of trips and tours.

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What’s in the Neighborhood?

To put it in short… a WHOLE lot of art.

The hostel is located right in the middle of Metelkova Mesto, an autonomous social centre in the centre of Ljubljana. Think Copenhagen’s Christiania Freetown… except smaller.

Before the renovation and transformation of Hostel Celica began, the abandoned barracks and prison were occupied by artists trying to preserve the area. Today it is arguably the most successful Urban Squat in Europe.

The entire area is filled with murals, quirky art installations, and museums. It’s pretty deserted in the day time… but once the sun goes down, Metelkova Mesto comes to life.

Read more about Metelkova here or visit their website to stay up to date on upcoming exhibitions and events.

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Booking

To check current rates or book your cell at Hostel Celica, use the search box below.

Booking.com

What’s the most unique hostel you’ve ever stayed at? Let me know in the comments below!

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Vienna's Most Instagramable Hotel - 25hours beim MuseumsQuartier

Last November, Andrew and I set off on a one month, eight country journey around some of Europe’s most beautiful Christmas Markets.

Our first stop was Vienna, where we had the pleasure of staying at the quirkiest, coziest, and most conveniently located hotel in the city - 25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier.

25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier - HallAroundtheWorld


ABOUT 25HOURS VIENNA

Located at the heart of Vienna’s 7th District, the 25 Hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier was a great home base for our three day stint in Austria. It also might be the most insta-worthy hotel I’ve ever stayed in.

From the lobby and guest rooms to the corridors and rooftop bar, you’ll find the entire hotel filled with colorful, circus themed wallpaper and vibrant vintage finds. The design team paid so much attention to detail when bringing this unique, dreamy hotel to life.

From what I could see, 25hours attracts a wide variety of guests ranging from young couples like Andrew and I to businesses travellers and families. Like their slogan suggests, we likely had one thing in common… We’re all mad here.

The property and design let off a cozy vibe, the staff was welcoming, the location was prime, and the food was delicious… All in all, I was a huge fan.

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WHAT’S IN THE BUILDING?

INSTA-FRIENDLY LOBBY

If you don’t take at least ONE photo of this lobby… why’d ya even come?

A Polaroid camera wall greets you in the entranceway, and, through the doors, the lobby is filled with a retro photobooth and loads of other vintage finds. As you can see in the photo below, we didn’t quite get the hang of the photobooth… but we did get three hilarious candids and one caught off guard butt shot out of it.

It’s almost worth coming here a bit before check in just so you have an excuse to chill in the cozy lobby for a bit. Unfortunately, we arrived so late that we were eager to drop our bags in our room and head straight for food.

25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier - HallAroundtheWorld
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25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier - HallAroundtheWorld
25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier - HallAroundtheWorld

1500 Foodmakers

In our quest for food, we didn’t make it very far… because just through the lobby is an equally charming culinary hotspot.

When we walked in, we were greeted by a waiter who asked if we had a reservation - (yes, it’s that popular, and no…we didn’t). Thankfully they were able to squeeze us in, because we were absolutely famished.

With eyes bigger than our bellies we went for the Chefs special for two… a 4 course meal that is totally worth it if you’re willing to splurge a bit.

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See that three gelato dessert spread in the photo above? Well we each got one and it was phenomenal… especially the flavor in the middle.

I can’t remember exactly what it was - but it had hints of lime and mint and something else, and, in one word, it was HEAVENLY. So good, in fact, that Andrew attempted to steal mine, and then almost ordered a second.

1500 FoodMakers is also where 25Hours serves up its delicious buffet breakfast. We came here each morning during our stay to get our fill of coffee and grub before heading out to explore.

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Dachboden

If you’re looking for a good bar in Vienna, again, you won’t have to go far. Dachboden is 25Hour’s famous, in-house rooftop bar. Not pictured - the ridiculous amount of people here!

On the first night we tried to come here for a drink, it was full… on the second, it was booked for a company Christmas party… and on the third (and final) night, there, again, was nowhere to sit.

Though I unfortunately can’t personally speak about the quality of their cocktails, as I never got to try them myself… my friends who visited a couple of weeks later said they really enjoyed theirs. They must be doing something right to attract such a crowd.

I can only imagine how nice it is in the summer when the weather is warm and you can enjoy your cocktail on the terrace.

25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier - HallAroundtheWorld

Mermaid’s Cave

Downstairs in 25Hours you’ll find the mermaid’s cave - a cutesy lounge/gym area. It’s the perfect spot for a quick workout or to relax after a day of exploring the city… if you’ve got the time… which we unfortunately didn’t.

I didn’t get any photos in the gym (because there were always people on it and I didn’t want to be a creep) but there was loads of equipment where you can get your sweat on.

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GET A ROOM

The lobby, restaurant, and rooftop bar can be enjoyed by anyone… but if you’re only in Vienna for a short amount of time, I’d highly recommend checking in and staying awhile.

We stayed in 25Hours M+ Room and were really impressed with the space, amenities, comfy ass bed, and incredible view of the Museums Quarter.

25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier - HallAroundtheWorld
25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier - HallAroundtheWorld
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25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier - HallAroundtheWorld
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25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier - HallAroundtheWorld

Other room options include the M Room, L Room, XL Room, Suite, and Panoramic Suite (which has an outdoor terrace and bathtub feature that I’m dying to soak in next time around).

Each of these options is decorated in its own unique way. Check out the 25Hours website to see which you prefer!

IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

ADVENTURES ON FILM

Watch: Christmas Markets of Vienna

BOOKING

The bed was comfy, the vibes were good, the food was delicious, and the staff was great!

They loaned us umbrellas to take around town and extended our checkout when I got a last minute class booking… which was KEY - (fun fact: hotel rooms can double as classrooms).

Sold yet? ‘Cause ya should be. I honestly cannot recommend this place enough.

To book your stay click here or use the search box below.

Booking.com

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Vienna's Most Instagramable Hotel - Hotel Highlights HallAroundtheWorld
Vienna's Most Instagramable Hotel - Hotel Highlights HallAroundtheWorld
Vienna's Most Instagramable Hotel - Hotel Highlights HallAroundtheWorld

Checking in to the DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur

Looking for a place to stay in Kuala Lumpur?

Look no further than the DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur.

It is conveniently located just five minutes away from the nearest metro station, and a 10 minute walk away from the city’s famous Petronas Towers.

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The DoubleTree by Hilton KL offers its guests countless amenities and perks, but my personal favorite is the warm cookie they greet you with upon check-in… and this dessert tray wasn’t half bad either.

There are several room options ranging from basic twin bed guest rooms to king bed terrace suites, but honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of them! I stayed in a twin bed deluxe room, and had everything I needed.

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In addition to its many other features and services, the DoubleTree by Hilton KL also offers its guests a delicious complimentary breakfast and boasts five in-house bars and restaurants.

Read more about my experience at the DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur, and view the full photo gallery here.


OTHER FEATURED ACCOMMODATIONS

The Cutest Homestay in HaLong Bay - HaLong Ginger Homestay



 
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HaLong Ginger Homestay

If you're planning a trip to northern Vietnam, chances are taking a HaLong Bay Cruise is high on your list. Most people go straight from Hanoi to the bay and almost immediately board their cruise, however, if you have the time, I highly recommend staying at least one night in mainland HaLong beforehand.

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Why stay a night in mainland halong bay?

The journey from Hanoi to Halong Bay can be a bit exhausting. If you're a morning person, maybe you won't sweat the early morning wake up call, but I personally was SO tired once I had finally arrived and it was time for the cruise - (Seriously... barely survived happy hour... mostly due to my extreme exhaustion).

This time around, we opted to head to HaLong Bay a day early. This allowed us to rest up, while also giving us just enough time to explore. We got an early morning bus from Hanoi, and were dropped off right at the door of our adorable homestay in HaLong. Once there, we dropped off our bags, ate some lunch, and went to hike Bai Tho Mountain.

If you're not already convinced to stay a night, check out this incredible view of the bay from Bai Tho Mountain, and then get ready to book your accommodations in HaLong.

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Where to stay

Sold on staying a night in the mainland?

Skip the fancy hotels and resorts, save a few bucks, and book a stay at the HaLong Ginger Homestay instead... a cozy, convenient, affordable, (and totally instagrammable) little homestay...

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other featured accommodations