London’s Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel

This 237 bedroom establishment is a five-star hotel that is run by the Marriott hotel chain. The refurbished former private mansion is located at Grosvenor Square in the heart of Mayfair, very close to the US embassy.

What makes it family worthy?

 The centrally located and luxurious hotel has wonderful family rooms. These suites can accommodate two adults and two kids (even older teens) comfortably. The main shopping areas in London are only a short walk from the building and the hotel also received a Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2014.

Review of London's Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel our room

Fellow Travelers

This hotel is a good spot for families and couples, but travelers of all types are well represented.

The upscale establishment is decorated in a sleek modern, minimalist style with mostly neutral colors throughout. Some public areas featured colorful ambient lighting with upholstered velvet and leather furniture.

Our room had a large, well-lit closet that contained plenty of space to hold our belongings. A shelving unit was included inside the closet as well, for even more storage. The room’s mini bar area was furnished with clean glasses, some beverages, a miniature refrigerator, and an in-room safe. There was also a small fold out chair in the suite and a large LCD television to keep travelers entertained while they are in their rooms for the night. Along with the usual amenities, the hotel sent us a number of complimentary gifts due to some minor inconveniences we encountered upon check-in. This was a very nice gesture, which we appreciated.

Our quad room contained one sofa bed, a regular sized bed, and a poster queen-sized bed. On either side of the poster bed were sizeable nightstands and small reading lights over the bed. Our favorite feature in this suite was the special sockets on the poster bed that allowed us to recharge easily our electronics. Another elegant touch was the live plant in the suite that enhanced the elegant ambiance. A work desk with plentiful drawers and a comfortable chair rounded out the room’s furnishings.

The bathroom had spotted tan and gray granite countertops and tan and black patterned tile that gave the whole area an elegant appearance.  The amenity kit that included shampoo, soap, conditioner, and a good number of fat, fluffy towels were waiting for us in the open wooden cabinet that was located right by the sink.

This bathroom also contained a scale so that guests could easily see if they need to pay a visit to the hotel’s gym. Meanwhile, the shower curtain had a swirled black and white pattern that added a bit more pizazz to the overall decor. Our room had a hand held shower device, a feature that makes it easier for handicapped persons or small children to take a bath with ease.

Review of London's Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel maze restaurant

The hotel

Over seven different languages are spoken by the staff, and the reception desk is open at all hours to better meet the needs of their guests. Complimentary Wi-Fi is likewise available in all public parts of the hotel. In room internet is also offered for a modest fee Free for Marriott Elite members)  so travelers should definitely be aware of that fact.

The small outdoor courtyard is a good spot to hang out when the weather is nice, but this being London travelers should expect rain more often than not.
Indoors, guests might want to pay a visit to the Michelin starred, Maze.The restaurant as it one of the many establishments founded by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.
The executive level on the bottom floor is a large well-designed room, able to accommodate the different travelers, for breakfast and light lunches and dinners.We found the staff enthusiastic and helpful trying to cater to requests.

Autism travel tips

Make sure to ask for a room that overlooks their interior courtyard because they tend to be quieter.
It is also a good idea to ask for higher floors to avoid the noise that may result from the wedding receptions that often take place here on weekends. Handicapped persons should have no trouble entering and exiting the bath because the tubs have two safety handles. However, those who need a bathmat for more traction should be sure to bring their own as these are not provided by the hotel.
Allergy sufferers will additionally be happy to learn that the entire facility is nonsmoking and pet free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Stay at the Marriott Vienna

 

The J W Marriott Vienna, a five-star establishment, is part of the Marriott chain and can be found at Parking 12A in Vienna, Austria.
The hotel contains approximately 323 rooms and is easily accessible via trolley or subway. Its location makes it ideal for families and travelers that wish to be near music venues like the Schadt Park, the Haus der Musik, and the famous Kursalon. Concert goers can walk to get back to their hotel at the end of an evening.
Likewise, the hotel is only ten minutes away from all the famous shopping and tourist attractions like Grabenstrasse, Hofburg Palace, and Stephen’s Dome, Karlsplatz, and the Belvedere Palace ; not to mention the proximity to the city’s excellent eateries and cafes like Figlamuller.

Family Friendly Stay at J W Marriott Vienna Austria buffet Decor

This establishment is decorated in trendy modern style with generous splashes of color and wooden accents throughout. The lobby central atrium boasts live plants and ample comfortable seating.The building’s spaciousness is further enhanced by the large windows that are a prominent feature of the décor.

Rooms

Going by European standards, the two double beds room we stayed in at this hotel was quite sizeable. The clean and comfortable room adequately housed our party of four. A rollaway bed was even supplied for our son because he didn’t want to share with his brother and this was much appreciated. The spacious bathroom area was also outfitted with a shower and tub, which we greatly enjoyed.

Facilities and Service

All of the staff members that we encountered at this hotel were deserving of praise, but there were three groups that stood out as being worthy of special recognition. We do a lot of traveling, and I have to add that the housekeeping staff found here is among the best I have ever seen. They promptly responded to all requests in less than 10 minutes, even when it was late, and the hotel was filled.The creative folks were working the front desk likewise went above and beyond to find solutions to even the most perplexing guest problems.I would further like to compliment Olivera, the Night Manager, and Sandra, the Morning Manager, on their excellent service.Our son with autism loved the small keepsake teddy bear that the manager gave him.

The concierge staff was also incredibly helpful. Although we started discussing our arrival a full month in advance, they always responded to our emails in an expedient fashion. The concierge services were crucial in helping us book fun tours and find great places to dine in Vienna.

Although we were very impressed with the staff, there are other noteworthy attributes of this particular Marriott. The hotel has complimentary Wi-Fi in the public areas for their guests to use. Those who tire of the city will be happy to learn that the building contains an onsite restaurant, a bar, a sauna, an indoor pool, and a gym.

Family Friendly Stay at J W Marriott Vienna Austria bear

Executive Level

The executive lounge found here is well worth the additional expense. Breakfast and complimentary beverages, such as bottled water, are included. Executive level guests are additionally provided with a substantial evening snack. Travelers who aren’t very hungry in the evening hours could substitute this repast for dinner if they so desire. Since we were upgraded, we had the option of taking our breakfast in the room, enjoying the first-floor buffet, or partaking of the meal served at the executive level. We selected the last of these three options and were pleasantly surprised by the fantastic array of breakfast foods provided for guests.

Autism travel tips

Hypoallergenic, non-smoking, and soundproof rooms are all available at this hotel, making it an excellent destination overall for autistic travelers.
Make sure you bring your own bath mat for the bathroom.

 

Hotel with the heart of Gold-David Intercontinental Tel Aviv

Hotel with the heart of Gold-David Intercontinental Tel Aviv city view

During Jeffrey’s and my stay at the Intercontinental David in Tel-Aviv last month, I was enthralled by the heightened autism awareness the staff practiced towards us and gave my glowing review to the front door manager.

He smiled, telling me that the hotel management staff is involved in community service efforts, spearheading efforts to help underfunded projects in the Tel Aviv area. The next day, he arranged an interview for me with two out of the three ladies involved with these projects: Sigal Cohen-Tzedek- Gazal assistant director of human resources/training and Livnat Nahmias Benisho, assistant training and development manager as well as corporate responsibility manager over morning coffee.

 

How did your work on these projects begin?

When this hotel was built the management decided that it would be an integral part of the community and not just a hotel. We wanted the name Intercontinental to mean something to our neighbors and residents of Tel Aviv beyond the tag of a luxury hotel. Being located in the heart of the city we could see the need to get involved in projects to help the ones that need our help. However we don’t just stop by a place, make a donation, and leave; our staff tries to help implement much-needed core values in struggling ventures around the city. To encourage our employees  to participate in community service projects, we treat them with respect, dignity, support (like sending food home on sick days), and recompense (paying regular salary on days they participate.)

Hotel with the heart of Gold-David Intercontinental Tel Aviv lobby

So, which program started it all?

The program that catalyzed it all was our first community outreach project with a Jaffa-based rehabilitation school for disabled and economically disadvantaged teenagers.

Our plan was to introduce them to vocational skills—working in a restaurant kitchen—that could benefit their career choices later in life. Every September we interview applicant teenagers and select seven to eight people to complete the year-long program. In it, we first start off by teaching them basic kitchen safety, leading to cooking training, culminating in an official cook’s helper diploma from the Ministry of Labor.

The special-needs students are trained by the hotel staff and treated no differently than any other employee; they are required to show up for work daily and behave appropriately. However, if they face any problem or difficulty in their studies, they may come to us for help and advice—we act as the “support” system.

After completing the year, many are directly hired to work for the hotel (some find employment elsewhere) The most significant gain from this program is their demonstration as capable and qualified individuals who can find work and make a decent living.

We believe our program to be a huge success, with over 95% of students completing it. Our “secret” to achieving this success is what I referred to earlier: treating each student with the same respect and dignity we expect to be given. To us, these students are more than labels; they are our students and possibly future employees.

By guiding and teaching these teenagers to the best of our abilities, we never have to lower our work expectations; in reality, most students flourish with our guidance and care, exceeding our goals significantly. One of the many success stories that come to mind is that of a non-verbal student; even without any social skills, he completed the program and now is successfully employed in a Tel Aviv pastry shop.
Our hotel itself is currently hiring five program graduates, with many more hopefully to come.

What are your other programs?Hotel with the heart of Gold-David Intercontinental Tel Aviv hamsa

.We are involved with a couple of schools in Tel Aviv. For instance, we have worked with Rogozin Elementary where many kids come from incredibly low socioeconomic status, some even being illegal immigrants.

Our first encounter with them was when the school reached out to us and asked for a contribution of 50 sandwiches for their students. We were so enthralled by the offer that one of our staff members decided to take it upon herself to make them all at home.
Since then, the program has expanded, and our hotel now donates much-needed lunches and even brings the students to tour the hotel once a year.

At Ort Geula we’ve adopted the special needs class, offering them opportunities to visit the hotel, exhibiting their art photography work in our lobby, and even hiring some eager participants for summer jobs.
After the devastating Carmel forest fire last year, our staff “adopted” a teen orphanage that had been destroyed by the fire, not only helping to rebuild it, but furnishing it with new beds, desks, and other badly needed objects. Also, during the last Tu’Bishvat celebrations, we organized a “day of fun” for the orphans at the Rupin College, where hundreds of our employees participated as volunteers (but also received a paid salary day). Lastly, our hotel is also involved in “green” projects, such as recycling kitchen oil and glass, and cleaning the beaches we all love.


Hotel with the heart of Gold-David Intercontinental Tel Aviv ceramics
You mention the hotel features a monthly program at the hotel that guests can participate in?

Yes, this month’s project is sponsored by the “Make a Wish” foundation.
Every guest in our hotel will receive a small card documenting the foundation’s stories and a unique coin on their pillow, a bedtime story of sorts.
We are grateful for participation at any level from our patrons, and no donation is too small. We hope this drive will be a great success, so we can repeat it in August—when our hotel is booked at full capacity.
Before this endeavor, we had very successful donation drives in which we gave our patron guests art figurines from the special needs organizations Akim, Aleut (for Autism) and Beit Miriam.

Although we are very proud of our initiatives and would love to see other hotels copy our concepts, we have never pursued fame or even acknowledgment for what we do. Many years ago, we decided that a hotel, being a microcosm of cultures, should always be an active participant in its environment, ours being no exception.

 

The Family Friendly David Intercontinental Tel Aviv

Location

The Family Friendly David Intercontinental Hotel ‘s location is ideal for most travelers seeking to explore the different aspects of Tel Aviv life. It not only faces a pristine Mediterranean beach and city park that appeal to beachgoers but borders the famous bohemian neighborhood of Neve Tzedek and the revived charming old railway station ‘Hatachana With its unique boutiques and nouvelle cuisine eateries.

For those interested in architecture, the hotel is but a short distance away from the colorful Carmel produce market, the UNESCO declared ‘White City’ zone of preserved Bauhaus buildings as well as the picturesque town of Jaffa.

 

The Family Friendly David Intercontinental Tel Aviv palms
View from the hotel-Hassan Beck Mosque and Shalom Tower that was Tel Aviv’s first department store
The Family Friendly David Intercontinental Tel Aviv street
Old Jaffa ‘s main thoroughfare -the Clock Tower  and old Ottoman police station
The Family Friendly David Intercontinental Tel Aviv carmel market
Tel Aviv’s outdoor colorful produce  Carmel market


Rooms

The rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated in neutral tones of creams, browns, and pale greens. Our room boasted two incredibly comfortable beds (a hotel associate told me that they change their mattresses on a yearly basis), a separate sitting area, flat screen TV, and small refrigerator.

The bathroom tiled in light marble colors offered the usual tub/shower combo with the specialized top of the line massage shower heads, much to Jeff’s delight. The amenities’ kit replenished on a daily basis featured famous Dead Sea products.

 

The Family Friendly David Intercontinental Tel Aviv beds
Our room on the 13th floor
The Family Friendly David Intercontinental Tel Aviv view
View of the beach from our 13th floor room window


Did I mention the top notch service?

Our room had been ready and waiting for us even though we arrived quite early in the morning, and the official check-in was several hours away. During our check-in, the front desk person not only made a point of verifying all our special requests were met before sending us to our assigned room but called the room later to ask whether we needed anything else.

The servers in the breakfast buffet area as well as in the executive lounge made a point to come and greet us daily as well as remember our names and our drink preferences.There was even the incredible gesture of a watchful restaurant server who upon noticed my autistic son struggling to pit the olives on his plate, went back to the kitchen and returned within minutes with a plate full of already pitted olives.This hotel also has one of the most meticulous housekeeping department.

I had come across in my many years of traveling When we entered the room the two beds were placed together to form a queen-sized bed, so we asked the housekeeping to send someone to separate them.They showed up within five minutes and completed the task. Two minutes later a knock on the door surprised me. When I asked who it was, and they answered housekeeping, I replied to the matter had already been resolved.

However, to my surprise the person knocking was the room maid who had come to re-vacuum that small carpet area that was now uncovered between the two beds!I found the hotel’s staff to be highly professional, helpful, well trained and eager to please across the board but what truly set them apart from another hotel personnel we’ve encountered over the years during our travels is their high autism awareness and visible human compassion.


Food Venues

Although we did not get the chance to eat at the newly upgraded Aubergine Restaurant, we did enjoy our scrumptious daily breakfast at the Jaffa Court. The food quality and selection were impressive even though due to kosher laws no meat products were served. Jeff was happy to discover some new foods he hadn’t tasted before like the Israeli Tahini, white cheeses like ‘Tzfatit’ and ‘Labaneh’ as well as his favorite his eggplant salad, pickled herring, egg shakshouka and potato ‘burekas’.We also liked their newly designed Executive Lounge temporarily situated on the third floor by the pool.

The room design  with darker woods.,Granite counter tops, futuristic lighting and top to glass bottom windows showcasing the pool, and beachfront views was perfect for us. It had an excellent spread of finger foods and salads throughout the day accompanied by various complementary choices of juices, sodas, coffees and alcohol. Both our son, Jeff and I found it very relaxing to sit and read the newspapers or use the provided computers to check email after a tiring day of travel.
The Family Friendly David Intercontinental Tel Aviv executive lounge
David Intercontinental ‘s executive lounge beverage selection

 

The Family Friendly David Intercontinental Tel Aviv food
David Intercontinental executive lounge salad selection

 

Hotel Amenities

The public spaces have outstanding works by famous Israeli artists like Nahum Gutman on level three that enhance the architectural beauty of the building. Our son with autism loved the giant wall carpet adorning the restaurant area and was disappointed to hear they did not sell any replicas in their souvenir store.

The hotel has several shops on the lobby level selling the usual; sundries, trinkets, souvenirs, a clothing boutique, an upscale jewelry store, as well as some art galleries displaying current Israeli talent. The pool area and spa looked inviting, but we never got to try it out as we had a busy itinerary that week.
The Family Friendly David Intercontinental Tel Aviv lobby
Some of  the Gutman Wall hangings that Jeffrey wanted a replica of
The Family Friendly David Intercontinental Tel Aviv lobby seats
A view of the renovated Aubergine restaurant
The Family Friendly David Intercontinental Tel Aviv view lobby
David Intercontinental third floor coffee bar

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