Real World Santorini : The blog house
Can a honeymoon in Santorini exist for solo travelers?
Due to the fact I’m both, blogging and YouTubing, the responsibilities of “traveling as a travel blogger” feel more weighted. I’m traveling for myself, but I’m also cognizant of my global audience and the fact, I’ll ultimately be sharing my travel experiences, both good and bad.
I have to be honest in my reviews, even if I’m getting a complimentary stay.
Sometimes, honesty ain’t easy.
Where to stay solo in Santorini?
A cave hostel in Fira was penciled into my itinerary plans, along with a hostel with an outdoor camping area. Both were unique, budget-friendly possibilities to offer soloists, who didn’t want to take the giant splurge. At the last-minute however, I decided I wanted to stay at a hotel.
Truth is, it made for a better story.
Known as a honeymooners island, I wanted to prove that solo travelers can experience the romance of Santorini too… alone.
It was to be a solo honeymoon on this glamorous Aegean island. Due to the fact I was arriving off-peak, I’d be trading tourist crowds for more quiet time to myself. Basking in the sun, while sipping some tea with a caldera view overlooking the volcano in Fira, or looking out from my hostel deck on a calm, quiet night, under a lovely full moon. Maybe I’d meet and chat with a John Stamos look-alike named Dimitris. At least that’s the how the YouTube storyboard went.
But it didn’t happen that way.
In some regards, I should be thankful of that.
(Okay, not about the part of not meeting the John Stamos look-alike though! I’m still very very upset about that.)
Real World Santorini : The blog house
A fellow blogger recommended Santorini Resorts, a company with hotel properties and open to working with bloggers. Luckily, they were open to a last-minute review stay.
I don’t do a lot of comped hotel review stays, because it’s a lot of work . But working with travel businesses helps build my blog resume. It also helps me extend my travel budget, while opening me to write about vacation options I might never think to try.
But nice photos have to be taken before I can unfurl my bags and mess bed covers, I have to test hotel facilities to see how it applies to my audience and then I document my stay in it. It can feel like the work of a secret shopper with the exception, the hotel knows you’re there to review them.
If I decide to do a video for my YouTube channel, it’s definitely work and an investment on my part! As a freelance professional in video production, I make 2-3x times the cost of a hotel stay, just for shooting video.
The night before my arrival, Santorini Resorts booked me in to a (Best Western) Museum Spa Wellness Hotel Santorini in Oia.
I got a free pickup from the ferry dock, the location was great, the suite was spacious and the caldera view was exquisite! They accommodated me with less than a week’s notice too. The breakfasts were wonderful and they had free WiFi. It is a lovely hotel.
There’s a couple of giant twists I didn’t figure on and it was too late to rebook myself.
Little did I know that I was about to enter my own version of MTV’s Real World. Watch the video at the top of this post, so I don’t have to rehash the story…
Real world, real reviews
I don’t enjoy giving negative reviews.
If possible, I research a hotel or business before accepting to review it, because a review is always an investment on my part. Like most travelers, I like to avoid bad travel experiences, in general and like most travel bloggers, I’d like to be able to recommend good services, which encourage positive relations. So I actually considered not writing this post at all; and yet,… I promised an honest review.
I expect hotel stays to be exceptional. Exceptional service is what travelers pay for. That is what sets glam and luxury hotels apart from guesthouses and hostels. For resort spa hotels or five star ones, a nice room or lovely breakfast is not enough… it’s merely a given. My belief is that however expensive it is, is how expensive it ought to make its guests feel. For me, it’s about whether a hotel will take that extra step to accommodate guests and their needs. Is the service of exceptional quality?
I didn’t experience that with this hotel.
Additional cons (aside from those mentioned in my video):
The receptionist was abrasive, cold and rude. Not only did she scold me like a child over YouTubing her in my experience, but then she insulted my ‘older’ age next to the twenty-something travel bloggers they roomed me with (I found it amazing how her memory grasped my birth date upon check-in)! The bathroom had a hand shower, which splashed water over the floor and which I had to squat in so I could free both hands for scrubbing. There was no maid service and three people in a suite can get messy (I actually had to request maid service so I could photograph the suite as if it were new). Lastly, there was no “museum”, let alone “spa” to make you understand the name and if there was, no one told you about it.
Although I made the best of the situation– as I always do — and I had an awesome time with my new blog friends, whom I met at the TBEX conference, I can’t excuse the overall hostel-like treatment I got. As a guest , I should not have to assume a “flexible position” for a hotel stay and as a reviewer, I shouldn’t be asked to review a meal that everyone’s already dipped forks into (a rough analogy). It lacks professionalism, respect and I was not cool with that.
Thanks for the stay, Museum Spa Wellness Hotel Santorini, but there was no honeymoon in Santorini for this solo (and much ‘older‘) travel blogger.
Note: I received a two night complimentary stay at Museum Spa Wellness Hotel Santorini, but all my opinions are my own.