Luxury 3-Star: The Amsterdam CitizenM

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Check in desk at CitizenM Hotel Amsterdam

The CitizenM is a sort of luxury 3-star hotel, an oxymoronic concept that works out pretty well if you are looking to save money on a trip, without compromising on hygiene or safety.

Our Hallway at CitizenM Hotel Amsterdam

We chose the one near the Amsterdam Zuid rail station, about 25 minutes to the Central Station on the #5 rail line.  We arrived at a high-tech self check-in counter, and a helpful young multi-national staffer walked us through the process.   Taking a pair of electronic room keys that double as bar tabs and luggage tags, we headed up to our room.  Walking down the hallway, you get a feel for the high-density approach that characterizes this innovative new hotel chain.

Back half of our room

The rooms are on the spartan side, with a high-tech euro-hip look that apparently doesn’t require closets. The back half of the room is dominated by the bedcouchthing, a wall to wall mattress topped with a duvet and a pair of pillows.  A small night stand with lamp is attached to the left front, and a small blog-writing desk with lamp is attached to the right front. A chair under the desk is the room’s only movable furniture.

Shower Cell CitizenM Hotel Amsterdam

The front half of the room is dominated by a pair of pods that look like transporters from a sci-fi movie. One of these is the shower cell, which only operates when the round glass doors are fully shut.

Throne Room CitizenM Hotel Amsterdam

The other pod serves as the throne room.  It actually does function without the necessity of fully shutting the doors.  But you might want to. A small sink stands close to the two cells with power sockets in three languages, a mirror, and room for a hairbrush and deodorant.  A curtain can be drawn between the plumbing section of the room, and the sleeping section.  Its small, but hip and efficient.

Bar and Food at CitizenM Hotel Amsterdam

 

The CitizenM doesn’t offer room service, but it has a lively bar with a food area that is available around the clock.  It has a small breakfast bar that runs almost until noon.  Evening always has one hot meal choice, and a set of prepared Japanese and Indian meals that can be microwaved.  The prepacked sushi doesn’t need heating.  The bar is well stocked.  And they’ve got free loaner bikes.

 

Music Video:Istanbul in song

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

MAKE SURE YOU’VE GOT THE SOUND TURNED UP SO YOU CAN HEAR THE WORDS.

This represents a couple of experiments. I created this slideshow from pictures I took during a weekend in Istanbul last month, using Adobe Lightroom to process the RAW shots, and ProShow Gold to create the slide show and add music. This version in Photodex’ proprietary .px format, which requires a plug-in (it should download automatically if you need it). The second part of the experiment is that this AV presentation is hosted on my web server, and mashed into my blog, and that it plays right inside this post (with no annoying YouTube logo).

You can view this in full-screen, but native resolution is 640×480. I’ve also uploaded one to the Photodex server, which probably has better Internet connectivity than heiserhollow.net does, and will show at a higher res.

For my parents and co-workers who found it impossible to download Photodex’s plug-in, here’s a version in Shockwave that is less attractive and less reliable, but more likely to function.   If all else fails, or you really want to take some time to look at higher-res 1280×1024 versions, you can view the photos in my photo gallery. Note that you can access a non-animated, non-musical slide show from a link at the bottom of that page.

I’d like to upload more of these–let me know if you have problems, or what you’d rather see. Too big? Too slow? Too small? Too technically difficult?

Hotel Views from 2008

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

I managed to mostly stay pretty close to home during the first half of the year, but after Kirk left for college, travel kicked in with a vengeance.

Including the US and UK, work has sent me to 14 countries and at least 29 different cities this year. Going to Bulgaria with Young Life was a 15th country.

Work doesn’t normally take me to the US on business, but I was in Vegas, Salt Lake, LA, San Jose, San Francisco, Cleveland, Akron, and Cincy in 2008.

I’ve seen the inside, and outside, of a lot of hotels, and its usually dark outside.

Israel08-5.jpg

Istanbul08-1047_8_9-2.jpg

Turkey for dinner, and breakfast and lunch

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

Istanbul08-581-Edit.jpgTurkey is a very friendly country. Today I met over 10 people, all of whom sought me out, and said that they wanted to be my friend. They all made it VERY clear that they didn’t want to sell me anything. They just wanted to be my friend. And help guide me.

It started first thing in the morning when a shoe shine guy walked past me, dropping one of his brushes. What are you supposed to do? I picked it up and ran after him, and then he wanted to shine my shoes. My suede Merrill/Hush Puppies.

I walked from my hotel, which is across the Golden Horn, is right next to the Galata Tower, which was left behind by the Italians about 500 years ago. I watched some people fish, I took some pictures, I looked into the train station, which is very quiet, and I kept walking until I reached Hagia Sophia.

Istanbul08-302.jpgBuilt as a Christian cathedral 1400 years ago by the Byzantines, the huge dome and much of the structure is still original. When the Turks took it over, they plastered over the mosaics and erected some minarets. They must have decided that it would make a better tourist attraction than mosque–there certainly are plenty of mosques to choose from–it is now a museum. Much of the original mosaic is still extent, plastered over when the facility was converted to serve Islamic purposes.

Istanbul08-364.jpgI spent almost 3 hours in the Archeology Museum. Filled with stunning artworks from dozens of ancient cultures, it was too much for a single visit.

Nobody who has heard me do a speech on information would be surprised that I took a beeline for an exhibit on early writing, to look at cuneiform and early signature stamps, but before reaching it, I was held spellbound by a section of tiles from the Ishtar gate of Babylon.

The Alexander Sarcophagus, the most spectacular of a number of items recovered from a Phoenician site in Sidon, is worth the trip all by itself.

Istanbul08-522.jpg

After the museum, I went to the Blue Mosque. Then I wandered around for a while, found a greasy spoon for a Doner Kabab, and then I wandered around until it got dark enough for some night shots, after which, I was pooped, and I took another harrowing cab ride back to my hotel. This is one of those countries where the locals don’t think the money is worth anything it if is ripped, which seems to happen a lot, because I had 2 bills missing corners. It took me 10 minutes to convince the cabby that he wasn’t going to get any dollars or euros from me–he could take the Turkish money I had, or he could come into the hotel with me and we could discuss it. He took the bills I had.

I grabbed a meal at a nearby restaurant, and I’m watching the Falcons and Buccs on TV. What a small world. Tomorrow is Topkapi Palace and the Bazaar, and then to a different hotel tomorrow night where we’ll be doing the business meeting on Tuesday.Istanbu08-428-31la.jpg

If I’m Hungary, It Must Be Tuesday

Friday, December 12th, 2008

I arrived at Ferihegy in the late afternoon, but it was already dark, and flurrying snow. By the time I reached the hotel, there were several inches of slush on the pavement. I checked in, hung up my suit, and phoned into a conference call on my Blackberry. My co-worker, Carsten, phoned in from a cafe which turned out to be about 5 minutes walk.

After the call, I went outside to take pictures and synch up with Carsten. He decided that even though I was wearing my newest pair of give-a-speech-and-meet-with-customers-in-a-tie shoes, which are leather soled, Carsten talked me into taking a circuitous route that maximized exposure to puddles, snow, and water. We went into a restaurant and I perversely ordered ‘spicy pork’ (did the Spanish borrow the word ‘pikante’ from the Magyars, sort of like the Austrians borrowed ‘Paradeiser’ for tomato and ‘Kren’ for ‘Meerretich’?).Budapest08-11.jpg

Giving speeches, even in a business context, is essentially show biz. An effective presenter is picking up cues from the audience, ensuring that they are grokking the message and tuned in. Yesterday’s crowd just seemed to be in a different place. Hungarian is a fiendishly complex language, spoken by a relatively small group of 10,000,000 people. As is the case in the Netherlands and Finland, this encourages multi-lingualism, and you can reliably expect anyone with a tie and a budget to have a useful working understanding of English. In spite of this, I just didn’t feel like the audience was with me. I wasn’t getting my audience cues, and I had to generate energy and excitement instead of pulling it from the audience.

After the event, the audience feedback was positive, but it was a tiring 24 hours. Carsten and I took a cab back to the airport, where we ended up in separate terminals. Although my ticket was coach, I spend enough time with BA that they give me lounge access, a privilege that becomes almost obsessively important when you are spending so much time in airports. Budapest’s lounge turned out to be comfortable, although the food could be better. It was better than the lounge in Prague, which only provides olives and crackers. In the Barcelona BA lounge you can make a sort of Frequent Flier Gorp by mixing peanuts with pretzels. They’ve got olives, too. The airport in Zurich, Kloten (a name that means ‘testicles’ in Dutch) has been moving upscale, and the new BA lounge, although in an obscure location, at least offers champagne. Its nice to sit back, sip on some bubbly, and relax before you hop back into the cattle car and hope that the guy behind you will not spend the entire flight sticking his knees into your back.Budapest08-78.jpg

At this point, I’m making one more trip this year. Carsten and I are doing a 3-city, 3-day tour of Istanbul, Athens, and Tel Aviv. Instead of doing 1 pitch each, we are doing 3 each. Whee! I’m looking forward to exploring a whole new series of small lounges–assuming we can get access. Most of the week, we have so little time we’ll be lucky to be in an airport long enough to even find a lounge, but we’ve got over 2 hours of layover in Larnaca. I wonder if they have more than one kind of olive.