Mystery Hotels…should you, shouldn’t you?

Has anyone tried the Mystery Hotel Experience?

I have, a few times and I have to say…

it ain’t bad but you have to understand a few key things to make it work and I will share these tips with you…..for free

First of all I know two travel sites that offer them, last minute and Wotif, I’ve used both and they seem pretty comparable. There are possibly more out there that do them, I don’t know of them though.

Secondly if you are flexible, not wanting a particular hotel and like surprises, this might work for you.

In my opinion they’re great for a weekend getaway to a city because it’s easy to work out what type of hotel you might get and also the location you will be in. Please do not make the mistake of thinking you can guess the hotel because you can’t. I know this because when I do it I always play this little game where I think I know what the hotel will be…..and it never is that hotel!  Which is fine for me because I don’t really care, it’s just a silly game I play. If you did care, you may be disappointed…that’s all.

Firstly when you are doing your search in (for example) – Sydney, work out what star level you want. I usually do 5 star and eliminate the rest  (choose the stars that suit your budget). Then choose the area of the city you would like to stay in, for us this is around the historical part of the city (which is close to Circular Quay and The Rocks). That way you guarentee getting a place that is 5 star and in a great location.

CBD of Sydney

CBD of Sydney = Great Location

Now keep in mind there are usually only one or two maximum that are in the mystery selection for 5 star and NO you are not definitely going to be put in the Park Hyatt (definitely not)…


You will be put in a pretty swanky, centrally located 5 star hotel and you will make pretty decent savings compared to the normal rates on offer. The best I’ve had so far has been the Radisson Blu in Sydney, it is such a lovely hotel and the rooms are pretty sweeet (see link above).

Another thing to remember is you do not find out the name of the hotel until you PAY the money then they immediately send you a confirmation email with the name and address of the hotel on the itinerary. Before purchase you can see all the facilities on offer of the Mystery Hotel, if it has a pool, parking, restaurants, bars, concierge services etc and a general location map.

Don’t worry, you won’t get this:


Crappy Hotel

But you also won’t get this:


Super Amazing Out of this World Hotel

You’ll probably get something like this:


Radisson Blu Hotel Sydney

Which is quite lovely and convenient and nice.

We have booked one for this weekend and made about a 25% saving. It’s the           Amora Hotel Jamison and looks like this:


Not too shabby

Not too shabby

So I say you SHOULD give it go, if saving a little money and surprises are your thing then I think you will enjoy the experience.

I will let you know how the Amora goes ; )




A Honeymoon at long last.

Well I’m thrilled, happy, elated, overjoyed and probably going to be a pain in the butt of all that know me for the next 15 months…..

Mark and I have booked ourselves a wee honeymoon next september 2014!!! I know, why so far away? A couple of reasons (maybe more)

1. The cruise we want to go on is happening either this September with about three crummy cabins left on deck 2 or next September with a large oceanview on deck 8. I have done my research people, and I want deck 8!

2. Our eldest is doing her HSC (leaving school exams) this year and it would be a bit mean to abandon her throughout them.

3.All the children will be 15 months older and more able to cope with Mum and Dad going away WITHOUT THEM for nearly 4 weeks!!

So where are we going you ask……?

Well we are flying to Hawaii, Oahu for a week in Waikiki and possibly a night on the North Shore staying here – keikibeach,  as recommended by the lovely Natalie – a distance relative of my husbands who lives in Kailua with her Mum and Dad and two sisters.

Last time we stayed in Kailua and I loved it there but this time we really would love to stay close to the action of Waikiki so we can at least experience that and see what we prefer. I love, love, love Hawaii and this will be my third trip. All very different mind you. The first was as a 20year old with a great friend on our way back from Canada, we stayed in Waikiki and hit the beach by day and night clubs by night. Second was in 2010 as a family of 6 staying in Kailua in a holiday rental house and this third trip will be as a loved up couple, child-free and in need of a honeymoon.

After that week we board the Royal Carribean cruise ship The Radiance of the Seas for a 18 night cruise back to Sydney via French Polynesia and New Zealand! Yay!! Here’s the intinery:

The Path we shall take...

So Hawaii here we come, stayed tuned folks.


Claire’s favourite Sydney Touristy sights…

Sydney is my city, my hometown, the place I roamed around in my youth and pushed my babies around in my twenties and still love to explore in my thirties. I have a great affection for her and always enjoy showing her off to overseas or interstate visitor.,

She is a city that is very, very pretty, and she knows it!  Whenever I travel away from home and the plane flies over Sydney harbour and its surround on my return,  I still get that breathless feeling over how lovely she looks from the air. Her curvy harbour and numerous  bays, with that blue pacific water are just beautiful from the air.

So what do I think are the best five things to do in Sydney especially if you are only visiting for a few days?

Well this is my personal top five so some may disagree but if  you were visiting this city briefly this is where I would take you,

1) The Rocks Historic Village area including the walk from the Museum of Contemporary Art to the Opera House forecourt for a cool drink and great view of the Harbour Bridge  at the Opera Bar. The Rocks itself is always on a weekend full of tourists,  it is still worth a look as it gives a little insight into the early convict origins of Sydney. The market on a weekend is pretty decent and you will no doubt find a few gifts to take home.

The Historic Rocks

2) A walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens with lunch at the cafe and restaurant, the Botanic Garden Restaurant , or just as nice on a sunshiny day is bringing your lunch and sitting in the park enjoying the gardens. Plus then you get to throw your sandwich crusts to the ducks. After lunch you are a shortish stroll to the Art Gallery of NSW.

Great place to take your lunch and just gaze…

3) A splurge lunch at China Doll located on the water at Woolloomooloo. It offers a great location and interesting modern asian food that you will remember for a long time. Plus you get to say you’ve been to Woolloomooloo when you get home. See if your friends can spell it. Woolloomooloo is an interesting old naval town that is a short step from the infamous Kings Cross.

China Doll great Alfresco dining pig out spot!

4)  The inevitable trip to the top of the Centrepoint Tower Eye and those more daring can go outside and take a walk around! It is a great way to see the city and most of the surrounding suburbs too. When you get down from the tower visit the fantastic 5 star food court in the Westfield below Centrepoint, it has amazing choices and does not have your standard feeding barn feel of a typical food court.

It’s tall!!

5) Catch the ferry to Manly Beach. You really need to experience this harbour whilst on it and ending somewhere like Manly is perfect. Great beach, shops and heaps of dining options. Once there you will spend hours wandering around before catching a ferry back to Circular Quay.

Manly Beach


Of course there is still heaps to see and do in Sydney, I do think most would leave happy if they achieved the above list.

By the way I have lived 1 hour and 45minutes from Sydney for almost ten years now, I still consider myself a local.

Mark and I have a weekend coming up at the end of the month and I will be posting about it. I shall try to find some new things to do in Sydney.

Bye for now