The annual Great Summer Holiday Hunt began in earnest about two months ago. First, there was the decision of where to go (France/ Italy/ Greece/ Bognor Regis…).
Next, was choosing a hotel (not too big, not too small, sizeable pool area, walking distance of a restaurants, preferably nestling alongside a picturesque harbour with postcard-perfect houses in pastel colours artfully positioned on the hillside – I don’t ask for much) and thirdly: Can it live up to our favourite hotel?
The problem with finding a hotel that you love is that you start comparing all other hotels to it – and sometimes they just don’t live up to the benchmark.
Last year, we went to Lindos Blu in Rhodes. In my mind it was the perfect hotel, pitching itself somewhere between boutique and medium-sized, offering a relaxing adults-only pool area gazing onto the Aegean sea, with plenty of scope for people-watching; attentive staff with just the right level of fuss; and a large, modern room with all the extras you’d hope for – such as a hot tub and a sunken bath. Lindos Blu was going to be a hard act to follow.
And when it came to booking this year’s hotel, I couldn’t find anywhere that looked quite as good as Lindos Blu. After many hours trawling Tripadvisor (no matter how many excellent reviews there are, I always seem to home in on the negatives: ‘there was a pungent odour emanating from the bathroom… the food was barely edible’), I delivered the news to the husband that we might be heading back to our old friend Lindos Blu.
‘So you’re telling me that out of all the hotels in Europe, you can’t find a single suitable hotel?’ said the husband, with an air of weariness.
‘That’s about the size of it,’ I said. ‘It’s going to have to be Lindos Blu Part 2. We’ll be one of those strange couples who go to the same hotel and ask for the same room every year.
‘Unless…’ I added. ‘We play the wild card.’
‘Let’s play the wild card,’ said the husband. He thinks people who visit the same place year after year are a bit strange.
The wild card was a little-known hotel called Monte Mulini, perched atop a quaint harbour town called Rovinj in northern Croatia. It looked lovely.
So here we are, gazing out at the Istrian sea, lying on one of our hard-won sun-loungers, cheek to jowl with an uber-boobed Russian nuzzling her catalogue boy lover.
It turns out that Rovinj isn’t so ‘little-known’ after all. In fact, half of Europe appears to have descended on the place. When we landed at the hotel yesterday afternoon, it was a beautiful sight… with just one problem: there wasn’t a single sun-lounger free – just scores of bare-breasted women and splashing children as far as the eye could see (okay, so the photo paints a serene scene but on ground level, it was a different story).
‘This would never happen at Lindos Blu,’ I thought.
This morning, we rose and headed down for breakfast, passing the pool en route. Already, the hordes had descended, reserving nearly every sun lounger with a carefully-placed magazine or sunhat.
‘This is ridiculous,’ I thought. On principal, I don’t believe in reserving sun loungers pre-breakfast. I blame the Germans. They started this.
‘If you can beat ’em, join ’em,’ said the husband, throwing down his towel on one of the last remaining loungers and placing his Kindle on it territorially.
We headed up for breakfast; there wasn’t a single table free.
‘We would never had to queue at Lindos Blu,’ I grumbled.
He husband rolled his eyes.
‘And what’s more… I MISS NIGEL!’ I added, dramatically.
Nigel was a fellow holiday maker at Lindos Blu last year: a big-bellied booming man with an ego the size of France. He was the very dictionary definition of a ‘bon viveur’, greeting the staff by their first names and regaling his captive audience with tales of far-flung travel destinations.
Occasionally, he would dive noisily into the pool and embark on a couple of lengths of butterfly – limbs akimbo – emerging to bellow down the phone at his harassed PA, before continuing his convivial chat with other poolside posers.
Basically, he provided hours of entertainment. We pretended that he was the most irritating guest imaginable but when he departed mid-way through the week, he left a big hole in our holiday.
‘We all miss Nigel,’ said the husband wistfully, as he gazed down the snaking line of people awaiting a table for breakfast.
And then he uttered the words that neither of us had dared to voice.
‘Get me back to Lindos Blu’.