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The following review is written by Ying. I will add my comments in blue and italics.
We started online shopping for our accommodation in Milan, and I was smittened by this one: 300 yr. old Courtyard Central Milan. The description was pretty awesome – the location is in Navigli, a hip place for evening hangouts, and a direct tram ride away from Duomo, the apartment is set in an old factory with a private courtyard and away from the city’s hustle and bustle. With quite a heightened expectation from the description and raving reviews, we took our chance at this B&B with Richard.
It was quite a disappointment. Disappointment is an understatement.
When we arrived at the gate of the courtyard residence, we buzzed for Richard at his apartment for five minutes, to no avail. Being rather prudent on my mobile spending when I’m overseas, I don’t usually make phone calls unless during emergency, and this called for an emergency (missed call only haha). When he finally answered our numerous buzzes at the apartment, he took about another 10 minutes to come to the gate. His reason: he had just come back from a business trip and accidentally fell asleep while waiting for us at home. I wasn’t impressed at all. Our previous hosts would contact us a few days before and confirmed our arrival time.
Richard showed us to his apartment, which is located on the 2nd level of the courtyard residence. The courtyard is actually quite nice. When we entered, my first thought was to rush to the room and put down my stuff and take a good rest. But no, the room wasn’t ready then, and Richard said he would prepare the room and carry our backpacks up so that we didn’t need to wait around. I suspected that he was sleeping in the bed before we arrived and hence needed time to tidy up.
We had a good chat (really??) with Richard despite his lack of rest from his business trip, and then left for our quick tour at the touristy places. I didn’t like Richard very much. He acted like he was our brother from another mother and it made me uncomfortable. Maybe it’s just me.
After Duomo, GROM gelato and dinner at Da Puccini, we were finally back to our apartment, walking up the creaking stairs into our loft bedroom. My first impressions of the room: the room was medium sized, but felt really small and musky. There was some storage right beside the bed which I didn’t feel very comfortable with, and there was cobweb on the beam (GASP!). The sheets looked really worn and had the smell of damp laundry, but I believe they were clean. The room made me uncomfortable. It seemed that it belonged to someone else with the clothes in the wardrobe and stuff behind the blinds.
To be honest, this isn’t the cheapest of accommodations throughout our trip, and we’ve had much better rooms at lower rates. Given the number of good reviews, I felt rather shortchanged and underwhelmed by what I saw. I would think Shyh would give a harsher comment, as I was the one who chose this B&B and convinced him of my ‘good’ choice. I felt that we really overpaid (81 USD per night). Made me wonder how he managed to get so many good reviews.
That said, Richard was a nice host and did give us some tips on local transportation, dinner locations and shared some of his experiences at work and life, and of course as a B&B host. With so many good reviews, I can only say we came at the wrong time when the host was quite busy and overlooked our booking. While he seemed friendly, he didn’t come across to be genuine.
This made me think about what actually makes a good B&B. Is it: host, location, cleanliness, value, facilities, accessibility? I would think all of the above, but basic cleanliness should be a hygiene factor (and literally so!), the rest would greatly value-add to the attractiveness of the B&B. Interestingly, we did a comparison of all the accommodations we stayed in during our train ride from Milan to Malpensa Airport – one of my favourite activities of the trip! Needless to say, you should know where we placed this 300 year-old cheese factory.
We didn’t take too many photos. Here are the ones we took:-