Review: The Reverie Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel and/or flight review.

A couple of weeks ago, I enjoyed a great holiday in Vietnam, where some resorts far exceeded my sky-high expectations (and rank among the best hotels I have ever stayed at). You can read my trip reports here:


Today (July 5, 2017): Review of The Reverie Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam).
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Address: 22-36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Hotel website: The Reverie Saigon
  • Tip: get free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso

In 2015, The Reverie Saigon debuted as the most spectacularly extravagant hotel in Vietnam and as the one and only member property of The Leading Hotels of the World in all of Ho Chi Minh City. Taking pride of place on the topmost floors of the landmark Times Square Building in prestigious District 1, the much-lauded hotel presents world-class hospitality with its impeccable service and its unique celebration of haute Italian design and inimitable luxury. The sky-high Reverie Saigon offers an incomparable perspective on the city with its spectacular views from all of its 286 marble-clad rooms & suites, which are the largest of any in Ho Chi Minh City.

The Reverie Saigon features in my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Vietnam.

In this review (more info below my Youtube clipe and slideshow):

  • Pros & things I like
  • Cons & things to know
  • My verdict
  • Tips for future guests & save money
  • Best time to visit
  • How to get there
  • Photos

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • Situated at the center of District 1 – the cultural and commercial heart of the city – The Reverie Saigon enjoys the best location in all of Ho Chi Minh City. The city’s most popular landmarks – including the French colonial Opera House, the neo-classical Central Post Office, the historic Reunification Palace and Ho Chi Minh City Museum – are just a short stroll away. The hotel sits along the picturesque, tree-lined, pedestrian boulevard Nguyen Hue (very alive at night), and is surrounded by chic boutiques, artisanal coffee houses and contemporary art galleries.
  • The hotel commands the upper and lower floors of the contemporary, 39-storey, mixed use Times Square tower, with features an all-glass exterior facade.  The height to the top of the modern skyscraper is 164 m (538 ft), making it the 3rd tallest building in Ho Chi Minh City and the 5th tallest building in Vietnam. Like its namesake in New York City, Saigon’s Times Square tower projects each night a dazzling, fanciful light show extravaganzas, albeit the displays are not noticeable from within the building.
  • With its extravagant splendour, bold design and decorative opulence, the hotel presents a design experience like no other, a place of phantasy where Versace meets Liberace. To say it’s over the top is an understatement. Shining and sparkling mirrors, marble, and mosaics cover nearly every ceiling, wall and floor. When you first enter you may well ponder if there is any marble left in Italy. An unprecedented collaboration of Italian designers created The Reverie Saigon’s interiors, including Luca Baldi of Baldi Home Jewels, Alfredo Colombo of Colombostile, Roberta Giorgetti of Giorgetti S.p.A, and Dario Rinero, CEO of Poltrona Frau Group. In certain areas, the property feels more like a palace than a hotel.
  • The hotel has two ultra-chic lobbies. Guests are greeted by the hotel staff in the ground-floor lobby, and then escorted to the hotel’s main lobby on the 7th floor, where check-in is done. Four elevators shuttle guests in a record time between the two lobbies, so you never have to wait too long to enter or leave the hotel. A separate set of elevators take guests to the guest room floors. Both lobby spaces are a testimony to the hotel’s signature opulent style, with highlights including:
    • A colourful ceiling installation of individual pieces of hand-blown Murano glass reminiscent of the geographic silhouette of Vietnam on the ground floor lobby (so don’t forget to look up as you enter the hotel).
    • A custom-made, emerald-green Baldi Monumental clock that weighs nearly 1,000 kilos (2,200 pounds) and stands three metres (9.8 feet) tall, taking pride of place in the main lobby and reflecting impeccably precise atomic time.
    • A grandiose, 5-metre (16 ft) long sofa from Colombostile’s Baroque-meets-Rococo ‘Esmeralda’ line, custom-made with purple ostrich leather and a gilded trim and bejeweled by a singular, precious amethyst stone.
  • The hotel’s 12 categories of accommodation are amongst the most spacious in the city, with its 224 rooms ranging from 43-53 square metres (462-570 square feet) and its 62 suites starting at 63 square metres (678 square feet) and topping out at a palatial 313 square metres (3,369 square feet). Each room exhibits its own decor, from the classical and sophisticated, to the whimsically romantic, fanciful and sassy, all of them being decorated by Italy’s leading design houses (e.g. Colombostile, Giorgetti, Visionnaire, Poltrona Frau and Cassina). During my 2-night holiday, I stayed in a spacious Panorama Deluxe Room on the 27th floor, which offered amazing vistas over the urban jungle of Ho Chi Minh City through the covetable, wrap-around, floor-to-ceiling windows. The bed room was fitted with a king-sized bed wrapped in Frette linens and featured a seating area furnished with a stylish chaise longue and separate writing desk akas dining table. The bathroom was tiled with mosaics, stocked with Chopard products, and contained two sinks, a window-side bathtub, a shower, and a Japanese-style toilet.
  • All rooms come with a complimentary minibar (refreshed daily) and Wi-Fi connectivity, and are equipped with Nespresso machines for quick and easy brewing of your first cup of java. Every rooms also features all of the technology you’d expect – from Cisco voIP telephones to 46- to 55-inch flat-screens – to some that you wouldn’t, such as televisions that sink into consoles so as not to block the view.
  • The hotel’s 6th floor features a spacious open-air, rooftop deck, featuring two jacuzzis and a 25-m (80 ft) long free-form swimming pool. The pool is designed with exquisite mosaic tile artistry by Sicis of Italy, and deploys an ozone-generated system to give the freshness and buoyancy of a freshwater pool. An underwater sound system streams a custom playlist, and beginning at 6 pm each evening, swimmers and poolside visitors can enjoy an underwater light show.
  • The sixth floor is also home to Saigon’s most technologically advanced fitness facility. Accessible to hotel guests 24 hours a day, the 120-square-metre (1,291-square-foot), pool-side space is equipped with TechnoGym’s latest line of ARTIS cardio equipment with Wi-Fi-enabled consoles.
  • The same fierce attention to detail that defines the rooms and public areas is evident in each of the hotel’s 4 superb dining venues. Three of the restaurants celebrate the culinary arts of France, China and Italy and a fourth is an East Asian interpretation of the timeless sidewalk cafés of Europe. Food is superb, albeit expensive (although there are many cheap eateries nearby).
    • Café Cardinal is the hotel’s main dining venue, delivering stunning views of Saigon from its airy, sixth floor perch; in the morning it is the scene of an amazing breakfast buffet (complemented by an à la carte menu) while it focuses on French cuisine with an Asian twist at noon and in the evening.
    • Two stories below, jade, vermilion and gold set the stage for Vietnam’s most sophisticated Cantonese dining experiences at The Royal Pavilion, which offers open seating in a decidedly East Asian setting and more secluded quarters in a warren of nine private rooms.
    • The subterranean restaurant R&J serves traditional Italian dishes in a glamorous setting defined by walls of vibrant Italian mosaics and ornate candelabras.
    • Upstairs at street level, The Long@Times Square is a sidewalk café par excellence. Its wood-fired pizza oven, like the pizza chef himself, comes from Napoli.
  • The hotel’s excellent spa features 10 private treatment rooms, separate men’s and women’s steam & sauna facilities, 4 individual rooms for private hair and nail treatments, and three semi-enclosed manicure/pedicure areas. The 6th floor reception area courts a gorgeous elegance in mixed media, with white marble, golden mosaic tiles, rose carpeting and plush leather competing for attention. But it’s the curvaceous stairway, decorated in a floral mosaic pattern designed by Sicis of Italy, that will catch your attention as you enter the spa.
  • The Reverie Saigon lends itself very well for business and corporate meetings. La Scala Ballroom is the largest, pillar-less space in the city. Chandeliers of Swarovski crystals drop from 7,3 m (24 ft) ceilings, and onyx graces the walls of this palatial expanse. La Scala Ballroom also features a 19th century Bechstein piano, painstakingly refinished by Baldi with malachite stone and gilded bronze. Elsewhere in the hotel, on the fourth, fifth and eighth floors, 14 additional event spaces round out the hotel’s meetings opportunities. On the 8th floor is a fully staffed modern business centre equipped with the latest technology.
  • For those desiring the added privilege and convenience of having stays inclusive of daily breakfast, afternoon tea service and cocktails and canapés each evening, The Reverie Lounge defies the conventional club lounge concept. Occupying a total of 542 square metres (5,834 square feet) on the 38thand 39th floors, the dazzling duplex space is outfitted by Visionnaire and accented with works by budding Vietnamese artists. Its winding, gold leaf-encased, marble staircase strikes a spectacular pose against the backdrop of Saigon.
  • Over 30 world-renowned European furnishings design brands are represented at the showrooms at Times Square, occupying the first three floors of the skyscraper (below the hotel). From the classic looks of Medea to the contemporary stylings of Poltrona Frau and the ‘glamour design’ of Visionnaire, the array of brands featured introduce an impressive collection of spectacular products and design under one roof (that is, if you like a bombastic decoration style).
  • The Reverie maintains a fleet of 12 luxury automobiles, including Mercedes-Benz S Class, Bentley, and Rolls Royce Phantoms. The transfer that I booked to/from the airport is among the best I’ve ever experienced. As soon as I identified myself to the hotel representative outside the baggage collection area, I was whisked to a stunning colt blue Mercedes. No expense was spared on the interior of the cars, with new car leather smell permeating the air. Naturally, chilled water and cooling towels were offered en route. Wi-Fi in the car is excellent. The traffic in Ho Chi Minh City can be grueling but you won’t mind a bit!

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

With its bold design, ultramodern facilities, rooftop pool deck, spacious rooms, excellent restaurants and impeccable service, La Reverie is by far the best hotel in Ho Chi Minh and ranks among the best city hotels in the world. It’s hard to fault the property, as everything is perfectly executed, but you may want to know the following nonetheless:

  • There’s no denying that the hotel’s opulent, over-the-top, even outrageous decor will thrill some and repel others. Although I prefer a minimalist design a la Aman, the decoration surely impressed me, albeit not always in a positive way. However the service and facilities at the hotel are so exceptional that they made me quickly overlook the opulent design.
  • Despite the terrific (albeit expensive) food served at The Reverie Saigon’s 4 world-class restaurants, authentic Vietnamese cuisine is remarkably absent among the hotel’s food offerings.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 9/10
  • Design: 7/10 (sorry … this is a matter of personal taste)
  • Pool: 8/10
  • Rooms: 10/10
  • Food: 10/10
  • Breakfast: 10/10
  • Spa: 10/10
  • Service: 10/10
  • Value for money: 10/10
  • Overall experience: exceptional: 9/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: read my tips for getting best deal at a luxury hotel like The Reverie Saigon. Book a room at the cheapest price and/or receive many free perks!
  • Save money: get free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade on arrival, daily full breakfast for 2, $100 USD resort credit, complimentary WiFi, early check-in, and late check-out)
  • Elite members of Leaders Club – the loyalty program of The Leading Hotels of the World – are well treated, with – amongst other benefits – complimentary room upgrade (when available), early check-in or late check-out  (when available), and free breakfast. Click here to read my review of Leaders Club (with pros & cons).
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Like most of Southeast Asia, Vietnam varies from warm to very hot throughout the whole year. There are four annual seasons: cool and dry between November and February; (very) hot and dry between March and May; hot and wet between June and August; and cool and wet between September and early November. The best time to visit is the cool season, when the weather usually benefits from a pleasant dry heat and the surrounding countryside is still green from the rains.


HOW TO GET THERE

The Reverie Saigon is located only 40 minutes’ drive from Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport, which is served by quite a number of international airlines. Check the Wikipedia page of Tan Son Nhat International Airport for an updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to the airport.


LIMOUSINE TRANSFER FROM AIRPORT TO HOTEL

LIMOUSINE TRANSFER FROM AIRPORT TO HOTEL

LIMOUSINE TRANSFER FROM AIRPORT TO HOTEL

LIMOUSINE TRANSFER FROM AIRPORT TO HOTEL

HOTEL EXTERIOR

HOTEL EXTERIOR

HOTEL EXTERIOR

HOTEL EXTERIOR

HOTEL EXTERIOR

HOTEL EXTERIOR

HOTEL EXTERIOR: SIDE ENTRANCE

HOTEL EXTERIOR: SIDE ENTRANCE

GROUND FLOOR LOBBY

GROUND FLOOR LOBBY

GROUND FLOOR LOBBY

GROUND FLOOR LOBBY

GROUND FLOOR LOBBY

GROUND FLOOR LOBBY

GROUND FLOOR LOBBY

GROUND FLOOR LOBBY

GROUND FLOOR LOBBY

GROUND FLOOR LOBBY

GROUND FLOOR LOBBY

GROUND FLOOR LOBBY

GROUND FLOOR LOBBY

GROUND FLOOR LOBBY

GROUND FLOOR LOBBY

ELEVATOR TO LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

ELEVATOR TO LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

MAIN HOTEL LOBBY ON 7TH FLOOR

ELEVATORS TO GUEST ROOM FLOORS

GUEST ROOM FLOOR

GUEST ROOM FLOOR

GUEST ROOM FLOOR

GUEST ROOM FLOOR

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM: WELCOME AMENITIES

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM: WELCOME AMENITIES

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM: VIEW

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM: VIEW

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM: VIEW

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM: VIEW

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM: VIEW

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM: VIEW

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM: MINBAR (COMPLIMENTARY)

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM: TURNDOWN SERVICE

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM: TURNDOWN SERVICE

PANORAMA DELUXE ROOM: TURNDOWN SERVICE

JUNIOR SUITE

JUNIOR SUITE

JUNIOR SUITE

JUNIOR SUITE

JUNIOR SUITE

JUNIOR SUITE

JUNIOR SUITE

ROOFTOP POOL DECK

ROOFTOP POOL DECK

ROOFTOP POOL DECK

ROOFTOP POOL DECK

ROOFTOP POOL DECK

ROOFTOP POOL DECK

ROOFTOP POOL DECK

ROOFTOP POOL DECK

ROOFTOP POOL DECK

ROOFTOP POOL DECK

ROOFTOP POOL DECK

ROOFTOP POOL DECK

ROOFTOP POOL DECK

ROOFTOP POOL DECK

ROOFTOP POOL DECK

ROOFTOP POOL DECK

ROOFTOP POOL DECK

ROOFTOP POOL DECK

ROOFTOP POOL DECK

ROOFTOP POOL DECK: LUNCH

SPA: RECEPTION

SPA: RECEPTION

SPA: RECEPTION

SPA: RECEPTION

SPA: RECEPTION

SPA: RECEPTION

SPA: RECEPTION

SPA: RECEPTION

SPA: RECEPTION

SPA

SPA

SPA

SPA

SPA

SPA

SPA

SPA

SPA: TREATMENT ROOM

SPA: TREATMENT ROOM

SPA: LOCKER ROOM

SPA: LOCKER ROOM

SPA: LOCKER ROOM

SPA: LOCKER ROOM

SPA: LOCKER ROOM

SPA: LOCKER ROOM

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: OVERVIEW

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: OVERVIEW

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: OVERVIEW

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: OVERVIEW

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: OVERVIEW

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: OVERVIEW

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: OVERVIEW

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: OVERVIEW

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: OVERVIEW

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: OVERVIEW

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BREAKFASTT

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: VIEW

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

CAFE CARDINAL RESTAURANT: BRUNCH

R&J RESTAURANT: DINNER

R&J RESTAURANT: DINNER

R&J RESTAURANT: DINNER

R&J RESTAURANT: DINNER

R&J RESTAURANT: DINNER

R&J RESTAURANT: DINNER

R&J RESTAURANT: DINNER

R&J RESTAURANT: DINNER

R&J RESTAURANT: DINNER

THE ROYAL PAVILION RESTAURANT: DINNER

THE ROYAL PAVILION RESTAURANT: DINNER

THE ROYAL PAVILION RESTAURANT: DINNER

THE ROYAL PAVILION RESTAURANT: DINNER

THE ROYAL PAVILION RESTAURANT: DINNER

THE ROYAL PAVILION RESTAURANT: DINNER

THE ROYAL PAVILION RESTAURANT: DINNER

THE ROYAL PAVILION RESTAURANT: DINNER

THE ROYAL PAVILION RESTAURANT: DINNER

THE ROYAL PAVILION RESTAURANT: DINNER

THE DELI

THE DELI

THE DELI

THE DELI

THE DELI

THE DELI

THE DELI

THE DELI

THE SHOWROOMS AT TIMES SQUARE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

THE REVERIE LOUNGE

SIGHTS OF HO CHO MINH CITY

SIGHTS OF HO CHO MINH CITY: NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL

SIGHTS OF HO CHO MINH CITY

SIGHTS OF HO CHO MINH CITY

SIGHTS OF HO CHO MINH CITY: BEN THAHN MARKET

SIGHTS OF HO CHO MINH CITY: BEN THAHN MARKET

HOTEL AT NIGHT

HOTEL AT NIGHT


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Top 10: best luxury hotels & resorts in Vietnam

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (July 3, 2017): Top 10 most exclusive hotels & resorts in Vietnam.

I recently enjoyed a tremendous holiday in the fascinating country of Vietnam. With its rice paddies, undulating hills, unspoiled beaches, lush jungle, modern cities, and French colonial architecture, the nation is a magnet for lovers of authentic culture, pristine nature, urban life, and rich history. Since Vietnam opened its doors for tourism, its selection of boutique hotels and ultraluxe resorts has been growing quickly, including big-name players like Six Senses, Aman and Four Seasons to name a few. From south (Ho Chi Ming City) to north (Hanoi), the buzz about the place is palpable, and you should put the country now on your bucket list before it’s overrun by tourists. I hereby present you my selection of the best luxury hotels & resorts in Vietnam, that easily rank among the finest in the world.

There is more info (with reviews and Youtube clips) below the slide show.  Think I missed one? Leave a comment or take my poll below!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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10. ANANTARA MUI NE

Set on Mui Ne’s pristinely sweeping beach, Anantara Mui Ne Resort is an oasis of elegance and comfort offering a unique and exclusive way to experience the southern coast of Vietnam. Mornings are spent by the pool deck, afternoons by hikes through nearby sand dunes, and evenings by a soothing spa treatment before starlit dinners near the beach. Expertly blending Vietnamese tradition and legendary Anantara service, the resort offers a tropical retreat, worlds away from Vietnam’s urban bustle. Rooms are set in the serenely designed main building that embodies a contemporary grace infused with touches of Vietnamese charm, while more exclusive private villas are located in impeccably landscaped, tropical garden.

ANANTARA MUI NE


9. AVANI QUY NHON RESORT & SPA

Sheltered by a private golden beach and soaring cliffs, Avani Quy Nhon Resort & Spa, located along Vietnam’s stunning south central coastline, offers a tropical beach and spa retreat generous in spirit and beauty. Upon arrival, guests have a seamless view of the deep blue ocean. Colorful, wooden fishing boats anchored in the bay add to the exotic ambience. This is pure Vietnam – unpretentious and alluring. The spacious comfort of each of the 63 Avani Deluxe Studio Rooms and Avani Junior Ocean Suites comes with muted shades of mint and white with splashes of aborigine that offer a soothing palette and contemporary comforts. Apart from visits to the 11th century Champa ruins, divine spa treatments, and long siesta’s, there is little else to do other than stroll and swim.

AVANI QUY NHON RESORT & SPA


8. INTERCONTINENTAL DANANG SUN PENINSULA RESORT

Danang Sun Peninsula Resort is a luxury five-star beach resort nestled in the heart of Son Tra Peninsula Nature Reserve, overlooking a private bay. Here, you can delve into the soul of Vietnamese culture and heritage with nearby UNESCO World Heritage Sites Hoi An Ancient Town and Hue Imperial City. The resort has been designed by famed architect Bill Bensley, who reimagined Vietnamese design, history and mythology with his characteristic whimsy, creating a magical retreat over four levels – Heaven, Sky, Earth and Sea. Guests can enjoy culinary artistry at La Maison 1888 restaurant helmed by world-acclaimed chef Pierre Gagnaire, soothe their body and soul at HARNN Heritage Spa, or simply kick back and enjoy the resort’s 700-meter (2300 feet) private beach.

  • Hotel website: InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD food & beverage credit; For Peninsula Suite or Pool Villa bookings: also roundtrip transfers per room per stay).

INTERCONTINENTAL DANANG SUN PENINSULA RESORT


7. SOFITEL LEGEND METROPOLE HANOI

Situated in the heart of Hanoi with its leafy boulevards and lakeside pagodas, this colonial-style hotel is ideally placed within walking distance to the famous Hanoi Opera House. Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi has been Hanoi’s legendary landmark since its establishment at the turn of last century and has always proved a popular rendez-vous spot for both business and leisure travelers. The hotel offers 364 rooms and suites, spread over two wings: the original grandeur is preserved in the historical Metropole Wing, whereas the Opera Wing offers a neo-classic elegance. Other facilities include French, Vietnamese and Italian restaurants, three bars, a heated swimming pool, and the luxurious Le Spa du Metropole.

  • Hotel website: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, $75 USD food & beverage credit, and afternoon tea with chocolate buffet or a glass of champagne in Bamboo bar or Le Club bar per person for maximum of 2 people).
  • Review: coming soon

SOFITEL LEGEND METROPOLE HANOI


6. BANYAN TREE LANG CO

Located in Central Vietnam, Banyan Tree Lang Co is an ultraluxe, beach-front, all-pool villa resort that comes with dramatic vistas spread across a rugged landscape. Here, you can feel the warm waves of the East Sea tickle your toes, and raise your gaze to behold the magnificent stretch of the Truong Son Mountain Range. Within touch of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the imperial city of Hue, charming old town of Hoi An and My Son’s historical ruins – culture aficionados will be satiated. Those with a bent for the physical will also find joy in a wide range activities. Golfers can tee off in style at the Sir Nick Faldo-designed 18-hole championship golf course, meandering through rice paddies and trickling streams against the backdrop of a staggering mountain range.

BANYAN TREE LANG CO


5. THE REVERIE SAIGON

In 2015, The Reverie Saigon debuted as the most spectacularly extravagant hotel in Vietnam and as the one and only member property of The Leading Hotels of the World in all of Ho Chi Minh City. Taking pride of place on the topmost floors of the landmark Times Square Building in prestigious District 1, the much-lauded hotel presents world-class hospitality with its impeccable service and its unique celebration of haute Italian design and inimitable luxury. Don’t expect a sense of place as you may imagine it to be. To say it’s over the top is an understatement. When you first enter you may well ponder if there is any marble left in Italy. The sky-high Reverie Saigon offers an incomparable perspective on the city with its spectacular views from all of its marble-clad rooms, which are the largest of any in Ho Chi Minh City.

  • Hotel website: The Reverie Saigon
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD food & beverage credit).
  • Review: read here my review of The Reverie Saigon.

4. SIX SENSES CON DAO

True to Six Senses’ philosophy of selecting remote yet accessible destinations in areas of outstanding natural beauty, Con Dao – a 40 min flight south of Ho Chi Min City – is a breathtaking location, which has been protected for decades as a national and marine park. Six Senses Con Dao is the only five-star resort in the archipelago islands, located along a massive private beach with sweeping views of the snap-worthy islands against the dramatic backdrop of the Lo Voi Mountains. The intimate, all-pool villa resort is contemporary in design and reflects the essence of a traditional fishing village. The spa and dining options are world-class. With a passionate commitment to supporting and protecting the environment, Con Dao has been built with the very lightest ecological footprint. It will be very, very difficult to return to ‘real life’ after a vacation here.

SIX SENSES CON DAO


3. FOUR SEASONS RESORT THE NAM HAI

Embellishing heritage with Four Seasons flair, Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai is a harmonious ode to coast, culture and community in Vietnam’s UNESCO-strewn centre. Along a seemingly infinite stretch of sand – hailed by Forbes as one of the best beaches in the world – a strand of sophisticated, visually striking villas lines the dramatic beachfront. Inspired by 2,500 years of history, The Nam Hai’s architecture and interior design present a dramatic play on wind and water inspired by ancient feng shui philosophy and the grandeur of the Tu Duc royal tombs of Hue. All of the 100 private retreats are elegantly finished with Vietnamese lacquer and diaphanous silk, reflecting the soul of Vietnam’s cultural heartland and illuminating the spirit of all who visit.

FOUR SEASONS RESORT THE NAM HAI


2. SIX SENSES NINH VAN BAY

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay enjoys a spectacular setting in a dramatic bay that gives the feeling of being on an exclusive private island resort, with impressive rock formations overlooking the East Vietnam Sea. Impressive rock formations, a coral reef, a golden sand beach, a playful stream and the towering mountains behind, all add to the sense of being luxuriously at one with nature. The spa resort presents the reality of the destination, with an architectural style incorporating traditions of Vietnam. The 58 superb accommodations – done in Six Senses signature eco-chic design – are all personal villas with private plunge pools. The restaurants at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay serve international and local favourites plus East meets West specialties complemented by the best local seafood

SIX SENSES NINH VAN BAY


1. AMANOI

In 2013, Aman brought the brand’s signature sleekness to its debut resort in Vietnam, a contemporary beachside resort alongside a full-service Aman Spa. Named for the Sanskrit-derived word for ‘peace’ and noi meaning ‘place’, Amanoi is a tranquil, ultraluxe retreat situated on a gorgeous golden sand beach overlooking spectacular Vinh Hy Bay in Nui Chua National Park, northeast of Ho Chi Minh City. The luxury hotel’s polished, slate pagodas peek out from a lush green landscape; its infinity pool segues into the sea; and its spa rests by a lotus-blossom-dotted lake. Amanoi offers total privacy in beautifully designed accommodations that are located in 31 Pavilions, a number with private swimming pools, and five Aman Villas, all positioned on the hillside with impressive views.

AMANOI


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Travel news: this month (June 2017) in luxury travel

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel conteststipsseries, or news.

Today (June 30, 2017): June luxury travel news.

Every last Friday of the month, you can read my news round-up of what’s happening in the world of luxury travel. In this issue:

  1. Mandarin Oriental announces its first Australia property
  2. Israel’s carrier EL AL reveals new B787 cabin interiors
  3. Raffles will open its first London hotel in a historic building
  4. Etihad Airways cancels its complimentary chauffeur service
  5. Rosewood will manage an ultraluxe hotel in Vienna
  6. Belmond acquires iconic Caribbean hotel, Cap Juluca Anguilla
  7. The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train is getting even more opulent
  8. The Ritz-Carlton takes to the sea with its own super-de-luxe yachts
  9. Airbus presents an enhanced version of the A380, the ‘A380plus’
  10. Virgin Holidays announces the world’s first airport lounge on a beach
  11. The Toronto Trump hotel drops the USA’s president’s name


1. Mandarin Oriental announces its first Australia property

Mandarin Oriental announced its first property in Australia, to be developed in Melbourne and expected to open in 2023. The hotel and residences will be located on Collins Street, in an iconic, mixed-use 185 m (610 ft) tower which will play a part in the ongoing regeneration of the city’s Central Business District. The building’s innovative and distinctive design, created by the late award-winning architect, Dame Zaha Hadid, will become a landmark in the city. The Mandarin Oriental Melbourne will feature 196 spacious, contemporary guestrooms and suites designed to reflect local culture, together with features inspired by Mandarin Oriental’s oriental heritage. The hotel will feature an all-day dining restaurant and a bar with a landscaped roof terrace. A spa will offer the hotel group’s well known wellness, relaxation and beauty facilities, while further leisure options include a comprehensive fitness centre and an indoor swimming pool.

MANDARIN ORIENTAL MELBOURNE


2. El Al reveals new B787 cabin interiors

Over the last 18 months, Israel’s national airline EL AL has worked closely with London-based PriestmanGoode on a complete programme that includes an update of the airline’s original livery, new brand identity for each class and new aircraft cabin interiors encompassing Business Class, Premium Economy – which is new to the airline – Economy Class, as well as entrance areas and galleys. The new designs will be rolled out across the airline’s new fleet of Boeing Dreamliner aircraft. Gonen Usishkin, VP of Commercial affairs at EL AL says: “The new cabins aren’t just a sophisticated representation of Israel that will appeal both to domestic and international passengers, they have also created a cabin our crew can be proud of, and which allows them to better serve our passengers.” Features of the Business Class cabin include 32 fully flat-bed seats, all offering aisle access. In a world first, the airline has opted for Recaro’s CL6710 seat (a seat design by Acumen and Recaro’s design in-house teams).


3. Raffles to open its first London hotel in historic Old War Office building

Raffles Hotels & Resorts, the top luxury brand of AccorHotels Group, announced that it will transform the iconic Old War Office building in Whitehall into the most unique hotel and deluxe residences in London. The Old War Office, with its 1100 rooms across seven floors, and two miles of corridors, was the office to many of the United Kingdom’s most important and influential political and military leaders of the twentieth century, notably Sir Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George, Lord Kitchener, Herbert Asquith and T.E. Lawrence. It was also the haunt of the British Secret Service who had their own, more discreet entrance. Close to 10 Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, the Raffles London will include 125 rooms (of which 40% will be suites), 88 private residences, restaurants and other amenities. Completion is expected in just over three years.

RAFFLES LONDON HOTEL


4. Etihad Airways cancels its complimentary chauffeur service

Etihad Airways, which is my favorite First Class product in the world has announced its latest service cut under an increasing amount of financial pressure. The airline is to amend its chauffeur policy following a review of usage by premium guests across all major markets. The complimentary chauffeur service will be retained at Etihad Airways’ Abu Dhabi hub and replaced with a paid option at specially negotiated rates in all other cities. The changes will be implemented from 3 July 2017. Guests travelling in The Residence onboard the flagship Airbus A380 fleet will continue to receive complimentary chauffeur services at all A380 destinations – Abu Dhabi, London, Paris, Sydney and New York. First and Business Class tickets issued prior to 3 July 2017 will not be affected by these changes and will receive complimentary chauffeur service across destinations where the service is currently offered. As part of the initiative to improve the value proposition for travelers, the airline will also extend the paid airport transfer option to all guests across all cabins and allow Etihad Guest members to accrue miles on their chauffeur bookings.


5. Rosewood will manage an ultraluxe hotel in Vienna 

Rosewood Hotels & Resorts will open a hotel in the Austrian capital of Vienna in 2021, the brand’s fifth property in Europe. Housed in an historic 18th century building which was the former headquarters for Erste Group Bank AG, Rosewood Vienna will be ideally situated on Petersplatz, one of the most famous squares in Vienna’s Old Town. Located just steps away from the city’s most luxurious shopping and dining and its most famous historical sites, Rosewood Vienna will serve as an unsurpassed gateway to one of Europe’s most charming destinations and combine the best of European architecture and design with a refined yet modern style. The hotel will offer 99 spacious guestrooms and suites, all of which will feature separate spaces for entertainment and relaxation. The contemporary accommodations will merge the past and present through a thoughtful combination of elegant textural and artistic elements and the latest technological features. The property will feature a variety of dining and entertainment options, including a rooftop bar with exceptional views of the city and an intimate restaurant in a garden setting serving European cuisine and carefully crafted beverages appealing to guests and locals alike.

ROSEWOOD VIENNA


6. Belmond acquires iconic Caribbean property, Cap Juluca Anguilla

Belmond is enhancing its unique blend of iconic hotels, trains and cruises; offering luxury travellers an exceptional range of experiences across the world, from outbound adventures to once in a life time journeys and the ultimate choice in chic, beach hideaways. The addition of the elegant, 96-room Cap Julaca resort marks an important milestone in the strategic development of the Belmond brand, which is committed to doubling the size of its portfolio by 2020.  Set on one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches, overlooking the aquamarine waters of Maundays Bay, the unspoilt setting of Cap Juluca encourages guests to unwind to the slow rhythm of Caribbean island life. The multiple award-winning property features Greco-Moorish architecture spread over two crescent-shaped coves with ocean view suites and villas that offer secluded privacy set within lush tropical gardens. Belmond will carry out a top to toe renovation and develop a further 25 new beachfront villas or suites, bringing the resort’s total inventory to 121 rooms. The renovation – expected to complete by the end of 2018 – will be respectful of the surroundings, maintaining the authentic charm of the iconic resort.

CAP JULUCA ANGUILLA, A BELMOND PROPERTY


7. The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is getting even more luxurious

There is some more exciting news from Belmond. According to CNN, Belmond has revealed the design of three new Grand Suites to be added in 2018 to its iconic Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, the luxurious European sleeper train that’s known for its romantic old-world charm and fleet of vintage carriages from the 1920s and ’30s. Each of the suites will have a double/twin bedroom, a living area – which includes a dining area and a sofa that can be converted into an additional bed – as well as an en suite bathroom with shower, washbasin and toilet. Like the rest of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, the interior designs of the new rooms will stay true to the train’s opulent historical style. Inspired by and named after three of the destinations the train covers –Venice, Paris and Istanbul – the carriages will be furnished individually, from Italian Baroque-style silk and glass lamps in the Venice suite to hand-carved timber and lavish metal details in the Istanbul suite. Other exclusive perks for guests of the Grand Suites include a dedicated steward, bespoke amenities, complimentary caviar on arrival and free flow champagne during the journey.

GRAND SUITE AT THE VENICE SIMPLON ORIENT EXPRESS TRAIN


8. The Ritz-Carlton takes to the sea with its own super-de-luxe yachts

The Ritz-Carlton hotel group, part of the Marriott imperium, announced its entry into luxury yachting and cruises, bringing the award-winning luxury hotel brand’s service and timeless style to sea. The first of three lavish cruising yachts in this series is scheduled to take to sea in the fourth quarter of 2019, and distinguishes Marriott International as the only provider of luxury accommodations both on land and at sea. Each custom-built yacht will offer an intimate journey with space for only 298 guests. Accommodations will include 149 suites, each with its own balcony, and several luxurious duplex penthouses. The modern craftsmanship and interior finishes will be jointly designed by The Ritz-Carlton and leading cruise ship design firm, Tillberg Design of Sweden. Throughout the journey, guests will indulge in a cruising style that is unparalleled in the ultra-luxury cruise and private yachting sectors. The Ritz-Carlton yachts will feature a restaurant by Sven Elverfeld of Aqua, the three Michelin-starred restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg; a signature Ritz-Carlton Spa; and a Panorama Lounge and wine bar, offering a wide variety of on-board entertainment. Additionally, the yacht will offer one-of-a-kind curated destination journeys through collaborations with local chefs, musicians and artists, allowing guests to experience the locations in unique and experiential ways, both onboard and ashore. Voyages will range from 7 to 10 days and include overnight and daytime ports of call.

THE RITZ-CARLTON YACHT


9. Airbus presents an enhanced version of the A380, the ‘A380plus’

Airbus has presented its plans for an enhanced A380 aircraft, the “A380plus”. The study includes aerodynamic improvements in particular new, large winglets and other wing refinements that allow for up to 4% fuel burn savings. Added to an optimised A380 maintenance programme and enhanced cabin features, the overall benefit is a 13% cost per seat reduction versus today’s A380. John Leahy, Airbus COO Customers, explains: “The A380plus is an efficient way to offer even better economics and improved operational performance at the same time”. John adds: “It is a new step for our iconic aircraft to best serve worldwide fast-growing traffic and the evolving needs of the A380 customers. The A380 is well-proven as the solution to increasing congestion at large airports, and in offering a unique, passenger-preferred experience”.  The optimised cabin layout allows up to 80 additional seats, with no compromise on comfort: redesigned stairs, a combined crew-rest compartment, sidewall stowage removal, a new 9-abreast seat configuration in premium economy and 11-abreast in economy. With all A380 cabin enablers, the A380 average seat count would move from 497 to 575 in four classes, and generate significantly more revenue for airlines. The A380plus will also feature longer maintenance check intervals, a reduced six-year check downtime, and systems improvements, which will reduce maintenance costs and increase aircraft availability.


10. Virgin Holidays announces the world’s first airport lounge on a beach

According to the Manchester Evening News, Virgin Holidays has plans for an innovative ‘Departure Beach‘ lounge so travelers can enjoy every last minute of their holiday. The facility, in Barbados , will include a private air-conditioned lounge, premium bathroom and showering facilities, bar and restaurant and a Virgin Atlantic check-in, all on the beach.  Until now, hanging around at the airport on departure day has felt like the inevitable price for going on an exotic holiday – particularly as the majority of accommodation and cruise-ships in Barbados require customers to check out before midday. With many flights not returning until late in the evening it led to a ‘lost day’ of holiday with travellers killing time rather than taking a dip in the Caribbean Sea, topping up the tan to impress workmates, or sipping rum punch under the Bajan sky. The Departure Beach is the first of its kind and can be booked by travelers at any time before they depart. Guests will be picked up from their hotel after breakfast, while their luggage is taken straight to the airport. They can check-in on the beach, pick up their boarding pass, indulge in food, take a dip in the ocean and relax on the beach until it’s time to transfer to the airport.

VIRGIN HOLIDAYS’ DEPARTURE BEACH AT BARBADOS


11. The Toronto Trump hotel drops the USA’s president’s name

According to The Globe and Mail, the Trump International Hotel and Tower in downtown Toronto will soon lose theUSA President’s name, as the luxury property is rebranded only five years after opening its doors. The owner of the Trump Hotel, JCF Capital ULC, announced a deal on Tuesday to buy out the Trump Organization’s management contracts for an undisclosed amount. The deal closes a chapter in the troubled story of Toronto’s Trump Hotel. The 65-storey hotel and condo in the heart of Canada’s financial district has been plagued with problems, starting with slow construction, a delayed opening, financial woes, investor lawsuits and bad press. And that was before Donald Trump became U.S. President and anti-Trump protesters started demonstrating outside some of his hotel sites. Conceived when Toronto had only a few luxury hotels, the Trump-branded hotel was supposed to be a sure thing. But by the time it opened in 2012, it would face increased competition from other high-end hotels, such as Ritz-Carlton, Shangri-La and Four Seasons. Mr. Trump never owned the hotel, but he licensed his name and managed the property through his family’s company Trump Hotels, which is now being run by his two eldest sons. Marriott’s St. Regis hotel chain is expected to take over the property’s brand and management.

TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL & TOWER TORONTO


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Filed under: Travel news Tagged: A380, Belmond, El Al, Etihad Airways, Luxury, Luxury travel, Mandarin Oriental, marriott, Ritz Carlton, Rosewood, St Regis, Travel, Travel news, Trump

Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel and/or flight review.

A couple of weeks ago, I enjoyed a great holiday in Vietnam, where some resorts far exceeded my sky-high expectations (and rank among the best hotels I have ever stayed at). You can read my trip reports here:

  • Review: Singapore Airlines A350 Business Class Düsseldorf to Singapore
  • Review: Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City (today)
  • Review: The Reverie, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Review: Anantara Mui Ne
  • Review: Six Senses Con Dao
  • Review: Evason Ana Mandara, Nha Trang
  • Review: Six Senses Ninh Van Bay
  • Review: Amanoi
  • Review: Avani Quy Nhon
  • Review: Anantara Hoi An
  • Review: Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An
  • Review: Banyan Tree Lang Co
  • Review: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
  • Review: Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class Hong Kong to Düsseldorf.

Today (June 28, 2017): Trip report: Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City.

On April 23rd 2017, I flew Business Class in an Airbus A330-300 of Singapore Airlines (SQ) from Singapore Changi International Airport (SIN) to Vietnam’s busiest airport, Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SNG), located inside the crowded city of Ho Chi Minh. The flight was part of a journey which originated in Europe, with the first leg (Düsseldorf to Singapore) being operated by one of SQ’s brand new A350 planes (you can read my review of that flight here). SQ’s subfleet of A330 aircraft features a regional Business Class product. Unlike SQ’s flagship A350, A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft which feature fully-flat bed Business Class seats with direct aisle access for every passenger, the SQ A330 Business Class cabin features a 2-2-2 layout, with angled flat seats rather than fully-flat. The experience was great nonetheless, moreover since the flight duration was only 1 hour and 40 minutes.

SQ features in my top 10 list of the best airlines for longhaul Business Class, the best airlines for longhaul First Class, the most delicious airline food, and the world’s best airline Business Class lounges.

  • Trip: SIN-SNG
  • Airline: Singapore Airlines
  • Aircraft type: Airbus A330-300
  • Aircraft registration number: 9V-SSB
  • Flight Number: SQ172
  • Date: April 23, 2017
  • On time departure: Yes (9.45 am local time)
  • On time arrival: Yes (10.55 am local time)
  • Miles: 672
  • Flight time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Seat: 15A
  • Class: Business Class

In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):

  1. Cost of my ticket
  2. SilverKris lounge at Changi Airport
  3. Facts of Singapore Airline’s A330
  4. Business Class Cabin
  5. Business Class Seat (& what seat to choose)
  6. Amenities
  7. Food
  8. Entertainment
  9. Other inflight experiences
  10. My verdict

Click to view slideshow.

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1. COST OF MY TICKET

The cost of my one-way ticket from Düsseldorf to Ho Chi Minh via Singapore was 240 euros + 65,000 Miles& More miles. Miles and More is the frequent flyer program of SQ’s Star Alliance partner Lufthansa.


2. SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SQ offers 4 different tiers of lounges for its premium passengers at its hub, Changi International Airport. This review only covers SQ’s KrisFlyer Business Lounge at Terminal 2, from where my flight to Ho Chi Minh City departed. This lounge used to be SQ’s flagship lounge, until the airline moved most of its operation to terminal 3 in 2011, where it now manages a much larger lounge. Despite a difference in size and the number of people they can accommodate, both lounges feature a similar decor, with soft lighting and marble floors (the lounge in terminal 2 was recently refurbished). The lounge facility at terminal 2 is located one floor above Changi’s famous ‘Enchanted Garden’, which comprises four giant glass bouquet sculptures decorated with a mosaic of reflective and shimmering stained-glass. Access to the lounge is limited to SQ Business Class passengers and passengers who hold elite status with a Star Alliance partner airline (e.g. Lufthansa, Swiss, Turkish Airlines, etc …).

As you enter the lounge, there’s an open-plan business center on the left, with both pc and mac computers available to guests that need to catch up on work. Next, you arrive in the spacious restaurant area, which features a couple of dining tables placed alongside an excellent, self-service buffet. It’s clear that SQ is not cutting any corners when it comes to food offerings, with a large selection of cold options (e.g. muesli, fruit, salads, cheese, Danish pastries, cereals, and sushi)  and hot dishes (e.g. pastas, soup, noodles, curries, dim sums, pancakes, eggs, etc …). There’s even Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne. The sitting area at the lounge is confined to one large, dimly lit room, located adjacent to the restaurant area, which offers a dark, somewhat opulent escape from the bright lights of Changi Airport. There are plenty of very comfortable armchairs, most of them equipped with universal power ports. A newsstand, with complimentary local and international newspapers and magazines, takes center stage at the lounge. One side of the lounge also features 3 telephone boots where you can have your phone calls, so that other passengers are not disturbed by your voice, guaranteeing a maximum level of tranquility inside the sitting area.

Facilities at the lounge are great, with bartender service, free WiFi (at excellent speed), and showers inside the restrooms for those that need to refresh between flights.

TERMINAL 2 AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT

SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT


3. DETAILS OF SINGAPORE AIRLINES’ A330

Here are some facts about the A350 XWB as provided by Wikipedia and Singapore Airlines:

  • The A330 is Airbus’ most popular widebody aircraft, with more than 1300 planes of this type being delivered since production started in 1992.
  • SQ introduced the Airbus A330-300 in January 2009.
  • Currently, SQ has 23 A330 aircraft in its fleet, with an average age of 8,2 years.
  • SQ A330s are powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines and seat 285 passengers in total.
  • SQ intends to replace all A330 aircraft with Airbus A350s in a medium-range configuration by 2019.
  • SQ uses the A330 mostly for flights within Asia and to/from secondary markets in Australia.

SINGAPORE AIRLINES A330-300

SINGAPORE AIRLINES A330-300

SINGAPORE AIRLINES A330-300

SINGAPORE AIRLINES A330-300

SINGAPORE AIRLINES A330-300 (UPON LANDING)

SINGAPORE AIRLINES A330-300 (UPON LANDING)


4. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN

The SQ A330-300 aircraft features only 2 classes: one Business Class cabin with 30 angle-flat seats (with 172 degrees recline), and 2 Economy Class cabins with 255 standard seats. The 30 Business Class seats are arranged in five rows with a standard 2-2-2 configuration. All seats face forward and offer aisle access, except for the window seats where you will have to crawl over the legs of your neighbour if you want to get up and reach the aisle. In comparison, the 255 Economy Class feature a 2-4-2 arrangement, with a more spacious 2-3-2 layout towards the plane’s tail. The Business Class cabin itself features a neutral, beige colour palette, and somewhat lacks the refinement and luxurious ambience of SQ’s A350 plane, which I had flown on the previous leg (you can read my trip report about that flight here).

While still excellent, SQ’s regional Business Class cabin – that is unique to its fleet of A330 aircraft – is inferior to the Business Class product installed on board its flagship Boeing 777, A380 and A350, which boast fully-flat bed Business Class seats with direct aisle access for every passenger,

Click here for a seat map of SQ’s A330 planes.

BUSINESS CLASS CABIN

BUSINESS CLASS CABIN

BUSINESS CLASS CABIN

BUSINESS CLASS CABIN

BUSINESS CLASS CABIN

BUSINESS CLASS CABIN

BUSINESS CLASS CABIN (IN FLIGHT)

BUSINESS CLASS CABIN (IN FLIGHT)


5. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT (& WHAT SEAT TO CHOOSE)

I had pre-selected seat 15A & B for my travel companion and myself for the short, 1h40min flight to Ho Chi Minh City.

The leather seat has a seat width of 24.5 inch (62 cm) and a pitch of 152 cm (60 inch). Although still comfortable, that is nowhere near as wide as the Business Class seats of SQ’s A380-800 and the 777-300ER planes, which rank among the widest in the industry. On arm rest holds the seat control panel and a handset for the inflight entertainment, while the rather small tray table is located in the other arm rest and needs to be pulled out for any use (after which you are kind of blocked in your seat). A power socket and usb ports are installed on the side of seat while a large TV screen is located in front of the seat. Below the TV screen, you find with two storage pockets  – that can be used to stow away smaller personal items and a bottle of water – and a foot well that is used as a space for the lower legs when the seat is turned into its reclined position. A privacy divider can be deployed between two adjoining seats for an added level of privacy if you sit next to a stranger.

At the push of a button, the leather seat converts into a angle-flat seats with 172 degrees recline. This is not a flat-bed, contrary to the seats on SQ’s A380, A350 and B777, although turning the seat into its bed position is far less complicated on the A330 as compared to the other aircraft in the SQ fleet and doesn’t require any assistance from the crew. The seat stretches to a comfortable 188 cm (74 inches) in length when the footrest is fully extended, albeit – due to its recline – one has the tendency to slip towards the footrest during a nap.

What are the best Business Class seats on SQ’s A330? Click here for a seat map of SQ’s A330 planes.

  • All seats in the cabin, except for the first and last row, are quiet good, especially for couples.
  • For solo travellers, I recommend selecting one of the center seats, which not only have direct aisle access but also the advantages that nobody will crawl over you.

What are the worst Business Class seats on SQ’s A330? Click here for a seat map of SQ’s A330 planes.

  • The 2-2-2 Business Class layout does not make the cabin very attractive for solo travelers, since you will always end up sitting next to a stranger. There is a small screen though between seats that can be raised for added privacy.
  • Window seats don’t offer direct aisle access.
  • Passengers seated in the first row may be bothered by the noise of the galley and passengers going to or returning from the lavatories.
  • I also suggest to avoid the last row of Business Class, which is close to the Economy Class bassinet seats.

BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 15A

BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 15A

BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 15A

BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 15A

BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 15A

BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 15A

BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 15A

BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 15A

BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 15A

BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 15A

BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 15A: RECLINED POSITION

BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 15A: RECLINED POSITION

BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 15A: RECLINED POSITION


6. AMENITIES

Unfortunately, SQ doesn’t offer amenity kits in Business Class on any flights. A few bathroom amenities – such as hand lotion and perfume – were made available though in the one toilet during the short flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Noise canceling headphones (to block the noise from the engines and cabin) were provided – although you can not take them home with you – in addition to a blanket and pillow to enhance the sleeping comfort.

AMENITIES: PILLOW & BLANKET


7. MEALS

During this late morning flight, a brunch (instead of breakfast) was served on-board SQ172. Due to the short duration of the flight, the different meal courses were served all at once on one tray. The menu read as follows:

  • To start with: freshly squeezed or chilled juices (with a choice of apple, tomato or orange juice)
  • Main course: choice of
    • Singapore fried carrot cake, a hearty traditional dish of fried savoury radish-rice flour cake with prawns and pickled turnip
    • braised Udon noodles with sliced beef, served with Asian greens and black mushrooms
    • cheese omelette, with pan-fried sausage, roma tomato, sautéed mushrooms and roesti potato
  • A selection of sliced fresh fruits
  • Assorted bread rolls and croissants, served with butter and fruits preserves
  • Dessert: ice jelly, with fresh fruits and aloe vera

Food was great, albeit nothing memorable.

WELCOME DRINK

HOT TOWEL

MENU

MENU

MENU

MENU

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

WINE & DRINK CARD

BRUNCH

BRUNCH

BRUNCH


8. INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

The 15,4 inch (39 cm) TV screen in front of each Business Class has no touchscreen function and you need to use a handset located in the arm rest to command Krisworld, SQ’s inflight entertainment system. The KrisWorld inflight entertainment system provides over 1,000 individual options spanning movies, TV shows, audio tracks and games.

While still great, the entertainment selection is not as extensive as on SQ’s A350 planes, which provide WiFi access as well as a companion app (which allows you to select your entertainment before boarding).

INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT


9. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES

#CREW: Dressed in her signature sarong kebaya, the female SQ flight attendant is the symbol of Asian hospitality recognised the world over. But besides being an iconic eyecatcher, SQ cabin crew – both male and female – are often regarded as the best in the industry, and with good reason. They address every customer by name and do all they can to make your flight as enjoyable as possible. Having said that, I do feel that SQ’s older cabin crew members are always a little more friendly than SQ’s younger, somewhat less experienced cabin crew members.

# BAR: The SQ A330 does not feature a walk-up bar, but you can order snacks from the menu at any time during the flight.

# TOILET: There’s just one toilet, located at the aft of the Business Class cabin.

# VIEWS: The flight offered great views of Changi Airport (after take-off), some cumulonimbus clouds, the Vietnamese coastline, the Mekong Delta, and Ho Chi Minh City.

VIEW AFTER TAKEOFF

VIEW OF CHANGI AIRPORT AFTER TAKEOFF

VIEW AFTER TAKEOFF

VIEW AFTER TAKEOFF

REACHING THE VIETNAMESE COAST

REACHING THE VIETNAMESE COAST

FLYING OVER THE MEKONG DELTA

FLYING OVER THE MEKONG DELTA

FLYING OVER THE MEKONG DELTA

FLYING OVER THE MEKONG DELTA

LANDING AT HO CHI MINH CITY

LANDING AT HO CHI MINH CITY

LANDING AT HO CHI MINH CITY


10. MY VERDICT
  • Seat : 7/10
  • Food: 8/10
  • Inflight entertainment: 8/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Cabin ambience: 7/10
  • Overall experience: good: 7,8/10

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Filed under: Trip reports: flight reviews Tagged: A330, Airbus, airlines, avgeek, aviation, aviation geek, Business Class, Flight review, Flight review Singapore Airlines, Ho Chi Minh City, Luxury, Luxury travel, singapore, Singapore Airlines, Travel, Trip report

Is Land Rover’s Boat for America’s Cup Bringing Us One Step Closer to Flying Cars?

Land Rover BAR

Photos Credit: Land Rover BAR

It’s counterintuitive, but the extraordinary sailboats used to race in this year’s 35th America’s Cup competition in Bermuda, don’t actually float in the water for most of the thrilling race course. They fly.

Land Rover BAR

It’s a new phenomenon in the competition for the oldest sporting trophy in the world. And the British racing team in particular is determined to take sailing technology above and beyond the norm with the help of the Land Rover engineering team. Two years ago, Sir Ben Ainsley—considered the world’s best sailing skipper—formed Ben Ainsley Racing to propel the British sailing team to international victories by forming an alliance with Land Rover engineers. Their goal was to develop the fastest, most advanced sailboat ever built. In 2015, Land Rover BAR was created and headquartered at Portsmouth, England, and the quest to become the best began.

Land Rover BAR

“We are determined to achieve our goal to bring the America’s Cup home to Britain,” said 2013 America’s Cup champion Ainslie, who won with Oracle Team USA and notes that in the 166-year history of the sport, his British homeland has never succeeded. His current team is talent rich with five Olympic gold medalists. “This team has really taken on the challenge. We are working with the best technology leaders Land Rover can offer. They are a great British brand and a fantastic engineering and technology company who work hand-in-hand with our design and engineering team.”    

It took two years, $10 million, 35,000 man-hours, and 60,000 megabytes of data to design and build four test boats leading up to the final R1 race model for the 2017 America’s Cup competition. Astonishingly, the R1’s top speed is three-and-one-half-times the speed of wind. This is achieved by aerodynamics that raise the 2.5-ton boat above the waterline on wing-like hydrofoils the size of ironing boards. Ainslie controls the turns with a custom steering wheel based on the one for Land Rover’s new Discovery, complete with gear-shift paddles that control the boat’s height above the water. A 78.6-foot-tall Boeing 707 carbon-fiber sail acts as a wing providing the R1’s “engine” thrust.

Land Rover BAR

“These boats literally do fly,” says Martin Whitmarsh, CEO of Land Rover BAR, and the former head of McLaren Racing and the Formula One Teams Association. “It’s something that started happening quite recently in the 2016 America’s Cup. Incredibly, these boats will maneuver around the course and cross the finish line without touching down in the water. It’s a whole new field of sailing, breaking speed records day-by-day.”

To achieve this feat, Land Rover BAR’s engineering team focused their efforts in three areas: aerodynamics of the “powerhouse” wing sail, machine learning and artificial intelligence data analysis, and human machine interface, which is essentially the way Sir Ben and the sailors interact and control the boat. And it’s lessons learned in these three areas that are leading to real-life innovations in Land Rover automobiles, such as the all-new Land Rover Discovery, introduced at a 2016 global reveal by the Land Rover BAR team.

Land Rover BAR

For example, one tangible application is being made to car touchscreens. Thanks to experience and data collected on the water, the Land Rover BAR team has learned how to improve software and coding to prevent screen reflection at faster speeds. Aerodynamic lessons taught at sea are also finding practical use in virtual design innovations thanks to Fluid Structure Interaction which allows engineers to view the effects of motion and wind on the surfaces of a car much more realistically. This advanced aerodynamic simulation will allow designers to improve auto performance by taking weight out of the car, and stiffness out of body panels, fenders, and sunroofs where it’s not needed. Jump years ahead, and the same concepts – and perhaps a carbon-fiber Boeing wing — could lead to practical designs for real-life flying cars.

The future is now with Jaguar Land Rover’s Self Learning Car, a pioneer effort in the use of big data in the automotive industry. The company is throwing its considerable weight behind the ultimate intelligent driving experience by using the artificial-intelligence framework to allow cars to understand the driver’s personal preferences. It’s a safe bet that the Land Rover BAR team will be accelerating its use of artificial-intelligence for their next generation of racing rigs. “The technology is still in its infancy,” says Whitmarsh, who’s already planning bold improvements for next year’s Land Rover BAR competition vessel. “We’re talking high performance car acceleration on a boat. The sky’s the limit to where this could take autos.” 

Singapore Airlines A350 Business Class Düsseldorf to Singapore

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel and/or flight review.

A couple of weeks ago, I enjoyed a great holiday in Vietnam, where some resorts far exceeded my sky-high expectations (and rank among the best hotels I have ever stayed at). Over the coming weeks, I will publish the following trip reports:

  • Review: Singapore Airlines A350 Business Class Düsseldorf to Singapore (today)
  • Review: Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City
  • Review: The Reverie, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Review: Anantara Hui Me
  • Review: Six Senses Con Dao
  • Review: Evason Ana Mandara, Nha Trang
  • Review: Six Senses Ninh Van Bay
  • Review: Amanoi
  • Review: Avani Quy Nhon
  • Review: Anantara Hoi An
  • Review: Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An
  • Review: Banyan Tree Lang Co
  • Review: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
  • Review: Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class Hong Kong to Düsseldorf.

Today (June 21, 2017): Trip report: Singapore Airlines A350 Business Class Düsseldorf to Singapore.

On April 22nd 2017, I flew Business Class in a brand new Airbus A350-900 of Singapore Airlines (SQ) from Germany’s third largest airport, Düsseldorf International Airport (DUS), to one of Asia’s busiest hubs, Changi International Airport (SIN). SQ is often regarded as one of the world’s best carriers, no matter the class you are flying in. Reputation matters and with great service, delicious food, an impressive inflight entertainment system, and the always smiling Singapore Girl, the SQ A350 experience lived up to expectation although the experience would have been even better with the addition of an amenity kit, a tail camera, and a more comfortable flat bed. To my own surprise, there were only 4 passengers in Business Class on this 11 hour 30 minute flight, so the whole experience felt like a private flight.

SQ features in my top 10 list of the best airlines for longhaul Business Class.

  • Trip: DUS-SIN
  • Airline: Singapore Airlines
  • Aircraft type: Singapore Airlines
  • Aircraft registration number: 9V-SMB
  • Flight Number: SQ337
  • Date: April 22nd
  • On time departure: Yes (11.am)
  • On time arrival: Yes (5.25 am)
  • Miles: 6459
  • Flight time: 11 hours 30 minutes
  • Seat: 15A
  • Class: Business Class

In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):

  1. Cost of my ticket
  2. Lufthansa Business Lounge at Düsseldorf Airport
  3. Features of Singapore Airline’s A350
  4. Business Class Cabin
  5. Business Class Seat (& what seat to choose)
  6. Amenities
  7. Food
  8. Entertainment
  9. Other inflight experiences
  10. My verdict

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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1. COST OF MY TICKET

The cost of my one-way ticket from Düsseldorf to Singapore was 240 euros + 55,000 Miles& More miles. Miles and More is the frequent flyer program of SQ’s Star Alliance partner Lufthansa.


2. LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF AIRPORT

As SQ doesn’t have its own lounge at Düsseldorf Airport, its passengers flying in Business Class or those that hold elite status with Star Alliance have access to the Lufthansa Business Lounge, which is located one floor above the airport’s main concourse.  IMHO, the large, rectangularly shaped space lacks atmosphere, because of its functional and rather old and univiting decor, as well as because of the lack of day light, since there is a corridor between the small rooms and the lounge. The lounge has several seating areas, most of them composed of comfortable leather arm chairs. One side of the lounge features several rows of arm chairs in front of a large tv screen, while the other side features several dining tables and a few high-end tables, adjacent to a smoking room. At the center, there are a few work cubicles with computers, as well as a newsstand with complimentary German and international papers. The main food station is located near the lounge’s entrance, with a second smaller station –mainly serving beverages and a few snacks and candies – is located near the TV corner. I visited the lounge in the early morning hours when breakfast was served. Both food selection and presentation was disappointingly mediocre, so if you want to have a decent meal, you’re better of in one of the restaurants in the airport’s shopping mall.

The lounge is located in the Schengen zone of the airport. Consequently, you still have to go through border control to get to the gate (and thus leave the lounge around 1O minutes prior to boarding time).

SQ CHECK-IN AT DÜSSELDORF AIRPORT

SQ CHECK-IN AT DÜSSELDORF AIRPORT

SQ CHECK-IN AT DÜSSELDORF AIRPORT

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS LOUNGE AT DÜSSELDORF


3. FEATURES OF SINGAPORE AIRLINES’ A350

Here are some (fun) facts about the A350 XWB as provided by Airbus and Singapore Airlines:

  • The A350 XWB is the world’s most technologically advanced commercial aircraft, competing with both the Boeing 787 and the Boeing 777.
  • 70% of the airframe is made of advanced materials combining composites (53%), titanium and modern aluminum alloys. Composite materials are corrosion and fatigue free resulting in easier maintenance, while titanium is a lightweight and corrosion-resistant substitute for steel.
  • Eco-smart design brings more than 25% improvement in fuel efficiency compared to the previous generation of aircraft.
  • Advanced pure air filtration system changes cabin air every 2–3 minutes.
  • The A350 XWB is powered by the new Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, generating 25% lower CO2 emissions.
  • The A350 XWB has been awarded Common Type Rating with the A330, and it takes only one week for a pilot to transit from the A330 to the A350.
  • Draft-free air conditioning, adjustable temperature zones and the cabin air pressure, which is closer to the sea level air pressure, make the flight more enjoyable and less tiring for passengers.
  • The total height of the Airbus A350 XWB is equivalent to the famous obelisk monument Place de la Concorde in Paris (17 meters or 55 feet).
  • The length of an Airbus A350-900 is close to the width of a rugby field (around 67 meters or 219 feet).
  • The wings of the A350 XWB cover more than 2 tennis courts (443 m2 or 4768 square feet) and – inspired by birds – change their shape while airborne to reduce fuel burn.
  • The diameter of the A350 XWB Roll-Royce Trent XWB engine is the same as the diameter of the Concorde fuselage!
  • Currently, SQ has 13 A350-900 aircraft in its fleet, with another 56 on order, including 7 ultra-long-haul A350-900ULR variants. The latter will be used on the SQ routes from Singapore to Los Angeles and New York, which – when launched in 2018 – will be the longest flights in the world.

SQ A350

SQ A350

SQ A350

SQ A350

SQ A350

SQ A350

SQ A350

SQ A350


4. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN

The SQ A350 aircraft features 3 classes: Business Class (42 flat bed seats), Premium Economy Class (with 24 recliner seats), and Economy Class (187 standard seats). SQ does not offer a First Class on its A350 fleet, which is not that problematic since SQ’s Business Class is better than First Class on most airlines. The 42 Business Class seats are spread over 2 cabins: a larger cabin in the front of the plane holds the bulk of the seats (26 in total), while the remaining 16 seats are located in a much smaller and more intimate cabin  over the wings (in front of the Premium Economy Class). All seats face forward, offer direct aisle access, and are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration. The two seats in the center have a partition screen that can be raised for added privacy. There are no overhead bins above the middle seats, whiich allows for much higher ceilings, creating a senses of space throughout both cabins. The cabin features a drop-dead gorgeous design that was developed by James Parker Associated, the company that also created the opulent interiors of the Orient Express. The color palette in the cabin is a mix of bronzy gold, beige, purple, and chocolate-brown, with plush checked throw pillows that contrast with the dark leather seats.

Click here for a seat map of SQ’s A350-900.

BUSINESS CLASS

BUSINESS CLASS

BUSINESS CLASS

BUSINESS CLASS

BUSINESS CLASS

BUSINESS CLASS


5. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT (& WHAT SEAT TO CHOOSE)

I had selected seat 15A – a window seat – for the 11h30min flight to Singapore. Remarkably, there were only 4 passengers in the first cabin and nobody in the second cabin, so SQ won’t have made any profits on this particular flight. It felt like a private flight (or at least what I imagine a private flight must feel like).

Handcrafted from Scottish leather and diamond-stitched, the seat is one of the widest in the industry, albeit a tad more narrow than the seats on SQ’s A380 and B777 aircraft (which are judged by some to be too wide for comfort). The seat features a pitch of 1,53 cm (60 inch) and a width of 71 cm (20 inch), so there’s more than enough space to comfortably move around. The suite’s wall is quite high, and gets wider on eye level, providing reasonable privacy from passengers sitting on the other side of the aisle. As mentioned above, the seats in the center have a partition screen between them that can be raised for added privacy, although you will still see your neighbour’s monitor when in normal seated position.

One side of the seats features a reading light on eye level and a control panel – to adjust the seat position – in the aisle-side arm rest. A decently sized tray table – who’s hight and position can be adjusted – is stored away in the other arm rest, with an easily jabbed remote control for the inflight entertainment system (more on that below) above it. In front of the seat is a large 18 inch (45 cm) TV screen, with a coat hook next to it. There are a lot of storage compartments in the suite: two small cubby holes located next to the TV screen (one of them with a vanity mirror to make sure you look great throughout the entire flight), a storage box in the arm rest (which can be used for a bottle of water and/or your personal belongings such as your glasses, wallet and cellphone) and a side console above the arm rest, which let you stew and conveniently reach for your laptop (albeit not during takeoff and landing).

The seat offers several pre-programmed seating positions,  including ‘Lazy Z’, a cradling position that ensures your weight is centered and balanced when you’re sitting down, and the ‘Sundeck’, a lounging position that extends the base and foot of your seat so you can stretch and rest your legs on the ottoman.

In the seated position, it’s hard to imagine a Business Class seat done better. However, it’s a somewhat different story when it comes to sleeping. First of all, turning the seat into the 78 inch (198 cm) long flat bed position is not a straightforward process controlled by one push on a button. Instead, you need to put the seat first to its upright position, stand up yourself, and then manually fold the seatback forward (a manoeuvre which will also reveal a blanket and pillow hidden behind the seat back). The good new though is that the cabin crew is more than happy to assist you in this proces and will make up the bed for you. But the problems are not completely over once the seat is fully reclined: to stretch your legs, you need to lay diagonally on the bed and force your feet in a narrow cubby at the end instead of spreading them free. Because of this set-up the flat bed is not comfortable for travelers who prefer to sleep on their side. The only exception are the bulkhead seats on row 11 and 19, which feature a full-width ottoman (center seats) or larger foot rest combined with an ottoman (window seats) instead of a narrow footrest, and are thus the best seats on the plane (and far superior to all other Business Class seats). Another problem with this Business Class set up is that once you are committed to the bed, there’s no way back. If you wake up and want to revert back to a regular seat, your bed is gone.

What are the best Business Class seats on SQ’s A350-900? Click here for a seat map of SQ’s A350-900.

  • Window seats are the best option for solo travelers since they provide a little more privacy, while travel companions should go for the center seats.
  • Bulkhead seats on row 11 and 19 are far superior to all other seats since they feature a full-width ottoman instead of a narrow foot rest, allowing a much more comfortable sleeping position.
  • The seats from row 19 to 22 are located in their own little private cabin and are therefore highly recommended.

What are the worst Business Class seats on SQ’s A350-900? Click here for a seat map of SQ’s A350-900.

  • I suggest to avoid the window seats in row 17 and center seats in row 18 due to their proximity to the galley and lavatories.
  • I also suggest to avoid row 22 because it is located in front of the Premium Economy bassinet seats (so you may end up being close to young children).

BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 15A

BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 15A

BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 15A

BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 15A