Review: W Amsterdam hotel (Netherlands)

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

Today: Review of the W Amsterdam (Netherlands).

Just steps away from the vibrant Dam Square and the Royal Palace, the recently opened W Amsterdam features 238 stylish guest rooms and suites spread across two historic buildings, an erstwhile telephone exchange building (from the 1920s) and a 1906 former bank with a quiet road in between. Guests arrive in style when they check in at the rooftop W Lounge, the W brand’s re-interpretation of the traditional hotel lobby, on the sixth floor of the Exchange building. Looking out to the Royal Palace and lively historic centre, the 22 meter (72 ft) Wet Deck is Amsterdam’s first rooftop pool and is heated in winter.

W Amsterdam features in my top 10 list of Europe’s best hotel rooftops and in my list of the 40 hottest luxury hotel openings of 2015.

In this review (more info below my Youtube clip & 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

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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • The hotel enjoys a super-central location in the Dutch capital, probably the best one of all hotels in Amsterdam. It’s located behind the Royal Palace, a stone’s throw from Dam Square, and steps from the city’s iconic canal district with its vibrant restaurants, bars and nightlife scene. It’s quite amazing that the Starwood Hotel Group was able to secure this terrific spot in Amsterdam.
  • The hotel is located in two buildings, with a quiet street in between. The main wing is housed in a gorgeously refurbished, former telephone Exchange building, a historic property constructed in the Amsterdam School style of architecture. It opened last spring, and has 169 stylish guestrooms, including 10 suites and one Extreme Wow Suite (the W brand’s interpretation of the Presidential Suite). Within the Exchange building, you also find a spectacular rooftop (with swimming pool) and the excellent Mr. Porter restaurant, but more on that later.
  • The hotel’s second wing across the street is located in the Bank building and is still under renovation (although it is expected to open soon). It will have an additional 66 contemporary guestrooms and suites, many overlooking the famous UNESCO-listed Singel canal, as well as a signature Away Spa, nightclub and destination bar. The Bank building also includes the W Amsterdam’s signature The Duchess restaurant and a ‘creative incubator’ concept space, providing a platform for local talent to showcase their fashion, art and design work and also featuring locally curated products. Both the restaurant and the creative incubator concept have opened already.
  • The hotel’s Exchange wing – where I stayed during my visit – has two trendy lobbies: a low-key entrance lobby on the ground level, from where two elevators shuttle guests to the main lobby (where check-in is done) on the hotel’s 6th floor rooftop.
  • The hotel’s spectacular rooftop floor is the architectural and social highlight of the hotel.  It is a vast, glass-walled, rectangular-shaped space, wrapped around a courtyard and extending over the entire top of the Exchange building. It contains two check-in desks, a trendy lounge (with two open fires), two bars, several outdoor terraces, and Mr Porter Restaurant.
  • Although it is not the highest building in Amsterdam, the rooftop offers terrific city views nonetheless. One side of the hotel looks directly onto the Royal Palace while the other three sides offer a view over Amsterdam’s rooftops. Even if you are not staying at the hotel, you should visit the rooftop lounge to have a drink and enjoy the vibe and panoramic views. Drinks range from traditional to eclectic and everything in between, as do the clientele, making people-watching a spectator sport.
  • The rooftop terrace fronting the Royal Palace has a visually stunning infinity pool. Although this outdoor pool is very small (only 2 m or 6,5 ft), it runs almost the entire length of the cornice (22 m or 72 ft), so you can swim laps if you want to. In addition, the pool is heated, making a dip in winter possible.
  • W Amsterdam boasts a minimalist style and industrial chic design, with lots of mellow grey shades, colorful artwork, bright spaces, heigh ceilings, and concrete floors. It brings a touch of New York’s trendy hotel scene to the Dutch capital.
  • The hotel features 238 guest rooms and suites, each one of them mixing historical details with contemporary features. During my visit I stayed in a so-called Wonderful Room, across the street from the Royal Palace. While not very large, it did feel spacious nonetheless because of the high ceiling and glass outside-wall. The room was very well appointed and the technology and audio was outstanding. It featured a super-comfy kingsized bed, an open-plan bathroom with a peek-a-boo shower, as well as a restroom and closet hidden behind a glassed door. After I checked in the room, the staff delivered a lovely and sexy plate with welcome snacks.
  • The hotel features two excellent and highly recommended dining venues. Mr Porter restaurant is located on the rooftop floor of the Exchange building and artfully blends a modern steakhouse’s prestige with the buzz of a chic lounge. Mr Porter’s entrance is marked by a walkway that leads past a glass display of dry aged meat. The hotel’s other restaurant, The Duchess, is located in a sumptuously decorated space (with a stained-glass ceiling) in the Bank building. It has more the feel of a French brasserie and its menu comprises exquisite Mediterranean produce combined with light and refined flavors from Southern France and Italy.
  • The delicious breakfast is served at mr Porter Restaurant and it is a hot contender for the very best and most original breakfast in town. Not only does it have the customary continental buffet, but it also features plenty of never-heard-of juices (e.g. cucumber & spinach, celery & apple) and very original salads (e.g. green beens, pomegranate, and blue cheese). In addition, you can also order one hot dish per person (e.g. pancakes or eggs benedict).
  • W Hotels definitely target a young, tech-savvy, modern market, and it is not different in this hotel: there is a trendy ambience, young staff, and music everywhere. Whenever, whatever. The hotel has definitely a WOW factor and it’s one of my two favorite W hotels around the world, the other one being the W Barcelona (and I have visited many of them around the globe).

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

The W Amsterdam is one of the best luxury hotels in the Dutch capital, and at the moment, everything is shiny and new. It is hard to beat the hotel’s central location, young vibe, excellent restaurants, and spectacular rooftop. And it will only become better in the near future when the hotel opens its new wing with even more facilities. The hotel only has a few cons that you need to know when staying here:

  • Some of the cheaper priced guest rooms look out onto the not so attractive courtyard, so make sure that you book a room with a view if you want to avoid ending up in one of these rooms.
  • The frosted glass shower areas in the guest rooms lack privacy and may be troublesome if you are staying in the same room with a companion that you do not feel too comfortable with.
  • Although all rooms are equipped with floor and wall isolation as well as high energy saving double glass, if you end up in a room fronting the busy, main street and Royal Palace, you will suffer from street noise with non-stop traffic and tram noise, especially during the day. I would advise the hotel to tripleglaze these rooms.
  • The elevators are bit slow, so from time to time, you may have to wait a few minutes before you can enter or leave the hotel (if you don’t want to use the stairs).
  • I was surprised that most of the staff are not very fluent (yet) in Dutch as they come from countries all over the world, although that will not be an issue to most guests.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 9/10
  • Design: 9/10
  • Rooms: 8/10
  • Food: 9/10
  • Service: 8/10
  • Overall experience: very good: 8,6/10

TIPS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like the W Amsterdam. Book a room at the cheapest price and/or receive many free perks!
  • Book your room on the official hotel, Starwood or SPG website to receive complimentary WiFi.
  • Request a room away from the main street or on a higher floor if you are a light sleeper.
  • Starwood Preferred Guests (SPG) with Gold or Platinum status are well treated, with – amongst other benefits – free high-speed WiFi, complementary room upgrade (when available), early check-in or late check-out  (when available), and free breakfast (SPG platinum). Click here to read our review of the SPG program (with pros & cons).
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Amsterdam is best visited between April and May (spring) or September through November (autumn), right before or directly after the summertime high tourist season. You’ll contend with fewer tourists, you’ll enjoy somewhat mild temperatures (the city’s weather is notoriously finicky), and you’ll also experience Amsterdam as the locals do, at its laid-back best.


HOW TO GET THERE

Amsterdam can easily be reached by plane, train or car. For those coming by plane, the hotel is located a 30-minute cab ride from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS). Check the Wikipedia page of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for an updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Amsterdam.


THE HOTEL IS LOCATED BEHIND THE ROYAL PALACE

THE HOTEL IS LOCATED BEHIND THE ROYAL PALACE

THE HOTEL IS LOCATED BEHIND THE ROYAL PALACE

THE HOTEL IS LOCATED BEHIND THE ROYAL PALACE

HOTEL EXTERIOR: EXCHANGE BUILDING

HOTEL EXTERIOR: EXCHANGE BUILDING

HOTEL EXTERIOR: EXCHANGE BUILDING

HOTEL EXTERIOR: EXCHANGE BUILDING

HOTEL EXTERIOR: BANK BUILDING

HOTEL EXTERIOR: BANK BUILDING

HOTEL EXTERIOR: BANK & EXCHANGE BUILDING

HOTEL EXTERIOR: BANK & EXCHANGE BUILDING

HOTEL EXTERIOR: EXCHANGE BUILDING

HOTEL EXTERIOR: EXCHANGE BUILDING

HOTEL EXTERIOR: EXCHANGE BUILDING

HOTEL EXTERIOR: EXCHANGE BUILDING

HOTEL EXTERIOR: EXCHANGE BUILDING

HOTEL EXTERIOR: EXCHANGE BUILDING

HOTEL EXTERIOR: EXCHANGE BUILDING

HOTEL EXTERIOR: EXCHANGE BUILDING

GROUNDFLOOR LOBBY

GROUNDFLOOR LOBBY

GROUNDFLOOR LOBBY

GROUNDFLOOR LOBBY

GROUNDFLOOR LOBBY

GROUNDFLOOR LOBBY

ELEVATOR

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ROOFTOP BAR & LOUNGE

ROOFTOP

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ROOFTOP LOUNGE & BAR

ROOFTOP LOUNGE & BAR

ROOFTOP LOUNGE & BAR

ROOFTOP LOUNGE & BAR

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ROOFTOP BAR & LOUNGE

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ROOFTOP BAR & LOUNGE

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ROOFTOP TERRACE

ROOFTOP TERRACE

ROOFTOP TERRACE: VIEW

ROOFTOP TERRACE: VIEW

ROOFTOP TERRACE: VIEW

ROOFTOP TERRACE: VIEW

ROOFTOP TERRACE: VIEW

ROOFTOP TERRACE: VIEW

ROOFTOP TERRACE: VIEW

ROOFTOP TERRACE: VIEW

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

ROOFTOP TERRACE: POOL

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GUESTROOM FLOOR HALLWAY

GUESTROOM FLOOR HALLWAY

GUESTROOM FLOOR HALLWAY

GUESTROOM FLOOR HALLWAY

GUESTROOM FLOOR HALLWAY

GUESTROOM FLOOR HALLWAY

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

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WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324: VIEW

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324: VIEW

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WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324: SHOWER

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324: SHOWER

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324: SHOWER

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324: SHOWER

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324: WELCOME SNACKS

WONDERFUL ROOM N° 324: WELCOME SNACKS

THE DUCHESS RESTAURANT

THE DUCHESS RESTAURANT

THE DUCHESS RESTAURANT

THE DUCHESS RESTAURANT

THE DUCHESS RESTAURANT

THE DUCHESS RESTAURANT

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: ENTRANCE

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: ENTRANCE

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: ENTRANCE

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: ENTRANCE

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: ENTRANCE

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: ENTRANCE

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MR PORTER RESTAURANT: DINNER

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: DINNER

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: DINNER

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: DINNER

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: DINNER

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: DINNER

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: DINNER

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: DINNER

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: DINNER

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: DINNER

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

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MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

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MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

MR PORTER RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST


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CF8 Future Yacht Concept Cuts Like a Knife

Sea Level Engineering, CF8 Future Concept

Photos Credit: Sea Level Engineering

Sea Level Engineering’s CF8 Future Concept is anything but traditional. The Holland-based company hasn’t released many details—meaning there probably isn’t a buyer yet—but they have revealed that it is 262 feet long and can reach 20 mph. And before you ask, yes, it does have a waterfall.

Sea Level Engineering, CF8 Future Concept

From the images, it’s clear that the knife-shaped yacht features a helipad on the upper deck, as well as a cascading water feature that empties into the pool on the deck below. The stern also seems to have been designed to show off the owner’s exotic car collection, which would make it a great choice for luxury marques looking for new ways to launch future models.  

Sea Level Engineering, CF8 Future Concept

Before you jump to the conclusion that the CF8 will never be built, don’t forget that the world is full of billionaires who love to fund concept designs—like Andrey Melnichenko’s $300 million-dollar A yacht. 

Top 10: my favorite luxury hotel brands in the world

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (March 14, 2016): my 10 favorite, ultra luxe hotel brands.

It’s been almost 2 years since I published my top 10 list of the most exclusive hotel brands in the world (which is still one of my most popular posts). Since then, a lot has happened in the world of luxury travel, with new hotels popping up and old ones changing management, hereby affecting the portfolio of most hotel brands. In addition, I have been traveling a lot the past couple of years, visiting many glamorous hotel properties, living new experiences, and observing subtle changes in the hotel industry, so I thought it was time for an update. And while the luxury hotel brands in my list of 2 years ago are still recognized as the world’s most exclusive hotel chains, I want to share with you my own favorites, based on my own extensive travel experience, so here’s a top 10 list of my preferred hotel brands in the world.

Do you agree or have a favorite hotel brand that didn’t make my list? Leave it in the comments or take my poll below.

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10. ST REGIS

Born of a distinctive legacy and crafted for modern connoisseurs who desire the finest experiences imaginable, the St. Regis brand established luxury hospitality with the opening of The St. Regis New York more than 100 years ago. From the moment John Jacob Astor IV opened the doors of his Beaux-Arts masterpiece on New York’s Fifth Avenue, St. Regis (now part of the Starwood Hotel Group) has stood as a symbol of uncompromising elegance and bespoke service. St. Regis Butler Service has been a signature of the St. Regis experience for more than a century, and S Regis remains the only luxury hospitality brand to offer this personalized service at every one of their hotels around the world. Combining classic sophistication with a modern sensibility, the St. Regis brand is committed to delivering exceptional experiences at over 30 of the best addresses around the world.

ST REGIS MAURITIUS

ST REGIS MAURITIUS


9. SIX SENSES

Six Senses is an award-winning and very unique hotel group, that offers exceptional guest experiences in remote places of incredible natural beauty. The brand is synonymous with a unique style – authentic, personal and sustainable – and all properties are in harmony with their individual surroundings. Six Senses resorts always adapt seamlessly to host cultures in an environment that evokes wellbeing, supported by outstanding anticipative service and attention to detail. Six Senses experiences are always delivered by a wealth of experts from diverse backgrounds, from visiting spa practitioners and celebrity chefs, to star gazers, marine biologists and even their own paragliding professionals. A key element of all Six Senses properties, Six Senses Spa offers a wide range of holistic wellness, rejuvenation and beauty treatments administered under the guidance of expert therapists.

SIX SENSES ZIGHY BAY, OMAN

SIX SENSES ZIGHY BAY, OMAN


8. FOUR SEASONS

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is one of the world’s leading ultra-luxury hotel brands, with almost 100 properties in more than 40 countries. The hotel group is rapidly expanding globally, with dozens of hotel projects in development, making them somewhat less exclusive IMHO as they used to be. Four Seasons is based in Toronto, Canada. It was founded in 1960 by Isadore Sharp, whose family is still prominent in Four Seasons. Sharp’s first luxury hotel was the Four Seasons London, which opened in 1970. The company went public in 1986. Some Four Seasons Hotels are fully owned by the brand, but it acts as a management company for many of its properties. In addition, Four Seasons owns residential properties in resort areas. In 2013, the Four Seasons hotel Toronto was opened, the haute brand’s new flagship.

FOUR SEASONS BORA BORA

FOUR SEASONS BORA BORA


7. PARK HYATT

Located in major gateway cities and prime leisure travel destinations worldwide, Park Hyatt luxury hotels impress guests with an atmosphere of easy elegance and discreet service. Each Park Hyatt is designed to reflect the unique character of its locale – the chic of Paris, the exotic allure of the Maldives or the all-American style of Chicago. Park Hyatt hotels are known for acclaimed art programs, high-end interior design and furniture, and award-winning restaurants under the direction of celebrated chefs. Guests are affluent professionals, dignitaries and celebrities who truly understand the art of the journey, have discerning taste and appreciate gracious service. The Park Hyatt portfolio is expanding rapidly, with several highly anticipated hotel openings in the pipeline.


6. ROSEWOOD

Founded in 1979 in Dallas, Texas, USA, Rosewood manages one-of-a-kind luxury properties in the world’s most desired destinations. Rosewood properties embrace the company’s “Sense of Place” philosophy, reflecting the history, architecture, scale and sensibilities of the destination. The Rosewood collection includes some of the most legendary hotels and resorts in the world. Rosewood also offers Sense spa, featuring treatments reflective of the location’s culture and natural environment, available exclusively at select properties. Rosewood is widely regarded as a leading ultra-luxury hotel company whose portfolio includes both contemporary classics and historic properties such as Rosewood London and The Carlyle, the quintessential New York hotel.


5. COMO HOTELS & RESORTS

Singapore based COMO Hotels and Resorts was founded in 1991 by Christina Ong, who was listed as one of Asia’s 50 Power Business Women by Forbes in 2012. COMO Hotels and Resorts creates personalised luxury travel experiences highlighting wellness, cuisine, adventure and culture, service and design, while always trying to uphold a strong, sustainable approach towards the people and places where the group operates. The company also manages the sister brand in wellness, COMO Shambhala, which promotes health, relaxation and learning through its products, services, cuisine, treatments and spa facilities within each COMO property.


4. MANDARIN ORIENTAL

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is an international hotel investment and management group with deluxe and first class hotels, resorts and residences in sought-after destinations around the world. The group has grown from a well-respected Asian hotel company into a global brand and now operates, or has under development, more than 40 hotels. Mandarin Oriental is recognized widely as one of the best global luxury hotel group, providing 21st century luxury with oriental charm in each of its hotels. Above all, Mandarin Oriental is renowned for creating unique hotels through distinctive design and a strong sense of place, luxury hotels right  for their time and place.  Mandarin Oriental regularly receives international recognition and awards for quality management and legendary service hospitality.


3. ONE&ONLY RESORTS

Created exclusively for the luxury resort market, One&Only resorts are conceived as hallmarks of excellence. This exquisite collection of award-winning properties features some of the highest-rated resorts in the most idyllic spots in the world. Each resort in the One&Only collection not only offers unique design and ambiance which embraces the local surroundings, but also an unparalleled commitment to the finest experience on every possible level. Luxurious accommodation is complemented by personalised and friendly service, award-winning spas, lively entertainment and a host of activities, as well as unforgettable culinary adventures from some of the world’s most accomplished chefs. One&Only signature restaurants include Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Dune restaurant at One&Only Ocean Club and Alain Ducasse’s Spoon des Iles at One&Only Le Saint Géran.

ONE&ONLY CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

ONE&ONLY CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA


2. AMAN

Aman is one of the iconic brands to have emerged from Asia. Widely acclaimed as one of the most luxurious hotel brand in the world, Aman is known for ultra premium service and luxury, high-profile clientele and the most exotic locations. True to the meaning of its name – Aman means peace in Sanskrit – Aman has built up a reputation of providing a divine and peaceful experience by maintaining exclusivity and being totally discreet about its clients, among them many famous celebrities. Since 1988, when flagship Amanpuri opened in Phuket, Thailand, Aman has established resorts in Bhutan, Cambodia, China, France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Italy, Laos, Montenegro, Morocco, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Turkey, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the United States of America, Japan, the Dominican Republic, and Vietnam.


1. SONEVA

In 1995, Sonu Shivdasani, an Indian-British hotelier, launched the now world-famous Soneva Fushi resort on the deserted Maldivian island of Kunfunadhoo, pioneering a trend for back-to-nature luxury holidays. He also built his house there, together with his wife Eva Malmstrom, a Swedish fashion model, who developed the design and furnishing of the unique resort. They had no idea that their intensely personal vision of a locally crafted villa and environmentally responsible lifestyle would form the basis of a successful collection of world-class hotels, resorts and spas. But that’s exactly what happened. In 2009, the Soneva Hotel group built a second, even more spectacular hotel, Soneva Kiri, on the unspoilt Thai island of Koh. Later this year, Soneva will open one of the most anticipated hotels of the decade: Soneva Jani.

Contact me to get a complimentary room upgrade at the time of booking at either Soneva Fushi or Soneva Kiri.


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Travel tip: how long should my passport be valid to travel?

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel contests, tips, series, or news.

Today (March 11, 2016): Travel tip: how long should my passport be valid to travel?

Today, most travelers are well aware of the fact that passports are generally required when traveling to a foreign country. However, sometimes a valid passport isn’t enough. And I learned this the hard way last week, when I was all set to travel to Oman, one of my 2016 trips that I am most looking forward to.

So what happened? Well, I am in the possession of a valid passport, which expires at the end of August 2016, exactly 5 months and 27 days from my date of departure to Oman. Since I had less than 6 months left on my passport, I had some concern and I contacted the embassy of Oman in Brussels, Belgium (my home country), a few days before my travel was supposed to start. One of the embassy representative told me over the phone that there was nothing to worry about and that I did not need to apply for a new passport. However, when I arrived at Brussels airport on a Saturday morning at 5 am, British Airways made a big fuss about it, and I was denied boarding. Because Oman does in fact require that passports be valid for six months beyond the date of arrival. As it was weekend, there were no embassy officials that could be contacted nor could I apply for an emergency passport. So I had no other choice than to go back home. Autsj! 

The normal rule for most foreign countries is that they require you to have three months from your actual travel date before your passport expires. Three months is generally the longest amount of time you can stay in a foreign country without any sort of visa. However, more and more countries are expanding that requirement to six months. If your passport does not meet this requirements, you may be refused boarding by the airline at your point of origin or while transferring planes. Even worse, it’s possible you could be denied entry when you actually arrive in the country itself.

So, don’t make the same mistake as I did, and always check the following in advance:

  • Make sure you travel documents – including passport – are in order long before you leave. Generally, this means a passport validity of at least 6 months.
  • If you aren’t sure which documents are necessary for the country you’re traveling to and how long your passport needs to be valid, then check the website of the government (Foreing Office) of your home country.
  • Passport requirements differ from nationality to nationality, so always check the Foreign Office website of the country that issued your passport. Do not rely on information that you find on the Foreign Office website from another country.
  • Make sure that you have a written statement if you are advised by an Embassy official of a different (passport) validity as compared to the one that you find on your home country’s official Foreign Office website. Even better, don’t rely on any advice that differs from the official rules, and apply asap for a new passport when your passport validity is less than 6 months and you have some upcoming trips planned.
  • Make sure you check that your documents are valid for travel, not only for the country you are travelling to, but also for the airline you are traveling with since airline have their own rules. All airlines which are IATA members (which is most of the airline industry) use the IATA Timatic Database to decide the validity of passengers travel documents when you arrive at the airport. The database was created specifically for the airline industry and is based on the most accurate and up to date information available. Everyone can access this database and verify the validity of his/her travel documents here.
  • The number of remaining blank pages a passport should have is also an issue. Some travellers have reported arriving with one or less than one full page left and waiting for hours at immigration, until an official reluctantly grants them entry.

Of course, I was very disappointed that my travel plans (and those of my travel companion) were disrupted because of the passport issue. On top of that, I was quite embarrassed that it happened to me since I am a seasoned traveler. The good news is that we could keep our plane tickets and hotel reservations without any penalty (which was a miracle in itself), so we postponed our Oman holiday to April. And I do have a new passport in the meantime.

Have you ever had a problem at an airport or border control because of your passport’s expiry date or the number of free pages? Leave your story in the comments below.


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Porto Montenegro Now Accepting World’s Largest Superyachts

porto montenegro, superyacht

Photo Credit: Porto Montenegro

As rewarding as owning a superyacht is, it can be tricky to find a marina large enough to accommodate large sizes. Travel basically revolves around where one can moor their vessel, which is why you often see so many massive yachts in areas like Spain and Italy. However, the largest port in the world is now Porto Montenegro, which recently announced the addition of a 250-meter berth (which is over 820 feet long).

Surpassing that of One Ocean Port Vell’s 190-meter offering in Spain and Grand Harbour Marina’s 135-meter space in Malta, Porto Montenegro’s new berth is actually bigger than the world’s largest superyacht, the 180-meter Azzam. With tons of concept plans out there for boats measuring at over 200 meters, the country is now fully prepared to meet future demand. 

The $86M Superyacht You Can Race

Silver Yachts, yachts, silver fast, superyacht

Photos Credit: Silver Yachts

At 252 feet long, Silver Fast isn’t a vessel to be ignored. As the latest from Silver Yachts, this beauty runs for $86 million and is the longest in their fleet (though they do have several others in the design and production phase). Though it was surely named after its top speed of over 27 knots (31 mph), it is Silver Fast’s appearance that has us sold.

Silver Yachts, yachts, silver fast, superyacht

Able to accommodate 18 guests, the yacht features a helipad, beach club and a dark silver paint job. Seven guest cabins are spread out across three decks, while the owner’s space has an entire deck to itself with a lounge and 180-degree views. The beach club includes a spa, beauty salon, massage room, gym and customized sauna. 

Silver Yachts, yachts, silver fast, superyacht

According to the company, she is “world’s largest and fastest aluminum motor yacht with conventional propulsion in terms of length to speed ratio.” The vessel has a range of 4,500 nautical miles at a cruising speed of 18 knots and can hit 6,200 nautical miles when traveling at 14 knots. “She is capable of crossing the Atlantic at approximately 22 knots cruising speed, which performance is record-breaking.” Not only is the boat fast, it’s apparently really quiet and vibration-free, which will be great for those times you’re relaxing in the spa.

Silver Yachts, yachts, silver fast, superyacht

If this one isn’t quite up to speed for you, you can wait for the company’s 90-foot Silver Square model, which is currently the pre-production phase.

Review: The Lanesborough, London’s most exclusive hotel

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

Today (March 9, 2016): Review of  The Lanesborough London (UK). 

The Lanesborough Hotel reopened in summer 2015 following an extensive renovation project, regaining its position as one of London’s finest residences. The 93-room iconic hotel is now managed by the Oetker Collection, the prestigious portfolio of ‘masterpiece hotels” including Le Bristol Paris, Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in the South of France and Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa in Baden-Baden, amongst others. The renovation honours the building’s architectural heritage as one of London’s most revered Regency landmarks. It embodies the signature style that has become synonymous with The Lanesborough, whilst incorporating the latest in contemporary luxury and technological innovations.

The Lanesborough London features in my top 10 lists of the most luxurious hotels in London.

In this review (more info below my Youtube clip & 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

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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • The Lanesborough London enjoys an exceptional, central location in the heart of the UK’s capital, on the borders of Knightsbridge and Belgravia. Opposite are Hyde Park and Apsley House, the home of the Duke of Wellington. The Lanesborough is also a short walk from Buckingham Palace, Harrods, Harvey Nichols and the designer boutiques of Sloane Street. There’s a tube station right in front of the hotel (Hyde Park Corner on the blue Piccadilly Line), so the hotel offers easy access to all of London’s most famous theatres, galleries, museums and historical sites.
  • The prestigious hotel is housed in one of London’s most revered Regency landmarks. The building was constructed in 1827 and used as a 350-bed hospital until the 1970s, when the hospital transferred its activities to South London. The Hyde Park Corner premise was left vacant until the 1990s, when it was refurbished and reopened as a luxury hotel. It certainly doesn’t feel like a hospital, that’s for sure, more of a palace with the feel of a private country mansion.
  • The hotel has changed management over the past couple of years, but that is not necessary a bad thing as this only improved the already exceptional guest experience. Initially, it was managed by Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, but ten years later the management contract passed to Starwood’s St Regis, which operated the hotel as its first and only hotel in England. The hotel left Starwood in November 2014 and is currently managed by the exclusive Oetker Collection. Oetker Collection owns eight elite, ultra-luxe hotels worldwide, in addition to The Lanesborough – Le Bristol Paris, Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, Chateau Saint-Martin & Spa, Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa, Eden Rock – St. Barths, Fregate Island Private, Palais Namaskar and L’Apogee Courchevel.
  • All facilities are brand new. The Lanesborough reopened in summer 2015, following a 19-month, comprehensive and meticulous refurbishment that was overseen by the late doyen of interior design, Alberto Pinto. The hotel now presents bedrooms and dining rooms restored to their original Georgian splendour, into which the latest communications technologies and entertainment systems have been seamlessly woven.
  • There are 93 guest rooms at The Lanesborough, including 43 suites, all sumptuously furnished in the building’s original Regency style. Furniture, fabrics, mirrors, carpets, wall coverings and beds have all been sourced from the finest British suppliers, to create rooms and suites of extraordinary quality and variety. During my visit, I stayed in a lovely, first floor Junior Suite, which was quite large according to London standards. It featured an entrance hall, a super-comfy queen-sized bed, a full-size sitting room, and a bathroom decorated in hand-cut Italian marble.
  • All rooms feature the latest in-room advanced technology, which – contrary to many other hotels – is quiet simple to use. With a fingertip Sony tablet, one can control the temperature, lighting, butler and housekeeping calls, and also access the newest interactive entertainment systems, with extensive libraries of music and movies.
  • Despite the hotel being located on the crossroad of two very busy roads, all rooms are remarkably sound-proof. That’s because rooms are triple-glazed to guarantee a peaceful night’s rest.
  • Dining at The Lanesborough’s signature Céleste Restaurant is one of London’s finest gastronomic experiences. The setting is very impressive: a richly decorated, powder blue dining room naturally illuminated during daylight hours by a domed glass roof and in the evening by spectacular hanging chandeliers. Bas-relief friezes and fluted columns underline the classical grandeur. And the superb food matches the setting. Chef Patron at The Lanesborough, Eric Frechon – Paris’ most esteemed three Michelin-starred chef – has brought his protégé, Florian Favario to London to lead the hotel into a new culinary era.
  • The delicious breakfast is served a la carte (there is no buffet here). Make sure to order the fruit salad, which is adorned with tiny strips of edible gold leaf curled around the strawberries.
  • The Withdrawing Room is located adjacent to the lobby. Lightened by a grey, gold and green colour scheme, it offers an inviting retreat for an informal meeting or simply a relaxing drink with friends. It features sumptuously upholstered, high-sided armchairs and sofas, hand-painted trompe l’oeil marbling, a quartet of Wilkinson chandeliers, and a beautiful central fireplace.

  • Behind the Withdrawing Room, you find the Library Bar, which has an intimate, club-like atmosphere, with informal food and jazz and standards on piano. The space is lined with bookcases and handsome leather-bound volumes, decorated with beautiful wood marquetry wallpaper, and furnished with sofas and wing-chairs.
  • The hotel houses London’s first and most exclusive cigar bar, the Garden Room, where guests can enjoy some of the world’s rarest and finest cigars on a beautiful, sheltered terrace. The cigar bar also offers a collection of vintage cognacs and whiskies, some of which are over 200 years old.
  • There is complimentary WiFi throughout the property.
  • The hotel’s butlers are on hand 24 hours a day to tend to the needs of all guests. The Lanesborough was the first London hotelier to employ butlers and every room gets one, not just suites.
  • The small but excellent gym, which is available only for The Lanesborough in-house residents, is open 24 hours a day and features an extensive range of highly advanced cardiovascular and resistance equipment from Techno-gym including treadmills, stationary bicycle, elliptical cross trainer, free weights, Kinesis and steam room.
  • With three deluxe treatment rooms, a handpicked selection of advanced treatments from brands such as La Prairie, and therapies delivered by a team of experienced spa professionals, the hotel’s Spa Studio is an oasis of balance, wellbeing and tranquillity.
  • With three staff to each guest, it should come as no surprise that the service is impeccable.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

The Lanesborough London is a landmark within the European hospitality landscape, with an exceptional heritage and a strong, unique identity. It’s one of London’s best luxury hotels and has no real cons. But you do need to know the following though when you consider a stay here:

  • The decor of the hotel, with its baroque antiques, astonishing craftsmanship, and over-the-top ornamentation, is overwhelming although everything is done in a very tasteful and elegant manner. However, it creates a very formal, somewhat posh ambience. And if you prefer a more modern, minimalist design, then this will not be to your liking and you will find the decor old-fashioned.
  • This is one of the most expensive hotels in London, but you should know that going in. Expect to pay £500 per night for a standard Queen. My room, an Executive Junior Suite, costs from £1,050 per night without breakfast. But this is nothing compared with a night in the Royal Suite, where the price jumps to £31,200, although that will get you seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms, two living rooms and a dining room.
  • Rooms at The Lanesborough feature queen-sized beds, not king-sized beds. They also don’t have rooms with 2 seperate beds (unless you book a multi-bedroom suite), although the staff will be happy to provide a rollaway when requested (and when the room space allows a rollaway).
  • Despite its ultraluxurious character, the recreational facilities are a bit limited. The spa and gym space are bit tiny, although they both feature excellent facilities. In addition, the hotel has no swimming pool.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 9/10
  • Design: 7/10
  • Rooms: 8/10
  • Food: 10/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Overall experience: very good: 8,8/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like The Lanesborough London. Book a room at the cheapest price and/or receive many free perks!
  • Save money: Enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtusoso (e.g. upgrade on arrival, daily English Breakfast, $100 USD spa credit, early check-in, and late check-out).
  • While all rooms are great, a junior suite will give you a little more space and feeling of comfort.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

BEST TIME TO VISIT LONDON

The best time to visit London is in the spring, when the temperatures are mild and the city’s parks are green and blooming. However, spring – along with summer – is also prime tourist season, and hotel and flight prices reflect the surge. You’re more likely to find airfare and accommodation deals in the fall and winter, though you’ll also encounter chilly temperatures. And no matter when you travel, you should pack an umbrella: “Foggy Londontown” experiences misty days and showers throughout the year.


HOW TO GET THERE

London can easily be reached by plane, train or car. For those coming by plane, the city is served by 6 airports:

  • Heathrow (LHR) is the primary international airport serving London. Check the Wikipedia page of Heathrow Airport for the lasted updates on airlines that have direct flights to this airport. It’s a 40 minute drive to the hotel.
  • Gatwick (LGW) is London’s second busiest airport. Check the Wikipedia page of Gatwick Airport for the lasted updates on airlines that have direct flights to this airport. It’s a one hour drive to the hotel.
  • Stansted (STN) is a base for a number of major European low-cost carriers, being the largest base for low-cost airline Ryanair with over 100 destinations served by the airline. Check the Wikipedia page of Stansted Airport for the lasted updates on airlines that have direct flights to this airport.
  • Luton (LTN) is the fourth-largest airport serving the London area. Check the Wikipedia page of Luton Airport for the lasted updates on airlines that have direct flights to this airport.
  • London City Airport (LCY) is fifth busiest airport in passengers and aircraft movements serving the London area, and primarily caters to business travelers. Check the Wikipedia page of London City Airport for the lasted updates on airlines that have direct flights to this airport.
  • London Southend Airport (SEN) is the British capital’s smallest airport. Check the Wikipedia page of London Southend Airport for the lasted updates on airlines that have direct flights to this airport.

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Top 10: most luxurious hotels in Las Vegas

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (March 7, 2016): best luxury hotels & resorts in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas. Sin City. It’s one of those places you either love or hate. I am mostly in the last category, although I have to admit that the city makes a tremendous impression (no matter how you feel about it) and it’s an excellent base to visit some of the USA’s most beautiful National Parks in the area. Luxury hotels may not be the first idea that springs to mind in Las Vegas, since the place built a reputation on impressing its visitors with mammoth hotels that have palatial, almost galactic dimensions. Seven of the world’s 10 largest hotels are located in Las Vegas. Nevertheless, the last decade, a string of ultra-luxurious, boutique-style hotels have opened their doors on the Strip and seem to cater exclusively to the discerning guest. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but that won’t stop you from bragging about your stay in one of the following over-the-top hotels, which have made it into my top 10 of Las Vegas’ ultimate, ultra-luxe hotels & resorts.

There is more information below the slideshow. Do you agree or have a favorite Las Vegas hotel that didn’t make my list? Leave it in the comments or take my poll below.

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10. DELANO LAS VEGAS

Opened in 2014, the Delano Las Vegas offers an all-suite, smoke-free luxury hotel experience located steps away from Mandalay Bay. Featuring a unique sand-meets-water design, Delano blends signature elements of its iconic Delano South Beach hotel with the distinct energy only found on the Las Vegas Strip. The hotel offers dynamic social spaces such as Franklin, an eclectic lounge, and Della’s Kitchen, where ‘historic farmhouse meets urban kitchen’. The spa infuses the soothing elements of locally sourced ingredients, drawing inspiration from Morgans Hotel Group’s collection of hotels around the world as well as Delano Las Vegas’ desert locale.

DELANO LAS VEGAS

DELANO LAS VEGAS


9. THE COSMOPOLITAN OF LAS VEGAS, AUTOGRAPH COLECTION

The Cosmopolitan is one of the Strip’s older luxury resorts, but it still delivers. Here, guests enjoy oversized residential-styled living spaces with private terraces and breathtaking views of the Las Vegas skyline. Ding is reinvented with a one-of-a-kind restaurant collection featuring world-class chefs making their Vegas debut including David Myers, Scott Conant, and José Andrés. Stylish design and art engage cultural sensibilities while a vibrant nightlife scene captivates perceptions. The pool offers panoramic views and unrivaled service, allowing guests to choose between three distinct pool experiences. Combine it all with an eclectic mix of hand-selected boutiques, a 100,000 square foot casino, Marquee Nightclub and Dayclub, and the serenity of the Sahra Spa & Hamman to redefine your luxury resort experience.

THE COSMOPOLITAN OF LAS VEGAS, AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION

THE COSMOPOLITAN OF LAS VEGAS, AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION


8. SLS LAS VEGAS

The SLS Hotel & Casino Las Vegas reopened in August 2014 after a $415 million renovation of the iconic Sahara Hotel where legends like Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Elvis Presley came to perform and play. In homage to the original hotel, the new carpeting just inside the valet entrance features the Sahara’s iconic logo. But beyond the old parking garage, most of the property has been gutted and rebuilt. The hotel has 1,600 rooms and 40,000 square feet of convention space, all designed by an architectural team lead by French designer Philippe Starck. It features SLS’s signature restaurants – The Bazaar by José Andrés and Katsuya by Starck – as well as a reinvention of SBE’s original nightlife concept Shelter and the brand’s first-ever casino.

SLS LAS VEGAS

SLS LAS VEGAS


7. BELLAGIO

Over a thousand fountains dance in a rainbow of light synchronized to music, welcoming guests to this decadent playground.  Once past the fountains and inside the hotel, you will instantly find yourself transported to an elegant European resort, replete with award-winning restaurants and a luxurious spa, all the while surrounded by works from the world’s most renowned artists. Here, guests have the selection of lavish guestrooms, suites, and villas, all with views of Lake Bellagio or the neon-lit glitz of the strip. From the natural light bathing the lobby through glass ceilings to the fresh flowers and trees of the Bellagio Conservatory and Gardens, whose displays change five times a year, everything here makes the Bellagio the quintessential Las Vegas destination.

BELLAGIO

BELLAGIO


6. NOBU HOTEL AT CAESARS PALACE

The world’s first ever Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace is a luxury infused, celebrity-driven exhibition. Nobu has a distinctly different feel than most Las Vegas hotels, and features Japanese-inspired décor mixed with sleek, modern touches. Situated inside a separate tower at Caesars Palace, guests will feel miles away from Vegas with the zen plum and gold accent furnishings and clever artwork. This boutique hotel also includes in-room dining from Nobu restaurant. Every subtlety, every detail, every experience, from the impeccable Italian sheets on the beds to the feng shui within every room as designed by David Rockwell himself, Nobu Hotel surely impresses, delights and redefines contemporary hotel luxury. Bath amenities are supplied by Natura Bisse, with a blended rosemary and white tea scent that was created exclusively for Nobu Hotel. 

NOBU HOTEL LAS VEGAS

NOBU HOTEL LAS VEGAS


5. SKYLOFTS AT MGM GRAND

Skylofts at MGM Grand, located on top of the MGM Grand, unveils a rare and private sanctuary of sleek, elegant two-story, one-to-three bedroom accommodations high above the spectacle that is the Las Vegas Strip. Skylofts at MGM Grand is a totally innovative and exciting hotel experience created for modern and sophisticated travellers who expect the best wherever they go, enjoy art and outstanding design, and have the incomes to match their desires. Described by some as “urban chic above the Strip” the Skylofts are modeled on New York-style lofts and offer expansive views of the Las Vegas skyline. They are overwhelmingly comfortable, wonderfully creative and extraordinarily welcoming spaces that are instantly recognizable homes away from home for today’s urban elite with distinctively modern tastes.

  • Hotel website: Skylofts at MGM Grand
  • 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).
SKYLOFTS AT MGM GRAND

SKYLOFTS AT MGM GRAND


4. FOUR SEASONS LAS VEGAS

If you want to be in Las Vegas but still want the intimacy and service of a five-star resort, then this is the hotel for you. With a private entrance off of Las Vegas Boulevard, the Four Seasons Hotel offers a tranquil oasis on the otherwise high-spirited Las Vegas Strip.  Like luxury skyboxes perched high above the glittering Las Vegas strip, the hotel’s stylish guest rooms and suites are located on floors 35 to 39 of the Mandalay Bay tower, offering unsurpassed views of the world-famous Las Vegas Boulevard and surrounding desert landscape. At this luxury hotel in Las Vegas on the Strip, guests enjoy handcrafted cocktails and small plates at PRESS, authentic Italian cuisine at Veranda, award-winning fine dining at Charlie Palmer Steak, and relaxation  in the Forbes five-star spa and lushly landscaped private pool.

  • Hotel website: Four Seasons Las Vegas
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, and $100 USD spa credit).
FOUR SEASONS LAS VEGAS

FOUR SEASONS LAS VEGAS


3. ARIA SKY SUITES

With exquisite amenities, incredible views, personalized assistance, private Sky Suites only pool and effortless access to some of the city’s most enticing offerings, Sky Suites is one of the ultimate destinations for discerning guests. A complimentary luxury ride from the airport brings guests to the hotel’s porte-cochère, where they are welcomed personally. The suites offer up to 2,060 square feet of sheer opulence, with one or two bedrooms, separate living, powder and master bedrooms, and a serene spa-like bathroom. Custom furnishings and unsurpassed amenities place these suites in a league of their own. The two- to three-bedroom, single- and two-story Sky Villas at ARIA are a top-of-the-line collection of suites; designed to delight the most discriminating of tastes, they offer a level of sophistication unlike anything Vegas has seen before.

ARIA SKY SUITES

ARIA SKY SUITES


2. WYNN LAS VEGAS & ENCORE

Wynn Las Vegas and its adjacent, sister resort Encore hold more Forbes Travel Guide Five Star awards than any other independently operated hotel in the world. Designed to be explored and discovered, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore excite the senses of each and every guest. Hailed as luxury destinations in Las Vegas, both resorts have a total of 4,750 rooms. The rooms at both properties are elegantly appointed and equipped with advanced technologies and panoramic views. The entire Wynn complex is home to more than 20 signature restaurants, ultra-chic nightclubs and luxury shopping that brings your Las Vegas experience to a new level of distinction. Encore boasts a younger, more modern vibe than The Wynn; its well-appointed spaces and bright, elegant style paired with an exceptional level of service has led Condé Nast Traveler to name Encore among the top 100 hotels in the world on the 2015 Gold List, for the sixth year in a row.

  • Hotel website: Wynn Las Vegas & Encore
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, $30 per person breakfast credit per day, early check-in, late checout, $50.00 USD resort credit & $50 spa credit, once per stay).
ENCORE AT WYNN LAS VEGAS

ENCORE AT WYNN LAS VEGAS


1. MANDARIN ORIENTAL LAS VEGAS

Stunningly designed and beautifully appointed, Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas is the only Forbes triple 5-star luxury hotel at the heart of The Strip. Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Las Vegas towers 47 stories high above the legendary city. With views of the city and the desert, the hotel offers the perfect mix of style, serenity and luxury in a non-gaming and smoke-free environment. The 23rd floor Sky Lobby is a spectacular entry point to a chic bar, gourmet dining, and discreet luxury. The 392 rooms and suites are fantastically comfortable with a sleek décor incorporating subtle Asian-inspired touches. Bathrooms are spectacular with views through the floor-to-ceiling windows; but nothing compares to the top three suites at the hotel, spanning 3,000 sq. feet each. The gourmet fusion restaurants and advanced leisure facilities are second to none, while the 5-star, Asian inspired luxury service is truly unbeatable.

MANDARIN ORIENTAL LAS VEGAS

MANDARIN ORIENTAL LAS VEGAS


Take Our Poll

Qatar Airways A380 First Class Doha to Paris (+ Al Safwa)

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

The first week of February 2016, I traveled to the Maldives and enjoyed one of the best holidays of my life. You can read my trip reports here:

Today (March 2, 2016): Trip report: Qatar Airways A380 First Class Doha (Qatar) to Paris (France).

On February 8th 2016, I flew First Class onboard a Qatar Airways Airbus A380 from Doha’s new Hamad International Airport (Qatar) to Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris (France). Currently, the Doha based airline has only six A380s in its fleet, deploying them on medium-haule routes from Doha to London, Bangkok and Paris. At first sight, Qatar’s A380 First Class may seem less luxurious and private as compared to the A380 First Class suites of its Middle East competitors Etihad Airways and Emirates, but I did like the product a lot, especially the ultra-comfortably seat (the best bed I’ve ever slept in at 40,000 feet), excellent food, luxurious toiletries, and a stunning onboard bar. But the highlight was my pre-flight experience at Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa First Class lounge, unquestionably the most luxurious and impressive airport lounge in the world.

Qatar Airways features in my top 10 lists of airlines with the best First Class suites in the skies, the best airlines for longhaul Business Class, the world’s best airline lounges, and the most delicious airline food.

  • Trip: DOH-CDG
  • Airline: Qatar Airways
  • Aircraft type: Airbus A380-800
  • Flight Number: QR39
  • Date: February 8th, 2016
  • On time departure: yes (8.20 am)
  • On time arrival: yes (1 pm)
  • Miles: 3090
  • Flight time: 6 hours 40 minutes
  • Price of ticket: 250 euro + 80.000 Avios (British Airways miles)

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

  • Premium check-in area
  • Al Safwa Lounge at Hamad International Airport
  • First Class cabin
  • First Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
  • Amenities
  • Meals
  • Entertainment
  • Other inflight experiences (crew, lavatory, WiFi, bar)
  • My verdict (score)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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1. PREMIUM CHECK-IN AREA

Qatar Airways has a very impressive premium check-in area, tucked away in a discrete corner of Hamad International Airport’s departure terminal. A minimalist wall points passengers in the right direction: Business Class passengers to the left, and First Class passengers to the right. The First Class check-in area consists of a lounge space and several private sit-down check-in desks. At first, I was surprised that there were so many desks to check in First Class passengers, given the fact that Qatar Airways only offers First Class on a limited number of longhaul routes (being its 6 Airbus A380s that fly to Paris, London, and Bangkok). But one has to keep in mind that Qatar Airways also offers First Class on its planes that fly regional routes within the Middle East (although the regional First Class product is more reminiscent of Business Class). From the premium-check-in area, it was a short hop to the immigration and security check-point, from where an elevator took me directly to the Al Safwa lounge. During the whole process, from check-in until arrival at the lounge, I was escorted by a very attentive member of the Qatar Airways ground staff.

PREMIUM CHECK-IN AREA

PREMIUM CHECK-IN AREA

PREMIUM CHECK-IN AREA

PREMIUM CHECK-IN AREA


2. AL SAFWA LOUNGE AT HAMAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

The Al Safwa lounge is the most impressive airline lounge in the world. It is only accessible to passengers that fly First Class on Qatar Airways metal or a Oneworld airline (so it is not open to Oneworld Emerald members who fly Economy or Business Class).

I was blown away by the lounge’s scale, architecture, and design. The lounge space itself is massive, with very high ceilings that make the whole space seem even larger. It features a beautiful minimalist design, with predominant light sandstone colors, creating a calming and exclusive ambience.

From the reception, a remarkably long and impressive hallway leads to the lounge’s central area. The hallways features art work from – amongst others – Keith Haring, as well as a water wall, making you feel at a museum rather than an airport lounge.  Several side corridors open into additional spaces, such as:

  • a prayer room
  • a spa (where unfortunately you have to pay for services, such as treatments and showers)
  • a mini-hotel with several nap rooms (which are complimentary to passengers that have a layover of at least six hours).
  • an exclusive duty-free shop which obviously caters to the rich and wealthy.
  • a lovely business center with several iMac workstations

At the end of the hallway, you enter the lounge’s central seating area, which is a triangular space with a spectacular, tube-enclosed water fountain as its eye-catcher. There a several types of seats present in this area, featuring a design that ranges from comfortable to artsy. There’s also a ‘terrace’ under the roof of airport’s terminal with some more seats. I cannot imagine that this lounge ever gets crowded. In fact, there is too much space for the numbers of passengers it can accommodate, but I did not hear anyone complain about this.

The lounge’s restaurant and bar is located adjacent to the seating area, and features plenty of tables. The space is quite bright because of the very large windows that not only embrace the Arabian sunlight but also offer nice views of the tarmac. The restaurant has an open kitchen, and you can choose from several buffet station or dine a la carte. I was there during breakfast time (my flight to Paris left at 8 am) but I did not eat too much since I did not want to kill my appetite shortly before my First Class experience.

From the lounge, it was a 15 minute stroll to the gate, where the Airbus A380 was ready for boarding. The waiting area at the gate was divided into a lower and upper space for Economy and First/Business Class passengers respectively.

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: RECEPTION

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: RECEPTION

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: RECEPTION

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: RECEPTION

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: RECEPTION

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: RECEPTION

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: RECEPTION

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: RECEPTION

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: HALLWAY

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: HALLWAY

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: HALLWAY

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: HALLWAY

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: HALLWAY

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: HALLWAY

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: HALLWAY

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: HALLWAY

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: HALLWAY

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: HALLWAY

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: HALLWAY

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: HALLWAY

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: HALLWAY

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: HALLWAY

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: HALLWAY

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: HALLWAY

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: HALLWAY

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: HALLWAY

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: CENTRAL SEATING AREA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: DUTY-FREE SHOP

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: DUTY-FREE SHOP

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: DUTY-FREE SHOP

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: DUTY-FREE SHOP

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: DUTY-FREE SHOP

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: DUTY-FREE SHOP

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: SPA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: SPA

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: NAP ROOM

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: NAP ROOM

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: NAP ROOM

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: NAP ROOM

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: NAP ROOM

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: NAP ROOM

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BAR & RESTAURANT

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BAR & RESTAURANT

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BAR

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BAR

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BAR

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BAR

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BAR

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BAR

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: OPEN KITCHEN

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: OPEN KITCHEN

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: OPEN KITCHEN

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: OPEN KITCHEN

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: RESTAURANT

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: RESTAURANT

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: RESTAURANT

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: RESTAURANT

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: RESTAURANT

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: RESTAURANT

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: RESTAURANT

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: RESTAURANT

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BREAKFAST BUFFET

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BUSINESS CENTER

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BUSINESS CENTER

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BUSINESS CENTER

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BUSINESS CENTER

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BUSINESS CENTER

AL SAFWA LOUNGE: BUSINESS CENTER

HAMAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

HAMAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

HAMAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

HAMAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

HAMAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

HAMAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT


3. FIRST CLASS CABIN

After entering the plane through the massive boarding door, I was greeted by a flight attendant who guided me to the First Class cabin. which is located on the forward upper deck of the A380.

The small cabin has a very airy and spacious feel because it does not have completely enclosed suites like on the A380s of Emirates and Etihad. The design of the cabin itself is drop-dead gorgeous, and features a pallet of calming colours that match quiet well together: pink (cushions, tv screens), beige (seats) and brown (wood panels). There are 8 seats, spread across two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration, all of them having direct aisle access. The 4 First Class seats on the sides are ideal for solo travelers (with a generous 3 windows per seat, offering great views), while the 4 seats in the middle are perfect for those traveling with a companion. But if you are a solo traveler and you end up in one the middle seats, there’s no problem as you can rise a divider for added privacy. In the front of the cabin, there is a small bar (with chips, nuts, bottled water, and juices), a library (with magazines), 2 lavatories, and the stairs to the lower deck.

Click here for the seat map of Qatar Airways’ Airbus A380.

AIRBUS A380

AIRBUS A380

AIRBUS A380

AIRBUS A380

AIRBUS A380

AIRBUS A380

AIRBUS A380

AIRBUS A380

STAIRS TO THE UPPER DECK

STAIRS TO THE UPPER DECK

STAIRS TO THE UPPER DECK

STAIRS TO THE UPPER DECK

FIRST CLASS CABIN

FIRST CLASS CABIN

FIRST CLASS CABIN

FIRST CLASS CABIN

FIRST CLASS CABIN

FIRST CLASS CABIN

FIRST CLASS CABIN

FIRST CLASS CABIN

FIRST CLASS CABIN

FIRST CLASS CABIN

FIRST CLASS CABIN

FIRST CLASS CABIN

FIRST CLASS CABIN: BAR

FIRST CLASS CABIN: BAR

ECONOMY CLASS ON THE MAIN DECK

ECONOMY CLASS ON THE MAIN DECK

ECONOMY CLASS ON THE MAIN DECK

ECONOMY CLASS ON THE MAIN DECK


4. THE FIRST CLASS SEAT

I was seated in seat 2A.

Contrary to the enclosed suites that you find on several airlines these days, the Qatar Airways First Class seat features an open design, although you can rise a partition for added privacy. The seat is extremely comfortable and has very generous dimensions, with a width of 23 inches (59 cm) and a length of 83 inches (210 cm). In front of the seat, there is a large ottoman, a large TV screen, and a design lamp. The ottoman has some storage space underneath, and can be used an extra seat when you want to dine with a companion.

One side of the seat features a reading lamp, a cabinet which holds a bottle of water and the remote control for the entertainment system, a tiny storage space which contains some magazines and the safety briefing, a small table (for drinks and snacks), and a very large tray table (which can be pulled out from the side of the seat). The other side of the seat features the seat controls, power ports, storage for the headphones, and a divider (which can be raised or lowered to provide a feeling of extra spaciousness when travelling with a companion).

The seat can recline into a fully flat-bed. The bedding itself is superb. In fact, this was the best bed I’ve ever slept in at 40,000 feet. The Qatar Airways cabin crew told me it’s the largest bed in the skies. Not sure whether that is correct, but it felt very spacious indeed.

What are the best First Class seats on Qatar Airways’ Airbus A380? Click here for a seat map.

  • Solo travelers should go fo the window seats, while companions should choose the middle seats.

What are the worst First Class seats on Qatar Airways’ Airbus A380? Click here for a seat map.

  • There are no bad seats in Qatar Airways’ A380 First Class cabin.
FIRST CLASS SEAT 2A

FIRST CLASS SEAT 2A

FIRST CLASS SEAT 2A

FIRST CLASS SEAT 2A

FIRST CLASS SEAT 2A

FIRST CLASS SEAT 2A

FIRST CLASS SEAT 2A

FIRST CLASS SEAT 2A

FIRST CLASS SEAT 2A

FIRST CLASS SEAT 2A

FIRST CLASS SEAT 2A

FIRST CLASS SEAT 2A

FULLY FLAT-BED

FULLY FLAT-BED


5. AMENITIES

Qatar Airways’ First Class passengers can take home a stylish Giorgio Armani bag, packed with nifty goodies for the flight and bathroom back at home. The amenity kit contains Armani perfume, body lotion, shower gel, and shampoo. Not forgotten are the basics such as eyeshades, socks, earplugs and lip balm.

Pajamas were not provided on this dayflight.

AMENITY KIT

AMENITY KIT

AMENITY KIT

AMENITY KIT


6. MEALS

Upon boarding, I was served a welcome beverage (I choose orange juice), croutons, and a refreshing towel (with the option between a cold or hot one).

Breakfast was served shortly after takeoff. As an appetizer, I had the cured salmon with citrus fruit, avocado purée and fish roe, while my choise of entree was the chicken and potato rosti, sambhar, wilted spinach, and coriander crème fraîche. It al tasted delicious although I found the portions rather small. However, in Qatar Airways’ First Class, you can dine any time of your choosing and in any order, so a couple of hours later, I ordered some more dishes as a light lunch. I had a starter composed of Heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad, Kalamata olives, bell peppers, and basil oil, followed by a small entree of lobster tortellini with shell-fish sauce, diced tomatoes with chives. As a sweet finale, the only option was a selection of indulgent individual Laduréé desserts. Qatar Airways puts a lot of efforts in its onboard cuisine, and I find its food consistently better as compared to that of Emirates and Etihad Airways.

WELCOME BEVERAGE

WELCOME BEVERAGE

MENU

MENU

MENU

MENU

MENU

MENU

MENU

MENU

MENU

MENU

MENU

MENU

MENU

MENU

MENU

MENU

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

WINE LIST

TABLE SET-UP

TABLE SET-UP

CURED SALMON

CURED SALMON

CURED SALMON

CURED SALMON

BREAD BASKET

BREAD BASKET

CHICKEN AND POTATO ROSTI

CHICKEN AND POTATO ROSTI

TOMATO AND MOZZARELLA SALAD

TOMATO AND MOZZARELLA SALAD

LOBSTER TORTELLINI

LOBSTER TORTELLINI

SELCTION OF LADUREE DESSERTS

SELCTION OF LADUREE DESSERTS


7. ENTERTAINMENT

The First Class suite features a very large TV screen above the ottoman. It’s not a touch screen though, and you have to select the entertainment of your choice with a remote control. The audio-video on-demand service allows you to choose from over  2,000 entertainment options, such as movies, TV box sets, audio, games and much more. Unfortunately, the plane’s tail cameras did not work in the First and Business Class cabins. Only Economy class passengers could watch the mighty A380 in all its glory while flying at 40,000 feet.

ENTERTAINMENT REMOTE CONTROL

ENTERTAINMENT REMOTE CONTROL


7. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES

# CREW: the international cabin crew did a great job and was very friendly (addressing me by name, presenting themselves individually before take-off, and also thanking me in person for choosing Qatar Airways before landing).

# LAVATORY: Qatar Airways’ A380 First Class cabin has 2 very large lavatories, which both feature a bench (which needs to be lifted to use the toilet), large mirrors, a sink, luxurious toiletries, and flowers. In contrast to Emirates and Etihad Airways, there are no showers.

FIRST CLASS LAVATORY

FIRST CLASS LAVATORY

FIRST CLASS LAVATORY

FIRST CLASS LAVATORY

FIRST CLASS LAVATORY

FIRST CLASS LAVATORY

FIRST CLASS LAVATORY

FIRST CLASS LAVATORY

FIRST CLASS LAVATORY

FIRST CLASS LAVATORY

# BAR: Qatar Airways features a stunning onboard bar located at the rear of the plane, between the Business Class cabin and a small Economy Class cabin. The bar itself is curved, with leather sofas on both side of the bar area. The bar’s set-up is perfect to socialize with other First and Business Class passengers, or to simply relax and enjoy the ambience. Under the stunning chandeliers, inspired by contemporary Arabian design, there are fresh flowers gracing the lounge.

BAR

BAR

BAR

BAR

BAR

BAR

BAR

BAR

BAR

BAR

# FLIGHT PATH: normally, the flight path from Doha to Paris goes straight over Syria and Iraq, but the plane detoured around the current ISIS conflict area by flying over eastern Iran.

FLIGHT PATH

FLIGHT PATH

# WIFI: First Class passengers receive complimentary WiFi while flying Qatar Airways. The internet speed was decent.

COMPLIMENTARY WIFI VOUCHER

COMPLIMENTARY WIFI VOUCHER

COMPLIMENTARY WIFI VOUCHER

COMPLIMENTARY WIFI VOUCHER

# CHAUFFEUR SERVICE: unfortunately, Qatar Airways does not provide complimentary chauffeur-driven airport transfers for its First Class passengers (in contrast to Etihad Airways and Emirates).


8. MY VERDICT
  • Seat: 10/10
  • Food: 8/10
  • Inflight entertainment : 8/10
  • Service: 10/10
  • Cabin: 9/10
  • Overall experience: exceptional: 9/10

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Top 10: the world’s most amazing indoor hotel pools

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (February 29, 2016): Top 10 world’s most amazing indoor hotel pools. 

I previously published my list of the most spectacular hotel pools in the world. All but one in that list are outdoor pools, some of them coming with amazing views, and some of them enjoying a fabulous rooftop location. However, hotels that are located in regions with a less favorable climate offer their guests indoor pools for recreational purposes. And while indoor hotel pools are often associated with harsh chlorine smells and dirty water, that’s not the case in my pick of the 10 most stunning indoor pools in the world, which come with glamorous decors, luxurious amenities and amazing settings.

There is more information below the slideshow. Do you agree or have a favorite indoor pool that didn’t make my list? Leave it in the comments or take my poll below.

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10. ROSEWOOD HOTEL GEORGIA, VANCOUVER, CANADA

Rosewood Hotel Georgia, the most sought-after and legendary luxury hotel in Vancouver, blends an unmatched combination of legacy and luxury. It combines the grandeur of the Roaring Twenties with contemporary design in the heart of Canada’s most beautiful city. Guests can feel the refreshing power of water at the hotel’s heated indoor saltwater lap pool, located on the fourth floor of the hotel. Bathed in natural sunlight from the adjacent outdoor restaurant, this space is complemented by art deco inspirations. Perfect for an invigorating splash or a warm dip during all seasons.

  • Hotel website: Rosewood Hotel Georgia
  • Other accolades: Rosewood Hotel Georgia hotel also features in my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Canada.
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast for 2, $100 USD hotel credit, early check-in and late check-out).
ROSEWOOD HOTEL GEORGIA, VANCOUVER, CANADA

ROSEWOOD HOTEL GEORGIA, VANCOUVER, CANADA


9. THE CHEDI ANDERMATT, SWITZERLAND

Surrounded by the spectacular beauty of the Swiss Alps, The Chedi Andermatt nestles elegantly in the idyllic heart of Andermatt, a village of timeless charms in the Urseren Valley, about a two-hour train ride from Zurich. For GHM’s first European property, the Asian hotel brand synonymous with style and serenity chose renowned architect Jean-Michael Gathy to design the 105 guest rooms and suites. Here, guests can swim power laps in the temperature-controlled outdoor lap pool or cozy up with organic tea by the beautiful 35-metre (115 ft) indoor pool poised to look out upon the Alps.

THE CHEDI ANDERMATT, SWITZERLAND

THE CHEDI ANDERMATT, SWITZERLAND


8. AMAN AT SUMMER PALACE, BEIJING, CHINA

Just steps from the East Gate of the Summer Palace grounds and only 15 km from the Forbidden City, lies Aman at Summer Palace – the ideal location from which to discover Beijing. The ultra-luxurious resort is a serene retreat, with peaceful internal courtyards and pavilions embracing traditional Chinese architecture. Beneath the resort, you will find one of its highlights: a unique 5,000-square metre, double level, underground recreational facility which features a beautiful and large indoor lap pool in Aman’s minimalist design.

AMAN AT SUMMER PALACE, BEIJING, CHINA

AMAN AT SUMMER PALACE, BEIJING, CHINA


7. SHANGRI-LA HOTEL PARIS, FRANCE

Built in 1896 as the private home of Prince Roland Bonaparte, the hotel achieves a balance between Asian Shangri-La hospitality and French art de vivre. Most of the 101 rooms enjoy mesmerizing views of the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine. The old-world elegance of the room, lovingly adorned with the fine work of craftsmen, is mirrored in the city that lies just below. Weary eyes and feet can refresh in the hotel’s pool, which is surrounded by the building’s classical French architecture and high vaulted ceilings, and which is the largest indoor option in Paris.

SHANGRI-LA PARIS, FRANCE

SHANGRI-LA PARIS, FRANCE


6. 7132 HOTEL, VALS, SWITZERLAND

Archaic mountains and modern architecture come together in the largest hotel in Vals. The complex features not only 33 hotel rooms designed by Zumthor, but also—in a separate building known as Selva—13 new rooms designed by Japanese starchitect Kengo Kuma, 17 by local architect Andreas Schmid, and 20 more by Peter Zumthor (called Stucco). The world-famous indoor thermal baths by Peter Zumthor are part of the hotel and are a definite highlight of any stay here: it was constructed from 60,000 slabs of Vals quartzite and meant to resemble a cave or quarry-like complex.

7132 HOTEL, VALS, SWITZERLAND

7132 HOTEL, VALS, SWITZERLAND


5. PARK HYATT NEW YORK, USA

Park Hyatt’s new flagship hotel opened last year and occupies the lower 25 floors of a towering, brand new skyscraper in midtown Manhattan. Located on the 25th floor, the hotel’s 65-foot (20 meters) indoor lap pool features underwater speakers streaming music from Carnegie Hall. It’s one of the nicest pools in Manhattan, and it has a large jacuzzi and some loungers on the side. The high ceilings (where tens of glass panels are pieced together to create a cloud-like sculpture) and the floor-to-ceiling windows transform the pool area into a sun-drenched sanctuary.

PARK HYATT NEW YORK, USA

PARK HYATT NEW YORK, USA


4. TIERRA PATAGONIA, CHILE

Interior architects Alexandra Edwards and Carolina diPlano aimed to bring the outside in at the Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa. Nestled in the southernmost part of Chile, the hotel sits on a bluff where the South American pampa meets Lake Sarmiento. The 37 double rooms and 3 suites envelop guests in warmth amidst the wilderness. The indoor pool, with its jets and cascades, is on my list because of the breathtaking view over the deep-blue lake to the jaw-dropping peaks of Torres del Paine National Park, the centerpiece of Chilean Patagonia and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

TIERRA PATAGONIA HOTEL & SPA, CHILE

TIERRA PATAGONIA HOTEL & SPA, CHILE


3. FOUR SEASONS HOTEL SHANGHAI AT PUDONG, CHINA

In a city gleaming with confidence, power and high-octane excitement, the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel group responds with glamour, bespoke experiences and a pulsating energy found only in today’s China. Serene, sexy and exclusive, the Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai at Pudong offers an ambience inspired by Shanghai moderne, dialled up for hip, 21st-century tastes. The 187-room luxury property in the bustling business district surprises with a surplus of leisurely pursuits, including a phenomenal 41st-floor infinity-edge pool that comes with amazing skyline views.

FOUR SEASONS HOTEL SHANGHAI AT PUDONG, CHINA

FOUR SEASONS HOTEL SHANGHAI AT PUDONG, CHINA


2. LA MAMOUNIA, MARRAKECH, MOROCCO

On some days during the three years it took to restore Marrakech’s undisputed Grande Dame hotel, more than 1,000 craftsmen were at work on the site. Parisian designer Jacques Garcia, entrusted with returning the 1923 property to its former glory, sought out the city’s most talented painters and wood carvers. Thanks to them, the palace is once again a vibrant celebration of the city’s past, present and future. The hotel is home to one of the city’s highest-rated spas, where guests can take a dip in the indoor pool surrounded by arched columns and elaborate Moorish mosaics.

  • Hotel website: La Mamounia
  • Tip: enjoy exclusive VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast for 2, $100 USD food or spa credit, early check-in and late check-out).
LA MAMOUNIA, MARRAKECH, MOROCCO

LA MAMOUNIA, MARRAKECH, MOROCCO


1. ST REGIS LHASA, TIBET, CHINA

Surrounded by the towering mountain peaks of the Himalayas, St. Regis Lhasa Resort bills itself as “standing on the roof of the world”. Facing the jaw-dropping Potala Palace, it houses 162 guest rooms, villas, and suites, boasts 24-hour butler service, and owns Tibet’s first ever fine-dining restaurant. But what sets St. Regis Lhasa apart is its “Golden Energy Pool” lined with thousands of tiles plated in gold. The pool contains therapeutic salt water constantly heated to 28-32 degrees Celsius. An indulgent treat for anyone with a thing for bling.

ST REGIS LHASA, TIBET, CHINA

ST REGIS LHASA, TIBET, CHINA


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