Hotel Bristol: A Luxury Collection Property
After flying all day from Singapore, I found myself in Vienna at 18h30. I had booked myself a room on points at the Hotel Bristol right across from the Opera House. This is the only hotel I’ve stayed in while visiting Vienna. I love it. I even used Suite Night upgrades which cleared a week in advance. These upgrades moved me to an Opera Suite. I’ve been fortunate enough to ONLY stay in the beautiful Opera Suites at the Hotel Bristol.
I arrived straight away from the airport at 19h00, timing on transfers were perfect. Upon check in, the man working reception attempted to down grade me to a normal room because “you are just one person here for one night, you dont need this much space, it is too hot.” He was accurate, it was very hot in Vienna (33C), but I didn’t follow, nor like his logic. After a bit of discussion, he allowed me to stay in my original room.
This time, my suite was on the third floor, with the same stunning view of the Wienner Staatsoper (Vienna Opera House).
The room was quite warm and being in the room for less than 5 minutes a knock came at the door. It was hotel maintenance. He came to check on the air conditioning. Evidently these large suites don’t cool down as efficiently. He was here to make sure certain doors and windows were closed to ensure the bedroom area was as chilled as possible.
Ah…so that’s what the guy at reception was trying to say…
I didn’t spend much time in the room, since I had a flight home before 10h00 the next morning. Plus, I wanted to explore Vienna in the summer.
I slept well, albeit not very long. The hotel is really wonderful. The rooms are so perfectly appointed and the service is always on point. Plus, the views cant be beat!
Have you had the opportunity to stay at the Hotel Bristol? How are the standard rooms? What is your favorite hotel in Vienna?
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Vienna
I mentioned about some excitement on the way to Vienna from Bangkok recently. I was flying home from spending 68 Hours in Singapore. My return flight started in Singapore and I connected in Bangkok and Vienna before landing in Chicago. The longest leg was from Bangkok to Vienna, which I flew Austrian Airlines Business Class.
Doctor on Board?
If not India, where?
Vienna it is
Cell Phone Etiquette: Happier Podcast Critique
I’ve talked about ways I keep myself entertained while traveling before. Movies, TV shows and podcasts are my number one time killer while traveling. One of my favorite podcasts is Happier by self-described Happiness Bully Gretchen Rubin. Her weekly podcasts, which she co-host with her sister, Elizabeth Craft, give pointers on how to be happier.
This week, Gretchen and Liz tackled the topic of cell phone etiquette and how some people would interpret your actions as being rude, while others would think nothing of it. Gretchen posed a handful of questions to her sister on this topic – some I agreed with completely, while others I felt were just plain wrong. Here’s how it played out, with my commentery:
Gretchen: When you run into a friend while out and about, can you leave your ear buds in while you talk to them, even if your music/pod is turned off?
Liz: Take out one ear bud.
Tim’s Response: Couldn’t agree more. Show that you are engaged and not distracted.
Gretchen: Related question, at the store, when I am checking out. Can I leave my ear buds in. I’m of asking for help, the cashier is ringing up my items.
Liz: It is permissible to leave the ear buds in, if you give the cashier a nice smile.
Tim’s Response: No way. Just like before, turn off your entertainment, take our one ear bud and complete the transaction. These are people helping you. I don’t want small talk in this situation, but online it completely rude to shut off from people in the service industry. Plus, if the cashier has a question, they will likely have the repeat it once or twice all because you were too important to pause your distraction.
Gretchen: You are out walking your dog. Your dog and another start sniffing each other. Do you have to take the ear buds out and talk to the other dog owner?
Liz: Not if they don’t want to engage in a conversation.
Tim’s Response: If they want to engage, why must you? I don’t have a dog, but everyone in my neighborhood makes small talk while the dogs sniff around. Again, we are living on top of each other, we need to be a little more polite to each other. A couple minutes of idle, boring chatter isn’t going to kill you.
Gretchen: At dinner and the conversation drives you to a point where you want to look something up. Example: We love Shrek….wait, what year did that come out? Look it up.
Liz: 100% permissible as it is continuing the shared conversation. If you are checking your social media feeds, no, don’t donit.
Tim’s Response: Do it. Agreed. Be present in the conversation, don’t check out.
Gretchen: When someone shows you a picture on their phone, do you swipe to look at the other photos? I do it and it is rude.
Liz: It is rude. I’ve never done that.
Tim’s Response: Agreed, unless they preemptively give you permission. I accidently swiped too far and saw some very personal photos. Whoops!
Gretchen: When having a real world conversation and your phone rings or a notification buzzes. Do you check it or wait until the conversation is over?
Liz: I live in LA and we all accept that everyone just looks at their notification. It isn’t rude.
Tim’s Response: This one is tough for me. I say if the phone rings (which happens so rarely for me), see who it is. Notifications are different. Wait until the polite conversation is over and then check. If you are expecting an important call or message, let your friend know that you need to check something if/when it comes in.
Gretchen: If you are on a train, for example, your phone rings. Do you answer your phone? Do you answer and say “Hi, I’m on the train, what’s going on?” This gives the caller notice that you can’t fully talk, and acknowledges that you know you can’t really talk, so your fellow passengers aren’t angry.
Liz: Yes. That is fine.
Tim’s Response: Agreed. Unless you are in the quiet car. Then don’t answer. Also, depending on the train ride length, call them back once you are off the train. I have a quick SMS setup so when someone calls, I can shut the call down by texting them “I’m on the train. Will call you back when I’m off.” This works wonders for me.
Now some of the responses were indeed a bit more in-depth than the summary I’ve provided. Go listen to the pod to get the full picture. What do you think? Do you agree with their thought? Am I completely off base here? How would you respond?
Austrian Airlines Business Class BKK-VIE
My flight home from my 68 Hours in Singapore was a bit of a round about experience. Leaving Singapore to Bangkok, I continued on to Vienna. I’ve flown Austrian Airlines in Business Class a few times before and was looking forward to trying it again. I left the Thai Airways Business Class Lounge about 50 minutes before scheduled departure. The boarding area was utterly packed with passengers.
People were getting a bit restless, as announcements were made about early boarding. People would line up, then another announcement saying we weren’t boarding. This happened two times before we actually boarded. There were many people traveling with children too. These false starts really got the children confused and frustrated.
I boarded early, as I usually like to do. A single seat wasn’t available, I had to sit in the middle area in the two-seat section. I could have moved to a single seat, but it would have cost me an additional €500. It wasn’t worth it to me.
Our seats already had pillows, blankets and the amenity kits waiting for us. After I got settled, the flight attendant came up with menus. She introduced herself to me and I attempted to speak German, as I usually do when flying Austrian. My college level German gets me far enough on a flight, but it’s just utilitarian, not conversational. I started off my journey with some sparkling wine and some still water.
The flight was pretty full, but I was fortunate enough to NOT have a seat mate. I’m so happy I didn’t pay extra for a single seat. Even if I did have a seat mate, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. The seats are large and while not very private, Austrian Airlines Business Class is still pretty great.
The flight time to Vienna from Bangkok is 11 hours and 30 minutes. One of my main disappointments when I fly Austrian Airlines is that the flight from Chicago to Vienna just isn’t long enough. I want a little more time to rest, relax and enjoy the Business Class product. This flight gives me a bit more time and I was going to love it.
Austrian Airline’s crew includes an on board chef. Before take off, the chef meets with every Business Class Passenger, explaining the menu and taking orders. It is a nice additional service, although not really necessary. It’s this aspect that I like the most I think.
After departure, drinks are served and the food service begins. I like the antipasti trolley that wheels through the cabin. You select the exact appetizers you want to try. I selected all options, of course!
The meal service continued for the next 90 minutes. It was efficient and friendly. Austrian does a good job of ensuring that your wine glasses are never dry too.
With the meal over, the we had about eight hours until we landed in Vienna. I spent the rest of the flight watching movies, TV shows and napping. I really didn’t want to get much sleep as we’d be landing in Vienna at 19h00 and I sure didn’t want to be up all night.
Other than a little bit of excitement midway through the flight, our time in air was quiet and uneventful. We landed 20 minutes early, but were requested to remain seated while a passenger was taken off the plane by paramedics. More on that story in another post.
Flying in Business Class on Austrian Airlines is still exciting and fun for me. It isn’t the world’s most avant garde product, but the service is smooth and efficient. The wine and food is good and the seats are really comfortable in both seated and bed positions.
Have you flown Austrian Airlines from Asia? What is your favorite Business Class product out of Bangkok?
Changes to United Club Access
The United Club membership offers a great opportunity to escape the madness of the airport. With complimentary alcoholic beverages and light snacks coupled with comfortable seating and ample power outlets, these lounges allow you to recharge on many levels. Check out the changes to United Club access policy before you stop by.
Starting November 1, Club Members will need to show a same day United Boarding Pass before entering the club. Historically, you could still access the United Club if you were traveling on another airline. I usually fly United exclusively for domestic travel, but on the off chance that I would fly American or Delta, I’d still pop into the United Club. That’s all changed.
This isn’t really a shocker though. Delta and American both made these changes earlier this year too. It makes sense in some respect, but if you are buying an annual Club membership, you’d want to have access to use the lounge anytime you are flying.
This change seems pretty reasonable, but it could sure make for a frustrating surprise if you aren’t expecting it. Don’t show up to the airport early, expecting to enter the United Club if you aren’t flying on United!
Will this impact your travel plans at all?