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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?
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?
Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown
I travel to Toronto for business at least once a year. Each of these trips, I am surprised at how expensive hotels are. It’s tough to find a decent hotel in downtown Toronto for less than $400CAD. For this trip, I searched and searched and the most inexpensive Marriott I could find downtown was the Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown, on Yonge Street. I’m just a few more nights away from retaining Platinum Status for 2019 with Marriott – so I had to choose a Marriott Property.
I’ve stayed at this hotel many years ago, during a loud and frustrating renovation. I’ve never heard of a hotel renovation starting before 06h00, but it did. It was torture. The renovation is now complete and the hotel is quiet again. I arrived at 11h00 and waiting behind several people attempting to check in. Each of those guests were reminded that check in was 16h00 and they’d have to come back. I approached, expecting to drop off my bags and working in the lobby before my meetings. Without missing a beat, the woman working reception told me my room was available and I could check in immediately.
The groups in front of my, who were denied a room, were still milling about the lobby and became very frustrated and pushed back up to the check in desk, demanding a room. I quickly headed toward the elevators to the relative peace of my room.
My room was a standard king room on the eighth floor. My view was of one of the dozens of construction sights in Toronto.
I hadn’t stayed in a Courtyard Marriott in several years. I’d been focusing most of my stays with Starwood, but now that the merger is complete, I’m open to branching out across the super chain. I slept remarkably well the two nights I was in Toronto – probably the best hotel sleep I’ve had in years.
Have you stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown before? What is your favorite Marriott property in Toronto? Where should I stay on my next visit?
United Premier 1K Status Just Got Harder to Achieve
Changes to the MileagePlus program, most notably the United Premier 1K Status have been announced. MileagePlus offers six levels of status to frequent flyers: General Member, Premier Silver, Premier Gold, Premier Platinum, Premier 1K and Global Services. Basically, the more you fly the higher your status. I’ve been a Premier Platinum member for a few years now. To earn this status I must fly at least 75,000 miles annually, plus spend $9,000 with United.
Historically, United Premier 1K Status has been awarded to members who fly 100,000 miles annually and spend $12,000 with United. I’ve never flown enough paid miles (miles flown on award tickets don’t count in this tally) in a given year to earn 1K Status. I’m pretty content with my simple Premier Platinum too. Each year, I do the math and see if it makes sense to accelerate travel to earn 1K status. I never has, for me.
United just announced a change in the earning requirements for Premier 1K Status. In addition to flying 100,000 miles annually, you’ll have to spend $15,000 with United. That’s a 25% jump year over year. Now this is effective for status starting in 2020. Therefore, you’ll have to fly the same number of miles, but spend quite a bit more money just to keep (or earn) your Premier 1K Status.
United has been making some other changes recently too. In addition to the changes to their boarding process, they are also changing the earning bonus on one of their premium fares. You can check out their dedicated website for all the details.
Are you currently a Premier 1K? How does this change impact your travel plans for 2019? How easy will it be for you to requalify for this lucrative status.
68 Hour Visit to Singapore – Introduction
I’ve always wanted to visit Singapore. Really for two main reasons 1) the mix of cultures blend together for some amazing food and 2) the infinity pool at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The stars and the moon aligned and made a trip this year possible. I had already taken a good portion of my vacation time, so I needed to plan judiciously. If I’m taking a quick trip to Asia, I want to fly in a premium cabin which will likely necessitate the use of miles.
First of all, I spent a couple of days of searching for award fares with no luck. Eventually I found Star Alliance Saver Awards that worked out quite well. Unfortunately I’d be trying out only one new airline: Singapore Airlines for a relatively short hop from Singapore to Bangkok. The other four flights would all be on airlines and products I’ve flown before. That being said, I really loved these repeat products and was looking forward to experiencing their service again.
Over the next few weeks, you can look forward to the following detailed posts about my trip.
- Preflight at O’Hare. Why Does T5 Suck?
- EVA Air Royal Laurel Class (Business) ORD-TPE
- EVA Air Infinity Lounge
- EVA Air Royal Laurel Class (Business) TPE-SIN
- M Hotel Singapore
- SO Sofitel Singapore
- Singapore Sling at Raffles
- NOSHtrekker Private Dining Experience
- Let’s Go Singapore Bike Tour
- Hawker Stalls – Casual Dining in Singapore
- Michelin Dining – No Really, They Have a Star!
- Sights and Sounds of Singapore
- Singapore Airlines Business Class SIN-BKK
- Austrian Airlines Business Class BKK-VIE
- Hotel Bristol: A Luxury Collection Property
- A Night in Vienna
- Austrian Airlines Business Class VIE-ORD
- Singapore Weekend By The Numbers: Was it Worth It?
You’ve read my thoughts on the preferred length of trips and I know so many people would think I’m nuts for flying so long for such a short period in Singapore. but remember, life is about the journey, not necessarily the destination (hell at the end of the day, we all end up in the same place, might as well enjoy the ride).
Would you go to Singapore for 2.5 days on the ground? Am I crazy? What has been your craziest trip you’ve planned?