Monthly Archives: July 2016

Just a hobby?

Screenshot 2016-07-31 21.31.22

When you start seriously considering flying complicated routes through (Southern) Africa just to experience flying first class on the cheap, you know that this hobby’s really got a hold of you.

I suppose I first got a taste of the miles game almost a decade ago, when I first redeemed miles towards upgrading my final flight back home. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to have possessed elite flyer status and occasionally been upgraded as well, allowing me many more opportunities to experience flying in premium cabins.

Ultimately, though, chasing such experiences can be a rather time- and money-consuming activity, though. I eventually decided that I couldn’t quite justify the time and monetary expense and gave up on the idea.

As someone who’s generally rather keen to minimise unnecessary expenses, I’ve been having trouble reconciling my enthusiasm for premium travel experiences (as far as flying and accommodation goes) with my desire to save up. I know that these are ultimately unnecessary expenses (even in the form of opportunity costs, for earning miles via credit cards rather than cashback, for instance), but I’ve eventually rationalised that my personal enjoyment of these experiences is simply high enough to warrant the investment during holidays.

I’ve currently got three bigger trips planned over the next year and will likely be archiving those experiences here in time to come – they’ll help contribute towards my blogging quota, and I find it’s a happy way of keeping those travel memories fresh!


Starred Eats

So there’s a Singaporean edition of the Michelin Guide now, and I can now go about saying that I’ve dined at x Michelin-starred restaurants (where x is a number greater than 1).

(The convoluted statement above is a result of my having visited the original Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong back in 2011, when it was still the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant – though its rapid expansion and franchising has admittedly made it a lot less special.)

That number has now quadrupled, and I can also boast of having visited a two-starred restaurant – huzzah! To be honest, I don’t even know of half of the restaurants on the list (not that big a foodie, I guess? Plus budget constraints); I’m surprised to have as many as I currently do! So, without further ado – presenting my (local) Michelin star trophy list:

1) The Song of India *

2) CUT *

3) L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon **

Does that make me a four-star Singaporean foodie (kinda like Germany and football)? Is my life mission now to collect more stars to add to the collection? I don’t really think so, but I am rather curious about all those other places I’ve never eaten at – will probably try some of them out sometime down the line…

Hilton London Bankside

Recently stayed at the Hilton London Bankside and I really enjoyed my stay there! It’s a relatively new property (think it was ready end 2015) and I’d read quite a bit of good stuff about it. The first real sign that I was in for a treat was when I entered the hotel lobby.

Other than the fresh modern decor, the front desk officer who assisted with check in was great – I’d actually made two separate consecutive bookings as I wasn’t too sure about my arrival date. When checking in, I was all prepared to share the situation with him and request (and beg) to be put in the same room throughout the stay. Surprise surprise – they had already arranged for that prior to my arrival! Not sure if that’s the norm for hotels in general, but it certainly left a good impression on me.

The rooms weren’t all that large (I was upgraded to a double deluxe), but also very fresh and modern. Nice to have a proper HDTV in the room, though I wish they allowed us to plug in our own devices via HDMI (I suppose they still want guests to make use of their pay-per-view options).

We had breakfast at their restaurant (OXBO, which is ranked a shockingly high #35 of 17k restaurants on Tripadvisor, as of today). We never actually had meals there other than breakfast, but that was excellent with a good spread (I loved their fruit custard pastries and honey-roasted granola). Much of the hot food offered was the standard English breakfast fare, but it was of pretty good quality.

The lounge was also a very comfortable one. Food offerings at tea/drinks time aren’t quite as extensive as those offered in Asia, but enough for a light snack (we were often stuffed from lunch so that worked out well).

All in all, I think this is possibly the best Hilton I’ve ever stayed at (outshining perhaps some Conrads). The location was perhaps not so ideal for us (some distance from Southwark station and not so convenient for travelling to the Covent Garden area), but all things considered it was a great stay.

[HHonors Diamond] Room upgrade at Hilton Metropole Brighton

Most of my recent stays have been in America (where HHonors status doesn’t really do all that much) so I’ve not managed to snag many significant upgrades thus far – my home Conrad Centennial usually upgrades from basic up to an Executive room (not suite) which is pretty similar to the base one, really.

So I’m currently at the Hilton Metropole Brighton while in town for a conference. When I’d checked in, I was actually offered an upgrade to a suite (upon asking), though I foolishly turned it down as it would have entailed switching rooms halfway as there was one night where the hotel was full.

After getting into my ‘compact double room for sole use’ I started regretting that decision, though! It’s rather serviceable as a placed to sleep, with a nice, comfortable bed, but it was also rather claustrophobia-inducing.

So once the hotel had availability again, I requested for an upgrade again and was offered a ‘double seaview deluxe guestroom’ (unfortunately, suites were no longer available) and it was a definite improvement!

That seaview is pretty good, too – I find the skeletal remains of the West Pier in Brighton to be rather hauntingly beautiful.

The deluxe guestroom seems to be priced at double of what I’d booked and comes with probably three times the space, so I really appreciate the upgrade I’ve managed to score. It’s one of those instances where I really appreciate having HHonors status!