Business Class cabin of the Boeing 737-800 of Malaysia Airlines

“Given the short flight time of barely 45 minutes Malaysia Airlines offers a solid product on this shuttle service between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. You get a choice of two snacks and the crew is constantly topping up your beverage right until the airplane is about to land.”

 

Malaysia Airlines Regional Business Class Review Boeing 737-800

As part of a ticket booked on Oman Air from Singapore to Istanbul I was flying Malaysia Airlines from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and back. Unfortunately Oman Air does not fly direct to Singapore anymore as they cancelled their tag on flight from Kuala Lumpur a few years back. Hence they now codeshare with MH on this SIN-KUL route. 

Given that the flight is so short I usually would not fly this route in Business Class. Given that it was part of a longhaul ticket I was fortunate enough to fly this short hop to KL on the regional Business Class of MH.

MH has multiple flights a day between the two cities and departs from Terminal 2 at Changi Airport. The lounge used by MH is the SATS lounge in Terminal 2 which is also accessible using Priority Pass. 

 

 

 

View from seat 2F

Malaysia Airlines Regional Business Class Review – Boarding 

I was warmly greeted by the leading cabin crew in charge who also engaged in some small talk with me whilst I was waiting to get to my seat. She was very charming and sincere and immediately addressed me by name once she saw my boarding pass and constantly used my name throughout the flight. She truly was embodying the true Malaysian Hospitality even on a 45 minute flight. As I boarded relatively late most of the Business Class passengers have already taken their seats. Malaysia Airlines has 16 seats in a 2-2 configuration on their Boeing 737-800. The seats offer a decent seat pitch and come with their own personal television. The seats are comfortable and come with a decent recline and a foot rest which is perfectly fine for a short hop to KLIA from Singapore. However MH uses those planes on some longer regional routes like KUL to China, India and even Australia. For a day flight it is still acceptable but I would hate to fly a redeye in those seats. 

The cabin was clean and the friendly cabin crew came around the cabin shortly after with hot towels and some pre departure beverages. Unfortunately MH does not serve any alcohol on their regional flights within South East Asia. 

 

IFE on Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines Regional Business Class Review – Cabin 

Each seat has a pillow and blanket (which seems to be the same one used on long haul economy class). In terms of legroom I didn’t feel that row 1 had more than the other seats. The benefit of row 1 would be that you get served first but you do sit closer to the galley so the noise could be bothersome. Also the IFE has to be stowed for landing and I prefer having it in the seat in front of me. Hence I chose row 2 and 3 for my two flights on MH. Each seat pocket also featured The Star newspaper as well as the Going Places inflight magazine.

Soon we were ready to depart and the flight departed on time to KL.

 

Regional Business Class Seat on Malaysia Airlines

 

 

 

Last row of Business Class
Ready for take off

Malaysia Airlines Regional Business Class Review – Food 

Given the short flight time of 45 minutes the crew has barely 20 minutes to complete the full service. As soon as the seat belt sign was off the crew came through the cabin to serve the snack. The snack is catered out of KUL and they do not lift up any catering from Singapore for this flight. The choices were either Malaysian Rojak (mixed vegetables and fruits with a spicy sauce and peanuts) or a chicken sandwich. The choices were the same for my return flight a few days later from KUL. Given that the flight back was close to midnight I have combined the two meals on these two flights in to one review.

The chicken sandwich tasted fresh but certainly wouldn’t win any awards for best sandwich. The crew also gave some peanuts as well as dates given that it was Ramadan. To drink I had some water but they also had a selection of juices available. Given the short flight time the snack was fine and acceptable. 

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Malaysia Airlines Business Class snack

For the return flight from KUL to SIN I had the Rojak to try out the “local” dish. I did find the choice to be a bit peculiar for an inflight meal given that Malaysia has so many other local dishes available. However it was pretty healthy if you did not use too much of the sauce. Again given the short flight time the snack was perfectly fine. The tray was quickly removed and shortly after the cabin was prepared for landing.

 

 

 

Business Class snack – Rojak

Malaysia Airlines Regional Business Class Review – Summary 

Malaysia Airlines offers a solid product on this short flight to KUL. The seats are comfortable and the service was warm and charming. Would I fly Business Class again on this short hop? If it is part of a longhaul ticket it definitely makes the experience much nice. You do not have to fight for overhead bin space, can enjoy priority boarding and get a quieter environment. However if I were to pay for a full fare ticket for the SIN-KUL leg I wouldn’t think it is worth it given the short flight time. 

All in all I had two great experiences on these short flights with a warm crew and on time departure and arrival. I would definitely recommend Malaysia Airlines and I dare say the lounge at KLIA is better than the Singapore Airlines Silverkris lounge in Singapore (separate review to follow).

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Approaching KUL

 

“The Marhaba lounge features lots of natural daylight and provides a great alternative to the other Priority Pass lounges at Changi Airport. The lounge offers various types of seating as well as all modern facilities a traveller would look for.”

 

Marhaba Lounge Singapore

This will be a relatively short review as I did not plan on writing this post until I was at the airport. 

However the day I flew off to Taiwan happened to be the first day of operation for the new Marhaba Lounge at Terminal 3. The lounge is replacing the DNATA lounge which was previously nearby and has been closed in the meantime. 

The lounge seems to now be the dedicated Skyteam lounge at Terminal 3 as both China Airlines and Garuda guests received access. I entered the lounge using my Priority Pass and access was granted without issues. Unfortunately until today the lounge is not updated yet on the Priority Pass website and it still lists the DNATA lounge as one of the available lounges at T3.

The staff was quite excited given it was the first day and even proudly commented to me that today was the first day. 

The lounge is located on level 2 above the duty free stores and is relatively close to immigration. 

 

 

 

Buffet and dining area

Marhaba Lounge Singapore Overview

The lounge is split in to two seating areas with various styles of seats ranging from lounge type chairs to high chairs. When you enter the lounge there is one seating area to the left and a rather long corridor which houses the dining and drinks area before coming to the main lounge seating area. The lounge has pretty good view of the tarmac unlike the Silverkris lounge for example. I always like seeing the action on the tarmac and this lounge probably has the best views of all lounges at T3. 

Marhaba Lounge Singapore – Main Seating Area

The main seating area at the back of the lounge overlooks the terminal as well as the tarmac. It offers various chairs and also a high table should you prefer that kind of seating. One great feature of the lounge is that various power ports can be found at every seat. This allows you to charge your devices wherever you choose to be in the lounge. Given that the lounge is not fully enclosed you are exposed to the noise from the terminal. In general Changi airport is one of the quieter airports out there however. Hence noise should not really be bothering you. 

Wifi was available in the lounge and worked pretty fast during my stay. Given that the lounge was not at full occupancy I am not sure how fast it still is if the lounge is crowded.

Different view of the seating area and they try to partition the lounge to make it a bit more private.

 

If you prefer to sit at a high table you can consider this area at the back of the lounge. During my stay nobody used it since there was ample seating available in the lounge. 

Marhaba Lounge Singapore – Dining 

One of the strong points for me were the dining options. I have rarely seen a lounge which offered so much variety of bread and pastries and was very impressed. Even First class lounges I have been to did not offer a mini bakery such as below. 

Wide selection of breads

The buffet was also split in to a Western and Asian selection and offered the usual hot breakfast dishes. The Western choices offered scrambled eggs, sausages etc.. For the Asian selection the choices were quite Taiwanese inspired I felt. They served chicken congee, braised eggs as well as minced chicken which was cooked in the (Lu Rou Fan) way. As China Airlines was using the lounge for their Business class passengers I am not sure if they also had some say in terms of deciding the food choices. 

Nevertheless the food I had was above average and tasted delicious. If the food standards can be kept at this level, I definitely think it can compete with the Silverkris lounge nearby. 

The staff also made sure that the buffet was kept tidy and clean. The presentation definitely felt like a breakfast buffet in a 4-5 star hotel.

 

Western Breakfast selection

 

Asian Breakfast SelectionChicken congee

The drinks selection was pretty standard and offered the usual choices of soft drinks, water and juices. They also had a red and white wine available but given it was quite early in the morning I did not check out how good they were. The usual spirits were also available and the brands they served were the regular ones you would come across. Nothing fancy but perfectly acceptable. There did not seem to be any sparkling wine option available. Given it was the first day of operation this is something which potentially could be introduced at a later stage. 

 

Soft drinks selection
Alcoholic beverages

Marhaba Lounge Singapore – Bathroom

The lounge offered a number of unisex bathrooms which came attached with their own sink as well as shower. The design was nothing luxurious but was modern, clean and offered all the items you might need for a quick refresh before your next flight. The hair dryer was built in and body soap and shampoo came out of dispensers. 

Bathroom
Toilet
Shower

Marhaba Lounge Singapore – Summary

This was an unexpected and pleasant surprise to stumble upon this new lounge at Terminal 3. I think Marhaba is offering a very competitive product compared to other lounges available at Changi airport. It is definitely the nicest one at Terminal 3 currently. The SATS lounges at Changi airport are really in need of a revamp in terms of decor as well as F&B and I hope that this new addition encourages them to improve their offering. The only other lounge which I would say is on par would be the Plaza Premium lounge located at Terminal 1 which offers a very decent product as well. I am glad to see some positive developments at Singapore Changi airport as most third party lounges are starting to show their age and are in need of a revamp. 

Lounge area
Grand Lobby of the Apurva Kempinski Bali

“The stunning and grand Balinese architecture make this resort one of the more impressive ones I have stayed at. The wood carvings are one of a kind and the attention to detail is mesmerizing.”

Apurva Kempinski Bali

If you are familiar with Bali you will know that there is an abundance of luxury resorts on Nusa Dua. Adding to the big brand names like St. Regis, Conrad, Ritz Carlton, Hilton and Grand Hyatt we have a new kid on the block. The Apurva Kempinski Bali which is currently still in the soft opening phase. The resort is tucked in between the Hilton and the Ritz Carlton and occupies a very large piece of land.

The resort offers 475 rooms and includes suites and private villas. Although at the time I was visiting the private villas were not ready yet. Also of the 5 planned restaurants only one was open. So if you plan on heading there in the near future please take note of this.

Apurva Kempinski Bali Lobby

Apurva Kempinski Bali – Lobby

Once you arrive at the resort you are greeted by a stunning lobby which really takes your breath away. The design is very grand and incorporates magnificent Balinese architecture and wood carvings. The ceilings are very high and the vast amount of space dedicated for the lobby is really impressive. It is quite difficult to show the grandness in pictures as the space is so big that you cannot really capture it properly.

 

Apurva Kempinski Bali Lobby

The lobby faces the sea and you get a stunning overview of the resort. You can also see how massive this resort is and the views of the pools and gardens are really breathtaking.

Stunning view of the resort and sea

The wood carvings took around 600 artisans to complete and really make you feel like staying in a palace fit for royalty. The Kempinski really did not spare any costs to make a great first impression.

Apurva Kempinski Bali

Apurva Kempinski Room

For this stay we booked an Ocean facing Junior Suite which comes with the complimentary Cliff Lounge access. The Cliff lounge is the executive lounge for the resort and you can enjoy breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails there. 

The Junior suite was located on the 7th floor and was generous in size with a separate dressing room area separated from the room. The bedroom and living area was also decent in size and also included a desk at the side of the room should you need to get some work done. One negative about the room was the air conditioning. It didn’t feel cool enough at night but during the day the air conditioning was stronger which was a bit annoying. However given that we were only there for two nights I could not be bothered to change rooms and it was still cool enough to sleep. I would have however preferred it to be a bit cooler. 

 

Ocean view Junior Suite

Below some shots of the room during daylight as we checked in at night. 

Junior Suite

The TV was wall mounted but could be turned to either face the bed or the sofa area which is a clever design.

The living area faced the private pool and had a very large sofa as well as two chairs which shows how generous the living area is. They also replenished the fresh fruits on a daily basis during our stay. 

The private pool came with two comfortable deck chairs and offered beautiful views of the resort as well as ocean. One thing to note though is that Nusa Dua gets morning sun and hence in the afternoon there is no direct sun anymore which means the private pool can be a bit chilly. We spent more than actually at the various main pools or the pools at the Cliff Lounge. However if you want to relax in the privacy of your room this pool definitely does the job,

Apurva Kempinski Bali Bathroom
Private Pool by day

Apurva Kempinski Bali – Bathroom

The bathroom is very large and comes with a separate shower, toilet and bathtub and features the usual double sink. The design is modern and incorporated some Balinese features. The bathroom is facing the private pool as well as the sea which gives it a lovely view especially when taking a bath. One thing however which I guess is still a teething issue for the hotel is the water pressure which was often varying during our stay and one time you could not even flush the toilet because there was not enough water pressure in the pipes. However this was rectified relatively quickly thankfully. 

Apurva Kempinski Bali Bathroom
Bathtub during day time

One thing I loved was the Japanese Toto toilets which the Kempinski installed. I do not understand why not more five star hotels invest in this feature. 

Apurva Kempinski Bali Toilet

Apurva Kempinski Bali – Cliff Lounge

As mentioned previously the room we booked came with complimentary access to the Cliff Lounge which is located on levels 9 and 10. The lounge is where check in takes place, breakfast can be taken as well as where afternoon tea and cocktails are served. The Cliff Lounge also comes with two private pools which is a nice feature if you want to avoid the crowds at the main pool. Whilst it was never crowded whilst we were there, given that half the resort was not open yet, I can imagine it getting busy if the hotel is running full occupancy. The lounge is beautifully designed with both an indoor and outdoor area as well as a generous outdoor lounging area by the bar.

 

Apurva Kempinski Bali Cliff Lounge

Breakfast was served at the Cliff lounge and there were a number of hot and cold choices available at the buffet. The selection included international as well as Asian cuisine and the staff was very attentive in replenishing items. In addition there was an a la carte menu where you could choose a main course which was freshly prepared in the kitchen. The food was very tasty and everything tasted fresh and as soon as you took some food the staff would come and make sure it is either replenished or they will arrange it nicely for the next guest. In general the staff during breakfast was very attentive and genuinely wanted to make the experience a memorable one. Although sometimes there were some lost in translation moments but nevertheless the staff provided great hospitality throughout our stay. 

Apurva Kempinski Bali Breakfast

 

Selection of pastries available at the Cliff Lounge
Breakfast with a view

 

Outdoor terrace of the Cliff Lounge

In addition to breakfast the Cliff Lounge also offered evening cocktails and afternoon tea. The food was prepared freshly and served on spoons or small plates and were a perfect snack before dinner. The food was delicious and included items such as beef, vietnamese spring rolls, small cakes as well as madeleines. 

Drinks wise the bartender served a selection of cocktails of your choice and they also had some Balinese wines and sparkling wines available which were pretty decent actually. Whilst some would prefer a buffet setup where you can get as much food as you want I thought that it was a nice change to have the staff come to you with freshly prepared dishes. 

Canapes served during cocktail hour

Apurva Kempinski Bali – Pool Area

The resort offers a humongous main pool to cater for the large number of rooms in the middle of the resort. The main restaurant is also located in between the main pool and the kids pool. As of now it is the only restaurant open at the resort. The pool was divided in a lot of small corners and the pool beds were arranged in a way to allow a couple to have some privacy from the rest of the pool. 

If you have access to the Cliff Lounge you can also make use of the two private pools on Level 9 which are at the Cliff Lounge. They offer a small pool as well as a hydro pool which is nice if you want a quieter experience at the pool. Also the views are fantastic as you can see the sea and the whole of the resort.

Me at the private Cliff Lounge pool
Cliff Lounge pool

 

Apurva Kempinski Main Pool
Sunken lounge chairs in the main pool

Apurva Kempinski Bali – Spa

The rate we booked came with a complimentary 60 minutes spa treatment. Unfortunately the spa is currently still in a temporary space as the main spa is not open yet. They converted some rooms on level 16 in to spa treatment rooms. The plan is that the spa should open by summer time and will occupy a large area below the main lobby. 

The treatments were a bit on the pricey side for Bali I felt when I compared them to other resorts which offer spa treatments. However the massage was very good and the spa therapist attending to me was skilled and professional and the pressure was perfect. 

 

Apurva Kempinski Bali- Summary

Overall the Apurva Kempinski Bali is a stunning resort. The setting and the design is magnificent and the resort definitely leaves a memorable impression. The staff was also very pleasant and friendly throughout our stay and made sure we had a good time during our stay. Another pleasant highlight was the food, which was very delicious. I never had a bad dish during our stay in the Cliff Lounge or in the main restaurant. Given that there was only one restaurant open I was a bit worried at first the food would get boring after a while but the selection was plentiful. 

Things which need improvement though were the following:

  • The staff whilst friendly and pleasant were not very informative or knowledgable it seems. For example when we checked in we were not informed about the various benefits, features and facilities of the resort. 
  • The finishing of the resort in many common areas is very shoddy for a five star resort and definitely needs a lot of improvement. Given that the resort is not fully opened yet you will also still see and hear construction work going on. 
  • The only restaurant whilst serving good food does not have sufficient choices. If you stay more than two days you will definitely be bored. We went to the Ritz Carlton next door to have lunch one day as the options in the main restaurant did not appeal to us. I hope once more restaurants open the food will be equally as good and provide more options.
  • We encountered some teething issues as well during the stay such as the air conditioning not being cold enough or the water pipes not working for part of the stay. These will hopefully be resolved soon. 

Other than that I think the resort is a great addition to the many resorts in Bali and definitely can compete with the other resorts on Nusa Dua once it is fully opened. I would consider going back again eventually once things are more up and running. I would recommend this resort for a short weekend getaway if you want to avoid the busy area of Seminyak. 

 

 

“As soon as you enter, the city noise disappears and you are transported in to another world of calm and serenity. The staff ushers you to your sanctuary the Ochanoma to unwind over a freshly brewed pot of sencha”

Hoshinoya Tokyo

If you want to stay in a stunning ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel) in the middle of Tokyo then look no further than the Hoshinoya Tokyo. It’s a purpose built modern “Tower” Ryokan  with its own Onsen (hot spring) on the 17th floor. This is really one of the most unique hotels I have ever stayed in. 

The Hoshinoya Tokyo offers six rooms per floor and each floor has an Ochanoma, which is a mini lounge/living room dedicated to each floor. The Ochanoma serves complimentary snacks and drinks throughout the day. 

The concept is to have a mini Ryokan on each floor which gives it an intimate and homely feel. One thing to note is that you are only allowed access to your floor only and can’t visit other floors during your stay. Hence if you are traveling in a group I strongly recommend you to ask the Hoshinoya to arrange for rooms on the same floor. 

Deluxe King Room at Hoshinoya Tokyo

Hoshinoya Tokyo – Rooms

As mentioned above, the Hoshinoya Tokyo only has six rooms per floor and only offers three type of rooms. The King or Twin Deluxe Sakura room, the Yuri corner room and the Kiku triple room. We chose the Sakura King room which is around 35 sqm in size. It’s not the biggest room but given that you spend a lot of time in the Ochanoma and the Onsen it’s more than sufficient. Having said that, the corner room is only marginally more expensive and next time I would choose it over the Sakura room as it also comes with a proper wardrobe area to store your luggage. The one downside of the standard room is that you don’t really have space for your luggage, especially if traveling with someone. One thing to note though, is that the rooms come with an eco-cleaning concept. This means that housekeeping will only replace towels and remove trash on a daily basis. The sheets are changed after three nights (which is common with a lot of hotels nowadays). 

Hoshinoya Room Types

The design of the room is quintessentially Japanese and combines traditional ryokan design with a touch of minimalism. The entire hotel, including the rooms feature the traditional Japanese tatami mats which are pleasant to walk on. I like the traditional Shoji screens which also act as day curtains. At night they have proper thick blinds which will close behind the Shoji screens. Given that the ryokan is in the middle of Marunouchi near Tokyo station and surrounded by office towers there is no view to be had. Hence the Shoji screens are perfect to give you some privacy and also help you to escape the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.

The futon-style bed was very comfortable and I slept very well all six nights we were there for. The sheets were also high quality and the blanket was just nice. I also liked the firmness of the pillows which can often be a hit or miss in hotels.

 

Minimalist Japanese design

Hoshinoya Tokyo – Bathroom

The bathroom is separated in to a shower and bathtub as well as a separate room for the toilet. This gives you privacy when traveling with someone and I wish more hotels would offer this. The glass walls can be frosted with the touch of a button which is a really cool feature. In case you are not keen on using the Onsen you can use the deep bathtub available in the room. The shower is pretty standard and they offer their own shower gel and shampoo which also can be found at the Onsen.

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Hoshinoya Tokyo bathroom
Shower and sink area

Hoshinoya Tokyo – Ochanoma

One of the awesome features of the Hoshinoya Tokyo is the Ochanoma. This is a “living room” available on each floor which can only be used by guests staying on that floor. The concept is to resemble a space for you to relax, read a book, have some snacks and plan your day in Tokyo. The staff is more than happy to help arrange activities and book restaurants for you should you require that.

 

Ochanoma

I really like that big communal table they have in the Ochanoma and there is a lot of attention to detail which you can’t see at a first glance. For example there are multiple power ports available around the table so you can work and charge your devices at the same time. 

 

Ochanoma table
Hoshinoya Tokyo – Snacks

I would like to dedicate one paragraph to the snacks which the Ochanoma offers. The choices are amazing and you have lots of Japanese traditional snacks on offer which is a great way to try different Japanese tidbits. The Daifuku with strawberry for example below was super delicious and is the best Daifuku I have ever had. 

 

Daifuku with strawberries

 

 

I also liked the various biscuits and crackers they offered and they also had some great noodle soups and instant soups available if you felt peckish after a late night out. 

Japanese snacks available throughout the day

When we first arrived the kind staff gave us this beautiful welcome snack which is a traditional Japanese sweet called Higashi.

Welcome snack
Hoshinoya Tokyo – Breakfast

If you would like breakfast you can add it at a relatively reasonable price (JPY 3’300 for the Western and JPY 4000 for the Japanese breakfast) . They will serve it at a specified time in your room as there is no restaurant really to have breakfast. Alternatively if you just want to  have a small snack the Onigiri (Japanese rice balls filled with salmon or plum) and miso soup will be served in the Ochanoma. This is complimentary and comes with freshly brewed drip coffee made to order by the lovely staff.

Onigiri and Miso Soup in the morning

We tried both the Western and Japanese breakfast during our stay. The Western breakfast beautifully presented in a bento box and included freshly baked breads, croissant, yoghurt, fruity jelly and salad. The main course was an omelette served with a sausage, vegetables and a demi glace sauce which was very tasty and is prepared by the head-chef. Hoshinoya Dining

Hoshinoya Tokyo Western Breakfast

The Japanese breakfast included some tasty cold small bites, fruits in jelly, salad as well as grilled fish. The miso soup and rice was served separately. Both the Western and Japanese options were very tasty and if you have the time you should try both of them during your stay. 

Hoshinoya Tokyo Japanese breakfast
Hoshinoya Tokyo – Reception area/Sake and wine tasting

Should you ever need the reception you can find it on the second floor where a beautiful reception desk greets you. The staff are always ready to assist and also usher to you to the sake and wine tasting which is available daily between 5-7pm. 

Reception area
Reception and lounge area on level 2
Sake and wine tasting

Another popular activity the Hoshinoya offers, is the free sake and Japanese wine tasting. The staff are more than happy to introduce the various sake and Japanese wines they have on offer. For the sake you have a choice of having it cold or hot and the staff will heat it up for you should you prefer it hot. The selection changes regularly and during our six nights stay we managed to try a variety of sakes from different parts of Japan. The wines were also interesting as Japanese wines are usually hard to come by outside of Japan. The white wines were actually really good too and I really enjoyed them. 

Japanese sake and wine tasting
Lovely sake cup served in a traditional wooden cup (masu)

You also get to witness some traditional Japanese art performances which is called Grand Kugara. During our stay we were entertained by a professional juggler which was a great way to immerse ourselves in the Japanese adaption of this art form. I highly recommend to go for one of the performances if time permits. 

Daily performance by Japanese artists
Onsen 

The probably best part of the Hoshinoya Tokyo has to be the onsen which can be found on the 17th floor. It’s first of all very rare to have a real onsen in the middle of Tokyo and to have it on such a high floor is so unique and special. We made sure to use the onsen at least twice a day as we loved to soak in the warm water after a long day of walking around Tokyo. The onsen is almost open 24 hours and you can even go for a midnight soak if you are keen. Especially in winter, it was such a pleasant experience to be soaking in the hot water whilst breathing in the crisp winter air. 

 

Entrance of the Onsen
Open air Onsen on the 17th floor
Views of the sky from the Onsen
Summary and how I booked it

The room rate is definitely not cheap and this kind of luxury does come with a price tag. However one way to get this ryokan at a more affordable rate is to book the 120 day in advance rate. This rate is available through their website and brings the cost down significantly. The best discount you can get is if you stay for six nights as the discount is 60%. However even if just staying for 3 or 4 nights the discount is still quite worthwhile. The downside is the rate is non refundable and non changeable. So if you are the sort of person who likes to book last minute you might need to pay the full price for the stay. Alternatively if you are holding a Citi Prestige credit card you can make use of the stay 4 and pay 3 nights offer which is another great way to lower the cost. 

Citi Prestige Credit Card

The Hoshinoya Tokyo is probably one of my favorite city hotels in the world. The unique features, design and amenities make it the perfect city hotel for me. It’s not the usual grand 5 star hotel we might be accustomed to. So if you are expecting five restaurants, a huge gym, conference room facilities and a swimming pool this is the wrong hotel for you. However if you want to experience Japanese luxury  with a blend of tradition and Japanese hospitality this is the perfect place to explore it. The staff was very helpful and welcoming during our stay. Whenever we required any help they were more than eager to assist us. For example for the restaurant reservations I asked them to help us with, they printed a lovely itinerary with all the essential information we would require (i.e. address, time, etc.) to make it easier to find.

I personally can’t wait to stay again at the Hoshinoya in Tokyo and am looking forward to my next stay in autumn again. Maybe I will see you there?

 

 

 

 

 

Turkish Airlines Lounge Bangkok

Given how much traffic Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport handles, it comes as no surprise that many airlines have decided to open their own lounges to serve their premium customers. In addition, Bangkok also has a lot of third party lounges which can be accessed by lounge programs such as Priority Pass and Dragon Pass etc. 

For Star Alliance airlines, the only airlines which have lounges in BKK are obviously Thai Airways, Eva Air as well as Singapore Airlines. Recently, Turkish Airlines also opened a new Bangkok airport lounge given that they also have two flights a day to Istanbul. Remember if you have a Star Alliance Business Class or First Class ticket or hold Star Alliance Gold status you can access any of the three lounges in Bangkok.

The lounge is also open to Priority Pass members, likely to earn extra revenue for the airline. This makes sense as both TK flights leave at night and the lounge would otherwise be empty all day. So if you are flying on a budget airline or just want to give this lounge a try your Priority Pass grants you entrance.

 

“Given that this lounge accepts Priority Pass, it is a great option for passengers who are not traveling in Business Class on a Star Alliance carrier.”

Turkish Airlines Lounge Bangkok – Entrance

Turkish Airlines Lounge Bangkok – Lounge Access

The lounge is located on level 3 near the entrance of the D gates at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport and is opposite the Japan Airlines lounge. It is also very close to the Singapore Airlines Silverkris lounge which is another option should you wish to indulge in some lounge hopping. This lounge is open 24 hours a day based on the Priority Pass website. Unfortunately at the time of writing the Star Alliance website didn’t have this lounge featured yet.

 

Welcome area

Turkish Airlines Lounge Bangkok – Overview

The lounge, unfortunately faces the terminal side, so there is no view of the tarmac. We were there at night but I can imagine it being a bright and airy place during the day. We were there around 7PM and it was relatively quiet with just a handful of seats taken. The lounge occupies a large rectangular space. When you walk in there is a large seating area as you can see below and this leads to the dining area and bar. Next to the seating area are two rooms (Quiet Room and Business Centre). This lounge also has a washroom and shower room which I will touch on later.

Seating Area

Between the seating area and the dining area there is a bar where you can get your alcoholic beverages. The usual beer, spirits and wines were available and the selection seemed decent.  I imagine during busy hours the bar will be manned and should you prefer you can have a seat at the bar as well. The lounge attendant saw us looking at the wine selection and immediately offered to pour us a drink as the bar is not self service.

Bar area

Turkish Airlines Lounge Bangkok – Facilities

There was a room next to the seating area which supposed to be a business centre of sorts but I wonder who will really have a meeting here? There was also a desktop Mac available if you didn’t bring your own device and need to access the internet quickly. Wifi in the lounge was pretty fast and easy to use which I find very important.

Business Centre

There is also a Quiet Room as they call it where they have some chairs with an ottoman to rest. It was slightly darker compared to the rest of the lounge. It however didn’t really look very welcoming, but I can imagine if you are really tired it could at least give you a place to rest. I think it would have helped if there was a door which can be closed so you won’t be so exposed to the rest of the lounge.

Quiet Room
Turkish Airlines Lounge Bangkok – Food and Beverage

Probably the best part of the Turkish Airlines lounge in Bangkok was the live food station where a chef was making fresh Turkish pastries. The chef was constantly preparing new Turkish baked goods and I managed to grab a few of the savoury delights he produced. The items were fresh and hot from the oven and consisted of some of the famous Turkish dishes such as Boerek. 

There were two choices of sparkling wine available (one Prosecco and one  sparkling wine). I am not sure if it’s a permanent feature to have two sparkling wines or if they just happened to have these available. However it is always nice to have a choice and I was happy to see that the sparkling wines and white wine were properly chilled. I went for the Prosecco which was drinkable but nothing out of the ordinary. 

If you like beer, I thought the selection was quite generous as they offered four different brands of beer in the lounge. The selection of soft drinks was also decent and plentiful. 

Below are some fresh parties which were prepared by the chef. They all tasted delicious and this was definitely the highlight for me in this lounge.

Besides the warm dishes, the lounge also had a decent selection of fresh salads as well as cooked items including a local Thai dish as well as some Western options. The sandwiches below looked a bit sad though.

Buffet area

There was also some onion soup and steamed rice available. Although onion soup before a longhaul flight is not really the wisest decision in my opinion.

Soup station and rice

The hot food items consisted of three hot dishes which were  French beans in tomato sauce, Tom Kha Gai (chicken cooked in a savoury coconut milk sauce) and chicken in cream sauce. I tried a bit of everything for the sake of the review and whilst it didn’t always look very appetizing the taste was decent. I actually thought the Thai dish tasted better than in the Singapore Airlines lounge which offered the same dish as well.

French Beans in Tomato sauce
Tom Kha Gai (Thai local dish)
Chicken in a cream sauce

I liked that Turkish Airlines offered some Turkish elements in  the lounge such as Turkish coffee and Turkish tea which were quite nicely presented in traditional glassware. The tea was nice and I recommend trying it when you are there. You pour the tea from the teapot in to a glass and then add some hot water to it. Something which most people didn’t seem to understand. The staff however was eager and helpful to show us how it was supposed to be done.

Turkish Tea and Coffee
Turkish Airlines Lounge Bangkok – Washroom

I felt the Turkish Airlines Lounge washrooms were quite utilitarian and definitely lacked that premium feel which their lounge in Istanbul has for example. This felt more like a public washroom to me and I am also not sure how I feel about the shower room next to the toilet stalls. As I was rushing for time I didn’t ask to see the shower room. However most importantly, the washroom was kept clean when I was there.

Turkish Airlines Bangkok Lounge Washroom

Shower Room within the washroom
Turkish Airlines Lounge Bangkok – Conclusion 

Overall I thought that for an outstation lounge of a premium airline like Turkish Airlines, this new lounge fell slightly short of expectations. I thought the design of the lounge was quite dull and lacked atmosphere especially compared to their lounge in Istanbul. It felt like one of those sterile serviced offices you can rent if you are not sure how long you need the space for.

The staff in the lounge was polite and friendly and made sure the food items were refilled regularly and kept the lounge tidy. Some of the elements like the freshly baked Turkish pastries and Turkish tea were nice additions and were probably the highlight for me.

If you compare it to the decor of the Singapore Airlines lounge for example, it definitely pales in comparison. This seems to be a bit of a missed opportunity here for TK. On the other hand if you are using a Priority Pass to get access it is slightly better compared to some of the other third party lounges at BKK airport. So overall it’s not a great lounge but definitely does the trick if you are looking for a quiet place to rest a bit. 

 

 

Singapore Airlines – Business Class Singapore – Bangkok

Boeing 787-10 Review

 

 

New Regional Business Class

Welcome to my first trip report featuring the new regional Business Class of Singapore Airlines on their Boeing 787-10 which will slowly replace the existing Boeing 777-200 as well as Airbus A330 which are currently shuttling within the Asian network of the airline. The new regional Business Class is a fully flat product which offers direct aisle access for every passenger and there are 36 seats available on their Boeing 787-10. The seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 staggered configuration and the cabin is located between doors 1 and 2.

Singapore Airlines SQ 978
Singapore (SIN) – Bangkok (BKK)
Friday, April 12th 2019
Depart: 18:30
Arrive: 20:00
Duration: 2h 30min
Aircraft:  Boeing 787-10
Seat: 16D (Business Class)

“Singapore Airlines is progressively introducing the new Boeing 787-10 on more and more Asian routes”

 

The Boeing 787-10 resting before the short hop to Bangkok
Singapore Airlines – Business Class – Singapore-Bangkok – Boarding

After a quick lounge visit at the Silverkris lounge I made my way to the gate. I somehow always tend to get the gates furthest away from the check-in area and lounge when flying out of Changi Airport and today was no exception and gate E11 it was for SQ 978. As usual most gates were occupied during the busy evening rush hour at Changi Airport. Nevertheless the airport rarely feels busy and crowded which is another reason to love the airport besides a million other. 

Far away gate in Terminal 2

For Terminals 1, 2 and 3 at Changi airport security checks are done at the gate. Due to this the airlines often announce “Last Call” or even “Gate Closing” before the first passenger even boarded the plane. I suspect they want to get the passengers in to the holding area as soon as possible to ensure an on time departure. As most passengers were already in the holding area by the time I arrived the wait for security was short and once passed we could board straight away.

Singapore Airlines – Business Class SQ 978 SIN-BKK

SQ 978 to BKK
Singapore Airlines – Business Class Cabin Singapore-Bangkok

Unfortunately some passengers had boarded already and hence I was unable to get a good shot of the entire Business Class cabin. The initial impression of the cabin is sleek and modern as can be expected from a new plane and Singapore Airlines chose warm earthy tones for the cabin seats which is in line with their other Business Class products in their long haul fleet. 

The seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 layout and are staggered so that some of the seats are closer to the aisle whereas other seats have a side table giving you more privacy. 

SEAT TIPS:

Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10 Seat Map

Solo travellers: Seat 12A or K, 15A or K, 17A* or K*, 19A or K

If I am traveling alone I would personally choose the single seats closer to the window (see seat numbers above) as those seats offer almost a cocoon like feeling. Especially if you are a light sleeper, I suggest those seats since you will be shielded slightly from movements in the aisle when passengers or crew walk past. However some people do find those seats a bit more claustrophobic especially when the seat is in the fully flat mode as those seats compared to the long haul product of Singapore Airlines are definitely more narrow.

Couples or friends: Seat . 11 D and F, 14 D and F, 16 D and F, 18 D and F or 20 D and F

If traveling as a couple or with friends the “honeymoon seats” as they are affectionately called are more suitable if you want to talk and enjoy each other’s company on the flight. Thanks to the seats being closer together both have the side table next to the aisle and hence give you that extra privacy during the flight. If you do happen to travel alone and were unable to choose a single seat in the cabin there is a privacy screen you can raise (which thankfully goes pretty high), so you won’t have to be in an awkward position by being close to a complete stranger. 

*  In row 17 below you only have one window (usually each window seat comes with 2 windows) and if a view is important to you do avoid choosing that seat especially on day flights.

Singapore Airlines Regional Business Class Seat 17A

Below is a seat which is closer to the aisle and you can see how you are more exposed to the aisle and might get disturbed by passengers or crew walking past you. 

View of Business Class Seat closer to the aisle

The screen is large and the resolution is crystal clear. The IFE selection on Singapore Airlines is great and there is a large choice of movies, television series as well as music and games. Compared to lot of other airlines you definitely won’t get bored as fast on SQ. I particularly like that for a lot of the tv series they actually have multiple episodes or even a whole season available so you can really binge watch on long haul flights. I would however wish though that they would have some Netflix series available as they do get more and more popular.

IFE screen

The area for your legs is decent but if you like to sleep with your knees angled it does tend to be a bit tight and you end up hitting your knees against the side of the seat. Compared to their product on the 777-300ER it definitely is tighter but then a lot of other airlines have this seat as their main longhaul product. If you keep in mind that the longest flights on this seat is around 8 hours it’s a very good seat and hence no complaints on my side. It definitely beats the angled lie flat product which they have on their A330-300 which will hopefully be history in the near future. 

With the slightly staggered seating you don’t really see the passenger next to you and hence the cabin offers good privacy especially if traveling alone.

The side table is of a decent size and also offers easy access to the two USB charging ports as well as a universal plug to keep all your electronics fully charged during the flight. I like how SQ also has a bottle of water waiting for you already even though the flight to Bangkok is only 2 hours. The headphone is also placed in the small compartment and provides you the option to have gate to gate entertainment should you be engrossed in your movie. Especially for short flights you want to try and finish that 2 hour movie and it’s so annoying if you end up missing that last 10min because they switch off the entertainment system early or collect those headphones. #firstworldproblems

There is also a small mirror you can see below on the left although it is in a slightly awkward angle as you need to kinda turn towards the aisle and hunker down a bit to use it. Hence I think going to the washroom is definitely the preferred option for me.

Pre-departure Champagne

The below controls light up when you touch the panel and you can control the seat lights as well as recline function using the buttons below. There are also three preset functions to adjust your seat and you need to keep pressing the button until the desired position has been reached. The call button for the flight attendants is also located here as well as the on and off switch for the TV. It’s pretty intuitive and the panel reacted without any lag when I adjusted my seat.

As mentioned earlier in case you are allocated one of the honeymoon seats but don’t know your seat neighbour the privacy panel can be raised and it goes very high. You won’t even see your neighbour unless you stand up. 

Privacy Shield

SQ decided to install centre overhead bins on the 787-10 which is in line with their other regional product on the Airbus A330-300. This is a sensible decision as the last thing you want is to fight for overhead bin space in Business class. Despite this the cabin feels bright and airy.

Cabin Shot

I think the finishes of the new seats are really gorgeous and the attention to detail is truly reflective of a premium airline. I also like that they have three different lights on the side of the seat which come in handy if you want to read for example without lighting up the whole cabin with the overhead lights.

Singapore Airlines – Business Class Singapore-Bangkok – Food and Beverage

The dining and drinks selection on Singapore Airlines is definitely above average compared to other airlines, especially for short haul flights where you always get a three course meal (exceptions are Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur). The drinks selection is usually pretty identical to what you would get on a longer SQ flight and has the usual Champagne (Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve), wines and spirits you would expect. With regards to choice of meals, SQ has recently introduced the option to choose your meal from the inflight menu in advance (usually available around 1 month before departure date).  This ensures that you definitely will get your preferred choice should it be very popular on your flight. 

If the inflight menu items don’t appeal to you there is a vast selection available on their Book the Cook (BtC) menu. It offers various cuisine choices from local Singapore to Western food and even Thai, Japanese and Indian food options. Recently they also introduced a choice of healthy dishes should you be watching your diet. For this flight the three menu choices didn’t really catch my fancy so I have decided to choose one of my favorite options on their BtC menu :

Seared Nut-Crusted Veal Fillet
Veal fillet seared with a crust of crumbled hazelnuts and served with veal jus, crushed potato, confit tomato and green asparagus spears (contains pork). Designed by Singapore Airlines International Culinary Panel Chef Carlo Cracco

You can find the full BtC menu using below link:

Book the Cook Menu

The regular South East Asian inflight menu on SQ always offers one Western option and two Asian options. For flights within South East Asia SQ does not offer a separate cheese course which you will get on longer flights.

 

Singapore Airlines – Business Class Singapore-Bangkok – Meal Service

For the regional flights, SQ serves the meal on a single tray with the appetiser and dessert already on the tray given the shorter flight timings which I don’t really mind. The aim is to get the meal service over and done with so you can enjoy the seat for the rest of the flight.

The appetiser salad tasted fine, although the croutons didn’t taste that great and I felt the ranch dressing was a bit on the thick side. The seared tuna however was tasty and the salad leaves were fresh.

The dessert was slightly better than the usual dessert on those short flights but wasn’t particularly memorable and I didn’t finish it. However, I also don’t really have a sweet tooth, so a dessert has to be pretty spectacular for me to finish it .

Appetiser

My BtC Seared Nut Crusted Veal Fillet was slightly overcooked but was still tasty nonetheless and was accompanied well with the sauce and asparagus. The nut crust is a nice addition to the veal and goes perfectly with the potatoes. As a side note, the potatoes are cooked with tomatoes which enhances the taste as else it could be a bit on the bland side. I can highly recommend this option from the BtC menu and after trying numerous other dishes this still remains one of my personal favorites from the Western menu. 

Main Course

As usual the selection of breads is good on SQ and I am always a sucker for their garlic bread.

Illy Coffee Menu

After dinner I chose a double espresso which tasted pretty good thanks to the Illy coffee they have on board. Non coffee drinkers have a wide selection of TWG teas available should that be your preference.

 
 
Singapore Airlines – Business Class Singapore-Bangkok – Wifi

On their newer planes SQ offers Wifi services in case you need to stay connected. For Suites First Class, Business Class and PPS passengers you get a bit of free Wifi. The login is pretty straightforward and worked quite fast. 

If you have a Boingo account you can also use that to login for the wifi service. Don’t forget if you have a Citi Prestige MasterCard you get free access to Boingo which can save you a lot of money for wifi in the world and in the air on a number of airlines.

Once logged in you can browse the internet but beware the 30MB will be used up quickly so I highly recommend to set your phone to battery saving mode so that the data usage will be limited.

 

 
Singapore Airlines – Business Class Singapore-Bangkok – Washroom

As usual the washroom on Singapore Airlines is always kept clean and tidy and has numerous amenities you can expect to find on SQ. I particularly like the fact that on the dreamliner you don’t have to touch the flush button. You can merely hold your hand near the sensor and the toilet will flush automatically.

I really like the new partnership SQ has with Penhaligon’s and their scent Quercus happens to be one of my favorite scents and hand soap brand. I really love this change and hope they keep this for a while.

The hand soap is unfortunately not Penhaligon’s hand soap but obviously still does the trick. 

SQ offers most amenities in the toilet which include toothbrushes, shavers etc which is why they so far have not offered a separate amenity kit in Business class although it seems this might be changing soon based on recent trials. However as of now no confirmed plans have been released.

 

I really like the fact that you can press the pedal to open the trash chute so you don’t have to touch a lot of things in the toilet. I wish other airlines would install this option too but obviously this is another first world problem topic. 😉

Singapore Airlines – Business Class Singapore-Bangkok – Bed Mode

Even though the flight is barely 2 hours long I still managed to find time to convert the seat in to a fully flat bed and managed to rest for a few minutes before the cabin was being prepared for landing. As you can see with the privacy shield raised you have quite a private cocoon to rest. For a regional flight it definitely does the trick and lets you rest pretty comfortably. 

The blanket and pillow provided is of good quality as well as size and I really like the colours they chose for the pillows. Having said that I am usually always too warm in the plane to use the blanket so I often use it as a mattress topper to make the flat surface a bit more comfortable.

Seat in fully flat mode

After a few minutes the dreaded announcement “Cabin Crew, please prepare the cabin for arrival” came from the captain which meant the end was nearing for this flight.

Given that it is a short flight the cabin lights were never fully switched off but kept in this semi dark stage which was quite pleasant before the bright lights were turned on for arrival.

We arrived slightly behind schedule as our flight was delayed by around 30 odd minutes in Singapore but were at our gate shortly after touching down. It seems SQ has an arrangement with Bangkok airport that they always get the D gates which are closest to the immigration and arrival hall which is a blessing. If you have been to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport before you will know the walks can be very far depending at which gate you arrive. 

Immigration thanks to the Fast Track card provided by SQ was a breeze and we were waiting at baggage claim around 5 minutes after the door was opened. For an airport the size of Bangkok the wait for luggage was not terrible but obviously not as fast as in Singapore. Priority baggage did come out first and my bag arrived amongst the first ten bags which is always nice.

Singapore Airlines – Business Class Singapore-Bangkok – Conclusion

As usual this was another good Singapore Airlines flight and the hard product especially was a nice upgrade for this short sector. When I initially booked this flight the aircraft was still listed as the Airbus A330-300 and hence I was lucky to get the new Regional Business Class.

The food was decent given the length of the flight but I do wish the appetiser could be a bit bigger and unfortunately on the flight today the main course was slightly overcooked. However having the choice of so many options for a 2 hour flight is amazing if you make use of the Book the Cook feature and I highly recommend you to make use of this.

The cabin crew was polite, friendly and did a good job given the flight was only 2 hours long. Unlike some of my other SQ flights previously, the crew did not have that X-Factor which some of the SQ crews have which have really left a memorable impression. However this is not meant as a criticism of any sorts but more of an observation after having flown multiple flights with Singapore Airlines.

As more and more aircraft with the new Regional Business Class arrive SQ will really have a competitive edge again.  Once all the the deliveries are complete you will have a consistent product in Business Class and have a fully flat seat on every SQ flight.