sojourneys


The Hyatt Place Los Angeles/LAX/El Segundo
January 4, 2015, 12:53 pm
Filed under: hotels, reviews | Tags: , , , , ,

Most folks equate American airport vicinity hotels with no-frills, crowded properties filled with throngs of harried flight attendants and hustled business executives. The Hyatt Place Los Angeles/LAX/El Segundo beats all expectations. The property boasts a sunlit lobby with water features, spacious communal dinning areas, and friendly staff to boot.

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Guestrooms are well-planned to maximize a sense of spaciousness, and feature thoughtful decor and large windows that are a notch above the typical cookie-cutter Hyatt Place hotels that are starting to look like they could use a refresh.

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The Hyatt Place fitness rooms are bare minimum, but at least the one in Hyatt Place Los Angeles/LAX/El Segundo looks out to the pool, which has lounge beds and tanning chairs to take advantage of the sunny year-round Southern California climes. A self-service business center at the side of the lobby rounds up the hotel amenities.

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Hyatt The Pike Long Beach
January 3, 2015, 4:46 pm
Filed under: hotels, Hyatt, reviews | Tags: , , , ,

Is Hyatt The Pike Long Beach a Hyatt Regency? Or a Hyatt Place? It’s neither and therein reposes its awkwardness. Formerly the AVIA Long Beach, rooms are more comfortable and well-decorated than a typical Hyatt Place. The centerpiece is a rotatable TV console, which allows viewing in the working and lounging alcoves of the room, as well as in the sleeping area.

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The bathroom is especially spacious and the marble walls certainly add a touch of luxury.

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In terms of facilities, it’s a mixed bag with a beautiful rooftop pool but a paltry gym with but a few cardio machines and free weights. And unlike a Hyatt Place, there is no complimentary breakfast. Notwithstanding, Hyatt The Pike Long Beach is well placed for guests to enjoy the leisure options and commercial connectivity of the bustling port city of Southern California.

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The Radisson Blu Plaza Bangkok
January 2, 2015, 1:45 pm
Filed under: Bangkok, hotels, reviews, Thailand | Tags: , ,

The Radisson Blu brand draws its lineage from Scandinavian Airlines System, and is positioned at the upper end of the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. The Radisson Blu Bangkok, opened less than a year ago, did not disappoint.

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Rooms are spacious and well-appointed. Like many contemporary upscale hotels, a glass panel separates the bathroom from the bedroom, and there is a generous writing desk as well as a comfortable lounge chair. It would have been nice if the water pressure in the shower was stronger, but otherwise, the spaciousness of the bathroom and large mirror provide much respite from the hustle and bustle of the Bangkok streets.

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The fitness center, while not as equipped as commercial gyms or for that matter, the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok, is adequate for a getting a decent overall workout. The all-day dinning restaurant serves a delicious breakfast, and service was excellent. All-in-all, the Radisson Blu Plaza Bangkok presents a compelling value proposition for visitors making a sojourn to the Thai capital.

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The Beat Hotel Bangkok is minimal rather than minimalistic, and not in a good way
November 26, 2014, 2:09 pm
Filed under: holiday, hotels, reviews | Tags: , , ,

I enjoy most of my hotel experiences in many parts of the world, and usually try to highlight the positive traits of each. But at Beat Hotel, I found this a Herculean task. The hotel management must believe that less is more:

  • No air conditioning in common corridors
  • No hairdryer in rooms
  • Little product knowledge among staff at reception (they could not distinguish a junior suite from a regular room, and had no idea that their website hawked free minibar for junior suite guests)
  • Minibar was literally mini with just a few cans of soda
  • Safe was even more mini; barely enough room for a tablet, much less a laptop
  • Breakfast was abysmal; the most substantive item was a plain white bread (nope, I’m not kidding)
  • No juice at breakfast “buffet” either — just plain water, coffee, or tea
  • No reading lights in room
  • No nightstand
  • Light switches are on the opposite side of the room across from the bed (if you like groping in darkness, this could be fun)
  • No soap dish and no place to place the tiny slice of soap given
  • Terrible, cheap pillows
  • Queen sized bed is really two single sized mattresses pushed together
  • Glacial internet speed
  • Poor drainage in bathroom shower
  • Tiny TV with poor resolution
  • Very few international channels
  • No international news channel
  • If you request for late checkout, the reply is a petty 1-hour, even though the hotel is practically empty

The only plus point of the Beat Hotel Bangkok is that it’s near the Phra Khanong BTS. But, there are numerous properties that can lay claim to BTS propinquity too. Hence, avoid Beat Hotel Bangkok.

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The Ambassador Hotel Wichita
October 10, 2014, 1:49 pm
Filed under: holiday, hotels, reviews | Tags: , , ,

The Ambassador Hotel Wichita is located in the city’s Old Town–a section of the central business district that the local government has tried to rejuvenate with new businesses, restaurants, and retail. The hotel is located in a historic building interesting in itself, but the gem is the size of the corner king room that we were upgraded to.

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The large, ample windows let in plenty of natural light serving to further enlarge its capaciousness, while French inspired draperies, furniture, and decor add to the charm.

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The Siena Tuscan Steakhouse, contrary to its name, is an all-day restaurant, and the breakfast was sumptuous. The only crease in the otherwise crisp linen is that the gym is a tad small for a hotel that bills itself as a luxury property and the range of equipment can certainly be expanded. All said, the Ambassador Hotel Wichita is certainly one of the city’s best.

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The Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi
September 15, 2014, 1:25 pm
Filed under: holiday, hotels, reviews, vacation | Tags: , , ,

The Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi is quite a hike by foot to favored tourist spots such as The Old Quarter or Hoàn_Kiếm_Lake, but what it lacks in propinquity it makes up for in understated elegance, cleanliness, and prompt service.

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Guestrooms are spacious and appointed with all the amenities one would expect in a business class hotel such as work desk, high speed wifi, reading lights, a wide array of cable channels, and more. Housekeeping does a thorough job and is unobtrusive. The bathrooms are gorgeously sized and a pleasure to use.

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The hotel does have Mangosteen,an all-day dinning restaurant, which serves up a good meal at reasonable prices. The fitness center is moderately equipped but could benefit with more weight resistance machines. There is a sauna in the changing room. Swimmers, be aware that there is no pool at the property.

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If you’re a tourist and do not mind trekking to attractions on foot–it’s after all a great way to experience a new city; just be aware traffic signs are not always obeyed–the Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi presents a viable value proposition.

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The Emeraude, Halong Bay, Vietnam
September 14, 2014, 2:42 pm
Filed under: holiday, reviews, vacation | Tags: , , ,

The burgeoning tourist arrivals at the world renown Halong Bay has seen the proliferation of new cruise vessels to bear DSLR-totting visitors eager to witness firsthand the magnificence of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Emeraude is not one of them. The quaint, 37-cabin ship was named after a cruising vessel that plied the bay between 1906 and 1937, and despite its age of 11 years (it was made in 2003), The Emeraude bears the pride of its namesake well.

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The rooms are reasonably spacious and comfortably air conditioned. Each room comes with an en suite bathroom that dispenses hot water at strong pressure. The decks are spacious and open, with plenty of seating so there is never a need to jostle. But the best part of the experience is the warm, ever-smiling service and excellent Vietnamese cuisine that is served buffet style at every meal. The salads are light and refreshing, the Vietnamese rolls are succulent and moist, the meats are sweet and tender, and the desserts are…well, they are the icing on the cake.

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If you are visiting Halong Bay, I would thoroughly recommend The Emeraude as the choice vessel to take in the wondrous sights.

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