Review: The Opposite House Beijing Studio 70 Room

In June, I travelled to Beijing in order to position for a cheap Premium Economy fare to New York. I had the good fortune of staying at The Opposite House, a member of Swire Hotel’s “House Collective” brand through a one-night free offer by booking through Visa Luxury Hotels and Citibank. We booked in a Studio 70 room, which is an upgraded room which normally retails for around CNY 3,000 a night. All in all, we paid around CNY 1,500 each night for our stay. 

We arrived at the hotel at around 10PM after arriving in Beijing on a heavily-delayed Cathay Dragon flight. We had taken a cab to Sanlitun, which was a 20-minute drive from the airport. This area of Beijing is most-known for its nightlife, which is especially popular with expats. The hotel is specifically located as part of Taikoo Li – a large shopping complex where you’ll find many major regional and international designer brands.

The hotel’s exterior is decked out in blue and green glass tiles, which I personally thought looked really cool and simple. I’ll note here that most of the pictures of the hotel interior were taken the night that I arrived when I was really tired and groggy, so I apologise in advance for the crappy quality.

IMG_5920The Opposite House Beijing Exterior

The hotel’s entrance doors are designed in the traditional Northern Chinese style, which was one of many local design touches sprinkled throughout the hotel. We were welcomed by two bellmen who were dressed in grey wool waistcoats, jeans and black t-shirts. They were dressed so casually that at times that we thought they were just random people on the street.

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BOOK NOW: Cheap Cathay Pacific Fares From Mainland China to New York City

As part of Cathay Pacific’s latest push into the mainland Chinese market, they are now offering a series of cheap fares for travel between Beijing or Shanghai to New York. While this doesn’t really sit well with Cathay’s improved yields, I’m not exactly complaining.

Cathay Pacific’s 777 business class, which you’ll get on a majority of flights from Hong Kong to the U.S. – not the world’s best experience, though a very, good seat

These fares are for travel during December of this year. While dates tend to vary, I recommend heading over to Cathay’s website where you’ll find a published “matrix” of fare information with information about the cheapest days to fly. These fares generally tend to pop up with a departure date from early December onwards and a return date from after the 23rd of December, although it’s best to check dates that you will be travelling on.

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Finnair’s Nordic Sky WiFi

I flew Finnair (yes, for the third year in a row) to Europe. While I won’t be reviewing my flights, I’ll be writing some posts about my experiences. On my flights, I had the chance to check out their Nordic Sky portal on both my long-haul flight from Bangkok to Helsinki and my regional connection from Helsinki to Prague. The portal was redesigned last year to make it more user-friendly, which rolled out along with new restrictions on WiFi usage on oneworld elite and Business Class passengers. With that in mind, I thought I’d review the internet service and the WiFi portal.

IMG_0056Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Wifi 

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A Disappointing Stay at the Hilton Budapest

I just wrapped up a whirlwind week-long trip to Prague, Vienna and Budapest. While I’ll have more to report on from the trip (including the best hotel stay of my entire life), I wanted to write about a pretty disappointing experience that I had staying at the Hilton Budapest.

While we were going back and forth on our hotel option in Budapest (including holding a hotel stay at a different but similar-calibre hotel until a couple nights prior to our stay), our family decided to book a Loft Suite at the Hilton Budapest.

Our first impressions of the hotel were really positive. The hotel is located in the historic Castle District, which was truly gorgeous. However, be warned that this is across the Danube River from the city centre (Pest), which means that it’ll take a while to get to some tourist attractions. While I personally didn’t mind this, especially since I really love walking around cities, my parents found it especially annoying that we would have to make the 20-odd minute trek and a funicular ride, or hail a taxi if we wanted to nap or grab some stuff from the hotel during the day.

IMG_7288.jpgHilton Budapest Exterior

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A Disappointing Cathay Pacific Service Experience

Let me just preface this post by saying that this wasn’t a terrible flight by any means. However, having had the good fortune to fly Cathay Pacific pretty frequently over the past few years, the service that I received on this flight was pretty abysmal and not at all what I would expect from one of the world’s best airlines, so I thought I’d just share about this experience here. 

A few days ago, I flew from Hong Kong to Bangkok on one of Cathay Pacific’s late-night frequencies, which was operated by their regionally-configured A330 (Alvin’s flown this in the past, but in the meantime all the regional A330s with their newer economy seats were transferred to Cathay Dragon, leaving Cathay Pacific with shell seats on all but one of their regional A330s). Going into this flight, I was expecting it to be representative of your average Cathay Pacific regional experience — comfortable and decent, but nothing too surprising. As you can probably guess by this point, it turned out to be one of the most disappointing flights I’ve ever had on Cathay Pacific.

This specific flight pattern involves a night flight down to Bangkok, a one-night layover and then a morning or early afternoon return from Bangkok. This clearly isn’t especially desirable for crews, and it really showed in the service.

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A Guide to Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club

Anyone who has flown with Cathay Pacific will have no doubt heard of the Marco Polo Club. “The Club”, as it’s sometimes referred to, is Cathay Pacific’s frequent flyer program, rewarding high-flyers with elite status. Despite how well-known the Marco Polo Club itself is, people generally tend to have a limited understanding of its inner workings and often have many unanswered questions about the program. Because I’m obsessed with Cathay Pacific and basically have no life, I thought it would be a good idea to dispel some common misconceptions about the program and do a quick “guide for dummies” about the program.

img_5635Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER

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Review: JetBlue A320 Economy Class New York to New Orleans

In April of this year, I took a trip with my school to New Orleans. On the way there, we flew with JetBlue. While JetBlue gets a lot of attention for their phenomenal “Mint” premium product, their regular Economy product hasn’t been covered as extensively. As such, I thought it would be interesting to report back on my experience with what is considered to be one of the best Economy experiences in the United States. 

We arrived at JetBlue’s Terminal 5 at JFK around four hours before our flight. Since we were travelling in a large group, we were given a small roped off check-in area in order to streamline what would have been an undoubtedly messy process. The ground staff weren’t the friendliest but were patient enough when it came to dealing with eighty high-schoolers.

Security was a breeze and the TSA was uncharacteristically friendly. Afterwards, I grabbed some lunch and roamed the terminal with some of my friends, before heading to our boarding gate.

IMG_5252JetBlue A320 at New York JFK Airport 

When we arrived at the gate, the A320 waiting to take us to New Orleans was already waiting for us. I appreciate that JetBlue has pimped out its gate areas with plenty of power ports and comfortable seating, which makes for quite a nice change especially when compared to some of the dumpier terminals at JFK… (Terminal 7, I’m looking at you).

Continue reading Review: JetBlue A320 Economy Class New York to New Orleans”

Cathay Pacific Changes Website Regions, Pisses Off Facebook…

Cathay Pacific recently changed their website regions to reflect the Chinese government’s “One China” policy, renaming Taiwan to “Taiwan China”. This comes following orders from the Civil Aviation Administration of China, who recently sent notices to 44 global airlines to change their websites to explicitly reflect Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Tibet as parts of China. Airlines who did not comply would face unspecified sanctions.  Cathay Pacific, along with American Airlines, Delta and United, was one of the last airlines to make the change, doing so right before the CAAC’s deadline.

On Cathay Pacific’s website, Hong Kong is now explicitly listed as a Special Administrative Region, while Taiwan is now called “Taiwan China” (wtf?). In comparison, Cathay Pacific’s previous website menu listed Taiwan as a “region” of China but did not explicitly refer to Taiwan as a part of China. I guess that Cathay Pacific could hypothetically get away with not referring to Taiwan as “Taiwan, China”, but rather as “Taiwan China”, implying that it is not technically a part of China but rather another China…

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What’s It Like To Fly Cathay Pacific’s One-Stop Service to New York?

I recently had the chance to fly on Cathay Pacific’s service from Hong Kong to Vancouver to New York. While I ordinarily would have chosen a non-stop service straight to New York or Newark, I needed to take advantage of the late departure time of the flight as well as the early morning arrival to catch a bus to my summer school.

Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Hong Kong Airport

While we’ve extensively reviewed Cathay’s long-haul Business Class product on the Boeing 777-300ER, I thought I would only report on the Vancouver connection experience and talk a little bit about the ways in which the experience was different from taking a non-stop flight.

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Review: L7 Hotel Myeongdong Seoul

Last year, I took a trip to Seoul. Unfortunately, it was cut short by a last-minute family emergency. However, I was able to snap some pictures during the 3 hours inside the hotel that I had booked for our trip, the L7 Hotel Myeongdong. L7 is a trendy new brand under the massive Lotte Group. I was excited to check out the hotel and see if it all the hype was deserved. 

We made our way to the hotel using an Airport Bus service, which dropped us off one block away from the hotel. After being greeted by some staff on the first floor, we were directed to the lobby which was on the third floor where we were able to check in and given rooms despite the fact that we arrived 5 hours before the published check-in time. The overall process was efficient enough and the associates were quite friendly.

The hotel is located in Myeongdong, which is one of the main touristy areas of Seoul with plenty of great shopping and dining, so I have no complaints there.

IMG_2007L7 Hotel Myeongdong Lobby 

While my mother handled the check-in formalities, I decided to explore the gorgeous lobby area, which was quite honestly the perfect place for an Instagram photoshoot. Right behind the front desk were a couple of decorative benches.

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