For us, the hotel has become a huge part of any trip. But it was not always the case. For me at least.
When I was 20 and backpacking round Europe, a couch was just fine. In fact it was awesome because it wasn’t the floor. Before I met my husband I was really happy with 1-2 star properties. I was used to back packing and youth hostels and had never really graduated to much more. I mean why spend money on the bed when you hardly spend any time there and who cares about the odd bed bug – right?
He on the other hand was a little more refined.
I recall booking our first European trip, early on in our relationship. He came home from work one day and said, “I’ve booked the flights in and out of Europe – you fill in the gaps”. It was so romantic.
I researched and researched (all through books and lonely planet guides in those days before trip advisor – in fact before the internet!) and gleefully filled the agenda with London, Paris, Rome, the Amalfi Coast, Capri. It was a fabulous plan. It was going to be so romantic. We’d laugh and see the sights and he would be so impressed with my budgeting skills.
I was so naive.
The issue was, the standard of accommodation I was used was well below par. I think it was the dribbling shower in the 1 star pensione in Positano, that we had to walk to with all our luggage, down a cliff face, that finally sent him over the edge. He high tailed it back to Rome, chose a 5 star property with a rooftop pool and a suite whose bathroom was bigger than any room we had had on the trip so far. While the room was better – the cost to me was outrageous. It was clear we needed to find a middle ground!
So with that – he took over booking accommodation. I was allowed to do research and make suggestions, but he had the final say…. and he had to pick up the tab.
Over the years – I have come to appreciate the finer things in our travel life. He had me at the Burj al Arab. Once you have stayed there – you can never go back.
Needless to say I now start any accommodation searches with “5 star”.
So the upcoming trip to Vietnam has an interesting collection of what look like amazing hotels. We kick things off in Singapore, then Ho Chi Minh, Hoi An, Danang then finish off in Hong Kong.
Singapore: Fullerton Bay Hotel
This is an old favourite and although we have stayed at Marina Bay Sands a couple of times and the Ritz Carlton, we keep coming back to the Bay. It is a combination of the quiet roof top pool, the views, location right on the water and the service that make it difficult to go past this favourite. While the room is not huge, we know we can all fit and the terrace above means we won’t be in the room much. When it came to booking our hotel in this city, it was unanimous.
This time, we arrive just in time to celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the Fullerton Hotel. There are loads of activities and celebrations to be a part of which adds a special flavour. But for me nothing beats the signature fragrance that wafts through the public spaces and I can’t wait to go back and lie by the pool and watch the city light up the night sky, with a cocktail in hand.
Ho Chi Minh: The Reverie
This hotel looks amazing. Trip advisor reviews stack up. It is in a central location with city and river views. It has a great pool. And it comes highly recommended by neighbours who like to travel as much as we do. Having done the research and looking at the alternatives, this hotel ticked too many boxes to ignore.
I’m looking forward to staying in a suite and at club level. We chose that partly because booking as far out as we did, the cost was very reasonable and also partly because club level saves money in the long run. Breakfast, afternoon tea, snacks during the day, cocktails at night – they all add up and when travelling with a child, having those options really helps.
Hoi An: The Four Seasons
We are big fans of the Four Seasons brand. Generally speaking, they are outstanding. The properties are well looked after and the service is second to none. This particular hotel is a refurbishment of an older property. The rooms look authentic and the facilities outstanding. We are bracing ourselves for the cost of eating on site thanks to tripadvisor reviews, but very much looking forward to the complementary bicycles, the private pool, the 250sqm villa and all the little things that you get when staying at a Four Seasons. It’s very close to Hoi An and offers complimentary shuttles, so sightseeing should be easy.
I want to do at least one cooking class, cycle to the local rice fields, explore Hoi An and spend a lot of time (and my birthday) by the pool. We have 8 nights there, thanks to a generous stay 4 pay for 3 rate.
Danang: The Intercontinental
Recently selected to host the APEC summit, this hotel looks spectacular. Tripadvisor reviews rate it very highly and if it is good enough for world leaders it will be good enough for us. From the beach to the pools to the cable car that takes from top to bottom – it looks spectacular.
Although out a bit from the city, it is on a private beach and apparently monkeys hang out on your terrace and eat fruit. That ought to keep the small person entertained. Once again we have chosen club level – especially given the distance from the town. Fingers crossed the monkeys live up to the hype!
Hong Kong: The Four Seasons
I love Hong Kong. I love the craziness, I love the energy, the smells and the sights. But I also like the idea of escaping all that and lying poolside. Simon and I have been to Hong Kong a lot and each time we have chosen to stay at hotels that look at the island. But this hotel has been on my bucket list for some time. I put my foot down and got my way. So we are staying on the island for the first time. Fingers crossed the hotel lives up to my expectation! It should do – it is a Four Seasons after all.
So three weeks of stunning properties across Asia. I can’t wait. We take off in late June so watch this space for updates and reviews of each of these magic places. And in case you were wondering, I am getting used to Simon’s way of travelling. Unfortunately so is the small person. It’ll be a rude awakening when she has her turn back packing around Europe!
Highlights from small heights
Well hello again. As I have no idea whatsoever as to where on earth we’re staying, I’ll just comment on the pictures.
- Bright isn’t it? The architect was clearly a small child, afraid of the dark.
- A lot of houses. Maybe some young girls combined their doll’s residences?
- There’s me. And my father, who to be clear is not related to me in the slightest except by birth.
- Ancient Egypt. A scene from Antony and Cleopatra, the play by Shakespeare, perhaps? I can’t imagine it is very Vietnamese.
- Is that a painting? It’s too good to be true.
- Wait, no that is.
As you can tell, my parents leave it all a surprise.
Top two improvements tips: Hire older architects and don’t waste the money on dollhouses. I’d suggest books as an alternative.