Tag Archives: hilton

Hotel Review: Conrad Centennial Singapore

An UberX from Singapore Changi airport to the Conrad Singapore was less than 16 SGD. The airport pickup was easy, given that you can specify which terminal and door you’re at in the app.

I had checked in online and chose a corner room on the 22nd floor. This was a deluxe business room, but there was no upgrade to Executive Lounge access for a Hilton Gold. At the time, I was told I could have breakfast at Oscar’s on the first floor since the fourth floor salon by the pool was undergoing renovation.

Hotel lobby

Hotel lobby

The corner room was nice and had decent views of the Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay, and the Merlion statue. The furniture and room looked a bit tired and dated, and there weren’t enough outlets in the room, but the bed was comfortable.

Business deluxe room

Business deluxe room

Views from hotel

On the fourth floor of the hotel, there’s a pool and fitness center. It’s a good place to get some sun, and the fitness center was pretty well-equiped for a hotel gym. The gym could have been cooler and better ventilated, though.

Pool

Bar by pool

Gym

Gym

Gym

Gym

Breakfast at Oscar’s was a little hectic. The buffet selection is quite large (as is common in many Asian hotels), but there was also lots of turnover. This meant that the service was a little lacking, but they generally kept tables turning over.

Breakfast

There were tons of options. There was typical western food like eggs, bacon, sausage, baked beans, potatoes, waffles, and pancakes; there was Asian breakfast food like congee, dim sum, fried rice, and noodles; there was Indian food like daal, aloo, and roti; there was a decent salad bar, lots of fruit, and individual servings of Nutella, kaya jam, and peanut butter; and there was even a dessert and gelato bar with self-serve froyo. The quality of food was good for a hotel buffet, meaning that it wasn’t stellar, but you can probably find something to eat.

Breakfast

Ice cream and cake for breakfast, anyone?

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

Overall, I had a good stay at the Conrad Singapore. At the time, the room I stayed in was a bit tired-looking, but it was perfectly comfortable, and the hotel is not too far from a subway station, so it’s easy to get around. Breakfast is typical luxury Asian hotel buffet. I think I paid 60,000 Hilton points per night for the hotel.

Review: Hilton Doubletree Kuala Lumpur

For my short trip to Kuala Lumpur, I stayed at the Hilton Doubletree. As a Category 2 hotel, it’s only 10k Hilton points per night, which is a great deal, especially as a Gold member when you can get free breakfast and lounge access.

The Hilton Doubletree is attached to the Intermark Mall, so you actually go through the mall to get to the hotel. It’s close to the Ampang Park metro station, so it’s relatively easy to get around using public transit if you wish. (There’s also a temple not too far from here that serves an awesome vegetarian lunch buffet that’s super cheap)

Hotel entrance in the mall

Hotel entrance in the mall

Check-in desks

Check-in desks

As a Gold member, I was escorted up to the Executive Lounge to check in. The check-in process took quite a while, which may have been because someone else booked the room for me and wasn’t actually staying there…

Anyway, no upgrade on room besides getting lounge access, but that’s about all I would need/want when I’m traveling by myself. My room was a standard, well-appointed hotel room in Asia by a Western brand.

Bedroom

Bedroom

Room furnishings

Room furnishings

Shower

Shower

Bathroom

Bathroom

Views of KL

Views of KL

View of the Petronas towers from the hotel

View of the Petronas towers from the hotel

The hotel had a pretty nice fitness area. I’m not 100% sure on this, but I believe it acted as a health club/gym that outside people could pay to have access to.

Hotel pool

Hotel pool

Gym

Gym

More gym

More gym

The executive lounge offered both breakfast and evening canapes and cocktails. I don’t really drink, but apparently, free alcohol is kinda a big deal in Malaysia because of alcohol taxes. I enjoyed eating the snacks, though.

Executive lounge

Executive lounge

More lounge food

More lounge food

More lounge food

More lounge food

Lounge alcohol

Lounge alcohol

Breakfast in the restaurant was pretty crazy. The restaurant is massive and has a number of different sections representing different cuisines. For example, there’s a Western section with things like pancakes, eggs, bacon, and waffles, but there’s also a Chinese section with dim sum, a Malaysian section, and an Indian section. This was by far the biggest breakfast buffet that I’ve been to.

Restaurant breakfast spread

Restaurant breakfast spread

More breakfast

More breakfast

More breakfast

More breakfast

More breakfast

More breakfast

More breakfast

More breakfast

Overall, I really enjoyed my stay at this hotel. It’s a great redemption value in the Hilton program, and if you’re a Gold member, you can get access to an awesome free breakfast and lounge access. I would happily stay here again if I find myself in KL.

SEA 2014: Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi

This hotel is one of the few cheap Hilton redemptions after Hilton’s devaluation a couple of years ago. Since it’s a category 2 hotel, it’s only 10k Hilton points per night. In terms of Western hotels in Hanoi attainable using points, there’s also a category 2 Sheraton, a couple of IHG properties, a category 4 Marriott, and the Hilton Hanoi Opera, which is a category 5 (meaning 30k-40k Hilton points per night). While I haven’t stayed at any of the other hotels, I’d happily return to the Hilton Garden Inn as it was a solid choice, particularly with free breakfast via Hilton Gold status.

If you’re taking a taxi to the hotel, make sure that the driver understand that you’re going to the Hilton Garden Inn and NOT the Hilton Hanoi Opera. The latter is significantly more well known, so I was glad to have printed out a map that I could give to the driver for directions.

I unfortunately don’t have many photos of the hotel itself, so you’ll have to use your imagination. The hotel is pretty new, so things are generally nicely furnished, but it’s also not a full-service hotel, so keep that in mind. The lobby was nice and the staff was friendly, even in the face of rude hotel guests (one guy was very angry that there weren’t any bellhops to help him with his bags). The elevators weren’t air-conditioned, which I have found to be a relatively common complaint that I have in Asia.

Breakfast was surprisingly good for a not-full-service hotel. I thoroughly enjoyed the food–it wasn’t fancy or as extensive as Asian hotel breakfasts can be, but the food was solid and the pho was tasty. The service at breakfast could honestly rival first class on airlines and Michelin-starred restaurants. The servers were incredibly gracious, they were willing to fetch whatever you asked for, and they did that ninja thing that they do on Singapore such that your plates got cleared immediately upon you getting up without you noticing. It perhaps helped that I was there very early, so it wasn’t very crowded, but they were very eager to please and provide good service.

Breakfast spread

Breakfast spread

More breakfast and made-to-order station

More breakfast and made-to-order station

Typical breakfast for me

Typical breakfast for me

The room was perfectly comfortable and serviceable. My only small gripes were the design of the bathtub and the light switches. Essentially, because of the design of the bathroom, you’re going to get water on the floor when you shower. We thought that there was a leak in the tub, but when we called to get someone to come take a look, they acknowledged that the tub was poorly designed. And with the light switches, there was one light switch hidden behind a pillow that took us 15 minutes to find.

Overall, I’d happily stay at this hotel again. No, it’s not a Park Hyatt, but it’s a solid hotel with great service and tasty breakfast. And it’s one of the few affordable points redemptions left for Hilton.

Thailand 2014: Conrad Koh Samui

Introduction
Cathay Pacific Lounge San Francisco
Cathay Pacific First Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge The Pier Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong to Bangkok
Millennium Hilton Bangkok
Cooking with Poo
Overnight Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Le Meridien Chiang Mai
Patara Elephant Farm
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai to Ko Samui
Conrad Koh Samui
Bangkok Airways Koh Samui to Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Check-in and Lounge Bangkok
EVA Air Evergreen Lounge Bangkok
Louis’ Tavern First Class CIP Lounge Bangkok
Singapore SilverKris Lounge Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
Singapore Airlines Lounge Hong Kong
Thai Airways Lounge Hong Kong
Asiana Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul
Asiana Airlines First Class Lounge Seoul
Asiana Airlines First Class Suites Seoul to New York
United Airlines Business Class PS Service New York to San Francisco


While the Park Hyatt Tokyo might be the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed at, the Conrad Koh Samui deserves some sort of superlative as well because this place is incredible. The views are absolutely stunning, the service is wonderful, and it’s a great spot for relaxation.

The view from the hotel lobby

The view from the hotel lobby

For our trip, we decided to rent a car so we wouldn’t be stuck at the hotel the whole time. Beware: you need to be comfortable driving up very, very steep roads to get to the Conrad. If you’ve driven extensively in SF, you’re probably okay, but it’s really steep and curvy to get to the hotel lobby.

With GPS and in daylight, the drive from the airport to the hotel wasn’t too bad. It took a little getting used to driving on the left side of the road and navigating the relatively small and crowded streets, but we got to the Conrad in about an hour. There’s a Tesco Lotus on the left-hand side of the road on the way to the hotel, and lots of people recommend stopping there to get snacks since the hotel is pretty isolated and the hotel restaurants are all pretty pricey.

When we arrived, we were greeted with cold towels and a refreshing drink. We were assigned room 218, which has unobstructed views (as do most of the rooms) and is walkable to breakfast.

The rooms are gorgeous. Sitting in bed, you can have a view of your private pool and the ocean. There’s a giant tub (that’s honestly pretty impractical/wasteful because it takes forever to fill) and spacious bathroom. But the private infinity pool is easily the best part.

Bed

Bed

TV and view into bathroom

TV and view into bathroom

Giant tub

Giant tub

Separate shower

Separate shower

Loungers by the pool

Loungers by the pool

More pool seating

More pool seating

Unobstructed views

Unobstructed views

Waiting in our room was a small welcome amenity of some fruit and baked goods. Every day at turndown service, more baked goods would arrive.

Welcome amenity

Welcome amenity

The hotel must do a really good job at bug spraying, because there are very few mosquitos on the property. There were lots of ants running around the pool, so I wouldn’t leave the doors to the room open, but it was nice to not have to coat myself in DEET throughout the stay.

The Conrad Koh Samui is really the perfect place to do nothing. An average day for me would be to do some morning yoga, eat a long breakfast, sit by the pool and read, swim a little, sit by the pool some more, swim some more, do a little bit of exploring, watch the sunset, eat dinner off property, come back for an evening swim, and go to bed. There’s a larger main pool for the resort, which is where you should go if you want to swim laps, but the main area can get pretty windy, and the beach isn’t anything special, so there’s not much reason to leave your room unless you want someone to bring you drinks.

View down to the main pool

View down to the main pool

While other reviews I’ve read have been unimpressed with breakfast, I enjoyed it a lot. The Thai eggs benedict was essentially just a poached egg on an English muffin with curry on top, but I loved it. The food wasn’t the best food I ate in Thailand by any means, but I was perfectly happy to eat there for four days. You can also request a coconut as a drink, if you’re so inclined. And although breakfast officially ends at 10:30am, the staff didn’t seem strict about it, and you’re definitely allowed to loiter there well past the end time.

Outside seating at breakfast

Outside seating at breakfast

Hot food options

Hot food options

Egg and pancake/waffle station

Egg and pancake/waffle station

Foods like noodles and congee

Foods like noodles and congee

Pastries

Pastries

Salads and other food

Salads and other food

I found the service at the hotel to be wonderful, and English proficiency was very high. Everyone was cheerful, and the staff would always provide a greeting, even if you’re just driving by in a buggy. There were lots of small touches, like if you’re working out in the gym and running low on water, someone will probably notice and hand you a new bottle. Or I tried going to one of the workout classes and it happened to be cancelled, and I later received a call  with profuse apologies and an offer to reschedule the class to any other time of my choosing.

We didn’t eat at the hotel except for breakfast, so I can’t comment on the other food options at the hotel. We did ask one of the hotel staff for restaurant recommendations in the area, and he gave us the typical touristy recommendations which included Green Talay (which is much espoused on Flyertalk). I asked him if he would ever eat there, and he laughed and said no because Green Talay was for farangs and had good food but was too expensive, so I asked him for where he would eat as a local, and he recommended the restaurant that’s kitty corner to the Family Mart at the turn off from 4170 to get to the hotel. We ended up eating at his recommended restaurant, and we enjoyed it. The ambiance is pretty dismal as it’s just an open-air seating area with the family’s daughter watching Thai TV, but it’s probably the best Thai food for your baht that you’ll find close to the hotel. A giant bowl of delicious green curry was 100 baht, and they’ll make it Thai spicy for you if you choose.

Overall, the Conrad Koh Samui is a great spot for seclusion and relaxation. I’m not sure how you can get much better than your own private infinity pool, and the service at the hotel is top notch. You shouldn’t go to Koh Samui if you’re looking for a great cultural or food experience, but if you’re looking for R&R, this place is great. I booked this hotel at a pre-devaluation AXON award rate, which was an absolute steal at only 145k Hilton points for 4 nights. This hotel is now either 80k (during February and March) or 95k points per night (the rest of the year), which unfortunately makes it a much harder redemption, but this hotel could be a good candidate for the two free weekend night certificates that come with the Citi Hilton Reserve credit card.

Thailand 2014: Millennium Hilton Bangkok

Introduction
Cathay Pacific Lounge San Francisco
Cathay Pacific First Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge The Pier Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong to Bangkok
Millennium Hilton Bangkok
Cooking with Poo
Overnight Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Le Meridien Chiang Mai
Patara Elephant Farm
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai to Ko Samui
Conrad Koh Samui
Bangkok Airways Koh Samui to Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Check-in and Lounge Bangkok
EVA Air Evergreen Lounge Bangkok
Louis’ Tavern First Class CIP Lounge Bangkok
Singapore SilverKris Lounge Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
Singapore Airlines Lounge Hong Kong
Thai Airways Lounge Hong Kong
Asiana Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul
Asiana Airlines First Class Lounge Seoul
Asiana Airlines First Class Suites Seoul to New York
United Airlines Business Class PS Service New York to San Francisco


When I was booking the hotel in Bangkok, I was deciding between the Millennium Hilton and the Conrad. I ultimately chose the Millennium due to its supposedly better location for tourists, since it’s located on the river, and many tourist attractions are located along the river. In the future, though, I’d probably try to choose a hotel closer to a BTS station, as it got a little old after the second day to have to take the hotel’s shuttle boat every single time you wanted to get anywhere.

Since our flight arrived quite late at night, the only option was to take a taxi to the hotel, so we went to the taxi queue and got a taxi. At first, the driver tried to take us for a flat fee, but I insisted on the meter. He still ended up taking us on a VERY roundabout way and driving 90+ miles per hour, but at the end, the total cost was 570 baht (450 fare + 50 airport surcharge + 70 for tolls), which was only a couple of dollars more than the fare should have been, and I didn’t feel like arguing at 1am.

View of the hotel from the river

View of the hotel from the river

The first thing I noticed about the hotel was the mosquitos. Granted, this hotel is in Bangkok, and there are mosquitos in Bangkok, but there were mosquitos in all of the common areas of the hotel, including the lobby, restaurant, and executive lounge. You should definitely wear bug spray whenever you’re not in your room.

Hotel lobby

Hotel lobby

I was upgraded to an executive room, which was on the smaller size but adequate. The room was nicely furnished and had a lot of stuff in it, which made it feel a little bit crowded. The bed was large and comfortable, the bathroom was large, but the biggest problem I had with the room was the lack of separation between the bed and the bathroom. There’s no actual wall, but instead there are just slats like a window shade separating the two, which I found less than ideal.

Entrance (note the blinds into the bathroom)

Entrance (note the blinds into the bathroom)

Room

Room

Room

Room

Bathroom

Bathroom

I was told that I could get breakfast at either the executive lounge or at Flow, the hotel’s ground floor restaurant. The first day, I got breakfast at the executive lounge, but I ended up eating at Flow the rest of my stay due to the slightly better selection. The service in the executive lounge was great, and the views were quite good.

View from the executive lounge

View from the executive lounge

Executive lounge seating

Executive lounge seating

More lounge seating

More lounge seating

Executive lounge breakfast spread

Executive lounge breakfast spread

Lounge breakfast

Lounge breakfast

More lounge breakfast

More lounge breakfast

Moar breakfast

Moar breakfast

I also got afternoon tea in the lounge one day, and they served everyone who arrived an entire tray of snacks that were decently tasty for a complimentary tea.

 

Afternoon tea in the lounge

Afternoon tea in the lounge

Breakfast in the lounge was a more impersonal affair, but the selection was better. In particular, I enjoyed the hot soy milk and toppings on offer, as well as the noodle bar. Otherwise, I’d probably choose the executive lounge given the better views and service.

 

Flow restaurant

Flow restaurant

Restaurant breakfast

Restaurant breakfast

More restaurant breakfast

More restaurant breakfast

More restaurant breakfast

More restaurant breakfast

Soy milk and toppings

Soy milk and toppings

Pastries at breakfast

Pastries at breakfast

Overall, I found the breakfast offerings at the hotel to be quite good, and I didn’t get tired of the food after four days. The food ranged from decent to good, and the selection was varied with American, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, and Indian food on offer.

I didn’t use too many of the hotel’s facilities except for the gym, but the pool area seemed to be relatively popular. Besides the pool, there were plenty of places to get some sun, including a fake “beach” area, and a couple of small fresh water jacuzzis. The gym had a decent selection of machines, but I particularly liked the large multi-use room that they had.

Swimming pool

Swimming pool

Fresh water jacuzzi

Fresh water jacuzzi

"Beach" area near the pool

“Beach” area near the pool

Gym

Gym

Multi-purpose room in the gym

Multi-purpose room in the gym

Overall, I enjoyed my stay at the Millennium Hilton. The room served my needs, housekeeping was good, breakfast was pretty good, and the service was competent. Honestly, my biggest complaint about the hotel is the elevators, which were terribly slow and often seemed to stop on floors with no one on them. I’m not sure I’d stay at this hotel again due to its location, which is good for first-time visitors to Bangkok, but relatively inconvenient otherwise since you essentially have to take the river boat to get anywhere. The hotel offers complimentary boats to the Saphan Taksin BTS station and to a mall called River City right across the river, but the boat essentially adds 20 minutes each way to any trip.

Tokyo for the New Year: Hilton Narita

Austrian Airlines Business Class Chicago to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Schengen Lounge Vienna
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Vienna to Prague
Turkish Airlines Regional Business Class Prague to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Tokyo Narita
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel
Ushigoro
Hilton Narita
Narita-san Shinsho-ji
Swiss Business Class Tokyo Narita to Zurich
Park Hyatt Zurich
Oneworld Lounge Zurich Airport
Swiss Business Lounge Zurich Airport
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Zurich to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Vienna to Chicago


I decided to spend my last night in Tokyo not in Tokyo at all but in Narita. My flight wasn’t so early that I had to stay near the airport, but I had read that one of the most traditional new year’s activities in Japan is to go to a temple, and Narita has one of the largest temples and most-visited temples. Since I had a small stash of Hilton points, I chose to redeem 20k Hilton points for one night at the hotel.

To get to the hotel, I took a JR train to Narita station, and then took the hotel shuttle from Narita station to the hotel. The shuttle wasn’t particularly convenient as it didn’t run very often, was shared with two other hotels, and often made stops at the Aeon mall.

Hilton Narita lobby

Hilton Narita lobby

Check-in area

Garden/waterfall in the center of the hotel

Check-in was relatively quick, and I received a voucher for breakfast and a pass for the gym and pool. I received a room on one of the top floors, and I believe it was an upgraded room as it was quite large. The bed was comfortable, the room temperature could be controlled, and it was simple yet functional.

Bed

Bed

Furnishings

Furnishings

Bathroom

Bathroom

The hotel isn’t far away from the airport at all, so I could occasionally hear planes arriving and departing. It also made for some good plane watching, as I even saw the Turkish flight that I had arrived on.

View from my window (decent plane watching)

View from my window (decent plane watching)

I decided to check out the gym and pool, and while the gym was quite large, I didn’t see a squat rack or any other place to lift heavy free weights, so I didn’t work out.

Gym

Gym

Pool

Pool

The most interesting feature about the hotel is that it seems like every single airline’s crew stays here. I remember seeing crew from United, Air Canada, Swiss, and Emirates, and that’s not even half of them. Definitely the place to stay if you want to socialize with/get to “know” airline crew.

Breakfast the next morning had a decent spread but was quite crowded. I enjoyed squeezing chocolate and peanut butter out of tubes, and all of the buffet items were replaced regularly. There was plenty of western breakfast items as well as Asian foods like congee.

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Overall, it’s a decent hotel near the airport and a good use of Hilton points since you’re not going to get much else out of them since the devaluation. While the hotel shuttle isn’t that convenient to/from the town of Narita, it’s passable, and Narita is an interesting place to walk around for an afternoon or night.

Review: Conrad Hong Kong

For my trip to Hong Kong, I used up my two free weekend night certificates from my Citi Hilton Reserve credit card to stay at the Conrad Hong Kong,

View of the Conrad at night

View of the Conrad at night

To get to the Conrad, I ended up taking an airport bus (in this case, bus A11) to Admiralty station, and then walking through the mall at Admiralty to get to the hotel entrance within the mall. Depending on where you’re staying, an airport bus might be a better choice than the Airport Express as you don’t need to transfer and the bus might stop closer than the nearest MTR station.

At check-in, I was informed that I was upgraded to the Executive Floor, which meant that I had lounge access for my stay, although I didn’t use it except for breakfast.

The room was nice and plenty large for just myself. As I walked in, I was a little surprised that the lights and TV were already on, but there was a welcome message on the TV for me. There was also a small welcome amenity of some fruit and chocolates.

Bed with bear

Bed with a Conrad bear

The TV was already turned on when I came in

Already-on TV

Welcome gift of fruit and chocolates

Welcome gift of fruit and chocolates

The bathroom had two sinks, separated toilet, and separate bath tub and shower. When I first walked in, the room smelled a little funky, like maybe it was a little moldy from all of the humidity, but it went away as the air conditioner chugged on, and I didn’t end up noticing it too much past the first 5 minutes or so I was in the room.

DSC03872

 

Breakfast in the Executive Lounge was good, although depending on when you went, it was quite crowded. I mostly enjoyed the food largely because of the spread had fresh fruit (and not just melons) as most of the food I ate in Hong Kong was devoid of fruit and vegetables.

Seating in the Executive Lounge

Seating in the Executive Lounge

Cheese, bread, fruit

Cheese, bread, fruit

Lots of hot food options

Lots of hot food options

Congee toppings and other condiments

Congee toppings and other condiments

Fruit, meats

Fruit, meats

Cold foods like jarred fruits, smoothies, and yogurts

Cold foods like jarred fruits, smoothies, and yogurts

Warming ovens for pastries

Warming ovens for pastries

View from the Executive Lounge at sunrise

View from the Executive Lounge at sunrise

The service in the Executive Lounge didn’t feel particularly special (or even welcoming) to me, nor did the service of any of the people I interacted with, from the check-in desk to the concierge. Nothing was bad per se, but I expected more from a hotel that retails for over $500 per night (although according to one of my friends from Hong Kong, it’s unreasonable to expect good service in Hong Kong nowadays).

I will say that my room was absolutely silent when I was there; I never heard housekeeping staff or other guests or noise from outside. The location of the Conrad is also convenient, although not quite as close to the MTR as you would think given that it’s technically connected to the Admiralty MTR station, and Hong Kong is so well-connected via public transit that I think location is somewhat less important in Hong Kong than in other cities.