Tag Archives: hotel reviews

Review: Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney

For my trip to Sydney, I decided to stay at the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel. This hotel has a convenient downtown location that’s within walking distance of a lot of touristy places as well as a number of ferries to get to other touristy places.

To book this stay, I booked two 50k awards out of two different Club Carlson accounts, so I ended up getting a 4-night consecutive stay for 100k Club Carlson points. This stay happened in August 2014, so not only was this hotel only 50k points per night, but there was still the option to get the last night free on any award stay. Boo on Club Carlson for their subsequent devaluations 🙁

Outside of the Radisson Blu Sydney Hotel

Outside of the Radisson Blu Sydney Hotel

Since I was visiting in August which is low season for tourism in Australia, I got a pretty nice upgrade to a corner room at the hotel. The room was super spacious and the bathroom ridiculously large. No dice on getting free breakfast, which is probably what I would have preferred given that I was traveling alone and didn’t need the extra space, but I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining about free upgrades.

Bed

Bed

Sitting area

Sitting area

Desk and TV

Desk and TV

Large tub

Large tub

Standing shower

Standing shower

Floor map to give sense how big corner room is

Floor map to give sense how big corner room is

The hotel itself was pretty nice. The onsite restaurant is apparently supposed to be quite good (I did not try it, although I generally ate quite well in Sydney). They have a decently equipped gym as well as a spa and small pool and hot tub. The front desk staff and doormen were friendly.

Gym

Gym

More gym

More gym

More gym

More gym

Overall, I have no complaints about my stay, and the location is super, super convenient. I’m just sad that this hotel is no longer such a good deal after all of the Club Carlson devaluations.

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.