The Milelion is embarking on a round the world trip over the next 4 weeks to more than 10 different countries. En route I will be doing reviews of different airlines and hotels. This will be one really, really long trip report. Thanks for keeping me company.
Introduction: Around the world in 28 days
EVA Air Business Class Singapore to Taipei
EVA Air Business Class Taipei to Los Angeles
Avenue of the Arts Costa Mesa
Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles
United First Class Los Angeles to Mexico City
Le Meridien Mexico City
United First Class Mexico City to Houston
United Business Class Houston to Sao Paulo
Sheraton Sao Paulo WTC
South African Business Class Sao Paulo to Johannesburg
Ten Bompas Johannesburg
Turkish Airlines Business Class Johannesburg to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Zagreb
Croatia Airlines Business Class Zagreb to Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Terminal
Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Riyadh
Four Points Riyadh
Air India Business Class Riyadh to Mumbai
St Regis Mumbai
ANA Business Class Mumbai to Tokyo
Asiana Business Class Tokyo to Seoul
Asiana Business Class Seoul to Tokyo
ANA Business Class Tokyo to Singapore
I got to Zagreb late in the evening after spending most of the day touring minefields in Bosnia & Herzegovina. I think it’s safe to say that I have a very unique job.
I ended up staying one night in Banja Luka at the Hotel Vila Vrbas, It’s a charming little waterfront property where each room has a Windows XP desktop PC for some inexplicable reason. These 5 photos should sum up the experience.
After that it was about a 2 hour car ride back to Zagreb where we’d catch a flight the next morning to Riyadh via Frankfurt. We crossed the border on land and I’m quite certain none of the border guards had ever seen a Singaporean passport before. But Singaporeans don’t need a visa for either Croatia or (more surprisingly) Bosnia and Herzegovina, so there wasn’t any issue (I didn’t manage to get a visa for Paraguay, where the authorities wanted the following documents, notarized and translated into Spanish- income tax returns, proof of employment, return ticket itinerary, invitation letter, criminal record history and a medical letter from my doctor saying I did not have any STDs)
There are, surprisingly, two Starwood options in Zagreb. I decided to go with the Westin because (1) I needed a Westin brand for my 11 brands 11K points challenge and (2) the stay was only one night, so I wouldn’t be getting the triple points bonus for a Sheraton stay (min 2 nights required)
The Westin Zagreb is a really old hotel. The building it occupies was commissioned in 1975 and the hotel itself has gone through several rebrandings, starting life as the Intercontinental Zagreb, leaving the chain and becoming the independent Opera Hotel before joining up with Starwood under the Westin name.
The lobby evokes Grand Budapest Hotel comparisons, what with its ancient carpets, marble pillars and old-timey lighting.
Check-in was the standard drill. Platinum status acknowledged and room upgraded to a Suite (which you see in the floor plan below is basically the size of two rooms). However, they did not offer both the 500 points and breakfast. I chose the 500 points because we were leaving early the next morning anyway.
The entrance foyer has a bathroom on the left and the living room straight through
The living room was spacious with a large sofa, workdesk and lounging chair.
Two bottles of complimentary water were available.
This room also had the minibar with the token security seal. But because
it pealed off easily I am a master safecracker, I managed to access the contents.
The bedroom was vanilla. Nothing to get excited about. There was that awesome Westin bed though. The toiletries were the standard Westin stuff.
Sidenote: I’m genuinely surprised to find out that Westin toiletries retail for so much on the official site, especially when I don’t find them to be anything life-changing. The Westin leaf soap? S$23.95 for a pack of 5 pieces!
The standard Westin set of toiletries? S$26.12. That’s way too much for something I feel is just ok, perhaps one rung above Sheraton’s Shine line.
Elsewhere, there is an on-site gym and indoor swimming pool
Because it is Europe, there were gratuitous photos of naked people on the walls. I was very careful to delete these photos from my phone before I went to Saudi. You never know whose phones they check…
Downstairs was the swimming pool
Here’s what it looks like when it’s not crowded.
Unfortunately, when I went it was very crowded. And crowded with people who probably should not be wearing skimpy swimsuits. I am counting myself in that figure.
I was really only in the hotel from 7pm till early next morning so it didn’t leave too much of an impression on me. Everything worked fine. The place needed a sprucing up. The staff were nice enough. I didn’t see the breakfast spread.
If this review sounds a bit disjointed and haphazard, it’s a good reflection of my mental state as I went to bed that night. I couldn’t sleep properly because I knew something much more exciting awaited the next day…