Tag Archives: guestwriter

Try to make refundable bookings + a rather “meh” stay at The St Regis Rome

Dr Frederick Ee is a medical doctor, author, blogger and traveler. He discovered his passion for travel on his first long-haul trip to New York City in 2012. His quest for premium travel experiences started on that very same flight as he endured a smelly foot beside him from the passenger behind him for the 24 hours of flight from Singapore to New York. He blogs at goodhotelreview.blogspot.com, focusing on hotel experiences. His most memorable moment of travel was to participate in the resuscitation of a collapsed patient during a long flight to Paris. Feel free to add him on Facebook with a message and his Instagram at @drfrederickee. He would like to thank MileLion for having him as a guest writer and hope readers would enjoy his writings and musings.


Tiny Rooms are not enjoyable
Good breakfast is the redeeming feature

Stayed Oct 2016

After a brief stay at Bucharest, I arrived in Rome to fulfil one of my childhood dreams.

Other than the Acropolis in Athens, the Colosseum was another of the images in the encyclopaedia I read as a child.

But the journey there wasn’t smooth.

A few weeks before the trip, I received an email that my flight from Bucharest to Rome was cancelled and I had been rescheduled on the flight on the next day!

Thankfully my booking was made with points at the Sheraton Rome and I cancelled that booking closer to departure.

So there was no harm done, except a shorter time in Rome and a longer stay in Bucharest.

Arriving safely at the Rome airport, I took the airport train ( I still remember someone left a funny comment on how I was taking the metro to luxury hotels.) to the central station and walked to the hotel which was a short but significant distance away.

As usual, the staff at the entrance gave me weird looks as I didn’t ‘arrive in style’ but were nonetheless helpful when I entered. Unlike a certain Waldorf.

Exterior

 

Entrance

 

A Landmark Hotel!

 

Fountain beside the Hotel

The hotel was still undergoing renovations at that time and it affected the front desk, so the experience of checking in wasn’t too great.

 

Checking in was uneventfully, and I was upgraded to a larger room. Having read up on the hotel, suite upgrades are pretty rare.

Corridors

The upgraded room was still really quite small to say the least, and I shudder to think how the basic room is like! Especially at a rate of 300 Euro per night.

Rome is indeed expensive!

Complimentary Biscuits

 

 

 

 

View from Room

After settling in the room, I took a walk around the hotel noting some interesting decorations as well as an ancient lift.

Ancient Lift

 

Spa!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ceiling Art

Even the toilet has sculptures. OMG.

Breakfast was served at the restaurant off the lobby and looked really grand and pompous.

The chandeliers, wall and ceiling art made one feel so narcissistic. -laugh-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The food display was really good and I guess it should rightfully be for that nightly rate, and there was a lot of space to move around during breakfast.

No jostling with other guests for food and space.

Checking out was easy and I felt really claustrophobic inside the room.

Otherwise, the location of the hotel was good, with easy walks to good restaurants and some central Roman attractions, including the Trevi Fountain 

 

 

Taxi Scam Alert! A Stay at Sheraton Bucharest

Dr Frederick Ee is a medical doctor, author, blogger and traveler. He discovered his passion for travel on his first long-haul trip to New York City in 2012. His quest for premium travel experiences started on that very same flight as he endured a smelly foot beside him from the passenger behind him for the 24 hours of flight from Singapore to New York. He blogs at goodhotelreview.blogspot.com, focusing on hotel experiences. His most memorable moment of travel was to participate in the resuscitation of a collapsed patient during a long flight to Paris. Feel free to add him on Facebook with a message and his Instagram at @drfrederickee. He would like to thank MileLion for having him as a guest writer and hope readers would enjoy his writings and musings.


A Bad First Impression of Bucharest
First Taxi Scam in a long time!

Stayed October 2016

After an overnight stay in Athens, I arrived in Bucharest in the late evening. Why Romania? Thanks to a certain tennis player named Simona Halep (who disappointingly was runner-up in this year’s French Open) and that I saw some of my friends visiting the country (Ms Moon L. and Ms Stacie T!).

After reading many horror stories about the taxis in Bucharest, including kidnap and murder, I made a point to read about the best way to get a cab at the airport.My research concluded that I should order a taxi from the booth at the airport and the booth will issue me a ticket stating the company and taxi number. While using the booth, I had to choose which taxi company from the various rates offered. The cheapest one kept timing out and resulted in a long queue at the booths. It took me 30 mins to get a cab and after choosing a slightly more expensive company.

The ride was fine and when I reached the hotel, I was quoted a fare 3 times than my research prepared me for. And so, I asked him again for the fare several times and he insisted on the high amount.

It was late and there was no staff at the entrance of the hotel so I paid up and entered the hotel.

At the front desk (to the right of the lobby), I asked about the usual fare from the airport and despite the slightly more expensive rate, I definitely paid at least twice as much.

Front Desk

The staff apologized for my bad first impression of Bucharest and Romania and proceeded to call the taxi company to complain about the driver.The ticket printed at the booth supplied the information needed and I was told Bucharest is trying to improve her image and reduce such taxi scams. Unfortunately, I still ended up a victim.

Granted it was a small amount equivalent to 20 Euros, the feeling of being cheated still didn’t feel very good.

Thankfully, it was all great from this point!My platinum elite status granted me breakfast as my elite gift, and lounge access, as well as a complimentary upgrade to a suite.

Brightly lit corridors

 

Living Room of Suite

 

Toilet

 

Bathroom

 

The comfortable bed

 

Standard Sheraton Toiletries

 

Complimentary Drinking Water

 

Complimentary Fruit

Bucharest is indeed a rather affordable city, looking at the prices of in-room snacks.

Sorry for the unclear picture!

The view of Bucharest from the hotel revealed a somewhat sobering image of decaying buildings amongst new constructions.

 

 

The Executive Lounge was a mid-sized room which didn’t serve breakfast but was good for tea and evening cocktails (read: early dinner).

 

Business Room at the Lounge

 

 

 

 

 

The Japanese restaurant at the hotel is named one of the best in the city and I was glad about seeing sushi at the lounge.

However, I would say the taste and texture is rather different from what I am used to.

 

A small and empty gym exists in the hotel as well.

 

Breakfast was served on the second level and was a good spread, the staff were relatively fast considering the number of people at breakfast daily.

The spread was fair, typical of a Sheraton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would say I enjoyed Bucharest for the affordability, but I wouldn’t be back anytime soon.I also wonder what became of the complaint to the taxi company about the taxi scam.Most importantly, this is a reminder that no matter how much research and planning, things can still go wrong.

Happy and Healthy (and safe) travels!

Great Location & Almost a 5-Star Hotel – Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong

Bino is a banker, part-time wanderer and a sometime travel writer. He is the author of the Singapore-based travel blog, I Wander, which focuses on travel guides, hotel reviews and flight reports. He believes that Iran and North Korea are excellent places for a holiday but feels just as excited when visiting the United States and Japan. Feel free to say hi. You can reach him through his Instagram at @iwanderrr


Bangkok has no shortage of Marriott Hotels with around 9 to choose from – this is without even considering the ones that integrated from Starwood. A Marriott brand that has been mostly under the radar is Renaissance. It has been around for quite a while now but never seemed to have expanded significantly. Personally, I think there isn’t much room to position this brand – given that JW Marriott already caters to the high-end and there’s Marriott for the accessible luxury and business segment. The Renaissance website makes it clear that the positioning is centered on business travel but don’t the other Marriott brands already handle that effectively? Frankly, I had never stayed in a Renaissance prior to my most recent visit to Bangkok. A quick search revealed that only 7 countries in Asia have Renaissance-branded properties and most of them are in China. There is also one in JB, but I digress.

Anyway, for a hotel within a relatively under the radar brand, the Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong has a surprisingly topnotch location. It is right in the heart of the Sukhumvit shopping strip. You can walk to the famous Erawan Shrine which is just a few meters away or take the skywalk to other shopping centers like Gaysorn or Centralworld. You can even walk all the way to MBK from the hotel.

The property has been around for some 8 years now but remains thoroughly modern with a dark and sultry interior. I took one of the morning flights on the 777-200 with Singapore Airlines and arrived at noon. It was still a couple of hours before the check-in time but the associates were kind enough to check me in early.

The Deluxe Double is the base level room category in Renaissance Ratchaprasong. At 37 square meters, the size is nothing to write home about. What struck me however, were the chic interiors. Think: bold colors (plenty of purple) which add a sense of vibrance and a bathroom which is fully enclosed by glass. That being said, certain parts of the room resembled more conventional hotel setups – such as the working desk so the room could easily suit business people as much as leisure travelers.

The bathroom is graced by a standalone tub, a nice fixture considering the room isn’t particularly big. There is also a separate shower area although the toilet is notably not separated.

Toiletries are from Tokyo Milk. Admittedly, it’s my first time to see this brand used in a hotel.

I was mostly in Bangkok for business so I didn’t get to use the facilities. That being said, I thought the indoor swimming pool was fantastic. It’s covered but had plenty of open windows from which guests could appreciate the skyline of Bangkok. I enjoyed coming up in the evening for a bird’s eye view of the city all lighted up.

Beside the pool there is a relatively spacious gym with plenty of equipments and cardio machines for those with time to go for a run (I didn’t!).

One of the highlights of the Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong in my view is the breakfast buffet. It’s one of the more extensive morning spreads I’ve seen with a good emphasis on local food. I particularly loved the Eggs Benedict here which is served with Thai sausages and condiments. While not strictly breakfast food, I was pleased to see Thai Iced Tea served in the buffet.

Verdict

The property likes to call itself a 5-star hotel. While I personally experienced no issues during my stay and found the room to be a welcome change from the usual business hotel, I did not think it offered enough to be at par with, for instance, Conrad Bangkok down the road or The Sukhothai Bangkok. That being said, I definitely though the location was a plus and the property had most of the creature comforts. The only thing lacking is perhaps a wow factor which one would come to expect in luxury hotels.