Tag Archives: hilton

Hotel mini-review: Conrad Bangkok (Executive Corner)

Orchid, Elephant, Turtle:
Touring the Thai Conrads

Thai Airways Business Class SIN-BKK (A350)
Conrad Bangkok (Executive Corner)
Thai Airways Business Class BKK-USM
Conrad Koh Samui (Oceanview Pool Villa)
Thai Airways Business Class USM-BKK-SIN


We stopped over in Bangkok and headed back to Conrad Bangkok, where we’d stayed last December. We didn’t manage to snag a suite mega-upgrade this time round, but were upgraded to an Executive Corner room, which isn’t too bad. If you compare floor plans, you’ll see that the room (at the bottom right of the floorplan below) takes up about the same amount of space as the living room in the Deluxe Suite. This is still extremely roomy – it actually also means you don’t spend quite as much time walking around unnecessarily in an overly large room. Or, at least, that’s what I told myself after failing to secure a suite upgrade.

Breakfast and lounge offerings are still pretty much the same (in a nutshell – good) so I’ll just focus on the room.

Upon entering the room you are still treated to a seemingly pointless corridor…

…which I assume is there mainly because of the shape of the building. The room itself is pretty spacious – I do think the extra space is well utilised.

Behind the work desk are the mini-bar and a walk-in closet.

The room came with the standard rice crackers, fruit and chocolates. The fruit platter seemed somewhat less generous this time (just two bananas) – not sure if the suites come with more fruit or it’s just a seasonal thing.

The bathroom came with a bathtub, a single sink, a shower (and the toilet, of course); it was just (very much) more compact than the one in the deluxe suite, unsurprisingly.

The Executive Corner room is technically a three-step upgrade from the basic room, but it’s essentially the same as a Deluxe Corner room (one step up from basic room), only situated on a higher floor and with executive lounge access. That said, the extra space (570 sq ft vs. 441 sq ft) is certainly noticeable and not a trivial upgrade – Hilton Honors Gold or Diamond guests would do well to try to make sure they get at least a Corner upgrade, if available.


Louis believes he caught the premium travel bug after attaining KrisFlyer Elite Gold and occasionally being upgraded while shuttling between the UK, Singapore and Japan (in economy class). These travels have led to a wonderful marriage, as well as a burning desire to maximise his frequency of travel in business class or better.

He travels with a gryphon plush toy, Griffles, which often stands in for him in vacation photos. Griffles continues to amuse (and confuse) air stewardesses, hotel staff and just about everybody else, all around the world.

Should you jump on any of these daily getaway deals?

The US Travel Association runs an annual promotion called Daily Getaways that is meant to encourage US tourism. This year, they need it more than ever.

Despite who the organizer is, not all deals have to be used in the US. In the past they’ve had sales on US-based hotels, theme parks and car rentals. But they’ve also sold things like loyalty program points and gift cards, which can be redeemed at any property worldwide.

I was looking at this year’s offerings and saw a few items that I’m really tempted to pull the trigger on. You can see the full calendar of deals here, but here are some that caught my eye.

May 2nd- 250,000 Hilton points for $1,200 (236 available)

This is an opportunity to pay 0.48 cents per Hilton point. I know it is possible to buy Hilton points at 0.5 cents each when they run a 100% bonus sale, but the problem is you’re limited to buying a maximum of 80,000 points (pre-bonus) per account per calendar year. So you’d max out at 160,000 points, bought at 0.5 cents each.

This lets you get 250,000 points into your account at 0.48 cents each. To put things in perspective, you need 80,000/95,000 points per night at dream destinations like the Conrad Koh Samui or the Conrad Maldives (although recently I’ve only ever seen 95K point availability). I haven’t fully understood the ins and outs of the new Hilton redemption scheme, but my understanding is when you use the pay with points and cash option you can really maximise your value.

So if you’ve got an upcoming luxury vacation planned, you might want to consider crunching the numbers and seeing if buying points lets you enjoy a nice hotel for much less than what you’d be paying.

Image result for conrad maldives
Conrad Maldives

There is a maximum purchase of 1 set of 250,000 points per customer. You can buy a total of 5 sets of points in this promotion- the other sets come in different denominations as seen below. I find these less attractive though, given that you could get this amount or more during one of the 100% points sales, but it might be a way of circumventing the annual points purchase limit.

  • $144 for 30,000 points (450 available, 0.48 cpp)- maximum 3 per customer
  • $480 for 100,000 points (275 available, 0.48 cpp)- maximum 1 per customer

There is a line in the fine print that says “Open to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia and must be a Hilton Honors member to participate.” , but I’m pretty sure that’s just in there for legal reasons. After all, this is a site meant to promote US tourism. What sense would it make if they didn’t let a non-resident claim a purchase?

Furthermore, other points buying offers (eg IHG, Hyatt) don’t have any such restriction. So I’m guessing this is a Hilton-side additional line of text, and I have doubts as to whether it really matters or not.

May 4th- $500 Marriott gift card for $400 (200 available)

Locking in a 20% discount on a future Marriott stay might also be an interesting idea. Marriott gift cards do not expire and can be used at any Marriott brand including the Ritz Carlton.

Ritz Carlton Tokyo

Marriott gift cards are not yet accepted at any of the Starwood brands, but it remains to be seen if that changes when the two companies are merged into one sometime around 2018.

It’s very hard to see how you can lose by buying some of these, if you’d be staying at a Marriott property sometime down the road anyway and seeing how the value doesn’t expire.

You can buy a maximum of 1 such gift card. Other denominations available include

  • $80 for a $100 Marriott gift card (1,070 available)- max purchase 3 per customer
  • $200 for a $250 Marriott gift card (252 available)- max purchase 2 per customer

May 5th- $1,000 Orbitz promo code for $650 (55 available)

This code is for use on hotels only, and can be used for stays any time before 31 Dec 2018.

I’m tempted to see this as a sort of omni discount code for any hotel you might fancy. It could be one of the better ways of getting a good deal at a place like the Conrad Koh Samui, or perhaps a Maldives overwater villa. Or it could help to offset hotel costs in expensive cities like London and Tokyo.

I think the concern is that if you buy this you’ll end up having to pay inflated OTA prices. But that doesn’t have to be the case- take the Conrad Koh Samui, where Orbitz is throwing up rates that are more or less similar to Hilton’s official site (US$663 vs US$647, the best rate I could find on Orbitz vs Hilton.com)

Orbitz site
Hilton site

There is a maximum purchase limit of 1 per customer.

May 10th- 72,000 Hyatt Points for $775 (25 available)

Buying 72,000 Hyatt points at $775 means paying 1.08 cents per point. Lucky over at OMAAT believes that Hyatt points are worth 1.5 cents each, so you’re actually getting a very good deal. It’s no wonder the Hyatt packages always sell out the first every time they appear on the Daily Getaways site.

Image result for park hyatt milan
Park Hyatt Milan

You could get a top tier property like the Park Hyatt Milan that costs 30,000 points a night, or US$324. Considering paid rates here start at US$650, you’d be getting substantial savings. Provided you’re the type of person who would have stayed at such a property in the first place, of course.

There are 3 other packages you can choose from

  • 24,000 Hyatt points for $260 (54 available, 1.10 cpp)
  • 30,000 Hyatt points for $330 (120 available, 1.08 cpp)
  • 40,000 Hyatt points for $415 (30 available, 1.04 cpp)

Conclusion

I think it’s well worth taking a look at the other deals on offer and deciding whether you can fit them into your travel plans.

I’m currently leaning towards the Orbitz travel voucher simply for its flexibility, but I’m guessing it will get snapped up rather quickly. I’ve set a calendar alert for when the deal goes on sale, and if you’re thinking of getting anything on offer I recommend you do the same.

PS- I know they’re selling IHG rewards points as well, but don’t take that deal. You can buy IHG rewards points cheaper when they go on sale.

Hotel Review: Conrad London St. James (King Deluxe Room)


There are many Hilton properties in London, and though I’ve not actually stayed in many of them myself, the consensus (at least, on FlyerTalk) seems to be that Conrad London St. James, Hilton London Bankside, Hilton London Canary Wharf and Hilton London Tower Bridge all seem to be pretty well-regarded. With the fortuitous (and short-lived) Visa/Conrad promotion last year, I managed to net myself two free nights and stayed at the Conrad for a whopping five nights while in London, and found myself enjoying the stay immensely.

Location

The Conrad London St. James is located along Broadway, pretty much opposite the St. James Park underground station. It’s also round the corner from Westminster Abbey, which is very much a central location, as far as London goes.

The building itself looks pretty unassuming, blending in with all the other mid-rises in the area. The fancy dropoff area (and signage) are the only clues for what the building actually is.

Conrad London St James exterior

The hotel lobby has a very modern feel to it. This is perhaps due to the inclusion of modern art that I do not understand. Perhaps this sculpture represents the never-ending climb towards achieving and maintaining elite status?

Conrad London lobby

Slightly away from the main lobby is a sculpture comprising toys and action figures from across the decades, including stuff from various Pixar movies to franchises like Transformers. A geeky tribute, indeed.

Conrad London lobby toy sculpture

(Minutes after writing the above, I found out that the Conrad’s website has an Art Collection page that lists and explains the meaning behind several of its art pieces, including many pieces I hadn’t noticed, clearly proving my inability to appreciate art.)

The Room

I was assigned a King Deluxe room, which is just one step above the basic Superior Room. I got the sense that the property isn’t too generous with suite upgrades, though I didn’t try all that hard to get upgraded this time round.

King Deluxe Rm floorplan
(Image from Conrad London St. James website)

Anyway, I thought the room was more than adequate. It managed to feel sufficiently roomy, and was decked out with rather pleasant modern decor.

King Deluxe Rm

The king bed was sufficiently comfortable, and the desk was functional, I suppose. The inclusion of a media port for connecting devices (e.g. a laptop) to the TV was appreciated.

bed desk

The minibar area was pretty well-stocked, though I can’t say I’m an expert since I don’t usually take anything other than the complimentary items, which included Nespresso coffee capsules and a fair number of tea bags.

minibar-tea minibar

The bathroom was adequately large, with clear sections for the toilet, bathtub, shower (not pictured) and sink area, all nicely laid out in marble.

toilet bathroom

The TV was interestingly embedded into a flat mirror-like surface; when switched off, it’s not immediately obvious that there is a television set. Functionally it doesn’t really make much of a difference, but it’s interesting to note the attempt at integrating/hiding the television set within the room.

TV

The Extras

The room came with the fairly typical complimentary fruit platter; I’m not too sure if this is targeted at elite guests or is standard issue.

Conrad London welcome fruit

Many Conrad properties come with complimentary stuffed toys – we were lucky enough to arrive quite shortly after the launch of their new Mascot, Monty (the bulldog). Monty is a rather large (and higher cost, I imagine) toy and only comes upon request.

A very warm welcome to Monty! This handsome chap is our new mascot #MeetMonty #StayInspired

A post shared by Conrad London St James (@conradlondonsj) on

We requested for one, of course, and got a complimentary plush bulldog delivered to our room.

Monty

The availability of plush toys gave us the chance to create various dioramas within the room.

Monty Griffles fight Monty Griffles ride

Over the Christmas period, the hotel also delivered a special seasonal platter of chocolates to the room. A nice touch, I must say!

Conrad London Xmas chocolates

Breakfast

We had our breakfast at the hotel’s Blue Boar restaurant.

Blue Boar entrance Blue Boar interior

For hot food, they had the standard English breakfast items (eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.). You could also order cooked eggs – they didn’t have a live station you could order from. Also on offer – fruits, salad, bread, cereals, juices… a pretty wide range of stuff to choose from.

Hot food Fruit and salad

Bread Juice

FlyerTalk makes a big deal of the honey-roasted granola, which I must concede is pretty tasty. I believe it’s the same recipe as the one at the Hilton London Bankside.

Granola

All in all, a great place to stuff yourself with a proper English breakfast, fresh fruit, cereal, or all of the above. I was very much satisfied with the breakfast offerings.

Breakfast on plate

Lounge breakfast

I generally opt for the restaurant breakfast when able to since the lounge usually serves a more limited range of the same food, and it wasn’t any different at this property. Would suggest going for the restaurant breakfast unless you really would prefer the comparative privacy in the lounge, for some reason.

Lounge breakfast 1 Lounge breakfast 2

The Lounge

Lounge hours

Other than breakfast, the lounge offered afternoon treats and evening canapés (with drinks). The space itself was quite well-designed – there aren’t actually that many seats available, but each segment is styled differently and gives each area a distinct feel, making the lounge feel larger than it really is.

Lounge interior

Lounge 1 Lounge 2

Lounge 3 Lounge 4

There’s also a little meeting room that’s available for rental (first hour complimentary). Didn’t see any meetings going on in there during my stay, so I guess it’s not that popular an option. There were also showers available in the lounge, though I’m not too sure why anyone would choose to shower here instead of in their own room (in a really big hurry, I suppose?).

Meeting room Lounge shower toilets

At one end of the lounge is a relatively interesting centrepiece…

Lounge setting

…on the other side of which is where the action lies. The beverage offerings lie directly opposite.

Lounge alcohol

Cheese and cold cut spreads were available every evening.

Cheese platter Cold cuts

The specific hot food and desserts available differed daily, but generally I found them all to be rather enjoyable – it’s possible to substitute dinner with these, if you really want to.

Evening canapés (1)

Evening 1 menu

Evening 1 hot food Evening 1 dessert

Evening canapés (2)

Evening 2 menu Evening 2 hot food

Evening canapés (3)

Evening 3 menu Evening 3 hot food

Afternoon treats

I was exploring the city most afternoons, but got the chance to check out the tea time selections on Christmas day, when most of the city was closed anyway. Wasn’t that impressed with the savoury offerings, but the desserts were pretty good.

Afternoon tea menu

Tea dessert Tea scones

Tea plated

Assuming it’s like this every day, I think it’s a pretty good place to grab a bite, if you happen to be in the hotel in the afternoon.

Conclusion

All in all, I really enjoyed my stay here. You can get rooms here at about £240 per night without discount, although since properties like the Hilton London Bankside are available at 2/3 the price, I find it hard to justify paying the premium for this place. Still, if you’d like to pamper yourself, or are able to make a booking at a discounted rate, it’s definitely a great place to stay!


Louis believes he caught the premium travel bug after attaining KrisFlyer Elite Gold and occasionally being upgraded while shuttling between the UK, Singapore and Japan (in economy class). These travels have led to a wonderful marriage, as well as a burning desire to maximise his frequency of travel in business class or better.

He travels with a gryphon plush toy, Griffles, which often stands in for him in vacation photos. Griffles continues to amuse (and confuse) air stewardesses, hotel staff and just about everybody else, all around the world.