Tag Archives: rtw

The Milelion’s RTW Trip: A visit to Narita city and ANA back home

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
Silvercar LAX
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
Hilton Sandton
Ten Bompas Johannesburg
Turkish Airlines Business Class Johannesburg to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Zagreb
Westin 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
Westin Seoul
W Seoul
Asiana Business Class Seoul to Tokyo
ANA Business Class Tokyo to Singapore


Most people hear “Narita” and think “airport”. And I suppose that’s only normal, given how many people will use NRT in their lifetimes yet never set foot in Narita City.

I had a long-ish layover between my Asiana flight to NRT and my ANA flight back home to Singapore. It was that strange window where it was too long to hang out in the airport and too short to visit Tokyo proper.

Fortunately, I read about the possibility of doing a quick pop out to Narita City during my layover.

Narita City actually has a fascinating history. It was a quiet, sleepy agricultural plot (some would argue that it still is, really) until the 1960s when the government identified the need to build a larger airport to relieve the pressure from Haneda. Narita City was eventually selected.

Tofugu has written an excellent article on the history of Narita airport which is well worth a read. It charts the troubled history of Narita airport, from the initial disagreements with the farmers whose land it sat on to the violent eviction in the 1970s. Some highlights from the Narita troubles include

  • One Union protest leader running for the Japanese Diet (parliament) ran on a Narita Airport opposition platform. Despite getting 330,000 votes nationwide he failed to win a seat.
  • Protesters built a steel tower in the area to obstruct construction of a road to the airport.
  • Numerous incidents of counter violence from security forces on protesters, including one death during the destruction of the above mentioned tower.
  • The construction of a “fortress” using 100 million yen worth of donations on an area near where protesters expected planes to land. Battles between riot police with tear gas grenades and water cannons and protesters with Molotov cocktails and pachinko-ball slingshots took place when the authorities tried to clear it away.
  • Arson against a Keisei Skyliner train to sabotage transport to Narita.

Perhaps the most “attention worthy” of these attempts was the occupation of the control tower by the protesters which involved ramming two trucks carrying waste oil through airport entrances and a “red helmet squad” infiltrating the airport vicinities overnight through sewage pipes. They succeeded in destroying the equipment of the airport control tower.

Don’t mess with farmers.

The arrival of Narita airport didn’t turn Narita City into a bustling metropolis. Thanks to the strong transport networks that link Narita to Tokyo,  there’s really no reason why you’d need to put up in Narita for any extended period of time. Tripadvisor’s listing for Narita suggests as much-

Narita City is easily accessible from Narita Airport as there are two train lines that head directly there in under 10 minutes. You can take either the JR or Keisei trains, which cost about 240-260 JPY

credit: japan-guide.com

The biggest attractions in Narita City are the temple and park, but culture and nature were not on my to-do list.

Instead, I had two hedonistic goals- eat and shop. I wanted to get some good quality sushi and I needed to visit a Japanese supermarket. So the plan was to visit Edokkozushi and Aeon Mall.

I cleared immigration in record time, thanks to my trusty APEC card. Once through, it was the simple matter of heading down to the train station and catching the first train out.

Edokkozushi is easy enough to find from the Narita City train station, though I somehow conspired to get lost by heading down the wrong alley. It’s less than a five minute walk in total. Japanese restaurants do not have English names in the sign board, so it took me a lot of guesswork to figure out that this one was the right one.

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Edokkozushi  is a charming little place that probably seats 30 at most. The staff must get a lot of tourists because they understand basic English. They were warm and hospitable.

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There is a menu which I forgot to take a photo of but it offers you the choice of several sets. I think the basic set of seven pieces plus a maki roll cost about S$40.

Was this anywhere near the standard of the Tsukiji fish market? Of course not. But it was still pretty darn good. Particular highlights were the otoro (additional charge of ~S$8 equivalent) and the fish roe.

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Lunch done, I headed out to Aeon Mall. There’s a bus that goes to Aeon Mall from Narita City station. It’s quite hard to miss, what with it being Pink and having Aeon Mall written on the side. The fare will cost you JPY250 and the trip is about 10 minutes.

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I didn’t get any photos of the mall itself, so why don’t you settle for this file photo.

photo credit: japan-guide.com
photo credit: japan-guide.com

There is a wide variety of stores within Aeon Mall, nothing upmarket but all the staples are there. You can find Muji, a Sports Authority, a 100 yen shop, a hypermarket etc. A good analogy would be to think of a heartland mall in Singapore. If you’re heading there you might want to take advantage of the 5% tourist discount (with the yen so expensive now every bit helps right?) I made a beeline for the hypermarket where I loaded up on Japanese snacks and went hunting for melon.

I was crazy about muskmelon ever since I tried a life-ruining piece at the Grand Hyatt Singapore. Japanese muskmelons in Singapore retail at $80+ (if someone knows cheaper ones I’m all ears) but I managed to find a $40 version at the Japanese supermarket.

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I’m a novice to all this, but apparently if it’s in a box it’s good. I was taking a gamble here, because I’m also unclear as to how you tell whether a melon is ripe or not. I was sure it’d be good, but I didn’t know just how good until I brought it back to Singapore, chilled it in the fridge for four days and finally cut it open to reveal this

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The center was molten and the flesh yielded with the smallest dig of a spoon. It was so sweet it brought manly tears to my eyes. As I dug into it more and more juice pooled in the center in some wonderful soupy gloop. It was heavenly and I want more.

The rest of the mall proved a decent enough distraction- there is a range of F&B outlets there (including a Thai restaurant and the ubiquitous Chinese eatery to cater to China tourists) as well as a cinema for those of you with long layovers (although if your layover is feature film length you might be better off heading to downtown Tokyo)

I headed back to the airport via a cab this time, melon and snacks in tow. The cab ride is ridiculously expensive, about 2,500 JPY, but I had no choice as I’d messed up my shuttle bus timings and couldn’t get back to the train station on time to catch a train to the airport (couldn’t you just have taken the cab to the train station, I asked myself later)

The Star Alliance carriers operate out of Terminal 1 in Narita Airport

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Narita Airport had really long lines for check-in, especially on flights to China (the above queue is for Air China). I peeked at the queues for Singapore Airlines, which were deserted in comparison.

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Fortunately, Narita is a participant in the Star Alliance Gold Track program, which allows Star Gold members to enjoy expedited security. I remember seeing this in LHR and a few other places as well. You don’t need to be flying premium cabins to use it, so long as you have a Star Gold card you’ll be allowed access.

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I swung by the lounge briefly but it was packed to the brim and there was absolutely nowhere to sit. You can read a full review of the lounge in the previous BOM-NRT leg.

EDIT: Thanks to William I can bring you one of the wonders of the ANA lounge- the automatic beer pouring machine. It’s true, the Japanese are light years ahead of the rest of us.

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photo credit: William 

I was flying on NH801 back to Singapore today. As you can see, the flight was absolutely packed (you can spy the lucky guy in the throne seat second row from the front- look at all that storage space!)

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The seat and hard product are exactly the same as that on my BOM-NRT flight, so head on over there if you want to read about it. Whereas on my previous ANA flight I had one of the throne seats in the middle, this time I was at the side in seat 1K

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Because I was the front of the plane I had the air vents infront of me. The hypochondriac in me was worried until I remembered that the 787 had some of the most advanced HEPA air filters in an aircraft.

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There were minor signs of wear and tear on the seat. I’m guessing I got one of the older 787s (which is saying something considering the first 787 commercial flight wasn’t that long ago, back in October 2011)

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Fortunately, a sleeping pad was provided on this flight (even though it departed at 5pm). This was absent from the BOM-NRT leg (and that was a red eye). The sleeping pad setup might not be as good as the full duvet setup you get in SQ, but it does offer you more flexibility in deciding whether you want to lounge, sit up straight or sleep.

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Pre-departure beverages were served, albeit in plastic cups. I can’t remember if this happened for my BOM-NRT flight but either way it’s not something you expect from a 5 star airline.

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Magazines and newspapers were offered. It was good to see The Straits Times after a month long hiatus

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One thing I love about Japanese airports is how the ground staff line up to wave the plane goodbye.

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We were soon cruising at 39,000 feet. The 787’s electronically tinted windows give some great views.

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Menus were distributed for dinner. What I have concluded is I need a better way of taking photos of menus. These are nigh on unreadable.

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So here’s the text version

International Cuisine

Appetizer- Foie-gras and chicken pate, pineapple cofiture, quinoa salad and marinated seabass

Main plate- Rolled wagyu beef with Shalyapin style onion sauce, Japanese shiso herb flavor OR spicy curry with sauteed prawn

Bread- served with Japanese Hiruzen Jersey butter and olive oil

Japanese Cuisine

Zensai- silver-stripe round herring in vinegar sauce, deep-fried jackknife prawn with black vinegar thick broth, simmered bitter melon in soy-based sauce, salt-grilled bonito, dressed okra with sesame paste

Kobachi- marinated eel and cucumber in bonito-vinegar sauce

Otsukuri- frozen lightly roasted bonito

Shusai- simmered Kagoshima berkshire pork in soy-based black vinegar sauce, served with steamed rice, miso soup and assorted Japanese pickles

ANA’s usual odd amuse bouche was on offer. This time it was coho salmon rolled with kombu-kelp, conger eel aspic with turmeric-flavored mayonnaise sauce, corn terrine, mini grissini with uncured ham, two kinds of olive and cheese with herb oil. I was not a fan.

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The foie-gras and chicken pate was even stranger, and I couldn’t understand what role pineapple played in the dish.

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Fortunately, the rolled wagyu beef was very good. It’s not steak, mind you,  so it’s not a question of doneness. The texture was more akin to a stir fry.

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After dinner it was a quick snooze and before I knew it we landed at Changi just after midnight, a place that seemed so familiar and yet foreign at the same time. It was good to be back.

And that brings me to the end of my very long RTW trip report! Seems like only yesterday I was flying over to LAX.  It’s been a fantastic trip, and thank you all for keeping me company. I hope it’s been useful in giving you ideas on which Star Alliance products you might be interested on trying in the near future, perhaps through Lifemiles or one of the Krisflyer sweet spots.

Stay tuned for some follow up reports giving my thoughts on how the different hard products compare, as well as some other bonus material.

Now, to continue working on that credit card omnibus

The Milelion’s RTW Trip: Asiana to NRT, and a reunion with an old friend

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
Silvercar LAX
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
Hilton Sandton
Ten Bompas Johannesburg
Turkish Airlines Business Class Johannesburg to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Zagreb
Westin 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
Westin Seoul
W Seoul
Asiana Business Class Seoul to Tokyo
ANA Business Class Tokyo to Singapore


The 747 always holds a special place in my heart because of its links to my childhood. When I was young my father was posted to Silicon Valley to work. Whenever we shuttled back and forth between the USA and Singapore, we’d take one of SQ’s many 747s. Sometimes it’d be the Big Top (-300). Sometimes it’d be the Mega Top (-400). Sometimes we’d be seated in business class on the upper deck (companies were way more generous with expatriate packages back in the day) and sometimes we’d be cramped in the rear, but all the time the stewardesses would fuss over me (My career as a charmer started early) and bring me model aircraft, games and other distractions.

I’d get to go to the cockpit and meet the pilots, who would sign my Young Explorer booklet. For the uninitiated among you, Krisflyer used to have a special Young Explorer program just for kids. It even had various tiers (good to get them started on the status race early in life) which gave better benefits that I can’t quite remember. There was definitely a requalification gift and once I got tickets to watch Space Jam. It was a different time.

So being on a 747 definitely brings back a lot of memories for me. Unfortunately,  the heyday of the 747 is long over, as the former queen of the long haul skies gets replaced by more fuel-efficient A380s and 77Ws. And although the A380 is certainly a formidable replacement, you don’t get that same feeling of privacy by having a small mini-cabin at the top of the jet.

SQ’s upper deck on the 747. This version has the angled flat Spacebed seats, but I’m old enough to remember when they used the reclining Ultimo series | photo credit: ashutterbugslife.wordpress.com

As of January 2016 there were about 220 747-400s left in passenger service, and over a third of them were with three airlines (BA, UA and KLM). This aircraft used to account for almost 50% of Asia-Europe and Asia-North America flights in the first half of 2006, but 10 years later it now accounts to less than 10%. Take up of the 747-400’s spiritual successor, the 747-8, has been poor, with only three passenger operators. So it’s likely that within the next 5-10 years we’re likely to see the familiar shape of the 747 disappear from airports altogether (or confined to the cargo terminals).

Asiana too, is in the process of gradually phasing out its 747 fleet. It has four left in commercial services, flying short distance/high traffic routes like ICN-NRT.

The best thing is that even though Asiana’s 747s have three cabins, they only sell business and economy seats on this route. Therefore, if you book business, you can use the manage booking function to select a first class seat in the nose of the 747 (the service level on offer however will still be business).

In other words, if you’re booked in business you can either pick one of the 10 first class seats in the nose of the plane

Or one of the 24 business class seats in the upper deck

Although the upper deck is always an amazing experience, no prizes for guessing which section I took.

I departed from the W Walkerhill very early anticipating a minimum 90 minute journey to the airport, but because it was early on a Sunday morning (and the driver ignored all stop signs speed limits and traffic lights) we were there in just over 45 minutes. This gave me plenty of time to explore ICN airport.

Check-in was really silly. Even though I already had an e-boarding pass on my phone, the security people insisted I go back to the counter and get a physical one. Because physical is so much more legit. There were crazy lines at the counter, even for business class, but I just wandered up to a vacant first class station and asked if they could print out my pass for me, which they happily obliged.

Asiana’s flagship lounge in ICN was functional but not outstanding. It’s located up an escalator from the main concourse

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Up the escalator you’ll find reception, but access control isn’t very good and during busy times when every counter staff is preoccupied I can see it being very easy for someone to come up the escalator and automatically turn left to enter the lounge (the lounge is split into two halves with the reception counter in the middle)

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I scanned my boarding pass and went into the far end of the lounge (away from the escalators). This is the larger lounge area.

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There is plenty of seating in the lounge and a sit down dining area.

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The buffet selection was actually really poor, with only two hot items, cereal, bread and the curious option of a salad bar. 5 o’ clock somewhere, I guess.

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The alcohol selection was already out even though it was 8 in the morning. Nothing sparkling on offer.

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Behind the dining area was a TV area with sports on mute.

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Elsewhere in the lounge you could find a selection of Englisha nd Korean reading materials

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Some workstations (note the privacy glass separating each workstation from its neighbor)

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And a random grand piano. Mostly for ambiance, not for music.

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Ultimately the lounge didn’t leave much of an impression on me. I actually thought it was slightly poorer than SQ’s SilverKris business class section in Singapore, given that SQ has a much wider variety of hot dishes and alcohol on offer.  It only struck me later that I could have gone to find SQ’s much better SilverKris ICN lounge instead of waiting here. Then again it might not have been open so early in hte morning.

When the time came to board I headed down to Gate 30 to prepare to meet an old friend. I was excited to see that it was a 747 Combi, which takes both passengers and cargo. You can see in the photo below that a large flap towards the rear of the aircraft is open. This is where they load the cargo pallets.

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Boarding started exactly on time. The ICN-NRT route, as you might expect, is very popular among business travellers.

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I had never been in the nose section of the 747 before, only on the upper deck. There are 10 seats in the nose section of Asiana’s 747

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I had seat 3K, on the starboard side of the aircraft.  I could imagine this seat being quite the luxury 10 years ago, but products have changed and innovated so much since then that the seat just looked very old and tired. More than sufficient for a 2 hour 10 minute flight of course.

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It’s interesting how the seat design speaks volumes about how design priorities have changed over the years. You can see that the seat is really not very private. I could look across the entire cabin from where I was seated. That would be unthinkable on modern-day first class cabins where you’d get high walls and movable partitions to give privacy.

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The most private seats in this cabin are probably those towards the front, 1A and K, simply because your blocked by the large rear of your own seat.

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That said, I suppose if you sit at the correct angle you could still be seen (as this view of 1A from 3K shows)

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The wear was visible on the seat controls especially around the edges

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As well as around the tray table slot, presumably from suffering many bangs over the years by frustrated individuals trying to get the trays back in.

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Some other minor cosmetic defects could be seen on the leather.

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Fortunately, the IFE controller worked just fine (and I think is the same model used on SQ’s A330s)

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And despite being an old aircraft, Empower plugs and USB outlets were still available.

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I got the same amenities I got on the NRT-ICN leg on the A330, given that the service standards would be business class despite first class seating.

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The service was alright but not spectacular. The chief stewardess came over to introduce herself, but subsequently disappeared and passengers were not addressed by name.

We pushed back on time and I heard those four majestic engines spooling up to get this ~400,000kg beast into the air. The aircraft made a very loud, groaning noise on takeoff, which was always very reassuring. I could hear the rattling and the creaking coming from the front and from the seats, parts presumably loosened after more than a decade of service.

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Shortly after takeoff the crew started to serve lunch on this short flight. I can’t remember whether a menu was presented, I’m quite sure it must have but I didn’t get a photo. In any case it was your typical Asian vs Western option. I went with the Asian which was beef with rice. It was pleasant but I was saving my stomach for a little adventure I’ll touch on in a bit.

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The bathroom was adequately stocked for a small flight. The standard L’Occitane amenities were on offer.

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The seat reclines full flat, as you would expect from a first class seat from 10 years ago. It’s not going to win any awards today of course, and I couldn’t help but feel the entire fabric hadn’t been cleaned in eternity, but a flat seat on a 2 hour 10 min flight is already more than anyone can ask for.

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We started our descent before I knew it and were flying over the farms near Narita.

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Everything else was without drama. An on time landing gave me a  four hour layover and I wasn’t about to spend it at the very average ANA lounge.

I had made plans beforehand to leave the airport and explore Narita City. I didn’t fancy being able to squeeze in Tokyo in that four hours, given I was at Narita not Haneda. Most people think of Narita as an airport not a city, but I had two objectives: have sushi and visit a Japanese supermarket. Both could be fulfilled at Narita City…

The Milelion’s RTW Trip: W Seoul, better with filters

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
Silvercar LAX
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
Hilton Sandton
Ten Bompas Johannesburg
Turkish Airlines Business Class Johannesburg to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Zagreb
Westin 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
Westin Seoul
W Seoul
Asiana Business Class Seoul to Tokyo
ANA Business Class Tokyo to Singapore

Despite a fantastic stay at the Westin Chosun, I was feeling like exploring a different part of Seoul as my RTW trip drew to a close. I spotted a fantastic weekend rate for the W Seoul and decided to relocate there for my last night.

fun fact: google maps in Korea doesn’t let you do driving directions, only public transportation. Good luck finding an english-medium replacement.

I know that the W Seoul was in a quieter part of Seoul called Walkerhill and on the map it looked a little out of the way. Little did I know that the W in Seoul is located wayyyyyy out of the way. It took almost an hour to get there from the Westin Chosun in light to moderate traffic.

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The property is located on top of a hill, I’m going to take an educated guess and say that the hill is its namesake Walkerhill. The W is also located next to the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill. Although the Sheraton Grande is supposed to be the more atas tier of Sheratons, this one looked decidedly dumpy.

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Enter the lobby and you realise that W Hotels are meant to be photographed. Every aspect of their architecture is Instagram friendly, which would be great if I knew how to use Instagram.

I’m sure if I knew how to use Instagram, I could make this directional pillar cool.

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Similarly, this kinetic wooden flip wall would look amazing with a filter.

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And these egg chairs in front of a faux fireplace would look stunning with a blur out of focus filter.

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The lobby had lemon mint water because apparently hipsters love that sort of thing. Also somehow Instagramable.

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Otherwise, the lobby was pretty empty when I arrived in the mid-afternoon from the Westin.

 

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The signature Woobar is located in the lobby with prices that bring tears to your eyes.

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After identifying I was a platinum member, I was ushered to the Whatever/Whenever desk for check-in, in lieu of a lounge. The main benefit of this is that you can sit down while the clerk processes your details.

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Surprisingly, I had to choose between breakfast and 500 points here. I’d become so used to many Asia properties giving both. I chose the points because I’d be departing really early the next day (around 9am, factoring in a 1.5 hour drive to the airport) and probably wouldn’t have time to eat.

On the plus side, I was given an upgrade to a Marvelous Suite without having to burn a SNA.

The property is 14 floors in total. I had the top floor. You can also see that the usual array of W stalwarts like the Away Spa and Wet are available.

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You know its a W Hotel when the lift has gymnast rings.

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1451 was waiting for me.

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The Marvelous Suite is far from the biggest of all suites. On the floor plan below (my room in red) you can see that there are 3 other, largest Suites on my floor (I would assume these are the WOW and E-WOW suites). That hurt me, because I am a small, petty man.

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Nonetheless, seeing the Marvelous Suite for the first time did offset some of that suite envy

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The whole room had a red theme going on. The sun was blazing into the room when I entered so it was quite warm, but turning on the A/C full blast quickly resolved that.

There were many high-end furnishings in the room, including a Bose music player that you could connect your own device to

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In the wardrobe was this rather fetching ensemble of red bathrobes.

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The writing table mocked me with a list of the super hip happenings around town, knowing full well that I was too pathologically shy to participate in any of them.

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There was a grand total of two complimentary bottles of water in the room (another in the bathroom), a bit stingy if you ask me considering the St Regis Mumbai had 10+ bottles freely available.

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But they certainly didn’t hold back with loading the minibar. This had to be the best stocked minibar I had ever seen

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Intrigued by the sheer variety of items, I laid them out carefully to document the spread

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Some of the more interesting items

  • 4 pairs of boxer shorts
  • Bvlgari perfume
  • A phone case
  • A facial mask (but then again it is Korea)
  • Condoms by United Colors of Benetton. The condoms weren’t so much the surprise as was the manufacturer
  • A melting bubble ball. I suppose this was what you put in the tub
  • 2 pairs of socks

The fridge contents were much more ordinary (but just as overpriced)

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And your usual tea and coffee making facilities

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A welcome drink and platter of snacks was waiting for me. Unfortunately I don’t drink wine. I wish someone could put on my SPG profile that I’d rather a cheap sparkling wine than a cheap bottle of red. In fact I’m sure I can have that put on my profile. Let’s see what happens. A cheap bottle of sparkling wine should cost the same as a cheap bottle of red right?

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Bathrooms are a highlight of W hotels and this one was no different

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The centerpiece of the bathroom is this giant red tub. It easily fits two, and I believe that is sort of the idea.

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Be warned, the tub takes 45 minutes to fill, so you might want to build in some lead time. I later timed it and found it the 45 min window to be accurate.

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There’s also a regular shower if you’re in the standing mood.

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Surprisingly the bathroom didn’t come with full-sized bliss amenities like the W Singapore does in its suites. I only got the travel sized bottles.

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There was a well-stocked amenities tray, but again nowhere as generous as what the St Regis Mumbai had. Toothpaste was generic branded.

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There were 2 large his-and-hers sinks and another set of bliss toiletries.

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One sneaky trick I thought they did was put this bottle near the sink. Because it doesn’t look like expensive water (eg Evian, Fiji) one might be tempted to think it’s the free bottled water that comes with the room. But if you open it up and use it to brush your teeth, you’ll be paying a hefty $5.30 for the privilege.

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There is a space-age looking pod toilet that gets ridiculously hot in the daytime sun. There are blinds fortunately which you can draw so you don’t give all of Walkerhill a free show.  Although the loo looks space-age, it’s not particularly high tech. No auto-bidet function, for one.

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The room overlooked the entrance, but you could also see the Sheraton nextdoor.

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Room tour done, I decided to explore the rest of the property. There was a gift shop in the lobby with all sorts of overpriced nick nacks. Visually pleasing but overpriced, I think that summed up the W brand in a nutshell.

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There was an adorable bunny in the shop though.

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The three main dining options in the W Seoul are Tonic, Namu and Kitchen. Kitchen is their all-day restaurant, Namu is their upmarket (read: expensive) Japanese restaurant. Tonic does local Korean food and cocktail.

I dined at Kitchen that night and was decidedly unimpressed by the lobster bolognese and asparagus.

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The restaurant overlooked the highway. Not exactly cocktail views.

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Dissatisfied with dinner, I caught a cab to the nearby mall where I was able to load up on some last minute groceries and small bites. Later that evening to celebrate an workplace promotion I decided to get some fruit and liquid fruit (well it is liquid fruit) and soak while listening to a mix of Mezzanine de l’Alcazar. That’s suitably hipster, right?

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And that brought me to the end of my Seoul trip and the final destination on my RTW trip. In the end, to afford myself some additional sleep I switched over to OZ104 which departed at 10am, instead of my original OZ102 with its 9am departure. That proved to be a great choice from a AV geek (AV= aviation, for avoidance of doubt…) because it let me reunite with an old friend…