Tag Archives: sheraton

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!

The Milelion’s RTW Trip 2017: Sheraton Casablanca Review

Introduction: It’s the most wonderful time of the year
A Tale of Two Lounges: SATS Premier T2 and the Qantas SIN Lounge
Malaysia Airlines B737 Business Class SIN-KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines A330  Business Class KUL-NRT
Japan Airlines Business Class Sakura Lounge NRT
Japan Airlines B77W Business Class NRT-LAX
The Westin LAX
The Westin Westminster
Aloft Boston Seaport
The Consolidated AA Domestic First Class Experience
American Airlines Flagship Lounge JFK
American Airlines B772 Business Class JFK-LHR
American Airlines Arrivals Lounge LHR
The Great Northern Hotel, London
Sheraton Grand Park Lane, London
Westin Paris Vendome
Courtyard by Marriott Madrid Princesa
Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal
The Consolidated Intra-Europe Business Class Experience
Sheraton Casablanca
The Casablanca Lounge CMN
Royal Air Maroc B737 Business Class CMN-ACC
Ethiopian Airlines B772 Business Class ACC-ADD
Ethiopian Airlines Cloud 9 Business Class Lounge ADD
Ethiopian Airlines B737 Business Class ADD-DAR
Protea Hotel by Marriott Dar Es Salaam Courtyard
Tanzanite Lounge DAR
Qatar Airways A320 Business Class DAR-DOH
Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge DOH
Qatar Airways A350 “First” Class DOH-DXB
The Grosvenor House Dubai
W Doha
Qatar Airways B772 Business Class DOH-BLR
The Ritz Carlton Bangalore
Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class DEL-HKG
W Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific’s HKG Lounges
Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class HKG-SIN


Image result for casablanca movie

Ah, Casablanca. You know, it’s nowhere as romantic as the movies will have you believe. Before I came to Morocco, Casablanca to me was Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and a kiss is not a kiss. And then I went, and realised it was more decaying industrial city, taxi drivers who call you “my friend” (protip: when travelling, anyone who says “my friend” is not your friend) and a heck of a lot of tajines.

Casablanca is far from my favourite place in Morocco (that honor would probably go to Marrakesh), but it is the business centre of the country. So that’s how I found myself at the Sheraton Casablanca, the template definition of a Sheraton hotel.

This wasn’t my first time at the property- I had visited a couple of times in the past and remembered there was a Japanese restaurant where they cooked everything in butter, a nightclub full of women of ill-repute, and an executive lounge that didn’t have anything inside (more on that later). And yet, I still chose it over the much superior Sofitel, simply because it was part of SPG. See what loyalty does to your decision making?

So, where do I begin? The lobby was, well, it had Sheraton written all over it. Cold, marble floors, the unmistakable concrete and sharp edges of brutalist architecture and lighting that made it feel like constant twilight.

The lobby water feature failed to convey the sense of peace and calm it was presumably put there to do. Instead, the water sat stale and fetid, and probably breeding mosquitoes.

In theory there was a separate check-in area for Platinum members but never in my four visits to this hotel has it been staffed.

So I had to check in at the counter like an animal. Woe. On the plus side, the check-in associate was as cheerful as he could be for past midnight.

The previous few times I’d stayed here, I was upgraded to ridiculously large suites. Like, a room that had a separate dining room, three loos, kitchen, living room and two walk in closets or something like that. No such luck this time, even for a one night stay. I did however get both the 500 points and complimentary breakfast in the hotel restaurant.

The lift was…well it wasn’t bling. It was gold and shiny but I wouldn’t call it bling. The gold paint was tarnished and chipped in parts, and the mixture of French and Arabic engraved on the button plates made me think they really didn’t intend to renovate anytime soon.

The corridors and lift landings conveyed, or at least tried to convey, similar illusions of grandeur. And yet, still fell short somehow.

Dark, gloomy corridors with old worn out carpeting that was strangely mushy in some areas.

Random pictures in the corridors advertised a spa, but my understanding from colleagues who had visited before was that this spa offered conclusions of the joyous variety, so I did not partake.

My room had wooden flooring instead of carpet, a fact for which I was thankful.

The more trip reports I write, the more I realise the average hotel room really isn’t worth writing about. I mean, photos are great and all, but such is the cookie cutter nature of chain hotels that you’re not going to find anything out of the ordinary. The room will be clean (to the naked eye at least), it will have fresh sheets (one hopes), and it will not be retained in your long-term memory. The Sheraton Casablanca was no exception.

The bed is a Sheraton sweet sleeper, which can’t measure up to a Westin bed but is still comfortable enough.

There were a few free bottles of water and unripe fruit on the bedside.

I struggle to find something interesting to point out about the room, so I shall show you photos of exotic potato chips and nuts.

And a workdesk with, erm, a chair!

Obligatory bathroom pics. Marble walls, dirty shower curtain, adequate counter space.

Bonus points for attempted symmetry in crapper room.

Breaking news is that Sheraton is finally revamping its in-house toiletries. Yes, you read that right. The “Shine” brand is on the way out, to be replaced by “Le Grand Bain”

What do they look like? Here’s something that Google image search threw up. I’m still not won over, but what do I know about toiletries anyway.

Image result for le grand bain sheraton

I mentioned that the Executive Lounge was kind of weird and it still is, because I’ve hung out there the whole day in the past and they never did any happy hour, cocktails, breakfast, no nothing. The room seems to be for work and work only.

I mean, it’s probably got the most natural light of the whole hotel, and it’s clearly set up for F&B, so I’m confused as to why I never saw another soul inside.

But the coffee machine capsules kept getting replenished throughout the day. Twilight Zone stuff, really.

Breakfast is served at the Dafra restaurant on the 3rd floor.

Be warned that the level of English at the hotel is quite low (but I will hazard that their English is better than my French), so there were some exquisite communication difficulties at the egg station. The chef didn’t understand what sunny side up eggs were, nor fried, nor over easy, until some nice businessman took pity on me and helped me order in French.

Fortunately the rest of the food did not require French language skills. Unfortunately, it was really so-so.

I will say that at least the restaurant got a lot of natural light, which was a welcome change from the lobby.

The restaurant also overlooks the pool, which I did not use.

I mentioned the Sofitel Casablanca at the start of this post and I think it’s useful to bring it in again just for context- here’s where I could have stayed if loyalty weren’t an issue

Image result for sofitel casablanca

Image result for sofitel casablanca

Image result for sofitel casablanca

Image result for sofitel casablanca room

Image result for sofitel casablanca

It’s clearly a much, much superior property to the Sheraton, but that’s loyalty for you.

One last point- the hotel offers a prepaid taxi service to the airport, but I’d recommend arranging your own. Their service basically involves hailing a guy down from outside with one of those special vans. Despite being told it was an a/c van, the a/c was never switched on, the dude smoked the whole time and conveniently forgot whatever English he knew when I asked him to stop.

The next stop for me after Casablanca was Accra, but before that I’d have a chance to take a flight with Royal Air Maroc.

The Milelion’s RTW Trip 2017: Sheraton Grand Park Lane London Review

Introduction: It’s the most wonderful time of the year
A Tale of Two Lounges: SATS Premier T2 and the Qantas SIN Lounge
Malaysia Airlines B737 Business Class SIN-KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines A330  Business Class KUL-NRT
Japan Airlines Business Class Sakura Lounge NRT
Japan Airlines B77W Business Class NRT-LAX
The Westin LAX
The Westin Westminster
Aloft Boston Seaport
The Consolidated AA Domestic First Class Experience
American Airlines Flagship Lounge JFK
American Airlines B772 Business Class JFK-LHR
American Airlines Arrivals Lounge LHR
The Great Northern Hotel, London
Sheraton Grand London Park Lane
Westin Paris Vendome
Courtyard by Marriott Madrid Princesa
Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal
The Consolidated Intra-Europe Business Class Experience
Sheraton Casablanca
The Casablanca Lounge CMN
Royal Air Maroc B737 Business Class CMN-ACC
Labadi Beach Hotel, Accra
Ethiopian Airlines B772 Business Class ACC-ADD
Ethiopian Airlines Cloud 9 Business Class Lounge ADD
Ethiopian Airlines B737 Business Class ADD-DAR
Protea Hotel by Marriott Dar Es Salaam Courtyard
Tanzanite Lounge DAR
Qatar Airways A320 Business Class DAR-DOH
Westin Doha
Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge DOH
Qatar Airways A350 “First” Class DOH-DXB
The Grosvenor House Dubai
W Doha
Qatar Airways B772 Business Class DOH-BLR
The Ritz Carlton Bangalore
Cathay Dragon Lounge Bangalore
Cathay Dragon A330 Business Class BLR-HKG
W Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific’s HKG Lounges
Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class HKG-SIN


I last visited the Sheraton Park Lane in 2015 when it was still in the midst of its multi-million dollar renovation. The hotel originally opened in 1927 and until its renovation, looked like it had been opened in 1927. With its relaunch, the Sheraton Park Lane has been elevated to the somewhat more prestigious Sheraton Grand tier, which is meant to make people say, “yeah, it’s a Sheraton, but it’s not a Sheraton, if you know what I mean?”

The Park Lane is located near the Green Park tube station. It’s a close enough walk to some major tourist attractions, including the Royal Mews and the Queen’s Gallery.

You can see evidence of the changes done once you step into the lobby- gone are the depressing Sheraton floors and decor, and instead you have a more stylish design that is clearly trying to evoke comparisons with a boutique hotel.

To get to the check-in area from the main entrance you need to cut through the lobby bar. Again, you can see the Great-Gatsby esque theme they were trying to go for here. Kind of like a shout out to the hotel’s 1920s roots.

The hotel check in area has also received a makeover, with fresh carpet and decorative bookshelves.

As a platinum, I got upgraded to an Art Deco suite, which as far as I can tell is a slightly larger room with more hipster furnishing

There was a digital alarm clock with two USB charging ports on the bedside.

And I’m glad to see these phones are appearing in more and more hotels. It makes sense for both sides- advertisers can hawk their wares to guests, and guests get free internet plus recommendations for restaurants and the like.

The work desk was large

There’s a Nespresso machine in the room as well, together with some complimentary water.

The bathroom had two sinks and plenty of counter space.

The shower and tub were in a separate room within the bathroom itself.

If Sheraton really wants to give its brand a boost they need to look into better quality toiletries. I’m sure many entry-level luxury brands would jump at the chance to partner with a chain that has the reach of Sheraton.

Breakfast is served in the club lounge and is complimentary for platinum members. I waltzed past the unattended desk..

Breakfast definitely leans towards the continental side of things

But there are still 3 hot items every day that rotate on a daily basis.

Where food quality is concerned, the breakfast isn’t anything to shout about. On the first day it was scrambled eggs, mushrooms and bangers.

On the second they replaced scrambled eggs with fried ones and the mushrooms with waffles.

There’s plenty of seating in the lounge and I never saw it completely filled. I didn’t see the happy hour offerings either, for that matter, as I was frequently out of the hotel. Come on, it’s London.

And for settling business, there are two computer terminals plus a printer

The internet in the hotel clonked out completely for half a day during the time I was there. This is the same thing that happened last time round, and the staff at the front desk were powerless to do anything other than ask for patience as the provider tried to fix it.

And that’s the thing about Sheratons. On the whole, the hotel was fine, it really was. But somehow I just felt it couldn’t shake off the Sheraton tag, no matter how hard it tried. Maybe it was the cheap toiletries, or the remnants of the marble floors in the lobby. Maybe it was the all-too-familiar Sheraton design on the keycards, or the fact that things break down once every so often. Marriott has realised that the Sheraton brand has major consumer perception problems, as there’s a handful of really bad properties that have created a stank around the entire brand. The Park Lane Sheraton is clearly one of the better Sheratons out there, but you can still sense shadows of the overall Sheraton brand lurking in the background.

That said, the Park Lane Sheraton was still light years ahead of the Westin Paris, where I was headed to next…