The only way to truly escape from it all is to book a stay on a private island like Gladden, where it will just be you, up to three companions (only if you choose), and a staff that’s been trained to be invisible while catering to your every whim.
You might not even have to win the jackpot to stay here–it costs £2,294 per night for two people or £2,760 for four, but that includes “all meals prepared by a gourmet chef, all beverages including fine wines, all activities including snorkelling, scuba diving and PADI certification, spa treatments, transfers from and to Belize City.” Which, if you take full advantage of all the offerings, is very nearly a bargain.
2. Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur
Forget an epic hotel on a private island—what if the luxury hotel itself is the island, for instance the Taj Lake Palace? Built in 1746 to serve as Prince Maharana Jagat Singh II’s “pleasure palace,” this opulent hotel appears to float in the middle of Lake Pichola. You’ll arrive via boat, and your mere presence will be celebrated with a shower of rose petals, a spread of refreshments, and a guard to escort you under a sequined embroidered umbrella.
3. Bedarra, Australia
You’ll have to share Bedarra’s all-inclusive luxury with a maximum of 17 other guests, as this epic hotel has just ten guest villas, which accommodate 18 people total. The lush island adjoins the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. And while other parts of the Great Barrier Reef have become tragically over-visited, Bedarra is near the outer section of the reef in an area that’s much harder for tourists to reach. You can feel good about spending over $1,000 AUD (£550) a night here, as the resort places a huge importance on environmental sustainability.
4. Mandarian Oriental, New York City, USA
Go big in the Big Apple with a stay at the Mandarian Oriental, where the cheapest room on the cheapest night starts at £618. Go even bigger at this luxury hotel with a suite, starting at $1,089 a night. (And that’s not even the most expensive—the Presidential Suite doesn’t list prices online, lending credence to the old saying that “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”). Hey, on the bright side—a full breakfast is included every day (even if you slum it in the £622 room).
5. Le Bristol, Paris, France
When five stars just don’t cut it anymore on your quest for epic hotels, you need a “Palace” hotel, an exclusive rating given to luxury hotels in France that go above-and-beyond the star-rating. Just 16 hotels have earned this prestigious rating, including Le Bristol. Le Bristol is a dream for foodies, as it can claim four Michelin Stars–three awarded to its Epicure restaurant and one to its Le 114 Faubourg brasserie.
6. The 13, Macau, China
The 13, which is being billed as the world’s most expensive hotel, isn’t open yet, so you’ve still got time to save your (trillions of) pennies. Macau’s luxury hotel cost an estimated £1.2 billion to build, and will have 200 villas available to book when it opens. Need a ride? The 13 is stocked with a fleet of 30 customised Rolls-Royce Phantoms worth approximately £15.5 million, ready to take guests wherever they want to go.
Each room will come with a butler certified by the English Guild of Butlers, and all guests will have access to a private shopping centre, where they can buy exclusive, limited-edition items, in case they didn’t spend enough on accommodation.
7. Burj Al Arab, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The Burj Al Arab is probably the most famous luxury hotel in the world. Shaped like a sail, this hotel is also one of the tallest buildings in the world. The hotel is situated on a private island just off the coast of Dubai, and is so exclusive that you can’t even cross the bridge to the hotel without being a guest there or having a reservation at one of the restaurants.
8. One Room Hotel, Prague, Czech Republic
You’ll need to book early at Prague’s One Room Hotel, because as the name implies, this hotel only has one room available. Why? Because it’s located on top of the city’s famous Zizkov Television tower. As the room sits 200 feet above Prague, you’ll have some amazing views—and the undivided attention of the hotel staff.
9. Tsala Treetop Suites, South Africa
Treehouses don’t mean roughing it—at least, not if you’re staying at the Tsala Treetop Suites in South Africa. These 10 suites are more luxury hotel than tree-house (but with all the views and privacy of a tree-top outpost) as they all have private decks, infinity pools, sitting rooms, fireplaces, and plush bedrooms—situated in the forest canopy.
There is no better way, in my opinion, to spend celebrating an occasion than with the ones you hold near and dear. The little adventurer I am, we decided to celebrate with a bonanza of activities – Part 1 was in Dubai, you’ll read about Part 2 soon but we had so much fun out there, that I got lots of people asking what I did and how we managed to do so much in such a short period of time. Well now you have it… my 72 hours in Dazzling Dubai!
Dubai has become an almost imperative city to visit in any ambitious travellers’ “must-see” catalogue and certainly a one-stop shop for wanderers alike. It doesn’t help that the Emirates Airline covers most of the world and uses its home country as a transit point, so at one time or another, almost everyone everywhere will stop in Dubai, and ultimately get allured in by the luxurious gold and futuristic ambiance of the city.
It’s the very hub of business and pleasure for the world and links the East with West seamlessly. For 72 hours, On the 19th November, 5 friends and I stopped over in Dubai on our way to Thailand and it was the first time I’d been back since 2012 – although then it was only a 15-hour transit with family. Does that even count?
I tend to travel for pleasure whenever I can, which admittedly isn’t often due to workload and demand (that’s changing this year :D), but I was in Dubai to enjoy what the city had to offer and grab a few things for family and friends. We stayed at the 4* Carlton Downtown on Sheikh Zayed Road, Deira in their twin Deluxe Room. I think they upgraded us in all honesty, the room was way too good to be just a Deluxe.
Built in 2013, the hotel is home to 357 rooms and suites and whole bunch of extra amenities, including dining and lifestyle venues, spa, fitness centre, tennis court, swimming pool and 23 fully equipped meeting rooms for conferences and events. Preeeeetty cool. Carlton offers a range of entertainment options including Jimmy Wickets Sports Bar & Lounge and Zephyr, the highest AL fresco rooftop lounge in Dubai. We opted for Breakfast included in our stay of course, because honestly, who wants to be looking for places to get decent breakfast first thing when you wake up in the morning.
Room 2112 is pretty high up, on the 27th floor. The room had the most amazing views of the city’s skyline and faced onto Sheikh Zayed road. It towers way above the building’s opposite, so we got views of the Arabian Gulf in the distance. The room is slap bang in the middle of the suns path throughout the day and meant our rooms were constantly bathed with direct heat from the sun.
We, unapologetically and totally unmatched to the rooms below, got to soak up the breath-taking full views of sunrise and sunsets and crystal-clear azure blue skies. The views were fantastic. I’d booked it through a friend who like the Hyatt, had given us dirt cheap discounts on the room and had told them we were VIP, so the room was probably one of the best they had and rightly so, we were.
You’d think it would get pretty loud with the longest highway in Dubai so close, but being so high up with triple glazed, solar controlled windows means it’s virtually sound proof from the outside world.
You don’t hear much overhead noise, or horns, or the rush of the constant lengthy traffic that seems to be the cities norm. Check-in was smooth in the grand foyer; the receptionist was this mid height arab/Iraqi/Moroccan young man, maybe mid 20’s but honestly- and I mean this in a total good way – looking like he’d just hit puberty… a very youthful and welcoming smile.
He got us checked in swiftly, and Joseph – the Filipino bell boy (or rather, man), greeted us to take our bags up. If you visit, just ask for Joseph really. Like, I’ll keep it that simple for you. His knowledge of the city, best places to avoid and the “cool kids’ hangout” areas saved us a lot of time, and quite frankly we needed it. He was open, relatable and pretty prompt come to think of it. And he was never too far when we needed him.
My room didn’t have an iron or ironing board, nor did the shower tap turn when I got in. Called Joseph and in no time, he was tugging away… I could’ve done it in all honesty, but I wanted to see him work his arm muscles real good. They bulged. A girl can dream 😊
Our room was ready by 11. No lie, the most spacious hotel rooms I’ve ever been in. hands down. We were given a whole 42 sqm of land to live on, and as if that wasn’t enough, we had a work desk and wardrobes, with at least 5/6 small cabinets dotted around for storage and off-loading, and even a couch. We had enough room in there to fit at least 10 adults with luggage comfortably sleeping on the floor, or if you had a little class, perhaps a solid 5 people comfortably in the space for 2 they’d given us. It was amazing. The interiors combine sleek, modern décor with everyday functionality, highlighted by airy finishes and humungous landscape windows. You know them royal houses you see in movies, where even Peter Crouch couldn’t touch the ceilings if he stepped on the bed, this room was the same. The windows are very nearly floor to ceiling, except for a knee-high window seat that overlooks the city. We made good use of this, often spending every waking minute in the rooms perched on here. Whether we were watching the city whizzing beneath us, or having karaoke sessions screaming to our hearts content at the skies or watching the world in silence as night fades into darkness, it served more than its purpose for us.
Breakfast is served in the Baÿty restaurant on the 3rd floor of the building, between 6AM and 10AM. The buffet-style food served hails from both authentic Arabian and international cuisine and quite frankly, has everything your heart desires.
You want traditional English toast and beans? Here you go. French Toast with dripping syrup but your weird and add avocados to yours too? Here you go, take it. Fresh fruits? Here. Or a full-on Egg Fried Rice with Mushrooms, Sweet potato and Shrimp? They had a whole section for you too, boo. Safe to say most of us got a second round every morning. The staff are accommodating, chefs are at every station’s kitchen to keep food piping hot or readily stocked.
My French toast was a rock to my disappointment, it had been sitting under the heat for too long. I only realized after I had sat down, wiped down the cutlery and put the napkin on my lap. Super frustrating. I opted for Nutella and fresh toast but when your hearts set on something… the disappointment doesn’t go away.
Everything else was good though- the fruit stored in ice, the beans piping hot, the juices a variety. We missed the special theme night dinner buffets though, featuring live cooking stations with orders prepared to my specifications.
Thursdays are Seafood nights, with fresh lobster, crabs, oysters and even tiger shrimp cooked right infront of you.
Fridays are Surf and Turf nights and for the steaks, and lambs and chickens and lobsters and high rollers and big spenders. My type of people. Your looking at roughly £30-£50 per meal on one of these nights… but you can get it sent to your room or onto the rooftop terrace and enjoy a meal on the 47th floor of the building instead.
Probably my second favorite place in the whole hotel was the Zephyr Rooftop lounge and swimming pool. It is one of Dubai’s highest outdoor restaurant and lounge, playing chilled house music and donning stunning views of Dubai and the Burj Khalifa.
We’d spend most times between activities lounging in the sun here, in the pool or grabbing some downtime before bed. It’s a well-known fact now that I can’t swim (yet), so I kind of bobbed up and down in the water for a few hours at a time.
At one point, I looked up and could’ve sworn the sky looked like something out of a cartoon… one of those road runner episodes in the desert with scorching heat and a dry, baked earth. It was hot.
My favorite place ever though, has to be the Citrus Spa- a female’s health & leisure facility with jacuzzi, steam room and spa facilities. I mean, when on earth do i ever get time to go and delight in the pleasure of a whole jacuzzi?!
I’m telling you, this stuff is the beez kneez. It’s the real shizzle.
I regret not spending a lot of time up there, but it’s on the 45th floor of the building and open daily 10am to 10pm. My friend surprised me with some treatments, and I opted for a Deep Tissue massage and a full body scrub. Came out feeling like a whole new slippery woman.
Shamefully, at my big age, it was also the first time I’d ever been to a spa that didn’t involve my siblings practicing their skills on me, so admittedly, my scope of comparison is limited. It was amazing.
KFC is a few doors down, so snacks weren’t too hard to get ahold of. Dubai International (DXB) airport is 12.3km away, a short 7-minute drive. The closest metro station is the financial centre station which is within view of the hotel, a mere 0.3km away and the property allows for a free shuttle service to the beach and shopping centre as well as the airport.
The hotel forever has a swarm of valet parking attendants outside the hotel, opening taxi doors for you and greeting you upon arrival, and are super useful should you decide to rent out a vehicle during your stay.
The hotel check-in time starts at 2PM and ends at 3AM and check out time is at noon.
One thing we should’ve known really but totally forgot what that they require a deposit on the room (incidental charges) when you arrive. Before you even go upstairs, they’ll require you pay 500 AED for anything used or taken from the room. A little frustrating, since we’ll only get the AED back once we check out and then they’ll be no point spending it on our way out… but we negotiated he take £100 GBP instead from us, roughly translating to 468 AED. Close enough. We could then at least have the GBP safe during our stay and use it for later.
Tourism fees are of course charged as well, which they later just took out from the room deposit. The city imposes a fee of 15 AED (£3.25) per night- a total of 45 AED for us, translating to £9.65 in total.
The location, rooms and service at this hotel was fantastic. The rooms stayed clean 24/7 and it was definitely great value for money. The facilities available to you are abundant in number, and if you ever find yourself bored in your room… you don’t search far to find something to do- something I rarely see in hotels.
The food was a little disappointment, but perhaps a slight one-time oversight and not regular for their chefs. The interior of the building synchronizes with Dubai’s famous gold motifs and makes you feel boujee on a budget. I’d recommend this hotel over and over, make sure you at least spend a night here to get a taste of Dubai.
What a year. I wrote this a while ago but never posted it, so although 4 days late.. I’ll get it out on time next year. Today, I’d like to recap and share my highlights, failures, successes and biggest life lessons of 2018. It’s been the best year so far but that doesn’t mean everything was going my way.
I was in Phuket, Thailand, to celebrate a whirlwind of a year in 2018 with a friend of mine. We’d arrived the day after my 24th Birthday and stayed at the magnificent Hyatt Place Patong Beach Hotel. I’d like to believe and call myself a frequent flyer, but although recently occasional, I’m super nosey and explore everything and anything I can to milk my money’s worth. If you listen carefully to the wind, you can already hear my friends saying “Ain’t that some truth” haha!
We booked a Superior Twin Room with Ocean Views at a hugely discounted (I mean, chunk change) rate through a friend of mine. It was recommended as one of the best rooms in the hotel, aside of the Royal Specialty King Room which to be fair, we didn’t really need the whole separate living area. This put us on the highest floor of the hotel, in room 2552, with the most scenic panoramic views I’ve ever seen of an ocean, in all the hotels I’ve ever stayed at.
The windows are all floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors, the flat screen is a 42” HDTV and we have our own snug cosy corner to melt into should we choose. The room is roughly 26 sqm, and I cannot lie to you, it was a lot smaller and a little packed in for the star rating the hotel has. Should we have been very messy and untidy people, the room would have very quickly looked like something out of a pigsty or George Butts American rendition of Hoarders.
The room is big, but because of the size of the bed (not complaining!) and the storage and bathroom space (again, not complaining!), the walkway becomes one-way. Not the end of the world, but definitely a noticeable red flag for me and so different from Carlton Downtown in Dubai that we had just left.
To make up for it, Hyatt Place offers impressive angled sliding doors that entirely open up the room to the most enviable view of the Andaman Sea. If you look over the balcony, the room overlooks the outdoor swimming pool and the greenery planted abundantly everywhere in the hotel.
We can also see the breakfast bar in the distance down below, but not close enough to see what people are eating or who they are. Pro’s to this is that your well away from the main road, so you’re not disturbed by noise of busy streets and local bars. In fact, the hotel itself, if you choose to drive, is almost certainly somewhere you’ll miss if a local doesn’t show you where it is.
Hidden between cobbled streets of local laundry shops and dry cleaners, the very grand and contemporary hotel is on a hilltop, constructed amongst buildings made of dusty bricks and dated design. Dare I say, it’s even in a poverty neighbourhood. It did look quite odd to have a stylish building in the midst of such contradictory milieu, to anyone else it would.
It was cool for us to see though, it meant we got to see the lifestyle of natives at our doorsteps, without having to trek too far to find them. You should’ve seen the friendly smiles on their faces, watching us stroll up and down from a totally different life, and yet they’re still waving with passion and authentic beams. They looked happy- sitting on brick balconies at late hours in the heat; men in cotton shorts and soot-covered vests conversing with women sitting at sowing machines, talking, laughing wholeheartedly. They looked genuinely happy. Enviously happy.
Back to the point. The hotel was the only modish thing nearby. If you’re after immersing yourself in abit of rich Thai culture, this hotel is the one. Its not so much in a secluded location that you can’t walk down the hill to the main road. Perhaps 5 minutes from leaving your hotel, you come to a roundabout with a gigantic sculpture, leading you to the entrance of Patong Beach. The roundabout has three exits, follow the road round in towards the city and you’ll find massage parlours, restaurants, spas, art exhibits, currency exchanges and masjids. So, no fear- you’ve got everything at your fingertips. The hotel is secluded enough for privacy but in the most perfect location to have everything at your fingertips.
We ate breakfast at the hotel- an array of colourful options every morning. We had dinner and lunch outside every day, and there is no shortage of halal restaurants and diners. We ate somewhere different every night, and all within walking distance too. Dinner is also available here but we only ate here when on our last day. Make sure to let the chef know your only eating halal- the waiter forgot to mention it and they made the mistake of adding bacon to my order without seeing who i was. Simon saved the day.
We met an expat called Simon, who as soon as we walked in, gave us the “d-low” on the best places to get halal food, directed us to places we didn’t know about and advised on how to get about the safest and best way. Totally unprovoked, we didn’t even need to ask. He made sure we had a good room, our bags were taken upstairs before we got there, arranged for portable chargers when reception staff refused to give us some.
Knowing you have an ally in a hotel, in a foreign country, who knows the city well and can understand the Thai language, is one of the most gratifying feelings in the world. A lot of the time, he really went over and beyond and made sure our stay was without issue. He’d spend some time with us during breakfast and ask us about our colourful night out, give us tips, places to try before he moved onto another table. He’d be the first to sort any request we had and drop everything until it was done. He was a legend. Turns out this whole time, he was also the General Manager and never mentioned it once or made it a big deal. He was hands on, stuck in and available to everything we needed- a perfect example of putting us first.
Another honourable mention is my homeboy, my favourite driver and the nicest bellhop ever- Bank. Ask for him, ask about him. Just a legend.
The distance from the airport to the hotel is gruelling though. I wish someone had told us beforehand. Already extremely hot and sweaty, we landed during the cities peakiest hour and got into a cab from the airport. We’d booked a few excursions from the airport for the next day, which additionally offered free rides to our hotel as a benefit. Once we got in, the driver, understanding no English at all, started driving. The journey, which should’ve been 32 minutes, took 1 hour and 12 minutes to get to our hotel- a road distance of 32.8km. No motorway, no dual carriageway, no freeways. Just weaving in and out the busy city streets on a Thursday afternoon.
They would’ve charged us around 800 baht, which translates to roughly £20. The private transfer car was spacious & had a clean and fresh cream leather interior with white crosshatch stitching. Looked good in all honesty. As we drove, listening to some foreign language with the bass up high, we went up and down what seemed like mountains, narrowly showing us glimpses of the sunset on the Andaman Sea.
We noticed other luxury resorts pretty close by, and market stalls of rich Asian cuisine. Bangla Road is a short 6-minute ride away and the north entrance to Patong Beach is at your doorstep. Taxi journeys for the whole stay to get from or to the hotel from anywhere averaged to 250 baht, translating to 6 British pounds. All in all, good location and fairly cheap.
We didn’t watch much of the TV, so I can’t comment on the quality of the options one is given. The mattresses *satisfied eye roll*, the MATTRESSES THOUGH. Honestly felt like it was being changed every day- instead of the bed-sheets. Its much softer than the Dubai bedding, and super easy to just knock out when you get in. My friend is a testament to this- I’m not sure if she was just tired or liked the bed, but every chance she got she was napping. And she doesn’t do this normally. It didn’t feel like anyone had ever slept on the bed, which felt amazing.
The pool downstairs is just as it appears in the photos on the website. It’s a fibreglass pool, with plenty of deck chairs. I am disappointed however, that it doesn’t come much with a view. Unless you are sitting in a particular deck chair, your only view is minimised to other people’s balconies on all four corners. It would’ve been perfect if the block of buildings just below the pool weren’t towering over you, but lucky the buildings height didn’t come close to our room floor. Your better off just waddling down to the beach but even then, locals charge 100 baht (£2.50) for an hour on the deck chairs.
Unless you’re staying with a loved one or a good good good friend, the bathroom might be a problem. The room we stayed in seems to not have a door for the bathroom. Although quite good in size, the shower is glass without any means of discretion, and there is no door. Advice- don’t do a dump if the other persons in the room. They’ll smell it. The room also has no means of a wardrobe, just a wall-mounted clothes rail to hang some clothes on with– I kid you not- just 10 hangers. You’ll quickly realise this isn’t enough for two people.
Even though the shampoo and conditioners weren’t great, and the swimming pool didn’t have much of a view, the overall standard of the hotel and exceptional service of the staff was second to none and nothing short of amazing from the moment we arrived till the moment we left. Leaving was truly the hardest part. The hotel is beautiful, rooms are great, and service is outstanding. I will certainly be staying here again- if not for Bank and Simon alone. Very highly recommended!
Check out the time-lapses I managed to capture on my phone, from our enviable balcony window!
If like me, you’ve done the whole “fly for 6 hours, go to the mall, shop all day, sleep all night, go to the beach” thing and want some heart racing thrill and throat throbbing excitement in your life, listen I’m telling you… This. Is. IT. The crazy that is me, did a long-haul flight… landed and checked in by 11am, changed, and was at the XLINE booth in Dubai Marina Mall by 12.45pm.
As we step in, the signs are huge, so we wander around slowly, taking it in.
Men sit around in tailored suits, laughing richly over their latest lavish spends. Couples walk hand in hand, and small groups of Chinese tourists stand in the pathway, ignoring everyone having to walk around them. There are white people, black people, Arabs, Asians, Hispanics and Europeans. Women in stilettos and high neck tops strutting along, looking too made up and plastic for so early in the day. Spa after spa, health centres and luxury hammams line the route. Ghost by Ella Henderson plays over the speaker. Is it normal to feel nostalgic already? Certainly feels like an upgraded version of Westfield, without all the Beckys and hoodrats that roam around day and night. Smells like warm melted chocolate, & it feels good… This aint London for sure.
The booth is tucked under the escalator, and extremely easy to miss- so pay attention. We strolled up to the counter, still a little dazed, exhausted and jet-lagged. I’m not sure it had hit us yet that this was even Dubai. A lady approached us, weighed us in, took photos of our ID and paired us with a harness, helmet and trolley each. Quick safety briefing and were off to the point of no return…
A bus service chauffeured us to Amwaj Towers, a residential building 41 stories high and raises up a whole 170m off the ground and 558 feet away from civilization. For those in London, a good comparison is that it is a little under the BT Tower in Camden and 10m taller than the building with the Sky Garden. Imagine jumping off that?! Bloody hell, even that gives me chills.
I think it was much easier because I just didn’t know. I didn’t know how high up or which building until last minute. Then, the demons in your heads can’t play games with you. Murphy’s law can’t act up and whisper in your ear. You just don’t know. Legally Blind.
We took a lift to the 40th floor and walked up 2 flights of stairs to get to the roof. One guy, Australian fella, had come alone, and you could see his heart pounding with evident sweat. A fat grin plastered through his ginger beard. He was perhaps no more than 26, travelling through Dubai for a day or two. He’d be going to Thailand next he told us, and we’d mentioned we’d be going too. He’d said he’d be near Phuket, staying at Phang Nga Bay. The conversation was short. The view on the rooftop of the 40th floor is breath-taking. The crystal, sapphire-blue sky is cloud-less for early afternoon. It was mesmerising, how simple it looked, yet it seemed to hold every one of our thoughts, dreams, our secrets. The space was a vast thing, stretching out for infinity over our heads. It was terrifying and yet so affectionate, daunting yet friendly. If you stared at it for a long time, watching everything come and go, you would think, maybe, it was all talking to you. It was communicating in a language you couldn’t begin to understand. I got lost in thought before they called for the first two volunteers.
Of course, I volunteered. The worlds longest urban zipline- twice the distance and lasts twice the time at twice the speed as the last one. And I volunteered to go first.
My ginger beard friend volunteered to come with, and slowly, we made our way to get strapped into the superman harness. The guy high fives you, attaches you onto the cable that your trusting with your life, and makes you lie down horizontal onto a launch bed. Once you’re in, the bed is lowered and your hanging, mid-air, 40 floors up, A WHOLE 558 FEET AWAY FROM THE GROUND, ready to fly.
I nearly shat myself. I nearly cried and yelled right there to get me off. Whenever I get myself into moments like this, silence is my friend. Someone once said, “Feel the fear, and do it anyway.” Often, we think, “I’ll do it when I am not so afraid.” But in reality, it works the other way around. The ‘doing it’ comes before the fear goes away. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go and do it. So, we diiiiiiiiiiiiiiid it baby! We done flew through the sky, over land and water, at up to 80km/h and from 170m down to ground level. I FLEW, did the Michael Jackson moonwalk mid-air, imitated wonder woman, became a local super hero. I FLEW. And it was amazing. The marina water glistens, and yachts bob up and down below you. Everything is so saturated this time of day, full HD colour.
You supposed to be streamlined. like a bullet. They told us if you start turning to one side, pull your weight to the other. I nodded. Easy. I’m not sure what juice they drank to not tell us how strong those winds would be. Wind veered me right, my weight got pushed to the left. I almost flipped, slipped and tripped mid-air. You still move forward, and the helmet provides some sort of aerodynamic vacuum for you. But lard haffi mercy, I could’ve been a leaf in the wind the way I was twisting up in here. Lasted a few seconds though. So, prepare for it. You will be twisted.
If you go, maybe don’t pick the right rope out the two. As you draw closer to ground level, you come awfully close to the brick corner of the mall building. Its quite the scare at the speed your going at- an uncomfortable but safe distance. The whole thing is recorded, and photography is taken for you by the XLine team. The goPro strapped to your helmet gets the best shots of the experience, and so, feeling more alive than ever, we made our way to our lockers to update the world.
The experience felt super safe, built and operated by highly qualified and globally certified teams. They carry out daily testing and regular maintenance of the line, making sure safety is always first. Id like to hope so anyway! The company have strict requirements for the experience; You need to be between 12 and 65 years of age, taller than 130cm, weigh 50 to 100kg and in good medical health. Loose clothing can’t be worn, and footwear is preferably sportwear or boots. Closed. They take off every single day from 9am till 5pm and are situated inside the Dubai Mall. You can click here to book it or visit the booth at the Marina Mall or visit any of the Platinumlist partner merchants across the UAE. The entire experience lasts for approximately 90 minutes, from registering at the XLine booth until you complete the zipline ride.
So, if your looking to go… get ready to hang tight and I’ll see you someday to applaud you. It isn’t for the weak hearted, that’s for sure.
Definitely going to do this again… perhaps this time in Ras Al-Khaimah for the entire world’s longest zip line. A whole 2.83 km long, the Jebel Jais flight is 1,680 meters above sea level and has a glass bottom suspended floor. Um… YES PLEASE.
BY far my favourite, and the one I was most excited for leading up to it. On the morning of my 24th Birthday, at 5.25AM, an Indian man dressed in dungarees, donning an overgrown moustache, picked us up. We drove 36-minute to the take-off site, where the largest Hot Air Balloons in the world are being inflated, glowing in the predawn darkness. Although still dark, the world of Dubai is still lit and roads still busy, we can see filtered bits of light looming in as birds awaken and stir. It’s just before sunrise, and we take off to meet the sun as it rises over the Arabian desert and the sky fills with light. Early morning provides the best flying conditions. The tent is filled up with hot air using a burner, which somehow manages to get bucket loads of sand all over us- so wear a hat. The shower of sand only lasts whilst you’re on the ground- don’t look up during lift off or your teeth take a grit bath and your eyelashes are coated in a blanket of fine granular rocks.
Probably one of the most fun-filled adventures I embarked on in 2015, the City of Rotterdam didn’t fail to make an impression during the few days I was a guest in the city.
Albeit short, it was my mission to explore with a group of friends and though we didn’t do much, my stay at the Bilderberg was one of contentment, relaxation and elevated comfort. Booked by a friend who’d previously busted a few jokes and made friends with the floor manager on a previous stay, we got a generously large discount on our stay, saving us perhaps what turned into countless feasts and unnecessary taxi fare expenses. Bonus! 🙂
In total, not counting the lifelong friends I made during the stay and came back to London with, I travelled with a total of 5 friends- none of which I regrettably am still in contact with. I stayed in a small single room on the ground floor of the hotel, with a blooming garden at my disposal. This hotel was a great stay, and in this post, I help anyone who is looking to stay or wants a heads up about what to expect at The Bilderberg Parkhotel in Rotterdam.
Free tip at the very bottom for anyone who enjoys incredible views and looking to make the most of their stay @ The Bilderberg. Keep reading!
This modern 4*, classic grandeur and contemporary hotspot in the centre of lively Rotterdam, gives you just the right level of access into the city centre and still the secluded sentiment of peace and quiet; a perfect mix of a trendy metropolitan hotel in the heart of a lively city. It offers exceptional personal service levels which you expect to find at a luxury hotel. The Bilderberg is near a river and walking distance of art museums including Boijmans van Beuningen (great work here), Witte de Withstraat and the Museumpark, as well as the World Trade Centre and the infamous Erasmus Bridge. (Must see all of these!!)
The hotel is located on the Westersingel main road, with local food, shopping and leisure stores a stone’s throw away in every single direction. It is situated within a 5-minute walk from the Centraal Underground station and just 700 meters away from the great colossal structure that is the Rotterdam Centraal railway station. Basically, everything is close by. Your underground station is next door, your food is across the street, city centre is aross the road, and tram transport is at your doorstep. Quite a convenient spot if you ask me.
All in all, the lively buzz adds a pleasurable milieu to the hotel.
The hotel itself is of moderate size with 189 guestrooms across garden rooms, a villa wing and the grand Hoboken Tower donning 14 extravagant floors.
If I’m not mistaken I stayed in room 217, the last room at the end of a long and gloomy corridor. I booked a single room, with hopes I’d be in the regal Hoboken Tower witnessing breathtaking skyline views of the city. Don’t make the mistake I did in empty assumption. Singe rooms are located in the garden or villa wing of the hotel. I stayed in the garden rooms, and in my conceded opinion, the room to me felt like the leftover space of multiple spaced-out rooms on the same floor. Albeit small, it felt cosy and snug and reminded me a little of home. The view wasn’t much, I stared into other people’s windows directly opposite me and sometimes… sometimes they even stared back.
The room was polished to perfection though, no traces of dust anywhere at all. There was free wifi in my room, a flat-screen TV and tea and coffee makers at my disposal. I also had an Iron complete with board, hairdryer and a large desk to work on, which was convenient and very useful. The room has a minibar, soundproofed walls and a down comforter to aid sleep.
From asking questions I learned the following. The hotel has 4 room types-
Executive rooms with 1 double bed, located in the tower
Twin rooms with 2 single beds, located in the garden area
Single rooms, located in the garden area
Deluxe rooms with 1 queen bed, located solely in the tower
Next time, I’ll probably pick the deluxe rooms. I think it’s more fitting for me, but the single room was still a great room if you don’t plan to stay in the hotel much of your time. 24 hour room service is available with a wake-up service that I probably abused and luggage storage service at reception if you need to check out but do not need to leave until later.
This establishment accepts American Express, Visa, MasterCard, UCB card, Diners Club International and ATM cards. A down payment is required and this may be frozen on your card before arriving at the hotel. If not, a deposit is required for checkin by credit card or cash with the addition of a Government-issued photo ID for any incidental charges. I assume this is also to avoid giving your room to someone who isn’t you, and in most cases your Passport should do just fine.
You’ll also be asked for 4.5% city/local tax charge as well as a tourism fee of EUR 1.90 per person, per night on check-in or check-out, a deposit of EUR 50 a night and a resort fee of EUR 2.20 per night, per person. Don’t be scared off! Every travel agent or online booking platform such as Booking.com, Expedia and even uk.hotels.com all add this in the sum total. It’s just good to know a breakdown of what you’re paying for.
Optional extras include early check-in for a charge of 35 EUR, late check-out for a charge of 25 EUR, self parking onsite costs 19.50 EUR, rollaway beds charged at 35 EUR per night BUFFET BREAKFAST (YES!!!!) charged at roughly 24.50 EUR per person and pets are allowed for an extra charge of 25 EUR per night, per pet.
Food at this hotel is not specifically halal. I found out from the Reservations department that breakfast is buffet setup, with no specific halal food. It cannot be requested at this hotel, nor can they order it if booked in advance. There are however the standard options of toast, fruit and coffee. Lunch and Dinner include Fish and cheese and other items which are permissible to eat but unfortunately, this hotel does not cater for the halal person’s requirement.
Restaurants and local fast food joints are close by. During my stay at the Bilderberg, I regularly ate at a small but extremely delicious Turkish restaurant just a short walk from the hotel. Eethuis Center do Grill, Shawarma and Pizza all halal certified (Psst… Thank me later).
Turkish owners are multilingual, accommodating and helped us immensely with our stay and the food here is nothing short of exemplary cuisine. Google Map from the hotel or ask the receptionist to point you.
Hotel cancellations are not ideal in any case, but if the need arises, prepayment policies vary greatly according to your room type. I purchased a non-refundable room and so even if I cancelled, I would not get refunded. Please ensure your booking a non-refundable room that you are 100% available for, otherwise for a steeper price you can book a refundable one. Always check conditions of required room!
Check in time starts at 14:00/2:00pm in the afternoon and ends at Midnight. Check out time is at noon/midday/12pm. These can also be extended for an additional fee; checking into the hotel earlier will set you back EUR 35 and perhaps after a long night you’d like to comfortably sleep in, checking out later than noon will cost you EUR 25.
Only registered guests are allowed in rooms, or charges are incurred on your deposit. Pets are also allowed in the hotel, with hotel policy stating only 2 at a time. Charges incurred, see Payment section above.
If you travel by public transport in Rotterdam, you have to purchase a travelcard, OV chipkaart in Dutch. It’s a smartcard on which various types of tickets can be preloaded. The chipcard is valid for metro, trams, buses, lightrail and also on the train and waterbus. Tourists can buy disposable travelcards but you might be better off with the Rotterdam Welcome Card, which includes public transport as well as discounts for attractions and museums in Rotterdam.
RET one hour
RET two hours
RET 2 x one hour
RET 1 day
RET 2 days
RET 3 days
1) RET 1 hour
The RET 1 hour travel chipcard allows you to use tram, metro, bus and lightrail in Rotterdam during 60 minutes. The clock starts after your first ‘touch-in’. You are allowed to change lines but your last ‘touch-in’ has to be done 60 minutes after your first ‘touch-in’. Your card will automatically expire after 75 minutes after your first ‘touch-in’.
2) RET 2 hours
The RET 2 hour travel chipcard allows you to use tram, metro, bus and lightrail in Rotterdam during 120 minutes. The clock starts after your first ‘touch-in’. You are allowed to change lines but your last ‘touch-in’ has to be done 120 minutes after your first ‘touch-in’. Your card will automatically expire after 135 minutes after your first ‘touch-in’.
3) 2 x RET 1 hour
This card works the same like the RET 1 hour chipcard, but it allows you to use it twice. This card is like a return ticket when you’re not able to return within one or two hours. Your chipcard will automatically expire after 75 minutes after your second ‘touch-in’.
4) Day cards The full day travel cards allow you to use tram, metro, bus and lightrail within Rotterdam during one, two or three days. It cannot be used on board the night buses.
Besides being yards away from many local tourist attractions and muses, the best mode of
transport in Rotterdam in my opinion, is taking a tram. The Rotterdam tramway network is a key element in the overall public transportation arrangements in Rotterdam. These are simple, hassle free and easy to use once you understand them. A 2 minute walk away is the Rotterdam, Eendrachtsplein Light Rail Station, connecting you to the city centre all the way up to The Hague.
Taxi services are available just outside the hotel, and reception is more than happy to call the service for you at a scheduled time.
You can easily contact the hotel on T 010-4363611 and F 010-4364212. The email address for any bookings, queries and questions is Parkhotel.Reservation@bilderberg.nl. If your lucky, I had quick, prompt responses from Emilie Van Koppenhagen at the hotels Reservations department so email in for your answers.
For photo enthusiasts, adventurers or if your just like me and like to randomly explore, take the lift directly adjacent to the hotel. This will take you exclusively if I remember correctly to the 8th floor and above. Besides any famous or professional executives you could bump into on these elite floors, the top floor has direct access to the roof with authorised admission. I assume this is a smoking zone for anyone staying in the Tower; nonetheless the breathtaking and remarkable views of the entire Skyline around Rotterdam will forever be etched in your head.
Found this useful? Let me know in the comments section below!
Check out my previous hotel review of Azimut Hotel in Munich, Germany!
Aficionado of life, a twenty-something year old Engineer putting my life on paper, or the virtual version. Pictures don't do life justice, sometimes reliving it through words is enough. Paving my own way, just living it all up while I can.
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In 30 years, I’ll be able to look back and say “Heck, I really lived!” and for my incredible readers, I hope I can dish up some education, information and inspiration for my Hijabi sisters who think they can’t. I’m here to tell you, you can.