Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

When I was invited to an event at the Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower, I was surprised that it had a hotel in the same building. Usually hotels have buildings of their own or they occupied space on their own so they can house the amenities, rooms, suites, and many more. To my surprise, this particular hotel, the Mandarin Oriental in Tokyo, only occupied the top floors of the Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower.

Location

Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower is located at 2-1-1, Nihonbashi Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo. It is only a few minutes’ walk to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (you can actually view it from the hotel) as well as the Tokyo Station.

To be exact, Mandarin Oriental occupies the top 9 floors of this building, specifically from the 30th to 38th floors. My room was located on the 32nd floor and this fact alone scared me because of my fear of heights. Don’t get me wrong, the view was nice and the location was strategic. I was able to go around to shop during my free time and I got to the Imperial Palace gardens on foot in no time.

Interior Design

In spite of my fear of heights, the interior of the hotel made up for the fact that it was occupying 9 floors in a building the establishment did not have all to themselves. It was all glass and lights that I felt every bit as luxurious in every corner of the hotel.

The lobby is a high-ceilinged room with posts on the sides. All the windows are made of glass and it took advantage of the sun. The light that it cast on the furniture and floors illuminated the room and it was the most beautiful sight.

I had the same lighting effect in my room. You can easily spot the Japanese-inspired design because of the technology and the minimalism that went with it. At the same time, the color scheme was composed of white, orange, and brown hues that blended with each other perfectly to make the room feel oriental.

Amenities

For a hotel that only has 9 floors, it also has 9 restaurants. A few of those restaurants like the Tapas Molecular Bar and Sense have been awarded Michelin Stars. Mandarin Oriental also has an indoor spa which was commended for being one of the 25 best spas in the world.

I took the time to try out the spa for myself. Everyone who makes a spa appointment was offered a foot ritual which was a symbol to wash away all the bonds to the material world. There was also a menu of Western and Asian spas. After my appointment, I found myself wanting for more so I went and visited their Sanctuary Chapel.

Staff

For a very Asian hotel, I did not have any trouble communicating with the staff. They were very accommodating especially to a foreigner like me who did not know much about Japan. I think they noticed that I did not know how to go around and so they helped me understand the directions from maps. They were also very open to all the questions I asked which was more than I could ever want from a hotel staff.

Overall, I would say that the Mandarin Oriental in Tokyo is a great hotel. I had a great time and my fear of heights was easily allayed because of the warm and cozy feel of the place.

Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo

I was planning a leisure trip to Italy when I first encountered Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo on one of the trip review sites. At first, I thought it would be one of the hotels that would scare me since it looked old and located just across the Greek Theatre. Fortunately, I took a chance and booked myself for a 4-day stay there. It was single-handedly one of the best hotels I’ve ever been to.

Location

Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo is nestled at the heart of Sicily. It is situated perfectly between views of the Greek Theatre, Mount Etna, and the Sicilian Coast. Without stepping outside the hotel, you would already feel as if you’re in those three places. Although it’s a 45-minute drive from Catania Airport, it’s a good enough price to pay for what awaits you in the hotel.

Interior Design

Stepping inside the hotel, I didn’t know what to expect. Well, I thought it would look like any other Sicilian-inspired hotel since it is just fitting to have the same design in that area. However, Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo is more than just Sicilian architecture. The moment you step out of your car, you will be greeted by a bougainvillea walk. Flowers are weaving around a trellis as you make your way to the doors. Even if the hotel is at least a hundred years old, you would think that it was just there for a few years. There were polished yards everywhere (not to mention trees lining the pool). The interior was well-maintained with mixes of beige, light pink, and blue windows all around. If you ask me, it’s one of the best subtle color palettes you’ll see in a hotel.

Amenities

Now let’s talk about amenities. At a glance, the hotel has around 70 rooms and suites combined. Of course, it has its own pool which I love because there was something uniquely Sicilian in its design. Just beside it is a restaurant that offers an American buffet breakfast, but there are days where it also serves Mediterranean cuisine. There’s also a wellness center for people who want to exercise and meditate. You can even ask for a private massage to your room.

Staff

Since the hotel is so huge, what made it easier for me to get around was the hospitable staff. Most of them are locals and it was a great experience knowing that they personally make me feel welcome in their town. They were very helpful in directing me to the different amenities of the hotel, too. And even when I asked for a ride going to the beach, they easily reserved a slot in the shuttle for me.

Overall, a stay at the Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo is something I would repeat over and over again. Unlike other hotels that stand out from their surroundings, this hotel fits perfectly with its interiors and design similar and yet very captivating. Just by walking around their halls made me feel that I was whisked away to a different time and place.

Bali-Viceroy-Hotel

Viceroy Bali

Arriving in Bali is like arriving in an island paradise. However, being greeted by the warm and genuine hospitality of Indonesian guest relations staff at the Viceroy Bali makes you feel right at home. This is exactly how it felt like when I was given the chance to stay for 3 days, 2 nights at the famed Balinese boutique hotel.

While the hotel is situated a few kilometers from the white, sandy beaches that have made this part of the world almost as iconic as the marbled beaches of Tahiti, I learned that it is actually a favorite among travelers who prefer to be a lot closer to the bosom of Mother Nature and slightly far from the crowd that flood the nightlife streets of Bali. It’s a simple hotel that has all the makings of a 5-star, making you never want to leave its warm embrace.

Set in Bali’s famed Valley of the Kings amidst lush greenery and providing a stunning view of the turquoise sea, Viceroy Bali is perfect for couples, honeymooners, and small families who prefer a more intimate experience. Good thing I was treating my partner to an exotic experience of a lifetime.

It’s a boutique hotel that offers more than what five-star accommodations I know of can with its array of 25 elegantly designed, meticulously adorned, and beautifully curated private pool villas that provide a breathtaking view of a jungle ravine. It’s a view that is worth posting on Instagram.

One of the best things I about the Viceroy Bali is its location. You get this feeling that you are actually being treated to the unique sound of Mother Nature. There’s the chime of a gently rolling river that magnificently rises from the verdant valley floor. It’s something that I vividly recall as the one sound that greeted me in the morning and shushed me back to sleep.

Getting to Viceroy was never a problem since the accommodation gave us a ride. The view along the way is simply marvelous, taking us to a pleasant transport all the way from the airport through fascinating Balinese countryside and greeted by the smell of freshly-made Pisang Goreng or the more sumptuous Babi Guling. It’s not centrally located, yet the heart of the action is right within walking distance. I believe the hotel can arrange a ride just for you, too.

The thing about Viceroy Bali is that we’ve been given the chance to be just like royalty throughout the entire duration of our stay. With the staff always eager to please us, it’s like partaking in the royal traditions of the local kingdom.

The CasCades Restaurant is truly something. The alfresco dining it provides is quite a blessing since I got to renew my passion with my partner over several orders of Sate Babi while looking at the vast expanse of the blue Pacific.

I’ve been fortunate enough to stay at Viceroy Bali. Now I know how the King and His Royal Court felt like when they were served with such dedication and commitment. It may be far from Bali’s center of attraction, yet it lies much closer to my heart.

For information on travel to Bali visit http://www.balitourismboard.org/

The-Boulders-Hotel-Arizona

The Boulders Resort and Spa

I was in search of a perfect place to unwind in America and I found myself in the comfort of the Boulders Resort and Spa, a 1,300-acre richness of the Sonoran Desert foothills. I did not only spend quiet moments at the Boulders, but even had an adventurous experience with the different outdoor activities they offered. My energy is refreshed, my soul is renewed.

The Natural Beauty of the Resort

Located in the state of Arizona, The Boulders is set on a strategic location where over 12-million-year-old boulder formations are found filling the panorama. The vastness of the space and the magnificence of the natural architecture altogether create a picturesque view of the hotel. If you ask me, it is the resort’s natural sprawling beauty complemented by cabin-like design that sets the Boulders apart from the high-rise hotels with manmade landscapes.

Ultimately, I appreciated the Boulders because of its friendliness to the environment. The concept of the place is vintage as evident in the deep wood furnishings used and the native furniture pieces and indoor accessories displayed. They filled the spaces with cacti, to stay true to the Arizona scenery. It is indeed a confirmation of what they say about the relevance of details. Even in the selection of their cleaning products, the hotel is very conscious, according to the room attendant I randomly asked. They only choose those that have green seals; some toiletries are organic. This information was consistent with their website profile. I double-checked and indeed the resort has earned the Environmental Award of Excellence from the Urban Land Institute for good reasons. More so, if you are also craving for healthy delicious meals, you will find them at the Grill.

Outdoor Adventures

While my room offers a relaxing ambiance that is conducive to sleeping, I spent my time mostly outdoors. I couldn’t resist the activities offered, particularly the horseback riding and hot air balloon. Naturally, I love horses and the thought of galloping in the foothills excites me. The staff are friendly and the safety gears are provided. The hot air balloon was a scary idea at first since I am used to ground and water adventures, yet the staff are better able to orient and debrief us. Thus, I was able to conquer my fear and truly enjoy the desert view. I was even able to catch a view of the infamous Grand Canyon.

For golf lovers, the Boulders is also a perfect venue to test your precision. They have a wide 18-hole field and a fantastic view of the desert. If golfing isn’t your sport, you have the option to swim your heart out or play tennis with friends or newly-found friends. I also had the amazing wildlife encounters with bunnies, birds, turtles and fishes. You may traverse to the Downtown Cave Creek to experience more of the wildlife.

On my third and last day at the hotel, I availed of their deep tissue massage and dozed off in the process. My stay in Arizona is truly one for the books because I had a taste of the Boulders service. For first timers, I suggest you to bring comfortable shoes as the property is so expansive you may do a lot of walking. Overall, my Boulders experience was a rewarding one.

bela-kula-hotel

Bela Kuka Hotel

On my first trip to Macedonia, I was given the choice to head to Skopje or Bitola instead. Knowing that Bitola is the famed ancient Ottoman City of the Consuls and besides the fact that I’ve never been there before, I knew I had to skip the northern city and head south. Thankfully, a guide directed me to the Bela Kuka Hotel where I was instantly drawn by the warmth and cordiality of the people running the establishment. It’s not much, but it’s definitely where the heart is.

I later found out that there are plenty of hotels with more luxurious amenities, grander designs, and more robust services on offer in this part of the country. However, I was deeply intrigued by the throngs of travelers lining up to book a room at Bela Kuka. It’s the friendliness and genuine hospitality of the staff that’s something that no other accommodation can ever replicate. It captures the very essence of a hotel being a home away from home.

Deciding to dig even further, locals say that the Bela Kuka has consistently been rated by travelers as the best place to be in this side of Macedonia, not because of the accommodation and the various services that the hotel provides but rather because of the warm greetings, genuine smiles, and general helpfulness of every single member of the staff.

It is a place where you’d have someone readily showing you the ins and outs of the city, arranging transportation when needed, and all that stuff that all hotel staff are trained to do. However, I did get the sense that Bela Kuka staff don’t just do it because it’s expected of them; they do it because they love seeing their guests happy and content. Now that is really something unexpected.

Bela Kuka Hotel is situated right in the center of the city, just several minutes’ walk towards the Main Square where I got to see the city come to life. The ever-busy Shirok Sokak Street with its many shops and cafes serving piping hot drinks is just right outside the doors of Bela Kuka.

The suite I stayed in is very homey complete with a private bath and shower that I thought I would never find in this part of the world. There’s a mini bar, although I find it quite unnecessary as I’d rather have more time chatting with the staff who are so knowledgeable about the history of the hotel and the city. On hindsight, I think I can ditch my traveler’s guide and just spend 30 minutes or so with these real-life talking historians and story-tellers. They’d definitely bring me up to speed with all that’s happening in the city.

With its central location, a very friendly atmosphere, and hotel accommodation that are quite commendable by themselves, it’s the perfect den for lovers everywhere. Too bad I was traveling alone.

I could have always gone to a classier, chicer hotel and be treated like any other guest. But I’m sure glad I stayed at the Bela Kuka Hotel where I got to become part of a big family, even for a short while.

viceroy snowmass hotel near Aspen Colrado

Viceroy Snowmass

The Viceroy Snowmass is one of the more popular hotels in Snowmass, Colorado. I had the pleasure of staying here because according to their site, it is the perfect place to stay if you plan on visiting Aspen. I planned on visiting Aspen during the summer, but since I did not feel comfortable staying in crowded places, I was looking at hotels that were a few kilometers away from the crowds.

Location

Viceroy Snowmass is only seven miles from Aspen, to be exact. This was ideal for me because it was enough distance to be away from the noisy area of Aspen when the tourists come in. At the same time, Viceroy Snowmass is located near notable mountains like the Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands, and Snowmass.

When I arrived at the airport, I was greeted by one of their valets because the hotel offers complimentary pick-up and drop-off to the airport. This was a plus for me because it allowed me to save the time and effort of figuring out where Viceroy Snowmass is in Snowmass Village.

Interior Design

The hotel boasts of interior designs made by Jean-Michel Gathy of Denniston International. As I have no idea who that is, I just assumed that for him to be named, he must have been a great interior designer. My expectations were met.

Upon entering the hotel, I was greeted by a symphony of wood, brick, rock, and glass. It was a display of different shades of brown and gray and although it would seem that it would be dark and gloomy, the lobby radiated feelings of warmth and welcome. However, what I noticed is that it wasn’t so spacious especially if the hotel was going to have a lot of guests. The long couches made everything stuffier and it occupied a huge portion of the lobby.

Amenities

By being a five-star hotel, Viceroy Snowmass is expected to have the basic hotel amenities vamped up to world-class which they do have, actually. Although I wasn’t able to see their executive boardrooms and private dining rooms, I was able to stay around their other amenities like their gym, cocktail bar, pool, spa, and their famous Toro restaurant.

Their spa is a great cozy place for relaxation. They offer a jacuzzi as well which is great for anyone who wants to try out different ways to relax. I also stayed for an hour in their gym, although I notice that for such a small space, there were lots of gym equipment. I commend them for filling it up, but I wish they had more space for everyone to move. I had to constantly be conscious if I was going to hit somebody whenever I tried any of their gym equipment.

Staff

To cap off my stay at Viceroy Snowmass, I want to talk about how welcoming the staff is. From the valet that picked me up to the reception, everyone was warm and accommodating. They helped me get rentals for ski equipment, they were accommodating to my food requests, and what was most impressive of them all is that they never made me feel that I was traveling alone. Yes, I was just by myself, but the staff was so friendly you feel that you have been a regular visitor at the hotel.

Soho Grand Luxury Boutique Hotel in New York City

Soho Grand Hotel

Among the hotels in Lower Manhattan, New York, Soho Grand Hotel is one of the more famous ones. I would say that it’s famous because it has been in the New York scene since 1996. It was also featured in several shows like Sex and the City, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and The Sopranos.

Location

The exact location for Soho Grand Hotel is at 310 West Broadway, right between the Canal and Grand streets. The place used to be occupied by a church and among the 8 or so attempts of having a hotel built up in the exact spot, the Soho Grand Hotel stands today with 17 stories and a total of 353 guest rooms and 2 penthouses.

I also found out that the Soho Grand Hotel is just a few minutes’ walk to boutiques and restaurants around New York City. This made me love the hotel more because I don’t have to hail a cab to go around Lower Manhattan. Everything was very accessible from the hotel.

Interior Design

If there’s one thing I can say regarding the interior design of Soho Grand Hotel, is that it is the perfect depiction of the old and new times. The interior showed a glimpse of the time when it was built and this was incorporated into the modern times we have now.

The lobby, hallways, and the dining areas are filled with plush seats that are very inviting. But at the same time, they aren’t bulky as to make the hotel look smaller. There is actually a lot of space for anyone who just wants to walk around the hotel.

However, the room that I stayed in was nothing plush. Instead, the room had a background of New York City on its walls and it gave an industrial and city vibe. I appreciate the effort they put into integrating the culture of The Big Apple, but I just wished they were able to match patterns better. There were patterns that made the room look “noisy”.

Amenities

As for the amenities, the Soho Grand Hotel has everything you can wish for in a New York hotel. As I was on a business trip, it made no sense for me to stay in a place that has a lot of amenities and that was also filled with families.

It was such a relief that the Soho Grand Hotel felt that it was made for businessmen and adults rather than families. You can actually notice it in the amenities they have – they don’t have play places for children and there aren’t any family activities offered. For someone who was on a business trip, I was very content with this.

Instead of having those family-friendly amenities, the hotel has its own fitness center, bar, restaurant, and spa. The room services were also superb so it was a perfect opportunity to just stay in bed during the free time I had in the city.

Staff

Since it was my first time to stay in Soho, I was unfamiliar with where to go and where the amenities were located. Good thing that the staff were accommodating and I didn’t feel the need to be ashamed that I was a first-timer there.

watergate_bay_hotel_Cornwall_UK

Watergate Bay Hotel

When I was visiting Cornwall, I stayed in one of the most talked about hotels in the area. The Watergate Bay Hotel is said to be a great place to stay if you enjoy surfing. Thinking that I wasn’t planning on surfing (simply because I didn’t know how), I wasn’t too thrilled at reserving a room here. But all these changed when I saw their website.

Watergate Bay Hotel’s website transports you to the coast. It showcased rooms that were white and navy blue and it showed great views of the shore. This made me want to give the hotel a try despite my hesitation.

Location

Watergate Bay Hotel is located at On the Beach, Watergate Bay, Newquay. Just reading the address already gives you an idea that the hotel is in front of the shore, and it is.

As I took a suite that was facing the sea, the view from my room was spectacular. During the day, I can see children, parents, and dogs running along the shore and playing games. During sunset, I can see the sun reflected on the moving water. And during the night, I can see the stars right above my head looking down at me.

If I had to give a rating for the location, Watergate Bay Hotel will receive a 5/5. It’s the perfect place to feel that you went away from civilization without having to feel that you’re living like a caveman.

Interior Design

I mentioned earlier that the overall design of the hotel is coastal. This means that the hotel’s color scheme ranges from navy blue, white, yellow, and pastel green, and light brown.

What I liked about the interior is that it doesn’t look loud with all those colors. It was also spacious enough to accommodate the number of guests the hotel was having. I went here during peak season so I expected the place to be crowded, but it wasn’t. The light airy and sunny feeling the lobby and the dining areas had contributed to making the place look bigger.

Amenities

Watergate Bay Hotel doesn’t fall short of any amenities. They have several restaurants and I would recommend eating at The Beach Hut. They’re open all throughout the day, but the best part is that it’s just by the shore so if ever you feel the need to take a quick break from swimming, you just go to The Beach Hut.

The hotel also offers a lot of activities. As I said earlier, I didn’t know how to surf and although they had their own surf station where you get to enroll at a 2-day course, I went ahead and took yoga classes. The hotel offers a 2-day program where you join a class guided by a yoga instructor. They specifically have a room for this and it was so serene because it was looking out to the sea.

Staff

The staff was the best. They were very welcoming and accommodating. Whenever I need something, they made sure that they will get it. I also noticed that they were accommodating to families especially to children.

Overall, I enjoyed my stay here. Even if the hotel was packed, it had a lot of space and amenities that will disperse the crowd.