Snapshot Guide

My Lightening Trip to London

Thursday 11 April 2013 | By William Coulston |

Courtesy of British Airways I had two business class tickets to London last Tuesday on the inaugural 777 flight and I arrived back in Oz yesterday – still not sure what time zone I’m on anyway…… my review

British Airways

This was the inaugural Boeing 777-300 service new aircraft and into Terminal 5 Heathrow

Seats - we had row 12 the two seats together in the middle facing backwards. With the pearlised screen to block out your neighbour on the aisle this became a very nice private space - however we had no perception of anything as we could not see any windows

You also have to climb over the person on the aisle seat when they are sleeping trying very hard not to hit their legs which I did twice!

There were a couple who had the backward facing window seat and the forward facing aisle seat so they face each other and could talk I would probably opt for this next time.

Seat in any position very comfortable - more so than Emirates Business Class seat which I don't like in bed mode and on a par with the Qantas Skybed or United's Business Class seat which I do like

However there is no where to place things like magazines and the seats need a small drinks tray between the seats to put your glass on and save putting your meal tray down. There is a drawer at the bottom of the seat on the side which fits shoes and magazines and assorted odds and ends

Food and beverage

the meals are served on a tray with a cloth which is placed on your tray table

Not stylish enough - I prefer Emirates or Malaysian where a cloth is placed on your tray table then your tray with another linen cloth is placed on that

Salt and pepper in paper sachets not shakers which was disappointing

My main course Sydney to Singapore was terrible and the scrambled eggs into London you could have bounced off the wall, however London via Singapore to Sydney the meals were stunning.

Wine - only sav blanc white or two reds - no chardonnay

Champagne is Tattinger

There is a self service food and wine snack bar which is great on the long sectors

Entertainment - fantastic a huge range of movies etc and the screen is quite large

Flight was full except the last sector I did go and check out Premium Economy and economy Personally I would not pay for Premium as the seats did not look that much bigger than economy (of course depends on the service level) The new First cabin looks stunning and I loved the window treatment 

Airports

Express Path Sydney works very well both for passport and security checks and also on arrival

I did not like Terminal 5 Heathrow – very grey very clinical could have been anywhere –One point to note

Walking into the vast departures check-in hall there is no clear signage where to go if you are Business Class Tell clients to turn right and head for the “First” check-in area at the end of the Hall Business class is just before it.

Airport Lounges

Sydney – Qantas Business Class lounge – full and we struggled to find two seats and as usual no snack food – give me finger sandwiches anytime

Singapore – British Airways own lounge – great showers and good selection of food and wines etc

London Terminal Five – BA Galleries – very hard to get to whoever designed this terminal’s flow must have taken something!

Very Large lounge nicely divided into different spaces the showers are one floor down between the First lounge and the Concorde room

Great view of one runway

Reasonable selection of food being evening the dinner offerings were disappointing and looked un-appetising – curries or pasta and a small salad bar

BA Terminal Five Arrivals Lounge was great and the scrambled eggs and hash browns some of the best I’ve ever had

Easy to find walk out into public arrivals hall take the lift to 3rd floor and its right in front of you

Only downside – no public phone except for a strange credit card phone push button 1 for local calls in the Uk and I kept getting a USA international operator!

Car Transfers

Carey Limousines – very good

The driver was booked for 7am and I had asked them to meet us at the arrivals lounge

At 6.55am the chauffeur walked in to locate us

New black Mercedes E class

Just Airports Limousines

http://www.justairports.com/

I used this company from London City to Heathrow

32 pounds one way which for London is a very cheap price you either pre-pay with a card or pay the driver cash

Booked the car for 5.00pm pickup driver came a tad early

Comfortable 4 seater estate car that would take 3 passengers and 3 cases and bags

Not a limo but clean and comfortable and miles better than battling the London tube at peak hour!

They charge an extra 5 pounds for arrival service plus car parking

Hotels

I stayed one night at the Goring and one night at the Ritz

I also had site inspections and lunch at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park and Claridges

Site inspections and afternoon teas at The Four Seasons and the Savoy

Site inspection at the Stafford

Always book Virtuoso rates at these hotels

If I could take the best of each hotel and mix it together you would have the best in the world 

Best for location– the Ritz, The Stafford and Claridges

The Goring is a five minute walk to Victoria Station or a 20 minute walk past Buckingham Palace to get to Piccadilly

The MO is opposite Harvey Nichols and 5 minutes walk to Harrods

The Savoy is a  2 minute walk to Covent garden


I loved The Goring ( being upgraded to the Belgravia Suite helped! ) a stunning two room suite with silk used as wallpaper

I love the character of the hotel, the staff and the quirkiness

The room light switch - you press one of four buttons –bright, calm, cosy or oohhh!

Best bathroom I have had for ages except it took ten minutes to get the shower to go from either ice cold or boiling to perfect

also the king size bed had a split mattress not the best I’ve slept on 


The Mandarin Oriental is very Victorian in style lots of marble in the lobby area,

Fabulous restaurant very buzzy

The rooms I saw were ok but did not grab


The Stafford

Perfect location in St James

very small uninspiring lobby

loved the bar with an amazing collection of collection of caps

the rooms are spread over the main building and across a courtyard in the mews

some rooms/suites OTT e.g. same wall paper pattern used on the ceiling

I have clients who will only stay here but it did not grab me 

 

Claridges

I would stay here next time as the location is perfect

We had a beautiful lunch with exquisitely served food in the lobby restaurant

Rooms are huge and decorated either in art deco or Edwardian style

We were much fussed over here and felt very special

The Royal Suite I liked but the Ritz Royal Suite is better

The Map room is amazing and is the business centre – a very relaxed place to sit and check your emails

 

The Four Seasons

Stunning

loved this hotel only downside location at Hyde Park Corner -  a bit of a walk to get anywhere

The hotel does have a new black phantom Rolls Royce limo for free use by guests within a mile of the hotel

We were treated to this stunning car which took us back to the Ritz - people stopped and starred when we arrived back at the Ritz!!

Felt very special

Fabulous afternoon tea with Bollinger

fabulous rooms and suites some with terraces on the first floor

there is a stunning arrivals lounge on the top floor with a perfect view across London fro Westminster past the wheel to the new Shard

 

The Ritz

We were upgraded to a Junior Suite - the hotel has smoking floors – which for my travelling partner was great and windows that open which for me was even better

Did I liked it?  Yes however  - It was missing that x factor although the room grew on me

Afternoon Tea was still being served at 8pm in the Palm Court however this is on the side of the lobby and did not intrude

Breakfast in the beautiful restaurant being served by waiters in tails and white tie we did feel like we were royalty – at 7.30 am

We were the only two in the Restaurant – the same at the Goring the morning before – very quiet

Very nice however Goring's breakfast was better and my hollandaise sauce was served cold not warn which was not good

The bathroom was disappointing with plain large white tiles on the floor

Otherwise the suite was delightful - very French in style

 

The Royal Suite is amazing and at 3500 pounds per night not outrageous

I was shown a superior king bed room  perfect marble bathroom so maybe my suite was due for a bathroom upgrade

The banquet conferencing rooms in the adjoining William Kent House were astoundingly beautiful

 

The Savoy

Loved it

Stunning lobby and very switched on staff everyone knew who I was and that a car had been booked to go to Heathrow

Lead in rooms very very small - don't sell - upgrade here

I saw the Maria Callas Suite which had great views over the Thames

Afternoon tea was very nice and the two bars are fabulous

Downside for me is the location - I much prefer being in Mayfair

London

This was my first time back in London in many years - it had not changed - I still love Mayfair

The congestion charge must be working as the traffic was light in the centre of the city

Last Thursday Fortnum and Mason was empty and you could have shot a cannon ball down Regent Street and not hit anybody

That day it was freezing cold and it did snow

The next day - last Friday  - completely different - still very cold but shops full and around Oxford Street and Regent street many many people

Buckingham Palace now has selected evenings when the palace staterooms are open for exclusive viewings at 70 pounds

in April right through to end of the year bookings through the Royal Collections web site

The Tube - Oyster cards cost 5 pounds to buy then you top up. Its cheaper just to buy a paper day ticket

my zone 1-2 cost 8 pounds

Pret a manger shops everywhere offering great value for sandwiches and snacks

Likewise Marks and Spencer food shops offer a great range with price similar or cheaper to here

Petrol is around 1.35 pounds per litre so not cheap if you are self driving

No graffiti and I only saw two people begging the city is clean gleaming and sparkling

In a nutshell that’s my 62 hours last week in London

Smile and Check out The Happiest Cities in the World

Wednesday 20 February 2013 | By Tahnee Wherritt |

Rio De Janeiro
With an abundance of outdoor performances, cultural attractions and festivals, the people from the city of the renowned ‘Carnival’, sure know how to be happy. With years worth of culture and a buzzing atmosphere, the city makes everyday living feel like an exciting and adventurous holiday. Locals live in bold colour, they get dressed up and they dance through the streets - It’s a beautiful city brimming with breathtaking colours.

Sydney
Australia is known for their down-to-earth, fun-loving folk, so it’s no surprise that Australia has made the list, two times over. The relaxed vibe, stunning beaches and an array of eateries are just a few of the reasons why the people of Sydney are in spot number two, and are some of the happiest people in the world.

Barcelona
Having fine architecture on your doorstop from the famous figurehead, Antoni Gaudi would be enough to keep a lot of people very pleased. Now add a rich history, great shopping, beaches, as well as endless tapas and sangria, and you have yourself an amazing place to live. With its amazing weather and position as one of Europe's fastest improving Cities, it’s no wonder the people of Barcelona can’t wipe the smiles of their faces.

Amsterdam
Imagine riding around a quaint little city on a stylish vintage bike; taking in the pristine parks, and breath-taking canals; stopping for some melt-in-your-mouth poffertjes and exploring the amazing city which comes alive every evening. This charming place is always entertaining and keeps the locals of Amsterdam an always happy, bunch of people.

Melbourne
Known as Australia’s fashion capital, Melbourne provides a relaxed atmosphere, mixed with strong hints of culture and class. Often referred to as the ‘Garden City’ and home to over 4.1million Melbournians, the city combines a city landscape, with bay-like beaches, diverse cuisine and an abundance of cultural activities. Ranked as one of the world’s most livable cities, it’s no wonder Melbourne also made its mark on our happiness scale.

Madrid
The Capital and largest city in Spain is host to many influencers in the European Union, with their taste in fashion, food and fun, second to none. In addition, Madrid offers plenty of museums and culture, mixed with its party lifestyle and flamenco twist. Top off your experience with a visit to their beautifully, well-kept parks... The perfect place to nap under a tree with some Ensalasilla Rusa and do as the locals do, unwind.

San Francisco
From the cable cars, to Fishermans Wharf, everyday in San francisco is like being on the set of a movie; the nightlife, the dining, and the iconic golden gate bridge. People travel far and wide to cross The Big Red Sir Bridge, and the lucky people of San Francisco can take a stroll across it whenever they wish. The very pleased people of San Francisco are so pleased with their town in fact, that they’ve made our top 10 too! 

Rome
A saying I believe all the people of Rome live by “Eat well, Travel often”. With its beautiful surroundings, amazing history, their selection of fine wines, and an array of boutique restaurants bordering every laneway - It’s no wonder the Romans lead the good life.

Paris
The city of love offers more then just a sparkling Eiffel Tower to keep the locals happy. The cheeses, breads and pastries; the beautiful clothes and chic locals, as well as the pebbled pathways and stunning museums... What’s not to be happy about? Did you know however that Parisians also average 10 weeks of holiday time, each and every year? It’s no wonder they’re happier than ever.

Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is an energetic city, filled with energetic people. The city offers a little bit of everything, there’s an abundance of sunshine, it provides highly affordable living and they ensure Sunday’s are set aside for relaxation. They shut down shop, spend time with their family and friends, or simply take it easy.   

The top 10 Cities in the World for 2013...

Thursday 13 December 2012 | By Tahnee Wherritt |

AmsterdamThis picturesque city is the largest of all cities in the Netherlands. Amsterdam is Vibrant and well known for its diversity. This amazing city mazed with beautiful canals offers an exciting nightlife, festivals all year round, as well as world famous museums and historical sights. The perfect place to unwind, ride a bike, dine on pancakes and enjoy the cobbled canal-side walkways.

For more Information on Amsterdam >> 

San FranciscoSan francisco is located on the West Coast of the United States and is renowned for its cool summers. There is plenty to see and do in this amazing city - Firstly check out the museums, parks and beaches, but secondly, don’t forget the famous landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island and its former prison, as well as China town.

For more information on San Francisco >>

LondonLondon is full of endless landmarks, history and beautiful, well kept parks. There is no shortage of markets, street restaurants and diverse nightlife. London is excitingly noisy, distinctively multicultural and boasts the perfect contrast of a city which remains rich in history whilst promoting innovation and forward movement. The frantic energy within the city is endless, it captures you and is kind enough to take you along for the ride.

For more information on London >>

HamburgHamburg is known as Germany’s Gateway to the the world, this is due to it having the country’s biggest port and the second busiest port in Europe. When in Hamburg make sure you take a stroll around the port, walk through the city centre and around City Hall. If you’re lucky enough to be there at the right time, and you’re able to keep your eyes open, check out ‘Night of Museums’, in which over 50 museums take part to keep the history and culture on-show until 2am. In addition, Hamburg is currently hot on the heels of Berlin as the European capitol of cool, we recommend you jump on the bandwagon ahead of the cool crowd and beat them to the punch!

For more information on Hamburg >> 

Copenhagen

Copenhagen is the perfect mixture of fairy tales, modern day living, smooth jazz and hard bass. It’s hard for the city to be considered a holiday destination alone, and is rather a place of constant discovery. There’s much to see and do in Copenhagen, from day trips to the beach and amusement parks, plus you can also take part in their varied event calendar, including the Copenhagen Jazzfestival, Copenhagen Pride, Night of Culture and the MIX Copenhagen Film Festival. The splendour of this jam packed city is complimented by its intimate surrounds and offers a taste of everything and something for everyone.

For more information on Copenhagen >>

BarcelonaInfamous for partying, it’s likely that Barcelona is atop many other ‘best-of’ party lists, but as a city, we have found it offers visitors with so much more. There’s an abundance of outdoor markets, street entertainment and fiesta’s, shopping, museums, churches and outstanding architecture. At every turn, visitors can marvel at monuments, gardens and buildings, with each telling the historical tale of the city. An ideal place to simply wander, get lost, be amazed and find new wonders with each and every new day. With great food to be found in secluded lane-ways and salty fresh seafood paella by the beach, Barcelona has it all... and then some!

For more information on Barcelona >> 

Hobart Tasmania’s capital city may be the smallest capital city in Australia but it’s rich in natural beauty and amazing landscapes. Hobart is home to the majestic Mount Wellington, many wineries and vineyards, as well as the Cadbury’s Chocolate Factory. A nice way to end your day of activities is to head out on a boat cruise or to enjoy the live music, great atmosphere and delicious food on offer at one of the many local pubs or bars.

For more information on Hobart >> 

Seoul Seoul is South Korea’s Largest city and blends just the right amount of ancient traditions with cutting edge digital technology. There are many breath-taking Buddhist temples, endless street vendors, extraordinary architecture, markets and shrines. Seoul is known for its dynamic trend-setting and non-conformist style, as well as their many activities, including adventure sports, amusement parks and beautiful mountain climbs.

For more information on Seoul >> 

Mexico CityDowntown Mexico City is an urban area filled with Historical buildings and landmarks. Mexico City has also been known as the City of Palaces, due to the large number of stately buildings. Mexico city boats the largest museums in the world, ensuring there’s plenty of history and culture to soak up on your visit.

For more information on Mexico City >> 

Christchurch Christchurch is filled with buildings that show its English Heritage, especially along the Worcester Boulevard. The city is better known as the Garden City, which is well deserved when you see the trees that grow as if in a forest all around the city. After sitting around the Botanical gardens head to the Christchurch art Gallery, pick up some snacks from the farmers markets and get involved in a creative workshop, before ending your evening with a dabble at the Casino.

For more information on Christchurch >> 
  

Let the Books Guide you...

Monday 15 October 2012 | By Tahnee Wherritt |

With all the technology today its no wonder why the old traditional guidebooks are not the first thing some pack when preparing for an adventure. Of coarse they can be heavy, expensive and if you're not careful, out-of-date. But, there are advantages to the travel guide books that many of us may have forgotten.

Not all travelers like to keep to the beaten pathways, they prefer to venture off-track. In this case, internet access and cell phone coverage may be hard to come by and if you're in an area without reception, your guide book will become your best friend. That little binder buddy is a guaranteed go to for cultural and historical information, plus save on international roaming rates by flipping through the pages of your book, rather than searching through endless pages of google search results.

If you require more than just the basic information, purchasing a guidebook is a great option. It's well researched, detailed, reliable and provides an easy to use, well indexed approach to travel... And what's even better, no batteries or pesky power adapters are required!
  

Lonely Planet Guide books on basically anywhere in the world >>   

Destination: Melbourne

Monday 10 January 2011 | By Rebecca Scaffidi |


Accommodation: Docklands Apartments Grand Mercure & Mantra 100 Exhibition. The Mercure in Docklands is in a great location and is a 10 minute walk from the city. The rooms are very specious and well furnished and also have great views of the City, Yarra River and Etihad Stadium. This hotel is perfect if you like a nice quite environment that is away from the hustle and bustle of the city center. The area is also surrounded with beautiful little restaurants and bars that are literally outside your door. 

The Mantra 100 Exhibition is a great 4 star property that is very centrally located. It is only a stones throw away from Collins Street – which is great for all those shop-a-holics. The rooms are extremely specious and have plenty of room for all of your shopping bags. I must also note for all you shop-a-holics out there that Cartier is right next door. Overall, this is a really well rounded property and is great value for money.

Dine at: You cannot go to Melbourne without a visit to Lygon Street in Carlton. If you love Italian food, this is the place for you. It has the biggest selection of Italian restaurants and cafes in Australia so you’re bound to find something you like. Little Italy is one of my favourites and has a great selection of freshly made pastas.
Also, just off Lygon Street there is a gorgeous little restaurant called Brunetti (194-204 Faraday Street) that specialises in the most delicious desserts. This place is a must see! Lygon Street is only a quick 5 minute taxi ride from the city or if it’s a nice summer’s night, why not take a nice stroll down Russell Street and take in a bit of the Melbourne Atmosphere.

Best buy: You can’t go wrong with a Discount Factory Outlet (DFO). These have most of your normal retail stores with heavily discounted items. There is also Spencer Street shopping centre which was formally a DFO and is located right at the end of Bourke Street at Spencer Street Station. However, if you’re after that cute little boutique with one-off originals you can’t go past a stroll down the little hidden alleyways off Bourke Street mall. 

Highlight: A sold out crowd at the MCG. If you are in Melbourne during Footy season, be sure to catch a game or two at the MCG. If you go to a high profile game the atmosphere is amazing!

Girls Getaway to Sydney

Tuesday 17 February 2009 | By Zoe Bruce |

Snapshot Guide

Destination: Sydney, Australia.
Accommodation: The Menzies, Sydney CBD.
Comments: Good value and centrally located.
Dine At: Sushi in the CBD, 5th level of one of the major hotels.
Best Buy: A pair of vintage italian boots in Paddington.
Highlight: Night out in Bondi, just a $15 taxi from our hotel.

 

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