Today we travelled up to Bangkok, ultimately heading to Helsinki.
Qantas Frequent Flyer (One World). This is now the second leg of our oneworld Classic Reward.
Business – 12D & 12G, the two middle seats.
Just on 2 hours. The plane is delayed by about 20 minutes due to a late arrival caused by the typhoon in Hong Kong. We push back a further 20 minutes late.
Technically this flight is SIN-HKG via BKK. This is one of Cathay's six daily flights between Singapore and Hong Kong.
The seats are laid out in the familiar reverse herringbone style 1+2+1. Compared to the A330 style, there seems to be 10-15 cms extra everywhere. There is an additional elbow rest on the inside and the partition extends around the head area to provide more protection from accidental knocks. The seat fully reclines or restores with a single touch to the button and separate control provide full flexibility for any seating position.
A 24 inch 16:9 monitor swivels out and latches in place. This is much sturdier than the A330 monitor which is easily disturbed by any turbulence. The screen is much more responsive to touch. Cathay's entertainment library is vast and even on a two hour flight The Navigatrix is able to squeeze in watching 'On Chesil Beach'.
We are still under 23kgs per bag (just) despite our purchases in Singapore.
A blanket is available on request. Hot towels are handed out just before pushback.
Totally efficient and polite, as we now expect from Cathay. Things were just that little bit more brisk given the short flight.
The shorter flight means food is served from a tray rather than individually prepared. Not that is a problem. Entrée was berries and fruit. We both had the steamed chicken, Chinese ham (which looked and tasted like bacon) and chicken rice. It was delicious. Dessert was the familiar Haagden Dasz ice cream. Yum.
ONE MORE THING
As we pushed back, the Captain apologised for the heat in the plane. Although the plane was only a month old (it almost had new-plane smell), the auxiliary power unit was broken when it was delivered from Airbus and it had not been repaired yet. Hang on... isn't there a warranty for things like that? It's also not quite the thing you want to hear just before take-off: "The plane is broken but don't worry about it."
Impeccable - again. There was nothing to fault. (Except the warranty from Airbus)
10 out of 10.
We stayed overnight at Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, which as the name suggests is located right next to Bangkok airport. We do not usually write detailed hotel reviews because hotel rooms are... well, just hotel rooms. However this hotel was different.
HANG ON... WHY DIDN'T YOU STAY IN THE CITY?
We had a 9am flight the next morning and so an early start. We did not want to add an hour to the early start by staying in the centre of town. We had intended on taking a tour from the airport but the late arrival and a forecast of thunderstorms put us off.
The Navigator is an Accor Plus member (thanks to the American Express Platinum Card) and also has gold status with the Accor loyalty program (earned the hard way - via lengthy stays at Accor properties). Through both of these programs we received a number of lovely benefits.
A staff member met us at luggage pickup in the airport, loaded all of our bags onto a trolley and whisked us through Customs. With our name on a board and express exit we felt like royalty! Then a dedicated car was waiting for us at the kerb to drive us to the hotel. We could have walked (as the hotel is above the Airport Link station) but this was easier.
At the hotel we were directed to the priority check-in desk in the Executive Lounge. They served a delightful lemongrass and ginger mocktail for us to sip on while we checked in.
Our room was upgraded (upgrade count is now 3) , ours was on the top floor.
Inside the room there was a welcome gift of fresh fruit, chocolates and macarons, which did not last long.
Our gold status also entitled us to a welcome drink. We sipped our Singapore Sling and Martini by the pool. The Navigatrix took advantage of the 25% discount in the Spa to have a 30 minute De Stress back and neck massage.
Accor Plus membership also gave us 50% off in any of the 6 restaurants in the hotel. In Asia, Accor Plus also provides 15% off drinks.
More on all of this below.
The hotel has 612 Rooms laid out in two rectangular wings. Each wing has rooms facing either outwards, inwards to an open courtyard, or facing into the atrium lobby. The hotel is somewhat unique in that there is no check-in time. Just turn up at any time - check out is 24 hours later. It is curious that more airport hotels do not adopt this policy.
The lobby is vast and accommodates 6 restaurants ranging across Thai, Japanese, Chinese and Western food.
The Airport Link station is directly below the hotel and provides access to the centre of Bangkok in about 30 minutes. It is probably too far away from the city to use as a base for a longer stay. There are probably more reasonably priced hotels in the city anyway. We stayed here using Accor points (earned from those lengthy stays).
The 35m2 room was beautifully laid out with dark teak wood panelling and furniture. The smell of orchids filled the room from no less than five vases. A desk stood against the window and a lovely armchair was adjacent. A TV faced the bed with the usual array of international channels - BBC, CNN, etc. There was a Nespresso coffee machine with complimentary coffee pods next to the desk. Spare power points were scarce and there was some confusion about the plugs (Thailand power points will accept US or European plugs) but there were no USB charging ports.
The bathroom was decked out in marble with a separate bath and shower. Plenty of Fair Trade brand amenities were provided, including a comb, toothbrushes and shaving kit.
The king size bed had a Goldilocks level of comfort - not too hard and not too soft.
The soundproofing is excellent. We did not hear the aeroplanes but we did hear the rain hitting the window. The tropical rain storm was massive - it flooded the streets and brought traffic to a standstill within minutes. It passed within an hour and everything was back to normal.
The Navigatrix writes about the Vous Spa
the Spa offers a range of pampering with a selection of therapies from East and West. Treatments include the traditional Thai massage, couples massage, tamarind or rice body scrub, Thai herbal facial (using jasmine and cucumber) or specific area massage such as foot, head, back or shoulder.
On arrival you a great with a freshly brewed pot of chrysanthemum tea in a handcrafted pottery set.
Inside you were offered private shower facilities, a gown and disposable underwear. The room was lit by lemongrass and ginger candles. I was neatly parcelled under warm towels and spent a blissful half hour My therapist ensured that I was comfortable and the pressure was not too hard or soft.
Afterwards another pot of tea was offered. All in all a lovely experience and I would highly recommended taking the time - I wish I had booked a longer session.
In the end I felt lighter, refreshed and extremely relaxed.
The pool is in the courtyard of the second wing, right next to the Spa. It is surrounded by lush tropical gardens of gingers, frangipanis and palm trees.
A deck surrounds the entire pool area and has a mix of sun lounges, chairs and tables shaded by umbrellas. The pool is not heated and although there is a jacuzzi-like bubble area it is part of the pool itself and also not heated.
We took our complimentary drinks at the Pool Bar, which also has a swim-up section.
With 6 restaurants there is plenty to cater for all tastes. We chose Sala Thai because we were in Thailand, of course. There was a wide range of curry, noodle and rice dishes with prices between 350 - 400 Baht (about $14 - $17) per dish and the serving sizes were large. We had beef sate (that's how they spell it), roasted duck red curry for The Navigator and stir fried beef and rice for The Navigatrix.
"You want spicy?" asked our server.
"Yes please," replied The Navigatrix.
Wow - it was spicy. Delicious... but spicy. So spicy that The Navigatrix could only manage a small portion. So spicy that when The Navigator tried it his nose ran and his eyes watered.
The staff were horrified because they thought they had ruined her meal. Despite our assurances that it was fine, no less than three staff members came and offered an alternative: re-cooked with less spice; a free choice from the buffet; what about a drink, madam? The Navigatrix settled for a cup of tea and even after that a plate of fresh tropical fruit arrived.
"It's the green chili which the chef puts in right at the last minute," said our host. "Otherwise it's a bit bland with just the herbs."
By the way, the duck red curry was also delicious. A wonderful coconut cream sauce was laden with chili, ginger and other spices. The cherry tomatoes were just enough to cool down the palate for the next mouthful.
We have stayed in our fair share of airport hotels, many of which we rate highly. However, The Navigatrix said this was the best airport hotel we have stayed in. There is a spectacular range of facilities and the room was so comfortable. We may have discovered a new route to Europe (see post for Day 8) and so would gladly stay here again. The team went out of they way to make our stay memorable.
10 out of 10.