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Me, myself and I

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Having a passion for hotels and exploring new cultures. Giving advice to future guests is invaluable. In this blog, I will be writing reviews about quality hotels and I will be adding some pictures and videos. I will comment on the overall atmosphere, the architecture and the interior. A hotel is more than just a room to stay in: amenities such as the bar, the restaurant and the spa services are equally important. Everyone has their own opinion, but I will provide you with an objective impression to give you a general and clear idea of what is awaiting you.

Enjoy reading and travelling!

Christophe Delcroix

Christophe.Delcroix@gmail.com

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Burj Al Arab – Dubai

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Hotelchain: Jumeirah
Location: Dubai – UAE
Classification: 5 star hotel deluxe (some say world’s only 7 star hotel)
Official websitehttp://www.jumeirah.com/en/hotels-resorts/dubai/burj-al-arab/

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Internationally renowned as world’s most luxurious hotel, I had the opportunity to experience the famous Burj Al Arab in Dubai. It is located on a man-made island, 280 meters from the Jumeirah beach. It is the flagship of the Jumeirah hotel group.  Only hotel guests (or guests with a reservation in one of the restaurants) can enter the hotel, so there is no sightseeing here.  This is a good thing, as I saw a number of people at the front gate taking pictures of the hotel.

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Location

Located at Jumeirah beach, Burj Al Arab is located between Dubai Marina and Business Bay. There’s a holiday vibe around the area.

When I approached the entrance, I was impressed with the height of the hotel… 321 meters above sea level… Trust me, it is HUGE!  As soon as you enter the Burj Al Arab, you will enter in a completely different world.  I truly was blown away… Gold everywhere.  It is reportedly the only 7 star hotel in the world and I can easily understand why.  After taking the escalator — with a huge aquarium – you can look up 200 meters. A lot of looking up!  Did you know that the Statue of Liberty would fit inside?  Also, there are dancing fountains all over the place with tons of different programs, so you’ll never get bored when watching!

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The suites

There are no rooms in the Burj al Arab, only suites. Starting at 170m² (1,829 sq. ft.), all of the rooms are duplex suites, each with the highest level of comfort one could wish for.  The Burj has 1600 staff members looking over “only” 202 suites.  So that’s… eight members for each suite? Yep! There is a private check-in and butler service for each suite. No waiting times here at the reception. They explain everything you need to know and will do anything you ask — like making reservations in one of the restaurants, booking day trips to the city, making sure you will get the dessert you want, etc.

Every suite in the Burj Al Arab is beautifully decorated. Although the hotel opened back in 1999, the suites look very up to date and brand new. From the marble entrance with large staircase to the oversized living rooms, you will feel like a king or queen while walking around. They have the world’s most expensive mattresses, which can be adapted to customer needs and preferences. These things are making this hotel truly unique; returning guests are assured they will have a wonderful night.

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The bathrooms are huge — they used Italian marble – and you will be so relaxed after spending some time in the oversized jacuzzi.  Oh, a great thing: did you know that Hermès produced a special edition of perfume for the Burj Al Arab?  That is right, full-size Hermès Burj Al Arab amenities (female + male) are offered to guests at no additional charge. Of course, you could take them home as a souvenir.

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Spa facilities

A full spa – the Talise Spa – is located on one of the top floors. I was not able to take pictures of the spa area, but there is an indoor pool, jacuzzi, fitness, etc. Several treatments are offered and after a relaxing massage you can relax in the spa resting area, accessible for guests only, of course. From there, you can look straight down (200 meters!) to the ground level. Very impressive and not recommended when afraid of heights 🙂

Spa treatments are excellent! They exactly know how to make you feel at ease and so relaxed. Just tell them which pressure you prefer and you will enjoy every single minute. The soft music all over the place made it even more relaxing.

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There is also an outdoor pool area — and the Burj has its own beach across the bridge. The recently opened Terrace is stunning! For water fun, there is complimentary access to the Wild Wadi Waterpark, which is located across the bridge.

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The famous Burj Al Arab hotel is one of Dubai’s highlights and one of world’s best hotels… The hotel’s immaculate reputation is well earned and you will be impressed with every aspect of your stay!

Guarda Golf – Crans Montana

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Location: Crans-Montana – Switzerland
Classification: 5 star hotel superior
Official websiteguardagolf.com

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Guarda Golf hotel & residences is a top notch five star hotel in Crans-Montana. Making part of Swiss Deluxe Hotels and The Leading Hotels of the World, my expectations were high and were met in every single way! We arrived during their winter opening weekend and I was blown away as soon as I entered this gorgeous place! I always like mountain style interiors when staying in the Alps and the warm and cozy interiors definitely gave me the mountain feelings. Guarda Golf hotel & residences is not an ultra modern design hotel, but a very stylish, elegant and luxurious appointed place instead. The traditional wooden décors and furniture are all beautiful.

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The most friendly and professional check-in staff greeted us with a smile and gave us some useful information about the hotel and the village. I loved the personal approach and I immediately noticed the high service level. The hotel has ‘only’ 23 rooms which is why guests are treated as royalty here. From this winter, they added 7 huge suite apartments, each with a lot of space to move (225m²!). Also new is the new private 15-seat cinema which is accessible at no additional charge. I should definitely mention that a lot of other services are included in the rates too such as complimentary valet (underground)parking, a limousine service within Crans Montana and each day you’ll receive a newspaper upon request.

The rooms at Guarda Golf hotel & residences are glorious, spacious and elegantly appointed. The dark wood made it even more romantic. Our room had a gorgeous king sized bed and the most comfortable sitting area with two comfortable couches. The oversized desk was perfect for doing some work and internet speed was excellent! By the way, each room comes with a minibar with complimentary soft drinks.

The balcony had picture perfect views over the surrounding areas. Beautiful!

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The luxurious bathroom featured a bathtub and an excellent shower! Water pressure was superb and 2 people could easily fit in! As most of you know, I’m a true fan of Bulgari toiletries and was happy to find out they provide those here!

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Enough things to do here! A must visit is the spa area! This is THE place to relax and unwind after a day in the mountains. It is just gorgeous. The indoor pool has a good size and water temperature is excellent! I felt great in the large sauna and steam room as it was freezing outside!

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They offer a large spa menu with several beauty treatments to choose from. I enjoyed a relaxing massage which was given by a talented spa therapist. She did an excellent job and made me feel reborn after the treatment. She was very knowledgeable about the products and took my preferences about the medium/soft pressure which I requested in mind. Loved every single minute of this wonderful beauty treatment. They’re real professionals here and the entire spa area is maintained in an excellent way! They use Eva.j products which is a Swiss-made line of products using only the best, biological ingredients, certified for Swiss pharmaceuticals.

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Guarda Golf hotel & residences is located near a 18 holes golf course, called Severiano Ballesteros. As it was the start of the winter season, we weren’t able to play golf, but they do offer an indoor golf facility as well. Very cool!

The ski slopes are only a short drive from the hotel. We took advantage of the wonderful complimentary limousine service and they took us to the slopes in their brand new Mercedes. The ski area at Crans Montana is stunning. With 23 lifts and 140 km of ski slopes, this is a perfect place to enjoy several days of winter fun. I was happy to find out there are many blue and red slopes as I’m not a fan of black slopes. What I liked about this ski area is that it is not over crowded. We never had to wait at the lifts and the whole area is connected in a very convenient way.

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Back to the hotel, as you would expect from a hotel of this class, they offer several gourmet dining options for their guests. The first night we had dinner at the Guarda Golf Lounge with a more international all round cuisine. As we arrived pretty late in the evening and since we were a bit tired, we enjoyed a more casual dinner. The food here was to die for and service was top notch! A must try is their crème brulee! The most beautiful crème brulee I have ever seen. Period!

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Mizuki by Kakinuma is their fine dining restaurant and is one of the better restaurants in Crans-Montana. We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner here the second night. This restaurant offers an authentic Japanese cuisine in a unique setting. The décor is stylish and the panoramic views over the mountains is fantastic! The food really is out of this world and each plate was like a picture. As a starter we just had to try the suhi and we loved every single bite. For the main course we enjoyed a traditional hot pot called Marmite Sukiyaki with thin slices of beef and a selection of fresh vegetables in a sweet and salty soy bouillon, served with a raw egg on the side.

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Guarda Golf hotel & residences recently underwent expansion works which are completed this week and I just had to see the new expansions myself! They added 7 luxury three-bedrooms suite apartments – and trust me, I wouldn’t just call them apartments but presidential suites instead, a library, private dining space, an adults and children’s games room, a cigar lounge and a private cinema honoring the legendary James Bond actor who used to be a loyal guest for many years. Let me share some pictures!

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As you read, I really liked our stay at Guarda Golf hotel & residences. From the moment I stepped in to the moment I checked out, we enjoyed every single minute here and we can’t wait to return to this jewel in the Swiss Alps! Five stars all the way!

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok

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Hotelchain: Mandarin Oriental
Location: Bangkok – Thailand
Classification: 5 star hotel
Official websitemandarinoriental.com/bangkok

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The famous Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is the flagship of the prestigious Mandarin Oriental Group. The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok was the first hotel in Thailand and is more than 140 years old, it was built in 1876. Today it is still one of world’s best hotels. Actually, it has been rated as world’s best hotel for 10 years and I can easily understand why. I was so fortunate to stay here and truly was and still am blown away by the service and comfort they provide.

Location

You can’t beat the location, the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is located right next to the Chao Phraya River and the most popular tourist sites are nearby. The public boat will take you to the Grand Palace in just about 15 minutes.

This ultra-luxurious five star hotel offers 324 rooms and 44 suites, a world-class spa and several high end restaurants which I will tell you more about later.

As soon as I entered this palace, I noticed the attention to details. The way they combined the elegant Thai style with seductive modern touches is just wonderful. Mandarin Oriental hotels are known for their hospitality and service. Several staff members actually remembered my name. Those are small things, but they make a world difference. Every single staff member I met, greeted me with a smile and took care of every request in a very kind and professional way. Upon arrival, we were greeted with a traditional Thai flower hand garland.

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Rooms/suites

We stayed in a deluxe room and luxurious it definitely was. They decorated the rooms in a very elegant and very classy way. The leather couch was great for watching television. I could have spent here all day long 🙂 The view over the river and Bangkok’s surroundings was great. I watched the long tail boats floating by while enjoying some drinks. This is what a perfect hotel room looks like. Even the marble bathroom was an eye catcher featuring a separate bath tub and walk-in shower. The silk bathrobes were amazing. Another feature I appreciated very much was the in-room interactive entertainment system which allows iPod/MP3 integration. The high quality audio system was of a very good quality. All rooms at the Mandarin Oriental come with Butler Service, always a bonus! Did you know that the Mandarin Oriental has one of the highest staff to guest room ratio in the entire hotel industry (3 staff per guest room)!

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The recently redecorated rooms at the Author’s Wing are very stylish and the Royal Suite which I visited was the best and most luxurious suite I have ever seen, hands down!

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Restaurants/bars

At night we had dinner at Sala Rim Naam offering an authentic Thai cuisine, but first we had some cocktails at the Bamboo bar. It was pretty hard to choose from the extensive cocktail menu but the very knowledgeable bartender gave us some good recommendations.   While we were enjoying the delicious Thai food (I LOVE Thai food!), we were enjoying a classical Thai dance show. We were in Bangkok for just a few days and this was the perfect evening to experience the true Thai tradition and hospitality. I thoroughly likes the Mussamun Nuea, the southern style beef curry with sweet potato and onion. The menu was prepared in an excellent way and service was top notch! Although there’s a smart casual dress code where they kindly request guests to wear elegant attire, the atmosphere was very relaxed and easy going.

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Pool area

The next morning I started my day with a swim in the stunning pool. There are two pools, a wading pool which is perfect for leisure and a 25 metre long pool which is ideal for swimming laps. As soon as I approached the pool area, staff member greeted me and gave me some plush towels and some water. Although the Mandarin Oriental is right in the middle of Bangkok, it felt like a hidden gem here. It was so quiet here… fantastic way to start my day! Beside the pools, a full fitness center is available 24 hrs. They offer complimentary fitness classes… After your work out you can relax in the sauna, steam room or jacuzzi. And if you are into tennis and/or squash, the Mandarin Oriental has two outdoor tennis courts and one squash court.

Spa facilities

If you just want to relax make sure you visit the Spa facilities which are located in a separate building across the river. The spa of the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is one of Asia’s leading spa center offering several beautifully decorated treatment rooms and steam facilities. They even have a few ‘specialty suites’ for couples with private steam showers and vitality pools.

I enjoyed a after-jet-lag treatment and absolutely loved it! After selecting my favorite scent I felt so relaxed and almost fell asleep which is a huge compliment. Just take a look at their spa menu as they offer several kind of treatments.

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Then it was time for breakfast! Breakfast is served at the Riverside Terrace and believe me, having breakfast here with such a stunning view is just awesome! Quality of the food was outstanding! The riverside terrace offers stunning views. I enjoyed the long tail boats passing by. Service was great, never was asked for too much. Do try their home made yoghurt and pastries!

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No wonder the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is well known for its service and overall facilities! The high reputation is well deserved and I can easily understand why this hotel is one of world’s leading hotels! From the personal printed writing paper with your name on it to the fresh flowers all over the room… The Thai hospitality is amazing and I can’t say enough good things about this hotel! Six stars all the way!

W Hong Kong

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Hotelchain: W Hotels
Location: Hong Kong
Classification: 5 star hotel
Official websitemarriott.com/…ls/travel/hkgwh-w-hong-kong

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One of the top rated hotels in the city, W Hong Kong is an ultra modern classy five star hotel in the heart of Hong Kong. I have great experiences with W and had to try this one too, of course!

The gorgeous lobby area is pretty large with a lot of natural day light. The ground floor gave me a great first impression but when I entered the lobby, I was wowed by how beautiful this hotel is!
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All rooms at W Hong Kong was amazingly designed and ultra luxurious equipped! The design looking rooms are very comfortable and all have a great couch and oversized working desk. The marble bath room had separate walk-in shower and tub.

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I am in love with the pool at W Hong Kong. The place is just beautiful and has one of the most beautiful views I have seen anywhere! It is just stunning… water temperature was excellent – not too cold, not too warm. This definitely is a nice place to spend some time with your loved ones. Plenty of towels and bathrobes can be found downstairs so no need to take them from the room.

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We had dinner at the Kitchen, their signature buffet restaurant and it didn’t disappoint! What a great looking restaurant with top notch service! Several designer elements can be found. Service truly was very personal and kind. The buffet itself was not just an ordinary buffet. The food was delicious and most of the dishes are prepared right in front of you! The show cooking element is a huge wow factor. Everything I tasted was just delicious. There’s a good mix between Western and Eastern food options. Do note that coffee and tea are included! The best part was the dessert buffet: a lot of choices between home made pastries, crème brulee and many more! Highly recommended!

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W Hong Kong is one of a kind and definitely deserves its good reputation! Highly recommended when you are looking for a luxurious Hong Kong getaway!

 

Airline review: Cathay Pacific

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From: Brussels, Belgium
To: Hong Kong
Flight time: 11h30
Aircraft: A350-900

Rated as one of the best airlines in the industry, I was pretty excited to experience Cathay Pacific on a recent direct flight from Brussels to Hong Kong. Right from the moment we checked in at Brussels Airport, I knew this was going to be a great flight.

Cathay Pacific flies from Brussels to Hong Kong since March 2018 with their A350’s and I heard great things about the airline. I couldn’t wait to find out myself… And honestly, it didn’t disappoint. Cathay Pacific’s A350-900 is one of the most modern long-haul planes in the industry.

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I was seated in a Premium Economy Seat which was very comfortable and one of the best Premium Economy Seats I have experienced. It kind of felt Semi-Business Class to me as those seats are located in a more private section of the plane. The seat recline is quite generous with 9 inches. There’s a lot of space, the seat didn’t feel cramped at all with a seat pitch of 40 inches.

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The flight started excellent with some champagne as a welcome drink. I immediately opened the amenity kit with toothbrush, toothpaste, sleeping mask, sleeping socks and ear plugs. Very convenient!

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Throughout the flight, I enjoyed their inflight entertainment system. I had a personal (12,1 inches!) television from which it was excellent to watch some recent movies. The entertainment system itself was easy to navigate both from the screen itself and from the controller. The selection of movies was pretty good (do watch ‘Get out’ – loved that one!) and I did play Angry Birds… a couple of times! I also appreciated the mobile/tablet dock which is placed on eye level. Wifi was available as well (with a fee) with some complimentary services to use. I loved the fact that I could see the moving map from my smartphone while enjoying a movie and a nice diner.

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Speaking of food, honestly, I had one of the best meals in the sky ever! For the first time the airline food actually tasted good. The pork fillet with potato gratin tasted excellent. It came with green beans, carrot and mushroom cream sauce. Another options would have been either sliced beef tenderloin with oyster sauce, mushrooms, kalian, carrot and steamed jasmine rice or tomato and ricotta cheese herb tortelli, creamy Alfredo sauce, sautéed spinach and tomato ragout. I must also highlight the Mövenpick ice cream which was soooooo yummie!

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Alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks were available during the flight at no additional cost.

Throughout the flight I experienced great service. The flight attendants were polite and treated each passenger in a very kind way. Nothing was asked for too much! I guess it is all about details, for example, fancy Face Moisturizer and Hand Cream can be found in the lavatories. Loved it!

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After 9 hrs of flying, breakfast was served. Again, I could choose from several options: an omelet that came with bacon, Lyonnaise potatoes, vine ripened tomatoes and sautéed mushrooms or stir fried prawn and chicken, X.O. sauce and egg noodles.

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We landed 30 mins ahead of schedule and I had the most comfortable flight I could wish for! Thumbs up, Cathay Pacific!

Hotel Utrecht

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Hotelchain: Van der Valk
Location: Utrecht – Netherlands
Classification: 4 star hotel
Official websitevandervalkhotelutrecht.nl

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Located near the beautiful city of Utrecht, Hotel Utrecht is a great four star hotel with excellent amenities. This brand new hotel opened only a couple of months ago and as you can expect from a Van der Valk Hotel, the hotel is luxuriously decorated and offers great facilities which I will tell you more about later.

Hotel Utrecht definitely is one of the better options if you are looking for a hotel near Utrecht. The hotel is easily reachable as it is located near the A12 highway. Right upon arrival, I was welcomed with a smile and the front desk staff told me everything I needed to know about the hotel and the facilities. I was happy to find out that as soon as I entered, I felt pampered. The interior is totally up to date, cozy chic and I immediately liked the contemporary design of the hotel. The very spacious lobby area is just beautiful.

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All 185 rooms at Hotel Utrecht are comfortably appointed with all the facilities you’d expect of a four star hotel. Our room was beautifully decorated! I appreciated the comfy lounge couch and excellent bed! As usual at every Van der Valk property, each room here is very spacious and efficiently shaped.

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Bathroom featured an oversized whirlpool bath tub and single sink. On top of that, the large walk-in (rain)shower was excellent!

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The theme suites are just wonderful. They’re all very spacious and ultra luxurious!

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I should definitely mention the gorgeous onsite indoor pool which is located on the 20th floor. As the pool is located on one of the top floors, the panoramic views are stunning. Next to the pool is the wellness area where guests can enjoy the (infrared + traditional Finnish) saunas and hammam at no additional charge. Body treatments can be booked here too. There’s also an on-site fitness facility.

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Their restaurant, ‘V’ which refers to ‘Valk’, offers an international cuisine. I really like the contemporary and modern décor of the restaurant. We had dinner here and I must admit the food is outstanding as is the service. We enjoyed a wonderful salmon which was prepared exactly the way we requested. Each morning, they serve breakfast here too.

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I usually really like the breakfasts at Van der Valk hotels. Hotel Utrecht didn’t disappoint at all. The large breakfast buffet was of a good quality and did offer something for anyone. My favorite was the granola with ginger.

Hotel Utrecht is a top notch four star hotel which makes part of the Van der Valk hotel chain. This very comfortable hotel offers a good location, lovely interiors and the most comfortable facilities. Highly recommended to stay here when you are looking for a nice getaway near Utrecht!

Steigenberger Airport Hotel Amsterdam

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Hotelchain: Deutsche hospitality
Location: Amsterdam Airport
Classification: 4 star hotel
Official websitesteigenberger.com/…/steigenberger-airport-hotel-schiphol

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Combine the global network of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport with a first class business hotel and a luxury accommodation in a metropolitan city, then you get the best of three worlds: The Steigenberger Airport Hotel Amsterdam, one of the largest and best MICE locations in the area! The free of charge Shuttle Service will bring you to-and-from Schiphol Airport within 8 minutes. The hotel is located in the non-flying zone and next to the beautiful Amsterdam forest.

The 440 comfortable luxury rooms and suites are decorated with warm colors and are designed to maximize privacy and rest. The 15 flexible and modern meeting rooms, all with natural daylight on the ground floor, offer space for up to 620 persons for a wide range of events. It goes without saying that all meeting rooms are equipped with presentation technology and free WIFI.

It is known as one of the best hotels in the area so I was pretty excited to get the chance to experience. The hotel is located in a very modern building. The lobby is very spacious and gives a great first impression.

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Check-in staff made me feel very welcome and was down to earth, not over the top which sometimes is the case at other hotels but still acting very professional. You feel at ease here, which is worth a lot… especially after a long flight!

The room I stayed in was large and of a true 4 star level. The deluxe room was recently renovated and featured a small comfy couch and a large working desk. The modern bathroom was great featuring an oversized (rain) shower which was heavenly! The room was totally up to date and decorated in a very nice way. Another great feature of the rooms: they’re all soundproof assuring you a good nights’ sleep. By the way, did you know the hotel is located in a non flying zone? That is right, I didn’t hear one plane during my stay at the hotel.

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Steigenberger Airport Hotel Amsterdam has a full Spa and wellness Center which is a great especially after long flights. The Lifestyle Club & Active Spa is pretty large featuring a great indoor swimming pool which is pretty large for hotel standards. There are also steam showers and saunas which guests can use at no additional charge. The treatment I had was one of the best massages I have had in Amsterdam. The therapist did an amazing job and I felt like walking on clouds throughout the treatment. It was so relaxing… Definitely book a treatment when you are there as you will be pampered and relaxed as never before!

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At night I had dinner at Trattoria. This Italian styled restaurant offers excellent dishes in a cozy atmosphere. You could tell that the Chef is Italian. This is not just an ordinary hotel restaurant. The food they serve here is just d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s. Hands down, I can honestly tell you that I had the best raw beef tartar ever! Also, the presentation was top notch! As a main course, the Monkfish which was wrapped in lardo bisque came with gamba, a foam of San Daniele and a cream of shallots. The straw potato and radicchio made a perfect combination. I must also highlight the great and personal service here. Everyone I met and spoke to was very friendly and accommodating! Thumbs up!

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Another option to have a good bite and drink is their Sports & Media Bar. This pub is very cozy and the perfect place to relax and have a good chat with your fellow travelers.
I started the next day with an excellent breakfast. The Restaurant Patio is located on the ground floor next to the lobby area. The buffet is large and the quality of the food is outstanding! It will please everyone! Personally, my favorites were the pastries. They even offer some yummy apple pie. You should definitely try it out yourself.

Steigenberger Airport Hotel Amsterdam is an excellent option if you are looking for a hotel near the Airport of Amsterdam. The real advantages of staying here are the gorgeous renovated rooms, the large Spa & Wellness Center with an indoor heated swimming pool and the great hospitality. Do note that they offer a very convenient and efficient complimentary shuttle service to/from the hotel which will take you to the airport in just 10 minutes. The shuttle runs 2 times per hour. So just park your car safely at the hotel and let your holiday start right away! I promise, it will be a great start of your journey! Can’t wait to return!