My “Best” And “Worst” Travel Of 2013

On Wednesday I wrote a post reflecting on my 2013 travel year and the 400,000+ miles I flew. I figured I’d follow up that post with some of my “best” and “worst” travel of 2013. It’s worth noting that I’ll only put “new” experiences in this category. So for example if I’ve stayed at a hotel prior to 2013 it won’t be listed below, even if it was great.

With that in mind, here are some of my picks:

Best first class airline lounge of 2013 — Air France First Class Lounge Paris and Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai

Last year I experienced two new lounges that are hands down on par with the best out there, like the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt and Thai Airways First Class Lounge & Spa in Bangkok.

The first lounge was the Air France First Class Lounge Paris, which was really eye opening. The service, lounge itself, and food were all top notch. Too bad Air France first class is fairly unattainable on miles!

Air-France-First-Lounge-Paris-29

The other best loungr of 2013 is the Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai, in particular the one in the A380 terminal. It’s not so much a lounge as an entire terminal dedicated to first class passengers, allowing you to board your flight directly through the lounge.


Best business class airline lounge of 2013 — Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge Istanbul

The Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge Istanbul is hands down one of the most amazing business class lounges I’ve been to. The food spread is incredible and design is stunning. If only the lounge weren’t quite as crowded I’d say it could compete with the world’s best first class lounges.

Best business class product of 2013 — EVA Air Hello Kitty Royal Laurel Class Taipei to Los Angeles

EVA Air joined the Star Alliance in mid-2013, and are a huge asset to the alliance. Not only do they release a ton of award space, but they have one of the best business class products in the world thanks to their reverse herringbone seating, and the amenities aren’t half bad either, between the Dom Perignon they serve and Rimowa amenity kits they offer on longhaul flights. Even more special is that one of their Los Angeles frequencies is operated by a Hello Kitty aircraft.

EVA_Air_Royal_Laurel03

Best airplane sleep of 2013 — Singapore Airlines Suites Class San Francisco to Hong Kong

There are lots of great first class products out there, but can you really beat having a double for a 14 hour flight? The only downside to the flight was being alone!

Most fun flight of 2013 — Emirates First Class Singapore to Dubai

No point in even recreating this flight. It was either the worst or best Emirates flight ever… I’m not sure which.

Best hotel stay of 2013 — Amandari and Amankila

My best hotel stay — and perhaps best trip of 2013 — was with my mom at the Amans in Bali. We stayed at Amandari and Amankila, and they were simply spectacular. Admittedly they’re in a slightly different price range than the hotels I usually stay at, but it was an unforgettable experience and I can’t help but think we still got a great “value” despite the high rates.

Amandari_Bali_Resort76

Best Starwood hotel stay of 2013 — W Taipei

I’m usually not a fan of W Hotels because I find they’re style over substance and really don’t focus very much on the guest experience, though I was really impressed by my stay at the W Taipei. It was a gorgeous hotel, the service was amazing, and they even had great elite recognition, which is rare at W properties, in my experience.

Besides, they had ice cream and pizza at the breakfast buffet… what more could you really want?

W_Taipei05

Best Hyatt hotel stay of 2013 — Park Hyatt Istanbul

I had a ton of amazing hotel stays this year with Hyatt, most notably at the Park Hyatt Istanbul, Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la MediteraneeGrand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur, Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez, and Park Hyatt Zurich. I’d have to say my single favorite stay was probably the Park Hyatt Istanbul. It was the smallest Park Hyatt I’ve stayed at, and the service was just flawless. It’s a gorgeous building, and their Spa King rooms are pretty amazing because they have Turkish baths.

Okay, so I can’t in good conscience not include at least a few of my “worst” of 2013 as well:

Worst flight of 2013 — Royal Jordanian Business Class Bangkok to Hong Kong

It’s the only time I’ve been on a plane and thought I was going to die. ‘Nuff said.

Worst inflight service of 2013 — LAN Business Class Miami to Buenos Aires

While LAN’s hard product is quite good for travel to South America, this was the first time I’ve ever had food (just about) literally thrown at me.

Worst first class lounge of 2013 — British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow

Don’t get me wrong, in absolute terms this probably wasn’t my worst lounge experience of 2013, though compared to what I was expecting it was. Between the rude service and untidy lounge (in particular the bathrooms) I wasn’t impressed.

What were some of your most memorable travels of 2013? Let me know in the comments below please!

Comments

  1. Best flight: EWR-SIN on Singapore Airlines (18h40minutes), proud to have survived the then-longest flight
    Best hotel: Park Hyatt Shanghai (had a superior room on the 83rd floor!) or Le Meridien Bangkok, excellent service and best breakfast ever.

  2. I’m going to be honest: I’ve had some really bumpy flights recently and more than once I thought to myself, “Ben didn’t die in that flight so I probably won’t die on this one.” I’ve been wondering how flying has been for you since that horrific experience.

  3. I surely did not fly as many miles as you (only 80kmiles in my case), but here it goes my list:

    Best flights:
    1) Asiana First Suite Class ICN to JFK
    2) Thai Business class A380 FRA to BKK
    3) Cathay Business class YVR to JFK

    Best Hotels:
    1) Park Hyatt Itanbul for 2 nights. I agree with you that it is an amazing property
    2) Ritz-Carlton San Juan. Though not Flawless, I really like the location
    3) Aydinli Cave House hotel in Goreme. No, this is not a 5 star hotel, it is actually a B&B that we stayed for 3 nights while in Cappadocia that we will remember for years to come.
    4) The Privilege Floor Siem Reap. First thought about staying at the Park Hyatt, but ended up chosing this property because of the 24hours driver we would have for us. Amazing and attentive service, very good food and reasonable prices. Highly recommended.

  4. Travel highlight of the year: FRA-ORD on the LH 747-400 in F. (Thanks to PointPros.) LH FCT in FRA! A separate seat and bed on the upper deck of a 747! Only four other passengers in F so great service. Almost as good as it gets unless you go private.

  5. And here I felt sorry for my daughter and husband who had to lay over in Istanbul while flying Turkish Airlines Business class, while the rest of us flew Swiss Air out of Nairobi. Turns out they got the better end of the deal and did indeed say the Business Class lounge in Istanbul was amazing.

  6. totally agree about LAN. if you don’t speak spanish, the service is awful and pretty much super rude. the hard product is decent and the food is quite tasty tho is it is not a total loss. plus i like their amenity kits as well.

  7. oh, and my travel highlight was the same as one of yours… SIN-DXB in Emirates F on A380 and then the awesome lounge… really loved it.

  8. Flight – Cathay Pacific First Class NY-HKG-BKK

    Best hotel of the year – tie!
    1. Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok with ridiculous upgrade to massive suite (really an apartment)

    2. Club Suite at the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong. Absolutely perfect!

  9. Singapore Suites class from JFK-SIN, including a double bed suite on the JFK to FRA leg as there was only one other passenger. After spending several days in Vietnam and Cambodia, I returned SIN-EWR on SQ 21, as this was a “bucket list” flight for me.

  10. Hmm…my best trip this year was either a 40-minute flight from DCA-JFK on an American Eagle ERJ145 with service provided by a flight attendant who seemed to hate life, or that time I won a FREE TRIP TO FINLAND WITH YOU. 😛

  11. Best flight: ORD-ICN in Asiana Business Class (with the return ICN-ORD a close 2nd)

    Best hotels: Conrad Seoul; getting upgraded to massively large suite at the Embassy Suites in Washington DC

  12. Best trip ever: LAN from Miami to Quito, Ecuador and Aero Gal to the Galápagos Islands. The service was great. It was the most amazing trip and Celebrity cruise I’ve been on.

  13. Worst flight:
    SWISS First Class BKK-ZRH. Worst thatvway that I burned 85.000 valuable Lufthansa upgrade miles for realky nothing, as the service was mediocre business class at its best…

  14. It was great learning about these through reading last year! I’ll get to experience a few of them myself this year.

  15. (Not really aspirational but got good value for points at the Doubletree Fort Shelby in Detroit, MI)

    Memorable because it was my first redemption ever, got my friends to respect my hobby (elite status and lowered price of hotel), and also because it was cheaper to redeem AFTER the big Hilton devaluation.

  16. Best flight:
    ANA First JFK-NRT (first flight in F in my entire life)

    Best lounge:
    Singapore Airlines The Private Room

    This year will be a blast with LH F 744 from NRT-FRA and FRA-JFK, OZ F Suites ICN-JFK, SQ 388 Suites LAX-NRT-SIN-MEL, QF F 388 SYD-HKG and CX F HKG-JFK!

  17. First of all, thank you very much for providing such a wealth of information and being so helpful to everyone (in comments and in Ask Lucky).

    I managed to sneak in a trip on LX F (ZRH-ORD) before they limited F awards to upper-tier members. Fortunately, unlike #17, all F passengers were treated well.

    Best hotel experience was getting upgraded to top-floor junior suite that faced Opera House at Hotel Bristol in Vienna (and this was as a regular SPG Platinum without using SNA).

  18. The THY Lounge in Istanbul has been remodeled snd extended with one more floor; I’d suggest that you’d (or anyone else) go for the second floor because everyone stays on the first…

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