Introduction: One Stroopwafel At A Time

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Introduction
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Washington Dulles
Flying Lufthansa First Class During World Cup
Hotel Des Indes The Hague
Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam
KLM Crown Lounge Amsterdam
KLM Business Class 747-400 Amsterdam To Chicago
Waldorf Astoria Chicago


I know, I know, I’m way behind on trip reports. As I explained on Tuesday, I’ve been having a bit of a technology meltdown thanks to my MacBook Air running out of hard drive space.

That being said, I’ve taken so many trips over the past couple of months and I need to catch up on trip reports. So I’ll keep this trip report brief by sticking just to the highlights.

After my US Airways 90,000 mile business class award on LOT, Swiss, Ethiopian, and Lufthansa in early July, I needed decide on my next adventure.

I stayed in DC for a bit — including at the Park Hyatt Washington DC — and after a few days I figured I’d enjoy summer and head to Europe.

I love being in Europe… and that doesn’t even account for the things to do there. The timezone is simply the greatest thing in the world for me, since I can be productive in the morning, and by the time the US east coast business day starts I can kind of just coast through the day. It’s awesome, especially compared to the west coast of the US, where I feel like I’m just playing “catch up” all day (I’m not naturally a morning person, which only makes things worse).

After spending a few days in DC I decided I should go somewhere fun, not for the purposes of reviewing an airline or hotel specifically, but rather to stay somewhere for a while and enjoy the area — after all, that’s the real reason I decided to move into hotels full time.

A friend had recently visited Starwood’s two Luxury Collection properties in the Netherlands and loved them, so I decided that sounded like a fun way to spend some time.

After looking at hotel options, I decided to book three nights at Hotel Des Indes in The Hague, and then five nights at Hotel Pulitzer in Amsterdam.

I went back and forth on how to book them and in what order to stay in them, but in the end availability and rates dictated all that.

I ended up booking my first three nights at Hotel Des Indes for 180EUR per night. That’s more than I usually want to spend for a hotel, though the alternative was spending 12,000 Starpoints per night. I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each, so paying cash did seem like the better option.

Hotel-Des-Indes-Hague-25
Hotel Des Indes, The Hague

As far as Hotel Pulitzer goes, rates were crazy expensive, as you’d expect in Amsterdam in summer. And as much as I struggle with redeeming Starpoints (since I value them so highly), this was an absolute no brainer. The paid rate was 334EUR per night, so five nights would have cost me 1,670EUR. Instead I could redeem 12,000 Starpoints per night with the fifth night free, so it was like paying 9,600 Starpoints per night. At well over four cents per Starpoint, that was a redemption value I was quite happy with, especially since these are primarily points I accrued through the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.

Hotel-Pulitzer

Hotel-Pulitzer-Amsterdam-02
View from Hotel Pulitzer, Amsterdam

This was a trip where I actually booked my hotels before booking my flights, so once I had my hotels locked in I worked on the flights. After much back and forth I decided to book Lufthansa first class on the outbound using Air Canada Aeroplan miles. The booking process was a bit of a fiasco as I booked my flight from the wrong airport. That cost me 62,500 Aeroplan miles (transferred from American Express Membership Rewards), plus about $400 in taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges.

Since I’ve reviewed Lufthansa first class a million times before and I already shared my initial thoughts on flying Lufthansa first class during the World Cup, I’ll only be reviewing the Lufthansa Senator Lounge Washington Dulles as part of the review.

For the return I decided to book KLM business class from Amsterdam to Chicago. I went back and forth a bit on what to book for the return, but in the end I figured I was best off redeeming 62,500 Alaska miles for one-way business class in KLM’s new product (as much as that killed me, given the number of great uses of Alaska miles).

KLM-Business-Class-747-02
KLM 747-400 business class

In the end my flight itinerary looked as follows:

07/08 LH419 Washington to Frankfurt departing 6:10PM arriving 8:10AM (+1 day)
07/09 LH990 Frankfurt to Amsterdam departing 11:45AM arriving 12:55PM
07/17 KL611 Amsterdam to Chicago departing 12:40PM arriving 2:10PM

Amsterdam-Trip-Map

Then upon landing in Chicago I had one night before my other commitments, so I decided to check out the Waldorf Astoria Chicago. While I think the Waldorf Astoria brand as such is several decades past its prime, I’ve heard this property is an outlier, so wanted to check it out.

There was Points & Money availability for the night I was looking at, so one night cost me $150 plus 32,000 points, which seemed a much better value than the paid rate of $435. Furthermore, I’d get some benefits for staying there thanks to my HHonors Diamond status through the Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card.

Waldorf-Astoria-Chicago-Rate

Waldorf-Astoria-Chicago
Waldorf Astoria Chicago

I’ll try to publish one installment per day so that I can get on with my trip reports and also cover my trip to Portugal and Iceland, and then my recent trip to the Middle East on Jet Airways, Qatar, Emirates, and Etihad.

Thanks, as always, for reading, and for your patience with me getting these trip reports out — I really appreciate it!

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Comments

  1. TBH Lucky, I’d actually wait for a more detailed trip report than read a trip report that isn’t more than a few pics jammed into the last of your Air then thrown together. That said, I don’t know what you have on your Air – I’d spring clean that before dumping it.

  2. You should get an external hard drive lol. Looking forward to this report. I, obviously, love Europe too 😉

  3. “As I explained on Tuesday, I’ve been having a bit of a technology meltdown thanks to my MacBook Air running out of hard drive space.”

    Apple’s cost for extra more storage is insane and only available at purchase.

    Luckily there are plenty of other options…

    128GB Flush Fitting Half Size SD Cards… http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MTHLURE
    256GB Conventional Full Size SD Cards… http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IF4O3JC
    2TB Polished Aluminum External Hard Drives… http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00M1VICO2

  4. I’m sure i’m not alone in likely finding this the most relevant post of the trip report. As anyone who’s planned their own award travel knows, it is the whole balancing of points, cash, and availability that’s the hard part. I’m fascinated by your use of Aeroplan miles to fly LH despite the YQ, why not UA J out of Dulles?

  5. I stayed at the Hotel Pulitzer back in 2009 and absolutely loved it! Loved the history of it. Great location. Excellent staff. I’d stay again in a heartbeat.

  6. I use PNY StorEDGE 128GB Flash Memory in my MBAir. slots in the side… takes up the SD Card space but does not protrude much. The 64gb can often be found for $40 USD

  7. Following your link to booking on Alaska brought up this question. Changes within 60 days of a flight have a $125 fee. Right now, Cathay isn’t opening up FC until the week or two before departure. So if we follow your advice to book Cathay in J, then at the last minute they open up two FC seats on that same flight, do we have to pay $250 to upgrade the two of us?

  8. @ Alvin — It is the “full” trip report in terms of all the installments being as detailed as they usually are. I’m just not writing as many installments, necessarily.

  9. @ Stannis — At the end of the day Lufthansa first class is a fantastic product and I’m happy to pay a bit extra for it. Well worth the premium, in my opinion.

  10. @Lucky – I hope you had a fresh stroopwaffel in one of the street markets when you were there. If you think the store bought ones are good – wait ’til you try one hot off the waffle press!

  11. Yay, finally a KLM review! Been waiting for that since I started reading this blog, about 2.5 years ago. Hotel Des Indes is a pretty nice hotel in a nice area, I must say. Stayed there once for New Year’s Eve, at 32 euros per person per night. Now that’s tough to beat!

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