The weekend after we checked out the Andaz West Hollywood, we returned to SoCal for Memorial Day weekend. Much like the Andaz West Hollywood, the Andaz San Diego had a previous life outside of the Hyatt family. The Andaz San Diego was formerly known as The Ivy Hotel and aimed to offer a "sexy" boutique experience. In some cases, your room came complete with a stripper pole! I'm not quite sure if Hyatt retained those or not, but the hotel vibe was definitely very party-like. The rooftop pool and restaurant turns into a club on the weekends and it was definitely poppin' (more to come on the roof later on).
We upgraded our booking to a one bedroom suite and checked in on Friday night to a room that was sans stripper pole but definitely very chic. The room was very nice and I loved how it was decorated, but I honestly wouldn't call it a "one bedroom" at all. All that separated the bedroom from the rest of the room was a wooden wall in the middle of the room and open on either side.
The living room had two couches, a desk and chair, a coffee table, a TV mounted on the wall (with another TV mounted on the opposite side of the wall facing the bed), and a small bar area complete with refrigerator, coffee maker, and wine and spirits for purchase.
Basically the entire right wall of the suite was windows, but disappointingly, our room faced an interior "courtyard" of sorts and if you had the window coverings open, you could see straight in to other rooms and vice versa. In fact, there was actually quite the bachelor party going on in the multi-level suite across the way from us. Cue the first time during our weekend stay that we felt old and boring!
The bathroom had a very interesting design as well. The sink area was only partially enclosed by a glass wall which offered absolutely no privacy at all, but looked cool at least. Luckily, the shower and toilet were enclosed, but only by a frosted glass door.
The toiletries were a nicer looking version of Hyatt's typical LATHER toiletries.
Travel Planning: Fall in Asia
Review: LAX Star Alliance Lounge
Review: Singapore Airlines Suites Class LAX - NRT
Review: Park Hyatt Tokyo
Recap: Time in Tokyo
Review: HND JAL First Class Lounge
Review: JAL Business Class HND - GMP
Review: IP Boutique Hotel Seoul
Recap: Time in Seoul
Review: ICN Cathay Pacific Lounge
Review: Cathay Pacific Business Class ICN - HKG
Review: Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui
Recap: Time in Hong Kong
Review: HKG Cathay Pacific “The Wing” First Class Lounge
Review: Cathay Pacific First Class HKG - SFO
As of January 1 this year, my total country count is at 21. I've been aggressively crossing countries to visit off my list since I graduated from college and I'm really fortunate and proud to have seen all that I have so far. But if you looked at a map of where I've been, you'll notice the entire Eastern Hemisphere is completely blank. I'm so excited to finally be changing that in September!
I usually plan one big trip a year and some of my traveling friends and I joke about my "two country minimum". If I can't hit at least two countries in a given trip, I'm not going. It's actually the sole reason why I went to Bolivia last year. We knew that we wanted to go to Machu Picchu, but I couldn't possibly plan a trip and only see one country. We thought about Ecuador, but a trip to the Galapagos is insanely expensive! For Brazil, you need a visa, but I noticed that Bolivia was close by and might be interesting (ergo, my blog's header of Salar de Uyuni). The rest is history!
This year, we haven't completely hammered out the details, but I know for sure we're going to Tokyo and Hong Kong. We're undecided about where we are going in between, but we're considering Seoul, Taiwan, and Singapore. I really could not be more excited, especially because this has all come up so fast!
The best, best part of this whole trip though will be the flights to and from Asia. Chris and I are about to experience the best that travel hacking has to offer - the international first class award ticket. Our flights were a huge coup and we couldn't have done it without Alex over at Points Pros. Side note: did you know that you can actually pay people to book award tickets for you? You might ask why anyone would ever do that. The answer is, award booking is actually really hard for things like this. Most airlines don't release much award availability and they certainly don't make those awards easy to find. Then, there's the fact that you often need to transfer points from multiple accounts in order to actually use them for the airline you've chosen. It's a real mess, but Alex made it a total breeze!
Anyways, here is what we managed to get:
LAX > NRT (need to get to LAX from SFO)
Singapore Airlines, A380 Suites
First of all, I have never flown on an A380 and as much as it pains me to say it (former Boeing employee here), I have been dying to! Second, Singapore Suites is supposed to be absolutely amazing. We landed middle seats in Suites and while the middle seat is usually the worst spot on the plane in any other situation, on Singapore Suites, it transforms into this:
HKG > SFO
Cathay Pacific, First Class
Cathay was actually just named the wold's best airline for the fourth time. As the only airline to receive that honor four times, I expect great things! I think what I am most excited about is the pajamas they give you on the flight:
LOVE the look of these PJs and I hear they are super comfy!
Anyways, there will be tons of content on the blog once we're back from our trip and I'll be sure to take lots of pictures! Now that the flight's out of the way, I just need to plan what to do when we get there! If you have any thoughts on must-dos in Hong Kong or Tokyo or on which of the other cities we shouldn't miss, I would love to hear them in the comments!
One of my best friends had a graduation party in May in LA, so Chris and I booked a room at the Andaz West Hollywood for the trip. Chris was in the middle of a Hyatt Diamond Challenge, so he wanted the chance to check out one of Hyatt's more unique properties. Hyatt's Andaz properties are designed as boutique hotels and there are currently only 12 of them located around the world. According to Hyatt's website:
Each hotel features indigenous designs capturing the sights, sounds and tastes of its surrounding area. Our spaces, food, artwork and events bring an authentic, intimate feeling that you’re in a place quite unlike anywhere else in the world.
The Andaz West Hollywood had an awesome location right on Sunset Boulevard and was previously known as the Continental Hyatt House and the Hyatt on Sunset during its heyday, which, according to Wikipedia:
In the late 1960s and 1970s the hotel proximity to popular clubs such as the Whisky a Go Go made it the preferred Los Angeles accommodation for touring rock groups, notably English bands Led Zeppelin, The Who and the Rolling Stones.
The property was transformed into the Andaz West Hollywood in 2009. It was definitely a unique hotel and a lot of the renovation was tastefully done. However, it was also obvious that the hotel was older and that it had been repurposed from its previous iterations.
Since we drove down from San Francisco on a Friday night (terrible idea), it took ages and we didn't arrive until very late at night. You can look forward to paying $36/night for valet parking if you drive!
One unique aspect of the Andaz properties is the lack of a traditional front desk. There's an iPad that the staff uses at check-in and that's really it.
We were upgraded to a one bedroom suite after Chris used one of his Hyatt upgrade certificates from the Diamond Challenge and headed immediately upstairs since it was about 2 AM.
What: Short and sweet travel itineraries for cities around the world - all made for 12 hours each.
Today I came across 12hrs. It's a great concept and so far has 12 itineraries for various cities around the world, each providing a full 12 hour itinerary. As of today, you can find guides for San Francisco, Paris, Barcelona (x2), East London, London, Berlin, Portland, Hyéres, Antwerp, Copenhagen, and Vancouver.
I love this concept because I take a lot of really quick weekend trips. I usually have a bit more than 12 hours, but I love looking at city guides anytime I'm heading to a new city, especially if I want to fit a lot into a small period of time and I'm not sure what to prioritize.
12hrs guides include a hotel recommendation, food and drink recommendations, shopping, sights, and a map of all the recommended locations. Best of all, the photos on the site are absolutely beautiful!
Check it out and happy travels!
City Guide: Vancouver, British Columbia
Review: Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver
Review: Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver
Review: YVR Maple Leaf Lounge
When we visited Vancouver a few months ago, the hotels were having awesome deals but of course, we couldn't find a good deal on flight prices. There also didn't happen to be any coach award seats either, so we bit the bullet and booked a couple of first class awards on Air Canada. One of the benefits of that was getting to check out the Maple Leaf Lounge at Vancouver International Airport on our way home.
There are three Maple Leaf Lounges at the Vancouver airport. One in the international terminal, one trans-border, and one in the domestic terminal. We were flying back to the US, so we visited the trans-border lounge.
The Maple Leaf Lounge was on the second floor overlooking the rest of the terminal. There was plenty of seating, a television, a business center with a few computers, and floor to ceiling windows overlooking the runway.
Just a twenty-something with a full-time job and a full-time obsession with traveling. It's best to LiveTraveled.