Posts Tagged With: Hilton

Lodging Review: Hampton Inn Bellevue/I-40 West

I went home to Nashville for both Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as a weekend in between when a family member was in the hospital. On each occasion I stayed at the Hampton Inn in Bellevue which is right off I-40. It’s a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence winner and it’s easy to see why.

Hampton Inn Bellevue/I-40 West, Nashville, Tennessee

Each time I arrived I was greeted warmly, recognized as a Diamond member and allowed to choose two items from the selection of snacks and water. All the staff members I interacted with were very friendly and were good at their jobs.

Ground Floor

The front desk is immediately on the right when entering via the front door. Across from the desk is this seating area used mostly at breakfast but sometimes in the evenings I’d see families assembled here. The French doors in the back lead to the hotel’s only conference room.

Hampton Inn Dining Area

From the front desk it’s a short walk down this hall to the elevators, which are the first left turn here. There’s another outside door in this lobby. It leads both to the pool and to more parking.

Hampton Inn Ground Floor Hall

The gym and laundry room are the next two doors on the left past the elevators. The gym is tiny and seems to be as large as one guest room. The laundry was likewise as small. Both are open 6 AM to Midnight.

The pool was closed for the season but it does have a lift to assist the mobility-challenged in and out of the water.

Hampton Inn Pool

Guest Rooms

I selected a king room for myself and in one case was given a corner room at the end of the hall during one stay and in the other two cases was assigned a room in the middle of the hall. The corner room seemed to be ever-so-slightly larger than the ones in the middle of the hall. For what it’s worth the hotel was much busier at Thanksgiving than on a Sunday night in mid-December or over Christmas. As such there was a bit more “people” noise during that stay than during the others. My corner room faced west, toward the soccer fields, and there was definitely less outside traffic noise than on the east side. However, if you’re there during youth soccer games it could be a bit noisy and during the summer I would imagine the room would get quite warm if you don’t keep the curtains closed because it would get the afternoon sun.

I exited the elevator into a small lobby. All rooms are to the left and the ice and vending machines were to the right.

Hampton Inn Fourth Floor Elevator Lobby

This is not a large hotel and the hallway extends about the same distance in each direction. I love the decor and suspect it’s been fairly recently renovated.

Hampton Inn Guest Floor Hall

The room had a fairly standard layout: a short entry hall with the bathroom on the right followed by a closet, then opens up into the area with the bed, sofa, desk and TV. The entry area and bathroom are not carpeted while the bedroom area is.

Hampton Inn Entry Area

The king bed was very comfortable and came with four pillows. I used the foam pillow stored in the closet as I find those let me sleep cooler at night.

Hampton Inn King Bed

Each side of the bed had a nightstand. On one side the electrical outlets were embedded in the lamp base.

Hampton Inn Outlets in the Lamp Base

While on the other side there was an outlet on the front of the nightstand. Both nightstands had a pull-out shelf which was a good place to rest a phone or tablet overnight.

Hampton Inn Outlets in the Nightstand

Next to the bed was a small sofa with a little table that could be used for dining or as a desk.

Hampton Inn Sofa

Across from the sofa was a desk. The lamp had an outlet in the base. The chair was not comfortable for working for any length of time.

Hampton Inn Desk

Across from the bed was a large cabinet with the TV sitting on top of it.

Hampton Inn TV and Cabinet

Inside the cabinet was the empty mini-fridge and some slide-out drawers for storage. The center section is not behind doors and contained a microwave and the coffee and tea supplies.

Inside the Cabinet under the TV

To the left of the cabinet was an attached table and underneath were two rolling padded stools.

Hampton Inn Padded Stools

The closet was behind a full-length mirror and had a number of coat hangers, a luggage rack, the iron and ironing board, an additional blanket and the foam pillow.

Hampton Inn Closet

In the bathroom, the sink was on the right, against the hallway wall. Lots of counter space and underneath there’s a shelf running the full width of the unit.

Hampton Inn Guest Room Sink

Toiletries were by Neutrogena. They had a slightly perfume-y scent but not too much.

Hampton Inn Toiletries

The toilet was in the middle of the room with the towel rack behind it. I liked that some compartments were left open and the two hooks on either side up on the wall were handy as well.

Hampton Inn Guest Room Toilet

On the left was a shower/tub combo. The showerhead was by Water Pik and could be adjusted to provide a number of different spray patterns, which was nice. What wasn’t as nice was that the head itself couldn’t be adjusted much at all. In one of the bathrooms I kept hitting my elbow on the grab bar due to where I had to stand to be under the spray. It would be nice if that could be changed as well.

Hampton Inn Guest Room Shower

Breakfast

Breakfast is complimentary at Hampton Inns and is served from 6 to 10 AM. While it’s not a large spread, there was a decent choice. There are hot selections that vary a little each day. In the photo below tortillas are shown but on other days there were good ol’ Southern biscuits. Eggs, potatos and bacon were in the hot tray on this particular day. Oatmeal was a staple too as was French toast. There were a couple types of pressed juice, smoothies, yogurt and fresh fruit. There were three different types of cereal with your choice of skim or 2% milk. Several types of juices are available in the machine. Pastries and toast are on offer as well. And, like any good breakfast at a limited service property, there was a waffle machine.

Hampton Inn Breakfast

Hampton Inn Breakfast

Hampton Inn Breakfast

Hampton Inn Breakfast

Hampton Inn Breakfast

Hampton Inn Breakfast

Hampton Inn Breakfast

Hampton Inn Breakfast

All the items above were in a small room near the kitchen.  The hot drink station was at the back of the dining area, near the conference room, I assume so it could do double-duty.

Hampton Inn Hot Drinks

Business Center

There was a small business center with a couple of computers right next to the breakfast area.

Hampton Inn Business Center

In the end

This hotel is super-convenient to my family and I’d have no trouble staying here again. The staff is very friendly and for me the location can’t be beat.

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Trip Report: Two Weeks Down Under

Trip Report: Two Weeks Down Under
Flight Review: Qantas B747-400 San Francisco – Sydney
Lounge Review: Qantas Business Class Lounge, Sydney
Flight Review: Qantas A330-300 Sydney – Auckland
Lodging Review: Holiday Inn Auckland Airport
Lodging Review: The Pavilions Hotel, Christchurch
Our Time in Christchurch
Lodging Review: Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa
Our Time in Queenstown including Doubtful Sound Tour
Lodging Review: Avani Metropolis, Auckland
Our Time in Auckland
Lodging Review: Oceans Mooloolaba
Our Time on the Sunshine Coast
Lodging Review: Brisbane Marriott
Flight Review: Qantas B787-9 Brisbane – Los Angeles

Each year my friends and I try to take a two week vacation in the fall. We have a system that whoever had the birthday ending in 5 or 0 that year gets to pick the location. That’s served us well and covers 6 years out of any decade. This year the birthday girl decided on spending most of our time exploring New Zealand with a few days on the end on the beaches of Australia.

That decision was made late in 2018 so our first task was finding business class award space on the longhaul segments for two of us (one doesn’t mind flying coach). We were fine buying our positioning flights as long as we could lock in business class for those 14 hour flights!

I was looking for award space on American, Qantas and United as well as keeping an eye out for space on Air New Zealand. I knew that American was pretty stingy on longhaul award space in premium cabins but they look positively generous compared to what Air New Zealand typically opens up. As luck would have it I found three business class award seats from Brisbane (near the Australian beaches we wanted to visit) back to Los Angeles for the last Wednesday in October. That was perfect so we snagged those even though we didn’t have our outbound tickets yet. I used my miles for the birthday girl’s return ticket which cost 80,000 American AAdvantage miles + $81.83 for each ticket. However, thanks to my Citibank AAdvantage MasterCard I get a rebate of up to 10,000 miles each year so the net cost was 150K miles. I considered using 55,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles per ticket instead but our friend who lives in Chicago was using her AA miles to get one of the tickets and I know that sometimes Alaska has access to one less award ticket than oneworld alliance airlines and I just wanted to make things easier by having the two of us on a single PNR. I bought a United domestic flight from LA to Denver to Memphis for my return flight and my Chicago friend bought a United ticket home as well. However, when United made the fall schedule adjustments, I would land in Denver too late to catch the afternoon flight back to Memphis so they re-routed me through Chicago. While I was stuck on a one-cabin plane for the Chicago-Memphis leg, at least I got to fly back with my friend as far as Chicago.

After buying the return flights we sweated for a couple of weeks until Qantas opened up two business class seats on their 747 from San Francisco to Sydney. The seats were available two weeks and one day before the return flight. That couldn’t have worked out any better for us. My friend from Chicago and I were even able to include positioning flights with the cost of our tickets: 80,000 American AAdvantage miles + $28.20 in fees

Long haul flights: the green line indicates my outbound flight while the blue is my return flight.

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Categories: Award Travel, Hilton, Hotel, IHG, New Zealand, Oceania, OneWorld, Other Hotels, Qantas | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Hilton Vienna (am Stadtpark)

On a recent business trip to Vienna we looked at staying close to my company’s office, which was near the airport. There are a couple of hotels in the vicinity but the only real options for dining that didn’t involve a cab or train ride were restaurants in the airport itself. The CAT (City Airport Train) was a great option for transiting back and forth between the airport area and the city center. It’s a non-stop train that takes about 16 minutes and runs every half-hour. The Hilton Vienna is right across the street from the train station and that made its selection a no-brainer. When exiting the CAT part of the train station, turn left, exit the building and the Hilton is across the street and slightly to the right. The signage in the train station is not great as there’s just one small sign and when I first arrived I couldn’t see it due to a display set up in the middle of the station.

Lobby

There are two entrances to the hotel. I arrived via the door near the restaurant; the other entrance faces the park. The check-in desk is quite obvious and will either be straight ahead or immediately on your right upon entry.

The lobby looked fresh with lots of light-colored wood and a large seating area.

Hilton Vienna Lobby

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New Hilton Promo – Earn Up To 7500 Bonus Points in Two Stays

Hilton has a new promotion that will give you 7500 points after two stays. While Hilton points are usually valued somewhere in the .4 cents range, every little bit certainly counts. And don’t forget that you can pool Hilton points with up to ten friends and family members which help them stretch even farther.

The Scoop

After you register, earn 2500 bonus points after your first stay. After your second stay you’ll earn 5000 bonus points.

Your stays must be completed between the time you register and January 31, 2020. Note that this excludes stays that are otherwise ineligible to accrue Hilton points. That includes some third-party bookings, like many online travel agencies including Priceline, Travelocity, Orbitz, etc. Corporate travel agency bookings are allowed.

Since these are bonus points they won’t count toward your qualification for elite status. But with Hilton, the best way to achieve status is by owning their credit card. Hilton offers three card through American Express and right now all three have great signup offers.

Hilton Honors American Express Card

This no-fee card currently has a signup bonus of 90,000 Hilton points once you spend $2000 on the card within the first three months after approval. This signup bonus ends August 28, 2019. You’ll earn 7x points at hotels in the Hilton portfolio, 5x points at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations and 3x points everywhere else. This card is one of the few no-fee cards that does not have foreign transaction fees. You’ll get Silver status just for holding the card and you’ll be upgraded to Gold status each year you spend $20,000 on the card.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

With a $95 annual fee, this is one of the best deals in travel. Not only does this card have a great signup bonus of 130,000 points after spending $4000 within the first four months after approval, you automatically earn Gold status just for owning the card. Gold status is enough to get you free breakfast and premium internet and is generally considered to be the best mid-level hotel status out there. Last year I scored an upgrade to a 2-room suite in Germany because the hotel was at capacity and having Gold status earned me the bump up. Spend $40,000 on the card and get upgraded to Diamond status through the end of the following calendar year. The signup bonus ends August 28, 2019. With the Surpass card you’ll earn 12x points at Hilton properties, 6x points at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations and 3x points everywhere else.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

This is a premium card with a $450 annual fee and a signup bonus of 150,000 points after spending $4000 in the first three months after approval. It also gives the cardholder Diamond status, Hilton’s top level. Enjoy one weekend night reward each year after renewal and an additional night for each $60,000 in spend. You also get a $250 statement credit each year of card membership good for eligible purchases at participating Hilton Resorts. With the Aspire card you’ll earn 14x points at Hilton properties, 7x points on purchases made directly with airlines or hotels and US restaurants and 3x points everywhere else.

If one of these cards looks right for you I’ll be happy to refer you. Just drop me a line at 2BTraveling@gmail.com.

Categories: American Express, Credit Card Promos, Credit Cards, Hilton Amex, Hilton Aspire, Hilton Surpass | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Hilton Munich Airport

Trip Report: Amsterdam, Iceland and Munich
Review: Iberia A340-600 Business Class
Review: Kimpton DeWitt Amsterdam
A Brief Tour of Amsterdam
Review: Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel and Conference Center
Review: Radisson Blu 1919, Reykjavik
Review: Center Hotel Plaza, Reykjavik
A Week in Iceland
Review: aloft Munich
Visiting Dachau
A Brief Tour of Munich
Review: Hilton Munich Airport

Let me say right off the top that this is not going to be the most comprehensive hotel review I’ve ever done. We arrived in the evening and had an early morning flight out so our priority was sleep.

We took the train to the airport from the main train station and from there followed the signs to the Hilton. It’s well-marked but be aware that it is a bit of a hike and you will be going outdoors at some point. If you have a lot of luggage you may want to use a baggage cart to make your journey go faster.

Hilton Munich Airport
(photo courtesy Hilton Munich website)

As we followed the airport signs we were eventually directed to this hallway. Lit up like this it’s kinda hard to miss, right? At this point you’re still outside.

From the Munich Airport Terminal follow this hall to the Hilton’s elevators

We walked through the doors at the end of this hall and the elevators to the Hilton’s main floor were on the right.

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Trip Report: Amsterdam, Iceland and Munich

Trip Report: Amsterdam, Iceland and Munich
Review: Iberia A340-600 Business Class
Review: Kimpton DeWitt Amsterdam
A Brief Tour of Amsterdam
Review: Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel and Conference Center
Review: Radisson Blu 1919, Reykjavik
Review: Center Hotel Plaza, Reykjavik
A Week in Iceland
Review: aloft Munich
Visiting Dachau
A Brief Tour of Munich
Review: Hilton Munich Airport

The genesis of this trip was a friend telling me about a group tour of Iceland that several friends were going on and asking if I wanted to go or not. Of course the tour wanted to sell us airfare and options using points and miles aren’t all that plentiful, especially if fixed dates are involved.

The group tour was only a week and since October is when we we usually take a two-week vacation anyway, my travel companion and I decided to use our miles to get to Europe, enjoy a few days there, then buy tickets to Iceland, do the tour and then fly to another city in Europe where our miles could get us back to the US in business class. Continue reading

Categories: Award Travel, Europe, Germany, Hilton, Hotel, Iberia, Iceland, Icelandair, IHG, Marriott, Netherlands, OneWorld, Radisson, Starwood | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lodging Review: Hilton Bonn

Introduction
Lodging Review: Novotel Torino Corso Giulio Cesare
Attraction Review: Museo Egizio
Lodging Review: Hilton Bonn
Lounge Review: Lufthansa Lounge, Cologne-Bonn Airport
United 777-200ER Old Style vs. Polaris Business Class

One of my co-workers and I took a taxi from the Cologne/Bonn airport to the Hilton Bonn. It’s a lovely yellow building located right on the Rhine River. The Viking River Cruise we took on the Rhine a few years ago would have sailed right by this hotel after we spent the day in Cologne, just a few miles away. It’s in an area very convenient to a pedestrian-only section of shops and even the train station is not a far walk away. I liked the hotel itself, with one GIANT caveat about my stay.

Hilton Bonn

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Categories: Europe, Germany, Hilton, Hotel, Lodging Review | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Trip Report: Turin, Italy and Bonn, Germany

Introduction
Lodging Review: Novotel Torino Corso Giulio Cesare
Attraction Review: Museo Egizio
Lodging Review: Hilton Bonn
Lounge Review: Lufthansa Lounge, Cologne-Bonn Airport
United 777-200ER Old Style vs. Polaris Business Class

Late last year I took a business trip that included stops in both Italy and Germany. The trip details were finalized while I was on my fall vacation to Amsterdam, Iceland and Munich so I only made my reservations about 10 days before I left. That actually worked to my advantage. Oftentimes our company gets better pricing on Delta. I know Delta has a great product and a lot of my co-workers love traveling on them and even have status with them. But for me their routing doesn’t often work. (For example, I really don’t like having to fly from Memphis to Atlanta and then west to go skiing. Yes, I could route via Minneapolis or Detroit and I know they handle the snow well, but it just doesn’t make sense to me when I could go via DFW or Houston or even straight to Denver.) And those of us who like to use airline miles for travel know that Delta doesn’t even have an award chart and can often charge ridiculous amounts for premium cabin flights.

But by booking so late, my co-workers had already used the allotment of cheaper business class fares so by booking on United I saved the company money and earned miles I’ll be able to use more easily. My solitary business trip in 2017 had earned me Silver status with United for 2018 so I earned 7x the base fare for my flights, enough to re-qualify me for Silver status for 2019. One downside of booking through our company’s travel department is that whenever possible our longhaul flights have to be on US-based carriers. So while I’d have loved to have flown on Lufthansa on the longhaul legs, I flew United to Munich and Lufthansa for the intra-Europe legs. While both flights between Chicago and Munich were in B777-200ERs, the one on the flight to Munich was the kind with 10-across seating in Business Class while the one on the return leg had been retrofitted with the new Polaris cabin in a 1-2-1 Business Class setup. That was my first time to fly Polaris and it’s just soooo much nicer than United’s older version it’s not even funny.

Outbound route in red: Memphis-Chicago-Munich-Turin, Domestic Europe Route in blue: Turin-Munich-Cologne/Bonn, Return route: Cologne/Bonn-Munich-Chicago-Memphis

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Categories: Accor Hotels, Europe, Germany, Hilton, Hotel, Italy, Novotel | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Hilton Garden Inn, Bozeman, Montana

As I’ve done for the last couple of years, I flew out on a Friday for my ski trip even though the group wouldn’t arrive until Saturday. I do this because I’m in a different origin city and I want to be sure I’m not late catching the bus from the airport to the ski resort. If all my flights are on time it works out fine but at some airports I just can’t arrive before the group due to flight schedules. And with so many credit cards offering free nights I can usually spend one of those certificates although that’s not what I did in this case. I looked into using my IHG free night but by the time I got around to booking a room, the Holiday Inn Express had no more availability.

This year my first ski trip was to Big Sky, Montana, one of my favorite resorts. I believe my first visit was in 1994 and I’ve returned every 3 or so years since. On my club’s last trip here I flew up on a Friday and spent the night at the Residence Inn in Bozeman and that was when I learned they no longer had a hotel shuttle. So instead of burning my Marriott certificate here I thought I’d try out my newly minted Diamond status with a Hilton property.

I was fortunate that the cabin crew from my flight was also staying at the Hilton Garden Inn because by the time I’d collected my luggage (and kudos to the BZN baggage crew for making priority bags first on the belt!) and called the hotel, the cabin crew had called the hotel, the shuttle had arrived and they were already on board so I didn’t have to wait for the shuttle at all.

Lobby and Check-in

Since I had so much luggage to wrangle I let the flight crew check in first while I got all my bags inside. The lobby has a large seating area for breakfast on the right side and more casual seating on the left side though there’s a long table there that could be used for breakfast too.

Hilton Garden Inn Bozeman Lobby Seating

Hilton Garden Inn Bozeman Lobby Seating

Hilton Garden Inn Bozeman Breakfast Seating

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Hilton Amex 100K Sign-Up Bonus is Back!

Every so often Amex offers a spectacular bonus for signing up for the Hilton Surpass Amex Card and now is one of those times. Sign up now, spend $3000 in purchases within the first three months after approval and earn a whopping 100,000 Hilton Honors points. Plus you earn a free weekend night award on the first year of membership.

This card earns 12x points for charges at participating hotels in the Hilton Portfolio like Hilton, DoubleTree, Hampton Inn, etc. There’s also a 6x bonus on spend at grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations.

While Hilton may charge a lot of Honors points for their award rooms, one nice thing is that you can redeem points for non-standard rooms.  For example, in 2015 I redeemed a boatload of points for what was essentially a 2 BR condo in Fiji.  Many programs only allow point redemptions for standard rooms or suites with only a single bed but we were able to get a room with a king + two twins.

View from the balcony of our unit at the Hilton Fiji

Just by holding this card you get Hilton Gold status and if you spend $40,000 on the card in a year you’ll earn Diamond Status though it’s not recommended to chase Diamond status this way as the benefits aren’t that much better unless you’re staying at Hiltons a lot.

This card does come with a $75 annual fee and it does incur foreign transaction fees so it’s not great for international travel.

Remember that at the present time Amex is limiting bonuses to once per lifetime for a given product so if you’ve already received the bonus for this card, you’re not eligible for it again.

If you’d like to get this card, feel free to use my link. The link is good through October 4, 2017 and I will earn points if you are approved through this link.

Categories: American Express, Credit Card Promos, Credit Cards, Hilton, Hilton Surpass | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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