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Our 9 Favorite Points Hotels of 2014

The end of the year is near and we’ve actually already been to a lot of the hotels we have scheduled from now until the end of the year (IC Warsaw, IC Vienna, IC Budapest, etc…) and so I might as well get this yearly tradition out of the way and share some of my favorite hotels that we visited in 2014. I’ll only do new hotels, so if you’re curious about the last two years see 2013 here, and 2012 here.

Normally I try not to glorify “luxury” as the reason I travel. Yet, I can’t lie, I’ve stayed in many of the nicest hotels in the world (according to T&L’s top 500 hotels in the world). That doesn’t always mean that they’re my favorite, but it is definitely an experience I’d never be able to have without this hobby. Plus, my favorite hotels are almost always about the location or view, and not about how much they pampered me. Anyways…

 

1) InterContinental Davos

The most unique hotel we got to visit this year is surely the InterContinental Davos in the  alps of Switzerland. Even the views on the way into Davos are breath taking. Maybe I should say, Switzerland is breath taking.

I’ve already written an InterContinental Davos Review, but I’ll recap. The hotel is unique in so many ways, starting with the shape and color of the hotel. It is a gold egg sitting on a hill overlooking Davos, with every room having a balcony viewing the mountains. If this doesn’t let you know that it’s going to be an ultra-funky modern hotel, I don’t know what will.

The true alpine luxury experience. Heated bathroom floors, a heated outdoor pool (with an automatic glass door in the water leading straight from the indoor pool to the outdoor pool), a big balcony, wood floors, etc…

Not sure I’d return to Davos (which is totally a ski town) next time we go to Switzerland, but the hotel was awesome. 😀

2) Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur

_DSC1856This hotel surprised me the most. We had no expectations going in but it was truly incredible. Some might prefer more party areas of KL (like Sentral) but that’s not our style, and the location is phenomenal. I can’t imagine a better view of KL than the Petronas Towers and the park below.

Beyond the amazing location and view, the hotel is perfect. A cool modern hotel with big rooms, I’d say it’s Park Hyatt standards. But maybe I’m biased because of an upgrade due to Hyatt Diamond status (due to a Diamond Challenge) and the fact that we got lounge access. Which is one of the best lounges I’ve been, even in Asia. The food, the lounge, and again the view.

While KL isn’t some place I’d stay a week, this hotel highlights my favorite part of KL. Further more it’s a category 4, so you can use one of the certs from the credit cards.

Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur

Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur bathroom

 

3) InterContinental Koh Samui

There’s nothing to say about this hotel. Pictures can do the work (or this video of the InterContinental Koh Samui). The view is stunning. 25,000 IHG points is a steal considering how expensive this side of Koh Samui is. But the view.

InterContinental Koh Samui Lobby

InterContinental Koh Samui Lobby Statue

InterContinental Koh Samui beach

InterContinental Koh Samui Standard Room

InterContinental Koh Samui Sunset

Just wow.

 

4) Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

We were lucky enough to get a view right over the harbor looking out to the Kowloon side. This is a luxury hotel in one my favorite cities. Nothing to complain about. Although, it’s hard for me to justify spending that many points on a night. I’d more recommend using IHG Certs for the InterContinental Hong Kong as I prefer looking across to the Hong Kong  side, and staying in Kowloon.

Still, in terms of a luxury hotel, it’s top quality. Nicer than any Radisson Blu I’ve ever stayed at. No complaints at all, just not my ideal use of points. But YOLO.

IMG_0055

5) Radisson Blu Amsterdam

A great hotel and a great deal. We got two nights here for 50,000 points since the credit card gives a free night per award booking (of two nights or more). But the location turned out to be my favorite location in Amsterdam. If you look at a map of Amsterdam, the Radisson Blu is really the center. It’s between more touristy spots and classier spots. It is also in between two canals, but that’s not hard to believe in Amsterdam.

Also, the hotel is just nice. Non-descript, I know, but it’s a high quality modern Radisson Blu that goes for $250 a night. Obviously it met my minimum standard for a hotel, seeing as it had heated floors in the bathroom. 😉

I tried to BRG the InterContinental Amstel twice and each time the rate changed. That’s what you get when you wait till the very last minute. :-/ #firstworldproblems (See Complete Guide to Best Rate Guarantees)

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6) InterContinental Bali

This hotel was especially luxurious since they were incredibly generous to Royal Ambassadors. And, while I generally dislike the touristy areas of Bali (where you only see locals when they serve you when you eat), but I do recognize that the area south of the airport is beautiful. So the beach and view were fantastic.

Upon check in we were taken to the lounge, given a welcome drink, taken to a club room right in front of the club pool, given lounge access, and the ability to have breakfast anywhere in the hotel. One morning we were up at 6 and went to breakfast in the restaurant when it first opened. And then we ordered a second breakfast (an early lunch for us) at 10:30. All wiped from the bill. It was for the Big Win, so it was a paid night with a free night from the Ambassador BOGO cert.

 

7) Grand Hyatt Bangkok

I love Bangkok- the street food, the Thai culture… everything except the taxi mafias in Thailand. And this hotel is the center, in my opinion. It’s the center of the business district while being near the tourist areas too. It’s at the cross roads of the metro lines too.

But the hotel is up to Hyatt quality. Great rooms, and what I love is that Hyatt isn’t as cookie cutter as Marriott or InterContinental. The rooms are cool in different ways. And the lounge was more fancy than content for me, but great atmosphere.

Grand Hyatt Bangkok

View from Grand Hyatt Bangkok

 

8) InterContinental Mumbai

This is the first IC hotel I’ve been in that had a personal feel and a boutique feel. I think there’s only something like 58 rooms, and so it is definitely a great feeling room. Plus, we were given a corner room suite over looking the bay. See, the hotel is on Marine Drive, which is probably the nicest part of Mumbai, and we had the view. But in terms of how nice a hotel is, this is among the nicest. And easily by far the nicest hotel we stayed at in India, including many brands such as Grand Hyatt, Radisson, ITC, and more. A great hotel in every way.

 

9) Radisson Blu Brussels Royal

Same thing I said about the Radisson Blu in Amsterdam. Great location right around the corner from the Galeries Royales Saint Hubert which leads right to the Grand-Place. Beautiful. The hotel is among the highest quality Radisson Blu hotels. Which is to say that it was a high quality room. But Gold members don’t get lounge access or breakfast or anything really. So there’s not too much to review here other than the room or location. It’s… nice.

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Conclusion

There are lots of other hotels I really enjoyed, like the InterContinental Prague, Crowne Plaza Bangkok, Grand Hyatt New York, Radisson New York, and about 100 others.

 

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5 Comments

  1. I cannot agree more with you on the Blue Amsterdam and cannot agree less with you on the Blu Brussels.

    Amsterdam was perfect – hotel breakfast was amazing, location was amazing, architecture was amazing – heck, for Europe the gym was pretty great, too.

    The Blue Brussels was tired, really tired. No help for Gold members. Really disliked the place.

    Reply
  2. The Intercontinental Hong Kong, as you mentioned in comments, is a fantastic use of IHG annual free nights. They treat IHG platinums (not just ambassadors) like royalty. During our second stay we got upgraded to a corner executive suite looking across to Hong Kong. One of our most memorable points stays of this year.

    I have to say, the Radisson Blu in Brussels was quite a disappointment for me this year. No gold upgrades, tired rooms, and indifferent service. It was the definition of a “business hotel”. Yes, the location was good — but that was about the only thing that would make it a stand-out hotel. Even with the second night free, I’d hesitate to stay again.

    Reply
  3. Why not stay in the new Art’otel in Amsterdam on ClubCarlson points? The location is a bit noisy, but what an interesting hotel, with lots of free perks (like a good breakfast).

    Reply
  4. What did you think of the IC Prague? I offered to help out some friends with a mini-honeymoon weekend in Prague straight after their wedding, and will have ihg free nights aplenty, but I’ve not been to the IC and obv want them to have a great time! The Radisson looks nice too, or if you/anyone has got any other suggestions, I’d appreciate it.

    Reply
  5. I was at the Grand Hyatt last week and was surprised at how nice it was.

    I highly suggest you look up the Intercontinental Danang for the future. I was there this year and it’s world class.

    Reply

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We have spent the majority of our marriage traveling full time, living out of hotels.   All the while, we list our expenses publicly, budgeting $25,000 a year for our nomadic life while still staying in mostly 4 or 5 star hotels across ~20 countries a year.
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