If you fly on Singapore Airlines to Asia or Sydney, then you will probably be eligible for a free Singapore stopover. You can also make use of a number of benefits offered by Singapore Airlines, such as discounted accommodation, special offers on shopping and food as well as a free shuttle bus up and down Singapore's famous Orchard road.
The Grand Hyatt is within easy reach of the Shanghai Stock Exchange and World Financial Centre, and is the highest hotel in the world. It occupies the 53rd to 87th floors of the Jin Mao Tower and has good desks in its rooms, as well as high-speed internet access and a 24-hour concierge. There is also secretarial support and a translation service available from the communications centre.
I've pulled together some of my top tips for Shanghai - I've categorised each tip into time periods so that you can pick and choose depending on how much free time you've got.
0-2 hours: Avoid! Bund Tourist Tunnel - 10 minutes
Crossing the Bund can be done by boat, car or underground, but don't waste your time on the rather retro (read tacky) Bund Tourist Tunnel. The name is apt as only tourists would be crazy enough to spend their money on a underground fair ride that is more likely to cause an epileptic shock than any degree of amusement. It is however, the quickest way to cross the river if you are on the banks on the Bund (and it's rush hour so the tunnel is blocked). Give a try... if you really must.
Xian dan di - 1-2 hours
Ironically housed in the former offices of the Communist party, this beautiful refurbished part of town could be accused of being rather faux in terms of its connection with real China life... but it's there and it exists and it is part of Shanghai ex-pat life. The clean streets, the trendy restaurants and the outrageous prices probably tell you that you are in a place for tourists and expats, however, it's worth a look around and for a pitstop.
Go to Starbucks - 30 mins to 1 hour
I kid you not, some would accuse me of sacrilege but there is a reason... please bear with me. A lot of the Starbucks in the city benefit from sitting in the most prestigious and ideally located positions in the city for great panoramic views. My personal recommendation would be the Starbucks situated on the East bank of the river overlooking the Bund just opposite the Shangri-La hotel. Grab yourself a Chinese tea and watch the sunset over the river. The glowing fuzz of the city ahead will warm you before you retreat to your hotel.
Enjoy drinks over the Bund - 1-2 hours
A visit to Shanghai will not be complete without a visit to the historic 'Bund' district, the colonial waterside developed on the west bank of the Huangpu River. Many of the bars/restaurants (I recommend 'M on the Bund' - www.m-restaurantgroup.com/) offer expansive views over the Bund and the tall skyscrapers in the Pudong district. The food's not bad either! English and Chinese menus are available. Other nearby highlights include the old HSBC building (no longer housing HSBC) and Huangpu Park.
Stroll along Nanjing Road (to buy the other half a gift) -
Home to Shanghai's main shopping street so be prepared to be greeted by tens of thousands of people. The shops range from the local to international with department stores dotted along the way. Be sure to stop by one of the many snack stores to take on board some of the delicious buns or dumplings that make China famous. Be sure you check the custom regulations for transporting goods though, be particularly careful with any foodstuffs.
Enjoy a river cruise along Huangpu River - 1-3 hours
One observation you will undoubtedly make whilst travelling in Shanghai is that the river is bustling with life. Container ships, tankers, passenger boats all zip up and down the river at a hectic speed. Board a river cruise boat from the ferry terminal at the south of the Bund district. Here you will be able to enjoy a one, two or even three hour river cruise. Take care though... Shanghai like many other Chinese cities is prone to a spot of smog. Try and pick a clear day. Try Huangpu River Cruise (239 Second Eastern Zhong Shan Road, Shanghai - tel +86 21 6374 4461). Nearest station - Wai Tan
Sleep in the clouds - 8 hours
Nope, I'm not talking about your business class flat bed on the way back home, I'm talking about the ever impressive Grand Hyatt Shanghai. Based in Pudong it's close to the financial centre and closer to the airport. Ask for a room overlooking the Pearl TV tower or over the park.
Forget the big stuffy international hotels and book yourself into the Christian Lacroix designed Petit Moulin in the Mariais. It is a charming little hotel in a 17th century building that used to be a boulangerie and still has the old signage. There is wireless internet in all the rooms, and you are right in the heart of a very trendy district full of design shops and art galleries – getting into town isn’t difficult and the extra minutes spent traveling are well worth it for staying in such an original place, with none of the hollow impersonality of larger hotels.
Hotel prices in Paris aren't cheap. In fact, they are surprisingly expensive. My recommendation would be to check in to smaller boutique hotels which may be just away from the main tourist attractions/streets. Take the hotel Vernet as an example. Just a few steps away from the Champs Elysee but benefits from great interiors and a equally great location.
It's the best idea I've seen in ages. A fully automated, no-nonsense hotel on the outskirts of the city. I mean 10 minutes' walk away. The single rooms cost just £29 per night but are very clean and tidy. Free broadband helps too.
Why not try hotels down near Battery Park or in the Financial District and commute by subway/taxi to Midtown? Typically hotels can be half the price outside Times Square and environs, and often 'try harder' to impress guests. Also, the Hyatt just across the Hudson is another great option - right next to the PATH train and also has a water-taxi service to Manhattan close by. Again, it is often less than half the price of equivalent city hotels, and has a stunning view of the city as your night-time panorama!
The Carlton on Madison is a great hotel in brilliant location in Manhattan. The standard classic rooms are incredibly comfortable with plenty of space. An added bonus is the Penhaligons toiletries in your room. Getting around is easy - the subway is one block away and buses uptown go from across the road. The hotel is also in easy walking distance of the midtown shops on 5th Avenue.
88 Madison AvenueNew York NY 10016 Phone: 1-212-532-4100
Staying in the Financial District is definitely much cheaper than staying in the midtown area. Especially over the weekend as prices drop significantly! It's a quiet tube ride away and nowhere near as busy. In addition the staff are much nicer and go out of their way to help you.
Financial District, Battery Park
Want to save money on your next hotel stay? All you have to do is ask. Whilst hotels often publish the 'best deal' on their websites, hidden promotional codes and special offers may not automatically show. Contact your desired hotel directly and they will more often than not offer you the real best rate. Even if they don't have a special rate or negotiated rate for your company, I have contacted chains before such as the Westin, and they have offered me a 10% discount for working for a 'recognised corporate'. If you don't ask you don't get!
Reality was nicer than pictures. Really quiet hotel (rooms 1,2), which is not so usual in Rome. Lots of restaurants outside. We found the Hotel Felice to be very conveniently located between the termini and the metro stops. The staff, particularly Mario (at the desk) were friendly and helpful. Great staff and location.
When coming from London to NYC it'd be rude not to stay in The London, just to be able to confuse people back home. Lovely new hotel on W54th and 7th, perfectly located for an early morning jog round Central Park before meetings in the day, and real handy for 5th Avenue shopping and Broadway shows. Friendly staff and probably the best concierge in town. They also have Gordon Ramsey's restaurant there, and he does room service... so stick it on expenses and have a real treat.
West 54th St New York
New York City is THE city, it's got its reputation and it's always the one place I'm excited about visiting. Every visit is different and the city is constantly changing, there is so much to do and see!
It's one of those cities that on your first visit can be pretty daunting, so I thought I'd pop together a couple of tips that can help you on your first visit.
Leaving or Departing the City
JFK is normally my airport of choice but there's really not much in it. The easiest way into the city is to jump in a yellow cab, it costs a $45 flat rate, plus tips and tolls. Upon making your way to the taxi line you'll be offered all sorts of bus and limo services, ignore them, it's only the cabs that are properly licenced for this. You can of course also book your own car, I do this for the return back to the airport using Dial 7 who charge a decent rate and use fairly new sedans.
New York has so many hotels, so find one that's close to where you're going to be based. I normally use The London, which is well located on West 54th street, not far from the park and Times Square. It's a lovely new hotel with one of the best concierges in town. It's also home to Gordon Ramsey's restaurant, which is perfect for that dinner on expenses... But if you're paying yourself, go at lunch time, same food, half the price. Yum yum.
You could write a book on the places to eat in New York… in fact, hundreds of books are already out there, but for my money the top places for a business lunch or dinner are: Gordon Ramsey at The London, The River Café in Brooklyn, Prune for Brunch in The East Village and The Spotted Pig in the West Village. The Spotted Pig is probably the best Gastro Pub in New York, and a perfect places for fans of meat! The River Café has a simple but beautiful menu and offers incredible views over the river to downtown NYC… ask for a window table. Gordon Ramsey I've mentioned above and Prune is a delightful little local place that does THE best brunch in the city in my view... Complete with a huge menu of Bloody Marys. Get there early though or be prepared to wait an hour or so. Just down the road from Prune is Katz Deli which is always rammed and a classic NY food experience - give it a go.
If you're not too busy then why not pick up a jogging map from your hotel concierge and take a run round the park to stay in shape. I also love going to the Top Of The Rock at the Rockefeller Building, giving you stunning views of the city and especially usefully in getting to know it in your head if you’re a first time visitor. You can see where everything is and get a rough idea of distances. 5th Avenue is probably your best place for shopping with plenty of places to visit, including the maddening Abercrombie and Fitch which will give you a headache. But you can get your stuff much cheaper from there than in the UK. Department store-wise I find Bloomingdales always serves me best. Don't forget to go shopping in the village as well, Spring Street has some classic locations where you can find the most random of things. If you get a chance to see a Broadway show, rock up to the TKTS half price booth in Times Square and get into a show on the cheap. Spring Awakening seems to be one of the best shows on at the moment. And if you're there on a Friday you can pop into many of the big museums for free, MoMA being a great one to kill a few hours in.
The best thing about New York is that there is always something new, and it's the one place I've never got bored in despite many trips. So make the most of it.
The new place for doing business is the Bandra Kurla Complex; the Grand Hyatt is five minutes away and is very good, with an Italian restaurant that serves excellent pizza. The area’s a bit grungy but the hotel has its own ten-acre plot and once inside it has everything you’d want – including faxes in the rooms and Wi-Fi.
The lodge is situated on Wichub-Wala island about five minutes' boat trip from El Porvenir airport. It is a rustic, two-storey, bamboo structure and they feed you three meals a day and provide all transport. The price (c$40-50 per night per person) includes a trip for most of the day to the remoter islands for swimming, snokelling etc and then, on the return leg, a sidevisit to a more populated island to see more of the Kuna islanders flogging their locally made molas. The beaches were superb and the lodge was fine - it's not luxury, but there is a cold shower, running water and the hosts are very friendly. So a bit like camping but under bamboo. During my stay the other guests tended to be the more adventurous types of traveller and spanned all ages and nationalities. Recommended for a two-three day visit, especially as there are no mosquitoes here.
My hotel in Panama City made the reservation on my behalf but we went through three different phone numbers. Try 507-2275308 (the host speaks Spanish) Fax: 507-2252568.
Address: Kuna Niskua Lodge, Wichub-Wala, Porvenir, Kuna Yala, Apdo 280 Zona 1, Panama. For flights, www.airpanama.com although another airline does fly from Albrook airport as well.
I visited the hotel at the end of May and the hotel was as the brochure described and better. I was there with three friends and we had a "just what the doctor ordered" holiday in terms of relaxation, sleep and lots of laughs. Yes the spa is a little basic at present but the manager, who I didn't feel was arrogant at all, has told me that they will have a newer much larger spa by the end of the year and that there will be more treatments. The food is amazing and the beds are incredibly comfortable, along with all the secret little hidden places. We are all definitely going again next spring to get an early summer tan and help finish the start of the year detox before the summer.
This is one of the few beach areas in Cuba that is not spoiled by lots of hotels and thousands of tourists. There is only one hotel and 12 rooms. Plus this small island is a game park.
This Athens hostel has a great location just minutes from the Acropolis. Dorm rooms are cheap, airy and modern. It’s a great base for exploring the historic sights of the city on a budget but also for making the most of the lively nightlife. The rooftop bar has amazing views over the famous ruins and cheap drinks. There’s no curfew so stay out as late as you like!
12 Makri Street, Makryanni, Athens
This is a lovely hotel in the ‘Old Beijing’ district hutong. It is somehow very modern and chic while being traditional. The dozen rooms or so all face into a courtyard where there is a little pond to relax around and, after a day sightseeing in Beijing, you will welcome how peaceful this place is. Showers, beds, everything is just so.
By the way, a good coffee isn’t the easiest thing to come by in Beijing unless you like Starbucks (yep, ’fraid so) but Shauna Liu, the owner, knows a mean brew.
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