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Hotel Review: Chaaya Tranz Hikkaduwa

Sri Lanka was a total surprise to us. Not only because of the endless beauty, kind people, amazing scenery and delicious food – but because so many people still believe there is some sort of unrest in the country. Nothing could be further from the truth and no one should ever miss out on a trip to this amazing country, whether for a weekend or a month. Having only a short weekend off from work in busy Dubai, the relaxed island nation of Sri Lanka is a short 4 hour flight away, the perfect weekend getaway – and the Chaaya Tranz hotel in Hikkaduwa couldn’t have been a better place to pick.

Outstretched across the sandy beaches in Hikkaduwa, a quiet little beach town just 2 hours from Colombo, the term “island life” take a whole new meaning. Time slows down, the smiles are more obvious and with the smell of the ocean in the air you instantly start to feel more relaxed.

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“You know a hotel has done something right when you can relax in their rooms and still feel as comfortable as if you were home.”

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From the second you walk into the open air lobby, you are greeted by the supremely warm staff, a delicious welcome drink and you want nothing more than to melt into one of their beach chairs and smile as you nod off to sleep in the sun.

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Each of the rooms have fantastic views over the entire grounds, littered with swimming pools, palm trees, lounge chairs and sandy beaches. Whether you want to lounge in the shade, enjoy a cocktail in the pool, feed giant sea turtles just steps from your room or enjoy delicious food with an amazing view, it is all available within a stones throw.

The rooms are simply perfect. Comfortable, bright and practical they leave you wanting nothing. You know a hotel has done something right when you can relax in their rooms and still feel as comfortable as if you were home.

The wonderful thing about a hotel like the Chaaya Tranz is that with views so amazing, you simply don’t want to do anything but get out and explore – exactly what every traveler dreams of.

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One of the best parts of the stay was easily the food. Hotels like this sometimes relax when it comes to food as their stunning setting does so much of the work for them, but not Cinnamon Hotels, whom go well out of their way to not only offer some of the most delicious local offerings, but also give you a taste of home if you need it. (but trust us, go for the local food, it is to die for.)

The breakfast buffet is stunning and the setting could not be more welcoming – you’ll never want to leave.

While you might be tempted to spend the entire stay sitting in the beautiful pool or on the golden sands, don’t miss out on all the hotel offers, including an amazing spa that will relax you like you never thought possible. Imagine having just finished a full body massage and then slipping into a comfortable lounge chair on your balcony as you fall asleep to the sounds of the ocean – amazing huh?

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Like with all hotel stays it really is the little things that make all the difference. Cheap plastic shampoo bottles being replaced with ceramic containers, staff that go out of their way to make you feel well attended to but not overbearing, waiters who keep your drink filled without hovering around and the most important part of a hotel room – a bed which you can absolutely melt into, making sure they take the extra steps to give you the most comfortable sleep possible.

Staying for a weekend is only torture because it goes by so quick, but regardless how long you stay, you will never forget your stay in this amazing little gem on the Sri Lankan coast. Hikkaduwa is a perfect little beach town which, thankfully, is a perfect balance between authentic Sri Lankan life and all the comforts tourists desire. Take a short walk around the town and you can find amazing hand crafted items to take home and take a certain back street and you’ll find beautiful small Bhuddist temple perched on a nearby hill.

Whether flying from close by Dubai or from the other side of the world Sri Lanka needs to be on every travelers list, and if you make it to this perfect little country we’ll gladly point you to Hikkaduwa and one of the best seaside hotels we have ever stayed at.

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jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

Hotel Review: Radisson Blu Yas Island

There is rarely a week that goes by I don’t pass by a Radisson Blu and wish I was staying there at that moment. With so many popping up all over the world, even in some pretty remote places, I’ll always be down to try another location and that is just what I did in Abu Dhabi a couple weeks ago when I tried out the Radisson Blu Yas Island for a quick weekend getaway from my hectic life in Dubai.

Just an hour or so south, Abu Dhabi offers a ton of entertainment, dining and relaxation options many rarely experience as they stick to Dubai and dare not venture outside of the glitz and the glamour. Settled right on a beautiful golf course and right by the coast, the Yas Island location is not only in a scenic and serene setting, it is just steps from Ferrari World, one of the biggest attractions that Abu Dhabi has to offer.

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The hotel boasts an impressive lobby, a delicious restaurant with plush outdoor seating, a massive pool area and to top it off, an amazing Belgian Beer Cafe, which I was ecstatic to find – you’d be surprised how hard it is to find a good dark beer in Dubai!

The rooms are light, airy and offer huge balconies overlooking the golf course and pool area. With cast views the area is notably more silent, a welcome relief from busy city life. Rarely did I think how close I was to Dubai, I felt like I was miles away laying in the pool with a cold drink in my hand.

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As with all Radisson Blu hotels, the buffet options are absolutely world class, especially their ‘super breakfast’ which rivals any breakfast spread you have ever witnessed. That paired with the available late checkout, always friendly staff and stunning views made the short overnight trip feel like an entire week.

After prying myself away from the scenery and beer cafe it was an easy jump over to the Grand Mosque, one of the most truly stunning buildings I have ever witnessed – even more so than the Taj Mahal. If you are ever in Abu Dhabi forget Ferrari World and head for the mosque, it is well, well worth it – and if you need a comfy place to stay you know where I’ll be.

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jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

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Hotel Review: Opus Vancouver 

 

Opus_01When you’re on vacation you probably don’t want to spend too much time in a hotel, however you still want it to be comfortable and feel like your at home. Vancouver is a great city full of culture and many things to do. Whether you want to spend the day jumping from brewery to brewery or lounge at the park and see the sights, there is something for everyone. After a long day exploring coming back to the right hotel is key.

I had never been to Canada before, and although I grew up in Southern California I was excited to see all that Vancouver had to offer. Some friends and I drove up from Bellingham, Washington and went straight to the Opus Vancouver hotel in the Yaletown district. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Yaletown is a great little area to be in. The hotel was really close to the Vancouver Skytrain and we could get anywhere we wanted to go as well as close to dozens of great restaurants and even walking distance to a brewery. You can also walk down to the water and explore or lounge in the park.

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When we arrived we were greeted with a welcome drink and our room was all ready for us. The small boutique hotel is really modern with a twist of homely comforts. The room was a good size and the king bed was amazing! After a long drive, it was great to open the hotel room door and jump onto the cozy bed. The room even had an iPad that was ours for the duration of the stay, which was great to help us research and decide where we wanted to go. Even though we were there in March and it wasn’t too cold, the bathroom had heated floors, which felt great in the early morning!

Here is a video tour of the Opus Vancouver!

 

The Opus Vancouver Hotel is rated one of the best boutique hotels and I could quickly see why. They have a great coffee lounge which doubles as a bar at night and as an avid coffee lover, I approve! The staff was so helpful and eager to help with anything we could ever need and the valet even went to grab a bag we left behind out of the car for us and brought it to our room. They even have a turn down service at night and leave some sweet treats on the bed for you! Who doesn’t love a candy before bed?

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There isn’t one negative thing I can say about the Opus Vancouver Hotel. It was the perfect choice for my first trip to Canada and I can’t wait to come back! So if you’re looking for a comfortable and affordable hotel, look no further! The Opus Vancouver does it right and will not leave you disappointed!

Hotel Review: Radisson Blu Diera Creek Dubai

Among the glitz and the glamour of Dubai is the beautiful Dubai Creek, an area just outside the popular downtown section which, if even only a bit, leaves you feeling you’ve seen a bit of the history in Dubai aside from the ultra modern skyscrapers and 5 star hotels which the city is so well known for.

Lined with old wooden shipping boats, the famed Abra’s, which shuttle tourists and locals alike across the creek for 2AED, and the colorful gold and spice souk, the Dubai Creek is also home to some of the best hotels in Dubai. Radisson Blu has a few different locations across the city, but the Dubai Diera Creek location is especially nice.

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Seemingly small from the outside, the hotel just keeps going and going once you are in. The lobby and rooms maintain an older middle eastern vibe while providing all the modern touches you would expect to find in any hotel. While many chose to stay within the walls of the hotel, know that you are in one of the most colorful areas of the city and take the time to walk out the front door and go get lost, an easy walk to so many fascinating sites, smells and sounds.

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The rooms are colorful, comfortable and the staff is quick to respond and takes every action to make your stay as comfortable as possible, however the real treat of the hotel are the beds. Radisson Blu has always done an amazing job of having the most comfortable beds we have ever slept on and the Dubai Diera Creek location is no different. Just pull closed those blackout curtains and dissolve into another world!

But before you do… make sure to head up to “Up On The Tenth”, an amazingly relaxed and classy Jazz Bar, aptly up on the 10th floor. The food is absolutely delicious, the music if great and the ambience is utterly relaxing. For a more traditional brew head to the Pub and enjoy a cold one for us.

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Of course, if you have ever stayed at a Radisson Blu before, you’ll know one of the single best parts of any stay is their “Super Breakfast”, which puts to shame pretty much every single breakfast buffet you have ever seen. Up on the business floor, the breakfast spread has everything you could imagine and is topped off with an elegant theme and gorgeous views over the entire creek with a perfect view of the famed Burj Khalifa in the backdrop, cementing the end to a perfect hotel stay.

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Hotel Review: Cinnamon Lodge Habarana

Hotel Review: Cinnamon Lodge Habarana

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Spread out over an amazingly beautiful 27 acres in the middle of the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, the Cinnamon Lodge Habarana is set amongst the lush greenery of Sri Lanka and provides a comfortable, luxurious and centrally located accommodation. Away from the noise of Columbo, the traffic and the hustle and bustle, Cinnamon Lodge Habarana allowed us to relax, recharge and revive our passion for travel before heading out to explore the country.

Small bungalow like rooms are spacious, nicely decorated and private feelings. The grounds are covered in beautiful gardens, green is everywhere with a perfect mix of flowers, plants and pathways seamlessly leading around the property. Warmly welcomed by the caring staff, guests are greeted with a welcome drink and flower before heading to their rooms.

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The restaurant and bar are open spaced, laid out by the pool on the vast green grounds. The food was maybe the best part about our entire stay at Habarana. A complete mix of local, western and Asian foods, there is something for everyone and no one will ever leave hungry. We enjoyed the open air eatery and especially the live music pouring over from the bar area.

Aside from the beautiful grounds at the hotel itself, there are endless activities close by including our favorite excursion in Sri Lanka, our elephant trek into the vast Kaudulla National Park where we finally, for the first time, saw a complete herd of wild elephants in their natural habitat, a truly stunning site to behold.

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We never expected to see such vast greenery in Sri Lanka, and while we should have expected all the natural beauty, it was amazing to explore and discovery the wonders that Sri Lanka had in store for us.

Warmly welcomed back to the Cinnamon Lodge Habarana we spent the evening around the bar, enjoying drinks with new friends and listening to the great live music.

The only downside of our experience was the wifi speed, which was sparse and slow at best and nonexistent at worse. Unfortunately we never came across perfect internet or wifi anywhere in Sri Lanka, so the internet at Habarana is no worse than anywhere else, but just know going in it will frustrate you. Luckily there is so much to do you shouldn’t be worrying about being connected anyway.

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Many choose to travel around the world and stay in luxury hotels in major cities, rarely venturing into the heart of the countries they are visiting. Take the chance, leave the comfort of the cities and travel into the sole of the country you are visiting. Cinnamon Lodge Habarana provides all the comforts of home, the kindness you long for while away from home and experiences you never could have imagined.

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast! 

Hotel Review: Phuket Arcadia Hilton

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There are many beautiful places around the world and after visiting many of them, Phuket, Thailand will always be one of my favorites. Nothing beats the beautiful ocean and island lifestyle you can find in Phuket, not to mention the amazing Thai food, one of Jeff and my favorites. And just because we lived in Phuket, doesn’t mean we didn’t also enjoy some of the best hotels the island had to offer. I will always treasure the days that we would spend poolside at the Phuket Arcadia Hilton.

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The Spa treatment Villa

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If you’re looking for a 5 star resort experience, look no further. The Phuket Arcadia Hilton is located in the beautiful town of Karon Beach in Phuket. Karon is a great family city in Phuket full of shopping, great restaurants and a gorgeous beach. It is very centrally located to many of the other popular beaches so you can just jump on a motorbike and drive down to Kata or Rawai in the south or head north for a nigh out on the town in Patong.

My favorite part of the Phuket Arcadia Hilton is the Ocean Beach Club Pool, which has the beautiful Andaman Sea as a backdrop. While you’re laying poolside drinking a Piña Colada you can oversea the beautiful ocean in Karon Beach. The pool chairs are extremely comfortable and there are umbrellas just in case it gets too hot. Some of the pool chairs are even in the sand or you can relax in a private cabana and watch the sun set. They play lots of fun music and it’s a perfect place to relax or get ready for a night out!

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King Deluxe Plus Garden

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If you’re looking for something more family oriented, don’t worry the Phuket Arcadia Hilton has something for everyone! They have three pools all together and the Garden Pool is perfect for families to have some fun and even has a great water slide! The third pool is the Seafarer Pool, which is a calmer pool for those looking to just sit back and relax. You can order food or drinks at any of the three pools.

If you’re looking for something else don’t worry there is plenty to do at the Phuket Arcadia Hilton! There is a golf course, a great fitness center, a spa, a jogging track, playground and plenty of activates you can join in on.

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Marquee Lawn

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After a long day of events and swimming, your guest room or suite will not leave you disappointed. Each room has either a ocean view or garden view and have everything you would need for your home away from home. They even have laundry services, childcare and cribs available for the little ones.

Phuket is a great place to visit and after living there for the past two years I have fallen in love with this little tropical island. Phuket is very diverse and really does have something for everyone and staying at the Phuket Arcadia Hilton will only make your experience better. The hotel has everything you would ever need and is located in the great little town of Karon, our home away from home.

Book your room now, as there are currently great rates across Asia Pacific with Hilton Hotels from as low as £28!

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Dinner at Ocean Beach Club

 

 

Hotel Review: Radisson Blu, Hamburg

Hotel Review: Radisson Blu, Hamburg .

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There are few places as beautiful as Europe during the summer, and while it was the tail end of August when we visited Hamburg, the weather was still magnificent as the last few beautiful days of the season passed by. Having loved every single Radisson Blu location we have stayed at in the past, it was a no brainer to head straight for the Radisson Blu Hamburg. While we drove from Berlin for a guys weekend getaway, I was amazed to see the hotel literally a stones throw from the train station, convenient for just about any traveler. We were immediately caught off guard by the beauty and elegance of the lobby area, as it is in stark contrast with the somewhat subdued external facade of the hotel. .

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The hotel staff welcomed us warmly and we always feel more welcome in Radisson Blu locations as they have booths catering to more people checking in rather than one large check in counter, just another small difference that makes the entire hotel experience more enjoyable. Located in the heart of the city and just at the edge of Hamburg’s Central Park, there are endless possibilities walking distance from the hotel. In fact, we only took one cab the entire weekend as everything was a beautiful, short walk away.

Radisson Blu has done an excellent job of extending their comfortable, modern and elegant theme throughout all their locations and Hamburg is no different. Minimally decorated rooms match design elements with all the the amenities of home to give each guest, regardless of room type, a clean, comfortable and elegant stay while not giving up any of the comforts of home. .

.Hotel Review: Radisson Blu, Hamburg

 

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As with all accommodations, it really is the little things that makes the big difference. Free wifi with no sign in, e-mail or login is always appreciated as well as one of Radisson Blu’s signature features, their Super Breakfast, which is always impressive and a welcome relief in a sea of subpar hotel breakfast offerings. I mean who doesn’t get excited when they can start their day off with a visit to a fresh orange juice machine?

Complete with a gym and steam room in their health club, an amazing lobby bar, massive outdoor seating area, world class restaurant “Filini“, an impressive rooftop bar and home to one of the hottest clubs in Europe, “The Room” located in their basement, the Radisson Blu Hamburg simply offers all you could ever dream of in a hotel and does it in the perfect location in one of the most beautiful cities in Northern Europe. .

.Hotel Review: Radisson Blu, Hamburg . .


.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast! 

Marina Bay Sands Media Center

Hotel Review: Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

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Simply put, the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore is one of the most impressive hotels in the entire world. Opened in 2010, the hotel has welcomed over 100 million visitors and has a staggering 2,561 rooms and one of the most iconic and recognizable designs of any structure on Earth. Built on the water in the center of Singapore, the iconic structure towers over some of the most prime shopping real estate you can find in Asia and offers visitors a once in a lifetime experience.

The world famous Sands SkyPark is the highest swimming pool in the entire world perched 51 floors above the three iconic towers of the hotel. Comprising an area longer than the Eiffel Tower is high, the Sands SkyPark is only open to hotel guests, which keeps it exclusive and special for those who choose to stay there. However, since the hotel is such a popular destination for travelers from all over the world, there is an observation deck that anyone can visit for a price. One of the most memorable views in the world, you have most likely seen a picture from the Sands SkyPark at some point and dreamed about where in the world it was taken.

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Marina Bay Sands Media Center

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With the insane amount of rooms, the three towers offer different room layouts for every traveler including the most impressive hotel suites we have ever seen in the world, complete with home theaters, grand pianos, private kitchens and massage rooms that would make any luxury apartment pale in comparison.

The hotel contains some of the most impressive works of modern art in the world with huge installations in the entrance of hotel and beneath the different towers throughout the ground floor. The modern feel of the hotel extends itself into the rooms which feature classy furniture, comfortable design elements and amazing views over the city.

The Marina Bay Sands also boasts one of the most beautiful fitness centers in the world, high up in the tower just below the Sands SkyPark, the gym offers unbelievable views of Singapore, leaving those working out feeling as though they are truly floating in the sky. Attached to the gym is their amazing Banyan Tree Spa for those looking to take their relaxation to the next level.

The real intrigue of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel is the fact that absolutely anything you could imagine is probably available or attached to the hotel. The largest mall in Singapore is located right attached to the hotel, complete with the best high fashion stores in the world, a fully functioning river with Gondola rides and even an ice skating rink – with artificial ice, how crazy is that? The substance is just link skating on ice without the freezing temperatures.

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Marina Bay Sands Media Center

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What hotel would be complete without one of the most impressive casino’s in all of Asia? Just take a walk downstairs and visit the amazing casino which is simply another part of the Marina Bay Sands experience. While Singapore is very regulated, clean and has many laws, follow the rules and you will insure an amazing time.

If the casino and shopping mall isn’t your style, then you need to check out the amazing ArtScience Museum right outside of the mall which offers some amazing exhibits all year around. When we visited they were just opening a new dinosaur exhibit as well as a paired world class photography exhibit. Even the outside of the building is a complete work of art which stands out easily from an vantage point around the area.

Easily one of the most iconic structures on Earth, no visit to Singapore is complete without at least a visit to the world famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Make sure to take the time and explore the grounds, the shopping mall, the Sands SkyPark and surrounding areas. Sometimes you just need to let loose, book a fancy hotel and be treating like a king for a day, something a night at the Marina Bay Sands will do with flying colors.

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

Hotel Review: Dusit D2 Phuket

Hotel Review: Dusit D2 Phuket

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Everyone knows how much we love Phuket, but even though we have lived here for so long, we still love being able to get away for a night or two and check out some of the fun hotels around the island. Phuket is known for its beaches and fun in the sun, but the island really does have a lot more than that to offer and there are some amazing hotels and different areas if you are keen to explore them.

Patong is without a doubt the epicenter of tourist activity in Phuket, and while we have been known to shy away from Patong at certain points, we thought it was high time we found a great hotel option in the middle of Patong to review for our readers, and we were very surprised and pleased after staying at the Dusit D2 Patong recently.

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Hotel Review: Dusit D2 Phuket

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Located right in the heart of Patong, Phuket’s busiest beach town, we found the Dusit D2 to be remarkably clean, quiet and elegant. Just a 5 minute walk to the beach, the massive and beautiful entrance is welcoming and the Thai staff are friendly and warm.

The lobby area is spread out and very comfortable with many areas to lounge and relax, complete with a beautiful modern bar area, their signature restaurant Flavours, and a handful of small boutique shops. Flavours is not only a delicious restaurant serving wonderful Thai and Western foods at a reasonably price, but also serves an amazing breakfast buffet with more options than imaginable. Complete with noodle soup, Asian favorites, Western breakfast staples, sushi and Korean options, there is truly something for everyone.

The main bar is very elegant and serves daily specials, happy hour discounts and seasonal deals based on holidays and sporting events. And if you want to get out for the night but don’t feel like going far, Dusit D2 might be one of the only hotels we’ve ever seen which has both a Hard Rock Cafe AND a Hooters attached to it, both give generous discounts to hotel guests.

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Hotel Review: Dusit D2 Phuket

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Don’t let the attached restaurants scare you from thinking the Dusit D2 isn’t a family friendly hotel, as they offer the most insane and impressive kids centers at any hotel. There is an entire downstairs level of the hotel complete with every single thing a child could imagine to keep them entertained. Kids can dress up like a princess, make arts and crafts, play video games in awesome pods, jump in the giant ball pit, watch a movie or play endless games. A vigilant staff keep the children entertained and the restaurants are happy to deliver food to the children’s center during the day and night. This is truly a fantastic option for any family traveling to Thailand to happily keep the younger ones entertained if the adults want to head out to Bangla Road and let loose.

The Dusit D2 has several different room options for every budget, from a basic boutique room to a specious 1 bedroom suite with the most impressive bathtubs we have ever seen. All rooms are centered around a large swimming pool with first floor rooms opening up right to the pool’s edge. If one pool isn’t enough for you have no fear, on the top floor of the hotel you can find a gigantic 24-hour fitness center as well as another swimming pool with great views of the beach and Patong.

Wifi is free and fast, the staff friendly, the food delicious and atmosphere much more relaxed and laid back then we ever expected to find in the hustle of Patong. While Patong might not be for everyone, don’t dismiss it because you think it might be a bit too crazy as the Dusit D2 provides a surprisingly elegant and comfortable stay.

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Hotel Review: Dusit D2 Phuket

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

Hotel Review: Grand Hyatt Dubai

Hotel Review: Grand Hyatt Dubai

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Any hotel which has the word “grand” in it has something to live up to, however we doubt many will live up to it as well as the Grand Hyatt Dubai. One of the most majestic and simply grand hotels we have ever visited. Sitting along side the Dubai creek, the Grand Hyatt Dubai is a gorgeous landmark on the Dubai skyline and an entire world within one of the most extravagant cities on Earth.

From the second you pull up to the front doors and are ushered into the gorgeous entrance, you know you are in for a majestic hotel experience. We felt like we were walking into a beautiful shopping mall and forgot for a second that we had to check in before excitedly exploring the grounds. After we checked in we were walked to the elevators and hurried up to our room.

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Hotel Review: Grand Hyatt Dubai

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The Hyatt brand has some amazing hotels in Dubai, and something for every kind of traveler, from the Hyatt Regency to the Park Hyatt, just across the creek from the Grand Hyatt. While each has their own specific themes and offers different experiences, the Grand is by far the most luxurious and posh of the Hyatt brands. The rooms are simply beautiful, complete with everything to feel like royalty. From bathrobes to plush chairs, extra pillows to a spacious bathroom, the grand experience only begins when you walk into the lobby and follows you everywhere throughout the grounds. Our room had an amazing sprawling view over the amazing pool and leisure grounds.

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To put it simply, we weren’t even able to explore the whole hotel during our stay. The lobby, if you can even call it that, is a gorgeous mix of modern architecture mixed with constant flowing water and endless plant life. Tucked within the winding passageways are many boutique shops, lounge areas and restaurants, including Peppercrab, one of our favorite restaurants in Dubai

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Click to read our complete review of “Peppercrab”

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Hotel Review: Grand Hyatt Dubai

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Now, most luxury hotels offer some kind of a spa experience, but again, Grand Hyatt Dubai takes the spa experience to a completely different level with their Ahasees spa. Elevators are available directly from your room floor to the spa as to offer a more private way to get to the spa, which is great. The friendly spa staff took the time to speak to Marina and I and to explain all of their options to us while letting us chose what spa experience we wanted to have. We chose to have a couples full-body massage, which was a great idea.

Neither Marina nor I have a long history with spa’s but this experience was amazing and while maybe a little hesitant at the start, we were made to feel very comfortable throughout our stay.

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Hotel Review: Grand Hyatt Dubai

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We were taken up to a private waiting room and offered a variety of scented oils to chose which we each wanted. Some smelled of sandalwood, some of rose and had different affects on the body such as invigoration or relaxation. We were even given multiple choices of music to pick from for our session, we picked the Arabic playlist which was cultural, fitting and non cliche and minimal.

Paired in a couple room, our massage therapists were amazing and had hands of angels, sounds crazy but it was amazing. An hour melted by in no time and after our session was complete we were given fresh tea, mineral water and amazingly delicious nuts and figs. All in all the most amazing spa experience we could have imagined and simply the best way to relax whether after a long day or travel or during a holiday with family.

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Hotel Review: Grand Hyatt Dubai

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One of the most impressive parts of the Grand Hyatt Dubai is their pool, and to call it a “pool” is not really fair. The pool grounds are vast and seemingly endless and no matter how many guests might be enjoying some fun in the sun, we never had a problem finding two private chairs close to the water. The wait staff was again very friendly and accommodating. The outside grounds also have tennis and basketball courts and a beautiful running track through the pathways around the creek.

If you have the extra money and want to make sure your stay is nothing but the best, make sure to book a room which gives you access to the business lounge, one of the best features of some of our favorite hotels. The lounge allows guests to eat their breakfasts close to their rooms and offers snacks throughout the day and a happy hour with finger food for a couple hours each evening. Extra hotel staff are available to help with any issue or problem and treat you like royalty, all without being overbearing or making you uncomfortable.

All in all the Grand Hyatt Dubai offered us the most complete luxury experience we could image and did it all with great pomp and grandeur. From the luxurious entrance to the kingdom of a room, the supreme relaxation of the spa, mouthwatering food and endless swimming pools, we simply didn’t want to ever leave, and we bet you will not either.

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

Klaus K Hotel Helsinki

Hotel Review: Klaus K Design Hotel, Helsinki

 

Hotels should all have one thing in common; a safe and comfortable place to sleep, but we can all really appreciate a hotel that takes this to a new level. The Klaus K hotel in Helsinki, Finland has really mastered this task. After 4 months of continuous travel it is easy to say that every hotel starts to feel the same, but walking into the Klaus K hotel really did take our breath away.

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“I want whomever designed this room to design my future home.” – Marina

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The second you enter the lobby you can tell there is something special about this hotel. It is warm, inviting and simply put, beautiful. If you’re checking in on a Friday or Saturday, you are welcomed with an invitation to have a complimentary glass of Champaign once you have settled in. The lobby and “living room” are beautifully designed and it is hard to resist sitting down for a drink.

 

Klaus K Hotel Helsinki

 

The second we walked into our room, we felt like we were finally home. The room was designed to feel warm and unique. The first thing I said when I walked in was, “I want whomever designed this room to design my future home.” The furniture looked like each piece was hand picked from a luxury flea market; it was perfect. The room was also set up like a studio apartment instead of like a hotel. There were books and wine glasses laid out as if we were in someones home. In the bathroom, not only did they have some of the best soaps and conditioners that I’ve ever used, but the toilet paper had a piece of twine tied around it with such care. To me it is all of these little things that make a place feel like home and I really appreciate a hotel that focuses on the little things in life. The bed in the room was by far the most comfortable hotel bed I have ever slept in. It had a wonderful down comforter and the softest sheets. After a long day of sightseeing it is just what you need.

 

Klaus K Hotel HelsinkiHotel breakfasts are always important to us since we need our energy to explore wherever we are. The breakfast at the Klaus K was simply exceptional. The food was very healthy while absolutely delicious. The breakfast was as fresh, light and gourmet all at the same time. The coffee was delicious and there were even brownies and cookies for the sugar lovers. About twice a month, the Klaus K Hotel hosts their Fashion Brunch where designers come set up a “pop up shop” with the latest fashion and beauty care. They even have a brunch dedicated to male fashion. It is a great time to enjoy brunch and get a good feel of Helsinki design culture.

 

Internet at the Klaus K hotel is set up very well. There is free internet offered, however if you are finding it to be quite slow, you can upgrade for 9 euros a day for faster internet.

The Klaus K is the first design hotel in Finland. As the capital city, Helsinki is known for their design district and if you have ever been you know just how much this city loves design. Even walking down the streets you can feel that everything was carefully designed and created to be beautiful and functional. The Klaus K Hotel couldn’t fit in more perfectly and they really have created a hotel that will make you feel like you are home in a new city.

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Klaus K Hotel Helsinki

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The addition of an amazing Italian restaurant, superior design elements throughout, the feeling of home and the genuine love of design and hospitality of everyone at Klaus K made us never want to leave, a true home away from home, no matter how far away you are. The Klaus K is located right in the heart of Helsinki and is an easy walk from both the train station, east ferry terminal, design district and the main esplanade. Rooms start at 150 euros.

 

 

mdd 5 Tips for Booking the Right CruiseMarina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her boyfriend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world. 

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more. 

 

 

Hotel Review: Radisson Blu, Dubai Media City

Hotel Review: Radisson Blu, Dubai Media City

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We have stayed at hotels all over the world and love all different type of accommodations from small boutique hotels to luxury options, family resorts to business hotels. While we are often on the road and still needing to get work done, it was wonderful to check in to a perfect business hotel, the Radisson Blue Dubai Media City and get some work done, relax, and be close to it all in Dubai.

Located right by the JBR beach and and world famous Dubai Palm, the two towers of the Radisson Blu provide the perfect atmosphere for all travelers alike, especially those on business. Complete with multiple swimming pools, restaurants, spa’s and gym’s, the hotel is clean, simple and quiet, all elements we regularly look for in a hotel stay.

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Hotel Review: Radisson Blu, Dubai Media City

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We opted for the basic room, which provided more than enough room for us as well as all the tech needs we had to unwind and get work done. One of our main pet peeves when traveling is making sure that there are electrical plugs on both sides of the bed, something a shockingly large number of hotels do not have, but Radisson Blu has always has us covered no matter where in the world we are.

Radisson Blu is a brand close to our heart, as all of their locations offer seemingly basic amenities that many brands do not offer standard. Free wifi throughout their hotels, late checkouts, one touch and super breakfast all make our stay more reliable and comfortable no matter where we are, and Dubai Media City was no different.

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Hotel Review: Radisson Blu, Dubai Media City

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As we were in Dubai in May, the heat was starting to climb and it didn’t take us very long to head to the pool for some relaxation and to cool down a bit. Complete with multiple swimming pools, each building offers the quiet and tranquility we never expected to find in the middle of a major city. We lounged in the sun, took a dip in the pool and ordered some delicious food from the attentive and polite wait staff.

The hotel also offers some truly world class dining, which we have come to expect from some hotel brands but are still always surprised to find. Certo, their amazing a la cart Italian restaurant serves some of the freshest and finest Italian dining in all of Dubai in a beautiful and unassuming setting.

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Click to read our review of “Certo”

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Hotel Review: Radisson Blu, Dubai Media City

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While some business hotels tend to turn off the average traveler, we were happy to find that Radisson Blu Dubai Media City, while offering some of the most impressive business services we have come across, it never felt we were in a sterile business environment. Sure, the hotel clearly has meeting rooms and various conferences going on but they have done it all without making it feel a solely business hotel, and while we are talking about it, I cannot think of a better equipped hotel to have a conference at as everything is comfortable and spacious.

Comfortable, spacious, quiet and connected, we enjoyed our stay with no complaints. A cut above a standard hotel, there are surprising options Radisson Blu always reveals to us, like the library at Dubai Media City, a beautiful decorated room quietly tucked away for the traveler trying to get away from it all, clearly a little extra thought was put into this location which didn’t get unnoticed.

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Hotel Review: Radisson Blu, Dubai Media City

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

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