Asia

  • Ambassador Transit Hotel

    Terminals 1,2 and 3
    Singapore Changi Airport
    Singapore 
    +65 6 507 9797

    Hotel Website

    Rate: Starts at around $60 USD for 6 hours

    Reviews:

    TripAdvisor

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    We’ve stayed at the Ambassador Transit Hotel in Singapore too many times to count.  It’s absolutely perfect for what it is.  A place to sleep for a few hours, shower and move on to your next flight.

    Location:
    Ambassador Transit Hotels are located in each of Singapore Changi’s three terminals.  All are located on the upper level (Level 3) above the terminal concourses and gates.  Signs are posted in each terminal throughout the airport and the locations are easy to find.  Remember this hotel is located IN the airport behind security.  You do NOT clear customs and you DO NOT go to luggage pickup.

    Rooms:
    Rooms here are very basic.  This is not the Ritz Carlton, but it’s not a hostel either.  Beds are pretty comfortable and rooms are a bit on the small side.  Surprisingly for being in an airport, rooms are pretty darn quiet.  Quieter than most city hotels, actually.  There’s a small desk in most rooms and an ensuite bath, toilet and shower (unless you choose a basic room with a shared bath).  Other furnishings are basic, but rooms do have a TV and internet connection available.  Terminal 3 is the newest version of the Ambassador.  If you’re looking for something more upscale, try the Crowne Plaza outside of the airport.

    Facilities & Service:
    Service here is very friendly and efficient.  It’s bare bones, so don’t expect room service or any other facilities.  This is pretty basic.  But remember, you’re in Changi Airport, one of best airports in the world.  There’s a swimming pool, sauna, workout room, countless shops, a theatre showing current movies, and much, much more.

    Pros: The perfect place to freshen up and catch a nap while in transit in Singapore.

    Cons:  This is a VERY POPULAR solution for transiting passengers in Singapore, one of the busiest airports in Asia.  Reservations are STRONGLY ADVISED at least two to three months in advance.

    The Ambassador sits behind security at Changi near the gates. You WILL NOT be able to get your luggage. Make sure you have what you need in your carry-on as you transit Singapore.

     

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  • Wangz Hotel – Singapore

     

    231 Outram Rd, 
    Singapore 169040

    +65 6595 1388

    Hotel Website

    Rate: Starts at $219 USD per night 

    Booked Via: Wangz

    Reviews: 
    TripAdvisor

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    Wangz Hotel is a phenomenal place to stay in the Tiong Bahru neighborhood of Singapore.  Wangz deserves the rating it gets on all of the various travel sites and we had a flawless experience here. We know you will to.

    Location: 
    Wangz is located just a short 5 minute walk from the Outram MRT station, it’s accessible from just about anywhere in Singapore.  If you’re traveling by cab, it’s a short 15-20 minute ride from Changi Airport and will cost you around $30 SGD.   It’s also directly across from Singapore General Hospital.  You can’t miss Wangz. It’s the only tall cylindrical mesh encased building in the neighborhood. The Tiong Bahru neighborhood is one of the trendier neighborhoods in Singapore.  You’ll find great restaurants, shops and other local finds close by.

    Rooms:
    There are several styles of rooms to pick from at Wangz, each varying in size and design. We opted for the Canopy Room, which was good sized and had a killer bathroom. The bathroom is a large and rectangular, running the length of the entire room. Taking up half the bathroom is the wet area, which has a large soaker bath tub and extremely spacious shower area. A large floor to ceiling picture window is in there as well. You can shower or take a bath while looking out onto the Singapore skyline. Remember that the building has a metal mesh exterior, so you can see out, but those outside can’t see in.

    There’s ample area to work with a large desk, decent closet space for clothes, iHome stereo that allows you to play your iPod through pre-wired speakers in the room and a small refrigerator. Each day you get 2 items from the mini-bar, in addition to 2 bottles of water at no charge.

    Facilities & Service: 
    Wangz has  a small cafe/restaurant in the lobby that serves breakfast and lunch, as well as a rooftop bar and restaurant that serves dinner from 5PM onwards. The views from the rooftop bar are very good and you can see for a good distance across the Singapore skyline.  The complimentary breakfast buffet has a couple of hot items, along with plenty of pastries, fruit, cereals, meats and other items. They’ll also make you eggs anyway you like.  The hotel has a tiny parking garage, so if for some reason your driving, you’ll want to call ahead to make sure they have a space for you.

    The people here were great. Check in and check out was done in just a minute or two and they know not only the neighborhood well, but also most parts of Singapore. If you want recommendations of any type, especially those places where “the locals go”, they’ll point you the right direction.

    Pros: A great boutique hotel in the perfect neighborhood in Singapore.  Rooms and service were five star.

    Cons: At least 10-15 minutes MRT ride to the major attractions of Singapore, although it’s not really a con.

  • Elements Boutique Resort & Spa

    53/5 Moo 4
    Phang Ka, Surat Thani
    Koh Samui, Thailand 

    +66 77 914 678

    Hotel Website

    2BR Beachfront Villa w/Pool:

    Rack Rate: $595 per night tax inclusive
    Our Rate: $465 per night tax inclusive

    Booked Via
    : Hotel Website

    Reviews: TripAdvisor

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    Location: The hotel is located on the far southwestern tip of Koh Samui, in Phang Ka.  It’s on the complete opposite end from the airport, so a transfer will take around 45 minutes or so, depending upon traffic in the more populated areas.  The resort is about a kilometer off of the main road.  You’ll wind your way through a small residential area and the resort will be at the end.  There are a couple of small convenience type stores about 2km from the resort for any snacks or small items you may want to purchase.  It can easily be reached by a short 15-20 minute walk or take one of the free bikes from the resort.  

    Chaweng is the center of nightlife and activity on Koh Samui.  It’s about a 20-25 minute car ride from the resort.  There are a few things in between, but not much.  We found the location to be an advantage not a disadvantage, but then we were looking for a more relaxing, do nothing vacation.

    While the resort is “ocean front”, it actually is on a secluded bay with shallow water.  During dry season and low tide, you can be as much as 500-100 feet from water more than 1 or 2 feet deep.  It’s still very beautiful, but if you’re looking to be able to jump right into the water from the resort, you may be disappointed.  The beach is sandy in front of the hotel, however beyond that it can be a bit rocky.

    There are many flights to Koh Samui everyday on Thai or Bangkok Airways. Most leave almost hourly from Bangkok or other destinations.  Note that if you do travel via Bangkok and arrive late in the evening, an overnight stay might be required before going on to Koh Samui.

    Rooms: Elements is a very modern, contemporary place to stay.  The resort itself is small and compact, so you’re never far from activities, restaurant, pool or spa, no matter where your room is located.  Larger and more expensive rooms are located towards the pool and beachfront in a “villa” type atmosphere.  Smaller, less expensive rooms are situated towards the center of the resort in “villa” style or “two story” type buildings.

    All rooms are simple, with modern Thai style furniture and furnishings.  We stayed in a 2BR oceanfront villa with a pool, that was directly next to the main resort pool.  The 2BR villa is a walled “compound” that consisted of four separate buildings, a single bedroom in each of two buildings, a central building that housed the living room and kitchen and a small half bathroom in yet another building.  Between the buildings and the ocean, lie the room pool, which was of significant size.  There’s also an in ground hot-tub in the villa.

    All of the “villa style” rooms are very private, with 8 foot walls surrounding each.  On the end of our villa, was a wooden screen that you could open to look out directly on the beach and ocean.  Almost all of the buildings in our villa were floor to ceiling glass on two sides.  During the very hot months, the air conditioning can have a hard time keeping rooms cool, even with the draperies shut.  The kitchen area included a small refrigerator as well as dishes and barware.  A flat screen TV was in each building and free wi-fi was available throughout the resort with fairly decent speeds.  Housekeeping was twice daily and the rooms were immaculate.

    Facilities: The hotel has a pool, exercise room, full-service spa and restaurant with small bar.  The exercise room is very large, with floor to ceiling glass on three sides.  There’s a wide range of exercise equipment as well as free weights.  There’s a small changing area and locker room as well.  The pool is a large rectangular shape with chairs and umbrellas down each side.  It opens on to the beach area, which includes additional chairs and umbrellas.  

    The restaurant is open-air style, with additional patio seating outside.  A small bar that’s elevated a few steps above one end of the restaurant, is a great place to relax in the afternoon or before lunch of dinner.  The food here was excellent.  There’s a great combination of traditional Thai food as well as Western favorites.  If you don’t see what you like on the menu, all you need to do is ask and either the Thai or Western chefs are happy to accommodate your requests.  Prices are reasonable.  There are also a couple of theme nights during the week, such as BBQ night.  Breakfast is included in most room rates.

    The spa here is really unbelievable.  You can see our separate review of that, here.

    Staff:  The staff at Elements was exceptional.  The entire crew were extremely helpful and accommodating, no matter what we needed or what we wanted to do. We’ve been to Thailand many times and we can truly say, that the service here is top notch, not only for resorts in Thailand, but most places around the world.  In addition to transfers to and from the hotel, we also hired one of the hotel’s staff members to take us on a tour around the island for a day.  The vehicle was always stocked with cool towels and bottled water or soft drinks to help survive the hottest part of the day.

    Pros: A very relaxing getaway at a very reasonable price.  Food and spa re great and the resort has a very quiet atmosphere.

    Cons: If you want to be near the hustle and bustle of Koh Samui, this may not be the option for you.  Also, if you want to be directly on the ocean, you may want to seek out other resorts.

    IAH TIP:  Occasionally the hotel has special rates on Jetsetter.  Rates are lower during off-season.

     

     

    For more photos of the hotel and Koh Samui, visit our photo gallery by clicking here.

     

  • Suites Hotel Jeju, Jeju City, SK

    Suites Hotel Jeju

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    2812-10 Saekdal-Dong
    Seogwipo-Shi
    Jeju City, South Korea

    Tel: (+82) 64 738 3800

    www.suites.co.kr

    [/column] [column width = “47%” padding=”0%”] [Rating:4/5]

    Rate: $180 taxes included.  Prepaid, Breakfast Included
    King

    TripAdvisor Reviews

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    Suites HotelLocation: The Suites Hotel is right across the street from The Shilla. The airport limousine bus drops off right in front of the hotel.

    Rooms: The whole hotel has a very contemporary, modern and simple feel. The rooms are very modern with plasma TVs. Rooms were quite a bit smaller than the Shilla, as were the bathrooms.

    Facilities: The hotel has no spa, but does have a pool. There are two restaurants, one specializing in Korean cuisine, the other in American & European cuisine. The dinner menu had a wide selection of foods, but prices were high. Entrees ranged from $20 and up. The best value is the daily special. Lobster and steaks were well in the $150 per person range, just as at the Shilla. The Suites did have a nice wine list that while somewhat expensive, was semi-reasonable by Korean standards. The breakfast buffet here was smaller than the Shilla, but the food quality was very good.

    Staff: The hotel staff were friendly, with a limited understanding of the English language.

    Value: We saved almost $80 off of their regular rack rate by prepaying our stay. The advantage of prepay is that in additional to getting a lower rate, it also includes the taxes. Taxes are 20% on hotels in Korea, so it adds up quickly.

  • Shilla Hotel, Jeju City, SK

    Shilla Jeju Hotel

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    3039-2 Saekdal-Dong
    Seogwipo-Shi
    Jeju, South Korea

    Tel: (+82) 64 738 4466

    www.shilla.net

    [/column] [column width = “47%” padding=”0%”] [Rating:4/5]

    Rate: $170 King + tax, Breakfast Included
    King Room “Old Wing”

    Booked Via: Leading Hotels of the World website         TripAdvisor Reviews

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    Shilla JejuLocation: The Shilla Jeju is on the south part of Jeju Island in the hotel zone and is approximately a 45-60 minute bus ride from the Jeju airport. This area includes quite a few other hotels, including the Hyatt Jeju, The Lotte Hotel and several other mid-priced hotels. This is home to the only ocean front golf course in Korea. Seogwipo city is about 10 minutes away and is a $3 cab ride.

Rooms: We had a king room in the “older” wing of the hotel. The hotel is very modern, but the “old wing” rooms could use updating. Rooms were very clean, quiet and spacious as were the bathrooms. Bathrooms were done in marble and had generously sized soaking tubs. A word of warning if you go during the warm season, the hotels air conditioning units aren’t the greatest, so you may find yourself quite warm. I’d highly recommend booking a room on the “ocean side” of the hotel to catch the breezes coming off the ocean.

    Facilities: The hotel includes a spa, two restaurants, a cafe and convention facilities. Breakfast is “buffet style” and served in three breakfast styles: American, European and Asian. The food was excellent and there was a wide array of foods (hot and cold) in all styles to choose from.

    The hotel is a very nice property with well manicured gardens, a large outdoor pool and a sand beach. It’s quite a few steps down to the beach, so bring those flip flops.

    Staff: The hotel staff was friendly and had a pretty good understanding of the English language. The concierge was helpful and there was a business center that had 8 PC’s for accessing the internet with a fairly decent connection. Jeju caters to the Japanese tourist and golfing crowd, so hotels here tend to be expensive and deals are rare.

    Value: This hotel was a fairly decent value for the area, but next time we’d probably try the Lotte Hotel if the price were the same. That hotel appeared very new and just as nice as the Shilla.

  • Sofitel Ambassador Hotel, Seoul, SK

    Sofitel Ambassador

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    186-54
2-Ga Jangchung-Dong
    JOONG-GU
    100-855 SEOUL, South Korea

    Tel: (+82) 22 275 1101

    www.sofitel.com

    [/column] [column width = “47%” padding=”0%”] [Rating:4/5]

    Rate: $148-$175 + tax
    King Club Level

    Booked Via: Sofitel Website           TripAdvisor Reviews

    [/column] [end_columns] King Club Level Room - Sofitel Ambassador SeoulLocation: The Sofitel is centrally located to most things you’ll want to do in Seoul. It’s about a 10 minute taxi ride to Insedong & Itaewon markets and about a 30 minute subway ride to Gimpo Airport. The subway station is just over a block away from the hotel.
Rooms: We had club level rooms which included private check-in on the 16th floor, buffet breakfast, afternoon “happy hour” (drinks & appetizers). Regular rates were about $20 less, so it’s definitely worth the extra money with all of the inclusions. Rooms were recently updated and all featured wood floors. Bathrooms were spacious with marble throughout. Upper level rooms had various views of the city.

    Facilities: In addition to two restaurants, the hotel also features a small coffee shop lounge where desserts and other sandwhich items can be ordered late through the evening. Room service is also available.

    Staff: Hotel staff were very accomodating and check-in and check-out was simple and easy. The doormen and concierge were very helpful in hailing taxis and providing information. The hotel will also store your bags for you if your trip brings you back to the hotel at a later date.

    Value: Compared to rates we saw for other hotels in Seoul, this was definitely well priced. Even the Holiday Inn was $40 more per night than the Sofitel. if you choose a prepaid rate, you can also save a few dollars. One thing we did learn, is if you make a reservation far enough in advance, check the rate again as your trip draws closer. We originally had a $225 rate at this hotel, but checked two weeks prior to our trip departure and found the rate had dropped. We cancelled our original reservation and booked a new one.

    IAH TIP: Since many taxi drivers in Seoul are not fluent in English, it’s a good idea to have your hotel concierge write the address you’re going to on the back of a hotel business card in Korean.  You’ll have both your destination as well as your return location written in the local language which could help tremendously.