Hotel Review: Park Lane Hotel, London

 

This is the first in my series of Hotel reviews.  It is a pleasure to share about our favorite hotel in London: the Park Lane Hotel, a Sheraton hotel, in central London near Buckingham Palace. 

Overall rating: 5 out of 5

Last stay: May 2015

Overall rating system:

1=poor
3=average
5=great
6=exceptional (rare ranking)

NE = no experience

Price — 5. SPG points
Hotel Location — 5, Mayfair area across from Green Park. Tube station: Green Park. 
Front desk check in — 6. Tea, coffee, juice and cookies with free Wi-Fi in waiting lounge — the Willow room, whilst the hotel is under construction
Room size — 5, Executive room
Room cleanliness / repair — 5
Style/ design impression — 5
Bed comfort — 5. Extra comfy Sweet Sleeper bed.
Bath robe / slippers — 2 plush robes with slippers
Quality of Toiletry amenities — 4, standard Sheraton line toiletries
Views — 5. Views of Big Ben and Westminster Abbey over tree tops of Green Park.  Room 710

Continue reading Hotel Review: Park Lane Hotel, London

Hotel Reviews — a New Chrysalis Travel Series 

 

Part of traveling means staying at various hotels around the world.  There have been some fantastic, above-all-expectations, amazing hotels. Then there have been some misses, some of them quite notable. 

I would like to share my impressions of these hotels, hopefully to guide travelers in their choice of hotel.
These are real experiences that I have had with these hotels. We pay our own way 99% of the time, and are not sponsored by any hotels to write good reviews.
(The one exception was the Sofitel San Francisco Bay) in which I won a one-night stay.
I rate the hotels on a five point scale, with an occasional “6” for a truly exceptional impression. These are rare, but I did want to note some extraordinary properties.
Hope these series of hotel reviews are helpful to you!
#ChrysalisTravel #Connect #BeTransformed

Covering a Con (Part 2)

 

 

Being a fangirl, I love attending conventions, or ‘Cons’ as they’re now called.  From San Diego Comic-Con and Wonder-Con to Star Wars Celebration, D23, and a Celebration of Harry Potter — I have had the privilege to explore and share the worlds of fandom.

There are so many aspects of attending fan conventions.  What used to be shunned as the marginalized ‘nerd’ or ‘geek’ culture is now embraced and adored.  From comic book art to their iconic heroes-turned-blockbuster-stars at the box office, pop culture has come a long way.

In Part 1 of this article, I covered exclusive panels and fans who are ‘all in’ for their particular fandoms.  In this article (Part 2), I continue in other aspects of the modern con.

 

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Cosplay

Increasingly, cosplay is the norm.  Fans are using their creativity to create elaborate costumes that are screen accurate, or doing unique mash-ups of their favorite characters.  They spend hours researching, and many more hours creating the costume. Continue reading Covering a Con (Part 2)

Covering a Con (Part 1)

 

Being a fangirl, I love attending conventions, or ‘Cons’ as they’re now called.  From San Diego Comic-Con and Wonder-Con to Star Wars Celebration, D23, and a Celebration of Harry Potter — I had had the privilege to explore, and now share the world of fandom.

There are so many aspects of attending fan conventions.  What used to be shunned as the marginalized ‘nerd’ or ‘geek’ culture is now embraced and adored.  From comic book art to their iconic heroes-turned-blockbuster-stars at the box office, pop culture has come a long way.

Darth Vader vs. Rancor

Many will remember a time when liking Star Wars made you weird.  Then people found community in others who also loved movies like Star Wars.  Growing up, they created organizations such as the 501st Legion to share their common passions and — even better — give back to the community through charity works. Continue reading Covering a Con (Part 1)

In-Flight Survival Tips (Part 2) — Surviving the Long Haul Journey

Flying used to be an exciting adventure – rather than just mere survival – especially for long haul flights.

The reality of the airline industry is centered on functionality, as they cut personal space to add more seats, and reduce service in the main cabin.

This has led to a test of endurance – a test that I want to help you pass with “flying” colors.

With some advance planning, your long haul international flight does not have to be a 10+ hour nightmare in a horribly cramped prison-like seat.

In a previous post, Surviving the Long Haul Journey: Choosing Your Flight, I shared how your flight selection can have a large impact on your flight experience.

In this post, I share Part 2 of my tried and true In-Flight Survival Tips  (see Part 1).
Financial disclosure:  I have no connections with any of the named entities discussed in this article.

In Flight Comforts

In-Flight Comfort Pack

International flights are long and challenging.  Having a few comfort items can really make things much more bearable.  Of course, you must carefully weigh the benefit of each item you bring on-board, as they will take up room in your small area of personal space. Continue reading In-Flight Survival Tips (Part 2) — Surviving the Long Haul Journey

Surviving the Long Haul Journey: In-Flight Survival Tips (Part 1)

Flying used to be an exciting adventure – rather than just mere survival – especially for long haul flights.    The reality of the airline industry is centered on functionality, as they cut personal space to add more seats, and reduce service in the main cabin.

This has led to a test of endurance – a test that I want to help you pass with “flying” colors.  With some advance planning, your long haul international flight doesn’t have to be a 10+ hour nightmare in a horribly cramped prison-like seat.

In my last post, Surviving the Long Haul Journey: Choosing Your Flight, I shared how your flight selection can have a large impact on your flight experience.  In this post, I share my tried and true In-Flight Survival Tips.

Financial disclosure:  I have no connections with any of the named entities discussed in this article.

Dressing for Success

Wear comfortable clothes, and dress in layers.  Airplanes can be very cold while in-flight, but very warm on the ground before the engines are running.  To be comfortable in both scenarios, dress in layers.

Be prepared for the air conditioning system to not operate as expected.  Your ideal temperature may not be everyone else’s ideal temperature.  We were once on an international flight on a very warm plane.  I had worn a long sleeve shirt as my base layer, and I could not get comfortable the whole flight. Lesson learned.

Your travel outfit should double as pajamas, but still look presentable.  Please do not be that person wearing inappropriate sleepwear on board!  You could change into your pajamas onboard, but that increases your carry-on luggage bulk.

Seat Selections

If you have two people traveling Continue reading Surviving the Long Haul Journey: In-Flight Survival Tips (Part 1)

Surviving the Long Haul Journey: Choosing Your Flight

Flying used to be more about an elegant journey – rather than just mere survival – especially for long haul flights.  People used to dress up for an airplane flight.  Now, it is more about functionality and endurance as airlines cut personal space to add more seats, and reduce the number of flight attendants in coach.

This has led to a different flight experience – one that I want to help you navigate.  With some advance planning, your long haul international flight does not have to be a 10+ hour nightmare in a horribly cramped prison-like seat.

Choosing Your Flight

Survival begins before you purchase your plane tickets.  When I am searching for airline tickets – for myself, or friends who are trusting me with their travel plans – I start my search on Continue reading Surviving the Long Haul Journey: Choosing Your Flight

10 Must-Have Smartphone Apps for the Savvy Traveler

 

Smartphones are indispensable in our daily lives.  While in our country, I can check the weather, plan a route home that avoids traffic, research restaurant reviews, and update my Facebook account (not while driving of course) without thinking twice about how to connect to a network.

Having the right smartphone apps can enhance your travel experiences.  As I have shared in previous blogs (7 Tips to Save Your Cell Phone During International Travel and 8 Must-Have Smartphone Communication Apps for Travel), it is wise to leave your smartphone in ‘Airplane’ mode while out of the country.

Therefore, it is very important that phone apps used while overseas work offline, or with Wi-Fi.  Here, I share some more apps I have found particularly useful while traveling.

Currency App Pic

Currency – (Free) or XE Currency (Free).

Having a foreign exchange app is important to understand how much you’re actually getting for your dollar.  Before traveling, check the exchange rate of the countries that you will be visiting.  Updated currency exchange rates can be updated with a Wi-Fi connection while abroad.  Right now, the euro is incredibly low against the US dollar.  Time to go to Europe!! Continue reading 10 Must-Have Smartphone Apps for the Savvy Traveler

8 Must-Have Smartphone Communication Apps for Travel

Smartphones have made our daily lives immeasurably more convenient.  Using GPS to map a route to the closest Starbucks, using Google to research Risso’s dolphins, uploading your pictures to Instagram – sometimes we may take the ease of obtaining information for granted.

Having the right smartphone apps can enhance your travel experiences.  As I have discussed in a previous blog (7 Tips to Save Your Cell Phone During International Travel), it is wise to leave your smartphone in ‘airplane’ mode while out of the country.

It is therefore very important that phone apps used while overseas work offline, or with Wi-Fi.  Here is a list of communication apps I have found particularly useful.

Google Apps

1.  Google Translate:  (FREE) Much improved, Google Translate can translate between 90 languages, and read aloud phrases in the chosen language.  In addition, Google Translate now uses your smartphone camera to read written signs, and can instantly translate them on your smartphone screen.

This feature works instantly between English and: French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.  This app translates 36 total languages when you take a picture of the signs.

I used Google Translate Continue reading 8 Must-Have Smartphone Communication Apps for Travel

Related Images:

10 Money-Smart Cash Tips To Know Before You Travel

 

Financial disclosure:  I have no connections with any of the financial entities discussed in this article.

I love shopping while I’m traveling, and understanding how to get the best exchange rate for euros, Pounds, and Kroners allows me to get the most for my money.  Today, I will be sharing money-saving Cash tips that can be especially helpful for international (and domestic) travel.

Related Savvy International Traveler Posts in this series:

 Nothing speaks louder than Cash

Negotiating foreign currencies used to be much more of a challenge than it is today.  With so many countries in the Eurozone, there is one currency for much of Western Europe.  In this modern age, it is much less necessary to ‘change money’ into foreign currency.  However, there are still times when having cash is very useful.

Here are some savvy traveler’s tips to avoid fees and get the most value out of your vacation dollar.

1.  Bring some cash – even US Dollars are fine. Some cash is better than no cash, whatever currency it may be.  In some countries, they will accept US Dollars even if they do not take credit cards.  They may not give you the best exchange rate, though, so be aware and check your math!

Continue reading 10 Money-Smart Cash Tips To Know Before You Travel

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