Swissotel Amsterdam is a four-star boutique hotel located by Dam Square, in the heart of Amsterdam’s historic city centre and a short walk from Amsterdam Central Station. The hotel is surrounded by shops, museums and restaurants and is a 20-minute drive from Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport.
Check-in at the Swissotel was a breeze. The front office agent was very welcoming and recognised me as a Swissotel Circle member and immediately upgraded me to a swiss-select room with a nice view over the square. It was a corner room with a small staircase going up to the bedroom. Nice clean room with electric curtains and a comfortable large bed. There was a working desk, a minibar and a Nespresso machine. The bathroom was small but the shower was large with a hand shower or a rain shower to choose from. The bathroom was layed out in grey stone and looked very chic. The hotel had a small gym and an outsourced restaurant called Royal 89. The restaurant looked nice and fresh but I did not try it. I checked out within 2 minutes and the same friendly front office staff member offered me a bottle of water to take with me on the way out.
My stay at the Swissotel was a pleasant experience and the best thing about the hotel is its location on Dam Square, right in the city centre and just minutes walk from the main train station. Verdict: good standard hotel with reasonable rates during the off season.
Zurich-Amsterdam, B-737-800 Configuration 20-144 Economy Class
I checked-in online for this flight but due to a electronic glitch mobile boarding passes were not available. However, I passed through airport security with the printed version and was issued another boarding pass at the gate. The flight was booked very light and there was plenty of room for everyone to feel at ease. The airplane was a Boeing 737-800 and looked a bit tired inside. Some seats were a bit dirty and there were many seat pockets which were missing the safety card and/or the Inflight Magazine/Duty Free Shopping List. The flight departed on time and a snack was served, including a choice of coffee and tea. The flight attendants were friendly and pleasant. Verdict: a solid product within the European Market.
The Castillo Hotel Son Vida was built in the 13th century and is a member of The Luxury Collection of the Starwood/Marriott Hotels Group. Son Vida is a small village located above Palma de Mallorca, the main city on the island where the business centre, the airport and the shipping terminal are located. The hotel offers incomparable views of the Bay of Palma and has a large terrace which is often called “The Balcony of Palma”.
I stayed in a deluxe room on the 8th floor (highest floor) with a splendid view. The room was oversized with a charming wooden ceiling decoration, warm colours and all amenities that you could wish for. The room had a large bathroom with separate shower and bathtub.
The hotel’s occupancy was not high as it was low season, but the bar and 1 of the 2 restaurants were open and all the food that I tasted was excellent. There were friendly staff everywhere and beautiful decorations all over the hotel. The Spa was closed for renovation but a gym was available with a small heated pool/jacuzzi.
I enjoyed my stay at the Castillo Hotel Son Vida very much and would come back to this beautiful castle any time. All round it was a very pleasant experience.
Edelweiss Air, Palma De Mallorca – Zurich, A320
Edelweiss Air is a subsidiary of Swiss International Air Lines whose route network is mainly focussed on holiday destinations in Europe. The airline also operates some long-haul flights to “smaller” ports around the world. I took this flight from Palma de Mallorca to Zurich on a Tuesday night in December. The flight was fully booked with a mix of business and leisure travellers. The flight was operated by an A320 aircraft with 20 C and 142 Y seating configuration.
Pre-departure water bottles and refreshment towels were ready on the seats upon boarding. A handful of magazines were also available. Inflight service consisted of a cold meal platter with drinks, followed by a coffee service with the famous Appenzeller Biberli which is a small Swiss cookie-type sweet dish containing marzipan. The crew was friendly and cheerful and took care of the passengers well who were concerned about missing their evening connections in Zurich (the delay was only 25 min, so that should not pose a problem to anyone)
A pleasant flight despite the short delay and a friendly young crew who made a good impression.
Oman Air, B788, Configuration: 18/249 ZRH-MCT-DXB, Business Class
Business Class Lounge, Muscat Airport:
There was only 1 counter available for Business Class check-in and the waiting time was rather long as the check-in staff were serving economy class passengers who were carrying excess check-in bags and did not want to pay for excess baggage. So the discussions seemed endless until they finally found a solution and I could check-in.
Boarding started almost 1 hour before take-off (Ground staff explained that the captain wanted to depart 15 min ahead of schedule) but at the end the airport slot was not available and we departed on time. The Business Class section is very small with only 18 seats and each seat offers plenty of space and privacy. The booking on this flight was very light with only about 6 passengers in the front section. The crew was efficient but not charming or friendly. Service was done quickly as this was a 10pm departure and passengers wanted to sleep. I did the same and opted for a breakfast rather than a dinner which was served 2 hours before landing. (A bit too early for my preference as the flight time was only 5.30 h)
Arrival at Muscat was a tedious experience. We landed on time but the stairs were not available for 15 min for disembarkation. After the stairs finally docked on the plane there was a further 5 min delay for the special business class bus. Meanwhile, all economy passengers had already disembarked via the rear stairs and all 3 passenger buses arrived at the terminal building at the same time. Most passengers had connecting flights and went upstairs where a small security checkpoint was located and worked very efficiently.
On departure from Muscat airport, I visited the lounge in the rather old airport terminal and was pleasantly surprised. It was a large stylish lounge. There was a bar area as well as a self-service area are where drinks and food was presented. Friendly staff were available everywhere. Food choice was good, warm and cold breakfast items were available as well as fruit and other snacks. I did not see any alcoholic beverages, but I expect they were available in the bar section.
Boarding took place again via buses and the small cramped waiting area was packed with people and many were standing in line for the wrong flights. It was a bit chaotic and there were no dedicated gates or doors for business class passengers. After all buses finally arrived at the aircraft at the same time there was another short delay as the cabin cleaning seemed not to be finished.
The crew at the boarding door was very friendly and efficient and boarding was quick. There was a small breakfast service on this flight which was only about 50 minutes long. Aircraft was an Airbus 330-200. Configuration: 20/196