Apple AirPods Reviewed

I wasn’t looking for a new pair of headphones, though grateful when I received some AirPods as a gift, they were put in a draw and forgotten about. It was only when packing for my Christmas vacation that I remembered my new headphones. Curious I finally took them out of the box.

To save you the bother of reading the rest of the article, Apple’s AirPods are awesome. So easy to set up with other Apple devices and so intuitive to use. No buttons, you just ask Siri to turn the volume up, play a song, make a phone call etc. I wasn’t much of a Siri user before I started using my AirPods, but it has now become second nature.

There’s no turning them on and off, the AirPods know when they’re in your ear and when they are not and when you’re using one or both of the buds. There’s almost no physical interaction required.

For something so small the AirPod’s battery life is impressive. Apple says up to 5 hours and I wouldn’t disagree. Charge them backup to almost full in 15mins. Which leads to my favourite feature of the AirPods: their case, which doubles as a mobile charger. This awesome little white box will hold a up to 24hours of juice for your buds. Just put them back in the box and in less than 15mins your almost back up to full power – repeat as necessary.

Of course the case itself will eventually need charging. To do that plug one end of the included Lightning cable into the charging case, the other into a USB device of choice, or even borrow the wall hugger from your iPhone and charge them with that.

The AirPods fit snugly in my ears and I don’t think I have unusually small ear holes. I exercise and go jogging with them and one hasn’t tried to escape yet. The only time they do fall out is if you inadvertently knock one of the protruding stalks.

So far I’ve managed not to lose an AirPod. I take my case with me whenever I’m wearing my AirPods, making sure if I do take one or both off I can keep them safe. Should the worst happen I understand that Apple will offer single AirPod buds for approx. £50.

What surprised me at launch was that Apple hadn’t built a “find my AirPods feature”, something my family rely on heavily to find lost phones. Thankfully this feature is included in iOS 10.3 – you can now use the “Find iPhone” web or iPhone app to ping individual AirPod’s sounding an audible beep, or track your AirPod’s last location.

The most important aspect of any headphone has to be the quality. I’m no audiophile, (on my travels I generally rely on a pair of Beats Studio Wireless Headphones), but what I can tell you is they are every bit as good as my Beats. For my money better. Clearer, generally crisper. They’re just as good with calls and FaceTime as they are with movies and music.

AirPods have instantly become my go to headphones. They’re just so simple to use and easy to store in a pocket or chuck in a bag. For the price they seem like an absolute bargain. Before I looked I assumed they’d be at the same sort of price point as Apple’s new wireless Beats Solo3. Try £100 less. No brainer, treat your self to some AirPods, their the future.


Best Transatlantic Airline For Business: British Airways Vs Virgin Atlantic

Which is the best transatlantic airline? British Airways offers First, Business or Club World, Premium Economy and Economy. Virgin Atlantic Offers Upper Class along with Premium Economy and Economy. When booking a flight, it is important to know what you get for your ticket and which is best, if the prices are comparable.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are the two main British airlines that fly transatlantic between London and New York along with a number of other American cities. Both airlines feature in my top 10 best airlines for longhaul Business Class. I have written about the best transatlantic airline in Premium Economy separately.

British Airways Vs Virgin Atlantic First Class Cabin – Which Is Best?

For this one, British Airways wins. Virgin Atlantic offers “Upper Class”, which is equivalent to the British Airways Business Class product (outlined below). British Airways is the only British Airline that offers true transatlantic First Class and you can read my recent review of the new British Airways First on the Dreamliner to find out what you get.

For me, the advantages of travelling in First are:
1. Access to the Concorde Room lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5,
2. Exclusivity – For example, on the Dreamliner there are just 8 seats spread across two rows in a 1-2-1 herringbone configuration, all of them having direct aisle access,
3. Seat space – With a generous pitch of 73 inches (185 cm) and width of 22 inches (56 cm),
4. Privacy – Contrary to the enclosed First Class suites with sliding doors that you find in the Emirates and Etihad First Class Suites, the BA First Class seat features an open design, although it’s located within its own cocoon and feels totally private (no other passengers can see you, thanks to the herringbone layout and high seat walls).
5. Amenity Kit – This is an improved version of the Business Class kit. The men’s one contains shave gel, revitaliser moisturiser, lip balm, deodorant stick, and eye gel from London based, grooming emporium for men, in addition to essentials such as such as a pen, eyeshades, socks, earplugs, hairbrush and razor. See which airlines offer better amenity kits see my top 10 best airline amenity kits.
6. Pyjamas – Even on medium-haul day flights, British Airways supply pyjamas. This is a very nice gesture bearing in mind that Qatar Airways and Emirates – both famous for their onboard luxury and service – do not provide pyjamas on this length of day flight. The lightweight, British Airways dark green pyjamas are presented with a ribbon bow, and feature the BA First Class logo on the chest.
7. Food – The menu in First is extensive, usually with a starter, soup, main and dessert. All is usually tasty, well executed, visually appealing and with more choice than in Club World. An afternoon tea is also usually offered with sandwiches, scones and a pastry.

This is not the best First Class seat or suite in the sky. This accolade goes to the First Class suites offered by Emirates & Etihad. But for transatlantic routes, British Airways in First is about as luxury as it comes.

British Airways Vs Virgin Atlantic Airport Lounges – Which Is Best?
If the layover is important to you, you might want to choose your British carrier by the lounge on offer at its respective airport hub.

The British Airways lounges are the Galleries First (exclusively for First customers and Gold Executive Club members) and the Concorde Room (First Customers only) in London Heathrow Terminal 5. These are excellent First Class only lounges. In particular, the bar in the Concorde Room is iconic and harks back to the heydays of luxury travel making it one of the best First lounges in the world. Business or Club World passengers only get access to the two Galleries Club Lounges in Heathrow Terminal 5 or the Galleries Club Lounge in Terminal 3. These lounges are huge and pleasant with decent buffet food. They have everything you need but are not noteworthy and can be busy with entire fleets worth of Club World and Club Europe passengers coming and going.

Virgin Atlantic Offers The Clubhouse at London Heathrow. The Clubhouse also has outposts in LAX, Newark, JFK, San Francisco, Boston, Washington Hong Kong, Johannesburg and Gatwick. These lounges are fun, well designed and offer better food than the BA Galleries lounges.

British Airways therefore wins when travelling in First for its exclusive Concorde Room and Galleries First lounge for First Class passengers. But the Club House knocks the socks off the British Airways Galleries lounges for those travelling in Upper Class or Club World.

British Airways Club World Vs Virgin Atlantic Upper Class – Which Is Best?

I have published several trip reports from my recent flights on Virgin Atlantic in Upper Class and on British Airways, in Business or Club World. You can read these reviews below:
Review: British Airways Business Class London to Vancouver, A380
Review: British Airway’s Business Class, Calgary to Heathrow, 787-8 Dreamliner
Review: British Airway’s Club World, Los Angeles to London Heathrow, A380
Review: British Airways Business Class London to Tehran, B777-200
Review: British Airways Club World London to Los Angeles, A380
Review: Club World on the Dreamliner B787-9,
Review: British Airways Club World Tokyo to London, B777
Review: Virgin Atlantic Upper Class

I have outlined below which aspects each airline wins.

Why Is British Airways Club World Better Than Virgin Atlantic Upper Class?

1. Ambiance – The British Airways cabin offers an air of sophisticated and contemporary wellbeing. I prefer the look to the mildly gaudy Virgin cabin so British Airways wins.

2. Seats – Both Virgin AND British Airways win this category depending on your personal preference. The British Airways seats are arranged in the so-called “ying/yang” layout, where the seat next to you faces the opposite direction affording more privacy and space. This also means that some seats face backwards which I am not keen on. In fact, all the window seats face backwards. Virgin Atlantic goes with the herringbone layout where seats are angled, (see photo above), which feels odd, with window seats facing towards the centre of the cabin.

Virgin’s seats offer more privacy, but for couples, the Virgin seat can prove problematic. With young kids the problem is even more accentuated because you cannot see what anyone else is doing. The middle seats in BA Club World are a perfect playground for a pair of children, with the parents sat on either side to keep them in check!

3. Consistency of product – On the whole, British Airways Club World offers a fairly consistent Business Class offering across their fleets so you know what to expect. Virgin does not. Virgin offers its newest seat (pictured above) on its Boeing 787 service, but it is hard to predict which Upper Class seat you will experience, which makes booking on Virgin Atlantic more of a gamble.

It is worth noting that British Airways is launching a new seat in Club World which will have direct aisle access. This may make the actual Business Class seat more appealing overall on this transatlantic route.

Why is Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Better Than British Airways Club World?

1. Airport Lounges – While the British Airways First lounges are excellent, the Galleries Club lounges are good but lack character. Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouses are more unique, offer better food and overall are a more fun experience, so Virgin wins here.

2. Sleep – For this category Virgin wins. The BA seat simply glides flat, the Virgin seats flips to a bed more like Singapore Airlines. This means that you do not sleep on the seat surface which makes it a more comfortable and restful sleep experience than Club World.

3. Seats – Both Virgin AND British Airways win this category depending on your personal preference. The British Airways seats are arranged in the so-called “ying/yang” layout, where the seat next to you faces the opposite direction affording more privacy and space. This also means that some seats face backwards which I am not keen on. In fact, all the window seats face backwards. Virgin Atlantic goes with the herringbone layout where seats are angled, (see photo above), which feels odd with window seats facing towards the centre of the cabin.

The advantages of the Virgin layout are the privacy, as you face a wall rather than another passenger. If you fly on British Airways Club World you run the risk of being in the middle pair of seats. Every Virgin seat also has direct aisle access, unlike BA, so no-one is going to jump over your feet in the middle of the night. The downside of this is that the booths are so private that you will have difficulty sharing the flight with your partner or children as you can’t see anyone else!

4. Onboard Bar – On Virgin Atlantic A380, there is an iconic onboard bar with a real-life bartender which is a great place to mingle with other flyers. On Virgin’s B787s the bar is less impressive but remains a place to grab a stool. British Airways offers a walk-up “Club Kitchen” onboard, where Business and First Class fliers can graze between meals. The Club kitchen in no way compares to the funky bar on Virgin Atlantic so Virgin wins here.

5. Food – Virgin wins again as British Airways seems to be insistent on constantly cutting the quantity and quality of its offering – most recently removing the choice of starter in Club World and forcing everyone to eat the mozzarella salad starter.

On Virgin, the food is good and there is plenty of choice, from prawns and caviar starters to chicken, beef and salmon mains. Examples of puddings include lemon curd sponge, which is very good, and strawberry panna cotta. To finish Virgin push a traditional cheese and port trolley around the cabin which is a classy touch. Later in the flight you can eat a choice of sandwiches, cakes, jam and clotted cream scones or a burger. In comparison, BA offer a specific selection of sandwiches with no choice.

6. Amenity Kits – Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class Relax Packs have been developed by Canadian lifestyle brand Herschel and come in two innovative designs. On outbound flights from the UK, it’s a hangable wash bag. On inbound flights to the UK, they offer a bag inspired by the famous Herschel Network Pouch. I like the different bag supplied each way. Both packs include: A Rituals hand cream, lip balm and face cream. A toothbrush, a new larger, branded tube of toothpaste, earplugs, eyeshade, socks and a Virgin Atlantic pen. BA offers a more bog standard Elemis amenity kit in Business which is the same both ways so Virgin wins.

7. Wilbur and Orville, the Virgin salt and pepper characters, returned in 2013. Possibly the coolest salt and pepper pots in the world, you can ‘borrow’ them and take them home with you – it is almost worth flying Upper Class to take home these lovelies.

8. WiFi – British Airways currently does not offer WiFi on its planes so Virgin wins here.. for now.

9. Pyjamas – Virgin Upper Class supplies passengers on overnight flights with a black jersey sleep suit, a simple, cozy pyjama set. On British Airways you only get PJs in First.

Other features such as entertainment and staff tend to be comparative between the two airlines with no clear winner.

Conclusion – Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class Beats British Airways Club Class

When comparing Virgin’s Upper Class to British Airways Club Class, Upper Class wins in almost every respect. The Clubhouse lounge is fun and has better food than BA’s Galleries lounges. If you want privacy, direct aisle access, Virgin also wins. Although it is worth re-highlighting that if you are travelling in a couple or as a family, you will probably prefer the layout in British Airways, assuming you want to see your family or other half! Virgin’s onboard food offering is more generous, the seat is more comfortable for sleeping and it has an onboard bar. Of course, the Middle East Airlines; Emirates, Etihad and Qatar offer a better Business Class product altogether but they don’t yet cover transatlantic routes. American Airlines, Delta and United also offer Business Class on these routes and should be considered.

British Airways Vs Virgin Atlantic Air Mile Redemption – Which Is Best?

Upper Class return to New York on Virgin Atlantic costs 95,000 Flying Club miles (35,000 in Premium Economy & 20,000 in Economy). This compares to 100,000 Avios (off peak) or 120,000 Avios (peak). Both airlines add around £500 in taxes. Unless you have a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher. Virgin works out cheaper.

It is also worth mentioning that there will be a game changer launching around 2020 with the introduction of Concorde like transatlantic Supersonic travel. The major players in this market are Boom, backed by Richard Branson, Spike Aerospace, Airbus and Aerion Corp. With prices expected to be around $5,000 a ticket, these will offer an exciting and faster alternative to First and Business when travelling transatlantic.

Review: The Mount Somerset Hotel & Spa

Name: The Mount Somerset Hotel & Spa

The historic Mount in Somerset is a country house hotel with 3 Rosette dining, ESPA spa and the prettiest views over the English countryside.

Situated on the side of a hill and built in 1805, the original owners of this stately manor house clearly selected this idyllic location for the views over the rolling hills and green fields. Today this country house, which is surrounded by manicured lawns and gardens, offers those same far-reaching views over the Vale of Taunton and many fluffy sheep!
You arrive by driving up a narrow country lane. As you climb the hill the imposing cream-coloured mansion that is The Mount comes into view. Outside there is plenty of parking, terraces, a darling pond and vine covered pergolas, framing pathways through the gardens.

Inside, The Mount has bucket loads of period character. A pretty octagonal hall leads through to a sweeping staircase that rises above the reception area. Drinks are served in the bar/lounge area off to your right and you will find an impressive ESPA spa to your left. Upstairs, all the rooms offer views of the countryside, and have the feel of a cosy country escape.


We stayed in Barrington which was one of the largest rooms in the hotel with a massive and comfy bed. Blue walls and gold hued curtains framed an enormous bay window, which looked out over the fields and gardens. In the evening, you could see Taunton twinkling in the distance. Inside, a mix of country furnishings (a large sofa, window seats, a coffee table and numerous drawers and wardrobes) gave the room the feeling of staying at a rather wealthy relatives house. The bathroom was modern, immaculate and huge, with a his-and-hers double shower, Victorian-style bath and the same immense country vista from the large window. Thoughtful little touches included an extra heater in our room in case we felt the cold (thanks to the heater the room was gorgeously toasty), hand cooked fresh biscuits, sweets and fruit along with tea and coffee making facilities. Also, because the hotel spa is ESPA, the toiletries in the bathroom were ESPA which I like.


The bar was busy throughout our weekend stay. During the day, it seemed popular with locals taking advantage of generous afternoon teas. At night, it attracted guests with 2 roaring fires, a piano and plenty of plush sofas to melt into. Much of the bar was located at the front of the house, so the views out of the long sash windows, were once again across the lawns and countryside beyond. In the summer, you can drink under the stars on the terrace.


Having just achieved a 3rd Rosette, we were excited to try the hotel restaurant and it did not disappoint. The formal dining room was the setting for our meal. The room was decorated with a huge crystal chandelier and gilt-framed mirrors. The food offerings were equally impressive. We chose the “Du Jour” menu which was £35 for three courses (there was also an à la carte menu if you prefer). Amuse bouche started with bread-crumbed whitebait and a cup of creamy green; which sounds odd but was also utterly delicious. Starters were pork lasagne and smoked salmon with beetroot and the choice of main was a chicken or hake dish. Dessert was a sweet cinnamon apple delight. The whole thing was delicious and I appreciated the staff being extra-specially friendly with my son – they had him in fits of giggles and clearly cared about the restaurant and the food they were serving.

Breakfast was also excellent, with a buffet of cereals, fruit, yoghurt, pastries and lots of appetising fruit, as well as lots of egg options including full English breakfast and apple and cinnamon scotch pancakes.

The Mounts is just under a 10-minute drive from Junction 25 of the M5, so it’s a convenient stopover if you’re heading down to Devon or Cornwall.

Winter break prices currently start at £209 for one night in a Deluxe Room, a 3 course Du Jour dinner, a glass of Winter Pimm’s, full English breakfast & use of the Spa facilities. In my opinion, this is exceptional value for such a lovely boutique rural retreat.

The Mount Somerset Hotel & Spa

The Best First Class Suite In The Sky: Emirates Vs Etihad

I have already compared the Emirates, Etihad and Qatar in Business Class. Now I investigate Emirates and Etihad First Class Suites. Which is the best in the world and why.

Etihad and Emirates both come in my top 10 best business class airlines in the world and I am a great fan of both for their First and Business class product. In fact, you are a blessed traveller if you are fortunate enough to afford either. If you intend to book a First Class ticket on either Etihad or Emirates, I hope this comparison will help you decide which airline to choose. It is also worth noting that I have also flown on Qatar First Class but this product comes in third place after Etihad and Emirates.

For the purposes of this comparison I am comparing the First Class suites on the Etihad and Emirates A380 planes.

Emirates Vs Etihad First Class Cabin – Which Is Best?

Emirates Airlines, based in Dubai, is regarded by many as the most luxurious carrier in the world. Emirates has more than 240 wide body planes in its fleet, carrying more than 40 million passengers to more than 100 destinations in the world per year. The Dubai based airliner is also the largest operator of the Airbus A380, with 74 of this aircraft type in its fleet and 66 more on order. The success of Emirates is very much based on the comfort and space onboard its A380s which are used on both shorthaul and longhaul.

First Class is located in the forward upper deck of the Emirates A380. The cabin features 14 enclosed suites in a 1-2-1 configuration. All have direct aisle access. The 8 suites along the windows are spread across 4 rows, while the 6 middle suites are spread across 3 rows. All suites enjoy complete privacy, as none of the rows quite line up, so nobody is directly looking into the suite across the aisle, even when you don’t close the sliding doors of your suite. I have written a full review of my last flight in First Class on Emirates.

Etihad Airways is a flag carrier and the second-largest airline of the UAE (after Emirates). The First Class cabin is located on the forward upper deck of the A380. The First Class cabin on Etihad’s A380 is stylish, with two beautifully crafted walls framing a small corridor leading to the forward staircase and contain the sliding entrance doors of the Apartments. The lighting patterns in the ceiling projects Arabian mosaic-like figures on the walls and floor, adding to the relaxing atmosphere.

Etihad Airways’ A380 First Class cabin is the industry’s first ever single aisle cabin and there are only nine First Apartments on the plane. There are 5 First Apartments on the right side of the cabin (with 2 toilets in the front), while the left side features 4 First Apartments. This asymmetry is explained by the fact that the missing 5th First Apartment and lavatories on the left side of the cabin are replaced by The Residence (featuring a private living room, separate en-suite shower room, and a bedroom with a double bed).I have written a full review of my last flight in Etihad First Class Apartment and have taken further pictures on a second trip in Etihad First Class.

In my humble opinion, for ambiance, space, look and style, Etihad is best. The Emirates cabin is glitzy and full of golds and bright colours which isn’t to my taste. The privacy and space is also better on Etihad.

Emirates Vs Etihad First Class Seats – Which Is Best?

Emirates First Class is configured with only four suites per row see upper deck seat map. The First Class suites on the sides are ideal for solo travellers (with a generous 3 windows per seat, offering great views), while the 6 suites in the middle are perfect for those traveling with a companion since dividers between these suites can be raised or lowered to provide a feeling of extra spaciousness.

Etihad, have configured their cabin with only two First Class suites per row which is clearly better. See Etihad seat map. The very comfortable recliner seat is equipped with in-seat massage and a pneumatic cushion control system. The seat has two arm rests: one holds the tray table, while the other holds the Apartment and inflight entertainment system controls. By pressing a button, you can change the position of both the ottoman, raise or lower of the window blinds, and control the light settings for a variety of lamps situated within the Apartment. Next to the seat, there’s a minibar, stocked with a premium selection of beverages, as well as a cabinet which holds the noise-cancelling headsets.

Clearly, two suites per row is much better than four so once again Etihad wins for the best First Class seat.

Emirates Vs Etihad First Class Bed – Which Is Best?

On Emirates, at the push of a button, the seat automatically reclines into a fully-flat bed of 86 inches (218 cm) long, with fully retractable armrest. When you want to sleep, a member of the cabin crews installs a mattress, fluffy pillow and soft duvet.

Etihad creates an entirely separate bed using the ottoman in your suite, allowing the bed to be made without having to sacrifice your seat. If you have a significant other traveling with you, certain rows of the First Class cabin allow you to lower the divider located between suites so that your head is next to your loved one’s head. If you want a double bed, you’ll need to upgrade to The Residence by Etihad.

Once again Etihad wins on space and privacy for sleeping.

Emirates Vs Etihad First Class Food – Which Is Best?

Emirates and Etihad offer meals equivalent a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Emirates’ First Class menu is extensive, and you can order whatever whenever. These were my lunch choices:
Canapés: tartlet of marinated feta with aubergine caviar and schichmi; foie gras on gingerbread with smoked salt; and arm salmon tempo sushi with herb crust.
Appetiser: caviar, presented with traditional selection of finely chopped onion, grated egg, sour cream and lemon, served with melba toast and blinis.
Pumpkin soup with croutons and sour cream.
Main course: seafood harra, which is a traditional Middle Eastern dish of oven-baked prawns and fish in spiced tomato sauce, served with saffron rice.
Dessert: banana cheesecake with toffee sauce.

And this is what I had for dinner:
Chicken consommé with vegetable julienne.
Main course: braised beef short ribs, with balsamic juice, braised red cabbage and pan-fired gnocchi with herbs.
Dessert: seasonal fruit, an assortment of fresh-cut fruit.

Etihad has real life onboard chefs (recruited from Michelin-starred restaurants around the world). The food is an exquisite seven-course tasting menu with amuse bouche, granita and pre-dessert tasters. The Mezoon Grille menu is available to Etihad’s First Class customers only, featuring a variety of premium produce, including beef, chicken, lamb and seafood, along with a range of delicate sauces, sides and delicious desserts, all of which were prepared to order. Everything is served on fine bone chinaware, cutlery and crystal glassware.

I choose the following items from the menu:
Amuse bouche: Middle Eastern style chicken salad.
Chickpea Soup, with Arabic spiced ratatouille.
Starter: marinated prawns, with Quinoa and wake salad, and red pepper sauce.
Grapefruit sorbet.
Entree: US rib-eye steak, with steamed green beans, creamy mashed potatoes, and garlic and herb butter.
Pre-dessert mini-choclate mousse.
Dessert trio of berry and cinnamon frangipani, apricot cheesecake, with passion fruit meringue, chocolate mousse.

So the best food is definitely offered in Etihad First.

Emirates Vs Etihad First Class In-Flight Showers – Which Is Best?

Both Emirates and Etihad have two showers at the front of their cabins. However, in the all-important category of shower-to-passenger ratio, Emirates wins, with one shower for every seven passengers, while Etihad only provides one shower for every nine passengers. I have written a completely separate article with Emirates sky shower pictures. There is very little to choose between the shower rooms themselves although Emirates’ showers have a panoramic wallpaper view of the Dubai skyline on the walls. The volume per passenger is key here which is why Emirates wins.

The reason there are less showers on Etihad is because they feel their passengers in The Residence need their own shower.

Emirates Vs Etihad First Class Bar/Lounge – Which Is Best?

Both Etihad and Emirates have lounges. The Etihad bar is designated as “The Lobby” but even in First Class, you’ll have to have your drinks refilled from the display case, rather than having an onboard bartender serving you.

If you prefer a more traditional bar experience, you’ll find it on Emirates with extensive seating, mood lighting, a horseshoe shaped bar and a real life bartender.

Emirates therefore wins harking back to the heydays of luxury air travel.

Emirates Vs Etihad First Class Wine List & Bar Menu – Which Is Best?

Emirates and Etihad both have complimentary top-shelf alcohol for those over the age of 18. These include extensive wine lists and a vast range of spirits, liquor, and champagne all served in proper crystal glasses.

Both airlines offer extensive alcohol, but in terms of brand and cost, Emirates wins as it offers more drink options breaking the $100 USD per bottle ceiling. They are also the only airline serving Hennessy Paradis Cognac in First Class, with a retail price around $700 per bottle.

Emirates Vs Etihad First Class Entertainment & WiFi – Which Is Best?

Both Etihad and Emirates First Class suites on the Airbus A380 feature big screens with a wide variety of content. You can also surf the web with your smartphone or laptop using their satellite-based WiFi systems. Emirates has made WiFi affordable for everyone – free for the first 10 MB and only $1 USD for 500 MB of data. Unfortunately, this means the internet connection is virtually unusable due to the number of passengers logged on.

Etihad wins with a superior entertainment system, a screen that not only swivels back to let you watch TV in bed, but it also has split-screen capabilities with four different screens. Plus, surfing the web is actually possible on Etihad.

Emirates Vs Etihad First Class Amenity Kit – Which Is Best?

I have reviewed the best airline amenity kits in the world and in this listing, Emirates comes second offering bespoke beauty goodies from one of my favourite scents; Bulgari. They also give you a fragrance. Emirates have also introduced the world’s first moisturising pyjamas in first class designed for airline use and to overcome dry air thus giving the passenger a better nights sleep.

Etihad comes in lower at number 5 in my best first class amenity kits and passengers get Christian Lacroix loungewear and toiletries from Hungarian skincare brand, Omorovicza. The amenity kit from Emirates is more generous and therefore wins. I love a free fragrance and their pyjamas are ground breaking.

Emirates Vs Etihad First Class Airport Lounge – Which Is Best?

If the layover is important to you, you might want to choose your Middle Eastern carrier by the lounge on offer at it’s respective airport hub. I a big fan of Etihad’s First Class Lounge & Spa in Abu Dhabi and have also reviewed the Concourse A Emirates First Class Lounge at Dubai International Airport. In this case, I prefer the Etihad lounge.

To add a fly to the ointment, I consider the Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa First Class in Doha’s new Hamad International Airport is the best airline lounge in the world so although in every other way, Etihad and Emirates win; In this respect, Qatar is worth considering.


Which is the best First Class Suite In The Sky; Emirates or Etihad? Etihad wins in five categories, Emirates wins in four. Etihad has the better suite, seat, bed, entertainment, and food. Emirates has the better shower, onboard lounge, amenity kit and alcohol. So I choose Etihad as the winner offering the best First Class suite. Etihad wins by a small margin so your final choice depends on what matters to you onboard.

How To Buy A First Or Business Class Seat In Etihad Or Emirates First With Miles

Emirates Skywards miles can be earned from and redeemed on travel from nine partner airlines. These include Alaska, JAL, Jet, JetBlue, Korean Air, Qantas, South African Airways, TAP Portugal, and Virgin America. The miles earned depends on the class of service flown, and the miles accrued on partners do not count towards tier status. Etihad is a partner of American Airlines, and AAdvantage miles can be redeemed directly for Etihad First Class flights. The best ways to collect AAdvantage miles are by flying AA or a Oneworld partner, through signing up for and receiving credit card bonuses, or by transferring them from the Starwood Preferred Guest program.

Boom To Start Transatlantic Supersonic Airplane Construction

Supersonic airplane startup Boom has just completed a key milestone in the build of it’s transatlantic (& beyond) supersonic passenger jet; the startup has completed its wind tunnel testing, verifying two years of aerodynamic design work and setting the stage for building the airframe that will eventually become the basis of it first flight-ready aircraft.

The completed wind tunnel testing, means that Boom are now ready to build large-scale hardware for testing with human pilots.

Just a few years ago, this kind of milestone would’ve involved repeated wind tunnel trials through multiple physical model iterations over a drawn-out period of time. Every iteration would take six months, cost millions – which means that trials like these were only possible for the largest companies. Today, each iteration takes 30 minutes and costs almost nothing, and so you can do it with a tiny team. When you finally think you’ve got it right, you go to the wind tunnel and you verify rather than develop there.

The changes in the cost of the development process are part of what is helping Boom pursue its goal of creating a Concorde-like supersonic passenger jet that can operate with ticket prices close to that of current business class travel. Concorde tickets used to cost much more than that, and in the end operating the jets was simply too expensive for airlines. These new supersonic jets will be more cost effective to run ensuring ticket prices will be affordable for Business travel.

Boom CEO and co-founder Blake Scholl’s goal isn’t just to get supersonic flight down to business class prices; he foresees a time when they can bring costs down far enough that supersonic travel will be accessible to anyone who can fly today. Boom sees itself having a parallel trajectory with SpaceX or Tesla in terms of massively changing the economies of a transportation technology.

“It’s the dividing line between development and being ready to build, so you do all of your testing and simulation initially, you think you have a design that looks like it’s going to go work, and then you go to the wind tunnel and you verify with real air and real flow that you’re seeing the results that you predicted in simulation and at that point then you’re ready to go forward and start constructing large pieces of the aircraft.”

Scholl said that there was a “really awesome agreement” between the results predicting in software simulation, and the results that bore out in actual wind tunnel testing.

Boom has already revealed what its first aircraft, the XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator (pictured above), will look like, but now it can actually start the task of building one. It expects to start construction in about a year. The demonstrator will be a human piloted, 1/3 scale prototype of the eventual 45-passenger jet craft it aims to use for commercial service.

The billionaire Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson has teamed with Boom to offer ‘affordable’ $5,000 transatlantic supersonic flights between New York and London in 3.5 hours. Branson’s Spaceship company is helping Denver-based startup, Boom, build a new generation of supersonic jets and reintroduce transatlantic flight times unseen since Concorde was scrapped.

Supersonic Aircraft companies Spike Aerospace , Aerion and Airbus who have also proposed transatlantic plans for their Supersonic passenger aircraft and I can share some interesting pictures of the proposed interiors of these supersonic jets.

Supersonic Jet News

Top 5 Best Luxury Beach Hotels In Punta Mita

Continuing our series of top 5 best beaches and luxury hotels around the world, in this article I pick the top 5 best luxury beach hotels & resorts in Punta Mita.

Direct flights from New York take 6 hours to get to Puerto Vallarta. Thomson Airways fly direct to Puerto Vallerta from the UK with a flight time of around 15 hours. You can also fly indirectly with KLM, Aeromexico, Delta, Virgin Atlantic, and Air France, British Airways, Aer Lingus, US Airways and Air Canada.

1. St. Regis Punta Mita Resort

For a little taste of paradise, and being totally spoilt while you’re there, The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort in Mexico, pictured above, more than delivers.

Tucked away on one of the world’s most alluring beaches, this five-star luxury resort is surrounded by stunning tropical landscaped grounds that also house two Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses and tennis courts. There is also the luxe Remède Spa and a choice of restaurants. There are three pools, all are infinity pools and offer something quite unique; be it a beach-side location, a family-friendly approach or the exact opposite – an adults-only pool; take your pick. There’s even variety in the beaches too! A quiet adults-only area offers some peace and quiet or for adrenaline overload why not try the main beach and partake in some water-sports.

There are 120 rooms, suites and villas to choose from. All offer either ocean or garden views, a private terrace with an outdoor shower and all the usual amenities including a spacious bathroom, flat screen TV, WI-FI, minibar, robe and slippers, etc. The Luxury One and Two-Bedroom Villas get our vote as they are directly on the beach and include a private pool and jacuzzi as well as a kitchen. Not only is the beach location enviable, but the private pool has to be the perfect place to unwind at the end of the day.

2. Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita

As regular readers will know, we are also big fans of Four Seasons resorts at Luxury Travel Diary. This resort, in the Riviera Nayarit about 45 minutes north of Puerta Vallarta, will make you smile.

With two Jack Nicklaus golf courses, a house yacht, a substantial kids’ club, multiple beaches, beautiful rooms with a seaside-inspired decor and an expansive spa, this Four Seasons has everything you could wish for.

We like the golf carts that ferry guests around the sprawling property and the Shack Bar, which is really a wooden shack on Las Cuevas Beach. It feels a locals spot to fall in love with during a stroll on a beach and is the perfect place for a sunset margarita.

My favourite Four Seasons hotel in the world is Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, a Four Seasons Hotel which I visited this summer and liked so much that I will return next summer. The Four Seasons Hampshire is one of my favourite country house hotels in England and the Four Seasons London Park Lane makes the perfect city break as does the gorgeous Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, Johannesburg. In Hawaii its hard not to love the Four Seasons Wailea on Maui and the Four Seasons Manele Bay on Lanai.

3. W De Punta Mita

The new W Punta de Mita W Hotels, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, is perched on the ocean in the heart of one of Mexico’s most gorgeous beaches. The hotel is part of the multi-use oceanfront development, Los Veneros, on Mexico’s Pacific Coast.

W Punta de Mita brings a playfully stylish addition to this Mexican hot spot. 119 stylishly designed guest villas, include one 4,460ft2 Extreme Wow Suite, inspired by the Mexican flag. All villas and suites feature artisanal Mexican tiled floors and headboards fashioned from either surfboards or punctured tin, replicating the design found in local churches. A cluster of casitas called Ocean Escape Villas resemble a pre-Hispanic fishing village of the past. Meanwhile, Jungle Escape Villas feature private balconies allowing for intimate views of the surrounding natural beauty, including the bright red trunks of the papelillo trees and hanging vines of the forest.

4. Hotel Cinco

On the Pacific coast of central Mexico, directly on the white sand beach, is Hotel Cinco. In the town of Punta Mita, this hotel offers guests luxury accommodations with a relaxing beach atmosphere. Rooms are ultra modern, in an open loft-type style. Vibrant colours contrast with dark woods and marble floors. This is a place to laze on your balcony and watch the sun rise over the Pacific.

5. The Royal Suites Punta Mita by Palladium

The Royal Suites Punta Mita by Palladium is located an hour northwest of Puerto Vallarta. These suites occupy a lush patch of manicured jungle overlooking a private white sand beach a few miles inside the point at Punta Mita. This adults-only hideaway offers a memorable vacation spot within a larger, busy, all-inclusive resort. The 100 Royal Suites section has its own buildings, lobby, outdoor pool with grass palapas for shade, and beach, but everything else is shared with the Palladium and its 400 rooms. The Royal Suites Punta Mita by Palladium offers soaking tubs on balconies overlooking the ocean and a peaceful beach getaway.

You may also be interested in my top 10 white sand beaches in the world, my best honeymoon style overwater villas in the Caribbean, my 5 best luxury resorts in the Caribbean and my out of the ordinary Caribbean article.

How To Provide Proof Of Onward Travel (So You Don’t Get Kicked Off Your Flight!)

Proof Of Onward Travel Tips

How To Provide Proof Of Onward Travel

Travel Tips

Planning to travel internationally on a one-way ticket? You might have a problem. Some airlines and countries require proof of onward travel. Here’s how you can get it.

“Before you can board this flight, I need to see your proof of onward travel.” What?! But I’m traveling on a one-way ticket!

I remember the first time it happened to me. I was checking in at Boston’s Logan Airport for an international flight to Bangkok, Thailand.

Excited to visit Southeast Asia for the first time, and planning to spend a few months living in Chiang Mai as a digital nomad. I was flying one-way because, you know, I wasn’t sure how long I’d stay.

One month? Three? Would I even go back to the United States? Maybe I’ll travel to a different country after Thailand… overland. I simply hadn’t planned that far ahead yet.

However due to my American privilege, and my inexperience with international travel, it never once crossed my mind that this would be a problem.

Can’t I just buy another ticket when I’m ready to leave? Nope.

Proof Of Onward Travel Tips

How To Provide Proof Of Onward Travel

What Is Proof Of Onward Travel?

Basically, some countries want to make sure you aren’t attempting to move there on a tourist visa and never leave. It happens all the time here in the United States, and other countries too.

They are trying to prevent illegal immigration.

Government officials need to see proof that you plan on flying out, respecting the rules of their tourist visa. They want proof of onward travel to another destination.

So while you can technically travel on a one-way ticket, they also need some kind of official return ticket confirmation showing that you are leaving the country eventually.

They won’t necessarily care where that ticket goes, just as long as it’s out of their country.

Ticket Confirmation

Example Ticket Confirmation from

Airline Requirements

Many countries actually pass this responsibility on to airlines, meaning that it’s the airline check-in desk who will ask to see proof of your onward travel before they let you board the flight.

Because if they don’t check, and allow you on the flight with a one-way ticket, but immigration officials refuse to let you in, the airline will be responsible for the costs of flying (deporting?) you back to your home country, along with possible fines.

Some airlines are very strict about the proof of onward travel rule.

If you can’t provide proof, you won’t be allowed to board your flight. Or they’ll ask you to buy a return ticket from them right then and there — which can often cost hundreds of dollars.

Onward Travel Rules Suck!

I feel your pain. Why can’t they just make it easy and allow me travel on a one-way ticket, trusting me when I tell them I plan to leave in two months?

Some of us prefer to travel spontaneously, without plans!

Most long-term travelers are on a tight budget, trying to make their money last as long as possible. Or they aren’t exactly sure which country they want to visit next. Or they want to travel overland by bus.

Buying round trip tickets just isn’t in the cards for everyone.

Don’t take it personally though. These are their rules, and we have to respect them. We have the same laws for foreigners attempting to visit our country.

Luckily there are a few easy (and legal) ways to get around this proof-of-onward-travel requirement, so you can travel on a one-way ticket, and not be forced to pre-plan your entire trip down to the last detail.

Proof Of Onward Travel

Rent A Ticket Confirmation!

How To Get Proof Of Onward Travel

If you think you may need proof of onward travel during your adventure, there are a few legal ways to get around the rules without having to buy round trip tickets everywhere you go.

Rent A Return Ticket

My favorite option these days is to use the online service For about $10, this company will go ahead and purchase a refundable airline ticket in your name, on their dime.

The ticket will then be automatically canceled after 24 or 48 hours.

While it’s active, you’ll be able to view a REAL flight reservation under your name, and show it to the airline check-in agent or immigration officer, “proving” your onward travel. Simple, fast, and cheap.

You can see an example of what the confirmation looks like here.

Buy A Super Cheap Ticket

Extreme budget airlines around the world can have some amazing flight deals. While the airline itself might not be the best, if you don’t plan on actually using the ticket, who cares!

Find the cheapest one-way ticket to a major city in the country next door, and eat the cost. Maybe $50 or $100.

This works best in cheaper areas of the world, like Asia or Latin America. Some examples of budget airlines include EasyJet, AirAsia, Volaris, etc. Click here for a full list.

Buy A Refundable Ticket

If you don’t mind waiting (sometimes months) to receive your refund, then buying a fully refundable, second one-way ticket is possible too.

To make it work, you’ll need to buy that second ticket before you leave for your destination.

Once you’ve entered the country, cancel your exit ticket, and wait for the refund. Just make sure to read the fine print — because some airlines charge cancelation fees, or only refund tickets using flight vouchers instead of cash.

Use Your Airline Miles

If you are a travel-hacking whiz and have accumulated a ton of points or miles on your travel rewards credit cards, you can use those points to book a one-way return flight and cancel it later.

Most of the time you’ll find that points are refunded right away, making it a no-brainer.

Forge A Ticket Confirmation

First of all, I do not recommend this method. If you get caught, it could end up badly. Especially if you try to show a fake piece of paper to actual immigration officials rather than airline employees.

Lying to immigration officials is illegal, and could land you in jail.

But if you’re too cheap to rent a real ticket for $10, you can use to create a fake onward travel confirmation. Remember, use this option at your own risk!

Which Countries Require Proof?

Many countries technically require proof of onward travel, however they don’t always enforce the rule. To reduce your chances of them asking, it’s wise to avoid dressing like a bum/hippie with no money.

Business casual works best at airports if you want to avoid questions.

A few countries definitely require documented proof of onward travel. They include New Zealand, the United Kingdom, United States, Brazil, Indonesia, Peru, and the Philippines.

However depending on the airline you use, you might also get asked for proof before visiting countries like Thailand, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama. Do your own research to be sure.

Don’t Get Caught Off Guard!

Even though this rule might seem ridiculous, if you are a long-term traveler who prefers to travel on one-way tickets, you will eventually get asked for proof of onward travel.

I’ve probably been asked at least 10 times over the past few years.

Luckily there are legal loopholes around it. You just need to remember to get everything sorted in advance, before you find yourself stuck arguing with the airline check-in agent, about to miss your flight. ★

Tips for how to provide proof of onward travel when flying on a one-way ticket.
Tips for how to provide proof of onward travel when flying on a one-way ticket.

READ NEXT: How To Find Cheap Flights

Have any questions about proof of onward travel? Have you ever been asked? Drop me a message in the comments below!

The Top 5 Best Luxury Resorts In The Caribbean

Continuing our series of the best beaches and luxury hotels around the world, I have picked the top 5 best luxury hotels in the Caribbean.

1. Amanyara, Turks & Caicos

Set on the beautiful island of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands, Amanyara (pictured above) is a secluded haven embracing the best elements of the Caribbean. It is no secret that Aman Resorts is one of my favourite luxury hotel brands and Amanyara is certainly one of the best luxury hotels in the world. You can also read my review of terribly romantic Aman Canal Grande Venice.

You will find some of the best beaches in the world on Turks and Caicos Islands and Amanyara resort is located along the pristine reefs of Northwest Point Marine National Park, acclaimed for some of the world’s best wall and reef diving. As you would expect from an Aman hotel, Amanyara feels ultra exclusive and offers a slick escape of silvery-topped pavilions, chic teak terraces, shaded loungers, centred on a huge infinity pool designed using volcanic rock with a conical bar. The overall feel is Asia in the Caribbean with a Zen and peaceful feel, many miles away from the jolly and colourful resorts on islands like Jamaica.

The pool is a great feature of this luxury hotel. Lined with timber decking, Amanyara’s infinity pool is a 50m pool that sparkles by day and becomes a star-speckled mirror by night. With views of the Atlantic (February to April, you can spot migrating humpback whales), this pool, surrounded by loungers and the perfect place to enjoy the sunset

Beyond this, the Amanyara private beach is a half-mile-long stretch of powdery soft white sands sprinkled with oversized loungers. To the South you will find rocky inlets and sandy coves

2. Amanera, Dominican Republic

Also an Aman resort but this time in the Dominican Republic, what makes Amanera different is the fact that it offers the first golf-integrated Aman with the highest number of oceanside holes in the Western hemisphere. Amanera will also offer extensive dining, spa and recreational facilities, as well as a beautiful beach and that magical Aman touch that makes these hotels so exceptional.

Amanera is centred around the essence of Aman: the sense of peace that the brand was founded upon (Aman is the Sanskrit word for ‘peace’), the harmony that each resort has with its location, the feeling of discovery that each Aman stay offers and the embrace of belonging that comes with the warm, personal atmosphere that pervades each Aman.

3. Four Seasons Resort Nevis

As regular readers will know, we are also big fans of Four Seasons resorts at Luxury Travel Diary. This resort only gets slightly marked down because it’s not possible to fly direct to the island of Nevis. This remotely located Four Seasons Resort Nevis sits on a large, attractive beach, basking in the near-perfect weather of this little-known wonder in the Caribbean West Indies. Almost all rooms have beautiful mountains or ocean views, and come with private balconies. Relax in one 3 pools, rejuvenate in the award-winning spa, or play golf to dramatic Caribbean views or simply relax on the golden beach and let the lapping of the waves drift you to happiness.

My favourite Four Seasons hotel in the world is Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, a Four Seasons Hotel which I visited this summer and like so much that I will return next summer. The Four Seasons Hampshire is one of my favourite country house hotels in England and the Four Seasons London Park Lane makes the perfect city break as does the gorgeous Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, Johannesburg. In Hawaii its hard not to love the Four Seasons Wailea on Maui and the Four Seasons Manele Bay on Lanai.

4. Sandals Montego Bay Overwater Villas, Jamaica

In December, Sandals unveiled its first five all-inclusive over-the-water villas in in Montego Bay, in the Caribbean. These are their first honeymoon style overwater bungalows (pictured above) and each comes with a private pool, Jacuzzi, glass floors, and a personal butler. The glass panels in the villas’ floors illuminate at night and show sea life swimming underneath (see picture!). The deck boasts not only the small infinity pool but two outdoor showers, an oversized over-the-water hammock, chic white sun loungers and a shaded circular swing chair. The villas also have 24/7 room service and two dedicated butlers.

The resort’s private island, the setting for the fantastic new suites, is located moments from the shore of the main resort, and features an authentic Thai restaurant and a casual beachfront grill, a pool with a whirlpool and swim-up pool bar, along with a secluded private beach.

Sandals Montego Bay Overwater Villas, Jamaica also features in my top 5 best romantic, honeymoon style overwater villas in the Caribbean.

5. Parrot Cay By Como, Turks & Caicos

Once a wild, uninhabited island, now a luxury, whitewashed wellness retreat, Como Parrot Cay​ is a colourful Caribbean destination for the honeymooning A-list. This private Caicos island boutique hotel has an award-winning spa and a mile of unspoilt, uninhabited and unforgettable beach. The private island offers over 1,000 unspoilt acres edged with powdery soft beach. All rooms and suites have whitewashed interiors furnished with soft, cotton-covered chairs, airy four-poster beds and teak furnishing. Private villas have their own pools and direct beach access.

You may also be interested in my top 10 white sand beaches in the world, my 5 best family resorts in the Caribbean and my out of the ordinary Caribbean article.

Top 5 Best Luxury Beach Hotels in Oman

Continuing our series of top 5 best beaches and luxury hotels around the world, in this article I pick the top 5 best beach hotels & resorts in Oman.

The best time to visit Oman is between November and the end of March. Nothing feels better than fleeing the British winter and finding yourself amid the delicious hot sands of the Omani desert, with starry skies above you, and crystal clear waters lapping at your toes.

1. Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara

Famed for the riches of its frankincense groves, coconut-fringed beaches and a profusion of tropical greenery during the summer monsoon season, Salalah, on the south coast of Dhofar, offers travellers an emerging destination of breathtaking natural beauty. Situated between a long, scenic beach and freshwater lagoon, Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara Hotels Resorts & Spas (pictured above) is a luxury resort with a contemporary Middle Eastern ambience framed by lush tropical gardens, 750 palm trees and of course, a glorious beach.

The resort’s 40 Premier and Deluxe Rooms come with balconies or terraces that overlook either the Arabian Sea, the lagoon or the garden. 8 one-bedroom Villas and 88 one and two-bedroom Pool Villas offer separate living areas, with Pool Villas benefiting from private temperature-controlled swimming pools. The exclusive three-bedroom Royal Beach Pool Villa is the epitome of luxury, boasting commanding views of the sandy bay and idyllic lagoon.

There are three main restaurants serving local Middle Eastern cuisine as well as international dishes and a short walk away is the awe inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site, Al Baleed Archaeological Park.

Slip out of your beachfront villa, surrounded by towering palms, into the languid ocean. Al Baleed Resort Salalah is a serene retreat under the Oman sun.

2. Six Senses Zinghy Bay

Just a couple of hours’ drive from Dubai, this isolated but oh-so-peaceful eco-luxe hotel feels like a rustic, ancient Omani village with a touch of the Flintstones. Sandy paths lead between stylish daybeds and palms to villas with private pools, outdoor showers and butlers who will buggy you around the resort.

There’s a playground, tennis courts and an excellent children’s club (free for four-year-olds and above) which will introduce them to crab-hunting, marine biology and movies on the beach, with popcorn and more than 40 different flavours of ice cream.

For couples the Sense on the Edge restaurant, hidden up in the mountains, offers exquisite food and expansive views. For health junkies, hike or bike in the mountains, yoga on the rooftop or choose from a number of hardcore health bootcamps. In the spa, treatments are decadent but results-driven and holistic.

Six Senses Zinghy Bay is a world away from the Disney-esque vibe of Dubai. Relax in front of the dramatic sandstone Al Hajar mountains with the waters of the Gulf of Oman gently lapping at your toes in splendid isolation.

3. The Chedi, Muscat

The Chedi Muscat, part of Leading Hotels of the World, is a stylish retreat meticulously designed to be part Philippe Starck, part Lawrence of Arabia, with still reflecting pools and perfectly positioned palm trees. Even the grains of sand here seem to be aligned in perfect formation.

‘Club Suites’ are spacious, white-painted bungalows or villas, spread among the palms and fountains. All have black marble sunken baths, Bose hi-fi system, satellite TV and fresh plates of fruit and Arabic pastries daily. The laundry service is complimentary and so is the minibar. Enjoy a delicious room-service breakfast any time till noon.

There is a family pool, the Serai pool and the adults-only Chedi pool, an infinity-edged number adjoining the beach where cocktails at sunset are de rigueur. The treatments at the Balinese spa are excellent. The food is also excellent; The Restaurant has won numerous international awards for food and design.

Take a boat trip to watch dolpins, play a round of golf of simply lie on one of the perfectly arranged loungers sitting perpendicular to the waters of the white sand beach while the palms and trees rustle behind you.

4. Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort And Spa, Muscat

Oman’s largest new hotel encompasses three hotels set around one uninhabited bay. All 680 rooms have sea views and private balconies or terraces; there are pools, restaurants (including the Middle Eastern-themed Al Tanoor, a South American restaurant Samba and ship-themed restaurant Sultanah), watersports, bars, a nightclub, a promenade area and designer shops. This is very much a bustling resort town created around a single hotel brand.

Al Waha, the least expensive of the three, is aimed at families and offers interconnecting rooms and a free Little Turtles club for 3 to 12-year-olds. Al Husn is the six-star option, with a helipad, a private beach and a private pool. This hotel is inaccessible from the other hotels.

Activities include a spa, scuba diving, snorkelling, dolphin and whale watching trips, and a strolling around the marina.

5. The Grand Hyatt Muscat

The Grand Hyatt Muscat is a business hotel at the heart of the diplomatic centre of Oman, but that shouldn’t put the leisure traveller off. For those with families in tow, we would recommend staying in the Shangri-La above, as there are many more activities on offer to amuse children. However, for the more sophisticated traveller, the Grand Hyatt has a great gym, nice swimming pool and private beach, so there are enough leisure facilities available. Rooms are a decent size, but in need of a refurb – however, they are clean so they are still pleasant to relax in.

If you prefer to be over the water take a look at my top 5 best overwater villas in the Caribbean, my top 5 best romantic honeymoon hotels in the Maldives with private pools and my top 5 best luxury hotels and resorts in the Maldives.

Review: Condor B767-300ER Business Class Frankfurt to Seychelles

In this trip report I review Condor B767-300ER Business Class from Frankfurt (Germany) to Mahe (Seychelles). For those who have not heard of Condor Airlines, Condor Flugdienst GmbH, branded as Condor, is a German leisure airline based in Frankfurt. It operates scheduled flights to leisure destinations in the Mediterranean, Asia, Africa, North America, South America and the Caribbean.

On October 22nd 2016, I flew Business Class in a Boeing 767-300ER of Condor Flugdienst from Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) in Germany to Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) in the Seychelles. Condor is Germany’s third largest airline based on fleet size and passengers flown. It is a subsidiary of the British Thomas Cook Group, but still partners with its former parent Lufthansa through the use of the Lufthansa Group’s Miles & More program (the flight earned me 3000 miles) and its business lounges at Frankfurt Airport. Since Condor has a reputation for offering European holiday makers inexpensive vacation packages to long-haul destinations, I did not expect a lot. But I was pleasantly surprised by the overall experience, especially the food, which was among the best I ever had in a plane.

I paid 950 euros for a one-way ticket from Brussels to the Seychelles via Frankfurt (the return flight was with Emirates and Qantas). Condor is one of the few airlines that allows you to book online one-way journeys for half the price of a return ticket. The flight from Frankfurt to Seychelles was in Business Class, although the Brussels-Frankfurt leg (operated by Lufthansa) was in Economy. Condor still partners with its former mother company Lufthansa to transfer passengers to its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich, but when you book an intercontinental Business Class ticket with Condor from a connecting point in Europe, you will always end up in Lufthansa’s Economy Class for the intra-European leg.

950 euros for a one way ticket in Business from Europe to the Seychelles is not a bad deal. Only a few airlines serve the Seychelles which include Emirates, Etihad Airways, Air Seychelles which I have reviewed, Air Austral, SriLankan, Ethiopian Airlines, and Kenya Airways. New airlines are launching flights to the islands. Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines have recently started flights from Doha and Istanbul respectively, and Austrian Airlines will offer weekly direct flights from Vienna from autumn next year. In addition, Air Seychelles, the nation’s national carrier, is launching a new route to Düsseldorf.

Condor does not have its own lounge at Frankfurt International Airport but its Business Class passengers have access to the business lounges of its former parent Lufthansa. Lufthansa has more than 10 lounges at its hub. You can read my review for the Lufthansa Busines lounge near gate B24 in Terminal 1 (non-Schengen area), which is close to the Condor boarding gates.

Condor Boeing B767 Business Class Cabin

Condor’s Boeing B767 comes in two versions. The most common version has a total of 214 seats – 30 in Business Class, 35 in Premium Economy, and 180 in Economy. These aircraft are mostly deployed on routes where demand for Business Class seats is high as those serving the Maldives, Mauritius and the Seychelles. The less common B767 variant features a higher density 259 seat configuration, with 18 seats in Business Class, 35 in Premium Economy, and 206 in Economy.

No matter what version you fly in, the Business Class seats in Condor’s B767s are always located in one single cabin in the front of the plane. Although they don’t have the youngest fleet in the industry, Condor completed a fleet-wide refurbishment of its Business Class cabins a couple of years ago and it shows: the B767 Business Class was bright, airy and modern. During the retrofit, the cabins were equipped with LED mood lighting, which is similar to what you experience on modern planes such as the B787 and A350. It create nice effects in a wide range of colours.

The seats, placed in 2-2-2 seat configuration all face forward. All seats offer aisle access, except for the window seats where you will have to crawl over the legs of your neighbour if you want to reach the aisle. See seat map of Condor’s B767.

The Best Business Class Seat On Condor Planes
Although comfortable, the Business Class seats on Condor’s B767 represent a dated product. While many airlines now offer flatbeds, Condor opts for angled lie-flat seats with a 170 degree incline. This is probably due to the fact that Condor mainly caters to holiday destinations and therefore somewhat lacks steep competitions from other airlines, hence allowing them to maintain a somewhat inferior Business Class seat product.

The seat has a 152 cm (60 inch) pitch and is 48 cm (19 inch) wide. The seat layout is quite simple, with the seat and entertainment system controls located in one arm rest, while the moderately sized tray table is located in the other arm rest and needs to be pulled out for any use. In front of the seat is the entertainment screen which offers around 30 movies, 50 TV series and documentaries, and a good selection of music. There was storage space on top of the screen and a large compartment below for your feet. If you wish to use your own electronic devices rather than the seat built-in complete system, the seat has USB ports and electrical outlets.

With a press of the button, the seat reclines to an angle of 170 degrees, hereby creating a bed of 180 cm (70 inch) long, whereby your legs disappear in the box below the entertainment screen.

All seats in the cabin, except for the first and last row, are quiet good, especially for couples. Make sure to prebook your seat online since Condor flights are often fully packed.

The 2-2-2 Business Class layout does not make the cabin very attractive for solo travelers, since you will always end up sitting next to a stranger. There is a small screen though between seats that can be raised for added privacy.

Window seats don’t offer direct aisle access and passengers seated in the first row may be bothered by the noise of the galley and passengers going to or returning from the lavatories. I suggest avoiding the last row of Business Class, which is close to Premium Economy bassinet seats. Window seats in the last row are missing a window.


Upon boarding, your find a comfortable blanket and pillow on your seat to enhance your sleeping comfort. Before takeoff, the crew also hands out amenity kits, which come in the form of an etui, a small ornamental case featuring a map of the globe. The content was rather disappointing and not different from the essentials that you get in Economy Class on many airlines. I have reviewed the best First & Business Class airline amenity kits in the world (Condor definitely does not feature in this list!).


Upon boarding, I was offered the choice between a glass of Champagne, water, or orange juice. I received a refreshing hot towel to wipe my hands and face. I was also served a soft drink (with ice and lemon) and a small bag containing an assortment of cold nuts.

Soon thereafter, dinner was offered, all served on a single tray. Food was terrific and among the best I ever enjoyed on a flight, including First Class. The quality, quantity, presentation, and service were all top-notch. The Condor in-flight menu read as follows:

Starter: mixed platter with
creamy cheese and herb dip
chicken breast with herb crust, bulgur & mango salad, and curried crème fraiche
avocado parsley mousse , quinoa salad, scampi skewer, and smoked salmon filet
seasonal leafy green salad with thousand island dressing
Main course: Red snapper with mustard sauce, grilled vegetables, and potato mash with chives
Dessert: Passionfruit champagne tartlet on peach ragout
90 minutes prior to landing, breakfast was served. It featured:

Freshly sliced fruits
Beef salami, turkey ham, Emmentaler, and rocket cream cheese
Frittata with cheese and parsley
Bircher muesli
Bread roll – croissant – chocolate Danish pastry
Butter – jam – Nutella – honey

It is worth noting that the Condor B767 does not have a walk-up bar in Business Class or WiFi on their planes.

You may also be interested in my top 10 Best Business Class airlines for long haul travel and my comparison of Emirates vs Etihad vs Qatar Airways: Best Airline In The Middle East in my Airline Reviews section.

Review by my friends at Luxury Travel Expert

Condor Airlines