As it turns out, this ‘tool’ I’m about to tell you about is actually something we’d been doing for a while and didn’t even realise it till just recently. 😀
It’s saved us so much time and can actually make or break a trip (case in point: Rio where it just made for such a brilliant experience in the city – they took care of everything).
In the past, a lot of this work of finding the best hotels would have been in your hands but now, with this ‘tool’, you’ve got someone else to do the heavy lifting for you.
This ‘tool’ to help you select the best hotels is Expedia’s VIP Access hotel list.
The VIP Access hotels are a group of about 4,000 hotels in 121 countries that have consistently recognised by us hotel guests and by Expedia as being their best in class.
It’s not about prices or even just about companies just deciding this for us – it’s about what us as customers have thoroughly enjoyed in the past. It’s all about high quality over everything else and it’s just the best thing ever.
We got to partner with Expedia on this to check out one of the VIP Access hotels in London – The Corinthia Hotel; which I’ll tell you more about below (*it’s seriously so good!) but as I mentioned earlier, it turns out we’d actually been using the VIP Access hotels a fair bit on our travels lately.
Even just thinking back the past few months/year, the figure is in double-digits (I’ll provide more detailed examples below) so it’s pretty safe to say, we’re quite well-versed in Expedia’s VIP Access hotels and know from first-hand experience how amazing these hotels actually are, even when Expedia’s VIP Access hotels weren’t really at the forefront of our minds.
Thinking back now – one thing I’ve never been able to compromise on when we travel is hotels. There’s just something so important about being able to finish off a busy day of exploring and heading to a hotel room that just feels so warm, welcoming and inviting.
Dreading going back to your hotel (or even being ambivalent about it) is one sure-fire way to ruin what would otherwise have been a great trip.
We did this once on one of our very first trips years and years ago (*it was in Paris). The hotel was so “Meh!” and involved one awful uphill climb (how did they manage to find a hill in Paris???) and since then I just knew this was something I was unwilling to compromise on.
Turns out, I’m not alone too! I saw a survey somewhere that said something like the biggest concerns for about 2/3rds of Brits travelling was the quality of their hotel. Let’s face it, you spend enough on it (it’s perhaps the biggest part of your holiday budget) so it makes so much sense why it’s easily one of the most important parts of your holiday.
Did you also know that you can also sign up to Expedia’s Rewards programme? You get points for each night you stay and the more you book, the higher up their rewards programme you move. You actually get twice as many points for VIP Access hotels bookings compared to other bookings.
At Gold level (the highest), you could get things like free room upgrades, free dinner and drinks and other perks like that. Oh, and on top of double points, you then get 250 bonus points when you book the VIP Access hotels. Booking a few weeks’ worth of holiday can very easily turn into a free weekend away.
Even before you get to this stage, points you earn can be used to book free hotel rooms whenever you want for yourself or whoever else you want to book for. You also get points for other guests you make bookings for so it’s now in your interest to be the ‘organised friend’ when you book those group trips away :-D.
Okay, I really need to stop rambling and show you first-hand what a night at the Corinthia Hotel in London was like!
The Corinthia Hotel, London
Being currently in the middle of a home move, the stay at the Corinthia Hotel couldn’t have come at a better time.
I have no idea why I thought it was smart to move homes in between trips but now, the apartment in London is just a heap of boxes and random knick-knacks I really need to throw away but just haven’t worked up the courage to.
I know I don’t need 5 beach towels or that cycling machine I promised myself I’d use every day but have only managed to use once…. maybe 1½ times but I’m just struggling to bin them and so my ‘maybe’ pile has just grown more and more. The 40 plus USB sticks I somehow managed to accumulate however (don’t ask how), made their way sharply and swiftly to the bin. So I’m not all that bad, really. I think. I hope. 😀
Anyway, so off we went on a sunny London day to escape the boxes in my apartment and rest up in between trips and it was just the best idea ever!
On check-in, as we reached the Gold Status on Expedia’s rewards programme (I’ll show you below some of the hotels we stayed in to get to this point), we got a free room upgrade, switching up our Executive Room to an amazing sun-dappled Suite.
Let me show you around properly!
It’s gorgeous, isn’t it? And all that space! It’s the kind of hotel that makes you want to spend more time indoors than outdoors – which, to be honest, is something I’d quite happily do. When we have staycations like this, especially in a city so familiar, and even especially so after coming back from a huge trip, staying indoors is something I have no problem with.
But see, here’s the thing, London in Summer time is absolutely amazing. London is already a great city but when the sun’s out, there’s no place quite like it.
Seeing as we’d been travelling for a fair bit this summer and hadn’t really gotten make the most of summer in London, we picked up some Brompton Bikes from the hotel concierge and headed off to go play tourist.
I sometimes take this area of London for granted, it feels so familiar, so London, that I don’t end up exploring it as much as I should. For instance, I realised on this evening that I’d never really been to Horse Guards parade.
I’ve walked past it so many times and there’s no barrier to entry but somehow, I’ve managed to miss out this pretty part of London right up until now.
We carried our bikes down to the river side, stopping to take in the beautiful hues as the sun dipped below the horizon…
…before making our way back to The Corinthia for some much-appreciated spa (and champagne) time.
The spa here, by the way, is incredible! I’d always heard great things about it but typically when someone is a tad too effusive about thing like this, I tend to just take it with a pinch of salt (I don’t know why – I think I just like to manage my expectations) but boy, were they right. Also, having a pool in London is something I’ve grown to really appreciate. 😀
Alas, I have no pictures from the spa because, well, it would be intrusive to snap away when people are trying to relax but there are a lot more details and photos on The Corinthia’s website.
We barely made it out of the spa on time for dinner at Kerridge’s Bar and Grill (in fact, we were like 10 minutes late), which we’d booked just after we came back from cycling around town.
The plan originally was to have Afternoon Tea (we literally just walked into the beautiful area where Afternoon Tea was served and decided there and then to have it) but we’d left that too late and decided to go for dinner here instead.
Tom Kerridge is a Michelin-starred chef so expectations were high here and easily met and surpassed. The food here is so good and the lazy person in me just appreciated not having to travel too far to get great food. (The restaurant is quite literally in the hotel).
We started with the Salt Cod Scotch Egg with Chorizo and Red Pepper Sauce for myself and the Chicken Liver Parfait with Fig and Cherry Chutney, Almond Jelly and Toasted Brioche for Lloyd, both of which went down quite a treat.
For mains, I had the Pig’s Cheek Pie with Clotted Cream Mash, Crispy Black Pudding and Devilled Sauce while Lloyd went for the Deep Fried Jumbo Plaice and Chips with Pease Pudding, Tartare and Matson Spiced Sauce (he’d been craving fish and chips for a while so had his eye on this the second we looked at the menu).
Surprisingly stuffed, (only so because I ALWAYS save room for dessert), we decided to share the Brown Butter Tart with Buttermilk Ice Cream, all of which was paired with a delicious bottle of Chianti!
And with that, I decided to call it a night, waking up the next day with an extra spring in my step on the way to breakfast from a brilliant night’s sleep!
I still have my packing to do and those boxes to deal with but, now feel so great about dealing with that, even with another couple of trips planned between now and the moving date. It’s funny how some downtime and a brilliant night’s sleep can just make you feel like you can take on the world.
Turns out, an evening in London like this was just what I needed and I’m already making notes to repeat this after a long stint of travel… or maybe after moving in when I get fed up of unpacking, whichever comes first. 😀
The Other Expedia VIP Access Hotels We’ve Stayed In Recently
Almost forgot about this bit! Was about to hit publish before I realised I hadn’t gotten round to listing some of the other Expedia VIP Access hotels we stayed in that I’d mentioned earlier on.
This is not a complete list – far from actually; it’s just the ones that we’ve stayed in over the past few months, with a couple extra that just sprang to mind.
The Royal Park Hotel Shiodome – Tokyo, Japan
The Roxy – New York, USA
The Palazzo at The Venetian – Las Vegas, USA
Emiliano Rio – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Mamilla – Jerusalem, Israel
Royal Beach Hotel – Tel Aviv, Israel
Iberostar Grand El Mirador – Tenerife, Spain
The Corinthia Hotel – Budapest, Hungary
Rixos Premium – Gocek, Turkey
Some of these are dotted in the blog so a quick search will show you more from these hotels but another great way to check them out in more details would probably be on our Instagram stories where you can see videos from the hotels during our stay there.
Hope all of this helps on your next trip away! 😀