A 10 Star Trip Europe and The Maldives Via SQ New Regional J, Suites, EK 380F and New 777F

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SponsorSFC

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I really enjoyed writing and occasionally reviewing my previous report so thought I would start another one as we have a month to go.

Unfortunately most of the old photo links are broken thanks to Photobucket and Imageshack both limiting their free accounts.

Does anyone have any other good free suggestions or is uploading to AFF now the preferred option given the new platform?

This trip was planned around 4 key points.
  • Attend the Ashes at Lord's
  • Making the most of our soon to lapse Hilton Diamond status (thanks Macquarie it was a great 4 years while it lasted)
  • Burn through my last 140k United miles
  • Collect a few more Michelin Stars while we eat our way around
After looking at our options we booked the following flights

PER-SIN SQ226 J A350
SIN-LHR SQ308 F A380 128,000 KF miles plus about $250 AUD in fees and taxes (including the $100 USD stopover fee)

AMS-VIE OS380 Y A320 Cash (this was originally going to be the sleeper service from Cologne but it was going to cost 4x as much and take 5 times as long)

FCO-DXB EK98 A380 F
DXB-MLE EK658 B777 F (New F) 90,000 QFF plus $650 AUD in fees and taxes

MLE-SIN SQ451 A330 J
SIN-PER SQ223 A350 J 70,000 UA miles plus $70 in fees and taxes.

We will be taking trains to make the final itinerary where we actually stay the night as Singapore, London, Brussels, Bruges, Amsterdam, Florence, Rome, Rangali then back to Perth.

So this is our route for the most part:
175665

To get the most of our Hilton status we have mostly booked in that chain with the exceptions being Bruges and Florence where there are not any appropriate Hilton options. We may just requalify on spend after this trip but it is hard to tell. We definitely won't be on nights or stays.

We are booked in to stay at the following properties:
Conrad Singapore - cash
Hilton Bankside - cash
Hilton Brussels Grand Place - cash
Aragon Hotel Bruges - Amex credit
Waldorf Amsterdam - 95,000 Hilton points per night
Hilton Vienna Plaza - cash
Glance Hotel - Florence - Amex credit
Aleph Rome Hotel Curio - cash
Conrad Rangali - 95,000 hilton points with the 5th night free

Unfortunately the Hilton promos don't look as generous as our last trip but there are a couple of stackable offers we are going to be able to take advantage of.

Restaurants we have bookings at so far are:
Shisen Hanten Singapore - 2*
Spectrum Amsterdam - 2*
Steirereck Vienna - 2*
La Pergola Rome - 3*

I am hoping to add Ikoyi London for the 10th * once their booking window opens and avoid me having to rename the trip report.
 
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SponsorSFC

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Planning
Once LHR was established as a key destination we had a few choices on how to get there. We of course would not fly out of London due to the ridiculous APD.

I hadn't flown EK before so was interested in trying them out but the flight timings were less desirable , same with CX, QR were also ruled out as there seemed to be unreliable availability, and that of course leaves our first love SQ.

As our esteemed Suites Expert @Cruiser Elite says "everything tastes better when served with Krug by a Singapore girl!" so there was only going to be one winner in this battle.

We booked our preferred SQ226 as it has the most civilised departure and was traditionally run by the B772ER so was a 1-2-1 layout in J compared to the A330 and B772. At the time the B787 had been pulled out of the schedule from what we could see.

Turns out we would have a nice surprise as the B772ER was retired from the PER route and replaced by an A350 not long after our booking. This will be our first time on this aircraft type, though we did fly the B787 with the same seat last year.

We always enjoy a couple of days in Singapore so I paid the $100USD stopover fee to SQ and booked us in Suites on SQ308. Definitely the best timing and seat option with new Suites being the overnight option.

Internal travel in Europe was to be all trains though we ended up booking AMS-VIE as the sleeper service prices were not competitive even when the extra hotel night was required in VIE and day services would mean we wasted a whole day.

I wanted to try EK's A380 F so decided to fly out of FCO (we also had the option of QR Q Suites from VIE). Also in FCOs favour was the routing from FCO-DXB-MLE came in at only 90,000 QFF where some other airports were in the next distance band.

EK98 gave us another civilised departure time and a reasonable 4.5 hour layover in DXB before connecting to EK 658 which gave us an optimal morning arrival into MLE for a direct transfer on to Rangali.

A few months later we would get another welcome equipment swap notification with EK658 being swapped from the old 1-2-1 777 F to the new 1-1-1 F with the virtual window centre seats.

Finally I was able to book the only option on UA MLE-SIN on SQ451 connecting to SQ215. This was not ideal for 2 reasons, the first being they were both overnights on the A330 angled 2-2-2 J the 2nd it meant a very long 16 hour layover in Changi.

SQ don't give a lot of love to their partners so I took what I couldm, the 787 was bookable in the weeks leading up to our dates but was pulled about 2 weeks out from our window opening leaving only the A330 flights available. Then not long after I booked this all SQ awards were pulled from the UA search and remained this way for months.

This until a few weeks ago when regional SQ awards became available again including the A350. I quickly logged on to UA changed us to the 9:30am SQ 223 flight and happily paid the $200 in change fees before joyfully cancelling our airside hotel reservation.
 
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clipped_wings

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Settling in for a much-anticipated trip report!

As for the photo question - I have heard those photo sticks are pretty cool. They plug straight into your smartphone, tablet or laptop and download the photos instantly. I'm thinking of doing a trial run and if successful, I will confirm later. But my personal preference is always to back up all photos to my laptop, then back up the backup while still on holiday. The expense and effort we go to to acquire these memories cannot be quantified and our photos are considered priceless - so we go to great lengths to protect them.
 

Daver6

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Very much looking forward to hearing about Conrad Maldives as we'll be there in late Nov, but as lowly golds.
 

SponsorSFC

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Settling in for a much-anticipated trip report!

As for the photo question - I have heard those photo sticks are pretty cool. They plug straight into your smartphone, tablet or laptop and download the photos instantly. I'm thinking of doing a trial run and if successful, I will confirm later. But my personal preference is always to back up all photos to my laptop, then back up the backup while still on holiday. The expense and effort we go to to acquire these memories cannot be quantified and our photos are considered priceless - so we go to great lengths to protect them.

Thanks for the suggestion.

I probably wan't clear it was just free image hosting recommendations that I was looking for. This is purely for the trip report here.

All images get backed up to my NAS at home for long term storage.

Very much looking forward to hearing about Conrad Maldives as we'll be there in late Nov, but as lowly golds.

We loved our first trip there, I doubt there is too much difference between the Diamond and Gold experience.

Mostly just the arrival gift being wine vs sparkling and then other small things like complimentary upgrades or manager's reception invites.

Nothing that will make or break the trip.
 

SponsorSFC

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Greetings from the SilverKris Lounge PER.

It is Singapore national day which the Check in and Lounge staff are all very excited.

They are offering Bellini coughtails on arrival and a special Singaporean menu.

The chilli crab is fantastic, as good as I have had in Singapore.

The drinks options have expanded but I am sad to see Cheeky Monkey be replaced by Gage Roads but there is Champagne on offer and a full range of spirits.

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SponsorSFC

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Crab Salad with Cucumber and Mango Salsa
Mesculan, radish and Greek lemon dressing
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Garlic bread
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Book the Cook Lobster Thermidor
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1st dessert Orange and Chocolate Clairfontaine
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2nd dessert Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Bailey's
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SponsorSFC

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After a very pleasant flight and no queue we were quickly in a taxi to the Conrad.

There was a bit of traffic as people had stopped their cars and scooters on the Benjamin Sheares Bridge but after about 25 minutes and $24 later we were at the Conrad.

We have stayed here a few times but not since the renovation.

Reception was familiar. 20190809_213133.jpg

No upgrade possible as the hotel is at capacity for the National Day long weekend.

We were given a nice corner room with views of the Fountain of Wealth and the National stadium.
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The corner rooms have a small side window. This one gives you a view of the Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands.
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We ducked across the road to enjoy a drink in the heat at the Paulaner Brauhaus.

They brew the beer on site so must be using the Paulaner name and logo under licence but not the recipes as it tastes and looks nothing like Paulaner Original Lager.

Singapore makes Perth drink prices look like a bargain. They did do an all you can drink package for 2 hours at $40 or 3 hours at $50 but the whole table needs to partake.

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After a quick swim listening to the Singapore Air Force jets roar past over head it was time to turn in for the evening.
 
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