Having experienced 21 airports, 10 airlines and 12 hotels this year, I made a cute “word cloud” of my itineraries at Tagxedo.com (see left)
Of course, travel writers have different opinions about what constitutes the best of the best.
My good friend Mirva Lempiäinen, a Quality Hunter for Finnair, has already published her picks. I especially liked her hotel ratings!
Hong Kong International Airport won the Skytrax World Airport Award for 2011, and Qatar Airways ran away with Best Airline. I did not spend much time in Asia this year, so I have not yet experienced the joys of HKG or Qatar Airways.
My own travels focused more on Europe and North America. While luxury is important to any jet-setting diva, I also look for the best prices, and I place a lot of value on personality and flair. So without further ado, here are the Globetrotting Soprano’s Most Outstanding Airports, Airlines & Hotels of 2011:
1. Vancouver International Airport: I was utterly charmed by the rustic British Columbian decor which I described in detail here.
2. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport: This snazzy Dutch airport is comfortable and convenient, featuring easy access to public transportation and an enthusiasm for giant television screens!
3. Long Beach Airport (Long Beach, California): I usually prefer the big international airports, but there’s something special about Long Beach. I love its simplicity and 1950s style. You won’t have to wait in long lines here. It’s quiet airport with a hometown feeling, and yet there’s free WIFI!
1. British Airways: this “4-star” airline continues to provide good seat comfort, great entertainment and high-quality tea!
2. Air Canada: this year’s surprise favorite offers transatlantic flights at an affordable price. They also feature good classical music in the in-flight audio program!
3. Austrian Airlines: deserves kudos for friendliness and hospitality.
1. Penta Hotel Leipzig (Leipzig, Germany): As a soprano, I have a weakness for sparkly things, so I went wild over the disco theme! If you like mirror balls in the lobby and glittering gold floors in the elevator, this is the hotel for you. You can enjoy the breakfast room, high-speed internet, fitness center, and indoor swimming pool without spending a lot of money.
Honorable mentions go to two other German hotels with bold personality: Artists and designers will love the surprising colors and shapes in Cologne’s unique Hotel Cristall. I also enjoyed the NH Düsseldorf City with its vast lobby, high ceilings and glass elevators.
2. Hotel Astor (Zurich, Switzerland): Clean, comfortable, and central. It’s not the most exciting hotel from the outside, but Swiss hotels aren’t cheap, and it’s hard to find a better value for money in the very center of Zurich.
3. Hotel Milano (Modena, Italy): Quaint Italian style within walking distance of the train station and the Old Town. I enjoyed a quiet, spacious room with a queen-sized bed and an oversized bathtub. The thick wooden shutters opened onto a lovely view.
So what are your favorite airports, airlines and hotels? I’d love to know what you think. Please share!