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Review: Tomtom Suites Istanbul – My Stay As The Only Guest!

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In a nutshell: the Tomtom Suites Istanbul is an excellent boutique hotel offering large, comfortable rooms in a historic building with a top-floor restaurant that serves an excellent breakfast with views of the Bosporus. The hotel in close proximity to the shopping along Istiklal Caddesi, and you can also easily catch the tram into the old city. This would be my first choice of hotel if headed back to Istanbul. 

The Tomtom Suites Istanbul was the last of the three hotels I picked for my brief time exploring Turkey’s largest city. I spent the first night at the Nish Palas and the following one at the Park Hyatt Istanbul. The Tomtom Suites Istanbul isn’t in the same neighborhood as the other two hotels, but it is easy to reach by taxi. The hotel is also the most boutique of the three I picked, with just 20 rooms.

Booking the Tomtom Suites Istanbul

The Tomtom Suites is a Small Luxury Hotel (SLH) property that participates in the World of Hyatt program. Like the Park Hyatt a couple kilometers away, it is a Category 4 property, requiring 15,000 points per night. Cash rates were over €180 per night before taxes, and I elected to use a Category 1-4 free night certificate I’d earned when I hit the 30-night milestone reward this year.

Stays at SLH properties include a number of benefits for World of Hyatt members, including:

  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Daily complimentary continental breakfast for two guests
  • Room upgrade (one category at check-in if available)
  • Early check-in (noon, based upon availability at check-in)
  • Late check-out (2:00pm, based upon availability at check-in)

I’d end up using every one of these benefits during my stay. But I was in for even more of a surprise during my stay!

A Unique Arrival Experience

I took a cab to the Tomtom Suites after checking out of the Park Hyatt. Similar to the previous day, my plan was to check in early, drop my stuff, and head out to explore the city all day. This would turn out to be my best day in Istanbul, as I had both a Bosporus boat tour and a hammam visit on the agenda. Given the state of travel, I figured the hotel would have no problem checking me in at 9:30 AM.

The taxi couldn’t get me quite to the hotel. There are pylons blocking the entrance to Tomtom Kaptan Street, and he dropped me about 100 meters from the hotel. This was no issue, but keep it in mind if you have a lot of luggage. I have to imagine that there is a way to enter and exit the street, as I saw other cars passing through successfully. 

The Tomtom Suites Istanbul is located in a neat old building that was formerly a convent. The “Franciscan Nuns’ House” as it was called, is over 100 years old. Across the street is the Italian consulate. I read the historical sign and admired the art in the entryway before continuing into the lobby. 

Although the hotel is within an old stone building, you’d never know it from the modern style of the lobby. The receptionist at the front desk greeted me warmly, asking, “you must be Mr. Snyder?” This caught me off guard. I’ve only been greeted once by name before check-in, and it was only because I arrived super late. It’s pretty easy to guess the name of the remaining guest to check into a completely full hotel.

It turns out is was even easier in the case of the Tomtom Suites. The front desk informed me that I was the only person checking in that day. The hotel had no guests the previous night, nor did they have any booked for the following night. I would very literally have the hotel to myself.

I’d figured occupancy would be down, but I didn’t expect to be the only person at the hotel. The Park Hyatt had felt deserted, but I did manage to spot a few other guests during my stay. This takes things to a new level.

According to the receptionist, the Tomtom Suites never closed during the pandemic, which surprised me. The hotel went for several weeks without a single guest during the spring. He did comment that they had roughly 50 guests over the weekend, so things are on the upswing. I can’t imagine how much money they have lost this year, though.

It did occur to me that I may not even be helping by staying on points. I’m curious how much Hyatt reimburses SLH properties for award stays. I have to imagine it is more than for their own brands.

The hotel did upgrade me nicely to one of their Deluxe Suites. The bellman accompanied me to my room and insisted on carrying my luggage. This was rather over the top, as I had only a small sports duffel and light backpack. But hey, it’s a 5-star hotel and they had a service standard to provide for their only guest.

Each floor at the Tomtom Suites has no more than 7 rooms. There were 6 on the third floor, which is where I stayed. The bellman gave me a little tour of the room in broken English and then went on his way. 

Deluxe Suite

While not a true suite with separate bedroom, a Deluxe Suite at the Tomtom Suites is very large and stylish. It’s definitely more understated than the Park Hyatt, but I really liked the room. The art and large windows in the old building brought some life to the space.

I usually spent time (sometimes too much) at the desk working at least a little bit while traveling, and I always appreciate a comfortable desk. While the chair and desk are comfortable, an outlet is difficult to access. The desk also had information on the hotel, the restaurant, and a cool Tomtom Suites postcard.

While not intended, the welcome letter offered a bit of irony that the hotel was delighted to “have me as their guest.” Yes. Their only guest. There were a couple other details provided on the facilities, including that breakfast would be available on the top floor terrace and the hotel restaurant Nicole was closed.

The bathroom was exceptionally nice. You have a large shower, deep tub, and double sink. Everything is in one large room. While I preferred my stay at the Tomtom Suites overall, the bathroom at the Park Hyatt definitely outshines this one.

The entryway contains the kettle, minibar, and snacks and Turkish wine for purchase. It always amazes me that luxury hotels in some parts of the world provide Nescafe. This first blew my mind when we were staying at the Hyatt Regency Palais de la Méditerranée in Nice, France. This was my first introduction to super nice Hyatt hotels, and I couldn’t believe instant coffee was acceptable. Then again, it is France, and the better choice is to grab an espresso at a café down the street.

I did enjoy the bottle of Turkish red wine during the evening. I’d never even heard of Öküzgözü, a grape varietal native to Turkey.

Although my room was a few floors up, there wasn’t much of a view due to the trees across the street. I can barely see the Sea of Marmara to the south. The view from the fop floor restaurant, however, is quite nice.

Overall, I really liked my room at the Tomtom Suites. It was spacious, well-appointed, and I slept quite well that night (at least compared to the previous two).

Breakfast at the Tomtom Suites Istanbul

The room key card holder had the breakfast hours printed on it. The front desk had not mentioned that the Tomtom Suites Istanbul hosts a tea time, but I would guess it is canceled during COVID-19. It would just be weird for them to provide it for one guest. Plus, I wouldn’t even be at the hotel during that time anyway.

Heading up to the top floor terrace just before 8:00 AM, I found it appropriately deserted. Well, except for the place setting. Was I to have a guest? Maybe they were about to surprise me.

The server appeared after a minute. He was pretty standoffish and didn’t speak English all that well. He said they had a Turkish breakfast for me, and I said that sounded fantastic. And, man, it was. Fruit, vegetables, chees, nuts, olives, smoked salmon, and an assortment of bread are far more than enough for one person for breakfast. It was a bummer I was flying solo this trip. 

The manager came up from the front desk during breakfast to see if I needed anything. Given the amazing breakfast spread, I was set. But this was an especially kind gesture. Gotta check on your only guest!

The top-floor restaurant does offer decent views of the Bosporus and old city. At the top of the hill in the distance are the Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Sophia, both of which I visited the previous day. 

Hotel Amenities and Character

The Tomtom Suites isn’t all that big with just 20 rooms. I poked around on every floor, heading up and down the beautiful marble staircase.

Besides the lovely edifice and artwork, the Tomtom Suites offers a small library off to the side of the lobby for guests to enjoy. If I’d have had more time, it would have been nice to enjoy reading about this fascinating city as well as exploring it.

The hotel also offers small meeting facilities. There is no pool or exercise facilities. But walking the streets of Istanbul should provide all the exercise you need.

Excellent Location

The hotel location is one of the best features. The other World of Hyatt hotels are much further from the city center. You can certainly access the metro or take a taxi (which are cheap), but the Tomtom Suites location lets you easily access everything by foot. It’s a quick 2-minute walk up the hill to Istiklal Caddesi. This is a long pedestrian shopping street that stretches from Taksim Square all the way to the Galata Tower. 

If you head down the hill, you’ll be at the tram station in less than 5 minutes. Here you can catch the tram to take you to Sultanahmet and all the sights in the old city. If you want to stretch your legs, it’s maybe a 15-minute walk to Galata Bridge. This was the place that the guidebook suggested you start your visit of Istanbul, and it isn’t wrong. Enjoy getting your bearings at the Golden Horn for a bit and then head out to explore. 

Final Thoughts as the Only Guest at the Tomtom Suites Istanbul

From the friendly staff, to the comfortable accommodations, to the excellent breakfast spread, I really enjoyed my stay at the Tomtom Suites. It was a unique experience to be the only guest, and while at first I thought it might be creepy, it was actually an interesting twist to have the hotel to oneself. As a Category 4 World of Hyatt property, you can definitely get good value from your points or from your Category 1-4 free night certificates, like I did. I just suggest you stay more than one night at the Tomtom Suites Istanbul, unless you like to hotel hop like I do!

By: Family Flys Free
Title: Review: Tomtom Suites Istanbul – My Stay As The Only Guest!
Sourced From: travelupdate.com/tomtom-suites-istanbul-review-slh/
Published Date: Mon, 02 Nov 2020 15:08:08 +0000

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Gift Ideas to Buy for Hiking Fans on Black Friday

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Days spent on hiking is beneficial to every individual involved. It boosts up metabolism, burns out calories, releases oxytocin, and strengthens the muscles while keeping our bodily functions alert sharpening our senses. Hiking is a delightful way to explore places with our loved ones, friends, and relatives, so if you know a hiker inside your closest circle, giving them quality presents that can be used for hiking can enhance their experiences.

Black Friday Outdoor Equipment Deals

Hiking and wilderness exploration can be an excellent dynamic activity open to everyone. For some of us, a common detriment that we encounter is the amount of gear and equipment to prepare and bring for each of our adventures. These things should ensure our safety and convenience while being able to function proportionate to our needs.

Every seasoned backpacker or trekking enthusiast may indulge in quality tools and equipment that can assist them with their undertakings. If you know a passionate hiker you can read this review of the north face jester backpack in case you are wondering what to give them as a gift this coming holiday. Remember that the gear you want to present to them is manufactured with rugged materials built to withstand the strains and difficulties of natural terrain and different atmospheric conditions.

Black Friday is one of our most awaited shopping days of the year since it gives us the opportunity to land affordable deals with items of interest. Several companies have already launched many discounts and sales three weeks early before the actual event happens. More enterprises and products are expected to follow this trend until the ultimate showcase of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

If you want to purchase gifts in the form of outdoor gear and equipment, some of them are already accessible for early acquisition. But it is recommended to wait for Black Friday to avail them at their most discounted price. Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a shopping experience you do not want to miss when choosing and buying the best equipment for your next hiking activity.

Top Black Friday Gifts for the Hiking Enthusiast

Every outdoor specialist or hiking enthusiast knows the value that every tool on their arsenal can bring them while on the trail. They know that the quality of each item is proportionate to the function with their primary purpose. Modern-day equipment is built with robust materials that perform in conjunction with each personal need during any hiking adventure.

Hiking Jacket

Any person that wants to go on a hike should be prepared with every possibility. Rain, snow, hail, sleet, are probabilities that come naturally with adverse atmospheric conditions. Having a reliable hiking jacket layered with quality waterproof and tear-resistant fabrics keeps you dry while regulating your sweat output and body temperature.

Hydration Flask

Modern fluid flasks come in various forms such as the camel bak that lets you sip water or the rugged hydro flask manufactured with industrial metals. One of the difficulties caused by strenuous activities such as mountain climbing, jogging, hiking, or PT is the onset of dehydration. Outdoor items such as flasks and hydrating-equipment are designed to accompany every adventurer while providing them enough fluids during their journey.

Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes are built with nylon, advanced composites, and durable yet lightweight fabrics. These shoes are designed to be waterproof while having a slip-resistant base that helps you grasp even the slimiest surfaces. They are also incorporated with enough padding and fits well with the contours of your feet that aids in preventing physical damages and discomfort while hiking or navigating rough terrain.

Campground Tents

In case your hiking ends up in a two or more day ordeal, having a convenient camping tent may provide you immediate shelter and a forward outpost. Camping tents are now capable of fitting in 8 people all at once built with reliable and flexible all-weather fabrics supported by modular poles for quick builds. These tents can be easily folded and stored in a carrying bag for travel convenience.

Conclusion

Hiking is an enjoyable activity that everyone can benefit from. It is great for exploring natural areas of the earth while providing enough exercise to burn out calories and excess fat stored while sitting in the office. If you know an outdoor enthusiast, then Black Friday can be a great opportunity to gather items valuable to their next adventure.

The post Gift Ideas to Buy for Hiking Fans on Black Friday appeared first on Travel Experta – Family Travel Blog.

By: Shahbaz Ahmed
Title: Gift Ideas to Buy for Hiking Fans on Black Friday
Sourced From: feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheTravelExperta/~3/iLTbl2wK9RE/gift-ideas-to-buy-for-hiking-fans-on-black-friday.html
Published Date: Mon, 16 Nov 2020 13:44:00 +0000

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Surprise Alaska 50% bonus promotion, buy miles at 1.83 cents per mile

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A surprise Alaska 50% bonus promotion is underway right now, where members can purchase miles with up to 50% bonus. The current promotion of up to 50% bonus is applicable on minimum purchase of 30K miles, on transactions completed by December 23, 2020.

ALASKA MILEAGE PLAN – UP TO 50% BONUS MILES

Link to Promotion

 

This promotion is tiered with 40% bonus on purchase of up to 29k miles. Minimum purchase of 30K miles is required for the 50% bonus. The bonus tiers look like this;

  • Buy 3,000 – 29,000 miles, get a 40% bonus
  • Buy 30,000 – 100,000 miles, get a 50% bonus

With a 50% bonus, this promotion yields 1.83 cents per mile – a decent value. Note that Alaska MileagePlan has has 60% bonus promotions in the past, which yield 1.72 cents per mile. The current promotion can be maximized by purchasing 100K miles, for a total of 150,000 Alaska miles;

Recall that Alaska airlines will not be joining OneWorld alliance until March 31, 2021, which means a window to leverage the sweet spots in the program. In its current state, Alaska miles are one of the most valuable airlines currency in the market and come with great airline partners and routing sweet spots (including stopover on on-way awards) – couple of examples;

  • Cathay Pacific from North America to Asia (Cathay Pacific Business Class on 777-300ER review 2018), o/w for 30K/35K/50K/70K across all cabins
  • Fiji Airways (no first class) and Qantas from North America to Australia, o/w for 55k in Business or 70K in First Class
  • American Airlines from North America to Europe, o/w for 22.5K/57.5K across Econ and Business

If you plan on purchasing miles, I recommend using them in a short turnaround, because there is a good chance we see some devaluations as the generous Alaska MileagePlan joins OneWorld.

Additional Terms and Conditions of the promotion

  • Transactions must be completed between 6:00 AM PST November 13, 2020 and 11:59 PM PST December 23, 2020 to be eligible for bonus miles.

  • Miles are purchased from Points.com Inc. for a cost of $27.50 per 1,000 miles, plus GST/HST for Canadian residents. QST will be charged to Quebec residents.

  • Miles are non-refundable and do not count toward MVP and MVP/Gold status.

  • You may purchase and gift Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles in increments of 1,000 miles up to 60,000 miles, and in increments of 5,000 miles up to a maximum of 100,000 miles per transaction.

  • MVP, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K Mileage Plan member (Elite Member) accounts have no annual limit on the number of miles which may be purchased or gifted through Points.com. If you are not an Elite Member, your account may only be credited up to a maximum total of 150,000 miles acquired through Points.com in a calendar year, whether purchased by you or gifted to you.

  • Offer is subject to change and all terms and conditions of the Mileage Plan Program apply.

 

By: Points Miles and Bling
Title: Surprise Alaska 50% bonus promotion, buy miles at 1.83 cents per mile
Sourced From: travelupdate.com/surprise-alaska-50-bonus-promotion-buy-miles-at-1-83-cents-per-mile/
Published Date: Tue, 17 Nov 2020 18:05:04 +0000

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Sponsored: The Modern Sapien: Book One: The American – Sci-Fi, Apocalyptic, Satire Book Review

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Sponsored – this review is sponsored by writer of The Modern Sapien, John Michael Thomas.

 

PREMISE

For the most part, I’ve been stuck inside since March, due to COVID-19. I’ve had to cancel plenty of travel plans, and have been cooped up in my place due to my pre-existing condition making COVID a higher threat for people like me. While I have been daydreaming and planning future trips – late in 2021, hopefully – I’ve been trying to improve my knowledge base and read more. The author reached out and asked if I’d do a review, and I said I’d be happy to read and review. I purchased The Modern Sapien on Amazon for $2.99 for Kindle, and there is also a paperback and Kindle Unlimited subscription option.

Per the author, The Modern Sapien “…takes place in future phoenix, and is a satirical take on the way we live. It’s sci fi cyberpunk.” Sounds good to me, I’m a huge fan of sci-fi, alternative history, and the like from authors like Robert Conroy or Harry Turtledove, so this should be a fun review. I’m writing this as I read through it, which is something I have not done before.

Cover art from Amazon

 

Initial Thoughts

I’m not even 10% into the book, and it lives up to what he said – satirical take on the way we live. Set ~80 years in the future, the EU has launched their neucular arsenal against what’s left of the United States, based in Phoenix, and people are not only not afraid, they welcome the destruction. Lots of discussion about warring hash-tags and selfies and the misery olympics, between presumably better-off people of Phoenix ‘almost’ dying and having conniptions, and the “poverty-stricken Malawi” saying welcome-to-my-everyday-life in Africa. Definitely a very reputation-oriented culture in this book, which reminded me of the episode “Majority Rule” by FOX’s Orville by Seth McFarlane, where citizens rate each other and appearance is everything.
The book’s structure of data entries from various character’s point of view is a bit jarring, not entirely setting the stage for readers to grasp. Who is this person, why is this person the perspective that is important – is not entirely clear. Similar to the World War Z book where it’s told from different person’s perspectives, perhaps later in the book they’ll tie together somehow.
Modern Sapien paints a fantastical, disparate picture of the world 80 years in the future, due to the devastation from something called the “Seattle Hack” led by evil villain Jeff Bezos, and how companies became conglomerates and their own city-states to survive. There’s a online universe called the Nexus, which is similar to the Oasis from Ready Player One or the Matrix virtual reality, but with the real-life costs of the movie Surrogates, where the humans still need nutrients to survive. It is strongly anti-consumerism, I think, highlighting the reverence and honor paid to the Red Solo cup for example, as a goal to be achieved – everyone wants an authentically created one, rather than a “fabricated” product.
A quarter of the way in, the book starts to explain the setting. I’m a bit confused why it’s brought up here, when it should have been at the beginning, but I just shrug and move on.
I learned a lot more about encryption than I cared or needed to know, but interesting nonetheless, at a very basic level.

Relatable

While it is sci-fi and futuristic, it is relatable, such as when the Japanese kid at his graduation party (called adulting party) gets mobbed by far off relatives he barely knows, or is forced by his parents to make small talk and say hello to people he just could not care about. I certainly understand that feeling, as growing up I was told to go say hi to this person or talk to that person, and I just hated feeling like a talking, dancing monkey.

There’s a very good Handmaid’s Tale vibe of sacrificing freedoms for security with protection military and drones. Give up your guns, and everyone is safe (thanks to the drones)

Very distinct sci-fi vibe, maybe steampunk I could see as well.

 

Themes

As I’m progressing through the book I’m getting a very weird Brave New World vibe where everything, everyone has its place. The satire continues, as the author mocks vegetarians, war hawks, gun nuts, the younger generation, social media obsession, consumerism, religion, and many other topics. Very interesting, making me develop a mental ??? as I’m reading through it.

 

CONCLUSION

I did notice and do some double-takes over various typos in the book, which I assume an editor would have caught, which can change the wording or meaning of the sentences. That’s not ideal, but a good first effort. I would certainly read more about other books in the series once they are released, and for a reasonable $3 for 200+ pages, I’m pretty pleased with this purchase, sponsored or not. It boots you off to this parallel world where things are different, yet vaguely the same. I was not expecting some of the NSFW language or scenes I found in the book, so I wouldn’t prescribe it for young adults, but to each their own.

You can purchase a copy or learn more about the book on Amazon here.

 

 

Sponsored – this review is sponsored by writer of The Modern Sapien, John Michael Thomas.

Featured Image is from Pixabay. Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links which, should you click through and/or make a purchase, grant me a commission. Also, I only post in the best interest of my readers. Lastly, thank you for supporting my blog and my travels. 

What do you think of my writing? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments, or reach me directly at TheHotelion@gmail.com! Like my posts? See more here, on TravelUpdate! Follow me on Facebook (The Hotelion) or on Twitter and Instagram: @TheHotelion

By: The Hotelion
Title: Sponsored: The Modern Sapien: Book One: The American – Sci-Fi, Apocalyptic, Satire Book Review
Sourced From: travelupdate.com/the-modern-sapien-american-sci-fi-apocalyptic-book-review/
Published Date: Tue, 17 Nov 2020 01:41:35 +0000

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