A stopover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

There is lots to discover in KL, when you get past the mighty Petronas Twin Towers. You should of course go and see the 452 meter high towers, with 88 stories which are joined at the 41st and 42nd floors (a staggering 175m above ground level) by a Sky Bridge. The towers feature a mall and a park as well as the Petronas Art Gallery and Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. Use the monorail to get here and exit at KL Sentral station.

Petronas Twin Towers 2010 April.jpg

Petronas Twin Towers Photo credit: Wikipedia

Close to KL Sentral station you will find Little India, which serves as a center to the Indian population of the city. It is also a famous destination for tourists who want to explore Indian culture and tradition. If you happen to be there during the Devali festival, then it is a must.

Don’t miss KL central market in China town, the 120 year-old Central Market has undergone several renovations and now an important art and crafts centre. Go here to look at and buy local and traditional goods and souvenirs. The second floor has several restaurants and a food court, and if you exit to Kasturi Walk you will find plenty of local food stalls. Central Market is strategically located close to major public transportation links, making it easy to access from all major KL destinations.

KLCentralMarket.JPG

Central Market Photo credit: Wikipedia

Don’t miss visiting KL Bird and Butterfly parks, both are close to each other, and you have an opportunity to relax and get away from the traffic and town noise. No visit to KL is complete without a visit Merdeka Square, which is famous historical park in KL. This is the place where the Malayan flag was first hoisted in 1957. The surroundings of the square is home to many historical buildings such as the old KL Train Station, Royal Selangor Club Complex, Galeri Kuala Lumpur, and the Sultan Abdul Samad Building.

Finally if you have a little extra time go visit the Batu Caves,  which is a Hindu temple and shrine located about 10 kilometers north of KL. The attraction is known for its giant golden statue and the 272 steps that needs to be taken to reach the top. Batu Caves can be easily reached by train or bus which can be taken from KL Central.

Entrance to Batu Caves, a Hindu shrine and a tourist attraction near Kuala Lumpur, with the Murugan statue.

Batu Caves Photo credit: Wikipedia

 

A stopover in Uppsala, Sweden

If you find yourself with a stopover at Arlanda airport in Sweden and feel you would like to see something other than Stockholm, then why not try Uppsala which is the forth largest town in Sweden. Uppsala is only an 18 minute train ride from Arlanda airport. Note that there is a surcharge/toll to use the Arlanda train station (currently 85 Swedish krona), and the train station is only a 5 minute walk from Uppsala city centre.

There are plenty of sights in Uppsala, but to mention a few:

Uppsala cathedral

The cathedral in Uppsala is the tallest church building in Scandinavia,  it was consecrated in 1435. Admission is free and the cathedral is open every day from 8 am until 6 pm. There are several royals and scientists buried in the cathedral such as Gustav Vasa and Carl Linnaeus.

Uppsala Cathedral. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Uppsala castle

The castle was built 1549 and has played a significant role in Swedish history, unfortunately the castle was reduced to almost rubble during a fire at 1702 and it took many years before it was restored. Today Uppsala Castle is the residence of the County Governor as well as housing three museums; Uppsala Art Museum, The House of Peace and Vasa Fortress

Uppsala Castle Photo credit: Wikipedia

Museum Gustavianum

Gustavianum is the best known of the university’s museums and is open Tuesday-Sunday: 10 am-4 pm with a guided tour in English at 1 pm. The museum has a selection of the things collected since the university was founded in 1477. You will find everything from mummies and viking swords to art and ancient coins. The is a large selection of scientific instruments and other types of objects that tell the science history of the university. The Anatomical Theater, on top of the building was built in the 1660’s for public dissections.

Museum Gustavianum

Museum Gustavianum Photo credit: Uppsala university

Linnaeus Museum

The Linnaeus Museum is located in Linnaeus’ old home showing the scientific achievements of the world-famous botanist – with exhibitions in the library, writing chamber and cabinet of natural-history specimens. The museum is open May to September, Tues-Sun 11-17.

The Linnaeus Museum Photo credit: Swedish Linnaeus Society

Radisson Blu Uppsala, Sweden

The Radisson Blu in Uppsala is located just off the Uppsala travel centre (trains and buses), and it is only 18 minutes away by train from Stockholm’s Arlanda airport. The hotel has 185 rooms, and the business rooms include Nespresso machines and free movies.

Exterior Radisson Blu Uppsala

Exterior Radisson Blu Uppsala

The rooms facing the town have a fantastic view over the town with landmarks such as Uppsala castle and the Cathedral. The hotel has a nice lobby with an outdoor terrace which can be used for both the bar and the restaurant. The food is a little limited but you have several restaurants within a 10 minute walk of the hotel.

View for a room on the 7th floor

View for a room on the 7th floor

The hotel also has free wi-fi throughout and a large car park in the basement. There is also a gym and relax area with sauna on the top floor, and the relax area has an outside terrace/balcony facing the town.

The relax area

The relax area

Pros

  • Great location just opposite the station and a 5 minute walk to the town centre
  • Great breakfast included in the price
  • Often priced around £60-£70 which is good value

Cons

  • The hotel is not very exciting and the rooms are average
  • The restaurant offering is limited and very seasonal
  • The gym is small and doesn’t have a lot of equipment

Verdict

The hotel is very conveniently located across from the station and a five minute walk will take you into the heart of the town centre. If you want to see something other than Stockholm when going through Arlanda airport this is a great option at a reasonable price.

Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, UK

The Park Plaza Westminster Bridge is located on the south side of Westminster Bridge on the roundabout next to St. Thomas’ Hospital.  The property has 1019 rooms and SPA with a 15 meter pool as well as a 24 hour fitness centre.

Park Plaza Westminster

Park Plaza Westminster

The reception is located one floor up from the entrance and the ground floor houses the hotel’s concierge service which will help you find London’s hidden gems. The lobby seating area has a great view onto Westminster Bridge and funky face shaped seats.

The hotel also offers a brasserie style restaurant, Brasserie Joël and Ichi Sushi & Sashimi Bar, a Japanese bar and restaurant. There is also a Patisserie and a coffee shop in the hotel and the Primo Bar for evening drinks and light food.

The rooms are modern and functional, if you are lucky enough to get a room facing the river you will be able to see Big Ben and Houses of Parliament from the room. However, the hotel is circular and has another ring of rooms that face internally within the hotel and so feel a lot more claustrophobic.

View from the 8th floor

View from the 8th floor

The hotel also has an executive lounge which is open all day (6.30 am to 8 pm) and they serve breakfast until 10.30 am and  hot and cold canapés and alcoholic drinks between 5.30 pm to 8 pm. The rest of the day it is self service for hot and cold non-alcoholic beverages. The lounge is spacious and you have a great view of Big Ben. Unless you have executive lounge access as a part of your room rate the cost is £49 per room/night and free access is rarely given to Club Carlson elites.

Pros

  • Great location just opposite Big Ben and next to the County Hall entertainment complex and the Southbank
  • Relatively spacious modern rooms
  • Often well priced, especially if available on the Club Carlson Gold 2for1 offer

Cons

  • There is some traffic noise and it is a very busy roundabout day and night
  • Internal rooms without a view are overpriced and claustrophobic
  • The concierge relies on the internet and is not as well informed as in other major London hotels

Verdict

The hotel is conveniently located across from Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, and next to South Bank and the London Eye. If you are discovering London then you have all the major sights a short walk from the hotel such as Buckingham Palace, Imperial War Museum, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square.

DoubleTree Milton Keynes, UK

The DoubleTree in Milton Keynes is part of the Stadium MK and if you get an inside room you will see the pitch which is used for both Football and Rugby. The property has 230 rooms and large conference rooms for up to a 1000 delegates. There is also a shopping park next to the hotel

Exterior DoubleTree Milton Keynes

Exterior DoubleTree Milton Keynes

The hotel is often priced at £60-80 or if you wish to use points it is a category 4 so it will vary between 20.000 to 30.000 points depending on season. There is free car park and free Wi-Fi in the hotel. The hotel has two bars, one facing the pitch, Terrace Bar, a more upscale bar which also has an outdoor area and the Red Dot bar which is facing the front of the hotel and is more of an tradition sports bar. The main restaurant, Pitchside Restaurant and Bar, is set so most tables faces the pitch and has a good selection of food and drinks.

The rooms are modern and functional, if you get an inside room you will be able to look the pitch from the room.

Executive King room

Executive King room

View of the pitch from the room

View of the pitch from the room

The hotel also has an executive lounge which is open all day (6.30am to 8pm) and and there are hot and cold canapes between 6pm to 8pm. The lounge is spacious and you have a great view of the pitch. The offering during the day is only cold and hot beverages though.

 

Executive lounge

Executive lounge

Pros

  • Easy to get to
  • Nice and modern rooms
  • Often well priced

Cons

  • Not central so if you travel without a car you will need to take a taxi
  • Hotel restaurant overpriced for what you get
  • It is difficult to get to and from the hotel on match days

Verdict

The hotel is nice and modern, and if the price is right then it is excellent value for money, especially if you are a Hilton Honors member as you will most probably get upgraded and get access to the Executive lounge.