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Travellers' checks

Adam Nebbs

 

Manila maligned When it first went online, in 1996, The Guide to Sleeping in Airports was all about helping backpackers to get a comfortable airport snooze, with tips and advice sent in from fellow travellers around the world. Clean toilets, cheap food, tolerant cleaning staff and seating you could stretch out on were among the more popular criteria for a good preflight doze. The site has moved with the times, though, and has begun pointing out things such as free Wi-fi and non-airline premium lounges. One constant in recent times, however, has been the No1 spot on the website's annual "worst airport" list. This accolade went to Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport (top) in 2011 and again in 2012 (although the ratings were divided into regions last year, so officially it was only the worst airport in Asia). Noted for its "collapsing ceilings, overcrowding, rampant bribery and taxi drivers scamming travellers on fares", the airport (which last month came last behind those in Vientiane, Yangon and Phnom Penh in a poll conducted by hotel reservations company Agoda) should be a strong contender for the site's 2013 worst airport award. Votes are still being accepted at www.sleepinginairports.net and the results will be published next month. There's also an award for the best airport to sleep in, which seems to be the only positive award the winners' PR companies don't sing from the rooftops.

 

Bijou is beautiful Places to sleep that offer only two or three rooms used to be called bed & breakfasts, but these days they're marketed as boutique hotels. Some of the best are represented by Secret Retreats (www.secret-retreats.com) which is currently promoting its more diminutive digs as places that "provide our guests with a very personalised experience, connect them with local communities living around the property and offer a spontaneous sense of hospitality that is much harder to find in large hotel chains". And while Secret Retreats' claim that it is redefining the travel experience might be a bit of a stretch, it does represent some pleasant little properties across Asia. These include the two-room Anopura (above), in Rajasthan, India, the three-villa Supanniga Home, in northeast Thailand, and the five-room Jeeva Beloam Beach Camp, on the Indonesian island of Lombok. More exclusive than any of these, though - at least in terms of room count - is The One Hotel Angkor, in Siem Reap, Cambodia, which somehow manages to stay afloat with just one suite.

 

China blue InterContinental Hotels Group will be opening a Hotel Indigo - the company's upper-middle-class boutique brand - in the historic town of Lijiang, Yunnan province. A sleepy backwater a mere decade ago, Lijiang welcomed its first international property in 2006, with the arrival of the Banyan Tree (top), which was followed by a Crowne Plaza in 2009 and the Pullman Lijiang Resort & Spa in 2011. The 70-room Hotel Indigo (which promises a "culturally rich horse caravan themed setting") has been announced for an autumn opening, but online reservations are only being accepted from November 30. An Aman resort, which has been in the works in Lijiang for several years, is now scheduled to open sometime next year. China Eastern flies twice a week non-stop between Hong Kong and Lijiang.

 

Deal of the week Swire Travel's Take-A-Break Kota Kinabalu package starts from HK$2,260 per person (twin share) for two nights' accommodation and round-trip, economy class flights with Dragonair. The hotel at this rate is the cheap-and-cheerful Cititel Express, which ranks quite highly on TripAdvisor (among the top 25 per cent of hotels in the city), but which can be greatly improved upon for a modest price increase. Better options include the Nexus Resort & Spa Karambunai and the Sutera Harbour Resort, both from HK$2,890, and Le Meridien, from HK$2,930. Top of the price list are Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort (top) and Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, for HK$3,230 and HK$2,390 respectively. Some Hong Kong travel agents have been clarifying tax and airline fuel surcharges quite clearly on their websites since relevant legislation came in recently, but Swire Travel is not one of them. So expect another HK$675 or so to be added to the above prices. See www.swiretravel.com for reservations and a longer list of hotels.

 

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