“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson
The only thing better than travel that goes according to plan, is travel that goes better than planned. There is always room in my hyper-organised plans for something delightfully unexpected - particularly if that surprise happens to be free.
|Upgrade to Business on a trip to Fiji|
I always break into a small happy dance whenever we arrive at a destination to discover we have been given something complimentary - whether it be as small as a bottle of wine in our hotel room (and I’m not a wine drinker), or as fabulous as a bump from the cramped airline class that is economy, to the spacious comfort of business.
The truth be told, a bit of scheming and strategic thinking does usually go into receiving these upgrades. The three times I have been upgraded to business class, I took steps prior to arriving at the airport to increase our chances of being picked. Likewise, just about every time I have received a room upgrade or plate of chocolates from a hotel, it’s because I have mentioned a special occasion on my hotel reservation.
So when my husband and I decided that we needed a night away from home to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary, I made sure to note the occasion on our hotel reservation.
We decided to spend the night in the nearby Langham Auckland. The Langham is a favourite of ours and at least once a year we find an excuse to spend a night there.
The décor is opulent, the staff attentive, and for just under 24 hours, this middle-class couple gets to feel a little bit posh. Also, I’d be lying if I said that a 2 ½ hour open bar in the clubroom isn’t part of the appeal.
We’d booked the Chuan Journey Package. It included a night in a Chuan suite, clubroom privileges, a few other nice touches such as valet parking and late checkout, and the piece de resistance – a 90min massage each in their beautiful spa. The package was more than we’d usually spend on a night out, but we figured that 10 years of marriage was pretty special and worthy of the uncharacteristic indulgence.
A few nights prior to our reservation I got a call from the hotel. It seemed that one of the Chuan Suites was having bathroom issues and our room was no longer available. Bracing myself for disappointment and offers of a refund, I was perhaps a bit slow to comprehend the room upgrade I was instead being offered. My replies of “Thanks, that sounds lovely” were perhaps not as animated as they should have been.
It wasn’t until Scott and I got onto the computer afterwards that we discovered we'd been upgraded to the hotel's top suite and one of the most expensive and opulent suites in all of Auckland. While our excitement may have been a bit belated, let's just say we now felt like cats who had just been given a bowl full of cream.
At roughly $3000 a night (depending on the season), this Royal Suite is not a room we would ever be able to afford, let alone justify. We have stayed in a few nice hotels during our travels, but never anywhere affordable only to celebs and the very rich. To experience this luxury, even in the knowledge that it was a one-time-only, was a real treat. I am not entirely happy with the pics I took – they seen to cheapen the lavish-looking furniture and fabrics – but I’ll put them up anyway to share our experience with those who are interested.
|Lounge area. Surprisingly the television didn't have great reception (one small downside to the room).|
|Beautiful Chandeliers throughout|
Made using the in-room coffee machine
|Luxury linens and feather-down pillows|
|My favourite part of the suite - the beautiful marble bathroom.|
|Huge spa bath|
|Shower with massage jets|
|I just love the box full of pink packaged toiletries that you get in every room at the Langham.|
|The suite had some extra toiletries. I brought home a huge bag full.|
|Canapes and cocktails in the clubroom ran from 5:30 to 8pm|
|More canapes and cocktails|
|Breakfast in the clubroom|
|Lunch at 'Eight' Restaurant (the Langham's buffet). These dumplings and steamed pork buns were delicious.|
Hopefully it's obvious from these pics that our anniversary was one to remember. Yet, given how much we enjoyed the experience, would I be upset if I was never upgraded to a room like this again? To be honest, not really. It’s not like being upgraded to business class on a plane, i.e. once you’ve had a taste for it, you want it every time. I feel very fortunate for the upgrade; it’s further confirmed my love of the Langham and it certainly made a special occasion all the more memorable. But I did feel a little bit like an imposter.
I kept thinking that someone rich enough to stay in this room wouldn’t be keeping the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door because she didn't know what to say to the butler, she wouldn’t be gathering up all the bathroom toiletries and stashing them into her bags, she wouldn’t be trying to eat enough clubroom canapés that she didn’t have to pay for a separate dinner, and she certainly wouldn’t be taking photographs of her breakfast to post on her blog.
I'd always wanted to know what an extra-special hotel upgrade like this would feel like and I can confirm it's pretty special. But I can also confirm that from now on this girl is content to feel just a little bit posh, rather than a whole lot of grand.