April 16, 2014

Faves

“It is better to travel well than to arrive.”
Buddha

Favorite International Airline

Virgin Atlantic. They don’t go everywhere but they do it with style. Perhaps we’re suckers for the British accents (or the flat beds in business class) but the on ground and in flight staffs are both pleasant and professional. Even coach is bearable. If you are going in the other direction, try Singapore Airlines.

Favorite U.S. Airline

No, mommy. Do we have to? Jet Blue does a great job but they don’t go to enough places (well, they did until the ice storms of Feb. 2007). The majors are all in violation of the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

Favorite Credit Card

Diner’s Club. Now that they’ve added MasterCard acceptability you can use this card most anywhere. It comes with a great rewards program, a restaurant discount program, a concierge service, and the customer service agents actually answer the phone. Best of all, it lacks the presumptuousness of American Express.

Favorite Bartender

Norman at the Ritz-Carlton on Central Park South, New York. No one is better at engaging strangers around a bar in a conversation that breaks the loneliness of traveling alone. Go twice and he’ll know your name and what you drink. You’ll wish every hotel had a Norman.

Favorite Conference Treat

Warm scones with lemon curd and clotted cream at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco. Makes lunch irrelevant.

Favorite Airport Restaurant

Legal Seafoods (Logan, Boston). Fresh seafood and a wine list with a lot more than Sutter Home make all the difference. You’ll forget that you are in an airport.

Favorite Hotel Service

Free pressing at the Peninsula Palace Beijing. After 13+ hours on an airplane, our clothes could not be happier than to find a hot iron — and the hotel has things back in an hour.

Favorite Hotel Chain

Kimpton. Stylish rooms, Aveda amenities, free high speed Internet access — need we say more. The evening reception with complimentary wine and shoulder massage is a welcome touch of hospitality that is sorely lacking from much of the hospitality industry. It’s the best value we’ve found.

Most Fervent Plea — Airline Division

Attention airline executives — good wine should come in small bottles, too. We’d pay for it if given the option. The world is full of wonderful fermented grape juice. Serve some of it. Oh, and then start treating your employees like human beings so they’ll do the same for customers.

Most Fervent Plea — Restaurant Division

Please, baby, please spare us the long-loading Flash intros to your web site. They aren’t that impressive and the are more likely to disuade us from making a reservation because they just get in the way. Next, get more adventurous with your by-the-glass wine offerings.

Best Shoe Shine

Eddies Shoe Repair in New York (one in Rockefeller Center and one in Grand Central). You stand in line, it only costs $2.50 plus tip, and they spend about 10 minutes on your shoes. Not good if you are in a hurry, but for a shine like this you should relax for a few minutes.