Aloft Sukhumvit 11 is located on Sukhumvit Soi 11 and within 5 mins walk from Nana BTS station. Nana is one stop away from Terminal 21 Shopping Mall and 3 stops away from Central World. There are a couple of 24-hour convenient shops along Soi 11 from the hotel. The hotel is along the street where pubs are located, making it a great place to stay for guests who pubs.
I checked into the Stylish Suite in Aloft Bangkok. There are 2 types of suites in Aloft Bangkok, Savvy and Stylish Suite. The expansive Stylish Suite has a total floor space of 62㎡, spreading across the living room, the bedroom and the bathroom.
Entering the main entrance to the suite, the living room is the first room that greets guests. A door on the right of the entrance is a door that leads into the bathroom. Directly in front of the main door to the suite sits a round table with 4 chairs. This forms the dining room to the suite. A little further into the suite, round the corner, the suite opens up into the living room with a couch and a coffee table facing the flat-screen TV sitting on a TV console. The mini bar area is built into the wall on the left of the living room, where one can find the fridge nicely tucked away inside a cabinet. On top of the cabinet are a coffee maker and an electric kettle together with some reading materials stowed on the shelving on top of the coffee maker. The right wall features 2 large windows that allow sufficient natural light to shine into the living room of the suite. The suite seems lack of maintenance. The light bulbs in the living room seem to have blown and the door to the bedroom was dislodged.
Dining table in the living room
The couch in the living room with a coffee table between the couch and the TV. The light bulbs in this suite don’t seem to work
Mini fridge (drinks are chargeable)
Minibar area and a rack with reading materials on top
The door to the bedroom seem dislodged
Through a sliding room, I entered the bedroom of the suite. Sitting in the middle of the bedroom is a King-size bed, placed by the wall that separates the bedroom from the bathroom. The sleep quality of the king bed is excellent, which provided me with a great sleep throughout the night. I am not a fan of soft pillows, and I find the pillows in Aloft Bangkok’s Stylish Suite to be just nice for my liking. The bed is facing another flat-screen TV that is mounted on the wall, between yet another 2 large panel windows. The spacious bedroom has a bedside table on either side of the bed that comes with power sockets on both sides for guests to charge their lifestyle devices. Next to the wall-mounted TV, along the wall that separates the bedroom from the living is where a small work desk is located. There is a panel on the wall that allows guests to plug in their laptops to the TV between yet another 2 power sockets. The bedroom looks a little bare as there are no furnishings on the other end of the bedroom. The door to the bathroom is found near to the door into the bedroom.
King bed in the bedroom
Flat-screen mounted on the wall facing the king bed
Work desk in the bedroom
Passing through the door to the bathroom, guests will be delighted with the size of the bathroom. Stretching the entire length of the bathroom, the expansive bathroom does not feel cramp. At the furthest end of the bathroom, sits a large bathtub with Jacuzzi jets. Next to the bathtub are 2 cubicles, one being the walk-in shower and another being the toilet. The clever use of glass enclosing these 2 cubicles makes the already large bathroom appear even more spacious. Opposite the door to the bathroom from the bedroom, are a couple of his and hers sink with plenty of countertop space for guests to stow their additional toiletries.
A huge bathroom in the Stylish Suite of Aloft Bangkok
Large Jacuzzi bathtub
Walk-in shower cubicle
Aloft Bangkok uses Bliss bath amenities
His and hers sink in the bathroom
I like the design of incorporating the closet space as part of the bathroom, which provides not only convenience for guests to dress after a shower, it also makes the entire bathroom bigger. The closet space includes a wardrobe, which is capable of taking up to 1 week’s clothing for 2 guests and 6-tiered cabinet space with the lower 2 being drawers. This cabinet space provides a lot of storage for guests. The in-room safe is located on the middle shelf space here. Opposite the wardrobe is a couple of ledges for guests to put their luggage on. The other door to the bathroom is located next to the ledges for luggage, which is positioned next to the main entrance to the suite.
The wardrobe is located in the bathroom
Decent closet space in the suite
Ledges where guests can put their luggage on
Breakfast is served in Crave Restaurant located on level 8 of the Aloft Bangkok. There is a wide selection of Thai and western cuisines for breakfast. The food is delicious and filled me up sufficiently with the energy to explore the streets of Bangkok. There is even an egg station, where the chef would cook up a variety of ways to cook eggs, according to the liking of guests. There are juices and a selection of coffees from cappuccino to lattes to brewed coffee. Guests would have to specify latte or cappuccino to be served those, otherwise, the waiting staff will serve brewed coffee.
Breakfast is served in Crave Restaurant on level 8
Entrance to Crave Restaurant
Breakfast is served in Crave Restaurant
The Swimming pool is located on level 10 of Aloft Bangkok. The infinity pool is rather small but sufficient for one to do a few decent laps in. There are several sunbeds for guests to tan on. There is also a wading pool for junior guests to cool off the hot climate of Bangkok.
The swimming pool is located on level 10 of the hotel
Service in Aloft Bangkok is mostly good. My first interaction with the staff in Aloft Bangkok starts when the friendly bellboy assisted me with my luggage the moment I alighted from the cab. They took great care of my luggage so that I do not have to lug it up the flight of the staircase into the lobby of the hotel.
The staffs at the reception were a gem in the hotel. I felt welcome immediately with my first interaction with the lady who processed my check-in. The lady greeted me with the signature Thai “wai”, is always wearing a smile. She checked me in swiftly and gotten another staff to help me with my luggage to my suite.
Staffs at the reception took a lot of initiative to help me resolve my damaged luggage issue with the airlines. They provided me with excellent advice and took the initiative to help me call the airlines and the luggage repair company. One of them even used his mobile phone and took pictures of my luggage in case I hadn’t done that. The staff have gone above and beyond his call of duty to help me resolve my luggage issue.
The service at Crave restaurant was a stark difference from that at the reception area. The service was mediocre with staffs appearing to be not interested in providing good service. The staff at the door did not have a smile on her face and was seen talking to her colleagues most of the time. Empty plates on the table were not cleared until I had to stack 3 plates than would someone come to clear the plate. The chef at the egg station seems to be in a foul mood on both mornings when I was at Crave for breakfast.
The expansive suite has a lot of space for guests. The suite is huge and the sleep quality on the bed is excellent. I had a comfortable stay in the suite. The service is generally positive with the staffs at the reception area providing the best service. These staffs were always seen smiling and went their way to help me. The service rendered by the staff at Crave Restaurant was mediocre, however, this did not deter me from returning to the hotel.
Kohan Tei is located in the East part of Tokyoka Onsen, which is about 25 mins bus ride from Toya JR Station. There is a bus stop, Moto-machi where buses run from Toya JR Station, right in front of the hotel. Kohan Tei is situated right in front of Lake Toya and has a 24-hour convenient shop within 2 mins walk from the hotel. However, there are not many restaurants around the hotel. Most of the restaurants are located near Toyako Bus Terminal, about 15 mins walk from the hotel.
Reception at Kohan Tei
A common feature with Japanese style rooms in most hotels, the porch is the first thing I came across inside the 15㎡ Japanese Style Room in Kohan Tei. This is an area where shoes are to be removed before entering the room through another Japanese style door. The futons are kept in the cabinet on the left of the porch, while the bathroom is located on the right side from the porch. There are no shoe ranks for us to put our shoes.
Porch area of the room in Kohan Tei
Passing through the Japanese style door, a small knee height table with 2 chairs are placed in the middle of the sleeping area. The wardrobe is built into the wall on the left after passing through the Japanese style door. The cabinet is rather small which can only hold up to 4 winter jackets. The yukatas are found in the wardrobe. To the right of the inner Japanese style door, the in-room safe sits in an open space in one corner of the room. The TV console is placed along the wall on the right side of the room with an old school dial in-room phone. There are only 4 power sockets in the entire room, 2 are located in the sleeping area, where one of which is used for the TV. There is another door separating the lounge area from the sleeping area.
The sleeping area
Futons set up for sleeping at night. The futons were left there throughout our stay. The staffs did not keep it away
A small wardrobe where one can find yukatas
TV console and safe in one corner
Tea set for guests to enjoy
The lounge area overlooks Lake Toya with the floor to a ceiling glass door that opens into the small balcony. There are 2 armchairs and a coffee table placed here. The in-room fridge is placed in the lounge area, behind one of the armchairs, along the wall on the right side of the room. The lounge area is a great place to relax in as it looks out into the beautiful Lake Toya. There are 2 more power outlets here, one of which is used for the fridge.
Lounge area overlooking Lake Toya. The fridge is placed behind 1 of the 2 armchairs
View of Lake Toya from the lounge area
The bathroom in Kohan Tei very small and looks like it needed an updating. There are no washlet toilet bowl, just regular toilet bowl which is very cold to sit on in the cold winter. The sink is located next to the toilet bowl and the panel on the sink looks as if it is going to fall off any moment. The bathtub is next to the sink, where showering is to be done with the only shower head in the bathroom.
Small bathroom in the room
The rate that I booked included breakfast and dinner is served at either the buffet hall on level 2 or the restaurant at level B1. We were initially assigned the buffet hall at level 2, where the hotel caters mainly to tour groups or non-Japanese independent travellers. There is a large variety of Japanese and Chinese food served in the restaurant at level 2. Tempuras are freshly fried in the buffet hall, which makes it rather smokey and clothing will rake of fried smell. The food is good but due to the hordes of Chinese tourists assigned to this hall, dining here feels like a race. Forget about obeying the queue as the tourists tend to cut queue and shove themselves to get the food they want.
Buffet hall has a great selection of food for dinner. However, our visit was marred by the staff from China at the front of the dining area and the hordes of tourists from China who cut queues and shove their way to grab food
We were subsequently assigned to the restaurant in B1 due to service we received at the buffet hall (read about it below), which serves mainly Japanese guests. The restaurant is smaller in size but the variety of food is generally similar to that served in the buffet hall. Food is fresh and delicious.
The restaurant at B1 that mainly serves Japanese guests. The food offering is the same as that in the buffet hall but tastes better due to the more “cultured” patrons in this restaurant
Restaurant at B1
The gender-separated onsen in the hotel is located on the 9th floor. The onsen water comes from the nearby hot spring around Lake Toya and has a mixture of Chloride Spring, Sulfate Spring and Hydrogen Carbonate Spring, effective for skin conditioning and cuts and burns. There are a total of 5 onsen pools, 2 of which are outdoor. All the onsen pools face Lake Toya. The largest onsen pool is indoors. The outdoor onsen pools are placed in a balcony of some sort, which doesn’t really feel outdoor to me.
Onsen in Kohan Tei is located on the 9th floor
The waiting area outside the onsen
The corridor that leads to the onsen in Kohan Tei
There is a souvenir shop in Kohan Tei on the 1st floor, next to the reception. There is a good selection of souvenirs from the local area, but mainly from all around Hokkaido, which can be gotten from elsewhere.
Souvenir shop that is closed at the time we arrived at Kohan Tei
Service was more negative than positive. As I arrived earlier than the check-in timing, the staff at the reception appeared irritated when seeing me at the reception trying to check if I can check-in. Without a smile and without checking, she stuck to the policy of checking-in at 2pm. When I checked with her regarding the nearby sights, she merely said she don’t know. When asked if we can leave our luggage at the reception until we come back later, the staff at the reception told us to bring our luggage to the end of the counter and just leave it there. No one attempted to bring our luggage and store it securely. When returning some hours later, our luggage is still outside the reception counter. There is no attempt to help guests secure their luggage by the hotel.
Staffs are knocking on our door at around 6pm asking to set up the futons for us. As we were preparing to head out for dinner, we told the staff to give us 5 mins. Before we leave the room, we approached the staff to get him to help us set up the futons in our room. We got the signal from the staff that he will set it up later. However, when we returned to our room later at night, our room was not ready for sleep. Futons were not set up and everything was in its “day time mode”. We called the reception, somehow the staff at the other end of the line did not seem to understand us. My friend and I headed to the reception and told the staff about our situation. The staff left the reception and set up the futons for us, which was supposed to be set up some 3 hours ago. The next day after returning from our travels in Toyako Onsen, we were shocked that our futons were not put away, as though no one has come to make up our room. The futon was left at the room for the rest of our stay, signalling that no one bothers to clean up our room.
The worst service I have gotten in Kohan Tei is the staff from China at the buffet hall. We were not made known that the meal coupons will be replaced the next day (the staff at the reception did not brief us about it), we surrendered one meal coupon. The staff from China shouted at us and told us there should be 2. When showed her both coupon and explained our assumptions, she shouted at us again and told us the coupons will be replaced the next day and told me to check my facts with the reception. Before we were granted entry into the buffet hall, she shouted at us again and told us to take off our shoes before entering. I raised this issue with the reception and wanted to speak to the duty manager of the hotel, but was told that there are no duty managers in the hotel. Instead, she got the restaurant manager to speak to me, with another staff from China acting as translator. Before the manager came, the staff from China questioned me in a hostile manner why do I want to complain, but her attitude changed when the duty manager came.
The only good service I have gotten in the hotel is from the restaurant manager. When made known what had happened, she apologised profusely and instructed the reception to change the place we would dine for the rest of our stay immediately. The staff at the restaurant in B1 was amazing and welcoming. They were very friendly and greeted us as well as bid us farewell whenever we enter or leave the restaurant. The service in this restaurant is heaven and earth from that in the buffet hall.
The rooms in Kohan Tei are ageing and the toilet is very dated and small. The sleep quality on the futon laden tatami floor is good, and the views from the room are excellent. Other than that the hotel is the worst I have been in Hokkaido. The service is horrid except for a handful of staffs, the futon was not set up at night and not kept away in the day. The onsen is rather small, despite boasting to have a rooftop outdoor onsen, the outdoor onsens for males are merely placed in a balcony. I would avoid this hotel at all cost.
Dai-ichi Takamotokan is about 1-hour bus ride from New Chitose Airport and about 20 mins bus ride from Noboribetsu JR Station. The hotel located at the end of Gokuraku Shopping Street in Noboribetsu Onsen. It is the closest hotel in town to Jigokudani or Hell Valley sitting right at its entrance. Noboribetse Onsen is a very small town, walking from on end to the other along Gokuraku Shopping Street takes mere minutes.
The lobby of Dai-ichi Takamotokan
Dai-ichi Takamotokan is a large hotel and has a few wings. The west wing is the closest to the onsen
We checked into the 27㎡ Japanese style room in Dai-ichi Takamotokan in its west wing. The hotel is a large hotel with several wings, the west wing is the building closest to the onsen in the hotel. As with most Japanese style rooms in other hotels, there is a small porch area when we entered the room. This is where we take off our shoes. There is a 3 tiered shoe rack stocked with sandals that we used while in the hotel grounds when we were in our yukatas. The bathroom is on the right side of the porch. Further into the porch, before the Japanese style doors, is where the minibar and wardrobe are located. Other than the mini-fridge, the room is stocked with kettle and green tea at the minibar area. The wardrobe is rather small, which can only hold 4 pieces of winter jackets. The in-room safe is found in at the bottom rack of the wardrobe.
View of the porch area from the entrance to the room
Shoe rack at the porch, next to the entrance to the room. We used these sandals while walking in the hotel in our yukatas
The mini bar is located at the porch area, next to the bathroom
The wardrobe is rather small and this is where the yukata is found. The in-room safe is found at the bottom rack of the wardrobe
Passing the inner Japanese door inside the room, we entered the sleeping area. The tatami floor is furnished with a short table and a couple of chairs in the middle of the room. At the side, placed by the wall is a small cabinet which guests can use to store some small items on one side and a 2-tier TV console with a LED TV placed on top facing the small table. The Japanese style room feels spacious due to the use of futons instead of beddings. In the evening, staffs of the hotel would come into the room (while we were out for dinner) to set up the futons, converting the space for sleeping. The small table is being shifted to near the lounging area to create the space. The futons will be kept away in the day. The sleep quality on the futon over the tatami floor is excellent, I got great rest at night and woke up feeling refreshed. However, I do find the pillow a tad too soft for my liking and had to request for additional pillows.
The sleeping area in the room
TV console at the side of the room
Futon being set up at night for sleeping
Snacks placed on the small table at the time we entered the room
The lounging area is a small area at the far end of the room, just by the window, with 2 armchairs and a coffee table. Dai-ichi Takamotokan thoughtfully placed a neck and head massager here for guests to relive any aches. The lounging area is a great place to sit by with a cup of hot green tea in the cold winter especially at night when the futons were set up. The view of Noboribetsu overlooking the mountains is beautiful.
The lounge area is at the end of the room right by the window
View from our room
As with most Japanese hotel, the bathroom is small but functional. It has all the essentials that are needed for one’s bathing. The toilet bowl with washlet, sink and a bathtub is tightly fitted into the bathroom. Despite the small size, there is still space for one to move around in the bathroom. Showering has to be done in the bathtub as there are no separate walk-in showers. Dai-ichi Takamotokan provides the essential bathing amenities for the convenience of guests.
The space in the bathroom is very small but large enough for one to move around
Dai-ichi Takamotokan has one of the largest onsens in Noboribetsu Onsen. Due to its proximity to Hell Valley, the onsens here offers one of the best views in town. Dai-ichi Takamotokan has a total of 7 different types of onsens spread over more than 10 onsen baths. All 7 different onsens have different properties that promote good health and blood circulation. The onsen water mainly has sulphuric properties, a signature of Hell Valley.
Entrance to Male Onsen
Map of the onsens in Dai-ichi Takamotokan
Breakfast is served in Gensirin Restaurant on level 3 of the main building. This dining hall is large enough to cater to a large crowd. There is a good mix of Japanese and Western cuisine for breakfast. Despite having to cater to a large crowd, the quality of food is good.
Breakfast served in Gensirin Restaurant
There are quite a huge choice for breakfast at Gensirin
Japanese cuisine for breakfast at Gensirin
Our room rate includes dinner at Yunosato Restaurant located on the 5th floor in the main building. Each meal is 10 course and the menu varies every day. The food quality is excellent and the sashimi is very fresh. Guests are brought to a semi-private room to have their set dinner served to them course by course. Dinning in Yunosato Restaurant makes one feel pampered.
Entrance to Yunosato Restaurant
Menu for the first night of my dining at Yunosato
Sumptuous dinner served in Yunosato
Menu for dinner served on the second night
The menu differs each night when I dined at Yunosato
Dai-ichi Takamotokan is a huge and self-contained hotel. Other than having 3 restaurants, the hotel has a souvenir shop that sells a huge variety of local produce guests do not have to leave the hotel to get souvenirs. The shops here offer a tax rebate to tourists. There is also a karaoke and a game centre for children to entertain at the basement. At certain timing of the day, a huge 2 storey statue will come to life with music and dolls singing and dancing to entertain guests.
Yunomachi Gift shop where guests can get souvenirs without having to leave the hotel
Entrance to Yunomachi Gift shop
The 2 storeys high statue that comes to life at a certain time of the day to entertain guests
The service in Dai-ichi Takamotokan is nothing short of excellent. I was made to feel welcome the moment I stepped into the hotel. The staffs I met will always smile and greet me “Konichiwa”. Check-in was very efficient and the staff ensured that I do not have to wait longer than necessary to hand over the keys to my room. I was escorted by another staff to my room and along the way she gave me an orientation of the facilities around the hotel.
Service at Yunosato is exemplary. I was warmly greeted every time I went there for dinner. The manager at the front desk saw me once and can remember which room I was from the next day. The staff serving me food introduced every dish that was being brought to me with a smile. At the end of the dinner each night, the staffs asked how the dinner was and even thanked me for having dinner there.
Check-out was done efficiently, without much delay. Before I depart the hotel, the staff checked if I needed help with my luggage. The staffs at the entrance of the hotel bowed and thanked me for staying with Dai-ichi Takamotokan.
Dai-ichi Takamotokan is a great place to stay in Noboribetsu Onsen. It has the largest onsen bath and is right at the entrance of Jigokudani or Hell Valley. Dai-ichi Takamotokan is conveniently located at the end of Gokuraku Shopping Street in town. The room is of decent size and the sleep quality on the futon over the tatami floor is excellent. The staffs made me feel welcome and are always smiling and helping guests. I would return to this hotel the next time I visit Noboribetsu Onsen
Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae viewed from Abashiri JR Station
Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae is located directly across Abashiri JR Station, where most of the visitors coming to Abashiri will step through. There are bus stops around that brings visitors to the major sights in Abashiri. The hotel is within 15 mins from Abashiri city centre by foot and 5 mins by bus to the Ice-breaker cruise terminal. There are some food options around the hotel and one of them operates 24 hours. There is also a 24-hour convenient shop opposite the hotel.
Abashiri JR Station is directly opposite Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae
There is a bus stop opposite Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae which terminates at Abashiri Ice-Breaker Cruise Terminal
Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae signage
The double room I checked into Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae is very small, measuring 12㎡. Entering the room a small passageway with the bathroom on the left, leads into the room. The room is very simply furnished. A double bed placed by the wall to the left, facing a 2-panel window, took up most of the space in the room. There is a small table placed by the window. Along the wall on the right side of the room placed a small dressing table with a mirror hung on the wall. This 2-tiered table has a lot of stuff placed on it. The in-room telephone and a small TV is placed on this table together with some brochures on Abashiri City. There is a vending machine in front of the lift on the level our room was assigned selling pay-per-view outdated Hollywood movies. There is a hairdryer mounted on the wall, between the TV and the mirror. Electric kettle and tea are placed on the lower tier of this table. At the end of the table, placed on the floor is a small mini-fridge. A small wardrobe, which can only fit 2 large winter jackets, is found sitting in the corner after the table. There are not much space for us to stow our 28″ luggage, we had to shift the small table beside the bed to make space. There is no in-room safe in the double room.
A small passageway leading into the room
Double bed in the room
Dressing table which doubles up as a TV console. The mini bar is found here as well
A small wardrobe that can only hold 2 winter jackets placed in one corner of the room
View of Abashiri from the room
The bathroom in Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae is very small. The toilet bowl with washlet function is located right at the entrance to the bathroom, with a sink beside it. Further into the small bathroom is a bathtub where one would have a shower in. The tap and the shower head shares the same pipe, one would need to flip the switch for water to flow out of the showerhead or the tap. There isn’t much space for one to put many toiletries. Despite the small bathroom space, Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae provides essential bathing amenities.
Bathroom in the double room
The rate I booked includes breakfast in the hotel. The restaurant that serves breakfast is very small. As we arrived at the restaurant 30 mins to the end of breakfast service on the first day, my friend and I had a hard time looking for an empty table and had to eat whatever was leftover as the food was not replenished perhaps due to nearing the end of breakfast service. On the second day, we arrived early and had no problems looking for seats. My advice is to arrive at the restaurant for breakfast early. The food was mediocre and the selection is limited. Most of the food served are Japanese cuisine and the only western food are the assorted bread and some salads but it does the job of filling my stomach.
The restaurant serving breakfast has limited seats
Some of the food served during breakfast
There are very limited facilities in the Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae. As the rooms in the hotel are non-smoking, the only place to smoke in the hotel is in the smoking-room on the 2nd floor, where the reception is located. There is a coffee machine in the hotel lobby, providing complimentary coffee to hotel guests. The public bath is located on the 2nd floor as well, past the reception. Due to the small public bath (can take up to 6 person at any one time), I did not use the public bath here. There are laundry facilities in the hotel, located outside the public bath.
Complimentary coffee provided by the hotel
Service is a mix at the hotel but still acceptable. Generally, the staff at the reception are welcoming. As I arrived in the hotel 2 hours earlier than the check-in timing. I was not allowed to check-in and was told to come back at the check-in timing. However, the staff took the initiative to suggest some sights I can visit in Abashiri and provided me with some brochures. The staff offered to take care of our luggage. We were greeted with a smile at times when we walk past the reception. Checking-in was done efficiently, however, we were required to pay the room charges at the time of check-in. Check-out is a breeze at the hotel.
There are hardly any staff at the restaurant, except for one who appears to be coordinating the food and other busy replenishing the food. Empty plates were not cleared and guests are expected to place their empty plates in a trolley in the restaurant. The housekeeping staffs were very friendly and greeted us on occasions we passed by them. These industrious staffs kept our room clean and tidy.
The reception was not manned at the time of our arrival at the hotel.
Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae is a business hotel and does the job of providing guests with a place to rest at night. The room I checked into is very small but functional. Sleep quality in the hotel is decent. The service is a mix in the hotel, with the friendliest staff found in the reception. Having said that, Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae is one of the better hotels in Abashiri City that is close to Abashiri JR Station.
Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel is located at the west of Akanko Onsen Town, by the shore of Lake Akan. The hotel is conveniently located in Akanko Onsen with numerous souvenir shops right opposite the hotel. There are a couple of 24-hour convenient shops opposite the hotel. It would take one 5 mins to walk to Ainu Village and 7 mins to the Akan Tourist Information Centre from Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel. Akanko Bus Centre is 10 mins walk from the hotel.
Ainu sculptures placed in the lobby of Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings
Ainu artefact on the ground floor of Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings
More Ainu artefacts on the ground floor of Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings
Entrance to the smoking room on the ground floor of Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings
There is a large TV inside the smoking room for guests to enjoy
I checked into the Japanese style room in the hotel, instead of sleeping on a bed, guests will sleep on the futon over the tatami floor. A small front porch greets guests when entering the 30㎡ Japanese style room. As the futon will be laid over the floor in the evening, guests are expected to remove their shoes before entering the room. To the left of the porch is a row of large cabinets where the bedding items are being stowed, and the toilet is to the right of the porch. A Japanese style door separates the sleeping area from the porch. Passing through the Japanese style door from the porch, guests enter into the room sleeping area. The light brown woven tatami floor looks very traditional and clean.
The corridor outside my room
I like the use of the Japanese style wooden gate outside the room, with the wooden roof, gives the room a zen and Japanese feel
View of the room from the lounge. From this angle, the front porch of the room can be seen
To the right from the Japanese style door, placed next to the wall is a built-in wardrobe where one can hang some clothing. As the wardrobe is rather small, it is full when 2 winter jackets are being hung. The in-room safe is tucked into the bottom of the wardrobe.
Wardrobe in the room
Further, into the room, a small knee height table and a couple of chairs are being placed in the middle of the room. Along the wall to the left of the room is where one can find a small table. There is a couple of power outlets by the wall, making this table a great place to charge mobile phones. The TV console is further down the wall to the left of the room.
The empty space along the left wall of the room provided me with a place to stow my luggage
TV console where the phone is located
In the day, only the table and the chairs will be in the room. In the evening, hotel staffs will come into the room and set up the room for sleeping. The small table will be shifted neatly to one side and the futons are being laid over the tatami floor. The sleep quality on the futons is excellent. I was able to get a great night sleep at night. The pillows are perfect to my liking as it is not too soft.
The sleeping in the day is furnished with a short knee height table and 2 chairs for guests to relax
The table is pushed to the side of the room and futons are laid over the tatami every night for guests to sleep
Further into the room, next to the windows is a 3 seater L shaped couch. This is a great area to rest in the day and provided extra space to stow one’s day bag. There is a small coffee table placed in this area. A cabinet, where the mini-fridge is tucked, is located opposite the couch. This is where one will find the kettle and tea. The hotel placed some sweets on top of the cabinet.
The couch area at the end of the room next to the window
The mini bar area where the fridge and tea making facilities can be found
Teacups and tea together with some snacks that the hotel places for guests to enjoy
View of the frozen Lake Akan from my room
The bathroom inside the Japanese style room in Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel is rather small, much to the Japanese standard. From the entrance of the bathroom, at one glance, one can see the entire bathroom. Despite being small, it has all the essentials of a bathroom such as a toilet bowl with washout, a sink and a bathtub. There are no separate walk-in showers, guests would have to shower in the bathtub. Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel stocked its bathroom well despite the size, it has all the standard bathing amenities that one would find in a 5-star hotel.
The bathroom is rather small
Onsen is located on the 3rd floor for male guests and 2nd floor for female guests. The onsen is rather small in Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel. In the male onsen, there are 6 onsen pools with temperatures varying from 38.5 ℃ to 40.5℃. A steam room and sauna are built in the onsen area. Guests in the hotel can also use the onsen in the sister hotel next door. The onsen in the hotel next door is bigger and has more onsen baths, located on B1 and 8th floor.
Information on the onsen found in the lift of Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel. I did not manage to take photos of the onsen due to the no cameras allowed in the onsen area policy.
Breakfast and Dining
Meals are served in Hapo Restaurant next to the lift lobby of Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel. The restaurant is very big and seems to be able to cater to all the guests in the hotel at one go. There are Japanese and western options for both breakfast and dinner. For breakfast, there is the standard American style with dishes like croissant, danish, and assorted bread. There are also things like eggs on offer for breakfast. Japanese options such as sushi, miso soup, rice and onigiri etc are available. The spread for dinner is even more lavish. Other than cooked dishes, there is an area serving cook to order dishes and a sushi station. There are Japanese options for dinner as well. There is also another station with waffles and ice-cream. The food is delicious and the sushi tastes fresh in Hapo.
Hapo Restaurant where breakfast and dinner are served
Dessert area in Hapo Restaurat
The cook to order section of Hapo Restaurant
Cook food section in Hapo Restaurant
The service in the hotel is excellent, starting from check-in. Although the staff spoke very little English, this does not seem to be a barrier for them to deliver excellent service. The good service started at the reception during check-in. The staff, always with a smile, expeditiously processed my room and handed over the key to the room without having me staying there for longer than necessary. The staff also carefully brief me on the onsen arrangements and the place for dinner. I requested an extra pillow in the room and the staff responded to my request within minutes. The front desk staff were also seen helping guests with their luggage. After checking out, when boarding the bus arranged by the hotel for my next stop in Hokkaido, staffs were seen braving the cold weather sending guests off with the Japanese bow.
The service at Hapo is excellent as well. The staff at the front of the restaurant, always smiling, quickly got another staff member to show me to my table for dining. The staff who showed me to my table took the trouble to explain where various food is located and departed with a bow and a smile. They did this every time I went to the restaurant for food.
The housekeeping team relentlessly prepare the futon in my room every evening, ensuring they are ready by the time I return after dinner. Futons are put away every morning, the room is ready for day lounge mode after I returned from breakfast. Rooms are kept spick and span every day, with bathroom supplies topped up.
The reception area in Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel
Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel is a great place to stay in Akanko Onsen. The hotel lobby is practically an art gallery showcasing Ainu sculptures and Ainu artefacts. The sleep quality is excellent and the room size is great. I particularly like the lounge area in the room, which is a great place to relax in while the view of Lake Akan from the lounge area is fantastic. The service rendered by the staffs is exemplary. They made me feel very welcome in the hotel. Despite the small onsen in Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel, guests are welcome to use the onsen facilities in the sister hotel next door, giving guests more than 20 onsen baths to enjoy. At the price, with the half boarding arrangement, Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel is a value for money stays in Akanko Onsen.
Tomamu Ski Resort is located about 2 hours East of New Chitose Airport via JR Train. To get there, hop on the JR heading towards Kushiro from Minami Chitose Station (one station from New Chitose Airport) and alight at Tomamu Station. From the JR station, there are complimentary buses provided by the resort to pick guests up. Shuttle buses are timed according to the arrival and departure of JR Trains. No pre-booking for these complimentary shuttles are needed. Hoshino Resorts has 2 properties in Tomamu Ski Resorts, namely The Tower and Risonare Tomamu. The Tower is located about 5 mins bus ride from Tomamu JR Station and is at the heart of the resort. It is conveniently located with access to restaurants and other facilities in the resort. The only supermarket in the resort, as well as the Ski Academy, is located on the ground floor of The Tower.
Wooden Carvings at the hotel lobby
Map of the entire Tomamu Ski Resort
Lift lobby in Tower 1
We booked a twin room and were given an upgrade to the Standard Fourth Room. The 50㎡ contemporary room is very spacious with 4 single beds for 4 adults and comes equipped with 2 toilets. There is sufficient space for guests to open up their luggage on the floor. Entering the room, the first toilet is immediate to the right of the entrance (more on the toilet below), to the left, flushed into the wall is a cabinet that guests can hang up their clothing. Alongside the wall next to the cabinet are 4 mounting hooks, great for hanging winter jackets.
One of the 2 cabinet space for guests to hang their clothing
Entrance to the room. The hooks on the wall for guests to hang their winter jackets
There are 2 bedding areas in this room. One of them is immediate to the right of the entrance to the room, after the toilet. 2 single beds are placed in a corner, next to the large window that looks out into the ski resort below. This bedding area is brighter due to the proximity to the window in the day. There is a small powder table beside one of the beds. The sleep quality on the bed is excellent, I always have a great nights sleep resting on them. The pillows are not too soft, to my liking.
2 single beds immediately next to the large window
We got exceptional views from the room that we were assigned
The other bedding area is tucked further into the room, at the corner behind the living area. There are another 2 single beds placed next to each other here. The bedding area benefits from being directly facing the TV, however, due to the distance from the window, it lacks the natural light in the day. The lightings in the room sufficiently brighten this area. There is another wardrobe beside this bedding area creating more space for guests to hang their clothing.
Second bedding area
Further into the room between the 2 sleeping areas is the living area. A stand-alone cabinet forms a separation to the living area. The mini-fridge (which is empty) and complimentary tea and coffee is well hidden in the compartments of the cabinet. A large LED TV is found on top of this cabinet. There is another table placed behind the cabinet, which can be used as a place to charge one’s lifestyle devices. There are 2 power outlets (Japanese plug) at the side of the cabinet.
The cabinet where one can find the fridge and coffee and tea. The TV is placed on this cabinet
Behind the cabinet is where the living area is located. A 3 seater couch facing the TV and another large window with a small coffee table allows occupants of the room to sit around and mingle. There is a 2 seater stool placed by the window.
The living area in the room. A perfect place to hang out and mingle
The 2 bathrooms in the room are identical. The first bathroom is located next to the entrance of the room, while the other is tucked into a corner of the room beside the second bedding area. Both bathrooms are large in Japanese standards. Entering the bathroom, the sink area, which is large enough for 2 guests to put their toiletries on (depending on how much toiletries one has). The hotel is thoughtful enough to provide 4 different coloured toothbrushes for guests. Next to the sink area is the toilet bowl, which has an automatic washlet, a common feature in Japanese hotels. The seats on the toilet bowl are heated, perfect for cold winter weather. Next to the toilet bowl is where one can find the bathtub. This bathtub is rather deep and can provide guests with a good soak in. The bathtub also doubles up as a shower.
Sink in the first bathroom. The amenities are placed in this bathroom
Toilet bowl and bathtub
Second bathroom. Other than hand wash, this toilet has no amenities. However, it is still functional
All 4 towels are found in the first bathroom beside the entrance to the room. This second bathroom looks empty but comes with bathing amenities such as shampoo, conditioner and shower gel
Guests who booked the bed and breakfast package were given 1 ticket to breakfast for each day. What I like about the breakfast arrangement is that guests are not restricted to having breakfast in one particular restaurant. We were given the liberty to choose any restaurant that opens for breakfast in the entire resort to have our breakfast. I went to the Mikaku restaurant, which is located below Tower 1 to have breakfast. Although the restaurant is small, there is no lack of quality food here. The food offering is delicious and has both Japanese and the standard western breakfast offering. I tried another restaurant – Nininupuri, which is some 7 mins walk located between The Tower and Risonare Tomamu. This restaurant is bigger and has more food offerings, but I find the food here not as good as Mikaku.
Inside Restaurant Mikaku, a small cosy restaurant that serves quality breakfast. Onigiri is made on the spot to order
Inside Nininupuri Restaurant. There are more food offerings here for breakfast and a large dining area
Hoshino Tomamu Resorts is built on a ski resort, there are plenty of facilities around to cater for both skiers and non-skiers. For skiers, 29 courses are catering to all levels of skiers. There is even an academy that offers lessons to non-skiers at a reasonable rate. For non-skiers, there are sights such as the ice-village and Unkai Terrace that will keep one occupied. Non-skiers can also enjoy their time in Tomamu Ski Resort with facilities such as the Mina-Mina Beach, sledging and snowmobiling. I tried skiing here for the very first time and as a non-skier, I do not find the resort boring.
At The Tower, there is the largest retail shop right on the first floor of the hotel, where people all over the resort would congregate to get things from food to ski gears. There is also the Foresta Mall within 3 mins walk from The Tower Hotel, where one can find reasonably priced food.
Gondola Station that brings guests in the resort up to Unkai Terrace
Mina-Mina Beach, one of the largest indoor heated pool in Japan
Ice Village which opens at night where guests can spend their time
The service at Hoshino Resorts The Tower is nothing short of exemplary. There are staffs all over who are ready to help any guests at any time. The great service started at the check-in. Despite being very busy whenever a shuttle bus pulls into the hotel from the nearby Tomamu JR Station, the staffs handled check-ins with a smile and with the signature Japanese efficiency. Despite being earlier than the check-in timing, we were given our room. The staff at the reception spent some time briefing us the facilities in the resort and how to get there. The hotel took note of my request when I booked my room with them, they assigned me the room that I requested.
There are staffs placed at the shuttle bus stop in front of the Hoshino Resorts Tomamu The Tower, welcoming guests and helping them with the bus timing despite the cold weather. These staffs are ever so friendly and that smile on their faces never ceases.
The housekeeping staffs were excellent as well. Not only did they did a great job cleaning our room, whenever we bumped into them in the corridor outside our room, but they will also always greet us with a smile and asked how was our day. There is always at least a staff standing in the lobby, announcing the next shuttle bus to Tomamu JR Station tirelessly. The staff always looked out signs of guests being lost and I witness a staff approaching a guest who appears lost and helped her.
The staffs at the restaurants throughout the resort were friendly too. During breakfast service, they made me feel welcome and the empty plates on my table were always promptly cleared.
Staffs at reception are very friendly despite being busy with the check-in
Our check-in was very efficient and we did not spend a lot of time before getting our keys to the room
Hoshino Resorts Tomamu The Tower is a fabulous hotel. The room was very well designed and is fairly large. The sleep quality in the room is excellent and provided me with a great rest so that I can enjoy my time at the resort. The view from the room I was assigned was great, with views of the ski area and Mt Tomamu. The resort is built for skiers with a large number of ski slopes and the soft snow. Non-skiers were not left out as well with the numerous facilities to ensure everyone can enjoy a great time here. Service rendered by the staff was excellent. They always make me feel welcome and every staff were not stingy with their smiles. I would come back to this hotel the next time I visit Tomamu.
Thai Airways uses the 777-300 for both BKK-CTS and CTS-BKK legs
On The Ground
Transiting in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
As this is a transit flight from Singapore, I did not perform any check-in for this leg of the flight. We were checked through from Singapore, hence when we reached Bangkok we referred to the flight information for the gate that our flight will be departing. Thai Airways seem to have the practice of putting the arrival and departure flights far apart. As Suvarnabhumi Airport is a big airport, we catered sufficient time to walk to our departure gate.
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport is a big airport. Do cater sufficient time to walk to the departure gate when transiting
Thai Airways Lounge
There are 4 Thai Airways Lounges for Business Class passengers and 1 Royal Orchid Spa Lounge in Suvarnabhumi Airport. Business Class passengers flying out or transiting Bangkok are treated to 30 mins head and shoulder or foot massage in Royal Orchid Spa. However, due to the time constraint, we did not go for the massage. We visited the Lounge in Concourse C, which has shower facilities and nearer to our departure gate. Both lounges at Concourse C (they are opposite each other) has shower facilities, however, Concourse C East Lounge has lesser people waiting for a shower at the time of our visit. The lounge is a fairly small lounge, decked in brown and purple colours. There are limited seatings in this lounge. On top of the shower facilities, this lounge as an internet area. There are some finger food and drinks for passengers to enjoy while waiting for their flight. As with the lounge in Changi Airport, there are some reading materials like local newspaper and magazines for passengers to read. One thing to note is that Thai Airways lounges do not announce which Thai Airways flight is departing, the onus is on passengers to note their departure timing and make their way to the departure gate in good time.
We used the Concourse C East Lounge as the queue for the shower is shorter and is the closest to our boarding gate
TG670 departed from Gate C6
Looks like a full flight tonight
Thai Airways uses check-in counters B10 to B15 in New Chitose Airport is located on the right side of the International Terminal Building. There are 2 counters dedicated for Business Class Check-in and 4 counters for Economy Class passengers. The queue is short at the Business Class counters, we did not have to wait for too long to get ourselves checked in. Checking-in is fast and the ground staff were very courteous and friendly. They briefed us on the standard stuff like where the boarding gate is and what time we have to be at the boarding gate. We were also given directions on where the airline’s lounge is located before the ground staff wished us a pleasant flight. There are no priority lanes for Business Class passengers in New Chitose Airport. There is a long queue forming at the security clearance, it is a good thing to arrive at the airport ahead of time so that one can enjoy the lounge.
Thai Airways uses the counters in section B in New Chitose Airport for check-in
The business Class queue is separated from Economy Class
2 counters dedicated to Business Class passengers
Do arrive at New Chitose Airport early as the queue to clear security was very long at the time of my checking-in
There is only one lounge in the International Terminals in New Chitose Airport. All Business Class passengers departing New Chitose Airport uses the Royal Lounge, which is located on the 4th floor of the terminal building. It is right up the escalator on the right after immigration clearance. There are 2 sections to the lounge, one for Business Class passengers of all airlines departing New Chitose Airport and a smaller section (payable) for certain credit cardholders. The lounge is decked out in comfortable and cosy earthy tones with 125 seats in the general area and 12 seats in the smoking room. There is a small counter serving limited food and drinks for guests to enjoy before their flight. There is also a snooze area at the far most end of the lounge. As this is a silent lounge, no flight announcements were made and passengers are to note their departure time and arrive at their boarding gate in good time.
Thai Airways uses Royal Lounge in New Chitose Airport. This is the only airline’s lounge in the airport
Entrance to Royal Lounge in New Chitose Airport
Reception in Royal Lounge
Seatings in the airline’s section of Royal Lounge
More seatings and a mini buffet with finger food
Rest area in Royal Lounge
Smoking room in Royal Lounge
Relax area in Royal lounge
Buffet area in Royal Lounge
I had some onigiris in Royal Lounge
There is limited shopping in the airside of New Chitose Airport
TG671 departs from Gate 67 in New Chitose Airport
Thai Airways uses B777-300 for both BKK-CTS and CTS-BKK legs of the flight. The Business Class section mainly uses the signature Thai Airways purple colour theme in this cabin. There are 34 Business Class seats arranged in 2-3-2 configuration, less first row which has a configuration of 2-2-2. There are 330 seats in the Economy Class section. I find the open concept in the Business Class section of the B777-300 to be spacious, despite lacking privacy. The colour theme of the Business Class section makes one feel comfortable. Amenity kits were already placed on each seat when I boarded the aircraft. Thai Airways uses Naraya pouch for the BKK-CTS leg and Furla pouch for the CTS-BKK leg. I noticed Thai Airways alternates the pouch for outbound and inbound flights. The contents inside the pouch remain the same with the standard slippers, dental kit, lip balm, moisturiser, earplugs and eye mask.
Boarding the Thai Airways B777-300
Thai Airways B777-300 Business Class Cabin
The Business Class cabin is decked out in purple
Thai Airways Business Class cabin
Legroom is excellent on Thai Airways B777-300 Business Class cabin
Overhead light and seat belt signs
Amenities kit in Naraya pouch was given on BKK-CTS leg
Me holding Furla bag containing amenities kits distributed on the CTS-BKK leg
There are 2 Business Class lavatories up front behind the cockpit onboard. As with most Business Class onboard Thai Airways, the lavatory is a tad small and offers very minimum amenities. Other than the hand soap, other additional amenities are a more upscale eau-de-cologne (as compared to Economy Class) and body lotion. These are also present in Economy Class lavatories. Perhaps the differentiating factor in the Business Class lavatory is the presence of orchid flowers and handkerchiefs on top of the tissues provided. Otherwise, I thought it is no difference (and perhaps even worse) than Economy Class lavatories.
The only amenities in the lavatory in Thai Airways Business Class lavatory
I like the sensor-activated tap in the lavatory
Large mirrors in the lavatory in Business Class cabin
There is a hook for coats on the door of the lavatory
There is another full-length mirror in the lavatory
Airsick bag and sanitary napkins in the lavatory
The Business Class seats onboard the B777-300 has a pitch of 66″ and width of 20″. It is not true 180° flatbed, but a 163° angled flatbed. Passengers who are used to the 180° flatbed might find the seat when converted into bed mode to be a tad sloppy. The controls to the seat mode are found on the armrest of the chair. The Business Class cabin seats have 3 modes, the upright mode for takeoff and landings, lounge mode and bed mode. I find the lounge mode most comfortable when watching movies on the IFE. The legroom in the Business Class seats is excellent. I have plenty of space to stretch out, thanks to the open concept of the cabin. The seat even comes with a functioning massage function. The seat controls are located on the left armrest on the seat. There is a small “coffee” table between 2 seats, which creates space to put drinks or other nicknacks. The headphone jack and power outlet are located in a small space under the centre armrest. The seat even has a cup holder and generous space where in-flight reading materials are stow behind in front.
Seat in Business Class onboard Thai Airways B777-300 in take-off/landing mode
Seat in lounge mode onboard Thai Airways B777-300. I find this mode to be most comfortable when watching movies on the IFE
Seat onboard Thai Airways Business Class cabin in bed mode. The maximum recline in this mode is 163°
The seat pocket in front can hold a lot of things and there are 2 cup holders
Seat control on the armrest of each seat onboard Thai Airways Business Class cabin
This small button does not do anything. Wonder why was it there in the first place
Additional in-seat reading light
The small ledge that can hold a camera. Headphone jacks and a power outlet is also found here
Thai Airways B777-300 aircraft safety card
Contents of the seat pocket
Thai Airways B777-300 has a large IFE display screen on the back of the seat in front of my seat. Thai Airways has a 15″ TV screen with touchscreen functions in its Business Class cabin. Despite being an ageing aircraft, the IFE is not laggy and the touch screen function is still rather responsive. There are plenty of options for entertainment in the IFE, including the latest movies, selected TV shows and games. The controls for IFE is stow under the armrest of the seat.
The 15″ TV screen found onboard Thai Airways B777-300 Business Class cabin
IFE controller stowed in the armrest
Noise-cancelling headphones found only in Business Class cabin onboard Thai Airways B777-300
Thai Airways used to have the option to pre-order meals from a menu online for their Business Class passengers. They still had that last year when I flew with them to Seoul. However this year, this service seems to have ceased and is only available to their passengers flying on First Class.
Before taking off, Business Class passengers are served welcome drinks with hot towels. I always asked for the signature Thai Airways drink, Violet Bliss, which is not part of the drinks on the tray that the pursuers go around serving. Meal orders were taken after the welcome drinks are being served. As this is a night flight, no meals were being served after taking off, there are no snacks made available for passengers. However, passengers can request for Ramen Soup with Simmered Pork or Tuna Onigiri served with Miso Soup should one gets hungry in the night. Breakfast was served 2 hours before landing. I opted for the Western Set which comprises of French Toast with Capsicum served with assorted bread and Fresh Fruits as well as yoghurt. The food was served together instead of by courses, feels a little like Economy Class but in fanciful china. I find the French Toast to be blend and a little dry, there isn’t much flavouring to the food served. I thought the assorted bread tasted better. I did go for the fruits as I don’t eat strawberry and kiwi fruits. The meal wasn’t that satisfying.
Welcome drink and hot towels were distributed before taking off. This purple drink is Thai Airways signature drink, Violet Bliss
Menu for this leg of the flight
Menu for this leg of the flight
Western Breakfast served onboard Thai Airways. It all came together instead of course by course
As with the outbound leg, passengers were served welcome drinks and hot towels before taking off. However, when I asked for their signature Violet Bliss, we were told it is not available as the drinks had been stored overnight, hence they are not serving that. This was not the case when I flew with Thai Airways the year before, we were served Violet Bliss when we flew out of Seoul. Since the pursuers claim they are not serving overnight Violet Bliss, I asked for a glass of Apple Juice. A bowl of nuts was served shortly after taking off when the pursuers went around serving drinks.
The menu was distributed at the same time when the welcome drink was served before take-off
Snacks and drinks were served shortly after taking off
I ordered the Japanese Bento Set for lunch. The Bento Set comprises of Teriyaki Salmon served with vegetables and mushroom with Japanese Rice. Part of the Bento Set also includes sashimi, and grilled pork belly and fresh fruits. Miso Soup and cold soba also form part of the Bento Set. While the bento set is rather sumptuous, the miso soup tasted like a lot of MSG has been put into it and the salmon tasted blend. The Sashimi did not last fresh, but edible. The best tasting of all was the soba noodles. Mango pudding was served as dessert which I find it tasty and not too sour.
I opted for the Japanese Bento Set
Japanese Bento Set that I have ordered
Dessert was served later. This mango pudding was delicious
Before landing, as we were still a little hungry, we ordered the all-day meal of Tomato Rice with Scrambled Eggs. The Tomato Rice tasted blend and the scrambled eggs could do with a little pepper.
The service onboard Thai Airways Business Class was disappointing and mediocre at best. It is not a service standard that one would expect in the Business Class section. We requested for additional pillows from one of the pursuers, but she did not come back with any, despite walking past us a few times. The seat my friend was occupying did not recline, not even an inch. We brought up the issue to one of the pursuers, who literally stripped the whole chair in an attempt to fix it. After failing to do so for 10 mins, the pursuer gave up and consulted another pursuer (whom we believe should be the in-flight manager). The other pursuer came and also tried to fix the seat, but gave up and declared the seat defective after another 10 mins of trying. She later told us to wait and see if she can swap seats for us. After another 5 mins passed, she came back and told us to move to another seat occupied by a cabin crew. No help was offered to shift our carry-on luggage and the pillows and quilt. The said pursuer stood by watching as we were shifting our stuff in the middle of the night. When I brought up the issue of our request for extra pillows and no one gives a damn about it, the pursuer turned defensive and claimed that they need time to look for pillows. She finally gave us the extra pillows we asked for reluctantly. Unsatisfied with her attitude, I spoke to another pursuer about her who was passing by. The pursuer in question walked by and overheard our conversation and told me if there are any problems just speak to her directly and don’t need to talk to anyone else. That got to be the rudest and most defensive response I have heard, especially in Business Class where I thought passengers will be treated better. Most of the time pursuers were seen crowding in the pantry talking amongst themselves rather than going around to see if any passengers needed anything. To make matters worse, I found my luggage damaged with a 30cm crack despite the fragile tag being tagged onto my luggage. Makes me wonder if these fragile tags are for show.
Pursuers serving welcome drinks after passengers were settled into their seat. This is the only time when service was good
There is a 30cm crack on my Samsonite luggage when I collected it at the belt
The service on the CTS-BKK leg was slightly better than the BKK-CTS leg. Upon boarding, one of the pursuers noted that my friend cannot take beef and notified us of the diet restriction. When the meal was served (despite all 3 options not having any beef), my friend was served the vegetarian meal. My friend asked if he can choose the bento option (there is no beef in that option), the pursuer who brought him the meal told my friend that his meal is a special order, hence he cannot order anything else from the menu. When questioned that all 3 options do not contain beef, the pursuer than offered to bring my friend something else if there are any leftovers. I was rather puzzled by this remark. She later came back with more food for my friend, which looked like something she pulled together from Economy Class Section in a sloppy presentation. While it is a nice gesture that the pursuers took note of my friend’s diet restriction, however, it is rather disheartening to learn that my friend cannot order anything from the menu when all 3 options had no beef. I am not too sure why the inflexibility attitude displayed by the pursuer in a Business Class cabin.
The only time friendly service was rendered is during boarding
Although Thai Airways B777-300 is an ageing aircraft, I find the seats to be spacious and most comfortable in the lounge mode. The angled flatbed may turn some off but still provided good rest especially for a night flight. The lavatory is cramp and has not much amenities than the Economy Class lavatory less some orchids and handkerchiefs and more upscale Eau-de-cologne. What shocked me the most is the service in the Premium Business Class cabin. Pursuers were defensive and did not render help whatsoever. I find Thai Airways Business Class not worthy to spend that extra penny over with such lousy service attitude. This is the last time I will be flying Thai Airways, especially in their Business Class.
Thai Airways uses its new A350-900 for both SIN-BKK-SIN leg
On the Ground
Premier Check-in Lounge
Thai Airways depart from Terminal 1 in Changi International Airport. The airline counter is located in row 4, near to the Skytrain in Terminal 1. Premium passengers are treated to check-in at the Dnata Premier Check-in Lounge at the end of Row 4. Checking in at the lounge makes one feel like a VIP, in the classy and earthy designed lounge. The check-in is very fast and the check-in staff briefed us on the standard items like where the gate is and what time is boarding. On top of that, we were also invited to the Thai Airways Lounge before boarding.
Thai Airways Business Class passengers can check-in at the Dnata Premier Check-in Lounge in Changi Airport Terminal 1
Inside the Premier Check-in Lounge
Thai Airways Check-in Counter inside Dnata Premier Check-in Lounge
The check-in experience is very good in the Dnata Premier Check-in Lounge
Thai Airways Lounge
The Thai Airways Lounge is located one floor above the departure hall in the transit area. The earthy lounge is very comfortable and cosy and has a large seating area decked out with mostly armchairs. There are some simple finger food and drinks available for Business Class passengers to enjoy. Reading materials such as local and Thai newspapers, magazines are also available for passengers to read.
Entrance to Thai Airways Lounge in Changi Airport
The lounge is decked out in purple and earthy colour schemes
Reading material for passengers
There are plenty of seats for passengers
Mostly finger food is being served in the Thai Airways Lounge in Changi Airport
Drinks for all passengers
TG410 departs from gate C13 in Changi Airport
Boarding gate at C13
Thai Airways dedicates Row A, located at the left side of Suvarnabhumi Airport, for its premium passengers. Passengers are treated to sit-down check-in at that row and dedicated immigration clearance, which is empty at the time of my checking-in. The ground staff at Suvarnabhumi wasn’t as friendly as I thought. There were no smiles and conversations were non-existent. She just passed us our boarding pass and did not even mention which lounge is nearer to our gate nor where our gate was at.
Dedicated check-in row for First and Business Class passengers
The check-in rows for premium passengers are located in Row A in Suvarnabhumi Airport
At check-in counter in row A
Check-in counters at Row A. We were escorted to a counter that is available instead of hunting for one
Thai Airways Lounge
There are 4 Thai Airways Lounges for Business Class passengers and 1 Royal Orchid Spa Lounge in Suvarnabhumi Airport. Business Class passengers flying out or transiting Bangkok are treated to 30 mins head and shoulder or foot massage in Royal Orchid Spa. However, due to the time constraint, we did not have to go for the massage. We visited the Lounge in Concourse E, which is a fairly large lounge. There are more food options here as compared to that in Changi Airport, food was seen topped up regularly to ensure there are sufficient to go around. There is also a wide range of drinks available in the lounge. As with the lounge in Changi Airport, there are some reading materials like local newspaper and magazines for passengers to read.
Royal Silk Lounge at Concourse E
There are several seating for passengers
Some of the food that passengers can chow before the flight
Some of the food I grabbed before our flight
Phad Thai and Thai Style Hainanese Chicken Rice. Both are tasty and flavourful
TG409 departs from Gate E5
Thai Airways uses its new A350-900 for both legs of the flight. The new aircraft cabin still screams of the signature Thai Airways purple theme, and the seats look classy with the timber finishing. There are 32 seats in Business Class and 289 seats in Economy Class Section. The seats in Thai Airways A350 are arranged in 1-2-1 configuration, which means all Business Class passengers onboard having direct aisle access.
Flight attendants greeting passengers on board the Thai Airways A350-900. This is the only time they are friendly
Business Class onboard Thai Airways A350-900, decked in the signature Thai Airways purple
Even the lightings are in purple onboard in the Business Class cabin
Electronic displays on the ceiling of A350-900
The lavatory onboard the A350-900 is a tad small. There is one at the forward of the cabin and 2 more at the aft of the Business Class cabin. There isn’t much amenities in the lavatory, feels pretty much like an Economy Class lavatory. What I like about the lavatory is the sensor tap and the sensor activated trash bin covers.
The sink in the A350-900 looks modern
Cabinet where tissues and handkerchiefs are stowed in the lavatory
Mirror in the lavatory is large
Ea u-de-cologne and hand lotions are the only other amenities found in the lavatory in the Business Class lavatory
I like the sensor activated trash bin cover in the lavatory
There are some coat hangers on the doors of the lavatory
Very basic lavatory onboard the Business Class
The only difference between Economy and Business Class lavatory are the orchids
The seats onboard Thai Airways A350-900 has a pitch of 73.5″ and width of 20″. The seats can be converted into a 180° truly flatbed. The seats have several modes other than being capable of converting into a flatbed, there is also a lounge mode, which I find it very comfortable to sit on while watching movies. Despite having a massage function, the massage function on my seat is not working. I find the seats a little cramp, especially in lounge mode when leaving and entering the seat is rather difficult. Seat controls are situated at the side of the seat at the side of the small table. There are 2 lightings, including a reading light placed at the side of the seat. Inflight reading materials are placed in the pocket above the side table of the seat. There are several storage spaces at the lower side of the seat, however, these impractical storage spaces can only hold magazines, they are too narrow to put my camera, and are too deep to place my passport into (it is rather dirty inside as well). International plug power sockets and headphone jackets are located at the side table, there is a USB outlet beneath the IFE TV.
Business Class seats on board the Thai Airways A350-900
Business Class seats in upright mode on Thai Airways A350-900
Business Class seats in lounge mode on Thai Airways A350-900
Business Class seats in fully flatbed mode on Thai Airways A350-900
Reading light and reading materials in the seat
Aircraft safety card
Power plug and the headphone jack is found on the side of the seat
Seat and light control buttons are found by the side table
Tray table folded up
Impractical storage space which does not hold anything other than books. It is too deep to put my mobile phone in
Footrest in the Business Class seats onboard Thai Airways A350-900
The legroom is good onboard Thai Airways A350-900
Aircraft safety card and airsick bags are stores in the small seat pocket at the entrance of the seat
The new Thai Airways A350-900 has a 16″ flat-screen TV in front of every seat. These touch screen TVs can also be controlled by the new generation, smartphone-like controller at the side of the seat. The system is not at all laggy, which is very much welcomed. The IFE has a large library of movies, including the latest movies to keep me entertained throughout the flight.
The 16″ touch screen TV in Business Class
IFE controller is a touch screen as well
USB ports beneath the TV
Meal orders were taken before taking off, at the same time as the welcome drink is being served. However, I wasn’t volunteered welcome drink onboard and had to ask for one. What a bad start to the flight. After taking off. soon after the seatbelt sign was turned off, pursuers sprung into action serving the food that we have ordered. Food was not served by courses but was given all in one tray, much like Economy Class except that they are placed in more fanciful plates. I had the Seared Prawn with Sweet Chili Sauce, which I find the prawns to be rubberish. Pandan Sago Seed with Water Chestnut is being served as dessert, which I find tastier than the main dish. It is not too sweet and has a nice texture to it.
Menu for the flight
Almond is served after take-off
Table laid out for meal service
Snack before dinner
Sear Prawn in Sweet Chili Sauce
As with the outbound leg, welcome drinks were being served on board before taking off. This time around I did not have to ask for it, it was volunteered. However, the male flight attendant did not know the name of their signature drink. We had to ask for it from another flight attendant. Meal orders were taken. No nuts were served before taking off. After taking off, we were promptly served the food that we ordered, which again was served all at one go instead of by courses. I had to Fried Prawn inLychee Sauce. The fried prawn wasn’t crispy but tasted great with the lychee sauce. I particularly like the Fried Rice that comes with the prawn dish, which tasted good and not too oily. We were served salmon and chicken breast as the appetiser, which I find them to be tasty. I did not take the dessert as I was full.
Meals being served on this flight
The table is laid for dinner. There is no pre-dinner snack
The Fried Prawn in Lychee sauce is rather tasty
Service was lacking onboard both legs of the flight, not befitting of Business Class. I felt no different than flying in Economy Class. Flight attendants were seen just doing their job, instead of making passengers feel welcomed. No help was rendered to any passengers in storing their carry-on luggage in the overhead compartment.
Pursers were hiding in the pantry most of the time on both legs of the flight. The male flight attendant on the right is outright rude and clueless about service
Service is bad on this leg. The pursuers were not smiling and not making passengers feel welcome onboard. This makes me think that the signature Thai smile I have seen in Thai Airways advertisements is just for advertisements. I was conveniently skipped when serving the welcome drink. The tray tables were set up very sloppily, with the attendant holding onto the food in one hand and trying to set up the table with the other. I helped the flight attendant to lower the tray table and layout the tablecloth, she did not even utter a word of thanks.
The worst service got to be rendered from this leg of my flight. A male attendant serving us was constantly in a foul mood. No smiles came from him. When asked for their signature welcome drink, he did not even know what that was and wanted to give us coke. I had to ask another flight attendant for the Thai Airways Signature drink. The same foul mood male attendant did not seem to understand the difference in service between Business and Economy Class. I was handed food over my friend, who was about to have his dinner. The male flight attendant simply did not care if my friend was eating. Instead of putting the food down onto my table, I was made to take over the food from him and placed them onto my table. There is another incident involving the same male flight attendant. After the seat belts signs went off, I went to the lavatory. The light outside the toilet suggested that no one was inside the lavatory. I was trying to open the lavatory door, and the male flight attendant saw it. He just ignored what I was doing, but after some time, he must had felt irritated and told me “Someone inside” and ask me to wait. A female passenger came waiting for the same toilet and he actually told her there is 2 more behind. He could have told me the same information instead of making me wait for the toilet. I overheard him telling the passenger in the toilet before me to lock the toilet door properly the next time he uses it.
While the only A350-900 recently joined the Thai Airways fleet, I thought the use of space for the seats a little lacking. There is not much practical storage space for some gadgets like mobile phones and cameras. The side pocket is too deep and too dirty to be useful. The seats feel cramp and were difficult to enter and exit when in lounge mode. The massage function did not work on both legs of my flight onboard the A350-900. The amenities in the lavatory is lacking.
What irritates me the most is the service onboard. The attendants made me feel as though I was flying in Economy Class. Not much smiles from anyone and certainly no help was rendered. The worst is the male attendant who did not even know the name of Thai Airways Signature drink. Food was passed over my friend’s head by the male attendant. After this experience, I will not take another Thai Airways, especially in their Business Class. They are not worth paying a premium for.
There are only 2 airlines that fly from Memanbetsu Airport – ANA and JAL. The check-in for ANA in Memanbetsu Airport is located on the 1st floor of the terminal building, on the leftmost side of the airport. There are 3 ANA check-in counters in Memanbetsu, with counter 3 being the counter that takes check-in luggage. We did not have to wait for our turn to check-in as there is no one in the queue. ANA has a straight to gate service for passengers without check-in luggage, which could be the reason for no one at the queue for check-in. Checking-in was very fast, after the staff at the counter verified our names on the system, she handed over our boarding passes to us. We were also briefed on which gate to go to and the boarding time for the short 50 min flight to New Chitose Airport. As we have luggage to be checked in, the staff at the ANA counter invited us to the x-ray machine in front of counter 3. After our luggage has been scanned by airport security, the ANA staff at counter 3 took over our luggage for checking-in.
ANA sign outside MMB Airport
ANA check-in counter is located on level 1 to the left of MMB Airport. There are 3 counters for ANA, counter 3 is used to receive check-in luggage
JAL Check-in counters beside ANA counter
There are limited shops in MMB airport
Departure halls in Memanbetsu Airport are located on the 2nd floor of the terminal building, where security checks are being done before we are allowed into the airside of the terminal building. Memanbetsu Airport is a very small domestic airport, there are not many shops around in the airside. Our flight departs from Gate 4, where the announcement for boarding was done soon after we arrived at the airside. Boarding was done fairly fast at Gate 4. As there are no aerobridges to the aircraft, we headed down to level 1 and out onto the tarmac to board ANA4862 bound for New Chitose Airport.
More shops are located on the departure level 2 in MMB Airport
Security clearance before entering the airside of the airport
There is only one shop at the airside of MMB Airport
Flight information at airside of MMB Airport
Waiting areas are open concept. Most of the time the airport is empty as there is only one flight departing at any one time
ANA uses Gate 4 for this MMB-CTS flight
ANA4862 sitting on the tarmac waiting for passengers to board
Luggage collection in CTS Domestic Terminal
ANA uses the twin-propeller engine Bombardier DHC8-Q400 for the flight to New Chitose. The aircraft only has one class, with a total of 74 Economy Class seats arranged in 2-2 configuration. The cabin is decked out in the iconic ANA shades of blue seats and white cabin.
Blue seats onboard ANA4962
Seats are arranged in 2-2 configuration onboard
There are only one lavatory onboard ANA4862, located in front of the aircraft, behind the cockpit. Despite being small, the lavatory has all the basic necessities. The amenities in the lavatory is limited to handsoap and tissues.
Sink in the lavatory
Large mirrors onboard ANA DHC8-Q400
Tissues and seat covers are found on the bulkhead of the lavatory
Toilet bowl inside the lavatory
Handle besides the toilet bowl is a nice touch
Airflow duct and return to seat signal inside the lavatory
The toilet flush is located beneath the sink
Amenity kit drawer and little bin
Limited amenities in the lavatory
All the 74 seats onboard have a pitch of 31″ and width of 17″. The legroom is very good considering it is a single class aircraft. As this is a domestic flight, there are no IFEs onboard. The seats onboard are very basic but comfortable for the 50 min flight time to New Chitose Airport. There is only a button on the armrest for passengers to reclining the seats. The control for lighting is located on the ceiling above our seats. The reading materials are stowed in the single compartment large seat pocket. The single-piece tray table is large enough for one to put a 13″ laptop on comfortably.
The seats onboard ANA DHC8-Q400 is very basic but does the job for a short domestic flight
Legroom is very good onboard the ANA DHC8-Q400
Seat pocket and tray table folded
The tray table is large enough to put a 13″ laptop
There is only one recline button on the armrest of the seat
Aircon duct and light controls are located on the ceiling above the seats
Aircraft safety card
Seat pocket contents
Taking off from MMB Airport. The ANA DHC8-Q400 uses twin-propeller jet
Flying over Hokkaido, the flight is very smooth and comfortable
Due to the short flight time, no food or snacks are served on board. Soon after the seat belts, signs are off, both pursuers quickly jumped into action to serve passengers either coffee or tea. Pursuers went around the cabin 2nd time to check if passengers need more drinks.
I opted for coffee during this short flight from MMB to CTS
The service on the ground and onboard are fantastic. On the ground, the staffs are very welcoming and did not allow us to wait for too long. After checking-in, the ground ANA staffs thanked us for flying with ANA. Instructions for checking-in of luggage and departure information were given very clearly in the excellent Japanese style service. Despite only having 2 pursuers onboard, service is by no means lacking. Pursuers were seen bowing to passengers during boarding and would go around helping passengers stowing their carry-ons in the overhead compartment. The pursuers would bow and thank passengers for flying with ANA when taxiing for taking off. They are also seen smiling to passengers throughout the 50min flight to CTS. When serving drinks. the pursuers kept their smiles on. I noticed that the pursuers would always check the cleanliness of the lavatory whenever passengers used the toilet. These friendly pursuers made me feel welcome and wanted to try their product on International Sectors. At no time I witness pursuers not smiling throughout the flight. During disembarking, these friendly pursuers were seen bowing to passengers and thanking them for flying with ANA.
One of the only two pursuers on board this flight to CTS
As there are no IFEs, safety demonstrations are done manually by the pursuers
My experience with ANA flying on their Bombardier DHC8-Q400 is a very pleasant one. The aircraft is very well maintained and the flight was very smooth. Despite in Economy Class, the legroom is superb. The service is top-notch from check-in to onboard services. Despite having only 2 pursuers onboard, the service is by no means lacking. Pursuers are seen smiling all the time and helping passengers, displaying pride in their work despite being a domestic route. Such service is far better than some renowned international airlines and definitely better than the Business Class I flew into Hokkaido onboard Thai Airways. This short experience with ANA made me want to fly on their international routes.
Today we fly to Bangkok from Hokkaido, where we will be staying for 2 nights before heading home to Singapore. We headed for Sapporo JR Station at 6.30am to catch or 7.05am train to New Chitose Airport. We wanted to cater sufficient time as we will be lugging our luggage and walking in the snow one last time before we head back. At the train station, we had to carry our luggage up 2 flights of stairs to reach the platform where we boarded the train to New Chitose Airport. I usually have the habit of reaching the airport 3 hours before flight in case there is a long queue at the customs. As expected, there is a long queue at the security prior to the immigration. However, after clearing security, clearing customs is quite fast. There aren’t many shops at the airside in New Chitose Airport, we spent our time in the airline lounge before heading to board the aircraft.As we were sitting on our seats in the aircraft, looking out at the snow-covered tarmac of New Chitose Airport, I felt a sense of unwilling to leave Hokkaido. Afterall we had alot of fun and did a number of firsts in Hokkaido. We did skiing for the first time, we built our first snowman, we experienced snow for the first time, we walked on the frozen lake for the first time, we sailed through the ice for the first time, we soaked in the onsen for the first time and soaked in an onsen in the snow for the first time. So many first times we have done in Hokkaido.
Traveling on JR from Sapporo to New Chitose Airport
Arrived at New Chitose Airport, ready to check in
Walking towards the International Terminal
The queue to clear the security is very long. Do arrive at the airport early
There are not many shopping options or things to do at the airside of New Chitose Airport. There are more things to do in the public area of the airport though
Relaxing in the lounge and grabbed some breakfast before we board the flight back
I quite like the pace of our Hokkaido trip, which we had time to leisurely visit the sights. Each day was planned with at most 3 places to visit. We had the chance to slow down our pace and look around us at the peaceful snowscape in Hokkaido. What kept us from feeling bored is the snow. We spent our time playing with the snow, walking in the snow and admiring the snow scenery. I thought travelling should be relaxed and not rushed (that is one of the reasons why I detest package tours). Travelling in Hokkaido requires a certain amount of planning, especially in winter where public transports are less frequent. Planning for this trip, however, is not difficult. There are websites that helped in the planning of our Hokkaido trip from the Hokkaido JR website to the hotel websites to the websites of the places we have been to. I find travelling in Hokkaido to be very pleasant, everyone is so courteous and made us felt so welcomed and Hokkaido doesn’t feel crowded. We will be back to Japan again, perhaps visit another city the next time we come back.
Aircraft taxiing to the runway
Take off from New Chitose Airport
We are going to miss the snow and the fun we had in Hokkaido
Farewell Hokkaido, Farewell Japan. We will definitely return to Japan