Our recent road trip up north to Malaysia brought us to Kuala Lumpur after a food-tastic night in Malacca. It was our first time driving outside of Johor Bahru from Singapore. We stayed two nights at The Boulevard Hotel in Kuala Kumpur. It is directly connected to Mid Valley Megamall – an excellent choice to get your shopping fix. We decided to hang out around the hotel area due to the heavy traffic going into the city center and it certainly kept us busy with retail therapy throughout our stay.
The Boulevard Hotel’s lobby can be accessed through the main entrance or a walkway that links directly to Mid Valley Megamall. If you are driving, the parking space is shared with the mall and you can get your parking validated at the hotel for RM5 before checking out. The restaurant, gym, swimming pool and the private spa facilities are located on the ninth floor of the hotel section. I would highly recommend Danai Spa, not only because it is one of the top ten spas in Malaysia, but the quality service is not to be missed!
The room we stayed in is a studio suite located at a cosy corner, mid-floor. It is wonderfully spacious (suitable for couples on their honeymoon or with a kid) and despite showing some age, it is tastefully decorated and has evergreen luxurious fixtures especially in the bathroom. Unfortunately we were not able to relax and soak in our bathtub due to the water running brown, which could have been due to the hotel undergoing renovation works to upgrade all the rooms. We personally think this is a great management decision given the prime location of the hotel.
The breakfast spread was good, with an international selection of bread and pastries. There was also your typical Malaysian-Singaporean breakfast options such as nasi lemak and fried noodles. Our stay was in December and we were lucky that we didn’t have to wait for a table amidst the peak-hour breakfast traffic.
Overall, we really enjoyed the location of the hotel and the amenities it provided. We would definitely stay here again for our next retail therapy trip.
This trip was made possible thanks to the wonderful hospitality provided by the Boulevard Hotel KL. We appreciate all the staff who were working with smiles on their faces throughout the festive Christmas season.
Glamping is a concept becoming increasingly popular in many parts of the world as travellers are looking for something a little more comfortable than camping; in other words “Glamorous camping”. Having experienced the rugged outdoor camping in Yellowstone National Park, luxurious campervan-ing through New Zealand, and also seeing the dancing auroras above our heads living in Finnish igloos, none of them are quite like the glamping experience we had with Valley Views Glamping.
As travel trends become more experience-based, creating that unique experience becomes immensely important so as to cater to the new generation of travellers. We drove into the mid-section of South Island – Otago to check this wonderful place out.
Patrick and Amber greeted us personally at the wooden house on top of the hill. It is decked out with a fully-equipped kitchen and dining area as well as shared bathroom facilities. This house turns out to be the main area for lounging, cooking and having a cuppa next to the fireplace. There is a lovely swing where you can sit and simply relax and zone out with a beautiful view right before your eyes. Not forgetting there is a secluded area behind the trees where you can soak in bathtubs after a long day of travel. The tents are carefully and thoughtfully designed to have an unblocked view of the valley – hence the apt name “Valley Views”. Occasionally, we could hear the moo-ing of cattle in the valley. I thought to myself that sunrise and sunset would be absolutely breathtaking from our lodge – and so it was.
Inside the dome tent, it was hot in the day due to the summer sun. It would be perfect for non-summer season. The bed was super comfortable and would guarantee almost everyone with a luxury hotel feel. A porch area is available right outside to sip on tea under the sun. There was also an outdoor tub area to soak up the views while you enjoy the tub with a glass of wine.
There are plenty of hiking and outdoor trails around the area. Waitake river is nice and famous for salmon and trout fishing. Check out Benmore peninsula track for a magnificient view of the surrounding and it is one of the best hiking trail around Waitake valley.
If you are looking to experience glamping in New Zealand, I would definitely recommend a stay with Valley Views during your road trip around South Island.
This trip is made possible with the hospitality of Valley Views Glamping, special thanks goes to Amber and Patrick for hosting us for this experience. All opinions and contents remain our own.
Deep in the Finnish Lapland lie these magical igloos that usually operate for about half a year from September to March. This is also the period when the sky gets darker during the winter months, coinciding with the Aurora Borealis over the skies of the northern hemisphere. These beautiful dancing lights stretch from Nordic countries such as Norway, all the way to the North American region in Alaska and Canada. Travellers from all over the world venture as north as possible in hopes of chancing upon the mystical green skies, which contribute to tourist booms especially during this time of the year.
Nothing really compares to the sight of the Northern Lights from the comfort of a warm glass igloo. I have heard of many travellers who spend up to two weeks in the Artic Circle only to be disappointed due to either cloudy night skies or low aurora index. On the other end of the spectrum, I have heard of people jumping for joy with tears of happiness when their eyes first glimpsed the lights. I caught my first sighting back when I traveled to Iceland in 2016. They were simply magical and kept you wanting to see more of its spectacular nature. Again, I was blessed to have caught the Northern Lights together with the love of my life this time on my honeymoon trip to the Finnish part of Lapland. Read about my Finnish Lapland road trip here.
Northern Lights Village
If you are looking for a wholesome Artic Circle experience in the Finnish Lapland, look nowhere else – Northern Lights Village is the top choice as it specialises in not just accommodation but creating a uniquely customized experience. It is located in Saariselkä, about an hour’s drive away from Ivalo airport. We visited during the autumn months, away from the winter crowd. Northern Lights tours can be booked and professionally organized by the warm and knowledgeable staff who are ready to go the extra mile to make your experience that much more special. There are two main options for the tours – a viewing by the lake in Inari or at the border town of Nellim. I recommend to stay a minimum of 2-3 nights to give yourself a good chance of spotting the Northern Lights around the area. If you have a car and want to go Northern Lights hunting on your own, check out Kaunispää to get away from the village lights. The gate of Lapland’s gold fields lies at Tankavaara which is easily accessible by car to find out more about the history of gold mining in Finland. Tours to Inari can also be organized or self-driven. My favourite part of the experience was the husky farm visit at Extreme Huskies. We tried husky sledding on wheels since there was note yet any snow fall in September. If you are looking for a Finnish sauna experience, there is a shared sauna on site to enjoy.
Indulge in the personalized cabins with a simple touch of luxury
We caught the auroras right outside our igloos!
The in-house restaurant cooks up scrumptious meals for its guests
You can see how well the huskies are trained for these runs
Santa’s Igloos Artic Circle
This is the igloo experience to go for if you are heading to Rovaniemi – Santa Claus’ hometown. Located right beside the Santa Claus Village, its location is perfect to explore the surroundings by foot. Rovaniemi city centre is just a short distance away, reachable ideally by car or bus services in Santa Claus village. I recommend to book the family igloos which comes with a private sauna attached to the room as you get to experience a true Finnish sauna at your discretion. There are various activities (other than the magical Santa Claus village) in the area such as ice fishing in winter, husky rides and of course, Northern Lights viewing. Beyond Artic is one of best companies around providing photography expeditions, it is run by a bunch of passionate and adventurous photographers. For a great time hanging out with Husky pups, you can’t miss Bearhill Husky, which is a working dog kernel. The owner of the kernel Valentijin, is super passionate about his dogs and visitors get to learn a lot about the life of a husky growing up and being trained throughout the different seasons. There are also opportunities get up close and personal to play with the huskies, which is a huge plus!
Aurora across the northern skies right outside our igloo at Santa Igloos Artic Circle. Kp index is about 1-2 that night and we had to look north to find it.
Photography tour with Beyond Artic, shot taken by Juho
The igloo’s reception and dining area
Located in the ski town of Levi, Levin Iglut is one of my favourites when it comes to the comfort of the igloo. I recommend to go for the premium ones with unobstructed views of the valley. Each igloo comes equipped with simple cooking facilities if you are looking prepare some simple meals. Your booking includes breakfast at Restaurant Aurora Sky. A half-board dinner is also available during high season. It is a gorgeous place to explore the wilderness of Finnish Lapland, check out the drone footage below.
Gorgeous view of the valley from our premium igloo
The sky comes alive at night, a clear night with a good KP index will give you good chance of spotting the northern lights.
Restaurant Aurora Sky – have you thought about having a meal here while watching the sun go down?
We had the opportunity to find out more about Levin Iglut from Kristiina who started the place about 3 years ago. She plans to keep the number of igloos constant instead of expanding in order to continue providing a personalised touch to each of her guests’ experience.
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
This is probably one of the most famous igloos in Lapland due to heavy media coverage in recent times. Personally, I did not have the chance to stay there (they are not opened during autumn) but I would love to check it out someday! Nevertheless I visited the area from the outside it definitely looked like an awesome choice to experience igloo living.
Due to our limited stay in the Finnish Laplands, this is all the info we have for now. Have you got an awesome igloo to recommend? Drop a comment and we would absolutely love to check it out!