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a night at gatwick’s bloc hotel

bloc hotel gatwick
bloc hotel for the win!

there used to be a time when the thought of staying at an airport hotel would be unthinkable. i always imagined it to be 3 star quality – offering the basic amenities – a pre-flight bed – with no design quality whatsoever. the only advantage would be that it would be easy and convenient to get to one’s gate of departure.

however, it seems that hotels are looking to up their game at airport locations, and for that i’m super thankful.

on the outbound portion of my trip, i stayed at gatwick’s yotel hotel to crash for a few hours before checking into my airbnb. the capsule hotel best advantage is that you can book it for 4 hours minimum, but the size of the room would slowly make you feel cabin fever-y. especially if you’re faced with a long haul flight.

on the return portion of my berlin to london trip, i booked a room at the bloc hotel in gatwick’s south terminal. chic, spacious yet cozy, and affordable. every bloc hotel room offers free WIFI, king sized beds, roca monsoon drench shower, ambient artemide lighting technology, samsung LED smart TV, and a samsung galaxy tablet that controls the blinds, mood lighting and climate control.

bloc hotel 809
bloc hotel room
bloc hotel controls
bloc hotel beds
bonus! gatwick stores were opened 24 hours, so i could just head out to eat or shop whenever i like!

by the time my flight from berlin had landed, it was around 9ish, so i did not feel like i needed to go back out to london. instead, i had hot shower, chilled, watched some telly and got some sleep.

the best feeling? knowing that i don’t have to rush like mad to get to the airport on time for my flight. i just had to check out via tablet, drop off the keys and walk to my departure gate.

i’m an airport hotel convert, thanks to bloc hotel.

5/29 – as much as i’m now a believer of well designed airport capsule hotels, i’ve also become a believer in economy plus services on long haul flights. if you can afford the $80-$100 upgrade one way (depending on the airline) – and i do know that i’m lucky – then i say, yes! do it!

not only do you get more privileges, such as priority check-in, priority boarding, priority baggage handling, and other perks (eg. welcome kit, small bottle of wine). but what trumps all of that is your seat selection offers more legroom, pitch and width, which makes all the difference for an enjoyable flight.

at econo plus
econo plus seat
at the risk of sounding like a total princess, i know being five foot nothing (ok, five two and a half), i should have nothing to gripe about, but seats with leg room still make a difference – even at my height. especially on a long ass flight.

maybe i’m just getting old (get off my porch!), but a little leg room is a luxury that is a must for me for any flight over 6 hours. (it’s a grey area even at the 5 or 6 hours mark). with air travel sucking nowadays – passengers packed in like sardines – one must find small ways to feel civilized. (without busting the bank)

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lightning at 35000 feet

van heijst sunsource: the sun | photo credit: christiaan van heijst

so i’m sitting in my seat, on the easy jet flight from london to berlin, minding my own, when out of the corner of my eye, i kept seeing intermittent flashes of white. lo and behold, a lightning storm was happening outside my window.

we weren’t flying through a lightning storm – thank goodness – but further away, (though it certainly seemed close enough), i could see lightning activity absolutely pummeling a city or cities on the ground. the storm clouds above the city was being electrified and i could only imagine the sheets of rain pouring down.

and even though the plane must have been traveling at 850 km/h, it felt like it was just flying in place. for it seemed like i must have watched the lightning storm for half an hour, marveling at how big it was growing. and the towns it must be engulfing with its ominous reach.

it was utterly mesmerizing. i had seem lots of lightning storms in new york, from the safety of my 29th floor apartment. to see it from above the clouds was truly something else.

my flight kept its cabin lights on, probably so passengers would not notice or be frightened, so i wasn’t able to take any photos. so here are some photos from santiago borja lopez, a pilot with ecuador airlines who snapped this awesome display over the colombia amazonia. the first photo took 3rd place in national geographic’s 2016 nature photographer of the year:

borja lightning1
borja lightning2
borja lightning3source: dailymail | photo credit: santiago borja lopez

here’s a video from hdpilot, a commercial pilot who videotaped a lightning storm he skirted around oklahoma, on the way from dallas to seattle:

however terrifying it looked, the lightning storm above the clouds was one of the most amazing things to witness. nature is awesome.

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reflections on london 2016

baker st
any excuse to go to london. i will never tire of visiting this creative and inspirational city. there’s always something new to see and do in london. as this was my sixth time, i sought out different experiences (harry potter everything!, jon snow as dr faustus, new tate modern weekend opening), but still stayed true to my favourite haunts (v+a and the british museum). not to mention, a most important pilgrimage to brixton to pay respects to the late, great, david bowie. they’ll never be another one like him ever.

regent st
all saints
st pauls
six times to england and i have yet to even day trip out to oxford and cambridge, brighton beach and the white cliffs of dover. whether as a base or a jumping point to other parts of europe, london will forever remain one of my favourite cities to visit.

for a look at everything i saw on this trip, press play for the slideshow or click here for my flickr. for photos just on my day out at warner bros. the making of harry potter, click here. enjoy!

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insta-london: house of minalima

you’ve got mail! with the new harry potter play and upcoming fantastic beasts and where to find them movie, it’s all coming up HP. new exhibition featuring all the graphic design work in the movies: the daily prophet, potter’s undesirable no 1 poster, hogwarts express tickets, harry’s acceptance letter + more. all here and up for purchase!

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curtain up at the V + A

curtain up
no visit to london would be complete without a visit to my favourite museums: the V+A and the british museum. this trip out the V+A’s feature exhibit was curtain up: celebrating 40 years of theatre in london and new york, while sunken cities: egypt’s lost worlds was the draw at the british museum.

in celebration of 40th anniversary of the olivier awards, the exhibit featured costumes, props, posters, programs, playbills, artifacts, recordings and sets from award-winning plays, musicals and productions such as: war horse, a chorus line, the phantom of the opera, curious incident of the dog in the night-time, matilda the musical, the lion king and much more.

curtain up, a joint collaboration between the V+A, society of london theatre and new york public library for the performing arts, features both broadway and west ends shows from 1976 to present day. it’s being exhibiting first in london, before making its way to new york later this year and 2017.

and of course, the exhibit leads to the part of the V+A’s permanent collection featuring a re-creation of kylie minogue’s dressing room while on tour. the costumes, the make up desk, shoes and sparkle.

after the V+A, i wandered down to soho to check out the new harry potter (what? again with the harry potter?!) exhibit at house of minalima. the graphic design team of miraphora mina and eduardo lima are the powerhouse duo who are responsible for all the graphic prop designs in harry potter. that means, posters, book covers, acceptance letters, stationery, newspapers, maps, signage, packaging – any and all print materials from the movies.

the 4 story pop-up art gallery also doubles as a store, so that potter heads could buy their very own daily prophet or wanted posters of sirius black or bellatrix lestrange, even no. 1 undesirable, harry potter.

there’s a sort of harry potter fever going on in london right now, what with fantastic beasts and where to find them opening up at the end of this year. who knew that i’d have so much fun taking in all the harry potter excitement?

talk about a potter-centric week in london!