Friday, February 16, 2018

Stay Report: Holiday Inn Paris - CDG Airport (Paris, December 2011)

Stay Report: Holiday Inn Paris - CDG Airport
comment below and let me know your thoughts :)

photo courtesy of IHG
I had a day layover between two flights so I was looking for a hotel that was near CDG airport and also had access to the train to go into the city.  There were many options that met these criteria, but since I was only going to be there for a little while I did not want to spend a lot.  The Holiday Inn Paris CDG Airport provided nice accommodation in a comfortable setting at a low cost.



It is very easy to book the hotel through the IHG website.  The hotel is located in the Roissy village, which is the town/village located right next to the airport and where most of the hotels are located.  The hotel is not connected to the train station, but there is a free bus that goes from the train station and makes a loop to the surrounding hotels in the area (it runs about every 10-15 minutes).  From the train station to the hotel was about a 5-10 minutes bus ride (the Holiday Inn is part of the later stops).  As the bus runs a loop, you can take the bus from the hotel to the train station but it does take some time so factor this in.  Even though the hotel is located towards the back of the ‘hotel’ village, it is actually closer to the real village so you can walk (about 5-7 minutes) to the village town center to access restaurants, coffee shops, ATM and bank, as well as a convenience store/market. 



From the road, you walk up a nice covered walkway to enter into the hotel.  There are benches on either side of the walkway so it provides a nice place to sit outside and wait for the bus.  As you enter in the hotel, straight ahead is the check-in desks.  To the left of the check-in desks is the restaurant and bar as well as little sitting area.  To the right of the check-in desks is access to the first floor rooms as well as the elevators.  There is also a monitor that provides live information on your flights.  Check-in was quick and efficient, I received my key for my room on the first floor, and proceeded to my room.


The room itself was comfortable, nice and updated, but it was not the biggest room.  I had booked a
photo courtesy of IHG
room with 1 queen bed so as I opened the door, on the left was the entrance to the bathroom while on the right was the closet.  The bathroom was clean but very small; it reminded me of a standard European bathroom.  The bathroom had a toilet, a bidet, a shower, and a sink but it was all right next to each other with very little room to move.  The shower was also very small and tight.  The interesting and nice thing about the hotel was that they had dispensers for shampoo, body wash, and lotion instead of individual, travel-size containers – a nice eco-touch.  The bathroom shared a wall with the main area of the room. 

The main area had a queen size bed against the right-hand wall and across from the bed was a desk along with a chest with drawers on the bottom and TV mounted against the wall.  Next to the bed was a small chair and table that faced the windows – there wasn't much to look at but the curtains were thick so they could block out most of the sun (if you wanted to sleep during the day – again a nice touch since passengers are coming in from all over the world).  The bed was a standard Queen-size bed that you would fine in America and it provided a really comfortable sleep.  (I was surprised at the size of the bed as I was expecting the smaller, European-style beds).  Overall, the room looked and smelled clean and comfortable. 

photo courtesy of IHG
The hotel has many facilities, but since I was there for a short while I did not experience them all.  The hotel has a business center, fitness center, restaurant, bar, wifi, and complimentary shuttle.  I did experience the wifi, which was complimentary and had good speeds.  I was also able to print out my boarding pass from the business center.  As previously stated, I also used the complimentary shuttle which, although took some time, provided good access to the trains and to the city.

Overall, it was a nice stay at the hotel.  The hotel looked modern, the lobby smelled really nice, and the service was really good.  The hotel had access to the bus for transportation (the hotel was in contact with the bus so you could wait inside the warm hotel until the bus alerted the hotel that it was on its way) as well as was in walking distance to the Roissy village to access restaurant, shops, and ATMs.  The only negative was the ‘small-ish’ bathroom and the transportation via bus, but both of those were small negatives as overall it was a pleasant stay.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Stay Report: InterContinental Tokyo Bay (Tokyo, September 2015)

Stay Report: InterContinental Tokyo Bay
comment below and let me know your thoughts :)

When I was looking for hotels in Tokyo, IHG was providing discounts for their hotels in Aasia so I found a good deal at the InterContinental Hotel Tokyo Bay.  Overall, the hotel is decent with nice rooms and good customer service.  The rooms are a bit small and the additional hotel services are there but not great.  The hotel is on the outskirts of the city so it was not my first choice, but the hotel is near a transit station and has amenities near it.    



As I said, the hotel is located somewhat on the outskirts of the city, right on Tokyo Bay so it provides great views from the room.  The hotel is about a 5-10 minute walk from the train station, depending on your walking speed, and they do have shuttles available.  The entrance to the hotel is very nice and from the outside the hotel looks grand.  Upon entering into the hotel, straight ahead is the check-in counter, to the left is the restaurant and sitting area, and to the right are the elevators to the rooms.  

As I entered, I went to the desk to check-in but since I had booked a Club Room, I was sent to the Club Lounge on the 20th floor where check-in took place.  The service in the Club Lounge was very good and check-in was quick and efficient; I sat and enjoyed a nice snack while the check-in processing was taking place.  Once everything was done, I received the key and proceeded to the 23rd floor to my room.    

The rooms themselves are small - and I know Tokyo rooms are generally smaller - but these small rooms had large furniture in them making them feel small and cramped.  Upon entrance, on the left hand side was the bathroom while on the right hand side was the closet with an ironing board and safe (along with slippers and a robe).  The bathroom itself felt a bit more spacious and had a sink, a European-style shower, a tub, and a Japanese-style toilet.  There were also plenty of bathroom toiletries available on the sink and in the tub. 

Proceeding further into the room, on the left hand side, were the beds.  I had requested a room with 2 beds and these two beds were placed right next to each other (literally no room in between the beds).  While the beds were comfortable, the spacing of the beds meant that there was no room or separation between you and your sleeping partner.  On either side of the bed were nightstands and reading lights. 

Across from the beds, next to the closet, was a place to put your suitcase.  Next to that was a chest with drawers on the bottom and a TV mounted on the wall followed by a desk.  There was a very large window which provided some nice views of the bay, and in front of the window were a large couch or two large chairs.  While the additional furniture was nice, the largeness of the furniture contrasted with the smallness of the room so I am not sure why these were needed.  Also, the chairs faced the room and not the window.  What made the room also feel smaller was the décor of the room.  The room was decorated very differently than to other InterContinental hotels I have stayed at; this décor was ostentatious and dark and made the room feel even smaller.

As InterContinental hotels are full service, there were a lot of hotel amenities.  The hotel offered a 'business center' and a fitness center.  The 'business center' is located in the hallway leading towards the lobby restrooms in which two computers are placed were the phone booths used to be (not very convenient) and a login is required (which can be received from the front desk).  The 'fitness center' is located on the 8th floor next to other rooms and is two rooms combined (828 and 829) with treadmills and basic equipment.  It is not large fitness center and the room decorations are kept the same as all the other rooms, but basic fitness equipment is available.  The hotel also has a spa, but I did not have time to access it. 

Other amenities include the Club Lounge and Club Floors.  The Club Lounge is very good and
provides really nice breakfast, cocktails, and light dinner.  The service in the lounge is also very good.  The hotel also has a concierge service which was also decent.  They were able to provide good information and answered all the questions, but did not expand beyond the questions with any suggestions.  The hotel does provide wifi, complimentary to guests and with decent speeds.  The only amenity the hotel does not have on site is an ATM machine

Overall, it was a decent stay at the InterContinental.  While the rooms were smaller and, in my opinion, poorly decorated, they were comfortable and provided a good night’s sleep.  The service in the Club Lounge was very good but the Concierge service could have been better.  It’s a bit further away from the city, but the easy access to transportation plus nice views of the bay make it a nice stay. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Stay Report: Crowne Plaza Changi Airport (Singapore, August 2015)

Stay Report: Crowne Plaza Changi Airport 
comment below and let me know your thoughts :)


I needed a transit hotel in Singapore, and given the arrival and departure of our flight times I could not go into the city, so we decided to book Crowne Plaza Changi Airport.  The hotel has been ranked as one of the best airport hotels and thus has a very good reputation, so was looking forward to the stay.  The hotel is located in Terminal 3 and is easily accessible from the terminal.   



From the terminal, there is a huge entranceway which leads to the hotel.  You enter the hotel on the upper floor and then go down to the 1st floor for the lobby and check-in.  Check-in was quick and efficient and I received my key and went back upstairs for our room.  This is the only negative, that there should be a check-in desk on the same floor as the entrance from the airport.  I had booked a room with two double beds so headed to the 3rd floor for our room.  I had asked for a room facing the runway, but I was told those rooms only have king beds and fill up early

The hotel is designed very nicely with a lot of open spaces.  When walking from the elevator to the room, it does not feel as if you are in an airport as the hallway is open so you can feel the open air and there are gardens and streams next to the hallway.  These design features provide a nice tranquil feel to the hotel.   On the way to my room, I passed a fitness center, a spa (operated by a 3rd party), the lounge, as well as crew lounge.

The room itself is a nice size and is very comfortable.  As you enter, on the right side is a closet with a safe and the left side is the bathroom.  The bathroom was a nice size and had both a shower and a tub, a large sink, and a toilet.  There were nice bathroom toiletries provided as well as complimentary water.  The bathroom and the bedroom shared a wall, and this wall was clear so either side could see in; however, there is a switch to make the window darker to provide some privacy.
 
Inside the bedroom area, the two beds are on the left hand side with the TV stand and chest on the right hand side.  Each bed had its own nightstand and reading light on either side, but there was very little room in between the bed (so again, you got to know your bedmate quite well).  The beds were very comfortable and wide so it provided a nice sleep.  In between the beds and the TV were two chairs and a small coffee table. 
 
There was also a desk in the room that faced the window.  As I said, I wanted a view of the runway but that was not available so our view was facing away from the airport.  The window did have thick curtains which kept out the light, but I am not sure if we were next to the train or not but you could hear the train that runs between the terminal.  

As I was only there for basically 12hours, I could not enjoy all the amenities provided by the hotel.  The only amenity I did try was the complimentary wifi, which was a decent speed.  Overall, it was a great airport hotel that provided a good night’s sleep and easy access to the terminal.    

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Stay Report: Novotel Suites, Dubai Mall of the Emirates (Dubai, UAE - April 2016)

Stay Report: Novotel Suites, Dubai Mall of the Emirates
comment below and let me know your thoughts :)

We were looking for a hotel near the Mall of the Emirates and decided on the Novotel Suites for a couple of reasons:  1) There were three of us travelling and it is difficult to get 3 people in one room in Dubai so I needed 2 rooms and I had points from a previous Accorhotels stay that I could use for a free room; 2) the hotel described itself as a suite which meant bigger rooms; and 3) I had previously tried ibis by Accor so wanted to try a different brand from the same group.  Overall, it was a nice stay but the room is definitely not a suite.  


The hotel is located near the Mall of the Emirates, meaning to say it’s a quick 3-4 minute drive.  I am not sure if you could walk to the Mall as I did not see many people walking nor a clear/direct path from the hotel area to the Mall.  We pulled up to the hotel but there is no real entrance/drive-way to the hotel from the street.  The entrance to the hotel is on the sidewalk so you have to park your car in a 10-minute parking (and Dubai does monitor and ticket) while you are checking in.  As you enter into the lobby, you enter into a spacious lounge area with lots of chairs and couches to lounge on.  It seemed very relaxed.  To the right of the lounge was the restaurant as well as the indoor and outdoor dining area (this is where breakfast is served in the morning).  The indoor dining area is shared with the ibis hotel, as both the Novotel and Ibis are located in the same building - just on opposite sides.
 
As you enter further into the lobby you encounter the check-in desk.  We were a bit early than the scheduled check-in time, but I had communicated this information to the hotel prior to arrival so they accommodated our early arrival and checked us in.  After receiving our keys, we headed to the elevators which were located behind the check-in desks.  While the elevators are tiny, they are very quick so no long waits.  Our room was located at the end of the hallway, for the Novotel, but the hallway continued through the door into the ibis.  Both hotels were connected and only divided on the floor rooms by a door which was not locked - so anyone from the ibis side could come to the Novotel and vice versa.  

Even though we had requested two rooms next to each other, those were not available so we received two rooms that were near each other.  Both rooms looked similar in terms of layout and the only difference was that one room had one bed while the other room had two beds. 

As you entered into the room, you entered into a mini-hallway that lead into the bedroom.  As you walked towards the bedroom, on the right-hand side was a door that led to a small area for the toilet.  The area for the toilet it was very narrow as you had to step to the side to close the door because it was very cramped; this was the only toilet in the room.  As you progressed further into the room, on the left hand was a shelf with the TV and menus.  In front of the TV was a couch and a desk - the desk could be moved.  The couch doubled as a sofa bed so potentially someone could sleep here (although given the size of the room not sure how).  
                       
In between the couch area and the bedroom was a curtain which could be pulled for privacy - so I am guessing that is how it is justified as a suite - but given the size and narrowness of the room I would definitely not count it as a suite.  

As you progressed further into the room, on the right side was a curved closet plus a nook area that held the coffee maker on top and fridge on the bottom.  The curved closets were huge and provided a lot of space, frankly more space than was need (in my opinion they could have used some of the closet space for the toilet).  The closets were big and provided a lot of storage and had a safe, slippers, and laundry bags available.  
 
Following the closets led you to the other bathroom door, and this was the shower/tub area.  Again, this area was somewhat narrow and cramped.  As you entered, on the left hand side was a tub while on the right hand side was a small shower.  Against the wall was a sink that had little to no counter space to hold anything.  There was a shelf for the shower and this housed the amenities for the shower including a shampoo, a bath gel, mouthwash, soap, and lotion.  The amenities were a nice touch.  

The beds were located against the back wall, and between the bed and the bathroom was a night stand.  Additional storage space was provided by a stack of small shelves on the wall next to the bathroom door.  The night stand had plugs next to it as well as light switches to control the room - again a nice touch.  We had two rooms - one with one big bed and the other with two beds.  The two beds were put right next to each other with no room in the middle.  The big bed basically was one mattress on top of the two small box springs on the bottom.  Both provided a decent nights rest, but the two beds being so close together meant that there was no space between you and your bedmate; you got really comfortable with your sleeping partner.  The pillows were also decent and thus it provided a decent night’s sleep.  

The hotel did have provide amenities such as a pool, gym, massage room, free parking, and free wifi.  The wifi speed was decent and you stayed connected so that was a good amenity.  The parking garage was free but it was extremely tight and the spaces limited, but we managed to get a parking spot.  The gym was decent and had the basic equipment for a decent workout.  The pool was outside and looked to be a decent size - not grand but not small either.  
 
The other amenity that we tried was the restaurant, as we could add breakfast to the room.  If you added breakfast prior to the reservation, then you received the discounted rate but if you added breakfast the day of then it was the regular rate.  The breakfast was a buffet and overall it was decent, it provided the basic items needed for breakfast.   Given the selection and the quality of the food, the cost was a bit pricey so am not sure if I would choose this option again.

Overall, the hotel was decent if you know what you are getting.  If you go expecting a suite with a lot of amenities, then you will be disappointed.  If you go in expecting a decent room and a decent night’s sleep at a low cost, then you will enjoy the Suites Novotel Dubai Mall of the Emirates.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Trip Report: Turkish Airlines - Dublin to Athens via Istanbul (July 2017)

Trip Report: Turkish Airlines - Dublin to Athens via Istanbul
         comment below and let me know your thoughts :)

I was flying from Dublin to Athens and decided to fly with Turkish Airlines for 2 reasons: 1) it was an economical price and 2) I was meeting a friend in Istanbul as we were both flying to Athens together.  I have previously flown with Turkish Airlines and my previous experience was alright; it was not great but it was not bad that I wanted to avoid the airline. 



In trying to book the flight, I previous have had issues with the airline’s website.  While the website does provide good deals and options pre-booking and during booking, it is not good post booking or managing your flight.  For these various reasons, I had purchased my ticket through a travel agency and received the airline reservation code.  Using that code, I had to call the reservation system to request seat assignments, special meal requests, and adding of my frequent flyer number (note: if you book too far in advance, the airplane has not been confirmed for your flight so you may not able to book your seat).  I was able to check-in online and receive my boarding pass, which made the airport experience easier as the airline has a separate ‘online check-in’ line. 

My first flight was from Dublin to Athens.  The scheduled flight time is 4h30min and the flight is   The plane was scheduled to depart at 10:50a and arrive Istanbul at 5:10p.  I arrived at the gate around 9:30a but the gate was empty; the flight arrives from Istanbul at 10:10a and the crew have 40 minutes to deplane, clean, and reload passengers for the return flight.  In my experience, Turkish has not been the most efficient airline so I was not expecting an on-time departure (also, according to the boarding pass we were supposed to board the aircraft at 10:10a).  The crew did a good job of turning the aircraft around, but we did board late.  

The operating aircraft was a Boeing 737 with a 3-3 seat layout in economy, and a 2-2 seat layout in business.  The interior looked updated and the color scheme of Turkish with black and red seats are very nice.  Each seat had a pillow as well as a headphones on the seat, and each seat had a PTV with a USB port and headphone jack.  Beneath the PTV was space which held the safety card, the airline magazine, and the sickness bag.  Below that was the tray table, the remote for the PTV, and then another pocket for your personal belongings.  There were a lot of amenities on the seat, but the location of the tray table and the remote was problematic, especially for a tall person like myself, as your knees keep hitting the tray table.  The position of the tray table also cut into the seat pitch, which was already narrow to start with; there was definitely not a lot of leg room.  The seat comfort was average, it wasn’t bad during the beginning of the flight but towards to the end you did start feeling the somewhat lack of cushion.

Once everyone was on board, the doors closed, the safety video was shown, and we took off for   Turkish is a full-service airline, which means that complimentary luggage is provided as well as complimentary meal and drinks.  The meal service start a bit later than normal, and regular meals as well as special request meals were served at the same time.  Along with meals, complimentary drinks were provided.  Turkish has advertised ‘chef on board’ for the business class and has promoted their airline meals, and while the meal wasn’t great it was definitely better and more substantial than I have had on other airlines.  After the meal service, tea and coffee were served before the meal trays were cleared.  For the remaining flight, passengers were able to pass the time with the PTV which had a decent selection of movies and television shows.  In my previous experience, which was on a long-haul flight, the PTV selection was good for short-haul flights but there was not enough content for the long-haul flights; it was the same experience now.  The selection was good and decent for the short-haul, but was a bit limited for the long-haul flight. 
Istanbul.

We started out decent into Istanbul, and after a long time of roaming around the airport and waiting   Each time I have transferred through Istanbul, it has been very crowded and very long – there are long walks between gates and when transferring from one gate to another.  Additionally you have to go through security even when transferring as well as go through a boarding pass check.  Given the immense crowds, seating space is a commodity especially since the gates are only announced about 1.5 hour prior to the flight; the airport capacity has not kept up with the growth of the airline. 

I made my way to the gate for my next flight, and when I got there I saw a very big plane for a short flight.  My next flight was from Athens to Istanbul and the operating aircraft was a Boeing 777-300ER, which is a very big aircraft for a flight time of 1h30min.  We were scheduled to depart at 7:15p and arrive Athens at 8:45p which meant we were scheduled to board at 6:15p.  Boarding started late and, due to the size of the plane and the number of passengers, boarding took a while so we were delayed in our departure.  The boarding doors finally closed, the safety video was shown, and we departed for Athens.

The plane is laid out in a 3-3-3 seat layout.  I have previously flown this aircraft with Turkish on a long-haul flight and during that time, the seat pitch was very tight given the long flight duration.  Given that, for this flight I requested a bulkhead seat which had lots of legroom.  The seat itself was comfortable, especially because it was a very short flight.  Usually the seats contain a pillow and headphones, but those were not available during this flight (again, I am assuming due to the short flight time).  Each seat did have its own PTV which had a variety of TV shows and movies; however, the selection was limited as there weren’t as many options as my previous flight.  Each seat also contained a seat pocket which contained the airlines magazine, duty free magazine, safety card, and an air sickness bag.  As I was in a bulkhead seat, the PTV did not have USB ports but rather underneath the seat, next to the holder for the PTV screens, there were USB ports and a universal plug. 

Once we passed 10,000ft, the inflight service started.  Turkish is a full-airline which means they  I knew this, but given the short flight distance I did not expect much.  The attendants came around and handed out cheese sandwiches and offered a choice of beverage.  The service was quick and rushed, I think the attendants themselves were overwhelmed in providing the service to the large number of passengers in the short flight time.  Once the service was done, and the trash collected, most passengers watched the inflight entertainment until it was time to land.  We landed in Athens a little after the scheduled arrival time, taxied to the gate, and deplaned.
provide complimentary meals and drinks of each flight.

My return flight was also operated by Turkish and the experience was very similar (including the chaotic transfer in Istanbul).  Overall, the experience with Turkish Airlines was decent; I neither had a positive nor negative experience on Turkish.  They provided a decent onboard product, with nice amenities such as USB ports and PTVS as well as complimentary meals and drinks, but nothing was outstanding.  The seat pitch on the Boeing 737 was a bit tight (even for the 4+hr flight time) and the chaotic transfer in Istanbul (on both the outbound and return) was not enjoyable.  Given all this, would I fly Turkish again?  They usually have good promotions going which makes the costs more affordable, so given that I would fly them again but mostly for short-haul; I think other airlines provide a better and more comprehensive long-haul service.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Stay Report: Hilton Singapore (August 2015)

Stay Report: Hilton Singapore 
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We were going to be in Singapore for a long layover, and having previously been there, I knew that the main boulevard in Singapore is Orchard Road so I wanted to stay near the heart of the city.  The Hilton Singapore provides a nice hotel right off of Orchard Road, so still accessible to everything but a bit quieter. The hotel is about a 2-3 minute walk from the Orchard Road MRT station, and is not connected to the station.  I had previously stayed at the Marriott Singapore and this hotel was located right above the MRT station, but the price for this hotel was too much (and Hilton was having a sale). 

The hotel itself is grand. As you enter, on the right hand side is the lobby and the left hand side is a high-end mall. Beyond the lobby is a sitting area which houses the 'business center' (2 computer stands) and beyond that is the restaurant and bar.  Singapore is very efficient and so check-in happened very quickly.  We had arrived late in the night and had made a request to have the room kept for us, and the hotel was very good at accommodating this request.  After check-in, we took the elevator to our room.

The room themselves are a decent size - not too big but not too small either.  As you enter, the bathroom is to your left while on the right is the closet and shelves.  The bathroom was a standard Hilton bathroom with a toilet, a sink, and a shower tub.  There were nice Peter Thomas Roth bathroom amenities.  On the other side, the closet provided a nice, if small, storage space.  Further into the room, on the left hand side were the beds while on the right was the TV on the wall.  We had booked a room with two beds and the beds were decent size, enough for 1 person each.  Hilton usually has nice and comfortable beds, and these were similar and provided a nice sleep.  Other features in the room included a desk, a chest, and a window that looked out onto Orchard Road and provided some nice views. 
 
The hotel is a full service hotel so there are many amenities that the hotel provides such as free wifi, complimentary water bottles, a restaurant, a bar, a gym and a pool.  Since we were only there for a short period, the only amenity I used was the wifi which was complimentary (for HiltonHonors members), and it provided decent speeds.  The hotel does not provide complimentary airport transportation as most guests use the MRT or taxis to get from the airport to the hotel.  (we used taxi or ride-sharing services as the MRT hours were not conducive to our arrival or departure time).


Overall, it was a nice stay at the Hilton Singapore.  As the hotel is not right on Orchard Road, it is quieter so it is more tranquil to be away from the noise, but it close enough to Orchard that you can easily access the MRT station and other amenities.  The only negative was a smell which seemed to indicate that the hotel was a bit older - the hotel was updated with modern Hilton amenities so looked updated. 

Stay Report: Doubletree Hotel & Residences Dubai - Al Barsha (April 2017)

Stay Report: Doubletree Hotel & Residences
Dubai - Al Barsha
comment below and let me know your thoughts :)

We had a day layover in Dubai and wanted to stay at a hotel that was next to a Mall as well as next to the metro station so that we could move around.  I decided to try the DoubleTree Hotel & Residences, Dubai Al Barsha as its located near the Mall of the Emirates. The Mall of the Emirates is a very large mall (where Ski Dubai is located) so there is access to food, clothes, services, and a grocery store.  The mall is also a stop on the metro thus providing easy access to the train.  The hotel has very good customer service as they responded quickly and were willing to work with me when I emailed them questions regarding my stay.  That was a positive sign of the hotel.  Overall, the hotel provides a nice comfortable stay in Dubai with nice amenities.


The hotel located in a building by itself, and is advertised as both a Hotel and Residences.
 As you enter into the hotel, you enter into an open atrium.  Immediately in front of you are chairs to sit and lounge, while to the right is a coffee bar and restaurant.  To the left is the check-in desk and in front are the glass elevators which take you to the room.  The lobby itself is somewhat narrow, the atrium makes it feel bigger but overall the hotel looks a bit older that some of the other hotels I have seen in Dubai.  Check-in was smooth and we received our key to our room (plus directions to the Mall).  There are two sets of elevators, but they were both in the middle and both led to the same direction.  We were on the 4th floor, and on the 4th floor the elevators were separated by a glass door so in the end it did not matter which set of elevators you took. 

The first thing you notice when you enter the room is the long entrance-way.  The entrance way from the door to the actual bedroom is very long and very wide.  The room is shaped like an L, with a long entrance way that leads to the bedroom. For us, everything was on the right side of the entrance way as on the left was a wall and a door leading to the next room.  On the right side was the entrance to the bathroom, followed by two sets of big closets, and then a nook area that had shelves on top as well as a coffee maker and fridge on the bottom.  The closets were very big and housed a safe, an iron plus ironing board, slippers, as well as plenty of space to hang clothes.  

The bathroom was very spacious and had all the basic amenities including a sink, a toilet,
and a shower.  There was not a lot of counter space on the sink, but there was some space above the toilet (be careful nothing splashes down or up).  The shower was bit tricky to work out as the same handle operated both the shower as well as the hand-held.  It took a few (wet) tries to figure out which direction went for which mode.  The was also not covered, as there was only a glass partition for half of the shower.  I am not sure why hotels do this as it causes a lot of water to spill out, thus creating a mess for the guest and the housekeeping.  

Considering the size of the entrance-way, the room itself was a bit narrow.  As you entered into the room area, there was a L-shaped couch with a table in front of it.  Had the couch been a bit bigger it could have fit a sofa-bed - the couch itself was decent but the table was a bit out of place as it was very big so you could not sit at the table and pass around the table at the same time.  On the wall opposite the couch was a ledge that led to the TV stand, and this was also connected to the desk.  The ledge provided a lot of space to put your things, but the TV was oddly placed as you could not move it so you couldn't see the TV from the couch, only from the bed.  

The beds were two twin beds with nightstand in the middle.  Since the room was narrow, there was no room to move on the other side of the bed, so both persons had to move in the same direction which made the room feel even more cramped.  The beds themselves were comfortable and provided a decent night sleep.  The AC in the room also faced the beds, so if you were sitting on the bed you felt the breeze but if you were sitting on the couch you could not.  Next to the bed were switches to control the lights, but you could either turn off all the lights or keep them all on.  There was no option to turn off just the bedroom lights and keep the hallway lights on.  There were plugs available next to the bed and near the desk, but that was about it - no USB ports available.      

The hotel itself is located behind the Mall of the Emirates.  There is no connection between the hotel and the Mall, and there is a lot of construction between the hotel and the Mall which cuts off a direct route.  To get to the Mall from the hotel you have to exit the hotel and go around the construction and enter the hotel through the parking garage near the grocery store.  Overall it's about a 5-7 minute walk and there are many people walking as you pass through a residential neighborhood.  There is also a shuttle to the Mall as well as to the Beach which runs every 2 hours.  

The hotel is a full-service hotel with lots of amenities including meeting rooms, a business center, a fitness center, a pool, steam and sauna rooms, as well as coffee bar and restaurant.  We were only there for one-day so I was not able to try out the facilities, but they looked really nice and well-maintained.  The business center was near the meeting areas and provided a nice and quiet place to conduct business and any potential meetings.  The fitness center was also nice and well-maintained and had enough equipment for a good workout.  The pool was outside on the 1st floor and was surrounded by the views from the room, but the pool was decent given the hotel.   There is also free wifi, with an access code, and the speed was decent. 

Overall, it was a pleasant stay at the DoubleTree Al Barsha.  While it looked liked an older hotel, the rooms had been properly updated and maintained so it provided a nice rest.  The layout and narrowness of the room, in my mind, made it good for one night but not sure if I would spend more here.  The hotel does provide good customer service, lots of amenities, and of course the DoubleTree cookie :)