Monday, November 30, 2015

My Top 3 Dream Stays in Niseko, Japan

I'm In just mere 2 months, I'm going to Niseko in Hokkaido, Japan, which is well known as the best place to ski in Japan. Niseko has been voted to have the best overall terrain and best powder for skiing in Japan. Since I picked up skiing when I was living in China for 2 years 7-8 years ago, my skiing skills have been rusty and early this year when I went back skiing in Beijing, I had a bad fall and hurt my knee quite badly. Still, I want to improve my skills and Big Teddy is also an avid skier, so we decided to plan a skiing holiday to Japan during 1st week of February 2016 when the golden opportunity came as soon as AirAsia announced that they are flying to directly to Sapporo from Kuala Lumpur from 1st October 2015 onwards (the only direct flight to Sapporo from KL). We quickly booked the business class tickets for 2 during the promotion period (about RM2k per person) as we prefer direct flight (it's 9 hours flight time to Sapporo) and the flatbed comfort (I want to sleep during the night flight).
Now that the flight has been taken care off, my next mission is to find the best place to stay in Niseko when we get there...

The amazing ski slopes in Niseko (Picture Courtesy of
As I was researching about accommodations in Niseko, I couldn't help but getting drawn to the emails that The Luxe Nomad keep sending about Niseko. As Asia-Pacific’s leading luxury villa and hotel booking portal, The Luxe Nomad has a very comprehensive list of villas and hotels in Niseko, so I started browsing my options. Some of the items on my wish list for my dream stay in Niseko will be a place close to the ski slopes, i.e. ski-in ski-out, onsen onsite (why come to Japan without getting the full onsen experience?), as well as proximity to restaurants and nightlife. Therefore, I'd compiled my Top 3 Dream Stays in Niseko per following:-

1) Ki Niseko at Upper Hirafu
This Place has been nominated for 2015 World's Best New Ski Hotel and it is a work of art by the renowned Hokkaido architect – Koichi Ishiguro. Nestled at the foot of Grand Hirafu Resort, Ki Niseko is a boutique ski-in ski-out hotel that combines modern alpine charm with Japanese sophistication.  This place is s stunning and it met all the items on my wishlist, with natural indoor and outdoor onsens, minutes walk to Hirafu Gondola and Holiday Pair lifts with 1st ever Ski Valet service in Niseko, complimentary shuttle services around Hirafu.
The 1 or 2 rooms apartments on each level will have stunning views of Mount Yotei or Resort Mountain. The rooms' amenities include complimentary WiFi, satellite TV with English language channels, humidifiers and air conditioning and a state-of-the-art entertainment system. From the pictures below the rooms look modern with the alpine feel and I so love the chic designs. Sounds like a dream stay isn't it? Price is from RM2.0k per night during the peak season in February 2016.

The Luxe Nomad's link on this villa here:

2) The Vale Niseko at Upper Hirafu 
This place has won a string of awards including World’s Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2014 and 2015, hence it is definitely one of the most exclusive ski-in ski-out retreats right in Hirafu with the 49 choices of 1, 2 or 3 bed luxury apartments. My favourite things about this place is the full-fledged thermal experience with a designer onsen, ski-in, ski-out location with just 5 metres away from the Family Ace Chair Lift. 
The Vale Niseko is packaged with luxury amenities and personalised service to deliver the ultimate winter wonderland dream holiday. I read that guests could enjoy views of the slopes from the heated pool, soak away the day in the rich mineral waters of The Vale onsen and re-live a day of skiing over dinner at the Vale Bar & Grill before retiring to the comfort of their pillow-top feather beds. Also it's only a minute walk to Upper Hirafu Village where the hustle and bustle is located with plenty of restaurants and nightlife. Sounds like another dream stay isn't it? Price is from RM2.3k per night during the peak season in February 2016.

3) Terrazze at Middle Hirafu 
Nominated for Worlds Best Ski Chalet 2015, this amazing looking glass building is located in the Middle Hirafu with a location minutes away from lively bars and restaurants. It is however not a ski-in ski-out place but the family ace chair lifts are only 2 minutes away by shuttle. It has also a common ski lounge that is equipped with a fireplace, bootwarmers and boot drying facilities after a day out in the snow. I love the fact that the place is furnished with Cassina beds, Fabbian lamps, B&B sofas and gleaming marble Maxalto coffee tables that accentuate the lavishness of this property. Sometimes all we need is just some nice furniture to curl up in the cold winter holiday by the fireplace and watch the snow falling outside the window...   

Rooms wise they have guaranteed majestic views of Mount Yotei from the apartments, heated floorings throughout each unit, styled with imported Italian furnishings and well-equipped with hi-speed broadband WiFi. However, there's a minimum stay requirement which is 5 nights and price is from RM20k for 5 nights during the peak season in February 2016 for a 2-rooms apartment (average out per room per night is similar to the other 2 places mentioned above). Probably a better choice if we are traveling with another couple.   

The Luxe Nomad's link on this villa here:

So, those are my Top 3 dream stays in Niseko and hopefully I will get to stay in 1 of them really soon~! It's just 2 months away and I can't wait to go skiing again~!

P.S. The Luxe Nomad also writes great travel guides (places to eat, things to know, best onsens and many more) at which I find extremely useful when planning my ski trip to Japan. 

For more listings of other amazing villas in   Niseko, please checkout the Luxe Nomad at

For more listings of other amazing places to stay around the world, please checkout The Luxe Nomad at

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Penang 102 - Seven Terraces @ Georgetown

Seven Terraces is a boutique hotel located in the heart of George Town. It has been voted the best small hotel and best service hotel in Malaysia by Tripadvisor in 2015 and has the best restaurant in Malaysia as voted by TripAdvisor’s annual Traveller’s Choice awards located at the same property.
So when Big Teddy insisted that he wants to go to Penang as he has never been there, I decided to spoil our stay in George Town by booking the best hotel, splurging almost RM700 a night on accommodation during our 2 nights stay in Penang. This small boutique hotel has only 18 suites designed by the award-winning hoteliers Karl Steinberg and Christopher Ong, (Winners of the 2007 UNESCO Award of Distinction for heritage conservation and regular Conde Naste Hot List nominees). They had converted a grand row of seven 19th Century Anglo Chinese terraces, in one of Penang’s finest and most intact heritage streets, Lorong Stewart and Muntri Street, into a romantic, beautiful and timeless Peranakan themed retreat.
Locating the hotel was a little tricky as Waze sent us to the back of the hotel/restaurant entrance and we were having problem finding the hotel car park. I was on the phone with the front desk staff as we were driving in circle and finally she managed to find us and hopped into our car to guide us to the front of the hotel. Apart from this initial hiccup, we were totally taken away by the charm of this hotel, from the decor and details in service.
Soon after checked in and afternoon tea, I was down with severe diarrhea and mostly bed bound the 1st day we were there. I was glad that we have a fantastic room since I didn't to go out much (I had to send Big Teddy away on his own for dinner on the 1st night as I just couldn't bring myself out from the room). The room was spacious with 2 floors (a little annoying as I had to climb up the floors in between my diarrhea episodes) but everything else was just perfect the way it was. 

Four posters Chinese Bed upstairs
The balcony
The upstairs toilet
The charming living room downstairs
The very huge bathroom downstairs with rain shower
I love the day bed in the living room

Afternoon tea was served by the pool and the Nyonya Kuih was delicious. I wished I had time to use the pool but probably next time when we return to Penang. The central courtyard space was the mist lovely space in the hotel as it was so tranquil and calm by just looking at it. 
The afternoon tea area

The lap pool which I didn't get to use

The pool side/ afternoon tea area

The Lobby

I love the courtyard

Courtyard at night
Breakfast was served at the other end of the lobby hall and it was served from 730am - 10.30am with 9 different types of breakfast choices from local flavours (Roti Paratha, Nasi Lemak, Char Siew Bao etc) to typical western food (Eggs Benedict, pancakes, big breakfast etc). All breakfast came with chilled juice, fruit plate and coffee/tea. The char siew bao was good enough for my 1st day of breakfast after whole night of diarrhea but the nasi lemak was below par as the sambal belacan was too bland and the rice was too soft and sticky. 
The breakfast area
The breakfast area
The pork bun / Char Siew Bao as my 1st day breakfast
The nasi lemak as my 2nd day breakfast 
Overall, it was lovely stay in George town and the hotel is quite central to all the quirky stuff right down town. The service was impeccable, and we had a good chat with the general manager, Ewan on how this hotel was conceived and some of his interesting life stories in and out of hospitality industry (he was a policeman too). Although this trip was marred by my unfortunate food poisoning, but at least we were staying at the best hotel in Penang and that was the best part of this trip.  
The front of the hotel with car parks
Official Website:
Tripadvisor Review:
Address: Lorong Stewart, 10200 Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Tel:+60 4-264 2333

For my other posts on Penang, please click here.

Penang 101 - Ong Cheng Huat Seafood (王清发海鲜) @ Butterworth

Big Teddy and I were on a short weekend getaway during the Deepavali long weekend by driving all the way to Penang. Penang was all about the food and our 1st stop before reaching the island was Ong Cheng Huat Seafood (王清发海鲜). We got there just after 12 noon and the place was already full and we were lucky to have found a table straight away. The ordering was easy as the menu was small and simple so we just ordered the famous few dishes like Steamed Fish (RM33), Fried Spring Chicken (RM13), Stir Fried Clams (RM12), Prawn Fritters/Popiah (RM7) and Fried Mee Hoon (RM4.20). The food came quite quickly within 10-15 minutes as their menu is small. Out of all the food we ordered, we loved the steamed fish and the fried spring chicken the most. The steamed fish was juicy and the gravy was packed with shredded ginger, garlic and chili padi. Big Teddy loved the gravy so much that he almost drank it all. I liked the fried spring chicken although the meat is not as much as the normal chicken, but it was still tender and juicy even after being deep fried. The fried mee hoon and stir fried clams were alright too but the prawn fritters/popiah was too oily to our taste. The best part was all these food plus drinks only came up to RM72 for the 2 of us.
Sadly after this meal, I was down with severe food poisoning with non stop diarrhea, which I wasn't sure either was from lunch or the bad milk I drank the night before. Big Teddy was fine after lunch so maybe it was the milk then. But there goes our Penang food trip... :-( 

Our 1st stop for food after 4 hours of driving
Full house during Sunday lunch 
Fried Mee Hoon for RM4.20
Fried Spring Chicken for RM13
Prawn Fritters/ Popiah for RM7
The Famous Steamed Fish for RM33
Stir Fried Clams for RM12

Address:2004, Jalan Bagan Lallang, 13400 Butterworth, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Tel:+60 4-331 4782
Business Hours: 11.00am - 5.30pm; Close on Mondays

 For my other posts on Penang, please click here

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

London 116 - Shakespeare's Globe

Shakespeare's Globe is the complex housing a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, an Elizabethan playhouse in the London Borough of Southwark, on the south bank of the River Thames where Shakespeare worked and wrote many of his greatest plays. The Globe Theatre that was originally built in 1599, destroyed by fire in 1613, rebuilt in 1614, and then demolished in 1644. Then in 1970, an American actor and director Sam Wanamaker had a vision to recreate the Shakespeare's Globe close to its original location at Bankside, Southwar, which only completed in 1997.
Our 3-day London Pass covered the £13.50 ticket price of the tour and we got a very detailed walk-around this Oak-and-thatch replica of the Globe Theatre in a small group. It felt very medieval to be inside of the Globe although it was just empty stage and empty seats. I hope one day I could watch a play inside the Globe... 

The stage
The VIP seats

Address: 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 9DT, United Kingdom
Wikipedia Website:

For my other post on London, click here.
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