An English Summer: Introduction


Like I’ve mentioned before, Shipra and myself were off on a slightly unplanned but long trip recently to UK and Ireland. We usually try and do our longer breaks end of the year, when the both of us have a lot of time at hand given our work is slow, but this time around, we headed out in the summer season. No wonder, we were subject to the English Summer.

The keynote to this trip was to watch U2. One fine morning last year I woke up to the news that U2 had announced a tour of their best album ever, The Joshua Tree, and it felt like the perfect opportunity to watch them. I’d almost given up on ever watching a live U2 concert, given they are growing old and their newer albums ain’t half as great as their old ones.

And while we were at it, why not watch U2 perform in Dublin, which is their home town. So that is where it all started. After a mad F5 rush to book the tickets, I eventually managed to get two tickets and then I forgot all about it after for a few months. The only thing I booked in January was a room at the InterContinental Dublin that weekend, because I expected the hotel to be sold out.

Eventually, we did not do much about the trip till May knocked on the door. We had multiple commitments and hence we were not sure about how much time we’d have on hand. Once we started getting a grip, we started to put the itinerary together. As usual, most of the trip was going to be on points and miles.

An English Summer: Flights Booking

We initially wanted to fly out on Qatar Airways from Mumbai to London, but we went with Air India in Business Class. From Mumbai, Air India only has one service to London directly, which does not compare well with Jet Airways and British Airways twice daily. But it was a Boeing 787, and I really wanted to try it out for years now, so I went ahead it. There was also this slight nagging issue of expiring Air India miles which I’d accumulated years ago. I pulled the trigger on the night the miles were going to expire.

Air India 787-8 Business Class flat bed

Air India 787-8 Business Class flat bed

On the return, we went with British Airways First Class. I’ve long evaded British Airways First Class on the London to Mumbai route because of the sad planes BA has been putting on the route (the old workhorses, the Boeing 747 or the Boeing 777s). While BA may have similar Club World products across the board, the First Class changes as per the planes. In the current schedule BA had finally put their latest product on Mumbai turns, the Boeing 787-9, and it was of interest.

British Airways First Class Suite

British Airways First Class Suite

For the flights between London and Dublin, we stuck with BA, given the ticket prices were high but redemption seats were available for 4500 Avios per head. This included a harebrained idea from my end to book London City to Dublin on the outbound, over London Heathrow. I spent more time in the cab to LCY than on the plane ride.

On arriving back from London, we immediately headed to Goa. We already had the tickets booked for a long time, and we just joined the trips together so that we would not have to come home from the Mumbai Airport.

I will share the cost of each leg of the ticketing along the way. Eventually, the itinerary looked like this.

Trip Planning

Trip Planning

  • 17-July-2017 AI131 Mumbai to London Heathrow on a B787-8 [Business Class]
  • 21-July-2017 BA4464 London City to Dublin on a E70 [Economy Class]
  • 27-July-2017 BA833 Dublin to London Heathrow on an A321 [Economy Class]
  • 28-July-2017 BA139 London Heathrow to Mumbai on a B787-9 [First Class]
  • 29-July-2017 9W479 Mumbai to Goa on a B737 [Economy Class]
  • 1-Aug-2017 9W435 Goa to Mumbai on a B737 [Economy Class]

An English Summer: Hotels Booking

For this trip, Shipra and I tried very hard to stay over a couple of cities rather than hop around which is our usual fashion. We thought it’d allow us to soak in the city even more and be lazy, which we usually are not on our trips.

We started the trip with a stay at the new JW Marriott Hotel at the Mumbai Airport, given we did not have an opportunity to check it out before. The hotel started just a couple of years ago and we had an expiring Marriott Rewards Category 1-5 night, so why not.

Entrance Lobby of the JW Mumbai, Sahar

When we arrived in London, we checked into the Marriott Hotel Park Lane. It has a great location opposite Hyde Park, and we figured it would be nice to stay here for at least one night. So we made a points reservation.

Marriott Park Lane Hotel : exterior view

Subsequently, we moved to the Hyatt Regency London – Churchill. A hotel I have stayed at before, but I did not review then since the hotel had a tragic fire incident right after which caused them to shut down for renovation. We stayed here for three nights on points.

Hyatt Regency London - Churchill Room

Hyatt Regency London – Churchill Room

In Dublin, we stayed for the weekend at the InterContinental Dublin like I previously mentioned. The IC Dublin was earlier a Four Seasons Hotel, so very plush already. This was a revenue rate and we were using our Ambassador Weekend Night certificate here. Perhaps the most expensive room rate on our stay, given everything was going expensive on account of it being the concert weekend.

InterContinental Dublin Executive Suite

InterContinental Dublin Executive Suite

We subsequently moved to an Airbnb in Dublin, given we wanted to live in the non-touristy City Centre. We stayed in a cabin for 3 nights, before moving to an airport hotel for the final night. The airport hotel was a Holiday Inn Express, and was inspired by the fact that we had already completed most of our Accelerate challenge for Q2, so a couple of more nights would give us the complete rewards.

Likewise, we built in one more day in our itinerary on the way back in London, for reasons I’ll explain later. We went with one of the many Holiday Inns near the London Heathrow airport for the night.

Once in Goa, we went back to our favourite place there, at the Park Hyatt Goa Resort & Spa.

Park Hyatt Goa Resort & Spa

Park Hyatt Goa Resort & Spa

Bottomline

This was a great trip on many counts. In terms of travel experiences, Air India came off much better than expected and British Airways was very nice as well. It is always a pleasure to head to the Hyatt Regency Churchill – London and the InterContinental Dublin was an experience in itself. The Marriott London Park Lane disappointed, but the JW Marriott Sahar was a good start to the trip. U2 was excellent!

U2 on stage at Croke Park under The Joshua Tree

U2 on stage at Croke Park under The Joshua Tree

Comments

  1. next time try taking the tube from your London hotel to LCY
    Its quick, fun and cheap – and gets you right into the airport

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