Tuesday, June 10, 2014

14 Hours in Zurich - Part 1

The way most US-European flights are scheduled, they depart in the evening so that you'll arrive in Europe in time for a full day of business meetings.

I guess you're supposed to sleep for most of the 8 hour flight, but unfortunately, that schedule doesn't always work well for families with toddlers as I'm really not prepared for either (a) going to bed at 6:30PM or (b) being woken up at 8:40AM Zurich time, which is 2:30AM New York time. Nevertheless, on the second half of the flight, I finally fell asleep (when it was around 10PM New York time).

We landed on time in Zurich just before 9AM local time. I was still pretty groggy, but was now awake after an hour of the bright cabin lighting to force people onto the local time. Now we were in Zurich, so what do we do?

Anticipating that we'd still be jet lagged when we arrived, my father booked us an airport hotel for us to catch up on some sleep and shower. We always feel pretty gross after a red-eye flight, so a shower was a must - especially for my father who was starting to get that "musky old man" smell now that he turned 35.

Since we were going to have all day in Zurich, we figured spending a early morning few hours at a nearby airport hotel to rest/refresh would still give us the majority of our afternoon/evening to spend in downtown Zurich. We also figured we could take public transportation from the Airport to get into Zurich. That was the plan...

Hotel Details
Hotel: Hilton Zurich Airport 
Dates: June 10-11, 2014
Rate Paid: $201 USD (incl. taxes)
Points Earned: 4,322 HHonors Points
Est. Points Value:  $35
Breakfast Value: $50
Executive Lounge Value: $15

He found a good AAA deal at the nearby Hilton (5 minute drive away, free airport shuttle). Plus, given my father still had Hilton Gold status, we'd get access to the Executive Lounge as well as complimentary breakfast. There were definitely cheaper hotel options (especially since we weren't even staying overnight), but given they were with other hotels where we didn't have status, we preferred to go with Hilton where we had some comfort that elite status would come in handy.

While $201 USD seems steep for a few hours of sleep and a shower, after factoring in the earned Hilton HHonors points and a fair value for the free breakfast buffet and lounge (more free food and drinks), we got about 50% of the cost back in points and perks. So would you spend $100 for a comfortable private hotel room for 14 hours?

We were supposed to spend Tuesday night at the hotel (check in at 3PM, depart the Wednesday morning), but our plan was to get into our room early Tuesday morning and check out that same evening. So my father called ahead to make sure the hotel was aware of that plan and they said it shouldn't be a problem.

So when we arrived at Tuesday 9:30AM, we were happy to hear that our room was immediately available. We then asked if we could take our complimentary breakfast that same morning (instead of Wednesday morning), and they said it was not a problem. We were given a breakfast voucher to hand to the hostess. But since it was getting late, we ran up to the room, dropped off our bags and then came back down to get some real breakfast food.

After our free breakfast, it was almost 10:30AM local time (4:30AM New York time) so we decided to go up to the room and catch up on some sleep. The room was very clean and well appointed. We had everything we needed including a shower/tub combo, a comfortable bed and most importantly, blackout curtains! Seriously, if you closed the curtains, you'd have no idea it was daytime.

So we showered up, shut the curtains and decided to nap for 60-90 minutes and planned wake up at 12:30PM at the latest...

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