Ipanema Beach

Best Beach - Ipanema in Rio

To call something the ‘best’ is highly subjective – my opinion may differ from yours, in no small part because my needs / requirements / tastes may differ from yours. To that end, this is a is more of a list of ‘Manav’s Favourites’

Best Airline for Business – British Airways is the airline we all love to hate – the food is mediocre, the champagne is cheap, the service is patchy, the baggage handling dismal and the fares outrageous. But if you spend one night a week on a plane, let it be on BA. Frequent travelers prefer to fly at night, seldom eat or drink very much, and we never ever check-in a bag. BA gives us a comfortable bed, turns out the lights shortly after take-off and allows us to get a full night of sleep. The insanely high fares discourage leisure travelers and ensures that you are almost always surrounded by other business travelers, who are also trying to maximize sleep time. The new First Class cabin is mind-blowing and its well worth splurging some frequent flyer miles to get an upgrade.

Best Airline for Pleasure – Jet Airways – big comfortable beds, large TV screens with the latest from Hollywood and Bollywood, Don Perignon champagne and top quality Indian food – this is one flight where it almost seems wrong to forsake all the fun for a bit of sleep. I cannot think of a better airline for a honeymoon or an indulgent holiday.

Best Hotel – Park Hyatt Tokyo – the perfect combination of American excess (think massive rooms, luxurious bathrooms, great gym, etc), Japanese simplicity (in both design and delivery) and flawless service.  The New York Bar on the top floor attracts the most beautiful people in Tokyo and serves up the finest steak in the world. It gets a few extra points or being the set for the movie Lost in Translation.

Best Airport for business – London City Airport – location – 15 mins by cab from either of the financial districts in London. Size – tiny, which means no long walks to faraway boarding gates. Crowd – almost exclusively business travelers, which means fast-moving security lines. The only airport that allows you to leave the office 60 mins before your flight and still make it on time!

Best Restaurant for Business Lunch –  Zuma at the Dubai International Financial Center. There is no greater testament to the quality of the food than the number of Japanese people who frequent this restaurant. Classy without being formal, discreet without being cold and luxurious without being ostentatious. The set menus at lunch are great value and the bar attracts the very best of the jet set professional crowd in the middle east.

Best Cure for Jet-Lag – The Gym – If you have a few hours between getting off an overnight flight and your workday, don’t make the rookie mistake of catching up on sleep – An extra hour or two wont make any difference – the best way to convince your body that a new day has begun is to sweat it out in the gym (even 20 mins is better than nothing) and follow-up with a high protein breakfast (avoid stuff like fruit juice and breakfast cereal that makes your blood sugar spike) with lots of water and a large cup of coffee (just one cup though – a caffeine high is almost always followed by a caffeine crash !)

Best Luggage – Tumi – the strongest, most practical and longest lasting travel companions for the air-mile junkie. Dont bother with the designer brands or make the mistake of picking the nicest looking bag in the store – Tumi’s practicality and reliability is what is most important when you are on the road. If you want proof, look around any airline lounge – 90% of the business travelers will be carrying Tumi luggage – they all can’t be wrong.

Best reading material – a copy of the Economist (better yet, the iPad version) – conveniently available at most airports in the world with articles are short and punchy so ideally suited to sitting in a train, waiting in a departure lounge, between boarding and take-off, etc. Plus, you’ll sound intelligent and worldly-wise when you get where you’re going.

Best avoided conversations – anything to do with politics, religion or international conflict – don’t ever start such a topic. If someone else does, quickly change the topic or find an excuse to leave. Nothing good can possibly come from discussing these matters with strangers in a foreign land.

Best travel tip – The most important things you need to carry on any journey are patience, humility and a sense of humor. There is nothing more annoying than the traveler who takes himself too seriously. Screaming at the stewardess for a delay in takeoff or the baggage handler for lost luggage will not solve the problem. Smile, crack a few harmless jokes and even the most painful journey can quickly become a lot of fun.

Originally published in Frappe