My stats on 1 year of Pandemic Travelling & ranking my favourite hotels



While I thoroughly enjoyed the journey in the past 12 months, I understood that I would be taking a health risk by travelling in pandemic times and never recommended it from the start.

The purpose of this post is to continue being transparent and share the true possibilities of travel-hacking when you push it to the limit.

I hope that it inspires more travellers to learn travel-hacking and travel smarter in future!

This time last year, my plan was to just head to Dubai (as it was one of a few countries opened to travellers) and see how it goes from there. I even had winter clothes packed! Never got to using them though.

Then the Delta variant came along. 😩

Although I’ve faced wild ups and downs with border restrictions in early 2021, I have been incredibly fortunate to have found myself in Bangkok and Bali, where hospitality and hotels are probably the best in the world.


Cities visited: 6
(Johor Bahru, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Bangkok, Jakarta, Bali)

Nights in Malaysia: 10, UAE: 69, Thailand: 42, Indonesia: 242

Nights in hotels: 352
(Marriott: 171, Hilton: 80, Hyatt: 55, Accor: 13, IHG: 4, Fraser: 4, Non-chain: 25)

Nights in Airbnb: 11

Number of properties: 66

Nights in the air: 2
(Qatar Airways, Japan Airlines Business Class)

Nights paid in cash: 299

Nights paid with points: 66
(Hilton: 61, Hyatt: 3, Marriott: 2)

Nights in quarantine: 20
(Bangkok: 15, Jakarta: 5)

Total flights: 8

Swab tests taken: 12

Additional note: Other than the 1 night at The Apurva Kempinski Bali (review coming soon), I booked base rooms (cheapest) in all other hotels and was always upgraded because of membership status.

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Best hotels (value)

These hotels gave me the best value for what I paid.

5) The Westin, Nusa Dua, Bali

4) Aloft Kuala Lumpur

3) Hilton Garden Inn Bali

2) Courtyard Bali Seminyak

1) Aloft Bali Seminyak

Loft Room at Aloft Bali Seminyak

Best hotels (quality)

If price does not matter (yawn), here’s how I would rank my stays based on just quality.

5) Viceroy Bali

4) W Kuala Lumpur

3) The Athenee, a Luxury Collection, Bangkok

2) The Apurva Kempinski Bali

1) Al Maha, a Luxury Collection, Dubai

Wow Suite at W Kuala Lumpur

How much did I spend on accommodations?

If you have been following Suitesmile on Instagram and seen my hotel reviews, you would have known that I have always been transparent with what I paid for hotel stays and the free benefits that came with them.

In the past 12 months, I have spent a total of S$20,383.91 on accommodation. That works out to an average of S$1,699 per month and S$57 per night.

However, this raw number does not paint the whole picture. With those payments, I have gained over 70,000 credit card miles and hundreds of thousands of hotel points that can be redeemed for over 80 free nights in some hotels from chains like Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt.

If you are a non-travel-hacking person who doesn’t (yet) understand miles and points and reeeeally wants a ballpark figure of how much my accommodation over the past 12 months actually costed, after taking into account the miles and free nights that came with it, here’s the number:

S$1,193 per month

What about meals?

Nearly all of my hotel stays included free breakfast, because of my membership statuses with multiple hotel loyalty programs.

Some of those stays, like the ones at Al Maha Dubai, Grand Hyatt Bangkok, W Bali Seminyak and The Ritz-Carlton Bali even included hotel credits, which we used for 2 to 3 free meals every day!

On top of the free meals, there are other benefits like free WiFi, electricity, water, housekeeping and other amenities.

20 of those nights were also spent in quarantine hotels where daily meals were included in the cost.

Redeemed hotel credit for FREE Alaskan King Crab at The Athenee Bangkok

How much did I spend on flights?

Other than the Qatar Airways and Japan Airlines Business Class flights, which were redeemed with miles, I paid normal Economy fares (in cash) for the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai (about S$400) and between Jakarta and Bali (about S$60 each way).

Double beds onboard Qatar Airways Business Class

What’s next for me

I got myself fully vaccinated last month (really challenging as a foreigner!) and I am planning to explore other parts of Indonesia for a couple of months.

I have an Etihad Business Class flight (remember that deal?) to Milan booked early next year. A kind Instagram follower alerted me on a similar deal which only costed S$497 for the one-way flight from Jakarta! 🤯

Maybe I’ll finally get to use those winter clothings in Europe. I’ll probably spend a couple of weeks in Europe before, hopefully, flying back to Singapore.

Of course, I am not sure how the pandemic situation will be, in the coming months. It can only get better, surely? I’m keeping my plans flexible, just in case.

I also have those epic Qatar Airways flights from Singapore to Auckland, New Zealand coming up in May 2022. Fingers crossed!

It’s amazing to see many Singapore-based travellers flying again. To more travel-hacky trips; stay safe and healthy everyone! 💙

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