Update: These offers for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express have expired. Learn more about the current offers here.
Introduction: Journey To Kazakhstan
Review: Korean Air First Class 747-8 Vancouver To Incheon
Review: Nest Hotel Incheon Airport
Review: Asiana Business Class Lounge Incheon Airport
Review: Air Astana Business Class 767 Incheon To Almaty
Review: Ritz-Carlton Almaty
Review: Air Astana Lounge Almaty Airport
Review: Air Astana Business Class A321 Almaty To Astana
Review: Marriott Astana
Review: Air Astana Lounge Astana Airport
Review: Air Astana Business Class 757 Astana To London
Review: Sofitel London Heathrow Terminal 5
Review: United Lounge London Heathrow Airport
Review: Singapore Airlines Lounge London Heathrow Airport
Review: United First Class 777 London To Los Angeles
My flight from Vancouver arrived at 5:35PM, while my flight to Almaty the next day was at 12:55PM. Initially when I booked this trip I was going to stay at the Grand Hyatt Incheon Airport, which is a nice enough airport hotel. I thought that would be the only decent option, though when I looked at Starwood’s website I noticed that Nest Hotel was near Incheon Airport, which is a Design Hotels property.
Design Hotels isn’t fully integrated into Starwood, but rather Starwood just has a marketing partnership with them. This means you don’t receive full elite benefits at Design Hotels. Instead you get the following perks:
- SPG/Marriott members receive high-speed internet access and complimentary bottled water in-room
- Gold and Platinum members automatically receive Starpoints/Marriott Rewards points bonus as their welcome gift
- SPG/Marriott members only earn Starpoints/Marriott Rewards points and elite qualifying stays/nights if they’re booking through Starwood channels
- Starpoints/Marriott Rewards points can be accrued at the same rate as at other SPG/Marriott properties:
- Those paying with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express will earn 2 Starpoints per dollar spent at Design Hotels, just as they would at other Starwood properties
- Starpoints can be redeemed at Design Hotels
Design Hotels properties look quirky and fun, which are a nice change of pace from many of the cookie cutter hotels we may otherwise be used to. But perhaps my biggest motivator in wanting to stay here is that Starwood has a 2016 brand bonus, where you earn 11,000 Starpoints if you stay at 11 Starwood brands. I haven’t yet stayed at a Design Hotels property, so this stay would allow me to earn 11,000 bonus Starpoints (I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each).
The rate for my one night stay was ~$130. This is a Category 3 SPG property, meaning a free night redemption would have cost 7,000 Starpoints. In this case paying seemed like the better value.
Upon arriving at Incheon Airport I cleared immigration (which was surprisingly quick, despite how busy the immigration area was). I headed into the arrivals area, and then walked outside the terminal and to the right. There are various bus zones, and Nest Hotel picks up at gate 14C with the following schedule:
So you have to walk to the far right of the terminal.
From there you have to cross the street to the first “island,” where you’ll see the signage for 14C.
I had to wait about 15 minutes, and sure enough at exactly 6:25PM the Nest Hotel shuttle showed up.
The bus was large, and initially was empty when it left the airport.
However, the bus makes a stop on the way, and we picked up a massive Chinese tour group there, so every seat was taken.
The Nest Hotel is a bit further from the airport than the Grand Hyatt, so the ride took about 15 minutes.
Design Hotels properties are all about design (as the name suggests). In the case of this property, from the outside I couldn’t tell if it looked more like a modern minimalist hotel or a prison.
While the outside decor of the hotel doesn’t work all that well (in my opinion), I think the interior is much more stylish. I also generally love the exposed-concrete design, but I know everyone has different preferences.
The lobby was massive and featured really high ceilings, with a few nice sitting areas.
At the far end of the lobby was the reception desk, where I was promptly helped (I was sure to get off the bus quickly and beat the group, because moments later where were a few dozen people queued behind me).
Check-in was extremely efficient, and friendly in a distant way. I was presented with a fact sheet explaining the dining options at the hotel. For what it’s worth, my rate didn’t include breakfast or anything else.
I headed towards the elevators, located over near the middle of the lobby. There were four elevators, and keys were required to access the individual floors. Stupidly the elevators on the two sides of the hall weren’t connected, so if you pushed the call button it would only call two of them. That meant most people pushed both sets of buttons, meaning elevators kept stopping unnecessarily. I don’t get why some hotels do that.
I loved the decor on the individual floors even more, thanks to a cool carpet that almost looked like grass. I thought it provided a nice contrast to the concrete walls.
The hallways were dark, though, with very little natural (or even artificial) light.
My room was located about halfway down the hall and on the left.
The room itself was a good size for a standard room, at ~350 square feet. The room featured an entryway with a closet on the right and bathroom on the left.
The room had a comfortable queen size bed.
Across from the bed was a wall-mounted flat screen TV.
Next to that was a rather odd stool with a small table.
Fortunately in addition to that there was a desk built into the wall.
I appreciated how functional the desk was, between the USB chargers and built-in iPhone plugs, as well as the international adapters.
On the far side of the room next to the bed was a chair.
Back near the entrance was the bathroom, which featured a sink, Japanese toilet, and walk-in shower.
Ironically the Japanese toilet was from “American Standard.” I’d far prefer a “Japanese Standard” toilet. 😉
The shower featured both a rainforest shower head as well as a handheld one, and the water pressure and temperature control were pretty good.
The room had a surprising number of amenities, including toiletries from Kudos Spa (which I haven’t heard of before, though the products were quite good).
Across from the bathroom was a console with the minibar, kettle, ice bucket, etc.
The room had four complimentary bottles of still water, including two at room temperature and two in the minibar.
On top of the console was a small welcome note with two bottles of sparkling water. I assume that’s because my SPG profile says that I like sparkling water, or maybe it was just a coincidence.
Next to the console and closer to the door was a small closet.
The room had a peaceful view of the surrounding landscape.
The hotel even appears to have a rather odd and small (manmade) beach.
The room technically had a balcony, though it was tiny and didn’t have seating, so I couldn’t imagine spending any time there.
Overall I loved the design of the room. It was well thought out and comfortable. The wifi in the room was usable, though certainly not high speed.
While breakfast wasn’t included in my rate, the following morning I was hungry around breakfast time, so decided to check out the breakfast buffet. Breakfast is served daily in The Platz, located off the lobby. It’s served from 6:30AM until 10AM, and costs 31,000KRW (~$28) if not included with your room rate.
The restaurant itself is stunning, with several tiers of seating that add a cool visual effect.
The buffet was good if you like Korean and/or hot food for breakfast. While I like Korean food in general, for breakfast I typically only want cold food, so prefer things like fresh fruit, yogurt, etc.
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
A lot of airline crews seem to stay here, so it was fun to watch the number of crews in uniform having breakfast.
Before checking out of the hotel I checked out the gym, located one level above the lobby. The gym was functional, and even had a boxing ring, which you don’t often see.
The following morning I took the 9:45AM shuttle to the airport, and arrived by 10AM.
Nest Hotel Incheon bottom line
I really enjoyed my first Design Hotels stay. The hotel was quirky, modern, and unique, all of which are things I like. Keeping in mind that this is an airport hotel, I imagine some of the destination properties they have are great.
However, as a top tier hotel elite member I’m a bit conflicted. On one hand I’d like to stay here again, while on the other hand as a Hyatt Diamond member I’d have a hard time not staying at the Grand Hyatt, which is closer to the airport, and where I’d get an upgraded room and free access to their club lounge.
Overall this hotel certainly met my expectations, and perhaps even exceeded them.
If only Design Hotels were fully integrated into Starwood (which I suspect is even less likely now that Starwood has been taken over by Marriott).
Have you stayed at a Design Hotels property, and if so, what was your experience like?