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Why United is Just Awful

October 5, 2014

Only since the ill-fated merger have I flown economy class to/from Europe because of no upgrade. That is just awful. You would think that after 1,578,471 miles (which I paid for) United would have some loyalty to me. But they don’t.

Ten years of 100K status drops fast. Be forewarned United flyers. Your airline does not care about you at all.

This last trip to London/Helsinki was no exception. Business class on the way there (which we paid to upgrade at purchase) but no upgrade from economy on the way back. 8.5 hours in an awful seat with terrible food.

First world problem, I know. But frankly I expect more from an airline that used to earn my business.

United has gone to the dogs.

The Hotel Fabian has a computer now and they know I have been here before! Yay. On this nth visit I was upgraded to a very sweet suite 412. Thanks Fabian!

Room 412 has a table

Room 412 has a table

And a living area

And a living area

And a big old bed

And a big old bed

The best part of room 412 and Hotel Fabian is the incredibly great shower. I mean great. Best shower in Europe great.

412 bathroom

412 bathroom

This shower is just so good

This shower is just so good

I guess hot showers may just feel better when it is -2C outside in the morning.

The lobby downstairs is an excellent place for a glass of wine after travel (or a long day of BSIMM interviews).

The high art lobby at Hotel Fabian

The high art lobby at Hotel Fabian

Five plus showerheads for the Hotel Fabian.

A fancy pants dinner at Spis was very interesting, but more interesting than good. Subdued flavors that clim to be Nordic. Some surprising combinations. Ultimately I think the are just trying too hard. The dessert stuff was best constructed and world class.

Then it was off to Liberty or Death, a fantastic cocktail bar. (Someone needs to get them the memo that the Partrick Henry quote their name is from was hijacked by the right wing Tea Party morons in the United States…because these people are clearly liberal as all get out.) We were served by two “cocktail bastards” Andreas Cederström and Jaakko Väyrynen. Jaakko was super and in edition to making us a liberal (with red vermouth that was way too good), we tried some house made drinks.

The Red Shoe
40 ml monkey 47 gin (german)
30 ml creme de framboise
2 dashes Peychauds bitters
5 ml Raspberry red wine vinegar (house made)
1 t or less simple syrup
Mix together and then carbonate! quite a gorgeous concoction indeed. looks like we will be adding carbonation capability to the bar.

La Mancha Negra
25 ml Poli Morbida (grappa moscato)
10 ml cynar
10 ml aperol
5 ml Francaise guy (absynthe)
1 t simple syrup
3 dashes The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas bitters (a fruity thing)
shake. strain in to cocktail glass. this one is missing something in the middle but a fine start. the grappa is too think. I think working it with a harsher grappa might help. And a deeper bitters.

We had an absolute blast at Liberty or Death which is by far the best bar in Helsinki. The people at Son of a Punch do great work. They are distilling spirits (tried the gin which is very very aromatic), importing great stuff, and staffing excellent bars. Note that we did attain a new target speakeasy not yet marked or marketed (Katariinankatu).

Final thought of the night: “A tattoo without equity is madness.

Then it will drag tomorrow on my 8.5 hour United airlines international flight with no upgrade. United just sucks.

How to charge your phone (kludge) at F-Secure

How to charge your phone (kludge) at F-Secure

Seems like I was just here…and I was…in August. Not much has changed at the Hotel Fabian since I was here last. This time I was in room 402, which was really just about the same as 407. The good news is the shower was equally fabulous.

No plastic in this shower cubicle, and a really very nice soaker shower indeed.

The classic "shower through a mirror" effect. The small bathroom is enhanced with nice mirror placement.

Sadly, the staff at the Fabian had no idea that I had stayed before. Bummer. They really should get a computer.

A very comfortable bed. Sleep deprivation helps.

Part of the lobby. Very nice sleek design with touches that make it very homey.

The courtyard gives a nice feel for what Helsinki is like. The architecture in most of the city is spartan and boxy. Even the old part of town is this way.

The best part of this trip to Helsinki from a travel perspective was an absolutely fantastic meal at the Chef and Sommelier Restaurant. This place must be only the tiniest smidgen from getting a Michelin Star. Truly memorable food and great company. Wow. Go before they get their Star and raise their prices.

We also made an after dinner trip to A21 Cocktail Lounge for some mixology. A21 remains a very nice bar to visit in Helsinki. We had a batch of Corpse Reviver #2 and then moved on to a rum lesson. They still have no Amer Picon or Torani Amer. I miss my Liberal.

All in all, the Hotel Fabian retains its four showerheads rating. I guess it is missing the personal touch. Maybe I need to show up more often?

Helsinki is an interesting place to visit—somehow both cosmopolitan and provincial at the same time. The best time to come to town is in August, and lo and behold…it is August!

The brand new Hotel Fabian is an upscale, hip hotel near the beautiful green park in the center of town. Like all of the buildings in Helsinki (and most of the neighborhoods) the architecture is post-industrial square with clean lines. The hotel design reminds me of the Morgans in New York. Something out of the ’90s, monochromatic with various different browns.

I was in room 407, which is a rather uninspired room with a slightly generic feel to it. Somehow not quite enough light. Even the Restoration Hardware inspired Hollywood light wasn’t enough. The chair says it all.

Hotel Fabian must shop at Restoration Hardware.

The shower is huge and very nice with excellent controls and plenty of hot water situated nicely in a large comfortable bathroom with plenty of working surfaces. Great design. Given Helsinki winters, I can see why an infinite supply of hot water is a major plus.

Mirrors in the mirror.

The shower has plenty of room and lots of hot water.

Breakfast at the Fabian is functional and very much in the spirit of Scandinavia. If you like cold cuts and cheese, this is the breakfast for you. No grapefruit juice.

All in all, the Fabian is worth a stay and it is by far the best place I have found in my four visits to the city. I’ll give it a four showerheads rating.

Mixology bonus. My friend Antti, who made this trip a complete blast, took us to the A21 Cocktail Lounge after an inspired dinner on the wharf. Excellent mixology, really interested and engaging bartenders. About the only thing they are missing is a collection of Amaros. (Sadly, that means no Liberals for you.) We tried a number of concoctions during our visit, and had a great time.

Some Sea Kayaking rounded out the visit to Helsinki perfectly. Antti’s kayaking club is named “well hung”…really…you couldn’t make that up.

The Baltic sea is a nice place to paddle.

The fractal mix of industrial and natural found in Helsinki.