Shanghai native, Tokyo resident, and global travel guru Yihao Shi is the founder of HoteLux, a new luxury travel app that offers a load of benefits for its members, including room upgrades, free brekkies, early check-ins, late check-outs, exclusive promos and USD100 hotel credits for each booking (subject to each hotel’s conditions, of cos!).
Shi started HoteLux at the end of 2019 to cater to luxury hotel travellers who prefer making their bookings digitally through an app – and enjoy special perks in the process (and who doesn’t, really?). The best part is, each booking earns members HoteLux points as well as hotel loyalty programme points, which means you’ll be racking them up in no time to book more stays. And with over 4,000 luxury hotel properties on HoteLux already, you’ll definitely be spoilt for choice.
“We aim to be the biggest luxury lifestyle travel app in Asia and to create a luxury travel community where our members will find their travel inspiration from other members,” says Shi about his ambitions for HoteLux. For now, let Shi inspire you with his own travel tips and memories in our latest edition of Talking Travel.
Post-pandemic, what would you say are the latest trends in luxury travel?
People are travelling more spontaneously with shorter lead times in terms of bookings. In fact, nearly half of all bookings are made within a month before check-in. Also, staycations are still going strong, with many people using them to celebrate special occasions. This is thanks to airfares being especially high right now!
What has been your most memorable trip so far and why?
I visited a local market in Marrakech near the Atlas mountain with a huge range of products and services – from fresh fruits and vegetables to livestock, clothes, kitchenware and services like barber shops and restaurants. It was a very immersive experience to see how the locals lived, and it reminded me of my childhood when I used visit the local markets near my grandparents’ countryside home in the suburbs of Shanghai.
What’s on your bucket list?
I visited Uganda once for work, which is when I fell in love with the continent. I can’t wait to visit more countries and areas in Africa. Its people and nature are absolutely stunning!
What do you love most about travel in general?
I love meeting people with different cultural backgrounds, which always gives me inspiration and introduces me to new ways of thinking, learning and living. I also love travelling because you learn to problem solve and be independent. You’ll always come across difficulties along the journey, especially when you are travelling solo, and the challenging situations train you on how to solve them.
Your favourite city in the world and why?
Shanghai – it’ll always be home, no matter where I am based. I’ve seen its tremendous development and changes over the years (from the 1990s to 2010s), but the city will always surprise you!
Where are your favourite hotspots in Tokyo?
- The Gold Bar @The Tokyo Edition, Toranomon
This trendy bar – one of the coolest in the area – attracts many tourists and locals at the same time.
I have lived within walking distance from Shimbashi for more than six months, and I still have not yet finished all the yakitori as well as ramen shops in this hood. The variety and vibe will make you have fun and meet new friends! Tip: Avoid coming on weekends as it’ll be empty!.
3. Sukima (Ebisu)
Super stylish and fine leather goods without breaking your wallet!
4. Tama River
Usually tourist-free, I discovered the Tama River on my weekend cycling trip to Tokyo’s surrounding areas. It’s over 100km long and you’ll often see locals there for picnics or barbecues, or playing sports on the banks. One of my favourite neighbourhoods along the river is Futako Tamagawa because it’s got tons of cool boutiques and cafes. It’s got a very similar vibe to ‘Aoyama’ or ‘Daikanyama’, minus the tourists.
Learn more about Hotelux on hoteluxapp.com
Looking for more insider tips on Tokyo? Pick up a copy of the LUXE Tokyo guide: