On my way out to Montreal I flew with KLM and on the way back I flew with Air France. We were spoilt from beginning to end, with fast-track check-in, priority security and access to lounges in every airport we travelled through.
I had an extra nice surprise on my way out though. I was supposed to have been booked into premium economy but the request hadn’t been passed on, so I was upgraded on the plane to business class. From the moment I found my seat, I was fussed over by lovely Dutch ladies who put my belongings into the overhead storage compartments for me and made sure I was stocked up with champagne. I was handed a gorgeous little Viktor & Rolf pouch containing fresh socks and other in-flight essentials too.
Not long after take off we were served lunch, which was quite simply the most delightful plane food I’ve ever eaten, served on gorgeous china to boot. The appetiser was served with delicate little mushrooms and soft cheese. Following this was tender chicken and asparagus with potatoes in a rich sauce. I took a break from the champagne to enjoy a glass of riesling at the same time.
Then the piece de resistance — the chocolate and raspberry gateau.
This was the main meal of the flight, but later on we were also served a wrap, a potato salad (not overly creamy, which is how I like it) and a traditional Dutch apple pie.
“Would you like cream with that, madam?” OH GO ON THEN.
As someone who struggles pretty badly with claustrophobia, it made so much different to be in a more spacious cabin. On long flights I absolutely cannot sit in the middle of the plane — I need to be as near to the window as possible in order to keep some sense of the outside world. Of all the things I loved about business class — the scrummy food, the comfy seats, the fantastic wine list — it was the space and the service that made the real difference. The air hostesses were so jolly and attentive and everything just felt calmer and more relaxed.
If it hadn’t been for the alcohol I would have felt like a total child — all curled up under a blanket watching the Hunger Games. I had brought an excessive amount of reading material with me (including some of my favourite travel mags), but I gave into the lure of the entertainment on offer — reading could wait. I gradually reclined my sleeper chair further and further back until I gave in and passed out during the Grand Budapest Hotel.
Sometimes it’s the details that matter and because KLM is a Dutch airline, we had several little Netherlands-themed treats to enjoy along the way. Even on our first journey between London and Amsterdam, we were served stroopwaffels with our coffees. The trick with stroopwaffels is to rest them on top of your hot coffee and the rising heat will start to melt the caramel inside. Deee-licious.
Back in business class, we got little bowls of Dutch cheese with our champagne, but undoubtedly my favourite touch was the gift I was given.
Since the 1950s, KLM has given all of its business class customers a Delft Blue House. Each of these sweet mini buildings are based on different houses in the Netherlands and are filled with Dutch gin. They are collectors’ items and I got given two of them! I picked numbers 61 and 63, which both just happen to be on the same road in Amsterdam — Keizersgracht — which I found out on the website afterwards. Miraculously they survived my journey all over Quebec and back home, so now they are sitting on my shelf with their chimneys still sealed, ready for a rainy day!
I’m particularly keen on this kind of luxury travel. I’ve stayed in plenty of business hotels that are supposedly luxurious, but ultimately lack any real character. It’s this kind of character KLM business class has in spades. Attention to detail plus a tonne of Dutch charm.