If you had the budget for a business class flight or a stay in an opulent hotel - but not both - which way would you go? Our experts help you decide.
THE POINTY END
By Amy Cooper
It's about the journey and not the destination. Remember this, as I attempt to convince you that the pleasures of the pointy end are worth the cost of a week in an obscenely fabulous hotel. (Perhaps more than a week, in the unlikely event the exchange rate's in your favour.)
I know the maths. I remember from school. If Johnny has two apples plus a spare wad of $8000, will he have more left after four nights at the Ritz, or after 23 hours in business class? It's zero either way. At the Ritz, Johnny's apples will be polished and carefully arranged in a Maison Balzac bowl before garnishing his appletini. Meanwhile, in business class, Johnny donates his fruit to the hungry unfortunates up the back to spare them from wretched fare that can only be described as trolley-kill.
The real question is: who's happiest? Answer: business class Johnny.
Although it makes no sense on a spreadsheet, there's something supremely satisfying about an illogical, showy act of spending bravado. It's like putting all your chips on red or shouting everyone in the pub.
How shamefully sweet it feels to be in the shorter queue with the sexy little carpet and the lounge with the spa and champagne, then board hard left - an aircraft's most desirable direction.
We all want to feel seen, but most of all when rocking complimentary White Company sleepwear, unpacking Bulgari goodies from a vegan leather toiletry pouch or gracing the onboard Celestial Bar while the bartender rustles you up a Bloody Mary.
On Qatar's Qsuite service, you and your companion can convert your seats into a double bed, order Krug, then pull up your privacy doors. If you tried this in a carpark you'd probably be arrested. In the biz class bubble, it's elite exhibitionism.
I slept with all the members of the band Snow Patrol once. It was very innocent - we were just snoozing in neighbouring flatbeds in our Ozwald Boateng jim-jams in Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class. But you couldn't have such a cosy rockstar encounter in a hotel, at least not without going on a date first.
Flying up front is bonkers, when you think about it: a sort of posh sleepover in a decadent dormitory in the sky. Perhaps that's why it's so irresistible to the child within us who's desperate to show off while the adult part pretends to be cool.
And if you're talking exclusivity, the only way is up. While anyone can wander into bars and restaurants in fancy hotels, only your boarding pass unlocks access to the rarefied cabin and all its delights.
Forget the maths. Ignore the sensible Mal-gebra and listen to the devil on your shoulder instead. Succumb to your urge to splurge on thin air. The pointy end is mad, bad - and you know you want it.
A POSH HOTEL
By Mal Chenu
Even though this is all about space and time, you don't have to be Einstein to understand that a luxe hotel is relatively better than a luxe airline seat.
For about the same money as a business class flight, which you get to enjoy for a day, you can spend a week or more in a sumptuous, spacious, daily-serviced hotel suite, and not have to share a tiny aeroplane toilet with a cashed-up bogan who's knocked back 20 VBs and had an unfortunate reaction to the curried fish with dukkah and lima beans.
Why would you blow your holiday budget on just 20-odd hours of comfort? You can hang by your thumbs for 20 hours, although Ryanair will charge you extra if you want a straw for your drink.
Both the presidential suite and seat number 1A will get you a welcome drink on arrival, superior comfort and entertainment, fine food and wine, and as many creature comforts as it is possible to provide. Maybe even a limo to and/or from the airport.
So, beyond space and time, what we're really talking about is the wow factor. And you get far more wow for your buck - in both magnitude and duration - by staying at a grand hotel like the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the Copacabana Palace in Rio or the Ritz Paris than you do on a plane, even if you are sitting at the snobby end.
The other factor to factor in is the fawning factor. To wit, how far are the staff prepared to bend over backwards for you?
Some questions are just easier for concierges than for flight attendants, such as: Is your pool heated?
Uber-opulent piles like Burj Al Arab in Dubai, The Plaza in New York and The Savoy in London provide a protractor with diamond inlays so you can measure the actual degree of bending.
The best Japanese and Canadian hotels will even do the measuring for you and apologise if their backwards angle is not sufficiently obtuse.
Seriously though, both your hotel concierge and your flight attendant will do everything within their power to make your time in their care as fabulous as possible.
The key phrase here is "within their power".
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Some questions are just easier for concierges than for flight attendants, such as: Is your pool heated? How far to the nearest park? Is my laundry ready? Can you recommend a nearby trattoria?
So save your lucre for luxurious lodgings and fly economy. And when you land at the other end, and your metaphorical thumbs have been freed, and your chauffeur is waiting to whisk you off to the hotel of your dreams, keep an eye out for Amy.
She'll be the one looking relaxed and refreshed after her pointy-end encounter, still lemon-scented from her farewell hot face towel. If you do happen across her, do the right thing and offer her - and her cockroach spray - a lift to the backpackers.