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Milan-Venice-Amsterdam-Oslo winter 2023 trip overview

a row of boats in a body of water with buildings in the background

Last week my wife and I returned from a 23-day trip from San Francisco to New York, Milan, Venice, Amsterdam and Oslo. A couple weeks before leaving for Europe I had a little sticker shocker at our travel expenditures after booking two extended trips for winter and spring 2023. I landed some great travel deals for our flights for this February winter trip ($600 x 2 persons = $1,200 total airfare) and our hotel stays for 21 nights totaled $2,200. I wanted to keep our trip expenses under $5,000 all-in. Not quite sure yet if I met that objective, but probably close.

23 days without rain as we traveled to and around Europe amazed me. This past week of rain and snow warnings since being home in Monterey has me thinking all of earth’s moisture is stuck over California this winter.


Air Travel Cost: $596 Per Person

San Francisco SFO – Newark EWR – Milan MXP

//Milan-Venice $37 train one-way//

Venice VCE – Amsterdam AMS – Oslo OSL – London LHR – SFO

Round trip ticket 1 United $452: San Francisco SFO – Milan MXP outbound 2 segments in United Basic Economy SFO – EWR Newark – MXP Milan, Italy. About 3 hours in EWR United Club lounge.

Round trip ticket 2: United $372: Oslo, Norway OSL – SFO – OSL inbound 2 segments in SAS Economy Oslo OSL – London LHR  and United Airlines Basic Economy London LHR – San Francisco SFO. Two hours in Oslo SAS lounge and 2.5 hours in London Terminal 2 United Club lounge and I made a ten-minute stroll through Singapore KrisFlyer Lounge. 

Two other one-way flights were purchased for this trip:

One way ticket 3: easyJet $78:  Venice VCE – Amsterdam AMS

EasyJetTickets were originally $50 each with a paid carry-on ($31) and personal bag cabin allowance added to the 17 EUR / $18 one way ticket price. I imagined an issue arriving with Kelley’s carry-on and the bag being too heavy for the 15kg weight limit for carry-on bags. The bag would cost 95 EUR for easyJet to check at airport. I paid a 55 EUR checked bag fee to easyJet the night before our flight to check Kelley’s carry-on and avoid any airport aggravation. At check-in her bag weighed only 14.5kg on the scale, one pound unfder the limit. We could have taken it as carry-on. .

One way ticket 4: SAS Scandinavian $106:  Amsterdam AMS – Oslo OSL with about two hours in Amsterdam Schiphol Star Alliance Gold Lounge.

Cost of Hotels: $2,200 for 21 nights

IHG Diamond elite has me testing out the benefits offered, like room upgrades, free breakfast and lounge privileges. Four IHG hotels covered 10 of the 21 hotel nights used for this trip. Choice Hotels for 11 nights at 3 different hotels met all our needs. Venice and Oslo were easy hotel decisions with high value Choice Privileges points keeping these cities under $110 per night for hotels priced several times higher.  IHG has sucked me into 4-night stays for my travel to get about a 25% reduction in nightly points rate using the Chase IHG Mastercard 4th night free benefit. I paid more points for IHG hotel brand upgrades to higher end properties like Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo and Kimpton as a departure from my normal travel style of low rate mid-level hotel brands.  

Hotels: $2,193 for 21 nights based on purchase price I paid for points in 2022. IHG $5.00/1,000 points. Choice Privileges $5.20/1,000 points.

$104.43 average nightly rate.

Published rates for these 21 room nights was about $6,600 or $314/night.

All our hotel stays this trip were booked as IHG or Choice Privileges reward nights using only points. As an IHG Diamond member we received free breakfast each of our 10 nights at IHG Hotels. All 11 nights at Hotel Aquarius Venice and Nordic Choice Hotels included breakfast in the reward night rate.


Manhattan, New York City: Crowne Plaza HY36 (Standard King 28th floor)

  • 1 night = 17,600 IHG points = $88.00.
  • Published rate = $206. Breakfast = $56 value.
a mirror on a wall
Crowne Plaza HY36 – Manhattan, New York


Milan, Italy: Hotel Indigo Corso Monforte (Junior Suite 4th floor)

  • 1 night = 36,000 IHG points = Chase IHG MasterCard free night award.
  • Flexible rate = 311 EUR Junior Suite with breakfast.
  • Lowest rate = 206 EUR Standard Queen nonrefundable.
  • 1 EUR = $1.06 to $1.08 during our February 2023 trip.
a bathtub in a room
Bath tub in the sitting room in trendy Hotel Indigo Milan (Don’t fret – rain shower in bathroom).


Venice, Italy: Hotel Aquarius, Ascend Collection 

  • 4 nights (Junior Suite) = 90,000 Choice Privileges points = $468.
  • Lowest published rate = 284 EUR/night Junior Suite nonrefundable x 4 nights = 1,136 EUR
a chandelier in a room
Hotel Aquarius Venice junior suite room 208


  • 4 nights (Suite) = 80,000 points = $416
  • Lowest published rate = 494 EUR/night suite nonrefundable x 4 nights = 1,976 EUR.
a hallway with a table and a window
Hotel Aquarius Venice suite 301


a bed with pillows on it
Hotel Aquarius Venice suite bedroom


Amsterdam, Netherlands: Crowne Plaza Amsterdam South

  • 4 nights (Standard King on Club Lounge floor 2) = 81,000 IHG points = $405.
  • Flexible published rate = 244 EUR/night x 4 nights = 976 EUR.

a bed in a room

The Crowne Plaza Amsterdam South Lounge was seldom used by other guests outside of breakfast hours when there was a small buffet spread. We had several fun hours outside of morning breakfast hours utilizing the space in the lounge, down the hall from our room for hanging out drinking bottles of Heineken, soda, and sparkling water, while munching chips, sweets and fruit. 

a room with a table and chairs
Crowne Plaza Amsterdam South Lounge


Amsterdam, Netherlands: Kimpton Dewitt Amsterdam

  • 4 nights (Standard King floor 4) = 105,000 IHG points = $525.
  • Lowest published rate = 253 EUR/night x 4 nights = 1,012 EUR.
a bed with blue pillows and a striped blanket
Kimpton DeWitt Amsterdam Standard Room 438

a wall with a light fixture and a door

Oslo, Norway: The Thief Oslo, Ascend Collection

  • 2 nights = 40,000 Choice Privileges points = $208.
  • Lowest published rate = 3,957 NOK/night ($399) x 2 nights = $798.
a bed with yellow pillows
The Thief Oslo Hotel


Gardermoen, Norway: Clarion Hotel and  Congress Oslo Airport

  • 1 night = 16,000 Choice Privileges points = $83.20.
  • Lowest published rate = 1,780 NOK/night ($179) x 1 nights = $179.
a room with chairs and tables
Clarion Congress Oslo Airport – eerie vibe in a large empty hotel with nobody around at 6pm on a weekday.


$3,400 for Air Travel and Hotel Rooms for Two on 23 day trip to San Francisco SFO – Newark EWR – Milan MXP – Venice VCE – Amsterdam AMS – Oslo OSL – London LHR – SFO.

This post is an overview as the title says. I will post detailed articles about each of the hotels, along with airport lounges we visited. This trip gave me time to make new observations about Venice, Amsterdam and Oslo, all places I visited previously. Milan was a first and the Milan vibe we picked up on from hanging out in the city area around Hotel Indigo Milan exuded European fashion sense.


  • RJB February 28, 2023

    Great report. looking forward to the rest.

    1) So you still have the return portion of each RT plane RT ticket available to use? SFO – OSL and MXP-SFO.
    2) You don’t see the benefit of booking regular economy vs. BE with Star Gold ?

  • RAP February 28, 2023

    Between Milan and Venice, you can stop in Verona, which is a worthy afternoon. We did that on one of our trips and quite enjoyed it.

  • Ric Garrido March 1, 2023

    @RJB – I will use the return portion of the two tickets for our next trip in a couple of months.

    Paying the extra $150 to $200 more per ticket for Economy Class on United provides seat selection at booking. That is highly desirable, but at 30 to 40% more than Basic Economy, I choose to take my chances on seat roulette. United Airlines flights is the worst treatment we get, separating us on the plane a couple times this past year. We are nearly always seated together on other Star Alliance carriers.

    As Star Alliance Gold with Aegean we have free checked bag privileges and access to airport lounges. Flight miles with United are all credited to Aegean Miles+Bonus.

    Seat situation is a drag, but I view the inconvenience of plane travel for 9 to 11 hours as something to get through and forget. I like having the few hundred dollars I did not spend on a self-selected seat for other travel expenses.

    I tend to binge watch films on long haul flights to keep me distracted from any inconveniences of an economy class seat, no matter where it is on the plane.

    @RAP – Verona and Bologna will likely make an excursion opportunity if we head back to northern Italy. My travel destinations tend to congregate around the cheap airports to fly into and Milan has been one of the main cheap arrival spots from the USA for several years.

    I originally had planned InterContinental Ljubljana, Slovenia for 4 nights, but I then I changed that stay to Venice due to the 7 to 8 hours it would take to reach Ljubljana by train.

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