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We're Checking Out for The Very Last Time

July 31, 2015 at 2:22 PM | by | ()

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”—Seneca, a Roman philosopher but we know this line best from Semisonic’s song, "Closing Time."

On Friday, July 31, HotelChatter, Jaunted and VegasChatter will check out for the very last time. We will be integrating our content into Condé Nast Traveler, our parent company since 2008.  

Ever since HotelChatter published its first story in 2003, we’ve been on an incredible journey with all of you dear readers, who, we were delighted to discover, are just as hotel-obsessed as our team of contributors and editors. 

How many times did we gripe together about the insanity of peek-a-boo bathrooms, or get frustrated over yet another hotel opening delay? What about when we shared our pics of killer views and surprise suite upgrades? You were there every hotel room of the way.

And it was because of you that we were able to launch Jaunted and fly all sorts of airlines in different cabins, explore hot new destinations, and discuss useful travel hacks. It was also because of you that we were able to launch VegasChatter and cover everything in the mercurial city of Las Vegas from its restaurants, shows, hotels, and casinos, while doling out a few gambling tips here and there, too.  

But alas, the cabin doors have closed, the room bill has been settled and the last of our chips have been cashed. Thank you for all the memories and we hope to meet you again in a hotel lobby, airport or casino someday soon.

In the meantime, you can keep up with your travel addiction at CNTraveler.com. If you’re signed up for our newsletter, you will automatically receive the Condé Nast Traveler newsletter going forward. If you aren’t signed up, you can do so here.

Happy travels.

HotelChatter, Jaunted and VegasChatter

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Say It With Us One More Time: Privacy, Please

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: Everywhere
July 31, 2015 at 2:22 PM | by | ()

It’s fitting that in saying our goodbyes, the subject of peekaboo bathrooms and our collective dismay at most versions we’ve come across was right up there among all things hotels we have shared with you over the years.

We couldn’t therefore part ways without revisiting our personal low in this context, and the mixed rant / plea that resulted. As we said at the time, if ever there was something we wish existing and budding hotel designers and operators that approve their work would take away from us, this is it:

Please, please include a proper toilet enclosure in your room designs. Proper enclosure means solid walls and a solid door, which all reach from floor to ceiling and are not (semi-)transparent. Additional soundproofing and sensible placement versus the rest of the accommodation are much appreciated as well.

It’s very simple. On the left, out in the open and less than three steps away from a public footpath = NO. On the right, a private cubicle with full, solid door = YES. Thanks ever so much.

[Photo: JasonD]

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Une Nuit au Ritz Paris Will Set You Back...

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: Place Vendome, Paris, France
July 31, 2015 at 1:46 PM | by | ()

… about €1,000 ($1,100) a night. That’s right, whether in dollars or in euros, chances are you will be leaving behind at least four figures for the chance to wake up on Place Vendôme.

Promised as they were for June 17, it’s almost poetic that after our nearly daily visits to the website of Hotel Ritz Paris, reservations would be released today, the day of our goodbyes. While opening is still predicted for “fin de l’année 2015”, for now the first day where you can book a room is March 14.

That being a Monday in March, you will be able to find a Chambre Supérieure for €900 ($994), which comes in at 35 sq m (377 sq ft). We’ll have to wait for a proper set of photos until October/November, but we did manage to screengrab the shot above from the short video that is now playing on the website. Classic features, high ceilings, a chandelier, and delicate flowers on the headboard combine with the very modern-day TV in the bathroom mirror that you see in the distance. Fibre optic internet will be free in all rooms.

Three steps up and you will get to a Chambre Grand Deluxe, which adds 20 sq m (215 sq ft) and a view of the garden, and you’d be looking at €1,300 ($1,435). If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times: Parisian palace hotels are not for the faint of heart. Suites de Prestige start at €4,000 ($4,416) a night, with the two-bedroom Suite Impériale commanding €13,000 ($14,350) a night. On se voit au Ritz? A bientôt…

[Photo: screengrab from Ritz Paris video]

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'Indulge and Be Comfortable': The Best Kind of Hotel Manifesto

Where: Brussels, Belgium
July 31, 2015 at 11:35 AM | by | ()

“No one would be in hospitality unless they really care about people.”

We spied this sign in Brussels yesterday, in the doorway of The Dominican, an abbey-themed (yes) hotel in the city center, and couldn’t think of a better snapshot for this, our last week. The Dominican (a Design Hotel) is part of the Carlton Hotel Collection, a Dutch company with seven hotels in Holland, this one in Belgium and two in the UK.

“Indulge and be comfortable”: The best kind of hotel manifesto.

Make it so.

[Photo: Julia Buckley/HotelChatter]

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Polo? Skeet Shooting? Luxe Amenities for the Rich (and Not-So-Rich) at Casa de Campo in the DR

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: Casa de Campo, La Romana, Dominican Republic
July 31, 2015 at 10:35 AM | by | ()

One of the things that makes Casa de Campo appealing is that it has everything from nicely-designed rooms that start at $187, villas that start at around $850 and go up from there, and truly extravagant owned properties. This makes it not just a hotel or resort, but a community – granted, a pretty wealthy community. But no matter where you find yourself in that rich and fabulous scale you still get to experience everything the resort’s got going on.

The sugar-baron owners of Casa de Campo started out with sugar cane fields, then added a rum distillery (which produces a very nice sipping rum, Atlantico, which is a crime to hide in a sweet sissy cocktail so make sure to try some straight), then purchased and expanded the hotel in order to house their visiting business colleagues. From there, the Fanjul family started adding things as they saw a need or which friends and guests started asking for.

What that means is that today the resort has a horse ranch, a shooting center, a marina and even a small town. This is, of course, in addition to the family-owned La Romana Airport and a cruise ship port that was recently built. Holy mega wealth.

Although this contributing editor would have been pretty happy simply putt-putting around in her golf cart (one comes with each room and villa) looking at all the lush and lovely scenery, I recognize that this might not be everyone's idea of a trip to the tropics. So in the spirit of sharing, check out what else you can do below.

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Mandarin Oriental Milan is Finally Open

Where: Milan, Italy
July 31, 2015 at 9:25 AM | by | ()

One door closes, another opens. Word reaches us on HotelChatter’s last day that the long-awaited Mandarin Oriental Milan is now open.

104 rooms (of which 31 are suites) are spread over four 18th-century buildings round the corner from La Scala. The design, by Milan-based Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel Interiors, is every bit as sleek, classic and chic as you'd imagine. From the above picture, it looks like there might be the odd snatch of Duomo view from higher floors. But who needs views when you have rooms like this? Just look at this bathroom from what we assume is a suite:

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Peace and Joy Is a Private Onsen at Amanemu

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: Ago Bay, Shima, Mie Prefecture, Japan
July 30, 2015 at 7:00 PM | by | ()

It was peace and water earlier this month, when Aman Resorts announced Amanera, steps away from the Caribbean ocean on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. Today, it is peace (Aman) and joy (nemu), with the news that the group will open a second hotel in Japan early next year: Amanemu.

On Honshu, the same island where you will find Tokyo (including Aman Tokyo), Osaka, Kyoto, and Nagoya, Amanemu will have 24 suites and two villas along Ago Bay on the Shima peninsula, each with its own private onsen (mineral hot spring).

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Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic is Ready for its Close-up: An Inside Look

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: Casa de Campo, La Romana, Dominican Republic
July 30, 2015 at 4:48 PM | by | ()

We recently had the chance to have a look at the luxe 7,000-acre Casa de Campo in the DR so that we could sus out exactly why celebs like Beyoncé and Jay-Z, The Kardashians, Michael Jordan and the Clintons – even the final two episodes of The Bachelorette last season were filmed here – choose this resort as their tropical home-away-from-home.

We think that the answer is this: When you close your eyes and imagine a chic West Indies design idyll – dark mahogany wood, stone flooring (the native Coralina stone with a distinctive mottled pattern), sandy taupe furnishings, crisp white sun shades and linens to match – this is the place where it actually exists. Add to that rooms that are over 600 sq ft and villas that can be bought or rented and sleep up to 14 people (or more if you’re creative), and it’s quite the set-up.

Lots of room and villa pics below!

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The Most Sought After Site in Beverly Hills May Become The Number 'One' Hotel in Beverly Hills

July 30, 2015 at 4:05 PM | by | ()

Another new hotel is coming to Beverly Hills, quite possibly having the best location in the city - unless you’re the Beverly Hilton. This hotel-condo development, which may not see the light of day until 2019, is within sleepwalking distance of the Hilton and goes by the name of One Beverly Hills. We'll get to the name later.

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Hotel Chicago's New Design is Oh-So Chicago

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 333 N. Dearborn [map], Chicago, IL, United States, 60654
July 30, 2015 at 2:15 PM | by | ()

Nearly 18 months after taking over one of Chicago's most "passed around" properties, the Autograph Collection has unveiled a fresh new look for The Hotel Chicago, formerly known as the House of Blues Hotel, then the Hotel Sax.

Marriott's Autograph Collection snapped up the hotel in early 2014, and gave it a very simple new name. Next up was the new look, which debuted earlier this summer. In the "City of Skyscrapers", what else could the theme be for the Hotel Chicago, but some of the most iconic buildings the Windy City has to offer?

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3 Cool Amenities in Grand Cayman Marriott's Beach House Experience

July 30, 2015 at 12:00 PM | by | ()

We already told you about the hip new look down at the Grand Cayman Marriott, and gave you a preview of what to expect at the resort's new-and-improved F&B outlets. But the Brooklyn-goes-to-the-beach vibe of the hotel's new Beach House Experience goes even further, down to some of the amenities they're offering guests.

Linus Bikes
Hotel bicycles are nothing new, of course, but at the Grand Cayman Marriott, that chariot is an uber-cool Linus Bike, and the rental is included in the daily resort fee. We love the French globetrotter style of these bikes and the idea of riding one around the island is more than a little seductive. Whether you're looking to take in some history, hit the boutiques or simply ride and feel the Caribbean breeze in your hair, the hotel will steer you in the right direction and provide a map so you can find your way home again.

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Beer, Polaroids and Public Art: A Flash Tour of Brussels' Zoom Hotel

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: Brussels, Belgium
July 30, 2015 at 10:19 AM | by | ()

#Thatawkwardmomentwhen you’re in Brussels staying in your favorite hotel and realise you totally promised to share it with your HotelChatter family a while back but then time passed and life zoomed by and you forgot.

Sorry about that. Way back in February, we showed you the beer bar at the Zoom Hotel, a new opening in Ixelles, the trendiest part of the Belgian capital. We promised to take you inside the photography-themed rooms, too. And now, just in time, we’ve remembered.

This stay marks our third time at the Zoom. Why do we stay so loyal? Firstly, because it’s always fairly priced (rates are an obscenely low €65, or $72, right now for the low summer season, while the highest we’ve paid in high season winter is about €100).

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