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A Monk's Life Is Rather Nice at England's Newest Country House Hotel

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  Site Where: Callow End, Worcestershire, United Kingdom, WR2 4TY
February 25, 2015 at 8:55 AM | by | Comments (0)

Normally, hotels in former monasteries are all spartan and pared back. Not so Stanbrook Abbey, which opens fully 1 March in the middle of England's pretty Malvern Hills in Worcestershire.

There are 52 rooms in the main building of the abbey, which dates back to 1625, though the current architecture is Victorian, by Pugin. There were more, when it was nuns living here; but the hotel has torn walls down to make the nuns’ cells into proper bedrooms, and adding distinctly non-monastic things like central heating and bathrooms.

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A Lesson in How to Bill Your Service Charge Politely

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  Site Where: Beeston Place, London, United Kingdom, SW1W 0JW
February 25, 2015 at 8:25 AM | by | Comment (1)

Service charges – a topic that’s been in our minds on HC recently. The ethics of room service charges got us all wound up the other week, but what about normal service charges – the type that get added automatically to your bill, before you can say whether or not you wanted to leave a tip?

Automatic gratuities are becoming the norm in London now, with 12.5% the normal whack (apart from our funny little friends at Belgraves who automatically add 15%, thank you very much). For reference, 10% is what one would normally tip in London.

But here is the genteel way to present your service charge:

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Crazy But True: Roberto Cavalli is Working on a Luxury Hotel for DTLA

February 24, 2015 at 5:39 PM | by | Comments (2)

Downtown Los Angeles is in the middle of a certified hotel boom, echoing the larger development boom that is happening in this often overlooked area of Los Angeles. There's the Ace Hotel (which we know and love), the just-opened hybrid Residence Inn and Courtyard by Marriott, along with the forthcoming massive InterContinental Hotel, a hip Freehand Hotel/Hostel and the pending new look of the old-school Hotel Figueroa.

And in a few years, there will be a luxury hotel from Roberto Cavalli. Seriously.

DTLA's man about town, Brigham Yen reports that the new Figueroa Central complex, which just broke ground across from the Staples Center, has released the details on the planned 183-room hotel. And Roberto Cavalli, through the Dubai-based Pragma Group, will be doing the branding of the hotel.

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'Don't Be So Judge-y': Another Defense of All-Inclusive Resorts

February 24, 2015 at 4:42 PM | by | Comment (1)

The pool at the IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraíso, on Mexico's Riviera Maya

There’s a distinct snobbery among elite travelers about those gluttony, booze-guzzling, ignorant group of ingrates without a cultural or inquisitive bone in their boring bodies: the wretched all-inclusive vacationers.

I know. I used to feel like that about all-inclusives myself. Then something magical and life changing happened: I had kids.

Before children it never dawned on me to go to an all-inclusive. Why would I? We hiked around Kauai, island-hopped in the Virgin Islands, tequila tasted across Mexico, explored ancient towns in Spain… well, you get the point. Now let me ask you this: have you ever tried to sightsee with fussy, regurgitating six-month old twins strapped to your back? Exactly.

We continued to travel adventurously with young children (“I won’t let these brats stop me no matter how miserable it makes me!!” I must have been thinking) and when they were four years old we wound up at our first all-inclusive resort.

And a very foreign feeling came over me that took me a while to identify: relaxation.

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'The Bachelor' Sounds off About His Butler Service at The Mulia in Bali

Where: Bali, Indonesia
February 24, 2015 at 4:07 PM | by | Comments (0)

We presume the butler set up the Fantasy Suite for each girl, shaking his head all the while.

Last night's episode of The Bachelor reconfirmed that the Fantasy Suites at The Mulia Hotel and Mulia Villas were one of the most exciting things we've seen from a destination this entire season. Although, we are still appalled that they held a rose ceremony in a Balinese temple. #NotOk.

As we mentioned yesterday, the suites at the Mulia Hotel and the villas all come with 24-hour butler service. And boy, did Chris Soules really like it. Here is his take on the butler service, which he shared on his People Magazine blog:

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Peace Out Powell, Say Hello to The Axiom Hotel in San Francisco

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  Site Where: 28 Cyril Magnin St. [map], San Francisco, CA, United States, 94102
February 24, 2015 at 1:42 PM | by | Comments (0)

Change is definitely in the foggy air for San Francisco's hotel scene. Last week, we told you about a newcomer to Fisherman's Wharf, Hotel Zephyr, along with a few other changes like the Loews taking over Mandarin Oriental and a new hotel brand, Proper Hotels, launching later this summer.

Now, we have word that the Powell Hotel in Union Square will transform into The Axiom Hotel. Host Hotels & Resorts bought the hotel last year and closed it in December to begin renovations. When The Axiom debuts in the fall, it will have 152 rooms, managed by Kokua Hospitality.

Above is the sample layout for a guest room at Axiom and below is a look at some rough sketches of the hotel's new look, which is being created by prolific hotel designers, Stonehill + Taylor:

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Plans Resurface, Again, for a Titanic-Themed Hotel on The Site Where The Ship Was Built

Where: Belfast, Ireland
February 24, 2015 at 11:56 AM | by | Comments (0)

Here we go again. When we reported in 2009 of plans to convert the shipyard where the ill-fated Titanic was built into a themed hotel, we weren’t sure we liked the idea. We're still not sure, but we’re keeping an open mind as we follow the latest hotel’s progress until it actually, finally opens. No date on that yet.

With a little help from a £4.9 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the 4-star, 84-bed hotel will occupy the headquarters of Harland and Wolff, one of the largest shipbuilders of the 20th century. Many a cruise ship in addition to the RMS Titanic were built here as well as some pretty serious navy warships.

What makes the hotel seem more plausible this time around may be the fairly new next door neighbor. The uber-angular Titanic Belfast museum, which opened in 2012, overlooks the historic shipyard buildings and what will be the front side of the hotel. The hotel will have a new steel and glass entrance, illustrated in the top rendering.

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What's Up With Belgraves?

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  Site Where: 20 Chesham Place, London, United Kingdom, SW1X 8HQ
February 24, 2015 at 9:50 AM | by | Comments (0)

Pont St on Sunday, which we'd been told was fully booked

We need to talk about Belgraves.

When Thompson’s first London (and first non-US) hotel opened three years ago, there were teething problems. Many. I stayed on opening night, and my stay was so amateur that when I outlined what had happened at check out, a manager offered me a voucher for a free night’s stay any time in the next year to make up for it. I never cashed in that voucher, because I was so bummed out by my first experience that I couldn’t really be bothered to go back.

As it happens, I live pretty near Belgraves, and, over the last three years, I’ve tried to give it a chance. I’ve gone for drinks, breakfast, dinner, an abortive attempt at afternoon tea (we left after trying to get the server’s attention for over 20 minutes). The service has been mediocre to dire every time. I had given up on it.

But now I am getting worried about Belgraves.

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Old and New LA Is Converging at Koreatown's Hotel Normandie

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  Site Where: 605 S Normandie Ave [map], Los Angeles, CA, United States, 90005
February 24, 2015 at 9:15 AM | by | Comments (0)

Cassell's reborn

One of the things we most like about the Downtown LA renaissance is the redevelopment of old buildings into sexy modern hotels (unless, that is, you’re talking about the Fig, which we cannot conscience in anything but its old, Moroccan incarnation).

The Hotel Normandie was already pretty sexy – a Renaissance Revival-style building done 1920s by Walker & Eisen, who also did the Beverly Wilshire and the United Artists Theater (aka the Ace DTLA), and now a 94-room boutique hotel (although with the old style preserved rather than gutted).

But now it’s stepped up the ante with some food and drink offerings that, rather like the hotel, combine the best of old and new LA.

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This Is Palazzo Versace's 'Timeless Style' on Its Way to Dubai

February 24, 2015 at 8:30 AM | by | Comments (5)

We’re just going to let those two words – “timeless style” – taken straight from the Palazzo Versace website, sit alongside the above image for a minute. We’ll be here when you’re ready.

Taken it all in? Though we’ve spent much more than a minute looking at this and the few other visuals now available for the Dubai-based (where else) extravaganza, we continue to struggle putting into words what we think. It’s… very bright. To the point where we feel like you’d be wearing sunglasses inside. We also cannot sign off on the turquoise and the purple against the burnt sienna(ish) of the marble on the floor. Are we alone in thinking this?

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The Mulia in Bali Gives Us Something to Finally Be Excited About on 'The Bachelor'

Where: Bali , Indonesia
February 23, 2015 at 6:33 PM | by | Comments (0)

This season of The Bachelor is undeniably one of the best seasons in "The Bachelor" franchise.

The producers have propped up a mumbling, bumbling but very good-looking farm boy from Iowa while at the same time unleashing some of the craziest, funniest, strangest and most beautiful women upon him. Ok, that doesn't sound like that much of a variation on the tried-and-true Bachelor formula but still, it makes for very good TV.

But unlike other seasons, the drama has been unfolding in some of the most unexciting destinations and hotels. So far, the crew has only been to Los Angeles, Santa Fe, South Dakota, and Dubuque and Arlington, Iowa. True, the Hilton Santa Fe was pretty but the Deadwood Holiday Inn was not. We hardly even saw the Hotel Julien in Dubuque.

Then when Chris visited the girls hometowns in Shreveport, Chicago, Phoenix and somewhere in Nebraska, things remained fairly unglamorous. The only exciting thing we saw from any of the hometown destinations was an alligator in the swamp in Shreveport. Unless you count the no-name motel where Jade squirreled away to show Chris her Playboy video shoot. Eek.

However, the ho-hum trips should all change tonight when Chris takes Whitney, Becca and Kaitlyn to Bali and the possibility of a night in the Fantasy Suite comes up. Here's where the ladies and Prince Farming will stay:

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The World's Largest Nobu Restaurant to Open Soon at The Four Seasons Doha

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  Site Where: Doha , Qatar
February 23, 2015 at 3:43 PM | by | Comments (0)

Chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa, is a busy man these days. In addition to growing his Nobu Hotels collection (Miami, Chicago and London hotels are all coming soon), he's also celebrating the 20th anniversary of his eponymous restaurant empire.

And what better way to celebrate than by opening the largest Nobu in the world (and the second one for the Middle East) inside one of the most luxe properties in the world, The Four Seasons Doha? It's like the Nobu version of #treatyoself.

The opening date for the 26,000-sq.ft. Rockwell Group-designed Nobu at The Four Seasons Doha is still uncertain, but when it's finished it will be quite an affair. Which is par for the course for over the-top Doha.

The restaurant will feature an expansive 192-seat interior dining area, intimate 10-seat sushi counter, two exclusive private dining rooms, and a one-of-a-kind 82-seat rooftop lounge that encompasses both indoor and outdoor seating options.

Elliptical ribbons of river stone capped with bronze accents form the exterior of the structure – resembling a coiled shell – creating the three-tiered levels of the restaurant. While incorporating design elements made from natural, rich materials that reflect the cuisine and roots of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, this location will reflect Doha’s specific history and culture. Since the city is known for pearl diving, Rockwell Group references this past in many layers of the design.

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