CA Travel Guide
Nearly two years ago, news came out that Sunset Tower hotelier Jeff Klein had purchased a "clothing optional gay motel" in West Hollywood. At the time, the spot was known not just for its lax clothing policy but also for the drug habits of its guests. Its nickname was "Sin Bin."
But a year after purchasing the property, Klein had done significant upgrades to the 29 bungalows and the pool they surround (the jacuzzi was removed) to warrant a feature article in the NY Times. Today, the hotel goes by the name San Vicente Bungalows and looks like a chic little oasis in the middle of WeHo. But it is by no means luxe.
The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach, Calif. is one of the luxest hotels on the Southern California coast, boasting 128 glam bungalows and opulent villas with room rates close to $900 a night. (There's also the on-site pasta room, among other amenities and services.) Make no doubt about it, this place is heaven, if you can afford it. But if you can't, there's a fun alternative to try.
The company behind the resort, The Irvine Company, which started out as the Irvine Ranch, recently upgraded The Hotel Irvine, on Jamboree Road, to be an independent lifestyle hotel that millennials and business travelers alike will feel comfortable staying at.
The hotel has a central location in Irvine, close to the John Wayne Airport and Disneyland, and although it has a very corporate exterior (it looks like an office building), the property is shiny and happy on the inside. And there's also a lot of orange, which is fitting for this Orange County hotel.
Hotel Crime / West Hollywood Hotels / Hotel Robbery / Oscars Hotels / Celebrity Scoop / Lupita Nyong'o / → All Tags
The Oscar Awards were so last week, but just as the water cooler talk about which movies won and which movies should have won, so continues talk about someone's glamorous dress. Only this is so much more complicated than, "Who are you wearing?"
Just before the weekend, news came out that last year's Oscar winner, Luptia Nyong'o had her expensive Calvin Klein pearl dress stolen from her suite at The London West Hollywood the day after the awards show. At the time, the hotel issued a statement saying the "unfortunate" incident, first reported by TMZ (of course), was true and that they were helping the police in their investigation.
Things took a weird turn on Friday when the dress was RETURNED to the hotel, stuffed inside a garbage bag and left under a bathroom sink in one of the public bathrooms at the hotel. Making the return of the beautiful dress even stranger was that the thief called TMZ (of course) to say that the dress was not worth the estimated $150,000 talked about in the press, because a jeweler told him the pearls on the dress were fake.
You would think that despite the fakery and despite not catching the thief, the case of the missing dress would be largely shut. After all, the dress was returned, no harm, no foul, except maybe two easily replaceable pearls were missing. But no, it gets even weirder.
Hotel Boycotts / Hotel Woes / Celebrity Scoop / Beverly Hills Hotels / Dorchester Collection Hotels / → All Tags
In all the stories about the Grammys and the Oscars that have come out over the past few weeks, there was one that really intrigued us – John Legend pulling out of a party at the Beverly Hills Hotel, because of opposition to the Sultan of Brunei.
Very worthy, Mr Legend, we thought – but no more than we’d expect from the man who hired a food truck for Eric Garner protestors in New York.
But then we thought, wait. If Hollywood is boycotting the BHH, why has a top Grammys party been booked there in the first place? Has the boycott silently ended? Does sympathy with people who face an Isis-lite stoning for being gay go out of fashion?
The San Francisco hotel scene continues to be upgraded. The Westin Market Street hotel is no longer. Well, of course, the building and hotel still exist, however it is now going by the new name Park Central Hotel.
The change happened in late January when LaSalle Hotel Properties purchased the 681-room hotel and installed Highgate Hotel to manage it. The property will undergo only "modest renovations" and the restaurant MaSo will stay in place. The hotel will focus on bringing in some new programs and new partnerships with local affiliations.
As for the WiFi, which was free in the lobby and pay in the guest rooms under Westin, the Park Central plans on keeping it status quo.
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.
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:
Hotel Restaurants / Hotel Bars / Hotel Renovations / DTLA Hotels / Koreatown Hotels / Los Angeles Hotels / → All Tags
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.
It’s only the morning after the Oscars, and already changes are afoot in Hollywood. At least, they are at the Hollywood Hotel (The Hotel of Hollywood, as it somewhat presumptuously likes to style itself), which is celebrating awards season with a multi-million dollar “refreshening” of its 130 rooms.
Contemporary yet classic is the name of the game for the rooms – wooden floors, neutral colors, custom-designed furniture and “interactive” flatscreen TVs. Don’t get bored, though – there will be “fashion-inspired artwork” and a “freestanding, vintage-style clothes rack” to make you feel like you’re in a photoshoot. Very Hollywood! Bathrooms will be in monochrome, but we don’t have photos yet.
In the past couple of years, Marriott Hotels have rolled out quite a few important, and relevant, new amenities and services. So many, that we're kind of in disbelief at how far Marriott has come, aside from that whole hotspot blocking biz of course.
Just 10 years ago, Marriott Hotels felt very out of touch with the emerging breed of savvy travelers who want new technology and good design. Marriott Hotel furniture was often depressing, the carpeting was usually an eyesore, while lobby socializing was nonexistent, and the services were almost always at an added fee. There was also a complete lack of innovation. Just sell a room, check in the guest then collect their money.
But today, even though Marriott would never be considered a boutique or lifestyle brand, it is giving guests a thoroughly modern experience. Here's how:
The WiFi is free-ish (so long as you are a member of Marriott Rewards and book directly through Marriott), the furniture is still corporate but definitely more appealing (and in some cases, even stylish), the technology in the rooms has been upgraded to include flat-screen TVs and plenty of outlets, and you can even check-in and check-out of your room through the Marriott Mobile App. They've also shown their softer side with employees, by introducing these tip envelopes.
One hotel that's got all that's new and shiny about Marriott to show off is the Anaheim Marriott at Disneyland.
San Francisco Hotels / Fisherman's Wharf Hotels / Millennial Hotels / Hotel Renovations / Hotel Rebrandings / → All Tags
Fly away on my zephyr...
While seemingly every other city in the United States has been riding the hotel boom of the past few years, San Francisco has been lagging, with only a handful of new hotels to show off. But change is in the air. SF is now Hot AF.
We've just heard about the major rebranding of the Mandarin Oriental into a Loews Hotel. Before that, the founders of Viceroy Hotels announced their new brand, Proper Hotels, will open their first hotel in the mid-Market neighborhood by the end of the year.
There are also lots of re-brandings and transformations of several properties happening throughout the city, including this one.
The Radisson Fisherman's Wharf is undergoing a major "re-imagination" to emerge as the Hotel Zephyr, operated by Davidson Hotels & Resorts. Yes, it's totally a millennial hotel but we'd take that over a Radisson any day.
Chinese New Year Hotels / San Francisco Hotels / Ritz-Carlton Hotels / Dim Sum Room Service / → All Tags
The Chinese New Year celebrations will kick off tomorrow but at The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, the party will keep going through March 19.
Starting tomorrow, the hotel will offer a Year of the Sheep Package, priced from $489 a night, which includes overnight accommodations in a superior room (a two-night minimum is required), a special memento in the form of a silver fortune cookie, two Dragon's Gate cocktails, and an $88 dining credit for the hotel's Parallel 37 restaurant.
The hotel will also offer instruction cards for a self-guided walking tour of Chinatown (the largest outside of Asia) created by Parallel 37's own chef, Michael Rotondo. Highlights on the tour include the Chinatown Gate, The Wok Shop where the chef purchases kitchen utensils and the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory.
One strong reason to consider staying the night? Dim Sum Room Service. While there are plenty of great places for Dim Sum in San Francisco (shout out to Yank Sing), the Ritz is offering a special Dim Sum Presentation consisting of savory and fried dumplings at the touch of the room service button. It's available for $21 and will be on the menu starting tomorrow through March 19.