CA Travel Guide

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First Look at Mama Shelter Los Angeles, Opening on May 15

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  Site Where: 1557 Wilcox Avenue [map], Hollywood, CA, United States, 90048
March 27, 2015 at 4:29 PM | by | Comments (0)

Voilà! At last, we have a room photo of the forthcoming Mama Shelter Los Angeles located in the heart of Hollywood.

We've been tracking this hotel's progress since we first learned of its existence (and exact location) back in August. But now, you can finally begin to plan your night with Mama in LA.

Room rates will start at $139 a night on May 15. Currently, booking is not working on the hotel's website but we expect that to be in action very soon.

The ground floor of the hotel is set to be a free-flowing reception area, lobby, bar and restaurant (from chef Benjamin Bailly of LA hotspots, Petrossian and Fraiche) while upstairs there will be just 70 Thierry Gaugain-designed rooms spread out over six stories, but tricked out with king beds and 27-inch iMacs which will serve as the room TV. As you can see, the rooms are very much like other Mamas, complete with those funky nightstand lampshade masks. (Hello Burt and Ernie!)

Mama Shelter Los Angeles will also have an outdoor rooftop gym which we kinda can't wait to see in action. #workoutselfieoverload

Want to learn more about this Mama? She's already "written" you a "letter." Here it is in full below.

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This is Exactly What You Want to See From Your San Francisco Hotel Room

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  Site Where: 750 Kearny Street [map], San Francisco, CA, United States, 94108
March 26, 2015 at 11:30 AM | by | Comment (1)

Um, yes. Do we really need to say anything more? Ok, we'll say just a little bit more about this stunning view of Coit Tower and the San Francisco Bay from the Hilton San Francisco Financial District.

This is the view from one of the Premium Bay View Rooms which are located on the 20th through 25th floors. There are city views on these floors as well that are just as interesting, especially since the hotel overlooks Chinatown ,but really, it's all about the bay here. Fingers crossed for a clear and sunny day!

All rooms at the Hilton SF FD feature 32" flat screen TVs, a long desk for working and tea and coffee makers. Best of all, you don't need Zuckerberg dollars to stay here as we found a bay view room for this weekend for just $239 a night.

[Photo: Juliana/HotelChatter]

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Hilton Huanying is Taking Off, Here's What Chinese Guests Can Expect

March 24, 2015 at 2:51 PM | by | Comments (0)

Back in 2011, Hilton Worldwide began welcoming the emerging class of Chinese travelers with their Hilton Huanying program, which itself means “Welcome” in Mandarin. In the nearly four years since it was introduced, the program has grown from 30 Hilton hotels to 113 in 32 countries and 65 cities. Hilton Huanying has also "huanyinged" over a million independent Chinese travelers at not just Hilton Hotels but also Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts and DoubleTree by Hilton.

Because of this popularity, and the expected growth of Chinese travelers around the world (to about 200 million travelers by 2020), the offerings of the program are expanding as well.

When it first launched, Hilton Huanying gave Chinese guests a welcome letter in simplified Chinese at check-in, tea kettles ands slippers placed in the guest rooms, dedicated Mandarin channels on the TV, along with a few traditional Chinese breakfast offerings downstairs such as congee and dim sum.

Today, guests will still get all of the above but the breakfast offerings have expanded and more importantly, Hilton will offer 24-hour translation phone service in case a Mandarin-speaking Hilton team member is not on site.

Best of all, the program is at no extra cost to the Chinese traveler. Not a bad deal.

Below are some photos of what the Huanying presentation looks like at the Hilton San Francisco Airport Bayfront Hotel and the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, a property that sees around 800 Chinese guests within a specific three-week window, and many more throughout the year. This Hilton Hotel was also one of the first Hiltons to begin offering special services for Chinese guests in 2008. These services later made up some of the official components of the Hilton Huanying program.

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Booze, Broads and, Err, Clubs, Are on the Menu at Omni Rancho Las Palmas

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  Site Where: 41000 Bob Hope Drive [map], Rancho Mirage, CA, United States, 92270
March 24, 2015 at 8:15 AM | by | Comments (0)

Wine glasses: not pictured

The Coachella Valley, home to dates, intense heat, plastic surgery, and (related) a lot of ladies who lunch. But one brave hotel is stepping up a gear, offering ladies not lunch, but afternoon golf and – to help your aim – booze.

Omni Rancho Las Palmas is starting a Women, Wine & Nine program, in which ladies can come in for a glass or two of wine and nine holes at the Rancho Las Palmas Country Club, every Thursday between 4.30pm and 7pm.

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Here's The Latest Scam to Beware of When Staying at Hotels

March 19, 2015 at 11:46 AM | by | Comments (6)

Business travelers in San Francisco and other big cities, get off your phones and pay close attention when leaving your hotel.

The other day this editor had an early morning flight out of San Francisco that required me to leave the hotel at 6:30am. Thankfully, I had a car service set up so that I could get some extra sleep in the morning, rather than wake up even earlier to take public transportation.

Still, when I stepped out of the hotel that morning at 6:35am, I didn't feel entirely awake. Not helping the situation were three black cars idling in front of the Hilton San Francisco in Union Square. A driver of one of the town cars had his back to me and was on the phone while holding a sheet of paper. The bellman asked me which car service I had arranged. I mentioned the name, then he asked for my last name, and suddenly, the man on the phone piped up and said “Ah yes!” and then said into the phone, “I found the customer.” I apologized for being a few minutes late, and got into the car.

As I sat down, the hotel’s bellman said, “Are you sure this is the right car service?” I asked the driver if he had my name on the paper he was holding in his hand. He stalled in answering me. At that moment, a man in a sharp suit walked up to the car (my door was still open) and said my name. I said, “Yes?” and he said he was from the car service that was ordered. I was in the wrong car.

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The Madonna Inn Gets Rid of its Vintage Bedspreads, Kitsch Fans Get Furious

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  Site Where: 100 Madonna Rd [map], San Luis Obispo, CA, United States, 93405
March 17, 2015 at 8:55 AM | by | Comments (0)

The new look

There are some things you don’t mess with. Vindictive people. Authoritarian governments. Icons – especially icons beloved of millions of people.

Sadly, the Madonna Inn, that icon of kitsch in San Luis Obispo lost the memo on that last one. Because in a breathless blog and Facebook post it revealed it’s getting rid of its famous bedspreads. You know, the vintage ones with mad patterns – paisleys, pomegranates, horses, bits of leather – those really famous, unique bedspreads that are integral to the crazy decor of the hotel.

What are they replacing them with? Crisp white sheets. A couple of cushions (sorry, “throw pillows”). And that most infernal item of chain hotel inroom décor: the utterly useless velvet stripe that goes across the end of the bed. Or, as the Madonna Inn says, “bed scarves”. They also say:

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Grab a Spork! Going Vegan at The Four Seasons Los Angeles

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  Site Where: 300 South Doheny Drive [map], Los Angeles, CA , United States, 90048
March 13, 2015 at 3:00 PM | by | Comments (0)

Hotels offering vegetarian and vegan options is nothing new but the Four Seasons Los Angeles is now serving two vegan renditions of dishes most commonly found at food trucks.

Here's what we found on the menu at the hotel's poolside cafe, Cabana, located on the hotel's fourth floor rooftop. Aside from gluttonous casual fare such as nachos, burgers and fish tacos and lighter items like salads and salmon, the menu now holds a few special creations from Spork Foods, an organic and vegan cooking class in West Hollywood.

Such items include the Battered Avocado Tacos ($25) filled with house pickled purple onions and ranchero black beans and the Red Bean Veggie Burger Sliders ($21) served with a beet ketchup and veganaise on a gluten-free bun topped with a battered pickle.

Even if you don't adhere to a vegan diet, you can't deny how good these taste. C'mon, fried avocados? Also that beet ketchup is sweeter than it sounds.

Of course, these dishes might be food-truck inspired but the prices are totally Four Seasons. #treatyoself

[Photos: HotelChatter]

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Level DTLA Will Give DTLA Another Level of Accommodations

Where: 888 South Olive Street [map], Los Angeles, CA , United States
March 12, 2015 at 3:17 PM | by | Comments (0)

Downtown Los Angeles is quickly becoming the neighborhood to stay in, or at least visit, in Los Angeles with options ranging from The Ace Hotel, the quirky Hotel Figueroa and the luxe Ritz-Carlton. And now here comes Level DTLA, an residential-style, extended stay property, from LEVEL Furnished Living, set to open this summer.

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Viceroy Palm Springs Will Rebrand as The Avalon Palm Springs, a New Brand from Proper Hotels

March 11, 2015 at 12:56 PM | by | Comments (3)

Do you have new hotel brand fatigue? Sorry, there's nothing anyone can or will do about it.

In today's new brand news, Skift reports that Viceroy Hotels' ultra-chic, ultra boutique property, the Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills, will be spun-off under former Viceroy founder but now current Proper Hotels founder and CEO Brad Korzen and his newly formed Proper Hospitality Group. (Korzen's Kor Group parent company already owns the Avalon.)

Yes, this is rather confusing. We were going to break down the whole transaction for you, complete with a flow chart, but really, all you need to know is that Avalon Beverly Hills will move over to the Proper Hotels group as a part of the new Avalon Hotels. Additionally, the Viceroy Palm Springs will rebrand into the Avalon Palm Springs. Skift says you should be able to book the either hotel from the new Avalon Hotels brand site in April.

In short: Proper Hotels now includes Proper and Avalon Hotel brands. Viceroy Hotels include only Viceroy Hotels and Resorts (along with the L'Ermitage. No idea when that name change will happen.)

Meanwhile, the first Proper Hotel will properly open in San Francisco later this year.

[Photo: HotelChatter]

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Positano's Le Sirenuse Resort is Vacationing at Shutters on The Beach This Week

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  Site Where: 1 Pico Boulevard [map], Santa Monica, CA, United States
March 5, 2015 at 1:10 PM | by | Comments (0)

It's offseason in Positano forLe Sirenuse, the luxury Amalfi Coast resort, home to one of the best pools in Italy, but if you're in Los Angeles this week you can take in some of the Italian seaside living at Shutters on The Beach in Santa Monica.

For the second year in a row, the two hotels have partnered up for a week-long celebration of all things Le Sirenuse (pronounced like "Lay-sear-a-new-say." At One Pico, Le Sirenuse's hot Michelin-star chef, Matteo Temperini, has created a special menu of Mediterranean dishes, all made with local California ingredients.

Highlights include the mantecato (codfish), topped with a poached egg in a sweet garlic cream sauce with asparagus, along with a light risotto atop red shrimp carpaccio, and the Maine Lobster in olive oil broth. But of course, there is dessert--the insanely rich Guanaja chocolate cake served with raspberry sorbet, actual raspberries and a small gold leaf.

All of this can and should be paired with the specially selected white and red wines (Italian, obvi) and if you indulge in Limoncello shots, it is prudent to follow that up with an espresso, so that at least you can order your own Uber home.

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Santa Barbara's Revamped Franciscan Inn Is Fine But Not Fancy

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  Site Where: 109 Bath Street [map], Santa Barbara, CA, United States, 93101
March 5, 2015 at 11:00 AM | by | Comments (0)

When you think Santa Barbara hotels, you probably imagine luxurious appointments. And, dollar signs.

The region's top hotels can command rates of several hundred a night at minimum while others, like the Four Seasons, can clock in at the four-digit range. But, that doesn't mean the beachside community is too pricey for those on a budget or those who'd rather indulge in other areas. In fact, some may be surprised to learn the very first Motel 6 was founded here.

If you look beyond the posh, you'll find dollar-saving possibilities in the form of a respectable inns with rates under $100 midweek and around $200 on the weekend. And, yes, Motel 6 remains an option. Among your choices is the family-friendly, and family operated, Franciscan Inn.

Check-In

Depending on which way you approach the Franciscan, you'll turn into one of its two parking lots. Exclusively for guests (they'll ask you for your license plate number to know who to tow), either lot is accessible to the lobby. Check-in was smooth and effortless on our visit, taking only minutes to complete. The only slight inconvenience was parking in the wrong lot when it came to proximity to our room. A quick 30 second drive out of one lot and into the other quickly solved that problem.

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'American Horror Story's' Next Season Will Take Place in a Hotel with Lady Gaga

March 4, 2015 at 3:23 PM | by | Comments (0)

If hotel occupancy begins to plummet next fall, we might know who's to blame---the Fox TV show, American Horror Story. The creepy show has announced its "theme" for its next terrifying season, which will be "Hotel." (Last year's was "Freak Show.") And no, we don't think it will be about some fancy luxury hotel. It will be a straight-up haunted spot. Also, Lady Gaga plans on joining the cast.

Huffington Post reports that the show could be based on the famed Garden of Allah, a legendary hotel on Sunset Boulevard, which opened in 1927 and was pretty much the Chateau Marmont of Hollywood's Golden Age, where famous people went to get into trouble. (Coincidentally, Chateau is across the street.)

Today it's home to a bank, a McDonald's and a Subway but nearly a hundred years ago, it was just starting out as a hideaway for many actors and creative types like Marlene Dietrich, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Humphrey Bogart and Orson Welles.

The hotel was demolished in the late 1950s but you can still see a replica of its ground at Universal Studios in Orlando. That's where we snapped this shot.

No word on what type of character Lady Gaga will play but we don't think playing an eccentric, possibly possessed, hotel guest would be a stretch.

[Photo: HotelChatter]