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We mean "tomorrow" as in the future.
"Back where it all began." HotelTonight founder and CEO Sam Shank reflects for a moment, and takes a bite of a kettle-cooked potato chip.
We're chilling at the bar in the far back of the bustling lobby of The Ace, where, in late 2010, Shank launched HotelTonight and which now inspires the interior design of the HT headquarters on the other side of the country.
Has it already been more than two years?! HT still seems like the hot new thing, though they've grown to a staff of over 80 and now support 5 languages and 6 currencies for properties on sale in 12 countries. Their most recent "big news" came only last week, as they welcomed hotels in Rome, Florence, Madrid and Barcelona to the app and showed off their snazzy SF digs in a episode of TechCrunch's TC Cribs. Heck, you know we're already fans; last week we booked three nights in two countries using HotelTonight.
To celebrate its first hotel above a comedy club, Travelodge has rolled out a "loo laughs" campaign at London's new 131-room Bethnal Green location in hopes of keeping its guests entertained at all times. That's right -- there are jokes and cartoons on the toilet paper.
The idea was inspired by the hotel's position on top of British comedian Lee Hurst's Backyard Comedy Club, but it was also backed up by a bit of data. Travelodge ran a survey of 2,000 Britons that revealed 49% of them like to read on the loo.
Based on what we've seen, it doesn't appear they got much professional help with the joke writing, despite its location. The two samples we've seen haven't exactly been side-splitters. For example, Why are men better than dogs? Because they have only two muddy feet to walk into the house. Or, worse: How many men does it take to change the roll of toilet paper? We don't know... it's never happened. Oh, dear.
Finally we conclude our several-week-long dilemma of where to stay in Madrid for just one night, for a first timer to the city. After settling on the Hotel de Las Letras based on your strong recommendations, we checked in (right behind another couple who had also been on our same flight from Istanbul!) and hunkered down.
We booked the lowest room category for 112 Euros, but adding 20-30 more would've bumped us up to a category with an ornate balcony overlooking the Gran Via. As it was February with near freezing temperatures, this would have been a waste. One night's stay, when we expected to spend much of the time out at museums and restaurants, doesn't call for much.
We’ve often made jokes about IKEA-type furnishings in hotel rooms, and we even talked last summer about the upcoming IKEA hotel, and now the word is out--Marriott is indeed joining with the Swedish furnishings company to create Moxy Hotels. This will be be the company’s European, three-star budget brand, with the first hotel scheduled to debut in Milan in early 2014. And we suppose if any place needs a budget hotel, it would be Milan, no?
Thinking of the young, budget traveler, Marriott turned to Inter Hospitality Holding, IKEA’s real estate division and expressed interest in working together to create rooms that will cost around €60 ($78) per night. But here's the thing, like we said before--IKEA furniture won't be used in the rooms. Huh. So then, why the partnership?
It's getting more and more expensive to visit Oahu, and, for once, it has nothing to do with the cost of coladas or airline tickets. This time, it's actually the hotel industry that's pumping up prices by turning budget-friendly accommodations into luxury lodging. Grr.
Now, don't think this is malicious -- there's a lot of good work being done -- but the fact is that budget-friendly hotels are disappearing. Smith Travel Research reports the number of budget rooms on Oahu and Waikiki has decreased by 10% over the last ten years.
In 2006, Oahu had 33 budget properties but by the end of last year there were only 27 (less than 700 budget hotel rooms in total). Because of the high cost associated with building new on Waikiki, developers are deciding to renovate older buildings, turning them into newer, nicer, and pricier properties.
Despite that trend, you can still find a cheap hotel on Oahu. For our purposes, we consider anything under $200/night in Waikiki during high season a "budget property." Here's a sampling of some of the options we found, based on guest feedback as well as our own. Keep in mind it's currently the high season in Hawaii, meaning you can get even lower prices (and less crowds) if you visit in the late spring or summer...
When was the last time you stayed at a Red Lion Hotel? It seems the hotel gets a bad rap of the Super 8 and Motel 6 variety, though we seem to see plenty of good reviews overall. A Hilton it's not, but it'll do in a pinch. Well, it looks like the company wants to up its game and add a third brand of hotels to their corporation called the Leo Hotel Collection. The second sister is Red Lion Inn & Suites.
Each Leo hotel will be an independently owned franchise property that is “unique, boutique and/or historic,” according to Red Lion HQ. At first we thought this meant they were going to roll out a bunch of funky new properties, all with a different look a la Pasadena Quality Inn—but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It appears more like an opportunity for already established hotels to join up with the brand, and slap the Leo name on their doors.
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Inside an 8-bed room
No one ever got anywhere by calling something a "revolutionary concept." That phrase is played out right along with "funky fresh." Instead let us say this: if Freehand Miami plays its cards right and doesn't get too big for its britches (double idiom sentence!), it has the real potential to be crazy awesome and quickly multiply to conquer cities beyond Miami. Oh wait, that's exactly their plan (for 10 properties!), so what you're about to read is the future, baby.
The Freehand is a hostel with some private rooms and it's not trying to hide that fact. It is, however, a fancy hostel with an interior by Roman & Williams, staff uniforms designed by Timo Weiland, artwork by local Miami artists, and cocktails by Bar Lab.
Shared bunk rooms start at $21 a night (per person), while private rooms begin at $109 (per room). Beyond the rooms (8-bunk, 4-bunk, private king) the Freehand benefits from an inviting lobby, a bar (The Broken Shaker), back garden courtyard, a lovely pool, a side garden of table tennis and other yard games and, eventually, there'll even be a restaurant.
We stayed for three nights at the beginning of Art Basel, the week of their debut, paying a total of $122 for two people in the coed 8-bed room. We were however "upgraded" to a 4-bed room as the 8-beds weren't totally ready.
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In a first for the hotel chain and for Scotland, Tune Hotels opened up their first Scottish property last week welcoming thrifty travelers in the city to check out the umpteen castles, Edinburgh has to offer. It's a first for Scotland and a first in the new design for the hotel chain.
Last summer we told you of plans to bring the discount chain to Scotland, and now everything is official. The brand brings to the city, a la carte pricing for which they have become famous. Want towels? That's £1.50 extra. Room cleaning? £7 per day. Ability to watch some TV? £3 per day.
For those that can plan in advance, you'll see the cheapest rates. Room rates start at £25, but will skyrocket as the cheap rooms sell out. On a recent search in April, we found a double room without windows for £50 ($80) and a room with a view for £80 ($128). Once you start adding any normal hotel amenities, the price is comparable to local hotels.
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London is an expensive place to stay the night, that’s nothing new. Moreover, despite the influx of new hotels we’ve seen this year, a post-Olympics slump seems to have been avoided with particularly strong occupancy levels (i.e. the percentage of rooms filled with guests) after the summer’s events. That means it won’t get any easier finding a pleasantly priced hotel room in the city anytime soon.
So what to do if you want something sweet but easy on the wallet?
To help here's five London hotels that offer a bit of style without requiring a second mortgage or limitless credit card to enjoy them.
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Ibis Abu Dhabi Gate, as it will be known, will open this month in Musaffah at the entrance of the city, near the Abu Dhabi Int'l Airport (AUH), Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, with rates starting at $61/night.
While the 252-room hotel is the brand's first in Abu Dhabi, Ibis in fact already owns no less than five hotels in neighboring Dubai, the cheapest of which has rates starting as low as $65/night.
Last week we went inside two affordable Parisian hotels under 200 Euros a night that offered up eclectic boutique decor and attentive service. But if you're looking for something even cheaper than that (without having to shack up at a random hotel near Gare du Lyon), the NY Times recently went inside the funky budget spot, Hi-Matic in the out-of-the-way-for-tourists 11th arrondissement. Think of it as a Tune Hotel but Frencher and brighter:
The rooms are done in the bright solid hues of a child’s playroom — sky-blue walls, green floor, purple bed, orange shelves — and their diminutive size and packed, low furniture seem appropriate for tykes, too. Half of my unit, No. 42, was taken up by the bed, which was really more of a pile of futon-like (but comfy and cozy) mattresses on the floor. The only other furnishings were a tiny desk, a low gumdrop-like cube serving as a chair, and a wooden bar that held comically oversize clothes hangers.
There's travel talk everywhere about how expensive it'll be to fly and drive this summer, so there has to be some savings somewhere, yes? The most obvious place will be in hotel rates, and so our gift to you this week was one hotel a day under $100 a night. Now, we're not saying every place is of Ritz quality, because then it would be...well, the bloody Ritz. But the places are nice enough for you to sleep at night.
Our Last Pick: Alta Lodge