Tag: Historical Hotels

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Turin's Newest Hotel Is an 'Embarrassment' to the City

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  Site Where: 15 Piazza Carlo Emanuele II, Turin, Italy, 10123
December 3, 2014 at 12:33 PM | by | ()

Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) was a Marxist politician and co-founder of the Italian Communist Party, who was imprisoned by Mussolini and died soon after his release. He is still a god for Italy’s Left. So what better thing to do with his former home than convert it into a luxury hotel?

Uhh, quite. This is what’s kicking off in Turin at the moment, where the four star NH Collection Torino Piazza Carlino opened on Monday to major controversy in the city. Last week, people protested – again – with their red flags outside the building, as they have done for the past two-and-a-half years, during its conversion.

This is the fifth NH hotel in Turin (who knew?) and has 160 rooms, which are suitably spartan, in a way, with understated hardwood floors, plain white walls and the palest of neutrals for the curtains.

There are two rooftop terraces (from which views should be great, as this is plum in the city center), with a bar and aromatic herb garden up there; a fifth floor panoramic fitness room, another ground floor bar on the square below, Piazza Carlina. The building itself is an enormous, grand palazzo dating back to the 17th century, with a plaque outside noting the working class Gramsci link.

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The KGB Bugged the Hell Out of Estonia Hotel Guests

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  Site Where: Viru väljak 4, Tallinn, Estonia, 10111
April 29, 2013 at 1:16 PM | by | ()

Old Town Tallinn in Estonia feels like it should be on top of a wedding cake, the old city walls, church steeples, narrow cobblestone streets, and pastel colors putting forth a true Medieval vibe. Aside from aesthetics, the main draw of the city is the deep and relatively recent history – Estonia gained its independence from Soviet power less than 25 years ago, in 1991.

Men and women in their late 20s and early 30s can share stories of the communistic culture they experienced as children, including long lines at food markets and loss of property, all of which took place under the careful watch of the KGB. Estonians were forced to vacate or share their households with Soviets depending upon their income.

There are many hotels located within the Old Town walls to choose from, but if you want a true taste of KGB history during your visit, consider the Sokos Hotel Viru just outside Old Town. Opened in 1972, it's the largest hotel in Estonia with over 500 rooms, and during Soviet occupation, the KGB had an office on the top floor (the 23rd floor, which did not have a button on the elevator).

They always denied their presence, but they bugged the guests, literally.

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Six Amsterdam Hotels That Used to Be Something Else Entirely

April 25, 2013 at 3:10 PM | by | ()

If you've been to Amsterdam, then you know it's a city of canals, waffles, bicyclists and historical architecture. If you're a tourist in Amsterdam, then you also know that it's the center of the historical architecture where you find the best hotels, but they weren't always there.

Skyscrapers aren't welcome alongside the still canal waters and, when a hotel wants to open up, it often has to first find a building to repurpose, instead of constructing something brand new. As a result, nearly every hotel in the center of Amsterdam lives on a site with a history, one which may range from something as innocent as a convent to as sad as a jail for the Resistance movement during World War II.

Here's six such notable hotels:

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New Hotel Nobis Has 21st-Century Stockholm Syndrome

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  Site Where: Norrmalmstorg 2-4, Stockholm, Sweden, 111 86
January 25, 2013 at 9:54 AM | by | ()

Ever seen that Charlie Sheen movie The Chase? Remember how he steals the beautiful blonde's car and takes her hostage, but he charms her so well that she ends up straddling him as they cruise down the highway, her back to the steering wheel?

Typical Charlie, we know, but it's also a perfect example of what's called the Stockholm Syndrome -- when the victim begins to identify with the person holding the gun. It doesn't take a genius to figure out this phrase stems from Sweden, but how? And why? According to the FBI, roughly 27% of victims show evidence of Stockholm Syndrome during or after an incident.

Why compassion arises for captors is still up for debate, but we got an up-close look at the origin of the phenomenon last week during a visit to the new Hotel Nobis in Stockholm. In 1973, Stockholm made headlines around the world when a bank robber held four people hostage for six days. The southern part of the hotel building (the white part adjacent to the Nobis in the photo below) was where the bank used to be, where the hostages were held.

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Ahwahnee Hotel Chefs' Holidays 2013 Feature Hungry Cat and Cakebread

January 9, 2013 at 3:36 PM | by | ()

Here's the latest happening in the luxury hotel world as told by Just Luxe's own Lena Katz. Got a question about luxury hotels and where to stay? Send it in and we'll have Lena answer it.

For those of you who aren’t National Parks-savvy, we must formally announce that January is a Big Deal, event-wise, for the West Coast’s biggest NPS hotel name. Northern California's famous Yosemite National Park, and in specific the iconic Ahwahnee Hotel on the Yosemite Valley floor, has been drawing ever-bigger crowds and marquee-name chefs with its annual Yosemite’s Chefs' Holidays series, which runs for eight sessions in 2013. JustLuxe.com got a peek at the first session, which ran January 6-8, and there are seven more to go including the finale January 30-31. Look for the complete schedule on the Ahwahnee page.

The Ahwahnee, for those not familiar, was finished in 1927, and is a masterpiece of grandiose traditional Arts & Crafts architecture, with some Native American elements, plus vast sweeping interior lines that reflect the vast mountain outside. It's a Historic Hotel of America, and management company Delaware North has taken every measure to preserve that "You just stepped back 90 years in time" feeling. In the wintertime, this translates to traditional recreation activities like the Curry Village Ice Rink (opened November in 2012) and guided full moon snowshoe walks (starting January 23rd in 2013--rates around $415 per night).

We, however, prefer the newer tradition of Chefs' Holidays, in which chefs and winemakers and foodies from coast to coast get cozy and chatty, sipping all kinds of wine and whipping up delicious morsels and enjoying those chilly wintertime Glacier Point views through the window.

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OK, We're Not That Mad At The US Grant's $1.02 Suite Deal

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  Site Where: 326 Broadway [map], San Diego, CA, United States, 92101
November 19, 2012 at 9:38 PM | by | ()

When we see specials that tout room for $1 or anything in that realm, we react with a twinge of excitement followed by a healthy dose of skepticism. We know these things do happen (see the smidgen of folks who got in on Public Chicago’s $1 deal), but, well, we’re just getting a little tired of breaking our necks for a slim-to-none chance to score a room.

So, when we saw that San Diego’s historic US Grant Hotel (where Michelle Obama recently stayed), the Gaslamp institution we featured in our Presidential Suites story, was offering $1.02 suites in celebration of their 102 birthday, we had to know “what’s the catch?”

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Evening Sneak Peak: A Taste of The Tuscany

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  Site Where: 120-130 East 39th St. [map], New York , NY, United States, 10016
November 19, 2012 at 8:40 PM | by | ()

The Tuscany now, a diamond in the rough. But not for long

After a few scheduling snafus, we were lucky enough to be the first to get a sneak-peek at The Tuscany , part of the St Giles Grand Hotel group. Originally scheduled to open this month, the grand reveal has been pushed back to mid-December due to a few Hurricane Sandy setbacks. Despite our walking into a very active constructive zone (and encountering a rather nervous PR exec) we think the Tuscany is shaping up quite nicely, we loved our first look.

We were continually reminded (almost every few minutes, in fact), things “aren’t finished yet” and we get that. Really, we do. But the things we did see, we’re happy to show our readers who are excited to have another Murray Hill option minutes from Grand Central, the Chrysler Building (there’s a great view from some rooms) and all those important places where business meetings, etc., occur. Thanks to a great rate on Hotel Tonight, we’ve stayed at the Tuscany’s sister property next door, The Court, (on 39th/Lex) and we dig both locations and think it'll do very well, indeed.

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Historic Ohio Hotel Anxious For a “Mitt Romney Room”

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  Site Where: 27 S. Broadway [map], Lebanon, Ohio, United States, 45036
October 24, 2012 at 6:36 PM | by | ()

Republican Senator Rob Portman, whose family owns Lebanon, Ohio's 200-year old Golden Lamb Inn, recently gave a tour of the state's oldest (and some say haunted due to three deaths) hotel to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney during a stop along his campaign trail.

According to a local news source, there was a bit of gentle teasing on the Inn's rates.

“He calls it The Golden Lamb. But I think when you look at the prices, you'll determine it's the golden fleece,” Romney quipped. “Careful,” Portman responded, with a smile. Romney clarified, “Actually it's modest, it's a modest price point. I mean this is like $130 a night... for history!”

While walking around the Inn, which 12 presidents (including George W. Bush and John Quincy Adams) have visited, Sen. Portman's wife said “This is great. We can't wait to have a Mitt Romney room.”

There's a funny about a binder full of presidents, right? Right?


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New York City's Largest Hotel Was Once--Gasp--in Brooklyn

September 19, 2012 at 4:13 PM | by | ()

The year was 1949 and the largest hotel in New York City wasn't near Times Square, or Grand Central Station or even Wall Street. It's the St. George Hotel, a behemoth of a building, boasted over 2,600 rooms and a "world famous" saltwater swimming pool, the largest indoor one in the US at the time. Where's it at, you ask? Brooklyn, baby.

Brownstoner dug up a slew of similarly intriguing facts about this property, which once was quite the landmark for travelers seeking "moderately priced" accommodation in a city that's been known for its tippy-top nightly rates since, well...ever:

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Up at Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel: Afternoon Tea for All

July 20, 2012 at 4:11 PM | by | ()

How many US hotels do you know that've reached 125 years of business? Well, The Grand Hotel of Michigan's Mackinac Island is one of 'em, as well as being one of the last surviving wooden construction hotels. Its history is long and tumultuous, but its summers are sunny. This week, we'll take a look around the Victorian property and the features and amenities that have made it a top seasonal destination for the last century-and-a-quarter.

Today: Afternoon Tea at The Grand Hotel

We may have spent nearly all week showing you the nooks and crannies that guests may enjoy at the 125-year-old Grand Hotel, but there is one very large way they welcome non-guests: with traditional afternoon tea.

Mackinac Island has its share of daytrippers and budget travelers just as it has the luxury and season-long visitors. Paying $400/night for the Grand isn't always feasible; for some it's a dream stay to work towards, but in the meantime there's always tea. The Grand Hotel charges non-guests $10 per person and enforces a basic dress code to enter the building, to prevent the place being overrun. While you're there, afternoon tea is only $25 per person (compare to $30+ in Chicago and $36+ in New York).

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Up at Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel: The Esther Williams Swimming Pool Endures

July 19, 2012 at 6:47 PM | by | ()

How many US hotels do you know that've reached 125 years of business? Well, The Grand Hotel of Michigan's Mackinac Island is one of 'em, as well as being one of the last surviving wooden construction hotels. Its history is long and tumultuous, but its summers are sunny. This week, we'll take a look around the Victorian property and the features and amenities that have made it a top seasonal destination for the last century-and-a-quarter.

Today: The grounds of The Grand Hotel

There's an excellent story that The Grand's historian, Bob Tagatz, tells. Hearing him deliver it is, naturally, leaps and bounds better than reading it here from us, but we're going to share it anyway.

The Grand Hotel has always been known for offering activities to fill those summer days spent lounging on the 600-foot-long porch (largest porch in the world, they claim). Today, those activities include croquet and bocce on the lawn, vintage baseball games, weekends dedicated to jazz or ballroom dancing and, always, live music. Rewind to 100 years ago—or 125. Seasonal resorts competed to draw the summer crowds by varying their entertainment, and The Grand had to keep up.

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Up at Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel: Dining and Drinking

July 18, 2012 at 4:43 PM | by | ()

How many US hotels do you know that've reached 125 years of business? Well, The Grand Hotel of Michigan's Mackinac Island is one of 'em, as well as being one of the last surviving wooden construction hotels. Its history is long and tumultuous, but its summers are sunny. This week, we'll take a look around the Victorian property and the features and amenities that have made it a top seasonal destination for the last century-and-a-quarter.

Today: The restaurants, bars and food at The Grand Hotel

There are signs next to the elevators, notes in the daily schedule and reminders on the lobby's bulletin board. "Seven ways to lunch," they say. "Cocktail of the day." It quickly becomes apparent that dining at The Grand Hotel—whether it's petit fours with afternoon tea or the 5-course formal dinner—is an integral part of The Grand experience.

Despite the variety of dining and drinking venues (more than you could experience with just a 2-night stay), it's actually not that difficult to enjoy several, since the majority of the room packages at The Grand are Full American Plan, meaning your breakfast, lunch and dinner and some gratuities are included.

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