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Claridge's Juleps (£18 each)
There’s been a lot to depress us about the London hotel scene recently. Homophobes and boycotts. $127 drinks. Finding out that some of our favorite hotels have minimum spend policies. So when a luxury hotel in London steps up to the plate in terms of superb customer service, and reinforces our every hope about them, instead of dashing said hope into little pieces and then grinding it into the floor with a steel-capped heel, we should all rejoice. Put your hands together then, ladies and gents, for Claridge's.
Last Thursday, I went for drinks at Claridge’s with a friend. Drinks at Claridge’s has always seemed a little intimidating and out of budget for both of us, despite my having stayed there once, and both of us having watched the BBC documentary about Claridge’s more times than is good for us. It’s not your average after-work bar; it’s Claridge’s. Not only that, but there are two bars at Claridge’s: the normal one, and the tiny, sexy, marble-clad, gold-leafed, Lalique-glassed Fumoir that seats only 36, bans photos, and has a no reservations policy. That was the one we wanted.
I arrived first, and approached the Fumoir gingerly. Of course we have room, madam, said a man in a plum-colored velvet dinner jacket. Which table would you prefer? I picked the best table. He allowed me to do so. Score one to Claridge’s.
A few months back we talked about our pet peeves design-wise when staying in a hotel. But of course, there are a ton of things we love very much about hotel rooms. (There has to be, otherwise we wouldn't keep on coming back!)
So in this merry and joyous holiday season when everyone is
buying Oprah's list of thinking up their "favorite things" we decided to compile a list of our 10 Favorite Things Found in Hotel Rooms.
Admittedly, this is a mix of amenities, furniture and technology but all of this plays into the overall design of the guestroom and more importantly, the overall hotel experience.
Today, we welcome our very own hotel Agent Zero, the first in what we hope to be a larger network of hotel spies. Her not-real name is Myra Ellen and she's our version of Alex Goran who travels once a week for business, usually along the Eastern seaboard. Every so often, she'll be dropping in with her latest hotel and travel observations. And awwaaaaay we go!
I stayed at the Thompson LES recently and experienced a Manhattan nighttime first: silence.
True silence from about 11pm until maybe 7:30am. No street noise, no doors slamming or hallway clatter, no ruckus of any kind. I'm still bewildered by that and wonder if perhaps I was actually in a coma. It's hard to explain how rare this phenomenon is for me.
Where, I wondered, were the trucks? The sirens? The garbage trucks? And since this is a Thompson hotel, where was the thud-thud-thud of the lounge music? The answer: if it was there, we didn't hear it.
Ed. Note: Maybe the hotel really took the neighbors' complaints to heart.
When our friend told us this story, we just knew we had to share, because it's stuff like this that takes the chill out of a cold, cold day.
One night, while on business in Huntington Beach, CA, our friend* proceeded to get absolutely wasted, lose her wallet and arrive at her hotel a sobbing, disoriented mess.
It was in this state that the front desk of the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa came to her rescue, calling every bar she had been to that night in search of her wallet, even calling the airline to see how she could board the plane for her flight home sans ID. (The wallet eventually showed up, fully intact, courtesy of that night's cab driver—more warm and fuzzy feelings!)
HotelChatter Reviews / Hotel Heaven / Ritz-Carlton Hotels / Hotel Services / Bath Butlers / → All Tags
Staying at a luxury resort can sometimes feel like falling through a rabbit hole of helplessness. Even if you're accustomed to, say, setting an alarm clock or parking a car, why should you when someone is at the ready to do it for you? It's like being a baby who can drink.
We thought we'd seen the best of this before we encountered the Bath Butler at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay in California. A Gatsby-esque mansion blown up to Size XL along the foggy coast, the property, which opened in 2001, advertises such amenities as a cart for returning joggers offering towels and water (chilled or room temperature?) and a bagpiper who plays on the terrace at sunset.
Really, for this apartment dweller, the lounge-worthy alcove bathtub would have been delight enough, but having someone draw the bath for us sounded like a pretty great deal.
Have you heard about Seoul's hotness? South Korea's hipper-than-thou capital is gaining street cred due to a recent opening of a 10 Corso Como, a Fashion Week growing quickly in international regard, and not to mention the popularity of Korean TV dramas around the world.
The development of Seoul as a sort of new Tokyo (albeit slightly more affordable) is creating a distinctive thirst among tourists and locals alike: for luxury and high design.
This is why, in a city where women wear high heels everywhere, the Metro Hotel Myungdong looks and feels so good. So it doesn't have the best views, but then what is a great view in a city planned without much regard to green spaces and well...city planning?
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You still have a chance to hit this place in April before the mercury jumps to possibly unbearable levels in Vietnam. Thing is, as the temperature rises the prices go down, so you may be able to score a deal if you can stand the heat.
Top notch service, plenty of snorkeling, a bit of windsurfing, a beach, which is cleaned daily, and a brand spankin' new spa-- pretty much all the upscale resort prerequisites.
Oh, and there are wild monkeys on the premises who are known to playfully shake the trees behind some of the villas, who knows maybe they even shake the villas themselves--just in case you and your significant other can't get the job done--this place has romance written all over it.
Insider Tip: If you are a hotel view-o-phile stay in on of the Hill Top Suites for a killer view.
[Photo: Notorious S.I.G.]
· Evason Hideaway Comments [TripAdvisor]
Most people rave about a great hotel after they've stayed there, but some get all excited just knowing it exists. At Susan Connor's Spiralbound blog, she's practically started hyperventilating after discovering Copenhagen's Hotel Fox. Susan says:
When I was skimming through some back-issues of Artichoke magazine, I just couldn't help but drool all over the article about Hotel Fox ... I can definitely see staying here and never even going out to any museums. This place looks like heaven. There should be more visionary, profit-making projects like this in the world. Fun for all.
Of course we'd prefer Susan checked in first before publicly claiming the Fox is the place, but there's something else new this month that we like about it. They've started their very own Ask Me page with experts for every aspect of Copenhagen life--so if you want to know where to see new exhibits, what sport you can catch while you're there or (most importantly, we think) where to eat and drink, there are a bunch of cool, knowledgeable Danes to ask.
If you're aspiring to a luxury holiday with a difference in New Zealand, you'll either hate our pun or be pleased to stay near Mt Aspiring National Park. An hour from Queenstown in New Zealand's Southern Alps, Riverrun Lodge is a small, personal-touch guesthouse with a 5-star feel.
Previous guests rave about it, enjoying factors as diverse as the "woodsy smell of fresh timbers" and the "porch overlooking the hillside" to the relaxing atmosphere. A big kudos to what's outside the lodge, too:
When you are tired of just looking at the beautiful countryside, you can take off walking from the hotel. You'll cross a turquoise stream, walk through bushes that are solid flowers, then climb a small, flower-covered mountain that will give you a breathtaking view of snow-capped mountains beyond, and a turquoise blue river below. Thought I was in Heaven, but alas, it was just the Riverrun Lodge.
So if you want to get a feel for the natural beauty of the South Island of New Zealand, a couple of nights near the mountains is probably a good way to do it. Oh, and before you ask why it's called "Riverrun", the mighty Clutha River (NZ's largest) runs along its border. Why they didn't bother with a space between River and Run, however, is something we can't answer.
[Photo: Girl loves to go]
· Riverrun Lodge reviews [TripAdvisor]
For as long as we have chronicled hotel reviews, it has been duly noted that finding excellent, decently priced, accommodations in Italy can be, how do you say, spotty.
In light of this plight, when we find Italian hotels that appear to hold up, we always try to let you in on the secret.
Back in 2005 we found Pensione Accademia in Venice. A hotel even Philly Phan could love.
A HotelChatter reader recently put our post to the test in Venice. His thought are this way.
Where is Jennifer? Okay, perhaps the right question is who is Jennifer, but blogger whereisjennifer is in Egypt right now, raving about how wonderful the Grand Rotana Resort at Sharm El Sheikh is. Not only is the price good (as she mentions, thanks to the terrible intermittent terrorist attacks that make this Egyptian destination just a little less popular), she scored an upgrade to a "super-deluxe ocean view room". But the largest chunks of praised are reserved for the swimming pool and the employees who lurk there:
Friendly pool employees jumped to adjust our pool chairs, put up our umbrella, bring us refreshments, clean our sunglasses, and practice their commendable command of the English language. We were in heaven. Everywhere we went, employees were standing by to treat us like national treasures.
Whether or not you want someone else actually cleaning your sunglasses is another question (we can live without it ourselves) but plenty of reviews from other happy customers seem to support Jennifer's rave.
And if being waited on hand and foot at the pool all holiday isn't your thing, from the Grand Rotana Sharm El Sheikh you can also get into diving, snorkelling, windsurfing, horseriding and even camel riding and desert safaris. They just probably don't clean your sunglasses for you out in the desert.
Grand Rotana Resort and Spa reviews [TripAdvisor]
With review titles like "Heaven," Brilliant," and "Wonderful Staff, Wonderful Hotel," it's safe to say the Le Meridien in Luxor is worth a stay. With 228 rooms, some overlook the Nile and others the courtyard, amenities run rampant, and hotel staff is touted as excellent again and again.
Guests can swim in the pool while peering over the ledge at the sailors on the Nile. Jet up into the sky on a hot air balloon or dine in a "sailing felucca." So there is plenty to do and the property is great but we are always interested to read up on the staff:
What a fantastic holiday we had. We can not fault the hotel and all of the staff. All of the staff were helpful and so friendly. it they appeared more like a family of staff. Rooms were cleaned daily. We requested extra pillows at reception one day and ten minutes after returning to our rooms there was a knock on the door- pillows had arrived.
Voila! A little hotel heaven in Eygpt. Le Meridien and Luxor have done their part in providing a top hotel with superb service. Now if only the political climate would clear up maybe we'd have the guts to jaunt to Egypt without considering a Vegas substitute instead.
· Le Meridien Luxor Reviews [TripAdvisor]