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Even the poshest of properties need to refresh every so often which is why it didn't surprise us that one of the most genteel dames of Hawaiian hospitality in Waikiki, The Halekulani, has had a facelift.
For the past year, the hotel has carefully been refreshing all of its guestrooms and suites as well as refining the guest experiences, services and amenities. They've also added a new swanky French bar, L’Aperitif at La Mer, and a newly-styled Afternoon Tea experience.
Although most of the existing Halekulani building dates back to 1984, it has always been a place of relaxation and a fond aloha most welcoming to travelers. Allow us to divulge a little of its history:
Most travelers who've been to Gatlinburg, TN would agree that it's not exactly a hot spot for luxury hotels...or for much at all now that the 1960s and '70s have passed. And isn't that a good thing? Judging from the sort of average roadside motels that used to host Smoky Mountain tourists in the area's heyday, it sure is.
We recently came across an old postcard from the era, of the Watson's Motel. Watson's was (or maybe still is) a one-story motel with 54 rooms, 21 with kitchenettes and fireplaces, and "some with Color TV."
Curious to see inside a room? Here ya go:
Happy Independence Day! This year, we're celebrating with a patriotic look back at one of the United States' most historic hotels: the McKinley Park Hotel in Mt. McKinley National Park, Alaska. Really, what's more "nuclear family" traditional Americana than a National Park?
We recently came across a vintage pamphlet from a stay at the hotel in the summer of 1957. The yellowed pages tout the 86-room property as "a friendly hotel in Alaska's scenic land of the midnight sun" and a perfect location for spotting the multitude of wildlife of the park, whose land measures an impressive 1,939,493 acres.
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While Madonna's entourage shacks up in the modern room of the hotel, she herself likes four magnificent, chandelier-dripping, silk-lined suites in the older section. In a sitting room larger than most apartments and with a view to the river Tagus, the Material Girl might work through some dance steps on the inlaid wood floors but her preferred sleeping suite is the Dom Manuel with the huge bed fitted with Armani sheets. We're not sure what other requests she has but we're sure she still has plenty.
Now, here's a little history lesson on the hotel that you might enjoy:
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Something weird is going on with airport hotels. It's a full-circle effect really, in that the original airport hotels opened on auto routes to airpots in the dawn of the jet age, when people considered air travel a rare luxury and made the flight experience an event all its own. The 80s and 90s saw the reputation and quality of airport and roadside hotels drop, but now there's been a definite upturn with the re-introduction of style. Just look at the proliferation of Alofts, Elements and Yotels.
Just a second let's turn the clock back. Let's reflect on those original, full-service hotels that marked the beginning of a landmark trip in someone's life, in the 1960s. Welcome to Euro Motel, located on one of the main motorways leading into/away from Amsterdam-Schiphol International.
You've seen this photo of Public's re-imagined Pump Room, you know, the one that makes you want to go there NOW.
Ever wonder what Public Chicago used to look like in its former Ambassador East glory? We often do. Originally opened in October of 1926, the hotel has a long history of being the place to be well before it became Public. First a luxury haven for the upper echelon, the Ambassador later drew celebs in droves following the opening of the Pump Room in 1938. That interest definitely petered off in the years before Public opened (September 2011), but the point is that this hotel was once as hot as it is today.
Here's The Pump Room under the former Ambassador East umbrella. Yowza.
During a recent visit to Public, we dug around for more clues about the hotel’s past life and scored, getting our hands on a bunch of old images of the former Ambassador East. We couldn’t resist sharing so take a look and a gander down hotel memory lane. Of course, you won't miss Public's totally crushing design and might even start wondering what it means to be hot both then and now.
No Photoshop job here – the historic doors at Hotel Burnham really do require old school keys.
When was the last time you used a real key to open a hotel door? It felt like ages but oh-so-right when we got to literally turn a key just recently at Hotel Burnham in Chicago.
A 122-room boutique hotel housed in a National Historic Landmark, Hotel Burnham has this charming way of catching you off guard. Enter from the throws of Chicago’s busy Loop district and – surprise! – an early 20th-Century-meets-Gothic atmosphere subdues and steeps you in stories, architectural elegance and incredible food.
We talk a lot about Chicago’s booming hotel scene, but the Burnham is a great reminder that historic hotels have the power to transport you in ways that nothing new can ever touch.
Here are some of the treasures that keep us coming back to Kimpton’s beautiful Burnham Hotel:
Thanks to relatively low room rates for a high style hotel in Manhattan, the Hotel Americano is quickly making a name for itself. In fact, we have several friends who just go there for coffee or drinks. Now, were this fifty years ago, we'd all be talking instead about the Hotel Americana, the hot new hotel on the scene in 1962.
The Americana, at 7th Avenue and 52nd Street, towered 51 stories above Midtown and had 2,000 guestrooms, plus five restaurants and numerous ballrooms. Real-life Mad Menthe ad men of Madison Avenuewould absolutely have known it and gone for meetings and/or trysts there.
The cool part of all this is that the Americana still stands...though it's now the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers and the 1960s interiors have long been ripped out in favor of what we'd like to call "modern business conservative."
Here's a fun fact for today: Did you know that the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was in the spot where the Empire State Building now stands? It's true! The first version of the ritzy hotel was a combination of the Waldorf and the Astoria Hotels at 5th Avenue and 33rd/34th Streets, which stood and welcomed the most well-heeled guests from 1893 to 1929, when it was knocked down to begin the skyscraper ESB we now know and love.
You won't hear much about that first building of some 1,300 rooms (with bidets) unless you pick a nice documentary from your Netflix queue; we recommend "Modern Marvels: The Empire State Building."
Of course, history is history and we all know that the Waldorf-Astoria found a new home further uptown, in its art deco digs at Park Avenue and 50th Street. Craving a little more NYC hotel history? Check out our category for it.
A few weeks ago we were chatting with a fellow hotel nerd about the new Public Hotel in Chicago, formerly known as the Ambassador East, when the topic of a secret tunnel came up. Yes, we were instantly hooked. Here's what we found out:
Way back when there was an Ambassador West which is the building across the street from Ambassador East/Public. At the turn of the new millennium, the building was still a hotel, a Wyndham Hotel, but today it's been turned into luxury condos worth well over a million bucks a piece. But back to the secret tunnel.
During the heydey of Ambassador East, the tunnel was use to spirit its rich and famous guests to safety away from the paparazzi. But the secret tunnel was initially created so that guests could go back and forth between the hotels without having to cross the busy street. Which is kind of laughable today because the Gold Coast nabe is very residential.
London's undeniably posh West End plays home to some of the city's most impressive—and oftentimes hoity toity—hotels: The Ritz, Langham, and Dorchester all cater to an upper crust clientele who know luxury and expect its delivery in spades.
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A few weeks ago, we told you about the opening of the St. Ermin's Hotelin London that we attended and showed you what our room looked like. Apologies for the lag time, but here's a fun little piece of hotel history.
Approaching St. Ermin's, the first thing you will notice is the impressive courtyard outside the main entrance, flanked on three sides by the hotel. Restoring the courtyard to its original "grandeur" was an important element of the overall renovation.
Then upon walking into the lobby, you step onto mosaic floors, turning left to find reception in the corner. The hotel's public spaces, predominantly the lobby and ballroom, feature extensive white plasterwork, with everything from flowers to a sudden procession of wild animals (up the lobby staircase, to the right in the corner if you want to find them).