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We like to keep it fun but informative here at HotelChatter so our series, What is This?, is devoted to odd-looking items in hotels that upon first glance look as if they serve only a decorative purpose. But everything happens for a reason, right? And we're here to tell you what these things really do.
But we had to stop and do a double take while wandering around the lobby at Trump Taj Mahal the other day. At the bottom of the escalators, right next to the Baccarat Pit, we spotted what appeared to be a giant children's playpen—then we remembered where we were, and dismissed that thought. Bright, shiny beach balls scattered around a life-size tic-tac-toe board.
But who was playing? Were we allowed to jump in? What the heck was this thing anyway?
We've been in some hotels that take their art very seriously and some that prefer to make the design as minimalist as possible. But recently, we came across some cool framed art hanging in the lobby of our hotel using different variations of their room-keys to create a larger, more interesting object d'art. If this isn't reason enough to open your eyes when rushing from the front desk, to the elevators, to your room, we don't know what is.
Upon check-in, the hotel gives you a randomly selected card with very little knowledge that it's part of the larger picture in four different series. Once we saw the other cards, we were immediately envious of the other keys, but didn't have the guts to ask for a cooler one; you're not supposed to keep them, remember! It did give us the idea that it would make for a fun Guess The Hotel entry.
See if you can figure out where we were from the clues below. If you think you know, take a guess in the comments section and we will reveal the hotel's identity next week.
Here are your hints...ready go!
· The hotel is mix of East and West, considering the brand and location.
· It is one of few major international hotels in the city as well as one of the tallest buildings in the city's 'skyline'.
· The city itself is considered one of UNESCO's 'Creative Cities' which fits well with their use of key card art.
· With a perfect proximity to the local Night Bazaar, there is most certainly nothing bizarre about the warm service and iconic smiles you get here.
After a questionable example earlier this week, we feel the need to cleanse our palate with something a little more refined in the hotel art category. Luckily, we came across the perfect example recently at the equally refined Four Seasons Bangkok.
Enter the airy lobby and walk straight ahead to the grand staircase in front of you, behind which you’ll find a stunning mural commissioned especially for the hotel. Hand-painted on Thai silk, it depicts in extraordinary detail the ascent of the Chakri Dynasty to the throne of Thailand.
We should preface this by saying: we don't consider ourselves mooches. Far from it. We're loyal, paying, upstanding hotel guests. However, in all our years of hotel sleuthing, we've picked up a few tricks on ways to use a hotel without ever actually staying there as a guest. You'll be amazed at all the things you can get done (or not) without ever setting foot in a room.
So, without further ado, here's why you should go to a hotel the next time you have to…
Use a printer: Whether you have some urgent Facebooking to do, or simply need to print out a boarding pass, many hotels have business centers that you can use for a small fee—or, if they're nice, for free.
Freshen up: Three reasons you're better off sneaking into a hotel bathroom rather than the nearest Starbucks? One, they're cleaner. Two, there's usually music playing. And three, they're cleaner.
Hotel Openings / Hotel News / Hotel Lobbies / Guess the Hotel / Hotel Design / Hyatt Hotels / Manhattan Hotels / → All Tags
It's Guess The Hotel revealed!
Better late than never, as they say. And we will go ahead and say it about the Hyatt Union Square, which (finally) made its big debut last week in lower Manhattan—about, oh, twenty months behind schedule.
But that's okay, because after taking a quick look inside, we're happy to report that locals (and guests) seem to have already taken kindly to the new hotel. Just days after opening, the lobby scene was abuzz with guests spread out on the white sofas, bartenders pouring drinks, and the healthy 'ding' of elevator doors sliding open.
Though it's not open yet, we could spy the hotel's South American-inspired restaurant, which officially opens May 15, and which will feature a dramatic wooden art installation, made of discarded bed frames, hanging from the ceiling (the sculpture is visible from the lobby).
And speaking of weird art hanging from the ceiling, in case you haven't already guessed, the mystery hotel we showed you yesterday with the strange turd-looking objects hanging over the bar is in fact the Hyatt Union Square.
Read on to see another photo from the lobby!
As anyone who has ever stayed at a Kimpton hotel knows, 5-6pm is the magic hour, when all Kimpton lobbies across the country break out a few bottles of vino and let guests guzzle gratis. (It's a tradition we can really get behind.)
Manhattan's Ink48 has faithfully been pouring glasses of red and white each evening since the program launched several years ago. But now, the hotel is giving other Kimpton properties a run for their money with a new menu of local New York wines, which will be served during wine hour on Wednesdays throughout the month of May.
Hotel Design / Manhattan Hotels / NYLO Hotels / Hotel Openings / Hotel Hype / Hotel Bars / Hotel Lobbies / Hotel Restaurants / → All Tags
Earlier this month, we included NYLO New York on our list of 5 Manhattan Hotel Openings In 2013. And it's pretty obvious why: the Stonehill & Taylor-designed guest rooms, with their navy color scheme, local artwork and Hudson river views, are pretty easy on the eyes.
But this week, the hotel leaked some more deets on the public spaces: namely, LOCL Bar, featuring a rectangular zinc bar surrounded by a piano lounge, library, and sidewalk cafe. The latter will be accessible through a large glass garage door (keep in mind that this building dates back to the 1900s, when it was known as the upscale Wellsmore apartment building).
Honoring that history, the hotel has chosen to keep an original fireplace in the library, as well as importing an ornate 1920s French elevator system for the lobby.
We came across an article published earlier last week on the Santa Monica Mirror that described a woman who showed up at the Loews Santa Monica at 1am, asking for a room. The hotel had availability, so they asked for a credit card, and the woman handed over (what she claims was) her credit card. Which was declined.
That's when things got strange. Apparently, instead of just walking away, the woman demanded a free room, and when that request wasn't granted, she simply went to sleep on one of the couches in the lobby.
Now, we've been through plenty of hotels where the lobby was big enough to house our apartment several times over. And we often thought, 'What if we just dozed off for a couple hours in the lobby a couple of hours, then set off on our way?' We'd certainly be saving ourselves lots o' cash, and the hotel would be none the wiser!
We're not saying what this (probably deranged) woman did was right—in fact, the hotel ended up calling the police and she was arrested and taken to jail. But we are wondering: have you ever slept in some part of the hotel that wasn't your room? Was it on purpose? Did you get caught?
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Ask anyone in Denver about the city's oldest hotel, and they'll either point you towards the Oxford Hotel or the Brown Palace (technically, the Oxford opened a year earlier, in 1891, but in our eyes, they're both pretty special). However, in terms of star power, we think the Brown Palace wins out.
The hotel, which recently became an Autograph Collection property in September, has hosted every president since Teddy Roosevelt, with the exception of Calvin Coolidge and Barack Obama. And on the ground floor, the room that Henry C. Brown (the hotel's founder) used as his office is now a kick-ass cigar lounge named Churchill, with a customized humidor of over 60 cigars.
But our favorite feature about the hotel is the thing you see above. It's a water fountain, yes, but the story goes deeper than that.
Hotel Renovations / Manhattan Hotels / Hotel News / Hotel Reopenings / Hotel Lobbies / Hotel Design / → All Tags
But it seems like the Paramount is poised for its big comeback, after it reopened this week flaunting a $40 million renovation, including updated guest rooms, a redesigned two-story lobby, a new restaurant and bar, an Italian cafe, and a retail concept to rival the Ace's hipster goodie shops, Opening Ceremony and Project 8a.
Coolest of all, perhaps, is the fact that Diamond Horseshoe, the hotel's legendary supper club from the 1920s, is going to be resurrected this fall in its original basement location. Developer Aby Rosen told the WSJ that the new 21st century Diamond Horseshoe will "be a nightspot akin to the Box, but without the raunchy content."
Hotel Openings / Panama Hotels / Waldorf-Astoria Hotels / Hilton Hotels / Hotel Lobbies / Photo Gallery / → All Tags
We've been waiting on this one for a while, and now, over a year behind schedule, the Waldorf Astoria Panama is finally here. The 130-room hotel is in its soft opening phase right now (meaning, fancy private parties for rich people), but that'll all change by the end of this week when the hotel officially opens on Friday.
The hotel is located on a quiet little side street in the center of the city, just two blocks from Cinta Costera, a popular pedestrian strip that hugs the Pacific coastline. Close to it are other hotel neighbors like the InterContinental and Le Meridien, though in terms of luxury service and design, this place is definitely doing something those other two hotels aren't.
Take a look at more photos after the jump!
Hotel Bars / Manhattan Hotels / Pod Hotels / Hotel Restaurants / Hotel Lobbies / Hotel Design / → All Tags
Here's a first look at the new lobby bar and lounge area inside Pod 39. The venue is called Play Room and it's a huuuge space with a fireplace, two ping pong tables, color-coded bookshelves, a video projector, stained glass windows, and a 25-foot butcher block bar. Pretty much everything we look for in a hotel lobby hangout area.
Though the hotel debuted its rooftop bar back in September, it's taken this long for the street-level space to come together (sounds like they've got their priorities straight over at Pod!). But we think it was worth the wait. Pod Hotels put serious emphasis on socializing, so it makes sense that their public space would be so big and captivating—in many ways, more so than the first Pod hotel.
Here are our five favorite things about the new space: