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Your Rental Car Decision Can Decrease Your Swissotel Bill

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  Site Where: 68 Market Street, Sydney, NSW, Australia, 2000
May 31, 2012 at 9:47 AM | by | Comments (0)

A unique green initiative has hit the shores of Australia and we hope that other hoteliers pick up on the trend. Sydney's Swissotel now offers free valet service for guests who rock up in a hybrid vehicle. This offer is a first for any hotel across the city and, to our knowledge, across the country.

Sydney can be considered, Australia's most congested city, with as many as 700,000 cars clogging up the thoroughfares everyday. The environmental consideration prompts visitors to rethink their choices for cars when at the rental agency. In all, this is not only good for the planet, but good for your credit card since valet parking will set you back $55AUD per night.

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Another Reason The Lodge at Sonoma Isn't Your Typical Wine Country Getaway

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  Site Where: 1325 Broadway St. [map], Sonoma, CA, United States, 95476
April 27, 2012 at 2:02 PM | by | Comments (0)

This past weekend a new wine bar and coffee house opened inside the recently renovated lobby at The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa. Coming on the heels of much anticipation, Bean & Bottle does something you don’t typically see in wine country hotels: multitask with style.

Part wine bar, tasting room, café and deli, it’s also a sweet gathering place where you can cozy up indoors by the stone fireplace, talk wine at the bar with sommeliers (now there's three in all) or head out the glass doors to cocktail by poolside fire pits and cabanas.

But being unusual is nothing new at The Lodge at Sonoma, which feels light years away from your typical wine country stay.

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London Hotels Can't Get No Guest Satisfaction

September 13, 2011 at 8:50 AM | by | Comments (0)



Surly, not sweet: London hotels slammed by a recent customer satisfaction report

The oft uttered stereotype that Brits lack grace in the service department was recently reinforced by a report compiled by Trivago, a hotel price comparison website. Measured against 1,000 cities and towns throughout Europe, London ranked dead last by way of reputation amongst travelers, followed closely behind by Birmingham.

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All Fun & Games Until Someone Goes to the Bathroom

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  Site Where: 3 bis Rue Reine Elisabeth, Marseille, Provence, France, 13001
July 7, 2006 at 9:05 AM | by | Comments (0)

They say Marseille is a city of corruption. Tell Parisians of travel plans to Marseille and after an earful about the city's soccer team, you'll most likely be warned that you are going to a "ville de corruption".  The corruption thing may be slightly true as the city is definitely a Mediterranean crossroads, but if you stick to the Vieux Port "old port" neighborhood, you should be in the clear. Plus, this is the tourist highlight anyway; the port is lined with great restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.

So Vieux Port it is, therefore where else could you stay but in the New Hotel Vieux Port--apparently they felt it necessary to add the "new" in front of "Vieux (old) Port" in case one were to assume the hotel was from the Napoleonic era as well? Aside from not being old, the (new) hotel is running a summer promotion of discounted rates. Standard (but new) rooms now through the end of August are 90 euros a night and an extra 20 more for the superior (new) room. The (new) rooms are also quoted as being "soundproof". Unfortunately, amongst the great feedback this hotel has received from past guests, we are not sure we can take the hotel's word on this one, since we have word otherwise:

The rooms were only averagely well sound proofed. It was especially noticable when someone nearby flushed the toilet.

So if you were thinking of going to Marseille for romantic purposes and want to stay in this (new) hotel, you have one of three choices: a. go to the bathroom in the lobby only b. book another room in secret from your partner or, c. don't go to the bathroom while in Marseille (i.e. forget the French wine).

All flushes aside, the New Hotel, never to be confused as an old one, is said to surpass its 3 star status.

Image via doogiemuc/Flickr

Related Stories:
· New Hotel Vieux Port Reviews [TripAdvisor]

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Wannabe Archaeologists Should Hit Up the Inn at Palmetto Bluff

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  Site Where: 476 Mount Pelia Rd [map], Bluffton, SC, United States, 29910
July 6, 2006 at 4:08 PM | by | Comments (0)

Most people getaway to the Inn at Palmetto Bluff for the golf on a Jack Nicklaus-designed course.

But there's more to this place than just golf and sipping mint juleps on a front porch. The hotel allows its guests to participate in digging up the surrounding area for artifacts from the land's previous inhabitants, which include the Altamaha and Yemassee Indian tribes, African slaves who worked the plantations and the wealthy banking family who owned the place in the early 1900s.

Some guests have found arrowheads, ceramics, animal bones and even a bottle of 1899 Chateau Lafite.

Of course, you can't just tear up the yard for free. The cost of being an archaeologist for the day is $100 and the cottages at the place start at $450.

Related Stories:
· Inn at Palmetto Bluff reviews [TripAdvisor]
· Check Out: Inn at Palmetto Bluff [NG Traveler]

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The Scotsman Hotel Is Fit and Knows It

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  Site Where: 20 North Bridge, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom, EH1 1YT
June 29, 2006 at 1:05 PM | by | Comments (0)

We recently saw how one of Edinburgh's hotels completely missed the point.

The Scotsman Hotel might just make up for it. The hotel stays true to Scottish design fit for modern tastes, it doesn't try to stretch the limits, unlike the Point Hotel. Plus the rooms offer our favorites: WiFi, TV & DVD, and a new one: a Monopoly game board slash table. Perhaps this is to save us from the potentially blustery weather of Edinburgh.

Usually fitness centers don't get us excited; they are all, for the most part, the same. But a tip from Information Britain may change our mind on this one:

'Escape', a private members health club, extends over two levels offering cutting edge design, impeccable service and state-of-the-art technology that sets Escape apart from its competitors. A 16 metre stainless steel pool, sauna and steam room and an extensive collection of the latest exercise equipment are available for use during your stay

It's the stainless steel pool that gets us here. It seems so very sanitary that we won't be afraid to dip in there with the drunk old Scotsman that surely will be frequenting the scene as well.

Related Stories:
· Hotels in Edinburgh [InformationBritain.co.uk]
· Scotsman Hotel Reviews [TripAdvisor]

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Hotel Amista's Star-Crossed Design

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  Site Where: via Cedrare, 78 | Corrubbio di Negarine, Verona, Italy, 37029
June 29, 2006 at 10:40 AM | by | Comments (0)

Verona isn't just for star-crossed lovers. Although we'd be fools to not admit that the city is a romance trap and it's maybe best if you go with a sig-O.

Romance or not, if you're the type of person who can't handle old-world Euro flowers and extravagant Romantic style, but aren't quite sure if the Scandinavian design is your thing either; there is a happy medium. Byblos Art Hotel Villa Amista seems to embody it. What they pull off is old world Italian charm, with fluff and all, but in a fashionable and posh way that reminds you that they don't take themselves too seriously. It's the style of lovers AND friends.

CoolHunter.net tracked down this hotel, so it must be cool right? They explain the secret recipe behind the Villa Amista's look:

Byblos owner Dino Facchini teamed up with Milan architect and designer Alessandro Mendini on the project which saw the major restoration of a fifteenth-century Venetian villa in the heart of Valpolicella wine country. A deeply personal project for Facchini, the hotel showcases his impressive art collection. The interiors are a sexy mix of styles, from baroque to pop art and techno futurism.

The description fits. The interior happily marries off ornate Roman styles with those funky, more Scandinavian designs. It's the Romeo and Juliet of design; two styles of completely different backgrounds conjoin to fit like a glove and create something beautiful.

We'll stop here because happily in this case, there is no tragedy.

Related Stories:
· CoolHunter.net [Fashion Hotels]
· Byblos Art Hotel Villa Amista Reviews [TripAdvisor]

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Going to Sri Lanka is So Hot Right Now

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  Site Where: Bodhi Mawatha | Wella Wathuara, Godellawela, Tangalla, Sri Lanka
June 28, 2006 at 4:17 PM | by | Comments (0)

Travel + Leisure has gone and checked out what's been happening with the Amanwella Resort which was largely destroyed by the tsunami a little over a year ago.

But it seems to have recovered nicely. The Amanwella is a boutique hotel with just 30 "minimalist" suites. It is run by the Aman Hotel chain, which has locations throughout the world in areas that seem to promote danger. Their website homepage has an immediate update that their Jakarta hotel is not in a danger zone at this time. All this interests us, it feels that staying in Amanwella or in Sri Lanka alone, is very adventurous..

A closer look at the amenities leaves us convinced we need to go:

All 30 suites of this contemporary beachfront resort feature their own private swimming pool and terrace.

Alright, perhaps it's a little less adventurous and a little more luxurious.

The only major objection we have is that there is no WiFi available throughout the hotel. They do mention that internet access is available in their library, which is strange because we thought libraries were only availble on the internet these days.

Related Stories:
· Next Great Beach Resorts [Travel and Leisure]
· Amanwella Resort Reviews [TripAdvisor]

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Embassies Aren't Just for Visas Anymore

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  Site Where: Serrano, 46,, Madrid, Spain, 28001
June 28, 2006 at 9:30 AM | by | Comments (0)

If you think you're going through Spain this summer and you've got your eye on the beach, think again. A stop through Madrid can be really worth your time, and not just because that's where Fernando Torres plays...but for other reasons, you know, cultural reasons and stuff.

Actually it's for the hotel: the Petit Palace Embassy in the hot-to-trot neighborhood of  Salamanca, on the shopping paradise street, Serrano. This just may be our new favorite Spanish getaway. Everything here is chic and modern, but somehow cozy at the same time.

The super cool lighting will grab your attention upon entrance but it's the amenities that have the real staying power. All rooms have flat screen TVs/laptops with high speed internet, a modem and safe for your laptop, a hydromassage shower with built-in sauna, and a free breakfast.

The hotel has only been open a year but the reviews its getting in are superb. So we suggest heading there soon before the secret is out...and Torres actually leaves Madrid.

Related Stories:
· Budget Europe [Concierge]
· Petit Palace Embassy Reviews [TripAdvisor]
· Good Rate: Sofitel Madrid Plaza de Espana [HotelChatter]
· Bad Rate: Emperor Hotel [HotelChatter]

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Cigars, Cognac, and Nice Pillows at Hotel Lindrum

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  Site Where: 26 Flinders St, Melbourne, Australia, 3000
June 27, 2006 at 3:25 PM | by | Comment (1)

Comissioned  in 1900 by tea merchants (euphimism for English criminals) in Melbourne, Australia, Hotel Lindrum today still stands with its original Romanesque Revival style. Inside the hotel is sleek and chic.

We caught some news from the future on this one--Australia time that is--the Sydney Morning Herald paid a visit to this historical building to see how it stands in the hospitality world. The verdict looks good, as it turns out, the place won "Best Luxury Accomodation" by AAA Tourism awards in 2004.

The room design is cool and uncluttered:

It was generously proportioned and stylishly furnished in hardwood veneer with muted taupes and browns. The stand-alone wardrobe cleverly hid our bags and clothes and also housed ironing items and a safe. Business travellers would be pleased with the built-in writing desk, modem point and broadband internet access. The pillow menu took my fancy - you can order your favourite type of pillow to ensure a good night's rest

Everything about the place sounds cozy...whatever pillow you want, fireplaces, dim lighting, historic building. Plus, the hotel suggests that you cozy up in their lounge with a cognac, cigar, and game of billiards. The idea conjures images of an old-world New York. Or as one traveler put it, "New York without the attitude".

Related Stories:
· Having a Ball in an Old Billiard Hall [Syndey Morning Herald]
· Hotel Lindrum Reviews [TripAdvisor]

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The Don Q Inn Fulfills Your Creepy Fantasies

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  Site Where: 3658 State Road 23 North [map], Dodgeville, WI, United States, 53533
June 27, 2006 at 1:08 PM | by | Comments (2)

We knew it would happen some day but we had no idea when. We found it, the creepiest hotel. The Don Q Inn of Dodgesville aka, Small Town, Wisconsin (even creepier) offers theme rooms for those seeking a different kind of hotel experience.

There are rooms for all sorts of loser fantasies, called FantaSuites, like sleeping in a fake hot-air balloon in the "Up, Up, and Away" Room. Then there is the "Northern Lights" room with a bed in an igloo; "Tranquility Base", is a sort of space station; "The Geisha Garden", which oddly enough has a bed and not tatami mats. But it's "The Swinger" room that really got us and we're too disturbed to even describe this one.

One past traveler made the mistake of coming here on an innocent trip to a major tourist spot in the area. His tale not only makes our hearts fill with sorrow, but it has also made us quite nauseous:

Upon arrival when I opened the door of the room and first thing I noticed was a "gross odor" about the room - I believe it was the smell of mold and the room had lots of flies. We keep killing them but there always seemed to be another one. The room was DARK. It had a dark (almost black wood ceiling) with more of that wood on parts of the walls. The DARK carpeting was so thin I think it was outdoor carpeting and OLD. The bedspreads were also DARK and under them the beds were adorned with blankets that were at least 25 years old.

We will have to stop here to go regroup our thoughts and figure out how to get these images out of our head before they ruin our entire day.

Related Stories:
· Don Q Inn Reviews [TripAdvisor]

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Just What We Need in Amsterdam--Free Wine

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  Site Where: Herengracht 519-525, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1017 BV
June 27, 2006 at 9:30 AM | by | Comments (0)

Summer brings a major spike to European travel and picking one's destination is not an easy task. Considering our choices, we know we have always loved Amsterdam, but now we have a favorite hotel there as well. The Banks Mansion is as it sounds, a mansion, and in downtown Amsterdam at that.

The concept of the hotel is to make you feel as much at home as possible. Instead of a lobby feeling, the hotel is divided into more homelike spaces such as the "Living"--nope, not the Living Room, we'll chalk that up to translation issues. Either way the "Living" is incredibly cozy but that is not the reason we love this place. It's the free snacks and drinks available in the "Living" and the "Dining", ok this last one is a joke, they do manage to label it "kitchen".

The snacks and drinks are not your airline pack of pretzels either, they are full-fledged; take it from a past guest:

The hotel provides snacks, liquor, wine, beer, coffee and tea in the lobby 24 hrs a day, constantly stocked so that we can help ourselves like we were at home. The mini-bar in the room is also complimentary and I think we are still shell-shocked over that one. Gin, Vodka and Gran Marnier were also provided in cut glass ware in the room. Every morning we went downstairs to the Kitchen where a full breakfast is provided, again complimentary.

Aside from food and drinks, the rooms are elegant and have everything else we need: Wifi, LCD TV, and a DVD player.

The only problem is...we might never leave the hotel; we just might favor the "Living" over Amsterdam.

Related Stories:
· Banks Mansion Reviews [TripAdvisor]