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We don't know whether we instinctively knew to go check out the James Royal Palm on the specific day we were in Miami, or maybe the gods were smiling on us. Either way, we happened to show up at the hotel on opening day last week, and an eager staffer kindly offered to walk us around the property.
So! What did we think?
Because the hotel was pretty much empty—things were still so new, no guests had actually checked in yet—we actually got a pretty good, exclusive look at the long, corridor-like lobby. We've seen brief shots of the bright, "minty-fresh" bar already, but this time we walked past the front area into the back, where there is an entirely different theme. Large portholes are carved into the walls, and there's plenty of rich dark wood, glass, and more of that beach-y vibe we saw before in the rooms.
What we liked most about this "back section" of the James Royal Palm lobby is the sense of privacy. A long corridor stretches from the main entrance straight through the back of the hotel to the pool—kind of like its Miami Beach neighbor, The Delano—but off to the side, there are little clusters of chairs and coffee tables, perfect for a post-swim coffee or maybe a game of cards. Sophisticated, design-y...but not heavy-handed.
And the rooms?
Welcome to another hotel dispatch from our special contributor, The Smooth Operator. We can't divulge his identity but we can tell you he spends about 70 percent of his time on the road, staying in all the hot hotels and checking out their restaurants and bars to see if the social scene and rooms are up to snuff. If you're deciding whether or not to take a chance on that hip boutique hotel in the city, read The Smooth Operator for his opinion first. (Or send us an email and we'll have him answer it for you!)
Last week he happened to be in Miami and we were curious about The James Royal Palm, which was supposed to open on October 1. We've been giving this hotel tons of pre-opening love, so we're disappointed with the recent turn of events. We asked the "powers that be" at The James if we could take a look around since we were under the impression (given our last report) that it would be open on time. Let's just say the response was less than pleasant and we don't dig that, especially when we've been good girls and boys. But, HC has NICE friends out and about, we asked Smooth and another pal to find out what was going on and what was behind all the hostility? Turns out, it's coming from a few directions. Read on for the report of The James Miami's progress thus far.
These images from the James Hotels website don't specify which space is which, but we know that there'll be at least two restos to check out--the first being the signature one for the hotel, Florida Cookery.
Like the name suggests, it will serve up "hyper-regional Florida fare" and be helmed by local chef Kris Wessel. If his low-key cool Red Light Little River over on Biscayne Boulevard is any indication, this place is going to make quite a splash. (Red Light is one of the few amazing restaurants in Miami that doesn't give you sticker shock.)
OK, so we know The James Royal Palm is opening in October and will slide comfortably into South Beach's $300-400 a night hotel scene. But what will it look like inside?
The answer, as you can see from these photos now up at the James Hotels website, is: a blend of The James hotels in New York and Chicago (earthy, streamlined) and a decidedly beachy vibe.
We're not sure about those clam-shell-shaped rugs on the floor, but they're probably nicer to walk on than ice-cold slate or tile.The lamp cord looks like it's made from Silly Bandz and the Ctrl-Alt-Del cushions seem a little mid-2000s, but we appreciate the effort to get quirky.
What we do love here is the wooden headboard and the built-in nook for the little table. The clean lines anchor the room, which is important when you're competing with that big blue thing out the foor-to-ceiling windows.
Yep, that's pools, plural. But before we even step outside of the brand new The James Royal Palm when it opens in October, we're going to want to linger in the hotel's mint-fresh lobby.
Wouldn't you? Stepping out of the crazy-humid and crazy-crazy South Beach atmosphere of Collins Avenue into this cool looking space seems mighty appealing. Especially if there are nice, strong Mojitos waiting on that pretty green bar.
With the hot Lollapalooza music fest hitting Chicago’s Grant Park August 3-5, hotel rooms in the Windy City are growing scarcer - and more expensive - by the minute. And tickets for the event have long sold out, which might leave you thinking the Lolla ship has sailed. Not so, friends, or at least not so for our friends with benjamins to toss around.
The James Hotel Chicago is calling it its Very Important Rocker Getaway Weekend package and there are two levels to choose from:
The first level includes:
- Three nights in a residentially-styled suite
- Two VIP Three-Day passes to Lollapalooza (already sold out to the general public and valued at $2,000)
- Two tickets to the House of Blues After-Shows on Friday and Saturday nights (Tune Yards and Washed Out play on Friday, with Monsters and Men and Yellow Ostrich on Saturday)
- Audi car service from The James to Grant Park during the festival
- Two Classic American Breakfasts from David Burke's Primehouse each morning
Or ditch the car service for the second level:
- Three nights in a residentially-styled guestroom
- Two VIP Three-Day passes to Lollapalooza
- Two tickets to the House of Blues After-Shows on Friday and Saturday nights
- Two Classic American Breakfasts from David Burke's Primehouse each morning
The James Royal Palm Miami isn't opening until later this fall but to all your eager hotel beavers out there (you know who you are), we've just got word that reservations for the hotel are now open!
Hopping onto the hotel's website we found a special pre-opening rate of $299 a night for October 1. That rate gets you a 275-sq.ft. room with a king bed, views of the Miami cityscape and Biscayne Bay, a cocktail and snack bar (hopefully like the ones they have at James Chicago), a 42-inch plasma TV, gloriously free WiFi, a private work/dining niche, nightly turndown, custom robes and slippers and Intelligent Nutrients bath amenities. Bigger rooms with partial ocean views are also available for $379 a night.
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In the ever-expanding universe of Twitter, there is one particular trend @HotelChatter happens to quite enjoy: candid hotel photos. These pics range from stunning views to anti-views to celebrity tomfoolery and everything in between. And we can't get enough of 'em! Every Monday, we commemorate our favorite "Twitpic of the Week." Got a favorite of your own? Want to show off your sweet suite? Send it in!
It's no secret that the James Chicago likes to offer fun little "extras" at the hotel: whether that's a pop-up ice cream shop, or a noteworthy artist-in-residence program or an in-room cocktail amenity. And so we weren't too surprised to see a recent guest tweet this photo of one of the hotel's 26 in-room DVD projectors.
Ever wish you could crack open one of those beautiful in-room bottles of bourbon or gin and concoct a fancy cocktail right in your own room? We can’t tell you how many times we wish we could, especially as hotel rooms keep getting swankier and harder to leave.
Sadly, enjoying your own fancy cocktail in the comfort of your own fancy room has typically meant some kind of trip out of the cozy environs, whether to the drug store or the hotel gift shop for the bare minimums. Who wants to do that? Desperation may drive you to the ridiculously overpriced mini-bar for a sad pour of vodka and seven, but that never compares to the more beautiful elixirs available in the lobby or bar.
If you’re not one to settle for mediocre cocktailing but pine for more hotel room downtime, you’re gonna love The James Chicago’s new In-Room Cocktail Experience.
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Make that The Jameses.
The James Royal Palm is moving in right next door to the Loews at the end of the year and it looks like the stalwart is preparing for the hot, young newcomer with some glam new additions of its own—like new cabanas.
Loews has recently undergone a big renovation (new lobby, refreshed guest rooms, an ice-cream parlor and boutique), but when we saw this construction in the hotel's backyard the other day, we realized that the hotel wasn't done sprucing itself up just yet.
While Forbes added five more hotels than we did and their list spanned the whole year while we just focused on the next few months, we did have two similar picks--W Paris and Conrad New York. But Forbes also dropped a little nugget of info regarding the upcoming James Royal Palm Hotel in Miami.
As you may recall, the James brand announced their plans for the old Royal Palm Hotel back in April. And now, according to the hotel website, renovations on the 255 Royal Palm Tower rooms, which started in August, have been completed. But the rest of the hotel will be under renovation until late 2012 when it will then reopen as The James.
We sung Chicago's praises last week when we named it Best Hotel Scene of 2011, and with good reason! The city's in the midst of a renaissance, and there are so many hotels to visit there now it makes your head spin. But here's one to keep in mind if you're visiting over the next few weeks: James Chicago is offering majorly discounted rooms, available during an exclusive Insider Sale that launches tomorrow.
The booking window lasts from tomorrow to January 15, and is valid for any reservations through March 31. How do $139/night guest rooms sound? As luck would have it, James New York is also getting a piece of the mid-winter action, with discounted Queens starting at $259, and Corner Kings starting at $339.