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If there’s one thing that’ll get us on a plane to Athens, it’s a designated selfie spot. We jest, of course – but the idea of a designated selfie spot was so
horrifying compelling that during an afternoon in Athens last week, we had to go and see it for ourselves.
The selfie spot is at the Grande Bretagne in Syntagma Square (Athens' main square), though to our relief, when we asked at the concierge desk where to find it, they had absolutely no idea what we were talking about. To save you the mortification of trying to explain the concept of a selfie spot to an Athenian - right there in the cradle of democracy, literature, philosophy and everything else that selfies run in the face of - just head to the rooftop bar and restaurant.
The selfie spot, it has to be said, is incredible in the flesh. Of course, an Acropolis view in Athens is no big deal - the majority of hotels have them from rooftop terraces, if not from the rooms themselves. But most Acropolis views are not like this (the only one that comes close, we reckon, is the Hilton, which is a little further out of the city center). The Grande Bretagne not only dominates the skyline around it, meaning you’re looking straight at the Parthenon, but glance to your left and you’re looking straight at the Greek Parliament, with the Evzones soldiers trooping around the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier every hour.
Those shopping for hotels in the Atacama Desert and the town of San Pedro will find that selecting a property has just as much to do with its outdoor offering as it does its comfort level. Most mid-range and upscale hotels in the area assist its guests in exploring the outdoor environment of the Atacama, typically including half and full day excursions into the rate. It makes sense to do it this way, because anyone who comes to the area plans to play outside. If you don't, you're in the wrong neck of the woods.
It's fitting, then, that the most luxurious hotel in San Pedro, Tierra Atacama, would take advantage of the area's best attributes in constructing its own. When you have a backdrop as beautiful as the Atacama Desert and the Andes Mountains, you might as well let it do the talking. And as you'll see in the photos, they didn't shut up the entire length of our stay. During the day, it's the mountains. At night, it's the stars. But we'll get to that later.
Upon arriving at the hotel, the first thing we noticed was how simple it was. The buildings are low and close to the ground, and much of the exterior is the same color as the surrounding terrain. When you enter the lobby, which is also the living room, dining room, and bar area of the hotel, the huge glass windows hit you right in the face. That's the point, though - a sustainable approach that doesn't get in the way.
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A five star property, locally owned (huzzah!) and designed by architect Christophe Pillet, it’s a clever cross between a riad and a resort: 50 rooms, two restaurants (one French, one Moroccan), a rooftop bar, Givenchy spa (the first in North Africa) and hammam and gym – but in a very beautiful, entirely Moroccan building. Oh, and since it’s perched on a hillside, it also has panoramic views from its rooftop terrace over the medina, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
And it’s saying: take a dip! Or at least it does to us, which we’d gladly do if we could find ourselves in Udaipur, Rajasthan by snapping our finger. Alas, we’ll lust after it from afar, its sparkling blue contrasting against the pale walls and turrets of a traditional palace Udaivilās is modeled after.
Part of Oberoi Hotels, the hotel sits on the banks of Lake Picola, with third-level up Premier Rooms allowing you to step straight off your terrace into the water. A second pool is set within a large courtyard.
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The house launch and the Bosphorus Bridge, from the garden at Sumahan
A converted alcohol factory on the Asian side of Istanbul, right on the bank of the Bosphorus. There’s little not to love about Sumahan on the Water, which we mentioned last week as one of our favorite Bosphorus hotels. Today, we’ll take you through the keyhole.
First impressions are key, of course, and Sumahan does a blinding one: it sends its wooden boat to fetch you at the little dock in Tophane, on the European side. From there, it’s a 15-20 minute chug up and across the Bosphorus to Çengelköy, where you’ll dock just beside the ground floor rooms.
Sumahan was designed by its Turkish-American architect owners, Nedret and Mark Butler (Nedret’s family originally owned the factory, and transforming the abandoned space was the subject of her thesis). You can tell it’s a labor of love: each of the 24 rooms is named after a different village around the Bosphorus, and a huge amount of thought has gone into the design.
While other rooms at the Williamsburg hotel have more "artistic views", only the Manhattan King rooms offer the amazing sight of the entire island of Manhattan.
Even better, the bathrooms have a little window too which overlooks the rest of the room, and the room's windows. You have to jostle yourself a little to see the Empire State Building but it's a cool feature. You'll probably end up in the shower longer than normal, too.
Don't worry. While you can see out into the room, the people in the room can't see into your shower, thanks to a mirror window.
Manhattan king rooms can go for well over $500 a night on the weekends (Williamsburg residents joke this hotel is where all the parents of the broke hipsters stay) but you can book a Brooklyn Queen size room for less and then head up to the hotel's Ides rooftop bar for completely unobstructed views.
Stay tuned tomorrow for more from The Wythe including their kick-ass minibar selections and the best room to book.
Disclosure: We paid a media rate of $200 for this room on Sunday night.
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The Thai beachtown of Krabi is located two hours east of Phuket, offering visitors a handful of national parks and barrier islands to explore in the Andaman Sea. The 192-room Centara Grand Krabi is the area's most luxurious property, and it's also the most secluded, tucked in at the base of a national park and surrounded by cliffs on both sides.
The resort is a combination of low-rise buildings and individual villas built up into the cliffs, and the real treat comes from the balconies of the rooms that sit up the highest: A breathtaking killer view that looks out over the resort to the ocean and rocky coastline. Looking the other direction at night, the sky lights up and the palm trees silhouette against the clouds.
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That view from the Penthouse
Focus on the positive. Focus on the positive. Focus on the positive. Ok… It’s great that a hotel is trying something new. We're all about hotel technology.
Time for the negative. By “trying something new” we mean posting a video of your hotel experience via Google Glass.
House Hotels, possibly our favorite chain in Istanbul, is pimping its newest property, Vault Karaköy, by way of this video. Not sure why they’ve picked on this one to endure the Glass treatment – possibly because Karaköy is Istanbul’s trendiest nabe – but for us, at least, it’s not conquering our Glass misgivings.
On the plus side, the hotel – which opened in March in an old bank facing the Galata Bridge – looks stunning, and the staff look suitably bashful in the face of Google Glass (0:18). So let’s focus on what’s to love: an old-style cage elevator (0:21), a whopping breakfast buffet (0:34), some lovely (original?) tiling (0:39) and a bathroom with a seriously OMG view (1:11).
While it is not the sexiest part of town, it makes sense that so many tourists decide to stay in Midtown, especially those visiting for the first time. Not only does it provide direct access to the major attractions of Times Square, the Empire State Building, and Madison Square Garden, but its central location makes it just as easy to go to Central Park as it does Brooklyn.
Last weekend, we swung through to check out what's happening at the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel on 34th and 8th, which was rebranded as a Wyndham earlier this year and has since kicked off a 5-year renovation plan as it makes the change. (The hotel's iconic New Yorker Hotel sign will of course, remain.)
The outside is sporting the scaffolding as an exterior revamp is underway, yet most of the rejuvenation will be felt indoors. Fifty-seven guest rooms will be added by the end of the year to bring the total to 1,083, as well as a new wine bar (fall 2014), a spruced up lobby, and the introduction of the Wyndham personality.
This week, HotelChatter's Will McGough is touring around Kenya to check out the latest happenings at some of the safari camps throughout the country. The tour started and will finish in Nairobi, but there will be visits to the Laikipia, Masai Mara, and Watamu (Mombasa) regions along the way.
Next week, we'll feature a few properties and give you the scoop on what to expect in terms of lodging within the different regions. We'll also pass on anything unique about specific properties, from service to decor, and of course have plenty of photos. But for now, feast your eyes on this incredible view from the Sanctuary at Ol Lentille.
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A few weeks ago, we showed you the before and after pics of the Fess Parker's most recent renovation. The revamp ensured that the hotel will remain one of the city's flagship hotels going forward, at least as far as aesthetics go. We love the new rooms, and one thing that hasn't changed is the beautiful ocean and mountain views they provide.
Next week, we'll poke around town and dish on all the hotel news happening around town, including other hotel renovations as well as offerings you can expect from different properties this summer.
For now, enjoy this wonderful view from the hotel's Gardenia Building, and feel free to daydream about the warm California sun as we transition into spring.
[Photo: Will McGough]
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There are definitely killer views from Monastero Santa Rosa, located as it is on Italy’s almost painfully scenic Amalfi Coast. We’ll get to those in a second, but perhaps unusually we’ll start this time with this killer view of the hotel itself, because it is just as good.
Perched on a rocky outcrop and beautifully lit at night, it began life as the name suggests as a monastery in the 17th century. These days, it’s a pretty stunning hotel with just 20 rooms and suites and – what else would you expect – a cliff-edge pool. Check it out after the jump.