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Claridge's Juleps (£18 each)
There’s been a lot to depress us about the London hotel scene recently. Homophobes and boycotts. $127 drinks. Finding out that some of our favorite hotels have minimum spend policies. So when a luxury hotel in London steps up to the plate in terms of superb customer service, and reinforces our every hope about them, instead of dashing said hope into little pieces and then grinding it into the floor with a steel-capped heel, we should all rejoice. Put your hands together then, ladies and gents, for Claridge's.
Last Thursday, I went for drinks at Claridge’s with a friend. Drinks at Claridge’s has always seemed a little intimidating and out of budget for both of us, despite my having stayed there once, and both of us having watched the BBC documentary about Claridge’s more times than is good for us. It’s not your average after-work bar; it’s Claridge’s. Not only that, but there are two bars at Claridge’s: the normal one, and the tiny, sexy, marble-clad, gold-leafed, Lalique-glassed Fumoir that seats only 36, bans photos, and has a no reservations policy. That was the one we wanted.
I arrived first, and approached the Fumoir gingerly. Of course we have room, madam, said a man in a plum-colored velvet dinner jacket. Which table would you prefer? I picked the best table. He allowed me to do so. Score one to Claridge’s.
Manila will be saying its goodbyes to one of the oldest luxury hotels in the city next month: Mandarin Oriental will be closing on September 9 after nearly four decades of operating. As much as the décor in the above Deluxe Room feels like it needs an overhaul, the choice was made to shut the 413-room hotel altogether.
A replacement hotel is already in the works, though on a smaller scale. Come 2020 (which sounds terribly far away, but really, half a decade is nothing in hotel years), a brand new hotel with 275 rooms will open. The location will stay roughly the same, in a mixed-use development in the central business district of Makati City; no other details are known at this point.
If there’s one main event in the Brussels social calendar, the Flower Carpet, which runs 14-17 August, would be it. And if you think, “Pshaw, the best they can do is a flower carpet, that just proves everything I thought about Brussels being boring,” you’re totally wrong. Not only is Brussels ace, but the flower carpet is extraordinary: a carpet of begonias in pretty patterns all across the cobbles of the Grand Place, one of the most impressive squares in Europe. It is, apparently, so overwhelmingly beautiful that they can only hold it every two years for three days (disclaimer: that may be hyperbole, and also an excuse).
Seeing the Flower Carpet properly is fiendishly tricky – you can’t walk over it, so you can only get a squiz from the sides. Those in the know book a guided tour of the squareside City Hall – you can get a bird’s eye view from the second floor. But this weekend, there are only two English tours – both on Sunday – and you can’t book ahead, so you’re going to wait in line forever, and probably be disappointed.
Which is where the Hotel Amigo comes in. The Rocco Forte hotel has created a brilliant Begonia Package that will get you perfect views without the need for queuing. It includes:
· Availability-dependent upgrade to a Deluxe room
· Specially created Rose Blossom welcome cocktail;
· In-room facial (ooh-err missus);
· Dinner for two including a sommelier-selected bottle of wine;
· 4pm late check out;
So far, so luxury hotel blah. But here’s the kicker: if you check in August 14, you’ll get an invite to the Flower Carpet’s inauguration cocktail party, in the courtyard of the City Hall; and you’ll also get two tickets to the City Hall to see the panorama: something that will be out of reach for all but the most dedicated wait-in-liners.
Flowers, fruits, and other sweets we see served a lot with hotel cocktails, but whither the options for those that prefer their treats to be savory?
The Milestone Hotel London seems to have wondered the same, with their “Shock Me” beer cocktail bringing some balance this month. The cocktail mixes 75ml of Brown Ale (Bishop Fingers), 50ml bourbon, 25ml of Southern Comfort, and one teaspoon of maple syrup. Stirring for 10 seconds with ice, it’s served in an Old Fashion glass over ice and finished with a slice of crispy maple-cured bacon. The “Shock Me” costs £15 ($25 and is served in Stables Bar or elsewhere in the public spaces.
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Maybe the very du jour white sheets are a bit of a giveaway, but would you honestly think that this is a luxury hotel room less than four months old? We just can’t muster up any excitement for a design that strikes us already as dated and if anything seems intent on incorporating every shade of brown imaginable.
Brand-new the room is though, and you find it inside the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem, a hotel we were very excited about when it opened in April, nearly a year late. The image is displayed both for a King Superior room and a Twin Deluxe Room, the latter seeming somewhat implausible, but a look on TripAdvisor at some traveller photos confirms this is very much their “contemporary opulence” look, as the hotel describes it. They’re not cheap either, with rates starting over $600 a night (that does include free Wifi).
We have a similar sense of disappointment when we look at what turned out to be true photos of the rooms at St. Regis San Clemente Palace; photos we dismissed two months ago as being generic placeholders.
But there is another, posh side to Mallorca. And in a bid to remind you of this, the Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel & Spa, which is perched on its own little cliff in Port Soller, has launched an insane-levels-of-luxury package – or, as they call it, a Superlative Mallorca package. It includes:
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Last week, we gave you the most pertinent 411 on the Park Hyatt New York, opening on August 19. But there's so much more to the hotel than the "gracious glamour" of the Yabu Pushelberg-designed guest rooms.
Like the Spa Nalai which features views of Central Park from its treatment rooms and views of the Hudson river from its reception area.
Or the heated sand quartz bed where signature massages are performed.
You might also enjoy doing laps in the pool where music from Carnegie Hall is blasted through underwater speakers.
And if you're like us, upon entering the Park Hyatt Ballroom where walls are finished with white onyx, and there is LED surround lighting, you might just yell out, OH MY GOD, because it is actually quite amazing. The photo doesn't do it justice. Here's hoping you get invited to a wedding, or a really ritzy bar mitzvah, there someday.
The rest of the hotel--the entrance, the lobby lounge, reception area, and The Back Room at One57 restaurant--was still getting some finishing touches during our stay but we'll be sure to show you those images as we get them. If you want to see it all for yourself in person, room rates start at around $800 on opening night. Massages at the spa are slightly cheaper at $225 for 60 minutes.
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Introducing our newest hotel guide--HotelChatter's Must-Stay Hotels--where we pick four hotels for four different types of travelers in a particular neighborhood of one major city. This is also a seasonal guide so the options may change depending on when you're going. Got a question about where to stay and when? Email us.
Looking for a hotel in Toronto? You can troll online review sites, crowdsource on Facebook and comb through endless Best Hotels” lists but why do all that when we’ve done all the work for you already?
Here are four different hotels to try when you head south of the border to one of Canada’s largest metropolises, all located in Toronto's downtown area. Whether you’re going for pleasure or work and whether you’ve got cash to throw around or have pennies to count, these hotels will fulfill your wants, needs and desires.
The minimum spend warning at the Langham
When we recounted the horrifying story of the guest who was charged $127 for three small bottles of water at the Wellesley Hotel last week, we said that was the first we’d heard of any hotel doing this, and that it was a first in London.
Sorry guys, on so many levels. Because it turns out we were wrong.
An article in the Times this weekend about minimum spends in London namechecked the Dorchester, the Ritz, the Savoy, and – gasp – perennial HC fave the Langham as all having minimum spend policies in place, at least some of the time. Here’s the rundown on each:
It's nearly the moment you Disney
freaks, er, enthusiasts have been waiting for--The Four Seasons Orlando at Disney World is opening on Sunday!
Room rates at the luxury hotel at the Magic Kingdom start at $449 a night for a Four Seasons Room. A lake view room starts at $579 a night. We'll be watching the early word on social media on Sunday, but if you're staying at the hotel, let us know how it's going!
In the meantime, we've rounded up all the cool things to admire at this hotel. And not one of them includes Mickey Mouse ears!
1. The Adult Pool: 2. Firework Chandeliers in the Lobby. 3. A Golf Course.
1. The Adult Pool:The adult pool (separated from the family pool) will have cabanas, cocktail servers and specialty services like "sunglass cleanings." We hope massages are on that list too. #serenitynow
2. Firework Chandeliers in the Lobby.Night time is ruled by fireworks at Disney World but we're loving the cool chandeliers of "fireworks" above the lobby's grand staircase.
3. A Golf Course.The hotel's golf course will be actually be Tom Fazio’s Osprey Ridge golf course which is undergoing a renovation and will open in September 2014. It will still be a certified Audubon Cooperative Wildlife Sanctuary and it will be just a two-minute golf cart ride from the hotel.
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The look of amour
Their eyes met across a crowded hotel lobby. He was caught in a slough of depression. She was the kind of girl who likes to rescue her men. The moment they saw each other, they realized they were meant for each other. They would treasure Le Bristol forever, for bringing them together...
At least, that’s the narrative we’re giving to the happy couple currently installed at the Hotel Le Bristol in Paris. Feline couple, that is. Over the last week or so, according to the hotel’s laying-it-on-with-a-trowel Facebook page, Fa’aron, the Bristol’s resident cat, has been feeling down. They tried to cheer him up at the spa, in the garden, at the bar, in a ****** hotel room. He remained depressed. Qu’est-ce qu’on peut faire?
Ah oui. Cherchez la femme!
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UPDATE 11.15am: Response from hotel at the bottom of the post. Also, there were two clients with Mr Heaton, though the bill is as described, and the minimum spend refers only to the terrace of the Crystal Bar, not the bar itself. The hotel also says it has apologised to Mr Heaton (presumably not via Twitter).
How much would you pay for a small bottle of water at a five star hotel? $5? (That’d be our personal limit.) $10? (Maybe if we were really thirsty.) Nothing, because water should be from the tap and free? (You’re clearly American, welcome to Europe.)
How about $127? Yes, one hundred and twenty seven dollars. For three miserable bottles of sparkling water. Sadly, this is not a joke.
Ten days ago, at about 4pm, businessman Edward Heaton sat down at the outside terrace of the Crystal Bar at the Wellesley Hotel in London. He was meeting two clients, and it was the middle of the heatwave. Between the three of them, they ordered three small bottles of sparkling water. He says there was no menu, they just ordered direct from the server.
Meeting finished, they requested the bill. £75 ($127) for those three small bottles of water.
Was the water laced with crushed diamonds? No, it was San Pellegrino. Was it served in a golden goblet? Can't be sure, but presumably it was in a glass made of glass.
Here’s the breakdown. £16.50 ($28) for the water (already obscene). £8.33 ($14) for the service charge (let’s hope they threw in a lot of bar snacks). And £50.17 ($85) for “1x minimum spend”.
Minimum spend? Ah yes. According to the Wellesley, anyone who sits down at the terrace of the bar - though not the bar itself - after 4pm must meet a minimum spend of £25 per head. Have you ever heard of that? We haven’t, and we’re pretty partial to our £6 cups of London hotel tea. The only hotel bar in the world that we’ve ever encountered a minimum spend at is £10 at the Montage Beverly Hills ($50 minimum spend for world class cocktails). It simply does not happen in London.