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When you think Santa Barbara hotels, you probably imagine luxurious appointments. And, dollar signs.
The region's top hotels can command rates of several hundred a night at minimum while others, like the Four Seasons, can clock in at the four-digit range. But, that doesn't mean the beachside community is too pricey for those on a budget or those who'd rather indulge in other areas. In fact, some may be surprised to learn the very first Motel 6 was founded here.
If you look beyond the posh, you'll find dollar-saving possibilities in the form of a respectable inns with rates under $100 midweek and around $200 on the weekend. And, yes, Motel 6 remains an option. Among your choices is the family-friendly, and family operated, Franciscan Inn.
Depending on which way you approach the Franciscan, you'll turn into one of its two parking lots. Exclusively for guests (they'll ask you for your license plate number to know who to tow), either lot is accessible to the lobby. Check-in was smooth and effortless on our visit, taking only minutes to complete. The only slight inconvenience was parking in the wrong lot when it came to proximity to our room. A quick 30 second drive out of one lot and into the other quickly solved that problem.
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How do you like to reach your hotel? By car? Public transport? Chartered helicopter? Or by chariot?
Yup, when we stayed at the Cape Colony Inn in Provincetown MA, we found chariots mentioned in their detailed transportation guide.
Of course, they’re not real chariots – they’re pedicabs. But any hotel with a sense of humor is a hotel for us.
In fact, although the Cape Colony Inn is more of a motel than a posh hotel, we couldn’t fault it. Large, spotless rooms, tasteful – nay, even boutiquey – decor, Keurig coffee machines, and comfortable Simmons beds. They have a pool… and shuffleboard... and, more importantly, great customer service (they actually upgraded us to a two-bedroom suite because we had a terrible cold and feared passing it on to our travel companion).
Jack and Marcus
If there’s anything that’ll make us fall for a hotel, it’s a hotel pet. And although Norman the Scooter Dog is a tough cute-hotel-doggy act to follow, here’s a worthy successor: Jack, the delectable Australian Shepherd here, who lives at the Lone Star Court, an old-motel-turned-retro-hotel in Austin.
Jack actually lives on site – above the front office with his GM roommate, Marcus Latner. But unlike you and me, Jack actually likes his roommate – so he spends the day on property, doing whatever Marcus is doing. Except, that is, when he’s chowing down on a deer antler (one that Marcus especially got for him, rather than the antler table lamps in the rooms).
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About a dozen Westin heavenly beds were hauled up to the hotel's third floor ballroom, where select SPG members got cozy and settled in for a private performance by indie trio Ben Folds Five. It's not every day you get to watch a live concert in bed!
But that wasn't the only exciting thing about the grand opening. Earlier in the day, HotelChatter got to sit down for an exclusive interview with the band and quiz them on their early days in the 90s as motel-hopping road warriors. Sure enough, they had plenty of stories to share...
HotelChatter: When you guys were just starting out and traveling to different cities each night, what was it like? Where would you stay?
Ben Folds: The Knight's Inn. Usually, one of us would book the room as if it was just for one person, and the others would hide out in the van and wait. The reason being, if there was more than one of us, the price would go up. So then we'd get into the room; someone would share a bed, I usually blew up a mattress and slept on the floor.
HC:: And how much did you have to pay?
BF: $39.95 usually. We would use whatever cash we'd gotten from the night before.
Nevermind the untold legions of Best Westerns, La Quinta Inns and Econolodges that dot highways all around the country. A Texas-based hotel company is attempting to bring back the classic American motor court with a new brand of "ranch tech" properties that are modeled on the old roadside motels from the 1950s.
Which technically went out of style in the 60s during Eisenhower's Federal Aid Highway Act. But hey, that was fifty years ago, and who's to say Americans still can't be thrilled by a cool motel concept? The first of these, named the Lone Star Court, will open in Austin in 2013, and, appropriately, will feature live music, a fire pit, and a dipping pool.
Death Valley may not be the most attractive vacation prospect right now, what with the obscene gas prices, but if you want to see it soon (and you should), we couldn’t help but notice that temperatures right now are a pretty mild 90 degrees, with a high of 99 for tomorrow and back to 96 for Sunday.
Which, seeing as summer temperatures are normally soaring by now, really isn’t bad. Maybe it’s suffering from the same cold weather front as Vegas (currently a miserable 79) has been for the past few days.
If you want to make a run for it this weekend, we’d advise bypassing the swanky Furnace Creek - because you don’t go to Death Valley to play golf and live in a resort, do you?
No, you go to Death Valley to soak in nature, escape civilization and contemplate the magnitude of the earth and all that jazz.
And for that, we recommend Stovepipe Wells. It used to be the official National Park property in the Valley, before they switched to Furnace Creek (heresy!), and it’s just what you think of Death Valley as. Half an hour from the bustle of Furnace Creek, there’s just a motel, a restaurant and a general store.
If you can't make it to Vegas or Versailles, an alternative is, um, Upstate New York's Catskills region. The Roxbury—no relation to that old Saturday Night Live skit, so no worries of bumping into Chris Kattan—offers a suite that meshes the Palace of Versailles' opulence with Vegas flash.
The Amadeus' Bride suite, inspired by the flick Amadeus, is done up with handmade 18k gold-leaf moldings, a wall of mirrors that tallies 27 reflective surfaces, a 200-pound Austrian crystal chandelier and ceilings of more than 20 feet tall.
Really, Annalynne McCord and Kellan Lutz? You think people care about your on-off relationship that much that you have to go to a budget motel in the Valley to have a secret rendezvous?
The duo who reportedly broke up two weeks ago decided they had to see each other again and the only place good enough was apparently the Carlton Motor Lodge in Studio City. While we gave Carey Mulligan respect for her recent budget stay in Hollywood, we are calling bullsh*t on this incident, which also just happened to be captured by the paparazzi.
Because if you really wanted to have a secret sex session you would have done it at one of the discreet luxury hotels in Hollywood and Beverly Hills to facilitate a private, secure entrance for one another like L'Ermitage which has sheltered many of Angelina Jolie's lovers or even the fiercely private Chateau Marmont. (Just don't eat out in the courtyard where National Enquirer gnomes live.) That way you wouldn't need to don a nasty wig and gross glasses. Sigh. Amateurs.
While driving down the highway on the way to the popular Delaware weekend destination of Rehoboth Beach, you'll end up passing a stream of Comfort Inns, Rodeway Inns and various other "Inns," but it's this one that caught our eye.
First, it was the "Best Buy on the HWY" sign that made us turn our heads, but then the faux-White House structure set just back from the highway had us intrigued. It looked like some sort of dressed up old brick apartment building, and yet it was a Golf Club as well as a hotel?
This, the Heritage Inn and Golf Club, where nightly rates starts at $129 during the summer, is a perfect example of the type of accommodation that appears every so often along the East Coast highways.
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The Portrait Gallery at Hogwarts. Your Orlando hotel lobby will not look like this
Are you excited for the June 18th opening of Universal Studios' newest theme park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Well too bad, because the British are invading it first.
Virgin Holidays out the UK have today announced that they're the official vacation package company for the Harry Potter amusement park (at least as far as the UK is concerned), and people who book their packages that leave on Virgin Atlantic flights from London-Gatwick get first dibs on the park as early as May 28, among other early-bird perks. It sounds awesome if you're in Britain now and can go, but there is a major downside: you've got some seriously crappy hotel choices.
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This, a motel, really? Yes, really.
Do you ever get those nightmares and neuroses before setting off on a road trip? Like: what if we stay in a motel that turns out to be like the one in Vacancy, and we end up starring in our own snuff movie? Or, what if we run out of food in the middle of the desert with only “best jerky in the world” shops ever 50 miles to refresh us? Or what if, while driving through the tiniest of tiny towns in 9ft snow drifts in the middle of the night, our car decides to give up the ghost?
Well, as of last week, we can answer the last one for you. We were on a road trip from Vegas to Sedona, and as we passed the Grand Canyon and drove through Williams for some Route 66 lovin, our
crappy lovely old car conked out on us. Happily, it did its conking out on the doorstep of the Downtowner Motel, which we’d just decided, while driving by, would be our top choice of accommodation should we need to split the journey on the way back.
The name John Lautner is synonymous with Californian architecture. His work in the greater Los Angeles area from the 1940s forward represents some of the best in contemporary design—often dramatic, forward-thinking, and very much relevant today, which is why both long-time Lautner devotees and newfound fans continue to applaud his work. (It could also be the Brad Pitt-effect that's getting more people to stand up and pay attention to the field.)
Interior designer Tracy Beckmann, who, as we reported last week, is also responsible for the recent overhaul of the Los Angeles Athletic Club, and husband Ryan Trowbridge (a furniture designer) recently purchased the John Lautner Desert Hot Springs Motel and plan to reopen the property in 2010. Beckmann and Trowbridge are enthusiasts of the architect and are making sure that every step of renovation process falls in line with "green technologies that Lautner himself would have approved of." Like we said yesterday, green is definitely the new black.