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That Moment When You Realize That Luxury Isn't Always Best

Where: Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
May 28, 2015 at 9:30 AM | by | Comments (2)

Private pool at Rumah Surga

Sometimes being a hotel fan feels like it’s all about what’s new and pricey, where has the best pillow menu or tanning butler. But as I realized this past couple of weeks, sometimes a cheaper experience can be a much more real experience.

I was in Bali and had 10 days scheduled in Ubud. Initially I had fantasies of trying out all these kinds of fancy new places. Then I remembered I couldn’t afford even one night in most of those hotels. So I booked a villa instead: Villa Rumah Surga. It was $58 a night instead of the $250+ most of the decent hotels were, and I wasn’t expecting great shakes. But great shakes is what I got.

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How Much Would You Pay for a Hotel Breakfast?

May 20, 2015 at 9:25 AM | by | Comments (5)

When planning a trip to New York later this year, naturally we focused on which new hotels to stay at. Given how long we had to wait for 1 Hotels to open in South Beach, and how impressed we were with the result, we headed over to 1 Hotel Central Park to see what it would take to spend the night.

The answer? From $350-$400 a night and up for an Alcove Queen room. What stopped us dead in our tracks though was the price for breakfast in Jonathan Waxman’s restaurant: $70 per person. We then saw the headline “American breakfast for 2”, so perhaps it was $35 instead? But clicking through, adding two guests did push up our total by a $140. Wowza.

UPDATE 5.22.15: The hotel has told us the $70 price was a mistake. (See comment below.) Breakfast at Jonathan Waxman's restaurant is $35 per person. Phew!

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Tell Us: Should Front Desk Staff Be Trained to Deal with Computer Issues?

May 15, 2015 at 9:31 AM | by | Comments (7)

Last week, I spent a night in a five star hotel in Singapore – one of its top ones, no less. The room was, obviously, beautiful. The pools (plural) were to die for. I arrived late and went straight to sleep. I woke up, swam, had breakfast, and turned on my computer. And found my computer wouldn’t connect to the WiFi.

I have a Mac, and this sometimes happens. So I did what normally works – left it a few minutes, restarted it, adjusted the settings. Several times. And it still didn’t work.

I knew it wasn’t a problem with the WiFi, because my phone was connected. So after a few more restarts and a bit more fiddling, I called the front desk. This has happened about four times in the past, and each time connecting me to the IT dept has solved it by manually assigning the IP address. In fact, the first time this happened – at the Allegro Chicago – the IT guy said that they often have this issue with foreign-‘born’ Macs. It was not a big deal.

A woman answered and I explained the problem, asking to be connected to someone in IT. “Maybe it’s a problem with our WiFi,” she said. “I don’t think so,” I said, “Because my phone is connected. This has happened before, and it was a Mac issue. I just need to assign a manual IP. Is it possible for someone from the IT dept to walk me through this?”

“Have you tried turning it off and on again?” she replied.

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Tell Us: Do You Really Take ALL the Toiletries Home with You?

March 13, 2015 at 9:30 AM | by | Comments (9)

(Some of) the toiletries in question

Last week, I stayed in an extremely exclusive hotel in Italy – one of the old-school, iconic ones. It was beautiful – totally over the top, ridiculous décor, old masters in the bar, and hushed, reverent service. The bathroom was an explosion of marble, with large-sized toiletries – Acqua di Parma, should you care to know – by the bath, the shower, and the sink.

Naturally, when it came to check out, I did my usual whipround, collecting notepaper and envelopes, one of the notepads and pens, and most of the toiletries. That’s par for the course, right? It keeps your cupboards fully stocked and helps keep fond memories of the hotel going. Everyone wins.

I checked out, went for a wander, and came back half an hour later. I asked the concierge – who were in charge of the keys – to order me a taxi. He did so, but not before the other concierge had asked him quietly, “Il luogo è apposto?” Is the place ok? “Si, tutt’apposto,” said the other, and gave a slightly embarrassed smile.

And obviously I immediately assumed that the only possible thing they could be talking about in such a covert way was me and the fact that I had filched the stationery and the shampoo, and that they were wondering whether to confront me over it.

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Tell Us: Do You Dress Up To Visit Hotels?

February 26, 2015 at 9:37 AM | by | Comments (12)

Breakfast dress code at the Bauer Il Palazzo, Venice

It’s time for another OpenThread! Last week we discussed the pleasures of hanging out in hotels. Today, it’s time for some detail about said hanging out. Largely, do you abide by dress codes?

I’ll start off. Being English, and having enjoyed my seminal hotel moments in Europe, I am a stickler for dress codes. In real life, I’m a dress down kinda girl. But when I visit hotels, I’d rather be over than underdressed.

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Are We the Only Ones Who Visit Hotels for Fun?

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: Leicester Square, London, United Kingdom
February 18, 2015 at 9:31 AM | by | Comments (8)

The W London Lounge

Last week, I found myself in central London with a colleague, with an hour to spare between meetings. It was lunchtime. We both had work to do. We’d been out and about all morning.

We were near Covent Garden. My colleague suggested a restaurant. I mooted the Lounge at the W London. I won.

But when we got there, he was shocked. It was so fancy! All the staff were so beautiful! Everyone around us was so… rich looking! “Do you have to be Scandinavian to work here?” he asked me. He called his wife to marvel at the “eurotrash” and the “too beautiful” people surrounding us. He brought it up in the meeting we went to afterwards. The other meetingees were equally baffled and entranced by the idea of going to this insane, snazzy, eurotrashy hotel, when we could have gone to Starbucks.

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Everyone Chime in Now: Should Hotels Block Your Personal Hotspot?

January 7, 2015 at 11:29 AM | by | Comments (2)

Before the holidays, we explained that as hotels begin to make Wifi more available and, most importantly, free, they are simultaneously policing the use of personal hotspots on their properties.

Marriott is leading the charge in the crack down. When it filed a petition with the FCC to make its policy legal, a debate erupted. The two sides of the argument are pretty straightforward:

Team Hotspot Blockers as represented by Marriott: Cybersecurity. They're concerned that unauthorized access points will make it easy to hack into a hotel operator's network and threaten guest privacy. In addition, too many hotspots could clog up the network, reducing both personal and hotel Wifi performance and speed. And the resulting bad WiFi service could translate into bad reviews.

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Most Provocative OpenThread: Should Breastfeeding Be Allowed at Claridge's?

December 31, 2014 at 8:55 AM | by | Comments (0)

It's that time of year again: the 2014 HotelChatter Awards! Today and tomorrow, we'll be showcasing the best (and worst) of hotels over the past year. But we couldn't do it without you! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or shoot us an email. And the Award goes to...

OpenThreads are our way of handing over the microphone to you, dear readers. We put forth a topic, a dilemma, a question, a preference, or an opinion and you let us know how you really feel.

Past provocative OpenThread discussions have involved the travails of tea-making, the glories of good service, and evil minibar pricing, but the one that proved most provocative this year was the recent Claridge’s breastfeeding incident.

Was it right of London’s grande dame to ask this mother to cover up with a “ridiculous shroud” while she fed her baby?

She said no. The women who staged a mass “feed-in” protest outside the hotel agreed with her. The internet was split.

But you, HotelChatterers, were unanimous. Claridge’s were entirely within their rights to ask her to cover up.

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Claridge's Made This Woman Cover Up While Breastfeeding. Were They Right?

December 2, 2014 at 8:59 AM | by | Comments (8)

Afternoon tea at Claridge’s is a London institution. Afternoon tea at Claridge’s in the run-up to Christmas is a global institution. Seats are like gold dust: even when we stayed overnight a couple of years ago in December – in a posh suite, for goodness’ sake! Costing over a thousand pounds! – there was no room for us for tea.

So when Louise Burns turned up for tea with her mother, sister and newborn baby, it was obviously a long planned, much longed for treat.

But then it soured when she started breastfeeding and the hotel brought over a napkin and asked her to cover up.

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What's the Best Hotel Service You've Ever Experienced?

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: Layan Beach, Bangtao Beach, Phuket, Thailand
November 13, 2014 at 9:31 AM | by | Comments (6)

It may not look much, but what it represents is pretty huge.

This is a plate of turmeric, which I was handed the week before last during my stay at the Anantara Phuket Layan, Anantara’s newest Phuket hotel, which opened in January in a cove at Layan, near Bangtao Beach.

Why was I handed a plate of grubby roots? Because the previous day, I’d learned that in Thailand, turmeric is a widely used remedy for mosquito bites (FYI: it works brilliantly). So the following morning, I asked the breakfast staff whether there was any turmeric in the kitchen. No, they said, but we can go and buy some for you if you'd like. I said no thanks, and thought no more of it, going off to the beach to itch. Twenty minutes later, a member of staff rushed up, proffering this plate of turmeric. Now that is customer service.

Of course, service standards in SE Asia are always head and shoulders above those in the West, but Anantara Layan really stood out, even by Asian standards. Over the course of three days there, here’s what various members of staff did:

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Was Travelodge Right To Ditch Its Hotel Bibles?

August 18, 2014 at 9:34 AM | by | Comments (0)

A Bible in your bedside drawer has always been one of those comforting mediocre hotel room givens, like toiletries of dubious provenance and chocolates – if you’re lucky enough to get them – that taste of cardboard. But could this be coming to an end?

Travelodge is currently coming under fire in the UK for removing Bibles from all its hotel rooms, “because of diversity reasons” and “‘in order not to discriminate against any religion”. Predictably, there’s a firestorm of people on Twitter vowing to switch allegiance to Premier Inn, and the Church of England declaring that: “It seems both tragic and bizarre that hotels would remove the word of God for the sake of ergonomic design, economic incentive or a spurious definition of the word ‘diversity’.”

In actual fact, the story isn’t as extreme as it sounds at first – the Bibles, which were always provided free of charge by the Gideon Society, haven’t been burned or chucked out – Travelodge says they are being “retained” and will be doled out by reception on request. What’s more, in surely the most telling part of this story, Travelodge says this decision was taken in 2007, and the hotels have been steadily implementing it since then, without receiving any complaints until the Daily Mail got wind of it last week.

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Which One of the Four Seasons Do You Heart The Most?

July 29, 2014 at 11:56 AM | by | Comments (7)

Bathrobes at the Four Seasons Los Angeles.

We've talked about our favorite and least-favorite W Hotels, Kimpton Hotels, Sofitel Hotels, Andaz Hotels and the Le Meridiens.

Today, we're taking stock of the changing seasons...Four Seasons Hotels, that is.

With Four Seasons making expansion a top priority in the next years--the Four Seasons Orlando will open this weekend while Four Seasons Dubai is now taking reservations for December--it's a good time to take stock of what Four Seasons has done right, and where they still need some improvement. In other words, what to do and not to do with future Four Seasons Hotels.

Is it more "extraordinary experiences"? More beer massages? More locally inspired workouts? You tell us!

List your favorite and least favorite Four Seasons Hotels in comments below! Or holler at us on Twitter!