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There are about 120 Sofitel Hotels, in about 40 countries, so that's a lot of Sofitels to get talking about. But with all major hotel brands, not all the individual hotels are created equal. We've had some great experiences at Sofitels in Asia and Europe and then just so-so ones here in America. Meanwhile, Sofitel is also expanding their So brand which is more design-conscious and art-centric while at the same time remaining luxurious. So Sofitel is a mixed bag indeed.
Now in the spirit of Thanksgiving, tell us which Sofitel Hotel you're most thankful for in comments below!
[Photo: JasonD For HotelChatter]
It's hard for us to hate on a hotel brand that offers a complimentary wine-tasting hour at every single property, animal print bathrobes in the closet and free WiFi (so long as you join the loyalty program.) But alas, not all Kimpton Hotels are created equal.
While almost every Kimpton retains the brand's friendly personality along with truly helpful services and amenities (we especially love the "Forgot It? We Got It!" toiletry service), not every Kimpton is a stand-out property. That's just the way of the hotel world, we guess. We've seen our fair share of Kimptons at HotelChatter and clearly, the new-build ones tend to be the better ones with cooler designs, fresher rooms and a happening F&B scene. Given that Kimpton is on a major expansion roll, that's good news for their loyalists. But now it's even more important to call out the properties that might need a little bit of a boost. What do you think?
Tell us your favorite Kimpton Hotel in comments below! (Or your least favorite Kimpton)
We're currently in Philadelphia, getting the scoop on the city's hotel scene and checking out the new Radisson Blu near Rittenhouse Square, which we will give you a look at next week.
But in the spirit of a good old-fashioned spoiler, we learned that the Rad Blu will offer in-room massages since they don't have a spa on-site.
While we doubt many would agree that in-room massages are an equal substitute for a spa facility, we do appreciate the gesture from hotels, the extra "room service," if you will. That said, we're curious as to what travelers think of this concept that has almost become common at mid-to-luxury city hotels without spas.
There's a good chance this has happened to you before: you've gotten off a long flight, checked into your hotel and, ready to explore your destination, you go to lock up your personal effects and notice your phone, laptop or tablet are pretty drained for power. Now, the dilemma: do you run the risk of leaving your electronics to charge out in the open or lock them in the safe?
On a recent visit to Hong Kong we stayed at the city's ultra-hip W Hong Kong. Upon checking in and exploring the room, we had this same situation where we needed some juice, but wanted to tuck all of our stuff away in the in-room safe. Once we popped opened the safe, we found the holy grail of hotel safes: it had its very own power-point! Problem solved.
Now, we're aware that not all hotels have this little perk, but we also know that some hoteliers have thought about their guest's battery power. Let us know in the comments below if you've come across something similar elsewhere and we'll make sure that those hotels get mad props for considering the 'little things'.
Back in 2009, we put out a poll that asked HotelChatter readers what they thought was the best free breakfast amongst U.S. budget chain hotels. The answers ranged from humorous to discouraging, from "Hampton gets me percolating" to "Lets be honest, all the free breakfasts are pretty gross!"
Well, here we are four years later, and we have a whole new host of free breakfast options out there, including Element, Hyatt House, and Home2 Suites to go along with the usual suspects (Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Courtyard, etc).
Although we still think European hotels do a better job of providing solid complimentary breakfasts, it's good to see the concept catching on in the States. We'd love to see it keep going and become a normal inclusion in the rate at all hotels, and we think the ensuing competition would lead to better breakfasts overall.
Last week, we asked you if you still used the in-room TV anymore. Our initial feeling was that you would all answer no and instead talk about how you use the in-room WiFi to stream movies and TV shows or just use it to catch up on your news reading.
When we do stay in a hotel, yes ! Watch the news for days temperature & happenings. Plus helps put us to sleep, reminds us of home.
I like to watch the news in the morning, wherever I am, and also turn it on at night while we're unwinding from a long day of sightseeing.
I don't have cable at home, cuz I use the internet for everything. But the one thing that I don't get online and like to watch in hotels is SportsCenter on ESPN.
The television was once considered the most important amenity inside a hotel room, after the telephone of course. Remember the days when hotels tried to outdo each other with their advertisements of "Color TV" and "Free Cable?" But then we all quickly moved past those and onto flat-screens and HDTVs. Yet even these high-tech versions might soon be outdated and it's all thanks to, you guessed it, the internet.
Several times this year, HotelChatter contributors have been in hotel rooms and have not turned on the TV. And why should they? When they can stream their favorite TV shows or movies on their computer or tablet. Heck, even just checking social media is entertainment enough. And this particular HotelChatter editor has recently been skeeved out about the
fecal matter germs that might be on the remote controls, so much so that I refuse to touch them without a tissue or a shower cap around them.
But there is one exception to all of this--kids. When you're traveling with kids, you'll do whatever you can to keep them entertained. Sure, you probably travel with the iPad fully-loaded or the Nintendo DS fully charged but sometimes, there's nothing easier than just plopping the kids on the bed and putting on some random cartoons while you criss-cross around the room, getting all your gear packed up.
YOU TELL US: Do you even use the TV in your hotel room anymore? YES OR NO? Sound off in comments below!
We've walked in on some shady situations over the course of our hotel-staying careers, including beds that appear to have been "utilized" prior to our arrival. You could drive yourself crazy thinking about all the things that might have -- or worse, definitely have -- taken place in the room you are about to occupy.
That image firmly in place and acknowledged, we must admit that we're not very paranoid about room cleanliness. We pretty much trust the eye test, that the floors have been reasonably cleaned and the bathroom sterilized. But we've met our fair share of people who don't hesitate to cover the toilet with paper before sitting down, or who shake out all the sheets before slipping into bed. And that comforter has been known to raise a few eyebrows, without question.
You have thousands of choices when you travel, but at the end of the day lodging breaks down into two categories: Chain versus independently-owned hotels. Each brings its own benefits and compromises and attracts different types of travelers.
In general, chain hotels tend to be able to offer a larger variety of services, provide a reliable amount of consistency from property to property, staff experienced employees, and are a safe bet in terms of knowing what you're going to get. The consequence of the consistency is a lack of creativity, though, as chain hotels sometimes suffer in the personality department.
Independently owned hotels have a little more risk involved, as they are typically stand-alone properties that may or may not live up to your expectations. However, the upside is huge, as they tend to have more personality than chain hotels and give guests a more localized experience, especially in the case of small, boutique hotels. There is also a higher likelihood that your tourism dollars will remain in the destination, as opposed to chain hotels with revenue streams that lead back to their corporate office in other city or even country.
In a move that is most certainly a reason to jump on the next hotel bed you come across, properties around the world have begun to pull the plug on the overpriced, in-room vending machines we call mini-bars. Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt are all onboard with the change, and while not all brands will follow along, we expect to see a major decline in numbers over the next couple years.
Now, the concept of the mini-bar is really great in theory. It's nice to have a beer or quick snack at your disposal in the room, but hotels really took the wrong turn with their approach, jacking up the prices, billing guests if they merely removed an item to inspect it, and charging for the "privilege" to have the mini-bar emptied for fridge space. They also ran into problems of billing, relying on a site inspection by staff to add the charges to the room. Guest honesty also came into play in a variety of ways. You could get out of a mini-bar bill pretty easily by refilling a vodka bottle with water or simply insisting you didn't have anything upon check out. Most hotels, if you push it enough, are not going to lose your business over a bag of M & Ms.
With that, we offer a hearty good riddance to the mini bar, and we applaud the big brands for beginning to make this much-needed change. According to reports, the decision came at the hand of guest complaints of high prices and, we're assuming, the resulting loss of income the hotel suffered.
Something that's become pretty clear over the past few years: People like to book hotel stays through third-party sites.
There's a bazillion out there, from classics like Hotels.com and Expedia to the new and savvy PointsHound and Rocketmiles that really help you rack up the rewards. As a result of this ever-growing trend, we wonder where that leaves individual hotel websites. Does anyone really use them?
From the hotel's perspective, having a website is essential for, if nothing else, searchability and stature. In this age, if something doesn't have a website, it doesn't exist. But, for the consumer, what's the take away? A few photos? Mumbo-jumbo PR banter about how we should prepare to be "whisked" away into a "world of mystical luxury?"
It seems like every few weeks, there is a new fitness offering from a hotel chain trying to lure the healthiest of travelers to their properties. Some hotel brands have put together new and flashy fitness offerings while others are just doing the bare minimum (i.e. two cardio machines, a set of dumbbells and some free weights.) Yet even after we created our very own workouts to get a good in-room-sweat on, we've been asked the question: What do gym-junkie travelers want from a hotel while on the road? Well, here's what we think:
Firstly, have a look at the fitness facility. After motivating ourselves to push through the jet-lag and hit the gym, all we want is a room that inspires us to maintain an elevated heart rate. What can really send us back up to the room are horrible ventilation, wall-to-wall carpeting, awful views and poor lighting. Carpeting is just gross because fitness facilities get hot and people sweat and carpeting makes the room seem hotter. Even more so, if the AC isn't working properly. Having pleasant views and great lighting, however, will help us extend our workout time.