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A Look Inside Madrid's Hotel Villa Magna

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: Paseo de la Castellana 22, Madrid, Spain, 28046
March 27, 2015 at 3:00 PM | by | ()

Don’t you love it when a hotel does a reno and decreases the number of rooms rather than increases them? The Hotel Villa Magna in Madrid (part of Leading Hotels of the World) renovated the property between 2007 and 2009 and we mean gutted it – demolishing everything but the building’s façade and the floors – and took the room count from 182 to 150 rooms and suites. This leaves you with some of the most spacious rooms in Madrid.

Madrid-based interior designer Thomas Urquijo is the master planner behind the design, which is best-described as contemporary elegance. There's a touch of Bauhaus, Viennese Secessionism and Louis XVI styles all thrown in there, with both public and private spaces bathed in earthy greys and off-whites. Furniture is a combo of restored antiques and modern additions, and one nice touch is the colorful artwork found throughout the hotel, all part of the private collection of the hotel’s Portuguese owners who, we were told, also own the Four Seasons Lisbon.

Found in the posh Salamanca district, right in the heart of Madrid’s ritziest shopping, the hotel’s rooms and suites are broken down into seven separate categories, starting with the Magna Room all the way to the Insignia Suites. But get this: the smallest room category, the Magna Room, is a whopping 376 sq ft. As a comparison when we stayed at the ME Madrid in one of their Energy Rooms (the last room category just before you hit the suites) it was only 265 sq ft. Sometimes bigger really is better.

See all of the pics in the photo gallery!

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An Inside Look at the Newly Renovated Shelborne Wyndham Grand in Miami

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 1801 Collins Avenue [map], Miami, FL, United States, 33139
March 26, 2015 at 10:30 AM | by | ()

In July 2013 the Shelborne Hotel in South Beach closed down in order to renovate the entire property (which was very much needed). It opened again at the end of September 2014 as the Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach with relatively little fanfare, so we’re going to toot its horn a little bit because, during a recent stay, we quite liked this 200-room property.

Designed by two very different designers – Meg Sharpe, who did the public and commercial spaces, and Richard Mishaan, who created the rooms and meeting spaces – the hotel has a sort of Jekyll and Hyde quality that, strangely, works together to create an Art Deco beauty.

First some history to give you context on the design. The building was constructed in the 1940s and embellished in the 1950s, when the Moderne Style of Art Deco was in fashion. Think glamorous streamlined design, with shiny metallic surfaces and a focus on the new, modern transportation design in cars, airplanes and trains. Both designers have worked to bring this particular era to life, albeit each with a distinctive flair.

Richard’s rooms are bolder in both color and pattern, with deep ocean blue furniture and rugs offset against stark white or mirrored furnishings. You’d think the heavily patterned wall coverings and lamp shades would throw the whole design into chaos, but it keeps the space oddly invigorating. Rooms have 46” Interactive Smart Samsung TVs with mobile connectivity, iPhone docking stations, Frette linens and private label bath amenities in a calendula scent.

Have a look at the Photo Gallery to see an Oceanfront Balcony room as well as a Partial Ocean View King, plus all of the public spaces!

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Before and After: The Fairmont Château Laurier Redecorates Canada's Castle

Where: Ottawa, ON, Canada
March 25, 2015 at 3:15 PM | by | ()

Tripadvisor reviews haven't been very kind to Ottawa, Canada's historic Fairmont Château Laurier in recent years. The popular sentiment seems to be "time for a major renovation" and, luckily enough, that's exactly what the hotel has in mind. Better than that actually; the Château Laurier is in the midst of such a renovation of the guest rooms, replacing the former "grandma's guest bedroom" aesthetic with something much more modern, fresh, and bright.

Redecorated rooms finally offer lots of power outlets (including a desk with built-in console and bedside table lamps with outlets), Nespresso coffee makers and a variety of Fairmont proprietary tea blends, and bathrooms are equipped with both an ultra-flattering light-up mirror and a makeup mirror, not to mention toiletries from Le Labo's Rose 31 collection.

Only a small number of the hotel's 429 guest rooms have been redecorated with the fresher look, so guests should request one during booking or, at the very latest, during check-in.

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The Ups and Downs of a Quick Fling with the Grand Amore in Florence

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: Via dei Servi 38/A, Florence, Italy, 50122
March 18, 2015 at 9:40 AM | by | ()

Last week, we told you about the best hotel gift ever – the individualized presents that the Grand Amore Hotel & Spa in Florence gives to every guest upon departure. For us, it was a set of stamps featuring our favorite Italian author; for you, it could be… well, it depends on what you tell them your hobbies are on the pre-arrival questionnaire.

Compared to that, the rooms themselves are going to pale in comparison, right?

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Who Needs Green Beer When You Can Have a Green Hotel Room? (And Maybe Get Lucky)

March 17, 2015 at 5:43 PM | by | ()

Once again, it's the day we think green, wear green, drink green, and spend some green as Saint Patrick's Day festivities get under way around the globe. We've covered this light spirited - make that heavy spirited - day from many hotel angles, from the where to get the best parade views to last minute deals if you've had too many brews.

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More Photos of The Thoroughly Modern Le Meridien Hotel in New Orleans

Where: 333 Poydras Street [map], New Orleans, LA , United States
March 12, 2015 at 3:51 PM | by | ()

Modern Mad Men style on display at Le Méridien New Orleans

Earlier this year, we oohed and ahhed over the sophisticated transformation of the old W Hotel into the Le Méridien New Orleans on Poydras street but now we have a full gallery of the thoroughly modern and Le Méridien public spaces, guestooms and the Urban and Luxury suites along with close-ups of the crazy cool hallway wallpaper we previously admired and the updated pool area.

FWIW, the rest of the hotel looks as tasty as a powdered sugar covered beignet from Cafe du Monde. Except that thanks to Le Méridien's new eclair program you can find that sumptuous treat in the Le Méridien Hub (the lobby) instead.

Rates start at $329 a night this weekend for a classic room.

[Photos: Le Meridien Hotel New Orleans]

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Getting Warm Has Never Been So Cool: 15 Hotel Fireplaces We Love

January 21, 2015 at 7:53 PM | by | ()

One of our favorite hotel lounges that just happens to have an amazing fireplace is the London Edition. This photo doesn't begin to describe how great a lobby space this is - ya really got to be there

Chilly winter weather got you down, road warriers? Chin up, as you bundle up, and seek warm refuge in the lounge of your favorite hotel. There's a pretty good chance there's a fireplace in the lounge or bar that should take the chill out of everything but your drink.

In modern times such as these, hotel fireplaces are selected more for ambiance and environmentally-friendly objectives than for roasting marshmallows. But there's no denying that hotels have made fireplaces a major feature in the communal spaces, guest rooms (if you're lucky or have a platinum Amex), rooftops, and even the spa. Lifestyle brands as in W Hotels, for example, typically have a fireplace in their "Living Rooms" , aka lobbies.

Just in case you hadn't paid much notice before, we've compiled a photo gallery of hotel spaces that include a fireplace. Have a look around these hotels, and if you're in a hotel now, go find one there. If there isn't one, show the hotel this story and say, "But all the cool kids have them."

[Photos by the hotels included in this gallery]

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All Around The AC Hotel by Marriott in New Orleans

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 221 Carondelet Street [map], New Orleans, LA, United States, 70130
November 21, 2014 at 6:17 PM | by | ()

We already gave you a brief look at the rooms inside the first ever AC Hotel by Marriott in the U.S. and we had you salivating over the croissants flown in from France (well, the frozen dough was), but now it's time to take you all around the AC Hotel by Marriott New Orleans.

We like to let the pictures do most of the talking but here's what you need to know:

The History: The AC was built out of two historic buildings--The Cotton Exchange and The Security Homestead Association--although the buildings have been used as hotel for quite some time. The hotel, which is one block from Canal and two from Bourbon Street, suffered some severe damage after Hurricane Katrina, but it was kept mostly to the first two floors.

The layout of the lobby has changed a bit structurally, and of course, everything inside is brand-new but the hotel retains a historic set-up especially on the guest room floors which have smaller hallways and many twists and turns.

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Low-Key Saba Island Now Has a Hotel Spa, Thanks to Queen's Garden Resort

October 21, 2014 at 2:20 PM | by | ()

The new Frangipane Spa at the Queen's Garden Resort on Saba

If you remember the killer views we showed you last winter that make the Queen's Garden Resort on Saba, the Caribbean island's most luxurious property, you might recall the unfinished building in some of the photos. The work-in-progress was a spa, which was finished earlier this month, just in time for the upcoming Caribbean season.

Called the Frangipani Spa, it features two open air treatment rooms, Finnish sauna, Turkish steam bath, herbal facial aroma pots, waterfall shower, and an outdoor Jacuzzi. Like the hotel, it overlooks Saba's capital, "The Bottom," as well as the mountainside and ocean.

The photos below show a simplistic charm and a hut-like environment, the beige of the wood dominating as a background and allowing the bright Caribbean-colored accents to burst out. So as not to lose sight of the views, the hotel decided to completely leave out one side of the building - a decision we think will turn out to be a really good one. The treatments will use products from SXM Nectar on nearby St. Maarten.

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Photos: An Inside Look at Marlon Brando's Former Digs Near Tahiti

October 16, 2014 at 12:41 PM | by | ()

Just over a year ago, we dished on the details behind The Brando, Marlon Brando's posthumous hotel on Tetiaroa, a 12-islet atoll 30 miles northeast of Tahiti. Photos and guest-experience insight were limited at the time, but now that the hotel officially opened this summer - on July 1st, the 10th anniversary of Brando's death - it's time to take an inside look.

We guess we'll start with the bad news: This is one hotel that none of us will ever see the inside of. Rates start at $3,800/night for a one-bedroom villa (2 guests), and there is a three-night minimum stay. From here on out, we can consider this an eye-candy post, but just for fun, here's what's included in your daily rate at the Brando:

Accommodations; all meals in all dining venues; bottled water, soft drinks, beer, and select wines, Champagne, and spirits; 24-hour dining in the privacy of your villa; 1 excursion per person per day from a select list of options; 1 spa treatment (50 minutes) per day; Internet access; 1 bicycle per guest; access to an outrigger canoe, kayak, paddleboard, and snorkeling equipment.

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It Wasn't an Easy Task But Here are The World's Coolest Twin-Bedded Hotel Rooms

September 17, 2014 at 5:41 PM | by | ()

To anyone who has ever traveled with a friend, a family member, or a colleague and needed to book a double, or twin-bedded, hotel room--and has been less than happy with it--we feel your pain.

Although things are slowly starting to improve in the design of guest rooms for buddies and other "non-couples," after a very lengthy search we conclude there is practically a bottomless pit of dull and uninteresting twin hotel rooms out there.

NEVER FEAR. We've searched high and low to find cool hotel rooms that were actually conceived and designed for individuals traveling together. And we've created a photo gallery with the fruits of our internet search labor. Indeed, we searched very high and very low as these types of rooms are few and far between. There really needs to be more great double rooms. Hear that, hoteliers? And not just for friends and colleagues. Why we even know some hopelessy devoted couples who like to sleep in separate beds. It's something to think about.

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Inside The Soho House Chicago, Not Just for Members Only

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 113-125 N. Green Street [map], Chicago, IL, United States, 60607
September 15, 2014 at 12:08 PM | by | ()

A few weeks ago, Soho House opened their newest, exclusive hideaway in Chicago. We finally went to check it out for ourselves and we think, this might just be the one of the best hotels in Chicago.

The property has 40 bedrooms, three restaurants (all open to the public), a private cinema and a retro-styled gym with a vintage boxing ring and aerial yoga classes. Soho House is also located on a back street in the West Loop neighborhood behind the hottest restaurant precinct in town. (Since you can clearly work off whatever you ate the night before, there's no reason not to take a few steps to some of the eateries found on Randolph Street.)

Take a look around a "Medium" room at the Soho House Chicago

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