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Because who doesn't love a man who irons?
There was one thing that really stood out for us when we stayed at Moxy Milan last week. A free-flow work-eat-drink-socialize space? Nope. A surfeit of millennials selfie-ing their way around said work-eat-drink-socialize space? Nah – although it made a lovely change not to be the only one obsessively photographing every single yoghurt in the to-go fridge.
No, it was the men. Sexy, semi-naked men. Tattooed, ripped, even dressed – man flesh at every turn. Behold!
A shirtless man on the room key:
A shirtless tattooed man in the ironing room (no, those abs aren’t making you see double, he was on the inside and outside wall – and the outside one was more graphic #boxers):
Now this is how you encourage repeat visitors.
When we checked into the Vintage Hotel in Brussels a few weeks ago, we found this confection on the bed. Two Jules Destrooper waffle cookies – yes please! And this “keep calm and let’s make a deal” card which, when you turned it over, offered 10% off future stays.
Now, of course, 10% isn’t much, not for a hotel where rooms hover around the €100 mark. It’s not the kind of deal to see you hopping on the next Eurostar. But that’s not the point – the point is that it makes you think they value your patronage, and that’s the kind of thing that makes you want to book again.
You might have heard of Chicken Shop, the ever so trendy (but tiny) restaurant chain owned by the people behind Soho House. You might have heard that its fourth London outpost opened this weekend in the Hoxton Holborn. You might pop along to the Hox, and stride confidently past the people flooding the open-plan bar and lobby area, towards the restaurant at the back.
“Is this the Chicken Shop?” you might ask the perfectly made up, beautifully dressed ladies looking you quizzically up and down at the restaurant entrance. And they will say: no.
You see, the restaurant in the lobby is Hubbard & Bell, “dishing up Brooklyn grill style grub”, as the website says. Chicken Shop, on the other hand, is an underground restaurant. As in, it’s actually underground. And unmarked. And the closest to a secret restaurant you will get in the London hotel scene.
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If there’s one thing that’ll get us on a plane to Athens, it’s a designated selfie spot. We jest, of course – but the idea of a designated selfie spot was so
horrifying compelling that during an afternoon in Athens last week, we had to go and see it for ourselves.
The selfie spot is at the Grande Bretagne in Syntagma Square (Athens' main square), though to our relief, when we asked at the concierge desk where to find it, they had absolutely no idea what we were talking about. To save you the mortification of trying to explain the concept of a selfie spot to an Athenian - right there in the cradle of democracy, literature, philosophy and everything else that selfies run in the face of - just head to the rooftop bar and restaurant.
The selfie spot, it has to be said, is incredible in the flesh. Of course, an Acropolis view in Athens is no big deal - the majority of hotels have them from rooftop terraces, if not from the rooms themselves. But most Acropolis views are not like this (the only one that comes close, we reckon, is the Hilton, which is a little further out of the city center). The Grande Bretagne not only dominates the skyline around it, meaning you’re looking straight at the Parthenon, but glance to your left and you’re looking straight at the Greek Parliament, with the Evzones soldiers trooping around the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier every hour.
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Our name is HotelChatter and we are addicted to hotel toiletries.
Designer, cult, no-name motel brands – we can’t get enough. We stash them away every night in our suitcase, so housekeeping gives us more. We check out with bagfuls of the stuff. We haven’t bought soap or shampoo in years.
Hotel toiletries are the first things that always crop up in those articles that always crop up – the ones asking what is ok and not ok to take from hotel rooms. (Spoiler: it’s always the toiletries and stationery that’s ok, everything else is off limits.)
Recently we’ve noticed a decline in hotel toiletries. Smaller bottles. Fewer restocks. A sparser selection of products. Those wall dispensers that, much as we want to be eco, we can’t quite get around to accepting.
We live, of course, us inhabitants of HotelChatter Towers, surrounded by hotel toiletries (a shoebox of soap, one of shampoo and conditioner, one of body lotion). And we tend to grab them without much thought – it’s hard to remember just where that bottle of CO Bigelow came from, after all.
But, spring cleaning this week, we stumbled upon another shoebox full of body lotion – one collected in happier times, around 2006-2008. Perhaps it’s coincidence, perhaps it’s pre-financial crisis, but we noticed that most of these bottles had been personalized to the hotels – and we had a Proustian moment, there in the bathroom, remembering the various trips.
Surrounded by two hectares of grounds in the modern Palmeraie district. A beautiful hammam. Eight beautiful suites, including some freestanding ones in their own pavilions. Like the Pavillon à la Rotonde, which is “romantic and secluded”, “ideal for an intimate getaway” with its “private garden and jacuzzi”. How glorious! Until you come to the booking page, and it describes it as “Poo Suite: Rotonde”.
Yes, of course this is an extremely juvenile thing to be giggling over. But it’s also a serious reminder to hotels to check through every page of your websites, and to keep names uniform across the site – because even if it said “Pool Suite: Rotonde”, we’d be wondering whether that was in fact the Pavillon à la Rotonde we’d so wanted to book.
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It’s a Novotel, but not as you know it. Because this Novotel is wrapped around the ancient city walls.
It’s the Novotel Brussels Centre Tour Noire, and is built around the Tour Noire – or Black Tower – which was built in the 13th century behind the St Catherine church as part of the original city walls. We’re looking at it here from outside the old walls.
Here's the front entrance:
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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).
Our front desk guy has been stressing the importance of great hotel service in the past few weeks but this five-star hotel in Peru is going to the extreme.
The Sol & Luna Lodge and Spa, a new addition to the Relais & Chateaux portfolio in the Urubamba Valley, has hired four former Cirque du Soleil acrobats who perform outdoors on the trapeze and ropes with the views of the Sacred Valley of the Incas in the background.
Yes, it's come to this. Hotel are now so eager to please their guests they have hired people who will literally bend over backwards for them. Guess we can't really complain about that.
Superior Casitas at Sol y Luna, which is 30 minutes from the Inca Rail to Machu Picchu and an hour from Cusco, start at $266 a night and that includes free WiFi.
[Photo: Sol & Luna]
If you’re anything like us, you will frown at this picture of the set up of the “tea and coffee-making facilities” in our room at the Atlas Hotel in Brussels. You will raise your eyebrows, sigh ‘this is exactly what I stooped to when I booked a three star hotel’ and wonder how on earth one is meant to raise one’s pinky when drinking from a plastic teacup.
But then you will realize the genius of the Atlas Hotel’s tea and coffee-making facilities set up. Because it is the set up of dreams for hotel germaphobes. If you have any level of OCD, or worry about housekeepers cleaning mugs with spit/mirror cleaner/nothing, it is for you. Because these cups are replaced – new – after every use.
A moose. On the loose. At a hotel called Antlers. Could this story get any better? Yes, actually, it can. It was a baby moose.
In news that surpasses even Norman the Scooter Dog in cuteness, a baby moose stumbled into the lobby of the Antlers at Vail hotel in, of course, Vail. According to a Colorado Parks & Wildlife spokesman (via CBS Denver), its mother probably abandoned it, then “humans chased it around town and it went into the hotel”. That’s a sad theory though. We prefer to think of it as a prodigiously gifted calf that read the word “antlers” and thought entering the hotel would be some kind of moose rite of passage.
According to the hotel’s Katie Nelson, having escaped from horrible children who were chasing it outside, the baby moose (mooselet?) lay on the lobby floor for 10-20 minutes – so long because the staff initially took it for a dog at this pet-friendly hotel.
It's Friday. You know what you need to get you through the rest of the day? Cat pictures.
So without further ado, here are our current favorite hotel cats. These two, along with one other, reside at the Empress Zoe hotel in Istanbul: a one-of-a-kind boutique pad in Sultanahmet, just below Hagia Sophia.
All three are former street cats who walked in one day and never left. (Istanbul is all about the street cats.) They aren't BFFs with each other; but, luckily for you, they are with the guests. Cuddling opportunities, should you be so minded, are unlimited.