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A Peek Inside Toronto’s Iconic Hipster Hangout, The Drake Hotel

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 1150 Queen St W, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
February 20, 2014 at 9:51 AM | by | Comments (0)

The Drake Hotel was one of, if not THE, first boutique hotel in Toronto when it opened. When we heard that dot-comer Jeff Stober was opening The Drake west of Queen West, we thought it impossible for the hotel to survive in the then downtrodden boonies. We were wrong, so wrong—not only did The Drake persevere but it quickly became a hotspot for locals who lined up to get into its basement band venue and kickass lounge. Now, ten years on, we set out to discover whether The Drake Hotel still had true cachet.

We walked in on a wintry Saturday afternoon and the place was overflowing with bohos and hipsters alike, most waiting for a table in the recently-reno’ed (and enlarged but still full to capacity) restaurant and lounge. If you ever wondered what the Canadian design aesthetic is, you need to come here. There’s lots of natural wood, industrial lighting, earth tones, forest motifs and—to take it one step further—The Drake has a kitschy camp feel that reminds us of every camping trip we ever took as kids, sans mosquitoes.

The rooms carry on that mid-century modern campground feel but with modern ModCons. You can see inside the rooms in the photo gallery, but there are a few things that deserve an extra shout-out. First, let’s hear it for “Hairy Chest Man.” This particular doll for adults with leather studded collar is handmade and you can find a different doll in every room. Next, the “pleasure menu”: The Drake purports to be the first hotel in the world to carry one and while we can’t vouch for that, we can say that it is probably the most extensive menu of its kind that we’ve had the “pleasure” of seeing (yuck yuck). We also loved the owl light and the toiletries by Malin + Goetz.

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A Peek at The Beverley Hotel in Toronto

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 335 Queen Street W, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5V 2A1
February 13, 2014 at 3:34 PM | by | Comments (0)

Next up in our Toronto tour is the 18-room hotel, The Beverley, found on hipster hangout, Queen West. After some initial confusion as to whether to head up or down the stairs (go up to check-in and down to go to the popular restaurant and lounge), we met up with GM Scott Newnham who showed us around this tasteful minimalist boutique property.

The hotel’s motto is, “Everything you need and nothing you don’t,” and we think this is a pretty accurate depiction of what the hotel’s all about. Cool, white minimalism takes over the rooms — with a happy shock of vivid color coming from the bathrooms — and what’s there is luxurious: Frette linens; local spa Body Blitz toiletries; fluffy cotton robes; and flat-screen TVs mounted on the ceiling or wall.

Have a look at the photo gallery below to see for yourself!

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A Peek Inside Toronto’s Hotel Ocho

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 195 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5T 2C5
February 7, 2014 at 10:39 AM | by | Comments (0)

We popped in to 12-room boutique Hotel Ocho during our recent excursion to T.O. We found an industrial-style crash pad with Danish minimalism and shabby chic décor thrown in for good measure.

The hotel opened in May 2011 in an area underserviced by the big-name brands. Next to Chinatown and in the trendy Queen West area (you can rent a bike right outside the hotel to get around), it attracts the creative class with its basement restaurant and lounge offering martini and wine nights. The hotel’s reception is also in the basement level, although you might just miss it if you're not aware, since check-in is located behind the stairs leading up to the second level (as you can see, there’s some quirk here too!).

Once you hit the rooms—on the top two floors of the four-storey building (and yes, there is an elevator)—you’ll have a choice of a Standard Room, Superior Room or Deluxe Room. All have wood-plank ceilings, flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. We had a peek at a Superior Room and it also had a little desk, an open bathroom concept and walk-in shower, and La Source toiletries. The Standard Room also had the open concept bathroom and was... cozy.

The hotel showcases local artists and rotates the work about every two months, giving the hotel a lot of character. See for yourself in the Photo Gallery below!

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The Iberostar Playa Mita is a Work of Art

January 28, 2014 at 5:20 PM | by | Comments (0)

Last month we attended the grand opening of the new Iberostar Playa Mita on Mexico's Riviera Nayarit. The 452-room all-inclusive resort is the Spanish brand's first property on Mexico's Pacific coast and features 120 oceanfront junior suites, 18 adult-only Spa Rooms, two Presidential Suites, two pools and a spa. Guests also have preferred access to the nearby Greg Norman-designed course at the Litibu Golf Club

What really caught our eye, though, was the pieces of Huichol art displayed throughout the hotel, in rooms and public space. Huichol art is a traditional folk art form by the native Huichol people who live in Nayarit and Jalisco made with intricate designs, vibrant colors and sacred symbols to express deeply held spiritual beliefs.

Like this jaguar head in the lobby (pictured above), which has three million beads in it and it was made by one family -- grandparents, parents and children -- and took about three months to make. For Huichol Shamans, the jaguar is a power animal, considered messengers of the god of fire, Tatewari.

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The Quin Keeps Kids Happy with a Charming Tale

Where: 101 W. 57th Street [map], New York, NY, United States, 10019
January 21, 2014 at 12:01 PM | by | Comments (0)

Scrolling through the in-room television programming at The Quin the other day, something caught our eye. Not the $12 gourmet peanuts on the list of provisions, nor the in-room menu of luxury items from the lobby's Bergdorf Goodman Vitrine, but something a little less grandiose. A charming tale of a girl and her new friend, as told by her dog, Peppermint, "a fun-loving, fast-talking teacup Yorkie".

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A Sight for Sore Eyes, or an Achy Head, in the Hotel Minibar

January 20, 2014 at 3:27 PM | by | Comments (0)

While the existence of the hotel minibar is in a questionable state these days, we were relieved to spot this amenity in a minibar at the InterContinental Los Angeles

This is a first aid kit with two bandages, two Tylenol, two decongestants, 2 antacid relief tablets and one antiseptic towelette from In-Room Plus, a company that provides hotels with minibar products.

We've seen kits with Tylenol or Advil before but we like the additions of the decongestants and the antacid tablets. Because that's totally happened before when we've come down with a sinus headache or an upset stomach late at night. So this kit saves us from making the trip (or paying someone else to make it for us.)

This thoughtful touch all goes back to our argument of making the minibar accessible and affordable, rather than just eliminating it entirely. We could do without the full-sized bottles of alcohol and the overpriced nuts but a little first aid kit like this can really come in handy.

[Photo: HotelChatter]

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Goodness Inside and Out at Hyatt Regency Aruba's ZoiA Spa

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: J.E. Irausquin Blvd #85, Palm Beach, Noord, Aruba
January 13, 2014 at 4:49 PM | by | Comments (0)

A visit to the spa can really bring a sense of rectitude to the body and mind -- especially in these tough early January weeks. What we really like about the Hyatt Regency Aruba's ZoiA Spa, though, is that this virtuous feeling extends to the surroundings.

Open since 2012, ZoiA Spa’s architecture and design incorporates sustainable products and materials throughout the entire space. Fabrics are made from recycled materials and decorations make use of cork, recycled glass tiles, and qurt -- a granite-like stone made from seashells. The hotel itself has continued the sustainable ethos by recently becoming the first high-rise on island to install solar panels to heat water.

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The Ace Hotel Los Angeles Makes It Easy to Tip The Maid

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 929 Broadway [map], Los Angeles, CA, United States
January 9, 2014 at 1:10 PM | by | Comment (1)

When it comes to tipping the maid, there is always a bit of confusion about where to put the tip. Do you leave it on the nightstand or the desk? Or perhaps you leave it on the dresser or the minibar?

At the just-opened Ace Hotel Los Angeles, there is no confusion about where your dollar bills go. On the desk atop the stationary is a little yellow envelope with the words "MAID TIP stamped in red. And there you go.

While we doubt luxury hotels would ever consider adopting this sort of hint for guests (it's probably considered too "vulgar"), we do think it could work at lots of other boutiquey hotels. But if this becomes a hotel standard, then we best remember to bring dollar bills with us. We'll feel pretty sheepish leaving that envelope empty. Wonder if they take credit cards?

Check out more of what's inside the rooms at Ace Hotel Los Angeles in the gallery below!

[Photo: HotelChatter]

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Baby it's Cold Outside, So Take a Dip in Ion's Lava Spa

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: Nesjavellir, Selfoss, Iceland, 801
January 7, 2014 at 2:08 PM | by | Comments (0)

Situated on the slopes of the still-active volcano Mount Hengill, on the edge of Thingvellir National Park and less than an hour outside Reykjavik, Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel is seriously in harmony with its environment. Energy and hot water is provided by the nearby Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Station and surrounding hot springs; locally sourced wood is utilized throughout the hotel's interiors, all furniture is made from from recycled materials, and images of Icelandic wildlife are displayed throughout.

The hotel also makes use of natural light through floor-to-ceiling windows in bedrooms and in its onsite Northern Lights bar, which juts out and overhangs the lava fields and from where, on dark, clear nights, you can watch the Aurora Borealis light up the sky.

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Here's Where You Can Order Taylor Ham Through Room Service

January 3, 2014 at 12:45 PM | by | Comments (0)

Here's another reason why we still love room service--we found the New Jersey specialty meat, Taylor Ham, on the room service menu at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Florida.

Normally, taylor ham (or pork roll as it's also sometimes called) can only be found in Jersey, and most often, in diners and bagel shops. It's a specialty that's favored by many Jersey natives (especially for nasty hangovers) but scorned by outsiders who would rather just eat bacon or regular ham.

So imagine our surprise when we saw it on the menu in our hotel room in Hollywood, Fla. All in all it took about 10 seconds from the time we saw it on the menu to ordering it up from room service (along with an iced coffee.) And no, we aren't quite sure what's in taylor ham but we're ok with that.

[Photo: HotelChatter]

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The Qbic London is Pretty Cheap and Super Cheerful

Where: 42 Adler Street, London, E1 1EE
January 3, 2014 at 9:49 AM | by | Comments (0)

While we weren't lucky enough to score a £1 room when the Qbic London ran its recent promotion, we still felt pretty chuffed to find a London hotel for a decent price. We paid £71.10 ($117) for a the lowest-priced "No View - Scratch yer Head" (internal) room (including the 10 percent discount we received as a consolation prize for failing in our bid for the £1 room) and here's what we got.

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Welcome to Miami Beach Where Construction is Everywhere

November 25, 2013 at 4:49 PM | by | Comments (0)

If you're heading to Miami Beach sometime soon for Thanksgiving, Art Basel, Christmas, New Year's or just a general getaway, you should be aware of some major construction that's going on.

This is the scene along Collins Avenue, home to a boatload of hot hotels. A lane of Collins is ripped up from about 5th Street up to 15th Street. It ends just before The Sagamore, The Delano, SLS, Surfcomber and Catalina Hotels begin. Construction started last June and isn't expected to be finished until sometime next summer. That means hotels along this route--The James Royal Palm, The Loews, The Dream--and many others have front-row seats to the construction and its noisy players.

However, the good thing about the beachfront hotels (The James and The Palms) is that out back they have access to the beach path which you can take instead of walking along the street. Plus, you can get some exercise by renting a bike.

Meanwhile, the hotels along Ocean Drive are construction-free. Well, for the most part. Thanks to constant renovations and remodelings, Miami is never really construction-free.

[Photo: HotelChatter]