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Over in Manhattan, New York Hilton Midtown is celebrating the big 5-0 by launching a new website that fills people in on the hotel's colorful history (did you know this was the first hotel to replace keys with keycards? Yeah, neither did we!).
But there's more happening here than just reminiscing over old black-and-white photos (see above).
Another component of the birthday celebrations are what the hotel is calling 50 Random Acts of Hospitality, which calls for New York Hilton Midtown employees to "engage in random acts of hospitality". In case you're wondering just what that means, the acts will include: offering complimentary room upgrades, handing out umbrellas on rainy days and helping guests score tickets to local attractions and events.
In other words, everything a hotel is supposed to do anyway.
Hotel Books / Luxury Collection Hotels / Starwood Hotels / Manhattan Hotels / Venice Hotels / Hawaii Hotels / Germany Hotels / Spain Hotels / Historic Hotels / Hotel Stories / → All Tags
If you're feeling wistful this weekend, a good way to kick back and set out on a magical hotel journey—without ever leaving your home—is to flip through Assouline's new 160-page Luxury Collection book, which is part of their Hotel Stories series.
The Luxury Collection: Hotel Stories devotes a mini-chapter to each of the 80+ hotels under Starwood's chi-chi Luxury Collection brand. There's history, and celebrity interviews, and design details—but you can technically find those things anywhere on the internet. What really makes the book stand out are the photos. Rich, full-color, splashy images of ITC Mughal, Gritti Palace, Al Maha and tons more.
While drooling over the images, we managed to scan a bit of text too. Here are five takeaway facts about Luxury Collection we didn't previously know:
In honor of Baz Luhrman's much-hyped The Great Gatsby hitting theaters tomorrow, we've put together a list of Manhattan hotels where (we think) Jay Gatsby himself would have stayed. From art deco glamor to 1920s-themed cocktails, these are a few 'great' hotels with vintage style all of their own.
This historic hotel opened in 1929 under the name "The Lexington," then for a while it became the Radisson Lexington. Now, nearing completion of a multi-million dollar renovation, it's back to being The Lexington. The new design pays homage to jazz age glamor with "brilliant gold elevator doors, and verses from Irving Berlin's Russian Lullaby…dancing through the room." Rates from $359/night.
Jay-Z and Leonardo DiCaprio showed up at The Plaza on Wednesday night to celebrate the The Great Gatsby's premiere, which didn't surprise us at all. F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda were big fans of this hotel, and in their honor, a Fitzgerald Suite will debut tomorrow (starting at $2,800/night), featuring Art Deco furnishings, photos of the author as well as the cast of the 2013 film, the complete F. Scott Fitzgerald collection, and gramophone-shaped iPhone speakers.
As a bonus, the hotel teamed up with Moët & Chandon to create a Gatsby-inspired cocktail, made with Moët Imperial and a sugar cube soaked in green Chartreuse. The drink is available exclusively at the Plaza, and is a unique way to 'soak up' some history. Non-suite rates from $584/night.
Four more after the jump!
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The hotel, originally built in 1923, has seen plenty of stars through out the years; it was where Hollywood's movers and shakers stayed while visiting the Texas city. It has seen everyone from Elvis Presley, Judy Garland and Katharine Hepburn in its glory days, to Jessica Simpson and Lebron James more recently after a 2008 refurb.
The new owners, HEI Hotels, plan to update the lobby-bar with modern furniture and take advantage of the unique courtyard to attract Dallas' social-set to the Uptown area hotel. Already, the landmark Beaux-Arts building has changed the restaurant name to T/X, and serving up revamped Latin-American cuisine. We do appreciate when hotels give their properties a little love and spruce things up a bit, even when they're historical legends.
The last time we talked about Atlanta’s Clermont Lounge, it was during our review of Anthony Bourdain’s “The Layover”. In that episode we learned about this old-school strip club establishment whose aging dancers seemed to tickle the fancy of both Bourdain, Alton Brown and countless other celebs and tourists.
But there’s another part of the Clermont that’s been ignored--the Motor Hotel, which shut down in 2009. Built in the 1920s, the brick building became a hotel in the ‘40s and over the years fell into disrepair. It was ordered to close by health inspectors because of dirty linen, bedbugs, mold and unsanitary plumbing. It has sat abandoned while the downstairs lounge continued to operate.
In comes BNA Associates LLC, a team of Nashville and New York real estate developers determined to revitalize the Ponce de Leon Avenue place into a 98-room upscale boutique hotel set to open as early as 2014.
While some welcome the revitalization, others are more concerned about the future of the Clermont Lounge and its “talented” staff. Apparently they need not worry—for now.
"The Clermont is important to the Atlanta community, and the beloved Clermont Lounge is part of our redevelopment, as we do not plan on interfering with it," said Ethan Orley of BNA Associates.
[Photo: Clermont Hotel]
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Located on Pershing Square, the hotel was designed by the same firm as the Waldorf-Astoria, and its richly-decorated interiors are appropriately over-the-top.
For example, Rendezvous Court (which originally functioned as the main lobby) was inspired by a Spanish cathedral, and features vaulted wood ceilings, Italian travertine stone walls, and a bronze double staircase. The impressive space was even featured on a recent episode of Glee!
Wandering through the hotel's opulent ballrooms (there are four total), we came across a bizarre feature in the Gold Room, a large banquet room that's divided into an upper and lower half by a semi-circular balustrade. And at the far end of the room, we noticed that a small door had been left ajar. Not one to pass up the opportunity to act out an Indiana Jones scene, we peeked inside and realized (to our delight) that we had discovered a secret passageway leading to another part of the hotel!
Historic Hotels / Romania Hotels / Estonia Hotels / Hungary Hotels / Relais and Chateaux Hotels / Poland Hotels / Croatia Hotels / → All Tags
If Paris, Rome and London have begun to lose their luster and you're looking for a novel way to explore Europe's vast terrain, don't fret. Way over on the other end of the continent, countries like Romania, Hungary, Poland, Estonia and Croatia beckon with 17th century castles, lush countryside, and unspoiled coastal cities. Here's a look at some of the most stunning old-world hotels to be found in the region.
Three Sisters Hotel, Estonia
This Relais & Chateaux-branded property is actually made up of three former merchant houses, built in the fourteenth century, and located within the walls of Tallinn's Old Town. Guest rooms (all renovated in 2003) convey the building's intimate, medieval vibe, but it's the suites that get the most play: four-poster beds, claw foot tubs, and spacious living rooms with the original ceiling beams.
Downstairs, guests can cozy up next to the fireplace, sip on vodka in the dungeon-like Beluga Bar, or head to the award-winning Bordoo restaurant for a five-course degustation menu (65 EUR pp) featuring Estonian specialties like onion consomme, steamed whitefish, elk "cocotte," beef fillet and apple with salted caramel.
Rates from $500/night.
Six more after the jump!
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Ask anyone in Denver about the city's oldest hotel, and they'll either point you towards the Oxford Hotel or the Brown Palace (technically, the Oxford opened a year earlier, in 1891, but in our eyes, they're both pretty special). However, in terms of star power, we think the Brown Palace wins out.
The hotel, which recently became an Autograph Collection property in September, has hosted every president since Teddy Roosevelt, with the exception of Calvin Coolidge and Barack Obama. And on the ground floor, the room that Henry C. Brown (the hotel's founder) used as his office is now a kick-ass cigar lounge named Churchill, with a customized humidor of over 60 cigars.
But our favorite feature about the hotel is the thing you see above. It's a water fountain, yes, but the story goes deeper than that.
Lots of new hotels are on their way to Denver (Renaissance, Aloft and a second Westin at Denver Int'l Airport), but perhaps the most exciting is a 112-room hotel opening in the city's iconic Union Station.
Originally built in 1894, the station is crowned with a vintage sign reading, "Union Station: Travel by Train" in giant red neon letters, harking back to the station's heyday in the 1920s and 1930s, when it was serviced by 80 trains a day.
Now, almost one hundred years later, Union Station is set to become a hive of activity once more.
Most of the 112 guest rooms will be housed in two pavilions attached to the main terminal. One category of lower floor rooms will be more on the narrow side, with a design inspired by the interiors of old Pullman railroad cars (cool!). Meanwhile, upstairs, another category of loft-like rooms will boast exposed brick, timber beams, and 17 foot high ceilings.
Best of all, the rooms will all feature double-paned windows and soundproofed walls to keep out any "choo choo" noises traveling up from the station below.
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Nothing like a little celebrity appearance to make a hotel re-opening event really sparkle, and that's what happened last week when Sheryl Crow turned up at the Sam Houston (which used to be called The Alden).
The 100-room hotel recently completed renovation work on all guest rooms, suites, and public spaces (the rooms now "combine clean decor with contemporary touches," which is a good thing, since the hotel's been around since 1924!), and has spent the past month celebrating its grand re-opening. Meanwhile, Sheryl Crow has a new album coming out, and she was in town doing promo at a local radio station.
The opportunity was too good to pass up!
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Two years ago, we showed you all, in excruciating detail, just why the Milford Plaza Hotel was in need of a renovation. Well, here we are in 2013, and the hotel's 1,300 rooms are looking waaay better (thanks to a $140 million renovation), with bright neon headboards, iPod docking stations, and 32" flatscreen TVs. But we're still wondering when that dang scaffolding will ever come down.
We're not the only ones losing sleep over this, either. The NY Post recently hinted that the hotel "could set a record for the city's longest-standing sidewalk sheds…with permits for the hideous covering going back to 1990." Come on, Milfy P! There are kids graduating college now who were born after that!
One of the reasons this place is on our radar again is, the other day we were walking back to the subway from Paramount Hotel, which we've been unabashedly having a mini love affair with all week. And after being enchanted by the latter's museum-worthy lobby and light-filled Italian cafe, the Milford Plaza's hulking, wooden plank-shrouded exterior seemed almost offensive.
Hotel News / Autograph Collection / California Hotels / Iowa Hotels / Historic Hotels / San Francisco Hotels / → All Tags
Autograph Collection just announced its first two hotels in California, plus a second in Davenport, Iowa, all of which are set to officially debut as AC properties next month. Looks like the brand is well on track to reach its goal of 50 hotels by the end of 2013.
First up is Hotel Adagio, a 171-room historical hotel near Union Square in San Francisco. This one caught our eye back in September when we visited and loved how fresh-looking the place looked after its $7 million renovations. In fact, back then, we even wrote how Hotel Adagio had parted ways with Joie De Vivre, so "perhaps the hotel's future may be brighter."
Looks like we were right about that one!