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While most hotels are introducing new services to guests via in-room tablets, James Hotels are going a different route.
The boutique brand has partnered up with writer, author and humorist Joel Stein, who we first fell in love with during his stint on VH1's "I Love The 80s" show, to create a new literary program for guests.
Stein has chosen four paperback books for each James location--New York, Chicago, Miami and the upcoming Los Angeles hotel--which guests can read during their stay. The books will be available in the living libraries at each hotel but in New York and Miami, the books can be also uploaded to the eReaders and Kindles that are available (So, it's still a tech-forward program.)
But that's not all. Master mixologist Johnny Swet who does the libations at JIMMY in New York, has created cocktails that pair with each city's corresponding books and personalities. Hmm, we're seeing a pattern here--James, Joel, Johnny. Maybe with my name, I could get a job too?
Here's what on the James summer reading list, as selected by Stein and the corresponding cocktail as crafted by Swet:
· The Big Short by, Michael Lewis: “Sure, there’s advertising and media, but this is actually a one-industry town and that industry is money. Michael Lewis explains how our economy depends entirely on a bunch of traders who don’t entirely know what they’re doing and how they messed up in 2008.”
· A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan: “Unfortunately, you have to finish the novel to feel all the disparate stories come together, but I hereby give you permission to steal it. I’m guessing I’m empowered to do that.” Heat by, Bill Buford: “Everyone in New York is a part-time restaurant critic. You’re going to spend a lot of time talking about where to eat and what you thought of where you ate. So you might as well read this and find out how hard it is to cook that meal.”
· From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by, E.L. Konigsburg: “Yes, it’s a kid’s book. But that’s exactly what you have time for in a hotel. And if you take the book’s advice and check out of this hotel, hide in the Met after it closes, sleep there and buy street food with the coins you find in the fountain, you’ll save your company a lot on your expense report.”
· New York Cocktail Pairing: Blood & Sand - a classic cocktail that blends Chivas Regal Scotch, Sweet Vermouth, Cherry Herring and Orange Juice.
Welcome to the brave new world of 2014. Where self-checkout stations at your local pharmacy are the norm, not the exception. Where you can text the restaurant with your dinner reservation. Where essentially every customer service innovation is designed to limit the annoyance that is actual human interaction. Because people, man —always yapping, amirite?
That said, even those of us who appreciate a little flesh-and-blood interfacing can’t deny that technology has its perks. The latest brand making use of it: The James Hotels, which just launched the James Pocket Assistant, a mobile app that basically puts a digital concierge in the palm of your hand.
Need a suggestion for dinner or shopping? The Assistant has a “curated insider’s guide” that maps out noteworthy restaurants, bars, and other attractions. Want to impress the wedding ring-less looker in Room 603 with your knowledge of the elevator art? The app offers a “self-guided art tour” throughout the art collections at James properties in Chicago, Miami and Soho. (Of course, it also covers the obvious basics like room reservations and spa appointments.)
We've long been a fan of James Hotels in Chicago, Soho and Miami, with their cool art, minimalist but comfortable rooms and happening nightlife so the news that they are coming to the West Coast has us, in short, thrilled.
The LA Times reports that The James Los Angeles will open in 2016 on the southeast corner of Sunset and La Cienaga boulevards in a new $300 million complex called, Sunset La Cienaga, which will also have apartments, retail and eateries.
The James itself will have 286 rooms done in a "warm modernism" interior style and two James-branded bars and restaurants, including a rooftop bar. Woot! Oh and don't forget, James Hotels also offer free WiFi. Even better.
The hotel already has a website up, although it only has a press release announcing the property. This marks a return to the west for The James which used to operate a hotel in Scottsdale, which then later turned into a Mondrian before finally becoming The Saguaro, a JDV Hotel.
The James Chicago has always been a bona fide "cool" spot for boutique hotel lovers as well as "food enthusiasts" but now it's destined to be the place for (refined) drinkers with its new JIMMY Chicago bar.
A spin-off of the popular spot JIMMY at the James Hotel in New York, this Windy City Jimmy is done by the same partners, David Rabin, Larry Poston and Johnny Swet. While it doesn't have a killer rooftop location, it does have a semi-secret entrance.
JIMMY is located behind the new Burke's Bacon Bar, the sandwich shop from Chef David Burke. And yes, that's located inside the hotel as well. Here are some step-by-step directions to getting into JIMMY:
Enter through the side of the hotel, then walk to the back of Burke’s Bacon Bar thorough a small vestibule room lined with sparkling chrome ball chain curtains.
Once inside, you'll find a "jewel box of a cocktail bar" designed by Thomas Schlesser, reminiscent of the 1970s with earth tones, bronze surfaces, lounge chairs, a wood-paneled bar and sexy low lighting.
But what will catch your eye the most is the cocktail menu, which is inspired by cinema. JIMMY partner and NYC star mixologist, Johnny Swet, has hand-crafted each drink such as the Bondsman (apple brandy, vodka, lime, cranberry juice, agave and seltzer) and the Mexican Julep (tequila, watermelon, lime, agave and cilantro muddled in a silver cup with crushed ice.)
When The James Royal Palm Miami opened last November, after much anticipation and a few delays, our first impressions were rather good. Back then we wrote this about the spot:
Getting a first-hand look at the lobby and the rooms (we had to forgo the pools, since we were there at night, and there weren't any guests swimming anyway), it's obvious that the James is trying to do something a little different from the other Collins Ave properties. You end up feeling like you're in someone's beach bungalow rather than an art museum. The furniture looks like it came out of some eccentric, but tasteful, neighbor's yard sale (we even spotted a bench made of plastic cups that sink under your weight when you sit down—nerdy but cool.)
Yet it doesn't look like the hotel owner was too happy with the finished product.
According to Law360.com, RP Hotel Holdings LLC has filed a lawsuit against Tatro Construction Co. LLC, claiming the contractor "failed to coordinate and supervise construction and failed to reasonably and timely perform the work." A-ha. So this probably explains why everyone was so touchy about the hotel missing the October 1 opening date.
Hotel Amenities / James Hotels / Manhattan Hotels / Chicago Hotels / Miami Hotel Mambo / Sweet Suites / Hotel Toiletries / Eco-Friendly Hotels / → All Tags
The hotel brand has teamed up with GlossyBox, a luxury beauty product line, to make a limited edition goodie
bag box full of environmentally-friendly, unisex—and, yes, travel-size—beauty products. The entire kit retails for $35 on the GlossyBox website, but to make things easier for guests, it will also be available for purchase in select suites at the hotels.
Read on to find out what's inside!
Hotel Art / Hotel Art Galleries / Hotel Artists / James Hotels / Raffles Hotels / Rosewood Hotels / Yotels / Andaz Hotels / → All Tags
Remember the old days where hotel art usually consisted of a bland landscape painting that was reproduced a hundred times over and hung in the same spot in every guest room? Thankfully, over the past few years, hotels have been paying close attention to the artworks they hang in their rooms and public spaces--choosing original art instead and even better, works from local artists instead of some mass-produced Van Gogh imitation.
But in the past month or so, we've noticed some hotels that are stepping it up even further when it comes to the art on display. Giant murals, entire galleries, and even live-in artists are among the trends we've begun to see.
For us, it's moreso about the overall vibe and decor of the hotel than it is about temporary art promotions and exhibits, although we do acknowledge that the latter can certainly contribute to the former. The personality of a property is as much of a selling point as, say, the hotel's location or the quality of its food, so it's no surprise hotels are quick to market their artistic aspects. Below, we've provided a roundup of what's happening this spring and summer at a variety of properties.
Hotel Fitness / Hotel Rooftops / Hotel Yoga / James Hotels / Manhattan Hotels / Killer View / Hotel Amenities / → All Tags
A rooftop yoga class is making waves in New York, and it's taking place at none other than The James Hotel. Led by a local NYC yoga teacher, the class was launched last year and has been slowly gaining momentum, no thanks to the jaw-dropping views seen from the top of the hotel.
Another reason the class stands out? It's women-only.
Twice a week, on Wednesday and Saturday mornings at 8am, ladies gather up on arguably the most scenic rooftop in the city and breathe and stretch and go 'ohm' in the company of other ladies. As in, all the mamas without the papas. As in, girls not guys. As in, the rooftop is called Jimmy, but he's the only dude allowed to the party.
Mad Men Hotels / Hotel Cocktails / Hotel Bars / Manhattan Hotels / Don Draper / Mad Men / Peninsula Hotels / James Hotels / Kimpton Hotels / Andaz Hotels / → All Tags
It's no secret that Mad Men has inspired a nationwide renaissance of classic, American-inspired cocktails (heck, AMC even dedicated an entire webpage to cocktails featured on the show). In honor of the two-hour season premier this Sunday, we've gone ahead and compiled a list of the top Manhattan hotel bars serving Mad Men-inspired drinks. Whom you invite back up to your hotel room afterward is entirely up to you.
One of our favorite chi-chi hideouts in New York is The Peninsula, whose second-floor Gotham Lounge offers seven different martinis. Alternatively, show off your insider knowledge and ask for the Ning Sling ($24, pictured), which consists of Absolut Mandarin, Soho Lychee liqueur, lychee and passion fruit juices, and fresh mint leaves—the drink is so exclusive, it isn't even listed on the menu.
Five more cocktails after the jump!
We don't know whether we instinctively knew to go check out the James Royal Palm on the specific day we were in Miami, or maybe the gods were smiling on us. Either way, we happened to show up at the hotel on opening day last week, and an eager staffer kindly offered to walk us around the property.
So! What did we think?
Because the hotel was pretty much empty—things were still so new, no guests had actually checked in yet—we actually got a pretty good, exclusive look at the long, corridor-like lobby. We've seen brief shots of the bright, "minty-fresh" bar already, but this time we walked past the front area into the back, where there is an entirely different theme. Large portholes are carved into the walls, and there's plenty of rich dark wood, glass, and more of that beach-y vibe we saw before in the rooms.
What we liked most about this "back section" of the James Royal Palm lobby is the sense of privacy. A long corridor stretches from the main entrance straight through the back of the hotel to the pool—kind of like its Miami Beach neighbor, The Delano—but off to the side, there are little clusters of chairs and coffee tables, perfect for a post-swim coffee or maybe a game of cards. Sophisticated, design-y...but not heavy-handed.
And the rooms?
Welcome to another hotel dispatch from our special contributor, The Smooth Operator. We can't divulge his identity but we can tell you he spends about 70 percent of his time on the road, staying in all the hot hotels and checking out their restaurants and bars to see if the social scene and rooms are up to snuff. If you're deciding whether or not to take a chance on that hip boutique hotel in the city, read The Smooth Operator for his opinion first. (Or send us an email and we'll have him answer it for you!)
Last week he happened to be in Miami and we were curious about The James Royal Palm, which was supposed to open on October 1. We've been giving this hotel tons of pre-opening love, so we're disappointed with the recent turn of events. We asked the "powers that be" at The James if we could take a look around since we were under the impression (given our last report) that it would be open on time. Let's just say the response was less than pleasant and we don't dig that, especially when we've been good girls and boys. But, HC has NICE friends out and about, we asked Smooth and another pal to find out what was going on and what was behind all the hostility? Turns out, it's coming from a few directions. Read on for the report of The James Miami's progress thus far.
These images from the James Hotels website don't specify which space is which, but we know that there'll be at least two restos to check out--the first being the signature one for the hotel, Florida Cookery.
Like the name suggests, it will serve up "hyper-regional Florida fare" and be helmed by local chef Kris Wessel. If his low-key cool Red Light Little River over on Biscayne Boulevard is any indication, this place is going to make quite a splash. (Red Light is one of the few amazing restaurants in Miami that doesn't give you sticker shock.)