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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:
The ALS ice bucket challenge has gone viral. What started on Facebook as an awareness movement/double dare (#ALSIcebucketchallenge) amongst friends, then friends of friends has moved onto athletes, celebrities and even billionaires like Bill Gates. And now, it's reached the hotel world.
Using hotel room ice buckets, the staff at the Novotel Times Square dumped ice on themselves last Friday to support ALS research. And so did a couple of guests. Check out the video of the dumping, done on their rooftop terrace, here:
Of course, the hotel passed on the challenge--to their general manager Marc, and to another hotel--The Sofitel New York (that's the Novotel's sister property, FYI.)
So far the FB page for the Sofitel New York has not addressed the ALS challenge. But we hope they do--either with ice buckets or money (preferably the latter.)
[Photos and Video via Novotel Times Square]
Bigger is always better, of course – or mas grande, mas bueno, as
people who don't speak Spanish they say in Madrid. Because not content with the three Novotels Accor already owns in the city; they’re getting another – and this one is going to be the biggest Novotel in the world.
The Hotel Convención – a gargantuan four star hotel a few blocks away from Retiro Park – is going to be completely redesigned, refurbished and will debut as a Novotel in 2016. Plans include a rooftop pool, business floors, and a children’s corner.
It’s no secret Thailand’s tourism industry is suffering from the events of the past few months, with one of our last visits showing hotels noticeably quieter than we’re used to. One hotel seems to be doing fine though, thank you very much: the Novotel Bangkok Airport.
While we’ve appreciated its 24-hour flexi policy (meaning no matter the time you check in, you have your room for 24 hours), and have overlooked somewhat high rates for Bangkok in the past for both this and its convenience being next to Suvarnabhumi’s terminal, the hotel’s rates now really seem from a completely different city.
We recently paid around 7,000THB ($225) for a night in the hotel, booking well in advance, and saw rates creeping towards $250 and up later on – more than a room in town at hotels like the The Peninsula, the St. Regis, or Sofitel So.
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After a batch of 500 hotels last year, and upgrades in Latin America, Accor Hotels is taking another step towards its hinted-at group-wide free WiFi with the news that all properties in the United Kingdom will offer this gratis going forward.
That’s 194 hotels in one fell swoop, across ibis budget, ibis, ibis Styles, Novotel, Mercure, Pullman and MGallery brands. Pullman only recently entered the UK market amidst plans to double the number of upscale hotels carrying the name to 150 by the end of this decade. The three Sofitel hotels (London St. James, Heathrow and Gatwick Airport) already offer free WiFi today.
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Chances are if you've been in NYC lately, you may have walked by the newly redesigned Novotel New York Times Square and not known it. That's how hidden this hotel is from the exterior--even with the remaining bits of the $85 million construction debris as a giveaway.
Heck even HC wasn't sure the European-brand hotel was open yet. We thought it was scheduled for September 19. But no, as we were led through the property, we were informed that it had quietly been in soft-opening since the end of July!
Walking around, it was surprising how many guests had already made the hotel home. The makeshift lobby was filled with people of all ages, cashing in on staying at Novotel's only U.S. property right in Times Square.
Let's take a look inside, shall we?
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Summer has barely just begun, but we find ourselves looking forward to fall already. That's because the Novotel Times Square, the only Novotel in the U.S., is expected to unveil a new futuristic look by October.
The renovation is currently underway for the lobby spaces and the public areas on the 7th floor with all the work being implemented by Stonehill + Taylor, the interior design and architecture firm behind the new NYLO NYC. (The John Hardy Group is also the project manager onboard.) And it is going to be out of this world, almost literally.
From the moment you walk into the hotel, you will be taken through a "passage of time", a reference to Times Square's place in pop culture history, especially all those New Year's Eve celebrations. Stonehill + Taylor also added a sensory component to the lobby with ambient sounds, video art, purposeful materials and lighting. More specifically, there will be hexagonal LED ceiling panels that will light up different colors in response to changing music and sounds throughout the day.
Up on the 7th floor, the hotel's expansive wrap-around terrace will be updated with 5,700-sq.ft of space, along with bar service. The restaurant and the bar will also go back to the future, with pretty much every seat offering a great view out onto Times Square.
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If you have ever stayed in a hotel with children, you can only pray that the weather is nice enough to ensure the kids are not cooped up inside and, ultimately, annoying any and all adults in the hotel. Novotel UK comes to the rescue with special Rainy Day Toy Chests overflowing with toys to keep everyone from going stir-crazy.
All 30 Novotel properties across the UK, understand the weather can sometimes be grey and rainy ruining excursion plans. That's why they partnered with Hasbroto supply the toy chest in their family rooms with My Little Ponies and Transformers to keep the kiddies entertained during inclement weather. And just to ease the entire family's frustration, the chests also have family boardgames and active games to tire the little ones out.
Along with the toys, children stay free (breakfast included!) when accompanying parents or grandparents. If a shared room is too close for comfort, the hotels will offer a 50% discount on adjacent rooms for those under 16. This along with in-room Cartoon Network and video games and it sounds like Novotel has a winning combo for families.
Finally, a hotel has jumped on the bandwagon and will begin to offer hotel packages that revolve around the world's latest earworm better known as Gangnam Style. Just as we would expect, the package comes from the Novotel Seoul Ambassador, smack in the middle of the district the song is named after.
For those that may be living under a rock for the last 3 months, here's a little back story. The musical artist is named Psy (real name: Park Jae-sang) and he is a Korean rapper who produces K-Pop (Korean pop music). He posted a YouTube video for Gangnam Style and it has become the most viewed K-Pop video, not to mention the most 'liked,' on the site.
Now let's get to the hotel news. This Novotel located in the Gangnam District is offering Psy groupies the chance to stay at the heart of the area in which the singer grew up. Fans can 'cowboy' and 'horsey' all around the popular shopping and entertainment areas of Gangnam. Since the area is known to be dripping with celebrities, you may even spot some other K-pop stars.
Our bed at the Novotel BKK
A couple days ago, Portfolio.com published an article that delves into the up-and-coming trend of the 24-hour hotel room. In it, the Starwood "Your24" concept takes center stagethis is when a Starwood elite member choose their own check in time, and gets the room for 24 hours from there. Alas, this isn't a totally new idea, but Starwood is the largest chain to experiment with it worldwide.
The article continues: "And, tellingly, none of Starwood's much larger competitors have matched the Your24 initiative...Not Accor of France, with 4,100 properties worldwide." Here's where we must step in to point out that Accor actually does offer 24-rooms, though we've only experienced it at the Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.
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Do you use Hipmunk.com? All the cool people do. And by "cool people," we mean us, because we just had a resounding success with our first hotel booking on the travel search website. Hipmunk recently began as another way to search for affordable airfare, but their creative methods of doing so caught our attention quickly. Even more recently, they've added a hotel search option to the site, where their smiling chipmunk mascot is all about finding you a hotel stay by "ecstasy," or price combined with location and ranking.
Ours was not an easy challenge. Find us a cheap hotel nearby the airport in Zurich, Switzerland. Zurichnay, all of Switzerlandis one of the notoriously highest priced vacations you can take. 5-star hotels average $1000 per night. Crappy 3-stars hover around $250 per night, and there's a chance they won't even have WiFi or a flatscreen TV. Nonetheless, our fingers were crossed. We wanted under $150 and nice.
After the buzz wore off from our stay at Le Meurice, we traveled over to the Novotel Paris Du Gare Lyon, right next to the train station, where we were due to catch an early morning train the next day.
Being a budgety Novotel, we didn't expect to be amazed by anything but we were surprised by the free WiFi throughout the hotel. It was especially heaven sent after getting thwarted at Mickey D's and having to shell out 20 Euros at Le Meurice. The network was super fast and we had no problems signing on.
We did, however, find our room utterly depressing with drab (although new and modern) decor, teeny pillows, scratchy sheets and a bathroom that looked as if it belonged in a sleeper cabin on a train.