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The W London Lounge
Last week, I found myself in central London with a colleague, with an hour to spare between meetings. It was lunchtime. We both had work to do. We’d been out and about all morning.
We were near Covent Garden. My colleague suggested a restaurant. I mooted the Lounge at the W London. I won.
But when we got there, he was shocked. It was so fancy! All the staff were so beautiful! Everyone around us was so… rich looking! “Do you have to be Scandinavian to work here?” he asked me. He called his wife to marvel at the “eurotrash” and the “too beautiful” people surrounding us. He brought it up in the meeting we went to afterwards. The other meetingees were equally baffled and entranced by the idea of going to this insane, snazzy, eurotrashy hotel, when we could have gone to Starbucks.
While Chicago temps are going down and the streets are piling up with snow, we can always rely on the folks over the W Chicago City Center to keep us warm and toasty with delicious libations. We scored a chance to catch up with the hotel's head bartender and resident mixologist, Lauren Parton, to get her thoughts on industry trends and what we can see for the spring thaw when it comes to drinking.
(Coincidentally, Parton was tasked with creating the cocktail menu for the renovation relaunch party for their sister property, W Chicago Lakeshore, and whipped up some edible cocktails that were passed around like hors d'oeuvres. We can't argue with this concept.)
The genius mind behind a specialty cocktail menu in the W's Living Room, Parton has more than just cocktails in her repertoire. Her industry career began creating some culinary masterpieces in a few of Chicago's greatest eateries. When she made the move to hotel bartending--at Raffaello's Drumbar--Parton was shipped off to Bourbon Camp and the rest is libation history!
Keep reading for our Q&A with Lauren Parton
Marrakech Hotels / Hotel News / Mandarin Oriental Hotels / Park Hyatt Hotels / W Hotels / Starwood Hotels / Ritz-Carlton Hotels / Luxury Hotels / → All Tags
Much like Bali, the hotel openings keep coming for Marrakech, no matter how crowded it is already. A year after we looked at that long list of options, here are four big name hotels that will open in the next few years: Mandarin Oriental, Park Hyatt, W Hotels, and Ritz-Carlton.
First up: the second attempt of Mandarin Oriental, which should arrive this year after missing a planned 2014 opening. Like Milan, the hotel now has a dedicated website, with a first few interior images. The hotel will have 54 villas, 7 suites, and 2 spa suites – all with their own pool. The seven suites have rooftop plunge pools and are part of the main hotel building, with the spa suites giving over 4,000 square feet and infinity lap pools.
W Paris – Opéra, the W brand’s one and only property in France, has opened their new cocktail bar focused on American whiskeys, Bar Brûlé. This Thursday-Saturday soon-to-be hotspot is tucked away on the first floor of the hotel and overlooks the grand Garnier Opera house.
Bar Brûlé, which the hotel is dubbing the “embassy of American whiskeys,” takes its name from the French word for burnt, which was sparked by the entire hotel’s creative concept of "a spark triggered by the fusion of the energy of New York and the city of light."
Headed up by chief barman Emeric Aguilar, the bar menu features over forty rare American whiskeys from micro-distilleries and cocktails that are divided into three categories: Old-Fashioned, Modern Classics and Originals.
Nearly a year has passed since we last walked by the upcoming W Amsterdam, right behind the city’s Dam Square, due to open sometime in the Fall of 2015. We’re glad to report that aside from news about expansion into an additional building (more on that in a second) W Hotels is making lots of progress.
On the left the 1903 Telephone Exchange Building as it was twelve months ago, on the right what it looks like today: a series of windows has been removed (you can just about make out the brick inserted on the right), the all-glass rooftop floor that will house Living Room, restaurant, and bar is clearly visible (go here for a rendering), and of course, the W is proudly displayed on the corner. More photos, including of the KAS Bank Building next door the hotel will spread out to, below.
The W London always brings a bit of color to its Leicester Square location, whether frosty white during the day, or something more vibrant at night, but the bright red you see above was for a specific occasion: World AIDS Day on December 1.
Now W Hotels have taken things a step further, with a collaboration with (RED), the organization founded in 2006 by Bono and Bobby Shriver to engage businesses and people in the fight against AIDS. At the Ws in London, Paris, Barcelona, Istanbul, or Verbier, there have been and continue to be a number of things to see and do, and a number of ways to add your support, from film screenings and art installations to drinking a (RED) cocktail, the proceeds of which will to the Global Fund.
If you upgrade your room at the W London, 15% of the difference in price will go to the Global Fund, and you’ll get two cocktails to boot. At the W Paris, a (RED) suite package comes with a whole range of perks and goodies, with 20% of all proceeds going to the Global Fund. Check out the W Facebook page for more.
Rooms at the W London start at a hefty £400 ($623) a night this coming Friday. That is super steep but just try to remember it's for a good cause.
[Photo: W Hotels]
Hotel News / Amsterdam Hotels / Starwood Hotels / W Hotels / Element Hotels / Hotel Hype / → All Tags
The uber-eco friendly Element Amsterdam is wonderfully--or dangerously--close to a shopping mall, but you can still feel good about "going green" while spending some green.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts is bringing two of its design-driven brands to one of Europe’s hippest cities, with Element Amsterdam and W Amsterdam both opening next year. Here’s the latest on these upcoming hotels. Just two more reasons to love Amsterdam.
Hotel Development / Hollywood Hotels / Hotel Hype / Millennium Hotels / Hotel Woes / W Hotels / → All Tags
One of the most talked about mixed-use developments in the history of Hollywood is having a hard time getting off the ground, mostly because of what is going on below the ground. Millennium Hollywood, aka "MillHoll," is an ambitious live-work-stay destination that aims to add about a million square feet, and a 200-room luxury hotel, onto a couple of vacant parking lots. MillHoll is located next door to the iconic Capital Records Tower, which is to be a highlighted feature of the mega-urban project.
The hottest issue that may be keeping MillHoll from advancing past renderings form is whether or not the land is sitting on top of an active earthquake fault. If it's true, that's one hell of a "no-no."
Hotel Openings / W Hotels / Beijing Hotels / Starwood Hotels / Rosewood Hotels / Luxury Hotels / Hotel Hype / → All Tags
What’s more, we actually have a photo from inside the hotel: we present to you, above, what a Spectacular Room looks like. A step up from entry-level Wonderful Rooms, they run at $318 under the “Extraordinary W Offer”. That shoots up to $451 for a fully flexible rate. The room comes in at nearly 540 sq ft, with the prerequisite open plan bathroom and some interesting purple herringbone-style art-slash-headboard. That pattern comes back in the hardwood floors and what we think could be quite a pretty blue area rug.
The exterior of the hotel leaves no doubt about this being a W either: check it out below.
This hotel may have missed the mark with its insane asylum themed floor but the The W New Orleans is making the most of its location in the French quarter this Halloween with a "Feel the Spirits" package that is just the right amount of spooky.
The package includes a two-night stay in a Tarot-inspired guest room along with two tickets to the creepy Walking Cemetery Tour by Gray Line Tours and two Corpse Reviver cocktails from the hotel bar, SoBou. The Corpse Reviver is made with equal parts gin, Lillet, lemon and Cointreau and served in a glass misted with Absinthe, designed "to bring you back to life." You'll also be close to the city's Krewe of Boo Halloween parade on the 30th.
Rates for the package start at $391 a night on October 30 and 31st for a wonderful room and $401 for the Mega room with the tarot them. This room is actually available year-round so if you can't make to Nola for the Halloween festivities, you can go another time and have the same creepy experience.
[Photo: W New Orleans French Quarter]
Opening This Month / New Hotels / Rosewood Hotels / W Hotels / Mondrian Hotels / Hotel Opening News / Hotel Openings / Hotel Opening Rates / → All Tags
Finding a hotel room is easy. Simply go on the Internet or use your smartphone and voila! You're booked. But if you are only interested in new hotels, then that's a different story. Luckily, you have us. And we're obsessed with new hotels. Here's a list of hotels that have opened or are opening this month (and a few that aren't going to make it.) Got a new hotel to add? Send it to us!
OPENING THIS MONTH
· Rosewood Beijing: We've been eying this property for quite some time and now we're excited to see it will open on October 23. The first Rosewood for China, the Rosewood Beijing will have 283 rooms opposite the twisting CCTV Tower by Rem Koolhaas. There's a Sense Spa on site (complete with Spa Suites that you can book) and six restaurants and bars to choose from. Rates start at 2,050 CNY a night for a deluxe room with a king bed. That's about $334 USD.
· AC HOTELS BY MARRIOTT NEW ORLEANS : The first stateside AC Hotels by Marriott is promising to open in the Big Easy this month. But for now, no reservations are being accepted on the website. We plugged in dates in October and November and the dreaded "unsuccessful sell" came up. However, we do know that the hotel will be opening by November 12. So it's just a matter of getting the reservations system done.
NOT GONNA MAKE IT
· W BEIJING: We've been skeptical of the W Beijing's opening date for a really long time. Last we heard, they would open in September but now the hotel is saying it will open on November 1 instead. We're already starting to lose interest.
· HOTEL ZOO BERLIN: The reopening of the historic Hotel Zoo in Berlin will not happen this month. Instead, the new look will be unveiled on November 3 with rates start at 121 euros a night. We've been kept in the dark on the design details of the renovation but these rooms pics are showing off some pretty luxe spaces. We likey.
Hotel Lawsuits / W Hotels / Hotel Hookers / Hooker Havens / Hotel News / Miami Hotel Mambo / → All Tags
Someone mentions "hooker havens" and we're all ears.
A South Jersey couple filed a personal injury lawsuit against Starwood Hotels & Resorts last year after the woman half of the couple was attacked in the lobby of the W South Beach by a bunch of drunken prostitutes who thought she was creeping on their turf. The woman's face was slammed into a stone wall, then she was thrown to the ground (a marble floor.) They are asking for $75,000 in damages.
There was a little bit of a legal tussle after the suit was filed with a judge denying a request of venue change as well as sealing some documents but a few things have been leaked out, namely this "discovery"--the couple hired undercover investigators to "infiltrate W hotels across the country" and those investigators found that W Hotels are "hooker havens." Here's why, according to a recent court filing which was posted on Philly.com:
"These agents engaged Starwood and W Hotels employees who openly, and without hesitation, procured the services of prostitutes for the agents," the filing said.
"When asked about getting caught and being prosecuted by law enforcement, the employees reassured the agents there was no risk of discovery.
"Starwood and W Hotel employees enticed the agents by sending them provocative pictures of prostitutes able to service them at W Hotels. . . . At one such W Hotel, a prostitute used the concierge desk to charge her cellphones and store her purse."
That sounds bad but then it gets worse.