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If this is Yotel's idea of an April Fools, then we gotta say…we're impressed. The hotel sent out an e-blast early Friday morning announcing their plans to launch the first ever zip-line into the heart of Times Square. Umm…really?
A few things come to mind when we read this. First off, it's not like you can just "drop into" one of the world's busiest pedestrian intersections. Times Square is a big, teeming place populated by skyscrapers, giant LED screens, gawking tourists, naked singing cowboys, and other maddening obstacles. To attempt to cruise into such an area suspended from a steel cable would be both impractical and incredibly stupid.
Second, the hotel is calling the zip line a way for guests to "save time and avoid busy streets." Well, we can't argue with that. But if it's a question of walking an extra few blocks, or putting our lives at risk, we'd gladly choose to walk.
Third and finally, how do you build a zip line into Times Square anyway? With safety nets along traffic-congested 42nd St? With tunnels carved through office buildings to create a more direct route? Will the TKTS booth magically transform into a landing station? Though Yotel has been known to pull some pretty whacky stunts before, we're going to assume the answers to these questions are no, no, and no.
According to Yotel, the zip line launches today, April 1. Also known as April Fools Day. Did we just get punked?
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Hot on the heels of Fashion Week, the next big NYC event on everyone's lips is the Food Network New York Wine & Food Festival, which runs from Oct 11-14. Taking place in different venues all over the city, the various food-(and wine-, duh!) related events are a great excuse to indulge our two favorite hobbies: stuffing our face, and hanging out in hotels.Much of the finger-lickin' action will be restricted to a few select places that have made their mark as either a reputable dining establishment, or just a place where celebs like to hang.
Here's a look at what's happening at which hotels, and where you'll want to be staying.
By far, the most active hotel on the lineup is Standard High Line, which will be hosting a total of nine events throughout the four-day festival, many of which are part of a "Wine Seminars" series presented by Food & Wine magazine. And though the hotel will no doubt be jam-packed the entire weekend, rooms are still available, starting at $585/night for a Standard King.
Meanwhile, the following hotels will also get their fair share of the booze-y action...
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Finding a good deal on a room can be stressful enough—but when all you need is to duck into the hotel lobby to fire off a string of emails, or upload photos onto Flickr, or write up a hotel story, (as is often the case with us), the last thing you want to feel is rushed. Here are a few trusty hotspots we like to keep on our radar when roaming the Big Apple, looking for a chilled-out place to turn into our office for a quick hour or two:
1. Indigo Chelsea: Our buddies at Indigo Chelsea like to keep things simple in their ground-floor lobby on 28th St. They even did away (for the most part) with those floppy white plastic tubes that had us all scratching our heads for a while.
But with a new dining concept (Blu) that replaced the previous Bice Italian restaurant last year, and free WiFi all over the hotel, this midtown gem is a clean, friendly, reliable place you can go and get a bit of work done for a while. Which we do often, with a side of sweet potato fries ($8) to keep our appetite at bay.
After starting off small in a couple of UK airports before moving onto a massive operation in Times Square, Yotel is now ready to take their stylish hotel rooms aka "cabins", mood lighting and lovable Yobot nationwide.
The company has partnered with The John Buck Company (as well as with IFA Hotels & Resorts and the Kuwait Real Estate Company) to raise $250 million discretionary private equity fund with the goal of acquiring and developing more than $650 million worth of Yotels in North America over the next three to five years.
Cutting through all that mumbo-jumbo, this simply means: there are more Yotels coming including plans for a Yotel Boston and a Yotel Chicago. Ohhhh yeaaahhh.
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Yes, there are plenty of places to do it in NYC—by "it," we mean enjoy a cocktail in the open air from a hotel rooftop or terrace. But some places are more exclusive than others, some have better nibbles to munch on, and not all killer views are created equal. So to help you find the best hotel rooftop to suit your mood, we've broken down the top seven venues by each day of the week. Starting with...
We've already taken a gander inside the monumental lobby, but this summer we'll be riding the elevators straight to the top of Conrad New York to hang out at Loopy Doopy (above). The new rooftop bar, located on the 16th floor, is set to open in May with a full menu of cocktails and nibbles from Atrio downstairs. Oh, and in addition to the cool name (Loopy Doopy references the Sol LeWitt wall mural in the lobby), this summer the bar will be offering the perfect end-of-weekend hangover cure: boozy popsicles!
We feel we should preface this post by pointing out that Sunday is April Fool's Day, and though we have a lot of love for the Yotel Yobot, we also have our doubts about this new service being offered by the luggage-toting robot.
But in the interest of staying on top of the news, it was announced that guests can now have their bags "chuted" directly from Yotel Times Square to the airport at the touch of a button. Yup. Sounds unbelievable, but apparently, Yobot has already synced up with the JetBlue luggage handlers at JFK, with more airlines on the way. What's more, in the near future, the robot will also be able to tag the luggage so it can be tracked, via an app, as it makes its way from the hotel.
We hope Yobot is at least getting a raise to match all his new responsibilities.
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2012 is Year of the Dragon, and In case you didn't know, the dragon is a pretty big deal on the Chinese zodiac. So, to match the excitement of the new year, New York's Cassa Hotel & Residences is running a pretty nifty Chinese New Year promotion.
Guests who "like" Cassa on Facebook (and prove it by showing their computer or smartphone to the Front Desk) will be given a fortune cookie. Which at first sounds like not such a great trade-off. But hidden inside one of the fortunes is a voucher that will let you book your next stay for only $47.10/night—roughly 80% off the normal rate. All those limestone tubs and minimalist rooms just by
eating opening a cookie? This might be our new favorite holiday.
OK, so Christmas is still a long way off (we don't usually get in the spirit until these start popping up in hotel bars), but in case you wanted to get a head start on your shopping, this one's a winner. You know those times when you look at your fish tank and just think, 'I can do better'? Well, now's your opportunity to make things right: Umbra has designed a modern-looking, compact fish "hotel" and it's selling on Amazon for $27.
Customer reviews—unlike those for certain human hotels we've heard about recently—seem pretty positive, with most people approving the cool mod design and relatively low maintenance. It's practical. It's minimalist. It's easy to clean. It's the betta's equivalent to a night (or a lifetime) spent in a Yotel.
Last time we checked in on Yotel Times Square—aka the $10 hotel for ants—the lobby bathroom was suffering from some major door malfunctioning. They appear to have addressed the problem, and have since added a rather interesting moose to the lobby decor. But we were left wondering to ourselves: what is actually going on over there?
After opening to such fanfare with a mammoth performance piece that literally spanned 100 rooms, we haven't exactly heard much from them since. Oh, except for this bizarre Sunday brunch invitation that showed up in our inboxes yesterday. A baby, gnawing on a plate, with the caption: "Eat Yo! Brunch". Well, it's not a jelly doughnut pancake, but they have our attention!
All it seems we talked about in spring was Yotel NYC this and Yotel NYC that. Well, there are other Yotels out there, you knowmore budget-friendly ones. The thing is, yu have to go to Europe and the UK to lay your head upon their pillows.
Unlike the NYC Yotel which sits just west of Times Square, you'll find the three other Yotels exclusively at airports: London-Heathrow, London-Gatwick and Amsterdam-Schiphol. Wanna see inside? No problemwe've already done a full video tour, photo gallery and review of one of the smallest "cabins" at the Heathrow Yotel, but last week we spotted the elusive Amsterdam Yotel!
Why elusive? Well, this Yotel sits in Schiphol Airport after security, so you've got to be in transit to somewhere outside the Schengen countries to claim a room. Luckily we were this time, but after playing around on the self-serve kiosk, discovered that the whole Yotel AMS was booked up full. Not even a brief 4-hour block was available. For this reason, better check ahead before setting off.
The moose from in front...
Just what does a hotel whose atrium contains a luggage-storing robotic arm have to gain by the unexplained addition of two very weird moose statues into the lobby area? Everything, apparently. We first noticed this slightly off-putting creature when we first visited Yotel's opening festival, 100 Under 2. We scratched our heads then, and we're scratching them now.
What is this? Stationed in the middle of the lobby, directly in front of the elevators (when you step out, that smile hits you like a slap in the face), the moose creature feels out of place and arbitrary. But that must be why Yotel likes it. Because, after speaking to both staff members and the hotel's official representation, we learned the moose are here to stay. And yes, there's more than one of them.
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Well, isn't someone really proud of their hotel room design? That's right; the just-opened Yotel New York is already selling souvenirs of itself, from the banal (water bottles) to the intricate (these mini room models).
For $10, you take home a flat panel of metal, pre-cut to fold into a 3-D model of one of the Yotel's Premium Cabins. It's far cheaper than springing for the real rooms, which begin at $149 per night, but then you can't even fit your big toe in the bed of the mini-room.