92101 Travel Guide
It's that time of year again: the 2012 HotelChatter Awards! Today and Monday, we'll be showcasing the best (and worst) of hotels over the past year. But we couldn't do it without you! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or shoot us an email. And the Award goes to...
As if we didn’t have enough paranoia to occupy our everyday living, we learned that an employee at the Omni San Diego was caught planting a hidden camera inside one of the hotel's public bathrooms. Spies like us? We don’t think so!
The creep in question was the hotel’s Chief of Engineering, who'd been with them for five years and no doubt had studied the ins and outs the property before deciding that the free-for-all lav was the place to catch people off-guard and with their pants down. Literally.
When we see specials that tout room for $1 or anything in that realm, we react with a twinge of excitement followed by a healthy dose of skepticism. We know these things do happen (see the smidgen of folks who got in on Public Chicago’s $1 deal), but, well, we’re just getting a little tired of breaking our necks for a slim-to-none chance to score a room.
So, when we saw that San Diego’s historic US Grant Hotel (where Michelle Obama recently stayed), the Gaslamp institution we featured in our Presidential Suites story, was offering $1.02 suites in celebration of their 102 birthday, we had to know “what’s the catch?”
Hotel Hell The Show / Sweet Suites / San Diego Hotels / Gordon Ramsay / Hotel Design / Reality TV Hotels / → All Tags
So, by now we all know the deal with the Keating Hotel, right? San Diego's "all flash no cash" hotel whose owner was genuinely more interested in things like Bang & Olufsen flat screens and espresso makers than actual comfortable rooms.
Well, that all changed with Gordon Ramsay's highly-publicized visit back in December to shoot a recently-aired episode of Hotel Hell. Since then, the menu has been simplified, the GM is no longer doing laundry (hooray, Sandra!), and, most importantly, the room service has been tightened up.
But there's one other thing. Remember back when we heard about Gordon designing one of the suites at the Keating? Well, the 2-room Victory Suite is now available for booking—at a staggering $1,099/night. So is it worth the cash?
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Finally, months after learning that The Keating Hotel in San Diego has been selected to appear on Gordon Ramsay's hotel improvement show, Hotel Hell, we get to see at last what was so wrong with the hotel. And it can be summed up in one word--Eddie.
That would be Eddie Kaen (seen below with Gordon), the owner of the hotel who bought the building back in 2000 for $6 million. Eddie never owned or worked in a hotel before but he decided his hotel should be the hotel version of a Ferrari. That meant lots of blood red decor with rooms and furniture designed by Italian car designers.
When the hotel first opened in early 2007, we wrote then that the rooms promised "lux linens, an espresso machine, a giant plasma TV with DVD player and free wired and wireless internet." Not so shortly after, the reviews came in from travel publications and guests alike and they weren't good, essentially saying that the Keating favored design over substance and in many cases, a good night's sleep.
Fast forward five more years and nothing's changed. Guests continue to complain about the "style over substance" mentality and now even the staff is piling on. That is, when they aren't under piles of laundry. Yup, everyone at the Keating has to do laundry from the general manager to the concierges.
Gordon can't get here soon enough.
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Ramsay and The Keating's owner Edward Kaen look very happy indeed.
The hotel, which recently underwent an operational makeover from master chef turned hospitality consultant Gordon Ramsay, is now accepting dinner reservations in its newly redone MerK Bistro for a special live screening on August 27 of the episode that features the hotel. There will even be a special tasting menu on offer!
Word is the episode will focus on defining the hotel's design aesthetic and streamlining the "synergy between the hotel and its restaurant." Ramsay obviously puts his spin on the restaurant menu, adding a small selection of farm-to-table options.
Hotel Bathrooms / Bathroom Tuesdays / Hotel Woes / Hotel Crime / Omni Hotels / San Diego Hotels / Voyeuristic Hotels / → All Tags
We're not sure how this one managed to fly under our radar, though this isn't exactly the kind of thing we receive media alerts about, either. Turns out an employee at Omni San Diego was recently caught planting a hidden camera inside one of the hotel's public bathrooms. Ick!
The good news? The camera was found within hours of being installed. The bad news? Well, we're not sure which is more troubling: the act itself, or the fact that, because of what happened, Omni staff had to conduct an "exhaustive search" throughout all the hotel's bathrooms looking for other possible hidden devices. Ick again!
The Westin Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego has just completed a year-long property-wide renovation debuting the brand's new sleek look. And capping off the expensive revamp is the installation of the grand "Flame Flower" sculpture.
Westin's $250,000 40-foot sculpture Flame Flower, in artist-speak, evokes an organic floral utilizing woven stainless steel pieces. And it is large. Very large. The petals of Flame Flower range from eight to 40 feet. You can walk around it on the plaza or see it from the conference space and some of the 450 hotel rooms above.
In the daylight Flame Flower plays with the sun creating shadows. At night, expect colorful LED illumination to tickle the walls surrounding the sculpture.
Hotel Art / Hotel Lobbies / Kimpton Hotels / Hotel News / San Diego Hotels / Hotel Artists / Hotel Art Galleries / → All Tags
Though many of Kimpton's spaces have a sort of art-y feel, there hasn't in fact been a dedicated art gallery space in any Kimpton hotel until now, at Palomar San Diego. A small portion of the lobby (above) has been converted into Salazar Contemporary Art Exhibits, a cozy nook that will showcase the works of local, up-and-coming artists.
The display will rotate about once a month, and hotel profits will be donated to a local children's charity that supports the arts. We don't really know how Kimpton has found the time to organize any of this, as we know they've been busy over the last few months dominating one hotel after the other.
Have the son of megastar Tom Cruise at the opening party!
The trendy Katsuya sushi chain opened at Andaz San Diego on Thursday night with some minor celebs in tow but aside from skateboarder pro Tony Hawk, clearly the biggest star there was Connor Cruise.
According to the NY Post, 17-year-old was chatting up his DJing "career" telling friends, "It's something I plan on doing long-term." Since it's already making $10,000 per gig doing it, we guess he must be doing something good. And it doesn't hurt that he's got the right connections. But we still prefer Pauly D for our fave celeb DJ.
Meanwhile, the Katsuya at Andaz took over the hotel's old Quarter Kitchen restaurant and like all other Katsuyas before it, this one features interiors by Philippe Starck and traditional Japanese fare including sushi and robata.
While you can't get Katsuya room service, you can get it to go and bring up to your room. Those start at around $250 a night.
[Photo via Zimbio.com]
The other day when we were investigating some hotel options in San Diego, we came across this interesting bit of info at the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter--complimentary internet.
That's a highly unusual service at a Hilton hotel since it's pretty much a brand standard to charge for internet so we had to call the hotel to double-check. And indeed the internet is gloriously free!
However, there is a little caveat. While the internet is free wireless in the lobby, upstairs in the guestrooms, it's wired. So if you had hopes of working from bed, be sure to bring an extra long ethernet cable with you.
Still, with the good news from earlier today that Bryant Park Hotel has gone the way of free WiFi, could 2012 really be THE year that hotels finally listen to our "Free WiFi For All" chants? We know it's premature to be thinking like this, after all it's only the second day of the new year but we just can't help ourselves.
Know of a hotel that once charged for internet but is now offering it gratis? Let us know!
Celebrity Scoop / Hotel Hell The Show / Hotel News / Gordon Ramsay / TV Set Hotels / Reality TV Hotels / → All Tags
The other day when we heard that chef Gordon Ramsay stayed at the Hard Rock San Diego while filming episodes for his new reality show, Hotel Hell, we were dying to know which hotels or B&Bs he was tasked with making over. As it turns out, we didn't have to wait too long to find out.
Ramsay was working his magic at The Keating Hotel on F Street. The hotel has only been open for about four years but the slick Italian Pininfarina interiors (the same designers behind Maserati and Ferrari) received so-so reviews from the LA Times as well as one of our own HotelChatter Mavens, Mari, who could hardly sleep thanks to all the nightclub noise next door.
Enter Chef Ramsay.
Wills who? The royal prince we really have the um, red hots for is Prince Harry and we're kicking ourselves for not having been at the Andaz San Diego over the weekend when Harry decided to let loose from his Apache military helicopter training.
Us Magazine reports that the Prince hit up the hotel's Ivy rooftop bar (Ivy is a nod to the hotel's former name) with 20 of his friends and started guzzling Absolut Vodka, Red Bull and beer. Then they moved to the hotel's outdoor pool deck where they watched a rugby match in a private cabana.