Category Archives: Profiles

Hamilton Princess, Hamilton, Bermuda

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Location Stroll from the Hamilton Princess into the center of Hamilton, where Front Street’s shops, bars, and restaurants line one side of the street, and a harbour walk lines the other. Explore the side streets where more goodies await. Hamilton is Bermuda’s capital city and its center of commerce — largely revolving around offshore insurance, an industry that has helped Bermuda weather tourism ups and downs. The city, which is in Pembroke Parish, is fairly central for exploring over to the East End, where the town of St. George, a UNESCO World Heritage site, reminds of early settler’s lives; and to the West End, where the Royal Naval Dockyard and Horseshoe Bay await.

Lodging The Hamilton Princess sits majestically above Hamilton Harbour, its bright strawberry ice cream pink facade easily recognizable from far and wide. As striking as its appearance and its location overlooking Hamilton Harbor and the Hamilton Yacht Club are, perhaps the most amazing thing about the hotel these days is its art collection, which includes works from Warhol to Matisse. The collection was the finishing touch to renovations that added a new parade of shops, an Exhale spa and yoga studio, and a state of the art fitness room overlooking the pool. The hotel has its own private beach club on Sinky Bay. It has equipment for activities such as paddle boarding and also a satellite lunch spot, Marcus’ on the Beach. A jitney runs every half hour between the hotel and the beach club. Each Saturday morning, a local art expert gives a guided tour of the hotel’s art collection. Still, for all the magnificence of its modern art collection, and its updates, the hotel has not lost any of its classic Gilded Age splendor.

View of a Room 657  Renovations at the Hamilton Princess transformed guest rooms into sleek, modern, and decidedly non fussy digs. This king bed room has a lounge area with a couch, and there is also a work area with a desk. There is a separate dressing area with plenty of hanging and shelf space. The small bathroom has a walk in shower with double heads and is stocked with one of the best products found in a hotel bathroom anywhere: Rose 31, which has a gorgeous musky rose fragrance. The view is not fully of the bay, but a partial one and only if you are standing at the windows, which look over the entrance driveway and Hamilton’s pretty pastel colored office buildings.

Restaurants and bars The Hamilton Princess has many commendable bars and restaurants: the lobby bar, the Crown and Anchor serves from breakfast to late night drinks, when one of the island’s many talented bands play. There is an outdoor patio restaurant overlooking the manicured gardens and harbour. The hotel’s signature restaurant is Marcus — New York based Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s beautiful island outpost, which also looks out over the lawn and water. 

Information

Hotel Hamilton Princess Hotel & Beach Club

76 Pitts Bay Road, HMO8

Tel: (441) 295-3000

thehamiltonprincess.com

Marriott Marquis Houston, Texas USA

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Location Houston is probably best known for its space exploring neighbor, NASA, about half an hour’s drive away. But the city is coming into its own with an expanded downtown area that now encompasses what is now called Avenida and the George R. Brown Convention Center. The Marriott Marquis Houston is also within walking distance to the city’s traditional entertainment center with its respected museum and the theater districts. Sports fans staying at the hotel have both the Houston Astros baseball ground and the Houston Rockets stadium within walking distance. The cool new METROrail light railway efficiently runs people throughout the city and a city bike share program has bike hire in several locations.

Lodging The hotel overlooks the picturesque Discovery Green, a large park with cooing doves, squawking grackles and a verdant pond.This epic scaled marbled Marriott Marquis Houston opened in December 2016, a full three years after ground was broken in what was once a parking lot. Connected by a skybridge to the George R. Brown Convention Center, the hotel is both business oriented with 100,000 square feet of meeting space, and leisure focused with the Parkview Terrace overlooking Discovery Green.

This extensive pool deck on the sixth floor has outdoor dining at the HighDive, an infinity pool and large hot tub overlooking the city, and a lazy river in the shape of Texas. The hotel also features a beautiful spa, Pure, which has a focus on natural therapeutic treatments, and a large fitness center. The hotel’s unique art collection pays tribute to the city and the state — and the elevators honor NASA with giant sized classic photos of America’s astronauts breaking scientific ground in space.

View of a Room 1541 This double queen room overlooks the Parkview Terrace via floor-to-ceiling windows, and has city views too. Though sparsely furnished with beds, desk, and an armchair, the comfort level is high, as is functionality. The bathroom is equally light on fripperies, bu meets all needs adequately . The empty fridge is also a bonus. A large TV screen and intriguing art bring life to the buff and beige walls. The room’s design highlights the idea that this place is for sleeping, not living in, and that guests should get out and enjoy the hotel and the city’s many restaurants and entertainment venues.

Restaurants and bars One certainly can’t get bored at this hotel: start with fine wines and small plates at the lobby wine bar, Cueva; or catch a game and grab a bite at Biggio’s, a sports bar with a second floor out-door patio, which was conceived with Astro’s Hall of Fame Craig Biggio.

For breakfast through dinner casual dining, there is the elegant modern Walker Street Kitchen and for a dinner of authentic Mexican — not Tex-Mex — cooking, Xochi is noted local chef Hugo Ortega’s take on traditional cuisine from Mexico’s Oaxaca region. Xochi also has outdoor dining overlooking Discovery Green.

information

1777 Walker Street

Houston, Texas 77010

White Barn Inn & Spa, Kennebunkport, Maine

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Location Kennebunk’s more visited neighbour, Kennebunkport, lies across the Kennebunk River on Maine’s beautiful rocky coastline, just a couple of hours drive north from Boston. It is famously the ancestral home of the political Bush family, who still own an ocean side property at Walker’s Point. The Kennebunks, as the twin villages are known, also includes the Lower Village, and once away from the beaches and coastline, art galleries, restaurants, and craft shops are set in old Colonial buildings, immersing visitors in a traditional New England townscape. All of which is close to the White Barn Inn, which is set on tall tree-lined Beach Road, just a few minutes from the sea.

Lodging Originally, the White Barn Inn’s main building was a farmhouse and its storied restaurant is made up of two barns, which were moved to adjoin the farmhouse. Reputedly the farmhouse has been an inn since the Civil War era, when it was the Boothby Guest House. In 1937, by which time it was known the Forest Hill House, an annex was built, and shortly after more guest rooms were added via the bungalow “Garden Cottages,” and May’s Cottage, a cute standalone suite, which overlooks the outdoor heated pool. The are also two riverside cottages nearby. But in total, there are just 26 rooms. Being Maine, the pool is seasonal, but the inn is year-round, basically, and only closes for a couple of weeks in January. That’s good news because it means the fireplace in the cozy living room can be throughly enjoyed during the colder months. The living room has several couches and a decanter of port and one of brandy are thoughtfully provided for guests to help themselves to. Afternoon “High Tea” is also provided there, as are coffee and teas. White Barn Inn is a Relais et Chateaux member, a luxury hotel collection with a strong culinary focus.

View of a Room: 19 Room 19 is on the second floor of the annex, just across the driveway from the main inn. The large airy room is understated classic, with a fireplace and two wonderfully comfortable armchairs. The king size bed is positioned in front of the TV and a French style dresser. The only other furniture is a desk and chair — giving the room all the necessary comforts while maintaining its spaciousness. The  en suite bathroom is equally grand in size, with a double vanity, a large shower with twin shower heads, separate loo, and an enormous tub. Its marbled floor has radiant heat and, like the bedroom, there is lots of natural light.

Restaurants and Bars The White Barn Inn’s restaurant is widely acclaimed, both for its food and the setting in this subtle, low lit old barn — or rather barns. Created in 1973, it is quite unique. The menu is prix fixe with a choice of a lengthy multi course tasting menu, or a more standard three courses. But with the chef’s wonderful tidbits, including an array of after dinner petit fours, even that option is a full tasting experience. Everything is made in-house and local produce is highlighted — even butter comes from a local dairy. Needless to say, the wine list holds treasures, and cocktails are superbly crafted — enjoy a drink at the cocktail bar, where a pianist plays standards. The expert staff deliver a classic dining experience in an evocative atmosphere. Adjacent to the dining room is the bistro, a more casual a la carte experience, where breakfast is served. In the summer, tables are set up on its porch. There is also a wine cellar where private dining can be arranged.

Info The White Barn Inn & Spa, 37 Beach Rd., Kennebunkport, Maine 04046. 207-967-2321. http://www.whitebarninn.com

Photo credit: Hotel Junkie

Revere Hotel Boston Common

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Location Situated on the corner of Stuart and Charles Street South, the Revere Hotel Boston Common is a few minutes walk from that historic green space — Boston Common — and is actually in the city’s theatre district. It is also close to Chinatown and the Back Bay’s shopping and dining. Still, both the Common and the Public Garden are a couple of blocks walk away. To the rear of the building are brick-lined streets and row houses, and a taste of old Boston. Also, Jacques, a drag cabaret that’s been a nightlife staple for decades survives the city’s ever-changing modes. Most of downtown Boston is an easy walking distance away, even the now busy Seaport area.

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Lodging The Revere Hotel Boston Common was created from a former Radisson — quite a transformation indeed! Enough of a change to gain the hotel AAA Four Diamond status in 2012, the year it opened. Not only is the hotel in the theater district but it has its own theater — Theatre 1 — tucked to the rear of the forecourt. The property includes 356  guest rooms and suites, a clubby bar called Emerald Lounge, a play on a Wizard of Oz theme adopted by the property.  In the summer, Rooftop@Revere lounge offers drinks and small plates, and amazing views of the city. The rooftop lounge is adjacent to the small dipping pool and adopts a beach atmosphere with cabanas. A buffet breakfast is served in the Atrium, a pleasant conservatory type space with lots of windows giving full street views.

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Revere Hotel, Boston, 2012 Designed by Amy Jakubowski, BBG BBJM, NY

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View of a Room 922 This king bed guest room is spacious with retro mod furniture and a good size desk. Still, working from the giant houndstooth day bed is a comfortable option, too!

There is a narrow balcony which is mostly taken up by the AC unit and doesn’t really offer a good view.

The bathroom is bright with white marble and fittings. The hotel uses local spa Shoah’s products and cuts plastic waste with refillable full size bottles. Two robes are provided, along with an in room coffee maker.

Info

Revere Hotel Boston Common

200 Stuart St. 

Boston, MA 02116

617-482-1800

http://www.RevereHotel.com. 

Harborview Nantucket, Nantucket MA USA

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Location Nantucket sits in the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Cod and is accessed by ferry. The quickest is the Hy Line passenger ferry, which departs from Hyannis. Located just two blocks from the town of Nantucket, the Harborview’s position just out of town gives it both seclusion from summer crowds and access to all of Main Street’s shopping and dining — everything, including the delightful Starlite cinema, Whaling Museum, the Boat Basin and Straight Wharf, is only a few minutes walk away. Cars are a bit of a hassle on Nantucket’s tiny roads and streets. Explore the rest of the island by bus, bicycle, or motor scooter and check out the dunes and beaches, as well Sankaty Head Light, which dates to 1850 and is located near the village of Siasconset, which is pronounced Sconset, on the eastern part of the island.

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Lodging Harborview Nantucket is the sister hotel to Martha’s Vineyards Harbor View Hotel, and the likeness is easily seen in the architecture’s classic Cape look paired with modern, simple, but elegant interiors. Harborview Nantucket, however, comprises 11 cedar-shingled self-catering vacation cottages, plus a reception, set around a lawn, which leads to a beach. Sounds idyllic? It is. The cottages range from a cozy, romantic studio styled like a fisherman’s shack, to a four-bedroom renovated barn. Each has a fully equipped kitchen, washer/dryer, TVs in the lounge and bedrooms. Harborview Nantucket operates like a hotel, but without a restaurant or bar. There’s daily housekeeping; the hotel’s concierge will shop and fill your ‘fridge. Most cottages have decks and outdoor showers, and there is a SunFish sailboat, kayaks, and paddle boards for guest’s use. A set of complimentary local Cisco beers and Nantucket wines await in your cottage’s ‘fridge, and vacation begins… 

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View of a Room Fair Wind — This two-bedroom, two-bathroom, thoroughly spacious so-called cottage is set on two levels. The master bed, which has a closet and TV, and an enormous bathroom, is on the top floor. The adjacent landing has a sofa-bed that can be used for extra children or guests.

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Downstairs the open-plan living room, kitchen, and dining room includes a dining table and seating for six, and a wonderful big couch to laze on. The kitchen includes everything you need to cook a meal or make snacks (you buy the food), right down to a set of herbs and spices. There is a brick fireplace, but the hearth sits unused for most of the year, of course. The ground level bedroom has its own TV and bathroom. Oh, and there are robes hanging in the closet, just to add to the at-home coziness.

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To the rear of the cottage is the utility room, which houses the washer and dryer. Fair Wind is next to the reception and overlooks the lawn, with the beach and sea directly in front of its deck.

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Information

24 Washington St, Nantucket, MA 02554

508-709-9328

http://www.harborviewnantucket.com

Club Quarters Hotel, Grand Central, New York, New York USA

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Location Club Quarters sits on the corner of East 45th and Lexington in Midtown Manhattan, right across from the massive and aptly named Grand Central Terminal. FDR Drive lies four blocks east, while heading west takes you over to Park and then Madison Avenues: Everywhere you head, Midtown is pulsing at your fingertips. Immediate iconic neighbors include the beautiful Chrysler Building, between East 42nd and 43rd, and United Nations Plaza over on First Avenue. Walk three blocks to East 42 and hang a right and continue for three blocks: You’ll arrive at the New York Public Library and Bryant Park. So much is within walking distance and yet America’s largest train station by track volume is right there on Club Quarters’s doorstep.

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Lodging Club Quarters has a stripped back, less hotel style — sort of aiming to be a private club. Yet, it has everything you need: the small lobby leads to large elevators and on to guest rooms. There are four guest room types and also corporate apartments for extended visits. Whizz up to the rooftop club room where excellent coffee and tea await along with snacks.

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There are lots of lounge chairs with tables. There’s a work station with computers. Even better there’s an outdoor terrace to take in some of Midtown’s bustle from a nice distance. As its name suggests, there is a club type atmosphere and membership brings several advantages. However, use of the club room and high speed Wi-Fi, unlimited, chilled filtered water, and a fitness center are included for all guests. There is no restaurant as such, but Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse is accessed by the elevator, and delivers. It is one of Midtown’s best restaurants too!

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View of a Room 904 There’s nothing like the view of old New York architecture to stir a romantic response of this harried city. This Standard Room has a great view over Lexington Avenue and the massive US Post Office Building at Grand Central. It has a queen bed, work station, and a Keurig brewer. For a small room it os remarkably well-designed : coat hooks are right by the door, the seating around the table/work station doubles as a case rack.

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Info

128 East 45th Street
New York, NY 10017

212.986.6400

clubquartershotels.com

Hotel Indigo LES, New York City, New York USA

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Location As its name infers, Hotel Indigo LES is located in New York City’s Lower East Side, an area once known for its artists and musicians, cheap rents and shady characters. Uptown life is threatening the area and with the creeping commerce comes swanky and throughly impressive buildings like the Indigo LES, which sits on Ludlow Street, right in the thick of the bars, music venues, and nightlife.

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Lodging Opened in December 2015, Hotel Indigo LES boasts something not many New York City hotels have: space. Massive space. The lobby may well have more than any hotel anywhere. It’s open-plan with lots of seating, and has a market cafe in one corner. But, it is the lobby’s location on the 14th floor and the fact that it is walled with glass that seals the deal with views right over the city. Let’s just say, this developer got lucky with air rights. It is quite compelling. The bedrooms are also spacious, some have large terraces and  there’s a duplex penthouse that’s breathtaking. Otherwise, the hotel takes design inspiration from graffiti art, something synonymous with the Lower East Side beginning in the 1980s, back when it was called property damage!

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Mr. Purple is the hotel’s main bar and restaurant, and is located on the rooftop level. It has lots of outdoor seating space, too. There is a small lap pool on the roof. There is a parking garage adjacent to the hotel.

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View of a Room 704 This is a Deluxe King Room with Terrace. And it is undeniably among the largest of rooms in the city. Not only does the bedroom have plenty of legroom, but the bathroom is far from cramped and has beautiful painted tile flooring. The terrace isn’t just a little space, either  — it’s big enough to throw a party on and has privacy fencing, and lounge chairs. SO, go ahead: have a party. Or just chill. Is this New York York City or Los Angeles you might be tempted to ask yourself. Even the in-room safe is large enough for a laptop — smart thinking. Note the spray paint can cocktail shaker and nods to graffiti artists on the walls. Yup, there goes that local theme again.

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IMG_6474Hotel Indigo Lower East Side

171 Ludlow Street

NY, NY 10002

212-237-1776

hotelindigolowereastside.com

Hotel RL Baltimore Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland USA

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Location Set on the corner of South Calvert and East Redwood streets, this Mid Atlantic States Hotel RL is a few minutes walk from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and another few from the Orioles’ home field, Camden Yards. It is also within spitting distance of the State House, which is the site for much filming for the American version of television series, House of Cards. Indeed, one of the Hotel RL’s meeting rooms was used for a scene or two. Directly opposite the hotel on Redwood Street is the Chesapeake Shakespeare Theater, which is housed in a 19th century bank, the Mercantile Deposit and Trust Company. The harbor offers lots of dining, some of it unique, like Philip’s Seafood in the massive red brick former United Railways and Electric Company, which also houses Baltimore’s Hard Rock Cafe. There’s also the bland vista of generic chains, including the perennial Shake Shack et al. For an interesting off-the-beaten track supping spot, turn left out of RL and head to Water Street Alley, where a cafe, bar, Italian suit all needs.

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Lodging Hotel RL is Spokane, WA-based Red Lion Hotels boutique brand. The Baltimore location opened in 2015 and is set in a 10-storey, 1905-built former office building, known as the Keyser Building. RL is among the new breed of boutique and has an expansive open-plan lobby built for social activity (which translates as people sitting around and on their ‘phones), keyless room entry, and both self and remote Internet check-in. But, it’s got more originality and spirit behind such things as the community-social lobby lounge, the games room, and the relaxed dining and drinking area. At the lobby’s center is the living Stage and its big wooden “bleacher” style seating. The seating is part sculpture and part hang-out spot. When there’s a reading or performance going on, then it’s definitely the latter. The Living Stage brings in community leaders, artists, and musicians, merging real life with hotel life. The games room has Monopoly and Scrabble, and also a big desk for plugging in for online games or work. The restaurant and bar have excellent drinks and food, all with a local, southern inspired take. There is complimentary Wifi, bicycles, a small fitness center, and valet parking. For self-parking, a garage lies to the rear.

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View of a Room 607 The State House’s eye-catching white cupola and gold pinnacle stands out among the expanse of rooftops viewed from 607’s large windows. But perhaps the most impressive thing about this room is the amount of space: a large entry area (which could use and easily house a coatrack and shelf for dropping keys or phone), leads into a large room with king sized bed. The wardrobe nook has adequate hanging and storage space and there’s a chair and coffee table. Below the flatscreen, neatly housed behind a wood facade, is a pull out bed, which works for a child or as a couch. Some rooms have refrigerators — this one does not. The flooring is engineered oak and there are massive mirrors in the hallway and bathroom — all adding to a feeling of spaciousness.

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The bathroom is also far from cramped, too, and has a large walk-in shower. It is stocked with Cascade Soapery toiletries, echoing the company’s roots.

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An analog clock made from a section of a tree trunk also echoes the Pacific Northwest’s wonderful and mis-used forestry. It also nixes the need for a lighted digital display, allowing for a better night’s sleep. In fact, this room has barely any lighted displays and it has heavy blinds to cut out light disturbance. Although positioned across from the elevator, corridor noise was minimal.

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Info

207 East Redwood St.

Baltimore, MD 21202

800-7335466

redlion.com/m/baltimore

 

The Roxy Hotel Tribeca, New York, New York

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Location The Roxy sits on a triangular plot in Tribeca. It’s flanked by the Avenue of the Americas and Church Street on its sides, and White and Walker Streets on its top and bottom. Tribeca is very much a lived-in and affluent neighborhood, and quieter than most. It’s cobbled streets and raised level shops, many clad in 19th century ironwork, make the area unique. Wander over to Greenwich Street for top class restaurants and trendy bars, or wander nearby the hotel for smaller boutique eateries and cafes. The Tribeca Film Institute lies one block to the north on the Avenue of the Americas and the organization’s annual film festival floods the area with high profile and arthouse premieres, and attendant cinemaphiles. The New York Academy of Art is located on Franklin Street and the Hook and Ladder 8 on North Moore Street is the firehouse used in the original Ghostbusters movie. Only the exterior was filmed, but it’s fondly referred to as the Ghostbusters firehouse.

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Lodging The first thing that hits you when checking into this thrilling boutique hotel is its ground to roof atrium and its open plan elevators zooming up and down the building. The Roxy was previously the Tribeca Grand, which grew a reputation as a place to see and be seen t just as the neighborhood was coming up in the early 2000s. In 2015, the name, and the game, switched. The eight-story building with its central atrium has both a 1920s jazz , bohemian and funky 1970s vibe. It’s a very musical hotel: Paul’s Cocktail Lounge on the gourd floor features a jazz band playing through the evening, and a DJ playing soul and pop classics through the weekend brunches. A bar and restaurant space sit just off the expansive lounge. But most people eat and drink where the action is — in the lounge. There’s rarely a moment from noon to night when there isn’t music playing. But it’s fun and the music brings the neighborhood into the hotel and connects guest rooms to the action. What with it’s vaulted ceiling and brick cellar schtick, the Django jazz club in the basement really does have a speakeasy vibe. There’s also a movie theater in the basement, which regularly shows films. On the ground floor, Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee and Blackstones Hairdressing complete the services. WiFi in the hotel is complimentary.

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View of a Room 303 On entering this guest room that early 1970s feel intensifies: there’s op art patterned wallpaper lining the bathroom, a gold and brown patterned curtain at the window overlooking Church Street, and an overall palette of browns and rusts. It’s a room with much warmth and great character. The bathroom has all the usual toiletries, plus cotton buds and cotton pads, as well as a robe. The usual booze stocked mini bar and flatscreen await your whim; a desk and chair provide a perch for work; and, of course, there’s a bed, an extremely comfy one at that. Textured brown wallpaper wraps over a curved wall in the bedroom; the curve is echoed on the other side, in the bathroom. It’s an interesting detail that softens the often boxiness of hotel rooms. It’s a design curve ball that hits the mark.

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Info

The Roxy Hotel Tribeca

2 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY 10013

646-760-4283.

http://www.roxyhotelnyc.com

Aloft Manhattan Downtown – Financial District

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Location Set in Lower Manhattan, New York’s Financial District can be an overwhelming place filled with looming buildings and ominous financial institutions. One World Trade Center towers over everything of course, marking a new chapter in the area. There is the other side: the historic part defined by narrow winding streets, old churches like St Paul’s Chapel, and artfully crafted buildings made of stone and brick. The Aloft Manhattan Downtown – Financial District is on Ann Street, a short stretch, which dates to 1728 and is one of the oldest streets in all of the five boroughs. It was named for the wife of a merchant and developer, Captain Thomas White. Barnum’s American Museum, operated by P.T. Barnum, was located on the corner of Ann Street. It’s a largely forgotten little street nowadays, which makes it a quiet bolthole from the FiDi hullabaloo.

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Lodgings Conveniently located adjacent to a parking garage, the Aloft Manhattan Downtown – Financial District is an easily negotiated hotel in a city where negotiating most tasks can be exhausting. The lobby lounge and check-in are is small, but open plan. There’s a cafe offering everything from coffee to juices, and from healthy snacks to breakfast sandwiches. The hotel now offers a room service menu (pastas, salads, sandwiches, and desserts), which arrives delivery style in a bag of boxes. Still, the food is well prepared.The W XYZ Bar to the rear leads to a courtyard for al fresco drinking and bites during warm weather. It’s a hidden gem in a city of few comfortable boltholes.

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View of a Room: 1101 Aloft is known for compact accommodations and in a city of tiny homes, this room serves as normal. Everything is on hand: HD TV, desk for working, and an empty wine fridge, which if you jiggle the shelving serves to keep anything cool. Comfy bed and roomy shower provide not only the basics but a level of luxury. Still, Aloft doesn’t purport to be a luxury chain: your room is where you sleep, shower, but otherwise drop your stuff and go.

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Aloft Manhattan Downtown – Financial District

49-53 Ann St

New York, NY 1003

212-513-0003

aloftmanhattandowntown.com

 

Express Inn & Suites, Lincoln, New Hampshire

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Location A stone’s throw from I93, Lincoln is a hamlet whose main commerce is leisure. Situated in New Hampshire’s beautiful White Mountains, Lincoln is at the base of Loon Mountain Ski Resort, which has summer attractions too, and includes a 300-year-old steam locomotive that shuttles visitors from one end of the resort to the other. That saves hauling your skies around! Of course, the summer and then fall foliage seasons bring in a different kind of activity. Lincoln is also home to Hobo Junction, a train station where defunct train carriages from all over the country are put to good use on scenic rides.

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Lodging The Express Inn & Suites was formerly a comfort inn and it shows on the outside. But, once inside, this privately owned franchise shows its individual and local character. In the lobby, snowshoes hang on the wall and a wooden train sits on a track running above two-sided fireplace which makes the lobby and breakfast room cozy.

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Just off the lobby are the fitness room and the pool area, which also has a hot tub. Surrounded by trees, yet close to Lincoln’s shops and restaurants, the Express Inn offers a rural retreat with treats on tap.

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View of a Room 124 This spacious first floor room has a king bed, armoire with a TV, and an arm chair. That sounds rather basic, but the room is warm and friendly, and pleasantly decorated and has nice comfy touches, such as a gold bed throw.

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A kitchenette with ‘fridge and microwave and the bathroom, which is handicap fitted, complete the amenities. The view over the parking lot is of the woods that surround the property.

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Kearsarge Inn, North Conway, New Hampshire

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Location The Kearsarge Inn is perfected placed just off North Conway’s main drag, the White Mountain Highway, otherwise known as Route 16. It is on a quieter side street, yet restaurants and shops are all close by, including the legendary and amazing Zeb’s General Store, which is reputed to stock more New Hampshire made items than any other in the state. It probably stocks more items than any store any where.

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You’ll find everything from soaps to hot sauce, and from Zeb’s own candies to a jar of pickled eggs!

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A few minutes drive away is Cranmore Mountain Resort, a bustling ski and snowboarding area. It is one of New Hampshire’s oldest ski areas and dates back to 1937, when it opened with just one rope tow. Now fully updated, Cranmore also has an adventure park, a snow tubing slope, and a 25-mile per hour Mountain Rollercoaster. It’s a year round resort, of course. Also a short drive away, the Red Parka Restaurant and Pub in Glen serves up great casual American food, and is a local favorite.

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Lodging The cozy Kearsarge Inn keeps things very simple: There is no breakfast or food on offer, just coffee, tea, and juice in the parlor each morning.

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However, it is far from a basic lodgings house. There’s a variety of rooms and two cottages at the rear of the property. Each is cozy and furnished in a typical New England homely style. Some rooms have fireplaces; some have a jacuzzi. There is ample off street parking in the driveway. The Kearsarge Inn has some pet friendly rooms.

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View of a Room: 12 Room number 12 is on the ground floor of one of the cottages. It has a grand entrance, just like the room was your own condo. And this is grand sized room: very spacious, with a big king bed and en suite bathroom.

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Perhaps best of all is the corner fireplace with its gas fire, which heats the room via a thermostat. It’s just the coziest thing in winter.

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There’s a big couch, which pullout into a bed. And a spacious hot tub, too! Really, it’s such a fun room and with tons of space.

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Information

42 Seavey St, Conway, NH 03860

603-356-8700

The Ritz-Carlton Westchester, White Plains, NY, USA

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Location Flanked by the Hudson River on the West and the Long Island Sound to the Southeast, Westchester County lies a short drive or train ride just north Manhattan. White Plains is ideally situated in the middle of southern Westchester, an area known for historic Hudson River estates like the Rockefeller’s Kykuit, author Washington Irving’s Sunnyside, Van Cortlandt Manor, Lyndhurst, and Montgomery Place. By the Hudson, Tarrytown’s Philipsburg Manor is a family-friendly educational representation of 18th century farming, milling and trading. Nearby, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, the setting for Irving’s tale of Ichabod Crane’s run-in with the Headless Horseman, is a beautiful place to walk. The adjacent Old Dutch Church is New York’s oldest standing church and dates back to 1685. Over by Long Island Sound, Rye Playland, the 1928 Art Deco amusement park designated a historic landmark and the spot where the Tom Hanks movie “Big” was filmed, is a unique experience. White Plains is a city with lots of good dining and lively bars, and its central location makes driving to most locations easy.

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The Hotel  The Ritz-Carlton Westchester is a luxury hotel with a sleek grandeur. The marbled lobby has a dining area and lounge, and modern fireplace, which is central to the area. There are two inhouse restaurants: the signature space, 42 The Restaurant, and BLT Steak , an outpost of Manhattan’s BLT Steak, which offers a menu of superlative steaks and seafood. If the weather is warm BLT Steak’s patio offers dining en plain air, and overlooks White Plains’s fun musical fountains in Renaissance Square. The hotel has an indoor rooftop pool and a state-of-the-art fitness center. The Ritz-Carlton’s signature spa offers extensive treatments and is the largest spa in Westchester County. There is valet parking.

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Room 404 This one-bedroom suite echoes the hotel’s calm, elegant decor. It is extremely spacious with an entrance hallway leading to a large lounge with sofa, armchair, and coffee table. The suite has a DVD player, iPod docking station, WiFi, a fully-stocked honor bar, and coffee and tea facility, A large flatscreen TV completes the comforts. The Ritz-Carlton’s decor harkens to classic American art deco, but with a modern simplicity.

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A perfectly appointed work desk is off to the side.

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The bedroom leads to a closet where robes and slipper await.

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The bathroom is lined with a warm, toffee colored marble. It has a luxurious tub and shower, and double washbasins. The beautiful amenities include Asprey toiletries — it’s all very relaxing and comforting. Everything you would want from a hotel and more.

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Info

Ritz-Carlton Westchester

3 Renaissance Square,

White Plains,

New York 10601 USA

914-946-5500

ritzcarlton.com/Westchester

Queen Vic, Provincetown, Massachusetts, USA

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Location The Queen Vic is located in the heart of Provincetown, right on Commercial Street, this seaside town’s main drag. Yes, there’s a pun there, because Provincetown is known for its LGBT oriented lifestyle. It’s also well-known as an artist colony and writer’s favored retreat: the writer and author Normal Mailer is buried here. During the seaside season, it’s a colorful display of tourists: there’s cabaret to enjoy, there’s the Provincetown Theater — the town is also home to the Tennessee Williams Theater Festival, and the Provincetown International Film Festival. It is not only Cape Cod’s most colorful town, arts and lifestyle wise, but it is its most remote, set at the tip of the Outer Cape. Provincetown claims ownership of the dawn of Colonial America and marks the landing the Pilgrims there before heading to what would become Plymouth in 1620 with the Pilgrim Monument. There is also a frieze bearing the names of those early economic migrants, who wrote and signed the Mayflower Compact in Provincetown. These days, Boston is just a ferry ride away; Cape Air operates to Provincetown’s small airport; and the rest of Cape Cod — including Barnstable Airport — lies down Route 6. During the busy season, P’town, as it’s known, is bustling and Commercial Street awash with visitors. Though the town quietens during the winter and some businesses close till April, the town becomes slow and sleepy, and Provincetown’s wondrous remoteness and stillness is revealed.

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Lodging The Queen Vic Guest House is a beautiful, converted Victorian house that bears her 175 years well. The name plays on the inn’s former name, the Prince Albert, named for Queen Victoria’s consort, but adds a gender ambiguous twist and a dose of camp — something P’town does with aplomb. The large house, spread over three floors, was refreshed in 2015 by new owners and convivial hosts, Stan and Josh. As much as the house has an airy seaside feel due to lots of white wainscoting and seafaring knickknacks, it is also warmed by huddles of Victoriana and other unique tchotchkes.

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The lobby is a delight — check out the cabinet filled with antiques and ephemera — and has a small bar for grabbing a drink — the sign outside does say bed and beverage after all — and heading bed wards, or to the parlor where a round table dominates and encourages chit-chat.

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In the morning, a continental buffet breakfast is set up, and there’s coffee and tea available 24/7 there, too. Welcome treats like cookies and fruit are left out. Pets are also welcomed with a treat. Out back, there is a hot tub. Perhaps the most unusual aspect of this charming old guest house is that the hot tub area is clothing optional. But this is Provincetown, both a salty seaside town, a LGBT stronghold, and an artist colony with a tradition of live and let live, and flaunt and let flaunt!

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View of a Room: 16 Room 16 is located on the second floor at the end of the hallway, which likely accounts for the lack of noise from other guests. (The amount of noise being relative to how busy the guest house is, of course.) It feels quite private anyway. This small suite includes a bedroom and sitting room and ‘twixt the two is a roomy bathroom with shower and a refrigerator.

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There are windows throughout, allowing P’town’s famed wonderful light to pour in. White wainscoting lines the walls and the furnishings are classic and eclectic in style, echoing the rest of the house’s mix of modern and Victorian ad hoc chic.

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The queen bed dominates the bedroom, which also has a small closet and TV, and a wonderful Queen Anne style drawing-room chair. An ironing board and hair dryer are provided alongside toiletries. The sitting room has a comfy modern couch and dark wood dresser, and another small TV — it’s a great spot for working or lounging, and with two windows, despite its small size, it doesn’t feel cramped.

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Info 166 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA 02657 USA

508-487-8425

queenvicptown.com

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The Boxer, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

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Location The Boxer is situated in Boston’s lesser known, but revitalized West End neighborhood. The area was pretty much obliterated in the late 1950s when homes were razed to make way for Boston’s oft-maligned Government Center, which sits on the land formerly occupied by Boston’s infamous burlesque and bar laden Scollay Square. The Brutalist style design of the self-explanatory Government Center, which lies right in front of The Boxer, took decades to become appreciated, but, while few would call this behemoth pretty, it is a fascinating piece of architecture. The “urban renewal” ripped the guts out of the neighborhood for decades, but just when the West End looked like fading into history, it saw revival in the 21st century and is now home to a growing population again. The West End Museum has preserved much of the area’s history. There are several bars nearby the hotel and the massive sports and entertainment complex, commonly referred to as The Garden, is within walking distance. The Garden is home to the Boston Celtics and the Bruins, and was once known for its professional boxing matches — hence, the hotel’s name. Boston’s restaurant packed “Little Italy,” the North End, and the wonderful cobblestone streets of Beacon Hill are both adjacent to the West End. Faneuil Hall is just a short walk via North Station.

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Lodging  The Boxer inhabits one of the West End’s most distinguished buildings: the city’s triangular Flatiron Building. Originally constructed in 1904, The Boxer may be named for pugilistic pursuits at the nearby Garden, but it tips its hat to a whimsical canine theme of boxer dogs. It is a true boutique property: small, individual, and although it is part of the Independent Collection group, there really are no hints of it being a chain. The lobby’s windows over Merrimac Street and the rear of Government Center, an acquired taste when it comes to views. Past the comfy couches in the lobby lies The Finch bar and restaurant, which has a casual menu and an eclectic bourbon program. The Boxer sits within what is known as the Bullfinch Triangle—named for Boston native, architect Charles Bullfinch. There is a fitness center in the hotel’s basement, plus the hotel is partnered with Boston Sports Club. The hotel has bicycles for guests’ use.

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View of a Room 902 Because of The Boxer’s natural triangular shape, this room is wonderfully angular. Windows give views all the way to the Hancock Tower and even the the State House’s gold dome. Look down and there is the drab colored, but still interesting Government Center’s manicured concrete. The king bed has a gray fabric upholstered bedhead. A well-stocked mini bar tray holding drinks, nuts, and candies, is placed dangerously close to the bed. making resisting that Toblerone while you’re watching TV all the harder.

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A natural wood and metal work desk, upholstered bench seat, and a metal framed hall stand that doubles as a closet complete the furnishings.

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The bathroom has a marble tiled shower and L’Occitaine toiletries — the latter a signature Independent Collection amenity. (Nothing local? Or American?) Two robes — why do so many hotels only offer one, even if two guests check in? — are thoughtfully provided. The room’s rich gray base color is accented by a pink line drawing of a girl on a bicycle leading a boxer dog. There is also a a painting of a boxer with pinned ears, a terrible, cruel practice, adorning the wall. The drawing depicts a boxer with natural ears though! Still, despite that food for thought, the overall design of the room is tasteful and calm.

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Info

The Boxer Boston

107 Merrimac Street

Boston, MA 02114

Telephone: 617. 624.0202

Website: theboxerboston.com

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Duane Street Hotel, New York, New York USA

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Location Situated on the western side of Lower Manhattan in Tribeca, the Duane Street Hotel is in one of the city’s most interesting neighborhoods. Tribeca is packed with boutique bars, restaurants, and stores, and lined with daycares and other indicators of the area being home to many young families. There’s so much within walking distance, particularly the new One World Trade with its Observatory and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. A couple of blocks south of Duane, just across Broadway, is City Hall, and just further down Broadway is the wonderful neo-Gothic Woolworth Building, which is open for tours. The Brooklyn Bridge and Midtown, and the East Village are minutes away, too. The Duane Hotel’s location offers easy access to much of Manhattan, but with the benefit of feeling like you’re in a less commercial area, and in a real neighborhood where people live at a marginally slower pace.

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The Hotel The Duane Street Hotel is a small property with just 43 rooms. It is part of the Independent Collection and like many IC hotels, there are bicycles available for guest use to explore the neighborhoods nearby, or to get some exercise riding along the banks of the Hudson River. The lobby is small, but has comfy window-side seating. Most of the ground floor is taken up by Mehtaphor, a casual, but colorful restaurant, which serves modern eclectic cuisine inspired by Asian and Indian flavors. It is overseen by Chef Jehangir Mehta, an Iron Chef America and Next Iron Chef contestant, and owner of the East Village’s noted Graffiti restaurant. The Duane has valet parking and the hotel has a free parking package — a huge boost for visitors who drive in the city. There is also complimentary Wi-Fi and iPad loan.

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View of a Room 405 This room packs a lot of comfort and conveniences into a small, L-shaped space. Big windows give gritty downtown city views and lots of natural light. Chocolate brown and black are signature colors and the white linen lined bed dominates the space — sure it’s cramped, but visitors can get a taste of New York City’s legendary tight living space first-hand.

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A desk gives adequate work space. Like all Independent Collection hotels, the bathroom is stocked with L’Occitane toiletries from Provence. There is a book nook stocked with select titles.

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Info

Duane Street Hotel

130 Duane Street

New York, NY 10013

Telephone: 212.964.4600

Website: duanestreethotel.com

Nu Hotel, Brooklyn, New York City, NY USA

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Location Talk about being in the right place and ahead of time, the Nu Hotel opened in 2008 in Downtown Brooklyn, beating the post recession development fever. Of course, the Barclays Center was on its way and Smith Street was on its way up as a dining boîte hotspot, but the area was considerably less trafficked back then. Located on Smith Street, the hotel is in a perfect situation for a walk to eat and drink, and shop. But if you fancy a longer hike, the Brooklyn Bridge is nearby for walking into Manhattan, and also the Brooklyn Heights promenade with its beautiful view of Lower Manhattan is very close by. The Brooklyn Bridge Park offers an open space to play or find some peace. Check out Jane’s Carousel, a vintage carousel right by the river.

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The Hotel Nu Hotel is part of the Independent Collection of boutique properties and each hotel is uniquely designed and furnished. At the Nu Hotel, parking is obtained right next door in what has to be the friendliest garage in the city. Outside the hotel are bicycles for guests to get around on, and take that once in a lifetime ride over the Brooklyn Bridge. Misdemeanor is the hotel’s lobby lounge and bar, and its name is inspired by the New York City corrections facility across the street. Here you can enjoy local Brooklyn brews and spirits, and small bites. The hotel is jumping on the Brooklyn brand (sigh, is everything a brand?) and also going for locally-produced beer and spirits, and snacks for the in-room mini bars. Whether it’s trend-jumping or not, hotels choosing to support local purveyors cuts down on transportation and helps the planet. The hotel’s reasoning is likely that it gives local character, something the Independent Collection aims for with its properties. Other on-site amenities include an incredibly — for a small space — well-stocked fitness center in its basement. Nu Hotel is pet-friendly.

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View of a Room 304  Oh heavenly: this room has windows overlooking a tree lined courtyard. The window is not in direct view of the surrounding apartments and the room feels private even with the curtains wide open. What’s more, the windows open just enough to let in fresh air — for people who dislike the chemically cleaner smell of hotel rooms, this is a huge plus. The natural light is also very soothing. Most rooms in the Nu Hotel feature massive murals, each painted by a Brooklyn artist, who had free range with what they painted. This room has an odd sort of texan feel, or at least it looks like a desert scape with an oil rig. Besides a king size bed, armchair and coffee table, there is long desk and chair, which creates a great, uncluttered work space.

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The bathroom is stocked with French made L’Occitaine toiletries and robes are provided.

Info

NU Hotel

85 Smith Street

Brooklyn, NY 11201

Telephone: 718-852-8585

Website: nuhotelbrooklyn.com

Photo credits: M. Biernat/Hotel Junkie

The Envoy Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

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Location In 21st century Boston, massive scale development in the city’s Seaport District has brought towering buildings to what is now known as the South Boston Waterfront. Slowly, instead of wide open views of the harbor, a new urban skyline has been created, and every square inch of what was once railway sidings, and then as rail declined, parking lots, has become offices, homes, and bars and restaurants. The Envoy Hotel is situated just off Seaport Boulevard, steps from the Financial District, which lies just over the Evelyn Moakley Bridge, traversing Fort Point Chanel. It is also right by the designated Harbor Walk, which leads to either South Boston or the North End, depending on whether you go left or right from the hotel. Since development picked up, the city dubbed the area the Innovation District and se about luring start-ups and tech companies, where once there had been artists and open space. Nearby, are the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Children’s Museum, and the Tea Party Museum, the latter honoring one of Colonial Boston’s most notorious acts: the dumping of tea into the harbor in protest against taxation and British rule.

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The Hotel The Envoy is a small, boutique proper, and part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. No two Autograph Hotels are alike, and the Envoy’s design honors location and contemporary mores. Reclaimed wood and shots of yellow — the Envoy’s signature color — warm a mostly white color scheme. The lobby’s ornate chandelier is a sculpture of reclaimed materials, including sunny yellow phone cords, and like many of the art pieces and fixtures, represents ocean life. There is lots of comfy seating in the lobby, whose floor-to-ceiling windows add a TV eye on the passing world.The hotel has 136 guest rooms, including two suites and 19 rooms with double queen beds. WiFi is free throughout the property. There is a fitness center on the second floor. The hotel is pet-friendly and offers valet parking.

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View of a Room 406: Just off the fourth floor elevators, this room overlooks Fort Point Channel and the old Northern Avenue Bridge, and also the Barking Crab and James Hook Lobster Company, two casual, venerable Boston seafood spots. The king size bed takes central place in the room, and a desk and chair, and a rendition of a sea chest flank the bed’s top and bottom. Handy electrical outlets with charging points are located in the bed head.

 

The ladder shelving holds locally made organic snacks and water, all for purchase. The TV stand is custom-made from an old bicycle frame. The bathroom is a glass walled cube, accented with marigold yellow. The glass wall and sliding door are etched with copies of  old maps of the harbor and coastal area.

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The room is minimally furnished, yet includes much that you need: robes, slippers, and a bathroom stocked with Fresh toiletries and such niceties as cotton pads, cotton buds, and even nail polish remover. It is well-designed and unfussy.

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Restaurants and Bars The Envoy boasts The Lookout Bar on its rooftop, which looks out, ahem, to the Financial District and gives amazing views of the glittering city at night. On the ground floor, just off the lobby, the Outlook Kitchen and Bar is an open-plan restaurant focussed on dishes using locally produced ingredients. It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.The glass walls gives views over the channel and in clement weather its patio on the barely-trafficked dead end street is a nice, quieter spot in an ever-busy area.

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Info

70 Sleeper Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02210

617-338-3030

theenvoy hotel.com

Millenium Hilton, New York, NY

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Location Lower Manhattan is where modern, bustling, commercially driven New York City began in the 1600s — firstly as a Dutch Colony, before the British finally took control in 1664 — and it remains the city’s financial center, and that of America, too. It is the home of the notorious Wall Street and the World Trade Center site. Within steps of the hotel is One World Trade Center, which was initially dubbed Freedom Tower, and is the tallest building in the western hemisphere. The reflecting pools and 9/11 memorial are also on hand. Lower Manhattan is also home to Columbia University, which was founded in 1754, and the first Congress of the United States sat at Federal Hall on Wall Street, circa 1789, while New York City was the nation’s short-lived capital. To the south, towards New York Harbor, lies both the new-built community of Battery Park City and the historic South Street Seaport. Northwards, the SoHo, Meatpacking District, West Village, Greenwich Village, Little Italy, Nolita, and the East Village offer a myriad of bars, restaurants, and shopping, much of it boutique and individual to the city — if you get off the main, more subscribed streets, that is. Lower Manhattan is referred to as Downtown and since the 1950s offered lower rents and became the home and work space for artists and musicians. The massive development has threatened the area culturally, pushing artists over the Brooklyn Bridge, which connects Manhattan and Long Islands in Lower Manhattan.

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The Hotel Millenium Hilton opened in the Fiancial District in 1992 after two years of construction. Rather childishly, the developers chose to deliberately misspell the name, leaving off one n and perhaps rendering its title meaningless. Nevertheless, the hotel’s 55 stories and monolithic smoked black exterior have a late-20th century grandeur, both modern and minimal. The hotel has 569-rooms and suites. Less than a decade after its opening, the Millenium Hilton was severely damaged by the events of 9/11, which unfolded right in front of the hotel, right before some guests’ eyes. The flag that flew outside the entrance up until that day was recovered by some staff members. It now hangs discreetly in the lobby. The lobby is a bright area with a corner bar and lots of seating.  Check in and the concierge desk, as well as a small shop, complete the ground floor space. Notably, by the Fulton Street entrance, the hotel’s American flag, which was rescued by staff after the 9/11 blasts tore up the hotel’s frontage, hangs, framed on a wall.

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View of a Room: 4711 This corner suite offers views far up the west side of Manhattan — construction, ever ongoing, has blocked off some of the magnificent city vistas, though. The bedroom has views over the Hudosn to New Jersey, too, but the sights are dominated by One World Trade Center, whihc is smack bang in front of the picture window. Look down from that window and the North Pool, part of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, glistens below, surrounded by dozens of fledgling trees. It’s an oasis of calm, and a much vivisted one.

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Besides astounding views, the bedroom also offers an amazingly comfortable king bed with a large flatscreen on the dresser. The bathroom has Philip Thomas Roth toiletries, and robes and slippers await in the closet. The separate living room has a couch, a work desk, coffee/tea station, mini bar, and another TV. The decor is muted: beige, caramel, and brown. The art work is understated, too. This stylish, but neutral interior contrasts well with the complex city backdrop all around the room. At the night, the city lights never cease to astound.

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Restaurant and bars The first floor lobby bar, Liquid Assets, the title a nod to the hotel’s location, is accented by sunshine yellow and has views to the bustling street. There’s complimentary WiFi in the lobby area. Church & Dey Restaurant, the hotel’s signature restaurant, is located on the third floor. Both the restaurant and lobby were renovated in 2012.

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Fitness, pool There is a fitness center and an indoor pool.

Parking There is valet only parking at the Fulton Street garage, but no in-out privileges.

Info

55 Church St, New York, NY 10007

Phone: 212-693-2001
Photo credit: Hilton Hotel Group/Hotel Junkie

Hilton Columbus Downtown, Columbus, Ohio

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Location: Though the Hilton Columbus Downtown sits opposite the Convention Center, and even has a connecting skybridge, this hotel isn’t only about commerce and business. Its address midway on Columbus’s five-mile long High Street places the hotel near the arts district. Known as Short North, the area was once a no-go neighborhood riddled with crime, but as is often the case, it provided cheap living for artists who civilized the neighborhood. Further on lies the University District and the Wexner Center. In the opposite direction, turn right out of the Hilton and the Downtown area holds historic theaters and the riverfront, and the Arena District is exactly that: a sports and entertainment hub. There is also the famous German Village, where homes have an annual open-day to show off their style and the German heritage. Behind the Hilton, in the opposite direction of the Convention Center is the city’s historic North Market. The High Street is easily walkable, but also there’s a free bus service running right along this stretch. Columbus also has a communal city bike and even CoGo, communal Smartcar program.

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The Hotel: Built on a former empty lot in 2012 from the ground up, Hilton Columbus Downtown has a towering 12-storey central atrium with 532 rooms surrounding its four sides. Two sides overlook the second floor restaurant area. Being so closely connected to the Short North Arts District, this Hilton has adopted a strong arts presence itself. Throughout the hotel, there’s a permanent collection of works by local artists, including Christian Faur’s skyline created from crayon tips, which is behind the check-in desk. There is also a monthly changing display on a side corridor, which changes in conjunction with Short North’s First Saturday Gallery Walk.

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The stark modernism of the lobby is warmed by natural wood and a spiral staircase, which leads to the second floor restaurant and social area. Apart from sitting and a work/play space with communal computers, the second floor is where you’ll find the fitness center.

The hotel is LEED Gold certified, meaning it was built with strong positive environmental and health initiatives, including a saline cleaned pool, also on the second floor. There is also a Whirlpool hot tub.

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View of a Room: 943 This one-bedroom suite echoes the simple clean lines of the hotel, and its muted palette of neutral grey and beige. The living room has a couch and arm chairs and TV, as well as a kitchenette with an empty ‘fridge. There is a coffee and tea making facility, too.

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The bedroom has a comfy king sized bed, a TV, and a day bed and desk built-in by the window, which looks over the convention center. It’s not an appealing view particularly, but with the city’s winding elevated highways weaved into the near-distance, it has a certain hum to it.

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The main bathroom has a walk in shower and there is a powder room–each is stocked with Peter Thomas Roth products.

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Each guest room has individual artwork and this one includes a three-dimensional white wall hanging, and a vibrant cityscene in the loo. Above the bed, the ceiling is dominated by a pale blue abstract painting, which is soothing, rather than distracting from rest.

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Restaurants and bars: The Coffee Bar is located by the front entrance. Gallerie Bar and Bistro on the second floor is split into two distinct areas. The bar is large with plenty of places to lounge, including by the window. Gallerie Bistro gives Midwest produce a French twist, and includes small plates as well as starters, entrees and desserts. Local beers are rotated seasonally, and the wine list is finely curated.

Information

401 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 384-8600

http://www.hilton.com

 

 

Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Location: How could the Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh not be a grand hotel in the old sense of the word? After all, it is set in a Beaux Arts style building, completed in 1903. It was, for quite some time, the headquarters of Pittsburgh power company, Duquesne, and then, in the last quarter of the twentieth century, it became the home of the Reed Smith law firm. Set on William Penn Place, near Mellon Square Park, the hotel’s neighbors across the street span the architectural spectrum: there’s the aluminum built Alcoa building, which has been converted into residential and retail, and then, right next door to the space age Alcoa, is the deep pink Colonial era Allegheny Harvard Yale Princeton Club, next to a quaint alley called Strawberry Way. A short walk away, Market Place Square is very much a local haunt for sitting and people watching, or eating from or at one of the many food joints surrounding the square. Most entertainment is within walking distance, but in the hotel lobby a couple of bikes await guests, all ready for them to explore the city on. Don’t forget to smile: Pittsburgh is one of the friendliest cities you’ll find.

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The Hotel: Being a Kimpton hotel, a company that put the stamp on whimsical pack-rat boutique style, Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh fits today’s re-use, recycle adaptive style. Just done with a huge dash of fabulousness. Guests are greeted by a giant Great Dane cast in white porcelain, which sits by the entranceway. Great Danes are the Pennsylvania state dog, and the noble hounds pop up throughout the hotel, either on cushion covers or wallpaper print. All Kimpton hotels are pet-friendly, so its no idle idol. The marble clad lobby is softened by a spectacular chandelier of cascading silk flowers that many might miss unless they look up. However, from the second floor Living Room, this pretty fixture all but blossoms before your eyes.

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The Living Room is filled with couches and ad-hoc furnishings. Two large, body decorated armoires, from which morning coffee and the early evening wine hour (5 p.m. – 6 p.m.) are dispensed, stand on one wall, behind a dining table and chairs.

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The art work and fixtures here, as throughout the hotel, echo local icons and the individual theme for this particular hotel, which is birds. There are old ornate birdcages dipped in turquoise paint; brass bird claw table legs; and bespoke chandeliers crafted from talons–thankfully not real, but of metal.

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One bird in particular is highlighted in the yellow table lamps, which is shaped like a penguin. These are dotted throughout the hotel and honor the Pittsburgh Penguins, of course, one of the oldest hockey teams in the US.

The hotel’s quirky, peeping eye artwork stares mysteriously from some walls, too. And for the fitness freaks, there’s a fully fitted exercise room.

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View of a Room: 721 Despite being chock full of colors and patterns and fun furniture, this room is spacious–plenty of room to stow your stuff without feeling like you’re tripping over things. The decor continues the birdcage theme this Monaco adopted with an ornate bedside light shade.

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Honestly, there are comfortable beds and then there was this one. There’s no one thing pinpointing just why this high, plush bed was so comfy–and the pillows so convivial, too. It just is — appreciate it!

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The bathroom has a step-in marble tile lined shower, excellent lighting and a magnifying mirror, and toiletries by C. O. Bigelow. And, the bedroom closet houses a pair of grey pinstripe robes. The bespoke wallpaper lining the closet is a riot of color and city scenes, and there’s that trusty hound again.

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Restaurants and Bars: The Commoner is a relaxing bar and restaurant with down to earth dishes, artfully reimagined. It is open morning till late at night, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a late night bar menu.

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Information

620 William Penn Place, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Ti Kaye Resort and Spa, Anse La Raye, St. Lucia, West Indies

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Location  Nestled among lavish rainforest on Saint Lucia’s Caribbean side, high above a small horseshoe bay called Anse Cochon, Ti Kaye Resort and Spa’s location is sublime. Far below the resort, a white sandy beach edges those magical blue waters, which, because all beaches in Saint Lucia are public, can soon fill with noisy visiting tourists and private boaters. In the morning, locals with a more pressing agenda can been seen swiftly riding the water with nets in hand, capturing the day’s fish catch. Don’t be surprised if one of those ugly monstrous cruise ships appears on the horizon, completely ruining the view! Still, the bay is safe from those hordes because it is simply too small and shallow to accommodate cruise liners. Anse Cochon is a designated marine preserve, one of the few in Saint Lucia, which is why the bay offers some of the island’s best snorkeling. The resort’s onsite dive center is conveniently located on Anse Cochon. The roadway up from the colorful town of Soufrière is a long, winding, and often bumpy one, but Ti Kaye’s seclusion is part of its charm. There is little of the usual commercial trappings around Ti Kaye Resort and regular life of shopping and consuming must be swapped for a peaceful, less harried existence. (Don’t worry, there’s plenty of pleasurable indulgences to be had.) Saint Lucia’s high season is January through March and the wet season is June through November.

 

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Lodgings This privately owned resort opened in 2001 and comprises 33 tropical bungalows, each with a private entry gate leading to the shrub shrouded verandah. They are dotted throughout 15 acres of tropical plantings, which are wonderful to wander. Watch your step in the wet season though: the pathways often have steep slopes. There is Complimentary jump-on WiFi throughout the resort. Some cottages have adjoining balconies, some are private and completely detached, and some have private plunge pools. each has a Creole name. Don’t take it personally if you are given kankannez, which means trouble or troublemaker (or maybe you should?). Accessed by 160 steps, the beach below offers beach activities, including snorkeling. Just off the main lodge, there is a small pool and beautiful sun garden with comfy loungers.

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View of a Room: K (Kankannez) Located off a steep sloping path, and accessed by its own private keyed doorway, there’s no trouble (yes, a pun) feeling at home in Kankannez. Spacious throughout, there’s a closet large enough to be called a dressing room, and a bathroom with an outdoor shower filled with plants and open to the sky. It feels very private and is a wonderful experience. There’s a line to hang wet bathing suits, or even wring out an item of clothing or two. The bathing area has large refillable bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion, cutting plastic waste. These excellent products are locally made. An armoire is loaded with a kettle, a cafetière, tea bags, milk (in a cute reusable glass bottle), and a jar of ground coffee. The latter – in keeping with the hotel’s keen environmental awareness – also cuts down on packaging and landfill waste. (Saint Lucia does not recycle.)  There’s a full ‘fridge. The four-poster bed is decked out with a mosquito net, which looks beautiful and romantic, until you realize you need it! Perhaps the best part is having a spacious balcony with a coffee table and rocking chairs, as well as a really comfy hammock.

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Restaurants and Bars It’s worth considering the cocktail hour as 5 p.m. That way, you can take in the view and sunset (at 5:46 p.m. each day—Saint Lucia wisely doesn’t change its clocks) at the spectacular Kai Manje cliff side bar. The view of Anse Cochon below rainforest-lined cliffs from the bar’s floor-to-ceiling windows is nothing short of breathtaking. Try what is probably the Caribbean’s best rum punch – made with Saint Lucian made Chairmans and not sticky sweet: More fruity and with a nice kick. Ti Manje and the first floor Kai Manje restaurant both serve indigenous Caribbean dishes and utilize local produce. There’s a focus on locally caught fish. Kai Manje restaurant was awarded Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence in 2013 and 2014. The Ti Kave wine cellar, which was added to the resort in 2011, is one of the largest underground wine cellars in the Caribbean, offering a choice of over 3,000 bottles. It is used for wine tastings and wine dinners, and the cool dark interior gives considerable contrast to the outside heat and humidity. There is also a beach side bar, accessed by those 160 steps, which plays host for a weekly five-course dinner, which turns the tables on its usual casual style.

Breakfast is served in Kai Manje and includes a build-you-own granola bar including local ingredients — nuts, dried fruit, yoghurt, and honey. The source of each is shown on a map of the island. IMG_3041 

Fitness and Spa In 2010, among other tasteful expansions, the resort added the beautiful cliff side Kai Koko Spa, which has a relaxation room and Jacuzzi, plus a couples and singles treatment rooms. This also looks over the bay and to take advantage of its heavenly views, mirrors are places under the head cradles on treatment beds. So instead of looking at the floor, you can see the blue-blue sky and sea.

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The same natural, locally made products are used alongside natural essential oils.  As far as fitness, who needs a Spinning class when there’s those 160 steps! The spa has won awards — and it’s not difficult to see why. It’s both unique and  first-class.

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Should those 160 steps not be enough exercise, there is a fitness center.

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Info

Ti Kaye Resort & Spa

Anse Cochon

Castries

St. Lucia

Tel: 758 456 8101 Email:info@tikaye.com

http://www.tikaye.com

The Langham, Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

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Location  The Langham, Boston is located in the city’s Financial District. The hotel overlooks the design award-winning Norman B. Leventhal Park and Post Office Square. Leventhal believed the city should have beautiful green space’s for everyone to enjoy and tucked a hideous parking garage underground and put the park on top of it. It proved a great idea, because it adds a pretty, natural element to what can be a cold feeling part of town — it does deal with capitalism and corporate America after all. But, it’s an area packed with history: walk to the Old State House and hear about the Boston massacre; or head to the Tea Party Museum for the lowdown on that famous Boston Tea Party. A short walk away lies the South Boston Waterfront, which is newly filled with bars and restaurants. Faneuil Hall  and Quincy Market are steps away. As is Downtown Crossing, ith the Boston Common and Public Gardens just a little further west.

The Hotel It’s not everyday one gets to sleep in a Federal Reserve Bank, but that’s precisely what the building  now housing The Langham, Boston once was. Built in 1922, the building became a hotel in the early 1980s and then became part of The Langham Hotel Group in the mid-2000s. Because the building is on the National Historic Register, development of the hotel meant working with preexisting design conditions, or rather restrictions, and building a new addition to provide an adequate amount of guest rooms and working spaces. This explains the rather strange low ceiling in the lobby, but the beautiful new atrium more than makes up for that quirk.

View of a Room: 243 This two-story loft suite is in the old bank and retains the giant arched windows overlooking the street. Being split-level, there is ultimate privacy for sleeping in the cozy upstairs bedroom, which has a lavish, marble bathroom, TV, and lots of wardrobe space. Within steps of the bed, there is a coffee maker as well as kettle for tea. Perfect for the early morning caffeine fix.

The distinctive, high ceilinged living room has a queen sized sleeper sofa, desk, and armchair with ottoman.

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Every bedroom should have a valet stand like the one in room 243. It is such attention to detail, even basic simple additions like this, which set the hotel apart.

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The suite has a powder room on the lower level and full bathroom upstairs. which is thoughtfully fully stocked with everything you need, including an elegant amenity box with shaving kit, dental kit, cotton buds and pads, nail kit, sewing kit, and shower cap complete with hair tie. It’s filled with useful bits and bobs that it makes a perfect traveling case — which why they’re for sale in the lobby! Bathroom products are from the hotel’s Chaun Spa range and includes a body scrub along with the usual trio of shampoo, conditional, and body lotion.

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Restaurants and bars The Reserve Lounge in the lobby is open morning till night and serves breakfast, lunch, a bar menu, and a wonderful Tiffin Tea, every afternoon. Champagne is a nice addition to that! Bond is a sleek bar and, on weekends, it’s a late night club with DJs. Note: the name and decor pays homage to the building’s banking past. Cafe Fleuri is a large airy atrium restaurant, where, among other meals, the hotel’s famous Chocolate Bar brunch takes place every Saturday, September through June.

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Fitness, spa, and pool The hotel’s fitness room is augmented by a heated pool with sky views. Chaun Body + Soul spa, which is rooted in Chinese medicine and natural healing, is one of Boston’s best spas.

Info

Langham, Boston

250 Franklin Street, Boston, MA 02110, USA

T (+1) 617 451 1900

F (+1) 617 423 2844
Email tlbos.concierge@langhamhotels.com

http://www.boston.langhamhotels.com

Palmer House Inn, Falmouth, MA USA

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Location Falmouth is part of the Upper Cape, or Inner Cape as some call this area of Cape Cod closest to the canal and Sagamore and Bourne Bridges. The Palmer House Inn couldn’t be more perfectly situated for a leisurely Cape Cod stay. It is literally a short, and delightful, walk away from Falmouth’s shops and restaurants; yet, located opposite Falmouth Village Green, it is removed from high season bustle–comparatively speaking, Falmouth is hardly Times Square at the busiest of times. Learn much about the small village’s history in the Falmouth Museums on the Green, which neighbor the inn. The Falmouth Village Association busies itself with town events and, especially in the warm weather, Noonan Park hosts much: from farmer’s markets to Easter egg hunts. There are ten beaches within the town’s reach, including Surf Drive, which is a short walk from Main Street and overlooks Martha’s Vineyard and Vineyard Sound.

 

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Lodging Stepping into The Palmer House Inn feels like stepping back in time. Even though one part of the inn is a new addition, the place is kept in high Victorian style. It’s a cedar shingle, turreted building spread over three floors, with lovely landscaping, especially toward the rear, where are more guest rooms in a separate building, and an individual two-bedroom cottage (see below). The wrap-around porch, filled with rocking chairs, is a serene spot to sit and read, or just sit. Inside, the decor pairs the elegant deep colors popular  in Victorian times with all sorts of knickknacks–collecting being another Victorian preoccupation. The extensive parlor has plenty of chairs and settees, and a fireplace for colder weather. And, thankfully, it has no TV!

 

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View of a Room: The Cottage This private bungalow, set to the rear and shaded by trees, has its own deck. Though it looks tiny, it houses a sitting room, bathroom, and two bedrooms. The master bedroom is enormous and has a king bed and an equally ample Jacuzzi tub. The smaller bedroom has a queen bed and both are decked out in pretty floral patterns. The sitting room has a small sofa, coffee table, and dining table and chairs off the side. A Welsh dresser style unit holds a small fridge and coffee maker. It’s also pet-friendly.

 

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Restaurants and Bars A cooked breakfast is included in the room rate and served in the pretty, sunny dining room. In the parlor, homemade cookies and tea is available during the afternoon.

 

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Info Palmer House Inn, 81 Palmer Avenue, Falmouth, MA 02540. 508-548-1230 www.palmerhouseinn.com

The Old Inn on the Green, New Marlborough, MA USA

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Location Set in the beautiful rolling Berkshire Hills, and too tiny to stand alone, New Marlborough is lumped in as part of the Pittsfield Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. So much for census, though. Because this hamlet is a popular destination for people who want to escape the idea of a metropolis and statistics, and be among nature. And quiet. It’s so quiet in New Marlborough. Nearby, Great Barrington offers art galleries and dining, and shopping if you must. Stockbridge has several cultural institutions including the Norman Rockwell Museum and Daniel Chester French’s home, Chesterwood. To really get away from it all though, take a hike. Near to the Old Inn is a wonderful 90-minute walk around York Pond, which is a summer swimming pond. There’s a picnic area too. As in the sticks as it feels though, New Marlborough is only a half hour or so from the Massachusetts Turnpike (I90).

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Lodgings New Marlborough was first settled in 1738 and incorporated in 1759. One year later, The Old Inn on the Green was built as an inn and tavern. Its owner, Warren Wheeler, was a descendant of what is reputed to be the first family (headed by Benjamin Wheeler) to settle New Marlborough. By 1806, the inn had expanded to also become the village’s store and post office. By the 1960s though, the inn was empty and falling into disrepair. Some buildings were lost, but restoration began in the 1970s to save the place.  The first thing you notice walking into the Old Inn is the smell of old wood; it’s a lovely musty smell of baked evergreen oils. Perhaps cedar or pine. Years of layers of paint have been stripped to reveal old, wide plank walls and floors. The second thing you notice is that quiet. The inn consists of three buildings: the main one has guest rooms upstairs, while the ground floor is given over to dining. Innkeepers Peter Platt and Meredith Kennard live in one building with their lovely dog, Chapman, a Tennessee rescue hound. The third houses more guest rooms over two floors, and includes two sitting rooms. There is also a small library of books and DVDs. Wonderful murals decorate most walls throughout the buildings. Fields and farmland surround the inn, and the area is wonderfully unspoiled. There’s a seasonal outdoor pool and a lawn for lounging. There is WiFi, but cellular service in the area is sketchy.

 

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View of a Room: 201 This spacious king bedded room is in the separate building on the ground floor. It’s decked out with wood planks, not only on the floor, but also the walls, as was traditional before plaster and sheet rock lined homes. The room feels rustic and old world. Until, that is, you step into the large bathroom and see the Jacuzzi tub and bidet. Yes, bidet. A rare sight in a city, let alone a rural area. There are instructions for its use! Oh, and there’s a flatscreen TV, too. The big bed is one of those high wooden affairs, which you expect to be all creaky. It’s not and the mattress is wonderfully comfortable. The view through the windows is of the pool and fields beyond. The room has a back door, which leads to the lawn and pool. Inside, there are robes and two comfy armchairs; put those together and relax.

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Restaurants and Bars The Inn on the Green is building its profile as a dining destination, one that highlights farm-to-table practice. It would be silly not to utilize local farm produce, given that the Berkshires is home to lush verdant land and is, traditionally, farming territory. The ground floor of the main building houses the kitchen and four dining rooms. The front ones are decked out with murals—one looks original, whereas the bucolic scenes of grazing cows in the other look newer. A long table takes up a smaller room: perfect for private dinners and wine events. The back room has a bar, and an old sink and wooden icebox; it has a tavern feel. It houses the breakfast buffet. There is no electric lighting in the dining rooms. At night, only candles on the tables and in the chandeliers light them. It makes for a magical and peaceful, and nostalgic ambiance.

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Info 134 Hartsville New Marlborough Road, New Marlborough, MA 01230. 413-229-7924. http://www.oldinn.com

Sage Inn & Lounge, Provincetown, MA USA

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Location Sage Inn & Lounge is situated in the heart of Provincetown on Commercial Street. It’s smack bang in the middle of what locals call the West End (towards the lighthouse) and the East End, which leads out of town. This is the busiest part of this quaint Cape Cod town, known for both its dog-friendliness and as a leading destination for the LGBT community. Of course, Provincetown is known historically as the place where the Mayflower first dropped anchor before sailing on to Plymouth, all of which is celebrated by the 100-year-plus Pilgrim Monument. This granite tower stands above and behind the magnificent town hall, overlooking the town, and can be used as a marker for its center. Provincetown also claims to be America’s oldest artist colony and numbers such fans as Tennessee Williams and Norman Mailer. In June, the annual Provincetown Film Festival takes place, and just about every weekend from April to October, someone seems to be celebrating something!

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Lodging Sage Inn and Lounge opened in 2012 following a major renovation. It had been an inn for decades and is well-known as the Pilgrim House–the old sign decorates Sage’s event room. In 1990, the original Pilgrim House, which is reputed to be the first inn built in Provincetown, burnt down and was rebuilt. It reopened under the same name before gaining new owners in 2011. By then, it had fallen into considerable disrepair. Sage’s renovations brought a fresh, calm feel; its name is echoed in subtle shades of green and a calm, thoughtful ambiance. An original mural celebrating women still overlooks the courtyard and second floor deck. The inn consists of 19 rooms and two private event spaces, one of which is also used as a guest lounge when not in use for functions. Ongoing changes include the addition of some suites, including the Bicycle Suite. The inn is pet-friendly.

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View of a Room: 308 This king room looks out over the back side of the inn, giving views of the Pilgrim Monument, which is beautifully lit up at night. It’s spacious and fresh, with two arm chairs to relax in. The headboard is created from a serious of framed drawings depicting local maps, and the white cotton linens wonderfully soothing. The TV and (empty, yay!) ‘fridge are tucked away in a white-painted armoire. The room isn’t over-furnished, leaving plenty of room for your stuff!

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Restaurants and Bars Unlike many places in Provincetown, Sage is open year-round, but the lounge does have limited hours in the quiet winter months. Guests always get to enjoy a continental breakfast buffet in the lounge in the morning, though. The lounge, which has a glass encased fire for cozying-up in colder weather, specializes in herb-infused cocktails and tapas-style small plates featuring local produce. Sage also hosts occasional special dinner events. In summer, the second floor balcony is an additional dining spot. It, however, is designated as dog-friendly.

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Info Sage Inn & Lounge, 336 Commercial St., Provincetown, MA 02657.  508-487-6424. sageinnptown.com

Sofitel New York, New York, NY USA

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Location Sitting in Midtown Manhattan, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues at West 44th Street, Sofitel New York is perfectly placed for business, arts and culture, and shopping. Bustling Times Square and Broadway’s brilliant theaters are all within easy walking distance. There is no better way to see Manhattan than to walk. Though Sofitel New York is located in noisy Midtown, it’s on a quiet cross street also housing the famed Algonquin Hotel. Just a block away, Bryant Park is a relaxing spot handy to the Sofitel. This outdoor space has a restaurant and cafe, and amusements—including an old carousel. It forms a traditional square in the European style, echoing Sofitel’s French roots.

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Lodging Sofitel New York opened in 2000, bringing a touch of ooh-la-la  to Midtown. Many staff members are French and you are as likely to be greeting with “bonjour” as you are “good morning.”  It is certainly a home away from home for French visitors to the city. For anyone, it is a calm, elegant oasis with a welcoming lobby lounge with marble  flooring and a green marble fireplace. French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon interpreted the 30-story, limestone and glass tower’s interiors in an Art Deco style. The building landed architect Brennan Beer Gorman with an Emporis Skyscraper Award for Best New Skyscraper for Design and Functionality. In all, Sofitel New York has 398 rooms on 30 floors, including dozens of suites, such as four Terrace Suites, and one Presidential Suite. The 1,200-square-foot Imperial Suite features a spacious living area, a separate office with desk and fax, and a king bedroom.

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View of a Room: 2520 Look out of the window of this junior suite for a second and take in views of the Chrysler building. Surely theSofitel New York’s designer did and found Art Deco inspiration during his work on the hotel’s interior . Most rooms feature similar custom, three-paneled maple or rosewood full-wallheadboards, complete with a recessed niche displaying artwork from Paris and New York. Spacious marble baths are outfitted with a separate tub and rain shower, wood-framed beveled mirrors, and marble vanities.  Best of all,toiletries are by Hermès, which is common to all suites. The beds are super comfortable and include Sofitel’s signature feather-top and duvet–dubbedSoBeds. A comfy chair add to the relaxation in what is, for Midtown, a very spacious room.  One caveat: one of those fully stocked minibars, which leave no room for guests own nibbles or bottles. And while chocolate is nice and all,  the nightly turn-down service includes a much more useful bottle Evian water.

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Restaurants and Bars  Gaby Brasserie Française is a beautiful restaurant serving modern French cuisine  by Executive Chef Sylvain Harribey. The bar is delightful for drinks and the food is excellent. Room service also delivers what Hotel Junkie has to say is among the best breakfasts: boast cheese and veggie omelet with fingerlings, a basket of pastries, and fresh fruit. Really fresh fruit.

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Fitness The complimentary Fitness Center is accessible 24-hours per day.

Info The Sofitel New York, 45th West on 44th Street

New York, NY 10036

+1212.354.8844

www.sofitel.com/NewYorkCity

 

Two Trees Inn, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Connecticut, USA

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Location Foxwoods Resort Casino on the Mashantucket-Pequot tribal land is a world unto itself. The complex is massive: its towers rising up past the tree canopy and clearly visible off the Norwich-Westerly Road in Ledyard, Connecticut. The casino opened in February 1992 and has since grown to become the largest casino in the Western Hemisphere. At around 6.7 million square feet, it’s larger than the Pentagon. Surrounding the resort is the gentle Connecticut countryside. Mostly, the area was traditionally farmland. Nearby Mystic was a busy ship building and whaling port, but is now a tourist destination. Jonathan Edwards Winery is worth a visit. Also, Stonington village, a quiet, moneyed coastal town where wealthy New Yorkers like to weekend. Foxwoods is just 2.5 hours from New York City, less than two hours from Boston, and within an hour of Providence and Hartford.

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Lodging The Two Tress Inn is located just a few minutes drive off the main Foxwoods Resort Casino campus. That means it’s away from the hubbub and pizzazz of this 24-hour casino, and its hotels and restaurants. Depending on how much  hubbub and pizzazz you need during a stay, that’s either a good or bad thing.  But with trolley buses stop every 10-20 minutes ferrying guests to and from the various locations, so the distance isn’t a big deal. It’s actually nice to take and break in what feels is more like a small hotel than a casino adjunct.

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View of a Room: 197 has an elegant modern design and an enormous super king size bed, which takes up most of the room. But there’s a desk and dresser, and a lounge chair, too. The pale blue opalescent wallpaper looks like mini mosaic tile. The pale wood furniture looks like birch and echoes the silver birches growing outside in the courtyard. Beige marble tops the bedside tables and a paler beige plaid patterned wallpaper accents two other walls. It’s a very subtle, soothing color scheme. The room has a small empty fridge for guests use, and a coffee maker. The bathroom has G Spa amenities and echoes the bedroom’s delicate palette with pale blue paint. Blue can make a room cold, but here it adds a sense of serenity and calm. Overall, the thoughtful color scheme turns what is a basic and ordinary room into a wonderfully calm habitat. Ad that really is one of the biggest beds Hotel Junkie has ever seen.

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Restaurants and Bars Two Trees has its own full service restaurant and bar. Foxwoods Resort has an array of restaurants; everything from fast food to the AAA Four Diamond awarded Paragon. David Burke Prime Steakhouse, Red Lantern, and Paragon offer three different atmospheres — smart steakhouse, clubby sushi and Asian, and super fine dining — all well worth trying.

Info 350 Trolley Line Boulevard, Mashantucket, CT. 800-369-9663. www.foxwoods.com

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Photo credit: Hotel Junkie

Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, USA

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Location Hilton Head Island sits off South Carolina’s coast, just north of southeastern Georgia. Savannah is the nearest city. Hilton Head Island was once a remote collection of working plantations, whose main crop was cotton — Sea Island Cotton. In the 1950s, it was developed as a retreat rather than a tourist destination, and became known for its planned, neat communities, and for its golf courses. The discreet gated communities still dominate. Fortunately, much of its natural flora and fauna was left in tact, and forest and salt marshes maintain much native wildlife. Hilton Head’s Sea Pines Plantation is the closest thing the island has to a real “downtown” scene. The Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island is situated 45 miles from Savannah-Hilton Head International airport and seven miles from Hilton Head Island airport.

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Lodging  Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island, located in It is located in the Shipyard area, is an AAA Four Diamond resort with 340 guest rooms and suites. There is an expansive pool and recreation area and, beyond that, a lovely, natural beach.  The tropical vegetation and lagoon are dotted with cabanas and hammocks, allowing for private relaxation (crowds willing). 

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The hotel’s interior, however, is quite the opposite: it’s urbane and fresh, with a mid-century to third-quarter modernist design. A soaring atrium sets off the lobby and many of the furnishings are inspired by early 1970s post-psychedelic chic.  

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View of a Room: 4009 Guest rooms are spacious and echo the resort’s general design with a Mod orange and white backdrop, warmed by ochre carpeting and deep beige upholstery. There’s a couch in the sitting area, and a huge desk and workspace. The bedside tables have light and motion sensitive sensors that turn on floor lights at night. (Very useful for middle of the night trips to the ‘loo.) A small balcony overlooks the pool and palmetto trees, with the ocean visible in the distance.

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Restaurants and Bars The resort features several dining options, including a lobby bar. Breakfast is recommended in the restaurant adjacent to the lobby.

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Spa and Sports The resort’s renovation in 2012 added a full-service spa.

Info 130 Shipyard Drive, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928 USA. 843-842-2400. www.sonesta.com/HiltonHeadIsland

Photo credit: Hotel Junkie

The Cheeca Lodge, Florida Keys, USA

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Location The Cheeca Lodge is located in Islamorada on the Florida Keys, and is part of the Upper Keys, nearest the mainland, a few miles south of Key Largo, and just north of Marathon. Compared to much of the sleepy Keys – outside of the outré Key West, that is – Islamorada has more to offer in the way of good restaurants (Chef Michael’s is a must) and street life, which is almost absent on the Keys. Still, this is island life, not city life. Islamorada encompasses six islands including Plantation Key, Windley Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Lower Matecumbe Key, and the offshore islands of Indian Key and Lignumvitae Key. The Florida Straits and the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico flank Islamorada.

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Lodging The Cheeca Lodge has a lot of history and it has housed many famous guests. That history began in 1946, when Mrs. Clara Mae Downey from Olney, Maryland, opened the Olney Inn. Mrs. Downey’s first guest was President Harry Truman. It became The Cheeca Lodge in the 1960s, when Cynthia, whose nickname was Chee, and Carl Twitchell took over. The name simply, and cutely, combines Chee and Ca. The Cheeca Lodge soon gained its own nickname as the “Queen of the Keys” and hosted movie and sports stars, and its own presidential guests. The resort is set on 27 acres and includes the largest private beach in the Keys. There are 212 rooms in 17 different configurations, from standard to private bungalow. On New year’s Eve 2009, a reveler in the upstairs bar, the Chart Room, dropped a cigar, which sparked a fire that destroyed the main lodge. The rebuild was the perfect excuse to modern and expanding the original lodge, and it reopened in 2011. The hotel is currently owned by Northwood Hospitality, which carries on the hotel’s traditions. The décor throughout the hotel is old plantation style, with heavy woods and warm rich colors. It feels lavish and cosseting.

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View of a Room:308  There’s spacious and then there’s this enormous suite, with full couches and coffee table for that main Keys pursuit: relaxation.

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This ocean view room’s bathroom is also very grand, with a double sink and a double sized shower, whose glass door opens up onto the balcony, where a Jacuzzi tub sits concealed from prying eyes, but allows views over the palm trees and sea. That is what you call luxury, baby. Or good design and planning. The balcony continues with seating for more of that relaxing. This room brings to mind the Eagles’ lyric in Hotel California, only reworded to, “Once you check in, you’ll never want to leave.”

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Restaurants and Bars Cheeca Lodge has three restaurants: the main and signature Atlantic’s Edge, which has a spacious patio with beach and sea views. There are two newer niche spots: Nikai, a specialist sushi restaurant, and Limoncello, an Italian themed restaurant. On the second floor, the Chart Room is a former private bar, which is now open to all. Adjacent to the Chart Room, There’s a balcony bar and a modern clubby rooftop lounge complete with AstroTurf. A  beach tiki bar completes the entertainment.

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Sports and Spa The Spa at the Cheeca Lodge is an extensive facility with its own pool and relaxation station with loungers, which is accurately dubbed Spa Island. This is a no-kids spot, shaded from the rest of the resort by palms. The idea is relaxation, which should not be too difficult to achieve. There is also a Jack Nicklaus-designed 9-hole par 3 golf course, six tennis courts, beach sports, and water sports, including fishing, by arrangement.

Tech WiFi is easily accessed and complimentary.

Info  Cheeca Spa & Lodge, 81801 Overseas Highway, Marker 82, Islamorada, Florida 33036. 800-327-2888. www.cheeca.com

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Photo credit: The Cheeca Lodge/Hotel Junkie