Monday December 9, 2013
I stopped in to the Aloft in downtown Tallahassee for a brief respite from a road trip. My goal was to avoid the bleak corporate economy chains that line the interstate highways. Checking in, I noticed the difference right away, as I stepped up to a circular reception desk that would have fit right in as a restaurant podium. Around me the lobby was a convivial bar scene, with flat-screen TVs, a pool table, and low-slung sofas that brought to mind a youth hostel vibe.
But no youth hostel I found in my college years had rooms this nice. An open bathroom with ample counter space and a doorless closet lining one long wall were flanked on one end with an oversized private shower. The two queen beds, with very comfortable mattresses, looked on to a wall-slung flat-screen TV and two windows. A roomy, built-in desk with a media/charging station was another stylish and highly functional feature. I appreciated the complimentary water bottle, a thoughtful touch.
Breakfast downstairs managed to be casual, healthy and affordable, a rare trick. The menu balances oversized breakfast sandwiches with low-carb options (like the egg-white omelet with spinach and artichoke) plus fresh fruit and berries. Tazo tea and Starbucks coffee, along with a pumped-up soundtrack, provided the wake-up I needed.
Image copyright Charlyn Keating, licensed to About.com
Wednesday December 4, 2013
Call them the anti-B'n B's. Design hotels elevate your vacation or business trip to a purely aesthetic experience that often has nothing to do with the scenery outside and is more about the furnishings, shapes, surfaces and light soothing your senses in a hotel's guest rooms and public spaces. And the go-to website for finding a design hotel everywhere from Berlin and Barcelona to Belize has long been the eponymous DesignHotels.com. The website recently announced seven fabulous new member hotels. And if you're looking for sophistication vacation inspiration, just click here:
Image of East Hotel in Hamburg, Germany courtesy Terry Ward
Monday December 2, 2013
Black Friday, Cyber Monday. Oh yes, the festive (shopping!) season is upon us. And if, like me, you prefer to spend your money on travel experiences rather than most things material, you won't want to miss this Cyber Monday travel deal good for 20 to 40 percent off stays at participating Starwood properties in North American and Latin America. You have till this Friday, Dec. 6, to book your room. But the dates of your stay can be anytime from now through Jan. 26, 2014 at participating hotels like the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina (from $95 per night) and through April 17, 2014 at participating resorts such as the Sheraton Kauai Resort (from $169 per night). After all, what better antidote to holiday stress (or what better present to put under the tree, for that matter?) than a hotel stay somewhere spectacular!
Wednesday November 27, 2013
Boy, do I love a good idea (and when it relates to the hotel business, you can bet I end up kicking myself all the more that I didn't think of it first!). New travel start-up Roomer has come up with a genius concept whereby travelers who've booked non-refundable hotel stays but are unable to use them can sell their room to someone else at a reduced rate. And if you're looking for a last-minute hotel room deal, this website is definitely worth a browse before hitting up your usual hotel search engines.
During a recent search for a last-minute hotel room in Orlando, I found someone offering their non-refundable room at the Rosen Centre Hotel on International Drive for $55 per night (versus the hotel website's $199 per night rate for stays on the same date). And at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego, I spotted an offer for a late-November stay for $116 per night on Roomer. In addition to snagging deals here, keep in mind that you can also try to offload your own non-refundable hotel room bookings in case you have to cancel your travels on a dime. All the details on how things work for hotel room buyers and sellers can be found on the website's FAQ page. And while Roomer only currently deals in US hotel stays, I like where this is headed...
Talk about smarter travel!