Sometimes when you live checking in and out of hotel rooms, it can all become a blur, so when you stumble upon one that not only offers something innovative and fun, but also stays with you long after you leave, you take note. During a recent backpacking trip through Europe I checked into a quirky Berlin stay called Huettenpalast Hotel(Hobrechtstrasse 66; 49-030/3730-5806; from $59 per night). Those looking for something completely different and charming will definitely find it here as the place can only be described as an indoor campsite. Six wooden cabins and vintage caravans just large enough to fit a double bed are scattered inside an old vacuum cleaner factory for a "room within a room" experience. The sunny campsite contains various seating options, shared bathrooms and showers (don't worry, they're incredibly clean), and a center dining area where little baggies of croissants, apples, and drinks are hung on a painted tree for breakfast each morning.
Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers recently completed the first phase of a $150 million renovation, and the improvements are pretty sleek. The brand's flagship property has updated its guest rooms, added a state-of-the-art teleconferencing suite, and redesigned its Sheraton Club Lounge.
Soon there will be a new reason to be enchanted by Puerto Rico. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company announced that it will open its second-ever Reserve property—one built to LEED Silver standards—in Dorado Beach. The luxury island destination first grabbed travelers' attention when Laurance S. Rockefeller opened one of his eco-friendly RockResorts in the area more than 50 years ago. In December 2012, the Ritz-Carlton Reserve hopes to boost interest in the tropical sanctuary with a 115-room oceanfront hotel and residences and a renovation of the original Dorado Beach Resort.
The brand's exclusive Reserve extension features "low-density" boutique resorts in exotic corners of the world, with more indigenous materials, as well as local products and traditions. At this time, the only other Reserve location is Phulay Bay in Krabi, Thailand.
For those looking for engaging travel maps that provide valuable service info, but with more artistic flair, They Draw & Travel could be the treasure trove you've been looking for. The site is an eye-catching collection of illustrated maps filled with unexpected tips, discoveries, and off-the-radar spots currently covering over 110 cities from about 30 different countries. Instead of getting a guide to the typical tourist traps, you'll be treated to an insider's itinerary to, say, the best parks for an afternoon picnic, a tour through the town's annual festivals, and which neighborhood markets are worth exploring—each map style completely different from the next.
Invest in a good roll-aboard—it makes life so much better on the road. Clockwise from top: Tumi Alpha Bravo Bremerton in ballistic nylon, $495; Britto Collection by Heys Landscape Flowers 22-inch hard-side Spinner, $250; Timbuk2 Checkpoint in ballistic fabric, $250; Longchamp Darshan Luggage, $475; the North Face Rolling Thunder in durable nylon, $229; Halsea Roller Suitcase in laminated canvas, $335; Trunkiby Melissa & Doug child-size Trunki Ruby, $40.