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Open Letter to a Hotel Concierge

Concierge Open Letter

Dear Concierge,

Can we take a moment? Because lately our arrangement has been feeling a bit stale. Positively outdated, even. When we asked you to suggest a great local spot for dinner, we didn’t mean your hotel’s “signature fine-dining outlet” or the white-linen relic you’ve probably been recommending for a decade. We meant where you would go for a casual night out. Do you still read the local papers? Maybe start skimming the blogs, too. We even know a concierge who started his own blog!

The point is, we’re here to actually get to know your town, and you’re our advance scout. We shouldn’t have to tell you about that great new gallery downtown or the cool cocktail joint that just opened. It’s okay to have a folder of harmless standbys. But trust us: we can handle something offbeat and authentic, like that great Indonesian spot your colleague in Amsterdam sent us to.

Indeed, many of your brethren go above and beyond, like the London concierge who selected a gift at Harrod’s for our friend’s wedding, or the guy in Tokyo who mapped out a complicated train journey for us. So please, don’t just feed us the same rote script. Wouldn’t a little creativity make your job more interesting?

Respectfully,
The T+L Editors

Photo © iStockphoto

Eat Like a Local: Canada's Best Scones

scones

Together with CNN, Travel + Leisure's multi-platform series 100 Places to Eat Like a Local combines iReports from you, television spots, chef recommendations, and editor finds to spotlight the best local food finds around the world over the next few months. Here's one iReport here.

CNN PRODUCER NOTE | While on a two week motorcycle trip from her home in Maryland to and around Nova Scotia, sasstagg says she discovered Cabin Coffee, a store that she says serves delicious scones that are extra tasty. "They were taking the scones out from the oven when I walked in and they had me at first glimpse and first whiff. They were hot and fresh from the oven and loaded with fresh local berries," she says. "You can't get scones like that in Maryland, even from my local coffee shop that makes them from scratch."

- Anika3, CNN iReport producer

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Photo Courtesy Sheila James

Thanksgiving Travel Expectations and Values

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With nearly 24 million travelers on the road and in the skies this Thanksgiving weekend, Travel + Leisure gives you the lowdown on the busiest travel days, how much that flight will cost you, and where you can find hotel values this holiday season. 

What to Expect:

A TripAdvisor® Thanksgiving travel survey projects that 35 percent of travelers are planning to travel this Thanksgiving, up from 34 percent who did so last year. Thirty eight percent of those traveling for Thanksgiving are planning to fly, while 58 percent will drive.

Related: Top Holiday Travel Strategies

U.S. airlines expect the number of passengers traveling from Friday, November 16 through Tuesday, November 27 to increase by 150,000 people, slightly higher than last year (but below peak years of 2006-2007), according to Airlines for America. The busiest travel days are expected to be the Sunday after Thanksgiving (2.4 million), the Wednesday before (2.3 million), and Monday November 26 (2.3 million), according to Airlines for America, with planes close to 90 percent full on those dates.

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Video: 100 Places to Eat Like a Local

Travel + Leisure teamed up with CNN to create the delicious multi-platform series 100 Places to Eat Like a Local. Combining iReports from you, television spots, chef recommendations, and editor finds, we’ll be spotlighting the best local food finds around the world over the next few months. For more, watch the video.

Crowdsourcing: What to Do When You're Near the Washington D.C. Mall


View Washington, D.C. Mall in a larger map

We asked true travel pros what to do near the Washington D.C. Mall. Want to share your advice? Join our community on Facebook at facebook.com/travelandleisure and at Twitter @TravlandLeisure.

“Visiting the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is one of the most moving experiences in D.C.” —Gail Goldberg, via Facebook

“I always order the St.-Germain cocktail at POV, on the roof of the W Hotel.” — Elizabeth Conway, via Facebook

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Confessions of a Taxi Driver

taxi

John McDonagh has been a cabbie in New York for more than 30 years (and yes, the job is as crazy as you’d think).

“I can almost always tell the people that are gonna get sick in my car. Two dudes helping a friend stand? Yeah...I’m not pulling over.”

“A guy was making out with two girls at once and one got so jealous she jumped out of the moving car. I still got them to Jackson Heights all right.”

“The worst tippers are from Europe—the French, Dutch, and Spanish especially. It’s nothing to do with cheapness; it’s their custom.”

“New Yorkers are so spoiled. They’ll wait for a table or Broadway tickets. But a taxi? Fuhgeddaboudit.”

Photo by iStockphoto

TODAY Show Video: 5 Spooky Halloween Trips

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Captain Fairfield Inn, Kennebunkport, ME

This classic 9-room inn a block from the Kennebunk River is hosting a pumpkin carving contest this Halloween. Pick up a pumpkin at nearby Patten’s Berry Farm and take it to the pumpkin carving station. The pumpkins will be displayed on Halloween night, when a panel of judges will select the winner. The prize is a free night’s stay to be used anytime between October 2012 and the end of April 2013. Doubles from $159/night. www.captainfairfield.com

Related: World’s Most Mysterious Buildings

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO

The inspiration for Steven King’s The Shining, this hotel has an on-staff paranormal investigator who will take you on a five-hour ghost hunt—if you’re brave enough. There is a range of other ghost and history tours available, and the hotel puts on a Murder Mystery Dinner on Friday, October 26, and a Shining Ball on Saturday, October 27 ($89 per person). Doubles from $169/night. www.stanleyhotel.com

Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Orlando, FL

Book this package for a 3-night stay at Loews Royal Pacific Resort (on-site at Universal Studios Orlando), a 2-day ticket to both Universal Orlando theme parks, early park admission to Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and one night admission to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal, where you can experience mazes and haunted houses featuring “The Walking Dead: Dead Inside” based on AMC’s series and “Welcome to Silent Hill” based on the video games and film franchise. From $609/adult ($203/night per adult). www.loewshotels.com and www.halloweenhorrornights.com

Virginia Hotel, Cape May, NJ

A restored 1879 landmark building just a half a block from the beach, the Virginia Hotel has cottages as well as rooms in the main house. Its Creepy Cape May package includes continental breakfast, two drinks at the on-site Ebbit Room, special Fat Witch treats, and a Ghosts of Cape May Trolley Tour through the town’s Victorian streets with a guide who will relate the paranormal findings of ghost writer Craig McManus along the way. Doubles from $140/night. www.virginiahotel.com

The Orlando on Third, Los Angeles

A recently renovated 95-guestroom boutique hotel near Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, The Orlando offers a “Holly-ween” package. It provides Bloody Brunch for two at the on-site restaurant, The Churchill, a personal fitting at costume store Trashy Lingerie, two tickets to the “Dia De Los Muertos Festival” at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on October 27 for anyone who books for Halloween night, and late-night transportation to and from the West Hollywood Halloween Festival. From $289/night. www.theorlando.com


More From Travel + Leisure:

World’s Most Haunted Forests

America’s Coolest Ghost Towns

Funny Signs From Around the World

World’s Strangest Beaches

Confessions of an Aspen Bellman

bellman

A veteran porter sheds light on working at a ritzy ski-town resort.

“A lot of people assume that we’re good for carrying luggage, and that’s it. But we know as much or more about where to eat and what to do as the front desk or concierge.”

“Some guests think we’re their personal assistants. They want us to get them groceries, swap their pillows, even drive them to the liquor store and wait for half an hour.”

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Crowdsourcing: What to Do When You’re on Cape Cod


View Cape Cod in a larger map

We asked true travel pros what to do on Cape Cod. Want to share your expertise? Join our community on Facebook at facebook.com/travelandleisure and at Twitter @TravlandLeisure.

“Go to Napi’s restaurant (7 Freeman St.), on a Provincetown side street. We usually order the “king’s feast for two”: bouillabaisse topped with a 1 1/4-pound lobster.” —Ricky Coombs, via Facebook

“A French native owns Wellfleet’s PB Boulangerie Bistro (15 Lecount Hollow Rd.) (no surprise: it’s beyond delicious).” —@jesslaniew

“After a beach day, a movie at Wellfleet Drive-In is a relaxing, Cape-style throwback.” —Carol Intravaia, via Facebook

“Nauset Beach (Orleans) is gorgeous! Look for the food shack on the sand for the best onion rings ever.” —@rabbilaufer

“Need a nightcap? The Chatham Squire has been a legend since 1968.” —Suzanne Corcoran, via Facebook

Secrets of New York City's Chelsea Galleries

Leonardo Drew Chelsea gallery

We recently took a spellbinding 90-minute tour of Chelsea with David Behringer, founder of The Two Percent Gallery Tours (917/727-7687; $200 with a private group of three or less). The focus was his five favorite exhibitions—a godsend for art-world rookies—but also included some little-known facts about the area (for example: did you know 19th-street is filled with starchitecture by everyone from Frank Gehry to Jean Nouvel? And that the Oreo cookie was born in Chelsea market in 1912?). For more Behringer's favorite gallery stops, check out this Weekend Getaway. Here are some of the gallery highlights:

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