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TODAY Show: America's Best Affordable Hotels

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T+L Features Director Nilou Motamed shares the best affordable hotel deals right now. Find luxury for less from Charleston to Las Vegas. Watch now—and read the full article here.

A Fashion Photog Goes Rogue in Paris

201104-b-paris-5jpgRead the first part of guest blogger-photographer Elizabeth Lippman’s special series about departing from the fashion flock here.

In the beginning: disaster. ALL my luggage is lost. I have my cameras and my computer, but no clothing. Let me repeat: NO. CLOTHES. For PARIS FASHION WEEK. I have only what I am wearing, my traveling-at-4am-clothes, and a toothbrush.

Happily, my husband Jac is meeting me at CDG, and we take the RER together right to the neighborhood of our first Paris apartment—"Le Studio de St. Paul" from Airbnb.com, which I've booked for three nights for $359. It's a TINY studio with a loft bed, RIGHT on Rivoli/St. Antoine in the heart of Le Marais, and packed with the clothing and personal items of the owner, a young actress. She greets us, and gives us the keys.

201104-b-paris-6jpgThe apartment is above a French chocolate store, the L'Atelier du Chocolat, and the scent of bittersweet chocolate wafts thru the open windows. Not bad. My husband has only been to Paris once, and I am eager to show him “my Paris,” my bars and cafes and, most importantly, now that I have no luggage, my favorite boutiques, all in the Marias—Blancs Manteaux, Les Petits, and Maje. BHV, where I stocked up on Princess Tam Tam and Etam undies. We make our way to Rue Charonne. Luckily for my bank account, the Isabel Marant boutique at no. 16 is closed.

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Vacationist: Ode To Greece

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The recent turn of weather reminded us that summer actually is right around the corner. Where else would we rather be than the Greek Isles this summer? Thanks to Vacationist, you can now book a trip there for less. We have options for all types of travelers, from a couples-only resort onthe southeastern coast of Mykonos to large family-friendly villas on Nikiti's pristine coast. Since the summer season is popular in Greece, be sure to book a room now.

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A Fashion Photog Goes Rogue in Milan


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Read the first part of guest blogger-photographer Elizabeth Lippman’s special series about departing from the fashion flock here.

After flying into the new airport in Milan, I hop on the Malpensa Express into the city, as guided by my super-helpful host from AirBnB.com, Fabrizio, who sent me emails with PDFs of maps, directions, his cell number, email addresses, etc.

But my cabbie drops me off with all my camera equipment (I am in town to shoot the fashion shows) on a street corner nowhere near where I’m going. Two panicked phone calls and another 12 Euro cab ride later, I find Fabrizio waiting for me nervously in Piazza 24 Maggio.

I get a tour of the apartment where I'll be living WITH Fabrizio and his wife, Asia, for the next four days. Only I, the lone American, seem to find this arrangement incredibly weird and awkward. All my other accommodations on this trip have required borrowing someone's personal space, but not actually sharing it. Here I will be sharing an apartment, and a bathroom, with this married couple.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Easy Escapes from U.S. Cities

201104-v-plumpjackjpgMay is just around the corner, so we’re thinking about easy weekend getaways that are perfect for the warm weather months. First up is PlumpJack, a mountainside retreat at the base of Squaw Valley, well-situated for hikers and cyclists looking for outdoor adventure a few hours outside San Francisco. Sybarites will love the Riviera Palm Springs, a newly-renovated resort 100 miles from L.A. with a grand spa and expansive gardens.

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Denver Deals via Text

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By now, most cities in the States have developed a mobile app or two to help visitors navigate via their smart phone or iPad. But Visit Denver, the official CVB of the Mile High City, has something even cooler up their sleeve. While many web-savvy travelers are familiar with online deal sites, like Groupon, Visit Denver developed the “Denver Deals” program to deliver deals from area businesses via text message.

While I’m glued to my desk in New York for the moment, I tested out this new program—the first of its kind—to see what they had to offer.

I texted “Denver Deals” to 63638 and within a few seconds my inbox had two new messages:

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A Fashion Photog Goes Rogue in London

201104-b-fashion-1jpgI am backstage at the Michael Van Der Ham fashion show in London, in an ancient-looking building on the Thames. In the midst of the crush of models, dressers, other photographers and frantic hair and makeup teams, I am trying to get a great "beauty" photo for my client, a top fashion magazine. A makeup artist I know from New York, hands buried in a hunk of hair extensions, asks, "Are you going to Milan, too? Where are you staying?" So I tell her the truth—in an apartment with a Milanese couple.

"Oh, how do you know them?"

I don't. I found them on the Internet.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Escape to Italy

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At T+L we’re always dreaming about our next Italian getaway (check out April Europe issue!), and now you can plan your trip for less thanks to Vacationist. Choose between a beachfront villa in Sicily; a terraced retreat along the Amalfi Coast; a grande dame in Capri; and a chic boutique hotel on a side street in Milan. Hotel deals are up 70% off, so start planning now.

Still not a member? Click here to join.

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Save Money with Your Dog on the Road

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As much as I love a seven-star oceanfront suite in Bali or a perfect boutique hotel with 10,000-count sheets, I also have a fondness for the classic American motel thanks to a childhood road trip to Disneyland. The problem is, many of the motels that sit along America's highways look like they haven’t been updated since my family made that long drive from New Jersey to Florida in the '70s.

For several weeks, my wife and I have been driving cross-country with our dog. While we've been fortunate to find small owner-operated inns and B&Bs that accept our mutt, sometimes it's impossible to avoid the chain hotels. (By the way, they don't call themselves "motels" anymore. The hotel and lodging industry officially abandoned the portmanteau of "motoring" and "hotel" in 2000.) The results have been mixed. At a certain dog-friendly national chain in Beaumont, TX, we were greeted by an incompetent and rude front-desk worker. At a different chain hotel in Charleston, WV, our room was way too shabby for the $99 per night price tag.

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How to Take a Luxury Cruise For Less

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Crystal Cruises, the #1 large-ship cruise line in our annual World’s Best Awards since 1996, is re-introducing the idea of stand-by travel on five of their sailings in May and June. The potential savings from the brochure price are a mind-boggling 70%, bringing the cost of a 12-day cruise to $2,995, or $250 a day.

The itineraries available for standby are pretty exciting: three 12-day Alaska cruise out of San Francisco, an 11-day Scandinavia and Russia trip  (Hamburg to Stockholm); and a 14-day North Cape/Arctic Circle cruise (Copenhagen to Stockholm).

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