The last-minute hotel booking space is getting a little less last-minute, as HotelTonight is unveiling a new feature that lets users book their rooms a full week in advance. The new features, live today, respond to a need to have more flexibility when traveling in certain situations, says CEO Sam Shank, who for the first time talked about demographics beyond the spontaneous weekend traveler when I met with him earlier this week. Business travelers, he pointed out, would especially stand to gain from the new model, which allows you to wait until your schedule is set before deciding which neighborhood (or specific property) might be best suited for a particular trip.
When you’re spending as much as $30 a day for hotel parking, tipping the valet each time he or she retrieves your car can seem like an unnecessary investment. That $30, however, goes only toward the valet’s base pay, which—much like a waiter’s—is calculated assuming that he or she will receive gratuities. If you don’t want to hand out money each day, ask the concierge if it’s possible to leave a total tip at the end of your stay: many hotels pool and distribute tips evenly to the valets.
Today Marriott Hotels launches a brand-new, knock-your-socks-off travel experience that allows you to immerse yourself in a virtual-reality version of London and Hawaii, complete with motion, sounds, and even sprays of water for a “4-D” experience that makes typical virtual reality pale in comparison. The Teleporter, as the experience has been tagged, is being rolled out to the public starting today and over the next eight weeks at select Marriotts nationwide (see the full schedule here). Why should you care? Read on...
Hotel executive Katherine Melchior Ray knows how to stay stylish on the fly.
Although Katherine Melchior Ray, the vice president of luxury brands at Hyatt Hotels, is on the road at least twice a month, she never forgets to pack a touch of home. “I bring my own coffee mug. That way, I don’t feel like I’m in a hotel, especially if I’m in bed and the sun’s coming in.”
A quartet of fresh-faced openings in the Northeast is breathing new life into the B&B.
Lexington, Massachusetts The Inn at Hastings Park (pictured) has 22 tastefully decorated rooms (handwoven blankets; Peter Fasano wallpaper) in three historic buildings just 25 minutes from downtown Boston. Chef Mathew Molloy uses produce from local farms in New England–centric dishes such as seared scallops with gnocchi, corn, and lobster stew. $$
Lewes, Delaware The owners of the celebrated Dogfish Head brewery recently opened the eclectic, 16-room Dogfish Inn. It’s located a mile from Lewes Beach and about three from Cape Henlopen State Park, so beer lovers can swim, bike, and hike, then quench their thirst at the brewery itself, right up the road. $$
At the newly opened Peninsula Paris, there are two entrances. The first is on Avenue Kléber, where steps lead up to a large terrace café and then into the lobby restaurant. The stairs are flanked by two imposing Chinese lion statues in white marble, among the few overt signs of the hotel group’s venerable Hong Kong heritage. The 19th-century limestone building and slate-tiled mansard roof are otherwise classically Parisian, overlooking the wide, tree-lined avenue. Indeed, the hotel is an emblem of Haussmann’s Paris—stately and confident, a block away from the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Élysées, in the 16th Arrondissement. The stonework façade is intricately detailed and like the entire building has been carefully restored; a glass-and-steel canopy extends origami-like over the entrance. This is the public face of the hotel, promising glamour and the cosmopolitan rush of the city, a place of coming and going, a place to see and be seen.
There’s nothing quite like the hotel spa experience. You can book an appointment last-minute; ride the elevator wearing just a bathrobe (with no shame); bask in a beautifully designed space; and head back to your room without even glancing at a bill.
These days, hotel spas are stepping up their game, partnering with top beauty brands to bring a new level of sophistication to their treatments and products. Here, one of our favorites:
6:24 p.m.: You’re on the verge of sensory overload. It’s golden hour at the new 160-room One&Only Hayman Island, a green haven on the Great Barrier Reef, and you’re reliving the day’s adventures. It began with a seaplane flight over this, the world’s largest living structure, touching down to snorkel in a pristine lagoon that exploded with color: rainbow-hued parrot fish bobbing among forests of staghorn coral, glowing purple and pink; green turtles and manta rays commuting casually by. (And don’t forget the giant clams, whose magenta lips slowly closed into contented grins as you swam past.) Lunch was a picnic and a chilled Barossa Valley rosé on the blazing-white sands of Coconut Beach. Now you’re back in a breezy cabana, met by a server with a tray of tart passion-fruit daiquiris to cleanse your palate for the evening ahead. What next? Take a short hike to Sunset Peak to catch the day’s last light? Maybe. Book an “Ocean Dreaming” massage, performed as you float on the warm tides of the Coral Sea? That sounds more like it. Then you remember you’ve planned a kayak trip tomorrow morning to one of Hayman’s secluded coves, and decide it’s best to tuck in early. So you head back to your suite, order up a platter of Sydney rock oysters, and count the shooting stars.
For much of the 1970’s, my father was a traveling salesman, moving across the country by car and plane. Upon returning home, he’d empty his nicked hotel keys into a green wooden crate. The box lived on the top shelf of my parents’ closet, and I used to pull out a chair and stand on my tippy-toes to reach it, then lie on the floor and sort the 200 or so keys by fob shape, destination, or hotel chain. For a little girl in a one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment, that box of keys was a window to the exciting world outside.
Each key tells a story. There’s one from the Host Motel, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where Dad found himself during the historic flood of 1972. There’s another from the scary Rodeway Inn in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he knew to put a chair under the doorknob at night. (“But they had great ribs,” he insisted.) There are the many Ramada Inns, from exotic places like Portland, Oregon, and even more Howard Johnsons and Holiday Inns, whose purloined towels hung neatly in our bathroom—I imagined the stylized star to be our family crest. One lone cast-iron key from the King David Jerusalem was pilfered during my parents’ honeymoon; the Quality Inn in Omaha was from the night I was born, Dad off to chase a deal. My father would rave about the gym at Chicago’s Hyatt Regency O’Hare because it was such a luxury—those keys signified boom times.
The city where travelers can find the most affordable five-star hotels in the world? Warsaw, Poland, where the average luxury room went for just $130 a night in the first six months of 2014. This is according to the annual Hotel Price Index from Hotels.com, which looks at how much people spent for rooms at properties across the globe over the first half of the year.