Pop quiz: Where did John Lennon write the lyrics to “Imagine”? Wandering the greenery of Central Park? Sitting at a piano in his Dakota apartment? Nope—it was at Midtown New York’s Hilton, on a piece of hotel stationery. (The original hangs in Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.)
That happened in 1971, when the New York Hilton Midtown was just 8 years old. Now it’s celebrating its 50thbirthday. That means it opened in 1963—the real Mad Men era. (Check out their archival video footage here.) And while the Hilton today stands out by its sheer size—it’s the largest hotel in NYC with 1,981 rooms—it’s easy to forget how groundbreaking this venue has been. A couple fun facts: At opening, it was one of the world’s first hotels to feature original art in guest rooms. In 1999, it was the first hotel in America to have a “smart card” keyless entry system. And earlier this month, New York’s first permanent ice bar, Minus5, opened at the hotel.
There are three locations for this dog and cat resort—two in Chicago and one in Dallas/Ft. Worth—each near airports. Accommodations include large dog suites, as well as a gated community of bungalows for cats (select bungalows have window perches and fish aquariums). Dogs can exercise in the indoor grass area and splash in a bone-shaped pool. For cats, there’s an Adventure Jungle for climbing custom-made cat trees. Dog suites from $49/night; Cat bungalows from $27/night.
What’s one of the biggest headaches when traveling internationally? Cell coverage, of course; phone-bill panic can drive us to embark on desperate expeditions in search of Wi-Fi.
Hotels know this is a problem, and the OPUS hotel in Vancouver has come up with a unique solution: each room comes stocked with an Internet-connected iPad that you can carry around the city with you. Social media, reviews, guides (don’t forget to bookmark T+L’s Vancouver guide)—all accessible from anywhere. Even better, the connection is free. (It’s a good thing, too—don’t get us started on paying extra for Internet.)
Some rooms at the OPUS even come with an extra bonus: a Samsung Galaxy phone (that you can also carry around with you) that acts as an in-room land line. That means you can get free incoming calls, or just dial “0” and reach the concierge—from anywhere.
And if you don’t want the hotel to see just how much time you spent on TravelandLeisure.com during your stay, not to worry; your browsing history is deleted the minute you check out.
In the 1920’s, when the owners of Alberta’s new Prince of Wales Hotel($) announced that it would offer unparalleled views of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, the New York World bluntly declared the lodge’s true intention: to become “a haven for thirsty American travelers.” Yet long after Prohibition, the hotel maintains a certain (if rugged) allure from both sides of the border. With its sloped roof and interior beams of dark Douglas fir, it feels as at home in the park as the eagles that swoop over the bell tower. Afternoon tea service is now a main draw, but I prefer to take a dram of Canadian Club rye in the Windsor Lounge, where the whisky tastes as crisp and dry today as it did when it was forbidden.
Good-bye, runny eggs and sad-looking cereal stations. Hello, Vietnamese bánh mì and French almond sponge cake. These hotel buffets are eating others for brunch.
Mamilla Hotel, Jerusalem: The Piero Lissoni–designed hotel puts a modern spin on Israel’s historically hearty meal. There’s shakshouka (eggs poached in tomato sauce), chocolate babka, and 10 kinds of salad. $33.
T+L's features director, Nilou Motamed, announces the 2013 winners of Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards, as voted by readers in our annual survey. Whether it's a rustic safari hideaway or a river cruise line, these hotels, destinations, and travel companies represent the best in travel. For all the winners, click here.
Jennifer Flowers is the Travel News Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.
Procrastinators, rejoice! There’s a slew of new apps aimed at snagging a last-minute hotel deal. Here, our tech expert’s road-tested favorites.
HotelTonight(Android, iOS): The pioneer of same-day booking apps, HotelTonight features staff-vetted properties in more than a hundred cities around the world, with tags like Hip, Luxe, or Charming to guide your search. Expect trendy boutique hotels and even some splashy new openings—but don’t get too attached to any one spot. Deals change daily and can be reserved only from noon onward.
It seems like a new hotel opens every other day in New York City, but one nabe with a surprising dearth of places to stay is downtown’s Union Square, which hasn’t seen a debut in ten years. Enter the new 178-room Paul Vega-designed Hyatt that launched in May. The oft-delayed property—it took over five years to complete—is challenging the notion that a corporate chain can showcase the kind of edge that so many travelers lust for when they touch down in the globe’s style capital—the sort you find south of 14th Street.
The Eiffel Tower has reopened today following a two-day workers’ strike—a perfect excuse for me to start fantasizing about that next trip to Paris. Coincidentally, there’s a spate of hotel news coming out of the City of Light. Here’s a highlight reel:
In the posh 16th arrondissement, the Seine-facing Shangri-La Paris just launched a summer terrace with Eiffel Tower views. If you’re not lucky enough to be staying here, the terrace is open to the public from 5 to 11 p.m. this summer—stop in for a glass of Rosé and watch the sun sink into the horizon. The property also just opened its Garden Wing, adding 20 rooms and suites (half of which have Eiffel Tower views) and a private landscaped French garden.