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Hotel to Guests: For Pity's Sake, Pipe Down Already

Premier Hotel

Call it another miracle of technology: You don't have to be a bathrobe-clad buzzkill anymore, who squints out from your hotel-room door in the wee hours to give a dirty look to some partier loudly staggering down the hall. There's now a machine to do that for you.

Thanks, that is, to Premier Inn. The UK-based budget hotel chain guarantees guests that they'll get a good night's sleep—and gives them a refund if they don't.

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Royals Plus Vampires? Count Us In

Dracula's Castle

Ask the typical person what Romania is famous for and you’ll likely get two answers: Olympians and Dracula.

But while gymnasts have the depressing tendency to grow up and retire, Dracula at least has the advantage of immortality, especially since he’s mostly fictitious.

So we have to give credit to the Romanian National Tourist Office for making the most of an old association: According to a recent report, the tourist board is planning to promote the historically true Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia—the 15th-century monarch who supposedly inspired the fictional Prince of Darkness—as a distant cousin of that can’t-get-enough-of-them British Royal Family.

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"Black Ivory" Coffee is Code for ...

201211-b-elephant-coffee-2jpg

Black Ivory coffee claims to be one of the rarest, most refined coffees in the world, and retails for a whopping $1,110 per kilogram. And now, it's being offered at the Anantara Resort properties in Thailand,the Maldives, and Abu Dhabi.

How could this wonderful coffee be so luxurious, you might ask? Its proteins—and their associated bitter taste—are broken down during a "refining" process. That process, it turns out, involves a rescued street elephant chomping a huge load of the Thai Arabica beans, digesting them, and then, let's just say, jettisoning the remnants from his or her anterior region.

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Good News! UFOs (Probably) Won't Doom Your Flight

UFO

If you're a nervous flier, you already have plenty to worry about: turbulence, the seemingly "fuzzy math" of aerodynamics, and flight attendants who may, at any moment, go rogue. But here's a new issue to obsess over: UFOs.

A recent US News and World Report story explored the unnerving possibility that UFOs are zipping around the skies and distracting your airline pilot when he or she should be totally focused on A) flying safely to your destination and B) turning on the intercom to point out the Hoover Dam or Dollywood outside your window.

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How Much Will You Pay for a Good Nap?

airport nap

No more fighting over that coveted stretch of chairs at the airline gate—you know, the ones without the spine-bisecting armrests.

Two major U.S airports are making the tacit admission that there's a good chance that you'll get delayed while under their roofs, but they are at least offering you a spot to stretch out in peace. "Minute Suites" are now available in Concourse B at Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport, as well as at the Terminal A-B Link at Philadelphia International Airport.

The suites are outfitted with a day bed, pillows and blankets, a TV and the all-important Internet access. SFO plans to introduce its own version of the napping suites next year, upping the ante with groovy curved walls to make you feel like you have more space (or, to give you the surreal jet-lag-exacerbated sensation of sleeping inside an egg).

"Minute" may be a misnomer with the Minute Suites: they start at $30 an hour—but that still beats sleeping face-down in the airport CinnaBon.

Photo by iStockphoto

Post-Election 'Haze' for the Travel Industry?

marijuana

The election has only been over for a few days, and so far there have been no reports of disappointed Romney voters booking, en masse, one-way airline tickets to Canada.

That said, there may still be a post-election windfall coming to the travel industry, at least for two U.S. destinations: Washington and Colorado, which both passed ballot measures legalizing recreational marijuana, and possibly opened the doors wide for mary-jane-seeking tourists.

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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

Golf Cart Renaissance? The Thrill of Low-Speed Rail

railway

Here's a bucket-list trip for the kooky trainspotter in your life.

New Zealand–based tour operator Forgotten World Adventures invites folks to drive "rail carts" along the old Stratford to Okahukura Railway Line, which was originally built between 1901 and 1933, and which runs parallel to the Forgotten World Highway.

The "rail carts," however, are not velvet-draped sleepers from the glamorous heyday of rail travel. They're souped-up golf carts, imported from the U.S. (Georgia, to be exact). Their little steering wheels don't work now—probably a good thing—but you can still can stop and go with the pedals, all the better for enjoying the views, or posing for camera-toting rubberneckers.

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Bunny Fever (Sort of) Heading to India

Playboy Club

Are the bunnies going Bollywood? The first Playboy Club of India—a 22,000-square-foot hotspot set along Candolim Beach in north Goa—will open this December. Fun Playboy Club trivia: It's the first Playboy Club ever on a beach, and plans are for seven more clubs to pop up around the nation over the next three years.

But hold onto your fluffy tail: Given the nation's tough rules regarding decency, there will be some big things missing from this new Playboy Club. Like, the corset-based bunny outfit. Or any nudity, for that matter.

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Vegas Tip: Beware of Hot, $10,000 Chips

Vegas Casino Theft

We’ve always loved walking through a Vegas casino in the morning: the calm determination of the early-riser slot-machine lovers, armed with their large coffees, and the trickle of tousled, hungover, partiers squinting their way to the lobby to go find their cars.

It turns out that near dawn is also the perfect time to pull off a big heist. Las Vegas Police are looking for a Palmdale, Calif., man who allegedly took $1.6 million in chips at The Venetian casino on Oct. 10. He supposedly walked into the casino at about 6 a.m., and with no staff nearby, picked the lock on a cabinet full of chips and strolled away with his haul.

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