Q: Are there any U.S. city hotels with great new rooftop bars? —Jim Whelan, Ridgefield, Conn.
A: Peninsula hotels on both coasts are giving their rooftops a face-lift. In New York, the hotel’s Salon de Ning bar is punctuated with global accents like Moroccan lanterns, Chinese daybeds, and Venetian mirrors. Nab a spot on the western terrace to catch a glimpse of the MOMA Sculpture Garden, and try the Baojing Vodka martini. In L.A., the Peninsula Beverly Hills opens a 6,000-square-foot rooftop garden, complete with palm trees, wisteria, and jasmine, where guests can dine alfresco and sip cocktails under the stars. Or try visiting the ABH lounge atop the new eight-story Thompson Beverly Hills . While there, you can sample sesame-crusted shrimp rolls from BondSt, the Japanese restaurant downstairs.
I want to plan an impromptu weekend trip to London. Where should I go online to find last-minute hotel deals? —Dave Goldberg, Mission Hills, Kans.
Believe it or not, Priceline and Hotwire are ideal for scoring a deal at a luxury hotel—especially in larger cities. Both are “a distribution channel of last resort,” says Bill Carroll, a senior lecturer at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. Which means that even five-star properties will turn to these sites when they aren’t full. (In fact, in some larger cities, one out of five rooms goes empty on any given night.) The savings are a matter of timing; the deepest discounts come when you book only four days before you intend to arrive at your destination.
I’m planning a honeymoon in the Caribbean, but am worried about hurricanes. Any tips? —Pamela Brown, Asheville, N.C.
If your heart is set on the Caribbean during the height of hurricane season ( June through November), you have a couple of options. Consider islands outside the hurricane belt, like Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao. According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), these islands have never been hit by a major (Category 3 or higher) hurricane. For other islands, you can find satellite weather maps and historic data at NHC’s website (nhc.noaa.gov). This will help you choose a spot with the lowest probability for a storm. Finally, it’s wise to buy travel insurance. Plans from both AIG Travel Guard (800/826-4919; travelguard.com) and Access America (800/284-8300; accessamerica.com) cover trip cancellation and interruption, which can include delays, rescheduling expenses, and emergency travel services.
My husband and I want to explore Colorado this summer. What should we do and where should we stay? —Nora Kessler, Silver Spring, Md.
The mountains surrounding Vail Valley are ideal for biking and hiking. After a day outdoors, check into the super-luxe, six-month-old Arrabelle at Vail Square. Recently rebuilt, the Tivoli Lodge is a great affordable option. One hour away by car, the historic town of Breckenridge offers plenty of outdoor activities, from golf to fly-fishing. Stay at the BlueSky Breckenridge, a 50-condominium property.