A Travel Addict’s Guide to Great Hotels

I’ve been a fortunate traveler. Having relied on heavy research, good deals, and good luck, I’ve gotten to stay in some of the finest accommodations ranging from a charming B&B in Prague to an actual palace in Italy. Below, you will find some of my favorite hotels all around the world.

Check back often as I will be adding to the list on an on-going basis based on my previous and upcoming stays. Last updated: January 16, 2011.

NEW YORK

The Beekman Tower Hotel

3 Mitchell Place | At 1st Avenue and East 49th Street, New York City, New York 10017, United States

The Beekman is nestled in a very nice, quiet neighborhood that is only a few blocks away from the United Nations.  Not surprisingly, many ambassadors and other dignitaries stay here.  The added convenience is that each suite  has a mini-kitchenette (with a stove-top, microwave, sink & fridge), a spacious living room to receive guests and a separate bedroom.  Just in case for some reason you are suffering from a rare condition and don’t have anything to do in New York, there are television sets in each room.  Although the lobby is fairly small (standard for New York), the suite is particularly large.

The décor is gorgeous Art Deco, which provides plenty of old-fashioned charm to this hotel.  Lately it has become increasingly difficult to find a hotel that doesn’t look like every other hotel—and this one certainly doesn’t look like any other hotel.

The staff is extremely helpful, going above and beyond duty.  There are no attitudes, merely a laid-back, helpful vibe. There are no disturbances, no noise, in this NY oasis. Although the hotel isn’t modern and new, everything on my last visit has been in perfect working condition and clean.

Coming back to the Beekman each night was like coming back home, but cozier.  It felt like a luxurious private apartment more than a hotel.  If I could, I’d move in permanently.  (Who knows, maybe one day they’ll put out an ad for a writer-in-residence)

Of special note is the Top of the Tower restaurant, which was named as one of the most romantic places in New York. It’s easy to see why. Although I’m not particularly impressed be the food, this is quite the spot for late night drinks – which are delicious. The views of the harbor and city are absolutely mesmerizing. In fact, it all feels rather magical. Like a scene from some enchanting movie, enhanced by flickering candles, the classy-yet-so-down-to-earth service, and the score, provided by some wonder pianist, who is the soul of this picture.  Unfortunately, though, they no longer employ a pianist, which I think diminished the atmosphere.

LONDON

The Levin Hotel

You can be sure to get a good night’s sleep on the ultra comfortable bed at The Levin (worth some 20,000 pounds). Everything in this boutique hotel is well thought out and luxurious, including a champagne bar (with cocktail recipe books), flat screen TV, iPod docking station, Bose sound system, a marble bathroom and a choice between Molton Brown or Miller Harris toiletries. There’s even a collection of classic novels to enjoy. The design is contemporary, chic and welcoming – same goes for the staff. A stunning, unique 18 metre chandelier plunges from the ceiling. This little gem of a hotel is situated in Knightsbridge and just around the corner from Harrods. Only 2 minutes away from the tube.

Breakfast (or a meal at any time of the day) can be enjoyed at The Levin’s quaint brasserie, Le Metro.

Rates start from £225 for a double room (with continental breakfast).

For more information, visit: www.thelevinhotel .co.uk/

VENICE, ITALY

Hotel Londra Palace

Arguably, much of the hotel’s charm is owed to its location, a few steps off Saint Mark’s Square, right next to the lagoon. If you’re lucky enough to be in one of the suites with terraces that overlook it, you’re in for pure magic. There’s no feeling guilty about staying in and missing Venice’s finest offerings here.  You can enjoy a leisurely (and perhaps, romantic) breakfast on the terrace taking in the stunning views and following the hustle & bustle of the city as it unfolds beneath you.  With such inspiring surroundings, it’s no wonder that Tchaikovsky composed much of his Fourth Symphony here (in room #108, if you want to be specific).

The rooms themselves are luxurious and elegant, decorated in the gorgeous Neo-lombary/Biedermeier style, filled with 19th century antiques, original paintings and cushy furnishings that feel particularly Venetian.  They are immaculately clean and exceptionally comfortable. The size is modest, but comfortable. A definite highlight, the pink marble bathroom, is a place to be pampered.  True to form, there are generous bottles of a rather foamy bubble bath gel stocked, along with the usual amenities. You’re bound to feel like Venetian royalty here!

The reception staff are a bit reserved, but very helpful.

For a great dinner or lunch experience, try the hotel’s “Do Leoni” restaurant. With its outdoor terrace it is a great place to enjoy a meal – and soak in the jaw-dropping views, of course.

The water vaporetto from the airport stops right next to the hotel.

For more information, visit: www.hotelondra.it/

DUBLIN, IRELAND

The Dylan Hotel

The Dylan is a rather eccentric property with a design that echoes somewhat of an old-fashioned charm, while fusing it with a decidedly modern approach.  With its youthful, friendly and helpful staff, The Dylan feels more like a luxurious private mansion than a hotel.  The five-star boutique hotel manages to feel very discreet, yet welcoming and personable.

The hotel is all about personality and subtle little touches such as the incredibly delicious brownies that await you on arrival, and the special goodies that you can find after the nightly turn-down. In addition to the traditional minty chocolate left on your pillow, you can expect to find complimentary bottles of VOSS water and a unique aromatherapy “sleep well” spray.

The rooms are not exceedingly large, but comfortable, made to feel even larger due to the placement of mirrors across one wall. Some rooms come with terraces, which is a nice thing to have, although there is no real view to enjoy. The amenities in the room are very well thought out though, including a flat screen TV, very large bottles of fine shampoos, conditioners and bath salts, heated towel rack, vanity kits, slippers, wi-fi, an overpriced mini-bar (sadly, a staple in nearly all hotels), and an ipod with Bose speakers. The ipod, thoughtfully, comes loaded with some music and Dublin city audio guides, so you can take it with you on walks around the city.  Unfortunately though, with all these great amenities, one very important thing was overlooked: the bed.  The bed & pillows are on the harder side, and not as cozy as expected – although some people swear that sleeping on a hard bed is the better choice for your back.

On sleepless nights, the hotel also has a library for guests to borrow books and a plush bar. In the morning, they can awake to some delicious treats served in the hotel’s breakfast room – buffet or a la carte, the breakfast there is well worth having.

Located in an affluent suburb, The Dylan’s surroundings are without a shortage of nice pubs and restaurants, but it is definitely a bit removed from the more “happening” parts of the city and the major tourist attractions.  However, they are all within a short bus or taxi ride and a 15 minute walk to Grafton St and St. Stephens Green.

Chic, charming, elegant and bursting with personality, The Dylan is sure to host a memorable stay. Definitely one of the more unique hotels – a special place.

Visit online at: www.dylan.ie

VANCOUVER, BC, CANADA

Pacific Palisades Hotel

There is something very comforting and home-like about the Pacific Palisades, even though it doesn’t resemble home at all. Instead, it’s filled with lively colors splashed across the walls, with South Beach inspired decor. And there are even balconies, which are very nice to sit on at night when the city begins to sparkle.

Rooms are specious and there are many affordable suites to be found. These also feature a kitchenette and a mini-bar that for the first time doesn’t make you feel like someone’s reaching into your pockets and stealing all your cash. A bag of morning cereal, is only $1. If more hotels offered reasonably priced mini-bar, not only would they sell more product, but they would also make their guests very happy.

And this is what the Pacific Palisades seems to care about – guest satisfaction. This is not a luxury hotel, but a very hip, cozy hotel where the staff are very welcoming and will go out of their way, whether you’re a guest or just a visitor.

It’s no wonder that many film productions host their out of town crew and talent for extended stays at the Pacific Palisades.

Should you get thirsty for a drink at the bar or a craving for a snack, the hotel’s Zin Lounge is happy to oblige. It’s not particularly full on most nights, but that’s not entirely a bad thing. It’s worth stopping by for a drink or a snack, though for meals there are much better options nearby. Nonetheless, it’s actually a very neat spot and it’s surprising that it’s not more popular than it is. For breakfast, try the authentic French crepes across the street.

Situated on Robson Street, the Pacific Palisades Hotel is convenient to shopping, dining and for exploring the Downtown core. On top of that, the hotel is dog friendly – so you don’t have to leave your pooch at home. And at prices starting at just $140 (deals can be found for even less), it’s a great value.

Definitely one of the best hotels in Vancouver.

For more information, visit:
www.pacificpalisadeshotel.com

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2 Responses to A Travel Addict’s Guide to Great Hotels

  1. Whalen says:

    “Writer in residence”, ain’t that the dream.

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