Shermanstravel Blog

Hotels

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Not long ago, the idea of staying in Brooklyn, Queens, or the Bronx instead of Manhattan during a New York City visit would’ve been met with disbelief. One, who stayed overnight in the outer boroughs unless a flight was involved? Two, no one could name a decent hotel because…well, there weren’t many.

But times have definitely changed. Visitors and businesses alike have been flocking to nifty-sounding neighborhoods — and to more palatable prices. The outer boroughs’ new hotels have been varied, ranging from well-known chain properties to offbeat boutiques. Here are a few on the scene that we love, plus a couple more to look forward to in the future.

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Switzerland’s Hotel Palafitte lays claim to an unusual distinction: it is the only hotel in Europe built on stilits — an architectural detail more commonly associated with the Indian and Pacific oceans. More than mere novelty, the stilts are an architectural design meant to enhance the surrounding views. The luxury boutique property, a member of Preferred Hotel Group, was built as part of Switzerland’s 2002 National Exposition and consists of 40 spacious private bungalows, twenty-six of which are called “Lake Pavilions” and situated lakeside and built directly over Lake Neuchâtel in Romandie, the French-speaking area in western Switzerland. Read more

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If there’s one responsible thing you do over Labor Day weekend, let it be solidifying your Thanksgiving plans. We know it’s difficult to think ahead to the next big holiday while you’re still working on taking advantage of the current one, but we hear from our friends at Hipmunk that airfare is expected to rise significantly after the holiday. If you don’t already have a destination in mind, consider some of our favorites for Thanksgiving.

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The Kimpton Hotel Group pioneered the boutique hotel concept in the U.S. when it opened its first property in San Francisco in 1981. Since then, its stylish hotels have popped up in 29 cities across the country. And there’s more on the way: Properties will open in Pittsburgh, Austin, Chicago, and even the Cayman Islands, to name a few, within the next two years.

With two hotels welcoming visitors in the “City of Brotherly Love,” we took the opportunity to check in at the Palomar, Kimpton’s first Philadelphia hotel, which which debuted in the Rittenhouse Square area in 2009.

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As much as we appreciate hotel loyalty programs, accumulating points from just one hotel brand can feel like quite a slog, and a little uninspiring — who, besides the very frequent business traveler, wants the same brand experience each and every time they check in?

Just over a year ago, Preferred Hotel Group introduced a loyalty program, iPrefer, that honors stays at the more custom, bespoke hotels over the big box brands; it’s the world’s only loyalty program available at a global collection of truly independent hotels. Here’s how it works, and how you can join.

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Autumn is an underrated time to be in the Caribbean, including Curaçao. During this shoulder season, the Dutch island’s 35 beaches are rarely crowded, hotel rates are unbeatably low and, most importantly, the weather is divine. Whether you’re strolling cobblestone streets in the capital city, admiring an ancient fort, or diving in one of the world’s best spots, there’s an activity for every interest.

Even better news: As part of a Dare to Explore promotion, a curated collection of hotels are slashing their rates this fall, by as much as 50 percent. To be booked through various vendors like Costco Travel and Funjet Vacations, are good for travel between September 15 and December 15 — and need to be booked by September 15.

Here’s a sampling:

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A.G. Thomson House, Deluth, MN

We’ve always been big fans of bed and breakfasts for their cozy, personal feel, not to mention the amazing first meals of the day that you’re always treated to. But beyond that, staying at a B&B also means access to localized advice on what to do, being able to borrow trip essentials that you might have forgotten, and getting the opportunity to meet smart people from all over the world. While it typically requires a bit more effort to book  yourself into a B&B — they aren’t listed on traditional hotel search sites, though the likes of bnbfinder.com are starting to try to address that — the rewards can be tremendous. Here’s how to make the most of your stay the next time you check into a B&B:

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Villa CampestriVilla Campestri, a stunner of a property that’s situated in the hills of Mugello, just 45 minutes from Florence, and has something that other Tuscan resorts don’t: an on-site olive grove and production facility.

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MondrianSoBe1The Morgans Hotel Group, which offers a spate of stylish, upscale properties around the world, is in the midst of some major expansion. The Mondrian London at Sea Containers is set to open September 30, followed by the Mondrian Doha, and the Mondrian Istanbul. The hotel group is also preparing to open their Delano brand in Las Vegas this fall, followed by Cesme, Turkey; Moscow; and Cartagena; then another in Karaköy, Istanbul. With all this new activity in mind, we took a step back to see how their second Mondrian property, in South Beach, Miami, which opened way back in 2008, is holding up.

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National Skyscraper Day, which falls on September 3 this year, is a bit obscure as most holidays days go. But here’s a related celebration that any traveler can appreciate: a Chicago hotel that’s commemorating the day with a week of $99 rates.

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Shangri-La Hotel at The ShardWho doesn’t love a new hotel pool, especially when it’s on the 52nd floor of a luxury hotel in one of our favorite cities in the world — London?

The Skypool at the Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard just opened, and we’re swooning. Not only is it the highest pool in Western Europe, it also offers views of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the London Eye, and it’s heated.

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sedona, az - christine weiNo plans for Labor Day weekend? If you regularly read ShermansTravel, you’ll know that two weeks is more than enough time to plan a last-minute vacation. With these deals, it’s easier than ever to say “yes” to one last summer escape…

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The Omni Hotels and Resorts brand launched a 72-hour sale this morning, which means the clock is ticking if you want to take advantage it. Until midnight on Thursday, August 21, the brand’s Labor Day Special is offering rooms for $99, $119, $139, $169, $199, and $229 in select cities for stays from August 24 through September 7. Just in time for a last-minute Labor Day weekend getaway.

Sample rates include $199 at Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, which, with its paddle boarding, golfing, island hoppers, and Segways, makes for a great family getaway;  $119 at Omni Rancho Palmas in Palm Springs, and $159 at Omni New Haven at Yale – handy for parents dropping their children off for the start of the school year. To get that attractive $99 rate, you can head south to steamy Texas where, at Omni Fort Worth Hotel, you can cool off in their rooftop pool.

By Claudine Zap

Really want to get away from it all? Consider a hotel that’s so remote, you can get there only by boat (or seaplane if you’re a tycoon). Think Robinson Crusoe without the shipwreck. Here, some of the standouts.

A $60 Hotel in Crete and 6 Other Hotels So Remote You Can Only Get There By Boat

The dock leading to paradise — Ilet Oscar Guest House (Photo: Ilet Oscar Guest House)

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Soho House Chicago tiny and small rooms

Autumn in Chicago is heavenly — and the city’s newest boutique hotel is just as sweet. Earlier this month, Soho House opened a Chicago outpost of its luxe collection, a mix of hotels and member clubs in cities like New York City, West Hollywood, and, of course, London (home to the brand’s flagship).

Now through August 31, special introductory rates at Soho House Chicago begin at $240 a night. This is for a “tiny” and “small” room category between 200 and 350 square feet. Come September, per-night costs will spike up to $320, although some select weekdays in September and October will dip down to $260-$300.

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