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If you tend to stay away from cheesy double decker bus tours while on vacation, well…we can’t blame you. Often, the only real way to get to know a city is to just walk it, unguided, and let the adventure unfold as you go. But there’s something irresistible about surrendering to a nighttime tour: cruising down busy avenues, letting yourself be dazzled by marquee lights as they whiz by, and getting a birds-eye view of a city just as its restaurants, bars, and nightclubs begin to come alive. Just remember to put down the camera once in a while; for posterity sake, you won’t want to let the whole evening go by with your face behind a lens!
Though not as well known as its neighbor to the south, the city of Sharjah in the UAE has managed to carve out a reputation independent of Dubai and Abu Dhabi – for starters, it is a burgeoning art destination, with over 15 museums to its name, and even has its own observatory wheel. Now, thanks to a brand new night tour, visitors can now be guided through the city’s most dazzling features after the sun goes down. The Buhaira Corniche, Al Qasba (a prominent theater and exhibition space), Mega Mall, the Central Souk, and Al Noor Mosque (a destination in its own right) are just a few of the spots accessed on the new tour, which runs from 8pm to 11pm every night. $25.75 per person; for more information, click here. Read more
With the final movie installment released, Harry Potter fans seeking to hold on to the magic for a while longer will be pleased to know that the magic isn’t going anywhere. Universal Studios and Warner Bros. have just announced that their popular “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” park attraction in Orlando is also coming to Hollywood. The park will likely not open for a few years yet, and ride and feature details have yet to be released. Worry not, though, because Warner Bros. has more good news – starting March 31, 2012, you can participate in the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London and see the sets, costumes, and props from the Harry Potter movies.
For more than ten years the Warner Bros. Studio Leavesden was home to the Harry Potter films, and the tour has a lot to show for it. You can enter the Great Hall, wander Dumbledore’s office, check out Harry’s Nimbus 2000, learn about the green screen effects used in the films, and see other sets and props. Tickets are already on sale (adult tickets are $44, children ages 5 to 15 get in for $33, and children under 5 are free), so if you’ll be in London and want to get your Potter on, be sure to make your reservation. www.wbstudiotour.co.uk
Enjoy Los Angeles for less with these in-the-know budget hotel picks. Our Cali-based expert, Shaena Engle, rounds up her favorites which include quirky Hollywood classics like the country-modern Farmer’s Daughter Hotel, cool downtown hangouts like Figueroa and The Standard Downtown, and charming hideaways like the Venice Beach House. Best of all, these 10 Los Angeles budget hotels, all have rates for under $200/night, not to mention a taste of Hollywood glamour, sought-after ocean views, and even a chance for a celebrity encounter or two. Check out the full article here and see a preview of the hotels with our Top 10 Los Angeles Budget Hotels Slideshow.
Itching to help others while treating yourself? Check into one of the Hard Rock Hotels (www.hardrockhotels.com) this October and you can do both. For the 11th year running, Hard Rock Hotels will launch its Pinktober campaign with special events and amenities launched to support breast cancer research. Events will take place at all Hard Rock Hotels beginning on October 1. Locations in Hollywood and Pattaya, Thailand, provide luxury pink-themed spa packages, while hotels in Bali and Penang, Malaysia, will be hosting pink parties and pool gatherings. The Tampa hotel and casino will also be serving limited edition “pinktinis.” Read more
Anyone for tennis? Table tennis that is. Last week, Mondrian Los Angeles launched the new outpost of SPiN, a hip brand of ping pong club owned in part by actress Susan Sarandon.
At SPiN Hollywood, the two ping pong tables in Mondrian’s ADCB lounge are available for guests and visitors from 11am to midnight (2am on Thursday through Saturday), with a fee of $20 per half hour of play starting at 6pm. Cocktails and snacks from the hotel’s Asia de Cuba restaurant are always on hand, and players can look forward to regular tournaments and special events.
The original SPiN opened in 2009 in New York City’s trendy Meatpacking District (spunky staff t-shirts read “Balls are My Business”). Mondrian’s tables represent the brand’s first expansion; a new club will debut in Milwaukee in August.
The Luxury Having just undergone a property-wide renovation, the Chamberlain West Hollywood is trendier than ever. The four-story boutique hotel offers 114 redesigned suites (each equipped with a fireplace and private balcony), a rooftop pool, and a plush fitness center. Decorated in tones of ice blue, olive green, and cool gray, with pin-tucked couches and marble floors, the Chamberlain is ideal for LA visitors seeking relaxed luxury. Enjoy panoramic city views from the pool or dine on American and French cuisine, made with locally sourced ingredients, at the bistro lounge before heading out to experience the nightlife on nearby Sunset or Santa Monica boulevards.
The Value The hotel is offering 15 percent discounts on all room types, bringing nightly rates as low as $205. Plus, a complimentary upgrade may be available at check-in. Book by August 31 for travel through September 1; the extended booking period is exclusively for Sherman’s Travel readers.
The Catch There are some blackout dates.
The Details 310-657-7400 (mention code STLL); chamberlainwesthollywood.com
From the Summer 2010 issue of Sherman’s Travel magazine.
The stylish all-suite Chamberlain West Hollywood first turned heads when it opened in 2005. Now just five years later, the boutique hotel has embarked on an extensive makeover, completely revamping its guestrooms and certain public spaces. Along with a new color scheme (think periwinkle and cream with gold and chocolate accents), rooms will boast luxe new amenities like Sferra bed linens and Neil George Salon beauty products, and all the bathrooms have been completely redone. The Chamberlain’s rooftop pool area also got a facelift, sporting sleek new colors. Renovations are due for completion in early July.
Experience the hotel’s redesign firsthand (for less!) with Chamberlain’s Linger Longer offer, where guests stay three nights but only pay for two. With rates starting at $280/night, you can score savings of around $100/night once the free night is averaged in. The deal is valid on Executive Suites and Premier One Bedroom Suites and is subject to availability. Book via chamberlainwesthollywood.com.
The exclusive club of media industry rogues, U.K.-based Soho House slackens its members-only policy by one more property. In the midst of London’s bohemian East End, Shoreditch House opens 26 new guestrooms to the public on April 9. Known for entertaining a crowd of not-so-starving artists, this socialite asylum charges non-members over $400/night at its Berlin, New York, and Hollywood locations. Lucky for us, this Soho House newcomer hasn’t fallen in line just yet; a recent search found rates from $90/night through fall 2010, generally on a Tuesday overnight coupled with early booking — no membership dues required (that’s a savings of over $1,800 annually!). Preserving the secrecy of Soho House, guests book blind, leaving it to the concierge to assign them a room at time of arrival.
I recently had the pleasure of overnighting on St. Barts to review its jewel-box hotel, Eden Rock. (Ah, yes, I love my job.) While it’s hard to go wrong with accommodations on St. Barts – the island is filled with glitzy boutique hotels polished to perfection – the Eden Rock stands out from the gang for a few reasons.
Spend your holiday weekend like a true celebrity with The Easter Feast package currently available at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City. This deal includes accommodations at the hotel, a champagne brunch on Easter day for two, and complimentary parking. This hotel features a pool, fitness center, Starbucks, and onsite restaurant. Local attractions include Universal City Hollywood, Disney Land, and the Griffith Observatory. Rates start at $259/night and this package is valid April 10-14.
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