All posts tagged Hotel Review

Saguaro Palm Springs

“Where Should I Stay in Palm Springs?” I’m Here to Tell You

“Where should I say in Palm Springs?” People ask me that a lot. I like to think this is because I always look so well rested and have such a glowing all-over-even tan. But it’s probably just because I’ve been out to the desert a zillion times, love it, and have stayed just about everywhere. Here’s my quickie guide for where to stay in Palm Springs and why. Read more…

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Riviera Palm Springs Resort & Spa

Hotel Review: Riviera Palm Springs Resort & Spa

I’ve written extensively about Palm Springs-area properties and where to stay in Palm Springs, but I want to come back to the topic to quickly give a shout out to the Riviera Palm Springs Resort & Spa.

We’ve stayed at the resort before, but visited again for a last-minute overnighter during Independence Day weekend. Yes, sweltering summer is the desert’s slower season, but we were still seriously impressed with the below-market $99 rate — such that it actually inspired the spontaneous trip. Read more…

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Hotel Atlantic Kempinski Hamburg

Hamburg’s Hot, Hip Hotels (And Other Alliterations)

One of the truly wonderful things about Hamburg, Germany is the convergence of old and new happening everywhere.

On my recent visit, I like to think I experienced the best of both after staying in two unique hotels: Gastwerk and the Hotel Atlantic Kempinski. Read more…

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Charleston, South Carolina Historic Homes on the Battery

My Very Own 36 Hours in Charleston, South Carolina

Is the “36 Hours in…” phrase trademarked by The New York Times? I hope not, because I had only that amount of time in town last weekend, and I want to tell you what I did: Read more…

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La Quinta Resort & Club

Hotel Review: La Quinta Resort & Club (So Pretty, So Much Character!)

I’m hardly breaking new ground here, but after dozens of visits to the desert over the years, I finally stayed at La Quinta Resort & Club. Love!

I found myself at La Quinta near Palm Springs on assignment, covering the terrific TEDActive conference. It’s actually been kind of a cold winter by L.A. standards (tiny violin, I know), so when I pulled in to the resort — with its vibrant flowers and palm trees against the striking mountain backdrop — I truly felt like I’d been transported to some kind of paradise after only a couple of hours in the car. You’d have to be deeply jaded not to be at least a little bit awed by the density and drama of the colorful blooms that line grounds of the massive property. Read more…

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Four Seasons Sayan, Bali

Hotel Review: Four Seasons Bali at Sayan

Those of you who know me personally know how infrequently I find myself without words. It’s not really my thing. But the Four Seasons Bali at Sayan will do that to a girl.

On our recent trip to Bali, we had limited time (as usual — sigh), and decided to spend it in the jungle area around Ubud, versus hustling to also see the beach at Nusa Dua, for instance. We loved Ubud (read: I’m obsessed with it) and spending our days there was the right choice. One thing we did do for variety, however, was to split our time between the Viceroy Bali and the Four Seasons. We’d drooled over the Viceroy and had to be pried away from it — and then when we saw the Four Seasons, we felt we’d died and gone to heaven a second time. Read more…

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Hotel Review: Viceroy Bali (a.k.a. Heaven on Earth)

When I married my husband in 2010, we agreed that travel would be one of our very top priorities over the first couple of years. With only two blank pages left in my passport since then, I’m proud — and totally thrilled — at how many incredible places we’ve seen. And in the process of travel, we’ve been privileged to stay in some of the most jaw-dropping hotels in the world. That said, it takes kind of a lot to blow our minds these days.

Tuesday night (after a fatiguing day of travel that began in Nha Trang, then Saigon, Kuala Lampur, and finally Denpasar in Bali followed by a 90-minute airport transfer), we were introduced to the Viceroy Bali — and I was promptly rendered speechless. Read more…

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A Study in Contrast: Ho Chi Minh City and the An Lam Saigon River

Ho Chi Minh City might be described as an assault on the senses, a characteristic I do not mean as a negative judgement, because the city’s pervasive wafting smell of street pho and banh mi and its palpable energy is an incredible thrill. The constant honking of horns feels more januty lifestyle than indication of danger. And it’s relentless. And so alive.

To cross the street in Ho Chi Minh involves a leap of faith that flies in the face of that oft-repeated childhood teaching squarely built into the American lexicon, and also to the American understanding of personal welfare: “Look both ways before you cross.” Instead, you mustn’t look at all, but simply muster your confidence, from a deeply counterintuitive place, and step out into the undulating sea of motorbikes and cars as if in a high-stakes, real-world game of Frogger, without hesitation or show of fear. On our first night in town, each successful crossing felt like a triumph worthy of quiet celebration.
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All of this is to say that the new An Lam Saigon River, a private residence turned lodging property comprised of 15 private villas, feels like the best kind of study in contrast just outside the madness.

Located just a 20-minute speedboat ride away from the well-traveled tourist sights of HCMC’s District 1, the property feels all retreat and serenity.

In the absence of a reception desk, each guest is assigned a personal on-call butler. Ours, Annie, was utterly gracious and perfectly attentive and present without a hint of overbearing. Sounds fancy, and totally was, but we did score a deal on the flash-sale site Vacationist.com that made it doable.

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Our well-appointed and spacious villa had a private pool, but we preferred the common pool for its exposure to more sun. And indeed, “common” felt like a misnomer, given that we didn’t see more than four other guests anywhere on property during our two-day stay.

Vegetation hangs and vines daintily with impossible lushness throughout. We enjoyed a superlatively serene sunset from the alfresco lounge overlooking the flowing Saigon River, with its occasional lazy barge or boat floating past, and its steady stream of lush, unanchored greenery that meanders along with the current.
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And so, it was when our speedboat whisked us so pleasantly along the water into the center of things that we truly appreciated the extent of the contrast. And of the value, and the privilege, of perspective for a life richly lived.

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Reader Question: Got Any Ideas for Quick Romantic Trips Within Driving Distance from Los Angeles?

Dear Homebody,

You and hubby are so good at getting away that I figured you would have a good tip on a romantic, chill, place where the two of us can go, sans baby, for one or maybe two nights while we are in Los Angeles. Any ideas?

Signed,
[Pasadena-bred gal, now a resident of Zimbabwe on diplomatic business, so a bit out of practice with the local stuff (But Zimbabwe! How cool is that?!)]

**

Dear Pasadena Bred,

Oh my gosh, yay. Romance and vacations are two of my favorite things. I totally got this one. Here are three (of so very many wonderful) ideas for weekend trips within driving distance of Los Angeles: Read more…

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Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Hotel Review: Neorion Hotel, Istanbul, Turkey

There’s no place I’ve ever been that’s quite like Istanbul. It feels so very far away (in fact, it is very far away). The assault on all senses is so powerful and relentless, and Istanbul’s towering minarets and spice-filled bazaars are places I shall not soon forget. Especially not because our hall closet, where we stashed our souvenirs, shall probably forever smell like a potent mix of curry, cinnamon, and cumin.

Anyway, this post is to offer a review of an incredible place to stay while seeing the sites. The Neorion Hotel is a true gem of hospitality and comfort, all at a fine value (a bargain, even, you might say).

We checked in on my birthday and were greeted with a birthday cake complete with candles! I was so touched. Really made me feel special so far from home. And you know how you (I) get all sensitive on your (my) birthday if people don’t recognize with appropriate fanfare. Read more…

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