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Hotel Review

Los Angeles Living, Travel

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?

[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: Continue Reading

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. Continue Reading

Copacabana Beach

Hotel Review: Porto Bay Rio Internacional, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

We visited Rio the last stop on our — completely kick-butt — South American vacation, which also included Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls. The Porto Bay Rio Internacional¬†hotel is right off Copacabana beach and it towers over the city, which means the views are excellent. There’s also a pool on the rooftop, which is a nice escape from the busy (and exciting) beach below, where the hotel rents chairs and umbrellas free for the use of hotel guests. Continue Reading


Hotel Review: Hotel Jardin de Iguazu, Puerto Iguazu, Argentina

For context, we visited Iguazu Falls as part of a three-leg trip that began with Buenos Aires, included the falls in the middle, and ended with Rio de Janeiro — a fabulous one-two-three punch I would recommend to anyone. We did the whole thing in eight nights (three-two-three) — the American way! — and didn’t feel rushed or tired.

When we pulled into Puerto Iguazu around midnight after our flight from Buenos Aires was delayed, we weren’t sure what to expect as far as the safety of the town. We would eventually learn it’s a quaint little place with kind people and even its own mini (but lively) restaurant row. That said, Puerto Iguazu is not fancy. For fancy, stay not at the Sheraton in the park on the Argentine side of the falls, but at the Hotel das Cataratas in the park on the Brazilian side, which looked lovely.

Anyway, for about $100 USD, we got a simple but clean room (much larger than the one we’d come from in Buenos Aires), and two daily breakfasts (also no frills, only pastries, cereal, coffee, juice). Continue Reading


Hotel Review: El Establo Mountain Hotel, Monteverde, Costa Rica

I feel guilty writing a tepid review of this or any property without this preface about my predisposition: I love the sun. My husband jokes (fairly) that I have a solar battery. If it is not charged up, I am depleted. Happiness and comfort wane immediately. So please consider this review of a hotel located in a so-called “cloud forest” through that filter.

Ahem, now then.

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Hilton Bora Bora Nui, Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Hotel Review: Hilton Bora Bora Nui, Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora: I am practically without words. It’s incredible.

When we returned from our honeymoon to French Polynesia (Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora) and I posted my photos to the Web, friends and family agreed that it looks like we shot everything in front of a green screen here in L.A. It’s just too spectacular to be real.

But back specifically now to the Hilton Bora Bora Nui. The great service began when the Hilton’s boat picked us up from the Bora Bora airport. For some reason, we were the only ones on it — V.V.I.P.-ish! We got our leis and never had to hassle with our bags (at all, on the whole trip). The staff whisked them away and handled everything. We were greeted with fruit juice and taken by golf cart to our bungalow after a little tour of the sprawling resort. Seeing my jaw drop, the woman checking us in said (in her best English, which was overall great): “Welcome in the postcard.”

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