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Derek is a perpetual wanderer, cultural enthusiast, and lifelong traveler. He loves going places where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, as well as places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo (supposedly its healthier and more efficient). Say Hello On Twitter!
As many of you know, Corey and I have been traveling the world for nearly nine months in Southeast Asia, and our go-to places to stay are always affordable and on-budget. But recently, we got a taste of luxury when my mom gifted Corey and me with an executive room at a 5-star hotel in Singapore for my birthday.
For the entire weekend, we wined and dined without a worry or care in the world. At the end of the weekend, we promised ourselves that we would "treat" ourselves to experiences like this more often during our travels, whether that's in the States or abroad. There's no greater feeling than being pampered while you're visiting a new city.
And since we plan to visit California when we return to the U.S., there's no time like the present to do some research! With that in mind, here are a few recommendations for luxury hotel destinations in cities across California.
Though less expensive options exist in Glendale for luxury, I cannot get enough of the Loews Hotel experience. I'm spoiled by the few staycations I had at the Atlanta hotel, and so I would wholeheartedly recommend this one, too. One of the many treats of a luxury hotel is the ability to take advantage of its amenities. Exhale Spa is one of the many treats that you'll find in Loews Hollywood Hotel, because you can engage in sweat-inducing group fitness classes and indulge in spa treatments all under the same roof.
Image by Fuller Travels via Trover.com
The Ritz-Carlton has always had the reputation of white-glove service, and it's regal in its own right. What makes this hotel unique is not the access to multiple hotspots and beaches or its prime location on the marina; it's all in the small details that they offer that make The Ritz-Carlton different. Special touches like housekeeping twice a day with a turn down service, on-demand movies, terry cloth robes and private balconies for each room will make you want to stay in the hotel all day long. Alternatively, you can explore other luxury hotels in Marina Del Rey.
The Auberge Du Soleil is on my dream list of places to stay when I visit Napa Valley again. Its proximity to V. Sattui (one of my favorite wineries), its Michelin-star restaurant focusing on Mediterranean cuisine and the 7,000 square-foot spa that focuses on holistic treatments for wellness all draw me to this place. I'm sure if I stay here on my next vacation, I may never leave Napa Valley.
Image by Katie Dillon via Trover.com
If you're seeking a true vacation destination where you can unwind, look no further than the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad, California. There are many dining options featuring various cuisines from across the world, but you don't have to venture outside to enjoy your food because there's 24-hour in-room dining. You can stay active by playing tennis and golf on their property or take off to enjoy activities like hot-air ballooning or wine tasting. And, if you're traveling with kids, the resort offers plentiful distractions for them to partake in like their kids' academy, DVD library and babysitting services.
The Inn and Spa at Parkside offers luxury bed and breakfast accommodations (you can certainly find other options for Sacramento hotels on Hipmunk's website), and it's definitely not a place to miss if you're traveling to Sacramento. There's a concierge service that will offer recommendations on what to see and do in the area, spa services that include massages and facials and a daily social hour in the evenings. With complimentary breakfast in the morning and a charming atmosphere, the Inn and Spa at Parkside will be hard to pass up.
Where do you like to get away and get pampered?
This article was originally published on A Taste Of Our City on April 13th.
With its contemporary suburbs, ultra-modern skyscrapers, and historic architecture, the Northeastern USA, is among the most eclectic U.S. regions. These period-designed Northeastern B&Bs will show you just how harmoniously the past and the present thrive here.
Image via Trover.com by Michael Kercsmar
Tourists visiting Ithaca will not only enjoy the scenic Cayuga Lake, but will also find sophisticated old B&Bs for luxuriating. Among those most noteworthy boutique mansions in Ithaca is Rogues’ Harbor Inn. Built with fieldstone in the early 1800s, this Greek Revival country inn is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It offers period-styled rooms with European duvets and luxe toiletries. Stay here to enjoy its acclaimed microbrewery and its walking-distance access to downtown attractions.
Neoclassical architecture lovers will find the 19th-century Argos Inn a fitting option. Argos Inn's rooms come with floor-to-ceiling windows, local artwork, antiques, smart TVs, and rainfall showerheads. Be sure to head to the sunroom in the morning for a sumptuous complimentary breakfast.
Family-run bed and breakfast outlets dominate the historic Stamford village. There is The Colonial B&B at Stamford NY, which features elegant wood-floored rooms reflecting Caribbean and European design. Hot breakfast here can be enjoyed in-room, in the dining hall, or by the pond. Guests who are hiking nearby trails can request for packed breakfast.
Sumptuous homemade breakfasts are also among the highlights of a stay in Stamford Gables, a homey countryhouse in Northwest Catskills. A previously abandoned property, it was refurbished to create three light-filled rooms, each showcasing elaborate woodwork, private baths, and cable TV. Hattie's Room comes with a large walk-in shower; the West Room, with a garden tub.
If you crave New England's olden charm, go to Newport. Its scenic harbor houses boutique inns fashioned in New England architecture, such as Hotel Viking, which was built in the 1920s. Rooms here are furnished with period furniture and bedding. Upgrade to a suite if you fancy elegant fireplaces and pull-out sofas. For leisure, dip in the indoor pool, drink cocktails at the rooftop bar, or indulge in rejuvenating treatments at the on-site spa.
Wyndham Bay Voyage Inn is another noteworthy hotel along the harbor. Its tan brick walls and shingle architecture seamlessly blend in with Newport's colonial landscape while offering condo-style rooms with pull-out beds and whirlpool tubs. Indoor and outdoor pools are available for use, along with BBQ grills, a theatre, and a game room.
Roanoke accommodations, are a mix of the old and the modern, with contemporary hotel chains like Holiday Inn coexisting with quaint lodges like the Colony House Motor Lodge. This 1950s family-run lodge off Route 220 feature modest and relaxing rooms with microwaves, mini fridges and cable TV. Suites with separate living rooms and kitchens are also available for bigger groups. Complimentary privileges include access to a seasonal outdoor pool and Continental breakfast.
Lancaster in Pennsylvania has its own share of historic accommodations. Built in 1882, Lovelace Manor Bed and Breakfast boasts an elegant Victorian design, with its etched doors, ornate porches, and floor-to-ceiling windows. Apart from in-room DVDs, guests can use an extensive video library and a game room, as well as a 24-hour pantry filled with soda, tea, coffee, and snacks.
If you prefer a personal home than a bed and breakfast, check out this 1927 one-bedroom brick home in historic Strasburg via Airbnb.
This post was originally published on Filipina Explorer on April 14th.
Planning a visit to London? After booking your flight and picking the perfect London hotel, the next item on the list is figuring out where to dine in this British metropolis. London is packed with everything from expensive, swanky restaurants to ultra-affordable, no-frills street vendors. The great thing about this city is that whether you dine in luxury or while just lounging on a park bench, you can enjoy some truly delicious food.
But what should you eat while you're there? You'll be bombarded with international cuisine options and hearty English dishes everywhere you turn. Tantalizing smells will waft from street carts, cafes and restaurants alike, all of which make it more difficult to decide what to eat. But on a limited jaunt in this city, you'll want to make your menu selections carefully. It's important to enjoy the traditional flavors this city serves up without missing out on some of the more exotic offerings.
To help travelers make the most of every meal in London, we've put together this hassle-free guide to the city's best dishes. Use this menu to make sure you don't miss out on the incredible flavors that London has to offer during your visit.
This article was originally published on IHG on May 9th, 2016.
With an official slogan of "Like No Place Else," Palm Springs sets the bar high for itself. Thankfully, this glistening jewel in the desert never disappoints. From hip hotspots to fine dining, with luxurious spas and world-class golfing, Palm Springs has something to cater to everyone. There are hotels in Palm Springs for all types of travelers.
Won't sleep on anything with a thread count of less than 400? Well, then the Movie Colony Hotel is the place to be. This mid-century hotel has a long and rich history, with stars such as Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra having stayed here in the past. Movie Colony Hotel was designed by the renowned Swiss architect Albert Frey, father of the "desert minimalism" style. Opt for either a traditional room or poolside townhouse. Just keep in mind that all guests here must be 21 or over.
Just the two of you looking to go somewhere for the weekend? Check out the Ingleside Inn. This boutique hotel has 30 lavish, sumptuously designed rooms that instantly make guests feel right at home. The hotel's meticulously manicured grounds and stunning interior design will leave you speechless. Weddings happen here on a regular basis, including several celebrity weddings over the years. Even Frank Sinatra and Barbara had their pre-wedding dinner at the Inn's famous restaurant, Melvyn’s Restaurant.
Theatres and museums. Live music and art exhibits. World-class shopping and plenty of nightlife options. This is downtown Palm Springs. And for those who want a hotel just a couple of minutes' walk away from the action so they don't miss a beat, look no further than the Garden Vista Hotel. The 124 rooms and suites are spacious and come with a refrigerator, microwave, and flat screen television. Of course, with so many amazing things to do nearby, don't expect to spend much time in the room.
Downtown Palm Springs. Photo by Prayitno via flickr
Not a fan of massive hotel chains or sprawling, expansive grounds? Like staying places where the employees actually remember your name? Then the place for you is the Avanti Hotel. With only 10 individually designed studios and suites, this hotel makes guests part of an exclusive minority. Although small, the Avanti is one of the nicest hotels in town. Rooms are stocked with modern furniture and appliances, including flat screen televisions and wi-fi. Private patios, kitchenettes (available in most but not all suites), and in-room massage options further make this little star shine.
If all you want out of this vacation is to find a peaceful hotel that will cater to your every whim, head on over to the Andreas Hotel & Spa, a local landmark that is over 80 years old. Its plush and cozy suites come with exquisite marble and stone bathrooms, as well as all the modern amenities one needs to be comfortable. The rooms so quiet you would never imagine that you were located right in the heart of downtown. The hotel also has a spa, pool, jacuzzi, and large courtyard. Definitely a great place to unwind for a day or four!
Featured photo via flickr // Chris Goldberg
Travelers that want to find a combination of beauty, history, hospitality, and sunshine need to consider visiting the South. The South has something for everyone. Whether you want a taste of bourbon in Kentucky or to relax by the water in Maryland, there is a southern city that matches your needs. Check out the 5 southern cities below that have something to offer its visitors.
Lexington is the “Horse Capital of the World” and is one of the most popular cities in Kentucky. One of the must-see’s in Lexington is the Kentucky Horse Park, where you can explore a 1,200 acre facility that features museums, art exhibits, and of course, a variety of horse breeds. If you like gambling, you can bet on horse races on grounds like the Keeneland Race Course. While a lot of the popular attractions involve horses, there are non-horse activities worth checking out if you visit Lexington. One of my favorites is taking a tasting tour at a local distillery. For instance, you can try a taste of Kentucky at one of the bourbon distilleries, like the Wild Turkey or Four Roses.
If you are travelling through Louisiana, you need to stop by Cajun country and stay a few nights in Lafayette. Lafayette is a vibrant city that offers a nice combination of “country” with city-life. You can spend the day visiting Avery Island, where you can see the Tobasco factory, a bird sanctuary, and exotic animals in Jungle Gardens. After a busy day of exploring, go enjoy the local cuisine at one of the many Cajun and Creole restaurants. Want to enjoy the nightlife? Check out the bars and clubs on Jefferson Street. If you need to find a place to stay near the action, consider Studio 6 which is only a few blocks from the action.
The Sunshine State is a popular travel destination in the South. One of my favorite cities to visit is located in the heart of the state in Kissimmee, Florida. For budget travelers, you have to check out the $20 million dollar local park project, the Kissimmee Lakefront Park. You can rent pavilions, go boating, fishing, BBQ, hiking, and other low-cost outdoor activities. The real reason most people stay in Kissimmee is because of its close proximity to Walt Disney World. In fact, you can stay at an affordable Kissimmee hotel like the Vacation Village that is only about 10 minutes away from Disney World.
For travelers that enjoy getting off-the-beaten path, Norcross will be worth considering. It’s cleverly tagged “a place to imagine” because of its blend of art, music, cuisine, and history. Take a stroll down the historic downtown and stop into the Crossing Steak House for a cocktail. The real benefit to staying in Norcross is that you can find an affordable hotel and still be just a few minutes from downtown Atlanta.
Salisbury is a fun city in southeastern Maryland that offers its visitors a variety of activities. If you want a quiet place to relax, the 11 acre park on Schumaker Pond is just the spot. Grab a nice book, blanket, and a few snacks, and you can decompress in the serenity of the park. Another local favorite is the Salisbury Zoo. Admission to the zoo is free and they provide guided tours. If you are looking for a versatile city to spend a few days while traveling through Maryland, you should consider staying in Salisbury.
The OC of the East Coast is Ocean City, Maryland, a popular year-round vacation destination for families or anyone who needs a break but doesn't have time to deal with long flights.
If you crave being in the heart of the action, look no further than Harrison Hall Hotel. Located right on the boardwalk, this hotel more resembles a classical style home than a hotel — not just in looks but also in feeling. From the minute you step inside, that homey sense of comfort and relaxation sets in. A quiet front porch with rocking chairs makes it perfect for relaxing the day away or gazing out upon the action of the boardwalk. Or step out the back for direct access to a private section of the OC beach. Anything else you could need, from shopping to dining or drinking, is located just a few minutes' walk away.
Known for its wide front porch and wooden rocking chairs, Plim Plaza is one of the most well-known of the boardwalk hotels. It is also one of the most affordable, making it perfect for the budget-conscious traveler. Rooms come standard with a refrigerator, cable television, and free HBO. A pool, three jacuzzis, and four different restaurants are all located on site. Of course, there is also the beach as well, not to mention a multitude of shopping and dining options just footsteps away. All this and an affordable price is exactly why Plim Plaza is a favorite of Ocean City visitors.
One of the largest boardwalk hotels is the massive Tidelands Caribbean Hotel. With multiple buildings and even a large rooftop pool, this relatively new hotel has quickly become quite popular. A variety of room layouts and suite options — all of which have kitchenettes, cable television, and Wi-Fi — make Tidelands a great choice for both families and groups of friends.
Photo by Lee Cannon via Flickr
The boardwalk is great by day, but if you don't want to be sleeping there at night too, check out the Sea Bay Hotel. Located right off the Coastal Highway near the Ocean City Expressway, this hotel has a slightly more laid back feel than those surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the boardwalk. Two pools are on site, tennis courts are across the street, and the beach is just a one minute away. What more do you need?
Located farther up the island just a couple of miles from the Maryland-Delaware border is the massive Princess Royale Hotel & Conference Center. It occupies an entire beachfront block between 91st and 92nd streets and is the ideal destination for those who want it all. Beach access. Indoor heated pool. Video game arcade. Oceanfront restaurant and lounge. Spacious condominiums. Guests of the Princess Royale often find themselves spending all their time at the resort instead of out around town.
Photo by small_realm via Flickr
Oregon and Washington are two of the most beautiful states in America. The extensive rainfall of the Pacific Northwest provides the flora and fauna with ideal conditions to thrive, making the landscape and wildlife of the region some of the best in the USA. The varied terrain and geography offers something for all types of nature enthusiasts, from plentiful coastlines to breathtaking mountains, with everything in between. Consider these destinations for your next trip to the Pacific Northwest.
The beauty of Salem is that even though it is the capital of Oregon, it doesn't feel that way. It has the subdued appearance and vibe of a quiet little town nestled among the trees. During the warm summer months the city comes alive with weekly farmers markets and other social events. While the city might not be as hip as Portland, there are still plenty of amazing sights and activities both in and around town. Definitely visit one of many vineyards scattered outside of town, and be sure to catch the Oregon State Fair if you are visiting at the end of August or early September.
Old railway bridge in Salem. Photo by Max Rae via Flickr.
The mountain town of Bend, Oregon is arguably the most beautiful part of the state. Multiple rivers snake through town and snow-capped mountain peaks dot the horizon. Several nearby lakes lay just a short drive outside of town and are great for a day-trip or camping trip. The pristine beauty of Bend makes it a favorite among both amateur and professional photographers.
Mirror Pond in Bend. Photo by Gordon via Flickr.
Spokane is another one of these American cities that has undergone a revitalization this last decade or two and become a hotbed of live music, craft beer and hip events. Add to that the natural beauty of the surrounding area and all the amazing outdoor activities year-round and it's evident why Spokane is so well-loved by adventure travelers. It is an incredible winter wonderland for those craving snow but also a fantastic summer destination as well.
Howard Street Middle Channel Bridge in Spokane. Photo by cmh2315fl via Flickr.
Planning to fly to Seattle or Tacoma, Washington? Then you'll be landing at the small city of SeaTac, home of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. While tourism is not too big here, business is, especially given the city's strategic location between an airport and a seaport. As such there is no shortage of hotels, with most stretching along Pacific Highway 5 or located within a minute or two of it. If looking for a luxury stay, it doesn't get much better than Cedarbrook Lodge. Or if budget is the name of the game, there are several options below $50/night from the discount chains.
Blue skies over the SeaTac/Airport station. Photo by atomictaco via Flickr.
Next door to SeaTac is the city of Kent, also part of the Seattle Metropolitan Area but a world of difference. The small city has nearly 75 parks, some of them over 100 acres in size. Much like its neighbor city, Kent is also home of some prominent businesses including REI and Boeing. However the peaceful surroundings and how easy it is to enjoy the countryside beyond make this an ideal choice for anyone seeking relaxation.
Green crops-a-growin' in Kent. Photo by nicenecktie via Flickr.
Featured photo by Sheila Sund via Flickr
Summer is coming, and the beaches are calling. Whether it be on the east coast, the west coast, or the Gulf, get ready to feel the sand between your toes. These five destinations are family friendly but also offer plenty of activities that will appeal to adults of all ages--but especially those still young at heart. Get ready for a fun summer!
When it comes to overlooked family destinations, Gulf Shores should be at the top of everyone's vacation list, with 32 miles of pristine white sands. It's the home of both the Gulf State Park and the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, as well as more than half a dozen different golf courses--even a mini golf center for the kids. There's Waterville USA and the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, not to mention a seemingly never-ending number of water-based activities in the warm Gulf waters. What are you waiting for? Get packing and come on!
The beachside Los Angeles suburb of Marina del Rey is small but beautiful. The area gets its name from the marina, which is actually the world's largest small boat marina in the world. Marina del Rey is home to over 5,000 boats and yachts, Burton Chace Park, Mother's Beach, and Fisherman's Village, which has appeared in numerous movies and TV shows over the years, including one of my favorites, Arrested Development. Other must-visit attractions include the famous Venice Beach and refreshing Yvonne B. Burke Park.
Known for its many miles of boating canals and iconic riverwalk promenade, Fort Lauderdale has long been a popular year-round destination. Besides all the obvious aquatic activities, there is a sprawling city to explore full of museums, parks, shopping districts, casinos, live music venues, delicious restaurants, and sports arenas. The area is also home to hotels of all budgets, including the immaculate Lago Mar Resort Hotel & Club for discerning travelers, as well as several more affordable chain options.
For those looking for a romantic luxury getaway, look no further than Hilton Head Island. This upscale island paradise is full of beautiful beaches, meandering rivers and streams, relaxing parks, lavish resorts, 24 sprawling golf courses, and over 350 tennis courts. While these are all perfect for couples, those traveling with children might consider checking out Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort. Located on an island within a river, this is arguably Hilton Head's most impressive resort.
Everyone in America knows the name Myrtle Beach, but the city is popular with international tourists as well. Beyond the 60 miles of soft beaches lies an exciting and fun-filled city to explore. For adventurous travelers, there are adrenaline-packed activities like NASCAR races at the Myrtle Beach Speedway, ziplining, and even skydiving. Water lovers will find that their days are full of parasailing, jet skiing, kayaking, and scuba diving. Are arts and culture more your thing? Myrtle Beach is home to a wide array of museums, historical tours, live music venues, and, of course, the Duplin Winery.
Kailua-Kona is the jewel of West Hawaii. This breathtaking tropical paradise is on the leeward side of the island and as such receives much less wind and rain. As a result, it's a great place for scuba diving or practicing your surfing skills before tackling the tougher waves on the eastern shore. But where to stay in Kailua-Kona? That depends on what you plan on doing while you're there.
Want to be right in the center of Kailua-Kona and have everything you need mere footsteps away? Look no further than Uncle Billy's Kona Bay Hotel. Situated right in the center of the bay, Uncle Billy's offers both rooms with a view and ground-floor suites with direct access to Hale Halawai Park. The massive Kona Inn Shopping Village is located right across the street and can satisfy almost all your shopping needs. Beyond that, Uncle Billy's is surrounded by water-based sights and activities, ample restaurant and bar options, tons of shopping, and, of course, the best cultural events.
The cliffs of Kona Bay. Photo by Robert Linsdell via Flickr
Perched on the cliff edges 1 mile south of Kona Town lies Aston Royal Sea Cliff, one of the most beautiful properties in the area. With spacious suites that include a full kitchen with all the appliances and utensils, as well as a washer and dryer, this is the perfect choice for guests planning a longer stay, families, or other large groups. Two pools on site enable you to enjoy a salt-free swim while basking in the tropical sun and enjoying the magnificent view.
Bigger isn't always better, but in the case of Royal Kona Resort, nothing could be more accurate. This massive resort has been one of the area's premiere accommodation options since 1968 and now consists of three huge oceanfront buildings with nearly 450 rooms, sprawling grounds, multiple pools (including a kids' pool), tennis courts, and a fitness center. Located just a short 10-minute walk from the town center, Royal Kona Resort is close to the action but not too close.
Don't plan on spending much time in the hotel room? Then don't waste any more money than necessary when paying for lodging. Kona Seaside Hotel is one of the cheapest hotels in the Kailua-Kona area, and you won't have to sacrifice on service or cleanliness just to stay to budget. The hotel has a large pool and even owns the Splashers Grill next door, which means you can have delicious dishes and thirst-quenching drinks delivered poolside.
Featured photo by Robert Linsdell via Flickr.
In terms of thinking of a vacation, North Carolina isn't at the top of everyone's list, but perhaps it should be. Take a look at some of the state's best destinations:
Although it's not the biggest city in North Carolina, Raleigh is one of the state's most hip, up-and-coming destinations (take that, Charlotte!). The city is a veritable melting pot of artists, chefs, entrepreneurs, and hip locals. Nightlife, including live music and the craft beer scene, is steadily improving. Also, the city is absolutely gorgeous, flawlessly wrapping its historic North Carolinian charm in a sleek, modern that still retains its uniquely artistic, relaxing vibe. Don't believe me? Here are 10 amazing photos that will make you want to visit Raleigh right now.
For travelers looking for the diverse excitement of a metropolis like Raleigh but with a much more subdued countryside escape, look no further than Durham. The city is renowned for its breathtaking beauty and historic charm but at the same time is experiencing a rejuvenation of sorts thanks to surge in festivals, art exhibits, and enough unique eateries and craft breweries to keep even longtime residents busy experiencing new places. More in the mood for golf? The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club is the city's première hotel and golf course. Featuring exquisite architecture, sprawling grounds, world-class golf and nothing but the finest amenities, this is the place to stay.
When it comes to finding the best beaches in North Carolina, Wilmington takes the gold. The city is part of a small peninsula nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River, so rest assured there is no shortage of water-based activities here. Wilmington even includes several beautiful beach islands that act as a natural barrier to the ocean. Surfing, fishing, boat and jet-ski rentals ... the city caters to water sport enthusiasts. However, there is also much to do on dry land, including golfing, hiking/biking, museums, and art galleries, even a surprisingly wide selection of nightlife and live music options.
Like many destinations in North Carolina, Greensboro is great at combining natural beauty with historic charm and plenty of ex align="justify"citing activities to keep visitors entertained, whether they are in town for a weekend or a week. The city is also home to a large selection of budget-friendly hotels, making it easy to save some extra money for all the fun things to do/see/eat around town. The Wingate by Wyndham offers an amazing level of comfort and service for only around $100 a night. Of course, there are also plenty of other options that are even more affordable.
In the time-honored tradition of saving the best for last, let's conclude this list with Asheville. From craft beer to live music, the city has everything that makes Raleigh great but wrapped up in a smaller, more hip package. And if by some strange chance you do happen to get restless in the city, there are many amazing outdoor destinations just outside the city limits. If you only have time to visit one city in North Carolina, make sure it's Asheville — you won't be disappointed!