America’s Most Famous Hotel Rooms (That You Can Actually Stay In)

Vacationers planning their next getaway should consider the following five destinations, where they can enjoy the individual delights of each city but also aim to replicate past exploits, both fictional and non. These five hotels offer visitors the chance to stay in suites previously used by the rich and famous. Whether you’re a movie buff or a political junkie, there’s something for everyone in these locations!

1) Las Vegas, NV – The Fantasy Tower at the Palms Place Hotel and Spa

Located just south of Sin City’s famous Strip, the Palms Place Hotel and Spa offers deluxe amenities like a spa and hammam with over 20 treatment rooms, private garden lounges, and tennis courts. Its main draw, however, is the Fantasy Tower, a two-story guest villa partially designed by Hugh Hefner. Accessible by a private glass elevator, the 9,000 square foot space boasts three bedrooms, multiple bars, a glass-walled jacuzzi and swimming pool with a terrace. The real Hef-style luxury comes from the media room for film screenings and indoor waterfall, so high rolling travelers looking for a glamorous “home base” while visiting Vegas should definitely consider spending their money here – champagne buckets and personal butlers, included.

2) Miami, FL – The Everglades Suite at the Biltmore Hotel

There’s not a bad room in this historic hotel, just south of downtown Miami, but the crown jewel and biggest draw for history buffs is the Everglades Suite. Infamously nicknamed the Al Capone Suite due to the Chicago gangster allegedly living there while running a speakeasy out of the Biltmore in the 20s, the penthouse retains a glamorous retro vibe. On a less illicit note, presidents from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Barack Obama have also stayed in the suite while in Miami. Hand-painting ceilings and a baby grand piano add to the Jazz Age atmosphere, while the balcony overlooking the 18-hole golf course makes for a nice morning view. Between the world-class dining and the 600,000 gallon swimming pool calling your name, visitors to the Biltmore will have to force themselves to leave in order to explore Miami proper!

3) Palm Springs, CA – The Pretty in Pink Suite at the Palms Springs Rendezvous

This modern boutique hotel, located just outside downtown Palm Springs, is home to the Pretty in Pink suite, where Marilyn Monroe often stayed in the 1950s. The name doesn’t lie, so travelers who are Marilyn fans, or fans of the color pink, will be in heaven staying in the suite with its pink carpets, pink walls, pink sofa, and pink linen. Live the life of a 1950s screen siren by getting ready in the vintage inspired bathroom and taking your coffee in the retro chic kitchenette (complete with old school appliances). The room overlooks the hotel’s courtyard, a shimmering oasis featuring a pool to provide relief from the desert sun. Apart from the retro stylings, the hotel boasts amenities including breakfast every morning, cocktails and appetizers during happy hour, and an on-site massage studio.

4) Washington, D.C. – Room 776 at The Mayflower Renaissance Hotel

The hotel itself dates to 1925, but millions in renovations have brought it firmly into the 21st century for a marriage of elegant style and modern flair. First time visitors to the nation’s Capital should certainly consider staying at this location, which is minutes from the White House, the Smithsonian and the National Mall. The Mayflower is the perfect option for presidential history buffs as well, as FDR stayed in room 776 in the months leading up to his 1933 Inauguration (and legend has it, dictated his “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” speech there), and Harry Truman called it “Washington’s second best address.” Amenities include the brasserie EDGAR Bar & Kitchen, and a Grand Ballroom, which has hosted every Presidential Inaugural Ball since 1925.

5) Beverly Hills, CA – The Penthouse Suite at Beverly Wilshire

Fans of the movie Pretty Woman might recognize the Penthouse Suite, used as a backdrop for many iconic scenes from that film. The 5,000 square foot three-bedroom, four-bathroom suite carries a hefty price tag but it’s well-earned. It’s located on the private 14th floor of the Beverly Wing, accessible only by key, and boasts Swarovski chandeliers, marble mosaic floors, and floor to ceiling windows opening onto Rodeo Drive, where you can always wander to recreate Julia Roberts’ shopping sprees from the film. The nightly rate includes a personal concierge to cater to your every need.

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on April 2, 2016.

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The Best Airports for Long (Unexpectedly Fun) Layovers

It’s not often you hear someone rave about his or her time at the airport. More often than not our layover is spent on our phones scrolling through emails or texts (or let’s be honest, Tinder) while trying not to overhear the conversation of the person next to us at the gate. But there is good news for all travelers expecting a longer airport wait this year: It turns out there is a lot of fun to be had when waiting for the next flight. We are talking everything from massages to jumping into in a rooftop pool. With fun in mind, we’ve put together the list of the airports taking the layover experience to the next level.

 1. Changi Airport – Singapore

Changi won the World’s Best Airport Award (voted on by travelers) in 2015, and when it comes to spending time during a layover, this airport certainly does not disappoint. What better way to pass the time than a dip in the airport’s rooftop swimming pool? Or take in a film at their movie theater. There is also a butterfly garden, orchid garden, and sunflower garden that boasts a field of more than 500 sunflowers. Changi is also home to the world’s tallest slide in an airport at nearly 40 feet tall. The Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Hotel also has a swimming pool and 24-hour fitness center for those looking to spend the night near the airport. In addition to a plethora of shopping and dining locations, Changi’s unique airport features make it stand out as a luxurious and entertaining spot for long layovers.

2. John F. Kennedy Airport – Terminal 5, New York, NY

Of all the terminals at JFK, Jet Blue’s Terminal 5 is the one you want to spend your layover in. With more than 30 food and beverage spots, you can find just about anything to nibble and sip on. That includes places like Deep Blue Sushi, Dylan’s Candy Bar, and Bar Veloce. The terminal hosts more than 35 retail shops. If sitting down and relaxing is more your style, people watch on the Grandstands while you charge your phone and use the terminal’s free Wi-Fi.  The Marketplace at T5 also hosts concerts with musicians from all over the world, including Taylor Swift, James Blunt and Robyn. Travelers can step out of the airport and over to the Crowne Plaza JFK Airport Hotel to ensure a solid night’s sleep during an overnight layover. Their complimentary shuttle bus will get you right back to the airport in time for your flight.

3. Heathrow Airport – London, United Kingdom

This bustling airport caters to an exceptionally diverse crowd, and the range of shops, restaurants and entertainment options reflects just that. The airport has two spas that offer services ranging from manicures and pedicures to aromatherapy and facials. The No1 Travel Spa offers a jet lag revival package for those who need to recuperate from exceptionally long trips. The iconic shopping destination Harrod’s of London has shops located in each terminal, and personal shoppers are available by appointment to provide fashion and style advice. Restaurants and cafes regularly host events all year round, including special activities and menus for Chinese New Year, like complimentary 2016 Chinese Horoscope cards and special dishes like Hoisin Duck Puffs from Rhubarb British Restaurant and Bar. Travelers can step out of the airport and head to nearby Sofitel London Heathrow for afternoon tea at the hotel’s tea salon or check email at one of their workspaces.

4. Vancouver International Airport – British Columbia, Canada

Voted by travelers as the Best Airport in North America, YVR is not short on entertainment and services to help you spend your time in between flights. The airport has a Meet and Great Service that provides travelers with an Airport Butler who can customize your experience, from getting you to your gate to helping you with the purchase of duty-free items and spa services. The Absolute Spa and Hair Salon can handle all grooming needs, from hair styling and removal to massages. There is a diverse selection of international fare, from sit down restaurants and bars to fast food chains. Less than three miles away is the Radisson Hotel Vancouver Airport where those with longer or overnight layovers can relax in the indoor pool and spa tub, grab food at one of many fine-dining establishments and easily hop back to the airport with complimentary on-demand shuttle service that operates around the clock.

5. Denver International Airport– Denver, CO

Denver’s airport stands apart with its appealing architectural style, complete with a vast collection of public art, more than 140 shops and restaurants, and relaxing lounges. The airport offers free Wi-Fi, but many travelers find themselves putting down their phones to stare at the gorgeous views of the Rocky Mountains near gates C23 and C24. Denver is also home to Paradise 4 Paws, 9http://www.flydenver.com/traveler_services/pets) an on-site pet resort. Dog suites have their own flat screen TV’s and massage therapy and veterinary services are also available. Cats won’t feel left out either with their own bungalow and Adventure Jungle. Who said layovers can’t be fun for pets too?

6. San Francisco International Airport – San Francisco, CA

San Francisco airport is a tech-lovers layover dream. The #Converge@flySFO loungeis a unique space inside the airport created specifically for travelers to share ideas around technology, entrepreneurship and ways to create change (among many topics). The room has free Wi-Fi, white boards to write down ideas and places to charge electronics. For less business-minded guests, the airport also houses theAviation Museum and Library, the Berman Reflection Room for quiet meditation, XpresSpa’s for spa services and a free yoga room. Travelers and their pets with longer layovers are welcome at the Aloft San Francisco Airport Hotel located just two miles from the airport. Guests can enjoy stretching their legs on the scenic jogging trail or taking a dip in the hotel pool before grabbing a bite to eat and heading back to their airport to catch their next flight.

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on March 11, 2016.

 

6 U.S. Cities with Seriously Affordable Gourmet Food

Between the farm-to-table movement, the rise of culinary TV and celebrity chefs, and the explosive popularity of food trucks, foodies are having a moment. There’s never been a better time to be a person who loves to eat high-quality, artfully prepared food. But if you’re not a member of the 1%, you’ll need to pick your culinary destinations wisely.

That’s where these six cities come in. In any of these locales, you’ll be able to enjoy a gourmet appetizer and an entree (and, in some cases, a cocktail) for less than $50. Eat your heart out.

1. Baltimore, MD

Baltimore’s gourmet food scene can best be summed up in one word: “eclectic.” Whether your preference is for traditional French fare or experimental fusions, pristine white tablecloths or seasonal food served at community tables, Baltimore has you covered. Not sure where to start? Head to b bistro for thoughtfully prepared (and often seasonal) dishes; hit up B&O American Brasserie for earthy New American fare; or visit Bookmakers Cocktail Club for amazing cocktails paired with unique dishes such as rye gnocchi with pastrami sugo.

2. Charlotte, NC

Charlotte’s Southern gentility extends into its restaurants. You’ll want to dust off your nicest pair of pants before heading to any of the city’s upscale food establishments, but don’t worry—you’ll still be able to afford the food (provided you know where to look). Head to Barrington’s for simple, seasonal, and delicious dishes such as seared organic chicken or scallops with veal cheek ravioli; visit Kindred Restaurant for nationally-acclaimed fare from a husband-and-wife duo; or dine in The Asbury or Evoke, both of which feature menus that speak to the distinct perspectives of their respective head chefs.

3. Columbus, OH

It took Columbus some time to find its bearings in the food world, but now the city’s food scene is up and running—and making up for lost time. Restaurants in Columbus range from starched-tablecloth affairs to casual dining; the city is also developing a name for itself as a hub for stellar Indian, Pan-Asian, and Mediterranean fare, and Korean and Persian restaurants are currently on the rise. You can’t go wrong at Kihachi Japanese Restaurant, a nationally recognized establishment that’s held its own in Columbus for more than 20 years. If New American food is more your style, then don’t miss a meal at the trendy M.

4. Indianapolis, IN

“Gourmet food” might not be the first thing you think of when Indianapolis comes up in conversation, but it’s high time you adjusted your expectations. There’s something for everyone in this Midwestern city: From farm-to-table and organic fare to upscale, handcrafted pizza, gourmet burgers (think peppercorn-bourbon glaze with horseradish Havarti), ice cream made fresh from local cows, a classic (and exceptionally high quality) steakhouse, artisanal meats, and the nationally acclaimed Milktooth, which is redefining brunch—Indy’s got it all.

5. Pittsburgh, PA

Steel City has certainly refined its palette. Bon Appetit designated Pittsburgh as the “next big food town” in 2013, and the city’s food scene has only continued to explode since then. Upscale elegance and trendy ambience define Pittsburgh’s restaurant scene, which is home to several James Beard Award-nominated chefs and a strong local aesthetic. Perhaps surprisingly, you’ll be able to enjoy all this good food for a relatively affordable price. Don’t forget to make reservations at local favorites Cure and Bar Marco, or head to up-and-coming establishments such as Gaucho Parrilla Argentina or Eighty Acres Kitchen & Bar.

6. St. Louis, MO

When it comes to great-yet-low-budget restaurants per capita, St. Louis might just take the cake. Whether you’re looking for farm-to-table fare (bison sausage, anyone?), down-home ambience spearheaded by celebrity chefs, old-fashioned ice cream parlor desserts, outstanding sandwiches, Chinese-American fusion, or anything in between, you’ll find affordable upscale food in St. Louis by throwing a stone in any direction.

In addition to amazing food, each of these cities offers an exciting array of attractions, from arts, music, and nightlife, to sightseeing and outdoor adventures. So book your flight and eat up—you’ll need the energy to go exploring.

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on March 11, 2016.