The Sweetest Hotel Perks You Can Get Right Now

Free wi-fi, a couple bottles of water, coffee, and gym access were once considered hotel luxuries, but they’re now just the baseline when it comes to travel perks. Hotel chains are packaging up unforgettable experiences for visitors, featuring some truly out-of-the-box amenities, activities, company, and memories.

While some can get pretty pricey, these amazing experiences are more often than not worth it. Take a look at some of the sweetest hotel perks travelers can get right now.

A Personal Concierge

Folks who stay at any of Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria properties — such as its flagship location in New York City, located just blocks from Rockefeller Center and Broadway — can have their trip planning taken care of. Waldorf offers a personal concierge to “guarantee your every request is met” before, during, and after each visitor’s stay. The concierge waits for arriving visitors in the lobby to show them straight to their rooms. They’re also available throughout the stay to answer questions and suggest enjoyable (and sometimes discounted) events in the area. And when it’s time to go, they will neatly pack the visitors’ suitcase and send them on their way.

Fender Guitars

The Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago offers is fair share of standard perks, as rooms include flat screen TVs, mini-bars, and coffee-makers. But this property also cranks things up a notch, in true Hard Rock fashion. Visitors get complimentary access to a mouth-watering selection of 20 guitars and bass guitars, from a candy-apple red Coronado Guitar to a Baja ’60s Telecaster. The chosen guitar is delivered right to the visitor’s room, along with a headphone amplifier and Nixon headphones.

Your Very Own Photographer

When it comes to exciting vacations, the generally accepted mantra these days seems to be “Pics or it didn’t happen.” This next hotel perk, offered at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, is a few steps above an artsy, filtered Instagram posts of the property’s luxurious outdoor pool or stunning city views. Visitors who choose the “California Getaway” package get to enjoy an hour-long photoshoot with a professional photographer in iconic locations like the Santa Monica Pier, Griffith Observatory or Rodeo Drive. Other perks in the package include laundry service, valet parking and unlimited in-room entertainment — but those won’t last a lifetime like photographs.

Super Cars

To call a Ferrari 458 Italia a hotel perk might just be the understatement of the year, but that’s what it is for visitors of the Arizona Bitmore in Pheonix. This Waldorf hotel used to be an invitation-only resort, but now anyone can book a room and enjoy the 39-acre property, plus its gardens, golf courses, pools and supercars. Select Waldorf locations offer “driving experiences” that let visitors drive Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other fancy sports cars around the stunning property.

A Part-Time Pet

Pet-friendly accommodations are becoming increasingly common and luxurious at hotels across the country, but what about vacationers who don’t have a pet? Well, folks who stay at the Red Mountain Resort in Ivins, Utah can borrow a puppy in what’s perhaps the most adorable hotel perk ever. The adventure spa provides access to unlimited exercise and wellness classes, including a “Pound Puppy Walk” during which visitors travel to the local shelter and enjoy a morning walk with a dog in need of a home. Other more standard perks at this remote haven include an extensive spa menu and flat-screen televisions, but a part-time puppy has to be the cherry on top.

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on February 12, 2016.

5 Top US Boutique Hotels for Business Travelers

Having somewhere comfortable and homey to rest your head at night when traveling for business can make the experience much more enjoyable. There are many hotels catering to business travelers across America, but most are chain hotels with impersonal, bustling atmospheres. Sometimes, when traveling for work, it’s more comfortable to stay somewhere smaller and more intimate, and a good alternative is the boutique hotel. Read on to find out more about the best boutique hotels for Business travelers.

1. The Setai Hotel, Miami

If you’re traveling to Miami, chances are you’ll want to take advantage of the city’s entertainment while you’re there; thus, The Setai, in the heart of South Beach, is a great option for business travelers. The hotel features a business center with iMac workstations, free color copiers and fax machines, free printing, complementary office supplies to use and a dedicated help team. For an affordable stay on South Beach, check out Hipmunk deals at The Setai Miami.

2. Hotel Lincoln,Chicago

Hotel Lincoln Chicago, from the Joie de Vivre hotel company, is located outside of the hustle and bustle of the loop, making it a good place to get some sleep. The hotel features complementary Wi-Fi throughout, and all of the rooms are outfitted with a work desk and iHome docking station. The hotel also has a business center and several bookable meeting rooms.

3. Refinery Hotel, New York City

New York is an extremely popular destination for business travelers, and the Refinery Hotel, located in the city’s Fashion District, is a great place for them to stay. Each room has a writing desk, iHome docking station and free WiFi. The hotel also has convenient services like valet parking, concierge and fitness center. The Refinery also offers complementary business services like A/V equipment and printing.

4. The Benjamin Hotel, New York City

Another popular boutique option in the Big Apple is the Benjamin Hotel. The hotel has kitchenettes inside each room, so weary travelers make their own breakfast if they have to get before an early meeting. Guests at the Benjamin can ensure they’re well-rested for their next meeting via the hotel’s Rest & Renew Sleep Program, which offers insomniatic guests a pillow menu, sleep concierge, sleep masks, white noise machines, dream dictionaries and more.

5. Hotel Vitale, San Francisco

Another Joie de Vivre Hotel, the Hotel Vitale San Francisco is located in the very bustling Financial District. The hotel features work desks in each room with ergonomic chairs and safes big enough for laptops, as well as free WiFi, laundry and dry cleaning services, complementary newspapers and a soaking tub for the end of a very long workday.

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on January 19, 2016.

Will Travel for Iced Coffee: Where to Get the Best Brew on the Road

When jetting off for the final vacation of summer, there’s one thing everyone needs: a good iced coffee. Luckily there’s no shortage of cold brews, iced americanos, or classic iced coffees across the U.S. to guarantee a refreshing caffeine fix on any trip.

Despite cold coffee’s recent popularity, sip this: Dunkin Donuts has actually has been selling iced coffee for more than 25 years, and Starbucks’ famous Frappucino came to counters back in 1995. We can thank the youngin’s for iced coffee’s recent spike. Thirty eight percent of 18-24 year olds drink iced coffee, which is way higher than any other age group. Still, only 20 percent of Americans drink iced coffee, while 83 percent consume hot coffee.

The types of iced coffee jet setters can discover are pretty much divided into three groups: the classic iced coffee, frappuccino (or “coffee drinks”), and cold brew.

The classic kind, otherwise known as “The Japanese Method,” is when hot coffee is brewed and immediately poured over ice. This is the easiest way to make iced coffee, and produces a lighter and sweeter taste. Frappuccinos are when baristas grab a blender and mix a shot of espresso with cold milk, ice, and a bit of sugar. This’ll result in a frosty coffee treat. Cold brew is a coffee snob’s haven when it comes to coffee. Here, grounds are mixed with water for at least 12 hours; soaking the grounds this long makes the drink way more diluted and caffeinated.

We’ve rounded up some of the best cold coffees around the country, along with a recipe for jet setters to make themselves when on the move:

Iced Mint Mojito. Philz Coffee, San Francisco, CA

Philz Coffee is known for their unique spin on a classic summer rum drink: the iced mint mojito. No rum this time (but just as good!) mint leaves are added to espresso and milk or cream, which makes it both rich and refreshing. Stay at Le Meridien San Francisco and be less than a five minute walk from one of the many Philz Coffee’s in the city.

Iced Mocha. Barista Parlor, Nashville, TN

For a hipster and chocoholic twist, try this iced coffee that’s (obviously) served in a mason jar. The espresso is mixed with a specialty chocolate ganache and served over ice. It’s sweet and rich, and will make anyone want to go back for another.

New Orleans Iced Coffee. Blue Bottle Coffee, New York City and San Francisco, CA

Get a taste of NOLA at any of the Blue Bottle Coffee’s in New York City or San Francisco.
The New Orleans iced coffee is cold-brewed for 18 hours with roasted chicory and cane sugar. Pro tip: Add a bit of whole milk to cut the bitterness. Hotel Stanford, steps away from the Empire State Building in New York, is also only a few blocks from one of three Blue Bottle’s in Manhattan. Goers can also purchase their own kit to take back home or make in the hotel room.

Pure Black. La Colombe Torrefaction, Philadelphia, New York City, Chicago, D.C.

La Colombe coffee roasters, which are scattered throughout the States, has done something awesome: This iced coffee looks like beer, but is actually our favorite caffeinated beverage. Pure back is a type of cold brew that’s pressed and filtered twice after being steeped for 16 hours in a stainless steel wine tank.

Angeleno. Intelligentsia, Chicago, IL

Ready for this? The Angeleno is made with four shots of rich, espresso, creamy whole milk, and a generous squeeze of agave. The end result is a smooth and downright yummy drink that’s a sweet tooth’s favorite way to caffeinate.

Iced Almond Macadamia Latte. Go Get Em Tiger, Los Angeles CA

The superstar in this drink is house-made almond-macadamia milk, that’s mixed with espresso and (once again) served in a mason jar. Consider staying at Ginosi Hudson Apartel and be less than a 10 minute drive from this addictive drink, which is also considered the best latte in the U.S.

Want to see if a DIY brew can trump any of these places above? Save a few bucks (and see if a new career of being a legendary barista is the future…) by learning how to make iced coffee at home. Better yet, check out this article, hack your hotel room coffee, for an extra bit of buzz before taking on the day. This recipe is also perfect for a drink on-the-go when heading to the airport for the next adventure.

Measure and stir: Combine 1 part coffee to 4.5 parts room-temperature and filtered water. Give it a nice stir.

Let it brew: Place the container of coffee in the fridge overnight. This is the “brewing” part of the process—no boiling water included—and needs this much time!

Strain: To make the iced coffee concentrate, take a coffee filter or French press to strain the coffee. This removes the grounds.

Just add water! The coffee just brewed will be super concentrated, so add water depending on how strong you like it (the standard is about 1 part coffee to three parts water). Add ice, and drink up!

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on September 15, 2015

Food on the Fly: Successful Self-Catering

Picture yourself at lunch in Paris, sitting at a sidewalk café, eating salade niçoise and gazing at the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Perfection, non? Doesn’t get much better than that.

Unless, of course, you were dining in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

This is the magic of self-catering. Skipping the restaurant meals in favor of a grocery bag full of goodies can lead to magical travel memories of perfect picnics, exotic delicacies and adventurous eating. You’ll also save a little money along the way. Start turning meals into memories with these tips for successful self-catering.

Marketplace Magic

Word of warning: Once you start shopping local markets, you may never go to a restaurant again. When food becomes this much fun, you won’t want to. Barcelona’s La Boqueria, for example, is a vibrant sensory experience, awash in color and sound. It’s a photography buff’s dream. Here, you can sip a cup of fresh-squeezed juice in any flavor imaginable while you stock up on authentic Catalonian lunch fare — plus some goodies to enjoy while people watching from your balcony during a siesta at Arc La Rambla.

Locally Made Goodness

Seek out small shops. You’ll find delicious, fresh-made local fare, with the bonus of a more personal touch. Since meeting new people is one of the best parts of travel, visiting friendly mom-and-pop shops makes for a truly special travel experience. Bakeries are a great place to start; try stepping out of your hotel in Paris and follow your nose to a fresh-baked baguette. It’s hard to imagine a greater joy than ripping off warm hunks of bread on your way to the Champs-Élysées.

Picnic Perfection

With self-catering, where you eat is just as important as what’s on the menu. Casually enjoying a leisurely meal in an iconic location is an experience you’ll never forget. While enjoying a stay in any of these family-friendly New York City hotels, take the gang for a picnic in Central Park. The kids will love playing in the green expanse while you all fuel up for a visit to Strawberry Fields or the Central Park Zoo.

To truly feel like a native Londoner on your next U.K. visit, join the locals enjoying their lunch against the backdrop of St. Peter’s Basilica. Or enjoy a picnic in St. James Park, with a view of Buckingham Palace.

Explore, Experiment, Enjoy

Travel is all about new experiences. Start with these tips, and then experiment away. Whether it’s sun-dried tomatoes and ciabatta in Rome or dolmades in Istanbul, you’ll soon be crafting your own incredible self-catering experiences and turning meals into memories. Bon appétit!

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on September 11, 2015

Top 8 New York City Hotels (With Superb Locations)

Photo by TravelTess via Trover.com

There are hundreds of hotels in New York City with no shortage of places to stay. As with most major cities, location is everything when choosing a hotel.

With so much to see and do in New York City, you can have a great time wherever you stay. You might want to first check and see if there is an upcoming special event, game, or concert to influence your travel dates. And for the maximum New York City experience, a guided New York tour is the easy way to see top sights, like the 9/11 Memorial Museum, Empire State Building, and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Whatever hotel you choose, you’ll have an unforgettable stay in the city that never sleeps. For the best rates, particularly during New York City’s busy times and holidays, book early. Here’s a short list of great hotels with superb locations:

The London NYC

The all-suite London NYC Hotel was designated one of the “Best Hotels of 2015” by U.S. News & World Report and caters to the sophisticated traveler. With rates from $249, its midtown location is close to Central Park, shopping, decadent dining, and vibrant nightlife.

Sanctuary Hotel New York

Sanctuary Hotel New York is a 111-room luxury boutique hotel located right in the Theatre District and is a 5-minute walk from Radio City Music Hall. Rates start at $199 and include free Wi-Fi throughout the building and free daily breakfast.

The Pearl New York

The Pearl Hotel blends luxury, value, and the ultimate location in New York City’s Times Square. The hotel features a well-equipped gym with an outdoor deck and offers ticket services for the nearby Theatre District. Each room provides cable TV and free Wi-Fi. Rates from $209.

Gramercy Park Hotel

Located in Union Square, Gramercy Park Hotel is a short walk from its namesake park, as are other famous city attractions. Each room is individually decorated with exceptional detail and unique decorations. Hotel artwork changes and features Andy Warhol among others. Babysitting and child care services are available, with rooms starting at $313.

Soho Grand Hotel

Situated in SoHo, this edgy luxury hotel is close to museums, galleries, boutiques, and popular restaurants. The Soho Grand Hotel features an outdoor restaurant and all rooms have complimentary Wi-Fi and elegant room amenities. Rates from $199.

The Jade Hotel

Nestled in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, this 113-room boutique hotel is a short walk from the New York University campus, Empire State Building, and Forbes Galleries. Wi-Fi, premium cable TV, daily newspapers, and bottled water are included with all rooms, with rates starting at $225.

Smyth, A Thompson Hotel

The Smyth is located in Manhattan’s trendy Tribeca neighborhood and is close to One World Trade Center, The National September 11 Memorial, and Brooklyn Bridge. With rates from $206, this Thompson Hotel gem features in-room massages and is pet-friendly.

The Benjamin

The Benjamin blends history with a residential feel. From The Benjamin, it’s a short walk to nearly everything, including Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station, and Fifth Avenue shopping. Each room includes a kitchenette and a 12-choice Pillow Menu. Rates from $206.

Photo by N I via Trover.com

This article is part of the #HipmunkCityLove series