Category Archives: Hotel Review

Andaz Napa—a Napa Valley Respite

Napa is hard. (Stick with me here.) Between multiple wine tastings and tours of more barrel rooms than you can count, rich food at every meal bloating you up (who can eat like that every meal!?), and the long drives through the valley, it all makes for a wildly exhausting “vacation”. So, after the long days of fun on my last trip to Napa, I was delighted to come home to the Andaz in Downtown Napa.

Its beautiful, slightly rustic yet modern decor and the incredibly friendly valets welcome you and start your visit on a wildly high note. And to make the welcome complete, you’re given a glass of wine.       *Hello, new favorite hotel e-ver.*       The hotel marries natural elements and high-end design, giving guests a ridiculously comfortable yet luxurious experience. The lobby offers a ton of comfortable seating and is roomy enough to make sure guests aren’t crowded. (I mean, waiting on people is the whole point of a lobby, so you may as well do it comfortably!)

The location is right in the thick of things with easy access to the highway up to Yountville, Oakville, etc., and plenty of local shops and restaurants. Our room faced Main Street overlooking Oenotri, which ended up being one one of the many amazing meals we had in Napa.

The rooms themselves are clean and spacious with a comfortable flow. Look for hardwood floors, fireplaces*, a desk, and a fully stocked bar. Our room had a little sitting area that gave us an extra space to relax and unwind. Oh, and the bed … that bed was hard to leave. The pillows were perfect for a full cocoon situation.
Pro Tip: Looking at the room layouts while writing this made me sad that I didn’t think to request a balcony. So make sure you do that.

In my opinion, the most delightful part of these lovely rooms was its bathing options. Between the roomy eastern white marble bathrooms with rainfall showerheads in wildly spacious (curtainless) walk-in showers and a freestanding soaking bathtub in the bedroom*, getting clean was always an enjoyable process. And with so much room and Jack and Jill sinks, there wasn’t any elbow throwing to get mirror time.

Outside of the rooms, the hotel offered quite a few appealing elements. I was happy to stumble upon an outdoor oasis (apparently called The Mercantile Terrace) with cabanas and fire pits. I spent some time out there taking calls here and there and sorting through work emails in peace on their complimentary high-speed WiFi. Other standard perks like free non-boozy drinks and snacks in the room and wine tastings in the lobby made the us feel like we were real VIPs.

If all of this isn’t convincing enough, it’s a surprisingly affordable option when hotels in Napa Valley can cost you upwards of $700 a night. For my money, I’m staying here every visit. (They should just go ahead and put my name on a suite.)

I know this may sound like one of those “there’s no way this place was that awesome” kind of reviews, I have to insist it was. The Andaz Napa was such a delightful respite that it really is at the top of my list for future visits.


ANDAZ NAPA
napa.andaz.hyatt.com
1450 First Street, Napa, California
707-687-1234

Images courtesy of Andaz Napa. My visit to the Andaz Napa was partially comped.
*amenities available only in select rooms

Kimpton Sir Francis Drake (San Francisco)

In San Francisco, you have no shortage of offerings—from ridiculously amazing seafood restaurants (thank you, California) to hiking spots and historic monuments … all of which will astound you—or at least the price tag will. That’s why it’s important to get as much from every aspect of your visit as you can. I chose, on my last trip, to stay at a historic hotel, the Kimpton Sir Francis Drake, so that my entire visit was meaningful … and had some nice perks.

The building, originally opened in 1928, is gorgeous with opulent high ceilings and gilded touches, and thanks to renovations that kept the original charm of the 1928 hotel, it integrity of the historic building was kept intact. During WWII, some rooms were even used to house military on the way to the front. The building also houses a historic venue. The venue offers a beautiful space for large events with a grand staircase as an accent.

The Union Square hotel offers more than history and a great location; since it’s a Kimpton hotel, you know it’ll be a luxe experience. (And I absolutely love Kimpton Hotels … like too much.) They kept the hotel’s original opulence and added to it with modern touches and furniture. They also kept the unique touch of their greeters dressed as beefeaters; they couldn’t be more courteous and make your arrival less stressful.

Image courtesy of Lonely Planet

All Kimpton Hotels come with great amenities and perks—free local wine in the lobby at 5-6pm daily, a great restaurant attached, and IGH Rewards (formerly Karma Rewards) offer free WiFi and dining credits. (Sign up … it’s free!) Kimpton Hotels also ensure their rooms are comfortable, and they have some of the most comfortable beds you’ll find during your travels.

There’s plenty of to while you’re at the SFD; visit Scala for a delicious rustic Italian meal, grab a drink at Bar Drake, or venture up to the Starlight Room for live music, cocktails, and a great 21st-floor view. Bar Drake is their over-the-top lobby bar with plenty of seating and a well thought-out cocktail menu. You’ll find plenty of fellow guests and locals at the bar after hours.

Looking for some slightly off-beat entertainment while you’re there? Join the SFD in the Starlight Room on Sundays for their famed Drag Brunch.  At $77 a seat (includes tax + tip), you get great entertainment and a wonderful meal.

When visiting the Bay Area, remember the Sir Francis Drake for a unique lodging experience. Just don’t forget to spend your free dining credit and enjoy your free booze in the lobby!


KIMPTON SIR FRANCIS DRAKE – SAN FRANCISCO
sirfrancisdrake.com
Facebook: /SirFrancisDrake
Instagram: @sirfrancisdrakesf
450 Powell Street, San Francisco, California
Reservations: 800.795.7129 | Hotel: 415.392.7755

Amenities: pet-friendly, robes,yoga mats in every room, on-site restaurant and two bars, private dining, large event venue, meeting spaces, concierge, laundry service, daily newspapers, fitness center, free bicycle rentals,

 

The Cape Hotel (Cabo San Lucas, Mexico)

Cabo is the perfect getaway for Texans. Less than a few hours away, it offers adventure, views, and some of the best hospitality around. While Cabo was once associated with partying and spring break mayhem, there’s a more proper side to it. Since the Corridor, the 18-mile highway connecting Cabo San Lucas and San Juan del Cabo, was completed, quite a few resorts have popped up and are setting the standard for luxury.

I was delighted to spend a few days at one of Los Cabos’s beautiful hotels, The Cape in Cabo San Lucas. The hotel celebrated its second anniversary in serious style in July 2017 with parties each night featuring famous guest chefs and bartenders from across the country.

The hotel itself is extraordinary—a fortress of luxury that seemingly rises from the desert when approaching. Designed by Mexico City architect Javier Sanchez, it’s “relaxed 1960s Southern California-meets-Baja aesthetic at this luxury boutique hotel.”

The hotel’s layout is linear, so every room has an complete ocean view that can be taken in on a private balcony complete with a hanging daybed. The daybed is also a perfect place to sip the bottle of private label gold tequila left in each room upon check-in. If you’d rather stay inside the room, guests can take in a different kind of view  (wink wink) in select rooms with a glass shower and copper bathtub.

 

Venture out of your room (if you can tear yourself away from the comfort of your private space) to enjoy their pools, cabanas, or spa, all of which offer a unique chance for relaxation. Both of the two pools—one infinity and the other saltwater—overlook the ocean with stunning views of El Arco, or Land’s End, that separate the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez. And, because I am who I am, you know I spend most of my time in the infinity pool that offered a swim-up bar. (My morning commute was exhausting … I had to paddle all the way across the pool to get to the bar.)

Currents Spa is more than just a spa, it’s a respite nestled in a natural rock formation offering “hot and cold plunge pools, a steam room, sauna and an intimate couples treatment room with rain showers and private pool.“ If you prefer sunlight while enjoying your massage, opt for a massage in an ocean-view cabana.

 

While no (wo)man can live on spa treatments and tequila alone (though some would argue otherwise), The Cape houses unmatched bar and restaurant options powered by renowned chef Enrique Olvera. Manta, the jewel of their restaurants, offers exquisite seafood while paying homage to Mexican, Peruvian, and Japanese cuisines. The meal I enjoyed at Manta was possibly one of the best I’ve had in years with surprising twists on traditional dishes. Just like every other spot in the hotel, the view from the restaurant is absolutely breathtaking.

Their casual dining options are as delightful as Manta’s. Enjoy breakfast on their terrace with a buffet of fresh options or order snacks by the pool. Just don’t miss the chance to get a coconut to tote along for a morning walk on the beach … and maybe add a little nip of that tequila in your room.

Enjoy cocktails before dinner at Manta or take in the views in The Glass Box lounge (pictured above) while enjoying craft cocktails, or venture up to the sixth floor to enjoy the only rooftop lounge in Cabo with some beats and bubbles. Their rooftop club is the only one of its kind in Cabo and offers fantastic live music, fantastic cocktails, and an incredible view. Even better, when it’s quiet enough, you can still hear the sounds of the ocean, reminding you that you’re in paradise.

 

With flights to Cabo on Southwest starting at just $179 RT and their fantastic special offers (like getting your third night FREE), it’s a perfect getaway. However you slice it, The Cape is Cabo at its best.


The Cape, a Thompson Hotel
thompsonhotels.com
Carretera Transpeninsular Km 5 Misiones del Cabo, Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S. 23455
+52-624-163-0000

Kimpton Hotel Monaco (Denver, CO)

I’ve always been a fan of Kimpton Hotels. To start, they just smell so damn good, and don’t get me started on the kitschy, Jonathan Adler lamp-filled decor.  Kimpton hotels have a distinct feel, and the Hotel Monaco Denver is no exception.

In the heart of Downtown Denver, the Kimpton Hotel Monaco is a respite from the hustle of the city. (Or at least what was hustle before weed became legal.) The staff at the hotel made me feel welcome and important, and I cannot think of a better customer service experience I’ve had in recent years. To round out the stellar customer service experience, the doormen are extremely courteous and nearly make your day anytime you enter or leave the hotel. (I may have forgotten something in my room and, after remembering, intentionally walked outside before turning around so they’d chat to me  briefly.)

Possibly the best part of my last stay at the Hotel Monaco was the discovery of their daily happy hour in the lobby. (Oh, did I mention that it’s a FREE happy hour?) They offer snacks along with featured wine for a couple hours each afternoon to spoil guests.  The second best part was learning that they have hotel bicycles that guests can borrow … also for free.

The hotel’s decidedly western-inspired yet contemporary decor feels comfortable yet haute thanks to little touches and rich textures. Then the real comfort is realized when you first sink into their soft-as-they-could-be beds and fluffy pillows. The beds are comfortable enough that you may even forget to close the curtains, only to be woken up by the light streaming in, then refusing to get out of bed to close the curtains because you’re too cocooned-in to move.

If you can make it out of bed, this Hotel Monaco’s on-site restaurant, Panzano, is sure to please. From thoughtfully crafted cocktails to some of the best Italian-inspired food I’ve had in a while, it’s a great stop for lunch or dinner. (Just make sure to arrive in stretchy pants.)

As Kimpton hotels go, the entire experience was delightful from the aforementioned comfy bed to the plush, animal print robes. I’ve decided that it’s my new jumping off point for all Colorado ski trips going forward … and maybe a random night or two when Denver sounds like a nice getaway.

HOTEL MONACO – DENVER
monaco-denver.com
Facebook: /monaco.denver
Instagram: @monacodenver
1717 Champa Street, Denver, CO
Reservations: (800)990-1303, hotel: (303)296-1717

Amenities: pet-friendly, robes, on-site salon and spa, 24-hour fitness center, free bicycle rentals, yoga mats in every room

The St. Anthony Hotel (San Antonio, Texas)

Being a Texan, I’ve spent my fare share of time in San Antonio–both as a child exploring the Alamo and reveling in the bright colors and festive sights on the Riverwalk, and as an adult.  Now, I can appreciate the vibrant culture, but also some different things about the city … the food, drink, and hospitality.

One of the historic hotels in Downtown, the St. Anthony, was built in 1909 and is steeped in history.  One of the first hotels in the city, it was originally called “Waldorf on the Prairie”, as it was compared to New York’s Waldorf Astoria but was in a city that, at the time, wasn’t a metropolitan city (hence “on the prairie”).  It’s said to not only be haunted, but also the place where Southwest Airlines was first conceived on a napkin at the St. Anthony Club …. which happens to have been the first place in the city to buy alcohol by the glass in 1959.  (Bc that’s the kind of history I care about.)

Picture courtesy of The St. Anthony

I’ve stayed at the St. Anthony hotel thrice now, and each time it has been a better and better experience.  My first visit was before its renovation, which took place 2012-2015.  While that seems like a long time for a renovation, they did it slowly and thoughtfully as to not disturb guests too much and retain as much of the history behind the hotel as possible.  And the result was goooooood.

Quite candidly, pre-renovation, the rooms were quite small and felt … tired.  Now, they’re anything but with all the modern amenities that you’d expect from a luxury hotel, but also little bits of history here and there.  Each hall and room have pictures and textures taken from the wildly extravagant annual Fiesta Coronation ball dresses, and event held at the St. Anthony for many years now.  The rooms have more muted colors–grays, blacks, and dark woods–with pops of emerald green, the favorite accent color of Dorothy Draper who redesigned the hotel in the 1950s.

Perhaps the best of the upgrades?  The beds and linens.  I slept incredibly well during my stay … and I nearly refused to get dressed after cuddling up in the robes and towels.  Luckily, I had meetings to get me out of the room or I may still be there.

The hotel’s long, opulent lobby overlooks Travis Park and is absolutely stunning.  The piano that was once played twice daily when the hotel was first built has recently been reacquired and it’s back resting in the lobby under the lavish chandeliers that adorn the length of the lobby.  Throughout we see the Draper green and furniture that’s a perfect marriage of old world, antique furniture and modern pieces.

New amenities include a heated pool overlooking Downtown (complete with cabanas and a full bar), a new, incredible restaurant, Rebelle (full review coming soon), and a craft cocktail bar, Haunt.  Haunt offers some unique cocktails named after the chimeras that roam the halls (and bathrooms and libraries) of the more than century old hotel along with some less complicated options.

The service throughout the hotel was impeccable, from the room service to the valet and hospitality at the restaurants and bars.  Everything was clean, well kept, and tidy.  (Confession: I usually carry Lysol cloths and wipe down a room upon checking in, but I didn’t feel the need this time.  Saves some time, for sure.)

My favorite hotel indulgence is morning room service and spending a lazy morning wallowing in bed.  The food arrived faster than expected and it was all perfect (and surprisingly less expensive than other setups I’ve enjoyed).  Humblebrag, but actually true … I think the croissant was perhaps the best one I’ve eaten since I lived in Paris.

With rates starting around $200, the location and overall experience can’t be beat.  I’m personally looking forward to a return visit … especially once the spa that’s slated for later in 2017 opens.


The St. Anthony, a Luxury Collection Hotel
thestanthonyhotel.com
Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
300 East Travis Street
San Antonio, TX, 78205
(210)227-4392 | Reservations: (866)716-8136

***Many thanks to The St. Anthony for hosting me!***

“Surprise I’m Drunk” tank: Friday + Saturday, sold out at ShopRiffRaff.com, similar at buymebrunch.com


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