Hotels & Spas

New category for hotels reviews.

  • Mondrian SOHO – NYC

    9 Crosby St
    New York, NY 10013

    (212) 389-1000

    Hotel Website

    Rate: Starts at $375 USD per night 

    Booked ViaJetsetter

    Reviews:
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    Yelp
    NY Times
    Fodor’s

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    When we come to New York, we spend a majority of our time in SOHO, East and West Village, Tribeca or the Lower East Side. We’ve stayed many different places, but the Mondrian SOHO is the perfect location if you’re planning on spending time in any of these areas.

    Location:
    The Mondrian sits on Crosby Street which is a relatively quiet street. If that’s possible in NYC. As you approach the hotel, it’s impossible to miss as it has a large greenery covered arched walkway at it’s entrance. It seems like thousands of people stop here everyday to get their photo taken in front of it.  Check in is actually on the second floor, above the bar.  It’s accessed by either elevator or stairs.  Doorman service is primarily on the Crosby Street side of the hotel, although you can also enter on Lafayette.

    It’s an easy walk to anywhere in SOHO and Chinatown from here, as well as to the East or West Village.  Within a block or two, there’s great restaurants, bars and shopping.

    Rooms:
    Rooms here face either Crosby Street or Lafayette Street which is on the opposite side of the hotel. Rooms on the Lafayette Street side tend to be quieter as there’s less traffic and the hotel sits further off the street. There are only about 12 rooms per floor, so traffic in the halls is somewhat limited.

    We stayed in a one bedroom suite. Rooms at the Mondrian are typical NYC sized, so don’t expect a lot of space. But of course you’re in New York, so who spends any time in their rooms anyway? Bathrooms are on the small side, but the shower has ample room and large windows. No tubs in most rooms here. Sinks sit outside the bathroom area. The one bedrooms suite has a small sitting area with decent sized sectional that’s mostly separated from the sleeping area. There’s a small closet, with just enough room to get around both sides of a king bed.  You gotta love blue, because that’s the theme at the Mondrian SOHO, but it’s tastefully done.  Rooms are well furnished.

    Facilities & Service:
    The service here was very good.  We had a sink issue in the bathroom that took a couple of calls to resolve, but it did get resolved.  There’s a separate concierge desk for local information.  Housekeeping did a great job of keeping the room spotless and at leaving extra towels when asked.

    The beautiful glass covered restaurant sits on the first floor in front of the hotel.  Resembling a large greenhouse, it’s chandeliers and front patio are exceptional.  We dined in for breakfast one morning and the food and service were great.  The breakfast menu is a bit short on selection, but you’ll easily find something that fits your needs.  There’s a crude and cocktail bar on the first level as well, where we had very good drinks and appetizers.  We didn’t get a chance to check out the rooftop bar, but we will on the next trip.

    Pros: Location and comfy rooms are the hallmark of the Mondrian SOHO.

    Cons:  You will spend a bit more here, but it’s the location that makes this an easy choice.

    Look for specials on various luxury discount sites, like Jetsetter, Vacationist or Luxury Link. Sometimes, discounts can be substantial.

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  • Intercontinental Hong Kong Spa

    18 Salisbury Rd
    Kowloon, Hong Kong
    SAR, China

    +85 2 2 721-1211

    MTR: East Tsim Sha Tsui

    Website

    Treatments: $200US and up

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    The Intercontinental Hong Kong Spa has a great location on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong and has top-notch facilities.

    Treatments
    We had arranged for a 3 and 1/2 hour treatment, that included a 90 minute massage, scrub of the season and 30 minutes mineral bath, plus lunch by the pool. The lunch was prepared from a special spa menu. You were able to sit in a secluded area of the pool where you could look out across the harbour to the skyline of Hong Kong.  Other treatments at the spa are typical of most, but include many with an Asian wellness theme.  Our treatments were in a granite spa suite, that included a jacuzzi, sauna and steam shower, as well as massage table.  Very nice, comfortable and quiet.

    Facilities
    As you enter the Intercontinental Hong Kong Spa, there’s a large reception area and well equipped exercise area as you enter. Walls of glass overlook the large pool area. Changing areas and locker rooms are nice sized. Treatment rooms are separate from the spa entrance. As you leave reception, you walk outside to a separate building that’s just steps away. From the moment you enter, it’s like being in a whole different world. It’s super quiet, with treatment rooms along a dimly candle lit corridor.

    The outdoor pool was large and they have a unique outdoor whirlpool. It’s a two level whirlpool. At the top, you have a large whirlpool separated by glass. One side is very hot and the other side ice cold. Both spill over into a moderate temperature pool below.  You have phenomenal views of Kowloon Bay and Hong Kong.

    Pricing
    Pricing is comparable to most premium spa in Hong Kong.  Expect to pay $200 USD and up for a regular treatment, with packages approaching $500 USD or more.

    There are two Intercontinental Hotels in Hong Kong.  You’ll want to make sure you make a reservation and go to the correct one.  The Intercontinental Hong Kong is in Kowloon.  The Intercontinental Hong Kong Stafford is in Hong Kong proper.

     

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  • Ambassador Transit Hotel

    Terminals 1,2 and 3
    Singapore Changi Airport
    Singapore 
    +65 6 507 9797

    Hotel Website

    Rate: Starts at around $60 USD for 6 hours

    Reviews:

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    We’ve stayed at the Ambassador Transit Hotel in Singapore too many times to count.  It’s absolutely perfect for what it is.  A place to sleep for a few hours, shower and move on to your next flight.

    Location:
    Ambassador Transit Hotels are located in each of Singapore Changi’s three terminals.  All are located on the upper level (Level 3) above the terminal concourses and gates.  Signs are posted in each terminal throughout the airport and the locations are easy to find.  Remember this hotel is located IN the airport behind security.  You do NOT clear customs and you DO NOT go to luggage pickup.

    Rooms:
    Rooms here are very basic.  This is not the Ritz Carlton, but it’s not a hostel either.  Beds are pretty comfortable and rooms are a bit on the small side.  Surprisingly for being in an airport, rooms are pretty darn quiet.  Quieter than most city hotels, actually.  There’s a small desk in most rooms and an ensuite bath, toilet and shower (unless you choose a basic room with a shared bath).  Other furnishings are basic, but rooms do have a TV and internet connection available.  Terminal 3 is the newest version of the Ambassador.  If you’re looking for something more upscale, try the Crowne Plaza outside of the airport.

    Facilities & Service:
    Service here is very friendly and efficient.  It’s bare bones, so don’t expect room service or any other facilities.  This is pretty basic.  But remember, you’re in Changi Airport, one of best airports in the world.  There’s a swimming pool, sauna, workout room, countless shops, a theatre showing current movies, and much, much more.

    Pros: The perfect place to freshen up and catch a nap while in transit in Singapore.

    Cons:  This is a VERY POPULAR solution for transiting passengers in Singapore, one of the busiest airports in Asia.  Reservations are STRONGLY ADVISED at least two to three months in advance.

    The Ambassador sits behind security at Changi near the gates. You WILL NOT be able to get your luggage. Make sure you have what you need in your carry-on as you transit Singapore.

     

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  • Thon Cecil Hotel – Oslo

    Stortingsgata 8
    0161 Oslo, Norway 
    +47 23 31 48 00

    Hotel Website

    Rate: Starts at $175 USD per night 

    Booked Via: Thon Hotels Website

    Reviews:
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    Oslo can be a tough city to find reasonably priced, great accommodation. Would we stay at the Thon Cecil Hotel Oslo again? Probably. Next time though, our pick would probably be the Hotel Saga. While it’s located a few blocks outside of the core downtown area, the hotel looked very nice as we passed by one evening. If money is no object, The Thief would also be worth a try, based upon some of the spectacular reviews.

    Location:
    Location, location, location.  Thon Cecil Hotel Oslo is the perfect centrally located Oslo hotel. While there are several other Thon hotels in the downtown core (Sentrum) of Oslo , we found the Cecil to be one of the more updated Thon hotels.  The Thon Cecil is located less than a block off of the main square in Oslo. You’re within a block of Parliament, less than five blocks to the National Theatre, Culture Museum, City Hall, waterfront and more.  Public transportation is close by (bus or metro) and most things are an easy walk to almost anywhere.

    Rooms:
    Standard rooms at Thon Cecil Hotel Oslo are on the small side, even by European standards. They’re basic, with smaller sized beds, a TV, small desk area and complimentary internet.  Closet space is a at a minimum, but an iron and ironing board are included in the room. Bathrooms are simple, with a single sink, toilet and smallish shower.  All rooms are non-smoking. The most disappointing item was the lack of a safe in the room for valuables.

    Rooms overall were very clean. Ventilation in the rooms isn’t the best. During periods of extremely warm or cool weather, may result in the room being a bit stuffy or cool. Individual control over heat and cold are not possible in the rooms. Rooms facing the interior atrium have limited opening windows. If you want to control the temperature in your room, ask for a room on the street side of the building. The street in front of the hotel has a small amount of traffic, so street noise is reasonable.

    Two elevators handle all of the traffic for the 111 room hotel, which means during busy times, you may wait a bit longer than normal to access your room. If you get a room on the second or third floor, it’s an easy walk up the stairs.

    Facilities & Service:
    Service here is very friendly  and the staff is attentive and knowledgeable about the area. There is a computer and printer available for guest use in the in the lobby, as well as a Nespresso coffee machine.  While the hotel does not have a restaurant, a nice European style breakfast with both hot and cold food is available on the second floor in the hotel atrium each morning. They’ll even pack a take away lunch for you if you ask.

    Pros: Location, location.  Easy access to everything in Oslo Sentrum.  Clean rooms, great staff.

    Cons:  As the seasons change, finding adequate heating or cooling in your room can be a challenge.

     

  • Hilton Reykjavik Nordica – Reykjavik

    Suðurlandsbraut 2,
    Reykjavík, Iceland

    +35 4 444 5000

    Hotel Website

    Rate: Starts at $232 USD per night 

    Booked Via: Icelandair

    Reviews:
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    The Hilton Nordica is one of the nicer hotels in Reykjavik and receives generally high marks on most travel review websites. The hotel staff are very friendly and accommodating, more so than at most Hilton outposts.

    Location:
    The Hilton Nordica is located on the outskirts of Reykjavik, about 1.5 miles from the city center.  The Hilton sits right on the local bus line, so it’s an easy 5 minute trip to the city center, or a 20-25 minute easy walk.

    Rooms:
    Rooms here are of a typical modern “Scandinavian minimalist” style. Each bed has multiple pillows as well as a nice down duvet to keep you warm during the chilly Icelandic nights. Each room has large picture windows that run the length of the room, so you can take advantage of the sun if it peeks out during your stay.

    Oversized rooms (called “Plus” rooms) are located on the ends of each floor. These rooms run the entire width of the hotel and feature two queen beds plus a single. If you like lots of room to stretch out, ask for one of these rooms. Another advantage is that they have windows facing both directions. One drawback to these rooms is that Wi-fi access is spotty, due to being the farthest distance from the hotspot.

    Large wardrobes and safes are included in each room, as well as a desk with working area. There are club level floors at the hotel on floors 8 and 9. Club access is by keycard and features mini-breakfast as well as drinks and small snacks throughout the day.

    One of the best things about this hotel is that one side has almost unobstructed views of Mt Elsa from one side. If you love a great view, make sure to ask for a room on this side of the hotel. If you’re not fortunate to get a room on that side, there are “sitting lounges” on each floor in the center, where you can enjoy the view from floor to ceiling windows. There’s even a map on each floor that identifies all of the mountains and glaciers you can see.  You’ll want to check out the view from the top of the circular stair case from the 9th floor.

    Facilities & Service:
    The Hilton Nordica is one of the nicer hotels in Reykjavik and receives generally high marks on most travel review websites. The hotel staff are very friendly and accommodating, more so than at most Hilton outposts.

    There’s a large bar area, as well as a restaurant and small gift shop on site. A small snack and coffee bar is located right by the check-in desk to purchase small snacks at any time of day.  The Hilton provides a free multi-use bus pass that you can use during your stay to visit central Reykjavik or any of the surrounding areas. The bus stop sits directly across from the hotel. You can also walk about 20 minutes to the city center on a wide walking path.

    Special Things to Know:
    Being one of the more popular hotels in Reykjavik, it is hard to get early check-in or late check-out, unless arranged for far in advance of your trip. The restaurant here has one of the most popular Sunday brunches in town, so if you have an interest in that, make your reservations long before you arrive, especially during high season.

    About 5-10 minutes walk from the hotel, just across the street likes the Laugardalslaug Thermal Pools and Sports complex.  Here’s you’ll find the a wide variety of hot thermal pools where you can relax.  It’s much cheaper than the Blue Lagoon and close enough you can visit everyday.  The hotel will supply extra towels, so you an save yourself an extra charge at the pool complex.

    For some of the best rates at the Hilton Nordica, check packages on the Icelandair website. Many times, you can find airfare and lodging packages that can make your stay in Reykjavik, almost free. You can also find special rates on Travelzoo from time to time.

    Pros: One of the nicer hotels in Reykjavik with great service and modern rooms.

    Cons: A bit far from the city centre, but is easily overcome by bus lines and leisurely walk during nice weather.

  • Parc 55 – San Francisco

    55 Cyril Magnin St
     San Francisco, CA 94102

    (415) 392-8000

    Hotel Website

    Rate: Starts at $249 USD per night 

    Booked Via: Jet Lux Inc.

    Reviews:
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    Parc 55 is all about location, location, location.  That’s not to say that’s all it has going for it, because it’s not.  But if you’re looking for convenience, this is your place.  We’ve stayed here a couple of times and it’s a great fit for personal or business travel.

    Location:
    Parc 55 is just steps from the Powell Street BART station.  Literally, steps.  From the time you get off the BART, to the time you walk through the hotel door is less than five minutes.  It’s also less than a 5 minute walk to Union Square or to the edge of SOMA (South of Market).  You just can’t beat the location.

    Rooms:
    You’re definitely better off here with rooms on higher floors as the first 5-10 floors can get a lot of street noise, even if the windows are closed.  The Parc 55 also has some unique “semi-corner” rooms, with a bit of extra space, but bathrooms at odd angles.  During our stay, we had one of these rooms.

    Rooms are well appointed.  There’s a large desk and plenty of outlets around the room.  They also have outlets near the bed, so it’s easy to work on your laptop or iPad without having to it at the desk.  You have plenty of pillows to choose from on the bed, as well as an easy to use alarm clock.  The bathrooms in the “semi-corner” rooms are larger than most.

    Facilities & Service:
    Service at the Parc 55 was very good.  The front desk check in was quick and the concierge and bell desk staff were very helpful.  Because of the location of the hotel on a busy corner, it can sometimes be difficult to hail a cab.  The Parc 55 staff jumped to the task and took the pain out of the process.

    Fitness facilities here have recently been upgraded.  While we didn’t have a chance to check them out, a look at their website will give you an idea of what to expect.  There’s a bar and restaurant located near the main lobby on the second floor.  It’s packed both morning and night.

    Pros: Location, location.  Great for business or personal travel.  Comfortable rooms.

    Cons: Lower floor rooms can pickup quite a bit of noise from the street, depending upon which side of the hotel you’re staying on.

  • Hotel Corque – Solvang, CA

    400 Alisal Road
    Solvang, California 93464
    (800) 624-5572

    Hotel Website

    Rate: Starts at $219 USD per night 

    Booked Via: Hotel Corque

    Reviews:
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    Hotel Corque is one of the nicer hotels in the Solvang area.  Owned by the Santa Ynez band of the Chumash indian tribe, the hotel is modern, quiet, with a great location.  It’s a perfect hub for your visit to wine country.

    Location:
    Hotel Corque is on one end of Solvang, on Alisal Rd, right off Route 246.  The hotel sits directly behind the Santa Ynez Mission.  It’s easy to walk from the hotel to anywhere in Solvang and has easy access to the main route in and out of town.

    Rooms:
    Rooms here are fairly nice and very clean.  They aren’t overly special, but are large in size and nicely furnished.  Rooms facing the poolside courtyard have sliding glass doors and a nice sized deck.  Rooms facing the street are windows only, with no patios.  Beds were comfy and the rooms quiet.  Bathrooms were fairly large with double sinks.  A nice touch is that the sinks were separated, one on each side of the bathroom.  That made it easy for two people to get ready at the same time.  Housekeeping did a great job of cleaning the room each day and keeping bathrooms stocked with plenty of towels.

    Facilities & Service:
    The hotel has a large pool, with a newly constructed cabanas.  The pool is good sized with a large concrete area surround that has lounge chairs.  There’s also an in-ground spa that holds up to 10 people.  Valet parking is available, however the hotel parking lot wraps around the hotel, so you’re never far from an entrance door.  There’s a complimentary shuttle that runs to the Chumash Casino multiple times an hour.  The lobby has a large fireplace with plenty of seating area that’s a nice way to warm up on a cool, central California day.

    All of the hotel staff here is very pleasant.  Check in was quick and efficient and the front desk staff and concierge are very familiar with the surrounding area.

    Next door to the hotel is Root 246, a great restaurant and bar.  Our review of that is here.

    Pros: One of the nicer places to stay in Solvang.  Close proximity to the towns of Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, Buellton and Lompoc, along with all of the associated wineries makes this a perfect location.

    Cons: Based upon the time of year when you stay, rates can be a bit on the high side for the quality of the hotel.  But, it beats staying in Santa Barbara if wine country is your thing.

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  • Remede Spa at St Regis Singapore

    29 Tanglin Road
    Singapore 247911 

    MRT: Orchard Rd

    +65 6 506 6888 
    US:  1-877-787-3447

    Website

    Treatments: $150US and up

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    The St Regis Singapore spa is one of the top spas in Singapore.  If you’re shopping near Orchard Rd, you’re spa experience is just steps away.

    Treatments
    We had 90 minute aromatherapy massage treatments that were some of the best we’ve experienced.  Treatment rooms are a bit small, but the therapists here are amazing.  A wide variety of treatments are available, including some that last up to five hours.  In addition, the St Regis Singapore Remede spa also has a wide variety of pedi/manicure treatments from podiatrists trained by French Podiatrist Bastien Gonzalez.

    Facilities
    The spa areas are segmented to areas for men and women and heavily feature white marble.  Each has a Finnish sauna, steam chamber scented with eucalyptus and an exclusive ice fountain.  It’s a great way to cool down after the steam or sauna, as well as relief from a hot Singapore day.  There are lounge chairs outside, along with a small shallow pool area that’s partially shaded by sun cloths.  

    Our only small complaint is the small treatment waiting areas.  If more than two or three people are waiting for their spa therapist, you’ll need to stand as they’re aren’t enough chairs.  If the scheduling of treatments is done well by the spa staff, you probably won’t experience the same issues that we did during our visit.

    Pricing
    Pricing is comparable to most spas of this quality in Singapore.  In some cases, they may be a bit on the low side, which is great for a spa of this quality.  

    The St Regis has a great location at the end of Orchard Rd and just minutes from the Singapore Botanical Gardens.
  • Wangz Hotel – Singapore

     

    231 Outram Rd, 
    Singapore 169040

    +65 6595 1388

    Hotel Website

    Rate: Starts at $219 USD per night 

    Booked Via: Wangz

    Reviews: 
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    Wangz Hotel is a phenomenal place to stay in the Tiong Bahru neighborhood of Singapore.  Wangz deserves the rating it gets on all of the various travel sites and we had a flawless experience here. We know you will to.

    Location: 
    Wangz is located just a short 5 minute walk from the Outram MRT station, it’s accessible from just about anywhere in Singapore.  If you’re traveling by cab, it’s a short 15-20 minute ride from Changi Airport and will cost you around $30 SGD.   It’s also directly across from Singapore General Hospital.  You can’t miss Wangz. It’s the only tall cylindrical mesh encased building in the neighborhood. The Tiong Bahru neighborhood is one of the trendier neighborhoods in Singapore.  You’ll find great restaurants, shops and other local finds close by.

    Rooms:
    There are several styles of rooms to pick from at Wangz, each varying in size and design. We opted for the Canopy Room, which was good sized and had a killer bathroom. The bathroom is a large and rectangular, running the length of the entire room. Taking up half the bathroom is the wet area, which has a large soaker bath tub and extremely spacious shower area. A large floor to ceiling picture window is in there as well. You can shower or take a bath while looking out onto the Singapore skyline. Remember that the building has a metal mesh exterior, so you can see out, but those outside can’t see in.

    There’s ample area to work with a large desk, decent closet space for clothes, iHome stereo that allows you to play your iPod through pre-wired speakers in the room and a small refrigerator. Each day you get 2 items from the mini-bar, in addition to 2 bottles of water at no charge.

    Facilities & Service: 
    Wangz has  a small cafe/restaurant in the lobby that serves breakfast and lunch, as well as a rooftop bar and restaurant that serves dinner from 5PM onwards. The views from the rooftop bar are very good and you can see for a good distance across the Singapore skyline.  The complimentary breakfast buffet has a couple of hot items, along with plenty of pastries, fruit, cereals, meats and other items. They’ll also make you eggs anyway you like.  The hotel has a tiny parking garage, so if for some reason your driving, you’ll want to call ahead to make sure they have a space for you.

    The people here were great. Check in and check out was done in just a minute or two and they know not only the neighborhood well, but also most parts of Singapore. If you want recommendations of any type, especially those places where “the locals go”, they’ll point you the right direction.

    Pros: A great boutique hotel in the perfect neighborhood in Singapore.  Rooms and service were five star.

    Cons: At least 10-15 minutes MRT ride to the major attractions of Singapore, although it’s not really a con.

  • Mr & Mrs Smith Hotels

    Mr & Mrs Smith hotels has a great selection of boutique hotels located across six continents.  With unique properties in unique places, it’s worth your while to check them out.  You can select hotels by location and by type.  Mr & Mrs Smith has extensive details on each property, with gorgeous photos as well as reviews.

    At Mr & Mrs Smith you can purchase different levels of membership which get you various perks, basic membership, “Blacksmith” is free.  We recently made our first booking with Mr & Mrs Smith at Song Saa in Cambodia.  The deal was phenomenal at 50% off for the entire stay.  No other website was able to match this deal.  And, as a Mr & Mrs Smith extra, we receive a free spa treatment each.

    Booking here is easy.  And, you also get “cash back” on every booking.  Based upon the level of membership you have, you can earn between 1-3%.  Here’s a video clip that explains a bit more about Mr & Mrs Smith.

    You can download the Mr & Mrs Smith hotels iPhone app from the app store here.