We paid for this?!

Whenever I've gone on trips with friends there's always someone in the group who says, "it doesn't matter where we stay, we won't be there that much anyway".  Ummm...yeah it does and yeah you will!  While I appreciate the easy going attitude (especially when I'm the one trying to find a place that everyone likes) the hotel room can easily make your vacation or nearly break it.  No one wants to spend valuable vacation time bickering with front desk staff trying to find a room that doesn't stink, doesn't have bugs, a bigger or better bed, better view, blah, blah, blah.   

Elysian Chicago
I LOVE the moment when you have that card key in your hand, you swipe it through the door lock (...at least 3 times because it never works on the first try) you swing open the door and there it is!  It's either a "wow!" or "oh, this is nice" or "omg, we paid for this?"  If it's me, I want the "wow".  I'll settle for "oh, this is nice" but it's really the "wow" I'm after.  I need pleasant surroundings to come home to at the end of the day - a clean, spacious place to shower, a fluffy bed.  C'mon! you're on vacation, your room is a big part of that - it's so much more than just a place to stash your luggage.

I found two fantastic web sites for unique places to stay if you're looking for somewhere special and not your typical big box, unfriendly, giant hotel conglomerate.   Check out: www.myboutiquehotel.com and www.chicretreats.com.  Both offer great suggestions for small, charming hotels all over the world.  Chic Retreats was started by Lulu Townsend who developed an interest in small boutique hotels while working at her parent’s hotel in Italy.  Although she lists some hotels in the US, most of the places she recommends are all over Europe.  My Boutique Hotel offers both luxury and budget boutique hotels in a variety of cities all over the world, but it seems their focus is in Paris.  Below are some examples of featured properties from each website.  You won't find these on Expedia or Travelocity......
Boathouse at Knott's End, Cumbria, England
Boathouse Interior
Harmony Boutique Hotel, Mykonos, Greece
Chateauu Les Charmettes. Midi Pyrenees, France

Baur au Lac hotel, Zurich, Switzerland

The way I see it - the minute you're on your way to the airport - you're on vacation.  Make the most of it.  Do things out of the ordinary; take a limo instead of a cab, have a cocktail in the morning, people watch while you wait for your flight, and definitely stay somewhere special. Treat yourself.  Isn't that the point?


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About Me

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I didn’t dip my toe in an ocean until I turned 25 and my friend Sandy and I traveled to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. After that week, I was hooked. I loved being somewhere new; smelling the smells, tasting new food, seeing how other people lived. It energized me. As luck would have it, I landed a job that allowed me to travel all over the US and often to Canada. Being a sports event television producer, I was on the road all the time. That's when my love affair with travel began. Now, its 20 years later and still no one gets more “geeked up” about planning a vacation than I do. All I need is a destination and some travel companions and my fire is lit! I start delving into my favorite hotel sites, sifting through photos and reviews, comparing, contrasting -it’s like an addiction. The travel shows with tips and trends? I study them like a playbook. I LOVE doing the things most people hate doing before they go on vacation. Whether it be searching for a food tasting tour with a local or discovering a romantic B&B in the middle of New York - I’ve found it and I’ll share it with you. So....where should we go?