The Empire Strikes Back

 O.K.  I'm back and since I'm feeling all rainbows and sunshine, I'll start with the positives about the Empire Hotel in New York.

Why I'd stay there again:  
  • The People. Plain and simple.  Great service, smiling faces, friendly, helpful - everyone was a pro. 
  • Fantastic bed.  Fabulous linens.  Perfect pillows.  and Clean.
  • A fresh bathrobe waiting for me - although I didn't use it, I love that it's there.
  • Free wi-fi
  • Treadmills in the workout room with a view outside, so much better than staring at a TV screen or God-forbid - a mirror.
  • Great location near Central Park.
  • Starbucks right next door and good shopping nearby.
  • The loungey-vibe and uber-cool look of the lobby was great in the evening (a little weird in the light of day, however).  Still, I knew I recognized it from somewhere:    In Style Magazine - Empire Hotel is NYC's On Screen Hot Spot.

Why I might not:
  • The hotel was kind of like a middle-aged woman wearing alot of make-up - pretty from a distance but when you get up close you notice some age spots and the occasional pock mark (harsh, I know, but I AM a middle aged woman). Although the decor was very stylish and newer looking, there were rough spots: ratty & loose lamp shade, water spots on the ceiling, bad paint job in areas,  a little peeling wallpaper, cords hanging from the ceiling in the hallway...stuff that a little loving (maintenance) could fix.
  • Oy - the bathroom.  I guess the teak floor in the shower is supposed to be chic, but it just made me wish I'd brought shower shoes.  How is it possible to get it clean?  Even the soap dish was teak, and it looked - well, ick.

  • The engineering marvel that is the half shower door.  I don't understand how this doesn't cause a flood.  It definitely requires expert aim with the hand held unit. Love the rain shower head, however...ahhh...very relaxing...when I'm not thinking about the teak floor.
  • No counter space for me to "set up shop" in there.  Zero.  None.  I balanced things on the back of the toilet - which I dislike because of the inherent danger in doing so.
  • Bathroom so small that the door wouldn't open completely....because the toilet was in the way.  For real.
  • The $17 martini.  It was perfectly made, but ouch. 
My grade?  B+


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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?