But others of us have come to prefer a more intimate boutique hotel.
A boutique hotel is pretty strictly defined. For one thing, it is small: under 100 rooms. And it's unique, with its very own style and legacy.
Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the epitome of a boutique hotel.
• It has a pedigree: was opened in 1939 by native New Mexican Conrad Hilton, as his fourth Hilton hotel
• It was the state's first air-conditioned hotel, and its first with an elevator
• It became a go-to for glamourpusses like Elizabeth Taylor and Zsa Zsa Gabor (Hilton was the second of her nine husbands)
• Its atmospheric Spanish palace design has been fashionably restored by new owners
• It's now Breaking Bad Albuquerque's hottest hotel, with seductive nightspots (paging Zsa Zsa!)
• Check in virtually to Hotel Andaluz
How much do you know about boutique hotels?
• The opposite of corporate: the hallmarks of a boutique hotel
• And its big-deal counterpart, the grand or grande dame hotel
• What guests should expect from any species of luxury hotel
• Hospitality guru Eric Weiss on what luxury hotels must do for guests
• Corner-cutting moves that hotel guests hate
• Staying at Hotel Andaluz? Take a one-hour drive from Albuquerque to Santa Fe
Images (including stained-glass lobby wall below): ©Hotel Andaluz
I love Cancun!
Once again, the vacation magnet on the fishtail tip of Mexico came up as Americans' top foreign travel destination. Numero Uno.
My latest hotel to recommend to you: Secrets The Vine Cancun.
Secrets is a trusted luxury hotel brand: all-inclusive, adults only. Elegant and easy.
And this resort's lobby (seen below) is one of the most social I've ever experienced. From the entrance down to the beach, it's one sophisticated party.
- Find out more about Secrets The Vine Cancun
- See why more and more luxury travelers prefer all-inclusive hotels
- And why upscale vacationers are beating a path to cosmopolitan Cancun
- Get a taste of Cancun's international dining scene
- See what it's like to swim alongside Cancun's 60-foot whale sharks
- Check out Secrets The Vine's Pacific sister hotel, Secrets Vallarta Bay
Images (including below): ©Secrets The Vine Cancun
When I stay in a hotel, I have a few basic needs. In my room: quiet; a good bed, purified or bottled water and ice; an iPod dock; a safe. And throughout the hotel, I want wifi on the house.
If the hotel offers a pretty and serene place to type on my laptop, such as a room terrace or comfy lobby, I'll make that my office.
In midtown Manhattan NYC, The Kimberly Hotel has a lovely rooftop lounge, with ample wifi, cushy seating, and a classic Manhattan view. The Kimberly is a nice hotel, but Upstairs makes it very special. (I live in NYC, but I'm tempted to take my laptop over to The Kimberly for a change of scene.)
- Find out more about the gracious and view-tiful The Kimberly Hotel NYC
- And a great restaurant a 10-minute walk away in Grand Central Terminal, Michael Jordan The Steak House N.Y.C.
- In case you needed a reminder, reasons to visit NYC
- Why good hotels including The Kimberly and Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts have upgraded their beds and their sleep experiences
- What hurdles a property must clear to be considered a luxury hotel
- And what luxury hotels must do for guests
- Hotels, listen up! Don't let us catch you cutting corners cheesy hotel trends we really don't like
Photos: ©Kimberly Hotel NYC bed, lobby, bathroom and two views of Upstairs, the roof lounge; New York's Fifth Avenue in the mist, the Unisphere, and (below) the view of Manhattan from the LaGuardia approach path ©Karen Tina Harrison
Sure, the Maldives, the Seychelles, and Tahiti are lovely and exotic. But our busy lives often call for an easy island getaway, not a Magellan-like circumnavigation.
Convenience is the calling card of the Caribbean, North Americans' backyard beach playground. Is anything easier than a Caribbean vacation?
Um, yes. An all-inclusive Caribbean vacation on an island a nonstop flight away.
Tom truly liked Sonesta Great Bay and recommends it. The pizza at the resort's beach cafe may not have been up to Tom's Manhattan standards, but everything else was. (Especially, in his words, the Bay View Bar's "excellent Mud Slide, involving vodka, chocolate, Bailey's and possibly more vodka.")
- A dreamy Caribbean beach, sunny rooms, friendly staff, and Mud Slides on-demand at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa >>
- A checklist for deciding quickly if you'd like an all-inclusive resort >>
- The Caribbean is one. These are the nine other Top 10 Luxury Travel Destinations >>
Photos (including below): ©Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa
If you love art, Philly's Barnes Foundation is going to make you swoon.
Remember how you felt the first time you encountered the Grand Canyon, Norway's fjords, or the Alps?
The Barnes delivers that majesty and awe.
Philadelphia doctor Albert C. Barnes amassed a staggering collection of masterpieces: 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes, 59 Matisses, 46 Picassos, hundreds more.
They're not at the Louvre. They're in Philly's Center City. You don't have to leave the continent, or even the Eastern Corridor, to see the world anew. Just come to the Barnes.
- With some choice pics, all about the Barnes Foundation
- Where to stay: a pet-friendly hotel in an Art Deco landmark, Loews Hotel Philadelphia
- Where to eat: chef Michael Solomonov's Philly restaurants including Zahav
- More reasons to visit Philly
Photos: Vincent van Gogh, Dutch, 1853-1890. The Postman (Joseph-Étienne Roulin), 1889. Oil on canvas, 25 7/8 x 21 3/4 in. (65.7 x 55.2 cm). BF37. Photo: ©2012 The Barnes Foundation. Exterior: ©2012 The Barnes Foundation.
Regular readers of Luxury Travel know that I'm besotted by Santa Fe, New Mexico. It's an inspired luxury travel destination, and the food is fantastic.
This town of 65,000 boasts more fine restaurants than many cities 50 times its size.
- New Mexico's chow isn't Mexican, or Tex-Mex, or Arizona Southwestern
- Santa Fe chefs have masterminded unique New Mexican cuisine
- It showcases the Roadrunner State's Spanish and Pueblo heritage and its agricultural bounty
- And if you can handle them, New Mexico's incendiary chiles
It's basically impossible to get a bad meal here.
I've corralled Santa Fe's divine dining in two articles that tip you off to the can't-miss places and the most delicious dishes and drinks.
- Santa Fe's great gourmet restaurants
- And if you can dig a fabulous dive or two: Santa Fe's amazing affordable eateries
- Plus more reasons (like bespoke cowboy boots) to adore Santa Fe
Photos from top: Chef Martin Rios of Restaurant Martin; Fresh raspberry margarita at Fuego;
Santa Fe bouquet at Geronimo; Mixologist Chris Milligan of Secreto Lounge;
Chef Andrew Cooper's short ribs at Terra Restaurant; Carne adovada at Horseman's Haven; Chef Eric DiStefano of Geronimo and Coyote Café; (below) the marquee item at Kakawa Chocolate House. All ©Karen Tina Harrison
A music festival is a great way to experience a destination. It settles the question of "what should we do tonight?" And music-fest T-shirts are the best.
Speaking of superlatives, the Montreal International Jazz Festival is the world's biggest and best jazz fest.
Its performers and concerts are sensational. And its timing, during French Canada's brief but delicious summer, is inspired.
The Montreal International Jazz Festival erupts for the 35th year from June 26 through July 6. It's got lots to love: 1,000 concerts and events; 3,000 musicians from 30 countries.
This season's artists include legends like Michael Bublé, Keith Jarrett, Diana Ross, Bobby McFerrin, Brad Mehldau, Randy Brecker, Dianne Reeves, Ginger Baker, Roy Hargrove, and many other icons and stars-to-be.
- Check out the stellar lineup at the Montreal International Jazz Festival
- And more luminaries as they're announced
- And more about the fest here on Luxury Travel
- Plus on Twitter
- On Facebook
- On YouTube
- By phone 1.85.jazzfest
- Where to find Montreal's best restaurants
Photos: top ©Jean-François Leblanc/Montreal International Jazz Festival; fast festival friends (that's me at right, Karen Tina Harrison); above & below, Frédérique Ménard-Aubin/Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Santa Fe, New Mexico is one of America's most distinctive destinations. Credit its vivid high-desert panorama and its exotic hybrid culture (Old Spanish, Pueblo, Wild West).
Many Santa Fe visitors, especially first-timers, like to stay downtown near the historic Plaza. But it would be a shame not to come face-to-face with the glorious landscape.
I think that the ideal Santa Fe visit would entail a few nights in town and a few more amidst the landscape.
For nature immersion, I recommend Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe a mere 10 minutes from the Plaza. Among its lures:
- A classic Western perch: piñon-covered hills and turquoise sky by day; by night, a canopy of stars with coyotes howling in the distance
- Deluxe private casitas with everything you need (like a great bed, a vast tub) and lots that you crave (heated bathroom floor, terrace, fireplace)
- Wonderful dining at Terra restaurant; a bliss-out spa; an on-site nature outfitter
- And that signature we-love-you service from Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts
- Find out more about Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe
- And its home, the habit-forming American destination, Santa Fe
Pics including below: ©Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe. Exceptions: Santa Fe landscapes: magic hour, Diablo Canyon, aspens ©Karen Tina Harrison
When you fly business or first class, or in a private jet, you know you're going to fly comfortable.
Flying coach, you're the master of your own fate. You must do everything in your power to improve your flight experience.
That means getting a better seat and carrying on what you need for enhanced comfort.
I'm a carryon ninja, hand-carrying my two small bags, including my inflight kit, onto the plane. In the kit:
- Noise-reducing headphones
- Inflight beautifiers including hydrating, lasting BeautyADDICTS Sweet Lips gloss
- My iPad and a magazine
- And the best seat accessories, by Cabeau: Evolution Pillow, Midnight Magic Sleep Mask, and their kitten-soft travel blanket
- Clinch a premium economy seat for no upcharge, and other travel tricks that no one ever shares
- Beat jet lag and relearn good sleep habits; how Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts can help
- Check out how a hotel in the city that never sleeps can guarantee good sleep to guests
- How international model India Hicks fools herself into thinking she's flying first class
- How to pack everything you'll need inflight and at your destination, all in your allowed two carryon bags
- Once you've landed, get the hotel room you want
- Dare to dream: our travel writers' bucket lists
More ways to get the travel experience you want:
Pics from top: Three views from the plane, the last of Bora Bora in French Polynesia ©Karen Tina Harrison; Midnight Magic Sleep Mask and Evolution Flight Pillow ©Cabeau; Suite bedroom at ©Four Seasons Resort Nevis; Terrace Suite at ©The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas; (below) Anya, the Sleep Concierge at ©The Benjamin Hotel NYC.
Celebrity-favored hotels are not a new phenom.
The Kim and Kanye of their day, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, kicked off their honeymoon at The Lexington Hotel New York City.
The hotel has lasted considerably longer than that marriage: 85 years versus nine months.
And like a true superstar, it keeps reinventing itself. The Lexington is now an arts hotel, with great things to look at.
- Find out more about the star-studded past and arty present of The Lexington Hotel New York City
- Be hungry for superb and scenic dining in nearby Grand Central Terminal at Michael Jordan The Steak House N.Y.C.
- Here are the reasons, but a visit is up to you: New York, New York
Photos: ©The Lexington Hotel New York City. Exception: Marilyn and Joe the month they were married, January 1954. ©Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain