Hotel

Danube Trip: Hilton Budapest (Castle District)

Danube Trip: Chicago to Brussels
Danube Trip: Brussels Adventures and Getting to Prague
Danube Trip: Marriott Courtyard Prague
Danube Trip: Prague, Czech Republic
Danube Trip: Boscolo, Autograph Collection
Danube Trip: Prague to Nuremberg
Danube Trip: Viking River Cruise Boats – the Njord and the Bestla
Danube Trip: Nuremberg, Germany
Danube Trip: Weltenburg Abbey and Danube Narrows
Danube Trip: Regensburg, Germany
Danube Trip: Passau, Germany
Danube Trip: Wachau Valley and Göttweig Abbey
Danube Trip: Vienna, Austria
Danube Trip: Budapest, Hungary
Danube Trip: Hilton Budapest (Castle District)
Danube Trip: Budapest to Chicago

We arrived at the Hilton Castle District by taxi in the late afternoon after having walked all over the Pest side of the city.  A bellman quickly assisted us with our bags and we found the bell staff was very helpful each time we needed them.  We’d arranged for the taxi driver who brought us up the hill to take us to the airport on Monday morning.  When he didn’t show, the bell staff jumped in and got us another taxi right away.

There are several sets of entrances into the lobby.  Upon entering, the front desk is at the right side.  The lobby’s stainless steel and dark wood look combined with the rather low ceiling should make the area feel smaller than it is but I never felt like the walls were closing in.

Hilton Castle District Lobby

Hilton Castle District Lobby

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Lodging Review: Residence Inn – Palm Desert, California

I recently spent four nights at the Residence Inn in Palm Desert, California with a couple of friends. When we travel together we each like our own bed so that can sometimes be a challenge to find properties with this configuration.  It’s one reason we love Residence Inns and Hyatt Places – we know we can have the bedding we want AND free breakfast!

Residence Inn Palm Desert

My two friends had already spent a couple of days in the area at a different property before I could join them late on a Tuesday evening.  So thanks to them for taking most of the room photos you’ll see below. Continue reading

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Danube Trip: Boscolo, Autograph Collection

Danube Trip: Chicago to Brussels
Danube Trip: Brussels Adventures and Getting to Prague
Danube Trip: Marriott Courtyard Prague
Danube Trip: Prague, Czech Republic
Danube Trip: Boscolo, Autograph Collection
Danube Trip: Prague to Nuremberg
Danube Trip: Viking River Cruise Boats – the Njord and the Bestla
Danube Trip: Nuremberg, Germany
Danube Trip: Weltenburg Abbey and Danube Narrows
Danube Trip: Regensburg, Germany
Danube Trip: Passau, Germany
Danube Trip: Wachau Valley and Göttweig Abbey
Danube Trip: Vienna, Austria
Danube Trip: Budapest, Hungary
Danube Trip: Hilton Budapest (Castle District)
Danube Trip: Budapest to Chicago

Our first two nights in Prague were at the Marriott Courtyard courtesy of the free night we each earned by holding the Chase Marriott credit card.  For our last night we decided to splurge on the Boscolo Prague, which is part of Marriott’s Autograph collection.

I fully admit that we initially selected this hotel because it’s beautiful.  As  it turned out it was more convenient to Old Town and was practically across the street from the train station.

autograph-collection-boscolo-exterior

(Photo courtesy Marriott.com)

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Danube Trip: Marriott Courtyard Prague

Danube Trip: Chicago to Brussels
Danube Trip: Brussels Adventures and Getting to Prague
Danube Trip: Marriott Courtyard Prague
Danube Trip: Prague, Czech Republic
Danube Trip: Boscolo, Autograph Collection
Danube Trip: Prague to Nuremberg
Danube Trip: Viking River Cruise Boats – the Njord and the Bestla
Danube Trip: Nuremberg, Germany
Danube Trip: Weltenburg Abbey and Danube Narrows
Danube Trip: Regensburg, Germany
Danube Trip: Passau, Germany
Danube Trip: Wachau Valley and Göttweig Abbey
Danube Trip: Vienna, Austria
Danube Trip: Budapest, Hungary
Danube Trip: Hilton Budapest (Castle District)
Danube Trip: Budapest to Chicago

When deciding where to stay in Prague we naturally turned to our points and free night certificates.  We each have the Marriott credit card from Chase and that card comes with a free night certificate for a category 1-4 hotel.  Since the Courtyard is a category 4, it worked out perfectly for us.  We booked two free nights, each using our certificate.  We decided to splurge on the Boscolo, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, for our final night.

The front desk staff assisted us quickly.  They noted that they were completely full for the night and thus could not give us our preference of a room, which was a high floor away from the elevator.  They did say that we could have that type of room for the following night.  Knowing that we’d be spending very little time in the room, we opted to keep the same room for both nights.

We’d reserved a room with two beds and they appeared to be double beds.

prg-courtyard-beds

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Categories: Czech Republic, Europe, Hotel, Lodging Review, Marriott | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Lodging Review: Hyatt Place DFW

I hadn’t planned on spending the night in Dallas.  But after the delays in flying out of Aspen, I arrived at DFW too late to make a connection to Memphis, so I had no choice.  While on the plane waiting for boarding to complete in Aspen, I used the Hyatt app to book a room near the airport.

Photo from Hyatt.com

Photo from Hyatt.com

I had spent a night at the Hyatt Regency DFW in October 2015.  I thought about booking a room at the Grand Hyatt since it’s connected to the terminal.  But since I knew I’d be paying for this stay out of pocket I opted for the Hyatt Place DFW.  It’s a fairly new property, having been open just less than a year.

In general, I love Hyatt Places because I love their consistency.  I know I’ll get a large room with a separate seating area, good wi-fi, an airport shuttle and free breakfast – things I value highly.  This hotel was no exception.

My flight landed in Terminal B and I called the hotel from baggage claim.  Their shuttle picks ups at either end of the terminal so I scooted down to the B1 end of the terminal where I found two others waiting as well.  The shuttle arrived in less than 10 minutes, which was great since I’d already had a long day.  Fortunately ours was the last pickup before heading towards the hotel.

On arrival, I was able to go directly to the check-in desk since I only had two small backpacks.  Fortunately I’d planned for the possibility I might get stuck getting out of Aspen and one backpack contained clean clothes and personal grooming items.  Yay, me!

At the front desk I was greeted by Mary, a grandmotherly-type who called me “hon” and welcomed me “home” after noting my Platinum status.  Normally being called “hon” is not on my list of favorite things but after my long day, being welcomed “home” made me feel like I really was home. Continue reading

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Lodging Review: The Stonebridge Inn, Snowmass, CO

stonebridge-inn-signI didn’t set out to stay at the Stonebridge Inn.  When I learned my ski club was doing a trip the first week of January the timing worked out well for me.  The catch was that it wasn’t on our normal Saturday-Saturday schedule since the first Saturday would have been New Year’s Eve and no doubt quite expensive.  So we were running a Monday-Sunday trip.  I noticed that there was an IHG property in the area and thought that would be a good use of the free night certificate that comes with the Chase IHG MasterCard each year.  So I booked myself a flight to get to Snowmass a day early and used the free night certificate.  Unfortunately a couple of months later I was notified that by January the property would no longer be under the IHG umbrella so my reservation was cancelled and the certificate was restored to my account.  Not wanting to part with number of SPG points required, I was able to get a room at the Stonebridge Inn for one night.  I paid with my Chase Sapphire Reserve and the $200 annual travel credit covered the majority of the room charge.

My flight arrived just after noon so it was no surprise that my room was not ready.  But the friendly counter folks kept watch over my luggage while I walked up to Snowmass Village for some lunch and shopping.  They gave me a call less than an hour later to let me know my room was ready.

stonebridge-inn-exterior
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Earn 2x Starpoints in Early 2017

Earn 2x Starpoints on your first three stays at ANY hotel in the SPG program from January 16 through April 15, 2017.

2016-12-17-spg-double-take
Once you register you’ll get a special offer tailored just to you.

2016-12-17-spg-registration
As you can see, mine was to earn an additional 10,000 Starpoints.  This would be a fantastic offer if I had planned paid stays for the first few months of 2017.  Unfortunately I doubt I’ll be able to take advantage of this offer.

What was your special offer?

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Review: Hyatt Place Denver Downtown

After spending a night in Vail in August, my friends and I drove back down to Denver to spend a day sightseeing there.  We mapped out things we wanted to do and then looked for a hotel central to those locations.  Since there were three adults I specifically looked for a Residence Inn or a Hyatt Place knowing that the layout of these hotel rooms usually works well for us and that breakfast is included.

The only hotel-provided parking available is with the valet. We thought about parking on the street but the valet pointed out it was cheaper to park at the nearby Pavillions shopping center.  He even watched our car for us while we checked in.  Of course that meant we had to walk a few blocks to the car but that was not an issue for us since the weather was so nice.

What we like about Hyatt Places is that there’s a separate area with a large sleeper sofa which along with the 2 queen beds meant that we each had our own place to sleep.

hp-denver-2q-beds

Hyatt Place Denver 2 Queen Beds

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Review: Holiday Inn Vail

My travel buddies and I needed a weekend getaway to escape the heat of our respective cities.  I read an article about fun things to do in Vail and as Colorado is a 2-3 hour flight for each of us, it made a nice, central place to meet up.

Knowing that lodging wouldn’t be nearly as hard to get in the summer as in the winter, I’d hoped to get a 2-bedroom condo at a reasonable price.  That way we’d each have our own bed and plenty of space.  It turns out that most of the condos can’t be rented for a single night.  I did have a travel agency track down one place but they wanted $300 for the one night.  No thanks.

I looked at what hotels were available on points and there weren’t a lot of reasonably-priced choices there either but I did find the Holiday Inn had a room that could sleep three adults.  The hotel is actually across I-70 from the resort but during the summer, there’s no charge for the parking deck at Lionshead so we were only a short drive away.

The valet greeted us promptly upon arrival. Leaving the car with the valet is really the only parking option but the price is cheaper in the summer than in the winter.  In the end, we were not charged at all.  I don’t know whether that’s due to my Platinum status, because we booked the room on points or if they just forgot.  But when I checked out there were no charges billed to the room.

Once inside we had a brief wait while other customers were being assisted but then were welcomed warmly and our room was assigned quickly.

hi-vail-hallway

Hallway to our room.  Carpet could use refreshing.

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Bonus Starpoints for SPG Amex Cardholders

Today I received an interesting email from Starwood.  By enrolling in their latest promotion I can earn 5,000 bonus Starpoints if I spend $5000 on my SPG American Express between now and the end of the year.  This is a no-brainer for me.  I make sure I put enough spend on my SPG card each year to maintain Gold status with them so I should easily reach this goal by the end of the year, even with time off for vacation and holidays.

Here is the email I received:
2016-10-05-starwood-email

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Categories: American Express, Credit Cards, SPG Amex, Starwood | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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