Tag Archives: hotels

The Missing Thirteenth Floor

One of my favorite things to do while staying in a hotel is look for quirky attributes. I always enjoy seeing where a hotel or residential building has chosen to omit the 13th floor – labeling-wise anyway. This is very commonly done in the United States due to many travelers’  triskaidekaphobia, or fear of the number 13. In my experience, hotels with a 13th floor most often just label their 13th floor as the 14th floor. Here is an example from the restored Mather Tower in Chicago, currently home to the Club Quarters and River hotels:

I added a black-and-white filter to the photo to help reduce the glare from this shiny gold elevator panel.

Check out the bottom row. I added a black-and-white filter to the photo to help reduce the glare from the shiny gold elevator panel.

Hotels in the gambling mecca of Las Vegas cater to more than just domestic travelers’ superstitions. A sign of the city’s popularity with Chinese tourists can be found in sprawling casino resorts, which often omit any floors that would begin with the number 4 entirely – meaning the hotel may not be remotely as tall as your floor number leads you to believe!

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Et tu, lodging industry?

I recently posted some updates about air industry fees and efforts to get those under control. Today I worked on something that drew my attention to the rise in hotels charging “add-on” fees for what were once basic services, such as air conditioning and housekeeping. The charging of resort fees for basic items, already common in resort towns like Las Vegas, is also becoming more commonplace. A resort fee, if you’re not familiar, is an extra fee automatically tacked on to the advertised hotel rate that is typically said to cover things such as access to the fitness center and/or pool, WiFi in your room, a daily newspaper and a bottle of water, for example. You know, things that one might expect to be included in the room rate. To add insult to injury, in my experience, the resort fees and their related services are often hard or impossible to decline. I think resort fees are complete bunk. For starters, if the fee isn’t going to be optional, then just up the advertised room rate accordingly! Other hotels are moving toward flat-out “a la carte” pricing as well for their services. I personally do not like this idea at all – talk about shady. Thankfully, the more we become aware of such practices, the more we can choose to spend our money elsewhere.

For much more on this subject, get consumer advocate Christopher Elliott’s take here.

The Secret Pizza of Las Vegas

I’m not sure how big of a “secret” this really is to seasoned Vegas visitors (and certainly, it’s not much of one for locals). Yet many folks are likely unaware that there is a hidden New York-style pizza shop in the Cosmopolitan resort on the Strip. That’s a shame – well, sort of, since it means the lines won’t be as long for the rest of us most of the time. But this by-the-slice place serves up some mighty tasty fare. And it comes complete with friendly service, cool album artwork on the walls, and arcade and pinball games!

My husband, born and mostly raised in the Bronx, is an ardent (read: very serious) New York pizza fan. He gave this shop his stamp of approval when we last visited Vegas way back in December 2013. The pizza shop is still there and going strong. Check it out if you get a chance, although I am told you will want to avoid it during the early morning hours around the time Marquee (Cosmo’s nightclub) closes and all the clubgoers come streaming out desperate for something greasy to eat … they are HUNGRY, baby.

How to find it:

  1. Go to the third floor of the Cosmopolitan atrium via escalator
  2. Get off the escalators and look at the wall to the left of the Jaleo. You’re looking for an unmarked, relatively narrow hallway
  3. Walk down the hallway. If you see album covers and pictures of celebrities as you head down it, you’re definitely in the right place.
  4. Order and consume pizza

Goodbye, Riv

Proving the point that nothing lasts forever in Las Vegas, demolition of the storied Riviera will begin this month. You might recall that I previously shared some information on the secret, never-used rooftop pool at the Riv. I am happy that I took the time out on our trip to trek over there and find it. What a strange and fun story.

Vegas is a place that shifts like the desert sands that surround it, and a place that I’ll admit calls to me frequently! There are so many little secrets to find and explore, so many changes that catch one off-guard. I’m long overdue for a return visit to see what’s new and see things I didn’t see before!

Where can you go to keep up with the latest Vegas changes? I used to visit the absolutely delightful VegasChatter on a daily basis; sadly, that site ceased operation about a year ago. I now check out Vital Vegas.

Hotel Review: Quality Inn Historic Area, Williamsburg, VA

I’ve debated doing hotel reviews on this blog for some time. Having stayed everywhere from all-inclusive resorts to executive business suites to super-cheap old-era roadside motels over the course of my entire 30 years, I think I’m as well-equipped for this as any other Jane Schmoe with a blog. And now that I’ve experienced a spike in readership, I think now is as good a time as any. I’m not being paid or asked to do this by anyone, and I’ll let you know if this ever changes.

To be fair, my reviews will only cover recent stays.

Please be cognizant that this reflects my personal experience (duh), and no two stays are exactly the same.

QUALITY INN HISTORIC AREA
AAA Rating: 3 diamonds
600 Bypass Road, Williamsburg, VA
Hotel website here
Phone: 757-220-8986

Date of Stay: Saturday-Monday, October 29-31, 2011

This four-story brick hotel is located on Bypass Road, a very convenient route to popular Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA theme parks as well as a host of restaurants and the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum. In fact, if traffic conditions are ideal, you could be on the road for well under 15 minutes to reach the parks, and 5-10 minutes for Ripley’s museum and theater, some small businesses, and the large restaurant selection along Richmond Road. Jamestown, the College of William and Mary, and Colonial Williamsburg are also close by.

Part of Choice Hotels International, this Quality Inn is spacious, well-lit, and boasts a large lobby with very friendly and chatty front desk staff. Grounds are clean with decent open parking and an attractive fountain out front. Rooms are clean and well-maintained. Mattress quality is iffy, but not uncomfortable. Some guests may find them a bit too firm, but I didn’t think they were firm enough. (Please note I normally sleep on a Laura Ashley extra-firm board mattress.) Sheets and pillows were clean and I fell asleep easily. The bathroom included a modest selection of toiletries, including shampoo, bar soap, body wash, and hand & body lotion, which, remarkably, were unscented. We found the noise level low, but the number of cars in the parking lot indicated there weren’t a ton of visitors that weekend.

You may be able to find an economical package deal through the Busch Gardens or Water Country USA websites. Microwaves and mini-fridge not included in basic rate; expect to pay $10 extra. Small coffee-maker, hairdryer, and iron/ironing board are included in room rate. Guests can enter hotel through main door as well as through a side door closer to the parking lot and directly across from the Corner Cafe. This door remains unlocked, so those concerned about security may not wish to stay on the first floor for this reason.

The extras

Outdoor pool. Closed for season.
Hot drinks. Coffee, tea, and tisanes (herbal tea – I like to be all proper with my terminology sometimes) are available 24-7 on the first floor in a tiny cafe area with tables and chairs. Hot water is available in the vending machine room around the corner on the same floor.
Newspapers. Virginia Gazette and USA Today are available in the hotel lobby.
High-speed Wi-Fi. Available in all rooms; no surcharge.
Continental breakfast. Held in the Corner Cafe, an unusually large breakfast room with many tables and chairs and a TV at one end. Breakfast options include a waffle-maker, bagels, pastries, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, dry cereal, fruit, and of course, coffee, tea, milk, and juices. Multiple tables and chairs of varying sizes available and the room has a TV set up at one end. Hours are 6-9 AM.
Fitness center. Small room with one mirrored wall and a water cooler, located in the basement (level L2). Includes just three machines: an elliptical with broken display, a treadmill that appeared to be flat-out broken, and a stationery bike. Is not the best for someone like me looking for a quick and easy workout, let alone a real gym rat on a week-long business trip. I also have to mention that I found a somewhat large dead black spider as well as what appeared to be a dead centipede (too smushed to be sure) on the carpet. These could simply be products of a well-done extermination job – creatures often come out and die after poison is applied – but were not particularly welcome company for even the brief workout I was able to eek out in this room.
Arcade. This gaming center is located in a larger room than the gym, yet contains only five machines. (The size of the room, along with the two separate entrances with adjoining bathrooms, makes me think the gym and the arcade room switched places once upon a time.) But what’s there is awesome. My boyfriend, an avid gamer, was immediately thrilled to see the extremely rare Jr. Pac-Man arcade game and spent a couple of hours down in the arcade room taking himself back to his 1980s South Bronx upbringing! The other games were NBA Jam, Mortal Kombat II, Terminator 2 pinball, and an old racing game (“F-1 something” says Eric). In all seriousness, this is an 80s/90s arcade fan’s mini-dream and we hope it is not updated any time soon.

Overall: This is an economical stay option with a good bang for your buck, especially with many restaurants and entertainment choices a very quick drive away.

Recommended: Yes

What would you like to see in future hotel and resort reviews? Let me know and I’ll incorporate that info in future posts.