One of the most luxurious things in the world is being treated like royalty in a gorgeous hotel. Room service, turn-down service, fresh towels delivered every day- the entire time is a sort of magical whimsy of irresponsibility and being pampered. I’ve been lucky enough to indulge in some seriously wonderful hotel experiences around the world.
In honor of Valentine’s Day (a huge hotel holiday even for married and co-habiting couples) I’ll be counting down my four favorite Hotel Experiences from around the world. Even though Valentine’s Day is of course a romantic holiday for couples in love, these particular hotel experiences (with one exception) were enjoyed while on family vacations with my parents and sister when I was younger. As a long-distance couple all through our dating years, the hubby and I saw a few hotel bills, but let’s face it, the hotels we stayed at were nowhere near as nice as what my parents could afford! Still, it’s fun to remember.
4. Spring Creek Ranch, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
My dad went through a “Western” phase when I was about 12, and we traveled out to Sun Valley Idaho and Jackson Hole, Wyoming for several summers. The adventures are some of my favorite memories of my childhood, but the accommodations were what really made the trips memorable. Located on a beautiful butte with breathtaking views of the Grand Teton mountain range, this little spot of luxury in the Wyoming wilderness offers the nicest of “cabins”- we would call them suites or villas anywhere else. You walk up a flight of stairs to your private two-bedroom abode, complete with two bathrooms and a sitting room. The décor is adorably rustic- but the thread count of their sheets is pure elegance. Their restaurant, The Granary, is on dozens of fine dining lists around the world, and the views from the dining room’s balcony is paralleled only by the tenderness of the filet mignon. Also, I was too young to enjoy the spa, but my mom said the massages were the perfect thing to pamper the sadde-sore away.
3. Loews Coronado Bay, Coronado, California
I was visiting my now-husband when he was out in San Diego for a week in the Spring of 2009. We used the wonderful website Hotwire.com to secure our stay at this top-shelf Loews hotel. The beach views were spectacular, and the March weather was perfect for driving with the rented convertible top down all the way up to Rodeo Drive for some lust-worthy window shopping. This little spot of sun-soaked sumptuousness made for one of our most memorable weekends all through our dating years- and not just because I stepped too close to put a toe in the freezing Pacific Ocean and was treated to a pair of salt-soaked jeans and fits of laughter. Everyone at the hotel was absolutely wonderful to two college students on a happy spree.
2. George V, Paris, France
For two miraculous nights in the Spring of 2001, my family and I enjoyed nothing but bliss along the beautiful streets of Paris. One of my most lasting memories is from a wonderful dinner of prawns in the hotel’s restaurant (during which we witnessed an actual flaming Bananas Flambe being delivered to a neighboring diner) and my 8-year old sister accidentally bit into a delicate crystal water glass. The George V staff had an internationally renowned doctor at our table within 8 seconds, and the kindly piano player played American Disney songs all night long for us, including “The Pink Panther Theme”- what more could a 12-year old American in Paris ask for?
1. San Clemente Palace, Venice, Italy
One day I will treat you all to an account of my horrifying cruise ship experience in the summer of 2007- nothing compared to recent tragic news, but still quite traumatizing. Eventually, though, we arrived in Venice, the last port of call on our Mediterranean nightmare. We stepped out of the train station into the bustling city of Venice around 8pm, and were greeted by a gorgeously lit up city full of gondolas. It was straight out of a movie- music was playing, lights were twinkling on the water, and we were soon whisked away on a private boat “taxi” to bring us and our luggage safely to a breathtakingly beautiful island. An island? I was shocked- compared to our cramped cruise quarters, we suddenly saw horizon and fresh air everywhere. We were greeted by the cutest of Italian bellhops to carry our bags into the stunning hotel (yes, the name really was Palace- and it did not disappoint!) while we enjoyed some much-needed White Russians on their beautiful patio at midnight.
This was my favorite hotel experience, not just because of the magnificent mahogany doors leading into each sprawling suite, or the granite and marble bathrooms that I now want to model my entire house after, or the fabulous walk-in closet, or the five-star service. My entire family had a wonderful, relaxing, delicious time at the San Clemente Palace. This place was just what we needed after our Millenium cruise ship ran aground on the first day of our cruise and we were stuck in the fishy-smelling port of Civitavacchia, Italy for the remainder of our ten day excursion. The San Clemente Palace brings a new meaning to “breath of fresh air”, providing water taxis to San Marco Square whenever we desired, and even bringing us little water bottles for the trip back to the island after a long day of touring. Perfect, perfect, perfect time all around!
Well, there you have my most luxurious, delicious hotel experiences! What about you? What has been your favorite hotel? Where will you be spending Valentine’s Day?
first photo courtesy of townandcountrytravelresort.com
second photo courtesy of nydailynews.org
third photo courtesy of sandiego.org
fourth photo courtesy of theopensite.com
fifth photo courtesy of brownsbest.com
sixth photo courtesy of sanclementepalacevenice.com
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