Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Review Of Hotel Max Seattle: You Could Rent a Minivan It’d be Cheaper and Larger

February 22nd, 2011

Because of the huge amount of Social Media outreach that Jen over at Hotel Max does, I decided to give it a try.  Described as a “hip boutique hotel” with “Fab Service” I would have to say it is more like Tiny Hotel, with a miserable failure for service.  I review a lot of Hotels, but this one is by far the worst.

While the hotel gets some points for allowing me and Nala to check in early, (noon) we were initially greeted with “Are you sure you have the right hotel?”  I had booked by phone an hour earlier, and’s Kenny did a great job on the phone being courteous nice, and very helpful, he even called HotelMax to confirm that it was ok to have my cat, Nala, but when arriving with my large bag and cat carrier, I said “I’m checking in” and the response was not, “Welcome to Hotel Max can I get your name” it was “Are you sure you have the right hotel?” followed by an insistence that I didn’t have a reservation, despite having a confirmation email on my phone.

The Room is Tiny.  Really Tiny.  There is no where in the room I can’t touch opposite walls.  The Bathroom is so small that if were to close the door while sitting on the toilet I could rest my head on it.  The Shower is a separate water closet.Review Of Hotel Max Seattle

The art on the wall is stuff you’d pick out at a starving artists show.  Not the “hip art filled” promise of the website, and the art piece in my room doesn’t even do what the Ritz does with it’s local artisans (who might also be starving artists), putting a plaque with the name of the artist and a biography of them or relevant information about the subject.  Instead I have a name and a title, and I’m not sure the name even matches what is signed on the picture.

The Hotel Internet Speed test at less than 1 megabit, despite “Wi-Fi everywhere” I am using my cell phone’s access point as that allowed me to watch Hulu where the Hotel’s internet would not.

There are no drawers to unpack clothes too, so you have to live out of your suit case.  The Drawers are instead filled with $6 Pringles and other over priced snacks.

It is snowing in Seattle as I write this, and the window Air Conditioner/ Heating Unit can’t keep up with the cold. The room is a toasty 66 degrees, despite the heat being set to 76.  When the heat kicks on the TV goes off, and the lights dim.  There is only one open outlet, and only if you unplug a lamp. So charging your cell phone and your laptop at the same time is not going to happen unless you brought your own power strip (like I do).

The Linens on the bed are supposed to be extra luxurious, but are no better than those at the extended stay.  They are a cotton sateen with striping.  Not cozy, and not silky, they are a muddied blend of the two.  Made worse by the fact that the duvet had a large stain on it.  Hotel Max Seattle Review

I wouldn’t sit in the office chair, it had a white stain front and middle on it.  I can only imagine what created that stain.  The black wool cover would not leave anything to the imagination so I used one of only 2 towels provided to the room to cover the chair so I could get some work done.

So why am I still here? Well I thought I should give it a full night since I doubted that I would get my money back if I left, especially since after my 16 hour drive from the bay I really wanted a shower and was willing to pay the $109 for that.

Which brings me to the last thing that annoys me.  This is not a good deal. When I stayed in Tokyo I stayed in a room smaller than this, but with a bathroom down the hall.  That room was $40 a night.  Le Parc I get a bathroom larger than this entire room, plus 2 other “rooms” double the size of the “Max” room, and for the same price per night in West Hollywood.  The Westin 2 Blocks down the street is $20 more per night list, and $20 less per night as a booking.

While I haven’t formally reviewed it, the Roosevelt 2 blocks away it $10 less an night list, and is far superior by every metric, except selection of “Spiritual Reading” which the Hotel Max has a book for everything from Dianetics to Mormonism, in case you forgot you personal copy, or need something to burn in the room in place of the underwhelming window heater.  In any event I won’t be recommending the Hotel Max to anyone I like in the near future.


The Beverly Hills Hotel Ups The Tech In The Presidential Bungalows

February 8th, 2011

Our next stay at the Beverly Hills Hotel should be a little more like Home for Diz and me.  Diz is constantly frustrated at How Hard it is to get the Xbox to hook in to the flat screens in most hotels.  The Beverly Hills Hotel Presidential Bungalows however are about to be upgraded with Bang & Olufsen home theatre components in virtually every room, complete with a 65-inch flat-screen HD plasma TV, BluRay/DVD player and input for game consoles. Each room will have a sound system with built-in-speakers including the outdoor spaces, as well as mirror inlaid with TV and sound system in the Master Bath and high-touch technology with an easy-to-use remote control for lights, drapes, fireplaces and media options.  This should make taking a luxurious bath for two much nicer with dimmed lights and soft high quality music.

I wear earplugs when I swim, but for a fish like Diz the underwater speakers in the private pool, as well as TV and MP3 Player in the outdoor exercise area should be fun.The Beverly Hills Hotel Ups The Tech In The Presidential Bungalows

I have never felt security was an issue, but the Presidential Bungalows will also feature a full alarm system, including a camera near the exterior of the front entrance, where you can see who is at the door from a small TV monitor.

Reservations can be booked now for arrival beginning Mid-April. Rates range from $9,000 to $12,000 per night.  These upgrades won’t be quite ready for our annual trip down for Night of 100 Stars, but perhaps we will find another excuse to visit.

No word on if they upgraded the Internet at the Beverly Hills which typically is very slow compared with home, or other hotels we visit. (Yes, I know I am not supposed to work when I’m there, but I do)


Review of The Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay

November 19th, 2010

We recently stayed at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay.  If you follow Robert Scoble you know he lives very near there and walks over to hang out in their restaurant.  So, once you get over the fact that you might take a vacation to get away from it all, and run in to Robert, the Ritz Carlton is a nice place.

We got a double, with a view of the ocean that was nice.  They insisted on turning on the “fireplace channel” on the TV every time they came through.

2010-10-18 19.18.56

The rooms are an ok size, they vary quite a bit based on price, if you pony up there are rooms with their own patios and fire-pits.

The restaurant is pretty good, and they were very accommodating several times when I showed up late and ordered odd combinations of food.

There is no place other than the restaurant to buy a soda. The front desk was really great and got me a few bottles of Coke, which was very nice of them, and they just magically showed up in my room with a nice note.  (Thank you Pearl).

We didn’t try the bath tub, but it looked amazing. The bathroom had interesting art by local artists which was cool, and there were lots of little details through out the hotel that made this a great place to meander around.

2010-10-18 19.19.13The Golf course is amazing, the fog is a nice additional challenge, that really helped make my game a bit more on par with those I was playing. 

I lived in the Ritz in Marina Del Ray for 2 months, and I have to say that the rooms are nicer in Marina Del Ray, but the staff at Half Moon Bay were amazing.

We had a great time, there was an event the first evening that was a bit loud for 2 hours, but other than that the stay was flawless, we live too close to Half Moon Bay to really vacation there again soon, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Ritz Carlton to anyone who wants to Surf, or Golf in Half Moon Bay.


Our Stay at the Beverly Hilton Oscar Night

April 14th, 2010

Diz and I did our annual pilgrimage to Beverly Hills to Co-Produce the Night of 100 Stars, and while the event is at the Beverly Hills Hotel, we stayed this year at the Beverly Hilton.

The Beverly Hilton is a great hotel, with good dining, great location, and all the amenities you would expect. I had a small grip that the expensive bottled water blocked the view of the TV.



But we had a nice room with a great view that was quiet, and had all the things you’d expect.


Though Diz and I had a conversation about the lack of a Tub.  It’s not that we take baths all that often (as opposed to showers, but after standing in heels all day Diz would have liked to soak her feet at the end of it.CIMG5495

Yes that is a little TV in the Bathroom.   Something I could live with out, but it was an interesting idea… I mean Mark Cuban does it, so if he does why shouldn’t the Hilton.


American Airlines Makes Holiday Travel Go From Bad To Worse

January 4th, 2010

Visiting my Parent’s in Michigan is always hard, they live a long ways from the nearest airport, and prefer to pick me up at Toledo (TOL) because the airport is easy to get in and out of by car.  This limits my flying options, because American Eagle is about your only choice if you are going anywhere other than Florida from there.  American Airlines made the travel even worse than usual while flying on Christmas Eve.

I left San Jose (SJC) early on the 24th, and I travel pretty light, a roller carry-on, and a back pack. Boarding San Jose, to Chicago (ORD) the girl at the podium calls "if any passengers would like to change to an exit row seat please approach the podium". Turns out two gentlemen had asked for a wheel chair, and as they were sitting in an exit row you can’t have a wheel chair.  When the gentlemen learned that they wouldn’t be sitting together if they moved, they said, they could live with out the wheel chair, but it might be good to have one at the other end.

At this point the Attendant should not have let them keep their seats, if we crashed and they had to pop the exit door I would not want to trust that the guy with heart palpitations who can’t make it up the Jet Bridge to have to open the door to let us out.  But she caved and let him keep his seat.  I wasn’t going to make a scene so I let it go, and just came to terms that I was likely to die in Lake Michigan.

I realize the DET Nigerian Terrorist made flying back bad, so I flew with just my backpack.  Put my net book some jeans and my Zune in it, and started for home.

On the Chicago to Toledo leg of the trip I got stuck next to a woman who didn’t fit in her seat with the arm rest down.  She was clearly large enough to require two tickets.

On the return trip, Toledo to Chicago on New Years day I got stuck next to just a 6 year old who’s mom was 6 rows up.  I like kids, I was a Camp director, but why are mom and dad sitting next to each other and I’m stuck with little Denis the Menace?  This may be the "parents" fault but I don’t care you shouldn’t be able to have a kid that age sit by them self with a stranger.

Chicago to LAX was over sold, and I was asked to valet my back pack.  Since my Laptop was there for entertainment, and because I didn’t trust it in the frigid checked compartment, I took just it on the plane.

20 minutes before landing the Steward told me I needed to store my laptop in the seat back pocket.  I complied and sat quietly… When we touched ground the pilot announced the local time and I realized that boarding had already started for my flight from LAX to SJC and that I had to catch a shuttle to the other terminal so I needed to move.  I left my new Netbook in the seat back pocket.

When I got to the Gate I realized what I had done.  Reported it to the attendant who told me to call lost and found, which was closed.  Then she tried to call to the other gate, but no one was there.  I waited to the last possible moment (2 minutes) and then boarded for SJC.

American’s Lost and Found is only open from 8:30 to 3:30 and is close for an hour for lunch.  They are also closed on weekends.  Making them pretty much worthless.  I will continue trying to call them, but next time, I will fly anyone other than American Airlines, because "adjustable headrests for my added comfort" doesn’t make up for having less legroom than Virgin or Jet Blue, lacking Internet on any of the flights I was on, and having incompetent attendants at the gate podiums.


2 Girls 4 Hands The Ultimate In Relaxing Massage

May 10th, 2009

One of the best things about trips to LA, is visiting my two favorite massage girls, June and Nadia.

These two beautiful girls can make me melt into the table.  They are worth every penny.

June gives a firm touch massage that at times has me on the border of tears it hurts so good, and Nadia has a softer touch that calms. This combination is like fire and ice, and allows them to give a very therapeutic massage that releases tight muscles with out causing new tension from the flinching normally associated with having sore spots rubbed away.

This is a “Girl Friend Approved Massage” meaning Diz knows that June and Nadia only offer services on the up and up. They offer no extra services, no “happy endings”, just a great massage.

Because they have to work for their money as opposed to giving guys a cheap thrill they are amazing at what they do.  I come out of their sessions feeling 9 years younger.  (If I felt 10 years younger I wouldn’t be old enough to drink…).

This kind of luxury doesn’t come cheap.

  • Four Hand Massage (Two Girls) 60 Minutes: $200
  • Four Hand Massage (Two Girls) 90 Minutes: $280
  • Two Hand Massage (One Girl) 60 Minutes:$100
  • Two Hand Massage (One Girl) 90 Minutes:$140

    But again they are the best and worth every penny.

    If you tell them Brandon Sent you and ask for the 75 Minute Massage, you can get an extra 15 minutes for the $200 price. or the 90 minute for $250.

    You can visit their website at 2 Girls 4 Hands and get a great massage.


    Le Parc Suites in West Hollywood

    April 20th, 2009

    Le Parc is easily one of my favorite Hotels in the LA area.


    The above pic is not perfect but you can see that the room is huge.

    I often staid at Le Parc Suites in West Hollywood even before they were on Hotwire, but now that they are.  I was able to stay there for less than $100 a night.

    That’s an amazing deal for a Hotel where you might run in to a rockstar, like Kelly Clarkson who I met on my first stay there.

    It’s also a great deal for a room that includes a kitchen and dining area.



    Couch and Sitting Area.



    Office Area.



    Powder Room.


    And a Very nice Bathroom with step down tub and shower.


    Le Parc also has Gnoll’s restaurant on site which is a quiet, nice dining experience with great service because it typically only has 4 people in the dining room which holds 20.  They also deliver to your room if you want to eat at the dining area in your room, or will deliver pool side if you like to dine on the roof.

    Le Parc is one of the best places if you want to take meeting, or just unwind.  You don’t feel claustrophobic in their rooms, and being a few blocks in to suburbia off the main drag, it’s always quiet.  Unless you book the week that Def Jam rents most the hotel, but they have always warned me when I was booking during those times.


    The Dive that is Comfort Inn & Suites Lamplighter in San Luis Obispo

    April 20th, 2009

    I stay in a lot of nice hotels, but I also stay in a lot of cheap hotels.  Occasionally I get lucky and get both.  Several Mom and Pop Hotels off the beaten path have been $35 a night and bordered on Bed and Breakfast quality.

    The Dive that is Comfort Inn & Suites Lamplighter in San Luis Obispo, CA is not one of those.

    I checked in late at night it was about 1 am when I arrived at the Comfort Inn, and the attendant was nice, but it was all down hill from there.

    I didn’t really check the room out when I first got there, or I might have decided to sleep in the car.

    I did notice right away that the sink dripped and the drain plug was broken, but the drip, drip, drip that I was hearing was actually in the next room’s bathroom, so all night, DRIP, DRIP, DRIP, Woosh as the tank refilled.


    It wasn’t until the next morning I noticed how nasty the sheets were.


    Here’s a close up of that ugly stain.  I don’t want to know what it is, but when bleaching doesn’t take the stain out, throw away the sheets ok?  I have been in dives that at least cut the stain out and patched it.  Less than ideal, but didn’t make me feel dirty.


    And the shower.


    If the room were clean, it would still have been an expensive place at $75 a night plus tax.


    I don’t need much, but at that price the room should be clean and look pleasant.  At any price the room should be sanitary enough I don’t wake up, and feel dirty.

    Comfort Inn & Suites Lamplighter in San Luis Obispo, CA apparently is remodeling some of the rooms according to locals, so maybe it is better on the other half of the hotel, but that is still no excuse.


    Review of Sofitel Los Angeles: It Blows

    February 24th, 2009

    I booked Sofitel Los Angeles through, and I realize that maybe you get a lousier room than I would if I booked directly.  But the room I got was not worth even the $149 a night that I ended up paying.

    Sofitel Room in LA

    The Sofitel room was small.  Really small.  I guess if you are just sleeping there, it doesn’t matter, but it wasn’t a great place to sleep.  It was noisy because it is not set back from the road, or the neighborhood. My room was across from a school, so on Monday at 8am I was woken by the screams of kids.

    I had a great view of the Trashy Lingerie Store, and the Star Strip Club.


    If you are on the other side of the building you get a view of Macy’s.  So I had the better of the views.

    The Bathroom looked nice enough, but the Vanity lights didn’t work so it was dark.


    So overlooking the accommodations the service blew.  I checked in ahead of JJ.  (Diz didn’t join us) And while I told the front desk that is was me plus JJ, they didn’t put her name on the room so when she showed up to use the room to prep for our Oscar Party at the Beverly Hills Hotel, they wouldn’t let her in the room.

    This combined with the Valet leaving the lights on, on my car so the battery was dead in the morning. Then because I only drove 2 miles to the Beverly Hills Hotel and back, the car was dead again in the morning.  Rather than listening to me that this was going to be an issue the next morning they pulled the car off to the side an blocked two other cars which then had to wait while my car was jumped.

    The Club located at the Sofitel was a total joke.  The supposedly exclusive club let anyone in. The Crowd was made up of mostly gold digging girls, and guys pretending to be gold.  Joy, June, Nadia, and I had a few drinks, but getting an appetizer was all but impossible.  The DJ had no sense of continuity in music.  Which was obvious to the crowd as there was no one dancing, and the volume was such that there was also no one really talking or mingling the way you’d get at any other club/lounge worth going to.

    I won’t likely be going back, I’m much happier at the Holiday Inn Express. Which doesn’t charge me for parking, Internet, or screw up my letting other people in to the room.


    Review of the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles

    February 17th, 2009

    With the Oscar’s coming up this weekend, I wanted to be closer to where the action is, and while the Bel-Air isn’t exactly near the venue, it is where the A-List Celebs are at.

    Diz is fond of this place because of the iconic Marilyn Monroe by the pool picture which, at some point we need to do a pic of her in the same pose.

    Marilyn Monroe Hotel Bel-Air

    For the most part the grounds of the Hotel Bel-Air haven’t changed since Marilyn Monroe’s days.

    Monroe Hotel Bel-Air Pool

    The Rooms however have been updated since, and they are stunning.

    Monroe Hotel Bel-Air Bed Room

    The decor is not so “pink” that I feel like a princess, but are warm and romantic which suits Diz who felt a bit more celebrity, than royalty.

    The grounds and the various dining locations through out the hotel are impressive too.  The Veranda where we had breakfast was beautiful, if a bit unseasonably cold, because we got there too early for the staff to have the heaters set up, but they were quick to accommodate and set up two near our table.

    Monroe Hotel Bel-Air Veranda

    Diz insisted that I post this pic she took with her iPhone of the toilet paper, which had that lovely fold which we can’t get my maid to do.

    Monroe Hotel Bel-Air Bathroom

    Here is a bit better picture of the bathroom, rather than just the toilet paper roll,

    Monroe Hotel Bel-Air bathroom

    Yes those are fresh flowers on the sink, the maid service replaced them each day.

    The Hotel Bel-Air is an amazing 5 star hotel, and unlike many of the cheap hotels, or the hotels in Vegas, the Bel-Air requires a bit of an advanced booking, we couldn’t book the Herb Garden Suite which is where I really wanted to stay.

    While the Swan Lake Suite was very nice, I was really just looking for a Garden suite.

    The nearly 800 square feet was more than we need for our stay, and the private patio is being wasted on our short trip.