New York Opening: The Conrad Hotel

Battery Park City clearly doesn’t need an archly hip hotel. But this exceedingly stylish new outpost of Hilton’s exclusive luxe brand will do just fine, thank you. Guests at the Conrad New York are greeted by a towering Sol LeWitt painting in the dramatic atrium, setting the tone for what is veritably a hotel-as-contemporary-art-gallery.

Indeed, the Conrad’s collection includes site-specific installations by Pat Steir and Imi Knoebel, as well as works by Mary Heilmann and Elizabeth Peyton. Anthony Zamora helms the Atrio restaurant, but it’s the presciently named Loopy Doopy rooftop bar, with its life-altering views of the Hudson, that will surely be a magnet for the city’s downtown power brokers. Many of the 463 sleek rooms offer similarly wondrous views. 

Hilton Introduces Spa ‘Journeys,’ Makes Bid for Youth

I’m not going to be gentle: I used to think Hilton was a pretty crap chain. Cookie-cutter hotels, stiff clientele, no glamour. But I was proven a least slightly wrong a few months back when I visited a few Hilton properties in Europe, “models” that would soon hit the states. Those in the hotel industry know that Hilton Hotels & Resorts basically fired their entire corporate staff and brought in a younger team, who know how to run a tight ship. The goal of the Hilton Youth is to pamper in more ways than one, so it made sense to start with a new global spa concept, eforea.

To me, eforea sounds like a weird term for buying things online, but maybe I’m old. It’s actually a word the Hilton group whipped up to be easily identifiable with the brand. Hey, it works. Eforea transcends the languages of the 76 countries it serves and manages to conjure non work-related thoughts. Eforea comprises three spa “journeys”: Essentials Journey will feature fancy treatments with famed Kerstin Florian products; Escape Journey embraces holistic treatments with organic line LI’TYA; Men’s Journey treatments are obviously exclusively for men. Finally we neanderthals get the attention we deserve.

Each eforea spa will also have an Arrival Lounge, Changing Lounge (with dry and wet changing pods), Thermal Lounge (with hot and cold therapies), and a Transition Lounge, plus the therapy rooms where you receive your treatments.

The first eforea spa debuted at Hilton’s Short Hills location—a AAA Four Diamond hotel in New Jersey, of all places—and it will hit up 80 more Hiltons by the end of 2011.

It looks like Hilton is really serious about shaking off that whole corporate, business-hotel image they’re tagged with. As a brand with a whole lot of money, they can do this. After all, they almost got rid of Paris Hilton’s family.

Hotel Hopping: The New Hilton in the Hague Has a Fancy Smoking Lounge

The only thing “Hilton” about the new Hilton in the Hague is the fact that it has meeting rooms. I didn’t once feel like I was staying at the Hilton we know in the US, via Paris. As mentioned in a previous post, the hotel brand is moving forward, adapting a new boutique feel, dropping the “convention” reputation, and luring leisure travelers. They’re also making forays into more exotic destinations, with future openings in Namibia, Egypt, and Jordan.

The Hilton Hague is part of a portfolio that promises to attract a younger demographic. After my recent visit, I actually believe it. Opened two months ago, the hotel is housed in a former Royal Dutch post office from the 1950s, where the original structure remains and the staff are as young as the well-heeled hotel guests (mostly Dutch).

I noticed that the hotel has put forth a strong effort to embrace Dutch culture (excluding references to the nearby smoke shops). As the Hague is chockfull of galleries, the first floor features its own with rotating art exhibitions. Dutch lace motifs decorate the Grand Cafe Pearl restaurant (inspired by Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring”), each guestroom floor has art by a local photographer, and the atrium has themes that pay tribute to the nearby beaches, like a sand wall and a roof that resembles a wave. This is so not the Hilton I know, one of sectional pastel sofas and cheesecloth nature shots.

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What’s also so un-Hilton is the copious amounts of natural light, thanks to the atrium lobby, floor-to-ceiling windows, and the fact that each hallway on all five floors faces the open-air, central courtyard. The 195 contemporary rooms are practical and tidy, with spacious vanity areas, wall-mounted, movable flat-screen TVs, open-concept desks, and bathrooms with separate tubs.

And, of all the hundreds of hotels I’ve stayed in, this is truly a first: The Hague Hilton has a designated smoking lounge on the first floor, with chic furniture, matches, and mints. The idea scans as “airport terminal smoking lounge,” but with art on the walls, it felt more like the Philippe Starck-designed Bon restaurant in Paris, which also has a smoking room. And when I say smoking lounge, that means cigarettes, people. If you’re coming, book on the weekends for their “lazy check-out,” where you don’t have to leave until 6 p.m. So un-Hilton.

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Links: Harrison Ford & Calista Flockhart Finally Wed, Miley Cyrus Slams Perez Hilton

● Old actors Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart, who have been dating since the allies won the Great War, have finally gotten married. [TMZ] ● Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt are shopping around a story about Heidi having an affair with her bodyguard. They’re both too dumb to know that movie’s already been made, and it was awesome. [Page Six] ● In a new Playboy interview, Cameron Diaz explains how she’s always traveling for sex, but instead of “sex,” she uses a really dirty word that boys like when girls say, because that’s her job. [HuffPo]

● “That’s some idiot being an idiot,” said Miley Cyrus about Perez Hilton, while speaking with Ryan Seacrest, completing the trifecta of most-hated celebrities at any given moment. [Celebuzz] ● If Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart share an apartment, who spends more time in the bathroom? [US Weekly] ● ShamWow! guy + Eminem = aggression overload. [ONTD]

Just When You Thought ‘Real Housewives’ Couldn’t Get Better, in Walk The Hiltons

The Daily Truffle’s got news that the Bravo network might cast Kyle and Kim Richards, both aunts to Paris Hilton, in the new spin-off of its hit Real Housewives reality series, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Will Kyle (born in Hollywood in 1969) and Kim (born in New York in 1964) be able to equal the hot mess quotient of past contestants? It seems doubtful, but if anyone can get the job done, it’s a Hilton.

This is just the latest trashy, if enticing, move by Bravo. The network’s recent offerings have included the second season of Tabatha’s Salon Takeover, in which a shrill woman disparages beauticians, and the third season of Millionaire Matchmaker, in which a sexist gargoyle matches wealthy man-children with shallow models. Casting the Richards sisters is clearly a slam dunk move, as both are Beverly Hills royalty and both are 100% ready for prime time. Kyle has appeared on niece Paris’s reality TV series The Simple Life and My BFF. Kim had a successful career as a child actress, appearing in blockbuster smash classics such as Escape to Witch Mountain and Return to Witch Mountain. No word yet on whether either aspires to a music career.

Hilton Street Cred on the Rise

Hilton Hotels are not known for being cool, trendy or hip. They’re reliable and pretty standard as far as hotels go. But lately they’ve made some moves to change their rep. Though the company swears they didn’t pay for any kind of positioning in the new George Clooney film, Up in the Air, they’re sure promoting it. “As for helping to promote the film, the chain held the after-party for the Nov. 30 premiere at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, which included more than 1,000 guests (an event that Paramount and American Airlines also helped pay for),” reported the NY Times. “Hilton also is promoting the movie on its Web site, where, besides viewing a trailer, visitors can enter sweepstakes to win one million customer loyalty points and a trip for two to Paris. The company also is promoting the film on more than a million key cards internationally, a first for the chain, whose cards have never featured anything besides its own logos and amenities.”

So maybe they comped some rooms and printed up some key cards. That’s some good branding right there. And while Hilton is riding the PR wave from Up in the Air, they’ve quietly been putting together a partnership with the uber cool, Virgin America, offering up frequent flier points to eleVAte members on a per stay basis. Watch out for Hilton. Next thing you know they’re going to have Balenciaga uniforms and Louboutin shoes.