Brilliant New Hotel Amenity: Adult Coloring Books

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Admit it: when you go to a restaurant with a kid in the party, aren’t you just the littlest bit jealous when the little one gets Crayolas and a coloring mat, and you just get the boring old grownup menu? And when it comes to hotel amenities, seriously, wouldn’t you really rather have a bag of peanut M&Ms for midnight snacking than a, um, “bath butler?”

Morgan's Hotels Coloring Book 2

To that end Morgans Hotel Group, responsible for such mediarati magnets as New York’s Royalton, Vegas’ Delano, the London and WeHo Mondrians and the 10 Karaköy in Istanbul, have launched a program that will feed your inner adolescent, whilst elevating your weary, tattered soul. Their new #MorgansStateofMind coloring book series, in partnership with Buddhify, is based on the notion that coloring contributes to your overall wellness, quietness and mindfulness, much the same as meditation. Indeed, the mind-body set have been all over this one.

Morgan's Hotels Coloring Book

For the aesthete in you, the illustrations by Peter Arkle show beautiful scenes from various Morgans properties. Having an urban-stress-out day in New York? Make a breezy escape by coloring in the swimming pool at the Delano South Beach. Feeling a bit blah? Add a little instant glamour to your day by putting your creative touch on the lavish staircase at the Sanderson London.

Mind you, we’re still partial to a minibar stocked with premium bourbon. But as genuine hotel aficionados, we do like where they’re going with this.

Photographer Credit : Ed Reeve

Mondrian London Image by Ed Reeve

Royalton Lobby 2

Royalton Image Courtesy of Morgans Hotel Group

Rome’s Legendary Via Margutta in Pictures

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It’s singularly profound that in William Wyler’s 1953 classic Roman Holiday, Gregory Peck’s conniving journalist Joe Bradley in the end chooses honor over remuneration – ultimately refusing to profit from a deceptively procured story about Audrey Hepburn’s starkly naïve Princess Ann. Bradley, by the way, lived at Via Margutta 51.

Seven years later, Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita would decisively contend that Bradley’s war was a lost one, and that celebrity journalism would careen unstoppably towards the ends of crassness and avarice. Fellini himself lived with his famous actress wife Giulietta Masina at Via Margutta 110.

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Ironically, 1953 also saw the launch of one of the earliest contemporary art fairs, the still annually presented 100 Painters on Via Margutta, which is currently on from this weekend through May 6. And as we are now all too keenly aware, art gatherings have irreversibly coalesced with celebrity culture – cementing Fellini as a modern prophet, of sorts…and inevitably closing the circle.

But the Via Margutta, surely one of the most ethereally beautiful places in the known world for a contemplative stroll, has still somehow managed to exist beyond it all. Here, stylish design hotels share a street address with old-fashioned, ivy-draped inns, and chic but independent boutiques are still decisively outnumbered by classically cultivated artisan workshops.

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Yet celebrity and fashion still mark its existence. As night falls here, the elegant Osteria Margutta draws sophisticated locals and Hollywood stars looking for something beyond the same old cacio e pepe: and at the far end of the street, hip vegetarian eatery Il Margutta morphs into a late night stylish dance party. (Unlike NYC, it’s legal to dance in restaurants in Rome.)

One of our fave places to stay in Italy’s capital also calls this street home, the aptly named Hotel Art, which flaunts a sort of futuristic, 23rd Century modernism. To wit, stark white egg pods act as reception and concierge desks, and Pantone hallways make getting to one’s room a bit of a hyper-sensory, sci-fi adventure. But its lobby and bar are fascinatingly fitted into a spectacular, deconsecrated 17th Century chapel – an extravagant reminder of the Via Margutta’s varied and unparalleled history.

Hotel Art Spagna image

Hotel Art Spagna image 5

Chicago Athletic Association Reemerges as Luxury Hotel

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Restored ballroom

Travelers heading to the windy city (and local Chicagoans looking for a a place to throw a knockout event) will have a new place to stay starting May 27, when the storied Chicago Athletic Association reopens its doors as a 241-room luxury hotel.

Travelers heading to the windy city (and Chicagoans looking for a a place to throw a knockout event) will have a new place to play starting May 27 when the storied Chicago Athletic Association reopens its doors as a 241-room luxury hotel. The restoration, which involved a collaboration among design firm Roman and WilliamsHartshorne Plunkard Architecture, Geolo Capital, and Agman partners, took two years to complete.

The historic building and its gorgeous architectural details were brought to life in 1890 as a place for the storied families of Chicago — think names like Wrigley and Spalding — to socialize and enjoy sport. Roman and Williams preserved the details, which included bas-relief woodcarving fireplaces, 19th-century stained glass windows, and marble staircases, as part of their restorative process.

Beyond the guest rooms and suites, the luxury hotel will boast 17,000 square feet of event space, a rooftop bar, retail space in Madison Hall, and multiple restaurants, including a Shake Shack.

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Chicago Athletic Association

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A room at the restored hotel

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A suite at the restored hotel

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Chicago Athletic Association exterior

Images courtesy of Commune Hotels and Resorts

Greg Mike, Walk The Moon + Chicken and Waffles: Thursdays in Atlanta

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Walk The Moon before their performance at Briza

A few Thursdays ago I found myself far away from the comfort of the grid, my desk (woo!), my New York apartment… I found myself in Atlanta, checking in at the Renaissance Hotel in Midtown, on the sweetly named Peachtree Street, waiting the shortest amount of time appropriate after setting my bags down to order room service chicken and waffles. (I totally judge a hotel based on how quickly I can wind up in a robe on the bed surrounded by room service, and the truly delightful staff at the Renaissance Atlanta Midtown Hotel really couldn’t have made it lovelier. Shout out to Lynn!)

I wasn’t there to luxuriate in Southern food and white sheets — although I did, for a bit — I was there to check out the best of what Atlanta has on offer, from the music scene, to the artists who work there, to the boutiques, food, drinks…

10455583_10152178870580334_232107436186600136_nOh look, it’s me, Instgramming away.

As the sun set over Atlanta, Renaissance Hotels’ celebration of Global Day of Discovery began as artist and designer Greg Mike made his mark on one of the terrace walls. Abstract work is rare for a pop artist, and it was really fun to watch him work and create a colorful mural for the hotel. So if you’re in Atlanta, definitely make your way to the terrace of the Renaissance Midtown to check it out.

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Later in the evening, indie pop rockers Walk The Moon took the stage at Briza, the Renaissance Hotel’s restaurant. Atlanta’s where they made their last record, and this was their first performance coming out of the studio, so they were particularly fun. A knit trompe l’oeil jean jacket? Adorable. Suitcase as percussion instrument? Super cute. I love a good, cozy concert.

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After the concert, Greg Mike was still at it back on the terrace, where Atlanta boutique Young Blood had set up temporary shop. Cheeky notecards, delicate jewelry, and other goods were laid out on their table, but to see it all, I’ll be making a point of stopping by their store the next time I’m in town.

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I’ll take checking out pop art and attending intimate concerts over my usual desk routine any day. Definitely a Thursday to brag about.

Want to attend a cool event like this? Check out the Renaissance Hotels events page for events near you!

Images copyright © 2007-2013 Ryan Purcell (Oh Snap Kid™)

Hotel Hugo Set For March Debut in West SoHo

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We admit we’re not precisely sure who this Hugo actually is (Weaving? Boss? Victor? Use your imagination…); but whomever he is, his soon-to-open hotel (www.hotelhugony.com) is certainly stirring up something of a buzz.In the still slightly isolated West Soho neighborhood now dubbed Hudson Square, which was once decisively lorded over by late nightlife legend Don Hill, hotelier and Developer Matthew Moinian in partnership with Fortuna Realty Group (which also boasts the Indigo in Chelsea) will soon unveil a distinctively trendy hostelry.
Hugo will flaunt 122 sleek rooms, designed with something of a residential feel; two top floor suites look dramatically out over the Hudson. A verdant, travertine-and-blue-marble-adorned lobby will lead to a ground floor Italian restaurant that is still in want of a name; but the real buzz will be up on the rooftop, where the Hugo will offer cocktailers rather awe-inspiring river views with their chic sips. Expect the floodgates to soon open on this tranquil corner of Downtown.

Affinia 50 Shows Off Sleek New Look

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East 50th Street is having its close up. In 2013 The New York Palace unveiled a flash makeover; The Waldorf Astoria has been dolling up bit by bit; and perhaps a little less conspicuously, the Affinia 50 is strutting a sleek new look as of January 2014. A $19 million investment has opened up its spaces, solidifying it as the more mod alternative to its grande dame neighbors. Indeed, thanks to the inimitable talents of Seattle’s Dawson Design (who won high praise for their design of Viceroy Group’s Hotel Zetta in San Francisco), the hotel now sparkles with cool and vibrant but soothing color schemes. Artworks by the likes of Montserrat Daubon, Pedro Villalta and Lindsey Wilner dazzle the public areas.

Alas, there’s no on site resto; but partnerships with the nearby Naked Wines, as well as the chic Indian eatery Mint, see to it that epicurean guests are not left wanting. The hotel’s exclusive Club Room is now accessed by way of a dramatic stone-and-steel staircase, and offers elegant, fireside schmoozing and cultivated wine hours. 50 never looked so good…

Clubby Punch Room Bar Opens at Ian Schrager’s London Edition Hotel

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Hard to believe a decade-and-a-half has passed since Ian Schrager last planted his hospitality flag in Blighty’s capital. Naturally, then, the recent unveiling of the London outpost of his super poshie EDITION brand (a partnership with Marriott) has seen the beau monde flocking to Fitzrovia’s Berners Street. The jewel in the hotel’s glittering crown is surely its just opened Punch Room bar, discreetly tucked at the back.

As one might easily guess, there’s nothing pugilistic about it—rather, the punches come in bowls, stirred up by alchemists recruited from Milk & Honey, Experimental Cocktail Club and The Connaught, and with cheeky names like Occident Meets Orient (we wish we’d come up with that one, actually) and An Ode To Mrs. Tottenham. Décor is all English clubby, with lots of dark wood and brown leather club chairs—so perfect for a bit of a-list snogging. Indeed, marquee couples like Otis Ferry & Edie Campbell as well as MIA and Romain Gavras have already warmed its velvet sofas. With February 14 just around the corner, what better place to plan on sharing a punch with your Valentine?

Main photo by Nikloas Koenig

Celeb-Fave Loews Regency Hotel Unveils Swish Makeover

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Power breakfasting has the distinct whiff of Hollywood about it; New Yorkers, alas, are not as keen to mix croissants and contract negotiations. But the Loews Regency has been a hive of early hour wheeling and dealing for more than half a century. Yet despite a parade of fame that includes Alan Cumming and Ellen Page (many of whom have strutted their stuff at the hotel’s now shuttered Feinstein’s nightclub), a makeover had certainly come due.

Some $100 million later, the Regency now sparkles anew. It’s charmingly démodé style has been jazzed right into the 21st Century, the glorious Deco interiors now looking rather sexily chic. The velvet and marble lobby, especially, glitters with moderne-ity. Hairstylist-to-the-stars (Salma Hayek, Kate Moss) Julien Farel’s on site salon will cover 10,000 square feet, including a signature Anti-Aging Spa (vanity dies hard, as they say); and the Sant Ambroeus Hospitality Group helms the spiffy new Regency Bar & Grill. Morning, once again, becomes electric.

Fourth of July Nightlife: Behind the Scenes

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The Fourth of July weekend looms, ready to empty Manhattan of its denizens of the night. Quite a few people have cut out already, leaving club operators in a quandary. With so many of their regulars away in exotic lands, how do they generate income to pay their bills, and how do they make staffing decisions? In an age of instant awareness, clubs that are crowded will become known to people who find themselves in empty rooms. A text, a tweet, or a call has them scurrying to find the crowds, and a well-run and established club has a leg-up on competitors.

The smart clubs employ PR companies that get the name and image of their clients to the masses both locally and throughout the world. While Manhattanites are off to vacation hovels, New York City becomes a destination for millions who want to see the fireworks and enjoy the hot town. These tourists with no job to wake up to want to go out to party. They almost always have only a name from a celebrity sighting, a synopsis in a city guide, or the word of their hotel concierge to steer them to the right nightclub. These concierges are heavily swayed by what they read in Page Six and New York Magazine.

PR companies worth their salt keep the name of their clients out there. Nightlife sections of lifestyle magazines and blogs are constantly updated with images and blurbs to attract those not normally looped in. Concierge outreach programs are used by the smart venues. A rep from the club visits chic hotels regularly and establishes relationships.

During the normal course of business throughout the year, the guests of these concierges are given preferred treatment for entrance and often other incentive-filled deals, like discounts on bottles. These concierges are sometimes tipped back by clubs for sending spenders their way but get much of their loot from satisfied customers. On weeks like this, when tourist dollars are the salvation, these concierge programs can save the day. Tourists don’t have work for days to come and are raring to go, eager to spend beaucoup bucks in places they have been convinced are ultra exclusive.

The best joints in town will lower their standards to fill their rooms. It is an opportunity for those allergic to the Hamptons and other cricket-heavy lands to get into places that normally exclude them. It can set the tone for a relationship with a doorman and club staff and ease entry going forward. Door people welcome familiar faces who have proven themselves to behave "correctly.” A borderline "no" can become a consistent "yes" if an effort to impress is made. Operators have a hard time staffing long weekends. Their employees, like most people, have other places they’d rather be. Staff are told in advance to not even think about being MIA, as operators can’t predict how busy or not they will be.

I will see the fireworks from the roof of the Tribeca Grand Hotel where there are stirrings of a rebirth of its traditionally vibrant nightlife culture. I have attended a couple of swell events there recently and I hear word of more to come. It has always worked for me. Multiple rooms, great sound, delicious drinks and even food, and the sexiness of the atrium and rooms up above have made me a regular over many years.

On another note, I was completely captivated by the new Wes Anderson flick, Moonrise Kingdom. I advise you stop reading this right this second, leave your house, and head over to your nearest cinema and see this film. Hell, quit your job…go now. Yes, I am that age. Yes, I had one of those Davy Crockett hats and I was the nerdiest, bespeckled scout. The world of my New England summer youth is there to be seen. I even had an eternal love that lasted an entire summer. I camped out, was bullied and fought back, and thought I knew everything about the trees and the winds and the animals of my wooded universe by the infinite lake of our seasonal retreat.

I’ve gotta go…I’m gonna see it again.