REVIEW: The W Hotel in Seattle has the BEST BED in the world

I always check out the W hotel in whichever city i’m in, and now that Marriott and SPG have merged, points can be transferred between the two – making life much easier if you’re a fan of both brands.

The W in Seattle is an older property, but was recently renovated (in 2016).  How is it now?  Pretty darn good.  Why would one choose the W Seattle with the dearth of luxury hotels in the city you ask?  Well, the views are one reason, and two, the service.

I couldn’t recommend the W in Seattle up until this year because it was getting a bit long in the tooth, but now with its renovation – it’s one of the go-to’s in Seattle.

When you enter, you’re greeted by the expansive lobby which organically melds into the bar and the lounge area.  It’s a cozy space with an oversized fireplace and lots of secluded seating.

The Lobby, it’s nice

The rooms themselves are a nice size, which is hard to find in downtown Seattle.  They’re also renovated and have some of THE comfiest beds i’ve ever experienced (Yes SPG, your beds ARE Heavenly).  Now i’ve slept in Heavenly bed setups at other SPG properties, but this one was exceptional.  I don’t know if it was because the rooms were so new, or because they had a different mattress top at this one but i’d love to hear reader’s opinions!

 

Now if you wanted to see what the views looked like check out the pic below.  The combination of great location and height of the building makes this one of the nicest properties around for expansive views of the beautiful Seattle skyline.  There’s only a handful of luxury hotels with views like this and the W Seattle is one of them.  The icing on the cake is that most of the rooms at the W have a view because of how the building is situated on a hill.

 

That’s the renovated room there

 

The service is impeccable at this property, the gym has new equipment now, and did I mention the bed or the views?

 

PROS:

  • VIEWS VIEWS VIEWS!
  • Service is impeccable – I think it was on par with some Ritz-Carlton’s i’ve stayed at
  • The remodel did this hotel good

CONS:

  • It has low ceilings – I really had to reach here

SECRETS:

  • If you’re an SPG member ask them for drink tickets, they’re usually pretty accommodating here!

 




REVIEW: The W Hotel in South Beach

So I visit South Beach quite often, and most of that is driven by the fact that there are so many cool hotels to explore and stay at.  Yes, the beaches are nice, the scenery isn’t too shabby, and the food and entertainment scene really are about as close to Ibiza as you can get without hopping over the Atlantic, but I really have to give it up to the choices of hotels in Miami Beach.

The W Hotel there is no exception, and it is probably one of my favorite W’s that i’ve visited.  There’s two reasons for that – the room selections, and the incredible pool area.

Lets start with the lobby – it’s a marble affair with plenty of seating areas and one of my favorite restaurants – Mr. Chow’s.  The ceilings are magnificently tall, and there is a definite air of modern opulence that you feel the minute you walk in.

That's the lobby, it's pretty
That’s the lobby, it’s pretty

However, lets get to the bread and butter – the rooms.  It’s no secret that i’m usually a bigger fan of hotels that have a uniqueness to them.  This can often be tough to find in chain hotels, but the W manages to do this quite often even while still instilling a “W-ness” to a property.  At the South Beach location, you get a choice of over a dozen types of room categories.  The result is some really cool floorplans including ones with staircases that lead to rooftop jacuzzis, and other rooms with their own gardens or multiple balconies.  They do all possess the same styling, however, which is not a bad thing because the white wood and gloss black furniture gives a futuristic look to the hotel keeping in line with the Asian-mod-deco look of the entire place.

 

Check out that spiral staircase which leads to...
Check out that spiral staircase which leads to…

...a sweet rooftop jacuzzi
…a sweet rooftop jacuzzi

The other favorite feature of mine is the enormous pool and the surrounding pool deck area.  There seems to always never be enough space to lounge around at most South Beach hotels, but this has never been a problem for me at the W.  If you want a cabana, they’ve got plenty of those, and if you just want a chair, well they have plenty of those as well.  The lush greenery, the dining tables spread amongst the palm tree forest, these are all calming and relaxing features that make this one of my favorite pools in South Beach.

PROS:

  • Pool area is one of the best in a South Beach hotel
  • Rooms are spectacular, great views and incredible floorplans

CONS:

  • Often incredibly expensive, you do get what you pay for, however

SECRETS:

  • If you are an SPG member, the combo points + cash works really well at this property for securing great deals

THINGS TO DO IN THE AREA:

  • Check out my other South Beach articles to read more about this!  I’ve covered it extensively in my review of the SOHO House: South Beach



REVIEW: Le Meridien New Orleans – The Newest Luxury Hotel in the City

So i’ve been to New Orleans a few times, and have had the pleasure of staying at quite a few hotels there.  This one, is so far, one of my favorite.  Let me tell you why.  It’s NEW!  This used to be the W New Orleans (not to be confused with the W New Orleans in the French Quarter).  The last time I visited this property it was back in 2014 and it was definitely showing its age.  The renovation on the property and rebranding of it as a Le Meridien happened within the last year in 2016, and when I say renovation, I don’t mean a fresh coat of paint and some lipstick.  SPG pulled out all the stops on this one, gutting the building and changing the entire layout of the common spaces.

The result, as you can see below… Is stunning!

This is the front desk. It's nice.
This is the front desk. It’s nice.

You are greeted by stunning textures, surfaces, the combination of marble, antique wood, and mirrored surfaces is something that is a nice juxtaposition from the city of New Orleans, which itself has lots of character, but is older and antique in character.

The lobby is a great place to have a coffee, a drink (which you can walk around with in NOLA – just like in Vegas), and relax.

Yup. That's an awesome lobby area too. Cozy, visually interesting, and thoroughly relaxing
Yup. That’s an awesome lobby area too. Cozy, visually interesting, and thoroughly relaxing

The rooms themselves have gone through some pretty significant renovations.  They have beautiful bathrooms in particular, with minimalist countertops and low edge sinks – my personal favorite.  The building itself is pretty tall and centralized, next to the Harrah’s casino and only about 5 blocks away from Bourbon street.

The very sexy renovated bathrooms - if you can't tell i'm a big fan
The very sexy renovated bathrooms – if you can’t tell i’m a big fan

 

This is one of the smaller suites, notice the views, the textured walls, and the bright lighting
This is one of the smaller suites, notice the views, the textured walls, and the bright lighting

To top it off, the service is top notch, it is definitely a hotel where you get a great value, and the gym up top really takes the cake, with 360 degree views (if you actually decide to workout while you’re in NOLA).

 

PROS:

  • Newly renovated, it’s a great place to be! (2016)
  • It’s got a great lobby to hangout in, with indoor and outdoor spaces
  • Prices are highly competitive

CONS:

  • Some would say location, since it’s not directly on Bourbon Street, but this can be a personal preference

SECRETS:

  • The hotel has high capacity, so more likely than not you can ask for a late check-in and then ask for a higher floor with a great view

THINGS TO DO IN THE AREA:

  • Everyone knows that New Orleans is the city of food and soul, and I highly recommend having breakfast over at the Ruby Slipper Cafe
  • Of course there’s the requisite Cafe Du Monde
  • And lastly, Commander’s Palace – with old school group waiters/waitresses and good ol’ southern fare
  • But, the one thing you NEVER want to miss, is a ride on an airboat to go into the swamps and see some Alligators.  They’re harder to spot in the winter time as the water gets cold, but if you choose a tour company that tends to take their airboats out on the side of the Gulf you’re likely to see more of them.  Airboat Adventures is one of those tour companies I highly recommend! (I’ve had bad luck with others)



REVIEW: The Le Meridien Barcelona

lemeridienbarcelona1

This hotel is a little gem in the middle of Las Ramblas.  Le Meridien’s are often overlooked by travelers in lieu of larger name chain hotels, but they usually provide the boutique service and luxury that you would expect to find at something comparably higher in price.

I chose this hotel for an extended stay in Barcelona, which resulted in me actually calling this place my home for a bit of time in late Fall a few years back.  It is set in a very centralized part of Barcelona – right in the middle of Las Ramblas, which is essentially the main street in the city.  This made for extremely easy access to shops, restaurants, bars, cafe’s, and pretty much everything else you could ask for when roaming and getting lost in Spain’s best city metropolis (Madrid just isn’t Barcelona if you ask me).

The lobby was a great place to have an afternoon cocktail, and the rooms were modernly appointed and clean with great attentive staff.  Although the property has over 200 rooms it felt much more like a boutique hotel where they knew your name and service was remarkably quick everytime I needed something brought to my room.

lemeridienbarcelona
Modern rooms here felt cozy, sophisticated, and noticeably well insulated, making for some very restful nights in the city 

The hotel really embodies something which I find to be an epitome of European cities that have been around for centuries but have since grown up with the times, beautiful old world exteriors – but with modern luxurious interiors.  This is the city of Gaudi after all, and interior decor and character and soul should be present at any hotel worth its price of admission.  I felt as if Miro inspired some of the furnishings, colors, and overall decor of this place.

lemeridienbathrooms
Modern bathrooms with granite, wood, and clean lines made this place feel like it had more character than your average luxury hotel

Of course, the best part of this hotel is and always will be its location.  I don’t think Le Meridien will ever let go of this property.  I highly recommend it if you’re visiting Barcelona.

lemeridienlobbybarcelona
Barcelona is all about lounging, and this lobby was built specifically for that purpose.  Kudos to SPG & Le Meridien!

PROS:

  • Great lobby to socialize in and hang out during nighttime hours
  • Rooms were modern but with lots of character and warmth
  • Staff was very attentive for what is a relatively large hotel
  • The location couldn’t be any better for walking to lots of great destinations

CONS:

  • There are certainly many newer choices and I haven’t reviewed some other top hotels in Barcelona but this one is a solid choice

SECRETS:

  • Eat breakfast here at the restaurant downstairs, it’s magnificent

THINGS TO DO IN THE AREA:

  • I’m biased, but I think everyone should visit the Miro museum while in Barcelona