Checking In: An Iconic Hotel by StayPineapple

Being a local to Chicago makes me one of the luckiest people when it comes to a staycation. Instead of airfare, I pay a round-trip price of $16 to get to and from the city and can plan a trip around hotel prices. Plus, the location can’t be beat. Even New Yorkers get out of their city when they take a staycation. I mean, that’s why the Hamptons exist, right? When I’m desperate to get away but don’t have the time or bandwidth to plan an actual trip, I’ll open Hotel Tonight or check a few of my favorite hotels in the city to see where I can find the best price…

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Walking Back In Time At Hotel Emma | San Antonio

Normally I save hotel reviews for hotels that I personally stay at but I made an exception for Hotel Emma in San Antonio. Located in San Antonio’s Pearl District, Hotel Emma feels like it was built in another time and it certainly was with a history dating back to 1894. After dining at Supper, my Noni and I meandered through the hotel to pass a little time and boy am I glad that we did. Little did I know there was so much to discover in this time machine of a building from small shops to enormous libraries. If I find myself back in San Antonio anytime soon, I will most likely be staying at Hotel Emma.

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The History
Here’s a tidbit of information I found surprising while doing some research - Hotel Emma has ties to Chicago! Who knew?! Originally Pearl’s Brewhouse, the hotel was built in 1894 by Chicago architect August Martizen who specialized in breweries creating more than 80 in his career. By 1916, Pearl Brewery was the largest brewery in Texas and the only one in San Antonio to survive prohibition. The brewery’s CEO, Emma Koehler, who the hotel is named after, came up with creative alternate services for the brewery to put out to keep her entire staff employed including dry cleaning, auto repair, and the production of near beer, ice cream and soda. These services kept the brewery in business until prohibition ended allowing beer to become their main product once again. The brewery closed in 2001 before becoming part of a renovation program which turned into today’s Pearl District.

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Becoming Hotel Emma
With the establishment of the Pearl District, Hotel Emma has become one of the many community pillars. With 146 rooms and several suites, the hotel features a design that mixes historical elements with a modern touch in a comfortable and unconventional way. What’s most impressive is the 3,700-volume library. Any book worm’s dream, this collection is one-of-a-kind donated from a San Antonio icon. As if that wasn’t enough, the library allows guests to check out books using a vintage card system. Talk about nostalgia gone wild. Inside Hotel Emma, you’ll find Curio, a boutique gift shop with interesting finds from near and far; Larder Fine Groceries and Prepared Food; Supper, a restaurant where American cuisine meets European bistro; and Sternewirth, a tavern and club room for cocktails and conversation.

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The Experience
Walking through Hotel Emma, you’re pulled into a different time. Everything is distressed, everything has character. For those who are always looking for the perfect Instagram photo, Hotel Emma is a treasure chest. From the mismatched furniture that works seamlessly to the bookshelves and the friendly staff, it’s an exceptional experience that is unique and not found anywhere else. Even if you’re not staying at Hotel Emma while in San Antonio, make a point to stop by and take a walk through their main areas. If you’re looking for a spot to grab a bite, Supper is amazing. We went there for brunch and believe me when I say I’ve never been more impressed by a restaurant. I’ll have a full review coming soon.

I’ll stop there and let the photos speak for themselves.

Hotel Indigo San Antonio Riverwalk - Checking In

I enjoyed my stay at Hotel Indigo Downtown Denver so much that while I was doing research for hotels in San Antonio, this property immediately went to the top of my list. Hotel Indigo San Antonio Riverwalk is a Spanish Villa-Style property right on the riverwalk. There is a lot of space from the comfy common area on the main floor to poolside lounging. It’s kid-friendly, dog-friendly, but most important, Noni-friendly. If you haven't seen that name before, my Noni is my grandmother and she's exactly what you'd think of for an Italian grandmother. Particular, a clean freak and vocal about both of those but I wouldn't have her any other way. San Antonio was not a part of my travel plans for 2017 but when we found out my cousin was getting married over Easter weekend and my pops couldn't go with her, it moved to the top of my list. Normally when I travel, I work at the same time since I can do so anywhere with an internet connection. Instead, I wanted to be able to spend time with her and other family so we made a five day vacation. It was exactly what we both needed.

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Checking In
We took a late flight to San Antonio and didn’t get to the hotel until after 1am. It was a long day and all we wanted to do was put our feet up and get comfy. Arriving, it feels like the hotel is super exclusive because there’s this wall that surrounds the property. When you drive through the entryway, there’s a court for cars to drop off and pick up with a large entrance. It’s very welcoming and feels almost extravagant. The lobby has a spacious check-in desk and farther back, there’s a common area with sofas and chairs, a bar, restaurant area and then the patio and pool. The Spanish-style design is a nice touch and not out of place in the slightest since San Antonio has strong Spanish roots.

Checking in, the staff was extremely friendly. They gave us a quick intro to the hotel, focusing on the basics so we could go to our rooms faster. We took our room keys, a map to the city and a few other pamphlets of information and headed up the elevator to our rooms. It was smooth sailing and pleasant getting set up and settled in.

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The Room
Normally when traveling, I go for single rooms with king-sized beds. Since I had a second traveler with me this time, we opted for a double queen. When we first entered the room, it was stuffy. The air conditioning hadn’t been on and if you’re familiar with San Antonio, it gets humid. We tried and failed to get the air conditioning running so we called the front desk and someone came up and got it turned on right away. In no time at all, the room was at its best: cool, clean and neat.

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The room was a nice size and it had a view of the riverwalk which was icing on the cake! Two queen-sized beds faced a sitting area with chairs and a TV. There was a little kitchenette area with a table and chairs, Keurig, refrigerator and sink. It was a nice touch to have all that available. It gives you a little more independence in case you don’t want to leave the room early in the morning before that first cup. You know I always have to say something about the complimentary hair dryer! Two thumbs up. I hate traveling with more than I need to and this curly haired freak needs a decent hair dryer for survival. Indigo passes with flying colors.

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The Food
Farther back from the main lobby area is Bridges Bar & Bistro, a Texas-inspired restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We went for breakfast our first morning there which was delightful. We actually split the Eggs Florentine Breakfast sandwich. It was an interesting twist on two classic dishes - eggs Florentine and an egg sandwich - and quite filling making it perfect for the both of us to share.

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For between meal times, there’s a little cafe area set up like a coffee shop. They serve coffee, sweets, snacks, other drinks and bites for on the go or a quick meal. If you’re looking for a nitecap, the bar is gorgeous and serves a well-stocked menu of wine, beer, spirits and for those extra long days of adventure, cocktails. I had a nice conversation with the bartender while I got a little writing done in the late afternoon. Nothing beats vacation, palm trees, sunshine, wine and free time to work on the blog!

The Neighborhood
Most people think of the downtown area of the riverwalk when San Antonio comes to mind. That’s the “hub.” It’s where all the dining and entertainment is - where you can walk from point A to point B. Hotel Indigo is a little bit outside of the downtown area but still on the riverwalk. It’s across the street from the Southwest School of Art, right across the river from the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts and right down the river from the San Antonio Museum of Art. The riverwalk has a taxi service that offers day and multi-day passes to access the boats as often as you need to. Lucky for Hotel Indigo guests, that taxi has a stop right outside the hotel!

While it might not seem ideal to stay outside of the downtown area, it was one of my better ideas. Hotel Indigo is located far enough from downtown to enjoy a peaceful escape along the river but close enough to enjoy within minutes. It’s also about the midway point between the Pearl District, which is the end of the water taxi line, and the downtown area making it a primo location.

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The Verdict
The Hotel Indigo chain has officially swept me off my feet. I’ve stayed at two now and they haven’t disappointed me yet! The service is always friendly and accommodating. The rooms are always clean and spacious. The food is always top notch. And they have coffee makers complimentary! That’s really what sells me. Free coffee in the room at your disposal. It doesn’t get better than that.

If you are visiting San Antonio at any point in the future, I strongly recommend the Hotel Indigo San Antonio Riverwalk. The location could not be more idea, the riverwalk is beautiful and even feels tropical at times. The staff is friendly and there’s plenty of space to lounge around during any down time available. The rates are affordable, the space is lovely and the location can’t be beat. What are you waiting for??

*This post was not sponsored or affiliated in any way with the Hotel Indigo San Antonio Riverwalk or InterContinental Hotels Group.*

Hotel Monaco Denver - Checking In

After a long weekend in the mountains, I returned back to Denver for a few more days of exploration and relaxation. After sleeping on a couch for a few nights, it was a welcome feeling to return to a space that was my own with a giant king bed all to myself. Hotel Monaco Denver is located right off of the 16th Street Mall and a half mile away from Union Station making it ideally located to wandering Denver on foot. Named one of the “Top 20 Hotels in Denver” by Conde Nast Traveler, it’s no surprise Monaco made the list. The service was incredible, the room unbeatable and the experience memorable.

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Checking In
An in-the-moment decision had me trekking the half mile from Union Station to Hotel Monaco with my luggage. I pack light but rolling a suitcase after a three hour train ride and a weekend without much sleep, walking was the worst decision. Upon arrival, check-in was fast, easy and the receptionist was very nice. She gave me directions to my room, shared information about the hotel including happy hour drinks and bites every afternoon, and gave me recommendations for Panzano, their restaurant.

Walking into Monaco is like stepping into an old movie. The spaces are all soft lit and the decor is very luxe but in an eclectic way. The whole building - from the lobby to guest rooms - has a European design, Venetian if I were to pick a region, and it feels like luxury without the exclusivity. It’s warm and welcoming, something that can most likely be attributed to the color tones and friendly staff.

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The Room
As soon as I opened the door to my guest room, I felt the load of the trek release from my body. I stayed in a Deluxe King Suite which had plenty of space. Nothing felt cramped by any means in this room. Two large sets of windows took up the majority of the far wall bringing in plenty of light during the day. A desk sat in the corner with a comfortable chair and next to it a dresser with large, flat-screen TV and a drawer fitted with snacks and drinks. I loved the little mascot that greeted you by the TV.

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The bed was, in a word, heaven. I slept like a baby every night. The bathroom was clean and spacious, and the suite had plenty of space to store luggage and clothing. They also provide these funky animal print bathrobes that I found hilarious. Housekeeping comes to the room each day and tidies up. This isn’t something that I’m particularly in need of since I’m a rather neat traveler but it doesn’t hurt to have your bed tucked in nice and tight every day!

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Bites
Hotel Monaco Denver’s restaurant, Panzano, serves Italian fare with local, organic and sustainable ingredients. They focus on contemporary Northern Italian cuisine and serve a variety of innovative cocktails as well as tasty happy hour, breakfast and brunch menus. I didn’t dine in the restaurant itself but I did order room service for breakfast on my last morning. It’s a tradition I seem to have started while traveling. It takes the stress away of having to leave the hotel before checking out to grab a bite.

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I ordered a carafe of coffee (of course) with Egg White French Toast. The French Toast doesn’t appear to be on the menu any longer unless they don’t have the “healthy” options listed online. Regardless, there are plenty of delicious options to choose from including Pineapple Pancakes, Zucchini Bread French Toast, and Chicken Hash. This is all in addition to fresh squeezed juice, espresso drinks, teas and more. My modest breakfast was the perfect start to a day of travel.

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The Neighborhood
Monaco is located right off the 16th Street Mall and within walking distance of a variety of Denver attractions including Larimer Square, and as I mentioned earlier, Union Station. Two blocks down and around the corner on 15th Street is Sam’s No. 3, a diner that appeared on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, that has killer breakfast food and, allegedly, burgers. Denver Pavilions is right up 17th Street along with the Paramount Theatre. The State Capitol is a bit more of a walk but worth it when the weather is warmer to walk the Civic Park Center as well.

The Verdict
While I’ve stayed in Kimpton Hotels before, this was my first time in a Hotel Monaco. The experience was a pure delight. From excellent service to scrumptious food and a dreamy bed, I don’t have any negative things to say. The location is ideal and the amenities are top notch. Hotel Monaco Denver really goes out of their way to provide an exceptional experience away from home. Whether your travel is for business, leisure or a bit of both, I recommend Hotel Monaco for your home away from home.

*This post was not sponsored or affiliated in any way with the Hotel Monaco Denver or Kimpton Hotels.*

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Hotel Indigo Denver Downtown - Checking In

Planning for Denver, I had loads of research complete. Close to a dozen hotels charted in Google Sheets, lists of restaurants and neighborhood guides galore. I had over prepared with information but managed to wait until the last minute to book my hotel. Luckily for me, it worked out to my benefit. After searching less than one week before my flight took off, I found this brand new hotel that had opened its doors less than one month prior. You see, in my procrastination to book a hotel, many of the ones I researched either sold out or prices skyrocketed. The building was still under construction but the majority of the hotel was in business ready to provide a home away from home to remember. I introduce to you, Hotel Indigo Denver Downtown.

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I didn’t realize at the time that there is actually a chain of Indigo hotels. I prefer a boutique hotel experience while traveling. I find boutique hotels to not only be more affordable than larger chains but each of them has a unique personality. This personality gives the hotel character and provides a memorable experience, normally for the better. In the last year, I’ve stayed in two Hotel Indigo's and both experiences have been top notch. Focusing on the Hotel Indigo Denver Downtown, this experience was a little more special than others since it had only been open near a month during my visit.

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Checking In
Arriving at Hotel Indigo Denver was easy and painless. The woman working the front desk was friendly and informative right on the spot. Normally after airports, cab rides and flying I want to lie down for a bit and unwind with a movie. I’m not an arrive and go kind of traveler. I need my downtime. This check-in was different. I spent a good twenty minutes or so talking with, let’s call her Jane, discussing how she ended up in Denver and what I had planned for my trip. I told Jane how my friends and I had planned to take a weekend trip to the mountains and we bonded over our mutual lack of skill in skiing. I also told Jane how I’m a serious coffee addict and about the several coffee shops I wanted to visit around town. We bonded a second time since she was also a coffee addict and then we were basically best friends as soon as I mentioned my dogs. I immediately knew that I would be able to count on her for recommendations and a friendly face in case I got overwhelmed during my time there.

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There are two entrances to Hotel Indigo Denver. One lets out towards the restaurant and across the street from Union Station. The other is the drop off for cars and cabs which leads to their parking garage that can be navigated by valet services if you so choose. The lobby is very minimalist. There’s a lot of open space except for one statue in the middle of the entrance between the hotel lobby and restaurant entrance. There’s also a small area where guests can buy drinks, snacks and basic toiletries in case they forgot anything.

The Room
Since a friend was joining me a few days later, I booked a double queen room. The design was minimalist, much like the rest of the hotel with a bit of a Western touch through art work and small detail. The far wall filled almost completely with windows and even had a little window seat. The room included a large, flat-screen TV, a desk with comfortable roller chair, complimentary Keurig coffee machine and closet with full-length mirror, hanging space and drawers. The bathroom had a large shower, sliding door, hairdryer and complimentary Aveda bath products. The minimalism made the room functional and easy to navigate. I set up shop almost as soon as I arrived with my "portable office" spread out all over the desk. The surface space was pretty great and something I occasionally have to sacrifice while traveling.

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The Food
Room service is provided by Hearth & Dram, the restaurant located off the hotel lobby. Heart & Dram serves up rustic American cuisine while providing a stellar whiskey collection featuring more than 360 options from around the world. The restaurant design resembles a modern-day saloon with family size tables for large parties dedicated to taking on one of the restaurant’s large roasts as well as tables for two in case you’re a party of one (like me) or on a date. Hearth & Dram offers craft cocktails, local beer and a menu full of locally and sustaibably sourced, seasonal dishes all made from scratch and many inside a wood-fired hearth. I dined here for breakfast one morning and also ordered room service. Both meals were delicious, especially the pancakes. I don’t know what they do to them but they are no doubt the best traditional pancakes I’ve ever had in my life.

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The Neighborhood
Hotel Indigo Dener is located in the LoDo neighborhood of Denver, otherwise known as Lower Downtown. Across the street from Union Station and blocks away from Coors Field, LoDo is one of the burgeoning neighborhoods in the city. It’s recently seen a lot of change and new builds bringing in swanky residential buildings and businesses to serve the new residents in them. There is a great variety of restaurants, bars and clubs, many of the restaurants located right inside Union Station. A few blocks away is the 16th Street Mall which is a street that spans 1.25 miles and has restaurants, shopping, nightlife, coffee shops and more. Because Indigo is located behind Union Station rather than in front of it, it feels like it’s a little out of the city but it isn’t. On top of the hotel being located within walking distance of many Denver attractions, it’s on the outside of the main downtown area so you don’t get the hustle and bustle of the rest of the city.

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The Verdict
I enjoyed my stay at Hotel Indigo Denver so much that I actually booked another Indigo for a trip less than two months later. It set a high standard for the Indigo line and other boutique hotels. The friendly and accommodating staff made the experience memorable and the minimalist design provided function and comfort. I really loved the location, it made exploring Union Station and the surrounding area a breeze. I’d recommend this hotel to anyone traveling to Denver soon. I mean, when you book a sister hotel in another city because you had such a great experience, you know it’s a great place to stay.

*This post was not sponsored or affiliated in any way with the Hotel Indigo Denver Downtown or InterContinental Hotels Group.*

Where To Go For Bachelorette Parties In Chicago

Wedding season is in full swing and with it, bachelorette parties galore. The girls’ night out on steroids has gotten a reputation for strippers and lots of alcohol. After having attended a few on top of discussing ideas with friends, the time for janky strip clubs and rent-a-strippers is past. Instead, ladies are looking forward to weekend getaways, relaxing spa retreats and even good ol’ athletic fun. That’s not to say strippers and alcohol are completely out of the question. Do your thing but keep your options open and try one of these ideas as well. If nothing else, it’s an incredible time spent with the girls.

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Host a Wine Dinner (or have a restaurant host one for you)
A close friend of mine got married last summer and instead of going crazy, she had her closest friends and family over for a nice dinner. Her idea of a great bachelorette party was spending time with her girls while enjoying good food and amazing wine (and let me tell you, her wine cellar is something to be reckoned with). If you have confidence in your sommelier skills, host a wine dinner yourself. If not, or you don’t want the responsibility of setting and cleaning up, find a spot in the city.

  • CITY WINERY (1200 West Randolph Street): Take the girls for a tour, tasting or both at City Winery. Not only do they have a variety of wines on tap year-round, they also have a great dinner and brunch menu. City Winery is also a great spot for the bride who loves music. They always have a great band or performer lined up for weekend live entertainment
  • NIA (803 West Randolph Street): This Mediterranean tapas place has a seven course tasting option perfect for a small to mid-size bachelorette party. They also have a private event space in case you’d rather not worry about bothering other patrons. Book in advance because this tapas place has become a favorite in the West Loop.

Go to a Game
Another close friend of mine has no interest in getting wasted for her bachelorette party. If she had her way, she’d go to a Chicago White Sox game and hit up a local spot for a burger afterwards. If you have a bride that’s a die hard sports fan, take her to a game. This idea depends on timing, affordability and ticket availability but for the most part, you can make it happen. The easiest teams to get tickets for would be the Chicago Cubs, White Sox and Bulls. The Blackhawks and Bears can get tricky and expensive but if you are all committed, I say go for it. Check out one of the spots below for a bite to eat before or after the game:

  • Heading to a Bears game? Don’t go anywhere to grab a bite. Pregame instead. It’s part of the experience. Not only will you save money, you’ll have a blast and meet a ton of great people.
  • Save a buck after a Blackhawks or Bulls game by grabbing classic “Cheezborgers” at Billy Goat Tavern (1535 West Madison). These babies are unbeatable and if you head here after the game, you’ll wait out traffic and crowds. If it’s a late game, Billygoat closes at 10pm so head over to Au Cheval (800 West Randolph) instead for another incredible burger. They’re open till 12am or 1am, depending on the night.
  • Wrigleyville, home of the Chicago Cubs, is never short of places to eat or drink. There’s a space for whatever mood you’re in. The Cubby Bear (1059 West Addison Street) is a classic sports bar and favorite of Cub fans with traditional bar food for munching. Head towards East Lakeview for great brews and food at DryHop Brewers (3155 North Broadway Street), the best Pad Thai you’ll ever have at Joy’s Noodles (3257 North Broadway Street), or classic diner food and breakfast at Melrose Diner (3233 North Broadway Street).
  • The White Sox aren't located in an ideal spot, especially for grabbing a bite to eat. You could head to a local joint somewhere in the area but I’d recommend heading a little north to University Village/Little Italy. Grab empanadas at Chilango Mexican Street Food (1437 West Taylor Street), burgers and milkshakes at Busy Burger (1120 West Taylor Street), or beef sandwiches at Al’s Beef (1079 West Taylor Street), a Chicago favorite.

Spa Staycation
Sometimes the best thing you can give a bride before her wedding day is a spa getaway. Chicago has many fantastic places to stay for a night or two and get pampered. This idea requires a bit more of a financial commitment so if that’s a concern for a few people, consider an afternoon of pampering instead. Check out a few of these hotels for your peaceful escape.

  • dana Hotel & Spa (660 North State Street): a boutique hotel in Chicago’s Gold Coast, the dana is an all-in-one package. The perfect location, schedule a day of spa services then party it up on their rooftop lounge, Apogee.
  • The Godfrey Chicago (127 West Huron): Experience luxury in River North at The Godfrey. Modern and unique in design, The Godfrey provides an unparalleled experience. Enjoy a variety of services from massages to facials and more.
  • The Peninsula Chicago (108 East Superior Street): Known for having one of the best spas in Chicago, The Peninsula will cost you a few dollars but it’s well worth it. The Peninsula is a beautiful hotel and I recommend staying an entire weekend with the girls. If that's too much, an afternoon of spa treatments will leave you feeling rejuvenated in time for the wedding.

I don’t know who started the stripper thing for bachelorette parties but if you ask me, they’re overrated. I mean...unless you take a trip out to Vegas and experience that new Magic Mike show they have. No complaints for that one. But if you’re planning to stay in the area, there are plenty of fun, creative ideas for spending time with the girls to celebrate the bride-to-be. Why not have a night to remember instead of a morning you’d rather forget?

The Boxer Boston - Checking In

Descending into Boston, I had the biggest grin on my face. It was grey and rainy, barely 40 degrees but to me, it was perfect. The trees were turned their gorgeous fall colors and as we flew into Boston Logan Airport, I knew this would be one of my more memorable trips. Boston is a magical city. It’s one of those places I’ve always wanted to visit and as soon as I spent five minutes, felt like I belonged there. It’s a city with character, personality and a unique vibe all its own. It’s a cultural hub, a foodie’s dream, a history fanatic’s playground. It is, to date, one of my favorite cities I’ve ever visited and one that I can’t wait to return to.

There are a number of hotels to stay at in Boston. Hotels with a fascinating history, hotels that are new and hip and hotels that are trustworthy and predictable. From comfortable to luxury and sophistication, there’s somewhere to stay for every personality and preference. For me, I couldn’t pass up The Boxer Boston. Located between the historic North End and Beacon Hill, The Boxer is located in an old Flatiron Building originally constructed in 1904. Recently renovated by the Independent Collection, it’s now a boutique, 80-room hotel overlooking downtown Boston with an industrial chic aesthetic. Masculine but sophisticated, artsy yet modern, it has a unique vibe that’s welcoming, fun and fitting for it’s location and clientele.

Checking In
Stepping into the foyer, you’re immediately greeted by a friendly front desk staff. There’s a cozy sitting area to your right, Finch (the hotel’s restaurant) straight forward and the elevators to go up to the rooms on your left. The staff has a wealth of knowledge about the city of Boston. After getting me set up with my room, one of the staff members walked me through a map of the city showing me where I am and where some great places to eat and see were. Any time I needed a recommendation or to ask for directions, they knew exactly what to say. Every single person I interacted with on the staff were friendly, helpful, courteous and went above and beyond the service level I’d ever expect. One even came up to show me how to work the shower when my sleep-deprived brain couldn’t figure it out!

The Room
My room was a cozy Traditional King with one king bed. There was plenty of space for walking around, a nice-sized desk for working, an open closet area, extra seating space and a very large bathroom with plenty of counter space. The windows practically took up a whole wall and boasted a gorgeous view of downtown Boston. The bed was comfortable with down pillows, a down comforter and crisp white sheets. A single-cup Keurig coffee maker with Boxer Boston mugs sat on a shelf for your morning coffee fix. It was the perfect size for a 5-night stay, especially for someone who was there to work and play.

The Food
Downstairs, adjacent to the lobby, is The Boxer’s partner restaurant Finch, a hearty American restaurant. Finch feels more like a lounge than an actual restaurant with cozy seating throughout the space. It features exposed brick walls, large windows, plush leathers, vintage-inspired touches like antique jar pendant lights and barrel-back bar stools. Finch offers breakfast and dinner as well as bar bites. Their cocktail and liquor menu is quite extensive from classics like a Whiskey Sour to innovative options like the Sweet & Stubborn. The breakfast and dinner menus are also incredible. I’ll share my thoughts on those a little bit later.

The Neighborhood
The Boxer isn’t particularly in any one neighborhood, instead sandwiched perfectly between the North End and Beacon Hill. Both are historical neighborhoods with brick and cobblestone sidewalks and roads.The North End is famous for its Italian flare and influence. You’ll find some of the best Italian pastry shops in the North End as well as the best Italian restaurants. It’s a must-see for foodies as well as those who love history as you’ll see a great portion of the Freedom Trail here as well. Beacon Hill is one of Boston’s ritzier neighborhoods. It’s also home to the famous Acorn Street where people notoriously take millions of photos. Visiting Beacon Hill, you’ll spend a good portion of your time on Charles Street where all the cute shops and restaurants are. The best perk of staying at The Boxer Boston is the ability to walk to both of these neighborhoods and beyond. It’s not necessarily central in location since it’s towards the west end of the city but it’s a great location nonetheless.

The Verdict
I didn’t receive any special discounts or comped services for staying at The Boxer Boston. I found this hotel and chose to stay at it on my own and it was worth every penny. Boston is not a city you should expect to save money in while traveling but The Boxer was not outrageously priced, it was actually quite affordable. With the quality you receive in your stay, it’s honestly a steal. I’ve already recommended The Boxer to people I know and I will continue to do so. I honestly, genuinely enjoyed my time here

The Buchanan, Japantown - San Francisco: Checking In

Some of the best experiences are those you are completely unexpecting. Before checking in to The Buchanan in Japantown, I had been bouncing around for almost three weeks. It was the day after my friends' wedding and all I could think of was I want my own bed and fuzzy socks (I will never travel without fuzzy socks again). I was hungry and needless to say, in an awful mood. I wasn't looking forward to the rest of my trip in San Francisco but The Buchanan and the neighborhood it calls home, Japantown, turned that all around. It all started with a crepe...

Checking In
The Buchanan generously offered a discounted rate for my stay in San Francisco. While visiting The Buchanan, the hotel was undergoing some reservations but you wouldn't know inside the lobby. Chic, sophisticated and welcoming, this boutique hotel is exactly what you want to walk into when you're exhausted. It wasn't confusing, there was plenty of spaces to sit down and they even have a little water station to re-hydrate. The staff was incredibly welcoming and kind enough to hold my luggage until my room was ready so that I didn't have to either a) sit with it wasting precious time or b) walk around with it. She gave me a map of the local area that included notes of where restaurants, shops and other landmarks were located. If you need any sort of recommendation, the staff is a fantastic resource and very helpful whether you're looking for something touristy or a local hangout. 

The Stay
The suite at The Buchanan was more than I could have asked for. The room was spacious, the bed comfortable and the view fantastic. It wasn't of anything spectacular, just good ol' San Francisco. I could see the top of the Peace Pagoda in the square across the street and the neighborhood which I personally adored. The window seat was probably my favorite feature. A welcome package was waiting for me on the desk when I walked in as well which made me feel even more at home. However, the star of this show is none other than the hairdryer. This might not seem like a big deal to most people but when you have curly hair that needs a powerful tool to tame the mane, it means everything.

A few other perks The Buchanan offers include a pet-friendly environment, happy hour every night in the lobby, plenty of upgrade options, walking distance from fantastic restaurants, shopping and landmarks and much more. The happy hour in the lobby each night includes red, white and sake wine for guests to mingle and question the staff about the next great spot to visit. They really do go out of their way to ensure guests have the best stay possible.

The Neighborhood
The Buchanan is located by three fantastic neighborhoods: Japantown, Lower Pacific Heights and the Fillmore District. Located right across the street from the square where the Peace Pagoda is located, the Buchanan is practically in the heart of the neighborhood. There are more ramen places than I think I've seen in my life, plenty of specialty shops and more. Just a few blocks away is the Japan Center, a mall with lots of shops and restaurants including Sophie's Crepes. While I was still in my cranky mood, I stopped in for a strawberry nutella crepe and I swear it transformed me. You must visit and get your favorite crepe. 

A few blocks in a different direction is Fillmore Street which anyone would love. There are tons of fantastic restaurants, coffee shops, sweet shops and more. It's a quick cab ride to Krissy Field so you can enjoy a picnic and snap photos of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. If you're looking for great places to eat, try any of these recommendations. It's also a 15-minute walk from the famous Painted Ladies. It really is a fantastic location, especially for a first-time visitor. 

Have you visited the Buchanan in San Francisco? What about Japantown, Fillmore Street or Lower Pacific Heights? The Buchanan is a Kimpton Boutique Hotel and a fantastic place to stay if you're planning a trip soon.