Past Stays and Reminiscences

This page features some of the places we stayed prior to starting The descriptions are briefer and the photos fewer, but we offer a few of our memories.

Chicago, USA ~ The Gray ~ January 2017

The Gray had just opened when we arrived in Chicago for a birthday weekend. Brand new hotels are always nice, and this is a Kimpton property, so we were pretty sure the hotel would be stylistically fun. It didn’t disappoint. The hotel is in the Financial District, so the neighborhood is quiet on the weekend, but that was fine. We actually enjoyed the chance to stroll slowly through the the loop on a wintery Saturday and take in the architecture (without getting in anyone’s way).

Vancouver, Canada ~ The Fairmont ~ November 2016

The Fairmont

A little escape to Vancouver for American Thanksgiving. When we arrived, our room wasn’t ready, so we took an upgrade to a room with a fabulous view of Vancouver Harbor and access to the club lounge, which was well worth it. A quality stay all around made memorable by our fascination with yule log TV.

London, England ~ Zetter Town House, Marylebone ~ September 2016

The Zetter, Marylebone

A small place with bold design — think modern medieval — and lovely cocktails to be had in the main floor lounge/living room. Perhaps, though, a little too small. We had a plumbing issue, and word from the staff was that no one could troubleshoot until the next day. Thankfully before packing up and moving to a new room, the problem resolved itself. On our second night, we were treated to cocktails by two friends who were at the Zetter just for drinks. They had sat across from us on the Heathrow Express and recognized us when we walked in to the hotel. In all of  London, how funny we would end up in the same place as our trainmates.

St. Andrew’s Scotland ~ Hotel Du Vin ~ September 2016

We didn’t take any photos of this hotel, but we both remember it being quite nice. We particularly liked that each room was named after a Scotch, and we made a point of trying some of our room’s namesake. Most people go to St. Andrew’s for the golf; we were fascinated by the ruins of St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

Also on our Scotland visit – both in Edinburgh:

The view from Apex Waterloo
  • Fraser Suites — Evidence is there that it was once quite nice; when we stayed, it seemed a little tired, although it’s right on the steepest banks of the Royal Mile, which makes it fun structurally. Guests enter on Floor 5.
  • Apex Waterloo — We moved here after starting at another Apex property, which was a total disappointment; this one was better but not up to our other Apex experience in London. We did, however, love our view.

New York City, USA ~ The Crosby Street Hotel ~ June 2016

The Crosby Street Hotel

This hotel is one of our top 3; we loved everything about it. The design was beautiful — even for us minimalists. The service was what we prefer — there when we need it but not intrusive. The location — Soho — was perfect for our weekend’s explorations, and we liked that such a terrifically executed place could be found in a neighborhood that still has just a little bit of grit.

Berlin, Germany ~ Das Stue ~ January 2016

The view from Das Stue

Another of our top 3 hotels, Das Stue is located in the former Danish embassy near the Berlin Tiergarten. We didn’t take pictures of the room (our stay preceded, but it represents some of the best in German form and function. Some of our favorite spaces in the hotel are the shared ones — lounges on each floor filled with books, a bar that serves fabulous cocktails, and a lobby with a stunning staircase. We loved our view out to the wintery park — some rooms look out on the Berlin Zoo — and will always remember toasting David Bowie from our room when we learned he had died.

London, England ~ Town Hall Hotel ~ January 2015

A kitchen in a closet at the Town Hall

The Town Hall was our first stay in East London (Bethnal Green), and we loved the hotel and neighborhood. Just as the name implies, the hotel is housed in a former town hall, and the building’s Edwardian architecture is integrated fabulously. Our room had a full-size kitchen hidden behind a folding door. We never cooked — there is far too much good eating in London’s restaurants — but the kitchen was fun to look at.

Dubuque, Iowa, USA ~ Hotel Julien ~ August 2014

We wanted a weekend getaway within a three-hour drive of Minneapolis, and Dubuque was one of the few places we hadn’t yet been. The class act in town, the Julien has been a hotel since 1839. The room was fine — nothing too memorable — but we had fun exploring Dubuque’s sites, including the incline train and the Mississippi River Aquarium.

Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA ~ Black Walnut Inn ~ July 2014

A Willamette Valley view from the Black Walnut Inn

We were in Portland for business and took a few days to wander through the Willamette Valley and the Oregon coast. We remember the inn being nice, but the highlight was the surrounding landscape…and, of course, the wine.

Also on our Oregon visit:

The Overleaf Lodge and Spa, Yachats: The lodge was a bit of a blast from the past — not fancy but certainly good enough. Again, however, the views blew us away. The picture window in our room looked right out to the rocky coast. We loved listening to the waves beat against the rocks.

Hotel Rose, Portland: A motor inn that has been converted to a boutiquey hotel, the Rose had a fun vibe, but our room was small and a basic. We imagined Portland had more on offer so moved for the second part of our stay

The Heathman, Portland: One of Portland’s landmark historic hotels, the Heathman got most things right. The room was intimate — as are rooms in most historic hotels — but everything was well done, and the service was top-notch. The hotel’s library and art collection added to the stay. Definitely a step up from the Rose.

Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico ~ Hotel el Meson del Marques ~ January 2014

Hotel el Meson del Marques

We chose Valladolid after reading an article in The New York Times that made the small city in the middle of the Yucatan sound too intriguing to pass up. Surprisingly, we were able to get a room in the Meson del Marques, even though it was the featured hotel in the article; we figured rooms in January would be snapped up in a second after the article came out. We loved the hotel, which was right on the town square. It wasn’t fancy, but it was just right for a real Spanish town with an authentically sophisticated vibe — so much better than the big resorts on the Yucatan coast. From hearing the early-morning jungle sounds coming in our open windows to partaking in wonderful Yucatan cuisine, the stay was just what we needed for a brief reprieve from Minnesota in the dead of winter.

Las Vegas, USA ~ The Mandarin Oriental ~ August 2013

Poolside at the Las Vegas Mandarin Oriental

Yes, you are reading this correctly. We went to Las Vegas in August. We wanted a weekend getaway and an excuse to lay low for a few days, reading and generally taking it easy. When we saw that the Las Vegas Mandarin Oriental doesn’t have a casino, we figured it was the place for us. The M.O. is tucked away just off the strip; you have to look for it to find it, which was just perfect. Our room was quite nice — we’re guessing the M.O. doesn’t get as many of the “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” crowds — and the hotel bar midway up the tower offered fun views of the city’s craziness. The highlight for us, though, was the pool. It was surely hot, but the attentive staff made sure our umbrellas were adjusted with each shift of the sun.

Long ago, but not quite forgotten

Beijing, China ~ June 2011

The Emperor
  • The Emperor: Our first escape from the dump (truly) we were staying in for work. The Emperor may have been nothing all that special, but at the time, it seemed like heaven.
  • Red Capital Residence: Real courtyard home with a bomb-shelter bar underneath the courtyard
  • Red Capital Ranch (now the Shambhala): Near an unreconstructed portion of the Great Wall. Guest cottages feature Princess-and-the Pea beds and stone showers.


Red Capital Residence
Red Capital Ranch

Wandering through France ~ July 2009

We followed the Tour de France for two weeks in 2009 and stayed in several memorable spots, made even better by being in the country for cycling’s greatest race.

Our window was the one in the middle_JPG
Chateau Hotel de Rochegude
  • Chateau Hotel de Rochegude ~ Provence: Anytime you have a chance to stay in a real chateau, we highly recommend it.
  • Splendid Hotel ~ Annecy:
  • Hotel Mansart ~ Paris:

Our room at Hotel Mansart_ Paris_JPG
Hotel Mansart

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