it’s the thought that counts

I’m a luxury hotel junkie. If I had my druthers I would live in one permanently. Some people find it impersonal – I think it’s heaven. The friendly faces, the room service, the myriad little extras designed to be  not-so-surreptitiously slipped into an outward bound valise. Once upon a time a good hotel was heralded by two essentials: intuitive staff and bespoke toiletries. (To this day if I close my eyes I can instantly recall Claridge’s in London, the bars of Floris soap sensuously wrapped in a wax-coated paper. Tokyo will forever be associated with the Park Hyatt in my mind - and miniature bottles of a then-unknown Molton Brown, as exotic as the ingredients inside.) It holds true today, for the most part. Yet at the same time more and more hotels are falling over themselves to lure back guests with in-room trinkets and takeaways. Some of them are practical, like the personalized business cards on my desk at the Washington, DC Fairmont. Some are fanciful, like the monogrammed robe that was waiting for me at The Plaza. What’s impressive, ultimately, is the thought that goes into each – elevating a run-of-the-mill hotel stay into something memorable. My pick for this month’s best of the best comes courtesy of the DC Fairmont. An elegant and portable solution for gentleman: credit card collar stays.

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live blog: down in dc

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who says art isn’t easy?

Cultural offerings and – to a certain extent – life-enriching local experiences are showing up as standard attractions more and more now that hotels are desperately competing for the attention of recession-savvy travelers.  Yet a trio of Fairmont hotels are taking art appreciation to new heights with the introduction of art-inspired features and hotel galleries.  At The Fairmont Dallas, the hotel recently teamed up with local artist Bryan Embry to debut the Ross Akard Gallery at The Fairmont Dallas, the first art gallery to open in the city’s famed Arts District in three decades. At Boston’s Fairmont Battery Wharf, hotel guests can tour the on-property Battery Wharf Maritime Museum, a 1,000 square foot museum, free to the public, featuring exhibits about the maritime history of the area  and of Boston. In Vancouver, art plays a leading role at the recently opened Fairmont Pacific Rim, starting with the exterior of the building and carrying through the lobby, public spaces and guestrooms. Of particular note is the exterior installation by UK artist Liam Gillick: a running line of repeated Helvetica text which wraps around half of the building’s facade; while the other side of the building glistens silver in the sun and teases with an image that only comes into view from a distance.

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