Tuesday, March 8, 2011

This Aint No Party, This Ain't No Disco, This Ain't No Foolin' Around

Traveling is supposed to be fun right? Well, finding a great hotel is serious business. Case in point. If you google "Boutique Hotels in Venice", Trip Advisor will show 447 hotels ranked #1 to # 447. How in the world are you going to wade through all of the reviews, photographs and other critical data necessary to make a decision. How do you find places that are unique, with the qualities espoused by this blog? There are multiple answers to that question.

1) Know Thyself. One guy, usually an architect, waxes about the poetry of the minimalist space and the Barcelona chairs. Another sees a big white room with grey trim  and uncomfortable seating. So, it's important that you know what's important. For some, the "design" is the thing. For others, it's the 4,000 psi shower.

2) Variety Is The Spice of Life.  Look for places that challenge your perception of what you find interesting. One of the attributes of hotel design in Europe is the willingness to combine different design motifs from different eras. American hotel designers rarely exhibit the willingness to create spaces that merge design "styles" like the Europeans. The Lumani Hotel/B&B in Avignon, France http://www.avignon-lumani.com/, designed and owned by Jean, an architect and Elisabeth, an artist, manages to insert highly detailed, minimalist designed rooms with an eclectic array of furnishings, into an eighteenth century manor house, which surrounds a large courtyard, complete with ancient stone work and modern scupture. It's a special place, just inside the walls of the old city.

3) Educate yourself. How can you expect to find a great hotel, if you don;t know what a great hotel is? I have always maintained that curious people make the best travelers. The same curiosity that will lead you to places like the little alcove at Big Sur that other people don't know about, will lead you to unknown hotel gems in out of the way places only found on the road atlas. Traveling takes study. Finding a great hotel is the equivalent of post graduate education. It must be focused and obsessive.

4) Reading Is Fundamental. The more you read about the history and culture of a place, the better equipped you will be to make decisions about where to stay. I am not just talking about the usual travel books. I am talking about books about a place that shed new light on your understanding and perception of a country or region. Reading A Year In Provence by Peter Mayle http://www.amazon.com/Year-Provence-Peter-Mayle/dp/0679731148 gave us such insight into traveling and living temporarily in that incredible region of France. It gave me a much better understanding of the culture and the people. They are amazing, by the way. 

5) Become an Internet Junkie. That's right. Unless you have unlimited funds to buy every travel book and magazine on the market, you must become immersed in the Internet. I keep a highly detailed directory in my favorites, arranged by country, regions and towns, as well as hotels, restaurants, etc.. You know what works best for you. Keep it organized and delete items that you don't use or need. Sign up for E-mail alerts from travel sites, especially premier hotel sites. It's a great way to stay abreast of new places and deals that you won't find otherwise. I have already mention various links and web sites that are listed under Very Cool Places To Sleep & Eat. I will add others in the future.

6) Don't Settle!!! By being obsessive about finding the perfect place, you will find those places that bring meaning and real pleasure to your travels. I have spent untold hours per day for the last six weeks searching for those places in the United Kingdom that we will talk about for years.  A great hotel is like a great woman. Beautifully designed, graceful and mysterious.

Well, back to the grind. I am still searching for that perfect place in Wales for our upcoming trip to the UK.

Traveler Quote of The Day
A tourist is a fellow who drives thousands of miles so he can be photographed standing in front of his car. - Emile Garnet

Caio    DLS

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