Category Archives: Hotel Quick Guides

An apartment that inspires a trip to France

June 11, 2014

bedroombalconyNot that I need much inspiration to want to take a trip to the French Riviera, but this apartment in Nice, France, took my breath away.

It was recommended by a colleague who said she could vouch for its location and quality, and I thought I would share it with you. Because to travel is great, but to escape to a place so tastefully decorated is divine.
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Have you ever been inspired to travel to a place based on a beautiful apartment? For extended trips, I’d take a home rental any day rather than a hotel room. I am already daydreaming of sipping the wine on that terrace, a good book in hand, and gazing down below at those passing by.

Prices start at $125, or 90 euros, per night for a weeklong stay. It has two bedrooms, three balconies and a dishwasher (horray).

Happy Wednesday!

☁ -kristin

Where to stay when you wind up in Saugatuck

May 28, 2014

quickguide-michigan

Hi friends! So today I wanted to share with you all an impulse purchase I made last month: A Living Social getaway to Beechwood Manor Inn & Cottage in Saugatuck, Michigan. It’s only a two-hour drive from Chicago, and I had never been to Michigan or had even stayed in an adorable B&B. So why not?!

It also helped that Living Social was providing me a deal, inclusive of wine and chocolates… so whatever came over me, I purchased my two-night getaway for “Ethel’s room” and let my boyfriend Joe know I was planning a small trip for us.

michigan-joe

That Friday after work, Joe and I rented a car and set out on our road trip. Before we really got anywhere, we stopped and split a lamb burger and a milkshake (and salad, don’t worry, ha) and bought a slack line from REI. Have you heard of those? (Here’s the basics.) The weather ended up being too cold to put it to use, but I know this will provide us some great future adventures in the park in Chicago. Once I get the hang of it, I might even post some tips and tricks! ;)

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Beechwood Manor turned out to be a gem. The owners were sweet and friendly and took really good care of their guests. They also provided awesome restaurant and sight-seeing recommendations and were fantastic chefs! Everyday you filled out a breakfast card, and when you went downstairs in the morning, a gourmet feast was magically awaiting you. Harry Potter-esque perhaps?

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^^Sweet Potato Pancakes with Cranberries and Maple Almond Butter. Not pictured: stacked fresh berries and fresh coffee and OJ.

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Situated on the Kalamazoo River, we found a surprising amount of activities to do during our time in Saugatuk. We explored the half-frozen tundra of Oval Beach, climbed 302 steps to the top of Mount Baldhead, went beer tasting and touring at Saugatuck Brewing Company, and shopped in the cute downtown boutiques on Butler Street. Also, one of our restaurant highlights, apart from our gourmet B&B breakfast experiences, was dining at Everyday People’s Cafe; their food was seriously delicious. #nomnom

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Overall, it was a really fun and relaxing trip, and I would definitely recommend it to Chicagoans looking for a weekend getaway. A typical night at the B&B will cost you $189-$209 for a double room, and they offer package deals as well.

☁  -mary

Where to stay when you wind up in Yudanaka

May 16, 2014

quickguide-japan

Happy Friday everyone! Today we’re going to share with you a lovely ryokan hotel that we stumbled upon in the small town of Yudanaka, Japan in Nagano Prefecture. It’s called Shimaya Ryokan, and it’s a great place to stay if you’re going to see the snow monkeys in the nearby national park (about a 5-minute drive).

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It’s run by the nicest family that offers to drive you anywhere you want to go for no extra cost. We were picked up by the hotel owners’ daughter when we arrived at the train station and also caught a ride to the dropoff point to see the snow monkeys. It kind of felt like we were part of the family. Sometimes it’s so nice to stay in a small town.

Another great feature is that they have a private onsen a short walk away that overlooks the entire town on a hill. You can schedule an hour-long visit either during the day or at night. It has natural volcanic spring water, which the Japanese say has healing powers.

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^^Little mementos from former travelers, with letters and notes to say how much they enjoyed their stay.

An average night at the ryokan will run you about $88 USD. The rooms are large, and they offer two options for breakfast: Western and Japanese. With the Japanese breakfast, you get salmon and more food than you could ever eat, so I highly recommend picking that one to add to your experience. And plus, it will give you the energy you need to hike up the trail to see the snow monkeys! They also have a closet full of snow boots (with large sizes for men, too) in case you come ill prepared for hiking in snow.

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^^The owner of the ryokan will take your photo in front of the park. (You also will be asked to take a family-style photo with the couple that runs the hotel for their own personal scrapbook of visitors, ha, before you depart).

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And to make your Friday even better, a snow monkey, just for you. ;)

☁  -kristin (& d)