Starling Travel

July 21, 2012

A Camper Hotel Room at Huettenpalast Berlin

Filed under: Camping,Lodging,Places To Visit,Teardrops & Tiny Trailers — Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am

I found this unique little hotel room here:

Instead of your standard hotel room, Huettenpalast Hotel recycles camper trailers and refurbishes and fits them to an indoor space for 40-60 Euros a night!

The room looks adorable!

Camper Hotel Room in Berlin from Starling Travel

I love how they have “trees” in the room to give it an outdoorsy feel.

Camper Hotel Room in Berlin from Starling Travel

I would love to stay at a hotel with this kind of theme, but travel to Germany isn’t in my near future. I guess I’ll just have to hope someone does something like this in the States.

June 4, 2012

Moncur Epic Journey May 2012: Holiday Inn Express Pancakes

Filed under: Food,Lodging — Laura Moncur @ 6:32 am

Our first night on our Epic Journey, we stayed at Holiday Inn Express. Mike needed to work that night and Holiday Inn always has good wi-fi. The next morning, we left early and ate their complimentary breakfast. We had a fun surprise with the Pancakes In A Minute machine in their breakfast room.

This was our only stay in a hotel on the entire epic journey. In retrospect, we should have left one day later and just stayed at a campsite. Mike would have been more rested and the drive wasn’t nearly as difficult as we worried it would be.

But then we wouldn’t have been able to try the Pancakes In A Minute.

More info:

March 24, 2012

Cheapest Hotel In Town

Filed under: Lodging — Laura Moncur @ 10:33 am

You know you’re in the cheapest hotel in town when you wake up to the strains of The Hangover Song coming through the wall of your hotel room. The sing song tune is easy to master and the lyrics are simple:

I have a hangover! [repeat ad infinitum]

Ironically, your hotel neighbors can only sing The Hangover Song if they are still slightly drunk from the night before.

Note: This rule does not apply if you are staying in Las Vegas, New Orleans or Atlantic City. You may be awoken by The Hangover Song even in the finest hotels in those cities.

January 29, 2012

Camping Changes You

Filed under: Camping,Lodging — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

During our disappointing stay at Tahiti Village, I realized that I was a different person because of my camping experiences.

We had spent half the day fighting with the hotel staff trying to get the Internet to work in our hotel room. We were there to write for The Gadgets Page about CES, so having the Internet was ESSENTIAL. If they hadn’t been able to get it to work for us, we would have had no choice but to get a different hotel.

Our Internet was working (FINALLY) and it was time to go to bed and we realized that the heat wasn’t working in our room. The temperatures had fallen in Vegas and the room was unpleasantly chilly. Mike asked me, “Should we call the front desk?”

After dealing with the uncaring staff all day, I could envision our journey toward getting a room with heat. Firstly, they would send the same poor, incompetent fellow to our room who had handed us a blue CAT5 wire as if it were a dirty worm. After an indeterminate amount of time banging around on the furnace in our bedroom, he would tell it was fixed, when in actuality, now it was broken AND noisy. Then we would have to decide if we wanted to change rooms and deal with the whole broken Internet issue again.

It sounded like an exercise in frustration when all I wanted was to sleep. I said, “It’s warmer in here than in the tent. I’m just going to live with it.” And honestly, I knew I could. As cold as that room was, it was warmer than our night in the tent at Lake Mead in November, and I survived that without an incompetent maintenance man clanging around in the room.

Going camping and braving the elements changes you in ways that you might not even notice. When our basic needs were met, in this case, Internet connectivity, we knew we’d be alright. A little mildew smell and water that tastes contaminated is par for the course when we’re camping. Lack of heat and the ability to see my breath is nothing new on a frosty morning in the tent.

The next time you’re camping and the cold tempts you to pack up your tent and head for the nearest hotel, remember my horrible stay at Tahiti Village and be safe in the knowledge that camping feels so good because it changes you.

January 28, 2012

Tahiti Village in Las Vegas, Nevada: Low Price Really Shows

Filed under: Lodging,Nevada,Places To Visit — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

While we were working at CES this year, Mike and I stayed at Tahiti Village. It wasn’t the worst hotel we’ve stayed at in Nevada, but it was pretty close. Here is Mike’s evaluation of the place:

We liked the price. Otherwise it was nearly the worst hotel experience we’ve ever had.

Hotel staff was rude and inattentive. Internet didn’t work until we spent half a day talking to 8 different employees, all of whom tried to avoid helping us at all. Heater didn’t work in our room. One lamp had dangerous exposed wiring. Not particularly clean. The room smelled of mildew and the bedspread smelled worse. Staff spent two days noisily cleaning carpets outside our room. The tap water tasted terrible and must have been specially imported to complete the experience, because Vegas water is usually just fine.

He forgot to mention that there was no housekeeping at the hotel and if you wanted the room made up, it was an extra $55 charge! There wasn’t even anyone around to ask if we could get fresh towels.

After the ordeal of trying to get the Internet to work in our hotel (the front desk had failed to enable it in our room and it took that many employees to figure out the problem), I was ready to abandon the hotel, but all the hotels in Vegas were booked solid for the week because of CES, so we ended up staying there.

Aside from living with the mildew smell and avoiding the smelly parts of the furniture, we had no further incidents that week, but the low cost for the hotel room was NOT worth it. Next time, I’ll pay more and stay at a different hotel. There are certainly enough to choose from in Las Vegas.

January 28, 2010

Say Goodbye to the Imperial Palace

Filed under: Hotel SWAG,Lodging,Nevada,Places To Visit — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

While we covered the Consumer Electronics Show for The Gadgets Page earlier this month, Mike and I stayed at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Imperial Palace

Because it was so close to the Sands Expo Center, it was a convenient hotel for us. Unfortunately, that’s where the love for the hotel died. Geography and location are important for any real estate property, but CONDITION trumps it in this case.

The Imperial Palace looked like it was waiting for the implosion. From the stained carpets to the inattentive staff, the hotel had an air of resigned finality to it. I took the obligatory pictures of the Hotel SWAG and the room.

We stayed in room 17112.

Imperial Palace Room 17112

Here is the Hotel SWAG:

Imperial Palace Hotel SWAG

You don’t need to pack a hair dryer:

Imperial Palace: You don't need to pack a hairdryer

Each room also has an iron and board so you can smooth out the wrinkles on your suitcase-squashed clothes.

Imperial Palace: You can iron your clothes

I really hate it when a hotel assumes that I’ll steal from them. I know this sign has more to do with the kind of clientele that frequent an establishment than the establishment itself, but I HATE being treated like a criminal for no reason.

Imperial Palace assumes you'll steal

Worst of all, the toilet struggled to flush every time. It was so bad that Mike and I actually bought a plunger just in case. Considering how bad the maintenance was on the property, we had no hope that they would be able to provide us with a plunger if there was an incident. Here is a video of the toilet trying its best to flush.

To be fair, the toilet never plugged up and we didn’t have to use the plunger. However, the toilet wasn’t the only thing having trouble draining. The tub and sink had slow drains as well.

The whole hotel felt like it was just waiting to die. According to Wikipedia, it is:

During a conference call with investors on November 20, 2005, the Chairman for Harrah’s, Gary Loveman, noted that both the Imperial Palace and neighboring O’Sheas “are going to require very substantial modifications or complete tear-downs and rebuilds” in order to make room for a Harrah’s and/or Flamingo expansion on the Strip.[1] However, since then, Harrah’s has invested millions of dollars into refurbishing both the hotel rooms and the casino itself.

In July 2009, Harrah’s announced new plans for the area around the Imperial Palace, O’Shea’s, and Flamingo casinos, confirming that the Imperial Palace will not be demolished at this time.

Since the economy tanked, Harrah’s just seems to be waiting to do ANYTHING to the hotel, even clean the carpets. I liked how close it was to the Expo Center, but considering its tenuous grasp on life, I think I might have to say goodbye to the Imperial Palace.

Update 06-15-11: In July 2009, Harrah’s announced new plans for the area around the Imperial Palace, O’Shea’s, and Flamingo casinos, confirming that the Imperial Palace will not be demolished at this time.

Update 01-03-12: According to Wikipedia, The Imperial Palace has been renamed The Quad Resort and Casino:

On September 17, 2012, Caesars Entertainment Corporation announced that Imperial Palace will be renamed “The Quad Resort and Casino.” The official conversion was completed on December 21, 2012.

Here is a picture of what the new casino should look like:

The Quad Hotel and Casio Las Vegas Nevada Transformation

November 13, 2009

Galveston, TX: Holiday Inn Express

Filed under: Hotel SWAG,Lodging — Laura Moncur @ 9:00 am

Right on the seawall in Galveston, Texas sits the Holiday Inn Express. I love how comfortable the hotel feels. Here are some photos of the hotel swag.

Galveston, TX: Holiday Inn Express

Galveston, TX: Holiday Inn Express

Galveston, TX: Holiday Inn Express

Galveston, TX: Holiday Inn Express

Here is the view from the suite rooms.

Galveston, TX: Holiday Inn Express

July 1, 2009

Ikea Hack: Wi-Fi Antenna

Filed under: Lodging — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

Ikea Wi-Fi Antenna from Mutated JellyfishWhen you are staying at a hotel with a weak wi-fi signal, a homemade wi-fi booster antenna like this one can be a godsend.

Here is are the directions to make yourself one, including Amazon.com links to the materials:

Materials:

Instructions:

  • Connect the USB wi-fi adapter to the USB extension cable.
  • Tape the wi-fi adapter to the end of the popsicle stick.
  • Mount the popsicle stick onto the strainer with the USB wi-fi adapter as close to the center of the strainer as possible. Tape it in place wrapping the electrical tape around the stick, the handle of the strainer and the USB extension cord.
  • Plug in the USB extension cord into your laptop and turn the wi-fi antenna until you are able to get the best wi-fi signal.

If you pack this wi-fi booster antenna in your car on your next trip, your likeliness of getting wi-fi at your hotel increases exponentially. Give it a try!

June 24, 2009

Retro Hotels: Sands Motel

Filed under: Lodging,Places To Visit,Utah — Laura Moncur @ 2:58 pm

The Sands Motel has been a fixture in St. George, Utah for a LONG time. In the Fifties, it was called the Sleepy Hollow Hotel:

Sleepy Hollow, Sands Motel, 1950's by Roadsidepictures from Flickr

When the Vegas craze hit during the Sixties, it became The Sands Motel and outlived its namesake:

Retro Hotels: Sands Motel by firstyearta from Flickr

A few years ago, when we were driving through St. George, we took photos of it in all its glory:

Retro Hotels: Sands Motel by LauraMoncur from Flickr

Retro Hotels: Sands Motel by LauraMoncur from Flickr

You can see all the photos here:

Where:

Sands Motel
581 E Saint George Blvd
Saint George, UT 84770 Google Map

Phone: (435) 673-3501

March 14, 2009

Austin, TX: Radisson Town Lake Hotel Swag

Filed under: Hotel SWAG,Lodging,Places To Visit,Texas — Laura Moncur @ 5:08 pm

This is the second time we’ve stayed at the Radisson Town Lake. We love it because it overlooks the river and Congress Bridge. Congress Bridge is where the largest urban bat colony in North America live. In the summer, huge clouds of bats leave the bridge every evening at dusk.

This year, however, the bridge is quiet and abandoned.

Radisson Town Lake Hotel Swag by LauraMoncur from Flickr

It’s too cold this year to support the bats, so I suspect they are vacationing a little longer in Mexico. We came to Austin for the SXSW Interactive Festival, so the bats were a secondary attraction.

The hotel swag, however, was quite enjoyable.

Radisson Town Lake Hotel Swag by LauraMoncur from Flickr

The toilet paper origami left a little to be desired.

Radisson Town Lake Hotel Swag by LauraMoncur from Flickr

The towel origami, however, was beautiful.

Radisson Town Lake Hotel Swag by LauraMoncur from Flickr

I don’t care for Sleep Number beds. They are beds that are filled with air depending on what firmness you want. It took a lot of tweaking to get my side of the bed to feel like a “normal” bed. I guess my sleep number is 45, but I didn’t enjoy finding that out. The Radisson brags about their Sleep Number beds, but I don’t find them pleasant or appealing. It’s more like sleeping on a camping mattress.

Radisson Town Lake Hotel Swag by LauraMoncur from Flickr

You can see all the photos for the Radisson Town Lake here:

On the whole, our stay at the Radisson has been enjoyable. They charge ten bucks a day per computer to be online in your hotel room, which I find appalling. I guess I’m used to cheaper hotels that try to attract me with free wireless. I like that I can just walk to the convention center from this hotel. I LOVE the view of the bridge, even though this year it’s bat-free. I even love the TGI Friday’s in the hotel lobby. Sometimes I’m so tired that I just need a quiet meal that is familiar. Someday, Internet connectivity will be free at all hotels just like water and televisions. Until then, it’s hit and miss.

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