North America Hotels International
Sheraton Boston (USA)
Prior to my recent visit to Boston, I had only stayed at a Sheraton Hotel once. What I remember most about that hotel, which was actually a Sheraton Four Points property located at Philadelphia Airport, was the bed. It was one of those super comfy beds you really do have to tear yourself out of in the morning and it was this memory, ... along with the location of the Boston Sheraton that sealed the deal when it came to choosing a hotel. Having spent three nights there I don't regret that decision at all.
The Sheraton is located in the Back Bay area of Boston. This area is a little to the west of downtown but is well served by roads, rail and the Boston subway system.
The hotel itself sits on Dalton Street, which is one block from Boylston Street and two blocks from Newbury Street which both have plenty of shops and restaurants. To the south is Huntingdon Avenue and the hotel is linked to the Prudential Center and Copley Place via covered walkways which offers more shopping and dining options.
The Charles River is a short 8 block walk north.
I travelled to this hotel with my daughter and my sister. We arrived from Boston Logan Airport by taxi, a trip which took about 15 minutes thanks to a lack of traffic.
The hotel has a spacious lobby area with lots of seating and access to a Starbucks and the hotel bar, restrooms and a restaurant.
Check in was quick and easy. We had booked a package via British Airways and had pre-paid. My sister had made the booking so she left a credit card on file for incidental expenses and received three key cards for our room. We were given information about where the lifts were located and we made our way to our room.
The hotel is linked via walkway to the city's Hynes Convention Center and one of the first things that became apparent was it's used by a lot of people on business and attending conventions.
Our room was located on the 22nd floor and it was nice to see a hotel which had plenty of lifts available.
Rooms here are fairly small but I have learned that room sizes in hotels in the US can vary incredibly depending on where you are staying - city centres such as Boston or New York City along with Honolulu usually mean a small room, whereas places like Las Vegas or almost anywhere in Texas will guarantee a large room.
As you entered the door the bathroom was on the left hand side with a wardrobe with sliding doors on the right. The two queen beds were on the right hand side and a flat screen TV sat on a desk which had a proper desk chair beside it. In the corner was an armchair with a small table which housed tea and coffee making facilities.
The window overlooked the south side of Boston and I have to say the view was fantastic.
The beds were just as comfortable as I remembered from my experience at Philadelphia and both beds had four pillows. The beds were made with a sheet, a thin duvet and a thicker duvet on top. Although I was jetlagged on arrival and as such could probably have slept anywhere on the first night we arrived, I really appreciated the comfort level the bed offered and both my daughter and my sister agreed with me on this.
There was heating and air conditioning available in the room and although it was quite chilly during our trip I actually had to switch it off because the room was so warm. The unit was quite noisy too.
We had an ice bucket in our room and there was an ice making machine across the corridor from the lifts on each floor but we didn't make use of these machines - as a European I find the amount of ice Americans put in drinks to be excessive!
The desk was a decent size and there were three plug sockets located there but we usually could only plug in two items at a time due to the size of the plug adaptors we were using. Wireless internet is available in your room and costs $12.95 for a 24 hour period. The TV is a 37" LG and while you don't get the full complement of TV channels there's plenty to choose from including local ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates, the Disney Channel, MSNBC and some ESPN sport channels. The picture quality was decent.
Inside the wardrobe there is a safe, which I made full use of. Unlike Spanish hotels I have stayed in, you aren't charged to use the safe - you just choose a PIN code to lock it with and use this to unlock your items. I was impressed with the size of this safe too as some I have used elsewhere have just about managed to hold a few passports and a mobile phone but this one can easily accommodate a couple of small laptop computers.
There was also an iron and ironing board located inside the wardrobe, along with about 6 hangers, which wasn't nearly enough for the three of us.
Like the main hotel room, the bathroom was small. There was a large mirror in front of the wash hand basin and the hotel provided small bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body lotion on a shelf on the wall. I was a bit disappointed that they hadn't provided shower gel but I had packed some in case of this happening.
If you come here wanting to take a bath you will be disappointed as this bathroom has one of the cut down bath tubs so beloved of hotels in Las Vegas which is both cut down in length and in height. Fortunately, the shower makes up for this and we witnessed no drop in either pressure or water temperature during our stay. The shower curtain was decent too - unlike cheaper ones it didn't stick to you as you washed.
We were provided with a flannel, face towel and bath towel each but I do have to say the bath towels were rather small. All towels were soft and fluffy however.
Our bathroom also had a hairdryer.
As we were visiting Boston ostensibly to shop and sightsee, we didn't make much use of the other facilities in the hotel but there is a covered rooftop swimming pool which is heated in winter. Had we had more time we would have visited as it looked very tempting on the hotel's website. There is also a gym which again we didn't visit.
There are plenty of convention options including ballrooms and a boardroom, and as for dining in addition to the aforementioned Starbucks there is the Side Bar and Grill for formal dining and the Apropos Restaurant for a slightly more casual dining experience, along with room service.
Because there were so many options nearby we didn't take advantage of any of these restaurants so I can't tell you if they were good or bad but I can tell you the Side Bar and Grill and the Apropos Restaurant are pretty expensive in comparison to some of the Irish bars on Boylston Street.
We did make use of the hotel's concierge service to book coach tickets out to the Wrentham Premium Outlets and I have to say we were very impressed at how knowledgeable and how helpful she was.
If you don't want to pay for wireless internet in your room you can make use of the free wifi available in the hotel lobby. The only problem with this is it means the lobby can get very busy at times and you may struggle to find a seat.
Boston isn't the cheapest of cities for hotels and as such the Sheraton has a rack rate in the region of $200 per night. I am not certain what we paid as it was part of a package holiday but we paid £450 each for flights from Glasgow to Boston and three nights at the hotel, which I feel represented very good value for money. We opted for a late check-out on our final day as our flight home didn't depart until the evening and this cost us an extra $100 to hold the room until 4.00 pm from the regular check-out time of 12.00 pm. I appreciate this is quite expensive but we were grateful of the option and happy to take advantage of it.
The hotel's biggest selling point is probably the location as there is plenty just a short stroll away and you can get to the subway station at the Prudential Center either by walking through the shopping centre there or by walking a block on street level.
The rooms are undoubtedly small but I never felt particularly cramped even with three of us in one room so whoever designed them clearly considered the fact sometimes they will hold more than one or two people. The best thing is the beds however - they really are fantastic and will guarantee you a comfortable nights' sleep or even just a comfortable place to sit to watch TV.
Because we were so high up noise was never an issue and we didn't notice any noise in the corridors either. The maid service was excellent although we did notice some items left in the corridors but I am more inclined to blame the guests who left them there than the cleaning staff who were always friendly and would greet you as you walked past.
Finally, we stayed in a Standard Room but the hotel does have other options including Deluxe Rooms and the Club Floor rooms along with suites.
We really enjoyed our stay at the Boston Back Bay Sheraton and I can heartily recommend it if you want to stay in the Back Bay Area and don't mind having to take the subway to downtown or walk a mile or so to Boston Common - certainly you will be guaranteed a good sleep purely on the basis of how good the beds are.
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Luxor Hotel (USA)
- - - - - - - - The room - - - - - - - - Note: one of the senior staff members did inform us that the tower rooms are a bit bigger, so if you are asked if you'd prefer a tower room or a pyramid room it's worth remembering. We stayed in the East Tower, in one of the basic double rooms: There was the main ... room with two double beds, a dresser between them, and a round table with two chairs in front of the rear wall - and that wall is basically one huge floor-to-ceiling window. For storing clothes and bags there were two large wardrobes, with a large plasma TV on top of an extra set of drawers in between the wardrobes.
Our room had wheelchair access, which basically sums up to sturdy railing around the toilet and a roll-in shower. The bathroom itself was the largest I've encountered in eight trips to the US. It had a sink with vanity style mirrors over it and a separate vanity top to place toiletries and cosmetics [strangely, there were no mirrors there through]. The bathroom had good lighting, a hairdryer and everyday we would receive a fresh stock of towels and face cloths.
Now - a few words of warning for disabled guests; wherever I go I have a issue with the beds being too high and these were the worst. The mattresses were so thick, that they literally reached my waist [I'm short as well]. The bathroom had rails, but the bedroom didn't, do the people who design these rooms think that we levitate onto the beds or something? Long story short, I had been ill before I travelled, hadn't slept for over 30 hours and had been seated with a drunken stag party on the plane, so couldn't face calling reception and trying to sort something out. I just kicked the monstrous mattress of the bed and slept on the wooden base [I now have a lovely collection of bruises to prove it].
Problem number two; the roll-in shower is big, big enough for half a dozen people. So the bench at the end of the stall is a considerable distance from the actual wall-mounted shower head. Actually showering was, bluntly, exhausting, not to mention that I was stretching and bending dangerously in a wet stall. Not fun.
If you need disabled facilities I'd advise clarifying the access with your travel agent before booking. If I'd got round to asking, I'm sure that they'd have provided a camp bed or changed the mattress on the bed. I'm not sure about the shower, maybe it just seemed so bad because I was sick, dizzy and constantly shaking for the duration of my stay?
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We didn't do any gambling, so my impressions are from a quick nosey around, and from passing through as we tried to find the walkway to take us to Mandalay Bay's arena. The actual pit floor is huge - the size is hard to picture unless you've been there, but trust me when I say we're talking square miles. We got lost a few times and that was just passing through.
The casino is spaced out on a tier level, where there are hundreds of tables set up for individual games of poker, roulette, craps, Texas H old 'em, Black Jack and similar card games. They have literally thousands of slot machines spread out over the entire casino level and several bars, for refreshments. The bigger money games are in a separate section, to stop you from accidentally wondering over into the wrong game.
There is an 'arena' area for placing bets on sporting events, and apparently LUXOR has a separate room for holding poker tournaments too.
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LUXOR boasts four shows:
Criss Angel's Believe - Criss is a well-known illusionist and Believe is a 90 minute show featuring both old and new illusions.
Fantasy - Dancing. Topless dancing, to be exact. Must be at least 18.
Carrot Topp - A stand up comedian. Not suitable for children. If you book tickets for the show online, you get a voucher for a free DVD.
Menopause: The Musical - "Set in a department store, where four women with seemingly nothing in common but a black lace bra meet by chance at a lingerie sale. The all-female cast makes fun of their woeful hot flashes, forgetfulness, mood swings, wrinkles, night sweats and chocolate binges. A sisterhood is created between these diverse women as they realize that menopause is no longer The Silent Passage!". The show is 90 minutes long and includes parodies from the 60s, 70s and 80s.
We were only in Vegas for three nights, and as we had tickets to see Katy Perry at the Mandalay Bay hotel, we sadly didn't find the time to see any of the shows on offer in our own hotel. We spoke with numerous guests and all of their feedback was positive, especially for Menopause: The Musical.
As well as the shows, there are two exhibitions housed in the hotel:
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition - The title says it all. The exhibit is made from actual artifacts, recovered from two and one half miles below the surface of the North Atlantic, telling the real -life story behind the legendary Titanic's short journey from construction and destruction to eventual recovery.
BODIES... The Exhibition - has both models and real bodies and organs on show. It promises to provide a detailed, three-dimensional vision of the human form rarely seen outside of an anatomy lab. I really, really wanted to see this, but it was impossible to drag my mate out of the outlets before they closed. If I ever go to Vegas again, this will be at the top of my list of things to do/see.
However, the the main reason that the Luxor appeals to the under 30 crowd is that the hotel boosts EIGHT different clubs. These are LAX, CatHouse, Savile Row, Aurora, Liquidity, Flight, High Bar and Playbar.
There are four outdoor swimming pools [one of which is heated during winter months] and LUXOR guests also have access to the indoor pool at the Excalibur hotel (I never saw the pool when I stayed at Excalibur, but I believe it is on the forth floor).
If you want to take it easy, LUXOR also has a luxory spa and hair salon.
I only saw a small selection of the various stores inside LUXOR. They include LX Fashions, LX Fight Shop, LX Logo, Luxor Pool Store Bazaar, The Marketplace at Luxor, Essentials and 24/7 Criss Angel MINDFREAK - The Official Store and the Everything's $10 Boutique.
If you head towards the walkway that connects LUXOR with the Mandalay Bay hotel, there are lots more shops, clubs and Bars. It took us almost twenty minutes to cross over!
In addition to all of this, the LUXOR also has it's very own wedding chapel. You can have your wedding, commitment ceremony or vow renewal at the hotel. You can pick between an intimate ceremony or a more extravagant event.
Go to www.luxor.com/amenities/amenities_weddings.aspx for more information.
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There are six restaurants to choose from:
Tender steak & seafood - fine dining. The restaurant has a huge selection of wines available.
T&T - Mexican/American fare.
Rice & Company - Chinese food. Also has a sushi bar.
Pryamid Cafe - is on the casino level. Light bites.
Backstage Deli - New York-style deli goods [sandwiches, melts].
More: The Buffet - boasts a 30-foot salad bar, pizzas, desserts, two omelet stations and a carving station.
There is also a food court with a Starbucks, LA Subs, Bonanno's Pizzeria, Nathan's (re-opening in December), McDonald's, Blizz and Original Chicken Tender Company (Opening in December) .
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LUXOR is the 2nd to last hotel on the southern end of the strip [it is between Excalibur and Mandalay Bay]. This is ideal for those wanting a quieter stay as the traffic noise is much quieter - in fact most nights I didn't notice any noise at all.
If you want to shop and/or experience the nightlife along the strip, ignore the travel agents trying to push car rental services on you. There is a 24/7 double decker bus route that goes up and down the hotels and main shopping areas along the strip AND both the North and South premium outlet villages.
The first time that we went to Vegas we didn't try it, as it was a daunting prospect, but this time we did, and, yeah, it is great. So easy and cheap to do - I really recommend it. There are screens on the bus showing the route and you are told where you are at each stop, plus the buses have access for wheelchairs. The drivers were all helpful, helping me get to my 'parking' space and strapping the chair down securely. Why can't our buses be like that?
The buses on the Strip express route are known as 'The Deuce' and prices are only $5 for a 2 hour ride, $7 for a 24 hour ticket and $20 for a three day pass. I highly recommend buying a three day pass, as it doesn't matter how many times you ride during this time.
LUXOR doesn't have any bus stops, but both Excalibur and Mandalay Bay do.
Whilst I'm talking about travel agents taking extra money; DO NOT PAY FOR TRANSFERS TO YOUR HOTEL FROM THE AIRPORT with them. On our first Vegas trip we didn't know any better, so paid around £80 for a wheelchair accessible transfer, but now we now that there is a wheelchair accessible shuttle service that goes around all of the hotels.
You get on the Bell Trans shuttle at McCarran airport [ask staff and they'll point you to the pick-up point]. They are share-a-ride, so travel time depends on the number of people on board; our journey only took fifteen to twenty minutes, with four stops before ours.
The shuttles travel between the hotels, in loops of round half an hour. I think the price was $14.
Even if you want to book a taxi, if you ask at reception they'll book at reliable taxi for you. We did this on the way back and it came to $14.10, minus tips.
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Looking at pictures of LUXOR in brochures and on the internet, the hotel/casino looks small, plain and boring, as well as being in a unsuitable location. However, once you are there it is like walking through the wardrobe into Narnia. The interior is enormous, with a Egyptian theme featuring various statues, water features and marble throughout. Don't judge a book by its cover, is my point.
For most people I'd fully recommend LUXOR; I did encounter a few problems, but I'm well aware that I'm not a average traveler. If you do use a wheelchair but can stand for short periods, then I doubt the issues I've already mentioned will apply to you either.
The only people who I definitely wouldn't recommend looking into the LUXOR for their holiday is people with younger families. There is a staggering amount of stuff going on, but none of the entertainment that we encountered is developed with children in mind. Also, from that I could see, most of the people staying here are under 40 and stayed to sample the nightlife, so we were woken up by people walking/staggering up and down the corridors in the small hours of the morning.
I've previously stayed at Excalibur and found that hotel more family orientated, so you could try looking into there if you are planning a family trip.
If I did manage to clarify room accessibility, I still don't honestly know if I would stay at LUXOR again, but this is because I'd like to explore the other hotels, and has nothing negative to do with my stay here. If I ever returned to Vegas, I WOULD visit LUXOR again, to sample the entertainment on offer.
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Best Western Tuscan Inn (San Francisco, USA)
The Best Western Plus Tuscan Inn in San Francisco was the first point of call on our recent trip across the USA and it proved to be a great starting point that set the example for all our other hotels to follow. It's not like the usual style of basic to mid range hotel chain that it falls under. Perhaps it's the 'plus' in the name that ... makes the difference, but unlike usual Best Western hotels, this one has a bit of character and is a little bit luxurious but is still reasonably priced and is in a good location.
-Booking and Price-
We booked our room through a hotel search website and paid around £110 per night, which was about ten percent less than booking directly with the hotel. If you are thinking of booking, I'd still consider having a look at the website (http://www.tuscaninn.com/) because they do often have offers on there that aren't available anywhere else. The price we paid turned out to be very good value for a number of reasons. Breakfast was included for one - our invoice said it wasn't but the hotel only offers bed and breakfast, so it is automatically included for everyone. They offer free tea and coffee in the lounge throughout the morning and the manager hosts a wine evening every night where you can join him for a glass or two between five and six. So if nothing else, the hotel saves you a fortune on drinks!
The location for me was the absolute winning factor in a list of things that made this hotel pretty much perfect for our needs. Before we booked, we were certain we wanted to stay in Fisherman's Wharf despite its reputation as being a bit tacky and brash. The other area where there seems to be a high concentration of hotels is in the city centre around Union Square. Whilst rates seem to be a little cheaper here, the main attractions (such as Alcatraz, Pier 39, Golden Gate Bridge) are all a tram / bus ride away at the very least.
The Tuscan Inn is a block back from the sea front, meaning that it is quiet and away from the hustle and bustle when you want to rest, but it is literally a couple of minutes walk away from the sea front when you are ready to explore. Pier 33, where the cruises to Alcatraz depart from, is a ten minute walk at most if you turn right out of the hotel and follow the road to the end. The main cable car turn around point is a block to the left. There are literally hundreds of restaurants, bars and attractions within walking distance of the hotel as well as a grocery store and bank. There is actually nothing you could want that isn't nearby, the location really is that good. We considered staying in the Argonaut, which is considered to have the best location in San Francisco, but on reflection I honestly don't think it would have beaten the Tuscan Inn.
-Checking In and Staff-
Checking in was very easy and quick. We were offered the choice of a king size bed of two queen size beds; unlike in many cities, space isn't at a premium in San Francisco, so hotel rooms are a little bit bigger than their counterparts in say New York for example. We were also given our breakfast cards and some useful information about the hotel and the local area.
The staff were all lovely - professional yet very friendly and helpful. They have a bell boy who will help with your luggage (whether you need it or not) and the reception staff are happy to help with any queries - we asked them for help finding a cash machine in an actual bank and they gave us more than one option and even knew which one was cheapest for drawing out cash on a foreign debit card! They are knowledgeable and are happy to help out with honest restaurant recommendations.
As I said, space isn't at such a premium here, so the rooms are quite generously sized. The king sized bed we went for was lovely and comfy and furnished with dark leather cushions that gave it that extra feel of luxury. We had three really good nights' sleep. Everything about the room was good - it was clean, well designed and had a touch of class, although I do have to say that, whilst everything was in good condition, it was a little bit dated. There was a huge television that had an unnecessary amount of channels available as well as new release movies on pay per view. There was also a fridge and a coffee machine as well as the usual arm chair and desk. The bathrooms were nice and clean. There was only a toilet and bathtub in the actual bathroom, with the sink being located outside. I thought this was a very good idea and was much more convenient and it turns out that it is the common way of laying out rooms in this area of the US. There were lots of little potions and lotions provided, which I absolutely loved as well as a hair dryer and an iron (which I didn't use, of course). My husband was quite so excited by these things although he was impressed with the free in-room safe and the free WIFI which was fast and easy to get onto (you just ask for a password at reception).
Breakfast is lovely. Unlike the usual buffet affair where everyone queues endlessly and sneezes at the hot food counter, breakfast at the Tuscan Inn is taken in the adjoining restaurant, where the service and food is excellent. As a hotel guest, you are entitled to either a free continental breakfast or $5 off one of their hot breakfast items, which include huge portions of bacon and eggs for around $15 or even huger omelettes for slightly less. My husband doesn't like eggs, so we opted for the free continental breakfast which turned out to be more than enough. You get a fresh fruit salad full of strawberries, melon and pineapple with your choice of toast, muffin or croissant, fresh juice and coffee as well as a selection of jams. Everything is brought to you table and the ambience is lovely and relaxing. It proved to be a very nice way to start our day.
The hotel is pet friendly, with dog treats laid out in reception and certain rooms available for those travelling with their pets. I actually found that the corridors smelt of wet dogs in places. Not a problem as long as it is only in the corridors and not in the rooms!
There are two huge lifts that service all floors and unlike some places, they seemed to be always in working order and they operated quite quickly.
If there is anything I have missed you can find more information at the website I gave earlier.
I would have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending the Tuscan Inn as it offers a very comfortable place to stay in an absolutely brilliant location for a good price. Factor in the breakfast and free drinks and it turns it into a bargain!
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North America Hotel International
Hotel International / Deluxe hotel located in 225 Front Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5B 2C5. Tel: +1-416-5971400. Fax: +1-416-5978128. E-Mail: email@example.com
Hotel International / 3555 Las Vegas Blvd South, Las Vegas, Nevada 89109. Tel: +1-888-308-8899.
Address: 411 Main Street / Hotel International / Whitehorse / Yukon / Canada / Y1A 2B6 / Tel: 867-668-4500
Address: 55 Church Street / Hotel International / New York / USA 10007 / Tel: 1-212-693-2001
Hotel International / 2880 Las Vegas Blvd. So, Las Vegas, NV 89109 Tel: +1(702) 734-0410. Check the website below for more information.
Address: Hotel 31, 120 East 31st Street, NY. 10016 / Hotel International / Te: (212) 685 3060
Address: 1305-11 Walnut Street / Hotel International / Philadelphia / PA 19107 / USA / Tel: 1-215-7359300
Address: 20W 29th Street / Hotel International / New York City / NY 10001 / USA / Tel: 212 679 2222
3300 S. Las Vegas Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89109. E-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org Room Reservations:+1 800-288-7206
General Information:+1 702-894-7111
Hotel International / 3110 Octavia Street, San Francisco, California 94123. Telephone:+1 415-928-1000. Alla major credit cards accepted. From $55 to $115 per night.
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