September 14, 2014
The Haven room includes a private bathroom.
But sadly, the shower situation does need some attention. Not enough water pressure only exacerbates the over tub design. Alas.
After a show in the nearby American Theater and an excellent tapas feast at Six, we arrived in time for a very late nightcap on the porch at 1:30am. (We brought the doctor’s bag.) The evening was beautiful.
Breakfast looked great, but we missed it to attend a brunch in Virginia Beach featuring sourdough waffles.
All told the Magnolia House Inn is a great place to stay. Four shower heads for this B&B.
September 10, 2014
Trouble in paradise this visit which started out about as chunky as possible—no reservation. I always rely on my travel people to get things squared away (thanks edie!) and they are great. This time I let an outside firm work travel. Yes, I did already know not to do that! When I tried to tack a day on to this trip, everything went south fast.
Having arrived in the nick of time to drop stuff off and head to DC for a business dinner, I was confronted with a problem. No reservation and no available rooms in the hotel. While very courteous, the front desk clerk Damien was ultimately not very helpful at all, and he did not escalate to more senior management. My inner circle Kimpton status did not seem to make much difference either. I was in a bind.
Fortunately, Stephan Vogel (GM at the George) had my back and started an email thread to find me a room on DC including the new GM of the DC Palomar Josh Lustig. (FWIW, Josh just took over from Abe Liao.) While they were solving the problem, I finally got a message back from the people who had messed up the reservation in the first place. They convinced the Monaco to give me a room. So that’s good…
But it was room 315, which if I were you I would avoid. It faces the street and is very noisy in the morning starting around 6:30am. It is also a handicap accessible room with a shower over tub design. Not my style.
Of course, not knowing I was staying the night made it hard for the Monaco to do anything to greet me or personalize my stay. Apparently they don’t monitor the twitter feed very closely. If they did, the problem would have been discovered way before my arrival.
I was told that I can get a different (better) room for the second night. Hopefully that is the case.
I rushed off to a fantastic business dinner at Le Diplomate (highly recommended, especially the world class bread). Larry secured us a VIP table. After dinner it was off on a bourbon search, first to bourbon (booked for a private event) and then to Jack Rose (also booked for a private event, but by friends as it turned out). Jack Rose has a fantastic bourbon selection that included Pappy 23, Pappy 20, and two varieties (US and Japanese) of Hirsch 16.
When I returned to 315 at midnight, I was greeted with a belated welcome note and a shot or two of bourbon (!!) from Pete and Jess, who turned out to be people from the organization hosting the meeting. Somebody is paying attention, but are any Kimpton people paying attention?! For the record I did have to go find a paper in the morning.
After a long day of meetings and presentations I returned briefly to the Monaco and switched to room 503. 503 is an excellent room and I appreciate the move, but strangely nobody mentioned the mixup, the bind, the switch. It’s as if “these are not the droids you’re looking for” applies.
Cheese plate and San Pellegrino. So they do know I am here! Awesome. But no note, so “they” remain unknown.
The shower in 503 is fantastic. Great water pressure and plenty of glass-defined space. As usual, there is a huge (unused) tub in this room as well.
More data from Alexandria, the Landini Brothers restaurant has workaday Italian with a weird but decent wine list and food served by Spanish-speaking waiters. The PX Lounge is so full of itself that though they might make a decent cocktail, it is ultimately skippable. The greeter/waitress/busybody calls herself a “den mother” which pretty much says it all. If you’re not a cub scout, ignore the reviews by foodies with no cocktail clue (sietsema) and go somewhere else. Yes, PX some of us know more about mixing drinks than you do.
Hotel Monaco is a great place to stay. Some more attention to personal service seems to be warranted. A low four showerheads for this visit. I’m sure I will be back and I will make sure to make my own reservation!
September 3, 2014
The Mojito is a popular drink that you can find all over the place these days, even in bars that otherwise suck. The key to a good mojito is simplicity: fresh mint, fresh lime, simple syrup and a good muddling stick.
We make mojitos around here in the summertime when the mint is growing like crazy.
3 oz dark rum (my gay eclipse)
8 mint leaves (and the top of a sprig to garnish)
1/2 lime quartered
1 t simple syrup 1:1 (cane sugar)
Muddle the mint, simple syrup, and lime in the bottom of a sturdy glass. Add 3 oz of rum and stir. Fill glass with ice and top with sparkling water. Top with a mint garnish.
Delicious and summery.
August 28, 2014
The Cowper is like an old friend. I’ve been coming here for longer than I care to remember. The best place to stay in Silicon Valley by far.
Though Joji is not around this time to say hello, I did get my new favorite room (31).
The shower is not fancy, but it’s not plastic either.
And the bathroom is roomy.
The best part of the Cowper experience involves the common areas. A gorgeous craftsman living room and beautiful well kept grounds.
Four showerheads for the Cowper Inn. Dinner at nearby Resposado involves a great tequila selection.
August 26, 2014
Last time I was here in San Francisco, the Palomar was being renovated. The renovation is done (in the lobby anyway and in the restaurant/bar) and Dirty Habits has a new patio outside. The new stuff is all shiny.
The week I picked to visit San Francisco is not a good one. The city is filled to the gills with VMWare types who have all of the prices in town through the roof. Even the airport hotels are full and overpriced. I am being seriously overcharged here at the Palomar this time and even the GM Christopher Smith feels guilty about it. [Accounting, if you're reading this, it's not my fault!] Ah, capitalism.
I am in 802 again this time, which is a very nice room, though the shower is beginning to get rickety. Sadly, there is no gigantic flower arrangement to greet me. I guess we’ll have to chalk one up to Chicago?! Walter is here though, wondering in his fishy way where the flowers are.
Without further ado, a few more 802 pictures.
I got here way too early today and snuck into the patio at Dirty Habits to work while my room was readied. A couple of hours after getting into 802, a very nice amenity arrived with a note from Sara (who checked me in, thanks Sara) and JP (the invisible)—replete with my favorite sparkling water. Now I have something to rehydrate myself with after I sample a cocktail from Mr. Means.
Anyway, 4.5 showerheads for the SF Palomar (and more for those with a closer read).
Here’s the problem. NPS is way spoiled. Steph in DC? Personal to the max. Love spending time with you. Joe in Boston? This is how it should be done—with an excellent team! Maximizing mind space (which the marketing people approximate with Kimpton Karma). Donation to boat only found on twitter feed? Astounding. Palomar SF? By comparison, some attention to detail missing. Maybe too close to corporate? Maybe too busy a week? Maybe managing to the numbers? Or maybe senior leadership has moved well beyond one property? But we’re staying here now. Anyway enough of that first world problem.
Positives. Dirty Habits barkeep Sarah rocks. Great fun experimenting.
2 oz pepper rye
1 oz jelinik
.5 oz malort
.5 dry curacao
This one is so close. We were going to try a version with Yellow Chartreuse, but we ran out of jelinik. We also discussed a creme de menthe high note wash.
1.5 oz banks 5 year
1 oz puerto fino sherry (trying to get Means to Spain apparently)
.75 oz china china
Brian Means, the masterful head barkeep at Dirty Habits is incredibly great. I was lucky enough to get one of his experiments. Wow.
2 oz Henry McKesson 10yr bourbon
.75 oz byrrh
2 dashes reagans orange bitters
This one will go into the book.
And then out to the city. Why not Spruce in SF? Meh. Nice restaurant, but not that great for SF really. Great company. OK food. Cantina is a superb place to host an event, especially if Alexa Weber-Morales is singing. Great sushi in Cupertino at Sushi Kuni (a delightful tiny hole in the wall). Excellent Italian at Perbacco though it is still too noisy in there.