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Sure is fun to be back at a top notch hotel where they know you: email banter up front, warmly greeted at the front desk (even by the super nice newbie manager guy), allocated a great room, dropped sparkling water and everything. We could get used to this. Oh wait, we are used to this! Kimpton rocks.

It’s Chicago high

727 is not a high room (nor it is the rumored artist’s suite) but it is a great room with an outstanding shower.

Chicago low from 727

727 in

727 out

Amenity with a personal note

Sitting room

Perhaps this showerhead is new. It is nice.

In Chicago there is no time for sitting down or for benches in the shower or anything relaly.

Superior glass cube.

A cocktail at Sable was in order and a Chicago pizza pie.

Special NPS announcement: Chicago deep dish pizza is pizza!

Now for some doughnuts at Glazed and Infused.

Maybe it is time for another battle of the Palomars??

This super quick hit in Chicago involves a rental car we do not need, multiple meetings, and and early evening flight out. Who needs art? Heck, who even needs dinner?? But what we do need for sure is a great morning shower, and we got that at the always five star forever Palomar. Thanks you guys.

The Artmore is generally speaking right down the middle of the Bell curve of what NPS looks for in a hotel. Small. Boutique. Independent. Slightly hip. Art The property is nicely manicured and if it were not raining, I’m sure the courtyard would rock and roll.

NPS was assigned 225.

225 has a bar, which is cool, but it is completely barren which is lame

Imagine being able to mix a real cocktail for yourself. What is required? A real booze selection. Oh well. Why is this bar here?

Comfy bed in 225

The bathroom is slightly too large with a shower designed for giants. There is a bench, but the water does not reach the bench. Close but no cigar design-wise.

BIG shower

Other design elements like this crazy sink are quirky and interesting.

This will do

But in final analysis, what we have is a hamster cage bed-dominated room with a noisy A/C unit and a little desk.

Desk

Net? Good. Water? Costs money. Note? None.

Shabby? Way too much. Rooms need attention.

A drink at Grain was the great way to wind down from a good day at work. Grain would be much cooler if they would turn down their music. But they did have the real 2016 Stagg.

Chicken at Gus’s was delicious but did not really mix well with cocktails! LOL.

Four showerheads for the Artmore in Atlanta. Time for some care here at this property.

The Muse was so great compared to the Eventi on this trip, it’s hard to know where to start. You may recall that the Eventi could not help moving our bags uptown, so we ended up doing it ourselves at 9:25pm. Shortly after fetching our bags we arrived at the Muse and were greeted by name by the staff who was waiting for us (and apparently even beginning to wonder what had become of us).

So incredibly personal, friendly, and warm! Special thanks to concierge Daniel Mitchell for putting our champagne on ice as we unpacked for our way too short visit to the Muse.

The room, whose number is lost in the sands of time, was great.

Welcome to the Muse!

Super great bathroom featuring an awesome glass shower with a built in bench.

Drive up service window.

Anyway, the Muse helped us finish our NY run in style. Five showerheads and a glass of bubbly for the Muse!

Koons street art in NY

Radio City

Cum laude![/caption]

New York is a fantastic city to visit for any reason or no reason (and this time we had a reason as you will see). The Eventi, because of its location, makes a good base of operations. Thing is, after having been to the Eventi many times, the place still feels corporate and soulless and the property seems to have no recollection or any memory at all of NPS stays. Not sure why.

This time, NPS was doing the complicated free night reward thing. The Kimpton twitter fairies did a formidable job shaking loose a free night at the Eventi and then did what they could to combine the reservations. Which meant we were able to stay in the same room for our two days running. That was good. The no maid service until explicitly requested in the afternoon? Not so good. The Eventi front desk even turned off the keys requiring a trip downstairs. Service much? Nope. Strike one.

We were assigned 2217. This “city view” room is on the south side of the building and has views down 6th Avenue. You can see both the Empire State Building and Freedom tower from the room. The view is very nice.

The Empire State Building in purple for NYU Graduation

We arrived late at night after one of the worst United Express flights ever. It never ceases to amaze NPS just how bad United can be when it is bad. Commute air should not be flying props in 2017. Sorry. Just no reason.

Having an amenity in the room with a personalized note and two tiny bottles of sparkling water was nice. Later on night two we had to order up our own water for $26. Inner circle people don’t like that nonsense. Strike two.

Greetings

Dual view, South and East.

New York is always pretty at night.

2217 is all one bed dominated room

The bathroom is nice but not too fancy as far as the Eventi goes. The room category NPS usually stays in has better showers.

Shower 2217

Up early, we headed to Yankee Stadium for NYU graduation.

Cum laude!

NY was exceptionally hot as was the stadium!

After our sweltering morning in the direct sun, we changed scenery by chartering a 41 foot sailboat and sailing in NY harbor and up the Hudson. Awesome!

No fun was had (at all)

Dinner at Il Buco was fantastic as always.

Day two featured a great brunch at Cafe Orlin.

The plan was to switch hotels after brunch and before the second graduation ceremony. Sadly, the drunk driving incident at Times Square had traffic snarled by the Muse. We hopped the subway uptown.

NPS is very sorry to say that the staff at the Eventi was entirely unhelpful in arranging to get our bags taken to the Muse (during a 7 hour window). We were forced to come back at 9:25pm and pick them up after dinner. Good hotels do better than this. Minus twenty Eventi staff! Strike three. And you’re out at home plate.

We did manage to find one very helpful bellman who stashed our champagne in the employee fridge. Now that was creative and a huge help.

Radio City

So you see, the Eventi has this corporate bureaucratic approach that just grates and causes a constant barrage of swings and misses. The staff seems friendly enough, but impersonal. The lack of a creative, helpful solution to a pretty easy bag moving problem is telling.

The Eventi’s stylish open restaurant and lobby as well as its prime location almost makes up for the IHG (not very Kimpton) feel, but not quite. Three showerheads and a mandatory training program for the Eventi.

#rockthecasBAR

May 11, 2017

When iteration one’s hashtag is #londonculling where do you go from there? Obviously #rockthecasBAR!

This time we fueled up before our London cocktail adventure. And we even paid.

Then it was off through the crowded streets of London to Dukes Hotel. If you are in the mood for a Bond-inspired super high octane cocktail on the martini spectrum, Dukes is the place. We were explicitly warned to have ONE (in all caps even) by a professional! Thanks for the warning Jacques, you were right.

We walked the few blocks up to the Ritz for round two. We were almost let into the casino to do some gambling (which was not the plan). A corrected trajectory put us through the front door to Rivoli. It was Negroni time.

The beautiful clear ice was branded in the Savoy style. Everyone is copying everyone else in London.

Time for a cab to Clerkenwell, hailed by a snarky doorman. Back to…wait for it…the Zetter Townhouse to see the dead cat. This is our regular London haunt and we were immediately recognized at the door.

Here kitty kitty

Sticking with the gin, we decided on a Zetter Gimlet made with some infusion or other (I believe a kind of tea). It was delicious. The cat joined in.

While waiting for companion three to arrive from across London at rush hour we started feeling parched, so we ordered a round of 20th Century, some pistachios, and some jerky sausage.

Twentieth Century
10 ml lemon juice
10 ml creme de cacao
20 ml cocci americano
40 ml dry gin (jensens)
stir. strain. express lemon peel. small lemon garnish.

The kitty will have another

Ramen is always helpful the day after too many cocktails, but we were just getting started. Prophylactic ramen is now a thing. Monohon ramen is just as great as we thought it would be. Super authentic and delicious.

As NPS is writing this and feeling rather surprisingly good in the morning, I suppose that the prophylactic ramen did its job. Unfiltered sake was not really what the doctor ordered, but we had it anyway.

Warning: This is not a cocktail

A short walk to Callooh-Callay was when our kung fu set in. We walked right past the waiting people, made a joke with the doorman about being tweeners, and immediately sat down at the crowded bar. We were served by either Carrie or Mary. Callooh-Callay is a raucous place where quiet conversation is not in the cards.

Either Carrie of Mary suggested a Hanky Panky. We’re always up for that.

Feeling like talking to each other again, we cabbed it over to the Savoy to visit the Beaufort. We are sad that the Beaufort has changed its menu. They now feature some kind of cartoon menu that seems very Disney. NPS does not approve.

We ordered a Silver Bullet and a Never Ending Story (or two) even though the waiter tried not to let us.

By this time our phone use capabilities were waning and hashtags were slipping into gobbleddygook. We cabbed back to home base at Mondrian Sea Containers, missing a train in the meantime.

Dandelyon was packed of course, so we used our magic to waltz right in and rearrange the furniture. Alex was behind the bar and one year older. Complimentary bubbly arrived which put us in the mood for a French 75.

This somehow made Fernet happen and then it was off to bed. Meanwhile, the guest experience fairies delivered a bottle of champagne while were were out and left it with a personal note. Nice touch!

#londonculling, #rockthecasBAR, what’s next??

We were here just over a year ago running the very same small conference that we’re running this time. Well, actually more like presiding; other people do all of the actual running. Anyway, the Mondrian is still very nice.

We’re in the same room category as last year but up one level in 571. And we’ve already been in Europe for a week, so the obligatory Tate Modern visit is documented here (as is our stay at the Zetter), there is no jet lag to contend with, and we’ve even been to Scotland. Heck, we even went out to the American Bar for cocktails!

All that was left was to taxi across the Thames and check in at noon.

An absurdity happened then. Even though the massive NPS support staff had set things up so that our room would be available at noon (and we arrived at 12:30) the room was “not quite ready.” What? I’m pretty sure we even ended up paying for an extra night just to avoid this. Sorry, Mondrian, please get organized and give us our money back for the extra night! The delay was not long (only 12 minutes), but that’s not really the point.

Does it make NPS happy to sit in the lobby waiting? Nope. Not one little bit.

Here is what 571 looks like. We’ll start with the balcony view on a cold, blustery London afternoon. The temperature has dropped 10 degrees Fahrenheit since yesterday.

The balcony is nice. NPS bets the higher rooms with balconies are even better.

The room is spacious and huge with an outstanding bathroom. No sign of plastic.

Dining nook

Sleeping nook

Working nook

Sitting nook

Having an amenity at greeting was nice. But get this Mondrian peeps, guests have actual names! Wow! You should use them.

Why thank you guest experience team driod from the bottom of our customer id unknown heart.

Amenity

We had to order 4 bottles of sparking water to make us through the week. The Kimpton guys mostly have this figured out. Perhaps the NPS computer record was corrupted since last year?

But you’re reading this for the showers, right? Right!

First, a minor diversion.

Extra bathroom

And now for the main show. The incredible 571 bathroom.

Tub and “water closet closet”

What a shower

Yes please

We’re looking forward to week two in the UK. More here as things develop.

DANDELYAN here we come.

What should get a five showerheads rating (on shower karma alone) reduced to four showerheads for poor guest happiness management skills.

Turns out that NPS is from clan McRae (McGraw) and the home turf is a loch in Kintail Scotland. When you got to Kintail, you pretty much have to stay at Kintail Lodge.

The front door of the old house

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

More pictures of the family castle here.

And you have to hike a 2700 foot mountain (starting at sea level) for the 100 mile view (sgurr an airgid, or silver mountain).

Summit

More about the hike up Sgurr an Airgid here.

We started out trek at 3pm after a full day of touring with our delightful guide Les McInulty. NPS cannot recommend Les more highly—knowledgable, energentic, punctual, and hilarious. We were down by 8:00pm, but happily exhausted and only 90 minutes behind schedule. The harried staff at the bar/restaurant was happy to serve us even though the entire town showed up for dinner on a gorgeous Friday. Venison was a delicious choice as was the pudding. Only scotch washes down the trek for a good night’s sleep.

Kintail Lodge

We were in room 7 with a view of the loch.

View from room 7

We’re not a fan at all of the shower in room 7, but we were in the hinterlands.

Not an NPS approved shower

But the view from the “throne” does not suck

The staff is fantastic, especially the delightful Helen. But bring your own Internet (the ubiquity gear is state of the art but woefully misconfigured).

That time that NPS drank Scotch Whisky

As a base of operations for hiking, the Kintail Lodge fits the bill. The showers are wet and the beer is cold. Three showerheads for Kintail Lodge.