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Ever had one of those trips where you arrived just to find out that the arrangements that you thought were made were not made? Like, you go to the hertz lot on the shuttle and they don’t have you in their system? Good thing for the Presidential level status at Hertz. And also good thing the Dean was able to find some room at the inn! (shew)

The news was not all good, though. Room 415 and its type were all booked up. But sometimes providence shines on you (who could resist that line?), and as it turns out room 401 is ever better than 415. Why? Because the bathroom is bigger and the shower is even more glassy! Hot damn.

401 has room for a bed

401 has room for a bed

And a Morrocan bench (is that ivory?)

And a Morrocan bench (is that ivory?)

Plenty of light on a dreary day

Plenty of light on a dreary day

Extra chair in the bathroom?  OK

Extra chair in the bathroom? OK

The glass cube shower is NPS approved

The glass cube shower is NPS approved

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It’s nice to be back, and nice to discover a cheaper room category more suited to NPS. I think I have a new favorite room.

Next up, a drink or two at The Magdalenae Room and dinner at the recently James Beard adorned Persimmon.

The 19th Century
1.5 oz Rye (old overholt)
.5 oz fernet
.5 oz maraschino liqueur
.5 oz dry curaƧao
.5 oz lemon juice
Shake. Strain. Serve up. Lemon peel garnish.

A five shower head visit!

Sadly, Hartford, CT is lacking in both the boutique hotel and high-end cocktail bar departments. That makes life here at NPS kind of difficult. Marriott hamster cage for you! And mid-tier booze to boot.

View from the 19th Floor (Hartford, CT)

View from the 19th Floor (Hartford, CT)

The good news, relatively speaking, is that my travel companion this trip is a super Elite Marriott Platinum whatever. He booked all the rooms. What that means to NPS is that the bottle of water is free! Such amenity.

Here is what cage number 1921 looks like. (FWIW, 1921 is way better than 717 was last go ’round.)

Hartford Marriott 1921

Hartford Marriott 1921

1921 bed

1921 bed

1921 pays homage to the TV (standard Marriott practice)

1921 pays homage to the TV (standard Marriott practice)

The shower is glass and is very nice. NPS approved.

Not plastic!

Not plastic!

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A last minute hunt for a decent cocktail bar in the city came up with nothing. So down to the Marriott bar it was for a nightcap. Negroni? Check. Stagg Jr? Sure why not. NPS advises you to just skip the bar visit.

One ray of sunshine during this visit is that Max’s Downtown is a very nice restaurant with an interesting wine list. Highly recommended.

In the end, this Marriott property is a low three showerhead kind of place. Nice enough in its generic big hotel you must be here on business way.

View from the Donovan

View from the Donovan

The Donovan has become our home away from home in DC mostly due to the fact that Steph Vogel (the GM) rocks. Room 1110 which we discovered on our previous outing here is well configured for a two day offsite.

We put ourselves to work. We got done.

Working in 1110

Working in 1110

The multiple amenities and constant supply of sparkling water helped.

NPS has covered the room in previous entries, so here is a video tour instead.

Sadly everything was not perfect night one, but life rarely is. A trip to the top floor bar led us to the not-cut-out-for-bartending Joel. Some people just don’t know when to leave well enough alone! Suffice it to say:

By contrast, our visit to the Columbia Room was just out of this world. A fantastic evening indeed. Alex Levy was holding down the fort while JP and Derek jet set in Charleston.

Five Course summer menu at the Columbia Room

Five Course summer menu at the Columbia Room

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Perhaps the Fernet shots and the 1938 Old Overholt pours were bad idea? LOL

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Thanks Alex!

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Can’t wait to return to both the Donovan and the Columbia Room in the near future. Five showerheads and a well made Negroni to you both!

Maybe it was the late night Negroni that was the bad idea?

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NPS will be spending an inordinate amount of time in Beloit, Wisconsin in years to come. Fortunately, Beloit is a cute little town with a great hotel. The Ironworks is in a reclaimed building just a hop skip and a jump from Beloit College.

Stylish lobby

Stylish lobby

We arrived separately and stayed in a sizable executive suite. There are six such suites per floor. Request an upper floor facing the river. Room 201 is not one of those and it was too noisy due to the nearby main artery road.

Frontier design sensibility

Frontier design sensibility

Bet this will come in handy come winter

Bet this will come in handy come winter

The mostly rectangular suite is divided by a fireplace that opens both ways.

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The spacious bathroom has a great set of showers and plenty of room.

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The restaurant is a steakhouse (of course) with an emphasis on the potato. Your mileage will definitely vary with the wine list which must be policed and corrected one of these years. Solid, but nothing to write home about.

Sunset on the restaurant patio

Sunset on the restaurant patio

For breakfast, make sure to hit Bushel and Peck’s which has a quirky vegan vibe (though they do have bacon for the record).

And don’t forget that Madison with all of its University town goodness is only an hour north.

Madison, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin

Four showerheads for the ironworks hotel. Real potential to become a home away from home.

Yes it rained. And then rained. Deluge. Downpour. So we moved the music inside and played all night anyway.

Music at Oopstock

Music at Oopstock

But then we were due in Wisconsin the next morning before noon! That meant leaving the party at 2am for a late night visit to the nearest airport’s suburban hotel chain. Ears ringing from electric music, off we went into the deluge.

Here is the disaster that is Manchester, NH Springhill Suites. Just. Do. Not. Go.

My travel buddy with endless platinum Marriott points procured our reservation and checked us in, so we got to participate in ultra elite status. Like check out this outstanding amenity!

Amenity? Or cheap bag of chips.

Amenity? Or cheap bag of chips.

And we got the best available room in the place, which was this desert of a design disaster.

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Just super generic and gross.

Plastic shower! In a sealed room.  Obesity rod.

Plastic shower! In a sealed room. Obesity rod.

Yeah. No.

Yeah. No.

So anyway, we were there for less than three hours. The plan is to never have to do that again!

One showerhead for Springhill Suites writ large. No.

No fly July just barely ended this morning and I am still down South working on the screened in porch. Round about this time of year we usually head up to Boston and see our good friends at the Hotel Marlowe. Sadly, this year’s plans call for a different route, so we can’t say hello as usual and break our no fly July travel drought in the most perfect way possible.

The incredible staff at the Hotel Marlowe has pooled together a donation to support the Team Tartan Leukemia Cup boat two years running. (See this post from last year and this one from two years ago.) I figured since this year we are skipping Boston, we might be out of sight, out of mind. But no. Joe Capalbo and his staff made a very sizeable donation anyway.

Team Tartan sails the Leukemia Cup in Kilts!

Team Tartan sails the Leukemia Cup in Kilts!

Just wow. You guys are the best. Thank you for helping us fight blood cancer!

When we hit our goal (a formidable $42,000 this year), we sail in kilts. We’re well on our way to that again thanks to Hotel Marlowe and Kimpton Karma.

You’re welcome to donate too, dear reader. Every penny counts.

DONATE TO TEAM TARTAN 2016 LEUKEMIA CUP

Special thanks to Hotel Marlowe from Team Tartan

Special thanks to Hotel Marlowe from Team Tartan

It was a perfect weekend in Virginia (if not hot). Lots of time in the river. An evening playing live music for friends. So how do ease back into work mode? Why with the help of the Donovan hotel of course. My home away from home in DC is particularly welcoming this visit!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is the shower pod

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is the shower pod

You see, my friend Steph Vogel has been holding out on me. But no more! Now we’ve been in 1110. YES!

Welcome

Welcome

We will pretend that this is a flight of Pappy van Winkle bourbon.

Living room overlooking the circle

Living room overlooking the circle

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This suite is huge.

Bedroom

Bedroom

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But the shower is what stands out. A nautilus design with a spiral. Very cool.

The nautilus shower is NPS approved

The nautilus shower is NPS approved

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Without setting foot in an airplane, we’re somehow still pampered beyond belief. Five showerheads for the Donovan. Thanks for ending the weekend on a high note!