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Back at the Buchanan, this time for “mandatory corporate fun,” and all is well.

Sadly, when we booked, our favorite room was already slated for some other obviously undeserving guest and the Tetris game of chance did not work out in our favor. So what ya gonna do?

Start out in 216 and move up as soon as possible! 216 is a ADA room, which is not that big a problem, but its shower is wimpy and sucky, and it is too close to the street and thus a bit noisy. Oh well, one night won’t kill us.

We were greeted with a much-needed amenity which we scarfed down like the hungry dogs we are.

And then, since it was pretty late, it was straight to bed.

This shower is not plastic, but it needs a better shower head and better water pressure.

Fortunately, the room switcheroobie was smooth. So one night late, we moved up to 416. That’s better. Maybe next time the dice will roll in our favor!

View from 416

Hmm, that design looks familiar.

The MUCH better shower. All praise the shower goddess.

Bathroom with stuff: still life

The Buchanan lobby is interesting too, but not as interesting as GM E mily Gick who we finally connected with this visit. Thanks for the hospitality Emily.

Buchanan lobby

Art out of focus

Either four or five showerheads for the Buchanan. See you again soon!

In other San Francisco news, Zasie is a very trendy and great place for brunch. Cocktails at Blackbird do not suck.

Hinodeya ramen just across the street from the Buchanan is very good indeed and entirely authentic.

Cocktails at P.C.H in popup xmas mode is highly recommended. After that you must close down The Irish Bank. Spent some quality time with Jacques Bezuidenhout. What a blast!

The quick answer is: there is no stay short enough to justify a plastic shower.

NPS set out to prove this aphorism at the truly style-free Renaissance hotel at LAX.

Renaissance is a Marriott property, so we of course made great use of our friend Mr. X who is a Lifetime Platinum Elite member. Mr. X books for us and NPS shoves all the points in his direction. This gets us superior rooms and concierge level hoo hah and whatnot at Marriotts. Sadly they are all still Marriotts.

The front lobby is in the middle of a massive renovation at the Renaissance at LAX. So that may be a good thing (but likely it just won’t matter). NPS was assigned a newly renovated suite (number 425) after much furious typing by the front desk staff on our very late arrival around midnight. If 425 is evidence of the style that is driving this renovation then NPS is worried.

You see, 425 looks like this. But looks (even marginal looks like this) can be deceiving. Super cheap, thin, veneer style is what we have on evidence here.

Like this crooked too big TV. WTF?

No. Not how to hang a TV. Why is there even one here?

The bed is comfortable, but the lights are so cheap a light wind would blow them over. Fortunately the windows do not open.

Comfy bed.

But what is this?

The windows overlook a glowing Burger King sign That pretty much says it all.

Yeah, no. This is not really a cool city view.

More sad, thin style evident in the sitting room.

Your mother in law called and she has some design ideas

There was a sad little plant on the desk wishing for some light. Flourescent bulbs should make it happier than they make the humans trapped in here.

And then there is the plastic shower bête noire—an actual plastic shower with an obesity bar.

no

no

no no no

Everything in the bathroom is very new, very clean and completely devoid of any taste.

no sense of style

Well anyway, the trip to LA was fantastic and the time in this hamster cage was short.

There was this wine thing with new friends.

Wine? Wine!

There was an old school whiskey bar.

And there was some sportsing with the boys.

So all told we would do it again in a second but we would get a real hotel without a shuttle bus and shlep to the airport from Santa Monica.

Speaking of the airport, this Virgin America meets Alaska thing is getting chunky. Remote gates? Wolfgang Puck bullshit? Overfull lounges gussied up in the ’70s? Uh oh. Where is my high style airline?

Let the record show that the Renaissance LAX barely rates two showerheads. Not going back ever. Nice people in a beige land devoid of style.

Most college towns have no hotels worth visiting. Staying near a college campus can be a complete drag. But UC Santa Cruz is a welcome exception. Paradoxical? Sure, why not.

Hotel Paradox is in a college town and it does not suck.

CA Route 1

CA Route 1

We arrived sunburned and exulted after a 384 mile road trip up the California coast from Los Angeles. Hey, nobody said that college and the arts was going to be easy! The drive was mesmerizing.

Paradox is also self-referential in a sense that the architecture is 100% hamster cage. Holiday Inn, Days Inn, you name it, this is the rectangle. But somehow they pull it off with a design-forward approach and an inclusive feel. A paradox.

Coolest front desk ever

Coolest front desk ever

Apparently they read the blog. We were upgraded (really), we were given a bar credit, we were greeted by name. Dang!

Room 534 is situated at the very end of the rectangle and involves two rooms making a suite with a virtual porch on the side. Surprisingly nice.

Time warp to the '70s

Time warp to the ’70s

Sitting room with fold out couch

Sitting room with fold out couch

Bedroom 534 (rectangle done right)

Bedroom 534 (rectangle done right)

Wood

Wood

The bathroom has a non-plastic shower. You know how we feel about that around here!

534 has a glass shower with a silver twig handle and a pebble floor

534 has a glass shower with a silver twig handle and a pebble floor

IMG_2503

The nicest thing about 534 is the outside space associated with the suite. Just very well done.

The park next door

The park next door

Virtual porch in 534

Virtual porch in 534

So we’ll need to revise our “university towns have no hotels” opinion. A very high four shower heads for the Paradox. Well done!

In other Santa Cruz news, the Oswald is apparently the best bet restaurant-wise in town. Hmm. Not bad, but also not good.

We leave you with more CA Route 1 footage.

Filling a hotel up to the brim with 150 or so high octane people for a small conference is apparently a good thing. And the fine people at Monterey Plaza would like you to know just how good a thing that is. We here at NPS approve.

We’ll be entertaining this week in the Presidential Suite, which is a space worthy of its name. A gorgeous view of Monterey Bay, extensive balconies, windows that open. What’s not to like?

Fruit, cheese, wine, sparking water and two notes from the staff.

Fruit, cheese, wine, sparking water and two notes from the staff.

The Living Room space of the Presidential Suite surrounded by balconies with a view of the Bay

The Living Room space of the Presidential Suite surrounded by balconies with a view of the Bay

The bedroom portion of the Presidential Suite

The bedroom portion of the Presidential Suite

Fireplaces, picture windows and sliding doors.

Fireplaces, picture windows and sliding doors.

Of course all NPS readers know what we’re looking for. How’s this for a first class glass shower?

A nice big glass shower over one of the two hot tubs.

A nice big glass shower over one of the two hot tubs.

Looking in over the outside balcony hot tub.

Looking in over the outside balcony hot tub.

The exquisite Monterey Bay (with voiceover by my friend John).

Five showerheads for the superb space and top notch hospitality. We like.