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When you’re working on your Ph.D. and you stop just short of the finish line, you get to say you’re “ABD” (which stands for “all but dissertation”). Though the graduate in Charlottesville is way better than any other hotel in town that NPS has visited, it’s not quite up to non-college town standards.

You see, college towns have this problem with good hotels. There aren’t any. NPS is unclear on why this is. Maybe parents spent all of their money on a college education for their kids and they can’t afford a decent hotel? Who knows.

Anyway, the graduate will do.

We were given hamster cage, er room 803. It had a bit more style than your usual Marriott, but its architecture was uninspired. And it was not quiet in the least. A concrete box for you!

803 bed

The TV shrine

high style? Style created while high? something

The shower was glass (which is NPS approved) but it was too skinny and the water pressure was piddly. Not a shower to inspire NPS reverie.

Yes but no.

The rest of the bathroom

So ABD on the sbower.

And there were these little problems too.

no no no. Where can we put our own bathroom stuff??

Hermetically-sealed paper cup?? LOL. Just absurd.

The staff was all very nice. We even scored some san pellegrino as we checked in. So that’s a plus. But the graduate needs to complete its dissertation to enter the workforce. Three showerheads and study hall for the graduate.

In other Charlottesville news, Citizen Burger remains delicious and worth a visit. And the Alley Light bar is top notch. Do both. And while you’re in town, make sure to catch the Punch Brothers show. Oh wait, that’s WHY you’re in town.

The Punch Brothers 8.9.17 Charlottesville

Though NPS does not fly in July or December, there is still stuff to be done. The solution? A working meeting at the Lorien in Old Town Alexandria. We’ve been to the Lorien a couple of times since Steph Vogel took over as GM. Sadly, Steph is in Switzerland this week. We’ll pretend that the ship runs just as well without Steph at the helm (though it’s really not true).

The Spartan balcony off 619

This visit finds us in 619, which is similar to 615 only slightly smaller and on the other side of the building. There is a very large balcony on this side too. Because it’s 100 degrees this week (with an overnight low in the upper ’70s), the balcony will be ignored due to weather. Strikes us that a remake of these balconies as a garden would make them both more inviting.

Look to the left

Look to the right

Our meeting room was cavernous and highly functional. We spent all day working.

A cocktail was in order after all that work. The bar is still very good, though barman and detail freak Phil Clark is no longer around. Phil has moved to Phoenix. You can tell. Damien is doing his damndest to keep things up.

Whey Sour
.75 cachaça (novo fogo)
.75 rye (copper fox)
1.5 whey
.75 honey
1 lemon
pinch of salt
Shake. Serve up.

Snacks at the bar took forever to arrive. That ended up making them free. Timely is better than free.

Dinner at The Warehouse was a massive disappointment. The crayfish were good. Or was that the crawdads? The wine list?
Unusable. Skip it. In other news from the evening, the bar at Restaurant Eve still holds its own, but Jackson 20 has slipped to skip it level as well. So sad that the old Alexandria Monaco is now a Marriott property.

On return from dinner around 11, we were greeted with a nice amenity. Thanks Stephani. The ice cold San Pelegrino is particularly welcome.

Sitting room 619

Sleeping room 619

The huge glass shower will do just fine.

Shower? Perfect.

Once the work was done, there were museums to see. First stop was the National Building Museum to see Hive. Well worth the visit.

Home of hive. At least for a while.

That was followed by another great lunch at Bistrot du Coin.

And a visit to the Phillips Collection. The old building is under renovation, so only half of the paintings as usual were out. But still fantastic. An NPS introduction to the stunning art of German artist Markus Lüpertz.

German artist Markus Lüpertz

The suit

Detail from Spoon

German artist Markus Lüpertz

A fantastic day. Followed almost immediately on its heels by a fantastic evening.

Roses Luxury is just as stellar as its incredible reputation. Just go. We showed up at 5:10pm and walked right in for a 180 minute dinner extravaganza.

Those poor “other people” had to wait in line

Caviar service

Yes, we took pictures of our food. We also had extensive conversations about it.

The best dish of the evening was a soft shelled crab served with Singapore-style chilli sauce (on the sweet side) over steamed buns with pickles. Delicious.

So really. Go to Roses Luxury as soon as you can.

Then there was the Columbia Room in the back booth (our usual NPS haunt), this time with the geek patrol. Excellent as usual, this time less for the drinks presentation than the company.

Columbia Room

Ice

Seaweed?!

Rum from 1857 always seems like a good idea after the tasting menu is complete.

The moral of the story is: get your work done quickly so you can spend some time being spoiled in DC!

Five showerheads and a real wish that Steph were around. We miss you Steph.

NPS is not a first-timer at the Alexis, but we sure do miss our guy Keith (once concierge) who is no longer at Kimpton. Because we have no feet on the ground at the hotel, we had to rely on social media and the CRM system that Kimpton uses to track its guests. Guess what? Knowing people beats the heck out of any computer-based guest database. Especially a guest database that elides the only real hotel room criteria we hold dear.

Which is a short way of saying, “WTF Kimpton, a room with a plastic shower??!” Really, the warm greeting by Sam, the sparkling water, the really beautiful newly-renovated room, all that stuff means not a thing if the shower is plastic. We’ll pay more. We’ll do pretty much whatever it takes to avoid the shower over bathtub thing. We’ll even cash in our loyalty and find a different hotel.

NO PLASTIC SHOWERS!

The first room was 634. It had a plastic shower. What exactly does that mean, you ask? Lets review.

This is a plastic shower. It looks not too awful from here.

But when you approach, the plastic liner becomes apparent

And this bendy “obesity bar” which is not up to the task of such heavy plastic.

Gross. This is just gross. We do not do this.

And over a step in bathtub. No no. A thousand times no.

We tried to make this all very obvious.

Does the machine have a memory??

The rest of the bathroom is very nice and spacious

So lets put this shower episode behind us and hope somebody out there in Kimpton CRM-land is paying attention.

Leave the bathroom behind. Never go back.

High style evident

Cluttered quirky and fun

This is just fine.

Sparkling water is always very nice, and we do appreciate that.

But we do not at all like this trend where our rooms are bugged. Please make these spy devices that invade privacy optional Kimpton.

No bugs please. Spy on your spouse not on your guests.

Anyway, for the record, the Alexis has a great little bar called The Library, where from time to time great bourbon flows through.

The next morning, a room adjustment was already underway. That is good. But it was already too late.

Breakfast at Biscuit Bitch is worth seeking out, even if you have to trawl for a table.

And then work. And then some sailing.

We did some racing, and the good news is that we won first place in our class (really great huge boats that start late and come in last).

By the time the ferry shenanigans finished up, it was midnight and time for the room switch. Imagine our surprise when told that the water was off for maintenance. The Alexis can’t win for losing this trip. We were assigned room 425 which was very nice. We spent 5 hours in it all told.

Though we really do appreciate the shower in room 425, it works better when the water is on.

New room for you

The staff left a very nice amenity which there was no time to get into. Sadly, the water was not sparkly, though who knows it might have started out that way hours earlier.

Fancy

The bathroom is very spacious and awesome. Wish there were more time to use it properly.

Big giant tub with its own platform

Now that’s better Alexis. A glass shower!

All told this chunky visit to the Alexis deserves three showerheads on average. Plastic showers bring your final semester grade way down here at NPS university.

It is gray and overcast in San Diego. I’m pretty sure this never happened before Donald Trump became President.

We’re back for a quick bit of business in San Diego on our multi-city tour. One of the best things about San Diego is the Salomar. Our buddy George has moved over to the Palomar these days and has been replaced by the capable and super nice Kayse Potter. Kayse made sure our welcome was warm and nice and that our shower was non-plastic. Thank you Kayse.

We arrived late due to Virgin America SNAFU apparently involving a crazy lady in an unrelated city. Things you overhear when the flight crews gossip. Anyway, we got our rental car and zoomed over to the Salomar just in time to drop off bags and skeedaddle for our reservation at Noble Experiment. A great time was had by all. Thanks Andrew and crew. The back bar shots of rum and tequila made for a damn fun time.

We slunk back around midnight. Room 834 is a great space but it is on the wrong side of the building for me. Too noisy when there is a game on at the stadium (after the game ends).

Party all night after the game right under my window

The bathroom is particularly nice with the gigantic tub/glass shower thing going strong. It’s time to replace the showerhead though.

NPS Approved

Glass Pod

Functional but out of date

A solid night’s sleep and a nice long shower was topped only by Swedish pancakes at Richard Walker’s.

Oh, one funny thing. The lobby music is driving Q nuts. He is the manager on duty in the front lobby and is forced to listen to an endless loop. We’ll see if we can’t get that fixed for him!

All around way too quick but super solid visit to San Diego. Five showerheads (one of which might need replacement) for the Solamar.

Yep, it’s silicon valley time and that means the Cowper Inn. This place is so much like home that we request rooms by number in a particular order. Fortunately, we usually end up in 31 (the NPS preferred room).

The flight out on Virgin America was great. Upgraded to first class and ended up with a row of my own. Virgin America makes you pay to upgrade no matter what, but that works for NPS!

It became a clear sunny day in Palo Alto. If you have not visited, Palo Alto is a great place to walk around, window shop, and spend way too much money on furniture. Last time NPS was in town, we accidentally discovered a store which has since managed to sell us multiple very expensive and very comfortable chairs. That would be rejuvenation.

Sequoia

In the yard

Nice room if you ignore the wallpaper

That ’80s kind of shower that your parents had

Through the looking glass

The living room and breakfast room is almost always unoccupied after morning.

Always fresh flowers

In other news, do not go to Roots and Rye which sucks in all possible ways. A waste of gas to get there. workaday: lazy prep, stale bread, uninteresting cocktails, terrible architecture, service that needs training.

Five nostalgic shower heads for the Cowper and its gorgeous yard.

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.

Old school is one way to describe the Royal Park Hotel located about an hour north of Detroit in Rochester. A gorgeous old building, well kept and properly appointed sits on a small creek in a green area of town. We arrived late in the rain and in the dark, but we can still tell how pretty this place is.

A cordial check-in put us in room 325 overlooking the creek.

A visit to the bar downstairs to meet some business associates resulted in a great find: Gosling’s Family Reserve Rum in the wild. That’ll do.

325 is just slightly too large for its furnishings, but it is still nice in an old school way.

Just how big is that room?

Big

Too big?

The bathroom has plenty of marble and a very nice shower with multiple shower heads and a bench. Pretty much NPS heaven shower-wise.

Nice shower

Multiple shower heads and a bench

Outside in

Inside in

About the only major problem with this hotel is the “lets charge $4 for water” which as loyal readers know we find appalling. Just no.

Go to Paul’s on Main for breakfast, but try to ignore the idiot boxes hung all over the place.

Five showerheads for Royal Park and some free water. Free. We do not charge for that in civilized society.