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LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
 
FSA LogoThe Luxury Hotel Insider: Exclusive luxury hotel deals, features and special rates from the luxury hotel experts at Five Star Alliance. 
 
Named one of Tripbase's Best Luxury Travel Blogs for 2011, below are Five Star Alliance's newest articles featuring exclusive information on luxury hotels worldwide including special offers and deals at the world's best hotels.

Enjoy a Royal Day out at Buckingham Palace with The 41 Hotel, London

June 1, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The 41 Hotel, LondonA summer trip to London wouldn't be complete without a trip to Buckingham Palace. When you stay at The 41 Hotel-- TripAdvisor's No. 1 Hotel in London-- you'll be as close as you can get to the Royal Family, as The 41 overlooks the Royal Mews on Buckingham Palace Road. The hotel concierge will gladly arrange your tickets to any of the Royal Attractions: the Queen's Gallery, the State Rooms (the heart of the working palace, lavishly furnished with some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection), the Royal Mews (one of the world's finest working stables). Simply book any rate or package until October 31, 2010 and choose any ticket combo, which you'll find waiting for you upon check-in. Or take advantage of a splendid package put together by The Hotel 41, called "A Royal Day Out," valid from July 27- September 29, 2010, to discover the fairytale world of the British Royal Family. You'll enjoy two nights in a beautifully appointed room (overlooking Buckingham Palace), full English Breakfast each day, full Afternoon Tea for two (overlooking The Royal Mews), and tickets to The Royal Mews, The Queens Gallery and The State Rooms. Priced from just £288.50 for an Executive Double Room. Minimum two-night stay required.


Weekend in New Delhi: Free Extras at the Taj Mahal Hotel

May 28, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Taj Mahal HotelWhile visiting India's capital, bed down in style at one of the most prestigious addresses in New Delhi. A city landmark, the sumptuous hotel reflects the heritage of Mughal Delhi in its architectural details: intricate motifs, gold inlay work, and niches from Shahjahanabad (the name for Delhi under the Mughal Empire). Whether visiting for business or vacation, you may be tempted to take advantage of a special weekend offer at the Taj Mahal Hotel featuring gourmet cuisine, a refreshing spa treatment, and a guided tour in the historic city. The "Urban Sanctuary" package is priced from Rs 27,000 for two nights (or $575) and includes the following:

* Champagne on arrival

* Buffet breakfast at the coffee shop

* One guided half day city tour during your stay

* A rejuvenating 30 minute Swedish Massage at the Spa with prior appointment (per person)

* One complimentary Buffet lunch at The Machan during your stay


Platinum Tour of Elvis’ Graceland with the River Inn of Harbor Town, Memphis

May 18, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

River Inn of Harbor TownMaking a pilgrimage to Memphis? Planning to check out the home of the King of Rock 'n Roll? Let the River Inn of Harbor Town help you see the best Memphis attractions. You'll appreciate the hotel's genuine hospitality and charming guest rooms, where you can catch the sun set over the majestic Mississippi from your flower-boxed open window. The 28 luxurious rooms combine the best of Europe and the south, outfitted with walnut armoires, four-poster beds wrapped in Frette linens, and elegant decor. From the hotel's riverside location, Graceland is just a short ride away. With the "Graceland Platinum Tour" package, you can tour Elvis' estate, the Car Museum, and the sincerely Elvis museum, plus get extra perks at the hotel. Starting from $337 in a Standard Room, the package also includes full gourmet breakfast daily, a glass of Champagne/wine at check-in, daily turndown service with Port wine and Chocolate Truffles, a daily newspaper, and free parking.


Spring Special in South Carolina: Charleston Place Offers Extra Perks with Your Stay

May 13, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Charleston Place

For some real Southern hospitality, check into 205 Meeting Street in Charleston, South Carolina. The elegant hotel boasts a 1-to-1 staff-to-guest ratio that keeps guests returning time and again to Charleston Place. The spring season is the perfect time to visit this historic city, its enchanted gardens fragrant with flowers. Visit the Antebellum mansions, art galleries, and lively port before summer's humidity descends on the coast. An added benefit: Charleston Place is offering a "Spring Selections" package where guests get to choose a special experience on each day of their stay- at no extra charge. Choose between the following selections:

* $100 Food & Beverage Gift Card for use in the Charleston Grill, Palmetto Cafe, Thoroughbred Club or In Room Dining

* $100 Spa Gift Card for use in The Spa at Charleston Place

* Schooner Pride two hour Sunset Sail for two, including two drinks per person

* Magnolia Plantation Garden and House tickets for two as well as Breakfast for two in the Palmetto Cafe

The package is priced from $370 per night and is available until June 30th, 2010. Subject to availability.


Washington DC’s Renaissance: Just Check Out the View from the Cool W Hotel

May 7, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

W Hotel Washington DCWashington DC is cool again. This month's cover story in National Geographic Traveler shines the spotlight on the nation's capital which "has been shedding its reputation as a dozing, one-dimensional city of policy wonks and lawyers with the advent of a new generation of artists, tech barons, and a younger set that hungers for edgier fare than a stroll on the Mall." The transformation is visible everywhere; Washington DC has morphed into a "top-tier dining town" with cool museums and hotel options galore.

Maybe it's the shift of power from Manhattan, maybe it's a new optimism, but the city inside the Beltway has jettisoned its staid image for a wholesale revival of wide swaths of the cityscape. Washington today is Rome at year zero: the most important place on Earth," says David Von Drehle, who spent many years as a reporter and editor for the Washington Post. "We're talking money and power. As always, this combination attracts the brainy, the bold, the conniving, and the glamorous."

W Washington DCCenter stage in the article? One of our fave hotels. National Geographic Traveler highlights the happening rooftop bar at the W: "Another expansive vista of the city is found at the new W Hotel—minted from the capital's venerable Washington Hotel—which features a rooftop bar that enables you to watch the President's helicopter land on the south lawn of the White House."

Hot Deals: Until June 15, 2010, you can get 50% off your second night and a packet of seeds to start your own spring garden with the "Better Tomorrows" package at the W.


The Bay Area Arts Scene: Oakland Art Museum Gets Redone

April 30, 2010
By: Ruthanne Terrero

Richard Diebenkorn, Figure on a Porch, 1959The San Francisco area is one of our favorite destinations, especially when it comes to exploring cultural sites.  So we were thrilled when  we heard that the acclaimed Oakland Museum of California has just been completely reconstructed.

What’s changed, you ask? According to museum officials, “California's landscape, people and fertile creativity are showcased in innovative interdisciplinary, interactive exhibits with high-tech extras.”

Amidst established favorites, such as the works of Arthur and Lucia Mathews, new galleries now showcase contemporary works, such as Trevor Paglen's 2008 color photograph of swirling satellites and Hank Willis Thomas' "White Imitates Black."

We're also enamored of the work pictured here, Richard Diebenkorn's Figure on a Porch.

The museum will stay open until 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 9 p.m. on the second Friday of each month.

If you’re staying in San Francisco, consider one of these three luxury hotels: The Ritz-Carlton, The Four Seasons and The St. Regis. For more information, visit www.museumca.org.


Caravaggio plus the New MAXXI Museum: Art and Culture in Rome with the Hotel Hassler

April 22, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel HasslerHeading to Rome this spring? It's easy to get your arts fix in the Eternal City, where the plethora of sightseeing options is almost paralyzing. Culture vultures won't want to miss MAXXI, Rome's new Museum of 21st Century Art, housed in an impressive building designed by acclaimed architect Zaha Hadid. Italy's first national museum devoted to contemporary art will be opening in May. Or for something more classical, hit up the Caravaggio exhibition at The Scuderie del Quirinale and soak up the timeless beauty of the artist's key works including the Bacchus from Florence's Uffizi Gallery, the "David with the Head of Goliath" from Rome's Borghese Gallery, "The Musicians" from New York's Metropolitan, "The Lute Player" from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, and more... The Hotel Hassler Roma-- the award-winning luxury hotel perched atop the Spanish Steps-- is inviting guests to immerse themselves in the spring colors of the city and its culture with the "Legendary Caravaggio Package." Available through June 13, 2010 and priced from 540 euros per night, the package includes luxurious accommodations, daily buffet breakfast, private airport transfers, two tickets for the Caravaggio exhibition, a special gift from the hotel, free Internet access, and a 10% discount for one dinner for two at Imàgo, the Michelin-starred panoramic restaurant. Three-night minimum stay required.


Luxury Eco-Tour of Istanbul with Urban Nomads and the Newly Renovated Pera Palace

March 17, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Pera Palace, IstanbulAfter a two-year, $30 million renovation, Istanbul's Pera Palace is back on top. Built in 1892 to host passengers of the Orient-Express, the historic hotel was one of the most luxurious of its era, welcoming all kinds of royalty and celebrity guests, including Agatha Christie, who is rumored to have written "Murder on the Orient Express" at the hotel. (Room No. 411 has been preserved as the "Agatha Christie Room.") Stay tuned for details of the hotel's grand re-opening, slated for later this year... Buzzworthy: Visitors can now partake in a luxury eco-friendly tour of Istanbul for Christie's inaugural Green Auction,* courtesy of the Pera Palace and Urbane Nomads, a luxury travel company. Guests will stay in the Agatha Christie Studio Room for four nights, and visit Istanbul via fuel-efficient vehicles in a tour led by Gursan Ergil, a famous designer of eco-friendly furniture in Istanbul. At the Grand Bazaar, visitors will get the skinny on the city's sustainable produce.

*Christie's Green Auction will take place on April 22, 2010, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.


Destination Jordan: Insider Tips for the Lost City of Petra

March 12, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Lost City of Petra, JordanEver dreamed of playing Indiana Jones and galloping off to the rose-red city of Petra? Is a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site on your bucket list? A year-round destination and a safe haven in the Middle East, Jordan offers a diversity of landscapes and historic sites, including the archeological wonders of Petra. When making your vacation plans, don't limit yourself to a few days exploring the "Lost City." What else should be on your Jordan agenda? A float in the Dead Sea (nominated as one of the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World) combined with spa pampering at Movenpick's sprawling Zara Spa, camping with bedouins under the stars in the Wadi Rum desert, snorkeling in the Red Sea, and exploring religious sites like Bethany Beyond the Jordan, where Jesus was baptized, and Mount Nebo, where Moses looked out over the Promised Land.

Petra By NightBut Petra is certainly the crown jewel in the country's archeological riches. Carved from sandstone canyons hidden deep within the mountains, Petra was "lost" to the western world for centuries. Mysterious and inspiring, this ancient city was built by the Nabateans in the 4th century BC, and flourished from profits made by controlling the region's caravan routes. Archeologically, the incredible ruins show the architectural influences of Assyria, Egypt, Greece and Rome.

Some tips:

--Many visitors falsely assume that Petra's highlight is the Treasury (pictured), the setting for Indiana Jones' discovery of the Holy Grail in the film. Not so. Petra sprawls over miles and miles of trails to follow through the sites. Don't miss a hike up to the Monastery. After climbing up hundreds of stone steps carved into the mountainside, you'll be rewarded with spectacular views across to Israel.

--Plan your trip to include "Petra by Night", an experience offered by the tourism office which leads visitors along a candle-lit path to the Treasury, lit by hundreds of flickering candles. You'll be served hot tea while listening to bedouin music.

--New maps are available at the visitor center, as are interpretative signs marking sites along the trails.

--Not far from Petra, enjoy another less touristed site called "Little Petra."


What’s New in Minneapolis: Chambers Hotel Morphs into Le Meridien

February 5, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Chambers MinneapolisIt's only natural that the art-filled Chambers Hotel-- described as the "Luxury Art Hotel in Minneapolis"-- is turning into a Le Meridien property. After all, Starwood's Le Meridien brand is all about culture and refinement, sponsoring various art programs at properties worldwide. Since it's opening in 2006, Chambers has gotten rave reviews for its design aesthetic and art collection featuring 250 original works. Now called "Le Meridien Chambers Minneapolis," the property is owned by art collector Ralph Burnet, who also owns W Minneapolis- The Foshay, a city landmark of cutting-edge cool.