Since its birth, rock and roll and hotels have gone hand in hand. Whether it involves bands hitting the road on tour, infamously trashing a suite, or taking up temporary residence while working on an album, there’s an unmistakably inspirational quality to booking a room and letting loose. Luckily, a few hotels understand this relationship and offer their guests the ability to live like a rock star with some over-the-top music amenities. We strapped on our Stratocaster and hit the road to show you the hotel rooms bound to make music fans weak in the knees.

“You Spin Me Right Round (Like A Record)”: Hotel Saint Cecilia

Front Desk at the Hotel Saint Cecilia

Austin is a city that’s known for its hip music scene and hip crowds. It’s not surprising, then, that the Hotel Saint Cecilia has done away with a traditional front desk in favor of a cool collection of vinyl records and a turntable that guests are free to use. (The hotel is named after the patron saint of music and poetry, after all.) In-room record players and iPod docks make it easy to take the party back to your room, where decor reflects the artistic lifestyle Austin loves to support.

“Two Turntables And A Microphone”: Ace Hotel NY

Medium Room at the Ace Hotel NY

Like the Hotel Saint Cecilia, the Ace Hotel NY harkens back to a time when vinyl was king. Rooms have curated touches like Music Hall turntables with a vinyl library that allows guests to put their own spin (ha!) on their in-room entertainment.

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps”: Hard Rock Hotel Chicago

Hard Rock Hotel Chicago

By now, most people are familiar with the Hard Rock chain’s style of decorating their properties with rock memorabilia and photographs, and this hotel is no different. What sets it apart is the “picks.” program, which allows guests to test-drive Strats, Telecasters and other “surprise” models in the comfort of their rooms. Staff will deliver the ax (or bass) of your choice to your room, along with an amp and headphones so you can rock out without damaging your neighbors’ eardrums. You can find further inspiration in the décor: each floor is themed after a different artist, from Madonna to John Lennon. Just make sure you don’t pull a full rock star moment and trash your room.

“It Needs More Cowbell!!!”: Geejam

Recording Studio at the Geejam

Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to lay down tracks. Luckily, the Geejam agrees: There’s a fully functional recording studio on-site. Producer-turned-hotelier Jon Baker built the studio back when the resort was a secluded, private artists’ retreat. Some serious notables have laid down tracks here, including Bjork, Common, the Gorillaz, and India.Arie. The focus on music carries throughout the property — eclectic reggae music plays in public areas — all the way back to the rooms themselves. All rooms are musically themed suites and villas with names like the Ska Suite or the Drum and Bass Suite, featuring plenty of rock-inspired artwork. All suites come stocked with high-tech entertainment systems including iPod docks and AppleTVs that are preloaded with an impressive selection of reggae and soul music.

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Earlier this year, the Kew Motor Inn was shut down in a massive prostitution sting operation carried out by police. I wasn’t surprised: I’d been to the hotel a week before, as part of an assignment to report on the seedy sex hotels of New York City for…and met a pimp within an hour of being there.

Entrance at the Kew Motor Inn; New York, NY


When I first saw him, I mistook the gigantic gold medallion he was wearing as a badge. When he began angrily pounding on the door of a room, yelling “Open up!,” I thought I was witnessing a prostitution sting operation going down. I soon realized my error: He wasn’t a police officer, but a full-blown pimp about to shake down a John. I could hear the voices of a nervous man and an excited woman from the other side of the door. I could barely make her out as saying “Just open it, just OPEN it!” over and over. Read More »


This is the third part in a series exploring the seedy world of by-the-hour sex hotels. We previously visited the Liberty Inn and the Kew Motor Inn

Just an hour after a vocal run-in with a pimp at the Kew Motor Inn, my fellow reporter Rachel and I were already embarking on a new adventure: an investigation of La Semana Hotel in Manhattan’s Flatiron district. We still had rattled nerves, and unfortunately, the hotel we were about to visit promised to be even worse than the one before: It is widely known for housing drug addled mentally unstable (and occasionally violent) clientele.

Entrance at the La Semana Hotel; New York, NY


The fact that the hotel has a locked front entrance with a doorbell and front desk behind thick glass did nothing to put us at ease. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the bizarre fixation with plastic flowers that we had seen at the Kew Motor Inn was also felt here in the lobby and facade of the building. We paid for our room and were given a key with Mario on it, promoting a family-friendly visit to Nintendo World in Midtown. It was a bizarre choice of advertising to say the least.

Hallways at the La Semana Hotel; New York, NY

We had just started towards our room when we immediately noticed a queen-sized mattress practically blocking the hallway. It was when we stopped to find a path around it that the smell hit us. It’s hard to describe, but it was somewhere along the lines of an old swimming pool, overused tanning salon, moldy locker room, dirty microwave, and most terrifyingly, decaying meat. My fellow reporter Rachel’s face immediately squished up. “Zach,” she said, hear eyes tearing up from the stench, “I don’t know whether I should be afraid or if I should throw up.”

The Standard Room at the La Semana Hotel; New York, NY


Upon opening the door to our room, we felt even less safe than we did during check-in. We were on the ground floor, and the only window overlooked an alley and was covered with bars and barbwire. The stained furniture looked like old garage sale patio furnishings. Light switches weren’t conveniently located, leading to a brief struggle to get situated in an already offsetting space. The room’s only phone, an outdated corded unit, was strangely tucked in an inconvenient spot near the makeshift closet. The exposed cord lazily ran up the wall until it reached a small hole in the ceiling tile.

It was when we followed the telephone cord up the wall when we first noticed the air conditioner. There’s dirty, and then there’s downright filthy: This unit looked worse than an overworked lint trap, jammed full of dust, dirt, and stained by an unknown liquid. The dirt and grime-caked TV remote was the only thing disgusting enough to give the air conditioner a run for its money.

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Entrance of the Hotel of South Beach; Miami, FL

Art Deco is a term that is practically synonymous with South Beach. The style started in 1920s Paris, and was typified by its use of man-made materials (i.e. glass or steel), repetition and symmetry, and ornate motifs – think sunbursts or chevron patterns. While Art Deco style can be found in almost every corner of the globe, South Beach is its unofficial hot bed. Check out our favorite Art Deco spots now!





Mad Men Season 5 Portrait

Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC


The style, sexiness, and glamor of Don Draper and his lifestyle are quickly becoming a mainstay of popular culture. But even though Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce may be a fictional agency, the advertising industry of the real world still has an allure (now partly fueled by the show, of course) for its sleek tendencies and over-the-top tactics for wooing clients. We’ve done our research and come up with hotels that modern day Don Draper’s will love, so grab a fresh drink, tell Joan to hold your calls, and take a look after the jump!

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This week, we’re headed down south to the Riviera Maya in Mexico (in honor of Spring Break, natch) — and we couldn’t stop staring at the Chac Chi Hotel and Suites‘s solarium entrance. Reminiscent of a little Zeppelin, no? Check out our caption after the jump, and then enter your own in the comments section below!

Solarium at the Chac Chi Hotel & Suites; Cancun, Mexico

Solarium at the Chac Chi Hotel & Suites; Cancun, Mexico


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Foto Friday: Loungin’

by Zach on March 23, 2012

Sometimes it feels like moments of calm are impossible to come by at large resorts. This shot of the Radisson Grand Lucayan in the Bahamas shows that that’s  not always the case.

The Pool at the Radisson Grand Lucayan; Bahamas


Most people associate springtime travel with crazy parties like spring break, but these five cities are perfect for visiting this season — and will leave you without the boozy side effects. These our some of our top cities to poke around in while the weather warms up.


Bienville House in New Orleans, LA

Bienville House; New Orleans, LA

Mark Twain once said “In America, there is New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” In what’s arguably one of the most culturally unique cities in the country, it’s easy to see what he meant. Of course, it’s the birthplace of Jazz and home of epic Mardi Gras celebrations, but the city itself has much more depth than that, including legendary cuisine, historic architecture, and a buzzing nightlife. Spring is one of the best times to make your way to NoLa, not only so you can avoid the sweltering summer temperatures, but also so you can take advantage of the New Orleans Jazz Festival, French Quarter Festival, and Bayou Boogaloo.

Editor’s Pick: Bienville House

Check out our other favorite springtime cities after the jump.

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Best Western Tomo San Francisco CA

This San Fran hotel is part of a budget chain -- but has high style.

Although we have covered hundreds of hotels and seen many, many guest rooms, there have been a few that have really, well, stood out to us. One would even call them “zany.” Really. We’ve seen stone hand sculptures, faces on chairs, and even private infinity pools waiting for us to dip our toes in. But these eight suites were something else — they take “quirky” to a whole new level. Check ‘em out now — you may find your next design inspiration inside the gallery!

8 Crazy Hotel Rooms and Suites


This week saw the early arrival of spring weather in New York City. Naturally, after a long (although not very cold) winter this past year, it’s the perfect excuse to spend as much time outdoors as possible. Places like the rooftop at the Empire Hotel are a swanky way to do just that.

The Rooftop at The Empire Hotel