Superlative

The Best View from a
Hotel Room in Montreal

When Spot Cool Stuff travels we love staying in a room with a view. In Montreal, there’s no better hotel room view than that offered from the upper rooms at the Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain.

Spanning to a height of 139 meters (454 feet), the Marriott Chateau Champlain is the tallest hotel in the city (and its 9th tallest building of any sort). The vista from those lofty heights is framed by the hotel’s most distinctive feature: the half-moon windows.

From inside the rooms, the view through those windows looks like this:

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Montreal Family Travel

For a family vacation, we absolutely adore Montreal.

Quebec’s largest city is a stellar place to travel with kids. (It’s superb choice for a romantic weekend or singles getaway too, though for different reasons.) We’d place Montreal among the likes of Paris, Sydney and San Francisco as one of the world’s top urban family travel destinations. However, unlike all the other cities that would be on that list, Montreal doesn’t really have any iconic, world-famous sights. There’s no Montreal equivalent of the Eiffel Tower or the Sydney Opera House1 or Alcatraz Island.

Do not be put off. While Montreal might lack that one must-see attraction, the city makes up for it with its depth of offerings and range of special events and festivals. Especially the festivals. Montreal’s unofficial moto is “Any excuse for a party.” The city almost always has something fun happening, something officials will gladly close streets and divert traffic for. And the best part for families traveling on a budget: Montreal’s festivals tend to be are partly, or completely, free!

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The World’s Largest Underwater Sculpture Park

The collection of life-sized human casts resemble an underwater Pompeii

Ah, Cancun. The sun. The beaches. The shopping. The tequila shots. The drunken college kids on spring break. The massive underwater sculpture park?

Even some of those familiar with the attractions Cancun offers above sea level are surprised at what they can find underneath it: a museum. The Museo Subacuatico de Arte, to be specific.

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The Best View of Niagara Falls from a Hotel Room

The whole point of going on vacation to Niagara Falls is to take in the view. So, when spending the night at Niagara Falls, the smart traveler wants a hotel with a view of, well, Niagara Falls. And no hotel has a better view from their rooms than does the Marriott Gateway on the Falls . . . except perhaps the awkwardly-named Marriott Niagara Falls Hotel Fallsview & Spa. But we’ll get to that at the moment.

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7 Amazing & Luxurious
South Africa Safari Lodges

Spot Cool Stuff loves a good safari lodge, one that’s inviting and is in tune with its natural surroundings. Somehow candlelit dinners are more romantic when they are on a wood deck overlooking a river with crocodiles and hippos. Cold drinks taste better when drunk while gazing out at lions and giraffes in the heat of the day. Beds are more comfortable when they double as a refuge in the middle of an animal-filled wilderness.

Spot Cool Stuff also loves South Africa, a wondrous country that has more diversity of culture and landscape than most people imagine.

So it was an easy decision to write up two posts that combine our twin passions for South Africa and safari lodges.

In this, the first of our two-part series, we check out seven luxurious safari lodges. If you’re looking for a resort to celebrate a special occasion (or if you have access to an expense account) consider a stay at one of these WOW-inducing digs that combine luxury with some of the best game viewing in Africa. In our next South Africa post we’ll focus on our favorite budget safari lodges. To stay updated on that (and all the other travel goings at Spot Cool Stuff), follow us on Twitter, join us on Facebook or subscribe to our RSS feed and get our travel posts delivered to you directly.

And with that, here’s to luxury in the middle of South African wilderness:

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The Ice Cream Parlor of 1000 Flavors

It used to be that 36 flavors was something to brag about. But the days when rocky road starred in a three-dozen flavor line-up have long passed.

Now, ice cream shops worldwide boast long lists of wonderfully unusual flavors.

On the U.S. east coast Boston-area’s Toscanini’s features wort and Guiness ice cream, and on the west coast Bellingham, WA’s Mallard’s makes flavors such as earl grey tea and black pepper. London’s Chin Chin Labs claims to be Europe’s first liquid nitrogen ice cream parlor and Bar Ciao (in Channing Cross) strives to make ice cream dishes that look like other food — such as asparagus or sunny-side up fried eggs. Beef tongue, charcoal, cactus and octopus top the unusual flavors to be found in Japan. To be sure, there are many others experimenting in the art of creative cold concoctions that take us far beyond a round scoop of chocolate, vanilla or strawberry.

But to choose from the widest variety of all, you’ll need to head to Merida, Venezuela.

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The Shard Lifts London Restaurants to New Heights

Like so many others, Spot Cool Stuff first traveled to London as college students. That was more than two decades ago and we still remember falling in love with the British capital for its salty residents, gritty streets and low-rise charm. Back then, we never could we have imagined London as the home of The Shard.

Yet, there it is. At 306 meters (1,004 ft) tall, the gleaming glass and steel skyscraper is the tallest building in the European Union. On a sunny day, The Shard literally casts a shadow on the London Bridge.

The building has been open for a few months now. But only recently has the public been able to eat at one of The Shard’s three main restaurants: Hutong, The Oblix and Aqua Shard. Each restaurant requires taking a non-stop lift to The Shard’s 32 floor. Each restaurant charges sky-high prices though, happily, each also offers views to match.

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5 Temples & Monasteries
on Perilous Cliff Sides

To monks, the monastery represents the victory of good over evil. To travelers, it represents the victory of architecture over gravity.

Spot Cool Stuff previously reviewed five towns on cliff sides — villages where drinking and driving . . . or drinking and walking . . . or simply walking could be especially perilous.

Following up on that, here are five religious buildings—a shrine, temple, church and two monasteries—built at a cliff’s edge. Gaze down the rocky drops from these structures, and out upon the magnificent vistas they offer, and perhaps one can’t help but believe in God.

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