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.
Welcome to the Chrome Zone.
That’s not the title of a science fiction movie (that we know of). It’s what you’ll hear when you walk into Google’s first retail store1. It’s located not in the vacinity of Google’s California headquarters, as one might expect, but across the pond in London.
The store is named such because its featured product is the Google Chromebook notebook computer. (The notebook computers are named such because they run the Chrome operating system.)
Reportedly, Google is modeling their retail strategy after Apple. Some of the larger, flashier Apple stores have become destinations in themselves. Go to their store in Shanghai or on Fifth Avenue in New York City, for example, and you’ll see tourists from the world over snapping photos of themselves in front of large, glass-encased Apple logos. So how does the Chrome Zone in London compare to those cool shopping experiences?
One day you’re in. The next day you’re out.
Heidi Klum’s golden rule of Project Runway fashion is also the reality for the characters that comprise signs. One day you are an L or an R proudly pointing the way towards an attraction along with your fellow letters. The next day you are discarded.
Usually old signs end up in landfills or incinerators. But an especially lucky, and especially artistic, few have their letters go on display in museums. There people look at them not for any direction they can provide but for the works of art that they are.
Here’s a review of Spot Cool Stuff’s favorite unusual typography museums:
Take a modern, stylish boutique hotel. Then automate its check-in process. Then shrink down its rooms. Then place this hotel inside the terminal of a busy airport. What you’ll get as your result is Yotel—Spot Cool Stuff’s favorite chain of airport-only accommodations.
The Longcroft Hotel, north of London, features fine gourmet dining. Its staff provides five-star service. Every room in the hotel is suite—rates are as low as £15 per night! And if you are reading this you are absolutely not allowed to stay there.
That’s because the Longcroft Hotel is for cats only.
There's a hand-carved (!) carousel, 18-hole mini golf course, Kool-Aid waterfall, gourmet fudge shop, vintage toy museum, huge children's book selection, llama petting zoo, puppet shows and, oh yeah, you can also buy toys.
It’s a tough job but someone has to take on the task of finding the world’s best toy stores. So Spot Cool Stuff assigned ourselves.
Here’s a look at our favorite shops for indulging your kids—and your inner child:
Airport hotels have got a bad name. You might have spent the night in a soulless concrete box by the tarmac, its hallways lined by hollow-eyed passengers en route to a better place. But it doesn’t have to be like that. The next time you’ve got a stopover between connecting flights, you can spend the night in heavenly comfort at one of these luxurious airport hotels. You might be tempted to book a room even if you aren’t using the airport!
The Villa Pisani maze is the world’s most difficult to solve. Napoleon himself is among those who have been flummoxed by it.
The world “mazerific” is thrown around a lot these days. But we’ve found eight mazes that really are superlative, either for their size, history or quirky features.
Check out our review below . . . and try not to get lost along the way.