Walk off of New York City’s Times Square and into the Room Mate Grace Hotel and here’s some of what you’ll see on the hotel’s ground floor: a stylish lobby, a sauna, a gym, a steam room and a pool with a swim-up bar. In the morning you’ll see guests enjoying the free continental breakfast. In the evening you’ll see a DJ spinning tunes in the hotel’s low-lit lounge.
You might think that the Room Mate Grace would be among New York’s top tier expensive hotels. You’d be wrong.
“Affordable” and “Caribbean” are not necessarily contradictions in terms.
To find cool hotels, relaxing beach resorts and luxurious bed and breakfasts in the Caribbean at an affordable price try these tips:
Look at the smaller establishments. They don’t get the press the big resorts do, but they sometimes provide much better value. A good Caribbean guidebook can be an invaluable friend in finding the high value hotel gems.
Check out the less developed areas. In Jamaica, for example, there are lots of great, inexpensive hotel and resort options outside of the major Negril, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay tourist centers.
Decide what’s most important to you and try to find a hotel without a lot of frills you won’t use. If you don’t care about using a spa, for example, you can save money by staying in a resort without one.
Shop around. A superb website for finding great deals on resorts, as well as on cruises and vacation packages, is Cheap Caribbean.
And, most of all, read on. The resorts below are among Spot Cool Stuff’s favorite affordable Caribbean digs. Each has rooms in the high season for less—and in some cases much less—than $150 a night . . .
For those seeking a Caribbean experience that’s exclusive, private, nature-filled and Asian-tinged look no further than Aman’s Amanyara Resort in the Turks and Caicos.
The absolute smallest, cheapest room available is a two story suite.
Move over Las Vegas, the new new standard for resort luxury, grandiosity and audaciousness is now in Dubai. It is there, on an artificial island just off the coast, that you’ll find the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab. It is the world’s tallest hotel. And that’s only one of the world records it holds.
The Burj Al Arab is also home to the world’s fastest elevators, the world’s tallest atrium and largest aquarium. No other building in the world incorporates as much gold (the 2,000 square meters or 21,500 square feet of gold leaf!) and no other hotel has earned a seven star rating.
If you aren’t a rock star (yet) but can afford to live in rock star digs for a night or two, then the Mooghotel in Sydney, Australia, is for you.
The Mooghotel is one of the world’s great single room hotels. Though, at the Mooghotel, your “room” is a huge suite complete with your own sundeck, his-and-hers bathrooms, fully-equipped gym and two pools—a plunge pool with underwater speakers and a chill pool from which you can view flicks on your private movie screen. You can also opt for use of the hotel’s 24-hour butler service, personal assistant and chauffeured Jaguar XJR 100. Of course, being an aspiring rock star isn’t all play. And for the “work” part there’s an attached professional music recording studio.
Note that the once-next door MoogBar is now, sadly, closed.
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From the shores of Lake Malaren in Sweden, the Utter Inn looks like a bright red gardening shack stuck improbably in the middle of the lake. That visible section of the Inn includes a kitchenette and little dining area surrounded by an outdoor terrace. But what makes the Utter Inn really cool is part you can’t see from shore: the bedroom is down a ladder below the water! The sleeping quarters, submerged 3 meters (10 feet) underwater has windows with fish views on all sides.
Where serious whimsy meets serious luxury, the Hotel Monaco is a decadent, silly place ideal for fun-loving sorts who don’t mind smaller rooms and the lack of an all-out gym. All the rooms in the renovated 1910 Beaux Arts building have loads of character and include canopy beds draped in romantic fabrics and stripes. Trompe l’oeil murals, such as the cloudscape in the lobby, add a touch of magic to the hotel’s public spaces.
Most hotels would have stopped there, but the Hotel Monaco goes far beyond with dozens of tiny flourishes, such as yoga accessories, Frette robes, Aveda bath goodies, and even a goldfish of your very own for the duration of your stay. Pop down to the living room in the morning for free coffee, and in the afternoon for fresh cookies. Return later for wine, cheese, a tarot reading, and a neck rub. Take the hotel’s complimentary town car to one of the nearby shopping areas. Or free your inner rock star in the Grace Slick Suite, packed with original artwork and memorabilia from Jefferson Starship and Jefferson Airplane.
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