Make yourself at home with an apartment swap or revel in luxurious glamour and celebrate with the increasingly extravagant complimentary hotel gifts
1. Hotels with Little Extras
Hotels trying to charge for Wi-Fi these days can expect a download of complaints. Nor will own-brand toiletries do; many now expect designer amenities, free mineral water and ‘experiences’ such as museum access to come as standard. Back in the day these added extras were features of only the most luxury hotels, but these days more and more 3 and 4 star hotels are jumping on the bandwagon, realising that a freebie certainly goes a long way. My recent stay at the Macdonald Randolph Hotel in Oxford included a mortar board box of Belgian chocolates, Molton Brown toiletries and even a mini bottle of champagne! Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica treats guests to a minibar romance pack including massage oil and risqué underwear. ForteVillage Resort in Sardinia delivers local champagne and complimentary canapés to your villa. Umm… when’s the next flight?
2. Going Urban Native – Live Like A Local
More people will seek to go native, opting to stay in an apartment in the city of their choice. Websites like OneFineStay (London, New York and Rue Amadine-Paris) offer high-end, design apartments, while Love Home Swap allows you to swap your apartment with an equivalent one of someone else in over 100 cities. This trend is undoubtedly related to the tendency of the traveler’s desire to experience a real native sense of their location (Think Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet in The Holiday) This year is all about distinctive accommodation with character, shaped by local culture or customs rather than hotels where you could be anywhere.
3. Taking Luxury to a Whole New Level
The grand hotels are becoming even grander as the penchant for design hotels is replaced by a return to opulence. 2013 will see the opening of the first Shangri-La, situated between the 34th and 52nd floor of the Shard. The hotel will boast 202 bedrooms with a butler service, an infinity pool and signature wining and dining venues. Other hotels of this type to look out for in London are Edition by Marriott International and The Beaumont by Corbin and King.
This trend includes the emergence of more fashion hotels after the launch of the Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge last summer, which has operated at nearly full capacity since its opening. Building on the success of Cheval Blanc in Courchevel, watch out for LVMH’s sister resort in the Maldives and Zadig & Voltiare’s hotel in Paris.