Editor’s Note: Periodically the Travelocity Roaming Gnome will interview a few of his favorite travel friends about all things travel. Please welcome them to The Window Seat.
Juliana Shallcross is the managing editor at HotelChatter, Jaunted and VegasChatter. She’s an expert on one of the Gnome’s favorite topics – hotels. From hotel openings and amenities to hotel bars and celeb sightings – she knows it all. In addition to reading her blogs you can follow Juliana on Twitter.
ROAMING GNOME: Staying in a hotel is one of my favorite things about travel. There´s something about mini shampoos, toothpaste, and soap that makes me feel at ease. Why do you love hotels so much?
JULIANA SHALLCROSS: Ooo, I love the mini hotel toiletries too! But what I really love about hotels is that each one is a different experience. Hotels today have moved way beyond just offering a nice place to sleep. Now, they go all out with interesting and diverse decor in the guestrooms, a hotel bar and restaurant you actually want to drink and eat at and really fun new services and amenities.
RG: In my travels I´ve got an eye for the special. From eco-friendly amenities to specialty services, I’m always finding something unique at various hotels. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen at a hotel lately?
JS: At the Opposite House in Beijing, they have these incredible deep-soaking tubs constructed entirely of oak. The first thing I did after checking in was start running the bath.
RG: What do you love about a mini-bar? I for one call it just a ¨bar¨…have you seen how tall I am?
JS: Truth be told, I’ll only hit up a mini-bar if I’m really desperate. I can’t stand to pay $4 for a candy bar. However, I do love it when hotels offer useful items like chapstick so you don’t have to go to make an extra trip to the drugstore. And at the Public Hotel in Chicago, they sell a scarf and a hat in the minibar in case you forgot yours.
RG: I see you have a wee one with you now. What do you look for in a hotel considering you´re now a mum?
JS: It’s all about the cribs. I refuse to travel with those bulky portable cribs (they are heavy and it’s another checked baggage fee to consider) so I will call up a hotel beforehand and ask about their crib offerings. I’m not ashamed to say that I once sent one back and asked for a different kind. And I actually booked a repeat stay at the Trump Soho, rather than try a new hotel in NYC, because I liked their cribs so much.
RG: Roomservice is the most important meal of the day – who does it best?
JS: Hmmm…a tough question as one of the most tedious parts of my job is testing room service (wink, wink.) But one room service meal that stands out for me was at Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas. Such care was put into the setup after they wheeled the table into the room and they I had to refrain from stealing the Mandarin Oriental chopsticks that came with my meal. Plus, if you don’t want to answer the door for room service, they can drop it off in this special valet box next to your door and which you can open from inside your room.
RG: What hotel do you think has the best view? It´s quite splendid to be able to see the place you´re visiting from your hotel, don´t you think?
JS: I would have to say the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, which is currently the tallest hotel in the world. You don’t even have to be a guest there, but just down a drink at their rooftop bar, Ozone, and lo and behold all of Hong Kong and Kowloon is laid out below you. But I’ve stayed in lots of rooms with great views elsewhere in the world. Just ask the hotel if there’s a room on a higher floor available.
RG: When packing what do you never leave home without? (Me – my beard conditioner!)
JS: My iPhone 4S. It takes such great pictures and I can’t NOT enter a hotel room without taking a dozen pictures. Or more. (Usually more.)