For just $130 on Jetsetter, a night at the Villa Olmi resort near Florence can be yours. Midweek, you can check-in to the two-story Lanai suite at the Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas and still have change for $1000. Any amateur, on almost any budget, can spend a night in a nice hotel and feel like royalty.
But to truly experience the freedom that hotel living affords — freedom from utility bills and cable repair men and mortgage payments and the depressing monotony of being stuck in the same place for months on end — you really need to become a full-time hotel dweller. And for the past five years, that’s exactly how I’ve lived.
Through a combination of currency games, using long stays to avoid room taxes and constantly moving to wherever the best off-season deals are to be found, I’ve been able to live permanently in hotels for less (on average) than I used to pay to rent my London apartment. During that time, I’ve stayed in everything from crappy motels to five star spas, from Reno to Reykjavik, and I’ve come to appreciate those places that combine the service and luxury of hotels with the comfort of home. Here are five of my favourites…
Palihouse, Los Angeles, CA (From $250pm)
One of the very few hotels I could happily spend an entire year in, Palihouse Holloway in Los Angeles caters specifically to hotel dwellers. Rooms the size of small loft apartments complete with full kitchens, staff who remember your name from the start, and a location right in the heart of West Hollywood (five minutes from the more expensive, less relaxing Chateau Marmont and Sunset Marquis) — if you’re spending more than a week in town, there is literally no better home-instead-of-home.
Dukes, London, UK (From $500pn)
For those of us who worry that London hotels have forgotten the meaning of service, Dukes is a tonic. Tucked away in a private St James’ courtyard, you’ll enjoy well appointed, classically decorated rooms and pitch-perfect service that’s fit for — well — a Duke. And, for central London, $500 is a genuine bargain; you’d pay the same amount to stay in the W.
Glenmere Mansion, Chester, NY (From $550)
As the name suggests, Glenmere Mansion is more akin to a house — a really big house — than a hotel. The privately-owned mansion has just 18 guest bedrooms, each of which is designed to evoke a grand private residence, with all of the comfort and personal service that suggests. A particular joy is the library, stocked with everything from classic literature to treatises on the art of slapstick comedy.
Huntington, San Francisco, CA (From $190)
Perched high on top of Nob Hill, the Huntington is the grandest, most old-school hotel experience in a city famed for its grand, old-school hotels. The rooms have big living areas and spectacular views of the city — and my spa-loving friends tell me the Nob Hill Spa can reset a year’s worth of stress in a couple of hours.
Four Seasons, Las Vegas, NV (From $179)
Las Vegas is a hotel-lover’s Disneyland but most hotels, particularly on the strip, are better suited to partying than recuperating. Not so the Four Seasons: hidden amid the upper floors of the Mandalay Bay hotel, but with all the feel of a luxury spa; a million miles from Sin City. The hotel’s Verandah restaurant — particularly its outdoor patio — offers my favourite dining in the city.