Category Archives: LODGING

Very cool 21C Museum Hotel coming to Des Moines — visited one in Bentonville, AR

121Cphoto

21C Museum Hotel, Bentonville, AR

When we visited Crystal Bridges Art Museum last fall in Bentonville, Arkansas, we were very impressed with the new 21C Museum Hotel (21C as in 21st Century)  nearby on the town square. With art installations everywhere and an upscale restaurant and bar, it felt almost like a continuation of Crystal Bridges.

Now comes word that a new development in downtown Des Moines will also have a 21C Museum Hotel. (See this Des Moines Register story click here) Can’t wait to see it!!

121cphoto2

The Hive Restaurant bar at 21C Museum Hotel in Bentonville, AR.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Arkansas, Des Moines, LODGING

High Trestle Trail with Dog/Madrid (Iowa); Picket Fence Creamery/Woodward (Iowa); Hotel Pattee/Perry (Iowa)

IMG_1078 (3)

Selfie overlooking the High Trestle Bridge

For my sister’s final day in Des Moines, we finally got half way decent weather (high 40s!, some sun!) so we took a day trip with our sweet Lab mix rescue dog Millie northwest about 40 miles to the High Trestle Trail. What a treat to have the entire bridge to ourselves on an early spring day — and always a spectacular view and surprising structure to find in the middle of Iowa. (It was recently dubbed by the BBC as one of the world’s eight spectacular foot bridges.)IMG_1109 (2)

The good news is that it’s now easier to walk to the bridge quickly along the trail, thanks to a handy sign along highway 210 just west of Madrid, Iowa that helps you clearly find the dirt road (QF Road) that leads to the trailside parking, which is about a ten-minute walk to the bridge.

We stopped at Picket Fence Creamery in nearby Woodward,Iowa and tried a little tub of ice cream and some chocolate milk (that we earlier saw being bottled in the little shop beside the dairy that is on a largely unpopulated dirt road in the country). From there we drove ten minutes further west to the Hotel Pattee which is still hanging in there (last I heard it was for sale again) and is still incredibly impressive, with one-of-a-kind rooms, each decorated with art and artifacts to honor a specific aspect of small town Iowa life. The desk clerk gave us the key to the 1913 farmhouse room but several other rooms were also open so we wandered in them as well (the southeast Asia room, the Irish room, the Russian room…unfortunately the RAGBRAI room wasn’t open)…

Anyway, the three stops made for a perfect half-day road trip from Des Moines, perfect for visitors.

Leave a comment

Filed under Agritourism, bike trails, DESTINATIONS - Iowa, DINING, LODGING

Visiting the Hotel Grinnell – Grinnell, Iowa

Hotel Grinnell: a schoolhouse turned hotel in this Iowa town

In this college town, a boutique hotel holds old schoolhouse charm.
itemprop

JIM KRUGER • PROVIDED BY HOTEL GRINNELLModern furniture meets old-school charm at Hotel Grinnell, a recently opened schoolhouse-to-hotel conversion in Grinnell, Iowa.

Leave a comment

Filed under DESTINATIONS - Iowa, LODGING

Splitting the cost of an Airbnb rental — made easier with a new “group payment option!”

Our Airbnb in Memphis

Check out the story below from Realsimple.com about a new way to pay for an Airbnb that should make it easier to share a rental with friends, which we often do.   A related issue we’ve run into: How to share the tab in locations around the world with English friends who pay with pounds while we pay with dollars – not just lodging but car rentals etc.?

The photos are from our recent Airbnb adventures!

Airbnb Is Making It Easier to Plan Your Next Group Getaway
Maybe it’s time to book that reunion with your friends?

Our Airbnb in Clarksdale, MS

By SARAH YANG November 28, 2017
Friends in a Cabin
Thomas Barwick/Getty Images
The next time you plan a vacation with a group of friends, you won’t have to worry about reminding someone to pay their share of the rental house and the inevitable awkwardness that comes along with it, all thanks to Airbnb’s newest feature. The accommodation site just launched split payments, allowing groups to pay their own portion of a reservation through Airbnb.

View from our Airbnb in Duluth

Our Airbnb in the woods outside Oxford, MS

RELATED: The Most Wished-for Airbnb in Every State

When consumers were asked what feature Airbnb should launch in 2017, one of the biggest requests was a group payment method. A recent Airbnb survey found that 79 percent of American travelers have been on multiple group trips in the last five years, but sometimes there are issues that arise when it comes to payments. About 38 percent of people reported that they were not fully paid back from a group trip, and 52 percent of travelers said they had to front $500 or more for the trip.

Our Airbnb in Albuquerque

The new split payments feature was created to solve these problems (and prevent any fights with friends). The trip organizer will request to book a listing and the reservation is put in an “awaiting payment state.” The trip organizer’s portion will be charged and others in the group will have 72 hours to pay their portion of the reservation. This new feature will only work with listings that qualify for split payments—and it will be available in 191 countries and territories and more than 44 countries.

Breakfast delivered to our Airbnb in Devon

Our Airbnb, Coconut Grove/Miami

Our Airbnb in Nashville

Leave a comment

Filed under Airbnb, LODGING

North from Bentonville through Missouri Ozarks to Kansas City and then home

After a quiet night at our airbnb in Rogers, we dropped in at the hip happening coffee shop in downtown Bentonville, Onyx, which was buzzing, on a Sunday morning no less. After a few jolts of caffeine, we drove north through Missouri, passing what seemed like many road signs advertising Jesus, guns, churches and anti-abortion.

Stopped for gas in Lamar and toured a local outlet of the “Beef Jerky Warehouse,” which had more varieties of jerky than imaginable and some interesting T-shirts. We were taken aback, while reading a little wall sign about Lamar’s history, to see a casual mention of the KKK meetings (once) held in town.
In Kansas City, where the fall colors were most spectacular, we had lunch with a favorite relative, Uncle Kenneth, on the Plaza at the Parkway Social Kitchen. Not bad. Particularly appreciated the servers, who were gentle and kind to our elderly relative, which was much appreciated. The drive home to Iowa – where the trees also have turned fiery reds, yellows and oranges during our one week away – was also uneventful.

1 Comment

Filed under Airbnb, Arkansas, Kansas City, Missouri

Shack Up Inn/Cat Head in Clarksdale, Helena/Arkansas and Hot Springs

IMG_0993

Shack up inn

IMG_1002

Hot Springs bath house

This trip has been very hit or miss, with places I am glad we went and others I could do without. Sadly Hot Springs is a miss. Haven’t been here in 28 years and it seems down at the heels and sort of spooky. We are staying at a spiffed up motor court and although the owners have done a very good job of tarting it up, the neighborhood is shabby, with a very unspiffed up motor court (Dame Fortune, which we found via airbnb) a stone’s throw away and some shuttered old hotels.  It’s also at a busy intersection so lots of loud cars and motorcycles. (I’m getting fussier in my old age…) The famous old baths downtown look faded and the crowd is a bit rough.  Dinner was at Deluca’s Pizza, which was good except for the service and the weird glamour shot photos on the walls.

 

We did have an interesting day, driving backroads through the cotton fields of the Delta and the still-dying towns. Helena, Arkansas, which I have visited twice before, is still desperately poor, although there are valiant efforts at redevelopment.

Helena chef

In a food shop downtown, a nice chef whipped us up some sauteed shrimp atop a baked potato seasons with rosemary and garlic. We ate it outside, sitting on park benches atop the levee, looking out at a loading dock on/near the Mississippi River. We drove back roads to Hot Springs…another America, Trump’s America, faded towns and worn-out  places.

The day began with a visit to the Shack Up Inn, a collection of old shotgun shacks and cotton bins converted into lodging in a field south of town. Noah and I stayed in one of the shacks almost 10 years ago. The place has grown — there’s now a suburb (“Shackville”) adjacent to the original cluster and a new funky office/store/restaurant/ music venue. A very small wedding was taking place during our visit. We also stopped in at Cat Head, a blues music and folk art store run by a passionate and very knowledge blues fan originally from Ohio. The town still looks pretty bombed out and the black neighborhood in particular is very poor but it still seems to draw lots of blues fans, especially foreigners. I was sad to hear that Rat, the kind man who owned the famous Riverside Hotel died. He gave us a very memorable tour of the hotel 10 years ago. (He was an older man then.)

We also drove through to Friars Point and Lula, two desperate towns just north of Clarksdale en route to Helena. No change there that I could see.

Leave a comment

Filed under Airbnb, Arkansas, delta, Mississippi

Greenwood, Money, Cleveland, Merigold, Clarksdale : Mississippi Delta

Great drive here from Birmingham. We took the longer more backroads route from Birmingham through Tuscaloosa back into Mississippi. It was technically maybe 2 hours longer than using the interstate but seemed much shorter because there was so much to see: one small church after another (picture a neighborhood street but lined with churches not homes); vast fields of cotton; big new McMansions, the occasional old beauty and many tumbledown shacks and trailers (although not as many as I remember from my last trip here 10 years ago).

Greenwood is a well-heeled town with an elegant looking spa hotel on the main strret, a great book store (Turn Row which I liked better than the more famous one in Oxford), an excellent local crafts/gift shop next door with excellent local pottery. We had a stylish lunch at the surprisingly sleek and contemporary Delta Bistro, which has white walls with colorful contemporary art. We ate surprisingly light  fried green tomatoes dotted with chunks of crabmeat and excellent jalapeno catfish cakes with “comeback” sauce akin to a spicy Russian dressing. The  famous Italian restaurant in town, Lusco’s, is open for dinner only. It gets rave reviews!

Heading north to the tiny town of Money, we drove over the Tallahatchie bridge (made famous by the Bobbie Gentry song) and drove past the gracious-living old home where “The Help” was filmed. (The lady at the gift shop tipped us off.). Then we stopped at an old church where blues legend Robert Johnson may be buried (“may” being the key word) and the crumbling weed-strewn wall of the remains of the drug store, Bryant’s, where the Emmett Till tragedy began. (There are very helpful historical signs in these lonesome spots).

Onto the bigger city of Cleveland where we dropped in at the famous meat market/restaurant which was setting up for what looked like a good dinner, with the tables at the opposite side of the room from the meat counter. My favorite t-shirt was in a shop next door (“Jesus loves this hot mess”) plus some “fighting okra” gear (apparently the real mascot of Delta State). (Later read that Trump has opened its first small town hotel in Cleveland. Ick.)

Next a quick stop in the worn but interesting town of Merigold where we sound the famous pottery shop (after passing by it twice) on a residential street. We were excited to find the famous juke joint Poor Monkey on the other side of Highway 61, a wooden shack with hand painted signs on the edge of a field along a tree -lined dirt road. The sign said it was open for music on Thursday only (this was a Thursday) but we soon found  out that the owner died almost exactly a year ago and the place is closed indefinitely.

Delta Bistro, Greenwood

Robert Johnson believed to be buried in Money, MS

We stayed at a remarkable airbnb in Clarksdale, an elegant old White House run by a bohemian and charming Southern belle who grew up on a “farm” nearby. (We’re guessing it was a plantation from the presumably inherited furniture and photos inside the White House.)  We stayed in  a beautiful old room with a well-appointed bed, old faded lamps, and three of four walls were windows.  The other two rooms weren’t occupied and the owners live elsewhere so we had this huge house to ourselves. The ground floor had an eccentric mix of old to-the-manor-born furnishings and contemporary art and photos of the belle during her modeling and design days in NY City.

Our loquacious host, sent us to a great place for dinner that we never would have found otherwise — Kathryn’s on the Lake, about a half hour outside of town on Moon Lake. Very unassuming on the outside, just a plain lakeside building, inside it had knotty pine walls, taxidermy, local art and red and white checked oilskin tablecloths. Clearly a favor of locals, four good old boys sat in one corner, another big family in another. The food was outstanding– steak filet, onion rings, a squash casserole, Kentucky Alexander (yes, I will be dieting when I get home) and excellent service.

At night, we went to Ground  Zero for blues. Not the best. It was open mike night and the talent was spotty but interesting to see who gave it a go. The pros on stage were good. A weathered old black guy named “razor blade”, willowy white girl playing guitar, a white middle aged guy from England also on guitar (and particularly good!) and a young black guy on drums. We were struck again by how many Europeans were there as well as some very drunk Aussies. We were hoping to go to Red’s (a more “authentic” juke joint) but it didn’t offer music on Thursday. We did find out that unlike in the past, blues can be found almost every night in Clarksdale now. The city seems to have made a concerted effort to do this, which is good news and useful for the future. Red’s, for example, has music on Wednesdays, as well as the weekend.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Airbnb, Mississippi