New Kid on the Block

Trendy New Lodging in Greater Cincinnati

Feeling Refined @ Hotel Covington

I’m back!  First a quick shout out to my fantastic guest bloggers – my very own parents, Jack & Linda, and fellow OHLAer, Christi.  When you surround yourself with other people that love travel, it’s never an issue finding people that want to share their experiences when you’re out discovering the world!  In the next few posts I’ll be scattering amazing photos and stories from our anniversary trip to Europe among posts from around our great state.  To kick off my return, I want to share with you one of my favorite new hotels.  Sadly, it isn’t in Ohio, but it’s so close you can smell the bourbon wafting from its bar, you can feel the luxurious furs adorning its lobby and rooms and you can see the sparkle across the river, glittering from the chandeliers…I present to you the fabulous Hotel Covington located just across the river, within Greater Cincinnati in the town of Covington, KY.

Trendy New Boutique Lodging in Greater CincinnatiThe Hotel Covington is an example of my favorite type of hotel formula – historic space with luxury, modern amenities. If you haven’t been, downtown Covington,  has lots of great old buildings and the Hotel Covington is no exception. This building was the state’s first modern skyscraper and high-end department store.  If you didn’t know this going into the lobby you might have had an inkling – you’ll find touches of the past swept into the decor, including my favorite – a blinged-out manikin bust is the main focus of a floating wall full of fashion related knick-knacks, dividing the front desk area and the lounge.

If you’re like me, as soon as you’ve see sparkly things your eyes start to wonder, looking for more.  The public space is full of reminders of luxury – from the furs draping chairs and window seats to the immaculate lighting fixtures throughout the lobby and dining areas.  The bar sits dominantly in the center of the first floor, wrapped in dark woods with shining bottles of bourbon lining its shelves.  One of my favorite pieces on the entire first floor is the ode to our region, penned by Kentucky native, Jesse Stuart,

“If these United States are to be considered a body, then Ohio would be its Heart and Kentucky its Soul.”

Trendy New Boutique Lodging in Greater Cincinnati



So let’s step into the elevator and head upstairs, because the guestrooms are just as impressive.  I opened my door and the first thing I noticed was the floor. It’s not too often you’re greeted with

Trendy New Boutique Lodging in Greater Cincinnati

such fantastic entry flooring in a hotel room. The room was decorated in rich blues, grays and tans.  I was INN LOVE. At this point, it has been a very long day, and all I wanted to do was curl up in that amazing looking bed, but there were so many intricate details, I couldn’t close my eyes now!  The trash can was gold and looked like a

Trendy New Boutique Lodging in Greater Cincinnati

shopping bag; the shelves were lined with interesting local books and games; the hangers (!) had cute phrases like “simply lovely” and “hello handsome.”  I headed to the bathroom and was greeted by one of my favorite pieces of bathroom art (pictured below)- right up there with the wet dog photo at the Kimpton Schoefield in Cleveland. This piece is a picture of Cincinnati’s Roebling Suspension Bridge and it reads, “Sorry, Brooklyn, I was first.” (John Roebling built Cincinnati’s Roebling Suspension Bridge in 1866 making it the time’s longest suspension bridge, which came almost 20 years before his son built the nearly structurally identical Brooklyn Bridge.)

I wish on this particular trip I would’ve had more time to check out some of my favorites nearby Hotel Covington – the famous Mac n’ Cheese at Keystone Bar & Grill or a sip of that fine Kentucky spirit at the Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar. But I guess this just means… I’ll have to go back!

Trendy New Boutique Lodging in Greater Cincinnati

 “People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck



PNW is Love.

Seattle, Washington view from Space Needle

Guess who is back on InnLove? You guessed it! Christi!

This time we will be traveling to the West Coast, my favorite, but more specifically, the PNW! First stop, Seattle, Washington, a city filled with Ferry Boats, evergreens and rain. Let me just start off by saying this was my first time in Seattle and I had a HUGE list of things I wanted to see and do in the 1 day I had to spend there. NOT. ENOUGH. TIME. I will be going back to venture throughout Washington and the National Parks.

Things I recommend if you have never been to Seattle:gum wall at Pike Place Market Seattle Washington

WALK! I recommend this because you can hit up so many places you wouldn’t even see if driving. You should definitely take in the touristy areas: Pike Place Market (where you can find the Original Starbucks! Opened in 1971. Don’t tell anyone but I didn’t want to stand in line, I just went to the Starbucks across the street. You can also find a place called Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. Go in! and eat the Mac and Cheese, even if you are lactose intolerant, just do it! Pike Place Market you can plan to spend hours at just taking it all in.), The Space Needle at Seattle Center (if you get the chance, eat at SkyCity Restaurant, if not, just head on up to the Observation Deck and take in the sights of Seattle from 520 feet up! It was windy for sure, but I captured picture after picture and even had a glass a wine at the top.) and the Seattle Great Wheel (for a different viewpoint of the city).

Seattle, Washington view from Space Needle

I hope you have more time than I did to take in all the unique and beautiful things that make Seattle great, but I was on to my next destination as quickly as I arrived. PORTLAND, OREGON. Now this is a place that has captured my heart.White Stag Sign - Portland, Oregon sign

Let me just start off by saying, I was like a little giggly girl on my drive from Seattle to Portland! WATERFALLS, MORE EVERGREENS, MOUNTAINS, OH MY! This girl was InnLove and the giggling did not stop until I arrived at the airport for my flight home… 5 days later. I just love Portland. This however was not my first time in Portland.

I picked up a friend (Lauren) at the airport and then we were off to explore! On this trip, we got a fill of all different types of hospitality. From the great customer service at the Courtyard Portland City Center, to the extra-large room and cookies at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Portland- Beaverton, and my all-time favorite, Caravan- The Tiny House Hotel!

The Caravan Tiny House Hotel Tandem Portland, Oregon

The Caravan- The Tiny House Hotel- Let me just start off by saying WOW. If you ever find yourself in Portland in the Alberta Arts District, find this place and stay in it! But you must book in advance because they are a popular commodity. If you don’t get the chance to stay, go take a tour! This is the COOLEST little community of 6 tiny houses! We stayed in The Tandem, a beautiful 160 sq. ft. tiny house with a homey, comfortable vibe and any amenity you may need for your stay! The other tiny houses are The Caboose, Pacifica, Rosebud, Skyline and Kangablue. All have their own unique look and design but from the outside, I found the Pacifica breathtaking with its stained glass and unique cedar-shingled exterior! I plan to return and try to stay in it or one of the others. They even had outside seating and a fire pit with a SMORE STATION. People, let me tell you, they thought of it all. Such a unique and memorable experience.

The Caravan Tiny House Hotel Portland, Oregon

While you’re in the Alberta Arts District, make sure to make your way to Pine State Biscuits (although there are multiple locations around Portland besides this one, but if you see a line don’t hesitate to wait! You won’t regret it.), Salt and Straw (which most likely will also have a line) or stop by The Bye and Bye and sit Pine State Biscuits- Portland, Oregonon the patio for a tasty cocktail and a comfortable vibe. While I love me some Portland in general, Alberta Arts District is a favorite for certain.

Kells Irish pub Portland, OregonDowntown is where you will find the newly renovated Courtyard Portland City Center where we spent two nights of our trip. The staff was exceptionally helpful, the décor and art fantastic, the beds cozy, and the location was in walking distance to everything. March 17… Some of you may know what this was this year, St. Patty’s Day! My friend Lauren loves St. Patty’s Day and wanted to get a traditional Portland St. Patrick’s Day experience, so we found our way to Kells Irish Pub! If you happen to find yourself in Portland, Oregon on St. Patty’s Day 2018, go to Kells. Luckily, we had insider scoop to go early and stake out a table because the place got PACKED. It was such an awesome atmosphere and there was no need to worry about having too much green on. The Irish in me came out when Beglan & Murray would play their traditional Irish songs (I find them fascinating) and I even got up for a quick dance with the Irish Dancers. The whole thing was an experience I won’t forget, I was even reunited with the same Kells’ Bagpipers 2 days later at my 15k Shamrock Run 15k Portland, OregonShamrock Run! (Of course I had to plan a trip around a race and this was a hell of a one to choose, we ran up a mountain. I honestly don’t know why I was surprised though.)

Nike campus Beaverton, Oregon

You may have guessed March 17, but I’m sure many of you don’t know what March 18 happened to be. I bet you won’t guess… National Corndog Day, which was started in 1992 in Oregon! We had the chance to experience firsthand an Oregon Corndog Day party with lots of March Madness and Nike galore. (speaking of Nike, if you ever get the chance to tour the “campus” it is spectacular! I mean what other company has a slide coming off of their second-floor parking garage, Nike does!)

Of course, I could go on and on. But I’ll leave you with a few of these other hits in and around Portland area: Voodoo Donuts! Powell’s City of Books! (If I were a store, I’d be Powell’s, 100%.) Tax Free Shopping! (So much shopping, but Boys’ Fort had a wide range of unique gifts.) Many, many parks and sights! (Forest Park, Mt. Tabor, Washington Park and Pittock Mansion were a few we took in. Those views though.) Golden Valley Brewery! (Of course, there are a bazillion in and around Portland but this is one of my favorites in Beaverton) Jim and Patty’s Coffee! (try the hipsters delight) Helvetia Tavern! (for a delicious burger and a beer) The bridges! The waterfront and waterfalls! And the White Stag Portland Sign!

Lastly, if you get the chance, drive out to the coast to Cannon Beach. If you are like me and love the outdoors, it is sure to be a trip you won’t forget! So beautiful.

View of Portland from Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”


Adult Spring Break!

Have you tried Florida without the usual mouse ears? This guest blogger likes to be off the grid just a bit and wear a floppy hat in search of treasures that are off the proverbial beaten path. Florida has some hidden gems that we have visited before and have been rewarded with a previous guest discount and very friendly front desk agents. Join me, Linda Runion (Halle’s mom!) and my husband Jack, as we discover a different kind of Florida!

Let’s fly to Tampa and take the drive across the bay to Treasure Island and visit a few of our favorites spots there. The Thunderbird Beach Resort is right across the short causeway onto Treasure Island. This delightful retro hotel is a throwback to yesteryear with more of the amenities of today. We especially enjoyed sitting by the sprawling swimming pool, enjoying pina coladas or a bottle of wine, watching the sun set as the strains of pop and island music surround us from the musician at the adjacent tiki hut. The rooms here are clean and spacious with a small refrigerator and the television set to the webcam scene overlooking the shimmering pool with the ocean just beyond. Change the station only if you must!

Like our daughter, we love breakfast, and the best breakfast on the island can be found out at Shrimpy’s Blues Bistro. They serve breakfast starting at 9am and ordering a beverage whether it is a Bloody Mary or cup of coffee will get you a fresh beignet first thing in the morning. Try The Bourdain or the Beach Benny. If dinner is calling you, The Pearl, a family owned and operated restaurant is just across the street from Shrimpy’s and the food and service are excellent. If you have your dancing shoes on, Ricky T’s is within walking distance of the Thunderbird and live music is on tap every evening.

A bit of a drive north, Dunedin is a magical town full of music, arts, shops, food and the oldest brewery in Florida. The Dunedin Brewery serves lunch and dinner along with its craft beers. Do check out their live music schedule as it is the place to be in Dunedin in the evening. There is lovely outdoor market, the Dunedin Downtown Market, to check out on Fridays and Saturdays over the winter months where you will find produce, unique crafts and more.

We are repeat guests at The Palm Court Motel in Dunedin, an old style place to rest with retro chairs at each door, a swimming pool and an egret who walks door to door every morning. The Palm Court Motel has bicycles available for $5 for your stay that can be taken on the lovely Pinellas Trail out to Honeymoon Island State Park

Time for breakfast? Kelly’s has unique twists on Eggs Benedict and French Toast with enthusiastic servers. A final spot to visit nearby is the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary where you will be up close and personal with monkeys, orangutans and a television celebrity bird.


Safe travels! Cheers!





Birthday Fit for a Foodie

The Top - Columbus

The Top – Columbus

I love birthdays.  Ask anyone near and dear to my heart, I go over the top.  At least in my line of work, we’re about the customer and for my customers (hotels) we’re all about the guest. We’re in the service industry. We live to serve and we love to serve.  So you know what? When someone gets to have a day for it to be about them – they should enjoy it!  So, let’s just say my standards and expectations around birthdays are high, but the good news is, I’m easy to please.  This past week it was my birthday and my husband and family and friends had their work cut out for them. Good news, everyone! They showed up to the table – figuratively and literally. Let’s dive in. I hope you’re hungry…

My first birthday meal was at Hudson 29.  If you’ve lost track of all of the fabulous Cameron Mitchell Restaurants in Columbus, it’s OK, that’s what I’m here for – jot this one down.   This is a relatively new restaurant to Columbus, and if you haven’t checked out the Upper Arlington (or New Albany!) location yet, what are you waiting for?  I’ve been a few times, but it’s a great go-to for a work lunch or a nice dinner with friends.  There is free parking, a massive bar and delicious food. Even at a birthday lunch, if it’s during the work day, salad is my go-to.  Yes, it’s partially because I’m a health nut, but it’s more so that I don’t end up with my head on my desk by 2PM snoring away. I love their Arugula Salad (add chicken!!) and always order a side of shoestring fries. I convinced my lunch mates that my backup option is the Black Bean Burger and they should try it. Don’t worry readers, I LOVE BEEF.  But one time, a server here convinced me to try the Black Bean Burger and it was amazing. Definitely one of my top lunch meals, so I had to share the love. After we wrapped up lunch, we were easily convinced to try an order of the Pineapple Upside-Down Donuts. Good choice.

That evening, my sweet husband who admitted defeat early on in the baking department, lined up a fabulous cake from Piece of Cake in the Short North.  I have had cake from there before, but this one was sublime.  Loaded with fresh strawberries and a perfectly sweet icing, this was a favorite of our party guests!

What birthday wouldn’t be complete without days of delicious food?  First thing Saturday morning, we were off to try a new brunch spot.  Rockmill Brewery out of Lancaster, OH recently opened Rockmill Tavern in the Columbus Brewery District.  We have tried multiple times to get in for dinner to no avail, but apparently Columbus hasn’t discovered the brunch menu there yet and I am sooo glad!  We showed up with a group of 7 and they were able to accommodate us. Oh the choices!  I finally narrowed it down to the Egg in a Biscuit (half order) and the Parfait. My sister selected the Veggie Toast, which she kindly shared with me.  Everything we ordered was phenomenal and the prices were super reasonable.

After a full belly we headed to one of Columbus’ premier events the Arnold Sports Festival. Believe it or not, you get hungry just watching all of these athletes compete.  We headed over to one of our favorite Short North hangouts for a late lunch – Bakersfield.  Really, this birthday girl needed some guac – ASAP. If you haven’t been to Bakersfield you need to go.  It’s a Cincinnati restaurant, so I was already familiar with it when it finally made its way to Columbus.  They are most known for their tacos and chips and guac, but personally, I’m a huge fan of their Johnny salad with you guessed it! chicken.  I know, I know, salad AGAIN! But here’s the thing.  I knew what lied ahead for the evening and I needed to pace myself.

For my official birthday dinner I had to go to the top of my list. No, seriously. THE TOP… Steak House! I love this place.  TJ and I recently discovered it during restaurant week and it’s quickly become a fave.  You can’t find an atmosphere like this anywhere else. Built in 1955, The Top sits on the invisible fence of Bexley & Whitehall.  Too many martinis and wandering outside, and you might find yourself next to some interesting people, but once you’re inside, it’s magical.  Most importantly, the food is incredible.  The steaks are always cooked to perfection and the service – top notch. On this particular night, the pianist must not have gotten the memo it was my birthday, because he didn’t show, but typically there is live music and an active bar scene.  Luckily, the waitress knew it was my birthday and made sure to finish the night with my favorite dessert – crème brûlée.

All in all, I’d say this was a very fulFILLING birthday.  Great food doesn’t usually pass me by, and I hope you don’t let it pass you by either.  Get to one of these places quick before everyone finds out our little secrets!

The Best Guacamole @ Bakersfield

The Best Guacamole @ Bakersfield

 “People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck



What’s in a Brand? Doubling Down

Understanding the Hilton family of Brands - DoubleTrees & Ohio Lodging

Have you ever thought to yourself while traveling – “ooohhh, this is a…{insert brand here} Hilton?!”  Sometimes I take for granted my vast and probably useless knowledge of hotel brands and families. If you’ve jumped on the brand loyalty programs, you probably have a better knowledge of the different brands within, say, Hilton, ChoiceIHG or Marriott (now includes Starwood!), but I’m surprised sometimes how little the consumer understands about a family of brands, so let’s talk about it!

In the past week(ish) I have spent 3 days in 2 DoubleTrees by Hilton.  It was in that time that I realized – these two hotels are both vastly different from each other. Don’t get me wrong, one of the benefits of a brand is the consistency a consumer can expect in service and quality. But it’s kind of cool when they’re unique, ya know?  Granted, that isn’t for everyone. I know some people that travel a lot like to feel like they’re “home” and the layout, rooms, etc., are identical from city to city. Don’t worry, Hilton has a brand for that too!

The first time I specifically realized I was at a DoubleTree I was a kid. This particular visit was in Nashville. The hotel there has a strange entrance.  If I remember correctly, you come in at street level, but need to go up a floor to get to the lobby. I walked up to the desk to check in with my dad.  After the check-in process, the front desk associate leaned over  and handed me a warm, delicious-smelling paper bag.  I was confused at first, but then it hit me! I looked at my dad and said, “Dad!  They do this at the Hotel Roanoke!” To which my dad, the wise traveler he is, said, “Yes sweetie, that’s because it’s a DoubleTree.”  This was my ah-ha moment whenI realized, at a young age, that not all hotels are equal. It didn’t look like the Hotel Roanoke, it didn’t feel like the Hotel Roanoke, but it sure smelled like the Hotel Roanoke – warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies at check-in – the signature DoubleTree move.

Fast forward to my life in the industry and now I understand a bit more about families of brands.  What I like about the DoubleTree brand is it used to be the solution for independent or unique properties that sought out a flagship.  And when it isn’t a branded, former independent hotel, they’re still unique. I learned recently that DoubleTree is the “conversion” brand for Hilton and this is why they are rarely alike.  Hilton will often convert and renovate a property and make it a DoubleTree. That explains a lot!

In Cleveland, I stayed at a massive DoubleTree with lots of event space.  There were standbys of the

Understanding the Hilton family of Brands - DoubleTrees & Ohio Lodging

SweatSesh @ DoubleTree CLE Beachwood

brand- nice gyms (my favorite treadmill made an appearance!) , the chocolate chip cookies and service Hilton stands behind.  But this hotel had a really cool copper (looking, at least) wall in the lobby dividing the lounge space from the hallways.  The restaurant, The Sanctuary, featured a fireplace and great, cozy seating. The following week, I spent two days back-to-back at a DoubleTree in Columbus.  The cookies and service were there, but not the copper wall! Instead, the wall separating the front desk from the atrium was a water feature.  This hotel lobby is enormously different

Understanding the Hilton family of Brands - DoubleTrees & Ohio Lodging

Bringing the Outside In @ DoubleTree Cbus Worthington

than the first, with a large elevated seating area in the middle of the hotel surrounded by big beautiful trees, making you feel like you’re outside. Both properties featured expansive courtyards, but on these particular days, I was avoiding a

typical Ohio-winter day.  These two properties had minor differences, despite the name, but some DoubleTrees have more noticeable uniqueness.

I wrote about the Hotel Roanoke a few months ago – it started as an independent, historic property and became a DoubleTree when I was a kid.  Eventually it dropped the DoubleTree flag, made a brief stint as an independent hotel again and eventually picked up the new Hilton boutique brand – Curio.  Some unique hotels, however, still rock the DoubleTree name, such as the historic Tudor Arms in Cleveland.  I haven’t had the chance yet to visit the Tudor Arms, but look forward to the opportunity – stay tuned!

If you’re still not sure what counts as a Hilton, check out their website to spot some of your favorites.  Here are some of mine: Hilton, Waldorf Astoria, DoubleTree, Hilton Garden Inn, & Curio, and I can’t wait to see the new Tapestry brand!

Understanding the Hilton family of Brands - DoubleTrees & Ohio Lodging

 “People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck