Home

Home Travel Tips Travel Deals Destinations Trip Reviews Forums Blog
The IndependentTraveler.com Blog

Ilima Hotel Here’s the answer to last week’s “How Much Is This Hotel?” quiz. Play along with future hotel guessing games by subscribing to our blog (top right).

We have a winner! The correct answer to last week’s How Much Is This Hotel? contest is $600 per night. Jjb701, whose guess was closest without going over, has won a free IndepedentTraveler.com duffel bag.

The room pictured was the Deluxe Penthouse Waikiki Suite at the ‘Ilima Hotel, a budget-friendly property in Honolulu, located near Waikiki Beach. Prices for the Waikiki Suite range from $560 to $600 per night, but the space is enormous. There are two full kitchens, a washer and a dryer, two bathrooms, two TV’s, and a total of six beds (including a sleeper sofa). Read more about the ‘Ilima Hotel in Honolulu Essentials.

Check back this Friday for another shot at winning a prize.

– written by Caroline Costello

Every Friday, we’ll feature a photo of an unidentified hotel here, on our blog, and we want you to guess how much it costs to stay there. Leave your guess in the comments below, and you could win a prize. Get the answer in your inbox by subscribing to our blog (top right).

We’re upping the giveaway ante and offering a free IndependentTraveler.com duffel bag to whomever wins this week. Guess the maximum standard nightly rate of the hotel room pictured below. Enter your guess in the comments, and be sure to include a valid e-mail address (so we can contact you in case you win). The first person to guess closest to the price of the room — without going over — wins a full-size duffel bag. Here’s the room:



Here are three hints to help you win that bag:

-This room features two full kitchens, two bathrooms, and a washer and dryer, and sleeps up to six people.

-This hotel is located in the largest city in the 50th state to be admitted to the U.S.

-This hotel has a pool, but it’s not a beachfront property.

We’re looking for the maximum nightly price for two people as listed on the property’s Web site, excluding holidays, coupon codes or package rates. Enter your answer by Sunday night, July 10, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time to win. We’ll contact the winner and reveal the answer on Monday.

– written by Caroline Costello

Imagine jetting between the Big Apple and Big Ben in less time than it takes to watch Hollywood’s latest blockbuster.

It’s not just a pie-in-the-sky dream. Check out the prototype for a new business jet called the SonicStar, which could reach speeds up to 2,664 miles per hour, reports the U.K.’s Daily Mail. Designed by a company called HyperMach, the jet would fly twice as fast as the Concorde, paring the journey between New York and London down to a measly two hours. Even better, that vacation-eating flight from New York to Sydney — which currently takes 20 hours or more with connections — would take just five hours on the new aircraft.

sonicstar jet hypermach design



sonicstar jet hypermach design


The SonicStar will use sophisticated engine technology to eliminate any potential sonic boom over land, reduce aerodynamic drag and cut jet emissions by 100 percent, according to the HyperMach Web site.

The design for the new jet made a splashy debut at the recent Paris Air Show, but you won’t be seeing this pointy-nosed plane at airports anytime soon; it’s not slated to launch until June 2021. And with only 20 seats onboard, you can bet that SonicStar tickets will cost quite a pretty penny.

At least we’ve got the next decade to start saving. In the meantime, you can prepare for that 15-hour slog to Sydney or Singapore with our 10 Ways to Survive a Long-Haul Flight.

– written by Sarah Schlichter

computer vacationIs your obsession with the “Real Housewives” franchise interfering with your hygiene? Has your spouse ever referred to your Blackberry as “that tramp”? Do your travel photos consist mostly of images of you posting travel photos to Facebook? If you answered “yes,” a digital detox package could help.

According to the Wall Street Journal, legions of hotels are offering digital detox packages to cure gadget-obsessed guests of their technology addictions. These packages encourage travelers to dump their smartphones, laptops and other vestiges of modernity in the lap of the hotel concierge (or, in a less dramatic move, to just leave them at home), in exchange for certain perks.

How do the hotels manage to wrench perfectly good iPads out from under the restless thumbs of wired travelers? They sweeten the transaction with discounts — and the occasional copy of “Anna Karenina.” Writes the WSJ, “Typically, they ask travelers to surrender their electronic devices upon check-in. In return, concierges provide them with old-fashioned diversions, from board games to literary classics. (Most, but not all, also yank TV sets and telephones from ‘detox’ rooms.)”

Here’s an example: The Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel is offering a special promotional rate for guests who turn over their electronic gizmos at check-in. The hotel’s “Zen and the Art of Detox” package includes accommodations and kayaking lessons for nightly rates starting at $199. Before you get to your room, the hotel staff will remove the TV, phone and iHome dock station, and replace such contraband with “literary classics.” If you leave the hotel during your stay, a staff member will follow you and pelt you with Jane Austen novels whenever you come within 500 yards of an Apple store or a Starbucks with an Internet connection.

Are we so obsessed with megapixels and apps that we need someone to drag the flat-screen out of the hotel room and confiscate our phones before we can relax?

I must add, removing the phone from the hotel room could be a safety hazard. If someone breaks in or you choke on your dinner, how do you call for help? Are you supposed to ring some kind of antique service bell? I suggest bending the rules a bit and smuggling an extra smartphone into your room in case of emergency. (Try baking it into a cake — this seems to work in prison movies.)

What’s your take? Would you book a digital detox vacation package, or is this kind of thing just a silly marketing ploy?

– written by Caroline Costello

waiter plates server restaurantEvery Wednesday, we’ll feature one practical travel tip here, on our blog. Get our clever weekly tips and other travel resources in your inbox by subscribing to our blog (top right) or signing up for our newsletter.

Your burger is cold, the service is sluggish and your gum-chewing waitress snaps your head off when you ask for extra ketchup. When you have a restaurant experience this bad, is it ever okay to show your displeasure by stiffing your server on the tip?

That’s the question we asked Lizzie Post, the great-great-granddaughter of famous etiquette expert Emily Post, in an interview about all things tipping. Here’s her take:

“You should never let your money talk for you. If you get good service, in addition to leaving a good tip, you would want to thank your server, bellboy, etc. When it goes the other way, you still should leave the customary 15 percent. If you had horrendous service and it was the service provider’s fault, some people might go as low as 10 percent. But we suggest that you leave 15 percent and then immediately speak to a manager to express your dissatisfaction. Say that you’re unhappy with how you were treated and that you’re reluctant to return after such an experience. That will speak volumes to a manager.”

The idea of paying someone for lousy service is anathema to some travelers, but personally, I’m with Post on this one. Waitstaff, bellhops and other people in the service industry depend on tips to supplement paltry salaries — and I rarely get upset enough over poor service to harm someone’s livelihood. Besides, speaking with a manager is arguably more effective than withholding a tip; he or she has the authority to encourage better behavior or take action against the server if necessary. Finally, remember that tips are sometimes pooled among multiple members of the staff (such as busboys or bartenders), so in stiffing your waiter you could also be penalizing people who did nothing wrong.

You can read the rest of our interview with Lizzie Post in Tipping Etiquette: A Guide for Travelers.

Do you leave a tip for lackluster service? Vote in our poll!



– written by Sarah Schlichter

parisEvery Tuesday, we’ll feature the best travel bargain we’ve seen all week right here, on our blog. Be the first to find out which deals make the cut by subscribing to our blog (top right) or signing up for our weekly deals newsletter.

The Deal: Hotels.com is offering discounts of as much as 60 percent on select properties around the world. But this deal won’t be available for long. The offer is on the table for 48 hours only and, given that the countdown clock started this morning (we’re being literal here — there’s an actual countdown clock on the Hotels.com home page), your 48-hour window has already shrunk a bit.

Now that you feel sufficiently rushed, let’s take a closer look at how much you can save. We spotted some big markdowns in this 48-hour sale, including half-off prices at Sole on the Ocean, a beachfront Miami property, and 60 percent off accommodations at two Parisian hotels, Hotel Magenta Paris and Hotel Cervantes Paris.

The Catch: Watch out for minimum stay requirements at some of the hotels, like that beachside Miami spot we mentioned a few sentences ago (you must stay four or more nights to get the 50 percent discount).

The Competition: We found a few offers lurking in our hotel deals that come close to matching the discounts offered in the Hotels.com 48-hour sale. Starwood Hotels is offering half-off second-night stays at select hotels in the U.S. and abroad, and Wyndham is serving up a similar deal, with 50 percent off second-night stays at select properties across the globe.

Find these bargains and more money-saving offers in our Hotel Deals.

– written by Caroline Costello

Editor’s Note: IndependentTraveler.com is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, an operating company of Expedia, Inc. Expedia, Inc. also owns Hotels.com.

 Swan House Historic Dupont Circle InnHere’s the answer to last week’s “How Much Is This Hotel?” quiz. Play along with future hotel guessing games by subscribing to our blog (top right).

We have a winner! The correct answer to last week’s How Much Is This Hotel? contest is $375 a night. With his guess of $358, Ron has won an IndependentTraveler.com T-shirt.

The room pictured in Friday’s post is the Serengeti Suite at the Swan House Historic Dupont Circle Inn in Washington D.C. The Serengeti Suite features two separate bedrooms and a living room with a working fireplace. Located in D.C.’s Dupont Circle neighborhood, the Swan House Inn offers complimentary hot breakfast and free Wi-Fi, and has an outdoor swimming pool. Read more about the Swan House Inn in Washington D.C. Essentials.

Check back this Friday for another shot at winning a prize!

– written by Caroline Costello

Every Friday, we’ll feature a photo of an unidentified hotel here, on our blog — and we want you to guess how much it costs to stay there. Leave your guess in the comments below, and you could win a prize. Get the answer in your inbox by subscribing to our blog (top right).

Who will be the next fortunate soul to win an IndependentTraveler.com T-shirt? Is it you? Guess the maximum standard nightly rate of the hotel room pictured below. Enter your guess in the comments, and be sure to include a valid e-mail address (so we can contact you in case you win). With a nod to “The Price Is Right,” we’ve added this condition: the first person to guess closest to the price of the room — without going over — wins a free IndependentTraveler.com T-shirt. Here’s the room:



Here are three little hints to boost your chances:

-This room features one bedroom with a queen-size bed and a second bedroom with a full-size bed. The room can accommodate up to four people.

-This hotel is centrally located in the city where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

-This hotel has a pool, and breakfast is included in the rate.

We’re looking for the maximum nightly price for two people as listed on the property’s Web site, excluding holidays, coupon codes or package rates. Enter your answer by Monday night, July 4, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time to win. We’ll contact the winner and reveal the answer on Tuesday.

– written by Caroline Costello