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An Island Oasis Bed and BreakfastHere’s the answer to last week’s “How Much Is This Hotel?” quiz. Play along with future hotel quizzes by subscribing to our blog.

We have a winner! The correct answer to last week’s How Much Is This Hotel? contest is $189 per night. Michele Peters, whose guess of $175 was closest to the price of the room without going over, has won an IndependentTraveler.com neck pillow.

The room pictured was the King Room at an Island Oasis Bed and Breakfast in Key West, Florida. This charming mansion, which was built in the 1930’s, is nestled among palm trees and tropical gardens in the center of town. At an Island Oasis, location is key. Duval Street and the beach are just a short walk from the property. Read more about an Island Oasis Bed and Breakfast in Key West Weekend Getaways.

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.

What’s the price of a hotel room in tropical paradise? 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 an IndependentTraveler.com travel neck pillow. Here’s the room:



Here are three little hints to help you win:

-This hotel is located about a block from the ocean in a popular South Florida beach destination.

-This room features a king-size bed, a sitting area and free Wi-Fi.

-This property has an outdoor pool, and breakfast is included in the rates.

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, November 6, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time to win. We’ll contact the winner and reveal the answer on Monday.

– written by Caroline Costello

assistance ahead “Did you notice the crust?” This is not a question one wants to hear when talking hotel rooms. But it’s posed with utter giddiness when one is in room number 27 at the Roxbury in New York’s Catskills region; for this is “Mary Ann’s Coconut Cream Pie” room, a flamboyant space with a faux-meringue ceiling, a round bed and a hint of coconut in the air.

It’s the newest addition at the Roxbury, where room designs riff on movies and T.V. — Jeannie’s bottle, Charlie’s Angels, Maria’s curtains from “The Sound of Music.” You can book a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”-inspired blue jewel box of a room, or stay in the grander Wizard’s Jewels room, with its yellow glass floor tiles, mural of poppies and ruby-slippered feet sticking out from under the bed pillows.

Bizarre Requests from Hotel Guests

It sounds zanier than it is. The Roxbury is big on style and comfort; it is not a hyperactive theme-park experience. From the nice toiletries to the bowl of wasabi peanuts at reception, the owners’ loving attention to detail is palpable. The proprietors are a pair of New York City refugees who took a gamble on a downtrodden roadside motel, transforming a den of disrepair into a cozy place to rest your inner Fred Flintstone.

It may seem like a radical juxtaposition — a place that unabashedly embraces lime green and meringue ceilings amid placid Roxbury, population 2,500. Yet the motel sits harmoniously here, beside a trout stream with a barn in spitting distance. In the stairwell, one of the first things I notice is the huge chandelier made of what looks like a thousand neon orange drinking straws. It does not seem wrong.

The charm is in the details: chocolates, fresh flowers. Munch fancy soy crisps in the glittery spa ($20 per person for unlimited visits during your stay), or pepperoni Hot Pockets ($1 from the office). Copies of the American Film Institute’s Top 100 movies are available in the free-to-borrow DVD collection, as well as vintage “The Addams Family” episodes. What’s your rainy-day game: chess, or Operation?

Over breakfast on the sun porch, the various weekend leaf-peepers and hikers compare notes and offer suggestions for future room themes (one 9-year-old’s contribution: Sponge Bob). If you’re lucky, you meet the people in room 27, the friendly couple from New Jersey who invite you to come check out the digs. You go. You notice the crust. Delicious.

– written by Deborah Bogosian

open mouth breathEvery 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 or signing up for our newsletter.

You’ve been on a plane for nine hours. The inside of your mouth tastes like some combination of morning breath (thanks to that three-hour nap you just woke up from) and the remnants of your delightful reheated airline dinner. You’re afraid to open your mouth, lest your breath knock your seatmate unconscious.

10 Ways to Survive a Long-Haul Flight

While a mint might temporarily help the cause, Dan Askin recommends a couple of more powerful mouth-cleaning products:

“Colgate Wisps are disposable mini-toothbrushes that provide a quick and easy mouth-freshening option when you can’t brush your teeth for real. The brush head has a freshening bead that releases a mouth cleaning liquid when you scrub, and a pick on the opposite end provides a floss option. It requires no water to use, and the ingredients are safe to swallow (except for the brush itself, of course!).

“Another product of choice is Listerine PocketMist, introduced to me as part of a hotel’s complimentary in-room toiletries. This is Binaca for the modern age — in a smaller key-chain-sized container and with a more potent punch. You can literally feel the bacteria being singed away.”

Askin also suggests fruit to cleanse the palate, including Granny Smith apples, lemons and limes. And, of course, there’s always the old standby: mint gum, which pulls double duty for air travelers by freshening breath and easing pressure on the ears during takeoff and landing.

For more advice, including tips on keeping your face, hands and clothing clean while traveling, see Travel Hygiene Tips: Staying Fresh on the Road.

– written by Sarah Schlichter

assistance aheadWith many parts of the Northeast still reeling from last weekend’s freak snowstorm, we’re all thinking: Is this a harbinger of things to come? Are we in for another three or four months of delayed flights, bitter-cold commutes and slush up to our ankles?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s winter outlook is all over the place (could be bad, could be ok), but I know this much for sure: As long as there are travel angels out there, we’ll survive.

Oh, you know what a travel angel is — it’s that person who sweeps out of nowhere to help you when you’re on the road. It’s the old lady who helps keep your restless child occupied on a crowded plane, the shopkeeper who gives you directions to the cathedral when you’re looking particularly lost, the cab driver who cuts you a break when you’ve discovered you don’t have enough local currency to pay the fare.

How to Solve 4 Common Travel Disasters

I had my own experience with a travel angel a few days ago when my wife and I drove through the Great Halloween Nor’easter en route to a wedding in Northwest New Jersey. We left just as the storm intensified and, quite frankly, it caught us off guard. We’d anticipated wet roads and a minimum of inconvenience, but before long we were dodging falling branches and sliding cars. (I know what you’re thinking: We should have turned back. But our desire to get to the black-tie wedding got the better of us, so we continued on.)

Hours passed as the expected 90-minute drive became a six-hour odyssey. Finally, as we neared the ski resort where the wedding was taking place, the snow began falling even harder and the skies grew darker. That’s when we came to a dead halt on the hill leading to the main entrance, stuck behind four other cars mired in the snow and ice.

After 45 minutes of sliding around, we were about to ditch the car and walk the final half mile to the resort, even though we weren’t quite sure where it was. That’s when … he appeared.

A man dressed in a bright orange shirt banged on my window and pointed down the road at a barely visible snow plow — he was the driver and wanted to help get everyone on their way. He asked if I had a snow shovel on me (why, yes I did!), then spent the next half hour shoveling under everyone’s wheels and pushing them off the road to make way for his plow. When he cleared the hill, he returned and made sure we could get onto the freshly plowed asphalt.

We called him the Great Pumpkin (hey, he was wearing an orange shirt!), but he was really a travel angel — and the very best kind at that. He came out of nowhere, vanished as quickly as he appeared (we didn’t even have time to tip him), and turned what could have been a disaster of a trip into something special. We will never forget him.

Have you encountered a travel angel? Share your story in the comments.

– written by John Deiner

 PalermoEvery 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 or signing up for our weekly deals newsletter.

The Deal: American Discount Cruises & Travel is offering a seven-night Mediterranean cruise on Costa Concordia starting at $330 per person for an inside cabin. This sailing departs from Savona, Italy, and visits ports including Marseille, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Cagliari, Palermo and Civitavecchia (Rome). The sail date is January 14, which is smack in the middle of the Med’s low season; this means crowds will be scarce, the weather will be chilly, and some attractions might even be shuttered for the winter.

Still interested? Good. If you can get past the aforementioned caveats, you’ll save hundreds on a cruise that could cost upward of $1,000 for an inside cabin in the popular summer season. And unlike a lot of Europe cruises that end up in the sale bin, this one is round-trip. The cruise starts and ends in Savona, which means you won’t have to spend a boatload of money on a multi-leg plane ticket.

The Catch: As we said, travelers to Europe should expect brisk conditions in January. According to the Weather Channel, January is the coldest month of the year in Barcelona, with average temperatures as low as 40 degrees. Pack a coat.

The Competition: You’ll find more cut-rate Europe sailings in our Cruise Deals, including a transatlantic cruise for just $1,899 with roundtrip airfare and a hotel stay.

– written by Caroline Costello