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The one night we spent in Old San Juan was an absolute delight, thanks in part to the gorgeous Monastery Art Suites. Being in the heart of Old San Juan, it was definitely different than our beach paradise in Luquillo. The colorful architecture of Old San Juan, along with restaurants, art, and more surrounded the location, and we were a short walk from the sea on all sides.

We arrived at the hotel early for our reservation and received the warmest welcome while our bags were whisked away and stored for us. We had to return our car to the airport (definitely don’t need it in the city) and when we got back to the hotel, we explored the stunning, artistic lobby and events spaces.

Monastery Art Suites Monastery Art Suites The building has a long history and was at one point a Masonic lodge. Thick stone, high ceilings, decorative windows, and beautiful staircases make every corner worth inspecting. There are beautifully detailed surprises everywhere.

Monastery Art Suites

When we were whisked to our room by the friendly woman at the front desk, we discovered our bags had already been brought up for us. The warm and artsy theme of the rest of the hotel carried into our room, which had beautiful colors and little touches. Monastery Art Suites

 

Monastery Art Suites

And while the hotel is historic, we enjoyed many modern touches in our room, including excellent air conditioning that cut through the brutal heat, Apple television, a fridge, coffee maker, and a wonderful shower. Our shutters opened to overlook the sunny lobby area and the umbrellas we saw from the other side when we arrived.

Monastery Art Suites

The hotel’s location near government buildings meant that there were officers right at the end of the street at all times, making it feel complete safe at all hours. From here we were able to walk everywhere we wanted and to retire in utmost comfort at the end of the day. I slept so well and felt so rested after our night here.

I can’t recommend the hotel and its lovely staff enough. Monastery Art Suites will be our Old San Juan home base going forward, and let’s face it, with snow in April, all I am doing is dreaming of going back.

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Tags: art, hotels, Puerto Rico, san juan, Travel

The Other Side of Massachusetts is an often-overlooked location when Boston residents are planning getaways. We often look to Portland or Newport or the Cape, and all of those are amazing, but when you want something new and different, I would heartily recommend checking out Amherst, especially during times when UMASS and Amherst College are not in session.

Full disclosure: I work with the Hampshire County Regional Tourism Council on their PR, and I am a Western Massachusetts loving UMASS grad, but my love of the area really comes from all that it has to offer, including history, quaint inns, incredible restaurants, farms, breweries, wineries (Black Birch is a must-visit), outdoor activities, walkable little towns, and a vibe that I just can’t describe. The shopping is great; you can find many locally made products along with great book stores, music shops, wine shops, and boutiques.

The Lord Jeffrey Amherst

I visited Amherst and Northampton this past week to give a presentation on PR for the region to tourism partners, and I stayed at The Lord Jeffery Inn. During my years as a student at UMASS, I had always wanted to stay at the inn, so I was excited to finally have an occasion to do so and to receive a rate that worked with my budget.

Located in the center of downtown Amherst, right on the Common, The Lord Jeff has welcomed guests as an inn since 1926. I arrived just before sunset, and I received a warm welcome at check in.

The Lord Jeffrey Inn

 

The Lord Jeffrey Inn

The Lord Jeffrey Inn, Amherst

My room was cozy and comfortable, decorated with a nod to the inn’s historic nature but with all of the contemporary touches you could want, including a gas fireplace, Wi-Fi, and an amazing shower.

I want to return to the inn just so I have more time to hang out and enjoy the room!

Lord Jeffrey Inn

Since I only had one night, I quickly headed back out to take a look around at the rooms that make up the common areas.

Lord Jeffrey Inn

Little seating areas are perfect for reading or getting work done, or enjoying a cocktail by the massive fireplace. The inn has a number of fireplaces, giving plenty of opportunities to warm up and relax. The entire place feels very laid back and welcoming, ideal for a getaway for a couple of days.

open fireplace

I ate my way around Amherst that night, trying some of the new-to-me places for cocktails and apps, and I will share all of that in a separate post, because, much like Portland, Amherst is a town you can visit just to spend the day eating and drinking.

My last stop of the night was 30 Boltwood where I sampled some of the cocktails on the menu along with a cheese board. The restaurant sources many of its ingredients locally, as many restaurants in the area do, and they are particularly interested in locally-driven cocktails. 30 Boltwood is the perfect place to end the night or even to stay at if you just want to take in the ambiance of the inn.

whiskey in a jar cocktail at 30 Boltwood

meat and cheese board

The event I presented at was a hospitality industry exchange where local hospitality partners can learn about each other, the Hampshire RTC, and working together to promote one another and the region. They have SO much to offer, so it was fun to be a part of this.

getaway ideas in Massachusetts

I left with a ton of new knowledge and ideas whirling around in my head, surrounded by beautiful scenery on my way out, and excitement to book my next visit. Outside of work, I hope to bring my husband back for a few days of brewery visits, farm visits, rafting, and hiking this summer. I can’t emphasize enough what a great getaway Hampshire County makes. And at only two hours from Boston, it’s an easy and pleasant day trip. Give it a try, and you will want to return!

Amherst, Massachusetts

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Tags: client, Hampshire County, hotel, hotels, Massachusetts, Travel, Western Massachusetts

Chicago graced us with gorgeous, warm fall weather, blue skies, and good friends and family. We walked miles and miles and I took hundreds of photos, making it difficult to narrow down photos into blog posts.

Below I have included just a sampling of the sights we saw in Chicago. Stay tuned for some more specific recaps in the next few weeks.

Chicago skyline

Chicago skyline

We made a point to walk along Lake Michigan every day so we could take in as much of its beautiful scenery as possible. The Chicago skyline against blue skies and the grandness of the lake was breathtaking. I want a gorgeous, spacious apartment on the Gold Coast and a dog I can walk along the lake twice a day. Too much to ask?

Public Hotels Chicago

We stayed at the Public Hotel Chicago, and it was absolutely amazing. Our room was simple, chic, and comfortable with an incredible view of the Sears Tower. The hotel decor was just stunning, and the bars served creative craft cocktails and great service. I was so sad when we had to check out of this hotel.

Fado Irish Pub

We visit an Irish bar in every city we go to, and after my friend finished the Chicago Marathon, we had late night drinks at Fado, where the bartender was from the same teeny tiny village in the West of Ireland as my brother-in-law’s dad, who was his family doctor. Small world indeed.

Michigan Ave

Chicago in Autumn

Chicago does it up for fall, and there were gorgeous mum displays, pumpkins, and more everywhere we looked. I adored all of the gardens, and it made me want to pay more attention to all of the beauty in my own city.

The Drake Chicago

The Drake Chicago I am a huge fan of old hotels, so a visit to The Drake Hotel was a must-do for me.  Old wood and leather made for a great atmosphere, and strong Irish coffees warmed us up after walking around in the shade of Michigan Ave buildings. I love to imagine the heyday of old hotels, and of course I like to think there is a bit of haunting history in them.

Navy Pier Navy Pier ferris wheel Navy Pier

Navy Pier was one of my favorite places the entire weekend. The sun was shining, a beer stand sold cold local beers, and we were able to take in the sun, sights, and sounds while relaxing lakeside. There is so much happening at Navy Pier. I loved the lush Crystal Gardens, and I want to return for some Shakespeare in the summer.

 

Tribune Tower ChicagoChicago Tribune Tower   Tribune Tower

We had the good fortune of having Max The Urbanologist as our tour guide one afternoon, and we met at the famed Tribune Tower, which features pieces from famous structures around the world.

 

Three Dots and a DashThree Dots and a Dash Max took us along the Riverwalk, showed us points of interest, and led us to the subterranean Three Dots and a Dash where we shared a Zombie Punch, a fun and very large tiki drink.

Chicago Riverwalk

The Riverwalk was another favorite part of our visit to Chicago. I loved being able to watch the boats go by, and we made a couple of stops to Flanders Beer & Belgian Frites to grab beers (Matilda and Sofie, favorites from our Goose Island tour) and fries. I loved that we could take beers to go and wander with them around the Riverwalk. It’s something that would never happen in Boston, but it makes perfect sense and definitely made us feel like we were being treated like responsible adults. We found cocktails available to go in the train station, airport, and other places, and didn’t see anyone abusing the perk.

cocktails to go

Union Station Chicago And finally, there was the architecture. We did an architectural boat tour, which I will recap in a separate post, but Union Station was one of the most spectacular buildings to me. I love old train stations just like I love old hotels, and even if you aren’t taking a train, Union Station is worth a stroll.

Have you ever been to Chicago? What was your favorite part?

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Tags: architecture, Chicago, cocktails, hotels, photography, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger, travel posts

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