I recently had the opportunity to stay at Hotel Zaza in Dallas, Texas. These people know what to do to make a hotel really cool!! Normally, for me, a hotel is just a place you sleep, but Zaza turned being in a hotel into an experience.
NOTE: Zaza in Dallas now has a new website: Zaza DallasI arrived at the hotel in a cab and my door was opened by a large entleman wearing a black flight jacket that looked like a bouncer. As a matter of fact he was a bouncer, you see the bar/restaurant in the hotel is currently one of the hotspots in Dallas. To that end, when I checked in, I received my guest identification card that allowed me to cut the bar line if I was coming back to my room -- I was also told that I would probably need the card when I returned to my room on Friday night as the line is normally around the block to get into the bar.
The decor of the lobby and hallways can only be described as very cool. I walked past the Shag-a-delic suite on the way to my room -- visions of Austin Powers danced in my head (check out the Zaza site, they have tons of themed suites, and, yes, the Sahg-a-delic suite looks like it came off the set of Austin Powers). I opened the door to my room and there was one light on just barely and several candles had been lit to illuminate the room rather than my having to try and find the lightswitch for the closest flourescent overhead fixture (by the way, there were no flourescent lights anywhere in the hotel).
All of the furniture in the room was a cool black laquer finish and there was a work desk in the shape of a piano. Every detail had been thought out. I went to grab the iron and couldn't find the board, I looked at the cord of the iron and there was a tage telling me that they stored the ironing board under the bed (ok, so I looked for the ironing board for 20 minutes before I picked up the iron).
The minibar was perhaps the best-stocked I had ever seen. Aside from the normal complement of drinks and snacks, there was all kinds of stuff not in the fridge. From a large tray of assorted candy and dry snacks (including high-end candies and snacks) to a disposable camera to a baseball cap, they had truly thought of everything I might have needed. The general manager had graciously provided me with a bottle of wine, which I opened with the thoughtfully-provided wine opener (can't tell you how many times I've received a bottle of wine in a hotel only to find that there is no way to open it -- and room service is never any help).
Cool furniture and light fixtures were throughout the room and bathroom. The had invested the money in a cordless phone that interfaced with their system (i.e., there was not a corded phone to be found in the room) and in a high-end Philips CD-player alarm clock. There was high-speed Internet in the room (as expected), but they had provided a spare cable to connect my computer to the Internet jack (why haven't other hotels thought about that). I was able to locate this cable because of the small information ring they had put around one of the dresser's door handles that stated what was in the drawer.
Bathroom was cool with marble (as expected from a hotel of this type). The coolest bathroom feature was a frosted glass window-sill in the showerthat had quotes carved into it. The quotes in the frosted glass were visible from the living room and by turning on the bathroom light, the quotes glowed. One perhaps unexpected effect of putting the quotes in the shower was that from the shower side the quotes looked backwards, but when looking at the mirror over the sink, you could read the quotes in the reflection.
One last note about quotes (being the large fan and collector of quotes that I am): Every night when they turned down the bed and lit candles in the room, they left a card on the bed with a different famous or interesting quote. And instead of the standard chocolate mint on the pillow, the maid left a different candy -- the first night I got a ring-pop (didn't even know they still made those) and the second night I got a Tootsie Roll pop.
Other hotel chains . . . . . . . . . are you listening?