Shanghai May Have World's Scariest Hotel Pool
A new glass-bottomed swimming pool hovers 320-feet above Shanghai's traffic.
It's a pool in the year-old, 390-room Holiday Inn Shanghai Pudong Kangqiao.
The 98-foot-long indoor pool is cantilevered off the edge of the 24th-story of the building.
It's only five-feet deep. Guests can stand with their head above the water, looking down to see their toes above traffic on Xiuyan Lu below.
The hotel is 13 miles southeast from downtown in a rapidly growing suburb. It typically charges $125 a night for rooms.
Swimming in such a radical pool, with just glass between you and a 24-story drop, might not be for every traveler.
MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL
Reimagining the Colosseum
Rome’s Colosseum (Piazza del Colosseo, 06-399-67-700, admission $11) has experienced its share of conflict, what with gladiators dueling to the death and prisoners being thrown to the lions for the entertainment of the masses. But it seems the iconic 2,000–year–old arena is still capable of generating white–knuckle entertainment of a different kind, with controversy swirling around its upcoming two–and–a–half–year, $30 million renovation. Last weekend an Italian newspaper reported that the Colosseum was leaning to its south side by as much as 16 inches. Of course, applying the word “leaning” to any structure other than that touristed tower in Tuscany is going to generate headlines, and the press immediately began referring to the phenomenon as, what else, “the leaning tower of Pisa effect.” Not so, declared Mariarosaria Barbera, Rome’s archaeological superintendent. “We are talking about a structure whose foundations are 13 meters deep. Roman constructions do not only stand up to centuries, they stand up to millennia,” she told a press conference, according to Reuters. Whether the best–known site in Rome is in danger of toppling was especially relevant to reporters because Barbera was unveiling the renovation plan, the most ambitious of its kind for the structure in more than 70 years, which will begin in December and be completed in 2015. Bureaucracy delayed an official thumbs–up for the cleaning and restoration of the Colosseum for three years—I know, anyone familiar with governance Italian–style will be shocked—shocked to learn that this project has been less than efficiently executed. The renovation will happen in phases, so that the Colosseum can remain open to visitors throughout the process. Innovations will include an underground visitors center and the opening of more of the amphitheatre’s underground tunnels to the public. In all, the plan should open up 25 percent more of the structure to visitors. Planning to see the Colosseum any time soon? Hotel Paba, less than a quarter–mile from the site, is smoke–free, air–conditioned, and offers free Wi–Fi and continental breakfast (266 Via Cavour, Rome, 877-662-6988, doubles from $92). Luzzi, a reliable pizza and pasta restaurant, is a little more than a half–mile from the Colosseum (88 Via di San Giovanni in Laterano, 06-709-6332, from $20). —Robert Firpo–Cappiello MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 7 Tested Tips for Visiting Rome City Passes in Italy: Worth It or Not? Should Rome Open a Romaland Theme Park?
What's Your Biggest Hotel Pet Peeve?
We asked you earlier this month about your biggest pet peeve when you fly. Next up: hotels. According to the recently released J.D. Power and Associates 2012 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, travelers aren't that, well, satisfied by their hotels. Guests overall satisfaction came in at 757 out of 1,000 possible points (seven points lower than the 2011 survey). While satisfaction with rooms, rood, services, and facilities were all at new lows, it was fees that drove respondents crazy—especially for web access. The study found that 87 percent of travelers surveyed used WiFi to connect in their room, and when they were charged the overall satisfaction was 76 points lower than average. The study says that these hotels were thought to be "taking advantage" of guests, with resentment at the highest when the internet charge was lumped into a resort fee. This was the 16th year that J.D. Power and Associates conducted the survey. New for 2012 was a staff rating section, with 56 percent of respondents having a high opinion of the staff (and only 10 percent with a low opinion). Those with a high opinion of the staff rated satisfaction a full 84 points higher than the average. Which goes to show that good customer service can heal a lot of wounds. Are fees for WiFi your biggest pet peeve? Sound off below! MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 30 Hotel Chains Every Travel Should Know 8 Cool New Tools for Finding the Perfect Hotel 11 Most Spectacular New Hotel Pools
4 Universal Ingredients to a Romantic Getaway
What makes for a romantic getaway? We posed that question to our audience and, while not everyone agreed on a place (some celebrated the romantic quality of nature, others citied the charms of cities; some couples were content to stay close to home while others found bliss halfway around the world), some themes emerged nonetheless. Spanning cultures and continents, here are the four elements that seem to be essential to romance. Disagree or have one to add? Tell us below! While you're at it, check out the 25 destinations that never fail to put our readers in the mood for love. 1. Sunsets. There is something magical about the moment that the sun kisses the horizon and then disappears behind it, bathing everything in a transformative glow—and that's just as true in Paris and Sydney as it is in the Grand Canyon. 2. Serenity. The chance to be together, uninterrupted (though not necessarily alone), was a theme that transcended destination. Finding seclusion in the Scottish Highlands turns out to be just as refreshing as sipping champagne tete a tete in Paris or people-watching in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. The key seems to be the ability to un-tether yourself from the demands of daily life. 3. Water. Flip through our slideshow and you'll be amazed by how many of the places where folks found romance revolved around water—in both traditional and non-traditional ways: Hilton Head Island, Bora Bora, the Scottish Highlands, Venice, Santorini—and the list continues. 4. Food and Wine. Food played a recurring role in romance—cozy bistros, wine trails, fresh fruit. A special thank you to everyone who shared their stories with us! Have another one to share? Tell us below. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 33 Picture–Perfect Reasons to Love Paris 30 Vacations Budget Travel Readers Will Never Forget 12 Family Trips Budget Travel Editors Love
Guess Which Book Replaced The Bible At This British Hotel...
We recently reported about a British hotel that replaced Bibles with Kindles. Now, another U.K. hotel has taken things further, placing copies of the popular E. L. James book, Fifty Shades of Grey, in each of their hotel rooms. Jonathan Denby, owner of the Damson Dene Hotel in England's Lake District, announced the news on his blog, explaining that, "Tonight millions of women will be curling up in bed with a good book and you can bet your life it won’t be the Bible." Each of the hotel's 40 rooms was outfitted with the book, and so far, he says, the only complaint regarding them was when one guest noticed hers was missing from the room after the previous guest had taken the book home. Denby says the majority of visitors are in support of the switch, although he did receive a number of emails from unhappy Bible supporters in the U.S.—one of them even called him a "puppet of Satan." In another blog post, Denby describes being amused by angry emails from people posing as guests (who had, in fact, never stayed at The Damson Dene Hotel) threatening never to return because of the book swap or changing their minds about staying there upon hearing that there were no Bibles in the rooms. It should be noted that the hotel does keep a few at the front desk, available by request. What do you think about this? Has this hotel gone too far by swapping out the usual bedside Bible with a book that pushes the envelope—let's face it, it has absolutely nothing to do with the color grey—or do you think hotels should be willing to take more risks and go with the trends? MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 25 Greatest Travel Books of All Time Stock Up on Free E–books Before Your Trip E–book vs. Print: Which Do You Prefer on Vacation?