Where the hotel is the experience


travel  Where the hotel is the experience

“You don’t have infinite money. Spend it on the stuff that research says makes you happy.”

So starts an article in Fast Company this month, explaining that there’s a science behind prioritizing experiences over things: it has been shown to bring more happiness.

I think that’s why I can’t help but keep planning travel. If you were to ask me about my most treasured experiences from the past year, so many are moments from a vacation away. I think about diving into the Meditteranean or eating fresh fish over the rocks. I think of driving through the Pacific Northwest (even though long drives with the baby were anxiety-ridden) and watching the sun rise over the strip in Las Vegas.

travel  Where the hotel is the experience

A big cost on vacation is lodging, so what if the hotel were the destination—the experience—as much as the location itself? Of course the two go hand-in-hand, but instead of figuring out where to go and then looking for a place to stay, what if I went about it the other way around? Let’s engage in bit of harmless wanderlust.

You might recall: I’m partnering with Visa and have been getting familiar with the perks of using the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection website—where everyone is guaranteed VIP Status; a best-available rate guarantee; complimentary continental breakfast; $25 food or beverage credit; and complimentary Wi-Fi,  late check-out, and an automatic room upgrade, when available. It only made sense to start there.

travel  Where the hotel is the experience

I came up with a list of experiences—a meditation retreat, cooking lessons, days spent diving underwater—and used the site’s search to narrow a selection to some extraordinary, experiential hotels (that are still set in places worthy of exploring). Some are more aspirational than others (a euphemism for expensive) but I’m focusing on the happiness quotient.


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5 Things: A Travel Guide to Long Beach, CA


travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Long Beach, CA

In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, I’m especially excited for photographer Jennifer Chong to share her local’s guide to Long Beach—because it’s where I grew up!

5 Things: Long Beach
Jennifer Chong

I’m a Georgia girl who moved west about five years ago. I now live in an area called Belmont Heights, which is walking distance from the beach and a short car ride from some of LA’s best attractions. And while I’ll admit that Long Beach is the only city I’ve lived in since I moved to California, I can’t imagine calling any other place home.

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Long Beach, CA

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Long Beach, CA

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Long Beach, CA

Simmzy’s Pub, 5271 East 2nd Street, (562) 439- 5590
Long Beach Thai, 3320 East Anaheim Street, (562) 597-6987
Starling Diner, 4114 East 3rd Street, (562) 433-2041
Open Sesame, 5215 East 2nd Street, (562) 621-1698
Rose Park Roasters, 3044 East 4th Street, (562) 434-4346

Food is my jam, and Long Beach has some good eats. Simmzy’s is a great place for lunch or dinner—whatever you do, make sure you try their Brussels sprouts. They’re seriously amazing. Other favorites include Long Beach Thai for authentic Thai boat noodles and papaya salad; Starling Diner for French toast at brunch; Open Sesame for Lebanese fried potatoes; and Rose Park Roasters for great coffee.

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Long Beach, CA

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Long Beach, CA

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Long Beach, CA

Make Collectives, 430 East 1st Street, (562) 612-0089
Coast Modern, 219 Main Street, (714) 404-8779
Petals and Pop, 214 Main St, (562) 936-0131

If there’s one thing Long Beach is known for, it’s its many vintage and antique shops. I’m not great at flea market shopping, but I love finding hidden gems. Make Collectives carries a great selection of new and vintage goods in addition to putting on some pretty rad workshops. Retro Row is also host to a ton of great stores—just be sure to check times before you visit, as most of them close early during the week. Lastly, just a short distance away in nearby Seal Beach, you’ll find Coast Modern, a wonderfully curated clothing and home goods shop. While you’re there, grab a soda at Petals and Pop!

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Long Beach, CA

AirBNB—Long Beach

You’ll be able to find all the typical chain hotels around Long Beach, but for the best live-like-a-local experience, I’d book an Airbnb in one of the area’s cuter neighborhoods—try Belmont Shore or Belmont Heights. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even book your stay on a boat!

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Long Beach, CA

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Long Beach, CA

Make time to take a stroll down Belmont Shore’s 2nd Street. You’ll find plenty of shops and good eats. Afterward, rent bikes and take the path toward downtown. You’ll pass volleyball players and kite surfers on the way to downtown Long Beach’s waterfront.

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Long Beach, CA

Penfield Inuvik Parka Jacket, $200

Pack a light jacket! While SoCal is known for its perfect weather, the nights can get a bit chilly. Pack a cover-up—like this Penfield Inuvik Parka Jacket from Madewell—to use as a layer after a long day out on the town.

Thank you so much, Jennifer! (Thank you to Shoko Wanger for her help with this series.)

P.S. Visiting the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific and taking a toddler to Disneyland.

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