Age-Friendly Rating: Giacomo hotel, Niagara Falls, NY

We’d always wanted to visit Niagara Falls during the quieter season, when the area wasn’t clogged with day-trippers and summertime visitors.

DSCN0383And the chance to stay at The Giacomo – a great American landmark building – was intriguing to say the least.

We had heard a lot about this place, which is commonly described as the ‘premiere luxury boutique hotel’ on the US side of Niagara Falls.

Friends who stayed at the Giacomo a few years ago were full of praise, saying that the building had to be seen and experienced to be believed.

And they certainly weren’t exaggerating.

Now that’s ‘Wow Factor’

Giacomo Hotel dominates the Niagara Falls skyline, along with the nearby Seneca Niagara Casino.

The hotel is true elegance encased in a striking art deco skyscraper.

800px-Niagara_Falls_HighrisesFormerly known as the United Office Building, the structure is 20 storeys of terra cotta facade designed in the Mayan style and with stunning views across the falls.

Built in 1929 on the eve of the Great Depression, the building is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places.

The United Office Building was abandoned in the 1980’s, but fortunately, it was later restored and became the Giacomo in 2010.

And now for our experience.Giacomo

Pre-arrival

Communication with The Giacomo in the run-up to our arrival was efficient and courteous.

After booking, I checked by email to see if we might be able to get rooms with a view of the falls. This was arranged promptly and cordially, along with information about taxi availability in central Niagara Falls.

I also contacted the Giacomo on Twitter for a final catch-up before setting off.

Arrival

We arrived mid-afternoon and were warmly greeted by the reception team. Addressed by name we were told that our rooms were ready.

the-giacomoCheck-in was fast, efficient and friendly and our bags were promptly taken to our rooms.

Without asking, we were given a map of Niagara Falls, including directions to the main attractions – and Giacomo staff also provided advice on local restaurants.

The friendliness and warmth of the staff continued throughout our stay and really made us feel at home.

Wifi was free of charge and was easy to use. However, the reception staff still explained its operation and were extremely helpful.

Rooms

First impression was one of luxurious decor, elegance and comfort on a par with the best of Europe.the-giacomo-2

Our room boasted pillow top mattress beds with sumptuous linens; work desk with wired or wireless internet; refrigerator; iron and ironing board – and views to die for.

The en-suite bathroom was large, ultra-modern, functional and contained fluffy robes.

Window drapes, chairs and general furnishings reinforced the sense of elegance that we found throughout the Giacomo.

And there was also adequate wardrobe space.

Welcomethe-giacomo-1

Giacomo chocolates and cookies at turn-down were an appreciated touch.

There was also special coffee and bottled water, both of which were particularly welcomed.

Power points

This is a small point, I know. But, hotels that don’t provide enough points to recharge phones, iPads, iPods etc are a pet hate of mine.

This certainly wasn’t the case at the Giacomo. There were sufficient points located exactly where you want them – by the bed and at the working area.

Bar and loungeDSCN0360

After dinner at a nearby restaurant, we retired to the Giacomo lounge for a glass of wine before bed.

The lounge is located on the first floor and contains plenty of seating, as well as an eye-catching granite bar.

Breakfast

Our room rate included a European style  breakfast – and the food was excellent – eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, juices, various types of bread, fruit and yogurt.

The breakfast room was as good as any I have found in the US.

Centrally located

DSCN0334It was tempting to spend the day in luxury at the Giacomo, but Niagara Falls is all about the outdoors and there is plenty to see and experience at one of the world’s greatest natural attractions.

Fortunately, the Giacomo’s location – at 220 First Street, Niagara Falls – is within walking distance of the falls and its picturesque attractions.

The hotel is literally within a stone’s throw from America’s oldest state park.

It is within five minutes walk of Prospect Point and the American Falls and is also close to Goat Island.

Would I recommend this hotel?

Certainly. Our experience at the Giacomo was faultless. If you appreciate luxury, elegance and outstanding service, don’t go past it.

Check the hotel’s website for accommodation costs.

Our Age-Friendly Rating

8/10:  The Giacomo is a grand old building, but the operators have done a good job of retrofitting it to improve Age-Friendliness.  From our experience, the hotel is well suited to all ages. The street entrance is  easily accessible, as are most of the main facilities. The lifts are roomy and the corridors wide. Booking on the hotel’s website is simple – and the room layouts are straight-forward. The doors are certainly not complicated and the hotel instructions are easy-to-read.

 

Ian and Sue Roberts

Age-Friendly US Hotel Ratings

How to spend two days in Knightsbridge

Luxury shopping, fine food and quality accommodation In London’s swanky Knightsbridge area – with a touch of culture.

P1010805Day 1

Catch a tube from Heathrow airport on the Picadilly Line, alighting in the plush surrounds of either the South Kensington or Knightsbridge stations.

Take a cab from the station to Thurloe Place, to book into the Rembrandt Hotel, directly across from the Victoria and Albert Mursum and centrally located for the upmarket shops and restaurants of Knightsbridge and Chelsea.

After briefly unwinding at the Rembrandt, it’s advisable to check whether a dinner booking can be made at one of the many wonderful restaurants at Knightsbridge.

P1010180These include The Rib Room Bar and Restaurant, a legendary luxury facility in Knightsbridge’s Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel.

If you can get a booking there, you’re doing well.

Now, it’s time to hit the shops.

Head off on a 10 minute walk to Harrods .

Harrods

This iconic London destination seems to constantly change – and, regardless of your age, it’s impossible to become weary of wandering among its 300 departments.

IMG_0069Once a grocery store, Harrods offers goods from around the world; all high quality and highlighted in stunning displays including a remarkable Egyptian Hall.

My personal favourite is to visit the store at night, when Harrods is said to be illuminated by 11,500 light globes (these days, many of them are energy efficient LEDs)

And,despite its traditional look, Harrods contains floor after floor of chic and trendy clothes, where you can find unique and ultra modern fashions mixed with old world glory and an overall sense of quality. Go mad among the racks.

For lunch, either try the Georgian Restaurant on the fourth floor at Harrods, or walk a few minutes further to another iconic London landmark, the grand store of Harvey Nichols.

Here, the store’s fifth floor restaurant will refresh, revive and send you off for an afternoon of shopping.

P1010129Harvey Nichols

Located on the corner of Knightsbridge and Sloan Streets, Harvey Nichols is a magnet for fashionistas.

The store combines a stunning range of designers and boasts an elite clientele which favors Harvey Nichols for fine clothes, accessories, cosmetics, shoes and much more.

Back on the fifth floor, there is also a cafe where you can grab a mid-afternoon latte, before launching back into shopping.

Valentino, Versace and Tom Ford

Continue down Sloan Street to check out the luxury clothes and accessories at both Valentino and Versace, where the range of fragrances is eye-opening. Neither of these stores should be rushed.

P1010133Another prominent brand, Tom Fords, is also nearby, with striking mens and womens clothing.

Now, it’s back to the Rembrandt, for a quick drink in the lounge bar, before preparing for dinner.

Day 2

Don’t miss the Rembrant’s breakfast, which is usually included with the room rate and has a great reputation among travellers.

Either enjoy a Full English breakfast, or a continental buffet.

After breakfast, head for the adjoining Aquilla Health and Fitness Club to pamper the body beautiful.

Start the day at the gym

There’s a fully equipped gym, a swimming pool, individual sauna and steam frooms, beauty rooms and an air conditioned studio.

Established for more than 20 years, Aquilla is well known for its range of services.

Guests of the Rembrandt can use the facilities at a reduced rate.

On weekdays, the centre is open from 7am.

Exercise the mind

Refreshed from the pampering at Aquilla, it’s time to check out of the Rembrandt, before rounding out our two-day Knightbridge stop-over by adding a dash of culture to the fine shopping and outstanding food.

So, head for another of the area’s best known establishments, the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The V&A is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects.

It was founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

The V&A covers 12.5 acres and 145 galleries.

Its collection spans 5,000 years of art, from ancient times to the present day, from the cultures of Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa.

Alternatively, you can walk a few minutes further and visit the Science and Natural History Museum.

 

London, UK

Luxury Spa at WA’s Vines Resort

Being pampered and indulged has taken on new meaning at a leading resort in the Swan Valley wine growing  region of Western Australia.

IMG_0967Novotel Vines Resort and Country Club – which is located only 35 minutes from the heart of Perth – has unveiled a day spa in keeping with its high standards of luxury and service.

The resort says the Keishi Spa allows its guests to relax and be pampered while experiencing massages, facials, waxing, tinting, spray tanning and even a milk bath – all delivered by award-winning therapists.

Spa services for women and men

Keishi Spa offers massages ranging from hot stone therapy, revitalising and traditional Swedish massage to a special service for mums-to-be and a five-hour indulgence treatment that includes a light lunch.IMG_0969

“With spa treatments for women and men, partners can luxuriate together during their restful getaway,” the resort says.

“Perhaps a ‘Girl’s Day Out’ at the Spa, while the boys enjoy massage after golf, then winery tours, gourmet dining and poolside relaxation is in order?

“Keishi Day Spa also stocks a great range of skincare and perfumes from German skin care brand Babor and Linnari and Fragonrd.

The resort says additional treatments “for the ladies” include:

• Collagen Boost: soften, plump & hydrate.IMG_0963

• Algae Firming: Revitalise, awaken & firm.

• Detoxifying Clay: calm, refresh & clarify

For the men, there’s special treatments to deep cleanse and hydrate tired and lifeless skin.

Don’t miss Swan Valley

Swan Valley is one of the most popular tourist draw cards on Australia’s west coast.

The area is Western Australia’s oldest wine-growing region and is a particular magnet for visitors because of its proximity to Perth.

Novotel Vines Resort

Set in an idyllic spot among the grapes and native bushland, the Novotel Vines Resort and Country Club boasts 103 rooms and 54 condominiums.

And, if you want a more strenuous visit than simply unwinding at the day spa, guests can try out the  25m outdoor swimming pool, take to the four full-sized tennis courts, two indoor squash courts or fully equipped gymnasium.

Of course, the Vines is also a Mecca for golfers, with two 18-hole courses – Ellenbrook and The Lakes.

I’ve been curious about the Novotel Vines Resort since close friends spent time there on a wedding anniversary trip in Western Australia. They loved the resort — a response that has also been regularly reported by readers of this column.

See how to book accommodation, an event, or a golf activity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hotel news