17 New Hotels in 2017
Hemispheres

17 new hotels in 2017

By The Hub team , June 02, 2017

Story by Nicholas DeRenzo | Hemispheres May 2017

For Road Warriors

21c Museum Hotel, Oklahoma City

In a city where converted car dealerships and tire shops account for an outsize portion of the revitalized downtown (see the upscale Automobile Alley district), it's fitting that the Oklahoma capital's newest boutique hotel would occupy an iconic auto industry edifice: the onetime Fred Jones Assembly Plant, where Ford Model Ts were built. Opened last June in the 101-year-old Albert Kahn–designed building, the 21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City shows off its heritage in ways big and small, from the original water tower on the roof to the 135 guest rooms' generous casement windows to the massive concrete columns still marked with codes denoting their positions on the factory floor. Like other properties in the 21c Museum Hotels mini-chain, the property's claim to fame is its renowned contemporary art collection. A standout here is James Clar's continually rolling, assembly line–inspired acrylic piece River of Time, at the entrance to Mary Eddy's Kitchen x Lounge, which occupies the former automobile showroom.

For Rock Stars

Sir Adam Hotel, Amsterdam

Sir Adam Hotel, AmsterdamSir Adam Hotel

As the home to the local offices of Gibson guitars and Sony, plus a real-life school of rock for kids, the imposing A'DAM Tower is something like Amsterdam's answer to LA's Capitol Records Tower. This January, the tower welcomed the Sir Adam Hotel, a member of the rapidly expanding Sir boutique chain, which also includes the Sir Albert, housed in a former diamond factory across town, and new or in-the-works properties in Berlin, Hamburg, and Ibiza. Complete with Bluetooth-enabled Crosley Cruiser turntables, Gibson electric guitars, and a curated vinyl collection, the 108 industrial-chic guest rooms (expect lots of raw concrete) are decked out with concert posters and mirrors etched with classic lyrics—the ideal crash pads for jet-lagged rockers on their big stadium tour.

For Summer Campers

The Suttle Lodge & Boathouse, Sisters, Oregon

The Suttle Lodge & Boathouse, Sisters, Oregon

Earn your merit badges—in kayaking, fishing, Nordic skiing, and arts and crafts—at the lakeside Suttle Lodge & Boathouse, which opened last August in central Oregon's Deschutes National Forest. The Mighty Union, the hospitality team behind Portland's trendsetting Ace Hotel, created a Moonrise Kingdom for millennials, complete with Pendleton blankets and toiletries by OLO Fragrance in scents inspired by the surrounding Cascade Range. Because it wouldn't be Oregon without a love for all things locavore, the owners have also brought along another Portlander to create the menu, chef Joshua McFadden of the award-winning Ava Gene's. Despite McFadden's James Beard nominations and inclusion on Bon Appétit's best new restaurants list, don't expect anything fussy: It's all about the potato-chip-crusted trout sandwich, salmon-and-trout chowder, and Oregon-made beers, wines, and ciders.

For Beach Bums

The Asbury, Asbury Park, New Jersey

Opened last Memorial Day just a guitar-pick toss from Bruce Springsteen's beloved Stone Pony, The Asbury is this Jersey Shore resort town's first new hotel in decades, taking over a long-disused Salvation Army building. Conceived by Anda Andrei, Ian Schrager's former head of design, the airy, bungalow-inspired rooms pair blond wood furnishings and crisp white linens with black-and-white vintage photos of beach and boardwalk scenes. In keeping with the breezy seaside decor and fun-loving spirit of this summer playground, the space is brimming with whimsical amenities, such as a carless rooftop “drive-in" theater, pinball machines in the lobby, and a curated library of VHS tapes, audio cassettes, and vinyl records.

Lobby of The Asbury in New Jersey.The Asbury

For Tipplers

The Warehouse Hotel, Singapore

The Warehouse Hotel's Singapore Sazerac in SingaporeThe Warehouse Hotel's Singapore Sazerac

The Lo & Behold Group hospitality firm's first hotel venture opened this January in an 1895 godown (warehouse) on the banks of the Singapore River. Though the surrounding Robertson Quay is now rather well-heeled, the area was once a red light district known for its underground distilleries and opium dens. The 37-room hotel cleverly nods to this seedy past with its Minibar of Vices, which is divided into gluttony (salted egg yolk chips), vanity (Alexiares & Ani Mattifying Sunscreen), and lust (take a guess). For more indulgence, head to the on-site restaurant, Pó, which features chef Willin Low's “Mod Sin" menu and cocktails that play on the area's spice trade past, such as the Singapore Sazerac with pandan leaf bitters and the chamomile-whiskey-based High Tea.

For Environmentalists

Nekupe Sporting Resort & Retreat, Nandaime, Nicaragua

The view from the Nekupe Sporting Resort & Retreat in NicaraguaThe view from the Nekupe Sporting Resort & Retreat

It's not surprising that Nicaragua's first luxury mountain resort takes its name from the indigenous Chorotega word for “heaven." Creating a slice of Paradise was precisely the goal of Theresita and Alfredo Pellas Jr., who constructed this 1,300-acre nature reserve by building greenhouses, installing solar panels, planting organic farms, and reforesting with more than 14,000 trees. Located 30 minutes from colonial Granada, in the shadow of a dormant volcano, the resort is an old-school sporting getaway, perfect for skeet shooting, horseback riding, ziplining, or communing with sloths, howler monkeys, and 73 species of bird.

For Architecture Buffs

The Poli House, Tel Aviv

An eclectic staircase at The Poli House in Tel AvivAn eclectic staircase at The Poli House

Tel Aviv's White City district is home to an eclectic collection of more than 4,000 Bauhaus and other structures, built in the 1930s by German-Jewish architects escaping persecution. Nitza Szmuk, the conservation architect who helped the district achieve UNESCO World Heritage status in 2003, next turned her attention to the restoration of the Polishuk House, a curvy 1934 beauty by Swiss architect Shlomo Liaskowski that has since housed offices, shops, and even a secret political printing press. Last October, it reopened as the 40-room Poli House, which designer Karim Rashid has filled with witty decor flourishes such as egg-shaped chairs upholstered with yolk-yellow fabrics, a pink neon “HELLO" sign, and Op Art floors that might make you a little woozy after a cocktail at the rooftop pool bar. Keep an eye out for a particularly meta touch: a landmark Bauhaus stairway with a mural based on Oskar Schlemmer's 1932 painting Bauhaus Stairway.

For Adventurers

Explora Valle Sagrado, Urquillos, Urubamba, Peru

Opened last July in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, between Cusco and Machu Picchu, the 50-room Explora Valle Sagrado consists of a series of low-slung wooden structures that seem to melt into the surrounding ancient cornfields. (A nearby colonial mansion once owned by War of Independence revolutionary Mateo Pumacahua houses the spa.) While the lodge is filled with smart references to Andean culture, such as alpaca-wool blankets, it's best to think of it more as a base camp for Explora's 26 guided tours to off-the-beaten-path spots, including Incan archaeological sites, salt mines, indigenous Quechua communities, and llama-filled pastures.

Explora Valle Sagrado, Urquillos, Urubamba, PeruExplora Valle Sagrado

For Social Butterflies

The Robey, Chicago

You've always hung out in Chicago's Wicker Park, but now you can finally sleep there. The Robey, a sleek and masculine boutique property from Grupo Habita—a Mexico City–based hotel chain known for promoting a young, communal vibe—opened in November at the epicenter of the city's coolest 'hood, in the 1929 Art Deco Northwest Tower, the only skyscraper in the area (a sister hotel, The Hollander, occupies the 1905 warehouse next door). The well-appointed rooms (Woolrich blankets, marble accents) may be short on square footage, but high ceilings and uninterrupted views of downtown make them feel airy. Think of the hotel's four restaurants and lounges as your extended living room: Meet friends for breakfast at the first-floor Café Robey, make new friends over cappuccinos in the spacious second-floor lounge, and then join all of them for martinis at Up & Up, the sexy rooftop cocktail bar, where you can toast to not having to cab anywhere.

For Seafood Lovers

Thompson Seattle, Seattle

The views from the Thompson SeattleThe views from the Thompson Seattle

You can practically see the salmon-tossing fishmongers of Pike Place Market from your bed at the Thompson Seattle, which opened two blocks from the historic venue last June. The glass-and-steel design by award-winning area firm Olson Kundig Architects is all about transparency, meaning the 158 guestrooms can often feel like the world's chicest fishbowls. Twelve stories up, at The Nest rooftop cocktail lounge, take in views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. And back down on solid ground, at Scout PNW—which is kitted out with Douglas fir furnishings and Northwest-appropriate plaid upholstery—sample the bounty of these surroundings, including smoked trout tartine; maple-cured crudo with raw beets, yuzu, and pickled berries; and a killer chowder made with mussels, clams, and Dungeness crab.

For Design Heads

Il Sereno Lago di Como, Torno, Italy

Il Sereno Lago di Como, Torno, Italy

Unlike the Neoclassical grande dames that dominate nearby stretches of George Clooney's favorite lake in the foothills of the Italian Alps, this minimalist all-suite hotel, which opened last August in the tiny village of Torno, would look more at home an hour's drive south, in fashion-forward Milan. That's very much by design. Spanish-born, Milan-based designer Patricia Urquiola—twice named designer of the year by Wallpaper—had a hand in creating almost every aspect of the property, from the bespoke furnishings to the floating walnut lobby staircase to the silk scarves worn by the staff (a nod to Como's long history as the silk capital of the world). Urquiola is even responsible for the interiors of the hotel's Vaporina del Lago boat, custom-made at the family-run Ernesto Riva boatyard, which has operated across the lake in Laglio (home to La Casa di Clooney) since 1771.

For Mountaineers

Huus Hotel, Gstaad, Switzerland

Gstaad's newest hotel, opened in December, trades in the posh town's usual ostentatious glamour for a homier aesthetic—hence the name, Swiss German for “house." The 136 lumberjack-chic rooms incorporate mismatched plaids, polished pebbles from the River Saane, and, yes, cuckoo clocks, plus Mammut backpacks and Zeiss binoculars to explore the craggy peaks and green valleys of the Bernese Alps. After all that skiing and snowshoeing (or summertime rafting and rappelling), refuel with fondue and raclette at Chalet Hüüsli, the cozy garden restaurant.

For Gourmands

Coombeshead Farm, Cornwall, U.K.

The morning spread at Coombeshead Farm in Cornwall, U.K.The morning spread at Coombeshead Farm

British chefs Tom Adams (who brought American-style barbecue to London at Pitt Cue) and April Bloomfield (who earned a Michelin star for New York's The Spotted Pig) teamed up last July to open this five-room inn in a 1748 Georgian farmhouse on 66 acres in Cornwall. At the communal table, guests dine on locally grown, cured, and foraged fare, such as mutton from the farm's flock of Hebridean sheep and honey from Cornish black bee hives. And befitting two pig lovers (Bloomfield wrote a book called A Girl and Her Pig), it's only natural that their prize possession is a herd of rare, woolly Mangalitsa pigs, whose ruby-red, marbled meat is often called the Kobe beef of pork.

For Boat Enthusiasts

Off Paris Seine, Paris

The pool at Off Paris Seine in ParisThe pool at Off Paris Seine

Ernest Hemingway dubbed Paris a moveable feast, but chances are he never imagined that the City of Light would someday welcome a moveable boutique hotel. Opened last June, the Off Paris Seine is built on a custom-made catamaran that was constructed in Normandy and towed more than 200 miles upriver to its current home on the Left Bank near the Gare d'Austerlitz railway station. The interiors of the 58-room floating hotel—the largest vessel moored in the Seine—play off the boat's aquatic surroundings; a salvaged-wood check-in desk evokes driftwood, while 8,800 metal panels on the lounge's ceiling reflect the glimmering river surface. Speaking of glitter, while the city's old-guard hotels aren't above a little gilding, the gold accents here are just a bit more playful, taking the form of an inflatable swan in the pool that runs down the boat's center and oversize Fatboy beanbag chairs on the deck.

For Mid-Century Modernists

The Dwell Hotel, Chattanooga, Tennessee

The Dwell Hotel's leafy lobby in Chattanooga, TennesseeThe Dwell Hotel's leafy lobby

Hoteliers the world over are smitten with the timeless lines of 1950s Modernist furnishings, but few have taken full advantage of that other mid-century design staple: deliriously bold patterns and colors. Built in the shell of a 1909 hotel on the site of a Civil War–era stone fort, this city's first luxury boutique property, which debuted its new incarnation last spring, is brimming with authentic period trappings that owner Seija Ojanpera sourced from estate sales, thrift stores, and eBay. Expect velvet chairs, lucite tables, brass wall hangings, and shaggy textile art, all in a palette of poppy oranges and canary yellows and jade greens. But the true showstoppers in the Dwell Hotel's 16 bespoke rooms are the retro patterned wallpapers—bees and flamingos, dandelions and banana leaves—which would have looked right at home in the Draper family house.

For Poolsiders

The Pendry, San Diego

Just in time for the Gaslamp Quarter's 150th birthday, San Diego welcomes an amenity it has been sorely lacking: a modern luxury boutique hotel. Enter the Pendry, the flagship in Montage Hotels' new design-driven lifestyle brand (a Baltimore property is set to follow this year). Think of this place as an urban take on the resort model—multiple dining outlets, a spa, a pool, and a club, all neatly tucked into one city block. You could spend an entire vacation stuffing yourself without leaving the premises: avocado toast at Provisional, a café and curated boutique; brats and microbrews at Nason's Beer Hall; oysters and nigiri at Lionfish; cocktails at Fifth & Rose—and then another two or three at Oxford Social Club, the basement lounge.

For Fish Out of Water

Palafitos Overwater Bungalows at El Dorado Maroma, Riviera Maya, Mexico

The bungalows at El Dorado MaromaThe bungalows at El Dorado Maroma

You don't need to fly to Tahiti or Bora Bora to stay in an overwater bungalow anymore, thanks to last September's opening of this first-of-its-kind-in-Mexico collection of 30 standalone suites within an existing Karisma Hotel resort. Each 800-square-foot palafito (stilt house) boasts glass floor panels so you can spot passing needlefish from the comfort of your bed, as well as snorkeling gear for rent when you're ready to dip a toe in. Design inspiration comes from the ancient Aztec homes built over Lake Texcoco (now buried beneath modern Mexico City), with palapa-style thatch roofs and furnishings made with local zapote wood—plus more modern amenities, such as outdoor and indoor showers and private infinity pools.

Teaming up with the Chicago Urban League to bring students to China

By The Hub team , July 20, 2018

For many, a visit to China is a once-in-a-lifetime trip that often falls on one's bucket list of destinations. But through a partnership with the Chicago Urban League, some Chicago high school students are checking this dream destination off their lists early.

The Chicago Urban League's annual Student Mission to China brought a group of high school students from Chicago-area schools, including Lindblom Math and Science, Urban Prep and Kenwood academies, to Beijing and Shanghai for an immersive, two-week trip. An extensive application and interview process helped the organization choose the students who would benefit most from the trip. While the trip is not directly tied to the students' school curriculum, the Chicago Urban League teaches prep courses leading up to the trip, and some of the students are independently studying Asian languages.

"Many of the students are hoping to share their experience with family and friends from their communities that aren't able to participate in opportunities such as this one," said corporate and community affairs associate Marissa Warren. "Students are also excited about the chance to be submerged in a different culture for an extensive amount of time."

With one look at the students' itinerary, it's clear that the program truly does offer a complete immersion in Chinese culture. The itinerary includes a mix of landmarks, seminars and cultural activities. Students attend a tea art performance, learn how to make dumplings, practice Chinese calligraphy, painting, paper-cutting, and even play ping pong with local students. Seminar topics range from Chinese language to China's international policy. And no visit to China would be complete without trips to the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.

Warren said that sponsoring the annual trip is a huge part of United's relationship with the Chicago Urban League. One of the pillars of the company's shared purpose is breaking down barriers and promoting inclusion, and through this trip, students are able to step out of their comfort zones and engage with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

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Featured

Watch the new Big Metal Bird: Island Hopper

By The Hub team , July 20, 2018

Five magnificent stops between Honolulu and Guam filled with spectacular scenery along the way, and then back again. Join Big Metal Bird host, Phil Torres, as he explores our unique Island Hopper route, and discovers what the route means to the people of Micronesia.

Hemispheres

The Hemispheres guide to family vacations

By The Hub team

Illustrations by Stacey Lamb | Hemispheres June 2018

Whether your kids dream of being superheroes, star athletes, or, yes, wizards, we've got the perfect family vacation — for them and for you.

If your kid wants to be Iron Man

Have a kid who thinks he can fly? Who shoots repulsor rays from his hands and jumps off the couch into pits of lava to save strangers (i.e., his stuffed animals) from danger? The new Marvel Day at Sea Cruise was designed for him.

Launched in late 2017, this five-day trip offers everything that's normally on a Disney Magic cruise—incredible stage shows, interactive dinners, a stop on Disney's private island, Castaway Cay—with a special all-Marvel day that will leave your kiddo shouting “Avengers assemble!" before passing out on his sleeper-sofa.

Aside from superhero meet-and-greets (smartly, tickets for the most popular characters are timed to avoid lines wrapping around the ship; also, moms, know this: Thor is very attractive), Marvel activities abound. Kids can head to the Oceaneer Club for tutorials with Thor, who teaches them how to wield their own Mjolnir for good, and Spider-Man, who shows how quick reflexes are the key to capturing bad guys. Artists offer budding comic-book illustrators Bob Ross–style lessons in how to draw Iron Man and his pals, and afterward, families can head to one of the movie theaters (plural) to catch a screening of the latest Marvel Studios flick (this year it was Black Panther; next year, maybe Captain Marvel?)

It all culminates in a grand live spectacular on the top deck that sees basically all the Avengers—yes, even Black Widow and Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy—battling Loki, Red Skull, and the Hydra agents to secure Stark Industries' new (and dangerous) power source. It's a clever, high-action show with acrobatics, choreographed fight scenes, and fireworks that will have you cheering louder than your kid. —Ellen Carpenter

The Digs:
Book a deluxe oceanview stateroom with a verandah—because verandah. Being able to sit outside and watch the whitecaps crash while recapping the day with a glass of wine (each adult is allowed to bring two bottles aboard—money saver!) is key once your little ones conk out.

The Feast:
In general, the food is great—crab legs and shrimp at the lunch buffet; beef Wellington at the Animator's Palate; even Hulk green bread on the Marvel day—but definitely do an adults-only dinner at Palo, a northern Italian restaurant offering superb antipasti, lobster pappardelle, Dover sole, and more. And be sure to get the Palo cocktail, made with pear vodka, limoncello, grappa, and prosecco.

Illustration of platform 9 3/4 from the beloved Harry Potter movie

If your kid wants to be Harry Potter

Have a kid who keeps a wand in his bookbag so he can keep trying the Accio spell? Who introduces himself by saying which house he's in? (Gryffindor, obviously.) Fly to London—preferably on Hagrid's motorcycle—where a surfeit of Harry Potter–themed activities await.

Your first task is to visit Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden (20 miles outside London), where all eight of the Harry Potter films were made. Reservations are required, but once you're there, a docent leads you into the Great Hall, where you'll have hours to roam two sound stages and a back lot full of sets (Diagon Alley!), costumes (Hermione's Yule Ball gown!), props (the intricate 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts castle used for wide shots!), and interactive exhibits that reveal the films' secrets. You can also get your picture taken while riding a broomstick and sample the infamous butterbeer.

Back in the city, visit Platform 9 ¾ at King's Cross Station and other locations depicted in the films with Tours for Muggles, a two-and-a-half-hour walk that starts near London Bridge tube station. By night, head to the West End to take in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a two-part stage play based on an original story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany. Finally, book a visit to Enigma Quests' School of Witchcraft & Wizardry, where adults and kids work in teams to solve puzzles and riddles to escape their rooms. “Graduates" don Hogwarts-style robes and receive calligraphy diplomas. —Kathryn Jessup

The Digs:
You'll want to book a Wizard Chamber at the Georgian House Hotel to form the foundation of your experience. These cozy suites are hidden behind bookcases and replicate Hogwarts dormitories in detail (cauldrons in the fireplaces, four-poster beds). Also magical: the full English breakfast, which will keep you fueled for hours.

The Feast:
You'll think you've walked into the Leaky Cauldron itself when you descend to Fleet Street's Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a family-friendly pub dating to 1667 that played host to Samuel Johnson and Charles Dickens. Kids will love the fish and chips—with mushy peas, of course—and you'll love having a proper pint.

Illustration of skier going down a mountain slope

If your kid wants to be Mikaela Shiffrin

Have a kid who collects trail maps and sleeps in her speed suit the night before every trip to the slopes? Who watches the weather incessantly for storm advisories and sets up gates in your backyard, planning her fastest lines?

Wax those skis and head to Colorado, home of Olympic gold medalist and World Cup Champion Mikaela Shiffrin. Earlier this year, the Centennial State native became an investor in Denver-based Alterra Mountain Company, which owns 12 year-round mountain destinations, including one of the best places for kids to learn and race: Steamboat.

Besides having terrain perfectly suited to kids—and the Steamboat Snowsports School to help them master it—the resort operates one of the largest recreational race facilities in the world. The Bashor Race Arena offers daily NASTAR (National Standard Race) events, which give kids of any age an opportunity to compete and compare scores. Top competitors are invited to the annual NASTAR National Championships, where winners earn medals like real Olympians. If that's not enough, racers here also have access to historic Howelsen Hill, the home of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, which has been helping Steamboat Springs produce the most Olympians of any town in the U.S. for more than 100 years. Better clear some shelf space for all those future medals… —Amiee White Beazley

The Digs:
One Steamboat Place, at the base of the Steamboat gondola, is made for families. A heated outdoor pool, three hot tubs, and a game room equipped with flatscreen TVs, pool tables, and shuffleboard courts ensure that the kids will be able to work off any energy left over from the slopes. Book your stay at the private residence club through Moving Mountains, which offers a hand-picked collection of spacious places.

The Feast:
Before hitting the slopes, fuel up at the Creekside Café in historic downtown Steamboat Springs. Try the Barn Burner—bacon, cheddar cheese, and scrambled eggs on a homemade biscuit smothered in sausage gravy—and pair it with a freshly pressed organic juice. Après-ski, head to Rex's American Bar & Grill, which serves “2 Handed" sand-wiches, brick oven pizzas, and some of the best fish tacos north of the border.

Illustration of surfer hitting the waves

If your kid wants to be Kelly Slater

Have a kid who watches The Endless Summer weekly? Who practices popping up on the coffee table? Take your aspiring surfer where the mountains meet the sea, along the American Riviera.

In spite of recent wildfires and mudslides, the surf scene in Santa Barbara is thriving, and this city with a small-town feel is the perfect place to travel with a teen in search of waves.

“Surf schools and camps are the norm here, just like soccer and baseball," says Heather Hudson, a local surfer and director of the documentary series The Women and the Waves. The best is the Santa Barbara Surf School, which will outfit your kid with a wetsuit and board and select a beach tailored to his level of ability (Leadbetter Beach and Mondos are great for beginners). The school's guides could not be more prudent or more devoted to getting your youngster up on his board and having fun in the Pacific. One-on-one classes are $85, and though they last just an hour and a half, they will leave the kid exhausted. Afterward, let him catch his breath at Rincon Point, “the queen of the coast," and watch the pros catch waves that seem to never end.

Picking out his dream board is next. Head to the Funk Zone, a neighborhood packed with surf shops like Channel Islands, J7, and Beach House, to ogle boards crafted locally by some of the world's most famed shapers and, maybe best of all, share wipeout stories with the righteously tanned store clerks. —KJ

The Digs:
Check in to the new Hotel Californian, where a classic Santa Barbara Spanish exterior gives way to a modern Moorish interior with just a touch of youthful edge. Borrow the complimentary bicycles to explore the Waterfront district and then cool off in the rooftop pool.

The Feast:
Refuel after the lesson with salmon, ahi, or yellowtail poke bowls at Big Eye Raw Bar downtown, and have dinner at the hotel's fine-dining spot, Blackbird. End your meal with a dessert of goat cheese, blood orange sorbet, crispy quinoa, basil, and fennel pollen. It's gnarly—in the best way possible.

Illustration of storybook character, Robin Hood

If your kid wants to be Robin Hood

Have a kid who's slick with a plastic sword? Who hits the bull's-eye on her Nerf archery set 9 out of 10 shots? Who's always surrounded by merry compatriots? Time to pay a visit to the home of “the world's first superhero."

Nottingham, a midsize city 110 miles north of London, is known for being the former haunt—possibly, maybe—of the world's most famous outlaw (who may or may not have existed). What is undeniably real is the moral at the heart of the mythology: It's OK to steal, as long as you take from the rich and give to the poor. Kids who challenge this premise are quickly corrected: “The laws he was fighting were unjust!" the men in tights will tell you.

At Nottingham Castle, see where the evil Sheriff once—possibly, maybe—imprisoned Robin. Just across the way is The Robin Hood Experience, a quirky attraction run by a faux Robin named Adam Greenwood. Wander a labyrinth of tiny rooms inhabited by various characters who tell tales of yore. On the way out, buy a mini longbow and a green outfit.

Next, take Ade Andrews's Robin Hood Town Tour—as much a theatrical performance as a historical overview. While tracing the line from bloodthirsty medieval ballads to the sanitized Hollywood version, Andrews is apt to twirl his sword in the air or toot his cow-horn trumpet.

Finally, take up bows and arrows—Robin's weapon of choice—at a lesson with the archery club Wilford Bowmen, where seasoned archers will show your tiny outlaw how to hit a (not very distant) target. Be sure to take a turn yourself, so she can laugh at your failure. —Chris Wright

The Digs:
Not only is the boutique Hart's Hotel within arrow's range of Nottingham Castle, part of it is built on the ramparts. Book one of the two suites so you have room to spread out and don your finest for a meal at the hotel's restaurant, one of the best spots in town.

The Feast:
If fine dining doesn't grab you, head to The Alchemist, which recently opened an outpost in a glorious Victorian building in downtown Nottingham. The food ranges from beet risotto to Moroccan lamb rump, neither of which was likely on the menu in Sherwood Forest.

Illustration of child and mother walking through the National Mall in D.C.

If your kid wants to be Michelle Obama

Have a kid who spends her weekends volunteering at the Salvation Army? Who follows notable figures instead of her friends on Instagram? For a dose of history and hope, head to Washington, D.C.

Make your first stop the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in 2016 and has been the hottest ticket in town ever since. The lower three floors are dedicated to History, from the slave trade to #BlackLivesMatter. It's a painful but necessary exhibit that displays slave shackles so small they must have been for a child, as well as murdered teen Emmett Till's coffin. Before heading upstairs to the more celebratory exhibitions in the Culture gallery, stop in the Contemplative Court, where a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. adorns the wall behind a waterfall fountain: “We are determined … to work and fight until justice runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream."

The Washington Monument stands mere yards from the museum, so afterward saunter over to the National Mall and think about how 200,000 people gathered there in 1963 to hear MLK speak about a new future. Next, catch a glimpse of that imagined future at the National Portrait Gallery, which unveiled the Obamas in February. The power of Kehinde Wiley's floral-encased depiction of Barack is impossible to deny. Finally, cab to another depiction of the Obamas that's a must-see for any aspiring Civil Rights leader: the mural at Ben's Chili Bowl, which also features Muhammad Ali, Harriet Tubman, and even Taraji P. Henson. Anyone, after all, can make a difference.—EC

The Digs:
The Hay-Adams is the stay for a kid who wants to be right in the action. (Sasha and Malia Obama slept here before calling the White House home.) From free cookies at check-in to loaner wellies on rainy days, the hotel puts its youngest guests first.

The Feast:
NMAAHC's Sweet Home Café
invokes the African diaspora in foods like black-eyed-pea-and-corn empanadas. Later, head to the InterContintental at The Wharf's Kith/Kin, where chef Kwame Onwuachi mixes flavors from Nigeria, Jamaica, and New Orleans.

Illustration of baseball park

If your kid wants to be Willie Mays

Have a kid who asked for a subscription to MLB.TV as a birthday present? Who cracked every fence slat in your yard pitching imaginary games? Get your little seamhead close to the action without breaking the bank by heading to the Cactus League.

Each year, from late February through late March, 15 MLB teams prepare for the season at facilities located within a 47-mile radius of Phoenix. Here, there's no such thing as nosebleed seats, and a box of Cracker Jack won't set you back $10. The outfield lawn seats at Scottsdale Stadium offer a perfect vantage point for the game while also allowing younger kids to run around. Starting at only $10 a ticket, you'll pay a fraction of the admission at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Games often sell out, so get tickets in advance, and look for family packages. There are also kid-themed days, such as at Peoria Sports Complex where on Sundays, kids 12 and under can stand with a player during the national anthem or announce who's stepping up to bat. At Sloan Park kids get “First-Timer Certificates" to memorialize their first Cactus League.

The Digs:
The Phoenician, a five-star resort in Scottsdale, offers six swimming pools, I.Fly trapeze lessons, and s'mores and stargazing at night. The Funicians Club gives parents a chance to hit the spa while kids explore the on-site cactus garden and play video games.

The Feast:
For great Mexican food, head to La Hacienda by Richard Sandoval, at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. The kids' menu will keep your little ones happy, while a custom tequila flight (there's a Tequila Goddess on staff) and guacamole made tableside will do the trick for you.

United Journey

How traveling changed the course of our future

By Kelsey + Courtney Montague
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…Mark Twain knew this, and anyone who travels and gets out of their comfort zone understands this same concept.

This is one of the reasons we love to travel — our perceptions and stereotypes are constantly being challenged. This is also probably why we've built a business that requires us to travel regularly — we create street art pieces in cities around the world.

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But we weren't always like this. Our love of travel first began when our Mom took us backpacking through Europe for a month. At the time, we were both young teenagers who had never been out of the country. We carefully planned our outfits and fit them into one backpack each. Mom carried our Rick Steve's travel guide and off we went. We stayed in shabby hotels across the United Kingdom, France and Spain, visiting every museum we could find, eating every baguette, croissant and paella dish we could get our hands on, and loving every second of it.

We've been addicted to travel ever since.

Kelsey sketches at a street cafe in Paris Kelsey sketches at a street cafe in Paris

I (Kelsey) fell so in love with London on that trip that I grew determined to study there. Fast forward to years later when I graduated from Richmond University in London. That trip changed the course of my life because I learned about and experienced street art during my studies in London. Courtney fell so in love with Paris that she learned French and graduated with a degree in comparative literature from the American University of Paris. That first trip changed the course of our lives forever and opened our eyes to how massive the world was. I don't think our Mom could have given us a better gift than that first trip abroad.

As adults who travel constantly we feel like a MileagePlus® membership is another important piece of the equation and something we've benefitted from tremendously over the years. The various United Club℠ locations are little refuges we escape to in busy and overwhelming airports. Being able to board early, getting upgraded and having nice flight attendants on long haul flights really can mean the difference between arriving well rested and having a good trip, or arriving tired and having a rough trip.

At the end of the day a company is all about the people in it and the kindness we have experienced on United flights has been wonderful. I remember once on a flight, one of our captains wrote a personal note thanking each passenger flying in United First® class for traveling on United. On another, a flight the attendant saw I was not feeling well and hunted down an Airborne (vitamin pack) for me. Still another flight attendant asked about my art (I was sketching on the plane) and when I explained what I do they committed to buying my coloring book. It's these connections that really make flying United so memorable for myself and my sister.

So if you're looking to give your child a gift, take them traveling. And if you're looking for a present for yourself, sign up to enjoy the benefits of a MileagePlus Membership. You won't regret either.

Join MileagePlus to start earning miles from the world's most rewarding loyalty program℠ and share your story with #UnitedJourney.

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Welcome day brings employees and Special Olympics athletes together

By Matt Adams , July 13, 2018

As part of the weekend's festivities, our CEO, Oscar Munoz, joined a group of employees and retirees in greeting nearly 700 arriving athletes, coaches and volunteers at Seattle's Sea-Tac International Airport (SEA), as well as hundreds more at local light rail stations, all of which were decorated with our Special Olympics superhero campaign banners.

Oscar also had the honor of giving Special Olympics athlete Nikki Jones her first in person look at her superhero alter ego Lane Lightning, a moment that was captured on the video below.

Introducing a more personalized experience on united.com

By Gladys Roman , July 13, 2018

Our united.com homepage is getting some big enhancements. Yesterday, we announced the launch of the new site, which will offer a more modern, user-friendly design, allowing users a more personalized digital experience.

Each one of our customers is unique and has different needs for his or her travel, and personalizing our digital offerings is just another step toward giving our customers the experience and the products that they ask for, said Digital Products and Analytics VP Praveen Sharma. "Our goal with this new homepage is to provide customers with a more seamless experience."

The new website will provide personalized content based on a customer's MileagePlus® status as well as upcoming, current or prior trips. It will also include a new display that will be fully responsive for optimal viewing on desktop and mobile devices. Later this year, the site will include a travel section that will provide customers with curated content from destinations United serves.

We began rolling out the new homepage in April and continued expanding it to more users while we added more functionality throughout the phased rollout. The site will be live to all customers in early August.

These efforts are part of our commitment to improve our customers' travel experience through every step of their journey. Earlier this year, we updated our mobile website, adding a more optimized display, additional flexibility to adjust flights throughout the site, Japanese language translations and more.

Our new homepage will also appear on our mobile website, creating a more seamless experience when customers are managing travel and bookings across multiple devices.

United Journey

Transcending borders and languages in Tanzania

By The Hub team

Story and photos by Davis Paul

I have been very fortunate to travel the world telling stories with a camera for the last decade. Being a United MileagePlus® member for many of those years has absolutely opened the world and eased my ability to get around. And, it enabled me to authentically document the way in which different people and cultures do life, which has now become an obsession. How can you make someone feel what you witnessed despite not being there?

Dirt road in Tanzania

The world is full of amazing stories and incredible lessons that can transcend borders and languages. I believe every location is uniquely beautiful on it's own, we just need to see it for what it is and not in comparison to others. Bangladesh can be just as beautiful as Tahiti if we remove expectation and appreciate the uniqueness each location has to offer.

However, of all the trips I have ever taken, out of every project I have embarked on, from X Games to Real Madrid, there is one that hit me in a very different way. That was my trip to Tanzania to work on the border of Burundi out of two Refugee Camps. I was contracted to help train and build soccer programs within the camp as well as create content that would provide impactful insight into the circumstances taking place throughout the region as well as to connect the outside world with these amazing people fighting for their lives. I had zero preparation for the trip, having only booked my flight a week in advance. I had never traveled to Africa, let alone a refugee camp that couldn't be more difficult to get to. In fact, it was roughly 38 hours of travel by myself including having an 8 hour drive on something that barely resembled a road. Because it was so last minute, I actually wasn't able to secure a driver to take me to the town of Kibondo which meant once I landed, I had to find any local with a car who would be willing to take me the distance. Luckily, I found a man named Frankie who had a Toyota Corolla which consequently broke down within the first hour of our journey.

Group of kids in Burundi, Tanzania

Once I arrived, I had never witnessed life in this manner. Hundreds of thousands of refugees all piled together within 2 square miles. Mud huts, tarps, tents, anything and everything to sustain life was being used. Almost everyone in this camp had lost a loved one to violence yet I had never seen so much hope and joy. It completely changed my perspective on life to live amongst these people for 3 weeks. I ate with them everyday in the camp, eating the local food with my hands. To hear their stories, to see how they live and to dream with them on the brighter future they all hope exists was truly humbling. I'll never forget the lessons I learned within this camp and from these people — their love and optimism despite having experienced unimaginable tragedy was uplifting. When I asked if there was one message I could bring back to the United States, they simply would say, "we just want people to know we exist". I hope that my time and efforts there at least provided that. Although I tried to make the biggest impact I could while there, it is safe to say I was the one impacted the most and I will be forever grateful for that. I just hope I can help in half of the way they helped me.

Davis Paul pictured in Tanzania

I'm never sure where the next story will exist, but I can guarantee you'll find me on the ground, always laughing with a camera in hand. Traveling is a gift that allows us insight into both our differences and similarities, and the more you travel, the more you realize we all share in the same struggles, same hopes and same dreams. I believe that despite bad things happening, the world is full of good — we just need to seek it in every situation.

Join MileagePlus to start earning miles from the world's most rewarding loyalty program℠ and share your story with #UnitedJourney.

How to experience the best of Prague in 3 days

By Nick Harper

Every bit as historic, as beautiful and as culturally enriching as the European heavyweights of Paris, London or Rome, Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic has emerged over recent decades to be a jewel in the continent's crown.

The city escaped significant bomb damage during World War II and its historic center remains magnificently intact, with a maze of cobbled lanes, quiet courtyards, chic cafés and ancient chapels just waiting to be discovered. To see enough of the city, we suggest visiting for at least three days.

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Getting into the city

Upon arrival, regular and reliable buses and trains will get you into the center of the city within 20 minutes. Unless you're heading outside of Prague, you shouldn't need to rent a car. The center of Prague is compact and easily to explore on foot, with excellent and cheap trams, buses and the subway if you don't want to walk.

Where to stay

Central Prague is broken down into 10 districts, with most visitors staying in Prague 1, the heart of the city. Here you have two good options: The Old Town or the Lesser Town – linked by Prague's most celebrated landmark, the Charles Bridge. The Old Town is at the heart of everything, full of historical sites, bars and restaurants but can be overpriced and often considered 'touristy' as a result. The Lesser Town is still close to the heart of everything but with a more tranquil atmosphere that's particularly good for families.

Old Town in Prague

What to see

There's too much to see in a single visit, however, one of the absolute essentials has to be Prague Castle, which is literally unmissable. The largest castle complex in the world, it dates back to the 9th century and is also home to the presidential palace, the vast St. Vitus Cathedral and Golden Lane — an original 16th-century street of tiny cottages that was home to Franz Kafka. The lookout tower of St. Vitus Cathedral gives you a bird's eye view of the city, as does Petrin Lookout Tower at the top of Petrin Hill, which climbs 206 feet to look down on the city.

From there head to the Old Town Square, which is the medieval center of Prague, surrounded by cobbled streets awash with cafes and restaurants. It's home to the Old Town Hall and Astronomical Clock, the Rococo Kinsky Palace and the stunning Gothic Church of Our Lady before Týn. If you visit in December, it also hosts the city's largest Christmas market.

Also close by, Klementinum is a series of historic buildings worth visiting just to see what is arguably the most beautiful library in the world. If you're looking for a world-class collection of historical artifacts, minerals and zoological specimens, the National Museum ticks all of the boxes. It's located at the top of Wenceslas Square, which is not actually a square but a boulevard – and one of Prague's most popular shopping streets.

Kampa Island is a great alternative to the National Museum. Literally an island located beneath Charles Bridge, you'll find the museum of modern art, The John Lennon Wall and giant, slightly unnerving sculptures of crawling babies. Speaking of Charles Bridge, it is one of Prague's most popular and photographed sites for good reason. You'll no doubt use it to cross the Vltava River, but for the best photographs, visit at dawn, before the crowds arrive.

And if all this walking gets to be too much, see the city from a different perspective, floating gently down the Vltava on a river cruise.

River Vltava in Prague

Where to eat

Restaurants to suit every taste and budget dot the center of Prague. Great breakfast options include Coffee Room, Mezi Srnky and the always-popular Café Savoy, which is also great for lunch or dinner.

In a city full of carnivores, the Real Meat Society's porchetta sandwich is a lunchtime highlight, Dish is a stylish little burger joint full of fashionable people, while Lokál Dlouhááá offers a beer hall feel and Czech classics of pork, sauerkraut and dumplings washed down with beer.

The city's only two Michelin-starred restaurants are Field and La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise, the latter creating modern takes on old Czech recipes using the highest quality local produce. Both restaurants require a reservation. Highly recommended 'Bib Gourmand' restaurants within easy reach of Charles Bridge include Sansho, Divinis and Maso A Kobliha, where the salty caramel pie may elicit happy tears.

Prague skyline at sunrise

Where to drink

In the number one beer-drinking nation on the planet, the locals refer to it as 'Liquid bread.' Prague is home to many of the nation's finest bars and ale houses, many of which brew their own beers. Two of the most historic are U Zlateho Tygra, which President Clinton visited in 1994, and U Cerneho Vola, which stands in the shadow of the castle. Letná Beer Garden offers an outdoor setting where you can enjoy a beer and views of the Old Town below.

And keep an eye out for 'tankovna' – tank pubs – where the beer is not pasteurized, as most beers have to be to be transported around the globe. In tank pubs such as U Pinkasu, the beer is probably the freshest you'll ever taste. But if pilsner is not your preference, head to Hemingway Bar, one of the world's finest cocktail bars. You may have to wait in line as it is a popular with both locals and tourists alike, but it's well worth the wait.

When to go

Prague is the warmest and busiest during the summer months, from April until October and peak season starts in July through August. The longer nights of spring and summer will give you more time to explore, while the celebrated Beer Festival fills the city's Letná Park in May. Spring and autumn are generally quieter and can be less costly than the summer months. If you can cope with the colder temperatures and darker days, winter is a magical time to be in the city.

Getting there

United, together with many of its Star Alliance partner airlines, offers service from multiple cities in the U.S. to Prague. To explore all that Prague has to offer and to book your trip, visit united.com or use the United app.

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