Forbes Inspector

Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

Forbes Travel Guide created America's original hospitality Star Rating system in 1958. Since then, its team of incognito inspectors have checked into thousands of hotels, dined at just as many restaurants, and experienced scores of spa treatments to bring you information on the very best places to stay, eat and relax around the world. Throughout ForbesTravelGuide.com, you'll find answers about these Star-Rated and recommended hotels, restaurants and spas, as well as destinations and activities, written and provided by Forbes Travel Guide's team of professional inspectors. It's a dynamic group of people who live around the world, have a wide variety of interests and backgrounds, and are united by a passion for travel and a devotion to hunting down the world's most outstanding places.

  • On January 15, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the desserts like at Shoemakers American Grille?

    Dessert was the highlight of our meal at the Craddock Terry Hotel’s Shoemakers American Grille. Indulge your sweet tooth with a slice of the chocolate blackout cake, but be forewarned that the massive wedge could easily feed two. That said, the rich dark chocolate cake layered with Belgium chocolate and topped with freshly whipped cream may be something you’ll want all to yourself. Or try the New York cheesecake made with an orange zest and pecan graham cracker crust. If neither of these suits your fancy, the Lynchburg, Virginia, restaurant also offers the “Shookie,” which is a molten chocolate chip cookie topped with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and pecans — something both kids and adults will love. For something lighter, opt for the selection of fresh berries served with a side of whipped cream. The dessert menu provides plenty of options for any kind of diner.
  • On January 15, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best things about Craddock Terry Hotel?

    While there are a number of things to enjoy while visiting the Craddock Terry Hotel:

    1. The location. Set along the banks of the James River with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background and a two-minute walk to Main Street, the hotel is in a good spot for enjoying all that Lynchburg has to offer.

    2. The restaurants. Whether it’s pizzas made in the brick oven at Waterstone or broiled signature crab cakes at Shoemakers American Grille, you’ll find a variety of food on offer.

    3. The complimentary breakfast. Each evening, set the provided antique wooden shoebox outside your door. Then in the morning, you’ll find it filled with a croissant, fresh juice, yogurt and fruit.

    4. The rooms. Spacious, bright and cozy, the brick-lined rooms in the boutique hotel give you a view of the river or beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

    5. The staff. You’ll find that the staff is pleasant and friendly. Don’t hesitate to ask for help — whether you want to know about local attractions or more about the history of the shoe-factory-turned-hotel.
  • On January 15, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are five things to know about Craddock Terry Hotel?

    Before you book a room at the Craddock Terry Hotel, there are a few things that you should know:

    1. Choose the right rooms. While all of the rooms at the hotel are spacious, be warned that some of them are a little noisier than others, particularly the Premium King rooms that sit over the restaurant and face the river. They tend to get a bit of the train noise at night, as there is a working railroad just behind the hotel.

    2. Use the noise machines. If you do get a room where you can hear the train, the hotel provides noise machines. The staff will probably offer you one at check-in, but you can also request one up at the front desk.

    3. Join the rewards program. The Craddock Terry is part of Stash, a rewards program for boutique hotels. Stash offers a generous rewards and points system that’s worth joining if you think you might stay at the other hotels in the program. Make sure to sign up before you check out so you earn points for that stay.

    4. Get a ride. If you’re arriving in the Amtrak station or Lynchburg Regional Airport, the Lynchburg, Virginia, hotel will send a complimentary luxury sedan to pick you up for free.

    5. Take a tour. Enjoy the historic aspects of the city and take advantage of the gorgeous Blackwater Creek trail just behind the hotel for its stunning water views. The concierge can help guide you there as well as arrange for a bike rental.
  • On January 15, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best things about Primland?

    There are plenty of great things that draw guests to The Lodge and Cottages at Primland, but these are the best things that should make you want to visit:

    1. Location. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this expansive property is surrounded by woods and wildlife, and it offers amazing views. It’s a trek, but it’s worth it once you get there, especially if you’re traveling with your family or looking for some romance. And if you’re just looking to get away and clear your head, this is the perfect spot to do so.

    2. Boundless activities. Along with the rustic setting comes a bounty of outdoor activities. You can go hiking on one of the many hiking trails ranging from a beginners trek to more advanced route; mountain biking, horseback riding, hunting, star-gazing and so much more. If you’d rather stay indoors, there’s also a fabulous spa to get pampered in, along with taking a swim in the chlorine-free pool.

    3. Observatory and astrology programs. Primland boasts an observatory dome where you can learn about the stars, galaxies and so much more. Offering two programs nightly — the Star Walk and the Tour of the Universe — you can take part in viewing stars close up and learning from the hotel’s astronomy staff. They also offer special programming and events.

    4. Luxe guest rooms and cottages. The guest rooms in the lodge and the cottages are not your typical cabins in the woods. These are rustic in the sense that they are decked out in natural materials including hardwood flooring, marble and stone, but these are sleekly done with luxe amenities such as Frette linens on the plush feather-topped bed, L’Occitane bath amenities, deep-soaking tubs, flat-screen TVs, and much more.

    5. Campfire with s’mores. Kids will love hanging out on the lodge’s large patio overlooking the mountains and golf course. But they’ll love it even more when at dusk, the staff brings out all the fixings for s’mores. Your kids can hang out around the sleek, modern fire pit and make their own gooey chocolatey treats.
  • On January 15, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What makes Primland different from other hotels?

    Located up in the heights of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Meadows of Dan, Virginia, The Lodge and Cottages at Primland is a getaway that’s worth the trek. Nature and golf enthusiasts alike will love the expansive property. You’ll find the property surrounded by woods, beautiful rolling hills, mountains in the distance and colorful flowers. Although it might be in the middle of a rustic area, deep in the mountains, the Lodge provides a luxurious and pampering place to relax and play. With horseback riding, hiking, golfing, star-gazing, mountain biking, kayaking, tennis, clay shooting and a spa, you won’t ever get bored here.
  • On January 15, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are five things to know about Primland?

    If you’re heading to The Lodge and Cottages at Primland, there are a few things to know before you head out for your trek. Here, check out our list of what five things you should know before you go:

    1. It’s a trek for those afraid of heights. About an hour-and-a-half drive from Roanoke, Virginia or Greensboro, North Carolina, it’s not a flat road that you’ll follow. Located up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, you’ll take winding and spiraling roads along shallow cliffs with a multitude of lookout points to snap a photo. If you’re queasy when it comes to heights, we recommend not looking out the window.

    2. A far drive to a town. When you’re coming to stay at the Lodge or in one of the luxe cottages, it’s good to know that it’s a six mile drive past the property gates just to get to the Lodge and some of the cottages. So with that in mind, it’s smart to grocery shop for your stay in a private cottage ahead of time. And if you plan on staying at the Lodge, we recommend valeting your car and leaving it there until you leave. The Lodge’s dining venues offer flavorful fare, and you can sit outside in the warm weather and take in the views.

    3. There’s an observatory where you can learn about the stars. Astrology buffs and kids who love the planetarium will enjoy taking a Star Walk or Tour of the Universe which brings you up into the Lodge’s observatory where the astronomy staff will project live photos from a telescope and go on to explain all there is to know about stars — did you know stars can die?

    4. You can go horseback riding, mountain biking or hunting. Whatever outdoor activity you enjoy, you’ll most likely be able to do it here. You can rent mountain bikes, choose any one of the many hiking trails, go fishing, hunting, golfing, or just relax at the Spa. There’s so much to do here but if you want, you can just relax in your room with comfortable furnishings, pillow-top beds with Frette linens and large flat-screen TVs, it’s hard to not want to stay in at least for a little while.

    5. Wildlife surrounds you, including bugs. On your way to the property, you’ll see signs cautioning you to keep watch for bears and other wildlife. While it’s rare to see a bear (but not uncommon), you’ll definitely run into a few whitetail deer along the way. Be watchful of them while driving and hiking, and be on the lookout for other wildlife such as snakes. But for the most part, you won’t come too close to these animals — the worst is the flies buzzing in your ears while hiking — so be sure to bring along your bug repellent in the summertime.
  • On January 14, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Does The Oriental Spa, Bangkok offer couples treatments?

    We can’t imagine too many more luxurious ways to spend an afternoon with your loved one than by indulging one of The Oriental Spa, Bangkok’s hedonistic couples treatments. Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok’s spa offers a number of packages designed for two that include a handful of treatments — and treats.

    Take, for example, the Essence of Siam, where you and your sweetie will be whisked away to your own private suite for more than three blissful hours filled with a drawn bath, rice scrub, massage, steam treatment, refreshments and one-on-one relaxation time. Three hours not enough? Splurge on Moments of Bliss, during which you’ll enjoy nearly seven hours of the spa’s pampered treatment with your choice of scrub, bath, body wrap and massage; a manicure or pedicure; 60-minute facial; refreshments; and healthy lunch.

    Custom spa suite experiences for couples are also available at The Oriental Spa, Bangkok. Feel free to contact the Bangkok spa’s friendly staff if you’d like recommendations as to which of the couples treatments is best for you.
  • On January 14, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What kinds of massages are offered at The Oriental Spa, Bangkok?

    From a traditional Swedish massage with essential oils to a dry Thai massage in which your therapist will stretch, pull and pound your aching muscles in ways you’ve never thought possible, Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok’s The Oriental Spa, Bangkok offers a unique variety of massages from which to choose for your visit.

    Most of this spa’s massages are available in either 60- or 90-minute sessions, though the Thai massage can be booked for up to two hours. The jetlag massage is ideal for those recovering from a long journey to Bangkok, but if you’re battling particularly achy muscles, you might opt for the Balinese or muscle-release massage, both of which are deep-pressure treatments designed to rid you of those nagging knots. Four Ayurvedic massages are also offered, including the pampering Synchronized Keraleeya Abhyangam that sees not one but two therapists working their magic in tandem, while gentlemen can enjoy any of three different treatments created with their specific needs in mind; we love the Freedom, a blissful three-hour treat highlighted by a deep-tissue massage, facial and full-body exfoliation.

    Regardless of which massage you choose, all treatments at the Bangkok spa can be extended with an optional 30-minute foot or back-and-shoulder massage after the main service has concluded.
  • On January 14, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What kinds of skincare products are used at The Oriental Spa, Bangkok?

    You’re bound to look and feel like a million bucks after a pampering visit to The Oriental Spa, Bangkok, whose expert therapists use a variety of luxurious skincare products while kneading, massaging and rubbing your cares away. Oils and lotions from some of the world’s leading beauty product providers are utilized at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok’s spa, including select lines from Valmont, Aromatherapy Associates and Thalgo. A number of custom essential oils blended exclusively for the Bangkok spa are also used during some treatments, such as the signature 90-minute Oriental Essence, during which you’ll be massaged with an oil mixed with frankincense, ginger and mandarin.
  • On January 14, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    When is Le Normandie open?

    Though Le Normandie is open six days a week for lunch and dinner, both afternoon and evening hours are somewhat limited. This acclaimed restaurant, located at the luxury Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok hotel and long considered one of the city’s finest French eateries, serves chef Arnaud Dunand Sauthier’s exquisite cuisine from noon to 2:30 p.m., and again from 7 to 10:30 p.m.; à la carte and prix-fixe menus are available at both seatings. We strongly recommend making reservations up to a week in advance of your desired date, given Le Normandie’s enduring popularity and small dining room. Note that the Bangkok restaurant is closed on Sundays.
  • On January 14, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the dress code at Le Normandie?

    The dress code at Le Normandie gives you the opportunity to slip into a dazzling dress or dust off your most stylish suit. At this upscale French restaurant, the dress code for women calls for fashionable attire and footwear, while men are asked to wear nice pants, a button-up shirt and dressy shoes — guys, no open-toe sandals or flip-flops are allowed. Dress can be somewhat more casual for afternoon seatings, though during the dinner hours gentlemen are required to wear a formal jacket. If you forget to pack it, contact Le Normandie’s staff before your arrival — loaners are available by advance request. Of course, whether it matches the rest of your dapper ensemble is another story, so best bring one along from home if you want to dine at the Bangkok restaurant.
  • On January 14, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the scene like at Le Normandie?

    The scene at Le Normandie is one of intimate, unabashed opulence. Situated in the Garden Wing of Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, this exceptional 12-table French restaurant features a dining room characterized by tropical flower arrangements, plush antique furnishings, patterned carpeting, splendid chandeliers and — perhaps best of all — sweeping views over the Chao Phraya river through floor-to-ceiling windows.

    It all adds up to one stunning setting in which to indulge chef Arnaud Dunand Sauthier’s heavenly haute French cuisine. Just don’t forget to bring formal attire along with you to the Bangkok restaurant: Le Normandie’s dress code calls for stylish pants, shoes and shirt for men — and a suit jacket during the evening — and fashionable clothes for women.
  • On January 14, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    How do I get a reservation at Le Normandie?

    The best way to get a reservation at Le Normandie is to call or email the restaurant directly, though if you’re staying at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, the concierge staff can also assist with booking a table. This upscale restaurant, located in the gorgeous Garden Wing of the luxury Bangkok hotel, stands as one of the most popular French restaurants in town — and with good reason — so we strongly recommend reserving your table at least one week in advance of your desired date. If you email, expect to be contacted by a member of Le Normandie’s staff within 48 hours of your reservation request with confirmation of availability.
  • On January 14, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the design style of Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok?

    From ornate lanterns hung from the ceiling of its sunbathed atrium to carved wooden appointments and sumptuous silk fabrics, there’s no mistaking Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok’s traditional Thai-style design. The lobby at this historic Bangkok hotel, located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, exudes refined elegance with its floor-to-ceiling windows, plush patterned carpeting, teak furnishings and the sound of running water in a fountain with floating lotus flowers. The setting is equally enchanting throughout Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok’s serene outdoor spaces, where verdant tropical plants and blooming flowers complete the hotel’s distinct sense of place and impressive panorama of relaxed luxury.
  • On January 14, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What’s the best time to visit Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok?

    The best time to visit Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok is during the city’s “cool” season, which tends to last from mid-November to mid-February. This makes long days of temple-hopping and sightseeing a much more manageable endeavor, and during the evening you can find a seat at one of this luxury Bangkok hotel’s riverside restaurants and nosh delectable cuisine in complete comfort while basking in the bewitching Chao Phraya scenery.

    It’s worth noting, however, that Bangkok’s cool season is also, predictably, its high tourism season — availability is always limited at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, but especially at this time of the year. If you’re considering a visit to this luxurious property, you should book room reservations well in advance.