architecture blog

A Modern Getaway in California Wine Country

Posted by Christian Navar on Mon, Mar 2, 2009 @ 15:03 PM

Being a connoisseur  of all things “modern” I often find myself planning vacations not just around a certain place or location, but also around experiencing interesting well-designed restaurants, museums, shops, and places to stay. Often I turn to Wallpaper City Guides, published by Phaidon Press as a way to research the best places to visit for the “design-conscious traveller”.

Recently, however, it was as simple as a quick search on Google that brought me to a wonderful little inn at a vineyard in Paso Robles, California. The Christopher Joyce Vineyard and Inn is a wonderful new modern structure “nestled in the vines” atop a vineyard that overlooks beautiful Central California wine country. This new bed and breakfast features two very well furnished suites in a comfortable and relaxing, yet contemporary, setting.

modern winery viewThe View

The inn, located just a short drive from downtown Paso Robles' many fine eating establishments, is perfectly situated for anyone looking for a relaxing weekend getaway or a wine tasting extravaganza. The innkeeper, Joyce Clarke, compliments the place perfectly. Upon arrival, she served a glass of Zinfandel accompanied by the most delightful, freshly prepared appetizers, all the while offering wonderful recommendations of places to eat and to go wine tasting in Paso. After a day of great wine tasting and a wonderful meal in Paso Robles, I returned to the inn to find an assortment of desserts and dessert wine waiting for me, which I consumed by the fire in a warm and lofty space far away from the daily grind.

modern bed and breakfast The Inn

If you are sitting at your desk right now thinking, “I need to get away this weekend”, a quick four hour drive from Los Angeles will get you to The Christopher Joyce Vineyard and Inn. If your idea of relaxing is spending the weekend in a Tuscan Villa, I highly recommend going to Italy, not Paso. But if you want panoramic views, great cuisine, and incredible wine in a well-designed bed and breakfast closer to home, try the Christopher Joyce Vineyard and Inn.

modern inn

modern california inn View of the Inn from the Vineyard

Tags: Hotel Design, Travel

Yotel: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Tue, Jan 8, 2008 @ 23:01 PM

While on travel over the holidays I had the pleasure of having a few 10+ hour flights back to back. To alleviate some of this strain, my wife and I extended our layover at Heathrow Airport (London) to try to get some rest at the recently opened Yotel,
located within Terminal Four.

Yotel is a new chain of pod style hotels springing up in European airports. The concept is simple: provide a micro sized room at a (relatively) affordable rate and have it be conveniently accessible to the long-haul traveler.
Our seven hour layover allowed us a five hour stay in a premium cabin. Yes, they charge by the hour, but not in a sleazy kind of way. Here's my take on the Yotel:

The Good

  • Concept - Great idea based on airline first class sleeper cabins.
  • Location - Checking-in without leaving the airport is a must if attempting a short layover stay.
  • Design - Although windowless (to the outdoors), the small cabins feel roomy and comfortable. The high tech modern look is very appropriate and well done.
  • Flexibility- The double bed electronically inclines to a couch or lays flat for sleeping.
  • Bathroom - A private bathroom with shower in such a small space was impressive and the glass wall partition to the bedroom helped to avoid either room feeling cramped.

The Bad

  • Check-In - A computer (like an ATM) is used for self check-in. It seemed to work fine, but a staff member interrupted and handled some of it manually. Maybe this is because our room wasn't ready. We had to wait about 15 minutes in the tiny seat-less lobby - not really acceptable when you only have the room for 5 hours.
  • Room Controls - Like the design, much of the rooms controls are high tech with buttons that control lighting schemes, etc. I'm a techie guy and still found the controls a bit confusing.
  • Wi-Fi - Internet access is free through either an ethernet hookup to a laptop or by using the TV system's keyboard. The TV internet system was slow and the interface was barely usable. Wi-Fi would be better, I could have used my iphone.

The Ugly

  • NOISE - Between the frequent vacuuming of rooms, others checking-in, toilets flushing, and staff walking down the hall, the frequent noise made it hard to sleep. As far as soundproofing goes I'd give them an F. The rooms have a seemingly unnecessary window to the hall that surely wasn't helping. The walls and floor even seemed to creak every time someone went down the hall. I could even hear the airport announcements from in the room. My suggestion would be to investigate some kind of "white noise" system to drown out all these unwanted sounds.

Overall, the Yotel is a great idea that I would love to see expand if they could only deal with that pesky noise problem.

Tags: Hotel Design, Airport, London, Yotel