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Peter J. Frank
New York, NY
Peter J. Frank is a veteran travel editor, writer, and consultant
Interests: restaurants, airlines, international travel, cruises, digital media, adventure travel, luxury hotels
Recent Activity
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I've just checked into my fourth hotel in the last two weeks and have finally decided to put the list I've been compiling in my head out there on the Intertubes. What is it with bathrooms that make hotel designers and managers go completely off the rails? Bathrooms are so easy: You need your basic plumbing fixtures, a countertop, some towels and products, and a couple of well-placed light bulbs. Add hot water, and voilà! But no, they have to make it all clever and complicated... and therefore NOT FUNCTIONAL. Herewith, the six most annoying things about hotel bathrooms that... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2010 at LET'S BE FRANK
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I had dinner with a few friends from college last night who berated me for giving props to Delta Airlines. "Delta sucks!" they cried, practically in unison, and proceeded to tell me woeful tales of cancelled flights, rude agents, overnights on the hard airport floors, and general flight mayhem. Okay, here's the truth, kids: ALL airlines suck, at one point or another (even Southwest). But airlines can also save the day, getting you onto an earlier flight, upgrading you or putting you in an exit row, and flying you across the country for relatively little money. It's like they have... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2010 at LET'S BE FRANK
The latest issue of Condé Nast Traveler includes a short piece I wrote on traveling to Iguazu Falls, the incredible series of waterfalls on the border of Argentina and Brazil that I visited last Christmas. It's just a short, practical guide accompanying a longer essay on the falls by Ben Moser. Anyone who's traveling to Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, or elsewhere in the region should consider a detour to the falls: It's a quick and easy overnight trip (though two days would be better), and the falls are an astonishing show of natural force. For a taste,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2010 at LET'S BE FRANK
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It's a cliché to say that God is in the details, but it really is the small, thoughtful touches that set a hotel apart from its competitive set. I recently stayed at a new luxury hotel in Mexico City that proved just that. There are other hotels in Mexico City that provide spacious rooms, gorgeous design, excellent food, and responsive service. Las Alcobas ticks all of those boxes, but it was the small amenities that provided the real delight. At a time when luxury leaders like Four Seasons are cutting back on fresh flowers and restaurant hours to save money,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2010 at LET'S BE FRANK
I'm still organizing my photos and compiling thoughts about my recent trips to Mexico City and London, so my posts are still to come. But in the meantime, my fellow travel journalist Anja Mutic, who was also on the Mexico City trip, has written a great little post for her blog, Ever the Nomad, about Mexico City's ficheras, a type of dance hall where men pay women by the dance. (Cueing Tina Turner!) It's a poignant look at a traditional slice of culture that's slowly disappearing.There's a video, too, of women stuffed into tight little dresses and men who look... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2010 at LET'S BE FRANK
USA Today has an interesting story this morning about the frustrating lack of power outlets in most coach cabins. Very few airplanes have power outlets on short-haul flights, and even on longer flights—when you're more likely to use your laptop to work or watch a movie—they are few and far between. American seems to have the most outlets, according to the article, but only every 2nd or 3rd row in coach. That makes it even more exasperating when your laptop gives out ten minutes into Glee, while the guy two rows up is happily plugged in, watching his Two and... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2010 at LET'S BE FRANK
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My short feature on the new generation of hoteliers was just published in Travel + Leisure's June issue. The story contains short profiles of six hoteliers, all of whom started their careers as something else: lawyer, entrepreneur, designer, etc. Profiles include Liz Lambert of the Hotel Santa Cecilia in Austin, WIlbert Das, the former Diesel creative director who now runs a small resort in Brazil, and Tuncel Toprak, who has a cool boutique hotel in Istanbul called The Witt. It was a fun story to research and write, and I can't wait to actually visit some of the hotels myself! Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2010 at LET'S BE FRANK
I've been crazy busy the past few weeks and unable to post, plus I've been distracted by a few hilariously bizarre turns of fate, so I'll just give you the highlights: Michael and I ended up going to London after all, our flight home disrupted not by a volcano, as feared, but by an eruption of a very different but eminently more enjoyable sort: Courtney Love having a conniption in first class and marching back to coach to berate her lowly assistant, to the amusement of her fans in business class (yours truly). Even more pathetic than Courtney's outburst was... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2010 at LET'S BE FRANK
I just read an announcement that Delta Airlines is about to start non-stop service to Valencia, Spain. Woohoo! I've always wanted to visit Valencia, which has a reputation for fabulous food and cutting-edge architecture—like Barcelona but hipper, more authentic, and less overrun with tourists. Food snobs say it's the only place to get authentic paella with a soccarat, the flavorful, dark layer of caramelized rice that forms on the bottom of the paella pan. (If you've been to Soccarat Paella Bar on 17th Street in New York you know what I'm talking about.) Valencia also has some amazing buildings by... Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2010 at LET'S BE FRANK
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My amusement at seeing Mother Nature strike back at humanity in the guise of an ash-spewing Icelandic volcano is gradually turning to dismay. I'm sympathetic to all those travelers whose trips have been postponed or canceled (though why are they just sitting around JFK? Go to Central Park!). But the blob keeps inching closer to our own plans to fly to London in early May. Now all those selfish-traveler instincts are kicking in: This is going to affect MY fabulous weekend jaunt? Volcanoes SUCK! What sucks even more is that the airlines don't seem to be dropping fares to Europe... Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2010 at LET'S BE FRANK
Low-fare carrier Spirit Airlines just announced that it will start charging $30 for any carry-on bag that has to go in the overhead bin. They won't charge you for something that fits underneath the seat, and they make exceptions for things like strollers, umbrellas, and coats. But the fee goes up to $45 if you wait until you get to the gate to pay it. Spirit has a lot of flights to Florida and the Caribbean, popular places for a long-weekend jaunt, which means a lot of passengers are likely to carry their luggage on board rather than bother with... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2010 at LET'S BE FRANK
There's been a lot of buzz in the travel world about Cuba recently. A story in the New York Times this week mentioned the various companies salivating at the prospect of opening shop there once the longstanding travel ban is lifted (which seems an ever more distant prospect). Concierge.com, my former stomping ground, put Cuba on its 2010 "It List" of the hottest up-and-coming destinations, and also called Varadero, its main beach resort, one of the World's Sexiest Beaches last year. I've also had a couple of friends mention their interest, including one couple who actually made it down for... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2010 at LET'S BE FRANK
First off, apologies for being the world's worst travel blogger. I should know better than to wait a month between posts, but I've been busy celebrating an (ahem) landmark birthday, traveling to the Caribbean (more on that later), and thinking about my next big trip. Said thinking, I find, can be almost as fun as the trip-taking itself. Right now I'm dreaming up ideas for a long weekend to celebrate my partner's birthday in June. We want urban and fun, but affordable. Preference goes to someplace I've (or at least we've) never been. Seville? Prague? Mexico City? Montreal? Or maybe... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2010 at LET'S BE FRANK
When is a Gansevoort Hotel not a Gansevoort Hotel? When the owners default on their loans, the bank takes over, and it fires the management team while keeping the name. That's what happened to Gansevoort South in Miami Beach last week: the Gansevoort folks lost both their ownership stake and their management contract, but the lender, Credit Suisse, claims it's allowed to keep the name. This is certain to devolve into a mess of lawsuits, but in the meantime all I can say is: Good riddance! The Gansevoort people are the douchebags of the hotel world. Their original property in... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2010 at LET'S BE FRANK
What most people know about Vieques is (a) that it's a tiny, under-the-radar Caribbean gem off the coast of Puerto Rico, best known for its low-key vibe and its amazing beaches; and (b) that the U.S. Navy used those beaches as target practice for decades, bombing the hell out of them until 2003. Now, a number of residents are suing the U.S. government, claiming that the Navy contaminated the island with toxic chemicals, causing high rates of cancer, liver disease, and other illnesses. A heart-wrenching series of reports last week on CNN relates the story of several Viequenses who believed... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2010 at LET'S BE FRANK
A weekly roundup of interesting tidbits from around the Web. This week, the Sex & Booze Edition: The TSA's little sadomasochism problem (via Chris Elliott) It's fashionable these days to harp on airport security, but I can't believe they didn't check this agent's MySpace page. Go muff-diving with Spirit Airlines (via Gadling) It's about low fares for scuba enthusiasts, you perv! NYC restaurant to serve "sex in a bowl" (via HotelChatter) That's how chef Scott Conant describes the pasta dish with tomato and sea urchin at his new Faustina restaurant. I wouldn't kick it out of bed! Century-old whiskey dug... Continue reading
Posted Feb 7, 2010 at LET'S BE FRANK
Peter J. Frank added a favorite at LET'S BE FRANK
Feb 5, 2010
There's a price for everything these days. According to the Wall Street Journal, Starwood Hotels has a new program at certain Sheraton and Westin hotels that gives you a $5 credit at the restaurant or 500 frequent-guest points if you skip housekeeping for the day. This is just another way for them to save dough, of course — it costs around $22 a day to clean a luxury hotel room, according to the article — but they can promote it as being good for the environment, like asking you to reuse your towels. How thoughtful! When you boil it down,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2010 at LET'S BE FRANK
Fliers face a Catch-22 these days: Either you pay a hefty fee to check a bag (hoping and praying it actually arrives intact) or you cram everything — except that tube of toothpaste! — into a carry-on bag (hoping and praying there'll be room for your bag in the overhead bin). A story in the New York Times this weekend discussed how some travelers are getting around this predicament: gate-checking your bag to avoid the fee; booking a seat in the back half of the plane so you’ll be among the first board; or flying Southwest, which doesn’t charge to... Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2010 at LET'S BE FRANK
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Matt Gross's story in yesterday's New York Times about eating ramen in Tokyo produced the expected stomach growls, as well as memories of my own Tokyo noodle adventure a few years back. My partner Michael and I were visiting Japan with our friend and her Tokyo-born mother. Lelah and Ioe did triple duty for us as translators, tour guides, and culinary Virgils -- a godsend in a city where English is useless and the cuisine is strange and exciting. The Japanese are such incredible connoisseurs of food - they obsess over the quality and origin of ingredients, detecting subtleties of... Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2010 at LET'S BE FRANK
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This is going to be a travel blog, and my hope is that it covers the entire world. But for my first post, I’m going to write about the place I call home: New York City, specifically the West Village, and specifically Hudson Street. Over the past 18 months or so Hudson Street has seen quite a few storefronts close down: restaurants, boutiques, bars, delis. It’s the economy, of course, but many of these locally owned businesses faced astronomical rents that kept getting more astronomical, thanks in part to landlords who don't give a damn. The shoe store on our... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2010 at LET'S BE FRANK
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Jan 19, 2010