London may be known for its rainy climate but one hotel in the British capital has decided loaning out umbrellas just wasn’t cool enough for its elite clientele — not when you could loan out Burberry trench coats instead.
The Maybourne Hotel Group — which runs a number of high-end hotels in London — is placing the designer raincoats in suites so that guests can ward off the weather. Visitors can use the Burberry coats for free during their stay, but will have to cough up around $1,500 if they want to take them home.
Trench coats are just one of many luxurious perks hotels are offering to woo guests. Over the years, we’ve seen all sorts of cool and surprising things on loan to travelers.If you’re staying at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, there’s no need to worry about picking up a cramped rental car. The hotel will set guests up with a nice set of free wheels — all you have to do is decide if you want to hit the road in a Porsche, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Cadillac, Mercedes or Bentley.
Earlier this year, the Burj Al Arab in Dubai announced it was letting guests play with an iPad during their stay. Of course, being Dubai, they’re not just handing out any old iPad — their blinged-out devices are plated in nothing less than 24-carat gold.
And finally, if you’re tired of everything in your suitcase, you can put together a killer new outfit thanks to the Fred Segal lending library at the Loews Santa Monica Hotel. The program lets hotel guests borrow a range of accessories such as expensive purses, necklaces and sunglasses from the upscale clothing retailer.
Have you come across any other lavish hotel perks?
Smartphones and tablets have become an important part of our daily lives, putting a wealth of functionality and information at our fingertips. Straight out of the box these devices can do amazing things to keep us entertained and in communication while on the go, but companies like Kensington are making some excellent accessories that can extend that functionality even further and perhaps even enhance it. Here are three such accessories that can make your next road trip even better.
KeyCover Hard Shell Keyboard for iPad ($79.99)
There is no doubt that the iPad is a fantastic device, capable of some amazing things, but its onscreen keyboard can be a major obstacle for those looking to use the tablet to get serious work done. That’s where the KeyCover Hard Shell Keyboard comes in handy. This keyboard connects to your iPad via Bluetooth, instantly turning it into an ultra-portable workstation. With the right apps, it can even rival a laptop in terms of productivity.
Typing on the keyboard takes some getting use to, in part because the keys are smaller than what you find on a laptop. The first few times I put it to the test I found the backspace key was getting the most use as I was continuously correcting mistakes. But as with most things in life, practice makes perfect and before too long my large fingers adapted nicely to the smaller keys and I was able to type away almost as quickly and efficiently as I do on my larger notebook. The keys have a high quality feel to them and they make a nice, reassuring click as you type away. When you get on a roll, you might even forget that you’re actually getting productive work done on an iPad.The KeyCover has a few other tricks up its sleeve that will make it a favorite amongst iPad owners as well. Not only is it an excellent portable keyboard, but it also serves as a highly protective case that snaps snugly over the tablet, encasing it in a solid shell that protects the iPad’s screen very nicely. The case is made from anodized aluminum that looks great and provides a level of protection that you don’t get from most other cases. It can be a bit tricky to get off and on at first but after using it a few times it becomes second nature.
Like Apple’s Smartcover, this case uses magnets to automatically wake or put the iPad to sleep when it is opened and closed. It also has a built-in stand that can hold the iPad in either portrait or landscape mode, which is helpful when trying to get work done, but is great for watching movies or making Facetime or Skype calls too.
As mentioned above, the KeyCover connects to the iPad via Bluetooth (version 3.0), which means that it is an electronic device with its own built-in, rechargeable batteries. Kensington says the keyboard’s battery is rated for 120 hours of use between charges and I’ll have to take their word for it. In my testing I was never able to run the battery down fully, so it is clearly capable of lasting for quite a long time. The downside is that the KeyCover is one more item you’ll need to be sure is charged before you hit the road because it won’t be particularly useful if the battery dies.
If you love your iPad but found its functionality slightly hindered by the lack of a physical keyboard, then you’ll absolutely love the KeyCover. It really is an excellent companion for Apple’s tablet. Similarly, if you’re a road warrior who is looking to lighten your load and leave the laptop behind, the KeyCover can turn your iPad into a device that is far more productive. The keyboard even comes in handy for typing emails, iMessages or just about anything else that requires a lot of text entry. It truly will open up a host of new possibilities for how you use the iPad.
Proximity Tag ($39.95)
Are you one of those people who is prone to losing your keys? Do you often walk away from a restaurant or coffee shop, leaving your cellphone behind? If so, Kensington’s Proxmity Tag was made for you. This light and thin device is roughly the size of a credit card and is designed to be paired with a Samsung Galaxy smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth, although in theory any Android device should work. Once connected, either the sensor or the phone will alert you when they are no longer close to one another. So for example, you could attach the sensor to your keychain, carry-on bag or just about any other valuable item and if it moves outside of a range of about 30 feet from your smartphone, it will immediately alert you that your valuables have been left behind or taken. On the other hand, should you leave your phone behind somewhere and walk more than 30 feet away, the sensor will sound an alert as well, reminding you to retrieve your device.
Connecting your smartphone to the Proximity Tag is accomplished through an app that is available on the Google Play Store. The app allows you to configure a few options on the Tag itself, although its main use is to pair it with your Android device and to tell the sensor to emit an alarm when you can’t find it. So if you lose your keys and need to discover where they are at any given time, the app will tell the Proximity Tag to emit a sound that makes it easy to quickly track them down.
As mentioned above, Kensington says the Proximity Sensor is compatible with Samsung Galaxy devices, but since they use the Android mobile operating system, I assumed the app would run on any Android device. When installed on a generic Android tablet running the latest version of the OS the app ran fine as far as I could tell, but when I put it on an HTC One it crashed multiple times. I had to borrow a Samsung Galaxy S III to properly test its uses and, as you might expect, it ran without a hitch.
The Proximity Tag is powered by a user replaceable lithium battery that Kensington says should be good for about six months use. Once again, I’ll have to take their word for it, because during my testing it never ran out of juice. It did, however, work as advertised, providing alerts when either the Android device or the backpack that I attached the Tag to passed out of range of one another.
The fact that the sensor is small enough to slip into your wallet is a nice added benefit. That means you can keep it on you at all times and use it as needed. Keep it paired with your phone at all times and connect it to something valuable that you want to keep tabs of as needed. Or better yet, rest assured that you’ll never leave your smartphone or tablet behind again. That is quite a nice level of reassurance for a mere $40.
EVAP Wet Electronics Rescue Pouch ($19.99)
Have you ever inadvertently jumped into a swimming pool forgetting you had your iPod in your pocket? How about accidentally dropping your smartphone in a full sink of water? There are few things that can kill an electronic device faster than immersing it in water and usually it means that gadget is gone for good. Fortunately, Kensington makes an accessory that can help with this problem, perhaps saving you hundreds of dollars in repair or replacement costs in the process.
The EVAP emergency pouch is designed to pull moisture out of an electronic device without damaging its delicate components in any way. It contains specially developed drying agents that are specifically made to work with electronics and their effectiveness is nothing short of miraculous.
There really is no trick to using the EVAP, you simply open it up and pull out the two sealed packets that contain the drying agents. Place those packets on either side of the waterlogged device and slip them all back inside and seal the pouch. Kensington says it will take anywhere from 6-24 hours for the process to complete, depending on the device and amount of water involved. A handy indicator on the outside of the EVAP will actually let you know when it has completed the process.
I tried the EVAP with an old iPod Nano I had sitting around my apartment. It still worked but had been replaced by a newer model, so I was willing to sacrifice it under the guise of product testing. I soaked it in a bowl of water for several minutes and when I took it out, it refused to turn on. After blotting it dry with a towel, I sealed it in the pouch and left it inside overnight. The next morning I checked the EVAP right away noticed that it had finished its work. I opened the pouch and took the iPod out and was pleasantly surprised to have it power-up in my hand. The EVAP worked exactly as advertised and my old Nano was back from the dead.
The EVAP is one of those products you hope you never need but you’re glad you have when you do. It is super easy to use, worked great in my test and may save you hundreds of dollars, not to mention endless heartbreak. The product is just $19.95, so it isn’t exactly expensive. It would be a good thing to keep around the house in case of an emergency and if you happen to own a boat, I’d store one there as well. Additionally, if you’re taking a trip to a destination where you’ll be spending plenty of time around the water, you may want to play it safe and have one in your suitcase as well. It could turn out that you’re very cautious and won’t need one, but this is the kind of product that is the epitome of “better safe than sorry.”
There you have it – three very unique and different products from one company. Each works well in its own right and are likely to make customers happy. Kensington’s reputation for creating innovative and functional products continues.
Gadling contributors are, by occupation, a well traveled lot and they’re hard on their kit. They want stuff that works – stuff that lasts, stuff that’s genuinely useful, stuff they’re never sorry they packed. While you’re hunting little extras to gift your favorite traveler, consider this list of favorites from some of the most traveled people on the Internet.
McLean Robbins: As a traveler who can’t manage to ever get comfortable on an airplane or with hotel pillows, I can’t leave home without this Brookstone accessory. I purchased it on a whim before a long-haul European flight where I thought I’d be stuck in a middle coach seat, and have used it on even short domestic flights ever since. The pillow is great in its U-shaped form, but I place it under those flimsy hotel pillows for extra support too. Best of all? It compacts nicely into my carry-on bag as well.
Jessica Marati: Melatonin. This natural sleep aid is the best way to get rest on redeye flights and combat jet lag. I don’t travel without it.
Chris Owen: I usually pack specifically for each trip but one thing that always makes it is my bag full of cords, plugs, power converters and backup battery power. It’s called a Flex Pack and made by Victorinox.
Dave Seminara: I travel with a Princeton Tec headlamp so I can read in hotel rooms (or tents) after my sons go to bed! [Note: There's always a headlamp in my pack too. And if you get one that's got a red light mode, you can dig around in your bag or find your way to your bunk in the hostel without waking and/or blinding your roomies.Kyle Ellison: The two things I never travel without are duct tape and nylon cord, both available at your local hardware store. With the tape you can fix a rip in your backpack, seal a cut on your foot, create a waterproof barrier on anything, make labels, bookmarks, a lid for your food ... anything really. With the cord you can make a clothesline, tie a tent down, fix a backpack, make a tourniquet, a belt, shoelaces ... again, it's a life saver.
Mix these in with a Leatherman multi-tool (opening cans, getting out splinters, cutting your tape and cord, opening wine bottles, sawing through wood, unscrewing air ducts in hotels, which are vibrating, fixing your glasses, hammering in tent stakes, etc.) Unfortunately, your multi-tool can only travel with you via land travel or checked baggage.
Laurel Miller: This small, rip-stop compact folding duffel bag. It has zippered side pockets so you can stuff it into itself, and it compacts to the size of a sandwich. I keep it in the bottom of my backpack and use it to bring home the inevitable souvenirs or press materials that accumulate on my travels. It also makes a great overnight bag, especially if I'm on a big trip that has some side trips where I can leave my backpack behind.
Meg Nesterov: I love the TotSeat portable high chair. It fits in a purse/bag, weighs almost nothing, and is handy anytime I want to put my baby in a regular chair and have her stay there. It is way superior to the other "travel" high chairs that are as big as phone books (if that reference even makes sense anymore), though it is essentially like tying your child to a chair!
Seattle was recently choked by the kind of snowstorm that we’re not supposed to get. It was followed by an ice storm, something I’ve never had the joy and/or terror to experience. It was also great gear testing weather. I unpacked my snow gear and the big parka, the long underwear, and wrapped my hands and head in SmartWool’s “Snowflake Pop” knits.
I like hats with earflaps because well, they keep your ears warm. Even though I’ve rabbited on much too much about how I love SmartWool, I didn’t believe that the hat would not be itchy and that it would not keep the wind off. I was wrong, it’s super soft and my ears did not itch. It totally gave me hat hair, but whatever, pretty much every one in my city has hat hair right now. As for warmth, it was a frigid 28 degrees F and I was pelted with freezing rain and I was certainly warm enough. Caveat — I was wearing the hood to my parka to keep from getting too wet. I’ve been wearing this littlle hat regularly since the temperatures dropped. I only have one wish for it — the braids on the ends of the earflaps are a little short. Sometimes, you want to tie those things up so your ears aren’t covered. When I turn the earflaps up, they stick out and I look like Yoda. Not a good look.
The matching knitted gloves make for a cute set, but they’re not as weatherproof as I needed them to be. They got damp on the finger tips while I was taking pictures of the ice and my hands got cold. The wind bit through as well, the knit isn’t tight enough to really keep the weather out. The following day I wore them with a pair of glove liners (mine are from Icebreaker and no, you can’t work an iPhone in them) and that made all the difference. If I wanted to stay warm, I had to keep stuffing my hands in my pockets. The gloves are good for cold but not wet — blustery day at the bus stop? Okay. Rain and sleet and snow? Not so much so.
SmartWool’s Snowflake Pop hat is $45.00, the gloves are $35.00. They come in a couple of different colors — a cranberry, a turquoise, and black. There are (ooooh!) matching socks, too, if you have to go all crazy with your winter accessories and need to match them all the way down to what’s inside your boots. In short, good stuff for cold; you’ll need more if you’re going to be in wet weather.
On Sunday, October 9, 2011, from 5PM to midnight, the Brooklyn Night Bazaar will be held at Dekalb Market in Brooklyn, New York. The event, which is inspired by the night markets across Asia, will feature more than 65 independent vendors, food, music, art, and a beer and wine garden, all outdoors. While the event is free, there will be a ticket charge of $12-$15 to enter the performance area. Tickets can be purchased here.