About Renee Blodgett

Renee Blodgett

Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.

Latest Posts by Renee Blodgett

The Pocket Poppet For Women on the Go

April 22, 2014 by  


I recently discovered a fun wrap, or more like a Cardigan on the Go! from a company called Pocket Poppet.   From boardroom to beach, work to weekend, retro to metro, The Pocket Poppets’ adaptable design is great for women who are looking for comfort, style and a compact easy-to-carry cardigan on the road.

The Pocket Poppet is a fashionable open drape front cardigan that is created to fold into its own attached convenient and protective pouch. Street chic details such as ruched sleeves, jewel tone colors, and a curve-enhancing cut have been created in tandem with a small credit card /ID/lip gloss/cell phone pocket on the inside. Some ‘Cardigan on the Go!’ owners apparently report loving the concealed pouch to stash their small essentials when traveling , such as their boarding pass and ID while waiting in line at security!

Cleverly concealed by the Poppets’ graceful pleating and sophisticated silhouette, the lightweight pouch falls in the small of the back for complete discretion while on the body.  When you no longer wish to wear your Pocket Poppet, it easily folds away and “pops” back into its pouch for effortlessly easy storage in a purse, stroller, or suitcase, protecting it from the unwelcome wear and tear, spills, or various other “oops” moments that are so prevalent in modern women’s lives!

Created to transition effortlessly from dressy affairs to casual outings, its easily accessible when you need it most — air-conditioned restaurants, airplanes, offices, cruise ships, shopping malls, or theaters.

Made from an ultra soft, high quality rayon with a touch of spandex for easier crease release , the “Classic” Poppet functions a semi-structured jacket in many types of clothing wardrobes, especially professional or dressy ensembles.  The “Classic” Poppet, is available in seven fun colors: Black Noir, Au Naturel, Sapphire Blue, Red Wine, Rich Plum, Heathered Grey and Heathered Dark Chocolate.

Imagined as an upscale weekend or workout layer,  the “Lotus” Poppet is made from a moisture-wicking Bamboo/Rayon/Cotton/Spandex blend in a weight and style that falls gracefully to the hip without adding bulk or volume. Bamboo clothing naturally has wonderful wicking properties and is partially antimicrobial, two features that are fantastic for both humid climates and swift changes in temperature.

All Poppets currently come with black  water- repellent pockets except ‘Au Naturel’ which comes with a white water- repellent pocket. The box pleats on the back of the ‘‘Classic’ Poppet and gently gathered seam on the back of the ‘Lotus Poppet,’ just above the natural waist level, cleverly conceal the Rip stop fabric pouch inside.

Below, the hue of the Red Wine Pocket Poppet can be described as somewhere between cranberry and a nice glass of Pinot Noir.  

The pouch falls in the small of the back and cannot be detected while wearing the Poppet. When you no longer need to wear it your Pocket Poppet it easily folds away and “pops” back into its pouch. My favorite? The purple of course.

Meadows in the Mountains Festival Returns to Bulgaria

April 21, 2014 by  


 Meadows in the Mountains Festival returns to Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountain range this summer. Located near the Greek border, the festival will be held from June 13-15, 2014 and feature live artists and DJ’s across three days, from disco, electronica, chill, funk, jazz, art, sun and nature.

Other Meadows In The Mountains activities include horse & cart taxis, mountain zip line, creative arts & installations, downhill grass bobsleighing, death slide, horse riding, waterfalls, mountain walking, natural thermal springs, hammocks, family friendly, local village life and locally sourced food.

Meadows is nestled high up in the stunning Rhodope Mountains, very proud of its quirky and different attitude that doesn’t follow trends and other festival’s concepts. The beautiful landscapes of Bulgaria beckon once again to recreate the magical mystery and true sense of community that Meadows In The Mountains represents.  

Inspired by Bulgarian revolutionaries Vasil Levski and Hristo Botev, Meadows invites it’s participants to embark upon a voyage across the seven seas to the very heart of the Rhodopian Mountains nestled in the beautiful Bulgarian countryside; an untouched and un ravished bastion of nature in this harsh world of urban sprawl and concrete jungles.

Once home to prehistoric man these ancient forests have born witness to the fire of creativity and the explosion of the conscious magical mind. It has been recorded that the ancient Thracian explorers, upon bearing witness to the majesty of the meadows, immediately called for their harps and flutes to be bought forth and a new form of musical ceremony was created.

The Byzantines themselves reveled in the power that saturates the land, dancing naked by the moonlight in praise to the Gods of celebration and song.

And it is through this very tradition that curator brothers, Benjamin and Damain Sasse have the most great and humble pleasure in inviting festival goers to cast aside their daily woes, shrug off the binding chains of the 9-5 and indulge in a debauched weekend of mind-expanding experience, community and free spirit to skip through the fields and forests with untamed abandon and to lay with the fireflies and nighttime skies in the long grass of the Meadows in the Mountains Festival!

Festival highlights include:

·      Dance in the ethereal half-light of dawn and dusk as the sunrise and sunset stages provide some of the best un-signed, underground artists spanning eclectic musical genres from across the world

·      Watch the morning mist cascade over the mountain range as shadowy forms convulse and glide to the rhythmic beats of house and techno…

·      Dwell at the forefront of sound as jazz, folk and disco float through the intricacies of melody.

·      Indulge your primordial appetites with hearty food to feed the soul; all locally grown and locally produce.

·      Walk in the footsteps of the forest gods whilst exploring the rustic surroundings and the wildness of nature.

·      Glimpse the awe-inspiring power of creation as the art installations change your concepts of what reality really means.

·      Cast aside your mental barriers and explore the expansion of human consciousness with like-minded individuals; helping to create an event that promotes an attitude of utmost adventure.

Move Into Relaxation & Serenity With Sound Machines for Travelers

April 14, 2014 by  


Recently, in an effort to get a more peaceful sleep while on the road, I investigated a few sound system options that would be useful for travelers. In my research, I came up with several companies that focus on relaxing therapy, some of them a bit too large for the mobile warrior however some of them which we may get into at a later date, could be useful for summer homes or people who go back and forth to a few destinations on a regular basis and can leave units in various locations.

In the meantime, let’s dive into some options that we decided to review: The SOUND + SLEEP Home Machine (as well as their Nomad Travel Version) and the Sound Oasis Travel sound therapy machine.

The SOUND+SLEEP Sound is unique in that it offers a unit for home and one you can carry on the road. Since I travel so much, I decided to keep one in one location while keeping the other in the ole suitcase which never seems to be completely empty, as its always waiting for its next journey. Lately, I’ve noticed that its been harder to sleep on the road. My BOSE headsets died recently so I no longer have a great set for airplane travel (though we plan to review a few headsets for travel soon). Insomnia seems to be on the rise in general and it’s even worse for travelers. Apparently over half  a billion people in the world suffering from occasional or chronic sleep disorders, many turn to prescription or over-the-counter sleep aides for help.

The nomad unit (above) is singularly unique, and the result of serious efforts by sleep, audio, electronics, and software specialists. The unit is ideal for travel at 5.4″ x 4.6″ x 2.5″, which can easily fit into a purse, backpack, briefcase or carry-on. You can also listen to music and movies. On the device, natural sound ecosystems were captured with professional recording equipment and are reproduced in real-time using the latest in advanced electronics. This convenient sleep therapy system, with a compact yet rugged design, provides a truly enjoyable listening experience whether you are sleeping, reading, or relaxing while on the road. 

The nomad has four distinct features: the ability to listen to the noise in your environment and adapt its sound generation accordingly; the ability to create dynamic sound compositions that do not repeat; a new power management system allowing battery only or AC operation with battery backup; and the capability to conveniently listen to your music, movies, etc.

It utilizes patented Adaptive Sound technology that “listens and responds” to each user’s environment for unwanted and disruptive ambient sounds. By featuring real-time compositions of high-definition, mostly natural sound recordings, ultra high-quality SoundStories are produced with no noticeable repetition. The unit offers six relaxing SoundStories to promote a deeper sleep, relaxation and renewal: Waterfall, Ocean, Meadow, Rainfall, Brook or Noises (White, Brown, Pink, and Fan).

Additional features include:

  • Three operating modes for ease of use: Adaptive, Manual, and External
  • With External mode you can listen to your mp3 player, movie soundtracks, etc.
  • Flexible power: Two AA batteries and/or AC adapter, or USB cable
  • Sleek, rugged, compact design ideal for travel; fits in purse, carry-on or briefcase
  • Upward facing digital filter compensated speaker for full room sound
  • Gradual shut-off or continuous play for all night use
  • Optional sleep timer – 30, 60, or 90 minutes

What’s unique about their technology is that they include different modes so you can tune (up or down) the richness of the sound itself. Richness adds character to each SoundStory by dynamically mixing sounds to avoid repetition. I found the sound much more relaxing and most importantly for me — calming — than other units I’ve experienced in the past. You can adjust the richness to high, medium or low, low being the setting which is designed for sleep. My preference so far for sleep has been the Ocean SoundStory, which sounds like a soft swaying of waves in the background with a few soft birds….so easy to sleep to.

There’s also a sleep timer as indicated above in features — sometimes I go with the 30 minutes option and other times 60 minutes. So far, I haven’t needed a longer duration. Their External Audio mode becomes a “two-stage” timer, which can shut off gradually or switch to Internal Audio Mode when it expires. You can if you choose, have it play all night.

Here’s what else is cool – if you are listening to music in External Audio Mode and set the timer to 90 minutes, with the Timer Mode set to “01″, the unit will play your music for 90 minutes and then slowly ramp down the music and switch to  Internal Mode, slowly ramping up and playing whatever SoundStory you have selected for 30 minutes. After that, it will gradually go off. Sweet!

Below is the larger unit which is ideal for home or office use, a bedside table or desk. It has a few more options for sounds, with ten soothing high quality SoundStories, all using adaptive sound technology.

A built-in computer and microphone continuously “listen” for intruding noises such as barking dogs, automobiles, overhead airplanes, or loud roommates. In Adaptive Mode, the unit dynamically adds sounds to the SoundStory and automatically adjusts volume to offer superior sound masking or neutralizing capabilities. All that’s left to hear is a soothing natural sound that minimizes disruptions that disturb or interrupt sleep. As intrusive noises subside, the unit gradually and automatically returns to normal playback settings.

The SOUND + SLEEP Sound Profiles (the sounds) are implemented with ASTI’s proprietary SoundStory technology.  Each SOUND+SLEEP SoundStory is recorded the hard way — apparently their sound engineering and design teams climb trees, sit up all night waiting for frogs to croak, and stand outside in thunder storms with high-quality sound equipment to capture the best quality sounds – the authentic sounds of nature. All of their SoundStories employ recorded natural sounds except for the Meditation and White Noise themes. Yes, really.

For example, the Rainfall SoundStory is augmented by various thunderclaps, wind sounds and more. SOUND+SLEEP measures the ambient sound in a room using its built-in microphone to determine the appropriate mix of sounds to play. ASTI calls this real-time sound composition. When there is a sound that briefly repeats over and over again, it can actually become irritating — keeping you awake rather than helping relaxation and sleep. SOUND+SLEEP recordings are longer than any competing sound machine and have hundreds of enhancing sounds that are randomly and algorithmically mixed into the base sound story in real time.

The SOUND + SLEEP Adaptive Sound Sleep Therapy System is priced around $115 and the nomad Travel version is priced around $150 however you can get the bundle of both for only $250.

Sound Oasis Travel is a unique sound therapy product that combines high performance digital sounds with a full-featured travel/alarm clock. Incorporating 18 digitally recorded sounds, an exclusive jet-lag reduction sound and a voice memo feature, Sound Oasis Travel allows users to drift off to sleep with soothing nature sounds and wake up to one of four alarm sound types (sound, jet lag reduction sound, voice memo or buzzer). Powered by 4 “AA” batteries or the included worldwide AC adapter, Sound Oasis Travel is ideal for use while traveling or at home. Its compact size allows the unit to comfortably slip into briefcases, carry-on luggage and even one’s jacket pocket.

Sound Oasis Travel incorporates a multi-position timer (with 4 selections: continuous, 30, 60, and 90 minutes), a unique “gradual off” volume reduction feature for a peaceful decrease in sound volume, a rotary on/off volume control, headphone jack and a one-touch off/resume button that stops the unit or repeats your last played sequence. It also comes with a carrying case/pouch.

Sound Oasis Travel is ideal for blocking out annoying hotel noise, creating a soothing sleep environment whole traveling or at home and helping manage tinnitus. Its features include:
  • 18 authentic, high fidelity built-in sounds: Ocean Surf, North Woods, Thunderstorm, White Noise, Night Train, Spring Rain, Island Surf, Bonfire, Stream, Hidden Cove, Wind, Asian Garden, Song Birds, Harbor Swell, Bamboo Chimes, Summer Night, Cooling Fan, Rain Forest. There’s one called jetleg also which isn’t included in the sampling of sound images below.
  • Jet Lag Reduction sound developed by Dr. Jeffrey Thompson helps the body sync to new time zones. (see above).
  • Voice memo for recording your own alarm or memo
  • Dual time (home & away) jumbo backlit alarm clock & calendar with buzzer or sound alarm and snooze
  • Timer with 4 positions: continuous play auto, 30 min., 60 min. and 90 min.
  • Rotary volume control with a gentle shut off
  • Memory button replays last sound
  • Headphone / Sleep pillow jack
  • It is powered by 4 “AA” batteries (not included) for portability or the included global adapter set that works in any country worldwide
  • Travel pouch and time zone map included.
As for my favorites? Without a question, the ocean surf, bamboo chimes, and island surf. If you’re in a very noisy environment, which I was for several days when I tested this out (New York City), the white noise option blankets loud talking and crying babies extremely well. I also thought it was a very nice touch they include a time zone map as well as the global adapter set – well done is what I thought when I opened the package.  The price point is a very reasonable $89.00, which is a no brainer if you travel a lot and value a good night sleep.

I’d strongly recommend both units depending on your needs — they both delivery on their promise. Sound Oasis Travel is slightly more compact for travel purposes so a great option for frequent and shorter trips, whereas I think the nomad Sound+Sleep Travel Version is great for bringing on car trips or longer vacations. Both do come with handy carrying cases however. If you DO opt for the Sound+Sleep one, splurge and order both of them — one for home and one for travel. Isn’t a decent night sleep worth it?

The Mode Lounge in Boise Idaho for a Chic Experience & Scrumptious Bar Bites

April 11, 2014 by  


Old and new come together at The Mode Lounge, in the heart of downtown Boise Idaho, where I was able to stop over for a visit on my way back from Sun Valley recently. You’d be hard pressed to think you’re in one of America’s middle west smaller cities when you see the chic ambiance that invites you in through its vintage pendant lights, 1940’s neon and Art Deco touches. All that combined with classic cocktails, contemporary drinks and tonics to boot. It’s most definitely a cocktail culture kinda place…in other words, skip the wine and beer here and go for something a little more unusual on their menu. 

At The Mode Lounge, the coolest vintage cocktails play counterpoint to the newest, most creative ways to mix a drink with house-made everything—bitters, syrups, tinctures, sodas, vermouth, fruits, herbs, juices and more.

Food bites include a fresh heirloom tomato salad with arugula, grapefruit vinaigrette, feta mousse and picked red onions, a ceviche with Alaskan halibut, avocado puree, cilantro oil, an ahi tartare, served with Yellowfin Tuna, Pineapple, Cucumber and Roasted Red Pepper and a bruleed scallop dish which is served with a Ginger Carrot Puree, Frisee Asparagus Salad, and Beurre Rouge. And, how’s this for unusual and delicious sounding? Watermelon Gazpacho with Candied Ginger, Feta and Avocado.

We tried the prosciutto wrapped prawns, served in a Cucumber-Melon Soup which was trickled with Basil Oil and Chili Threads and the steak tartare, which was served with dijon mustard, red onion, capers, parsley, and was topped with quail egg and toast points. I loved both but we both found the soup too spicy to enjoy…..while the chili threads were a nice touch, we both felt that they overdid it since we lost the taste of the cucumber melon since the chili overpowered every other taste in the soup.     


Below, a sampling of some of the bitters they have on offer sit on the top of the bar — from tobacco smoke to celery and apple spice, there is a range of options to choose from and as for H1 and H2, I’m not quite sure and forgot to ask our handsome bartender (below) what they represented.

If in Boise on business or passing through on pleasure (the mountain ranges and drives extending from here are spectacular), stop by for a great cocktail and appetizer – I’d recommend sitting at the bar or at one of the cocktail tables with the high stools and taking it all in.

While I was there in the late afternoon/early evening and the energy from the “night” had not yet begun, below is a snapshot of the bar by night so you can get an idea of its lounge-like bar atmosphere.



The Mode Lounge

Corner of 8th and Idaho Street

Downtown Boise



Russell Crawforth | Owner and Operator
Brian Livesay | General Manager | Beverage Director
Darryl Godard | Head Chef

Capturing Courture Brings Fun, Creativity & Feminine Energy to Camera Straps

April 10, 2014 by  


Women travelers know the drill – they learn about a new product only to discover that the coat, the bag, the shoes, the gadgetry only comes in black, silver, red, navy or some kind of hunter green. Many of these products are designed by men with men in mind even if half the users might in fact be women. It happens all the time – with laptops, adventure travel clothing and shoes, cameras and more. As an avid photographer, I’ve come across this challenge again and again – black bags, red bags and geeky looking patch-like bags. I stumbled on this cool company called Capturing Couture started by two women — Erika and Lisa — who were passionate about fashion and photography.

They were intrigued by the notion of elevating a basic Black Camera Strap into a new world of style…taking a piece of equipment and giving it a fashion spin.  THANK YOU! Through the years, their ask has been: “What can we dream up without any limits?”  Their styles in their bags and camera straps span from *girly glam* to ‘boho chic’, while taking into account the best of where fashion meets function. They also do camera bags, guitar straps and other accessories.  The prices range from around $25 to $45 depending on the style, width and so on. More on them and their range can be found here.

Personally, I think Capturing Courture has created one of the most creative and innovative new ideas for the travel and adventure accessories I’ve seen in a long time. AND, mine just arrived – the quality is top notch! Take a look at how “fun” and creative some of their choices are – below is the Symphony in a 2″ strap.

Below is the Hibiscus Ocean in a 1.5″ strap.

And if you’re more in a girly mood, pink is an option – in fact, they have several with pinks, purples, greens and blues. My favorite is Rose Baroque, which was on back order when I first discovered the line. Below is Hibiscus Moon as a 1.5″ strap.


Below is the Snakeskin collection, where the straps only go for $25. They are 1.5” wide x 30” long and the total length is 30” fixed length with up to 12-14” additional adjustability on each side of strap.

3 Unique Boutique European Festivals For Your Calendar

April 10, 2014 by  


Three upcoming European festivals worth putting on your calendar include: Meadows In The Mountains (Bulgaria), SunSplash (Turkey) and Edge Of The Lake (Switzerland) all with their own unique differences.

The Sunsplash Festival in Turkey will be held from June 1-June 8, 2014 at Aspat Beach in Bodrum Turkey.  Returning fo it’s 6th year SunSplash embraces all the natural beauty of the Turkish Mediterranean, the festival’s stunning new home of Aspat Beach truly reflects the ethos of SunSplash and it’s festivalgoers.

Nestled inside a private bay, the new site features a huge private palm fringed beach, a tropical style beach bar, a natural creek shaded by enormous eucalyptus trees, beach bungalow accommodation, historic ruins guarded by the noble Aspat Mountain, the top of which extends stunning views across the Turkish Mediterranean and the festival site itself. With extensive gardens, open spaces, sea breeze, wind sports, yoga zone, outdoor workshops and more.  

Artist line up includes: 


The Edge of the Lake Festival runs from June 27-29, 2014 in Lake Geronde (City of Sun), Switzerland.  The 8th edition of Weekend At The Edge Of The Lake Festival will take place from June 27th to 29th, in a little summer alpine paradise: the Géronde Lake in Sierre, Switzerland. With over 5,000 festival goers set to be in attendance for three days and three nights of concerts, live sets, DJ sets and visual art performances all taking place at the shore of the little lake. Artist line up includes:



Meadows in the Mountains runs from June 13th – 15th, 2014 at Polkovnik Serafimovo, 850m above sea-level, a stones throw away from the Greek border in the Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria. There will be horse & cart taxis, mountain zip line, creative arts collectives & installations, downhill grass bob-sleighing, death slide, horse riding, mountain rambling, natural thermal springs & waterfalls, hammocks, family and eco friendly, local village life and locally sourced food.

Set in the heart of the stunning Rhodope Mountains, Meadows is completely unlike any other festival in the world and is very proud of it’s quirky and different attitude that does not follow others trends or other festival’s concepts. Meadows is a festival dedicated to offering a truly unique and one off experience for all, not just a list of run of the mill artists reflected throughout other European festivals. Artist line ups include:


The Flashy Can-Am Spyder Available to Test in San Mateo Through April 10

April 9, 2014 by  


Coming to Northern California’s Silicon Valley/Bay Area for the first time is the Can-Am Spyder on April 9 and April 10, 2014 at the San Mateo County Convention Center at 1346 Saratoga Dr., San Mateo, CA  94403 (demo area outside).  You’ll be able to try out this three-wheeled open air vehicle that gives you the exhilaration of riding with confidence and control thanks to its Y-frame design, state of the art 7 automobile technologies and Rotax engine. Could this be the future sports ride of Silicon Valley techies?

The Can-Am Spyder has awesome tech features:

  • AM/FM Audio System with iPod Cable – Audio system and weather band that is all satellite-radio ready and rear speakers with independent audio control.
  • Garmin Zumo 660 GPS – Integrated with an easy-read 4.3-in touch screen and Bluetooth wireless technology.
  • Anti-theft system – Digitally encoded security system (D.E.S.S.) prohibits vehicle from starting unless the rider uses the correct coded electronic key.
  • 41 gallons of storage – A perfect place for your phone, tablet and computer, keep your gear safe with lockable watertight storage.

And also… fuel efficient and green features…

In addition, updates to the cooling system not only improved aerodynamic efficiency, but driver and passenger comfort as well. All told, with these updates, the ultimate touring Spyder gets more than 225 miles on a tank before one even needs to think about looking for a gas station. In addition, a new ECO mode smart assist system can be turned on by the rider to further improve fuel economy by indicating precisely where the shift points should be for maximum fuel efficiency.

NEW ECO Mode Smart Assist

This mode is selectable by the drier to optimize shifting points and maximize engine efficiency. The dash indication shows the driver to shift between first and second gears at 1,800 RPM; from second to third at 1,950 RPM; and from third on up at 2,200 RPM. This optimized acceleration curve, when operating in ECO mode, results in improved fuel economy.

Affinia Hotel in New York’s Mid-Town West Side, a Stone’s Throw From Penn Station

April 7, 2014 by  


I rarely hang out near Penn Station when I travel to New York but given how much I’ve been going to New York lately, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’d find a hotel I hadn’t tried yet and an event would have me stay on the west side. In this case, it turned out in the end that while I thought my pow-wow’s and events would be on the west side, they all ended up being in mid-town and on the upper east side…..after I had made my reservation with Affinia.

The nice thing about Affinia is that they have a property on the east side as well, something else I didn’t discover until after my stay. The properties however are in fact different and while I didn’t check out the East Side property, my sense is that the Penn Station location is slightly older in feel and not quite as updated. While my hotel room looked somewhat like the below shot (minus the flowers on the walls), the room felt a little “dingy” albeit clean.

For the most part, this is a common complaint of mine with most Manhattan hotels – they tend to be a little dingy and due to expensive locations, the rooms are extremely small for the price. In this case, I had an adjoining living room area with a small but very functional kitchenette, which again did not look as bright and cheery as the photo below which appears to be a little more modern and spruced up than the room I had, which if I recall, was on the 9th floor.


  • The rooms with the suites, if you can get a newer more modern one like the one above, gives you tons of space to work, ideal for business trips.
  • The suites also have two bathrooms, the one which extends off the living room area is massive in size.
  • The lobby is kinda cool – it appears that this hotel hosts conferences so it seems like a great hotel to stay in with decent flow if you’re considering them for an event.
  • Location for business – given that it’s a stone’s throw from Penn Station, it’s convenient if you’re coming in from out of town on the train or have a lot of meetings on the west side
  • Online prices were decent for the location and offering.
  • Staff was friendly – while things may have felt disjointed at times and not particularly responsive, the employees were friendly and made the attempt to get things right. I felt this from the maids to the concierge to the front desk reception staff, which was so not the case at my last New York mid-town experience — the Paramount, and the rooms were crammed.


  • The toilets in both the bathrooms in my room were a little loose so my guess is that its not the only room where that’s the case. Things need a little sprucing up overall.
  • There’s a restaurant downstairs but the wine selection was one of the poorest I have seen in awhile by the glass. Oh, and it’s separate from the hotel, so while you can book a meal on your room, the Internet doesn’t extend to the restaurant. This is key for a business hotel. And so, I had to order a take out from the restaurant and eat it in my take out bag in the lobby in order to get wifi. Not all that ideal for savvy business travelers.
  • Lack of great restaurants in general. I was told by many that my pickings would be slim and to count on more pubs with TV screens (think sports bars) than anywhere you’d want to spend the evening enjoying great food and wine. But, if sports bars and fast food options are your thing, then there are tons of them in and around 7th Avenue. And like most of mid-town, you can find some Japanese and Chinese options within four blocks or so.

Overall, I’ve stayed in better 4 star properties in mid-town but the online prices when I had booked was reasonable for the offering considering the location, if you don’t want to be right in Time’s Square and mid-town west side is where you want to be.

Affinia – Manhattan

371 7th Avenue, New York, NY 10001
(212) 563-1800

Closest subway: Penn Station

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