Intercontinental Aqaba at the Red Sea

This photo above gives you the best look at where the Intercontinental Aqaba at the Red Sea in Jordan sits, right on the bright blue waters of the Red Sea and nestled in between two hotels under construction and the Kempinski Red Sea.

Aqaba & the Red Sea is where Jordanians go to vacation, akin to the beach towns of Florida or California-the royal family has a home here and as beautiful Queen Rania says, "If you want to cool down, you can take a dip in the Red Sea, diving coral reefs and old wrecks." I liked visiting the Red Sea, though it's definitely a place where you come to kick back and get your tan on.  There's not a great downtown or restaurant scene, so your hotel choice is very important.  The Intercontinental has beautiful public spaces, a fun pool area, nice if slightly chaotic restaurants and you can easily access the water.  I took a boat tour and dove in to swim-very salty but if you come here, you have to leave saying you swam in the Red Sea!

The rooms are nice though not unique, and I'd recommend booking one with a full water view. My room had a partial water view and seeing the massive, empty hotel being constructed next door was a little odd.  I definitely didn't lounge on the balcony to catch the warm nighttime breeze with that eery view!

Lobby

Lovely flowers in the lobby

My room

View of construction from my balcony

Great View of Eilat, Israel

Love seeing the Jordanian Flag

Exterior

Intercontinental Mark-Hopkins, San Francisco

For the one night in San Francisco last week, we booked the Mark-Hopkins. The price was right, location was perfect, and I think the view at the Top of the Mark is one of the best in the city. The room was fine, nothing fabulous, but a comfortable bed, and amazing view of the Transamerica Pyramid.

View from roomThe lobby is small and feels like it's ready to welcome Queen Elizabeth II and a few of her crusty friends for tea at any time.

The Top of the Mark is this hotel's crown jewel, oozing nostalgia, perched on top since the owner in 1939 converted the 19th-floor penthouse into a lounge. There's a great dance floor, grand piano, and tables lining the windows so you can see the city from every angle.  For a great daytime view (and better photos like the ones I took here), do breakfast here.

Grand Piano in Top of the Mark

Just as we checked out, I realized President Obama was going to be there 2 hours later for a fundraiser. Hope everyone felt their $35,000 spent per ticket was worth it!