“Into every life,” said Longfellow, “a little rain must fall.” Among this week’s good travel news, some bad is lurking: Passport fees are going up by 35 percent, along with a whole host of other fees we never knew about (it now costs $450 to officially revoke your American citizenship, bizarrely). The popular urban myth that only 10 percent of Americans have passports unfortunately doesn’t hold true in this case—the real figure was estimated by the State Department in 2006 to be 68 million, or around 22 percent.
And more bad news, just to bring the weekend mood down a little more. If you’re heading to New York for a week and you’re tempted to “borrow” a friend’s cousin’s niece’s vacant apartment for considerably less than you’d pay for a eight-by-ten-foot room at the Hudson Hotel, think again. The powers that be (a.k.a. Mayor Bloomberg) have finally bowed to considerable pressure from city hotels and sharpened laws to make it easier to prosecute “illegal hotels,” otherwise known as short-term apartment rentals. So that Park Slope sublet for less than $500 a week? Fuhgeddaboutit.
However, you may not need to leave at all, because for the first time since 2001, Washington has made it back onto Travel + Leisure’s list of the ten best North American cities. New York, San Francisco, and Charleston made the top three, followed by Chicago, Santa Fe, Vancouver, New Orleans, Quebec City, Victoria (BC), and Washington. So really, we’re the seventh best city in the United States, but then again, we knew that anyway.
Remember when airlines used to show movies on cross-country flights? Virgin America offers all passengers free satellite television, free games, and pay-per-view movies and TV shows from a personal entertainment system. You can also order food and drinks (complimentary in premium economy but not in regular coach) from the touch screen instead of waiting for the buffet car. And best of all, the airline is currently having a sale on nonstop flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco, with fares starting at $129 each way, excluding taxes. If you’ve ever spent a few hours in the Atlanta airport waiting for a connection that never comes, you’ll know what that means.
Finally, we don’t like to feature Washington hotels too much (because, let’s face it, when do we ever get to use them?), but two of DC’s top hotels are offering outstanding deals for the rest of the summer, worth mentioning to family and friends who’re heading to town. Donovan House, known for its rooftop pool and its Susur Lee-helmed restaurant, Zentan, is offering rates of $129 a night through September 6, including weekends—a saving of almost 60 percent. And the Fairmont in Foggy Bottom (voted one of Travel + Leisure’s top 500 hotels in the world) is offering Friday and Saturday rates of $129, a saving of $225 (Sunday through Thursday rates start at $249). Book quickly to avoid disappointment.