All posts by Alex Cohen

5 Dope Breweries that deserve your money: Part V – Free State Brewing Company 🍺

I live my life by one very simple rule: Beer is always a good choice. If you don’t like beer, then I don’t like you. As a great man (Benjamin Franklin) once said,

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

I’ve heard that it’s that exact quote that got him on the $100 bill. Smart man. And that’s why this week I’m gonna be looking at some of the awesome breweries around the country. Check out the previous breweries: VictorySummit, Ommegang, and Left Hand.

The last brewery of the week is the Sneakhype employees’ local watering hole: Free State Brewing Company. All photos in this post were shot by our very own Ty Sechler.

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Free State Brewing Company is not only a brewing powerhouse in Lawrence, Kansas, but it is also a historical landmark. When the brewery first opened in 1989, it was the first legal brewery in Kansas since crazy, delirium tremens-fueled farmers made their own moonshine out of dirt and shoe leather during prohibition. Thankfully, this brewery decided to cater to the modern day Kansan and brew normal beer from normal ingredients. They just happen to do that really well.

In addition to selling damn satisfying, down-to-earth brews, the Free State brewpub/restaurant succeeds in creating a “haven for beer lovers, where good beer and good food can inspire lively conversations and memorable experiences.”

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These are two of their best beers:

Ad Astra Ale

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Free State’s Ad Astra Ale is just as historic as the brewery itself. According to the Internet (where everything is true and should be taken at face value), this is the “first beer to be brewed in Kansas since the pioneering days.” That seriously sucks for everyone who lived in Kansas during the Great Beer Drought, but luckily for all of us, that dark time is long behind us. Named after Kansas’ state motto (Ad Astra per Aspera, Latin for “To the Stars Through Difficulties”) this beer is a celestial blend of malt and hops with the addition of goofy Fuggles hops to keep things grounded.

Glass: A crystal skull mug or this funky ale glass.

Food pairings: Astronaut food, stardust, or out-of-this-world gorgonzola mushroom gnocchi.

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Copperhead Pale Ale

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As the story goes, head brewer, Steve Bradt, was wandering through the fields of Kansas, searching for inspiration for a new beer when he came upon a funny looking stick laying on the ground. Being the good Boy Scout he is, he never passes up a chance to break a stick, so that’s what he tried to do. Turns out, the stick bit him and sent him to the hospital to get the venom removed. Well, that was enough of a sign for almost-dead Steve, and he named the next beer after the snake that almost killed him.

Glass: Beer bong, red Solo cup, or a good ol’ pub glass.

Food pairings: Grass, wheat straight off the stem, or some classic pesto chicken pasta.

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Bonus Beer: Stormchaser IPA

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Free State’s summer brew celebrates the extremes of Kansas weather, and the craziness of the people who like that kind of stuff. It’s perfect for the beer drinker “who loves chasing bad weather in the name of science or just common curiosity,” but it also satisfies the guy who prefers to cower in his basement during a thunderstorm. We don’t judge.

Glass: A rain barrel, an awesome amber chalice, or poured over your head in the middle of a tornado.

Food pairings: Wimps, raw eggs, or this seasonal Normandy ham sandwich.

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This photo wasn’t shot by Ty 😦

Need to know which glass goes with which beer?  We’ve got an article for that.

Yesterday’s dope brewery: Left Hand Brewing Company.

5 Dope Breweries that deserve your money: Part IV – Left Hand Brewing Company 🍺

I live my life by one very simple rule: Beer is always a good choice. If you don’t like beer, then I don’t like you. As a great man (Benjamin Franklin) once said,

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

I’ve heard that it’s that exact quote that got him on the $100 bill. Smart man. And that’s why this week I’m gonna be looking at some of the awesome breweries around the country. Check out the previous breweries: VictorySummit, and Ommegang.

The next brewery of the week is Colorado’s nitro beer pioneer: Left Hand Brewing Company.

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Left Hand Brewing Company began in a basement when co-founder Dick Doore received home-brewing kit for Christmas. (There are so many jokes to make about that dude’s name I don’t even know where to start. I’ll just leave it up to you to to find something funny through the dick door. Post your best one in the comments section!)

Anyway, strap in (to the dick door?) for some knowledge:

-Originally called Indian Peaks Brewing Company but changed the name after a less publicized but still Redskin’s-like controversy.

-Left Hand is named after Chief Niwot–Niwot means left hand in Arapahoe.

-Sawtooth ale was the first ever made; you can still buy it; its not part of my list.

-Their milk stout nitro is fucking good, but also not on my list.

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These are two of their best beers:

Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout Nitro

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What was that Ommegang’s Three Philosophers? You thought you were the most alcoholic beer on this list? Move over bitch, its big boy time. This beer eclipses a very prestigious mark: double digit ABV. Yep, this stout seriously lives up to its name with its 10.2% ABV.

In addition to being the reason you are waking up dead, this is also one of their three signature nitro beers. Hard-poured straight upside down, it deliciously cascades down the glass as it settles, giving you time to make sure you are ready to commit your life to this beer.

Glass: A glass made of ice, an Imperial pint glass (for an imperial stout), or basically anything strong enough to withstand this hardest of pours but still clear enough to see it settle.

Food pairings: Devil’s food cake, zombies, or the souls of gingers.

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400 Pound Monkey IPA

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This truly innovative IPA claims to be done with the “cartloads of bitter monkeys flinging wasteful amounts of bananas into the jungle.” Like Drax the Destroyer I don’t really understand metaphors, but if I were to try deciphering what they mean by that, I would say this: As opposed to every other brewery that creates an obligatory IPA, this IPA–at 6.8% ABV–is like being pampered by 400 monkey butlers with fantastic British accents.

Glass: A 16 ounce tea cup, a regular person pint glass, or the clean hands of your very own beer-serving monkey wench.

Food pairings: Quickly flung poo, curried chicken, and bananas, apparently.

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Background bananas cuz monkeys? I guess?

Yesterday’s dope brewery: Brewery Ommegang.

Tomorrow’s dope brewery: Free State Brewing Company. Check out this shiny new preview:

 

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5 Dope Breweries that deserve your money: Part III – Brewery Ommegang

I live my life by one very simple rule: Beer is always a good choice.

If you don’t like beer, then I don’t like you. As a great man (Benjamin Franklin) once said,

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

I’ve heard that it’s that exact quote that got him on the $100 bill. Smart man. And that’s why this week I’m gonna be looking at some of the awesome breweries around the country. Check out previously-featured breweries: Victory, and Summit.

Our next brewery of the week is perhaps the classiest of the lot: Brewery Ommegang.

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I couldn’t find an “About” section on the Ommegang website (you can look for yourself here), so I’m just gonna make up a brief history of the brewery for you.

As you can see in the first picture there are two dates on the building. The first date, 1549, represents the beginning of the Ommegang family dynasty in Germany. Throughout the years, the Ommegangs have infamously been involved in various criminal activity and gambling schemes, only brewing beer as a convenient front for their more sinister operations.

However, in 1957 baby Gustav Ommegang was born and his parents felt that he needed a cleaner life, so they immigrated to America and set up a grocery business in Cooperstown, New York. They succeeded in shielding baby Gustav from crime but not from beer, and in 1997 he opened the first Brewery Ommegang on American soil. Since then, he has continued the tradition of super alcoholic, super awesome German brewing to bring the American people beers to be proud of.

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(This part is real).

Ommegang brews seven awesome beers year-round, four seasonals (one for each season, wow!), and eccentric, constantly changing Historical ales and limited edition beers.

In addition to those, Ommegang brews a whole line of unique Game of Thrones themed beers (Iron Throne, Fire and Blood, Take the Black, to name a few. Check out this post to read up on all of them.)

These are two of their best beers:

Three Philosophers Quadrupel Ale:

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The flock of brewers at Ommegang wanted a very specific flavor profile for this beer: “an ale with rich caramel, chocolate, and cherry notes.” Unfortunately, like Medieval alchemists failing to turn lead into gold, these beer chemists failed to attain the coveted cherry note. So they added a little bit of a different beer and called it a day. Three Philosophers ends up as 98% ale, 2% Kriek and 9.7% ABV (making it the most alcoholic beer on my list so far).

Glass: Since they usually come in awesomely huge 1 pint, 9 ounce bottles with a cork, I’m gonna recommend corking the bottle with your teeth and downing the whole thing pirate-style.

Food pairings: Food is probably a good idea based on how alcoholic this beer is and, if you followed my glass recommendation, how quickly you just drank it.

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Hennepin Farmhouse Saison:

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The poet who describes the beers on the Ommegang website compares their experience of creating this delicious golden ale with that of Father Hennepin’s experience of being the first European to set eyes on the majestic Niagara Falls; I can tell you that the experience of drinking this beer is like this scene from Beerfest:

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Glass: Ommegang recommends a stemmed, narrow goblet, but if you are like me and don’t have one of those, I think something a little more natural, like a hollowed out coconut shell or a well-cleaned skull, would work just as well.

Food pairings: Pinecones, wild mushrooms, Asian food, or leaves from the floor of a forest.

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Need to know which glass goes with which beer?  We’ve got an article for that.

Yesterday’s dope brewery: Summit Brewing Company.

Tomorrow’s dope brewery: Left Hand Brewing Company. Check out a preview here:

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5 Dope Breweries that deserve your money: Part II – Summit Brewing Company 🍺

I live my life by one very simple rule: Beer is always a good choice. If you don’t like beer, then I don’t like you. As a great man (Benjamin Franklin) once said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” I’ve heard that it’s that exact quote that got him on the $100 bill. Smart man.

And that’s why this week I’m gonna be looking at some of the awesome breweries around the country. Yesterday’s brewery: Victory.

The next brewery of the week is my hometown favorite: St. Paul’s iconic Summit Brewing Company.

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In 1986, substance abuse counsellor Mark Stutrud decided that the best way to treat alcoholism would be to make more beer, so he founded Summit Brewing Company in St. Paul, Minnesota. Since then, Summit has expanded and become one of Minnesota’s favorite breweries. The classic Extra Pale Ale can be found in basically every bar in Minnesota (source for that fact: personal experience).

They’ve got seven year-round beers, five seasonals, and two “experimental” series: Unchained and Union. Unchained allows their brewers to put whatever they want into their magical brewing cauldrons to create truly unique beers; the Union series combines “new ingredients with time-honored brewing traditions” to serve… more amazing beer.

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These are two of their best beers:

Summer Ale:

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This is the beer that got me started drinking Summit. Obviously available only during the summer months, this beer goes down easier than light beer and tastes way better. This is the kind of beer that if you got caught sneaking it in to a Twins game, the officer would buy one of his own, cheers you, drink the whole thing, and let you on in to the game.

Glass: Medium-sized kiddy pool (because you can drink that much of it, but medium-sized so you can still claim that you’re into that “moderation” bullshit).

Food pairings: Flatbreads, pork, or the sweet taste of lounging around on a perfectly sunny summer day.

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Oktoberfest:

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Coming in at an impressive 7.1% ABV, the Oktoberfest won’t get you as drunk as Victory’s Golden Monkey, but it’s still alcoholic enough to help me forget that I have to wait an entire year for Summer Ale again. I have no idea what being brewed in the traditional German Marzen style means, but whatever it is, this beer turns out damn tasty.

Glass: A stein, a bigger stein, or a giant pumpkin (the pumpkin brings out the “fall” flavor of the beer).

Food pairings: Bratwurst, lederhosen, or German people. (Side note: I’m not advocating cannibalism because thats gross and highly illegal. I’m just saying it probably would pair well with this beer.)

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Need to know which glass goes with which beer?  We’ve got an article for that.

Yesterday’s dope brewery: Victory Brewing Company.

Tomorrow’s dope brewery: Brewery Ommegang. The following is just a preview, not the whole post:

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5 Dope Breweries that deserve your money: Part I – Victory 🍻

I live my life by one very simple rule: Beer is always a good choice. If you don’t like beer, then I don’t like you. As a great man (Benjamin Franklin) once said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” I’ve heard that it’s that exact quote that got him on the $100 bill. Smart man. And that’s why this week I’m gonna be looking at some of the awesome breweries around the country.

The first brewery of the week is Pennsylvania’s boldly named Victory Brewing Company.

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When long-time friends and German-trained master brewers Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet opened Victory Brewing Company in early 1996, it was a victory for us all. Insisting on making beer in the classic German fashion, they use whole flower hops in the brewing process, as opposed to the pelletized form that other, weaker, dumber breweries foolishly continue to use.

They brew a shit-ton of beer every year (more than 125 barrels last year), have a bunch of delicious seasonal beers (12), and even more year-round brews (15).

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These are two of their best beers:

Golden Monkey Trippel:

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Brewed with their fancy European whole flower hops and corriander seed, this beer can only be described as “playfully delightful and profoundly satisfying.” … At least for the first couple because after that, the 9.5% ABV kicks in and you go from playfully tipsy to profoundly drunk faster than a power hour of Jameson shots. (Pro tip: don’t do that. Try a Jameson power half hour instead. Much better on your liver.)

Glass: Red Solo cup, stein, or wide-mouth chalice.

Food Pairings: Seafood, any kind of Asian food, or that kinda shitty pizza joint that is magically awesome at 2am.

(Check out this post for way more info on the right glass for the right beer.)

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DirtWolf Double IPA:

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The DirtWolf Double IPA is a celebration of the best American hops. How many different kinds of hops is too many to put in a beer? There’s never too many. Thats why the crazy dudes at Victory decided to put in four different kinds of hops. All that hoppy goodness (and the 8.7% ABV) makes this beer as wild and feral as the animal it is half named after.

Glass: A bowl, straight out of the bottle, or a different red Solo cup (you can’t mix them, you know).

Food Pairings: Raw steak, raw burgers, raw bear, basically any kind of raw meat you can find. The more alive the better.

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Tomorrow’s dope brewery: Summit Brewing Company.

Preview this preview for a nice preview-ey preview:

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5 Dope Hotels to visit before you die: Part V – Sweden’s TreeHotel

This continues my series of 5 Dope Ass Hotels That I’ll Probably Not Be Able to Visit Until I’m 50 Given That The Next 28 Years of My Life Go Perfectly As Planned And I Stack Hella Bread So That I Can Actually Afford to Stay A Couple Nights In One of These Dope Ass Dwellings. Check out the previous dope hotels: The GoldenEye, the Villa d’Este, the Chateau Marmont, and Poseidon’s Undersea Resort.

Now that I am transitioning into being a real adult, I find myself constantly thinking back to my childhood and how nice and easy it was to have no responsibilities. And also how awesome tree houses were. That’s why the last hotel, and therefore the dopest, is Sweden’s TreeHotel.

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As you can see (or maybe not (haha good joke Alex you’re really killing it today)), these aren’t your everyday fancy hotels (like the other ones in this series). Located in the treetops of a forest in Sweden, the goal of this hotel is simple: to “melt away daily stress” by providing the most serene, private, and unique hotel experience.

This is basically the fanciest way to take in the beauty of Sweden’s natural forest, live in some truly unique and eco-conscious architecture, and spend a shit-ton of money… all in one!

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The TreeHotel complex comprises seven different rooms: The Cabin, the Mirrorcube, the Bird’s Nest, the Blue Cone, the Tree Sauna, the UFO, and Dragonfly. Every one of those rooms was designed by a famous Swedish architect, and the kitchen area of the complex was designed by a famous Swedish Chef.

They are all elevated (in case of bear attack) and connected to each other by a series of bridges (and one Tarzan vine-swing for that little bit of exotic flair).

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Prices per night for a room range from 4,000 to 4,700 Swedish Krona… Which is actually only about $470-550 good ol’ American greenbacks. Apparently, they haven’t realized just how dope their hotel actually is and they haven’t learned the sacred capitalist rule of “if you have something dope, charge out the ass for it.”

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Yesterday’s dope hotel: Poseidon’s Undersea Resort.

Next week’s dope shit: Breweries you need to give all your money to (by buying all of their beer). Check out this preview for… a preview…

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5 Dope Hotels to visit before you die: Part IV – Poseidon Undersea Resort

This continues my series of 5 Dope Ass Hotels That I’ll Probably Not Be Able to Visit Until I’m 50 Given That The Next 28 Years of My Life Go Perfectly As Planned And I Stack Hella Bread So That I Can Actually Afford to Stay A Couple Nights In One of These Dope Ass Dwellings. Check out previous posts here: GoldenEye Hotel, the Villa d’Este, and Chateau Marmont.

Today, I’m taking to the bathysphere all the way down to Rapture. (That’s a Bioshock reference ya dummies. It’s summer, that’s a great game, go play it).

No, just kidding. This isn’t a video game, but it certainly seems like something out of science fiction… This is actually Poseidon’s Underwater Resort.

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Located in Fiji, Poseidon’s Underwater Resort provides a unique–and expensive–hotel experience. It is surrounded by an artificial reef and real fishies (except for the one “shit suite” where they put dickheads. That suite is surrounded by real sand and fake goldfish.)

Just in case watching fish poop all day wasn’t exciting enough, the hotel also has two restaurants, a dive shop, a nine-hole golf course, and a rentable, personal-sized submarine.

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There are no prices on the hotel’s website, but under the “How much will it cost” question in the FAQ section, the answer just says “It’s worth it.” Translation: “You’re living underwater. It’s gonna be expensive as balls.”

If I had the money, though, it totally would be worth it. About 70% of the exterior wall of the suites are made of acrylic, meaning they provide a better panoramic view of the ocean than that one tank at the New England Aquarium.

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So yeah, these are all concept art pictures. I couldn’t find any real pictures, either because its so expensive nobody has every gone there yet, or they are just big fat liars and it doesn’t exist. Either way, its pretty damn awesome.

Tomorrow’s Dope Hotel: Sweden’s TreeHotel. Check out a preview here:

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5 Dope Hotels to visit before you die: Part III – Chateau Marmont

Chateau Marmont has earned its reputation as the place where famous people can do stupid shit and not get in trouble for it.

This continues my series of 5 Dope Ass Hotels That I’ll Probably Not Be Able to Visit Until I’m 50 Given That The Next 28 Years of My Life Go Perfectly As Planned And I Stack Hella Bread So That I Can Actually Afford to Stay A Couple Nights In One of These Dope Ass Dwellings. Check out previous posts here: GoldenEye Hotel, the Villa d’Este.

Today’s hotel takes us to the wonderful world of Game of Thrones as we explore the house of the bear and Captain Friendzone‘s childhood home… Wait… That was Mormont? Ah shit… Well okay, I guess this famous Cali hotel is pretty cool too. This here’s Chateau Marmont.

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Chateau Marmont, built in the 1920’s, was intended to be LA’s first ever earthquake-proof apartment building. However, once celebrities realized how awesome it was, it was turned into a hotel and became one of LA’s only “scandal-proof” buildings.

Boasting thick walls, protective staff, and a discreet entryway, Chateau Marmont has earned its reputation as the place where famous people can do stupid shit and not get in trouble for it.

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James Dean hopped through a window to audition for Rebel Without a Cause, Blues Brother John Belushi overdosed in bungalow number three, Led Zeppelin drove their Harley Davidsons into the hotel lobby…

The Doors’ Jim Morrison dangled precariously from his window, Lindsay Lohan checked in following her arrest for drunk driving in 2007, Heath Ledger partied here the week before he died…

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Benicio Del Toro and Scarlett Johansson may have hooked up in the elevator the night before the 2004 Oscars, and Britney Spears was temporarily banned from the Chateau for smearing her face with food.

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Sources for aforementioned celebrity mayhem: The Guardian and Curbed.

Yesterday’s dope hotel: the Villa d’Este.

Tomorrow’s dope hotel: Poseidon Undersea Resort. Check out a preview here:

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5 Dope Hotels to visit before you die: Part II – Villa d’Este

This continues my series of 5 Dope Ass Hotels That I’ll Probably Not Be Able to Visit Until I’m 50 Given That The Next 28 Years of My Life Go Perfectly As Planned And I Stack Hella Bread So That I Can Actually Afford to Stay A Couple Nights In One of These Dope Ass Dwellings. Check out Part I of this series here: GoldenEye Hotel.

Welcome to Italy’s fanciest hotel: The Villa d’Este.

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Sitting on the shores of one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy, it’s no wonder that the Villa has been inhabited since the 16th century. Before the 16th century, the location housed a nunnery, but in 1568, Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio decided that he was more important, and with a little bit of renovation, the nunnery would make a perfect summer home. So that’s what he did: he completely demolished the nunnery, gave the nuns the choice to be homeless witches or his personal concubines, and built one of the most influential villas in Italy.

It has since been owned by a ballerina, a Napoleonic General, a Queen without a crown who renamed it Villa d’Este, a Russian Empress, and minor aristocracy. In 1873 it was transformed into a hotel that maintains the old-world quality of 16th century Italy while affording every modern comfort.

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One of the things Cardinal Gallio simply couldn’t live without was one of the most extensive gardens ever created. Designed by some Italian guy, these gardens have defined good garden design throughout Europe since they were created. It includes mulitple levels of fancy shit, a 16th century mosaic, and a 500 year old tree.

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These next two pictures are from the Cardinal Suite–named after, you guessed it, the Cardinal that built the place all the way back in 1568.

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I’m literally puking opulence right now, but I do it for you people.

Yesterdays dope hotel: GoldenEye.

Tomorrow’s dope hotel: Chateau Marmont. Check out a preview here:

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5 Dope Hotels to visit before you die: Part I – GoldenEye

Now that I feel safe finally calling it summer (farewell college… you dirty yet beautiful skank), I thought I would look up some places I’m not gonna have enough money to visit until I’m 50.

The first dope hotel you should visit before you die sounds like something out of a James Bond novel/movie: The GoldenEye Hotel.

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You know why it sounds like something from James Bond? Because it is. Well, technically James Bond is from this place.

Ian Fleming, author of the 13 original Bond novels, was first sent to Jamaica in 1942 as part of a WWII mission. While he was there, he came across Oracabessa Bay and made up his mind to spend his life post-war in Jamaica. He finally bought the villa in 1946 and, as I like to believe, lived out the rest of his days drinking his own Vesper martinis and writing those brilliant books.

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But how does one dude’s home turn into one of the most amazing hotels in the world? It’s all thanks to Chris Blackwell. Blackwell bought GoldenEye in 1976 and began transforming it into a resort. Over the last seven years, Blackwell has completely renovated GoldenEye, and has added cottages and huts to the already 45 acres of land. It re-opened from renovation in 2011 and won a bunch of awards, including “Most Dopest Place To Stay, as recommended by Alex Cohen.”

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This is the infamous Fleming Villa, where Bond’s progenitor himself lived and created the master spy we all know and love today. They have updated the 1950’s house to include all modern comforts while still maintaining its historical value. Apparently, if you rent the villa, you can see the desk that the Bond novels were written at. Unfortunately, the price per night starts at $2,500…

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I’m surprised Fleming ever got anything done with distractions like these sitting in front of him.

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Tomorrow’s dope hotel: the Villa d’Este. Check out a preview here:

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