The Best Kimpton Wine Hour Story Ever

Hotels, Kimpton, Travel Tales, Unique Experiences 2

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One of my favorite benefits when staying with Kimpton is their evening Wine Hour reception.  It takes place every night starting at 5pm.  This is a great opportunity to talk with other guests and one of the Kimpton staff members.  At a recent stay at the Kimpton Palomar Los Angeles over Valentine’s Day weekend, I had the best Kimpton Wine Hour story ever!


Kimpton Wine Hour

The Kimpton Wine Hour originated with Bill Kimpton (the founder of Kimpton Hotels) hosting a daily debrief with his sales staff in the lobby of his hotel.  They would chat about the day’s successes and failures over wine, then strategize how they would do better the next day.

Over time, guests took notice of this daily occurrence and Mr Kimpton invited the hotel guests to join him and his staff for a glass of wine.  Guests always take priority at Kimpton… and this tradition lives on to this day.

Kimpton Canary Wine Hour

Kimpton Wine Hour at the Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara, California


At each Kimpton Wine Hour, there is the usual choice of a red and a white wine.  However, some properties offer a unique drink in addition.  For example, The Buchanan in San Francisco offers sake and the Journeyman in Milwaukee offers rum, bourbon, chai tea, mulled cider, and local beer on a regular basis.

Kimpton Journeyman Wine Hour

So many delicious choices at the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel.


Other properties offer seasonal drinks.  The Shorebreak Hotel in Huntington Beach, California offers a cinnamon-infused bourbon hot chocolate during the winter.


The Best Kimpton Hour Story Ever!

So, Anna and I were at the Kimpton Palomar Los Angeles the weekend before Valentine’s Day for a date night.  We had dinner reservations at 9pm, so we had plenty of time to chill out and relax at the hotel.

As the Kimpton Wine Hour drew to a close, Anna and I refilled our glasses of wine and sat down on a couch to continue our conversation.  The lobby emptied out and we were one of just a couple of people remaining.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a man approaching in a tux.  He looked ready to go… except for one thing.  His bowtie was undone.

The gentleman approached us and asked if we knew how to tie a bowtie.  I said “I don’t.  But, I’m sure we could YouTube it and made a go of it.”  I pull up the first “how to tie a bowtie” video I could find, handed him my phone, and attempted to tie my first bowtie ever.

This is the video I pulled up.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it happen after a couple of tries.

His wife was punking us the whole time & recording it on her phone while Anna laughed at our incompetence.

They thank us for trying, then walk out the front door of the lobby.  I sit down with Anna and return to the wine and conversation.  At which point Anna asks me if I knew who that was.  I say no.  She says, “I’m pretty sure that was Emmitt Smith.”

Being a huge sports fan, I’m quite surprised that I didn’t recognize him.  In my defense, he now sports a grey beard and is about my size.  Not the huge muscular beasts you see on the football field today.

I quickly ran outside to catch him.  I ask “My wife thinks that you are Emmitt Smith, is that true?”  To which he replied yes.  I shook his hand said nice to meet you, then asked for a picture.

Kimpton Palomar Los Angeles Wine Hour Emmitt Smith

Emmitt Smith was very personable and a nice guy. Sorry I couldn’t help, bud!


We took the photo.  I walked back inside.  And he departed for his evening gala.  You never know what will happen in a Kimpton lobby after wine hour!


The Bald Thoughts

To me, this is what traveling is all about.  Not about meeting celebrities, but about having awesome experiences that give you fun stories to share with friends and family.  I don’t really care much about getting autographs or taking pictures with celebrities, but I just knew I would kick myself if I didn’t get a picture to go along with this story.

Do you have any fun stories of chance encounters with celebrities or cool people while traveling?  I’d love to hear about them in the comment section below!

The opinions expressed here are the author's alone and have not been reviewed or endorsed by any company or third-party, unless clearly stated otherwise. The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the advertiser. It is not the advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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About the author / 

Lee Huffman

Lee grew up loving to travel with his parents. Now he explores the world with his wife, Anna and his two children Timothy and Scarlett. He enjoys being spoiled as a Kimpton Inner Circle Member and taking full advantage of Southwest's Companion Pass. Lee wants to teach his readers how to 'Travel More. Spend Less. Live Better.' using miles, points, tips and tricks.


  1. John the Wanderer March 3, 2017 at 6:01 am -  Reply

    I’ve never personally been punked. I think that is really funny. That is great you got to have such a memorable experience there. It just goes to show you never know what will happen at a Kimpton Wine Hour!

    • Lee Huffman March 3, 2017 at 7:19 am -  Reply

      Thanks John. This is a classic LA-style celebrity sighting.

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