February 23, 2011
© Courtesy Mondrian SoHo
Last week, the fall 2011 ready-to-wear collections were unveiled at New York's Lincoln Center, but this week features a different type of NYC debut: the long-awaited opening of Mondrian SoHo
. Like its sister properties in Los Angeles and South Beach, Florida, the 270-room hotel, which opened Tuesday, is the quintessence of sophisticated cool, with some modern-day fairy tale touches. Interior designer Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, whose résumé includes the aforementioned Mondrian Los Angeles and the homes of Sean “Diddy” Combs and photographer Mark Seliger, drew inspiration from Jean Cocteau's 1946 fantasy film La Belle et la Bête
, choosing a bright white and powdery French blue color palette as a backdrop for custom chrome desks, mirrored nightstands and marble foyers. The building is the tallest in the neighborhood, so rooms on or above the 17th floor offer stunning views of the midtown Manhattan skyline, as do each of the four suites and, of course, the 1,170-square foot, 25th-floor penthouse, which has not one but two terraces. A favorite of the Fashion Week beau monde, the hotel's bar, Mister H, evokes the feel of 1930s Shanghai with its red leather banquettes and damask walls. Yet to be unveiled is chef Sam Talbot's seafood restaurant, Imperial No. 9, due to open March 1. Special introductory rates start at $240. At 9 Crosby St.; 212-389-1000; mondriansoho.com
Photo Courtesy Mondrian SoHo
March 21, 2011
This may be the first week of spring, but with a chilly mix of snow and rain enveloping the streets of Manhattan, it’s apparent that winter isn’t ready to go away just yet. This final cold stretch can feel like the longest of all, which is why there’s never been a better time for a nice, relaxing day at the spa. One of our favorite city options is the Spa-cation at The Peninsula New York, which, for $250, is also one of the best deals in town. In addition to a 60-minute treatment of choice—holistic massage, intensive facial or organic sunless tanning—guests have all-day access to the fitness center and classes, as well as use of the indoor pool, with panoramic views of Fifth Avenue from its perch on the 22nd floor. There’s also a delicious bento-box lunch, with choices like grilled beef sirloin with bok choy and poached salmon with roasted red pepper and Thai spices. We recommend getting there early to take advantage of the daily fitness classes—yoga, pilates, cardioblast—then following that with a relaxing treatment and finishing off with a poolside lunch. Who cares about the cold when you can have so much fun indoors? At 700 Fifth Ave.; 212-956-2888; peninsula.com.
March 24, 2011
For proof that the British are big on preserving their history, one needn't look further than the new St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, now in its soft opening in London's Kings Cross neighborhood. The Victorian Gothic building, first opened in 1873, served as both a railway station and the Midland Hotel for decades and was saved from demolition thanks to a campaign led by poet laureate Sir John Betjeman in the 1960s. Its glory faded when it became an office space, but over the past ten years, the red-brick structure has undergone a staggering $200 million renovation and reopened—with a blessing from the Queen, no less—as a new Eurostar terminal and a 245-room hotel that bridges the gap between present-day luxury and historical authenticity. Thirty-eight of the rooms are in the heritage part of the building, and another 207 are located in a new addition called the Barlow House, as the addition is called. The hotel's public spaces seem from another era, with grand staircases, 50-foot windows, gold-leaf vaulted ceilings, mural-covered walls and the Ladies Smoking Room, the first space in Europe where it was acceptable for women to smoke. The original Booking Room has been converted into a bar and restaurant, while the spirit of other olden-day institutions, namely the barbershop and members-only club, has been preserved. The official opening date will be May 5, exactly 138 years to the day the hotel first debuted. Rooms start at $485; Euston Road; 44-207/841-3540; stpancrasrenaissance.com.
Photo Courtesy St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel
April 04, 2011
While Southern California's year-round beach weather has always made us jealous, it didn't have much of to speak of when it came to fine dining. That's now changed with Addison—the only five-star and five-diamond restaurant in the region—led by Relais & Châteaux grand chef William Bradley. From the grounds of the luxury resort The Grand Del Mar, in San Diego, Bradley meticulously prepares local, seasonal ingredients in a contemporary French style. The four-course tasting menu ($98 per person, offerings change with the season; 5300 Grand Del Mar Court, San Diego; 858-314-1900; addisondelmar.com) offers selections like licorice-glazed squab with candied red cabbage and plums, fois gras pot de crème and delicious handmade sweet pea agnolotti with ham hock. For dessert, the coconut custard with pistachio brittle is a must. The wine list, created by Jesse Rodriguez (formerly the head sommelier of Napa's French Laundry), is an oenophile's dream, with an innovative mix of high-end vintages from Europe, new wines from South America and New Zealand as well as California cult favorites. You can also make it a full day by starting at The Grand Del Mar's spa: Begin with the Spring Refresher facial ($180, lunch and day access to all spa amenities included; 858-314-2020; thegranddelmar.com), continue with a yoga or Pilates class and a plunge in the pool, then take a sunset walk through the property until you arrive, finally, at Addison, refreshed and ready for a dinner to remember.
November 01, 2011
Photo courtesy of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
In French, the word hôtel may be masculine, but the new Mandarin Oriental, which opened in late June and is the chain’s first in Paris, pays homage to the eternal feminine. In the heart of the First Arrondissement, the property’s 99 rooms and 39 suites were designed by Sybille de Margerie as spacious yet intimate boudoirs, complete with Man Ray’s The Kiss rendered in crimson velvet on the walls and on the headboards. Each room overlooks either an indoor garden or the bustling Rue St.-Honoré. But to stay en chambre is a mistake: Chef Thierry Marx serves what he calls “techno-emotional” cuisine—calf’s sweetbread spaghetti and soy risotto, for example—at his virginally white restaurant Sur Mesure par Thierry Marx, while the spa, all pearls and pinks, offers the Mandarin’s signature treatments like the Guerlain Orchidée Impériale facials. Rooms start at $1,095; 33-1/70-98-78-88; mandarinoriental.com.
November 03, 2011
Balancing Barn. Photo by MVRDV, The Balancing Barn 2010/ © Living Architecture
Among the winners of the Royal Institute of British Architects 2011 RIBA Awards are a few brilliant buildings one can actually sleep in. The cantilevered Balancing Barn (rooms, from $40, above), in Suffolk, and the Shingle House (rooms, from $35), a small barn-like structure on the scenic Dungeness beach in Kent, are part of the Living Architecture program, which offers design-savvy travelers cutting-edge shelters. living-architecture.co.uk.
November 01, 2011
John DeLucie. Photo by Mark Abrahams
Chef John DeLucie moves to all things old New York with Crown (24 E. 81st St.; 646-539-4880), his new clubby restaurant opening in September, the follow-up to The Lion and The Waverly Inn.
When The Penisula opens in Paris in 2013 (peninsula.com), the hotel, in the 16th Arrondissement, will boast the city’s first haute-Chinese restaurant, helmed by the Hong Kong–based company’s own chef.
Over in Marrakech, the long-awaited Mandarin Oriental will be transmogrified into a Taj Palace Marrakech (tajhotels.com) in October.
And if you’re going to San Francisco, book a bespoke tour with Carried Away (carriedawaysf.com), whose itineraries offer everything from dim sum spots to a circuit of the hottest galleries.
January 31, 2012
When we were invited last summer to meet French hairstylist John Nollet in
his newly opened salon at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, we expected to see a large, busy space with assistants bustling, blow-dryers
whirring and scissors snipping. Instead, the concierge escorted us to Suite
101, with its nondescript door, around the corner from the elevators. It was
hard not to notice that Nollet’s atelier is perfectly located for quick
and discreet arrivals and departures by his French celebrity clientele, like
singer Vanessa Paradis and La Vie en Rose’s Marion Cotillard.
Inside, the small yet chicly decorated room with gold walls has French doors
that open onto a long terrace overlooking the hotel’s garden courtyard.
In 2009, the Park Hyatt hired Nollet to bring his styling services to 11 of
its properties around the world. From Tokyo to Buenos Aires to London, he appeared
at guests’ doors with his elaborate, custom-built Louis Vuitton trunk
containing the tools of his trade to cut and color their coifs. The yearlong
tour was such a success that the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme invited Nollet
to permanently set up his Hair Room Service by John Nollet in its hotel. Guests can still arrange appointments in their rooms, but the
privacy and charm of the personal service with Nollet in Suite 101 is a Parisian
pas de deux worth experiencing. From $950 a session; paris.vendome.hyatt.com.
March 31, 2012
Photo by Steve Wrubel
There are those who say Le Sirenuse, on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, is the chicest hotel in the world—no small thanks to Carla and Antonio Sersale, whose family has run the place for 60 years. In October, Antonio celebrated his 50th and Carla did what any la-dolce-vita-loving wife would do: She threw a party. The dress was festive with a tinge of Orient—and so it was, on everyone from Carla and Antonio to their two sons, Aldo and Francesco, and the rest of the cast of 300 family, friends, and regulars at the hotel, which opens its doors once again on April 1.
April 12, 2012
Niall Clutton / Courtesy 45 Park Lane Hotel
Perched on the roof and featuring a grand, wraparound balcony, the 1,830-square-foot one-bedroom penthouse at 45 Park Lane (which opened last fall) offers panoramic views of Hyde Park as well as postcard monuments such as the London Eye. As London’s grand season kicks off—the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is just around the corner—Departures asked architect-designer Thierry Despont to weigh in on his inspiration for the exquisite penthouse.
How does the design of 45 Park Lane interact with its venerable sister property, The Dorchester?
From the start, we were keen on designing a building that would be iconic yet contemporary, that would blend into its surroundings and, at the same time, announce its presence as the new landmark on Park Lane. The horizontal metal fins we designed for the façade accentuate the dynamic shape of the building and respond to the gentle, inward curve of The Dorchester. Another important design element, inspired by flowing curtains, is the exterior art panels, which is a monumental sculpture that has been approved by the Westminster Council as an art piece. The council was so intent on highlighting them, they encouraged more exterior lighting.
There’s also remarkable art within the penthouse.
Most of the art throughout was specifically commissioned for 45 Park Lane. The penthouse suite displays work by Sir Peter Blake depicting a modern interpretation of Rotten Row—the historic see-and-be-seen avenue in Hyde Park. The collection highlights British artists, celebrities and London views.
What influenced the palette of the penthouse suite? The textiles?
The views of Hyde Park, the sun filtering in during the morning and the blue skies. There’s a contemporary timelessness. [I chose] natural materials such as marble, cerused mahogany, suede, leather and silk velvet, trying to keep things clean yet sumptuous rather than overwhelming with patterns.
Which signature Thierry Despont design elements will our travelers recognize?
Luxurious fabrics, ultra-comfortable custom-made furniture, well-appointed dressing areas and breathtaking bathrooms.
How would you describe your overarching vision for the penthouse?
It’s a gorgeous hotel space that doesn’t feel like a hotel.
www.45parklane.com; from $10,429 per night