February 09, 2011
Edition, a partnership between hoteliers extraordinaires Ian Schrager and Bill Marriott, got off to a successful start last year with the unveiling of its first property, the beach-chic Waikiki Edition, in September. Next up is its 15-story, 78-room tower (with a 2,900-square foot floor-through penthouse) in Istanbul's Levent neighborhood, which soft-opened February 10. The hotel was designed in collaboration with the New York architectural firm Gabellini Sheppard, whose résumé includes retail spaces for high-fashion names like Giorgio Armani, Vera Wang and David Yurman—so it's no surprise that its style is modern yet understatedly luxurious. Each room has a silver-gold and bronze palette, hardwood floors with silk carpets, custom furniture, seating areas and wall-to-wall windows overlooking the city. (Book one of the Superior or Loft rooms with a teak-floored terrace.) There's also an in-house Cipriani restaurant, a three-story, 20,000-square-foot spa by Espa with private Turkish hammams, a screening room and a nightclub and bar. Rooms start at $415, but special introductory rates can be found on the hotel website through March 6. At 136/1 Buyukdere Cad.; 90-212/317-7700; editionhotels.com.
Photo courtesy Edition Hotels
February 16, 2011
Palm Springs is always worth the trip, and especially so during Modernism Week, an annual lineup of events that celebrate mid-century art and design, with a special focus on local architects like E. Stewart Williams, Don Wexler, Bill Krisel and Albert Frey, whose residence, Frey II, temporarily opens for visits. Now in its sixth year, the festival is gaining in popularity: Last year's attendance was nearly double that of the one before. Among the panel discussions, gallery exhibits, screenings and lectures (there will be one from designer Trina Turk), the highlights of this year's event, held from February 17-27, include an exhibition of vintage Braniff Airlines uniforms by Pucci and Halston, architect-led private tours of renowned modernist homes—among them, Frank Sinatra's Twin Palm Estates, the George Randolph Hearst Estate and Sand Acre, where Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe hid out—and vintage car and Airstream shows. There will also be silent auctions, cocktail receptions at landmark buildings and a gala to benefit Modernism Week. modernismweek.com.
Photo Courtesy Palm Springs Art Museum
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 02, 2011
Kuwait's not exactly a hop, skip and a jump away, but a visit to the city's new Hotel Missoni—and the Maserati limo ride from the airport—may be worth the trip alone. The 18-story hotel, which opened on Tuesday as part of Kuwait City's new Symphony Centre, is awash in color and full of smart design. Nearly 10 million mosaic tiles were used to create the iconic zigzag stripes that appear throughout the hotel, including the floor of the swimming pool overlooking the gulf. Inspired by the beaches of the Arabian Sea, creative director Rosita Missoni chose a color palette of turquoise, gold and beige for the 169 guest rooms, each of which has a sea view. She also outfitted them with some of the same items she has in her own home, like Hans Wegner's Wishbone chair. As for the 63 suites and the 2,260-square-foot penthouse, they are more like chic apartments decked out in vivid Missoni shades. The hotel has three restaurants—the Italian eatery Cucina, the Arab-Mediterranean fusion restaurant Luna and a café for a quick espresso and a pastry—and a ten-room Six Senses spa with two yoga studios and a juice bar will open later this year. A caveat: Though Kuwait remains one of the safer places to visit in the Middle East, it's always wise to check the State Department website for travel advisories. Rooms start at $385. At the Symphony Building, Gulf Road, Salmiya; 965/9999-1357; hotelmissoni.com.
Photo Courtesy Hotel Missoni
March 09, 2011
Luxury travel isn't always about penthouse suites and high thread-count sheets, and UK-based travel outfitter Black Tomato knows it. Since its inception, in 2005, the company, whose name refers to a rare delicacy, has offered bespoke travel experiences focusing on "getting back to your explorer roots." Two weeks ago, the founders launched a sister venture, Epic Tomato, which arranges expeditions to rarely visited places. Led by expert guides fluent in local dialects (some are even former members of British Special Services), the trips cover five terrain categories: jungle, desert, mountain, polar and rivers. Skiers can travel by private boat through Norwegian fjords and spend the day skiing the pristine slopes of the Lyngen Alps. Other potential adventures are climbing a volcano in South America's Atacama Desert or a nine-day stay with the Dani tribe of West Papua, where visitors learn to construct a proper bow and arrow, attend a traditional pig roast and sleep in villagers' huts. Each itinerary is completely tailored to the client's goals and wishes. Price upon request; 877-815-1497; epictomato.com.
Photo Courtesy Epic Tomato
March 16, 2011
After an exhaustive renovation, what used to be the Yountville Inn has been rechristened as the Hotel Yountville, an 80-room resort designed in the style of a European stone village. Set on five acres of heritage oaks and olive trees in Napa Valley, the hotel was reimagined by DLS Hotels Design Director Lisa Holt, who used California river rocks, giant timber beams and copper accents to create the building's arts-and-crafts exterior. Inside, the lodge-like rooms have vaulted ceilings, reclaimed wide-plank floors, fieldstone hearths and four-poster beds fitted with Bellora linens. The hotel hosts painting and black-and-white photography classes in the vineyard, led by noted Napa artists; for more heart-pumping diversions, there are helicopter tours of the surrounding vineyards. A few finishing touches are still under construction, like the outdoor fire pits and the soon-to-open Y Bar. But San Franciscans up for the weekend are already filling the pool, the 4,000-square-foot Acqua spa and the 40-seat Hopper Creek restaurant, where dishes like eggs Benedict with crushed pistachios and crispy salt pork are challenging the nearby Michelin-starred restaurants for best breakfast in California wine country. Rooms start at $395. At 6462 Washington St., Yountville, CA; 888-944-2885; hotelyountville.com.
Photo Courtesy Hotel Yountville
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
March 30, 2011
Luxury train and cruise operator Orient-Express has teamed up with London's National Gallery of Art to offer The Art of Travel, a series of itineraries that start at the museum and take art lovers to the picturesque places depicted in the gallery's masterpieces. For example, the five-day "Impressions of Paris" tour has an art historian showing guests the works of Monet and his contemporaries before they board the Art Deco carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train to Giverny, the French village where the artist lived; then to Paris for guided tours of Impressionist work at the Musée de l'Orangerie as well as the Musée Marmottan-Monet, a hidden gem. A specialist from the National Gallery of Art will be along for the entire ride. Major destinations on other trips are Venice and Bath, England, where the Holburne Museum recently reopened. Departures begin in April and run through October. From $1,500 to $8,000 for double occupancy; orient-express.com.
Photo Courtesy Orient-Express
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.