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True Vacations, From Greece to California's Wine Country

Plus, stays our editors loved in Paris, New York City, Washington State, and Washington, D.C.



A Sight to Behold in Big Sur

Post Ranch Inn sits among the country’s most otherworldly views, but it never...


Sublime Stays in Japan's Capital City

Navigating the art of Japanese hospitality among the finest hotels and ryokans in...


A Manhattanite’s Guide to Dining in New York City

Raised around the city's tables, our editor shares her most beloved spots to eat...

I SPENT JUNE reporting in Spain: Mallorca and Valencia, with a pitstop in Madrid. I met people from all over the world, but one encounter stuck with me. I had dinner at Grand Hotel Son Net, a dazzling estate in the foothills of Mallorca’s Serra de Tramuntana, with the property’s managing director René Zimmer. He told me that, as a kid in East Berlin, he worked in a movie theater’s projection room. “I could do that,” he thought, watching the actors on-screen night after night. He applied to acting programs without success but found another industry embodying the same level of seamless performance: hotels. Like the most enchanting cinema, he explained, the greatest hotels are pure theater. Like a clock, the whirring cogs are finely orchestrated, and yet we only ever see the beautiful face. So here’s to showmanship and the fascinating figures dedicated to it. — Sophie Mancini

Transcending Five Stars

Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris

On a recent Friday night, I checked into Paris’ Le Royal Monceau for a quick staycation. The hotel, which has been in operation for almost 100 years, is one of the French hotels that can use the designation “Palace.” It’s a title awarded by jury to those that transcend the rigorous criteria needed to achieve five stars, and currently, only 31 properties hold the honor. But unlike any of the other Palace hotels, Le Royal Monceau underwent a renovation by Philippe Starck several years ago, so its storied history sits alongside Starck’s signature touches, from unusual combinations of materials to angles that rest slightly askew. It’s a touch of lightness that infuses the property with a sense of fun. Alongside its playful design, the hotel boasts a swimming pool (very rare in Paris), a Clarins & myBlend spa, a serious cigar bar, and a Michelin-starred restaurant, Il Carpaccio, where my husband ate what he said was the best version of that dish he had ever had. I particularly enjoyed the art collection — each room has unique pieces, along with those displayed in the lobby and public areas — and the bookstore. Any hotel with a bookstore is a place I want to come back to, and this was a very good one. — Skye Parrott



The American West Is Wide Open

A road trip through Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana reveals the astounding majesty of...


The Best Street Food in Mexico City

Hole-in-the-wall favorites spanning breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night.


Sublime Stays in Japan's Capital City

Navigating the art of Japanese hospitality among the finest hotels and ryokans in...

Seaport Splendor

33 Seaport Hotel, New York City

Those who have been to New York's South Street Seaport recently know: It really is a marvel. With an explosion of restaurants (the new Tin Building by Jean-Georges, for example), cool bars, and the excellent McNally Jackson bookstore, not to mention the tall ships and expansive views, the Seaport has established itself as one of the city’s chicest hangouts. The newly opened 33 Seaport Hotel is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. The rooms are stylish and cozy, with in-room amenities from Malin + Goetz and pour-over coffee setups, my favorite. There’s also an amazing dining option, Restaurant Pearl, and rooms with balcony views of the seaport, the East River, and the Brooklyn Bridge. On a recent stay, I ended my evening on my suite’s balcony with a glass of wine. I took in the tall ships and could hear a band playing on the roof of nearby Pier 17 while all of Manhattan glowed and buzzed in the distance. A special stay in a city that’s full of them. — T. Cole Rachel

A Room With a View

Friday Harbor House, San Juan Island, Washington

I stayed at Friday Harbor House twice: once before a three-day kayaking trip and once after. When you return from camping, just sleeping in a real bed feels luxurious, but both of my visits were equally impressive. The hotel is ideally situated in the quaint downtown area of — you guessed it — Friday Harbor, which is the main shopping and dining district on San Juan Island. If you don’t want to bother renting a car, you can walk to the hotel from the ferry terminal, and there are plenty of shops and restaurants nearby. The rooms have all the amenities you would expect from any high-end hotel, but the real reason you stay here is the view. You can’t find a hotel with a better one on the island. I left my curtains open at night because there is nothing quite as magical as being awakened by the sun rising over the San Juans. Get one of the rooms with a patio. It’s the perfect place for morning coffee, and the hotel offers in-room pour-overs and local beans. People flock to the hotel’s bar and back patio restaurant at sunset, so I’d recommend getting there early. The food in the restaurant is excellent; they’re particularly known for their fish, but the hamburger was calling me, and I’m glad I listened. — Laura Smith

Greek Holiday

Eagles Villas, Greece

One of the realities of working in travel is that, while I visit a lot of wonderful places, I rarely take what one might consider to be true vacations. (There is no complaint intended in that statement, but it is the reality of my very beloved job). In Greece recently for work, I decided to extend my trip by a few days; my husband and youngest daughter joined me, and we spent our time at the Eagles Villas in Halkidiki. A recent expansion of the Eagles Palace, a 50-year-old resort, the villas are built into a hillside and landscaped with native plants that extend to the green roofs. The area has a smattering of hotels and not much else. The nearest town is sleepy Ouranoupoli, a gateway to the monastic enclave of Mount Athos, where only men are allowed by both tradition and Greek law — the shops of its main street primarily sell religious memorabilia and bibles. Which is to say, once you arrive at Eagles Villas, there is no reason to leave — and you don’t need to. The resort has several restaurants, a spa, both indoor and outdoor pools, a kids’ club, and, though close to capacity when I visited, enough space that it never felt full. From the top of the property, one has a breathtaking view out over the Aegean; at the bottom of the property, access to a private beach with the sea lightly lapping in. It was the perfect spot to laze away an entire day, which is how I spent my time while I was there. I left with the unusual feeling of having had a true holiday. — Skye


Celestial Interiors

The Morrow Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Minutes away from D.C.’s Union Station, you’ll find The Morrow Hotel. The interiors feature sleek, luminous curves and celestial themes. Each space has its own mood designed around a time of day. My room's lighting recalled the glowing moon. Upon arrival, I was greeted by an immaculate soaking tub, the warm bath already drawn. As the sun was setting, I enjoyed a Deck Side Spritz at the sunset-themed rooftop bar and lounge, Upstairs at The Morrow. Vesper, the hotel’s exclusive lounge, is draped in dusty midnight blues and smoky velvet with all the moody atmosphere of a speakeasy. While the overall look and feel is very modern with an eye on the future, the building hasn’t forgotten its roots as the former Central Armature Works, a motor-repair shop. The main eatery Le Clou (French for “The Nail”) is Nicholas Stefanelli’s excellent take on the French brasserie. The pièce de résistance was their cheese cart, served table-side. The Morrow’s creative feel is matched by the atmosphere of the NoMa neighborhood. A place yearning to be called home, even if only for a little while. — Lisa Lok

A Wine-Country Oasis

Montage Healdsburg, California

The Montage is tucked away on a private road, just a few miles outside downtown Healdsburg. The sprawling property is surrounded by vineyards and towering trees, and the bungalow-style guest rooms are filled with native plants. Take an outdoor shower or lounge on your private balcony equipped with a firepit where you will soon be able to enjoy a glass of wine from Surveyor, the Montage’s signature wine label whose grapes are grown on the property. The spa specializes in Valmont facials (a Departures wellness favorite) and body treatments with options like lymphatic drainage and LED therapy. The indoor/outdoor bar, Scout Field, is the perfect spot to grab a quick bite and a drink. Try the Re Vera for a refreshing gin cocktail before heading to dinner at Hazel Hill, the on-site restaurant that serves California cuisine with a French twist. If you’re looking to get a workout on your vacation, the gym has everything you’ll need and views of the pool, where you can retreat for an afternoon of doing absolutely nothing. — Elissa Polls

A Gateway to Antiquity

Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens

After spending our recent honeymoon on a Greek island, my husband and I decided to tack on a couple of extra days in Athens before heading home. This decision was due in no small part to the fact that neither of us had ever seen the Acropolis, which made a stay at the Hotel Grande Bretagne such an inspired choice. Not only does the hotel have a pedigree dating back to 1874, but it also offers staggering views of Athens’ most famous landmarks: Syntagma Square and the Parliament, Lycabettus Hill, and the original Olympic stadium. It’s also not every day that one can have cocktails in a grand hotel bar that also casually offers a direct view of one of the most important historical sites on the planet. Views and proximity to iconic antiquities aside, the Grande Bretagne also offers incredible five-star service and dining via their rooftop restaurant. It manages to pull off the hat trick that so often eludes hotels of a certain age — it luxuriates in its history while still feeling uniquely modern. — Cole

Our Contributors

Sophie Mancini Writer

Sophie Mancini is a New York based writer. Under the New York Times’ creative agency, she helped lead the relaunch of Departures Magazine, where she then went on to become the food editor. Her background spans editorial, brand, and books.

Skye Parrott

Skye Parrott is the editor-in-chief of Departures. A magazine editor, photographer, writer, and creative consultant, she was previously a founder of the arts and culture journal Dossier, and editor-in-chief for the relaunch of Playgirl as a modern, feminist publication.

Lisa Lok

Lisa Lok is the visuals director of Departures. A Brooklyn-based creative, she enjoys collaborating with photographers and illustrators from around the world.

T. Cole Rachel Editor-at-Large

T. Cole Rachel is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and teacher with over 20 years of experience working in print and digital media. He is currently an editor-at-large at Departures.

Laura Smith Writer

Laura Smith is the deputy editor of Departures. Previously, she was the executive editor of California magazine and has written for the New York Times, the Guardian, the Atlantic, and many more. Her nonfiction book, The Art of Vanishing, was published by Viking in 2018.

Elissa Polls Writer

Elissa Polls is the head of production for Departures. A producer who typically stays behind the scenes, she has worked with creatives from around the world, helping bring their ideas to life. Polls has over 15 years of production experience and lives in Berkeley, California.

Jess Rotter Illustrator

Jess Rotter is a Los Angeles–based illustrator and artist. Rotter’s work has frequently featured in the Washington Post. Her clients range from Natalie Portman to Questlove.


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