Archive for February, 2015

A Stay at the Grand Hotel et de Milan, Italy


Stylish and quirky decor in the Grand Hotel et de Milan’s Visconti Suite

Last month I made a super quick trip to Milan for some personal business. My husband and I decided to stay at the Grand Hotel et de Milan because of it’s central location and proximity to the the Duomo Cathedral.


The living area of the suite was large, but there was not a lot of usable space on the table

We booked the hotel through LHW, as my husband is member of their Leaders Club Unlimited program, and we like the perks. One of them was getting complimentary airport transfers to the hotel, and room upgrades. The hotel has an interesting history. It’s located in a converted 18th-century mansion that was was home to opera composer Giuseppe Verdi. The hotel still has a Verdi suite in his honor.



Photos from Visconti’s plays and films were featured in the Visconti Suite

As an LHW Leaders Club Unlimited member, my husband got an upgrade from a room to the large, one bedroom Visconti Suite, named in honor of Italian director Luchino Visconti. The suite’s aesthetic design featured an eclectic mix of old school ornate antiques and modern touches. Framed prints of stills from Visconti’s many plays and films hung on the suite’s walls.


The work desk in the suite’s living room did not allow for much work

The suite’s desk in the living room was it’s weak spot– the entire surface was covered with phones, books, and a sound dock, leaving very little space to set up a laptop. There were also too few power outlets for business travelers with multiple devices. The hotel’s excellent staff brought up a power strip to solve the problem. Still, this suite is better designed for leisure travelers than business people.


A vintage steamer trunk at reception at the Grand Hotel et de Milan

The bathroom was modern and designed in marble, but this being Europe, the shower stall was a bit small. The hotel had a nicely equipped gym. Breakfast was included (because of LHW Unlimited perks) and served in a beautiful room lit by Murano glass chandeliers.

Grand Hotel et de Milan

Via Alessandro Manzoni, 29, 20121 Milano, Italy
+39 02 723141

Rates start at $402 USD

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Where to Eat in Milan: Unico Milano


The view from the terrace at Unico

Here’s the thing about dining at restaurants with Michelin stars… you don’t fill up from what you order.  You get full by eating all the interim courses that come in between. Chef Fabio Baldassarre’s Unico Milano is no exception. Located on the at 20th floor of the WJC Tower, Unico comes with sweeping views overlooking an industrial suburb of the city.

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Unico Milano’s Dinner Menu

Unico’s tasting menus run 90 Euros for four course or 120 Euros for six courses. Tasting menus are for the whole table. If you prefer, ordering a la carte is also an option.  We went for the four courses, which felt more like 8 after the amuse bouche, pre-dessert and palate cleansing snacks in between.


 This tortellini was delicious and creamy

The meal started with venison carpaccio served with blueberries, tassel hyacinths, sour cream and shock of cold foie gras ice cream. It was interesting but venison isn’t my protein of choice. I was delighted by the bonus course that wasn’t fully described to me but was served in an egg with a light sprinkling of caviar.


Left: venison carpaccio Right: veal cheek casserole

The second course was the standout for me: house made fresh chick pea tortellini pasta served with red prawn, buffalo mozzarella mousse and black truffle. If ordering a la carte, I would have ordered this dish for my entree for Euro 28 and skipped the veal entirely.


One of the courses between courses, featuring caviar in a delicate egg mousse

I was underwhelmed by the veal cheek casserole made with celeriac cream and artichokes. It wasn’t appealing visually and the texture was off-putting. Service as top notch and sweeping as one would expect at a Michelin starred restaurant, and there is an excellent wine list. But the atmosphere is cold and non-romantic.


Hazelnut Sablè for dessert

For dessert, we were served hazelnut sablè, with dark chocolate cream and mango ice cream, It was not overly sweet and delicious although a bit cold for a winter’s night.


The dining room at Unico Milano

In a city filled with charming views and great food, I don’t think Unico Milano is worth the 20 minute taxi ride from the city center. It’s better suited for business meals on expense accounts for foodies already in the Portello Area.

Unico Milano

Address: Viale Achille Papa 30

20149 Milano, Italy

Pnone:+39 02 392 148 47

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Where to Eat in Milan: Alla Cucina Delle Langhe


Caprese di bufala (€ 12,00)

It’s not hard to eat well while in Italy. But when I heard that Alla Cucina delle Langhe is one of Tom Ford’s preferred lunch spots when in Milan, I decided to make a point to eat there.


Left: Rigatoni pomodoro e basilico (€ 11,00) Right: Tagliolini al burro fuso con grattata di tartufo “Bianchetto” (€ 26,00)

Located on the Corso Como, Alla Cucina della Langhe isn’t a tourist spot, but is popular with locals as a business lunch spot. Be sure to book ahead if you want a table. The menu focuses on foods from the Piemonte and Lombardia regions.


Filet alla griglia (€ 24,00)

The atmosphere was sedate and business-y and the service was top notch. The best dishes were the pastas, with the standout dish being the truffle-laden Tagliolini al burro fuso con grattata di tartufo Bianchetto (€ 26,00). It wasn’t particularly photogenic but it was delicious.


1998 Sugarille 

My husband and I split the grilled filet, which was served rarer than the medium we ordered…. because Europe.

The restaurant’s wine list is extensive, with a few “by the glass” options and a lot of different price points. We ordered a bottle of the 1998 Sugarille Brunello Di Montalcino, which unfortunately was corked when our server attempted to open it. The server handled the situation appropriately- seeking the manager and quickly and replacing the bottle with another.


That being said, I can’t recommend the 1998 Sugarille. Go for another Brunello Di Montalcino.


Alla Cucina della Langhe exterior

 Alla Cucina delle Langhe

Address: Corso Como, 6, 20124 Milano, Italy
Phone:+39 02 655 4279
Closed on Sundays and the month of August

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Four Hotel Bathrooms to Crush On This Valentine’s Day

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 Clawfoot tub and a chandelier = yes, please!

With Valentine’s Day coming up, I couldn’t help but look back at some of the hotel bathrooms that I’ve met and fallen in love with the past year. Here’s a look at four sexy hotel bathrooms that are guaranteed to put you in the mood for romance.

1) The Ranch at Rock Creek, Philipsburg, Montana

Montana has all kinds of rugged and sexy landscape, and a few upscale resorts that really go next level in terms of service and luxury.

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 Gold foot clawed tub in a barn at the Ranch at Rock Creek

The Ranch at Rock Creek wins my award for outstanding bathroom design because every single room I saw during my stay in March had a incredible bathtub– not just the biggest suite on the property.

2) Most Unexpected Sauna- The Greenwich Hotel NYC

The Greenwich Hotel in Tribeca has become my favorite NYC hotel property because of it’s elegant, understated and cozy vibe. It feels livable.


Tub fills in 60 seconds + a sauna

There’s a swanky Japanese spa in the basement and a state-of-the-art fitness room, where I’ve found myself next to a movie star on the treadmill, which are nice perks too. But what really blew me away about the Greenwich Hotel? The in-room sauna of the studio suites and freestanding bathtubs that fill in 60 seconds. This being New York, you forsake a walk-in closet for the sauna but it’s only for a few days… you can deal with it.

3) Best View from an Outdoor Shower- Maia Luxury Resort, Seychelles

The view of the Indian Ocean from the villas at Maia Luxury Resort are enough to inspire you to linger and rinse, lather, and repeat again.

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Maia Luxury Resort’s Outdoor Shower, Seychelles

Note: I did not try out the bathtub. It seemed like overkill with the surrounding infinity pool.

4) Best Indoor/Outdoor Bathroom Concept: Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur

Everything about the hippie chic Post Ranch Inn is about indoor/outdoor living… including the free form shower and the killer soaking tub on the patio of the Pacific Suite overlooking, aptly, the Pacific.


The Indoor shower at the Post Ranch Inn

What makes the soaker tub even more heavenly? Enjoying a glass of California Pinot Noir from the minibar while soaking in it.


Pinot Noir on the patio of the Pacific Suite


A perfect Post Ranch Inn sunset

Have you come across an extremely sexy hotel bathroom recently? Let me know in the comments section.

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Because Eataly: a Photo Essay of a Foodie Heaven in Milan


 Looking down at the produce at Eataly Milan Smeraldo

I recently spent a few days in Milan, Italy. One of the highlights of my trip to the Italian fashion capital was stumbling upon a huge and gleaming Eataly.

Artichokes at Eataly Milan 

The gourmet grocery store and community concept was created by Italian entrepreneur Oscar Farinetti and is backed by some of my foodie heroes–  Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Lidia Matticchio Bastianich.

Scenes from the produce aisle at Eataly

Part of Eataly’s manifesto is “providing the best possible products at a reasonable price point.” While I did not comparison shop for produce while in Italy, I can say that produce at Eataly is crazy beautiful.

 Smile in the produce aisle

I am a big fan of Eataly NY  and Eataly Milan Smeraldo’s huge 3 story space was even more impressive than the NYC Eataly.


 Salumi, spec, and other assorted meats

I’m not sure what Los Angeles and Seattle are both still devoid of an Eataly…

 Up in the salumi case at Eataly

In addition to the gorgeous food, Eataly offers classes so you can learn more about food you love, too (assuming you speak Italian).

 The insalata aisle at Eataly

There is fresh pasta section, gorgeous steak cases, a fabulous wine edit and loads of beautiful meat and salumi.

 The salumi guy

Batali’s rock and roll taste is not far from my own, and the music section of Eataly has a nice edit of cds and books.

 Left: The music edit at Eataly reflects Batali’s Seattle roots

Batali’s Seattle roots are evident in the books section, with titles about local musicians Duff McKagen of Guns N’ Roses and Kurt Cobain.

A stylish shopper at Eataly

There is even a performance space and schedule of live music which shows how serious Eataly is about their community. If you’re in the area and haven’t had the Eataly experience, it’s well worth popping in for a browse or a meal right on premises.

 Eataly Milan Smaraldo Exterior

Eataly Milano Smeraldo
LUN – DOM: dalle 10.00 alle 24.00
Piazza XXV Aprile, 10 – 20121 Milano
+39 02 49497301

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