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Luxury and Whimsy Meet at the Saint James Paris

The Saint James is the only hotel in Paris with official Chateau status

What could make a trip to Paris more magical? Staying at the Saint James, the only hotel in Paris that has official “chateau” status. Located in the upscale 16th arrondissement, the Saint James is unlike any place else I’ve stayed in Paris… and I really, really liked it.

Visually stunning staircase at the Saint James Paris

With bold yet whimsical interiors by Bambi Sloan, the Saint James is a stunner, but not at all stuffy. There is a hot air balloon motif through the property that pays homage to days when the grounds were used as an air field.

Left: Hot air Balloon Lamps Right: Zebra taxidermy is so Paris

The rooms and suites are very large by Parisian (or any major European city standards) which more than makes up for the property’s location in the upscale residential 16th  (it’s a 10 minute taxi ride to L’Arc de Triomphe and right near the the Porte Dauphine metro stop).

The timeless dining room at the Saint James

The location wasn’t an issue for me, because my stay was over a bank holiday in January and the property was so fabulous, my husband and I did not want to leave. With a restaurant and bar on the property, there wasn’t a need to when the weather got nasty.

Classically elegant details at the Saint James: a chandelier and an antique clock

The Saint James is part private club, part hotel, which gives the place a nice, understated buzz in the communal areas like the dining room and the bar.

The bedroom of suite 311 at the Saint James was carpeted with a hardwood design

The Saint James is a great choice for a sophisticated romantic getaway, or for those who love luxury and value for money (the basic rooms here are half the price as some of Paris’ most famous hotels).

Left: Nespresso Still Life Right: Fabulous bathroom with great tile & tub

While the Saint James is visually stunning, it’s also functional and comfortable and has a great staff. They are helpful and not overly formal. The concierge helped with dinner reservations and arranging transportation. Wifi is free and works throughout the property.

I loved this particularly bold room inspired by the Last King of Scotland

With only 48 rooms (20 of them suites), the Saint James makes you want to return to have a different experience in another room. So it’s not much of a shocker that the fashion crowd loves this boutique hotel property.

Some flamboyant touches at the Saint James

The bathrooms are definite stand outs both for design and practicality. Suite 311 had a claw foot tub that filled quickly and a separate shower with excellent water pressure that didn’t soak the entire bathroom. The amenities were Lanvin (so not mad at that)!

crazy good bathtub

Room rates include an impressive breakfast spread complete with Mariage Freres tea (my personal favorite).

The beds are comfortable at the Saint James

There is an outdoor garden with a terrace bar shaped like a hot air balloon that I’d like to visit again when the weather is pleasant.

A comfortable seating area in a suite at the Saint James

My stay at the Saint James Paris was a top notch boutique hotel experience.

Left: Hot air balloon wallpaper Right: a lighting fixture shaped like a hot air balloon

There is a fitness room and spa on the property, as well as loaner bikes if you’d like to explore Paris on two wheels.

The Spa Pavilion

The Saint James is a member of Relais & Chateaux.

Left: Love these striped pillows

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Leopard carpet makes the classic dining room feel modern

The breakfast bread basket at the Saint James

The impressive breakfast spread

The Library Bar had a Hogwarts like charm

Room rates at the Saint James start at about $400 USD.

Saint James Paris

Address: 43 Avenue Bugeaud, 75116 Paris, France
Phone:+33 1 44 05 81 81
Email: contact@saint-james-paris.com

Much thanks to Jon Makmaltchi of  JMak Hospitality, Nicolas Egloff and the staff at the Saint James for arranging my stay and hosting me at the Saint James. Without them this post would not be possible.

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#FriFotos Geometric Shapes in Hong Kong

The IM Pei designed Bank of China building lights up with geometric patterns at night

Night view of Bank of China Building in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Night Panorama

Geometric details in the car park and escalators at The Upper House

Angles and shapes on the staircase at The China Club in Hong Kong

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Mirrors at the Royal Mansour Marrakech

Mirrors are just one of the finishes at the Royal Mansour

It’s all about the details at the Royal Mansour. The construction of this Marrakech luxury hotel was overseen by Morocco’s reigning monarch, Mohammed VI. He employed over 1,500 Moroccan artisans specifically to show off the finest in Moroccan craftsmanship, including some very beautiful mirrors.

Left: Mirror in the dressing area of one of the riads Right: Mirrored vanity

The dressing areas in the guest riads were very impressive, with duel walk-in closets.  The dressing areas including velvet-lined jewelry storage that could easily accommodate an Oscar Night’s worth of fine jewelry and watches.

A gorgeous bathroom with exquisite finishes and a mirror over the sink

The details are really what jumped out at me during my two day stay here. Anyone who has remodeled a bathroom– and survived– would be blown away by the quality and sheer number of fine finishing touches. The custom zelij mosaic tile inlays, to the individually chosen wash basins, tubs, and and marble for the 53 one, two, and three bedroom guest riads.

I was particularly charmed by this sink/mirror combo in one of the guest Riads

Room rates start at about $2,000 per night.

Royal Mansour Marrakech

Rue Abou Abbas El Sebti,

Marrakech 40000, Morocco

Disclosure: this post would not be possible without the generosity of my hosts at the Royal Mansour.

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Monogram on the Spot at L’Aventure: The Louis Vuitton Travel Pop Up in Paris

Wall of luggage tags at the L’Aventure Travel Pop Up Shop

When I found out this week’s #FriFotos theme was the alphabet, I decided to take the opportunity to tell you about the really cool Parisian pop up shop I just visited.

If you’re going to be in Paris before the end of December, I highly recommend checking out Louis Vuitton’s travel-themed pop up shop, L’Aventure, located at 22 Avenue Montaigne. The store not only explains the history of Louis Vuitton’s brand origins as luggage makers to French aristocrats and now the likes of Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. The shop will close on December 31st, 2013.

Wall of Louis Vuitton trunks, both old and new

The shop is full of travel related eye candy as well– from Louis Vuitton City Guides to colorful luggage tags you can have monogrammed with your initials right on the spot (it’s a free service for up to three initials). There is even a beyond fabulous Louis Vuitton leather hammock that I was temped to try out while the monogram machine was warming up.

Left:  Dear Santa- can I have this leather swing? Right: The Louis Vuitton leather hammock’s chic gold clasp

Service at the shop was top notch and I thought it served as a really good introduction to the brand. City guides and luggage tags and other accessories were surprisingly affordable, making them perfect holiday gifts.

One, two or three letter monograms are free of charge at the L’Aventure Pop Up

Left: The alphabet by LVMH Right: The monogram machine warming up

Not going to Paris anytime soon? You can check out the Louis Vuitton City Guides in Digital format using the Louis Vuitton Amble app for iPhone. The app is free and the Digital City guides on Amble come in multiple languages and are available as an in-app purchases (the Paris Guide cost $9.99).

An artist hand-painting Louis Vuitton travel accessories shows the hand craftsmanship that goes into the brand

So even if a custom monogrammed Louis Vuitton trunk is beyond your budget, the Amble app and City Guides are a digital budget luxury.

Colorful Louis Vuitton City Guides in Paperback format

L’Aventure Travel Pop Up Shop by Louis Vuitton (open through the end of December 2013)

22 Avenue Montaigne, Paris

Phone +33 1 45 62 47 00

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#FriFotos: Symbols, Sri Lanka, and Duran Duran

Prayer Flags at a Buddhist Monastery In the Ancient Holy city of Anuradhapura, a UNESCO world heritage site

This week’s #FriFotos theme is “symbols” and there are several here in Sri Lanka I thought were worth sharing.

A group of monks in Anuradhapura wearing saffron & paprika colored robes, which are traditional symbols of Theravada Buddhist monks in Southeast Asia.

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