Travel

Where I've been.

travel

Recent Travel Articles

The Best Kind of Hotel California: a Stay a the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur

The Post Ranch Inn is all about indoor/outdoor living

One of the things I love most about living in California is that there are so many places I travel to within state lines– the desert, the mountains, vibrant cities and cute coastal towns are all just a few hours drive away. The spot I find most beautiful and special is Big Sur, California.

The view from the living area of my Pacific Suite at the Post Ranch Inn

Located on a curvy and stunning section of the Pacific Coast Highway, Big Sur is part California is part hippie strong hold and part high end dream destination. I recently spent a night at the Post Ranch Inn, and remain convinced it’s my favorite hotel in all of California, because in so many ways it represents what I love most about the Golden State.

The steel hot tub is kept at 104 degrees

The Post Ranch Inn was designed by architect Mickey Muennig, who studied and embraced the concepts of organic architecture and limiting the impact on the environment. The result is stunning. The Post Ranch Inn’s 39 rooms are hardly “rooms.” They are collection of unique structures– tree houses and curvy buildings that cling to the Pacific Coast. The result is serene and high end zen.

Magic Hour light in the bathroom of my Pacific Suite

The result is all about enjoying the surrounding environment, be it the majestic Redwoods on the property or the stunning coast below. Cell signals are dicey in Big Sur and that’s half the charm. There are no televisions in the rooms at the Post Ranch Inn and you really don’t miss them.

The chocolate chip cookies in the included minibar might ruin your appetite for dinner

Each suite has an easy to work fireplace and some sort of outdoor patio. There is really no reason to leave your wifi equipped room– unless you want to. The property is fun to explore with all sorts of special hidden hang out spots, including benches and even a Spirit Nest (a human-sized birds nest) if you want to chill out in nature.

Left: the hot tub on the balcony of the Pacific Suite is kept at 104 degrees Right: the fireplace makes the suite super cozy

There are two heated infinity pools on the property– one lined with jade (which I’m told has “healing qualities”) as well as a heated lap pool. There is also fitness center and complementary yoga and meditation classes in a yurt. There is a full spa menu and treatments are offered in the spa facilities or in your suite.

I loved how the desk was so organic to the room

The Post Ranch Inn does not allow pets or guests under the age of 18, making it an ideal choice for a romantic couples getaway. They offer wedding, elopement  and celebration packages should you wish to take your relationship to the next level in inspired and spectacular surroundings. Honeymoon packages are also available.

The Pinot Noir welcome amenity was nice to enjoy in the stainless steel hot tub

The Post Ranch Inn was one of the first pioneers in the green movement. You drive past solar panels on your drive up to reception (in the summer, solar panels provide 100% of the resort’s power– and they contribute back to the grid.) Once on the property, a fleet of Hybrid Lexus vehicles are available to chauffeur you around.

Left: the guard gate at the Post Ranch Inn Right: the curvy and awesome exterior of Mountain House

While all this luxury doesn’t come cheap (room rates start at $675) the service is top notch and the resort does not nickel and dime you. The minibar could feed a family of four and is included in the room rates, as is an impressive breakfast spread in Sierra Mar Restaurant (which I’ll cover in depth in a future post).

Left: Lounge chairs on the deck of a Tree House Right: the deck of a Mountain House

Nature walks, yoga in a yurt, and meditation classes are also complementary for guests.

The exterior of Sierra Mar restaurant

Be advised: if you want to stay at the Post Ranch Inn, book early! The intimate scale of the property means it books up way in advance, especially during weekends.

Left: Solar panels provide the property’s energy  Right: funky fountain on the grounds of the Post Ranch Inn

The Post Ranch Inn epitomizes everything I adore about California– the rugged beauty of the Pacific Coast, the responsible green philosophy, the unpretentious luxury, and the high end hippy vibe.

The view from the Spirit Nest overlooks the pond (which is more scenic when California isn’t in a drought)

For all of these reasons, and the stunning location, the Post Ranch Inn is my favorite hotel in California. If you’re a bucket list type, this is a property worth adding. A two to three night stay is all you need, but one night is not really enough to truly savor all the Post Ranch Inn has to offer and to fully relax.


With only 39 rooms, reservations at the Post Ranch Inn are essential. No guests under the age of 18 or pets are allowed. Tip: stay here with someone special who you can chill with. This is a very special and memorable place.

Post Ranch Inn

Address: 47900 State Highway 1,
Big Sur, CA 93920, United States
Phone:+1 831-667-2200
www.postranchinn.com

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Where to Eat in Nashville: Rolf and Daughters

Rolf and Daughters is located in a converted old factory

Checking out the foodie scene in Nashville was one of the main items on my agenda for my recent trip. First on my list: Rolf and Daughters, located in a cool converted factory in Germantown. The menu skews a bit Italian/Mediterranean but specializes in peasant comfort food. We arrived early on a Friday night, and lucked into the last two seats at one of the large communal tables.

$12 will get you a Frances Bean: Broker’s Gin, Punt e Mes, Amaro CioCiaro, Campari, and chocolate bitters

Communal dining is one of those foodie trends that I didn’t think I’d be down with until I realized I was always a big fan. I’ve eaten solo happily at many a sushi bar and always appreciate the casual ordering advice. The communal table thing is much the same thing. You’re not required to have a full blown conversation with your neighbors, but you don’t feel strange asking if the pasta is as good as it looks.

Go for the communal dining table

Because we sat down at a bit of an in between time– late for early birds but early for the date crowd, the communal diners on either side changed over during my meal and there is no doubt, the first group was far better company. It could have been because they weren’t on serious dates, or just luck of the draw, but it was definitely changed the energy in the room.

The unusually presented beet salad was delicious

The menu had an Italian slant, with the housemade pastas arriving for almost everyone. Portions are large enough to be shared (with more than enough to take home afterwards). Starters ranged in price from $5-$10, with definitely caught my eye. The cocktail menu had drinks in the $10-$12 range. I went for the $12 Frances Bean made with Broker’s Gin, Punt e Mes, Amaro CioCiaro, Campari, Hum and  chocolate bitters. It was tasty, but not a great match with my food, so I did not order a second. There is large wine beer selection on the menu as well a variety of alcohol free drinks.

Left: homemade garganelli verde with heritage pork ragout Right: Jerusalem artichokes

We ordered based on the advice of our communal dining neighbors– going for the beet salad, Jerusalem artichokes, the house made garganelli with pork ragout, and the sausage. The sausage seemed like a throwback to the restaurant’s Germantown roots, but was the most forgettable of the dishes.

The Yorkshire pork with sauerkraut,potato, and apple sauce was the evening’s lone “meh.”

Rolf and Daughters has a great vibe and lovely atmosphere and the volume didn’t get unpleasant despite the converted industrial space. If you’re in the mood for romance, book a table. For a fun evening out, even solo diners will enjoy a meal at the bar.

The Rolf and Daughters exterior

Rolf and Daughters

700 Taylor St. Nashville, TN 37208

Hours: mon thru sun 5:30pm – 10pm

for reservations please call 615.866.9897

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ediface Complex in India: The Taj Mahal, a Photo Essay

Sunset is a particularly scenic time to visit the Taj Mahal

During my recent visit to India, I got a chance to see the Taj Mahal in Agra. It was one of the most impressive buildings I’ve even seen in person. Built as a tomb for Mumtaz Mahal, his beloved 3rd-wife-of-12, It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.

Sunset at the Taj Mahal in Agra

The Taj Mahal grounds are larger than I anticipated, with gardens, a mosque, a museum and a guest house all on property with the famed domed marble mausoleum.

The #selfie in front of the Taj Mahal seemed to be the shot everyone was going for

In real life, the marble changes color as the sun goes down. The building appears very strong and delicate at the same time. The details seem to be spun out of lace at times.

The minarets lean in, so as not to destroy the tomb if hit by an earthquake

The building’s marble color shifts during the sunset hours (shot on a Lumia 920)

The line to get into the Taj Mahal was rather long

Since the Taj Mahal is a tomb, you leave your shoes outside

I was struck by the vanity of the building. While I’m sure it started as a labor of love, the Taj Mahal is pure ediface complex– it’s a legacy associated with builder Shah Jahan far more than the dead wife it’s for. It’s a really, really good vanity project.

I loved seeing this super-fierce dude taking a selfie in front of the Taj. He made my day rocking that man purse!

Best Taj Mahal Selfie Ever.

The Taj Mahal (shot with my Fuji X10)

The Taj Mahal is open everyday (except Friday) from sunrise to sunset.
The Taj Mahal is open at night Night, 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM (On Full Moon Night,  and two days before and two days after)

Travel Tip: It’s worth it to pay for a private guide.

Day Fee: Rs 750 (Foreigners)
Rs 510 (Citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC Countries)
Rs 20 (Indian)
Entry Free for children below 15 years of age

Night Fee: Rs 750 (Adult, Foreign)
Rs 510 (Adult, Indian)
Rs 500 (Child 3-15 Years, Indian & Foreign)
Entry free for child below 3 years of age

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cure Your February Blues with this Big Sur Time Lapse at the Post Ranch Inn

Hazy Shade of Winter? Not so much. The view of sunset from the deck of room 137 at the Post Ranch Inn.

While so much of the country is covered in snow right now or prepping for another brutal winter storm, Big Sur is reminding me of the many reasons why California is called the Golden State. Don’t get me wrong– we desperately need rain here in Cali. But views like these remind me of just how lucky I am to live in California.

I spend yesterday driving along the Pacific Coast Highway before checking into the Post Ranch Inn.

I made this Time lapse on my iPhone 5s using the TimeLapse app.

Hope this virtual vitamin D helps cure your mid-winter blues. If it doesn’t, hop on a plane and come visit.

Magic Hour Time Lapse at the Post Ranch Inn Big Sur, California

People who live in glass houses… should enjoy the view ( Post Ranch Inn, room 137)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Stay at Le Relais Christine on the Left Bank of Paris

Blue Skies over Relais Christine

On my recent trip to Paris, I split my time between the Saint James Paris and Relais Christine, and for me it was a winning combination. But it’s Relais Christine that felt most like home. It’s an ideal spot for a weekend in Paris.

The left bank chic lobby at Relais Christine

Located in a converted mansion on a quiet street in the 6th arrondissement,  Relais Christine is the heart of all the action in  St-Germain-des-Pres (my Parisian neighborhood of choice).

Seating areas in the common areas at Relais Christine

The hotel is small, chic and charming, with only 51 rooms and suites, each of them a bit different. The property has the same owners as the Saint James Paris, so this intimate left bank property has the same relaxed yet refined service standards.

I loved the slanted roof  of my junior suite at Relais Christine

I stayed in a lovely junior suite with étoile fabric on the walls. I liked the separation of space between the bedroom and living area and non-cookie cutter vibe. When I toured the property and saw other rooms, some were more modern in design. All had been outfitted with modern bathrooms, although the styles varied from room to room. I found the variety appealing.

The welcome amenity was this lovely fruit bowl

There isn’t a traditional hotel bar at Relais Christine, but it’s not really required because of the hotel’s location– there are so many bars and restaurants a few steps away.  The common area featured strong wifi, and an Honor Bar where guests can help themselves to a tipple or glass of wine.

The bedroom of my junior suite at Relais Christine

The bedroom was both cozy and chic, with ample closet space. I felt like I was living in a real Parisian apartment, only with a great concierge to help me make dinner reservations.

Left: Argan bath amenities Right: the cozy but modern bathroom in my junior suite

My bathroom wasn’t large, but it had dual sinks and a great showerhead.

The suites at Relais Christine would work well for a family

All my Paris faves were within walking distance from Relais Chrisine. There’s a Mariage Frères tea salon literally around the corner and a Ladurée a few blocks away on Rue Bonaparte. I walked to both Notre Dame and Musée d’Orsay after enjoying breakfast at the hotel.

Left: peeking into a few different rooms Right: some bathrooms have more modern styling

A whimsical room with a pop of color at Relais Christine

Relais Christine has suites that would work for families and couples, but also had great non-suite rooms that would work for solo travelers.

Left: a modern bathroom at Relais Christine Right: dual sinks in a junior suite

It may be intimate, but Relais Christine has everything you need, including a very nicely equipped gym and spa in the basement.

Work off those carbs in the Relais Christine gym

The breakfast spread (included in the room rate) was lovely, and had made to order hot items as well as a variety of meats, cheeses, and gorgeous pastries.

Breakfast at Relais Christine

Breakfast at Relais Christine is served in this cozy and atmospheric cellar

the breakfast buffet at Relais Christine

There will be carbs, this is Paris!

I didn’t try the apple tarte tatin, but it sure looked delicious

All guests are welcome to use the Relais Christine loaner bikes, which is nice. A few of the suites had patios with courtyard gardens, which would be really nice if you’re staying more than a few days.

A night view of one of the garden suites at Relais Christine

Relais Christine is a gem of luxury hotel on the left bank.

Blue Skies above St. Germain at Relais Christine

Room rates at Relais Christine start at $459

Relais Christine

3, rue Christine – 75006 Paris
Phone: +33 (0)1 40 51 60 80
Fax: +33 (0)1 40 51 60 81
contact@relais-christine.com

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Facebook YouTubeTwitterSubscribe via RSSSubscribe via RSSSubscribe via RSSSubscribe via RSSSubscribe via RSSSubscribe via RSSSubscribe via RSS