Posts Tagged ‘hotel’

Exploring France: A Stay at the Newly Renovated Hôtel Ritz Paris

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Classic fluffy bed goodness at the The Hôtel Ritz Paris

On my recent trip to Paris, I had the opportunity to stay at the Hôtel Ritz Paris for the first time. The iconic Parisian property located on the Place Vendome re-opened in 2016 after a four year renovation led by French architect Thierry W. Despont that is rumored to have cost over $400 million. Yet the property doesn’t shout “updated.” The upgrades are subtle and sublime, focused on adding more natural light to the hotel, updating the technology, and restoring it to a modern day version of Belle Époque glamour that would continue to lure today’s jet set, who care about things like speedy wifi, ample electrical outlets, indoor/outdoor dining and Black Mambo hairdryers.

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Looking up at the gorgeous main staircase at the Hôtel Ritz

While I have long been a customer (and fan) of the hotel’s Bar Hemingway (which seems strangely untouched by the renovations), this was the first time I actually spent the night at the property. I did not stay in the one of the hotel’s suites but in room 126, which was still all kinds of fancy.

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Ritzy stairs

The Ritz has an over-the-top traditional luxury vibe and excellent service. After being shown to my room, I was asked if I’d like to have someone unpack my suitcase for me. Since I like to keep it real, I passed on this service but appreciated how casually it was offered. While I’m not the traditional Ritz guest, I could not find a flaw with their service. It’s omnipresent and invisible. You are not going to spot an unattended housekeeping cart in the hallways of this hotel.

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The working desk at the Ritz

The 19th Century over-the-top traditional elegance of the Ritz is not usually the type of hotel I’d pick and I knew that before going. But it’s fun to mix it up at hotels. There was a moment around midnight at the hotel’s Ritz Bar when I realized I was the only woman in the room not wearing Chanel, unless my nail polish counts. This is not really surprising since designer Coco Chanel lived at the Ritz for decades, and the hotel has a Chanel Spa.

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An extremely comfortable chair in the corner of room 126 at the Ritz Paris

The famous guests of yore are name dropped throughout the property. There’s the previously mentioned Bar Hemingway (no longer accessible from the side entrance post-renovation) with it’s €30 cocktails and €18 mini hem burgers, and €1500 Ritz Side Car, which in 2001 was named the most expensive cocktail in the world.

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Left: a beautiful welcome amenity Right: Marie Antoinette would approve of the vomiting swan faucets

Tea is served in the gorgeous flower-filled Salon Proust. There are historic suites named after luminaries including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Charlie Chaplin. I did not see any reference to Diana, Princess of Wales, who ate her last meal at the property with Dodi Fayed, son of the hotel’s current owner, Mohamed Al Fayed.

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The gorgeous Salon Proust

The hotel’s restaurant, L’Espadon, has a one Michelin star restaurant for lunch and two Michelin stars for dinner. I did not eat at either since I got sick and spent much of my time in the wonderfully fluffy bed and large marble bathroom. But I can vouch for the property’s room service. It was excellent and they honored my request for chicken soup (not on the menu) at all hours of the day. My room was blissfully quiet and my bed fluffy and comfortable. If you have to get sick while traveling abroad, the Ritz is a great place to do it.

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Flowers at reception

Breakfast was included in my room rate and it was as rich and over-the-top as one would expect. The hotel’s Place Vendome location is perfect for the fashion week and shop-til-you-drop set. I’m a woman who is more comfortable in Saint Germain than in the 1st Arrondissement, I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to stay here again. But if you have the chance, particularly on an expensive account, it’s divine.

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Left: French toast it’s native environs Right: Very rich Eggs Benedict

I will definitely return to the hotel’s Bar Hemingway, which remains of my favorite hotel bars of all time.

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Your syrup is served, Ritz style

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€30 Earl Grey martini at the Bar Hemingway 

Travelers who favor the gilded aesthetic of Emirates Airlines are the ones most likely to be comfortable at the revamped Ritz. It’s fabulous in every way.

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Ritz Paris
15 Place Vendôme 75001 Paris, France
1 800 745 8883

Rates from $1,098.10 USD

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A Stay at the Dorchester in London

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 Classic luxury is the vibe at the Dorchester

On my recent trip to London, my husband and I decided to go the classic luxury route and booked a stay at The Dorchester when we found a “pay for two nights, stay for three” deal in the Offers section of their website.  I’m a fan of the brand and am particularly fond of The Hotel Eden in Rome and had a great experience at their sister London property 45 Park Lane.

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Flowers in the lobby

The Dorchester oozes serious classic luxury. From the oversized floral arrangements in the lobby to the butler delivering a spot of tea from room service, this hotel has all old school London trademarks, without being boring or stuffy. The service is top notch, and friendly. The doorman even entertained me with stories from when he lived in L.A. for a few years during the 80s.

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The living area of room 810

We were upgraded to Park Suite and to say the room was large is an understatement. The living area was huge, with a dining table that worked as a desk for two, and a large seating area with overstuffed couches and chairs. It was clear the room could be joined to the adjacent room, so the suite was suitable for families, or executives traveling with assistants that want both proximity and privacy.

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The fire exit map at the Dorchester

The fire exit route map on the door was unlike one I’ve ever seen before. It lacked room distinctions, because the property can combine rooms various ways to accommodate guests, whatever their clients needs may be.

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Left: This Asian cabinet housed the minibar Right: a bold mix of patterns

The bedroom was also generously sized. Suite 810 was also blissfully quiet, thanks to double-paned windows. The dreamy bed was easy to sink into and hard to get out of since it was so comfortable. Maybe that’s why I never made it to the hotel’s gym during my stay?

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Succulent centerpiece on the table of Suite 810

The Suite overlooked Hyde Park and had an enormous dining and living area that closed off entirely from the hallway leading to the bedroom. There was a powder room off the hall next to the living room, so the master bathroom still had privacy.

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Oversized comfy couches in the living area of a Park Suite at the Dorchester

The Dorchester knows that it’s the little things that make a hotel feel like your home away from home. From the Champagne welcome amenity to the delicious shortbread biscuits in the minibar, I never wanted for much during my stay.

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Orchids in the London morning light

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The gleaming marble master bathroom

The master bathroom had loads of marble, dual sinks, great light for getting ready and a fabulously deep soaking tub.

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A peek inside the minibar- filled with with British classics

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Fresh roses in the suite area

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The gorgeous fruit basket (and Champagne) were the welcome amenity

My husband and I found our favorite feature of the hotel was the sleek and contemporary Bar at the Dorchester. The space was cool and felt casual and sexy, and had a large list of classic cocktails.

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The Bar is a great spot for variety of cocktails, including an inspired Gin & Tonic

I went for an unusual gin & tonic suggested by my waitress. The Bar also had a nice menu and the succulent olives were some of the best I’ve had outside of Italy. The bread pudding was a standout.

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The bread pudding served in the Bar at the Dorchester

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Royal Salute on display at the Bar at the Dorchester

High end whisky, including Royal Salute Scotch, makes it feel like a lot of very big business deals get done (or at least celebrated) in this bar.

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Left: Salmon at lunch at the The Grill Right: A spot of tea from Room Service for breakfast

The Dorchester has newly renovated The Grill restaurant and it’s gorgeous. Filled with Murano glass chandeliers and fine cuisine, it was a joy to just sit in the room during lunch and breakfast. I did not try the hotel’s more formal three star Michelin Alain Ducasse restaurant or China Tang.

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Champagne in the gorgeously renovated Grill

If you’re interested in a prime Mayfair location and classic luxury, the Dorchester is a classic for a reason. If you can’t stay overnight, come check out the flower-filled promenade for high tea or have a drink at the Bar.

My husband feels more comfortable at the more sleek and contemporary 45 Park Lane next door, which is closer to our own personal aesthetic, but he very much enjoyed a few days at this London Classic.

The Dorchester
Park Lane, Mayfair
London, W1K 1QA

Suites and Rooms Reservations: +44 (0) 20 7317 6530
Fax  +44 (0) 20 7629 8080

Rates from $650.38

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A Stay at The Prince Hotel St. Kilda, Melbourne

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The sunny reception area at the Prince

I first stayed at The Prince Hotel on a trip to Melbourne over a decade ago. I immediately fell in love both the Aussie chic boutique property and the St. Kilda neighborhood.

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The living room of the Prince Premier Suite

But boutique hotels age in dog years– and a lot can change (or needs to change) over the years. While I still adore the property, and particularly the it’s pleasant staff, the hotel is really in need of a makeover. Design details which seemed so innovative when the hotel opened now feel stale.

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The bedroom area of the Prince’s Premier Suite

My room- the Prince Premier Suite- was well maintained and still had a great bathroom with a fabulous free-standing tub and gorgeous light. The balcony off the bathroom felt a tad neglected and in need of some “freshening up.” The carpet in the hallways is visibly showing the wear and tear. The bright pink chair in the hallway, which once seemed like a bright and bold choice, made me think, “Wow. You’re still here.”

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Left: The large soaking tub and Right: natural light fills the contemporary bathroom

The light-filled bathroom with it’s huge soaking tub was my favorite feature of my suite at the Prince. It’s definitely stood the test of time and provides enough space and light for a couple to share, although the sink and shower area are a bit cramped in comparison.

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REN amenities in the bathroom

One of the hotel’s best features is it’s Aurora Spa, which I did not have a chance to visit this trip. The Prince also has a great dining option, Circa. The public spaces are beautifully maintained and breakfast was delicious and included in my room rate.

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The breakfast room at The Prince

One of the hotel’s prime features is it’s location, just above St. Kilda’s gay friendly Prince of Wales Public Bar (this means both Kylie and Danni Minogue are in heavy rotation when the jukebox is working). The Prince of Wales also has a Bandroom which is staple of Melbourne’s music scene featuring both local acts and international ones– Michael Franti and Spearhead played here earlier this month.

I still love the Prince and recommend it for those who want a pleasant place to stay in the area. But boutique hotel connoisseurs won’t find anything edgy or innovative here.

The Prince

2 Acland Street, St Kilda
Melbourne, Australia
thedesk@theprince.com.au
+61 (0) 3 9536 1111

Rates start at $133 USD

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Pinot Noir on the patio of the Pacific Suite

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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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A Stay at Villa D’Este Lake Como, Italy

The view from our Lake View Junior Suite in the Cardinal Building at Villa D’Este

This summer I visited Italy’s Lake Como for the first time. It’s stunningly beautiful, even though the weather was mostly rainy during my visit. My husband recently joined LHW’s Leaders Club Unlimited and LHW has an exceptional edit of hotels in Italy, including Villa d’Este.

Pool on the lake at Villa D’Este

We booked a executive Room Garden View but were upgraded to a Junior Suite with Lake View in the Cardinal Building, which was a very nice upgrade. As a Leaders Club Unlimited member, my husband was also given Three course complementary lunch for two at The Verandah (without drinks).

The view from Bar Canova

Some of the entrees, such as smoked sockeye salmon with caviar were € 80. The total value of this unpublished Leaders Club unlimited perk was around $300.  I would not have known the prices if my husband had not told me, this is the sort of old school hotel that gives the woman the menu with no prices.

Art in Bar Canova

Once we got into our Junior suite, we found a bottle of Prosecco as our welcome amenity, and a stunning view of the lake.

Classic Italian luxury is the vibe at Villa D’Este

Service at the hotel was top notch, and the bathroom smelled wonderful. Staff was very friendly, on top of everything and the concierge took care of all our restaurant reservations.

Boats at Villa D’Este

The hotel was offering daily boat excursions on the lake complete with a tour guide and a 90 minute stopover in Bellagio for € 90. I was going to go but choose not to because of the weather (and the bed was really, really comfortable).

Rainy but beautiful morning on Lake Como

The property has over 25 acres of grounds and gardens and huge fitness center complete with indoor pool. Due to the rain, the outdoor pool was closed during much of my stay.

The Queen’s Building at Villa D’Este

Breakfast for two was included in our room rate and the food and service was good. My only criticism– the breakfast buffet was not as impressive as everything else at the property.

Stunning gardens at Villa D’Este

It was also fun instagramming pictures from the property and having “George Clooney’s Villa” pop up as a possible location.

Pasta and tomato soup al fresco

Villa d’Este was not cheap, but the great service and luxe accommodations made up for the dicey weather.

Aperol Spritz at Canova Bar

The hotel had even set up a lounge and big screen television in one of the rooms on the ground floor to make a top notch lounge for World Cup viewing.

Sun & an Aperol Spritz

Villa d’Este is open from March through November.

Villa d’Este

Via Regina, 40

22012 Cernobbio, Italy

reservations@villadeste.it

Tel +39 031 3481

Fax +39 031 348873

Rates start at $696 .78 (€ 520.00)

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