Posts Tagged ‘spa’

Hotel Review: A Stay at the Amanbagh Rajasthan, India

Marigold-filled fountains in the Lobby at the Amanbagh

After spending three days at the Aman-I-Khas, the staff arranged a transfer by car to the Amanbagh, which was about a 3 hour drive by car. The drive was pleasant and on new roads and was a nice way to see rural Rajasthan. The Amanbagh was the third and final stop on my Aman India Journey.

For fans of the Aman brand, the Amanbagh is the most classically Aman of the properties I stayed at in India, complete with zen and opulent buildings by renown architect Ed Tuttle,  surrounding a glistening pool and and large spa (neither of which I used).

Exterior of one of the pool pavilions

The guest rooms and pavilions are heavy on the marble with posh bathrooms and have spacious dressing and living areas, as well as patios and terraces and in some cases, pools.

Marigolds in the lobby of the Amanbagh

Arriving at the Amanbagh is unforgettable, as the saffron-clad staff greeted us with song.

Despite the fabulousness of the property and the facilities, this was the hotel I spent the least amount of time in during my trip to Rajasthan, mostly because the surrounding area was so interesting and the Amanbagh staff had put together an excellent itinerary so that I could explore it to the fullest.

The seating area in one of the Amanbagh’s Pool Pavilions

After arriving  having a great lunch on the terrace and resting for a bit, we headed to nearby Barakhambi Temple after sunset (you can read my post about that experience here). I was fairly exhausted by the time we returned and just grabbed a light dinner in the hotel’s beautiful bar and listened to the live musicians performing in front of the pool before I realized I could barely keep my eyes open. I quickly fell asleep in the comfortable king-size bed.

Bedroom of a pool pavilion

Located in Ajabgarh, near Near Ajabgarh Fort, the sleeky luxurious Amanbagh is quite a contrast to the part of rural Rajasthan where the property is located. But the local villagers are welcoming and that’s part of what makes a stay here so special– this is real Rajasthan. It’s far enough off the beaten tourist track that the locals are honored you’re visiting. The nearby villages might be poor, but the people are proud and no one shook me down for baksheesh.

Marble bathtub in a pool pavilion

The next day, I took a tour of nearby Ajabgarh Fort with a jeep and driver from the Amanbagh. It reminded me a bit of Angkor Wat, with monkeys climbing over the stone walls of the temple.

Visiting Ajabgarh Fort was a highlight of my stay

Rural Rajasthan is a very special place

The gorgeous courtyard pool at the Amanbagh

The Amanbagh also has a lovely gift shop with a fabulous jewelry edit from The Gem Palace in Jaipur and beautiful home decor items.

Lounge chairs in a pool pavilion

After another delicious lunch at the hotel’s indoor/outdoor restaurant, I took a nap before going on the Cow Dust Tour (you can read my post about the Cow Dust Tour here).

Friendly locals I met during the Cow Dust tour at the Amanbagh

Women I met in a nearby village during my Cow Dust Tour

Left: Misty morning at outdoor dining Right: a shady spot for lunch

Lamb burger for lunch at the Amanbagh

Food and beverage were top notch, with a wide variety of dishes.  Room service was also quite prompt.

Left: Delicious French Toast Right: Lassi and beet juice for breakfast

The Amanbagh has a large organic garden and outdoor kitchen that was under construction but should now be finished so that they can offer Indian cooking classes for guests and tour groups.

A light and refreshing bean salad for dinner in the Amanbagh’s bar

While there were other guests at the property during my stay, the whole place still felt private, which was nice.

Musicians performing at night at the Amanbagh

The gorgeous Ed Tuttle architecture of the Amanbagh

To be able to sleep in such splendid surroundings and still be so off the usual Jaipur tourist circuit is a luxury that is pure Aman.

Cream and unrefined sugar are part of the departing ceremony at the Amanbagh

The departing ceremony was just one of the unforgettable moments at the Amanbagh

The service at the Amanbagh was so good I trusted them to make arrangements for a driver to take me to Agra to see the Taj Mahal after leaving.

Amanbagh Resort

Ajabgarh, Rajasthan
tel    (91) 1465 223 333 / (91) 9828 166 737
fax    (91) 1465 223 335


Much thanks to Harish Nair, the General Manager at the Amanbagh and his incredible staff, who hosted me for a night at the Amanbagh. Without them this post would not be possible.


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Zen Luxury: A Stay at the Serene and Central Lodhi Delhi

The sitting area of one of the suites at the Lodhi Delhi

Serenity isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when describing New Delhi, but after spending a few days at the Lodhi Delhi last month I can tell you it exists in abundance at the Lodhi Delhi. The Lodhi Delhi boasts the largest rooms of any luxury hotel in the city (ranging from 1350 square feet to 2400 square feet).

The property was opened in 2009 as the Aman New Delhi but is now proudly an independent boutique property. While the name has changed, the management (including the delightful Joint General Managers, husband-wife team Robyn Bickford and Manav Garewal)  and standards of service are still Aman Resorts-high. 

City of Djinns By William Darymple, a thoughtful detail at the Lodhi

My Lodhi experience began the airport, when I arrived painfully early and was picked up by a driver sent by the hotel, who made the whole experience pleasant and as devoid of hassle as possible. The hotel is modern, zen and elegant with Moghul influences throughout.

Left: Light and bright details in the rooms at the Lodhi Delhi Right: Fresh flowers in the guest rooms

My spacious Lodhi room was ready for me when I arrived and impressively large and included a balcony complete with a day bed and hot tub. After a quick shower in the large bathroom, my husband and went down and ate our first delicious breakfast at Elan, including my first lassi of the trip. Satisfied, we then took a nap in the incredibly comfortable king-sized bed. That nap lasted 5 hours (the bed is that comfortable).

Sink and vanity in a guest room at The Lodhi

My goal was to conquer jet lag at the Lodhi, and the property and staff has all the tools to help you do so. There is a large state of the art gym (shared with residents who live in the apartments housed in the same complex). There is a gorgeous outdoor courtyard pool, tennis courts, and hair salon and a large spa that offers everything from ayurvedic treatments to Swedish massage. I highly recommend booking a treatment in the palatially sized couples spa suite.

The spacious layout of a Lodhi room

The hotel also doubles as an art gallery of sorts, with exhibitions and pieces of modern Indian art displayed throughout the property. The exhibitions rotate and the works are also available for sale. I appreciated the Lodhi’s of-the-moment vibe. It is a refreshing change from the omnipresent colonial nostalgia that is somewhat inescapable in India.

The gym at the Lodhi is large and state of the art

Located in a leafy neighborhood filled with embassies, The Lodhi is close to sights such as Humayun’s tomb, which makes sightseeing excursions easy, even if you’re suffering brutal jet lag. The staff is more than happy to advise and make arrangements.

Floating marigold petals at the Lodhi

All the modern conveniences are present at the hotel, with ample outlets, fast laundry service and free wifi throughout the property.

Details from the Spa treatment rooms at the Lodhi Spa

The food is outstanding at the Lodhi. Even if you don’t stay here, OTW (On the Waterfront) restaurant is worth visiting for it’s gorgeous open kitchens dedicated to Asian and Italian cuisines. I fell in love with Indian breakfast dining at Elan. There is also a casual poolside restaurant.

Outdoor zen: the hot tub and day bed in my room at the Lodhi

The facilities are top notch, but the best thing about the Lodhi is definitely the staff. They are friendly, helpful, welcoming and take excellent care of you during your time on property.

A paper mache sculpture displayed in the hallway of the Lodhi

The Lodhi feels more like an intimate resort than a business hotel and it’s a gem of a find in the bustling Indian capital. It’s an excellent base if you’re coming to India to explore the Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.

The hallways double as art galleries at the Lodhi

Modern art hanging at Elan restaurant

Seating areas at the Lodhi

Bar interior at the Lodhi

The 50 meter pool in the Lodhi courtyard

Left: Outdoor dining at Elan Right: OTW restaurant is worth visiting even if don’t stay at the Lodhi

The courtyard pool glowing at night

Room rates at the Lodhi Delhi range from $306 – $708 (USD) per night.

The Lodhi
Lodhi Road, New Delhi 110003
Phone: +91 124 4653333

Much thanks to Robyn Bickford and Manav Garewal, the Joint General Managers at the Lodhi Delhi who generously hosted me during my stay. Without them this post would not be possible.

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A Stay at The Royal Mansour Marrakech

The interior courtyard of one of the three bedroom riads at The Royal Mansour in Marrakech

Marrakech has no shortage of luxury hotels, but the 53 room Royal Mansour stands out from the pack because of it’s lineage (King Mohammed personally backed and oversaw the construction of the property). Suffice it to say, the King has crazy good taste.

There is no such thing as a bad room at the Royal Mansour, even the one bedroom riads are 1,400 square feet. If that’s not big enough, worry not. The largest guest riad has over 20,000 square feet of space. All this space means the Royal Mansour is a haven of calm within the craziness of Marrakech. It’s the only place I’ve ever slept in Marrakech where I wasn’t woken before dawn by hearing the call to prayer.

Arches are a motif throughout the Royal Mansour

Each guest riads rocks a rooftop pool, all laid out over 9 acres of spotless grounds. You never see the cleaning crews working (rumor has it there is a separate network of tunnels for the staff, so that the service golfcarts don’t ruin the guest experience). When you’re in your guest riad, you almost feel as if you have the whole place to yourself, so If you’re looking for a hot pool scene, go elsewhere.

Mosaic inlays and luxe fabrics at the Royal Mansour

The nothing-but-the-best motif runs deep at the Royal Mansour, and a lot of it would be missed at first glance. From the library chair with the built-in iPod dock, to the roof which retracts so guests can see the stars, each surface has exquisite finishes. The hotel’s restaurants are overseen French chef Yannick Alléno, who runs Le Meurice in Paris. The guest stationary comes with your name engraved on it. The Pringles in the minibar will set you back $15.

The waiting area in the Royal Mansour’s Spa & hammam

With room rates starting at about US $2000, the Royal Mansour isn’t for the budget conscious. Fortunately, the hotel’s French and Moroccan restaurants, as well as it’s gorgeous spa, are open to non-guests and well worth the splurge.

Left: luxe fabrics and a gorgeous lantern detail on one of the three bedroom riads Right: a sunny sitting area

A lavish lounging area that was gorgeous, yet didn’t feel overly formal

The living room in one of the three bedroom riad style rooms

Left: A gorgeous chess set Right: the dressing area

A bedroom in one of the guest riads

Left: a metal sink Right: interior arches

Rooftop Lounging area at the Royal Mansour

Left: rooftop pool Right: rooftop dining area

Le Grand Table Marocaine

Left: Mint tea from room service Right: Interior of the La Grande Table Française

Courtyard at night

Left: a Chair in the Library with built in iPod dock Right: Cigars for sale at the hotel’s bar


Night at the Royal Mansour

The Royal Mansour

Rue Abou Abbas El Sebti

Tel: + 212 5 29 80 80 80
Fax: + 212 5 29 80 80 91

Disclosure: Much thanks to the Royal Mansour, who provided me with accommodations during my stay.



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Talking SLH Hotels with Melissa Vinelli in the Library J.K. Place Capri

The Library at JK Place Capri is filled with a dream edit of coffee table art books

The last morning I spent in Capri was rainy. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I got to explore the fantastic art-filled library of JK Place Capri, which is pretty much my dream library filled with coffee table books galore about art, cinema and photography– in English, Italian and French.

Helmut Newton’s Limited Edition Sumo is the most expensive book produced in the 20th Century.

They even had the limited edition Helmut Newton Sumo Taschen book the one that comes with it’s own stand is known for being the most expensive book  of the 2oth century. But you can read it for free as a guest of the JK Place Capri.

Lust worthy books in the JK Capri Library

While I was flipping through books,  a glamorous 30-something Brit walked in and we were chatting and I discovered her name was Melissa Vinelli and she, too, writes about her travels for SLH Hotels.

Melissa was incredibly funny and well versed about the Amalfi Coast and we got to chatting. It turns out we both were fans of the Grand Hotel Parker’s in Naples. I had cocktails there before heading over to Capri and regretted not staying there myself.

The Library at JK Place Capri comes with wifi

Melissa has traveled much more extensively in Italy than I have. I told her how much I was enjoying Capri and that I was thinking of returning in July, but I wasn’t sure if my husband would want to go at the peak of the season. She suggested checking out the nearby and slightly less known Island of Ischia, where she recommended staying at the San Montano Resort & Spa, which has a fantastic spa.

My visit to JK Place’s cozy & chic library on that rainy morning turned out to be a great thing– it allowed me to enjoy the amazing edit of books (without being magnetically drawn to the stunning view on the terrace), and I made  a new friend in Melissa. You can read her blog here:  Melissa Vinelli‘s Travels.

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Living La Dolce Vita at Le Sirenuse in Positano, Italy

Flower-filled terraces and glamorous people in the pool- that’s Le Sirenuse

Housed in what was once the Sersale family’s summer villa in Positano, Le Sirenuse is now one of the Amalfi Coast’s five star hotels and fab place to live large La Dolce Vita style, even if only for a few days.

Guests are given a guide to the property’s antique furniture- much of it with a colorful history

With only 59 rooms and suites, Le Sirenuse is intimate in size and atmosphere, and has an exceptional level of attention to detail. The staff is friendly and warm, and you know you are going to be well looked after from the moment they greet you at reception.

Bold color choices that wouldn’t work anywhere else are some of the details that make this hotel special

My biggest disappointment? The mermaid key fob wasn’t for sale in the hotel’s Emporio Le Sirenuse.

Just one of the hotel’s stunning views

Thoughtful details define the hotel; guests get area guides upon check-in

Le Sirenuse marries old world charm and modern convenience: the outlets are where they need to be, the wifi is easy to use and works by the pool.

Room 54 was large for Positano, with a white living area

Room 54 had vaulted ceilings and a painted tile floor and a flat screen television I never bothered to turn on.

The king size bed was comfy at turndown a delightful additional pillow arrived

John Steinbeck stayed at the hotel in 1954. His article on Positano sits on the nightstand for guests.

I stayed in room 54, which had a small terrace that overlooked the pool and the blue bay of Positano. While the shower was not particularly photogenic, it had some of the best water pressure I’ve ever experienced in Europe.

Double sinks and a shower with some of the best water pressure in Europe

Le Sirenuse smells divine. The bathroom amenities are their own brand of L’Eau d’Italie products which are available for purchase both at the hotel’s on-property boutique or online if you’d like to take a bit of Positano back home with you.

Left: towels with the mermaid motif   Right: Eau d’Italie Bath products

The hotel’s Aveda Concept Spa is unexpectedly sleek and modern, with a sauna and cold plunge pool. The light-filled gym will please the seriously fit– it’s outfitted with the latest equipment and complementary earbuds, should guests forget their own. Hitting the gym helped combat the indulgent meals the Amalfi Coast is famous for.

The plunge pool at the hotel’s gorgeously modern Aveda Concept Spa

Lemon trees by the perfectly heated pool

A view of Postiano from one of the terraces at Le Sirenuse

Room rates include an off-the-hook reakfast buffet, complete with wow factor, that merits it’s own post (stay tuned). Like Positano’s landscape, room rates can be steep, starting at  € 350,00/$452.62 during the low season – € 500,00/$646.60 during the high season.

Le Sirenuse

Via Cristoforo Colombo, 30

84017 Positano

Province of Salerno, Italy

Phone:+39 089 875066
***Much thanks to Antonio Sersale for generously hosting me during my stay Le Sirenuse.***

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