Archived entries for Hotels
Last year I started a new tradition of going to Europe for Thanksgiving. Last year was Rome and this year was Munich to visit a friend, and to do two of my favorite things: stay at the Louis Hotel, and have lunch at the incomparable Brenner! Munich is a lovely city, especially this time of year. (But 24 hours is usually plenty of time for it.)
The bar at Emiko:
My room at the Louis:
The freshest catch of the day (or so they say) at Viktualientmarkt:
Bangkok is a luxury hotel lover’s dream. There are so many options, and they are all affordable by global standards. This trip I decided to stay at the new St. Regis Bangkok, overlooking the Royal Bangkok Sports Club. It was simply amazing!
A very comfortable room:
A very comfortable room with a view:
A lovely birthday surprise delivered by my personal butler!
Views of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club from the bar:
Rooftop infinity pool:
I’m a sucker for a chic but comfortable hotel, and the Louis Hotel in Munich really fit the bill this past week. In fact, I extended my stay an extra night because I felt so at home here! With a perfect location overlooking Viktualienmarkt, and some of the most beautiful, understated furniture I’ve ever seen, this place made me want to move right in. Run, don’t walk…
In Cairo, I stayed at the Marriott in Zamalek, the upscale neighborhood on an island in the Nile. The hotel centers on the 1869-era Gezira Palace built for Empress Eugenie of France and other dignitaries when they came to Egypt to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal. While I’m sure there is a range of rooms, I was lucky to land a “Diplomatic Suite” on the 16th floor with two (!) balconies looking north and south down the Nile. At $125 a night, the price couldn’t be beat. I was super excited when a waiter in the fabulous garden courtyard told me, “Your Arabic is very good.” I clearly fooled him: it pays to know four or five words in any local language…like na’am (yes), laa (no), shokran (thanks) and insha’allah (god willing!).
The hotel entrance:
My Diplomatic Suite:
The view from my room, looking across the Nile:
I have many travel rules, including avoiding mass market package tour destinations. So I was a bit apprehensive about flying down to Cancun this week, even with the promise of a 5-star hotel, the Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita, far from the raucous Hotel Zone, in the sedate Riviera Maya south of the city. From the second I was picked up at Cancun’s airport, with a cool towel and champagne waiting for me in the car to the hotel, I felt like royalty.
The property itself was gorgeous, with its 80 massive suites all named after destinations the owners have visited (my room was Mozambique). I was told the architect who owns and built the property created it as a sort of Taj Mahal for his wife, hence the name, “La Bonita,” or The Beautiful. Throughout the property, the owner’s fine tastes and true knack for shopping were quite evident. Virtually everything had been acquired on foreign trips resulting in a very authentic and unique feel to the place.
While I certainly enjoyed getting sunburnt by the pool (to the point that I had to completely cover up by day two) while the amazing staff waited on me hand and foot, the spa was pretty memorable, too. At their Thalasso Center, which bills itself as the first certified Thalassotherapy center in North America, I enjoyed a “marine hydromassage” which was basically a high-tech bathtub (imported from France, I might add). I was given a skimpy bathing suit to put on before slipping into the tub. Next the spa attendant came in and started his magic. First up: dumping a large mixing bowl full of seaweed puree into the clear water. Next, many, many drops of lovely essential oils. He turned on the jets, and programmed the tub for a 30-minute session. Their marketing materials claim the tub features “72 seawater, air and ozone jets strategically positioned along acupressure meridians.” Not a bad way to start the day.
By the pool with Jimmy and Ani, post-sunburn:
A huge recommendation for this property…
The French language is full of exceptions that most people never master. If you’ve ever taken a lesson in the language, you may be puzzled by the translated name of Fairmont’s lone outpost in Montreal, the famed Queen Elizabeth Hotel. While most would call it La Reine Elizabeth, it’s really Le Reine Elizabeth (in this case, Le refers to “hotel” not “Queen Elizabeth”). Pretty neat factoid!
View from the Fairmont Gold Lounge toward Mary Queen of the World Basilica:
Notice the compliance with French language laws that dictate English translations be smaller than the primary French text.
A colleague in Colombia recommended I stay at the Casa Medina — the best hotel in Bogotá, he claimed. And his suggestion was spot-on. The place was fabulous, and in a good location adjacent to the Zona G restaurant area. I wished I’d stayed longer and gotten to experience more of the hotel. It was a bit spendy ($278 USD a night) but prices in Colombia are not as cheap as many might think. When I checked out they even had a departure gift for me: a pound of local Juan Valdez coffee! Here are a few pics from around the hotel.
Abu Dhabi’s tourist infrastructure is less developed than Dubai’s, so hotel options are a little more limited here. Visit in the heat of summer, and prices for the best properties are rock bottom. I managed to get the 5-star Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort for just $85 (USD) a night — and like most American chains, this foreign outpost far outpaces its U.S. cousins in quality and class.
Like the other emirates where alcohol is not banned outright, Abu Dhabi requires booze be restricted to hotels and a few private clubs. Fortunately the Sheraton has not only a few great restaurants (I had superb Italian — really!), but a great outdoor bar replete with hookas, German beer, and massive fans and misters to keep one cool throughout the day and night (even at midnight, the temperatures are still well into the 90s). As if that were not enough, the hotel also plays host to Zenith Night Club, billed as “Abu Dhabi’s hottest nightclub.” I stopped in on two nights and the place was jammed — a cool (if generic) club not unlike one you’d find anywhere else on earth.
Hijab on a coffee cup!
My first hookah!
German beer is a fine find in the relatively dry Abu Dhabi:
A little barbed wire…
Unfortunately my friend Eric and I didn’t sleep where Princess Diana slept her last night (I’m a Di obsessive), but we did stay steps away at the Park Hyatt Vendôme. It was fabulous.
The warm guest room:
The view from the front door out onto the shops of Rue de la Paix:
I am an absolute sucker for a comfy hotel room, and Kimptons are the best! This weekend I’m ensconced in this stylish room at the Hotel Palomar on P Street in Washington’s Dupont Circle. Not only are Kimpton Hotels consistently affordable and cute and roomy, but their service is second to none. I’ll be back at this one in no time!
I spent this week in Los Angeles and had a blast! Stayed at the Mondrian, whose all-white coolness freaked me out a little bit. It was almost like I was in one of those film scenes that portrays heaven as a lily-white world. (Or am I just thinking of a Fleetwood Mac video?).
No visit to L.A. is complete without a night (or three) of cocktails at the venerable Abbey, whose Dale Chihuly-lookalike (or is it real?) light over the bar is super cool:
I live for Kimpton Hotels. I would cheerfully live in one if I could. The hotels are all so cozy and the staff over-the-top accommodating. When traveling and staying in hotels, Kimpton is always my first choice (well, unless I’m in SF and someone else is paying — then it’s the Mandarin!).
Last night I had the pleasure of attending the relaunch party of Kimpton’s recently renovated Hotel Muse on 46th Street near Times Square. The old industrial space-turned hotel is fabulous, with some of the biggest rooms I’ve seen in a New York boutique hotel. The balcony rooms have to-die-for views of Manhattan — and for the prices they command, they should. If only I didn’t already have a New York apartment, I’d live here (well, if I could afford to).
I’d never been to Munich before and was pretty clueless about hotels so opted for the Dorint Sofitel for its close proximity to train to the airport. It was one of the cheapest beds in town — and at $300 a night, Munich’s not a cheap town — and wasn’t a disappointment! The dark, pulsating lobby felt like the Hudson Hotel in New York but fortunately the room was significantly bigger and more comfortable than Ian Schrager’s signature tiny bunks. The bathroom was certainly the most interesting part of the room: in the right light, you can see right into it from the sleeping area.
I’m not sure I could be a bigger booster of Kimpton Hotels, like the Hotel Monaco in Salt Lake City, even if they gave me free rooms. Ever since my first stay at the Monaco about five years ago, I’ve been in love with the Kimpton chain and its hip and comfy rooms. Besides the Monaco SLC, I’ve done the Pacific Palisades and the Palomar, and of course hung out at the Nine Zero in Boston — and I love them all.
A year after opening as one of the first health spas to target gay travelers, the Coyote Moon Health Resort and Spa in Tucson has closed its doors. Friend of sebastianwhite.com Ed Salvato, who is the travel editor for PlanetOut, said he “could see the writing on the wall,” when he visited in January. “There were only two other guests there.”
Who would have ever thought I could use this vanity shot for anything relevant to my blog? Forty years after the first Four Seasons Hotel in the world opened in a “hookers’ paradise” part of Toronto, the chain is taking cues from Starbucks’ market saturation method, and building its latest property across the street from an existing one in Toronto’s tony Yorkville neighborhood.
The luxury chain, which is still based in Toronto and has its flagship, often celebrity-packed hotel on Avenue Road, is building a second, $325 million hotel and luxury condominium development mere steps down the block.
The new hotel will become the chain’s flagship and will allow Four Seasons to better compete with Ritz-Carlton Hotels, which is building a stunning, 53-storey landmark building closer to the Lake. They’re both competing with the Donald, who is building a 72-storey Trump International Hotel & Tower downtown.