February 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
It's not too early to start planning your summer getaway. And why not think the UK countryside? Here's a favorite spot that the mags gush and rave about-- Harpers & Queen (Nov 2005) ranks the Summer Lodge as one of the 100 Best Places in the World:
With deckchairs scattered on sprawling lawns and trays laden with afternoon tea, this wisteria-clad Relais & Chateaux hotel in the beautiful Dorset Downs feels delightfully English – an atmosphere that extends into 24 extremely pretty, individually decorated rooms and suites.
X-factor: The lovely indoor pool, which is housed in a glass conservatory that looks out on the kitchen garden.
The room to choose? Why the master bedroom, of course. Room One was originally designed for famed writer Thomas Hardy and boasts a magnificent open fireplace and four poster bed overlooking the beautifully manicured English country gardens. Though you can't go wrong with the Ivy Cottage and its private hot tub in the courtyard garden.
Summer Lodge, Official Site
Summer Lodge, Five Star Alliance
Leave it to the NYT to spill the secret: Rome in wintertime just can't be beat. Off-season hotel rates, end of season sales means shopping galore, the perfect lack of gawking crowds, and a plethora of (warm) indoor cultural activities. Where to stay? The stunning, historic Hotel de Russie (this is one of Rocco Forte's many European gems) boasts gorgeous terraced gardens and central courtyard, a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city near the Spanish Steps. And the Spa—with Turkish steam bath, hydropool, jacuzzi and sauna—ain't too shabby either.
Hotel de Russie, Official Site
Hotel de Russie, Five Star Alliance
This is it. The sports event of the year and fans are already going nuts. Our advice? Get ready, set, and book those hotel ressies ASAP before rooms book up for the June games (scheduled June 9-July 9). The official site is loaded with info about this year's World Cup and its host cities of Hamburg, Hanover, Berlin, Gelsenkirchen, Dortmund, Leipzig, Cologne, Frankfurt, Kaiserlautern, Nuremberg, Stuttgart and Munich. Our picks:
In Hamburg, head for the Raffles Vier Jahreszeiten which has been the city's symbol of impeccable service for over a century. The furnishings are exquisite: 16th and 17th century Flemish Gobelin tapestries, Baroque cupboards and Renaissance chests. (The mags Travel and Leisure and CNT also love this joint, and its kick-ass spa is listed as a Leading Spa by LHW.)
In Berlin, which is just hopping with trend-setters these days, there are a plethora of worthy establishments, including the Kempinski Hotel Bristol (with its kickin address), the Radisson SAS (with its 25 meter AquaDom cyclindrical aquarium in the lobby), and the beloved favorite, Schlosshotel Im Grunewald, the historic castle hotel that offers only 54 exclusive rooms and 12 suites, designed by the one and only Karl Lagerfeld.
In the heart of Bavaria, you simply can't go wrong with Munich's Mandarin Oriental or the Bayerischer Hof, dating from 1841 and now the country's largest privately-owned hotel (with central location and rooftop pool to boot).
Now get moving.
February 4, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
As we've come to expect, the NYT shines in this superb piece about going to Turin for the Olympic Games. Cultural sites you can't miss, transportation once you're there, and all the Olympic events and venues...
Check out this exceptional article in The Trib. The European travel guru highlights major changes and trends he's noticed in updating the new "Europe Through the Back Door" and other guidebooks. Planning a trip to Versailles? It's undergoing major renovations from 2006-2010. (Who knew? Rick Steves is the man.) Dreaming Dalmatia?
A new expressway and a sleek new "tilting train" with banked tracks connect Zagreb to Split in six hours or less, and budget flights remain a viable option. A speedy new catamaran also now connects Split to the popular Croatian island Koreula four mornings each week.And the biggest news for 2006: Germany's hosting the June World Cup Soccer Tournament. (Get cracking on reserving your hotel rooms!)
February 2, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
From Rob Wilder, CEO, Proximo Restaurants Our friend Rob Wilder (the Food & Wine Editor of The Informed Traveler Newsletter) recently traveled to Madrid and on his 9 hour flight back, sent us "The Scoop" about his travels. Read about Rob's Experiences in Madrid Proximo Restaurants, Official Site
Check out the miraculous "Snow Show"-- at least in the NYT feature today. A team of artists and architects suffered frost-bitten fingers and sub-zero temps to construct a series of exhibitions out of snow in the village where most of the Alpine Olympic events will be held. The six projects were created by the artist Daniel Buren and the architect Patrick Bouchain; Carsten Höller with Tod Williams and Billie Tsien; Yoko Ono and Arata Isozaki; Paola Pivi and the firm Cliostraat; Jaume Plensa and Norman Foster; and Kiki Smith and Lebbeus Woods. Budgeted at $1.33 million, the works are grandiose and fantastic.
January 31, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The all-suite Conrad London, in a choice spot overlooking the Chelsea Harbour and River Thames, has the perfect solution to banish the winter blues. Give yourself the "Luxury Gift" package, which includes a night in a suite, a 3-course dinner with a glass of champagne, plus a full English breakfast for 2 people and a plush bathrobe for each guest to take away. Available until March 31, 2006; Prices are GBP270 for a city view suite and GBP300 for a marina view suite.
Even the classy and elegant Hotel Meurice has stooped to a new, commercial low. Maybe it's still reeling from the fines imposed by the French government for price-fixing, searching for new ways to lure American pocketbooks. But I'm simply amazed by the latest promotion offered by the classic Parisian hotel. Yes, the Da Vinci Code is a fun read, and the movie (with an all-star cast) promises to be even better. But tours of the best museum in the world catering to the fictional thriller?! It seems akin to the Parisians welcoming McDo to a spot in the Tulieries. If I can't thwart your enthusiasm, here are the dreadful details:
The "Da Vinci Package" includes accommodations, American breakfast (of course), Private guided tour of the Louvre Museum and the St Sulpice Church, and a special Da Vinci commemorative gift. Starting at EUR 702 a night, for a minimum stay of two nights, valid until December 28th, 2006.
Hotel Meurice, Official Site
Hotel Meurice, Five Star Alliance
The best part of winter (besides hitting the slopes or lounges in Aspen, Jackson Hole or Zermatt, of course) are the special offers wheeled and dealed by luxury hotels in order to fight the vacancies of their shoulder seasons. Nothing like a free night at one of the best hotels in Europe to entice a winter-weary traveler for a luxurious long weekend. At the Hotel Majestic, guests are pampered in a destination hotel that is smack in the middle of all that's cool in Barcelona: Las Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter, Gaudi's strange and marvelous architecture. The rule may even apply to the most glorious and fashionable penthouse in the city, with its whopping 3,230 sq ft of space. From now until the end of February, take advantage of the 3x2 Offer, where guests are awarded with a free night after paying for two. And the weather map in the International Herald Tribune this morning seems to suggest that guests could even marvel at the panoramic city-view from the rooftop pool and solarium right about now (Spain is blessed with some remarkably mild winter temps.)
Hotel Majestic, Official Site
Hotel Majestic, Five Star Alliance