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LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
 
FSA LogoThe Luxury Hotel Insider: Exclusive luxury hotel deals, features and special rates from the luxury hotel experts at Five Star Alliance. 
 
Named one of Tripbase's Best Luxury Travel Blogs for 2011, below are Five Star Alliance's newest articles featuring exclusive information on luxury hotels worldwide including special offers and deals at the world's best hotels.

Strawberries and Cream Pedicure, Footjito, and Afternoon Tea at Brown’s Hotel, London

August 16, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Browns Hotel

A recent Washington Post article has nothing but praise for Brown's Hotel in London, the city's oldest hotel which has recently undergone a $36 million, 18-month renovation:

Unlike some other opulent places, there is nothing big or brash about Brown's. There are no grand ballrooms fit for conventions or large weddings. Instead, the furniture and lighting fixtures are low-key, so the library, bar and restaurant lend themselves to intimate conversation. It's a place where ladies have afternoon tea in the English Tea Room and gentlemen meet for a drink at the bar -- although today's clientele is more likely to be venture capitalists from around the corner than nobility getting a fitting on nearby Saville Row.

This charming historic hotel, designed with the utmost style and sophistication, has long boasted a reputation of elegance. The Afternoon Tea, served daily from 3 to 6 pm. in the library where Rudyard Kipling wrote "The Jungle Book," is a London institution. The seasonal pedicures in the Spa are a must. After the success of the Strawberries and Cream Pedicure at the Spa this summer, the autumn will see the launch of the Footjito treatment, based on the famous Cuban cocktail (available September 1-November 30). Following the treatment, guests are offered a complimentary mojito in the Donovan Bar or mint tea in the English Tea Room.


The Newest Hotel in Venice, Italy: The Bauer Palladio Hotel and Spa

August 14, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Bauer Palladio

The media's abuzz about the latest five-star hotel in Venice. Opened in June, Bauer's magnificent Palladio Hotel and Spa joins the ranks of Il Palazzo and the Bauer Hotel. Housed in a Renaissance building designed in the year 1500, the former convent was converted into a luxury hotel by the world-renowned Bauer Hotels. Located on its own private island across the basin from the other Bauer hotels, the Palladio boasts breathtaking lagoon views. The 50 elegant guestrooms are beautifully detailed with the finest paint decoration and tapestries. The spa is slated to open in September, and will offer a variety of wellness therapies, specialized massages and facials. Beauty treatments will incorporate the Daniela Steiner Skin Care System. This luxury hotel is a rare jewel in Venice, with its secluded location amidst private gardens on Giudecca island.


Destination London: The Dorchester Hotel

August 14, 2006
By: Guest Writer

The Dorchester Hotel

By Alex Rose

Art deco style. Opulent and lavish suites. The nicest bedrooms in London. Slab marble in the bathrooms. All the trappings of luxury. The Dorchester Hotel is London's premier "traditional" hotel. Since 1931, it has a history with world leaders, celebrities, musicians, cultural luminaries, royalty, and the cream of society. But don't let that stop you. If you can get one of the first-class suites, you'll understand why: The Dorchester is striving to be the "perfect" hotel. Once you walk into the hotel, you"ll be treated like an A-lister. And you'll feel like you're at home, only with a staff that's at your beck and call, and a room service that's available 24 hours a day. The hotel itself is located close to Hyde Park, but book some time at the hotel's spa and the gym, and then go shopping and sightseeing. Or maybe take your time at the hotel, and you'll spot one of the current celebrities who stay at the hotel. For dinner, get a group together and reserve The Dorchester's private kitchen room, which allows you to see Executive Chef Henry Brosi and chefs preparing the evening's masterpieces. During your stay, have the Concierge point you to Sadie Coles HQ, The Serpentine Gallery, or the Interim Art galleries. And for your naughty side, Coco de Mer's Erotic Emporium in Covent Garden is the place for couples.


Gourmet Cooking Demonstrations at Chateau de Bagnols, Lyon, France

August 11, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Chateau de Bagnols

Nestled in the heart of the Beaujolais wine country, set among scenic vineyards, forests and verdant hills, the Chateau de Bagnols is a 13th century property that has been painstakingly restored as a luxury hotel, just 12 miles from Lyon. This castle is the real deal—with towers, moat, and entrance across a drawbridge—and a major historical monument in southeast France. The 21 bedrooms, which include eight apartments, are decorated with rare antiques and beautiful paintings. Enjoy a glass of wine on the terrace beneath the shade of lime trees, overlooking the spectacular countryside, or relax by the heated outdoor pool. The Chateau is now offering cooking demonstrations for private parties: different tables are prepared, each with one cook who prepares special appetizers such as marinated chicken tandoori, beef tartar with aromatic herbs and giant shrimps fried with spices. Also note: the Chateau is offering a special promotion between August 13-25, 2006, with rooms available at EUR 310, including buffet breakfast and a glass of Champagne.


Summer on the Med: Gran Hotel Son Julia in Mallorca

August 8, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Mallorca

Recently featured in House and Garden magazine, the Gran Hotel Son Julia in Mallorca is a small luxury hotel housed in an exquisite 15th century mansion. Not far from Palma de Mallorca and the Mediterranean coast, the hotel offers 24 stunning rooms and suites, including the Imperial Suite, which overlooks the spectacular countryside and groves of almond trees from its perch on the top floor of the hotel. The hotel balances historical details-- high beamed ceilings and original archways—with all the modern conveniences, including spacious all-marble bathrooms, jacuzzis, internet, and plasma screen TVs. Walk the beautiful grounds, relax by the pool, play a game of tennis, hit the gym, or relax in the spa. Two 18-hole golf courses are within 2 minutes of the property. The dining experience at Las Bovedas Restaurant is first-rate; delicious dishes are served in a beautiful environment. Enjoy an unforgettable break on the island of Mallorca with special summer rates starting at EUR 240 a night for two people (in a Superior Room).


An Interview with the General Manager

August 8, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Jonathan Critchard is the General Manager of the five-star deluxe Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments in London. He has held the position since 1993 and has over 21 years experience heading some of the most prestigious hotels and residences in the United Kingdom and worldwide. He has left his professional imprint on Blakes Hotel, The Hempel, The Dorchester and 3A Palace Green (the world's most luxurious apartment complex located in Kensington Palace Gardens in London); Amberley Castle in West Sussex and The Regent in Hong Kong.

Jonathan Critchard

Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the hotel?

Mr. Critchard: By good fortune

Five Star Alliance: Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of your hotel? What best describes the personality of the hotel?

Mr. Critchard: We are family owned and have a warm, friendly and intimate persona.

Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?

Mr. Critchard: Our market is predominantly from the USA. We have a repeat guest factor of 45% which is split between corporate and leisure business.

Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the hotel's location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?

Mr. Critchard: The best thing about our location is that it is incredibly central and situated right opposite Green Park. My favorite thing to do in the surrounding area is to enjoy the open spaces of London’s parks.

Five Star Alliance: Can you share the names of any famous guests who have stayed in the hotel, or perhaps regulars that return on a periodic basis?

Mr. Critchard: Unfortunately not, we are renowned for our discretion in the entertainment industry.

Five Star Alliance: Which do you consider to be the best rooms in the house? Not just the suites, but also any particular standard rooms that have great views or unusual advantages?

Mr. Critchard: All our apartments are individual and unique, offering both contemporary and traditional styles of decor. 30% of our hotel rooms have stunning views overlooking Green Park.

Five Star Alliance: Can you mention any interesting miscellaneous trivia regarding the hotel? Perhaps a bit of history? Any special events that have taken place on property?

Mr. Critchard: AA Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh used to live in our apartments. During the war Winston Churchill spent a lot of time in the Down Street underground station, opposite the side of the hotel, and rumor has it, that we kept him supplied with his favorite drink of Pol Roger.

Five Star Alliance: If you were considering staying at the hotel as a guest, what would you want to know about the hotel before checking in?

Mr. Critchard: What is their service ethic, how warm is the welcome, and I focus on the quest for both comfort and service.

Five Star Alliance: What is the hardest part about being General Manager?

Mr. Critchard: To juggle a myriad of priorities and key issues to help determine what is best for the business, people and guest.

Five Star Alliance: Other than your own, can you share your choices of two or three of what you consider to be the greatest hotels in the world? And why you think they are special?

Mr. Critchard: The Peninsula in Hong Kong which is the epitome of quality service. Gravetye Manor in Sussex which is a classic country house hotel in stunning surroundings, which offers a wonderful old world charm, hospitality and service.

Five Star Alliance: Anything else you would like our readers to know about your property?

Mr. Critchard: We have recently completed a major refurbishment of our ground floor public areas and dining facilities. This is part of an ongoing project desire to maintain our property to a high standard.

More info on the Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments.


Afternoon Tea in Edinburgh at The Balmoral Hotel

August 4, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Balmoral

Located in the heart of the Scotland's capital overlooking Edinburgh Castle, Rocco Forte's Balmoral is a charming and historic luxury hotel. A fixture on the CNT Gold List for its superb spa, chic rooms and traditional Scottish hospitality, the hotel also boasts a Michelin star rated restaurant and delightful Afternoon Tea. The hotel only recently completed the refurbishment of its Drawing Room, featuring distinctive touches from Designer Olga Polizzi, who was inspired by the beautiful Scottish landscape, and included marled wools for the sofas and chairs, cushions with embossed velvet leaves, a collection of antique antlers, and paintings by contemporary Scottish artists. To celebrate this dazzling new Drawing Room, the hotel is introducing a range of innovative Afternoon Tea Concepts, including the Balmoral Tea, the Tartan Tea, and the Chocolate Dream. The Drawing Room provides the perfect setting for a world-class afternoon tea experience throughout the summer, between 2:30-6 pm. Indulge in the variety of finger sandwiches (from Scottish Smoked Salmon to Cucumber and Milled Pepper), French pastries, homemade scones and clotted cream, tea, and a glass of house Champagne.


Destination Lyon, France and the Villa Florentine

August 3, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Villa Florentine

Located in the middle of the Cotes du Rhone wine-growing region, the historic city of Lyon is the gastronomic capital of France. An important artistic and cultural center, Lyon traces its roots back to the ancient Romans, when Lyon was the capital of the Roman territories of Gaul in 43 BC. The cobble-stoned streets, colorful Medieval buildings, and outdoor cafes of the Old City are all protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Looming above Vieux Lyon is the hill where the Romans built an exquisite amphitheater—still used today for summer concerts—and next door, the 19th century Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere. The Villa Florentine is the place to stay in Lyon, offering panoramic views of the city from its perch above the Old Town, an unrivalled setting. With its elegant facade and Renaissance art and architecture, this Relais and Chateaux property exhibits a gorgeous Florentine style. Enjoy the region's famed gastronomy and a glass of Cote du Rhone at the terrace restaurant, while gazing out over the city. Rooms are sumptuous and modern, and the outdoor pool is breathtaking.


Hot Spots in Paris: The Hotel Lancaster

August 2, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Lancaster

The best kept secret in Paris is the Hotel Lancaster. Tucked away in a small alley off the Champs Elysees, this luxurious hideaway is housed in a 19th century nobleman's mansion. It is an elegant and intimate place, with the feel of a private residence. The furniture in the house is part of an extensive and continuously evolving antique collection of over 1,000 pieces. And with impeccable service—the staff have truly perfected the art of hospitality—the Hotel Lancaster is still run like the private home of a connoisseur. Each of the 60 rooms, graced with traditional furniture and paintings by old masters, embody a style of Parisian chic, mixing the historical and the contemporary. The attention to detail and excellent standards have service have led the hotel to become a particular favorite with royalty and society figures. As featured recently in Forbes:

In the 1930s, Dietrich, the German screen idol, made it her home for months at a time. In the 1980s, Jagger often crashed there. Nowadays, it's the preferred Paris hostelry of Almodóvar, as well as director David Lynch, opera star Barbara Hendricks and a mix of discerning business and leisure clients, all of whom love the Lancaster's unique charm.

The Hotel Lancaster is currently offering a Special Weekend Promotion, valid for a minimum two-night stay on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The offer for a Standard room with queen bed, inclusive of continental or English Breakfast daily and a welcome amenity, is EUR 374 (excellent savings from the usual EUR 470 per night). Subject to availability.


Destination London: The Covent Garden Hotel

August 1, 2006
By: Guest Writer

Covent Garden Hotel

By Alex Rose

If you want a sexy weekend away in London, book Room 101, the Four Poster Suite, at the Covent Garden Hotel. Why the Four Poster Suite, you ask? Because it has the largest four-poster bed in London which measures 8-ft x 8-ft. The Covent Garden is recognized as one of London's finest boutique hotels. It belongs to the Firmdale Group, which is owned and operated by Kit and Tim Kemp. They've created a contemporary and eye-catching English feel throughout their hotel with antiques, richly textured tapestries and rugs, and oriental art. Each of the hotel's 58 rooms is individually different and each has an intimacy which makes you feel right at home. The staff is very accommodating and fantastic, and personally knows which plays to recommend in the theatreland district (which is within walking distance of the hotel).

For dinner, make reservations at the exquisite Yauatcha, on the corner of Broadwick and Berwick Streets. For the main course, try the delicacies such as native lobster in black bean sauce, and the cakes and pastries afterward. For the evening nightcap, try the bar at the hotel. The tables are arranged discreetly so you can talk without fear of being overheard as you share a drink together. In the morning, room service is a great way to start the day because it's quick and easy so you can enjoy breakfast in bed together.