October 3, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance
The Westin Paris – Vendôme has an enviable location in the heart of Paris just off the Place Vendôme, next to the Place de la Concorde and immediately opposite the spectacular Tuileries Gardens. Just a stone's throw from the Louvre, the hotel is surrounded by famous landmarks and is minutes away from the city's best shopping on the elegant Rue du Faubourg St-Honoré. This is the capital's busiest and most fashionable neighborhood.
When the hotel was first opened in 1878 it was celebrated as the most exclusive property of its kind and was regarded as a national treasure of France's Second Empire. Over the years, it has been renovated and restored many times, most recently in 2008. But important historic details remain: a courtyard fountain with a white marble water nymph, and a spectacular glass roof from 1878. This is where Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, took up residence during her husband’s exile from 1898 to 1919, as commemorated by an inscription near the front entrance. This is also where Victor Hugo held three large banquets celebrating his 79th, 81st and 83rd birthdays in the lavish Imperial Salon on the ground floor. The most celebrated fashion houses such as Yves Saint-Laurent, Hanae Mori, Nina Ricci, Torrente, and Ungaro regularly hold their shows in the hotel’s historic salons.
With 440 rooms, The Westin Paris - Vendôme has the largest number of suites of all the traditional Parisian luxury hotels in its category. From their Second Empire classicism, the majority of the suites at the hotel offer exceptional views of the capital- truly one of the best panoramas of the Paris skyline. The famous designer Sybille de Margerie refurbished the rooms in a sophisticated contemporary style. Taking inspiration from the history of the hotel, Sybille de Margerie created an ambience of renewal and relaxation with muted color schemes of plum–mauve to taupe, with splashes of light green and Bordeaux reds. Of course all the rooms at The Westin Paris - Vendôme are equipped with the sleep-inducing Westin Heavenly Bed, one of the great innovations developed by Westin. The bed has proved so popular with guests that the Westin Heavenly Bed is now for sale at the Westin online store.
September 30, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
When The Savoy opened its gilded gates in London last year after a staggering £220 million restoration project, London couldn't stop talking about it. (And when we dropped by for a visit earlier this year, there was an impressive line of visitors gawking at the famous bars and lobby.) A lot of ink has been spilled about the "most ambitious hotel restoration in British history"-- but did you know that it was also an eco-friendly one? (Fairmont-- who manages the hotel-- gets serious props for its green programs.) The Savoy is all about sustainable luxury, having installed the latest in green technology in the hotel, and having launched various sustainable initiatives. To show guests the green side of London, the hotel has launched "The Savoy Elements Package." Here's what it includes:
* Overnight accommodation
* Return transfers in a luxury hybrid vehicle from a London airport or station
* A “Savoy Green Butler” to assist with requests such as packing and making travel arrangements as well as advising on green initiatives within the hotel and places of interest around London
* Welcome green gift on arrival
* Choice of inspirational 3-hour walking green tour of London
* Complimentary valet car parking if arriving by hybrid vehicle
* Complimentary use of a BMW bicycle with helmet provided
* An organic, 3-course dinner in either the River Restaurant with a pre-dinner, biodynamic cocktail
* Organic breakfast with selected organic juices
* A one-day travelcard allowing free use of London's public transport network
* A donation of £10 to London charity Thames 21, on behalf of the guest
* An organic, gourmet picnic hamper and blanket can be arranged at an additional cost
* Details of outdoor activities, including heritage sites, nature walks, cycle and jogging routes, wildlife centres, conservation programmes and community projects for volunteering are available through the Concierge
Rates from £825 per night, based on double occupancy and subject to availability.
September 30, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky
What is one of the most popular destinations in Europe? Why none other than Amsterdam! This gorgeous city not only offers a mix of history, culture, and excitement, but it’s also one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Consider exploring Amsterdam’s 165 canals via a canal cruise or canal bus tour, visiting a traditional Dutch village, and taking a walking tour through a cheese market. The perfect hotel for your stay is the Dylan Amsterdam, and it’s located in the heart of the city, built right on the Keizersgracht, one of Amsterdam’s most famous canals. The Dylan Amsterdam has recently introduced a new signature concept, Vinkeles (a luxury restaurant situated in the Dylan) on the Water. Hop on the Muze, a wooden salon boat and float along Amsterdam’s beautiful canals while enjoying incredible dishes served to you at the ‘Chef’s Table.’ This experience is available only at the Dylan Amsterdam, so be sure to take advantage of this opportunity and book your stay today!
September 30, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance
There's no better time than the holidays to experience Venice. (Can we say gondola rides for the kids with Santa Claus?) Experience an authentic Venetian Christmas with a festive break at the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice-- an ancient flour mill converted into a five-star hotel. Priced from just 249 euros per room, per night, the Christmas Package includes:
- 2 nights accommodation in a Deluxe Room
- buffet breakfast
-dinner at Rialto Lobby Lounge
- free access to the Fitness & Wellness Center
- Christmas gift upon arrival
The best part of all? Children under 18 stay for free, and kids under 5 get to eat for free.
September 30, 2011
By: Christopher Roney
There are plenty of cities renowned for their superficial beauty: gorgeous city centers practically lined with monuments to the glory of architectural prowess and a developed tourism industry specifically designed to funnel you to the safest of orchestrated experiences. The façade is beautiful and idealized, but you never really see anything of the real city. And real cities have their own beauty to them – the beauty of people living their lives around you, the beauty of a city growing and changing beneath your feet.
In Tallinn, you can feel that pulse. It has all the same trappings and amenities of a modern European city, but everything feels more raw. You can touch the rough edges of the polished front, and that’s where the beauty of Tallinn lies. From the hopelessly kitschy restaurants catering to the crowd that steps off the ferry from Helsinki each day to the street hawkers who sell coins with the faces of American presidents, completely unrelated to the monuments they stand in front of, everything in Tallinn feels somehow more genuine than tourist experiences elsewhere. Their tourist industry is so obviously a costume for the city that you can see right through to the heart of a people still growing into their newfound wealth and independence. And it's fascinating and captivating to behold, both in the mix of traditional culture with ultra-modern amenities and in the way the people themselves engage with you.
The new European Silicon Valley, Tallinn is experiencing the same tech boom that hit California a decade ago, and the influx of money has revitalized and restored a city with a history that dates back to 1050, when the fort at the heart of the old town was first constructed. Forging their independence most recently in 1991, the city is exploding upwards and outwards. Despite this growth, the entire city is easily explored on foot from any of the top hotels in Tallinn, such as the Hotel Telegraaf and The Three Sisters Hotel, who each bring a modern glamour to the traditional architecture. From these outposts, it's easy to take a bike tour of the city, visit one of the oldest forts in Europe, and explore towers and monasteries that date back to the Teutons.
If you're at all interested in history or modern culture, Tallinn is a growing European gem that you just can't miss.
The underground suite at Sala Silvermine in Sweden is a sight to behold, if you can find the light switch. Once Sweden’s most profligate, and profitable, source of silver, when the deposits began to dry up, the mine closed down for business. But some entrepreneurial spirits bought up the space to bring travelers a unique accommodation. Why choose such a property? Well, a mine is a terrible thing to waste.
Located 155 meters below ground, the suite itself was carved out of the rock around it by silver miners in the 16th century. The fixtures and furniture match the quicksilver hues of the rock, and the lighting makes the room itself seem to gleam. The only downside? Because of the limitations of running water that far down underground, bathrooms are 50 meters away and the showers itself are upstairs. You might find other locations that are more luxurious, but nowhere will you find a room as a unique as this one.
We understand that no one aims to come in second place; there is no recognition for mediocrity. We at Five Star Alliance understand better than anyone the importance of offering the most luxurious resorts in the world, so we notice what’s going on in the industry, and it matters to us, because it matters to you. We'd like to welcome you to our new blog series, Best of the Best, where we’ll be featuring the best and most luxurious resorts in various categories. But don’t take our word for it. These resorts have been recognized as the best in the business by the prestigious World Luxury Hotel Awards, so you can relax and stop worrying about your upcoming trip, knowing that it truly will be the best of the best.
Today’s featured locale is the Solis Lough Eske, recipient of the Best Luxury Countryside Hotel award in 2011, or should we say "best castle"? Located just outside of Donegal Town, Ireland, the Solis Lough Eske Castle is on the water’s edge of Lough Eske and surrounded by the incredible Blue Stack Mountains. Like escaping into a fairytale, the Solis Lough Eske Castle has its spa facility located in the castle garden, providing you with every opportunity to relax and take in the natural beauty of Ireland. Looking for a thrill? The Solis Lough Eske Castle offers some of the best hiking, mountain biking, and surfing in all of Ireland. Whether you’re looking for some peace and quiet or an adventure, the Solis Lough Eske Castle is the perfect and best destination for an escape into the magnificent countryside of Ireland.
The 2011 World Luxury Hotel Awards have announced their Global Winners across a variety of categories, and we’re confident that each of these hotels represents the finest in luxury accommodations. We'll be spotlighting many of these individually in the coming weeks and offering our critical commentary, but for now, take a look at the winners such as the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, winning Best Luxury Hotel overall, and the Sandals Royal Plantation, the Best Luxury Island Resort.
Click here to check out the full list of best hotels, listed alphabetically by location so you can find the names of the top hotels in your vacation spot of choice, and search here if you're interested in booking any of the top hotels of 2011.
Seville, the capital of Andalusia, is a historic city with tiny, winding, bustling streets and a rich culture symbolized by Moorish influence. If you’re in search of an energetic nightlife or a cultural excursion to discover some of the most renowned monuments in all of Europe, consider visiting the heart of Southern Spain.
In the center of Seville lies Hotel Alfonso XIII, named after the king who commissioned it 83 years ago. This luxurious hotel offers rooms with varying themes and styles including Isabelline Baroque, Moorish, and Castillian. Hotel Alfonso XIII is situated downtown, just minutes from the Royal Alcazar Palace and the Plaza de España, making this hotel the perfect, centrally located destination.
Seville has an incredible charm emanating from the streets, and the people have a very relaxed attitude about life. I encourage you to fully embrace the culture and see a flamenco show, or try the pairing of green olives with beer, or sip on a Tinto de Verano, which is a light, refreshing blend of red wine and lemon soda.
Be sure to get your shopping done in the morning or evening, as many store owners close down their shops for a few hours in the afternoons for a siesta. My recommended hotel is currently closed for renovations, but it’ll reopen in March 2012, just in time for the beautiful spring months and Semana Santa, which is one of the most significant, traditional events in Seville. Can’t wait that long? Consider some of the other incredible resorts located all over Spain, and get ready for a fiesta!
September 27, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky
Ukraine (or Ykraina, as it is pronounced in the majority of the world), is a country that has some of the most incredible, lush hills rolling throughout its countryside and beautiful cobblestone roads throughout its cities. Granted, being Ukrainian myself, I’ll admit that I’m slightly biased, but I guarantee you’ll be awestruck by all Ukraine has to offer. Still don’t believe me? I challenge you to visit the Breadbasket of Europe and see for yourself!
Kiev, Ukraine’s capital offers everything and anything from fascinating museums, theaters, and ancient ruins, to contemporary buildings and breathtaking cathedrals. A wonderful hotel to consider for your stay in Ukraine is the Hyatt Regency Kiev. This luxurious hotel is located in the heart of the capital and is surrounded by the culture and history of Kiev’s Old Town. Consider exploring Saint Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery and one of Kiev’s most recognized landmarks, Saint-Sophia’s Cathedral. Both attractions are walking distance from the Hyatt Regency Kiev. After a day of exploring the most beautiful monasteries and cathedrals in the world, consider perusing the diverse boutiques and shops on Kreshchatyk Street, where you’ll find gifts and articles of clothing unique to Ukraine. Hoping to bring your kid(s) on your travels? The Hyatt Regency Kiev offers a phenomenal brunch on Sundays, complete with a children’s playground, paint lessons, magicians, clowns, puzzles, and toys. Speaking of food, be sure to order pierogies (cheese and potato dumplings), and olivye (salad) during your visit, two of Ukraine’s typical dishes that will complete your stay in the best country in the world!