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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.

Float Away to Amsterdam

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!


Best of the Best: Solis Lough Eske Castle is the Best Luxury Countryside Hotel in 2011

September 28, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

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.


Blue for the Sky, Yellow for the Grain, Visit Ukraine!

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!


Fantasy Meets Reality: I'm Dreaming of Paris

September 23, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

We return now to our series of fantastical destinations as well known for their stories as their reality. [For previous installments, read about New Zealand and Crete.] Today, we visit another kind of fantasy: Paris, the city of love and home to the dreams of many.

Part 3 - Paris

So famous for being the romantic capital of the world that an entire movie was made about it as a setting for love stories, Paris is a city of wine and of cafes. But love is not all that happens in the cafes of Paris. Two locations stand out today as sites of some of the most famous movie scenes of our time.

The Café des Deux Moulins is famous for its art deco style and fine food, but it’s even more well-known for the fantasy character who once worked there. Located in Montmartre, the small café played home to Amélie, and it was here that she dreamt of happiness and set out to find it for others.  The Crème Brulée is now named for this sweet girl who helped so many, and many flock to the Café to see her .

The Café Debussy, on the other hand, doesn’t exist either in real life or in the fantasy world where it featured prominently. Actually a deli called Da Stuzzi that was repurposed for the Christopher Nolan film, the Café Debussy explodes in a shower of rubble as Inception’s dream-world destabilizes around it. This quiet deli located on a side street hasn’t been overwhelmed by the crowds of Inception-lovers, and it is a lovely place for lunch, run by a true local who only wants her shop to do well. In that sense, Da Stuzzi is the perfect fantasy location. The humble reality of the spot is almost bigger in your mind than the stars who once sat there.

So next time you’re in Paris, it’s worth making a trip out of your way to see these gems.


Cities You Should See: Berlin is Alive Beneath Your Feet

September 22, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

Swissotel Berlin

No matter how many blog posts, review sites, and travel brochures you read, nothing can compare to personal experience of a city. I want to share some of that first-hand experience with you, not as an expert, but as one traveler to another. In each installment, I’ll share my experience of a city I’ve lived in or explored extensively. And to start things off, there’s no better first destination than Berlin.

Berlin is a city so full of personality it’s impossible to begin talking about it having any sort of unified character. In a lot of ways, Berlin is at the crossroads of modernity – because it was forced to rebuild so much in the last twenty years, it is at the forefront of new technologies and environmental policy, but all you need do is turn around to see the past. Sleek and modernized around the bombed out remains of history, an underground life bustles below the veneer of its tourist-friendly city center. Each neighborhood seems to be an oasis with a distinct personality from any other. But the pulse of a conflicted city, still determining its character, beats through the veins of the trolley lines and U-bahn stations that tie these disparate regions together in a cohesive web that only grows stronger as it pulls against itself. There’s a certain measure of unity to the ever-changing cityscape.

And that’s why I love it so much. Nowhere else I’ve been has a city felt so alive beneath my feet. Everyone knows the must-see locations: Checkpoint Charlie, Alexanderplatz, the remains of the Wall, the Brandenburg Gate. But what you don’t realize until you visit is that the real charm of the city is how it has grown up around these historical centers. Just walking the streets, you’ll see how a never-repaired husk of a building has been turned into an enclave for industrial art; how despite the line dividing the city having been consigned to history, the feeling of division still floats in the air. From the regal Charlottenberg palace to the contemporary art exhibit lodged in an old train station, Berlin is a city that wants to be seen, to be lived in.

If you want to see more than just another cookie-cutter royal palace or national history museum, Berlin cannot fail to deliver. Get off the beaten path, explore the neighborhoods, and really experience a city in transition. So grab a room at any one of its top-class hotels and give yourself an opportunity to fall in love with it the way I have.


A Fall Escape: Villa d'Este on Lake Como is Sublime

September 14, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

Villa d'Este, Lake Como, Italy

With the bustle of autumn upon us, kids back to school and the summertime lull over, I catch myself daydreaming about getting away to a place where I am treated like royalty.  With the Fall Escape at Villa d’Este, overlooking the ethereal Lake Como just north of the historic city of Milan, that fantasy can become a reality.  Built in 1568, the Villa D’Este has been the destination spot for noble families ever since, including the Queen of England herself.  And it’s no wonder; its 25 acres of gardens and majestic view over the lake have been painted and photographed for centuries.  If you saw it hanging in a museum, you wouldn’t believe it was real. 

Maintained to preserve its original elegance, each of the Villa D’Este’s unique rooms offers a variation on classical renaissance décor befitting of its status as one of the best in the world.  So if you need a place to escape to this fall, don your purple bathrobe and look no further than the Villa D’Este, and prepare to be treated like a King (or Queen!).

The Fall Escape deal includes

  •  Breakfast at the restaurant or continental served in your room

  •  Free access to the Villa’s state-of-the-art sporting facilities.

  •   Free breakfast and bedding for children under seven years of age.

  •  A substantial discount on room price over a variety of world-class options

 


Open-Air Massages with Views of Florence at the Villa San Michele

September 13, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Villa San MicheleOne of our top picks for lodgings in Florence, Italy? The Villa San Michele, an Orient-Express property housed in a former monastery that boats a 15th century facade attributed to Michelangelo. The location is killer; the hotel is nestled on a hilltop amid terraced gardens with unrivaled views across the Arno Valley to Florence. From the panoramic swimming pool, you can soak up the stunning views over the Tuscan hills. And that's not all. A brand new Massage Gazebo at the Villa San Michele is the perfect place for open-air massages with a view. Special offers: The hotel is currently running the "One More Night" offer where you get a third night for free when you stay two consecutive nights. Your daily room rate is pre-discounted by 33% and includes Full American Breakfast daily. Rates are valid only during selected periods and are subject to availability.

Related Article: Buon Appetito: Italian Cooking School in Florence at the Villa San Michele


$96 Per Night: 96-Hour Sale at RockResorts Hotels

August 29, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Arrabelle at Vail SquareWhether you're looking to tear it up on the slopes in Colorado, lounge by the beach on St. Lucia, go snorkeling in Jamaica, or savor some Southwestern flavor in Santa Fe, RockResorts is giving you the chance. Score lavish accommodations at affordable prices with a 96-hour sale with rooms starting from just $96 a night. Available for travel seven days a week through April 8, 2012, this offer must be booked by Wednesday, August 31, 2011, at Midnight MDT. Check out some of these fab destinations: The Osprey at Beaver Creek, The Pines Lodge in Beaver Creek, Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Keystone Lodge and Spa, The Lodge at Vail, The Arrabelle at Vail Square, The Landings St. Lucia in the West Indies, Half Moon in Jamaica, Snake River Lodge & Spa in Wyoming, Tempo in Miami, and La Posada de Santa Fe.


A Jewel-Inspired Afternoon Tea at The Langham London

August 15, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Langham LondonThe Langham London is legendary as the birthplace of Afternoon Tea, that quintessentially British institution. The luxury hotel opened in 1865 and began serving this "afternoon snack" favored by Anna Russell, 7th Duchess of Bedford, as a way to ward off hunger pangs between lunch and dinner. The Langham continues to serve up this indulgent ritual in Palm Court, garnering multiple accolades in the process. Recently The Langham announced an exclusive new tea, created in collaboration with the renowned jewelry designer, Stephen Webster. Inspired by Webster's latest collection (called "Murder She Wrote"), Executive Pastry Chef Cherish Finden has designed some glittering pastries that are almost too beautiful to eat: the Crystal Clear Diamond, a Guinness macaroon with blackcurrant jelly; the Poison Apple, a red peppercorn and dark chocolate shortbread; and a roasted green pistachio Chantilly with airy meringue sponge inspired by Stephen Webster's Armadillo ring. The Stephen Webster Bijoux Afternoon Tea is priced at £49 per person (approx. US $79), inclusive of VAT, and is available from September 1, 2011 - March 31, 2012 in the Palm Court.


A To-Die-For Breakfast in San Diego at Grande Colonial Hotel La Jolla

August 11, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Grand Colonial Hotel La JollaBreakfast fans, it doesn't get much better than this. Fresh, homemade pastries and breakfast breads, salmon smoked right in the restaurant kitchen, authentic New England maple syrup, fresh-made smoothies and juice drinks... NINE-TEN, celebrating its 10th year as one of San Diego's first (and finest) farm-to-table restaurants, has a killer breakfast and brunch spread. And when you book the "San Diego Bed and Breakfast" package at the Grand Colonial Hotel La Jolla, you'll get breakfast for two included with your room. (Rates from $229 based on availability.)

So you're not the breakfast type? Sleep in (and savor those ocean views) because you can get an extra night on the house. The Grande Colonial Hotel La Jolla is letting you stay three nights but pay for only two with a special package.

Located only a short distance away from beautiful Torrey Pines State Park, The Grande Colonial also has its share of picture-perfect California coast nearby, with Blacks Beach, Windansea Beach, and La Jolla Cove all within close range of the hotel.