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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.

Travel to Doha: The Jean Nouvel-Designed National Museum of Qatar

July 2, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

National Museum of Qatar, Jean NouvelTravelers to Doha will soon be able to experience a magnificent new museum that's destined to become a pilgrimage destination for architourists. Back in March, Pritzker award-winning architect Jean Nouvel unveiled his design for the National Museum of Qatar at a buzzed-about event at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Described by The New York Times as perhaps "the French architect’s most overtly poetic act of cultural synthesis yet," the museum will reflect the traditions of Qatar's Bedouin people. (Nouvel has embraced Middle Eastern culture in some of his other landmark buildings: the Arab World Institute in Paris, a branch of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, and an office tower in Doha, "sheathed in aluminum latticework and capped by a filigreed, mosquelike dome.") The Qatar government is currently pursuing a strategy of encouraging "the exchange of cultural traffic-- between East and West, tradition and modernity" and this museum, along with I.M. Pei's Museum of Islamic Art, is part of the effort. Nouvel's museum will be comprised of interlocking discs of different dimension, said to be inspired by sand roses, "the tiny formations that crystallize just below the desert's surface." Surrounded by desert landscaping, the museum will have 86,000 square feet of permanent gallery space, 21,500 square feet of temporary gallery space, a 220-seat auditorium, a 70-seat food forum / TV studio, two cafés, a restaurant and a museum shop.

Planning a trip to Doha and looking for hotel recs? Browse Five Star Alliance's portfolio of hotels for suggestions.


Summer in Shanghai at the Mandarin Oriental San Francisco

June 22, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Mandarin Oriental San FranciscoThe award-winning Mandarin Oriental San Francisco-- housed in the city's third tallest building-- is inviting guests to "experience the magic of Shanghai," San Francisco's sister city, with a special package in conjunction with the Asian Art Museum, currently staging a Shanghai exhibition. The talked-about exhibition is part of the Bay Area's year-long "Shanghai Celebration" honoring the dynamic Chinese city as it hosts the 2010 World Expo. Featuring paintings, Shanghai Deco furniture and rugs, revolutionary posters, movie clips and more, the exhibit traces Shanghai's fascinating history. The "Summer in Shanghai" package at the Mandarin Oriental includes one night's deluxe room accommodations, two admission tickets to the Asian Art Museum and the Shanghai exhibit, and two complimentary MO Bar signature cocktails. Rates for the package are from $340, available until September 5, 2010 when the exhibition closes.


Rocco Forte’s Hotel Amigo: Where to Stay in Brussels

June 14, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Amigo, BrusselsThe European capital often gets a bad rap. But as The New York Times affirms in a recent "36 Hours in..." write-up, Brussels is hardly staid and boring!

As the seat of the European Union, Brussels gets its share of gray suits pouring off the Eurostar. Luckily, the ties come off after work. Beneath the buttoned-down facade is a lively capital that follows its own sartorial trends, indulges in decadent flavors (especially when it involves beer) and exhibits a witty, even wacky sense of humor. What other city would erect an entire museum to a single comic book series? Or to an artist famous for painting faceless men in gray suits?

You'll find plenty of tips about what to see and do in Brussels in this article. Where to stay? The NYT suggests Hotel Amigo and we can't help but agree. "Just behind the Grand Place, has the feel of a luxury pied-à-terre, with splashes of humor, like Tintin prints on bathroom walls." After all, the Amigo is part of the Rocco Forte Collection, meaning top-notch service and stylish design. The hotel is currently offering a "European Summer Escape" package which includes daily breakfast and 33% off your stay when you book 3 nights or more. Starting from 239 euros in a Deluxe Room, available for arrivals between July 12 and September 5, 2010.

Related Articles:

Brussels is One of Europe's Great Secrets


Summer in London: Lunch at The Ritz, Visit the Royal Academy of Arts

June 4, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Ritz LondonLooking to plan the perfect day out in London this summer? We've got the answer. Indulge in a three-course luncheon and a glass of Champagne in the Ritz Restaurant (an experience in itself) and then walk over to the Royal Academy of Arts to check out the Summer Exhibition, the world's largest open submission contemporary art exhibition (and a mind-blowing one at that). To quote from the program: "Now in its 242nd year, the exhibition continues the tradition of showcasing work by both emerging and established artists in all media including painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, architecture and film. This year's co-ordinators, Royal Academicians Stephen Chambers and David Chipperfield, will select works for the exhibition around the theme of "Raw." This special program can be booked through the Ritz London for just £46 per person. Available June 14- August 22, 2010.


Enjoy a Royal Day out at Buckingham Palace with The 41 Hotel, London

June 1, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The 41 Hotel, LondonA summer trip to London wouldn't be complete without a trip to Buckingham Palace. When you stay at The 41 Hotel-- TripAdvisor's No. 1 Hotel in London-- you'll be as close as you can get to the Royal Family, as The 41 overlooks the Royal Mews on Buckingham Palace Road. The hotel concierge will gladly arrange your tickets to any of the Royal Attractions: the Queen's Gallery, the State Rooms (the heart of the working palace, lavishly furnished with some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection), the Royal Mews (one of the world's finest working stables). Simply book any rate or package until October 31, 2010 and choose any ticket combo, which you'll find waiting for you upon check-in. Or take advantage of a splendid package put together by The Hotel 41, called "A Royal Day Out," valid from July 27- September 29, 2010, to discover the fairytale world of the British Royal Family. You'll enjoy two nights in a beautifully appointed room (overlooking Buckingham Palace), full English Breakfast each day, full Afternoon Tea for two (overlooking The Royal Mews), and tickets to The Royal Mews, The Queens Gallery and The State Rooms. Priced from just £288.50 for an Executive Double Room. Minimum two-night stay required.


Weekend in New Delhi: Free Extras at the Taj Mahal Hotel

May 28, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Taj Mahal HotelWhile visiting India's capital, bed down in style at one of the most prestigious addresses in New Delhi. A city landmark, the sumptuous hotel reflects the heritage of Mughal Delhi in its architectural details: intricate motifs, gold inlay work, and niches from Shahjahanabad (the name for Delhi under the Mughal Empire). Whether visiting for business or vacation, you may be tempted to take advantage of a special weekend offer at the Taj Mahal Hotel featuring gourmet cuisine, a refreshing spa treatment, and a guided tour in the historic city. The "Urban Sanctuary" package is priced from Rs 27,000 for two nights (or $575) and includes the following:

* Champagne on arrival

* Buffet breakfast at the coffee shop

* One guided half day city tour during your stay

* A rejuvenating 30 minute Swedish Massage at the Spa with prior appointment (per person)

* One complimentary Buffet lunch at The Machan during your stay


Platinum Tour of Elvis’ Graceland with the River Inn of Harbor Town, Memphis

May 18, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

River Inn of Harbor TownMaking a pilgrimage to Memphis? Planning to check out the home of the King of Rock 'n Roll? Let the River Inn of Harbor Town help you see the best Memphis attractions. You'll appreciate the hotel's genuine hospitality and charming guest rooms, where you can catch the sun set over the majestic Mississippi from your flower-boxed open window. The 28 luxurious rooms combine the best of Europe and the south, outfitted with walnut armoires, four-poster beds wrapped in Frette linens, and elegant decor. From the hotel's riverside location, Graceland is just a short ride away. With the "Graceland Platinum Tour" package, you can tour Elvis' estate, the Car Museum, and the sincerely Elvis museum, plus get extra perks at the hotel. Starting from $337 in a Standard Room, the package also includes full gourmet breakfast daily, a glass of Champagne/wine at check-in, daily turndown service with Port wine and Chocolate Truffles, a daily newspaper, and free parking.


Spring Special in South Carolina: Charleston Place Offers Extra Perks with Your Stay

May 13, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Charleston Place

For some real Southern hospitality, check into 205 Meeting Street in Charleston, South Carolina. The elegant hotel boasts a 1-to-1 staff-to-guest ratio that keeps guests returning time and again to Charleston Place. The spring season is the perfect time to visit this historic city, its enchanted gardens fragrant with flowers. Visit the Antebellum mansions, art galleries, and lively port before summer's humidity descends on the coast. An added benefit: Charleston Place is offering a "Spring Selections" package where guests get to choose a special experience on each day of their stay- at no extra charge. Choose between the following selections:

* $100 Food & Beverage Gift Card for use in the Charleston Grill, Palmetto Cafe, Thoroughbred Club or In Room Dining

* $100 Spa Gift Card for use in The Spa at Charleston Place

* Schooner Pride two hour Sunset Sail for two, including two drinks per person

* Magnolia Plantation Garden and House tickets for two as well as Breakfast for two in the Palmetto Cafe

The package is priced from $370 per night and is available until June 30th, 2010. Subject to availability.


Washington DC’s Renaissance: Just Check Out the View from the Cool W Hotel

May 7, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

W Hotel Washington DCWashington DC is cool again. This month's cover story in National Geographic Traveler shines the spotlight on the nation's capital which "has been shedding its reputation as a dozing, one-dimensional city of policy wonks and lawyers with the advent of a new generation of artists, tech barons, and a younger set that hungers for edgier fare than a stroll on the Mall." The transformation is visible everywhere; Washington DC has morphed into a "top-tier dining town" with cool museums and hotel options galore.

Maybe it's the shift of power from Manhattan, maybe it's a new optimism, but the city inside the Beltway has jettisoned its staid image for a wholesale revival of wide swaths of the cityscape. Washington today is Rome at year zero: the most important place on Earth," says David Von Drehle, who spent many years as a reporter and editor for the Washington Post. "We're talking money and power. As always, this combination attracts the brainy, the bold, the conniving, and the glamorous."

W Washington DCCenter stage in the article? One of our fave hotels. National Geographic Traveler highlights the happening rooftop bar at the W: "Another expansive vista of the city is found at the new W Hotel—minted from the capital's venerable Washington Hotel—which features a rooftop bar that enables you to watch the President's helicopter land on the south lawn of the White House."

Hot Deals: Until June 15, 2010, you can get 50% off your second night and a packet of seeds to start your own spring garden with the "Better Tomorrows" package at the W.


The Bay Area Arts Scene: Oakland Art Museum Gets Redone

April 30, 2010
By: Ruthanne Terrero

Richard Diebenkorn, Figure on a Porch, 1959The San Francisco area is one of our favorite destinations, especially when it comes to exploring cultural sites.  So we were thrilled when  we heard that the acclaimed Oakland Museum of California has just been completely reconstructed.

What’s changed, you ask? According to museum officials, “California's landscape, people and fertile creativity are showcased in innovative interdisciplinary, interactive exhibits with high-tech extras.”

Amidst established favorites, such as the works of Arthur and Lucia Mathews, new galleries now showcase contemporary works, such as Trevor Paglen's 2008 color photograph of swirling satellites and Hank Willis Thomas' "White Imitates Black."

We're also enamored of the work pictured here, Richard Diebenkorn's Figure on a Porch.

The museum will stay open until 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 9 p.m. on the second Friday of each month.

If you’re staying in San Francisco, consider one of these three luxury hotels: The Ritz-Carlton, The Four Seasons and The St. Regis. For more information, visit www.museumca.org.