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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.

What’s Hot: New Year’s Eve at the Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles

December 8, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Bel Air

For over fifty years, the Hotel Bel-Air has been synonymous with Beverly Hills elegance. An urban oasis with 12 acres of gardens and fountain courtyards, just minutes from Century City, Beverly Hills and Westwood, the hotel is prestigious and exquisitely luxurious, while retaining an understated glamour. After all, this is a Mobile five star award winner. 91 guestrooms and suites feature private entrances, fireplaces, French doors, and tiled courtyards with private outdoor spas. Toast 2006 at the event of the year: Hotel Bel Air's New Year's Eve Cabaret Gala Dinner. Enjoy a five-course gourmet dinner with wine pairings, imbibe plenty of champagne, and dance the night away to live music. $375 per person.

Hotel Bel-Air, Official Site

Hotel Bel-Air, Five Star Alliance


Number of Five Star Hotels Set to Double in St. Petersburg, Russia

December 8, 2005
By: Guest Writer

St Petersburg Church

St. Pete's notorious hotel scene is about to do a 180. For years marked by a severe shortage of rooms, with chronic unavailability for travelers seeking to discover Russia's most culturally fascinating city, St. Pete's luxury hotel market will double in size next year. Brands like Raffles International, Intercontinental, and Sofitel have disclosed plans for new hotels in the city.


Living It Up in Mexico City: the Condesa DF Hotel

December 7, 2005
By: Guest Writer

Condesa DF

By Ellen Whitman

On a quiet and leafy corner of one of Mexico City's trendiest colonias, the Condesa DF hotel manages to satisfy the most unabashed hipsters, design aficionados, discerning foodies, and even bargain shoppers ($150/night for a basic room). Ian Schraeger-like in feel, this four story triangular hotel is geographically and emotionally focused on its central courtyard, home to its impressive Miami Beach meets Soho restaurant and bar. Whether it be a working lunch, a leisurely Sunday brunch or a last call martini, it is always a scene to be seen in. But unlike so many trendy eateries, the cuisine is just as hot as the clientele; the creative sushi and decadent desserts are of particular note. Stick to the wine list however, as the cocktails are pricey and often disappointing. The service can also be a little spotty, but everyone is so eager to please little oversights are easily forgiven. Thursday through Saturday, a subterranean nightclub continues into the wee hours as does the tropical rooftop bar. As such, Condesa DF is not a hotel for the kiddies, nor is it for those seeking a subdued retreat even if the minimalist white guest rooms do all have sumptuous bed linens, flat screen televisions and iPods. Better to enjoy all that luxury after stumbling back from the beautiful circus of Condesa DF's nighttime offerings.


Small Hotels in London: 41

December 7, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

41 Hotel Exterior Enter through the residents-only entrance to discover London's exclusive, intimate retreat. From the marble and wood-paneled lobby on the 5th floor, there are 16 deluxe rooms and 4 split-level suites—including the Conservatory suite with its glass ceiling. All are elegantly decorated with mahogany furniture, black leather details, marble bathrooms, and equipped with the latest technology. A few rooms also offer views overlooking The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, where the horses are exercised daily. Awarded the Silver award for "Best Small Hotel in London" by VisitLondon, 41 prides itself on truly five star service. The hotel's best feature? The Lounge, where you can enjoy a cup of coffee or martini by the fire.


Christmas on the Cape at the Chatham Bars Inn

December 6, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Christmas Lobby

Space available at the inn for Christmas?! Could it be? Indeed, New England's premier oceanfront resort and historic landmark is all spruced up for the holidays, with a few rooms available for a last-minute getaway. In addition to the 205 luxurious guestrooms, there are 34 Cape-style cottages situated around the 25-acres of gardens. Heated pool, full-service spa, heaps of children's activities: this is the perfect spot for a family retreat. The halls are decked, and full of good cheer; enjoy afternoon tea, holiday music, and lots of hot chocolate and cookies by a cozy fire. Christmas day itself is marked by a stunning feast, ice carvings, wine tastings and culinary demonstrations, and pastries from an award-winning French chef.

Chatham Bars Inn, Official Site

Chatham Bars Inn, Five Star Alliance


Say Hello to the New Hotel Place d’Armes in Montreal

December 6, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Place d'Armes

Hotel Place d'Armes has recently added 39 new rooms and 48 suites, as well as a chic spa with four treatment rooms. Housed in an historic building, the boutique hotel sits in the heart of Old Montreal. The 83 rooms and 42 suites are the essence of elegance, some with jetted baths, fireplaces, home theater systems, original brick walls and city views. The new full-service Rain Spa—with private atrium and Vichy shower room—boasts Montreal's first hammam. Additionally, the hotel just opened the bar Suite 701, the newest destination for the city's trendsetters.

Hotel Place d'Armes, Official Site

Hotel Place d'Armes, Five Star Alliance


San Francisco Eats: The Ultimate Walking Tour

December 5, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

San Francisco GG Bridge

The best way to see the city's unique and colorful hoods? Why, eat your way around town! Close to the country's most prized and productive farm land, the organic-minded San Francisco is brimming with tasty delights. A mecca for restaurateurs who know their quality cuisine, the city is jam-packed with gems in every distinctive neighborhood.

Rise and shine, with a California sky that blue, it's impossible to sleep the day away.

For the perfect morning coffee, head to Noe Valley's Martha and Bros., a local Latina-owned cooperative that boasts daily delicious roasts. With its boutiques and neighborhood charm, Noe Valley is picture-perfect-cute. Stroll past Noe's colorful Victorians (and charge up the city’s famous inclines) for the next stop in the Mission. Got to feed that growling stomach! Not far from the sloping green of Dolores Park, with the famous mission glowing white in the California sun, Tartine beckons with its exquisite crossaints (oozing chocolate) and beautiful pastries. The line curling out the door and around the block advertise that this is absolutely the best bakery in the city. While in line-- as the aroma of hot bread wafts out of the kitchen-- try not to eat your arm off waiting for the shortbread, bread pudding or Mexican wedding cookies.

Stuffed with bread, head out the door to enjoy a Mission morning. Walk by walls covered in brilliant murals, or artistic graffiti, storefronts plastered with political profanity. And there's people-watching aplenty: from hipsters, to funkified artists, to dog-walkers, to Mexican futbolistas, and beautiful couples from the vibrant gay community of the neighboring Castro. Tired already? Nothing like a quick pick-me-up in the Lower Haight to lure you on. rnm is a paradox of sorts: outrageously hip, yet mellow and laid-back, like its Lower Haight environs. Like most major metropolises, San Francisco succumbed to the "little plates" invasion a few years ago, and rnm has perfected the trend, with plates-to-share like truffle oil pizza. Just to die for. They're not open this early? Knock, knock. I bet you can get take-out. Beg, plead. These guys are cool—after all, this is the Lower Haight. If you can't score some wanna-be tapas, head to Thep Phenom, the best Thai restaurant in town, just two blocks away, for a small bowl of pad thai.

Continue your hike to Hayes Valley, the recently revamped stretch of blocks that all the mags are talking about these days. The tiny little neighborhood somehow emblematic of a "San Francisco renaissance." As if San Fran has ever been uncool? Though right now, Hayes is the height of hip. Boutiques are full of fashion: from shoes to vintage French posters. Your lunch destination? Absinthe, of course, on the corner of Hayes and Gough. In addition to gourmet burgers with Niman Ranch ground beef, gorgonzola, sauteed mushrooms and onions, the weekend brunch is one of the best in the city. Another option is the glass-walled lunch-destination of Zuni Cafe, for its famous raw bar. Enjoy the signature roast chicken for two (spilling delicious stuffing) and buzzing atmosphere, at this prime spot overlooking Market Street.

Full? Too bad. There's too much good stuff in this town! Afternoon delights await! Continue your walking tour to the top of Fillmore and Broadway in Pacific Heights, for a breathtaking view of the bay, golden gate, and small white-houses of the Marina. The land and seascape are almost Mediterranean. Get your caffeine fix at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and then stroll through one of the city's finest shopping streets.

Continue down the hill to Union Street, for more great shopping amongst the yuppies of Cow Hollow. A fabulous walk commences at Fillmore, continues on Union Street over Russian Hill, then down into the land of Italian bistros and cozy cafes in North Beach. Gawk at another vista point, atop Telegraph Hill with the flock of wild parrots which has made the Coit Tower environs its home. Another afternoon coffee break awaits at the famous Caffe Trieste, where the Beat Generation used to wax poetical. Rest your weary feet and daydream about your dinner options: the exquisite Gary Danko, or long-time city favorite, Boulevard, located on the waterfront in the historic Audiffred Building. Ahhhh, San Francisco treats.


Auberge Does It Again, With Southern Charm

December 5, 2005
By: Guest Writer

Inn at Palmetto Bluff

Text and photo by Alex Rose

The Inn at Palmetto Bluff is Auberge's newest addition to their family of luxury resorts. It fits in quite nicely with the Southern charm and hospitality of the people and the region. It's located on 20,000 acres of Carolina Lowcountry in Bluffton, South Carolina. The residence cottages come with a beautiful view of the May River and its dolphins. There's a wide variety of activities including an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus signature golf course and the Spa, known for its Relaxing Bath and the Pumpkin Peach Body Peel packages.

The tradition of Auberge cuisine excellence continues with the River House Restaurant; the stand-out menu includes She-Crab Bisque, the Butter Poached Lobster, and the Crème Brulee Trinity (with chocolate-Grand Marnier) for dessert. Be sure to get a golf cart and take in the resort's marsh and wetland area, which includes alligators and abundant wildlife.

The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, Official Site

The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, Five Star Alliance


Angkor What? The Allure of Cambodia’s Khmer World Heritage Site

December 5, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Angkor

Monkeys giggle above in the trees. The sun is scorching hot overhead. From the road, the jungle overgrowth suddenly parts to reveal the majestic domes of ancient Angkor Wat. Fragrant orange blossoms hang from the trees, matching the brilliant robes of the Buddhist monks who are seated around the temples. Welcome to the most important archaeological site in Southeast Asia. Spread out over 400 square kilometers, Angkor's Archaeological Park includes hundreds of temples of the Khmer Empire, dating from the 9th to the 15th century. Watch the sun set (or rise) over the magnificent Angkor Wat (the largest and most celebrated of the temples), gaze at the huge stone heads at Bayon, and walk through the mysterious calm of Ta Prohm, where trees' gnarled root systems are slowly overtaking the temples. (And after all, this was where Angelina Jolie's Laura Croft toted those big-- um-- guns on the set for Tomb Raider!!! Sweet.) Where to stay? Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor, of course. With 60,000 sq meters of tranquil gardens, Cambodian art and architecture, and superb restaurants and spa.

Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor, Official Site

Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor, Five Star Alliance


Jamaica Hangs the (Half) Moon

December 3, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Half Moon Suite

Half Moon, Montego Bay is celebrating the big 5-0 and has thus come up with some pretty sweet packages. The sun is shining, birds are singing, and space is available for the winter holidays, so why not book the "Take Me To The Moon" package? From $589 a night, includes swank accommodations, sumptuous food and—could it be?—unlimited beverage, unlimited use of the fitness center and tennis courts, a welcome gift with champagne, and round trip airport transfers. Chill on the palm-dotted beaches or in your choice of 50 freshwater pools, unwind at the spa, partake in the water sports, or challenge yourself on the world-class tennis courts and golf course. The dining options? For a self-contained little paradise, the restaurant choices are almost (surprisingly) limitless.

Half Moon, Official Site

Half Moon, Five Star Alliance