March 23, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Need a change of scene? Craving a little Spring sunshine? Book yourself a trip to Europe for Easter break and you'll find yourself stopping to sniff the flowers (and sip the wine, and taste the chocolate bunnies) while recharging your batteries. Nothing says Easter like Italy... And the Baglioni Hotels Collection is doing it right with festive meals and fine chocolates for all guests. Whether you're looking to travel to Venice, Rome, Florence or Milan, Baglioni's got you covered. Here's the scoop:
Luna Hotel Baglioni, located just a few steps from St. Mark's Square in Venice, is celebrating Easter by giving guests a Chocolate Easter Egg and a choice of Easter lunch or dinner at the award-winning Canova Restaurant.
Relais Santa Croce, a stylish 18th century residence in Florence, is offering a special Easter weekend focused on food: a chocolate tasting at “Arte del Cioccolato” by specialist Tuscan chocolate maker, Roberto Catinari and dinner at the Guelfi & Ghibellini restaurant with a sweet surprise.
Regina Hotel Baglioni in Rome will be serving Easter Monday brunch in its beautiful Belvedere Room. Located on the top floor of the hotel, this glass walled room lets you enjoy breathtaking views across the Eternal City.
Carlton Hotel Baglioni, situated in the heart of Milan, is offering an Easter break full of shopping opportunities and indulgent spa treatments: private Deluxe Car transfer to/from the Fidenza Village (Parma), a special body exfoliating treatment with Mimosa essence at Spiga 8 Spa and an elegant dinner on the Baglioni Terrace.
March 21, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Le Meurice is celebrating the arrival of spring in Paris with some music-filled afternoons. The Olaf Olsen quartet-- comprised of a bass player, drummer, pianist and the famous singer-- will be jazzing up Le Dali, the Philippe Starck-designed restaurant and lounge, on April 15th, 16th, and 17th from 4- 7 pm. Perfectly located between the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre museum, opposite the Tuilleries Gardens, the palace hotel is the ideal place to stop to recharge with a cup of tea after shopping on the Rue Saint Honoré or gazing at the Mona Lisa. The Afternoons called "Swing in Meurice" consist of three sets of about 35 minutes each. The quartet play old jazz and swing classics, and also delight guests with songs from Broadway musicals and films. The Dali-inspired setting alone is worth the trip. Beneath a giant canvas painted by Ara Starck (the famous designer's daughter), the restaurant is filled with whimsical designer pieces like Dali-esque chairs with feet in the form of ladies shoes, lamps with drawers, and lobster-shaped telephones.
March 18, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Just a stone's throw from the British Museum, The Montague on the Gardens is a stylish four-star hotel in Bloomsbury. Behind the Georgian townhouse facade, guests find a calm respite in the hotel's private garden. The Montague gets its share of repeat clients who appreciate the understated elegance and warm hospitality; the hotel offers immediate serenity when stepping off a London street. With the upcoming Royal Wedding and Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee in June 2012, London has morphed into the destination du jour. To honor these celebratory events, The Montague on the Gardens has designed a special package to give you a real taste of what life is like for the Royal Family. And the staff at the hotel like to point out that the red carpet is always rolled out for you, as guests are treated like royalty no matter what. Called "Live Like Royalty and Explore Buckingham Palace," the package includes;
* Two nights accommodation in a beautifully appointed bedroom or suite
* Full English Breakfast daily
* Champagne Afternoon Tea
* Two tickets to your choice of one of the Royal Collection's Palaces and Residences' combined visits:
1) Live Like Royalty - The Queen's Gallery and Royal Mews. The Queen’s Gallery - a dedicated space showcasing a wide range collection of art and treasures help in trust by The Queen for the Nation. The Royal Mews – one of the world’s finest working stables. It houses the horse drawn carriages and motor vehicles used for state occasions, including the gold coach last used during the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002
2) The Royal Day Out -The State Rooms, the Royal Mews and The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace. The State Rooms, the heart of the working palace, lavishly furnished with some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection - paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Poussin and Canaletto; sculpture by Canova; exquisite examples of Sèvres porcelain; and some of the finest English and French furniture. Visitors also have access to Royal Fabergé, revealing how the world’s finest collection of work by the great Russian goldsmith and jeweller has been created by successive generations of the British Royal Family.
The Royal Day Out is available from 23 July to 3 October 2011
Prices start from £187.00 per night for the Live Like Royalty offer and £200.00 for The Royal Day Out offer per night (excl. VAT) based on two adults sharing a Superior Double room for two nights. This package is offered subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply. Please note that tickets are not available on Sundays.
Hilton Worldwide is rapidly expanding its luxe Waldorf Astoria brand- now encompassing some 20 landmark destinations around the globe. The newest to join this impressive portfolio is the Waldorf Astoria Sevilla at La Boticaria, the fifth property for Waldorf Astoria in Europe, joining Rome Cavalieri, Trianon Palace Versailles and London Syon Park, which opens this month. Scheduled to open this summer, the Andalucian style-hotel was previously known as the Hacienda La Boticaria and is located just 20 minutes from both the Seville city center and the San Pablo airport. When it comes to activities, you've got some world-class options-- from the equestrian center with 16 thoroughbred Spanish horses to the driving range for golf enthusiasts close to the Real Club de Golf de Sevilla. What we're most excited about: some of the largest spa facilities in Europe! There's also a helipad on the estate for tours of the area by whirly bird. Up next for the brand: Waldorf Astoria hotels in London, Berlin and Jerusalem.
Design fanatics go gaga when they step inside the lobby of the Hotel Keppler. This boutique hotel near the Champs Elysées was designed by Pierre Yves Rochon-- the star responsible for The Savoy's staggering recent makeover and the buzzworthy new Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane. (Rochon's full list of projects can be found on his design studio's website.) Decidedly chic, the intimate hotel is decked out with objets d'art, Asian-inspired vases, colorful paintings, and potted orchids. Both classic and contemporary styles merge in the lobby, where bold checks and animal prints grace a space that channels traditional French elegance. There's no restaurant on site, but the hotel staff is incredibly helpful with restaurant reservations, and the hotel's breakfast spread is so sumptuous that it'll tide you over almost all day. Choose a top-floor suite and you'll be privy to a terrace with unending views of the City of Light. (Not to mention the Hermès toiletries.) Stay at the Hotel Keppler and you'll get a dose of Parisian glamor.
March 15, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Summer rates from £149 at a London city center hotel with complimentary Continental breakfast and a room upgrade... Sound too good to be true? The Cranley-- a charming townhouse hotel located in South Kensington-- has released a limited-time "Summer at The Cranley" offer that's music to our ears. (Available from July 27- September 4, 2011 and subject to availability.) Within easy walking distance of London attractions and transport links, The Cranley is akin to a luxurious private residence with only 39 rooms and suites. It's warm and welcoming, and guests dig the "home away from home" vibe. Rooms are appointed with antique mahogany furniture, period oil paintings, and handcrafted four-poster or half-tester canopied beds covered in hand-stitched Irish linens. Nice touch: When you arrive, you'll be treated to a complimentary welcome drink, and there's Champagne and canapés served every evening between 7- 8 pm. Did we mention the free wifi?
March 11, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Smack dab in the middle of Venice on the Grand Canal, the Ca' Nigra Lagoon Resort is a majestic palazzo turned four-star design hotel. Dating from the 1600s, the former home of Ambassador Conte Costantino Nigra was meticulously restored to showcase its original mosaics, venetian floors, marble friezes and fine glass panes. Your surroundings may be old school (the Stea family's private antiques collection, for example) but the technology is decidedly 21st century.
On the banks of Venice's most romantic waterway, the Cà Nigra Lagoon Resort boasts gardens full of roses and centuries-old trees, an oasis of calm in Venice. (And also the perfect spot for outdoor parties!) With only 22 Junior Rooms, each uniquely decorated, the Ca' Nigra Lagoon Resort offers the ultimate in privacy and personalized service.
Talk about arriving in style! It's fashion week in Paris so when we
attempted to strut our stuff walked across the Place Vendome last night, easily one of the most prestigious addresses in town, a crew of paparazzi was stationed outside the Ritz Paris preparing to snap shots of the celebs coming and going from the palace hotel. At the invitation of Travel Onion-- a new web site that curates the best blogs on worldwide travel-- we toured the Ritz Paris, ogling the gilded Suite Impériale (and wouldn't you? just check out the photo), Madonna's rumored Parisian haunt with a price tag to match its opulence. Most recent resident? The Russian President. We also got a good look at the restaurant and Hemingway bar, helmed by Colin Field, recently named the best bartender in the world by Forbes.
The highlight of our Champagne-infused soirée-- besides meeting some fabulous local Paris bloggers-- was the cooking class at the École Ritz Escoffier, the hotel's culinary school named for Auguste Escoffier, the legendary chef who invented Peach Melba and other classic French dishes. The setting alone is enough to excite the foodies of the world-- opposite the sprawling kitchen that churns out masterpieces for the Ritz restaurant. The school has a number of different courses on offer to appeal to both professionals and amateurs, so those of us who are challenged in the kitchen could even find joy in the food prep. And the very capable Chef Didier Steudler smoothed things over (the minor issue of a sauté pan of veal medallions going up in flames) so that the final products on the dinner table were beyond delicious."You must feed the meat!" Steudler had told us when adding--Mon Dieu!-- a good pound of butter to the sauce pan.
For the first course, we tucked into a confit tomato tart smothered in grated parmesan, smoked ham, and baby arugula. The main course consisted of the afore-mentioned veal served with a potato and celery gratin, and the dessert was bright orange passionfruit macarons with a warm chocolate fondant with passionfruit ice cream and diced fresh fruit. All paired with perfect wines, of course.
It's possible to take a private class during an afternoon, or a multi-day course. The first-level unit, which touches on the basics of French cuisine, is priced from 1100 euros for the two-day (14 hour) class. The entire course (seven units over three weeks, or 98 hours) is priced at 7000 euros. Courses are organized by theme: molecular gastronomy, traditional French cuisine, vegetables, meats and poultry, foie gras, fish and crustaceans, deluxe sandwiches, organic flavors, and more. There are also special programs like Ritz Kids-- a two and a half hour cooking class for "les marmitons"-- and "The Art of the Cocktail" with Colin Field.
When you shack up in a suite at The Rome Cavalieri, the super-swank hotel that's a member of the Waldorf Astoria Collection, you'll get the five-star treatment all the way-- from truly opulent surroundings (a dazzling art collection and a private balcony) to special VIP services. Case in point: The Rome Cavalieri has recently announced that guests of the four super suites get VIP access to the Chiostro del Bramante’s latest photography exhibition, “Karl Lagerfeld: Working Path.” This new offering is fitting for the hotel who has a strong affinity for Lagerfeld. After all, the Penthouse and Planetarium Suites are appointed with sofas designed by the acclaimed fashion designer, photographer and artist, bought at auction through Sotheby’s in Monte Carlo. The hotel itself is decked out with a talked-about art collection of masterpieces. The Rome Cavalieri is also home to the Michelin three-starred restaurant, La Pergola.
Available until April 10, 2011, the offer also includes complimentary transportation to/from Chiostro del Bramante and two complimentary cocktails from Rome Cavalieri’s Art Cocktail Menu. Rates for the super suites, which include breakfast, VAT and access to the Imperial Lounge and Grand Spa Club, start at 4,920 euros for the Napoleon suite. (The Penthouse is just a wee bit more, at 9,920 euros.)
March 7, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
From the Sapphire Afternoon Tea at London Hilton Park Lane to the Langham's Giveaway Contest (honoring the "most romantic" proposal story), Royal Wedding mania is sweeping the nation. Keen to jet to London for the big day? *The* place to stay is The Ritz London, the sumptuous West End pad that's considered the "home away from home" for British and international Royalty. (The Duke of Windsor dined and danced in The Palm Court, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 80th birthday and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales honored the hotel's banqueting services with a Royal Warrant.) Leave it to The Ritz to go all out to commemorate the historic occasion of the marriage of His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton. Here's what's in store:
Afternoon Tea at The Ritz - View the wedding on screens streaming live coverage while you taste pastries, scones and finger sandwiches amongst swathes of pastel hues and 24 carat gold leaf. Prices from GBP 50 per person (approximately US$ 81, including a commemorative souvenir Menu and an exclusive limited edition chocolate heart bearing the initials of the Royal couple.
Royal Wedding Brunch at The Ritz Restaurant
Recently awarded 3 Rosettes by the AA for Culinary Excellence, The Ritz Restaurant will host an extravagant Royal Wedding Brunch between 10:30 am and 3:30 pm with themed food stations, an outdoor grill, and TV screens streaming live coverage of the event. Priced from GBP 150 per person (approximately US $244), the Royal Wedding Brunch includes a glass of Champagne to toast the happy couple, a commemorative souvenir Menu, and an exclusive limited edition decorative keepsake embroidered with the initials of the Royal couple and their wedding date.
Stay at The Ritz London with the Monarchy & Matrimony accommodation package. Priced from GBP 1,460 (approximately US $2375 excluding VAT), the Monarchy & Matrimony program is available exclusively to guests who check in on Thursday the 28th or Friday, April 29th, 2011 and includes:
* Two nights sumptuous accommodation in a Louis XVI inspired room
* Flowers, fresh fruit and a bottle of Champagne in-room on arrival
* Royal Wedding Brunch in The Ritz Restaurant
* A unique and exclusive limited edition commemorative gift
* English breakfast each morning