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Sponsored Feature: The Orient Express's Casa de Sierra Nevada and Observatory Hotel
May 4, 2012By: Christopher Roney

What follows are impressions of two of our favorite Orient Express properties, the Observatory Hotel in Sydney and the Casa de Sierra Nevada, in many ways very different hotels, and in more than just their geography.  

Observatory Hotel, Sydney, Australia

I'll confess a fair bit of ignorance about why the Observatory Hotel is actually called the Observatory. Perhaps it was the site of a revolutionary astronomical discovery or it used to house the local planetarium in a forgotten back room. Maybe it just has a habit of flowering the walls at a party in order to better watch the crowd. It's a mystery as enigmatic as the stars in the sky, and we may never know. Well, it probably has something to do with the adjacent Observatory Park, but why spoil the hyperbole?

What I do know is that the Observatory Hotel is a perfect luxury hotel to use as jumping off point for exploring Sydney, a city that thrums with the heartbeat of a constantly evolving culture. Not far from the Rocks and Circular Quay, not to mention the Sydney Opera House, you're right in the middle of the action. As a break from experiencing all the city has to offer, you can retreat back to the quiet inner sanctum of the Observatory to enjoy an afternoon tea at the Globe Bar & Brasserie. For more substantial fare, head to Galileo in the evening, and you'll experience their amazing interpretation of fine French cuisine (the mystery of the name is quickly unravelling faster than the flat earth theory). If you're looking to stay in the utmost of style, make sure to book their gorgeous presidential suite, a study in aesthetics that makes extensive use of objects d'Art and features a four-poster bed. The Observatory Hotel is an extra-classy place to stay for the discerning traveler who finds themselves in Sydney.

Casa de Sierra Nevada, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Across the world from the Observatory Hotel, you'll find the Casa de Sierra Nevada in San Miguel de Allende. Built in 1580, the Sierra Nevada is one of the smallest hotels in our collection. With just 33 rooms, the hotel is a serene escape from the bustle of everyday life. An inner courtyard is the perfect enclosure to keep the busy noise of the outside world at bay while you relax and refresh in one of the most historic towns in Mexico. Importantly, the hotel allows no children under the age of 11, so you won't be disturbed while you crack open the novel you've never gotten to or just soak up the rays of the sun. The National Institute of Anthropology and History was so enamored with the hotel's repurposed homes that they are designated historical landmarks. The surrounding mountainous landscape seems to be a backdrop that could only be dreamed up in a movie studio, but you can experience the unparalleled quietude and incredible service of the Casa de Sierra Nevada in real life. It's just one trip away.


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