[BERLIN] — I’d been working like crazy for the last several months of last year and was itchin’ to go somewhere, like rightnow, over the American Thanksgiving holiday, a perfect time to slip away. Found a cheap flight on Lufthansa five days before leaving and scrambled to find a hotel. I hadn’t had much time to investigate where to stay and scouring Tablet Hotels nearly everything was completely booked by smarter, more forward-thinking people. What was going on in Berlin that weekend? Bank holiday? Everything was coming up goose eggs. I’d been seeing great posts from my Instagram peeps about a cool
[BARCELONA] — I know I’m in the minority in being a steadfast fan of boutique hotels these days, whilst the rest of you are Airbnb’n, but I still am bullish on the whole hotel experience. In fact, I usually book my vacations around the hotel, often traveling far and wide just to visit a special place. Barcelona has been almost overrun by Airbnbs, so much so that whole apartment buildings are being converted by investors into full-on apartment rentals — much to the scorn of local residents, pushed out by reasonable growing rents. But just before the HomeAway trend hit
[DOURO VALLEY, PORTUGAL] — I see all these Instagram peeps hitting Porto taking pictures of the big bridge, climbing up its steep hills, drinking some port and then bolting. But really what they’re missing is a day trip (or longer) up the Douro River to visit the incredible, hilly stair-step vineyards of the Douro Valley, one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been. I dunno, I’m over wine tours, once you see a few, they’re all the same to me — “Is that French oak or American? How long in stainless??” — poke me in the eye with a stick…but
[PYLA-SUR-MER, FRANCE] — I didn’t even know this beast was here. Never heard a squeak of it before. I actually came here in search of a beautiful hotel which mentioned its prime location next to the Dune du Pilat, about an hour south of Bordeaux. Okay. So can I get room? But when I pulled up, holy cow ! My dumb fortunate luck led me to yet another amazing natural phenomenon — the largest sand dune in Europe. Almost 3km long and about 110m (300 ft) high, this giant Gibraltar of sand stands between the shimmering Atlantic and an inland pine forest, with
[PRAGUE] — This is going to be a pretty easy post for you, more of a postcard travelogue. I think I am the last guy to visit Prague, but I slapped it on to a Christmas trip to Brussels just to see what it’s like and have some beer. Pretty city. Too many tourists for me. I feel sorry that it was so overrun. But it definitely is pretty. These are the best things I’ve found. Click to open the slideshow and follow along. Last visited Christmas 2015
[BRUSSELS] — Trying to do a Mileage Run at the end of the year to top off the tanks, I found a cheap flight to Brussels, perfectly timed between Christmas and New Years, back by the end of the year. The sad terrorist attacks had just occurred and I wanted to show my support but not letting those acts change our world. Plus, my hunch was right that the airfares and upgrades would be cheap with a lot of cancellations. I left on Christmas Day, went to Brussels, a day trip to Antwerp at some of my Instagram followers on-the-ground
[JOSE IGNACIO, URUGUAY] — It’s 3pm, the day after Christmas. It’s 82 degrees and sunny, with a light breeze gently flapping the white canvas awnings, fanning the cool shade underneath. The place is packed, everyone’s knee-to-knee. Cool pitchers of Clerico — the local Uruguayan version of a white sangria — are flowing past above the heads of the crowd, headed toward an antsy, thirsty table. There’s a DJ tucked in the back, but affecting moods in the front; like the breeze, causing everyone to gently sway along with him in a cool, mellow vibe. The smell of woodsmoke wafts out onto
[MILANO, ITALY] — There are so many great hotels I wanted to try in Milano. Scouring through Tablet Hotels, I found this totally groovy little boutique hotel called The Yard in the totally happening, canal-laden Navigli neighborhood — a once derelict area of shipping canals that were constructed as way back as the 1100s that has been recently been gentrified and updated to be a lively night time and retail area. (also have seen is spelled Naviglio) The area feels like Östermalm in Stockholm or Canal Saint-Martin in Paris, with a bunch of intersecting canals, lined with restaurants and bars
[MILANO, ITALY] — You’d never think there’d still be an old farmstead smack in the middle of Milano, but there is. Cascina Cuccagna is an old forgotten complex that a group of food lovers got together, hauled away the junk and turned the place into a cool food-centric hangout. After reading about it in Maisons Côté Sud, I made a special side trip just to check it out. It’s a restaurant, an event center, an educational urban garden, meeting place and even a 16 bed hip hostel, all in the delightfully crumbling ochre walls just down the street from Porto Romana.
[SANTIAGO, CHILE] — I only spent two nights in Santiago, so didn’t have a chance to eat around much, but here are places that I liked and would recommend. In Bario Lastarria, which is where I’d just go an walk around, there are lots of cool places to duck into. In prime spot right on the corner is this nice little place with prime outdoor tables for great people watching, right on the corner of Paseo Barrio Lastarria…I think it might be called Gatopardo, but not sure. You can’t miss it, by the awnings and cool building backdrop below.
(Lake Travis, Austin) — Seriously, almost every night, perfect sunsets. This is one money-maker, a ginormous restaurant on a hilltop overlooking the leaky Lake Travis outside Austin. The Oasis. Drinks are cold, lots of room, the drinks are better than the food. But well worth the jaw-dropping sunsets and the jaw-dropping size of this joint. It really is cool. Get their early, the sun drops fast.
(MADRID) — Dry Cosmopolitan Bar, the cocktail bar from Javier de las Muelas. I’d read about it when I was in Barcelona last Christmas, put spaced making it there. But this year in Madrid, I saw they’d opened an outpost there and heard it was the bomb for cocktails. It was eerie walking in, almost like “The Shining”, but instead of Lloyd, it was just me and Ricardo. Nobody else in the place. I heard it was packed, always, but maybe it was the holidays, lack of tourists or Spain’s economy. In any case, I had Ricardo all to myself
(Chicago) — I”ve stayed now a half-dozen times at the Public hotel and it still ranks as one of my favorite places to stay in Chicago and certainly my favorite Ian Schrager hotel. One of the coolest lobby designs I’ve seen — that great combination of classic architecture and modern design — with good looking people as props. Come in at night and all the wealthy black-dressed Chicagoans are silhouetted against the perfectly lit white whiles. It’s almost an optical illusion. The rooms are really big, with huge windows and awesome amount of sunlight. Gigantic baths. Love the quiet