Category Stay Here

THE COOLEST HOTEL IN CHICAGO

  (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 stretch of upper State Parkway, quiet with gorgeous townhouses lining the blocks. And if you’re a Tablet Plus member, they’re really good about upgrading you

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A spacious, quiet hotel in the heart of Bologna

[BOLOGNA, ITALY]  — There are some awesome hotels in cool Bologna, but as you’ll read elsewhere, tons of people have great things to say about all the hotels in the Art Hotels group.  My sister Janet recommended the Hotel Novecento and I always listen to my sister. I wasn’t disappointed. I got a huge room on the top floor (coincidentally, the same one she stayed in) and it was perfect. Tons of room and about Italy’s largest bathroom, tucked under the eaves of the building. Located on a quiet, if humble, square just blocks from the Piazza Maggiore, the location can’t be beat. The staff was the only let down, some of the most disconnected, uninterested service I’ve ever experienced in Italy, (not rude, but just

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STAY IN YOUR OWN PRIVATE GARDENS IN THE HEART OF ROME

[ROME] — Rome is known for having small, cramped hotel rooms, but the Hotel de Russie doesn’t suffer from that. The gardens alone are worth the expense, although the elegant rooms and excellent spa round it off. It’s a Rocco Forte hotel, so the service is something you can depend on. The rooms are modern, elegant, with awesome bathrooms. Ask to have one facing the courtyard, otherwise you’re missing out. The service in the garden cafe is top notch, and the people watching worth every penny. The location is right off the Piazza del Popolo and just up the street from the Spanish Steps, along Rome’s most expensive shopping streets. Splurge on yourself, you’ll want to come back from your explorations and have a cocktail and say

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A ROMANTIC HIDEAWAY ON THE WEST COAST OF TUSCANY

[PORTO ERCOLE, TUSCANY] — Il Pellicano is a world famous destination resort on the western Tuscan coast of Maremma. Just celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary, Il Pellicano is on the top of nearly every Gold List. It’s a Leading Hotels of the World hotel and is built around the Michelin two-star restaurant, which is indeed worth the trip. The views are stunning, overlooking the Argentario peninsula, not far from where the Costa Concordia tipped over. Really amazing service, where each and every person, from the waiter to the bartender, remembers what you ordered the last time. It’s expensive, but the room I got was one of the most spacious and perfectly appointed I’ve ever had, perfectly laid out, with an enormous bathroom and opened onto a terrace overlooking

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Paris, north of Madison Square Park

(New York) — Just north of the vibrant Madison Square Park, the NoMad area is really taking off. Starting with the resurgence of MSP, 11 Madison and Danny Meyer’s faithful vision, then jump started by Eataly and the hopping Ace Hotel, the whole area feels like it about to explode. The NoMad hotel opened late this spring. Designed by one of my favorite hotel designers, Jacques Garcia, the NoMad brings a feel of Paris to this bustling part of town, still teaming with the Rag Trade, a mosque and all the bric-a-brac gift shops of the neighborhood. the Ace is just a block away, with all its hipster vibe, but the NoMad is like an Ace for grownups, European grownups. Perfection. With a gorgeous restaurant

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Oh well hell, would you look at this beautiful place??

(Stockholm) — I’ve never stayed here, but just read an article about it in my favorite magazine Monocle, check it out here.  Ett Hem in Stockholm’s cool Sodermalm neighborhood. OMG the detail and materials of this place just makes me want to get on a plane and go there. (My hotel obsession showing). I had to get these pics off the internet but definitely check out their website. Ett Hemm means “a home” and it looks like it. Like a home I’ve never had. Ett Hemm website  

OFF THE COAST OF BRAZIL, A LUXURY HOTEL THAT’S LIKE BEING IN YOUR OWN BOND FILM

(Fernando de Noronha, Brazil) — Now this place is truly special. On this magical isle is a magical place, Pousada Maravilha.  After doing some online scoping and then staying there and checking out the other top places, this is the nicest place on the island. There are other cool places, but the view and position of this small hotel is outstanding and one of the few that have direct ocean views. The former house of a Brazilian movie star, the pousada is built around the main house, restaurant and pool, sloping down the hill. With some inline rooms at the top, to me it is worth the expensive splurge on a bungalow. They are lower down the hill but are stand-alone places with their own

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A HOTEL LIKE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE

(Sao Paulo) — Catching all the buzz in design circles, my excellent SP guide John took me by to see the boat/watermelon-shaped Hotel Unique.  It really is a stunning place, designed by Ruy Ohtake, the lobby bar being my favorite, with a towering, cantilevered bottle display that rises several stories. There’s a rooftop bar and restaurant where you can look out over Sao Paulo’s 20 million residents. Stop by for drink. I didn’t stay here, but Trip Advisor reviews are near perfect at 4 ½ stars. Here’s a great article in Conde Nast Traveler. Here’s a great video on Design Hotels

Like the perfect little black dress, but a hotel

(Sao Paulo) — There’s nothing over-the-top at the Fasano. Just classic, full-on attention to every simple detail — like a classic little black dress. It’s all the intense focus on details that rank it on nearly everyone’s Best Of hotels, not just in Brasil, but all of South America. It’s not opulent, it’s just right. The sleek rooms are roomy and fitted-out like the inside of a BMW. Taught. Necessary. Functional. Good to the touch.  At first, not fancy, but once you’re in there a bit, you realize every thing you see or touch has been well thought-out — from the incredible linens, to the floors, to the incredibly practical and spacious desks, to the feel to your toes of the Carrera marble showers. The

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OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF URUGUAY’S ESTANCIAS, A JEWEL BOX

(Garzon, Uruguay) — About 40 or so miles inland from the surf of Jose Ignacio is a sleepy little town called Garzon.  There, in the middle of gaucho country and home to Uruguay’s famous grass-fed beef, Francis Mallmann (my favorite restauranteur in the world) has created a true destination place, El Garzon. I first ate at his famous restaurant Los Negros in Jose Ignacio several years ago and was immediately hit over the head with his incomprable design style, intense focus on every detail and his complete dedication to cooking with fire. Los Negros was built around a horno, a large clay oven, where nearly everything was cooked around the high temperature wood fire. He has since closed Los Negros, but I’ve sought out his other

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A HOTEL WITH THE BEST VIEWS OVER THE ENTIRE AMALFI COAST

[RAVELLO, ITALY] ––  Years ago I finally realized what I really like: cliffs, overlooking a distant ocean, preferably with a pool clinging to a steep hillside. From then on, it’s been my focus on choosing where I go on vacation. (You’ll see this as a common theme throughout this site!)  Palazzo Avino fits all of those criteria. Plus, small, quiet and really expensive. After a recent remodel, it is on almost every Top Ten list of all hotels in the world. They have some rock star-great rooms and terraces, with prices to match. Sitting high on a hilltop in Ravello, dubbed one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, sits Palazzo Avino.  When I was there in ’04 it was called Palazzo Sasso, also famous in its own right.

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A POSTCARD PERFECT TOWN HIGH OVER THE AMALFI COAST

[RAVELLO, ITALY] — A few thousand feet up the mountains over Positano and the sea is the town of Ravello. Often voted one of the prettiest villages in Italy, it shows it. They’ve done a great job at preserving this little mountaintop town. No modern stores or chains. Just a quant little piazza, with hotels and restaurants spanning out to the edges of the cliffs. The views are stunning of the distant water, the shimmer of the sun. Extremely relaxing place with just a few hotels and restaurants. A couple days is all you need unless you just want to unwind with a book by the pool and feel the breeze.  Here is a great website about Ravello, including resources on hotels, cafes, etc. An

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THE BEST TERRACE IN POSITANO (AND BEST PRICE)

[POSITANO, ITALY] –– Stayed here years ago, it was like 80 bucks a night, very mom & pop B&B and more like a private guest house. Spartan but super clean. Low services. 186 steep steps up from the beach or down from the road, so have little luggage, although they’ll send a porter. One of the best terraces in Positano. You see it on postcards all over. It’s a great place. http://www.casacosenza.it/ Sorry, these pics aren’t the best. Had to scan these from film…and from a not very good camera. Before digital! But the views remain pristine today!

LE SIRENUSE — THE BEST HOTEL IN ITALY, IF NOT EUROPE

[POSITANO, ITALY] — If you’ve never been to Le Sirenuse in Positano, put it on your list. One of the best, and best-run, hotels in the world. Nothing compares to sitting in the grandstands (the pool) overlooking one of the prettiest views in the world. A cascade of villas, hotels and restaurants tumbling down to the sea. That’s why it is #1 on my World’s Best Pools List. And why the hotel itself is at the 🔝 of nearly every World’s Best list and if they shoot a movie in Amalfi, it’s usually here. Pinch me. Nothing can beat the style of this hotel, or location, hanging on the edge of a cliff with all those pretty houses climbing up the hills. It is on nearly every

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A ROOMY ROOM IN PARIS, RIGHT WHERE YOU WANT TO BE

(Paris) — Most Paris hotel rooms are teeny, most noisy. But my buddy Rex turned me onto Relais Christine. On the Left Bank, but not in it, it is on a quiet street just blocks south of the Seine, the perfect central location to explore the city. Rue Christine extremely quiet, with several great restaurants, on the street — embarrassingly, so, as I hate to ever say “let’s just eat here.”  But they are great. The staff is extremely gracious. Great cellar breakfast room. Huge king bed and soundproof windows that, almost like a sitcom, I opened up once and there was a jackhammer below that I didn’t even know was there. Open: jackhammer. Close: Quiet. Comical. Lots of Americans as guests,which is often a turnoff

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TALK ABOUT A ROOM WITH A VIEW

       

ENGLISH POSH IN A NEW YORK CITY WAY

(New York) — I’d long read about Firmdale Hotels, but never had a chance to experience what it was all about — each time I tried to book something in London, their hotels were always sold out. Which said something. But after seeing the pics of their first US outpost, the Crosby Street Hotel in SoHo, I just knew I had to try it…so I booked my trip around its availability. As of present, the is my favorite hotel in New York. I didn’t think the English influence would be that different, but it really is. It’s all in the details. My obsession in details. Every square inch is well thought out…and I appreciate that. Huge windows that look out onto one of the few

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NO LONGER A FLOPHOUSE

(New York) — The Bowery. When I was a kid, we heard about Skid Row, drunks and the rough and tumble life on the Bowery…and the corny Bowery Boys. When I was in the restaurant business in New York, what I learned about The Bowery was that’s where you go to buy cheap used kitchen equipment. You could find everything you need on The Bowery. But you didn’t go there at night, but for the bums. Then something happened. Over the years, the Italian and Jewish pan merchants had been replaced by the Chinese knockoffs. Then the New Museum and then all of a sudden, in a matter of a couple of years, a big whoosh came in rebooted the whole street. Like the rest

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A RUNDOWN OF HOTELS IN COPENHAGEN

(Copenhagen) — I’ve only been to Copenhagen a couple of times, so only have limited experience with hotels. But here’s what I found, some I’d recommend, others not. Have you seen the Hotel Nimb? I’ve never stayed there, but I walked through it. Cafe Nimb is very fancy. There’s a more casual brasserie that I loved eating at. Very open and lively. Expensive. http://www.tivoli.dk/nimb/ We stayed at 71 Nyhaven which was a decent place, more of a business hotel. But nice rooms, comfortable, good location, decent value.   http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g189541-d207305-Reviews-71_Nyhavn_Hotel-Copenhagen_Zealand.html I also stayed at the Skt Petri (don’t ask me how I pronounce it).  I thought it was way over-priced for what you got. I wouldn’t recommend it so much. http://www.hotelsktpetri.com/ Stayed one night at the

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400 Thread Count, steps from the beach

(Trancoso, Brazil) — This really is a great hotel, but also one of the most expensive. You can get a bungalow by the beach (but not really on the beach) or they have nice rooms set farther back in the property. (check out the aerial view below).  For about half the money, I’d recommend the regular rooms, each part of a four suite out buildings. Rooms are spotless, well designed and comfortable. All are open shuttered, so a mosquito net is a must, lest you get eaten alive. I had an unusual swarm of junebugs hit a couple of nights, sounds like pounding hail on the bathroom windows, with thousands trying crawl through the cracks. Turn the light off, the faucet roar stops, turn it

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