(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
(Amsterdam) — There are some cool hotels in Amsterdam, but my favorite in the city is The Dylan, a small, elegant gem. Once you step in, it’s like walking inside an anechoic chamber — the quiet overtakes you. And when you open the door to the dramatic colors and lighting of the rooms, you just want to instantly crawl in and take a nap. It feels like being on the inside of a violin. The decor of the rooms is more like Bali, than the middle of Holland. They’re not big (and not cheap) but every square inch is covered in some fine material. The baths, spectacular. The common areas of the lobby, bar and dining room really make you want to come back and
(Amsterdam) — The College Hotel is a working hotel run by the local college school of hotels. It is a gorgeous hotel, with great rooms and a remarkable physical plant. A little off the beaten bath, but still easily accessible to the rest of central Amsterdam. Service can be a little spotty. The restaurant is great, but maybe because it was in winter, each time I dined, it was nearly devoid of people.
(Stockholm) — In a land that either doesn’t have much, or has too much of it, the concept of the Nordic Light hotel is to bring light inside, everywhere. From the LED light adjusted hotel rooms, to the cool bar trick of a heat-sensitive bar top, to the changing exterior colors. At the time they opened, LED lighting was just coming into its own. It’s not a bad place. Great location. You can book it on TabletHotels.com. I had a crappy camera at the time, so you can see better shots on those to websites.
(Stockholm) — The Berns was a grand lady hotel, but several years ago it undertook a modern day reboot, boldly revamped into a hipster hangout. I’ve never stayed here, but highly recommend at least stopping in for a drink in the soaring two-story lobby, complete with boom-she-boom soundtrack and great people watching. Make sure you check out the concerts in the immense, totally gorgeous music hall, presenting some of the hottest bands going. We saw the then just-breaking punk-gypsy band Gogol Bordello, a raucous good time of spinning, laughing and dancing. Last visited: November 2009
[POSITANO, ITALY] — This is my second favorite place in Positano. It’s a hoof to get down the steps from the main road, but when you’re there, you are just clinging to the side of the cliff. It really doesn’t suck. Very nice people, exceptional rooms. Can’t go wrong. Expensive, but worth every penny, especially if you splurge for one of the rooms that has this shower overlooking the sea. It’s a great hotel with super sweet people that run it and that combination is why even all the barking dogs on TripAdvisor rank this puppy 5 out of 5 stars. You know you’re doing something right when you have a four star hotel pulling down five stars. Albergo MiraMare website
(Buenos Aires) — When I first went to Buenos Aires in 2005, the Puerto Madero waterfront redevelopment has only been completed for a short time. When I first saw pictures of the soaring lobby of the Faena Hotel & Universe in a travel magazine, I just knew I had to go there. Universe? C’mon. But when I read about how it was built inside a restored Victorian era warehouse/factory and saw pictures of all the details, I just had to check it out. At the time, boutique hotels were still something new, but I knew something cool was going on when I walked in and there was no reception desk and you checked in with an Experience Manager. I thought it was a gimmick, but
[ROMA] — There are fancier places to stay in Rome, but one of my favorites is the Albergo del Senato, directly across from my favorite building in the world, The Pantheon. It is small, Old School, but delightful. You can’t beat the location, smack in the heart of everything good. And right around the corner from the best gelato in Rome, Giolitti. If you can’t get a guarantee from the hotel for a Pantheon view, then there are other hotels I’d choose. (I once had a broom closet of a room once that wasn’t and it looked out onto a blind alley.) But if you can secure a room that overlooks the Pantheon, there is no place better to stay in Rome. If you can
(Bagnols, France) — Chateau Bagnols website, TripAdvisor reviews, View Larger Map
(Paris) — In a great location amidst all the glitz of the 8th, Pershing Hall stands out. A beautiful old building, it has been jazzed up with a hip new interior, including one of Paris’ first “living walls”….a vertical garden that dominates the lobby, brings cool fresh air and serves as a dramatic backdrop for the round the clock activities. The bar is also really cool groove spot. Check out the photos on their website (where I got the pics below) to get a real feel for how cool this place is. It’s expensive, but the rooms a sleek and modern and spacious. Pershing Hall website View Larger Map
(Costa Careyes, Mexico) — High above a nearly deserted coastline, Costa Careyes is a remarkable compound of a couple dozen villas (each with their own architectural theme), casitas and small hotel. Owned by a one-eyed Italian count and designed by an Italian architect, this place looks like a bizarre movie set — think Planet of the Apes (in a good way) combined five star luxury and you get it. Really cool designs tucked into every square inch. Most of the living areas are outdoors, under thatched roofs and no windows. An incredible attentive staff looks after your every need. We stayed in Altiplano, but took a tour of several other of their properties, including a stunning rooftop house with a 180 degree pool that surrounds
(Eze, France) — Chateau Chèvre d’Or View Larger Map
NOTE: THESE ARE LOUSY SCANS OF LOUSY PICTURES FROM A LONG TIME AGO, CLICK THE LINKS TO SEE PRETTY PICTURES FROM THEIR SITE: [MONTAIONE, TUSCANY] — Let the hoards of English, Germans and Americans crowd the overly popular Under The Tuscan Sun areas south of Florence and the tourist-choked villages of Montepulciano. To me, I loved staying on the western edges of Tuscany centered around the cool and undiscovered town of Montaione. The geography of this area is more farmland than grapes and a prime hunting ground. And Villa Cerretello is the perfect villa. Part of a larger private farm that includes other agriturismo villas, hunting grounds, the massive Villa Cerretello is the perfect base for entertaining lots of your friends. While it’s big, when you
(Costa Smeralda, Sardinia) — You won’t hear much about the Hotel Pitrizza, but a few people have. As part of a trio of Luxury Collection hotels scattered around the tip of Costa Smeralda development, it might be the most exclusive. With just a handful of rooms, extremely understated architecture and extremely private bungalows, it’s long been a secret hideaway from celebrities and titans, far from the prying eyes of the paparazzi. But its “rustic simplicity” design was intended from the start to blend in to the natural beauty of the Costa Smeralda, small bungalows built of rock, with low-slung landscaped roofs that make the view from every room unobstructed. Its a really cool visual trick and add even more to the privacy and seclusion. It
Porto Cervo, Sardinia) — The Hotel Cala di Volpe is consistently voted one of the world’s top-rated (and most expensive) hotels. Incredible architecture, great restaurants and incomparable people watching. When you see pics of stars on vacation in Sardinia, they are usually staying here. It’s a Starwood Luxury Collection hotel, so you know it’s good. Great beach that a launch takes you to around the bay. The waters and beaches of Sardinia are the best Italy….none of those pebble-strewn beaches, pure, pure sand, ice blue water…you can see clear to the bottom. The architecture is really something unusual: James Bond meets Planet of the Apes. Kindofa Arcosanti in the sand. They actually filmed a James Bond movie here.
(Porto Vecchio, Corsica) — Just above the lower tip of Corsica is an excellent, in the big broad bay around Porto Vecchio is the romantic hotel Grand Hotel Cala Rossa, one of the most famous and fanciest hotels on Corsica. Quiet beaches, swanky atmosphere, nice staff. And because it’s a Relais & Chateaux, you know they have an incredible restaurant, which is Michelin starred. Cala Rossa has been around for decade, ruling the roost of southern Corsica. I don’t have a ton of pictures because the last time I was there, digital cameras hadn’t been invented, so these are scans of my old print film. But, you can get an idea of how beautiful this place is. When you first pull up, the outsides of
[ORVIETO, ITALY] — About an hour’s drive north of Roma is the mountain top village of Orvieto. It’s a great mid-day stop if you’re on your way form Rome to Florence or Tuscany. Really cool church, with really modern-looking stripey theme going on, everywhere. Excellent stop for lunch in the quiet town, or for the perfect overnight, sleep in the former convent-turned-hotel La Badia, an excellent property to sit, relax, a sip on a nice Orvieto crisp white wine. In winter, they have a great fireplace.
[PRAIANO, ITALY] — Two villages down from Positano is a small little hillside village called Praiano. Clinging between the cliff and the roadway, it is like a suburb of Positano — once removed, quiet and friendly. And zero tourists. What few hotels there are cheaper. It’s a great place to stay away from the touristy Positano. You can shoot in a cab, your car or take a water taxi that comes by fairly regularly. Not that many people know the secret that is Praiano. Just 20 minutes around the corner from Positano, past the ritzy San Pietro hotel, is this little village, also perched on a hill. (Aren’t they all in Amalfi?) If you want to be close to the action in Positano but away from the crowds, this is your