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Photo Gallery / Hotel Renovations / Hotel Reopenings / Killer Views / Leading Hotels of the World / Switzerland Hotels / Bern Hotels / Boutique Hotels / Luxury Hotels / → All Tags
The last hotel on our ramble through Switzerland takes us to the country’s capital of Bern and the uptown chic hotel, the Hotel Schweizerhof Bern (part of Leading Hotels of the World and Swiss Deluxe Hotels).
This 99-room property’s been around for more than 150 years and in 2005 the hotel shut down for a major reno (you know the story: you’re a new owner so you absolutely have to re-decorate) and, six years and 50 million Swiss Francs later, ta-da! Now it’s a stylin' five-star superior property.
Designed by Maria Vafiadis from MKV Design in London, our 410 sq ft Deluxe King Room was decorated in earthy taupes and grays with dramatic stainless steel and black-and-white glass bathrooms. Floors were done in herringbone oak which kept the room warm in feel and the view was of the rooftops of the Old Town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). It had the feel of a luxe pied-à-terre.
Room perks include the minibar with its complimentary beer and soft drinks, a Nespresso machine and kettle, free WiFi, locally-made comfy linens, a Japanese soaking tub AND a shower, a window in the bathroom that opens and has the same aforementioned view, and Bulgari White Tea toiletries (this writer’s fave of the Bulgari line).
See the rest of the hotel pics in the image gallery!
Killer Views / Killer View / Photo Gallery / Fairmont Hotels / Leading Hotels of the World / Switzerland Hotels / Luxury Hotels / → All Tags
We do like to wax poetic sometimes over the killer views we find from hotel rooms all over the planet, but the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace in Switzerland (part of Swiss Deluxe Hotels and Leading Hotels of the World) has not one, not two, but at least three killer views that we noticed recently. It seems that wherever you go you’re faced with another scenic vista of mountains and lake (Lake Geneva, to be exact).
We’re sharing those vistas here with you in a minute, but this isn’t the particular scene that prompted Deep Purple to write their hit, Smoke on the Water, while staying at a hotel nearby this illustrious hotel that’s played host to many a rock star celeb.
No, that scene, which probably included the aforementioned vista, was of a fire started by a fan with a flare gun (kids, don’t try this at home) at the famed casino close to the hotel where Frank Zappa was playing in 1971. Rumor has it that the band Deep Purple looked out their window this particular December to see flames and smoke rising from the building and were so inspired that they penned the song. And where did they end up recording said song? At Le Montreux Palace.
But back to the views we saw. The first is from room 118, a Junior Suite category room. This Mediterranean-like room in butter yellows, creams and light pebble greys (reno’ed in 2009), has a small balcony that looks out over Lake Geneva PLUS a French balcony off of the bedroom side of the room to give you the same scrumptious view. Most rooms, in fact, have either a balcony or veranda in this 236-room property. The Junior Suites also come with a sitting area with a desk, coffeemaker, a bathroom with both a tub and a shower, the brand’s Le Labo Rose 31 toiletries and, our favorite, a mirror/TV that swivels so that you can watch CNN in the living room or from your comfy bed. WiFi’s part of the package for President’s Club members, which is free to join.
Plenty of pics of the room and the other killer views in the photo gallery!
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Okay, it’s time to 'fess up: This writer has fallen in love with Switzerland in a mad, gushing “I can’t live without it” sort of way. And why? Aside from its other qualities, it’s beautiful. I’m telling you this so that when I describe the Palace Luzern hotel as being a great spot to take in Switzerland's delights, you’ll understand the importance of that statement.
The hotel (part of Swiss Deluxe Hotels and Leading Hotels of the World) is situated right on the tree-lined, lakeside pedestrian promenade, with views stretching out over Lake Lucerne to the Alps in the background. Can't you just feel yourself relax as you take in that mountain view? Plus it's only a short walk to Lucerne’s quaint Chapel Bridge and Old Town.
But the hotel is not content to rest on its scenery laurels. The first time this 1906 property had a major overhaul was after WWII, during which time it had been used as a military hospital. Then, in 2005, the hotel opened its one-of-a-kind spa and reduced the number of rooms from 168 to 136 so that guests, i.e. you and me, could spread out more. Then, in 2013, 42 additional rooms were renovated, leaving us with 129 rooms and suites, and that brings us all the way to now, with the Davidoff Cigar Lounge having opened in February and the new restaurant, Marlin, replacing Jasper with a newly-deigned menu. Whew!
More scenic pics in the photo gallery!
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It feels like we’ve already waited too long for the 24-hour stays, possible calligraphy classes and six full stars of the Patina Singapore, but the wait is nearly over – because they’ve now set August 1 as the opening date.
At least, that’s what they say on the Leading Hotels of the World website (there’s still no info on Patina Hotels’ own site). But should you try to book, you’ll find reservations are only open from September 1. Perhaps they’re hoping to open up the August rooms nearer the time. Perhaps they’re playing it safe. Or perhaps they enjoy making us wait longer.
Either way, there’s a nice surprise – a really nice surprise – with the rates.
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Right now, many of you are probably going, “What the…?” Well, let me introduce you to the one, the only, 1.2 ton, 6’ wide Giant Ceremonial Singing Bowl – the only one of its kind in the world and found at the Palace Luzern hotel (part of Swiss Deluxe Hotels and Leading Hotels of the World).
Traditionally used for meditation, Tibetan Singing Bowls are kind of like inverted bells. The rim is struck by a mallet to produce a harmonic sound and reverberation that is said to both relax and soothe. The folks at the Palace Luzern decided that if a little bowl is good for you, then a gigantic one must be terrific.
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Don’t you love it when a hotel does a reno and decreases the number of rooms rather than increases them? The Hotel Villa Magna in Madrid (part of Leading Hotels of the World) renovated the property between 2007 and 2009 and we mean gutted it – demolishing everything but the building’s façade and the floors – and took the room count from 182 to 150 rooms and suites. This leaves you with some of the most spacious rooms in Madrid.
Madrid-based interior designer Thomas Urquijo is the master planner behind the design, which is best-described as contemporary elegance. There's a touch of Bauhaus, Viennese Secessionism and Louis XVI styles all thrown in there, with both public and private spaces bathed in earthy greys and off-whites. Furniture is a combo of restored antiques and modern additions, and one nice touch is the colorful artwork found throughout the hotel, all part of the private collection of the hotel’s Portuguese owners who, we were told, also own the Four Seasons Lisbon.
Found in the posh Salamanca district, right in the heart of Madrid’s ritziest shopping, the hotel’s rooms and suites are broken down into seven separate categories, starting with the Magna Room all the way to the Insignia Suites. But get this: the smallest room category, the Magna Room, is a whopping 376 sq ft. As a comparison when we stayed at the ME Madrid in one of their Energy Rooms (the last room category just before you hit the suites) it was only 265 sq ft. Sometimes bigger really is better.
See all of the pics in the photo gallery!
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Just in time for the New Year! It’s another Times Square hotel, but not Manhattan; this one is in Ho Chi Minh City, aka Saigon. The Reverie Saigon – the latest addition to the Leading Hotels of the World group – will open February 1.
It’s part of the modern Times Square building in District 1, taking over the 27th-39th floors of the building, and has 286 rooms. Don’t expect traditional Vietnam looks, though – it’s been designed by four Italians, who’ve lent it an opulent, almost Venetian feel. Rooms look very different from each other – you can go from an over the top frilly headboard and gilt mirror combo (above)…
Burma Week / Myanmar Week / Yangon Hotels / Leading Hotels of the World / Myanmar Hotels / Burma Hotels / → All Tags
Mingalabar! All this week we'll be focusing on one of the fastest changing hotel scenes on the globe: Burma, or Myanmar. (For Burma or Myanmar, see here - as fence-sitters, we'll be using the two interchangeably throughout the week.) We’ve already covered your hotel basics, and looked at Yangon’s most expensive hotel. Today, we’re sticking with Yangon, but checking in at one of Burma’s most historic properties.
Call it the pulling power of Belmond, but most tourists visiting Yangon have Governor’s Residence in mind as the landmark hotel here – whereas, actually, sitting quietly in the middle of town, is The Strand: a stately neoclassical building that opened in 1901 and has, over the years, hosted the likes of George Orwell, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham, and Noel Coward (or for those of you who like your celebrities of a more modern bent: Mick Jagger, David Rockefeller, Chelsea Clinton and the King of Tonga).
The Strand has a fascinating history: initially billed as “the finest hostelry east of Suez” and once owned by the Sarkies Brothers (of Raffles Singapore fame – in fact it looks a bit like Raffles), it fell into disrepair in the 1960s before reopening in 1993 as an all-suite, five star hotel with just 31 rooms. These days, it’s a member of Leading Hotels of the World (their only property in Myanmar). But with a renovation that has remained true to the original – no new wings, no swimming pool, no fitness center added – does it cut the mustard?
As we said yesterday, that probably depends on your requirements.
Hotel Cocktails / Hotel Bars / Hotel Tea / Spain Hotel / Madrid Hotels / Europe Hotels / Leading Hotels of the World / Melia Hotels / → All Tags
We just love a good play on words because while “staying dry” at Gran Meliá Fénix’s DRY Bar is possible, with an 84-page bar menu, it’s probably not the time or the place.
The bar, whose full name is the lengthy DRY Cosmopolitan Bar by Javier de las Muelas, has a tantalizing selection of bevvies that fall into categories such as DRY & Tonics, Exotiks, Sensory, and a full page of Beer Cocktails (remember we saw this as a trend during Cocktail Week?). But it’s really the Classics, as in martini classics, that the bar most wants you to try, because when you do, you join a select group.
Each person who orders the Extra Dry Martini (€13 or $17) officially becomes a—as in you get a certificate and everything—proud supporter of the “Javier de las Muelas Dry Foundation, created for the development of the cocktail world.” Your certificate states your martini order number, as does the martini counter above the Bar’s bar.
You’ll be drinking your lip-smacking, mouth-drying martini (gin is certainly the thing here with 60 varieties available) in a clubby, woody type of bar where you feel you can stay and sink into the furniture for a while.
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Remember hearing of the days when people traveled to European hotels and spas to “take the cure?” Well Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa in Baden-Baden (part of the Oetker Collection and Leading Hotels of the World) has set up three seven-day detox programs that harken back to those days of yore.
Brenners Vitality Detox – This is considered to be the starter package for detox virgins. As with all of the detox programs you get an interview with the Detox Specialist, a personalized menu plan and full board prepared in the Detox Vitalizing Kitchen, daily detoxifying tea and a green smoothie, daily yoga, and a five-course Gourmet Detox Dinner in the Michelin-starred restaurant.
The Vitality Detox package also includes spa goodies such as a De-acidifying Alkaline Bath to “support corporeal removal” and a body scrub with bio-virgin coconut oil and fleur de sel.
The Vitality Detox program starts at $3,430 Euros ($4,773) for seven days including accommodation in a Classic Single Room.
Brenners Organic Detox – This package combines spa treatments with a fitness program, and here’s where things start to get a wee bit funky. Along with innocuous sounding treatments like the sea mud compress with alkaline Epsom salts, we have the Flush-out Body Scrub with supporting Belly Button Massage. This makes us a little squirmy. You?
The Organic Detox program starts at $4,095 Euros ($5,698) for seven days including accommodation in a Classic Single Room.
And then we have their big gun: the Brenners Medical Detox. This ain’t for no sissy-baby spa goer (see below for more!)
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With all the brouhaha regarding the Government of Brunei’s archaic and decidedly evil new law approving stoning to death as proper punishment for being gay or having an affair, some celebs have either quietly or openly decided to boycott Dorchester Collection Hotels, which are owned by the Sultan of Brunei.
During our recent stay at Hotel Fouquet’s Barrière in Paris we were interested to hear that the last celebs to stay at the hotel were none other than Jay-Z and Beyoncé, formerly fans of The Dorchester Collection’s Le Meurice Hotel.
In fact, the couple is such fans of the food at the hotel’s restaurant, La Petite Maison de Nicole, we hear they have it delivered to wherever they are in the city.
Fouquet’s Barrière’s past is directly tied to the music and film industry. In 1898 Fouquet’s restaurant opened at the corner of the Champs-Elysées and Avenue George V (where it still is today). When the very first theaters opened in Paris in the 1930s, Fouquet’s was close by and became the go-to place for socializing for both the dealmakers and stars of the shows. Here contracts were signed, cast parties were held and films were premiered.
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As the grand finale to cocktail week here's Part 2 of our round-up of some of the nifty things we see going on in the world of hotel bars and bevvies. Don't forget to let us know what’s going on in your section of the world!
Beer is the new wine: Before some of you get stressed out, we’re not saying that wine’s going away, but we have noticed that beer is getting more attention these days. Some hotel bars are making beer their “thing,” some are making their own and some are getting it made for them.
Most of us tend to only hang out at airport hotels when we’re going to and from a place, but the Four Points by Sheraton LAX has a 100-beer beererie called Brewster’s that includes an ever-changing tap list of craft and microbrews. They have an on-staff Director of Brewer Relations who ensures the beer list is fresh and filled with rare brews, monthly beer appreciation nights, beer pairings such as Smoked Stone Porter with smoked salmon, beer turndown service that includes a beer-stocked minibar, and a recently-launched Hoppily Ever After package that lets the happy couple-to-be create their very own custom, brewed-to-taste beer for their big day—isn’t that just so romantic?