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We optimistically wrote in June last year that both Raffles and St. Regis would be opening an Istanbul hotel before the year was out (and questioned what was happening with Viceroy as well). Raffles may have made good on that promise, but St. Regis Istanbul certainly didn’t: the hotel is now delayed until March 1 (at least).
As a consolation prize, we do have some actual photos from inside the hotel, which will have 118 rooms and suites in the Nisantasi neighborhood. Above a Superior Room, starting at 450+ sq ft. While the overall style is fairly inoffensive luxury, there is some interesting art on the walls, and bathrooms strike a bit bolder note – check it out below.
It’s only a few months ago Raffles Hotels finally added a second European hotel to its portfolio: Istanbul, giving at least some company to until-then solo act the Royal Monceau in Paris. Expansion on the continent will continue though, if in the slightly left-field Polish capital of Warsaw, with the revival of the historic Hotel Europejski, due to open in 2016.
First opened in 1857, the hotel was known as one of the most luxurious in the Russian Empire. Virtually destroyed during World War II, it was rebuilt and eventually reopened in 1962. Closed for years, now the Europejski will be restored to its former glory, with 103 rooms and suites, restaurants, bar, and spa.
It’s been open since September 1, though Raffles Istanbul seems to have been hiding its light under a bushel – no real photos on the website, only coy shots of various details on Facebook, and a promise to a FB fan that they’ll be having a photoshoot later in September.
But we’ve just found this sneak preview article in Turkish, and all we can say is, please hurry up with that photoshoot, because this looks phenomenal.
OK, the lobby and the bar look pretty nice hotel standard, but look past the artfully posed reporter in picture number 5. Marble staircase, columns, chandeliers. Is it one of the “nearly 200 paintings, sculptures, photographs and video installations” mentioned (via Google Translate) in the article? Is it a mirror? A wall of glass? Is it – as is implied in the article – the spa (the largest in Istanbul)? We’re assuming it’s not real, since Raffles is a modern building, but these are questions to which we need answers.
It's no secret that we love drinking in hotels here at HotelChatter. In fact, hotels might be our favorite "local." So all this week and next, we'll be pouring out some drinks for you during our second Hotel Cocktail Week(s) -- newly-expanded because there’s just so many drinks to share. We'll be posting quirky cocktails, boozy trends, unique menus and even recipes so you can recreate your favorite hotel drink at home. We expect everyone will be getting a bit tipsy over the next couple of weeks! But don't forget to tip your bartenders, in this case, us.
Looking for a little intellectual stimulation to go with your cocktail buzz? The mixology pros at Raffles Singapore’s iconic Long Bar have put together a Timeline Cocktail Menu that covers significant time periods and events in the hotel’s history. Here’s a sampling of just a few.
Tiffing – “Tiffing” comes from an old English word meaning “taking a little sip” and over time came to mean a light mid-day meal. Hence came Sunday tiffin curry, which was an essential aspect of colonial life. Tiffin curry has been served at Raffles since 1899 and now you can take a little sip of it as well; the cocktail consists of Tequila, Aperol, Angostura bitters, lemongrass, curry, Monin Gomme, and fresh grapefruit juice. Bite into that.
The Stray Tiger – This cocktail marks the rumor that a tiger was shot under the billiard table in the hotel’s Bar & Billiard Room in 1902. The truth (if you want to hear it) is that the tiger was shot under the actual Bar & Billiard building but—hey—close enough. The Stray Tiger is a layered cocktail with white rum, Cointreau, vermouth, fresh lime juice, absinthe (hallucination-causing wormwood was big in those days) and lemongrass foam.
More bevvies below!
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Every hotel brand out there seems to muscle its way into the Istanbul scene at the moment, with St. Regis and Raffles both opening a brand new hotel just after the summer. While we were ready to include Viceroy on that list, when we checked its website a week ago it still said “early 2014”, but since has completely disappeared. Trouble in paradise?
Starting with confirmed openings, The St. Regis Istanbul (above) will be opening on October 15 in the city’s Nişantaşi neighborhood, on the European side of the Bosphorus strait. The hotel will have 118 rooms and suites, with four suites featuring “custom interiors by world-renowned designers”. All the usual features you’d expect will be here, including a rooftop restaurant, something very quintessentially Istanbul. Reservations aren’t open yet, but expect rates from €400 ($545) a night and up.
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When it comes to knowing what’s going on in a city, hotels pretty-much have the inside scoop. Raffles Hotels & Resorts, with its swanky hotels across the globe, has put together a list of where to go, when and why for every month of the year.
Here’s what they recommend for the next few months to get you prepped to travel.
Dubai in April – For the Dubai Camel Racing Festival
Forget April in Paris when there’s the Dubai Camel Racing Festival (April 6-17, 2014). A major fixture on the Dubai social calendar, this is the Middle East’s version of “the season.” Over the twelve day festival, thousands of meticulously trained camels compete in rounds to win their owners jaw-dropping cash prizes. Stays at Raffles Dubai from 1314 AED ($358).
Keep going for more What to Do's!
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Usually major metropolitan areas are where you’ll find every hotel brand under the sun close together, but in a few years’ time there might be a very unlikely contender for having one of the largest concentrations of different hotel brands in the world: a master development in Portugal, roughly 50 miles south of capital Lisbon.
If one day a reality, we couldn’t name anywhere else that boast hotels from Hilton, Marriott, Four Seasons, Park Hyatt, Raffles, Fairmont, Aman, and Six Senses, all cosily together on the peninsula across the water from Setúbal and further down the Alentejo coastline – yet that is what the above map calls for.
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It's no secret that we love drinking in hotels here at HotelChatter. In fact, hotels might be our favorite "local" bar. So all this week, we'll be pouring out some drinks for you during our first-ever Hotel Cocktail Week. All this week, we'll be posting specialty drinks, booze trends, mixology tips and most importantly, drinks recipes so you can recreate your favorite hotel drink at home. Everyone will be getting tipsy this week! But don't forget to tip your bartenders, in this case, us.
Raffles Singapore, the place where the famed Singapore Sling was created, has launched a cocktail menu designed to take you around the world while you still remain seated and sipping in their Long Bar, god bless ‘em.
Resident mixologist, Randolph Velasco, has come up with eight spiritus drinks inspired by a Raffles hotel destination, so come join us as we embark on our virtual journey through time and space. First stop? Seychelles.
The Seychelles conjures images of an island paradise with deep blue skies, sultry breezes and emerald seas. No surprise, then, that the Raffles Seychelles cocktail is an emerald green beauty created by combining Smirnoff Vodka with melon-flavored Midori and tangy Apple Sourz, then topped off with apple juice. Garnished with slices of star fruit and a lemon wedge, this is a sipper meant to be sipped in a rattan chair with one of those tropical ceiling fans swooshing slowly overhead.
Next, we go to Raffles Cambodia –- specifically, Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh and Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor. Using the Kingdom’s national fruit, the five finger banana (who knew?), this golden concoction consists of rum, banana and pineapple juice, but it’s the finishing touch of zesty kaffir and fresh, green pandan leaves (a herbaceous tropical plant) that gives this drink its aromatic and mysterious character.
The Raffles Philippines takes you to the newly-opened Raffles Makati in the heart of Manila’s financial district. A mix of Bacardi rum, juicy mango and pineapple are enhanced by a mere suggestion of basil and the tart, citrus flavor of calamansi, a wee fruit that bears a resemblance to a lime but is about the size of a kumquat. Calamansi is supposed to have some health benefits, so drink up.
Raffles Istanbul anticipates the opening of Raffles Istanbul Zorlu Center in late 2013 (no date as of yet) with a cocktail that evokes the complex flavors of Turkish coffee. Rich Kahlua is layered with potent Pisco, fresh lime juice and anise to create a boozy drink not quite appropriate for the morning but it does kinda taste like coffee, so we’ll leave it up to you. (Recipe below!)
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No pressure, kid, but this better taste good.
Parisians: aren’t they just so chic? The thought of them makes us want to fly over there right now in the hope of some of that je ne sais quoi rubbing off. Now, thanks to Le Royal Monceau, our kids stand a chance of getting polished up as well.
The program includes a big line-up of art workshops held during Saturday brunch at the hotel’s Michelin-starred La Cuisine -- and we just love the idea of the kids creating masterpieces while we take our time over a spectacular brunch. The workshops, led in French and English by professional artists, are timed to coincide with current exhibitions in the city. The first workshop on September 28th, for example, will look at the work of cubist Georges Braque as a major retrospective of his work opens at the Grand Palais, while the November 30th class focuses on Pablo Picasso just as the Picasso Museum reopens after two years of renovations.
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Remember the old days where hotel art usually consisted of a bland landscape painting that was reproduced a hundred times over and hung in the same spot in every guest room? Thankfully, over the past few years, hotels have been paying close attention to the artworks they hang in their rooms and public spaces--choosing original art instead and even better, works from local artists instead of some mass-produced Van Gogh imitation.
But in the past month or so, we've noticed some hotels that are stepping it up even further when it comes to the art on display. Giant murals, entire galleries, and even live-in artists are among the trends we've begun to see.
For us, it's moreso about the overall vibe and decor of the hotel than it is about temporary art promotions and exhibits, although we do acknowledge that the latter can certainly contribute to the former. The personality of a property is as much of a selling point as, say, the hotel's location or the quality of its food, so it's no surprise hotels are quick to market their artistic aspects. Below, we've provided a roundup of what's happening this spring and summer at a variety of properties.
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We've started a series of what’s trending in hotels these days: What’s Out, What’s In. Do we like what we see? Think it's a dud? You be the judge!
What's Out: Trekking to the hotel gym
What's In: In-room workouts that rival a personal training session
The hotel gym. We know people use ‘em, but sometimes it’s hard to find that last bit of energy needed to drag yourself out of your room after a busy day of sightseeing or making deals. Or maybe you’re just jet-lagged and are up at 3 a.m. thinking, “Man – I could really go for a workout right now.” At these hotels, the gym comes to you.
Dorchester Collection’s new contemporary hotel 45 Park Lane in London offers you an exclusive in-room workout with fitness guru and trainer to the stars, Matt Roberts, through a bespoke and full-body in-room video program. The hotel committed to get fit during the London Olympics and got Matt to create five workouts, each video focusing on a different area of the body using the furniture at hand. (We’re not suggesting they’re copying us here at HC, but sort of like our Sweat-Worthy Hotel Room Exercises series we brought you about a month or so ago.)
When you leave you’ll also get a freebie Matt at 45 Park Lane Fitness Pack which includes step-by-step training techniques for beginners through pros, a healthy eating plan, and “in the know” tips from the trainer -- things only Matt Roberts and Naomi Campbell knew till now.
At Raffles Praslin Seychelles space is your friend if you want to have an in-room workout. In the privacy of your own 410 sq ft (minimum) villa, with a vast outdoor terrace looking out over the ocean, you can do as many Sun Salutations as you want without bumping into the furniture. All villas already include a yoga mat and, at your mere request, the resort will deliver a fitness kit consisting of a dumbbell set, skipping rope, stability ball, resistance band and a selection of exercise DVDs. If that’s not enough to get you going you can arrange for an in-room personal trainer to take you through your paces with a customized exercise program.
And don't forget, HotelChatter's Sweat-Worthy Workouts: Can't afford to hire a personal trainer to come to your room? Or more likely, are you staying in a property that doesn't have a gym or in-room fitness videos? We've got you covered with our five sweat-worthy workouts, all of which you can do in your hotel room. Watch the videos for instructions on the different body parts to work out. You're very welcome!
Two more fitness-crazed hotels below!
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We've started a series of what’s trending in hotels these days: What’s Out, What’s In. Do we like what we see? Think it's a dud? You be the judge!
What’s Out: Cheetos and johnnie Walker
What’s In: Locally-made or healthy alternatives
Sometimes it’s late in the day, dinner was hours ago and you’ve got the munchies bad, or it’s early and you just want to grab something before you rush out the door to your meeting. Your eyes drift over to the minibar, but that ubiquitous, teensy can of Pringles isn’t going to keep you fuelled, never mind toned. What’s a road warrior to do?
Fifteen Beacon goes beyond the standard M&M's and sodas to include local faves like Boston Baked Beans and Cape Cod all-natural potato chips, plus healthy alternatives including coconut water, protein bars and Emergen-C. To top it off, they even offer pampering products like cucumber eye-cream and Sprayology -- a holistic product for your travel-stressed immune system.
Local products abound at the Fairmont Pittsburgh including Betsy Ann Chocolates, Torn Ranch snacks, Naturally Yours trail mixes and local beers (Penn Pilsner and Yuengling). And here’s the best part: in keeping with the idea of “be good to your body, be good to the earth” they also offer complimentary, refillable glass bottles for you to fill with filtered water from dispensers located on each floor.
For you appreciative craft beer lovers, the minibar at Enchantment Resort in Sedona has swapped out mass-produced beer brands for locally-made Grand Canyon Pilsner. They also keep full bottles of local Arizona wines, chocolates, snacks and full-size bath products atop cabinets and vanities to really tempt you to indulge yourself.