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Burma Week / Burma Hotels / Myanmar Hotels / Mandalay Hotels / Snapshot / Hotel Bars / Hotel Rooftops / → All Tags
Mingalabar! All this week we've been 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: its most expensive hotel, its most historic hotel and its weirdest. Today, we're moving north, on the road to Mandalay.
This looks like a river, but it isn’t just any river. This is the Irrawaddy River, one of the most evocative names in the world (the Mississippi, the Danube, the Nile, the Irrawaddy, etc etc) thanks to the likes of Rudyard Kipling, who referred to it as the Road to Mandalay.
This is the view from the rooftop bar and restaurant at the Ayarwaddy River View Hotel in Mandalay, Burma (the river bisects the country; Ayarwaddy is the current government's spelling). Myanmar’s second city, Mandalay is far more frenetic and modern than Yangon. Stay in the city center, as we did our first night, and you’ll probably wish you hadn’t come. Staying on the Irrawaddy, however, is like sleeping in a different city.
From the rooftop – and from the river-facing rooms – you can see fishing boats, trawlers, and the little cruisers going up and down to Bagan. You can see people washing in the mornings, and the sun setting over the hills in the afternoon. In the evening, look out the other side at the city – there’s a lively temple right behind the hotel.
This is an instance when you’re really paying for location – our entry level room was $100, with a city view (a river view would have been $20 more). The room itself was basic, three star standard – definitely not on a par with other $100 we stayed at in Myanmar. But the location was everything, and hey, they throw in a free ‘traditional’ puppet show on the roof every evening.
Yesterday, we gave you a sneak peek of the drastic overhaul of the old Imperial Palace in Las Vegas, which will officially reopen as The LINQ Hotel & Casino tomorrow (it was formerly known as The Quad, a transition brand of sorts.)
The new rooms at The LINQ are like nothing we've seen before in Vegas, but we've definitely seen that sleek yet functional furniture making the rounds with all the millennial brands. The LINQ is clearly targeting the younger generation of Vegas visitors but it has a lot of touches that really hit the mark...for everyone.
Like USB ports and outlets in the lamps so you don't have to hunt for a spare outlet to charge your phone. Like WiFi hotspots in every room to ensure the best internet connections. Like toiletry dispensers that are easy to use (no struggling to open a teeny tiny toiletry bottle) and are filled with good for you and the earth products from Zero Percent (a division of Gilchrist & Soames.) And the option to send up some old-timey board games to you room for some pre-gaming fun.
But downstairs at the hotel's lobby bar, 3535, is where we think the future of hotel bars should be headed.
Pouring the Martini Royales
It’s the terrible dilemma that faces you when you set foot in the Langham London. Does one head straight into Palm Court for one of the best afternoon teas in the world capital of afternoon teas? Or does one turn left and nip into Artesian for a perfectly blended cocktail?
Clearly, it wasn’t just us having a moral dilemma, because the Langham has just started The Art of the Aperitif - a pop-up bar bringing drinks from Artesian into Palm Court.
It’s being run in conjunction with Martini, so all the drinks (there are seven) have vermouth and, and there’s Martini memorabilia scattered around. But it’s no boring promo thing – the drinks have been created by Artesian’s Alex Kratena and Simone Caporale (head bartender and assistant head respectively), and there are food pairings (or snacks, rather), too, for the all important stomach-lining process.
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Question: What do you get the person who has everything? (This is the question which possibly, probably foxed Brad Pitt as he debated whether to go to a certain celebrity wedding.)
Answer: A ticket to Barcelona for a meal at Hotel Arts. (Shame Brad didn't think of this, he might have got a Venetian holiday out of it.)
Why? Because it’s truffle season, and the hotel’s two Michelin-starred restaurant, Enoteca, is running a special white truffle tasting menu throughout November. It’s not just special because it involves white truffles – the dishes come with wine pairings, and those wines include the award-winning Miraval rosé. Not familiar with said rosé? It’s from Brangelina’s estate in Provence, and is not publicly for sale. Enough said.
Unlike New York, the list of rooftop bars in London isn’t that long, and even fewer can boast floor-to-ceiling windows with river views and outdoor space for al-fresco lounging and drinking, but Rumpus Room has both.
With eight dining establishments already in New York City alone, including the two-Michelin starred DANIEL, this is great news for Bostonians, visitors, and all self-proclaimed foodies. This also marks the third Bar Boulud after New York and London and the second partnership for Boulud with Mandarin Oriental Hotels (there is also a Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park.)
The design of the new Bar Boulud was handled by Adam D. Tihany of Tihany Design. From the looks of the restaurant now that it’s completed, we think it’s quite simply, spectacular.
For those moments when you need to socialize and detox, there’s a genteel catch up over a cup of tea… and then there’s Tanya’s Café at MyHotel Chelsea, which opened in August serving raw food and superfood cocktails.
We popped in last week for post-work drinks. First surprise: it was buzzing. And the clientele didn’t seem to be hotel guests either, but locals – particularly slender, clear-skinned, unbelievably young posh locals – think Cara Delevigne-types (Cara lives nearby in Belgravia).
Second surprise: it was expensive. £10.50 for a cocktail is fine, but a plate of chips & dips for £17.50? Nope. Also, surprisingly, there were only snack-style platters available in the evening – the proper meals are daytime only.
Third surprise: lawd, it was good. Here’s what we tried:
A Mastic Sour with the Monastery of St John on the hill, top right
We blame the Grande Bretagne in Athens. After we tasted the Tears of Chios cocktail at its rooftop Selfie Spot bar, we got a little obsessed with mastiha, a liquor flavored with mastic (a gum-resin thing that’s produced on the island of Chios). Mastiha cocktails, neat mastiha after dinner – it’s all we wanted to drink in Greece.
So when we were on the island of Patmos, we went in search of mastiha-infused cocktails. Patmos is a notoriously un-party island (it’s home to a huge monastery, various convents and the Cave of the Apocalypse) so this was always going to be a tall order.
We started at Patmos Aktis, one of the poshest hotels on the island, which had looked lush from afar. But then we left immediately because the server in the (deserted) restaurant threw a tantrum about us only wanting drinks.
We ended up in port town Skala at Chris Hotel, not nearly as rarefied a place as Patmos Aktis (right by the port, for starters – and then there’s the name), but not nearly as snooty. The terrace bar, which had been buzzing every time we drove by, was full – and not just with tourists, but mainly with locals. This, apparently, is where the young of Patmos go to party.
When we visited the Selfie Spot at the Grande Bretagne in Athens the week before last, we remembered the other hotel bar with truly jaw-dropping Acropolis views (as opposed to other hotels which pretty much all have a glimpse of the Acropolis): the Galaxy Bar at the Hilton Athens. So, with a couple of hours to spare in Athens last week, we headed over.
The Hilton is back a bit from the center of Athens – out by the Byzantine Museum, around a 10-15 minute walk from Syntagma Square. But what it lacks in ease of location, it makes up for in views – because thanks to the low-rise buildings all around it, it has a straight on view of the Parthenon. It is extraordinary.
Sadly, we tell you this from memory, because on arrival we discovered the Galaxy Bar isn’t open all day, like the GB roof terrace; it opens at 6pm. Instead, we settled at Aethrion Lounge on the ground floor for some lunch and drinks.
We suggest you don’t follow our example.
It doesn’t feel this long, and yet it feels like forever – the Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago in November, and the city is marking the anniversary on November 9 by lining up 8000 helium balloons along a 7.5 mile stretch of the old border between east and west.
Obviously no hotel wants to be seen to be taking advantage of an event of such historical importance, but the Hotel de Rome has drawn up a pretty sober package, valid November 7-10.
The Fall of the Berlin Wall package includes three nights accommodation and breakfast, a three hour private guided tour of Wall-related sites, a trip to the Asisi Panorama near Checkpoint Charlie, and a two hour Trabi tour (in an iconic East German Trabant car). They’ll also throw in champagne and currywurst as you watch the balloons on the 9th from the hotel rooftop terrace.
Hotel Cocktails / Hotel Bars / Athens Hotels / Hotel Selfies / Luxury Collection Hotels / Killer Views / → All Tags
We’ve shown you the Selfie Spot at the Grande Bretagne in Athens and we’ve banned you from taking selfies. So what else can you do up there? Well, you can take glorious panorama photos of Athens and the Aegean Sea. Or you can drink.
The GB Roof Garden has a restaurant and a separate bar area with outside terrace. (NB: The bar area is right by the Selfie Spot, if you need Dutch courage to get your selfie juices flowing.) Cocktails vary from €14-€21 ($18-$27), there’s free WiFi, free (bottled) water served with drinks and some rather snazzy bar snacks including candied fruit. It’s all very civilized.
Two years ago, The W Hotel Union Square in New York debuted a new lounge concept for the space once occupied by Underbar, which in its heyday of the early aughts, was the place to see and be seen. Called Lilium, the space operated as a small nightclub with hand-sculpted steel lilies hanging from the ceiling and video art played on a loop on a flat-screen TV behind the bar.
Today, Lilium is out and Studio is in. The space, officially opening tonight, is a partnership between the Gerber Group (who also ran Underbar and Lilium) and contemporary artist, Domingo Zapata, who designed the club's interiors which are inspired by Alice's Adventures In Wonderland. Here's how the space is described:
Upon arrival, guests will descend into Zapata’s richly imagined interior world, falling down a veritable “rabbit hole” as they experience Alice-inspired murals leading down to a subterranean lounge. Once inside, a continuous, vaguely narrative mural runs through the space’s perimeter. Inspired by the style of his own Gramercy Park studio, Studio’s shadowy enclaves and seating areas are reupholstered in rich velvet red fabrics, and allude to a glamorous old New York feel contrasted by the rawness of open ceilings and untainted floors.
We call the Queen seat.