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The Queensberry Hotel is one of those small hotels made up of several townhouses – in this case, four Georgian ones – that is nicely designed in a contemporary way but with some little oddities added in that only seem to properly come from the British.
Things like having an elevator that jerks and hesitates like it’s not going to make it, and moves so slow you’ll probably beat it if you take the stairs. We used it as an opportunity to grab a few winks on the way up and down.
Then there’s the oddly placed monkey statue set on the modern bar.
And stairs that seem to come out of nowhere.
And the bulldog pillows.
The thoroughly surprising picturesque walled courtyard in the back.
The antique dresser that we could open to put our clothes in but then couldn’t get them back out.
And, finally, the best meal we had in Bath, hands-down.
All of this serves to create an oddly satisfying stay where you feel like you’re privy to a place whose eccentricities perhaps outweigh your own.
We certainly do have pics in the photo gallery!
Hotel Openings / Photo Gallery / Hotel Design / Canadian Hotels / Affordable Hotels / Groupe Germain / Winnipeg Hotels / → All Tags
Let's just pause for a moment to think about how lucky we are to be living in a time when hotels are spreading their design wings and letting creativity flow. And we’re not being irreverent here -- we mean it. Remember the old days when hotels looked like they were all cut with the same dull cookie cutter? Dullsville, right?
ALT Hotels, baby sister brand of Le Germain Hotels, is a leader out of Canada that specializes in good design at a good price (think Mama Shelter or citizenM but where the private space is as important as the public space size-wise). The hotels are designed in a sorta industrial chic look, with enough comfy pockets for you to nestle into. They mix high-end furnishings with low-end services, meaning you get Italian designer chairs but not a concierge. This is how they manage to keep their uber-cool properties at a reasonable rate: in Winnipeg we’re talking $149 per night, every night.
While ALT Hotels all share a certain style, each ALT Hotel that opens has some unique features that make it its own, and the ALT Winnipeg – just opened two weeks ago – is no exception and we’re digging what we’re seeing.
If you want to see what we're seeing, go to the photo gallery!
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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!
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Originally opened as the Hotel Bellevue in the oldie days of 1875, the Park Weggis hotel (part of Swiss Deluxe Hotels) – on Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne – has definitely renovated since that time. One of its latest renos, completed in 2007 (they also renovated some rooms in the main building in 2011), was to add ten uber-modern Adara Suites and this is where our story starts.
Many of the luxury hotels in Switzerland are beautiful, yes, but tend to lean towards a more traditional elegance. What strikes us about these suites, which brings the room count up to 52 at this boutique Relais & Chateaux property, is their modernity.
We stayed in an Adara Deluxe Junior Suite – the Adara ones come in Deluxe Junior Suites and then Suites – which was about 70 sq m (750 sq ft) and we’ll tell ya, the green-tinged black marble bathroom took up about half of that space. If your idea of relaxing is to set your one-touch mood lighting to “evening,” hang out in the deep soaking tub in the middle of your bathroom with a glass of prosecco, and then shower under the Dornbracht Bigrain rain shower using the Bulgari Red Tea toiletries (surprisingly hard to come by and, in case you’re wondering, we did take them home with us), then this is the luxe crash pad for you.
There are so many more pics in the photo gallery!
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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!
The mid century lifestyle is alive and well at Hotel Sax in Prague. Yeah baby!
The mid century lifestyle is alive and well at Hotel Sax in Prague. Yeah baby!
Alas, all good things must eventually come to an end, as the final season of Mad Men launches its last seven episodes. Brilliant writing, directing and acting aside, the show was a well-researched time capsule of mid century design, right down to the frying pan.
But don’t be sad. Though we say goodbye to Donald Draper’s world, there’s a great big world of mid century-inspired hotels to satisfy our endless thirst for cool.
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When you walk into some hotels you immediately get a sense of place, as if the hotel “fits.” This is most impressive when it’s a contemporary hotel, and such is the case with The Town House Company’s Blythswood Square hotel.
Opened in November 2009 in the former Royal Scottish Automobile Club building from 1823, this 100-room hotel has an elegant, modern décor with plenty of shout-outs to its past.
Leading the interior design was Jim Hamilton of Glasgow-based Graven Images and, while many of the fancy architectural details have been preserved, modern bespoke furniture, lighting and textiles ensure the property is au courant.
We’re particularly fond of the lighting in the restaurant: dramatic black-shaded hanging lamps with vintage photo interiors of classic cars and drivers. And then there's the striking scarlet-red banquettes that you see as soon as you walk into the lobby that go with the scarlet lights that hang in the front windows, both features a hearkening back to the days of yore when Blythswood Square (the square, not the hotel) was Glasgow’s red light district.
Tons o' pics in the photo gallery!
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Ottawa, Canada's grand dame, The Fairmont Château Laurier may be redecorating its guest rooms, but all is very well and as original as possible throughout the historic public rooms of the hotel.
From the indoor, art deco pool to the Yousef Karsh portraits (most famously of Winston Churchill) in the Reading Room, the Château Laurier seeks to preserve all the little details, as well as the grandiose, and serves in places as a kind of time capsule to the days of its 1912 opening (which sadly coincided with the sinking of the Titanic, an event which claimed the life of the man who commissioned the hotel built, Grand Trunk Railway president Charles Melville Hays).
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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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In July 2013 the Shelborne Hotel in South Beach closed down in order to renovate the entire property (which was very much needed). It opened again at the end of September 2014 as the Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach with relatively little fanfare, so we’re going to toot its horn a little bit because, during a recent stay, we quite liked this 200-room property.
Designed by two very different designers – Meg Sharpe, who did the public and commercial spaces, and Richard Mishaan, who created the rooms and meeting spaces – the hotel has a sort of Jekyll and Hyde quality that, strangely, works together to create an Art Deco beauty.
First some history to give you context on the design. The building was constructed in the 1940s and embellished in the 1950s, when the Moderne Style of Art Deco was in fashion. Think glamorous streamlined design, with shiny metallic surfaces and a focus on the new, modern transportation design in cars, airplanes and trains. Both designers have worked to bring this particular era to life, albeit each with a distinctive flair.
Richard’s rooms are bolder in both color and pattern, with deep ocean blue furniture and rugs offset against stark white or mirrored furnishings. You’d think the heavily patterned wall coverings and lamp shades would throw the whole design into chaos, but it keeps the space oddly invigorating. Rooms have 46” Interactive Smart Samsung TVs with mobile connectivity, iPhone docking stations, Frette linens and private label bath amenities in a calendula scent.
Have a look at the Photo Gallery to see an Oceanfront Balcony room as well as a Partial Ocean View King, plus all of the public spaces!
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Tripadvisor reviews haven't been very kind to Ottawa, Canada's historic Fairmont Château Laurier in recent years. The popular sentiment seems to be "time for a major renovation" and, luckily enough, that's exactly what the hotel has in mind. Better than that actually; the Château Laurier is in the midst of such a renovation of the guest rooms, replacing the former "grandma's guest bedroom" aesthetic with something much more modern, fresh, and bright.
Redecorated rooms finally offer lots of power outlets (including a desk with built-in console and bedside table lamps with outlets), Nespresso coffee makers and a variety of Fairmont proprietary tea blends, and bathrooms are equipped with both an ultra-flattering light-up mirror and a makeup mirror, not to mention toiletries from Le Labo's Rose 31 collection.
Only a small number of the hotel's 429 guest rooms have been redecorated with the fresher look, so guests should request one during booking or, at the very latest, during check-in.