The New Retro-Glam: Sunken Lounge, Pool Bar + Connie Open at JFK’s New TWA Hotel

 

 

You won’t find NYC’s coolest new cocktail spot in Williamsburg or the West Village this summer. Rather, it’s all the way out in Queens, at the just opened – and most hotly anticipated – TWA Hotel  at JFK International.

Yes indeed, you will find the cognoscenti hanging at the airport this summer, as the stunningly revived Eero Saarinen-designed masterpiece that was his 1962 Trans World Airlines Terminal now houses not one, but three new venues from hospitality hotshots Gerber Group – who forever changed the way we think about and drink at hotel bars starting with The Whiskey at the Paramount back in 1991. But it’s these latest jetsetter jumpoffs that are decisively setting tongues a-wagging.

“Operating The Sunken Lounge, The Pool Deck, and Connie at TWA Hotel is an incredible opportunity, and we’re thrilled to bring each of these unique concepts to life in their own way,” says Scott Gerber, Principal and CEO of Gerber Group. “The millions of guests from around the world, as well as locals who join us, can expect the exceptional service, cocktails and bites we’re known for, infused with a sense of history and discovery.”

Meticulously restored by Beyer Blinder Belle architects, the terminal’s additional two brand new hotel wings boast a total of 512 rooms. So one can imagine there will be no shortage of well-turned-out guests seeking that perfect Bond-style martini, perhaps a Pink Squirrel, or some or other sexy cocktail throwback to the Jet Age.

Here’s what to expect.

 

 

The Pool Bar & Observation Deck

It boasts a 63-by-20-foot infinity edge pool (turned heated pool-cuzzi in colder months) with unparalleled views of multiple JFK runways. Must Order: a Mile High Spritz to complement those rooftop pool vibes.

The Sunken Lounge

It decisively reignites the magic of Eero Saarinen’s landmark 1962 TWA Flight Center, restored as a particularly glamorous lobby bar, in dazzling retro red and white. Must Order: the Come Fly With Me, inspired by Frank Sinatra’s 1958 album cover and garnished with a rainbow of swizzle sticks modeled after TWA’s original set.

Connie

One of only four Lockheed Constellation L-1649A’s left in the world, it transports you all the way back to 1958. Step onto the tarmac and aboard her renovated cabin, where vintage-inspired cocktails flow and snacks are served with a sunny smile. Must Order: an Aviation, of course – but between sips don’t forget to stop by the cockpit to check out the original authentic controls.

 

SoFi-Chic: Urbanica The Meridian Hotel is Miami’s Laidback House of Style

 

After many an escape to the heat of Miami from a curiously cold New York spring, we’ve developed a bit of a magic city routine that inevitably involves strolls along the beach promenade, shopping on Lincoln Road, and many a bevvy at one of the plush hotels that line Collins Ave. More recent trips, however, have had us upending said routine by venturing into parts unknown – like our recent introduction to SoFi, South Beach’s Tribeca-shaped southernmost wedge between 5th Street and the ocean.

5th St is a natural demarcation line between the hard-partying Ocean Drive scene to its north, where Lummus Park starts, and the more subdued residential area to the south. And we were happy not to have to share its quiet streets with the throngs of shell-shocked tourists and questionably attired locals one finds in the trenches of SoBe.

 

 

We were staying at the perfectly situated Urbanica The Meridian Hotel, a minimalist oasis that reflects the dialed-down vibe of the neighborhood.

Cheeky though it was, we were quietly delighted when the Meridian’s fashionably bearded concierge greeted us with a salutation of “welcome home” as we alighted curbside. The immediately proffered mojito only added to the cozy feeling. Once upstairs, the genuinely monochromatically white in décor rooms exuded a sense-depriving calm, and we indulged in some much needed down time.

 

Minibar

 

Our first evening upon us, we started at the hotel’s newly opened Minibar, a chic, mid-century-meets-tiki oasis where we downed a few of their signature cocktails, including a South Beach ‘Z’ Pack, made of tequila, mezcal, ginger and honey.

We then dared to cross 5th into the heart of SoBe for the resto-meets-nightclub (aren’t they all in Miami?) Myn-Tu, which is next door to and sister of the perpetually trendy Mynt (get it?). The neon lights and scantily dressed servers, while certainly fun, didn’t instill in us lofty gastronomic expectations; but we were delightfully surprised, feasting on lemongrass soup, jackfruit gyozas, sea bass lettuce cups, and other sublimely prepared delicacies. A post dinner drink at the formerly subdued Setai hotel surprised us, as the once quietly elegant interior courtyard had transformed into a throbbing house party. Again, the nightclub thing.

 

Myn-Tu

 

After a restful night we breakfasted on eggs and antioxidant smoothies from the Meridian’s Food Marchand in its charming courtyard, before a long, lazy day of sun and sand – especially as the hotel is just a couple of easy blocks from the beach. Walking back, we indulged in some of the best ceviche we’ve ever had at the charming My Ceviche, taking our orders next door for $3 beers at the welcoming SoBe Hostel.

That evening a jaunt across the bay to Wynwood took more energy than we had counted on, as the once (okay, maybe quite awhile ago) off-the-radar boho arts district has recently become SoBe West, with an inordinate number of new security controlled club/bars/restos, and the throngs of partyers they tend to attract.

 

Sophie’s

 

We were curious to check out the new Yucatan influenced encampment Proyecto Tulum, which boasts not only food and drinks inspired by the Mexican resort town, but art, design, music, and even culture from the same. Strolling the sizable outdoor space from one individual area to the next did indeed remind us of the magical ancient Mayan town to the south.

Back in the dramatically chiller SoFi, we walked the deserted streets to the back-alley entrance of new club Sophie’s (get it?). Reflecting its dialed-down location the space eschews Miami’s typical blingtasticness for a more downtown cool, even ’90s-ish ambience. The LL Cool J and Pulp soundtrack only reinforced its cultural cred. We were starting to feel at home at SoFi.

Of course, real home was soon calling, and after another fabulous breakfast at The Meridian, we made our way to Miami International. But in a town we thought we knew so well, we were excited to have made a new neighborhood discovery, one we were eager to get to know better.

 

Après-Ski Season: A Rather Sophisticated Springtime in Vermont – Part 2, Burlington

Shaksbury & Co at The Soda Plant

 

 

Part I of our latest Vermont story, covered Manchester; and now we’re off to Burlington…

 

The ridiculously scenic drive from Manchester to Burlington is genuinely like traveling back in time; and, at any point, you might be the only car on the road. Along the way we took in the soaring mountain vistas, stopped at roadside farm stands for fresh-picked produce, and found quirky treasures at village antique shops.

It helped that Land Rover was kind enough to loan us a Range Rover Sport Hybrid PHEV to get us there in style. While the vehicle isn’t yet available in the U.S., its agile handling and luxurious feel are the familiar hallmarks of Land Rover’s entire range of SUVs.

Of course, there is obviously legendary skiing up this way. But spring is turning to summer soon, and ours was a much more epicurean mission.

Here’s how it all went.

 

Philo Ridge Farm

This working farm has been in operation since the 1840s, and has evolved as a community gathering place and a model for regenerative agriculture, with its own research and education center. Its market offers farm-produced meats, cheeses, and other local items and sells a seasonal shortlist of home made soups, salads, pizzas, and sandwiches on site. We ordered the better-than-Thanksgiving freshly sliced turkey breast with cranberry mustard on house-made Pullman bread, savory herb-flecked chicken salad, and gooey Vermont grilled cheese – we were definitely not disappointed. Oh, and make sure you visit Odyssey and his llama pals for an Insta-worthy selfie.

 

 

Foam Brewers

As we traveled the route from Charlotte to Burlington, we felt ourselves being pulled back into the 21st century. The University of Vermont’s sprawling campus welcomes visitors into Vermont’s largest city, and offers a hint at its vibrant culture. Once in town, all roads lead to the Lake Champlain waterfront and the striking Adirondack mountain range bordering it to the west. We stretched our legs with a stroll around the waterfront and popped into the celebrated Foam Brewers on Lake Street to see what was on tap that day, check out some local music, and chill on its patio.
Named among the best new brewers in the nation by Beer Advocate, RateBeer, and Men’s Journal, Foam offers a rotating selection that varies by season and inspiration. We tried the Mythological Beauty, a lavender-hued fruited sour beer with notes of blueberry, coconut, and lemon, as well as Nightmares on Wax, a modern white IPA with notes of vanilla, spice, and citrus.

 

 

Juniper

We checked into the appropriately monikered Hotel Vermont, and as happens, its Juniper restaurant also focuses on locally-crafted spirits and home-grown provisions that drive the menu. For dinner, we started by nibbling on roasted carrots with pistachio hummus and buttermilk crumble and Maple Wind Farm chicken drumsticks with spicy house-made sauce. For entrées, the seasonal gnocchi specials are highly coveted (ours featured chevre gnocci with sunchokes and caramelized Brussels sprouts, but the new spring version is filled with fresh spring peas and other first-comers from the garden).
But fall-apart-tender was the grilled pork belly served on a bed of creamy polenta with a dollop of tomato jam. Insider tip: You can ask for local wine pairings from Shelburne Vineyards or celebrated Vermont winemaker Krista Scruggs of ZAFA wines. But if you’re in the mood for a cocktail, their drinks alchemists boast a menu of inspired tipples crafted from local distillations – for a refreshing twist on a gin and tonic, we tried the Business Thyme, featuring Barr Hill Gin, lime, honey, and, of course, thyme. A seat on the outside on the patio and promises breathtaking views of sunset over Lake Champlain.
Come the weekend, we started the day with the hotel’s in-house yoga classes…though a refreshing run along the waterfront before settling down to brunch at Juniper meant we didn’t have to regret ordering the decadent Red Flannel Hash (grass-fed corned beef, beets, potatoes, topped with two golden-yolked eggs) and the savory mushroom tartine oozing with creamy Spring Brook Tarentaise cheese. Safe to say we also made a selection from their Bloody Mary Bar, and we went as spicy as possible.

 

The Soda Plant

Before the day was up, we made a stop at the city’s South End, a former industrial area emerging as a galvanizing point for artists and young entrepreneurs. The Soda Plant is, as we had guessed, a former soda factory space that has been transformed as a collective for small, upstart businesses. Brio Coffeeworks has a space, both roasting and selling their beans; CO-Cellars is a winery and tasting room, a collaboration between the founders of Shaksbury hard ciders and Krista Scruggs of ZAFA wines. The space is used for active fermentation, experimentation, and an open-to-the-public tasting room – and we highly recommend stocking up on their rosé cider before you depart.
Other forms of fermentation can be found at Pitchfork Farm & Pickle, which, sure, is one big hipsterriffic cliché – but they will literally pickle anything from butternut squash and carrots to classics such as Bavarian-style sauerkraut and Korean kimchi, if that’s your thing. After you’re done with all that tasting, stroll through a few of the art galleries, jewelry makers, and other intriguing independent shops.

 

 

Hotel Vermont

Although Burlington isn’t lacking in good, atmospheric hotels, the Hotel Vermont is a more contemporary choice, sleek and modern, but with rustic design touches and a welcoming atmosphere. Perfectly located between the Church Street shopping and entertainment hub and the waterfront, the five-year-old hotel has become central to the character of the community and is a staunch supporter of Burlington’s groundswell of emerging businesses. From the architecture to the food and beverage program, almost everything is sourced locally – including the in-room coffee mugs created by a Burlington-based potter and the coffee served in them, from award-winning Burlington roaster Brio Coffeeworks. Urbane rooms feature patterned carpets, warm woods and stylishly muted color schemes.

 

Three Scottish Recommends For a Perfect ‘World Whisky Day’

 

 

 

Most people are familiar with the locally made bourbons and whiskeys stacked behind every preeningly hip new bar – at least since the first hipsteriffic vinyl record shop opened somewhere in Brooklyn. Yet while whiskey and Scotch whisky may sound, and look, somewhat similar, the differences will actually astound – and are steeped in centuries of tradition.

There are at least 128 Scotch whisky distilleries spread across the relatively small country of Scotland (it could fit into the U.S. 127 times), and an estimated 20 million casks maturing in assorted warehouses. Like any national treasure there are strict guidelines to claim the distinction; the spirit must mature, for instance, in oak casks in Scotland for at least three years.

Scotland, and the world, will celebrate World Whisky Day this Saturday, May 18. If you’re in New York, we’d recommend pulling up a barstool at the classy gastropub Highlands in the West Village; in LA, go trad at Atwater Village’s The Morrison. And to get you properly sorted in advance, we chatted with Julie Trevisan-Hunter, marketing guru for Edinburgh’s legendary Scotch Whisky Experience, who passed along a few expert epicurean “whisky sipping tips.”

 

The Scotch Whisky Experience, Edinburgh

 

Nosing a Dram

Visit a bar with a good range and make sure you are there with good friends. Choose a different single malt Scotch each and compare and contrast the range. So much of the flavor in Scotch comes from the aroma, so you can enjoy nosing all the drams.

Straight vs. Cocktails

Generally blended Scotch whisky is made for mixing in cocktails and long drinks; whereas single malt Scotch is for slow sipping straight or with water.  Single malt always benefits from at least a tiny drop of water to “open it up.”

Price Isn’t Everything

Splash out, but only a little. Everyone has a different palate, but my very favorite whiskies of all time have all been between 16 and 18 years old; so for me it is worth splashing out, but not too much. You can leave the $1000 drams to someone else.

 

Stay in Edinburgh: The Balmoral

To visit The Scottish Whisky Experience in person, you’ll have to actually fly to the majestic city of Edinburgh. And you’ll want to stay at one of our favorite hotels in the world, The Balmoral. It’s got stylish rooms overlooking the castle, a Michelin-starred restaurant (Number One), and the handsome Bar Prince, which boasts a whisky selection that tops out at more than 500. A class act.

 

First Images: Blique by Nobis Hotel Opens in Stockholm

 

With winter but a memory and summer beckoning, Stockholm returns to its most glorious state of being. Meaning, of course, warm enough for an extended visit. And nothing tempts us to a destination like a brilliant new hotel.

And so it is that we are now eagerly looking forward to our first visit to the new Blique by Nobis (a member of Design Hotels). Located where the up-and-coming Hagastadan district meets the Vasastaden quarter (oh, how we love the names of Swedish neighborhoods), its manifesto of sorts has to do with acting as a galvanizing force for the local creative scene. It doesn’t hurt one bit that it’s housed in a 1930s Functionalist masterpiece, by exalted architect Sigurd Lewerentz.

The Nobis Hospitality Group (who boast additional hotels in Stockholm and Copenhagen) brought in modern master Gert Wingårdh, whose signature “high organic” style decisively guided the design of the space. Concrete and exposed piping live in harmony with more tactile materials like leather, oak, wool and velvet, resulting in an “all the comforts of home” feeling – if, that is, your home had been designed by Corbusier. An Italophile touch comes by way of select furnishings by De Padova.

 

 

The 249 rooms exude warmth, despite an ideological lack of embellishment; the industrial grey palette actually comes off surprisingly inviting. And the white Terrazzo-flecked-with-amber in the bathrooms palpably nods to elements of nature.

The scene? On the ground floor, the open-plan lobby and Origo Bar invite socializing, music and visual arts programming, which will be a regular feature. When the belly grumbles, descend the stairs to Boketto, where a Euro-Asian menu is complemented by Neapolitan pizzas and Scandi-rustic surrounds. Soon to follow is the Arc Rooftop, where you can soak up the beauty of Stockholm over a sophisticated tipple.

Walking distance from the hotel is a favorite of ours, the Carl Eldh Studio Museum, which contains hundreds of works by the classically influenced 20th Century sculptor. Yet one more great reason to check in.

 

 

From Colonial to Gatsbyesque: These Are Singapore’s Best Bars

Atlas Bar 

 

 

The thirst is real in Singapore and fortunately for us, salvation comes in spirited liquid form. For visitors and locals alike, the world is paying attention to this “little red dot” and its magnetic mixology; in fact, with a quick perusal of the World’s 50 Best Bars – you’ll see it right up there with New York, London, and Tokyo.

Certainly, the cocktail culture here is a fledgling creature and is just beginning to spread its wings, but in under seven years, what started within buzzing hotel bars has spread like sippable wildfire out onto the streets.

 

Raffles Long Bar

 

It’s drinking culture might best be compared to Singlish, the country’s local lingo. While English is the primary language, it’s laced with colloquial expressions that are pulled from the multicultural mix of its residents, which include Cantonese, Hokkien, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil speaking people. Like Singlish, the country’s cocktails reflect this pride for heritage, but are crafted with an international appeal.

At the moment, this Southeast Asian land of contrasts offers a handful of excellent bars that reflect a collision of East and West, resulting in sexy swaggering sips with a nerdy vigor. Proof of its tippling status, Singapore plays host to Asia’s 50 Best Bar Awards on May 9th.

From a recent bar hopping visit, here are some of our faves.

 

Native

A champion of all things local, foraging and showcasing the pride of Southeast Asian ingredients and products in liquid form. Bar founder Vijay Mudaliar melds together his mad-scientist methodologies, worldly wanderlusting, and homages to local culture within each cocktail. Indicative of this is the Peranakan, inspired by its namesake people – local rum is infused with gula melaka, laksa leaf, jackfruit and candlenut for the beverage component. Meanwhile the garnish draws inspiration from the beloved Kueh Salat dessert, where Mudaliar and his team use the leftover goat milk curdle produced from the drink, then cook it down with blue pea flower, coconut water and pandan. A buxom lozenge is formed which is dangled atop the glass and given a rainshower of jackfruit shavings.

 

 

Jigger and Pony

Recently made the move to its new home at the Amara Hotel. Bar manager Jerrold Khoo and his team’s core philosophy is to offer “classic cocktails and convivial hospitality” but with a “revised and forward-thinking craft.” Imbibing indulgences run the gamut of your classic whisky highball and old-fashioned to Asian-artistry twists such as the Jungle Bird and Yokohama. Our preferred poison is the Yuzu Whiskey Sour, a new addition to the menu, it sees Bulleit Bourbon make a splash with yuzu marmalade, St. Germain, lemon, all topped with clouds of egg white.

Atlas 

Imagine if Bruce Wayne and Jay Gatsby had a lovechild. Brimming with spectacular grandeur, it’s housed within the iconic Parkview Square building in the historic Bugis neighborhood, where hipster meets heritage. From the sprawling ceiling murals to the marble statues, it’s all jaw-dropping opulence. And then there are the spirits that line the “library” shelves and practically reach the Heavens. You could peruse for hours and not make a dent in Atlas’ collection of over 50,000 bottles of fine wine and over 10,000 bottles of whiskey, the majority of which are rare and vintage globetrotting finds. Here, you might as well go for broke and select the Vintage Martini, with gin from the decade of your choice (as far back as the 1910s). It’s a history lesson of inspired imbibing proportions.

 

 

Tippling Club

Considered to be one of the forefathers of paving the path to cocktail connoisseur glory in Singapore. Lead bartender Andrew Loudon offers an aromatically themed menu based around the novel Perfume. For him, smells seduce the senses and are often strongly intertwined with memories. For instance, Frangipani & Salt is like a midsummer night’s dream – inspired by Marine Accord, Frangipani and Sandalwood oil, the cocktail itself is laced with artichoke, elderflower, grapefruit, and prosecco – this bubbly, refreshing number is the kind of creation you’d linger over on the patio with friends.

28 HongKong Street

Where it all started, this inimitable bar, in what once was a quiet, unassuming neighborhood, has ignited a transformation in the area. And yet it still lies behind a nondescript “blink and you’ll miss it” entryway. If you succeed in finding it, you’re rewarded with a seductive space replete with a wall of curated fine spirits by The Proof Collective. An international flair mingles with a charmed Singaporean hospitality. Drinks are an homage to pivotal hip-hop geography, and include America’s East Coast, West Coast, Dirty South, and the Midwest. From the Dirty South, try the Three Stacks, a take on a Dirty Martini and inspired by André 3000; and like him, the drink is bold, spirit-driven and fresh, employing Rutte Celery Gin and Mancino Secco Vermouth, singing with citrus and spice, and finished with clarified kale oil to keep things interesting.

 

Tanjong Beach Club

Located on Singapore’s southern coast is Sentosa Island, where life’s a perpetual beach. When you’re greeted with year-round suntans and endless sweaty summer shenanigans, what’s not to love? Drinks by the ocean round out the R&R, and are replete with a fruity flair – all courtesy of flavors and ingredients sourced from the region. The Malyan Mai Tai is indicative, and a tantalizing taste of the tropics: house-infused rum mingles with lime, curaçao, orgeat and finished with their secret blend of pandan.

Idlewild

The newly opened retroluxe spot inside the Intercontinental Hotel. Named for the former moniker of the now John F. Kennedy International Airport, the bar pays homage to a bygone Mad Men era and the golden age of air travel. In fact, Head of Operations and Creative, Andy Griffiths, explains that the menu is inspired by the first commercial Transatlantic Flight in the 1940s. Ten cities along the Transatlantic Route are featured, with each drink telling tales of adventure and celebrating exciting journeys of venturing to unknown exotic lands. A favorite is a (liquid) trip to Casablanca with the Berbere Smash, which sees Rebel Yell Small Batch reserve bourbon infused with mint tea syrup, cardamom bitters, and preserved lemon. Moroccan magic in a glass.

 

 

Junior the Pocket Bar

The space is reincarnated every six months with a theme in mind to honor specific sippable art forms. Currently, it’s in the Pacifica phase, nodding to all things tropical escapism. The tiny, hidden bar is now a Polynesian-paradise, complete with palm trees, thatched roofs, ceremonial masks, and ample doses of kitsch for good measure. Tiki tipples include progressive potions, the classics, and everything in-between. For a “contemporary classic,” try the Zombie, conceived by Don the Beachcomber back in the heyday of Tiki culture, using a potent mixture of Aged Demerara, Rich Venezuela, & Overproof Rums. It’s then given some levity with citrus, grapefruit, lime, and rounded off with sweet falernum and warm spices from Don’s Mix #2. And ceremoniously to invoke the Tiki spirit, it’s set ablaze right before serving.

Cook & Tras Social Library Bar

Situated on the ground floor of the new Six Senses Maxwell’s hotel, French designer Jacques Garcia has transformed a former nutmeg plantation and its colonial buildings into a lively, gracious space, complete with a collection of over 3,000 curated book titles for rent. It’s only rivaled by mixologist Ricky Paiva’s cocktail compendium. Of the concise list, we recommend the tartly refreshing Cougar Paw, where Bombay Dry Gin plays nice with Cava, lime, mint, all topped with frothy meringue.

 

The Long Bar

In the Raffles Hotel, famous for none other than the creation of the Singapore Sling. In the 1900s, ladies drinking alcohol was considered positively scandalous – until this game changing drink arrived. Masquerading as a seemingly harmless “fruit punch,” the potent concoction was a deviously delicious creation created by Ngiam Tong Boon, who paved the way for women to “have fun” while still appearing “socially acceptable.” Today, it makes at least 1,000 Singapore Slings a day, with both men and women passing through the bar’s doors to taste this historic tipple. The formula for fun here includes pineapple and lime juices, curaçao, Bénédictine, grenadine and cherry liqueur.

MO Bar

The new bar at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore is more than just a looker. With its sleek, contemporary decor, it overlooks the sparkling waters of Marina Bay. Inspired by the Pacific Ocean, Asia’s trading ports, and the travelers that sailed between worlds, Bar Manager Michele Mariotti has crafted fourteen cocktails to reflect the theme of the exploratory nomad and myths of Southeast Asia. The showstopping Mother of Dragons is a must-order here, with a mid-ranged potency, and graced with strawberry aloe vera, berry juice and dragon cachaça.

 

 

Capital C: The New Conrad Washington DC Hotel Wows Beyond Expectations

 

When the DC Cool campaign was launched a few years back, you could readily understand where it was coming from. Like Brussels, the city has a reputation as a starchy, administrative capital. But in some ways, it also kind of missed the point of what people come here for.

“Cool,” of course, has little meaning these days anyway (hipsters look exactly the same in Copenhagen as they do in Colorado) – and the city always had a great music scene. But what many of us visit DC for is a sense of gravitas, a feeling that this is a place where the fate of the world teeters. You can veritably feel it in the air here.

So an invite to the opening of the new Conrad Washington DC flagship received a swift RSVP from us – as it seemed for everything like a hotel that would live up to both the grandeur of the capital and the style ethos of the brand. We proceeded to camp out for a few days and take in a newly burgeoning downtown (including hipsteriffic cocktail spot Service Bar, and the spectacular restaurant Succotash, serving modern Southern cooking in neo-classical surrounds), which decisively laid to rest any of those old cliches about the city’s fustiness.

Here’s what we loved.

 

The Design

A spectacular glass masterpiece by Herzog & de Meuron, with interiors by Houston’s venerable Rottet Studio (they’ve worked with the considerable likes of Richard Meier, Renzo Piano, Foster & Partners). The interior space is all curvy and sensual, yet also remarkable clean and airy. Light floods in and seems to reflect and dazzle at every turn, and the proportions are sublimely realized. As Rottet founder Lauren Rottet puts it, “People really do want surprise and good design.” And that’s precisely what she gave them here.

The Rooms

An extension of the sleek but not at all frigid aesthetic of the public spaces, the design of the conspicuously spacious sleeping chambers has a soothing yet luxurious quality about it. Understatedly plush, purposefully uncluttered, and done in muted shades of beige and white, everything about them makes for remarkable user-friendliness. And the for those of us seduced by a spectacular view, floor-to-ceiling windows frame surprisingly handsome architectural tableaux. (DC is building well downtown these days.) Tip: Book a club level room or suite and get access to the laid back but decidedly cosmopolitan Sakura Club, which is like an encapsulation of the Japanese ethos in a private DC club. Enjoy healthy breakfasts, Japanese fusion cuisine, and finish off the night with a well-chosen Japanese whiskey.

 

 

The Art

Yes, every luxe hotel wants to boast about its art collection these days. But the Conrad DC didn’t just assemble a showy patchwork of who’s who in contemporary art. Rather, they commissioned mostly local artists to create, as curator and Tatar Projects founder Judith Tatar explains it, “site specific works around three narratives: Soft Power, Urban Symmetry and The Washington Color School” – which gives the art an in situ context (like a Caravaggio hanging in an actual church). Look for highlights by DC artist Matthew Langley.

Hirshhorn Museum

A short skip from the Conrad is DC’s eminent museum of modern and contemporary art, housed in a listed 1971 building by Gordon Bunshaft. The collection is marquee, with works by Picasso, de Kooning, Rothko, Pollock, Calder, Francis Bacon and Jeff Koons. While the ethereal Sculpture Garden boasts pieces by the likes of Rodin and Yayoi Kusama, and invites moments of thoughtful contemplation in a busy urban center. Mark Bradford’s monumental installation Pickett’s Charge forwards a thought-provoking narrative on a turning point in the American Civil War – don’t miss it.

 

 

CityCenter

The metro DC area tended to push its high-end shopping out to places like Tyson’s Corner, VA. But the massive undertaking that has been the new CityCenter has attracted a jaw-dropping list of iconic fashion houses. Indeed, Bulgari, Burberry, Dior, Gucci, Vuitton, Ferragamo, and even Zadig & Voltaire have all set up shop here, making it the new luxury and style epicenter of the capital. The dining options are also marquee, with Momofuku / Milk Bar, DBGB Kitchen & Bar, and Fig & Olive all sating the local and international cognoscenti. Though we particularly love Centrolina’s rustic Italian vibe, with its handmade pastas and impressive to-go market. Don’t forget to stop in for a coffee and seasonal gelato at DC fave Dolcezza.

Tiffany

Okay, right – how many occasions do you actually have to shop at Tiffany? But this light-flooded, 5000 square foot beauty veritably attached to the hotel might just inspire countless monogrammed shopping sprees, as it just feels so lovely being here. The glass facade houses some surprises, including an exclusive, and quite spectacular Tiffany Blue chandelier, and a mini-museum of historical Presidential artifacts. Watching their stylish staff engrave an item in your name is a one-of-a-kind experience. Obviously.

 

 

Summit Rooftop Bar

It won’t be opening until late May (we were able to get a sneak peek), but the Conrad’s rooftop venue will be one of the most breathtaking in the city. Snaking around the outside of the 17th floor of the hotel, it takes in the stateliness of the surrounding edifices – but the view also stretches on to some of DC’s most iconic buildings. Expect it to be quite a scene this summer.

Estuary

Outside of those who go crab-wild every season, we’re not sure the monumental Chesapeake Bay has ever been given its proper due regarding its edible bounty. But brothers Brian and Michael Voltaggio have paid it glorious tribute with Estuary, their stylish new restaurant and bar at the Conrad. Sunlit through wraparound, 360 floor-to-ceiling windows, and done up in a cool minimalism, the place just beams with possibility and promise. And the menu overwhelms with delightful surprises: octopus with kelp pasta, whitefish Milanese, cedar planked salmon, kale rigatoni and lamb pastrami, all exceedingly artistically presented. The Maryland crab roll is already an Instagram fave.

 

Stunning New Hotel Alert: The Kazerne Opens in Eindhoven

 

 

Though we have enthusiastically discovered the stylish pleasures of Maastricht, and the architecturally daring Rotterdam, it remains a fact that Amsterdam still lords over the Dutch tourism scene to a decisive degree.

But these days Eindhoven is often referred to as The Netherlands’ coolest destination. And in 2018, it was named an “Innovation City” by The Guardian. It is also home to the venerable Design Academy Eindhoven, and fittingly plays eager host to the annual Dutch Design Week.

And now it at last has a hotel that lives up to those lofty aesthetic ambitions. Newly opened on a quiet corner of the De Bergen district, the Kazerne (a member of Design Hotels) is actually housed in a former barracks – and even retains a bit of that military vibe. Proprietors Annemoon Geurts and Koen Rijnbeek teamed up with noted figures on the Dutch design scene, like Maarten Baas, Studio Drift, and Studio Formafantasma, to create what they refer to as “a tapestry of juxtaposition.” The interiors are a fusion of exclusive and inclusive, playing with high and low, dark and light, old and new, all against a primarily black-and-white color palette. There are also featured pieces by the likes of Kiki van Eijk, Daphna Laurens, and David Derksen.

 

 

And with just eight rooms and suites, these will be some of the most coveted beds in town – especially the spectacular 140 square meter Penthouse Loft, with its eight-seat dining table and dramatically beamed ceiling. The sleek Palais Loft looks on to a striking glass atrium.

But the Kazerne is very much a social affair, with its industrial-chic namesake restaurant serving up contemporary Italian classics – linguini with sea fruit, pecorino flan, vitello tonnato – in a moody/sexy, Corbusian-like space, plus a wine bar, and a gallery with regularly rotating design exhibitions.

The aforementioned Dutch Design Week will take place this year from October 19th to the 27th – so start making plans for an autumn Netherlands visit – and book into the Kazerne…now.

 

London, Paris Head List of Allianz Global Top 20 Euro Destinations

Above, London

 

 

With all due respect to Asia, Africa, and those other four wonderful continents, we’d pretty much always rather be in Europe. We’re not alone in this, as 2018 saw the visits to EU member nations rise by 2%. Some cities, like Amsterdam and Barcelona, are actually struggling to deal with too much tourism.

A new report by Allianz Global, a top travel insurance and assistance firm, has just revealed Europe’s most popular 20 destinations for Americans this summer – and no surprise, London and Paris are at the top. Though we were a bit surprised to learn that the former’s numbers were nearly double the latter’s. (Maybe everyone’s trying to visit before Brexit turns Britain into a backwater?) Still and all, do not expect the fire at Notre Dame to significantly affect Paris’ visitor count.

 

Musee du Louvre, Paris

 

There were some real surprises, with Reykjavik coming in at third, Lisbon shooting up to the 10th spot, Manchester sneaking its way on to the list, and both Copenhagen and Florence not making it at all.

“While major cities like London and Paris remain popular,” says Allianz representative Daniel Durazo, “we see travelers going beyond the traditional in recent years, exploring lesser-known destinations like Manchester.”

The survey analyzed trips planned for May 25 through September 3, 2019. Here’s the whole list.

 

1 – London, 25%
2 – Paris, 13.3%
3 – Reykjavik, 12.3%
4 – Dublin, 6.8%
5 – Rome, 4.6%
6 – Amsterdam, 4.2%
7 – Barcelona, 3.7%
8 – Edinburgh, 3.3%
9 – Madrid, 3.1%
10 – Lisbon, 2.7%
11 – Milan, 2%
12 – Athens, 1.9%
13 – Nice, 1.5%
14 – Zurich, 1.5%
15 – Frankfurt, 1.4%
16 – Prague, 1.1%
17 – Manchester, 1.1%
18 – Venice, 1%
19 – Brussels, 1%
20 – Munich, .9%

 

Reykjavik