BlackBook Exclusive: Soulful French Singer Jean Castel’s Bordeaux Favorites

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He decamped to Los Angeles in 2014 to make a go of a music career (after studying at Berklee) – but upstart French singer Jean Castel was actually born and raised in the storied French city of Bordeaux.

An obviously burgeoning songwriting talent, he’s cultivated such towering influences as Michael Jackson and The Beatles into a melody-driven nu-soul sound, perfectly encapsulated in his debut single “What Happened to Us.” With his expressive vocal delivery and clever way with a lyrical couplet – “You only laugh when he calls you / You’re only nice when he comes through” – the song is a paradigm of contemporary pop, with obvious nods to the chart fare of the ’70s and ’80s.

His debut EP, Orange & Yellow, will be released sometime this winter.

Back to his illustrious hometown…though the name has long been associated more with the region and its exalted wines, the city itself is a glory of 18th Century architectural grandiosity (as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site). And after decades of neglect, it has seen a dramatic renewal over the last ten years or so.

There are many things that I love about Bordeaux,” he enthuses, “from the architecture to the food, the air, the scent and the memories. This is where I fell in love with music, where pretty much my whole family lives. The diversity of landscapes and how close the mountains and the beach are to the city. It’s a place that still and will probably always feel like home, and I can still find inspiration when I’m there.”

We asked him to talk us around to some of his fave places there.

 

Jean Castel’s Bordeaux Favorites

Baillardran

This is the best canelé maker in the world. Canelé is a small pastry flavored with rum and vanilla, with a soft and tender custard center and a dark, thick caramelized crust – and originally from Bordeaux. They get pretty expensive, but I could eat tons of them. Baillardran has been holding the torch since I discovered them. 

 

rue Sainte Catherine

Love going on a walk with friends or by myself down this street. There’s always tons of people, it is the second biggest pedestrian street in Europe, I believe (1.2 km) – so it definitely gets really busy, and my thoughts always get lost when I’m there. I just love watching people be people, laughing, being in a hurry, being happy, drunk or focused. It’s filled with shops, bars, restaurants, so you definitely can spend a whole afternoon there and not realize it’s already 8pm.

 

 

Bordeaux’s Vineyards

The best wine comes from Bordeaux. We all know that. But getting to see the vineyards and the castles in 3D has no price. They’re pretty much all located at the same area, which makes it easy for you to take a day, go see them, and maybe even find a lovely spot to picnic. I always love going on bike rides with my dad or by myself around them, you get to witness so much history and so much life at the same time. (N.B. these are the top Food + Wine vineyard recommends.)

 

 

Les Berthom

In this predominantly wine-focused city, come here to drink amazing beer (local, but also from Belgium, Sweden, Denmark), eat incredible gourmet food and have great conversations. It’s a very chill, warm and friendly bar. I’d recommend it also to people who would want to meet up for business purposes.

 

 

Bistro Regent

One of the best and warmest restaurants in Bordeaux. My favorite on the menu is the magret de canard (seared duck breast). They cook the it exactly how you want it to be, and also bring you homemade french fries and salad. Also, it’s only 12 Euro. Oh man.

 

NYFW Epicurean Reveal: Tulum’s Casa Violeta Will Pop-Up at The Fat Radish

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Casa Violeta 

 

It’s not always openly discussed, but we swear it’s genuinely true: fashion people need to actually eat sometimes.

Thankfully, during next month’s (and yet another) New York Fashion Week – September 6-14 -there will be a few fittingly fashionable options for achieving said sustenance with appropriate panache. Perhaps the most fab of them all, will see Tulum’s cognoscenti fave Casa Violeta popping up at NYC’s perpetually cool Fat Radish – a stylish, buzz-generating coupling if ever.

 

 

The Lower East Side hotspot – even still, after eight years and counting on Orchard Street – will be magically transformed, from September 6th through the 8th, into a replica of the Riviera Maya hotel’s breezy, beachside restaurant (sort of therapy for all those suffering from post Labor Day end-of-summer shock), complete with corresponding Italo-Mexican menu from venerated CV Exec Chef Alex Sala. This will include such health-aware but delectable delights as quinoa panzanella, zucchini carpaccio, beets risotto and, for an authentic taste of the Caribbean, lobster ravioli and paccheri w/ octopus.

Naturally, expect an analagous level of fantabulous people watching (The Fat Radish is already a fave with the likes of Taylor Swift and Liv Tyler) – which is only really significant if you plan to find yourself able to look up from the artistry sitting before you on your plate.

 

The Fat Radish

First Images: The Glamorous Mr. C Seaport Hotel Opens in Downtown NYC

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When we consider all of the so many wondrously steadfast things about contemporary Italian life, the idea of passing the family business from generation to generation is particularly endearing – especially in this age of ruthless corporate buyouts and takeovers.

One of the best examples is Cipriani, founded by the late namesake Giuseppe (1900 – 1980), with the opening of Harry’s Bar in Venice in 1931. These days, the brand adds a unique but classical sort of glamour to hospitality landscapes from Miami to Mexico City, Ibiza to Istanbul. But in 2011, family scions Maggio and Ignazio opened the forward-looking Mr. C Beverly Hills hotel to much fanfare, decisively appealing to a newer generation of upmarket traveler.

 

 

Seven years later, they’ve at last unveiled a follow up property, in the Cipriani stronghold of Manhattan. But you might be surprised by its location: perched along Peck Slip, in the formerly touristy Seaport district – which was veritably wiped out by 2012’s Hurricane Sandy. The rebuilding effort has taken it in a decidedly more la moda direction, most evidenced by the coming of the first U.S. outpost of the Milan fashion playground 10 Corso Como.

By the time that officially opens, the new Mr. C Seaport hotel will surely already be luring the style cognoscenti down below Chambers Street, with its cleanly minimalist but elegantly plush rooms, offering classy white-grey color schemes, private terraces, and breathtaking Brooklyn Bridge / East River views. But possessing of Cipriani DNA, the hotel’s urbane restaurant/bar Bellini is already cultivating a scene, with its chic, Italian-Riviera style dining room, and delicioso specialties like sea urchin crostini, bucatini cacio e pepe, veal scaloppine, and some of the best gelato in town.

Our best advice? Dress to impressionare.

 

 

 

BlackBook Exclusive: Simple Minds’ Jim Kerr on His Favorite Destinations, From Kathmandu to Kyoto

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If you visit RocksBackPages.com (the singularly brilliant site founded by revered British journalist Barney Hoskyns, which catalogues six decades of notable writing on music) and you search “Simple Minds,” you’ll find no shortage of early ’80s interviews with the band’s frontman Jim Kerr. Several of which find him going on about traveling The Continent, with an infectious mix of wide-eyed wonder and thoughtful observation. His band even released a single in 1980 titled “I Travel.”

The once experimental and now legendary Glasgow group, as is well-documented, went on to sell tens of millions of records, before settling into a couple of decades of more low-key success. Which now includes the excellent Walk Between Worlds, their 18th studio album, released earlier this year. Tracks like the atmospheric “Magic” and the chillingly anxious “The Signal and The Noise” decisively recapture the genuine essence of Simple Minds, from their remarkable ability to create expansive and evocative soundscapes, to their inimitable way with an unforgettable pop hook.

 

 

Simple Minds will launch a 32-date North American tour in Bethlehem, PA on September 24, concluding in Orlando on Armistice Day (November 11). In the lead up to once again taking to the road, we asked Mr. Kerr if he would be so kind as to enlighten us on his most beloved destinations around the world. His answers, as expected, did not disappoint.

“Being in a rock band that has had the great fortune to tour the world many times,” he enthuses, “means that I literally have visited hundreds of cities. To choose five favorites is unfortunately a task that is somewhat beyond me. After all, not only a born traveller, I’m also one that seeks out the good wherever I land. And let’s be honest, almost everywhere has something notable about it: something worth seeing and experiencing, something worth contemplating.”

He continues, “I have therefore listed five spectacular destinations that I have turned up in whenever I have had a week or so break in the normal scheduled touring circuit. Those breaks allowed me to excitedly venture ‘off piste’ from the world’s major centers…and all presented sights and experiences I still dream about.”

 

 

Jim Kerr’s Top Destinations

Petra, Jordan

Some years ago, I did a seven day desert trek in Jordan. Sleeping out under the stars that shone like the shiniest steel, while cozying up next to the heat of the Bedouin campfires is a memory that will always live on. The highlight though was undoubtedly descending into Petra, on foot, on the morning of our last day’s trekking – described both poetically and accurately as “the rose-red city, half as old as time.” Words don’t come easy in trying to explain the sensation of setting foot in this historic wonder of the world. You would really need to experience Petra, and the sensation of traveling on the ancient Silk Road, all for yourself.

 

 

Kathmandu, Nepal

Enchanted by Salman Rushdie’s novel Midnight’s Children, I became obsessed by the desire to visit India back in 1982. The magic realism that sets the backdrop to much of his epic tale, also seemed to permeate the air in many of the Indian cities I subsequently visited. Most of all Jaipur.
When an intended visit to the Kashmir region was deemed to be unsafe due to the local, violent, political clashes, instead I boarded a rickety and ancient looking airplane, and sat nervously as we took the flight path from Delhi to Kathmandu, Nepal. There is nothing in the world as majestic as the Himalayas, Mount Everest being the jewel in the crown, peak of peaks. Described as a city of beautiful chaos, the magical mayhem that I was introduced in Kathmandu enthralls me still.

 

 

Nelson, New Zealand

The oldest settlement of New Zealand’s South Island, fixed on the eastern shore of Tasman Bay. The small city of Nelson instantly captured my heart as soon as soon as I stepped off the tiny airplane that took us from the bustling, ultra-cosmopolitan capital of Auckland. The sunniest spot on the island, Nelson is set between golden beaches and windswept bays.
A most charming town, it is further spoiled due to its close proximity to three gloriously different national parks. The most famous, the Abel Tasman, starred as the otherworldly backdrop to the trilogy of Lord Of The Rings movies. For an earthly hiker like me, however, its endless amount of walking tracks and secluded coastlines made me feel that I was indeed in some kind of paradise. One in which I hope to return and spend much more time.

 

 

Kyoto, Japan

All those wondrous images that spring to mind when we think of Japan are probably encapsulated more in one place than any other. That place is Kyoto. Undoubtedly the cultural and historical heart of the archipelago, it is a must for me every time I venture to visit my relatives – who live a fairly short train ride away in Osaka. Jammed packed with historical temples, gardens and museums of all sorts, the absolute treat being on the occasions when I have secured tickets to Minamiza Kabuki Theatre.
Presumably I don’t have to inform you of the pleasures of Japanese cuisine. Which is just as well. My mouth is already watering recalling the quality of food that I have tasted in even Kyoto’s most simple restaurants.

 

 

Ubud, Indonesia

It was none other than Richard Branson who back in the very early ’80s raved to me about the island of Bali. Detailing that while some of the coast had already been taken over by mass tourism from Australia, the rest of the island remained dreamily pristine. A few years later while on honeymoon, I had the chance to experience it firsthand, and I immediately understood the force behind Richard’s enthusiasm. While that marriage never lasted too long – all these years later I remain a regular visitor to Ubud. I can almost annually be depended on giving the gloomy British winter a wide berth, by escaping for a few weeks to the “cultural heart” of Bali – that also just happens to be one of Asia’s top spa destinations.

 

The Many Reasons to Love the Newly Redesigned Andaz London Hotel

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We must admit to being particularly excited when we were invited a few weeks back to a press conference at the Andaz London Liverpool Street hotel, to interview legendary designer Sir Terence Conran. It was for the launch of the hotel’s stunning new (RED) Suite – a partnership supporting the AIDS charity of the same name founded by Bono.

But Conran + Partners had also just recently given the hotel a swish makeover, revisiting Sir Terence’s previous revitalization in 2000 of the rickety old Great Eastern Hotel – which was its name until it became the inaugural Andaz in 2008. We were indeed absolutely thrilled to be back, as we’d had some rather monumental times at the former GEH; and despite a few pangs of nostalgia, were enthused to take in the hotel’s latest incarnation.

With his unmistakable stylistic stamp visible throughout, Sir Terence himself said of his firm’s new design, “This is the way I like to live.” As it turned out, so did we.

The Andaz, as happens, notably sits at the border between The City and Shoreditch – meaning its public spaces are uniquely replete with bankers and stylistas alike. Here’s what we loved about the hotel, and its unique surrounds.

 

The Rooms

Considering the claustrophobic proportions of the rooms of most trendy London hotels, the rather generous space here does not go unappreciated. Some have murals reflecting the local street art scene, and newer ones on the higher floors have cool porthole windows with dramatic views across the East London rooftops. Bathrooms are fabulous.

 

 

Eastway Brasserie

Precisely the sort of spot we gravitate to for a buzzy lunchtime stop, the hotel’s cool brasserie flaunts a stylish, high-energy room, and a menu of trend-aware dishes like roasted baby beets, leek & cheddar risotto and grilled tuna with quinoa. The bar is aces for early evening classic cocktails.

The Masonic Temple

Seriously, the Andaz has its own Masonic Temple. Furtively hidden away, it’s not only the current site of actual Mason meetings, but is also used for regular yoga sessions…and Lady Gaga even did a photo shoot here recently. It’s done up in the flamboyant Greek Revival style, so it’s all masculine opulence, with a striking zodiac ceiling. Amazing.

 

 

Brick Lane Market

The most sprawling flea market in East London, it draws gawkers and hipsters in equal measure. Make a point to pop in for a to-die-for curry at one of the local houses – they’re all pretty much great.

Browns East

In late 2017, the exalted British concept shop Browns opened this impressive Shoreditch outpost. Stocking the bleeding edge of men’s and women’s fashions – everything from cult labels Off White and Rejina Pyo to Balenciaga and Yamamoto – it’s like a one stop edification on current international style. Exceedingly “on trend,” there’s even an Immersive Experience Room, for heady meditation sessions.

 

 

Ivy City Garden

When the storied Covent Garden celeb-magnet The Ivy took to coming down from its high perch a bit in 2014, the result was this more approachable, if still quite fabulous edition of itself. Just a short walk from the Andaz, the Ivy City Garden has the breezy chic of a Provençal bistro, with a people-watching breakfast scene, and a menu that runs the gamut from duck liver pâté to beef wellington to afternoon tea. Super cute staff is a bonus.

 

 

Shoreditch Galleries

If you’d prefer a guide, the Go East Walking Art Tour takes you to key destinations in the area, including notable street art. But for independent gallery hoppers, make a point to pop in to the likes of Kate McGarry, Hoxton Arches, Parasol Unit, Pure Evil Gallery (for something a little cheekier), and the legendary Whitechapel Gallery.

Rake’s Cafe Bar

With a distinctly duel personality, the Andaz’s newest hotspot Rake’s (a reference to the Hogarth famous triptych A Rake’s Progress) is a stylish casual cafe – albeit one with a sort of gazebo covered in hanging vines – serving chicken liver pâté, devon crab tagliatelle, and homemade ice cream. In the evenings, the Parlour room becomes one of the sexiest spots in the neighborhood, with DJs manning the opulent space, and a cool wait staff serving provocative signature cocktails like The Orgy and The Mad House.

 

 

1901 Wine Lounge

This is a distinctly intimate and refined spot in the Andaz for a well-chosen glass of vino (from a Euro-leaning list) by day, and a sophisticated tipple by night- with its neo-classical archways and theatrical chandeliers.

Nuala

Our new fave Shoreditch restaurant is actually hipping up Irish cuisine, if you can imagine. It presents a starkly minimalist menu – meaning no pompously elaborate descriptions of the dishes, something we have come to appreciate in the age of pretentiously over-elaborate chefs. And the smoked eel croquettes, beef tartare and woodfire chicken are all life-altering. Interiors have a sort of sleek woodsiness about them – we even noticed a pile of firewood. Which is not as hipster as it sounds.

 

 

 

 

 

BlackBook Exclusive: Fiery Songstress Felicity’s Favorite Places in Cape Town, South Africa

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Image by Katia Temkin

 

She was born in Australia, and now lives in New York City. Yet winsome-but-tough-as-nails pop songstress Felicity actually grew up in South Africa.

Now still just 19, she’s already been compared to both Sia and Florence Welch; and her debut single “Pilot With a Fear of Heights,” released earlier this year, found Billboard raving that the song “reaches anthemic heights.” But beneath the sky-high production, there is a raw honesty in her endearingly vulnerable songwriting, especially in evidence on her latest, “Happily Paralyzed” (helmed by Lady Gaga producer Brian Kierulf) – in which she unflinchingly professes, “Time is tearing at the seams my dear / It’s you and I lost in the lights”

“Every relationship I’ve ever been in has ended in flames and destruction,” she admits. “I’m always a little more broken and a little less trusting afterwards. I think that I fall so hard in the beginning that it goes from feeling like pure perfection to heartbreak quickly. I had to put myself in the shoes I was wearing when everything was perfect to write this song, because it’s about never wanting a beautiful moment with someone to end.”

One relationship that has not crashed and burned is the one between Felicity and the breathtaking city of Cape Town, where she grew up. And so we asked her to take us around to some of her favorite places there, from flower-filled caves to glamorous nightspots.

 

 

 

Elephant’s Eye

Probably my favorite hike in Cape Town, this awesome trail has every kind of flower and plant imaginable. The best part about it though, is once you reach the top there’s an incredible twenty-story cave, completely lined with all sorts of plants all the way to the top, while overlooking the entire city.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Okay, so not only does this place have the largest collection of deciduous plants and flowers (which are all equally beautiful and inspiring) but this garden also grows and goes all the way up Table Mountain. My favorite thing, though, is that it even has an outdoor concert venue on one of its fields (a massive bucket list venue personally). I saw Passenger perform there when I was in 10th grade and have simply never recovered.

 

 

Robben Island

While not the lightest part of Cape Town’s rich culture, I think visiting Robben Island is a crucial, informative, eye-opening snapshot of its history. Robben Island is where Nelson Mandela was held prisoner during the heat of Apartheid in South Africa, and visiting his cell is quite an experience.

V&A Waterfront

This historical part of Cape Town used to be a popular docking site for local fisherman, but then quickly became less important when South Africa started sourcing its seafood supply from all down the African coast. After lying dormant, it was transformed into a beautiful open schemed mall with some of the best seafood in the country; some of the produce even comes straight from the ocean into the bordering restaurants. It’s a one of a kind place filled with live, traditional entertainment, local boutiques, and classic food – not to mention they also have an amphitheater used for all kinds of performing arts and spectacles.

 

 

Raith Gourmet

My favorite little hole in the wall is this awesome butcher, with super high quality, hand-picked meats and cheeses from all over the world. You choose however many grams of each and take it home to eat picnic style with a group of people. It’s probably the most delicious place ever.

La Belle Bistro & Bakery

This restaurant, attached to a hotel hidden behind a gorgeous green trail (behind my family home in Cape Town) is a total accidental find, discovered one early morning before school when walking my dogs with my little sister. They hands down have the best eggs benedict I’ve ever tasted. A solid 10. My personal tip though, order them with bacon instead of ham. Sooooo much better, and an off the menu option.

 

 

Montecasino

Situated just outside the hub of the city, this multipurpose venue has everything from a massive concert venue to an ice-skating rink. And yes…a casino. You could basically live there and find something new to do every day!

Club 31

This siiick nightclub was the spot for me and my friends growing up in Cape Town. It’s located right in the city center, which is conveniently equal distance apart from both the mountains and the sea. The killer thing about this place is that it’s located at the 31st floor of a skyscraper, so the view is mind blowing. Imagine a dance floor surrounded by mountains and the sea in Africa…

 

Report From New Orleans: Tank and the Bangas Heated Up the ‘Project: Aloft Star’ Tour

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August has been stifling for most of the country – but somehow things got even hotter this month down in NoLA, with the Project: Aloft Star tour series performance by hometown heroes Tank and the Bangas.

Our favorite hip-on-a-budget hotel group drew packed crowds inside and out to their already buzzy Aloft New Orleans Downtown property. Locals and the local cognoscenti came to hear the funk-gospel-artpop grooves of NPR’s Tiny Desk contest winner’s underground hit “Smoke. Netflix. Chill.” – and the band in turn did not disappoint.

Exhilarating frontwoman Tarriona “Tank” Ball brought all of her infectious energy to the stage, leading the band’s eclectic, soul-filled vibe. (Who knew a flute could sound so funky?) Even backup singer Angelika Joseph held her own so boldly and beautifully. And what of Tank’s signature sartorial style? Think eye-crossing colorful patterns and prints, platform sneakers, glam makeup and gorgeous hair. Amazing!

To be sure, Tarronia had style – and spirit – to die for. When asked how New Orleans influences her personally, she replied. “There are moments when you catch the rhythm of the city, bounce music has really inspired the group. It’s an attitude and confidence, a sweetness that people have here.”

And it’s never, ever boring.

“Someone is always putting on a show,” she continues, “tap dancing on a corner, pretending they’re a statue. I just love that about New Orleans. We just carry that with us everywhere we go. Cuz we’re having a good time with us.” And so were we!

The launch of Project: Aloft Star actually came about from a creative collaboration between Aloft Hotels – Marriott International’s brand for music lovers and music makers – and Universal Music Group (UMG). A cool competition, giving artists around the world a chance to kick-start their careers, the raucous five-city tour celebrates emerging artists at different Aloft properties around the Americas.

They’ll ultimately compete for an opportunity to record a single at the legendary Capitol Studios in Hollywood, will also receive mentoring from UMG executives, and (a not so shabby) 500,000 in Rewards Points redeemable for Marriott International hotel stays, as touring takes them on the road. The free (yes, free!) performances kicked off with the British synth-pop wonder Years & Years in Philadelphia this past June.

Aloft continues to take some of UMG’s hottest breakthrough artists on the road, hitting the iconic music cities of North and Central America, to host intimate live performances in the brand’s signature WXYZ® bars.

Coming Up?

 

  • Bea Miller in Asheville on August 21

  • Fatima & Stanaj in Costa Rica on September 14

  • BANNΞRS in Denver on October 17

  • X Ambassadors in Austin on November 1 – the final tour stop where the Project: Aloft Star finalists will perform and a winner will be chosen

 

Catch Tank and the Bangas in NYC at Brooklyn Steel, October 21st.

 

BlackBook Rooms With a View: The Motif Seattle Hotel

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The Emerald City is where art, nature, culture, and quirkiness uniquely collide – which is why we’re always so drawn to it.

Most recently we took up at Motif Seattle: A Destination Hotel there (part of the Destination Hotels collection) – most especially for the views. The four-year old boutique property just underwent a $10 million dollar makeover, and the space exudes a Pacific Northwestern charm that speaks perfectly to its location. Situated on Fifth Avenue between Pike and Union Streets, it’s nestled in the heart of downtown, and is quickly accessible to the landmark attractions: Olympic Mountains, Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and Chihuly Garden.

First constructed in the 1940s, the building housing the Motif was once home to the People’s World Bank Headquarters…hence its rather modest looking grey facade. However, the adage that “it’s what’s inside that counts” certainly holds true here.

 

 

Best feature: many of the 319 stylish guest rooms have sweeping views of the shoreline and mountains. The suites, especially, were made over by Degen & Degen, and Managing Principal for Interiors Anita Degen explains that “for us, it was an opportunity to design from the heart, and be able to throw out the rulebook.” We loved how each floor greets you with a Seattle scene or landmark, taken by a local photographer. And upon entering the rooms, each one is graced with natural woods, citrine wallpaper, ash carpeting – as a nod to the overcast days – and a “rainy day corner,” where guests can hang up their (likely soaking) outdoor gear. They exude a mix of funky urbanism and woodland outdoorsy-ness.

A nice touch? Coffee table books that showcase song lyrics from exalted Seattle musicians, from Jimi Hendrix to Macklemore, and album covers turned art mosaic pieces.

The city’s tekkies are also catered to: the hotel is installing Alexa embedded technology into all of the rooms, where everything from ordering breakfast in bed to private yoga sessions with Live Love Flow on the rooftop is as easy as saying, “Alexa, can you…?” But for those just seeking rest, rooms offer guests a new “Sleep Well in Seattle” in-room amenity, that includes vials of SOM sleep formula and lavender oil to ease your body into a restful slumber.

 

 

But for nightowls, Motif also marries music and drink at the 5th floor Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails, where you can not only seek happy hour on the outdoor patio, but groove to local bands such as The Fame Riot, while sipping on Millionaire cocktails (top shelf mixes such as their Best Martini Ever, that features Nolet’s reserve gin, and Cocchi Americano Bianco – and will set you back at least two Benjamins). Accompanying nibbles include the sublime Frolik Dungeness Crab Tots, which sees their potato taters fried to a golden brown glory, tossed with old bay seasoning, slathered with cheese sauce and topped with a mountain of locally caught Dungeness crab.

For the artistically inclined, there’s also the Motif’s Visiting Artist Program, another way of injecting local talent into the DNA of the hotel. This year it’s Julie Conway, who uses fire and glass to create objects with multifaceted beauty, including jewelry, light fixtures, flatware, restaurant interior decor, museum installations and so on. In fact, her artistry is reflected in the hotel’s logo itself, envelopes, guest amenities, key cards and stationary – which are revamped every two years when a new artist takes residency.

Though it hardly need be said – it seems we have a new favorite hotel in The Emerald City.

 

 

 

Going Modern in the Ancient Metropolis: Hotel Perianth Opens in Athens

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Before the turning of the Millennium, most travelers to Greece touched down in Athens, and then headed straight for the islands of Santorini, Mykonos, and the like. But the Greek capital has been undergoing a transformation over the last decade and a half – especially in regards to its vibrant street art scene – making it more than just a place to stop and gawk at the Parthenon for a couple of hours.

It’s also at last getting better hotels – to wit, the Perianth, which just opened in the non-touristy area of Monastiraki, known for its historic architecture and lively flea market. It’s actually specifically located on the comely Agia Eirini square, with its buzzy pavement tables and beautiful Byzantine-style church.

 

 

A member of Design Hotels, the Perianth is indeed something of a stylistic masterpiece (interiors by K-STUDIO), with its striking, almost museum-quality modernist public spaces, and its 38 clean-lined, but warmly turned out rooms. Local artworks by the likes of Antonakis, Yiannis Varelas, and Margarita Myrogianni appear throughout the hotel.

There’s also a comely, light-flooded Italian restaurant, Il Baretto, whose bar is a scene for early evening aperitivo. And the Zen Center, for meditation, yoga and martial arts, is located in the same building.

A recent Euro Zone report also shows Greece to have finally left its financial crisis behind – so the mood is much better amongst the people these days.