Weekend Trip: Six Romantic Getaways To Book Right Now

Even in the best cities in the world, there are times that escape feels so desperate a necessity that any borrowed friend-of-a-friend’s dilapidated cottage upstate seems like it would do the trick. From dreamy and not-too-far-away to dreamy and across-the-pond, these six romantic getaways are sure to get your imagination, and your heart (and libido) stirring. Book one now. You won’t regret it.

1. Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, Montauk

Just a quick Jitney trip away lies Montauk–which sheds the pretension of the neighboring Hamptons, but keeps the pristine oceanfront real estate. Thanks to a spa, salt water pool (with ocean views (!)), and yoga classes offered, you can get the perks of a tropically detoxifying retreat in just a 2.5-hour trip. End the night watching the sunset or sipping champagne by the fireplace.

Gurney's Firepit
Photo: Courtesy of Gurney’s Montauk Resort

Gurney's Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, New King Room
Photo: Courtesy of Gurney’s Montauk Resort

Gurney's Property - Sunset Image
Photo: Courtesy of Gurney’s Montauk Resort

2. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, Palm Springs

For a west coast romantic getaway, look no further than Palm Springs: this desert mecca of mid-century modern architecture doubles as a hip destination for anyone who wants California weather, sans the glitz of L.A…and should you want for just a hint of glitz, The Ace Hotel might just be the perfect resolution. If it’s pure, unadulterated relaxation you seek, “The Feel Good Spa” offers couples packages–in fact, anything from facials and seaweed body wraps, to earth clay wraps and body brushing can be done in twosome form. And, since no vacation has ever felt long enough, couples can indulge in a personal massage lesson to learn inspired, professional techniques to use at home. Outdoorsy types can soak up the SoCal sunshine via bike rentals–even better–the hotel can arrange a private dinner on the stargazing deck, which overlooks the pool and mountains.

Photo: D.L. Thompson and Jon Johnson

aceps-spa-indoorroomPhoto: Douglas Lyle Thompson

Ace_Palm_Springs-OverviewPhoto: D.L. Johnson and Jon Johnson

3. The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell, Round Top, TX
Looking for a romantic American getaway that’s truly off the beaten path? Try Texas. Just 75 miles from ultra-hip Austin lies mecca, as told by the queen of shabby chic. Each cottage offers privacy and comfort. Couples spend time reconnecting with long walks and quality time spent together.  Trying to win some extra boyfriend/girlfriend points? Flowers can be added to the room for an extra special touch.

Photo: Courtesy of “Rachel Ashwell Couture Prairie and Flea Market Treasures,” Cico books

Photo: Courtesy of “Rachel Ashwell Couture Prairie and Flea Market Treasures,” Cico books

Prairie Driveway Exterior
Photo: Courtesy of “Rachel Ashwell Couture Prairie and Flea Market Treasures,” Cico books

Prairie Exterior copy
Photo: Courtesy of “Rachel Ashwell Couture Prairie and Flea Market Treasures,” Cico books

4. The Berkeley Hotel, London 

Here’s one for the sartorially inclined couple. If you missed the jaw-dropping Alexander McQueen retrospective when it debuted at the Met’s Costume Instutute in NYC in 2011, fear not–the corsetry, the chance to be thisclose to pieces from the groundbreaking Highland Rape collection is just one reason to head to the UK. It’s now at the V&A–a British institution, if you’ve never been. (Plus, even if you’re going for just an extended weekend, a flight to England is a solid hour less than almost any other country in Europe and the same goes for the time difference). If the exhibit isn’t enough, revel in the quirky spirit of English fashion at The Berkeley Hotel (that’s Rachel Zoe’s favorite to you) where you can enjoy Pret-a-Portea–proper high tea that pays homage to McQueen favorites. Of course, The Berkeley is more than just cookies and tea sandwiches…there are the balcony suites overlooking Hyde Park, duos can enjoy treatments at the Bamford Haybarn Spa, and unwind from the buzz of London by the rooftop pool.

13_053Berkley Hotel30078 1-1
Photo: Courtesy of Maybourne Hotel Group

Treatment Room 028 copy
Photo: Courtesy of Maybourne Hotel Group

Berkeley Opus Suite_28-08-13_0207a
Photo: Courtesy of Maybourne Hotel Group

Pret-A-Portea, Spring/Summer 2015Photo: Courtesy of Maybourne Hotel Group

5. St. Regis Bahia Beach, Puerto Rico

Though leaving the premises of the St. Regis Bahia Beach would be, by no means, necessary, the couple who likes their vacation with a healthy mix of the highest-end luxury (think: a Jean-Georges restaurant on the premises) and a bit of authentic culture, look no further than this gorgeous Puerto Rican retreat, where the ocean is warm, the pool is massive and the cabanas are made for making out–but the charm and pastel colors of Old San Juan are just a short drive away. Kayak in the on-property lake, hike holding hands through the nearby El Yunque rainforest, or simply read by the pool, you’ll leave having enjoyed a restorative serving of both piña coladas and Vitamin D. Though adventure on and around the premises abounds, rooms come equipped with sun-drenched patios and walk-in showers. Even better, giant baths that are an insanely simple dial-zero to the butler away from filled with bubbly–in the bath and your glasses. Prepare for 24/7 romance.

St.Regis Bahia Beach Resort Puerto Rico
Photo: Courtesy of St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort

St. Regis Bahia Beach Pool
Photo: Courtesy of St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort

Suite Room
Photo: Courtesy of St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort

The St. Regis Bahia Beach private beach
Photo: Courtesy of St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort

6. KiCHIC Resort, Peru

Located on the edge of a traditional Peruvian fishing village, Mancora is fast emerging as one of the world’s best beach destinations (you heard it here first)! KiCHIC offers a unique hideaway where guests find call rooms, located between gardens of coconut palms and maye pepper trees facing the northern ocean breeze, home. For an especially romantic indulgence, spring for the Piedra room which has its own open-air bathtub on a private terrace made out of local flagstone, or the Himalaya. Should you decide (and no judgement, if not) to ever get out of bed, you can take your pick of surf lessons, kayaking, and outdoor movies every weekend.

Photo: Courtesy of KiCHIC

Photo: Courtesy of KiCHIC

357A0789Photo: Courtesy of KiCHIC

Photo: Courtesy of KiCHIC

Rid Yourself of Packing Woes and Pick Up Pieces from Ace’s New Collab With No. 6

If the Ace Hotel is where the fashion set goes to sleep when traveling from one urban jungle to another, then the remaining question is, naturally, what should they wear? What packs well and looks great? Ace has decided to provide an answer themselves.

Atelier Ace has created a small capsule collection–available today–with downtown standby No. 6. Available at Ace locations in NY, LA, London, and Palm Springs, the collection is for the girl who wants to look effortless because in truth, she really is. A small capsule of throw-on-and- run-out shirtdresses, boxy trenches in natural untreated material, and obviously, those clogs that are downright iconic to anyone who prefers that unfussy, playful, tomboy aesthetic.

Being someone who prefers to get ready extremely quickly myself, I will take one of everything and won’t need to think very much until temperatures drop another 20 degrees.

Please and thank you!

Ace x No. 6 BTS - Mid Wedge Clog in Midnight ($285) Ace x No. 6 BTS - Mid Wedge Clog in Midnight ($285) & Coley Jacket in Olive Drab ($475) Ace x No. 6 BTS - Coley Jacket in Olive Drab ($475) Ace x No. 6 BTS - Coley Jacket in Olive Drab ($475) & Pouch in leather ($87) Ace x No. 6 BTS - Coley Jacket in Olive Drab ($475) & Pouch in leather ($87) (2) Ace x No. 6 BTS - Coley Jacket in Olive Drab ($475) & Mid Wedge Clog in Midnight ($285) Ace x No. 6 BTS - Coley Jacket in Olive Drab ($475) (2) Ace x No. 6 BTS - Coley Jacket in Beige Drab ($475) Ace x No. 6 BTS - Coley Jacket in Beige Drab ($475) - back view

Behind the scenes photos courtesy of Ace x No. 6

Press Button, Receive Coffee: A Call For The Return of the Automat

I keep quarters for laundry in a little cup on the corner of my desk in a ceramic version of the classic Greek diner coffee cup, or the Anthora cup, which apparently littered New York in the ’60s and ’70s. One of my secret wishes since moving back to the city—up there with dating an Olsen twin—has been to order a cup of coffee to-go and have it served in one of those blue and white, “we are happy to serve you” paper gems. It’s been a year now, and no such luck on either front.

But a visit paid the other morning to the Lunch Hour NYC exhibit at the New York Public Library pushed my coffee nostalgia a few decades further back. In 1912, Joe Horn and Frank Hardart opened their flagship H&H Automat in Times Square, serving cheap plates of baked beans and beef in burgundy sauce. If less than appetizing, the Depression was enough to bring the droves around to school-lunch fare. But their delicacy was always known to be the cup of mud with one drawn on the side, or coffee with cream. Pop a nickel into one of these incredibly ornate silver dispensers, throw down your ceramic mug, and with the push of a button you had a hot, fresh cup! It wasn’t until 1950 that they bumped the price up to a dime, which I guess alienated a sizeable chunk of the fan base. The last Automat officially closed in 1991, but by then New Yorkers had sort of lost their regard for cheap java. I was born in 1989 to two residents of a building on East 3rd Street featured in People Magazine for yuppifying the Hell’s Angels’ block. For shame. Five years later, Howard Schultz opened the first Starbucks in New York, and all went to hell.

Though it appears now that Starbucks may be on the decline, known less as an espresso haven and more as a convenient place in Midtown to move one’s bowels. Last fall, both GOOD and The New Yorker reported on the upswing of coffee shops like Stumptown (in fairness, the Ace Hotel is also a great place to use the bathroom) and Intelligentsia, which put the focus on quality beans brewed in press pots and served black. Many of the employees even wear suspenders and cute hats, in keeping with the old fashioned ethos. But a copy of the Coffeeman’s instructions from H&H, as interpreted by someone who’s read the aforementioned articles, seemed to suggest that Automat coffee, if recreated, may give the artisanal cup a run for its nickels.

I showed a transcript of the recipe to the Coffeeman at Crop to Cup, an importer and purveyor of ethical beans down here in Gowanus, and he said it appears to have been a good, full immersion brew. That is, you had French press-quality coffee supplied to the urns fresh every hour. The exhibit placard said H&H used a “special blend of six different [beans] plus a little chicory”—perhaps not of the quality of the Uganda Bugisu beans he used for my pour-over cup, but serviceable no doubt. And the instructions were laced with plenty of other wise turns, such that they ultimately won my confidence (e.g. “Be especially careful in the early morning of making coffee properly”).

And so, my call goes out to you, entrepreneurial Brooklynites. Revive the Automats as coffee shops, with those art deco placards, elegant dispensers and urns of full immersion-brewed, chicory-laced blends. Just retrofit the nickel slots to take quarters. I’ve got a cup full of ’em. And besides, it’s Brooklyn—who needs to do laundry anyway, am I right?

Follow James Ramsay on Twitter.

The Rally for Pussy Riot at the Ace Hotel

Supporters of Pussy Riot gathered at the Ace Hotel last night for a reading of the jailed Russian feminist punk band’s courtroom statements. Organized by JD Samson of Le Tigre/MEN and presented by Amnesty International, the readers included Chloe Sevigny, Johanna Fateman, Eileen Myles, and Justin Vivian Bond. Though the #freepussyriot campaign is no stranger to celebrity endorsements—artists from Madonna to the Hives have expressed support—the event seemed like it had to be seen in order to be believed.

In the dimly lit Liberty Hall, however, the attention was all on the issue at hand: the trio of artists who have raised attention to human rights issues in Russia after their arrest for performing an anti-Putin protest song at a Moscow cathedral. None of the readers were introduced by name as they took turns reading the statements and letters from Katja Samutsevich, Nadia Tolokonnikova, and Masha Alyekhina that detailed their treatment in prison and defense against the charges of “hooliganism based on religious hatred.”

Readings of the courtroom transcripts revealed the nature of the show trial, where witnesses for the prosecution described how they suffered from post-traumatic stress due to the bright colors of Pussy Riot’s clothing. A letter of support from Yoko Ono and lyrics to Pussy Riot songs were also read, including a track whose name literally translates to “Putin Pissed Himself.”

This morning, it was announced that the three members of Pussy Riot have each been sentenced to two years in prison. The band has also released a new single entitled “Putin Lights Up The Fires.”

Photos by Mark Kendall

New York Openings: Safira, Kitsune

For whatever the NoMad/Dream/Ace in-hotel boutique trend is worth, it’s ruining my screenplay. The idea was for the airline to misplace Ben Stiller’s luggage, thus leaving him stranded in New York without the proper outfit for his big presentation. But with a designer shop in his hotel’s lobby, there goes our inciting incident. 

Of course, these boutiques share limited-to-no aesthetic kinship with the brothers Brooks. Safira, inside the Dream Downtown, is equal parts clothing and mirrors, with an international, Near Eastern vibe. Camilla caftans for her and suits to fit by tailor Alexander Nash make up the shop’s hallmarks, but looks from PRISM London, Fenton, and Dita eyewear are also notable. Hotelier and former Bollywood playboy Vikram Chatwal, whose daughter is the boutique’s namesake, offers both accommodation and accouterment for those who care to party. (For the sake of continuity, note that Chatwal also played a minor role in Stiller’s own Zoolander.)
Meanwhile, Parisian/Japanese fusion label Maison Kitsuné has opened a flagship boutique of sorts inside the mansard-roofed NoMad Hotel. Kitsuné’s own ironic prep styles for ladies and gentlemen are draw enough, but expect additional stockings of labels like WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie and Aesop. Kitsuné-only pebbled loafers, courtesy of J.M. Weston, might be the closest thing our protagonist will find to boardroom appropriate—damn his 22-year-old secretary for booking him at a trendy hotel.
And just around the corner at the now-establishment Ace Hotel is Opening Ceremony’s boutique, complete not only with a smattering of their own goods, but pickings for Ben’s entertainment and personal furnishings—the latest McSweeney’s, select Criterion discs, Haribo gummies, O.C. luggage by Tumi. 
Alas, our hero may be forced to give a presentation on metrics wearing a Comme des Garçons Play t-shirt. But hey, it’s wild enough to get the disillusioned Kirsten Dunst character to look up from her BlackBerry and smirk. And that is what those in the biz call a “meet cute.”

New York Opening: Wythe Hotel

A new book by Jack Hitt tipped me off to an anecdote from 1778, wherein Ben Franklin visits the palace of Louis XVI to ask for support for the Revolutionary Army. He shows up at the gates wearing not the powdered wig and frilly sleeves customary to Versailles, but a coonskin cap and a brown fringe jacket a la Daniel Boone. Ben was hammin’ it up for the Frenchies, playing the colonial fool. When we talk of restoring our country to what the founders intended, we should look to Franklin, forefather of irony, original snarker. Now ask, what could be more in line with the history of American cheek, circa 2012, than a posh hotel in a gutted Williamsburg factory? One with XL twin bunk beds, each outfitted with mini TVs. 

The new Wythe Hotel’s “Band Rooms” come in 4 and 6 person arrangements. The option is pragmatic: you don’t want to share a bed with someone, just the cost of a room; square footage in desirable neighborhoods is pricey, bunk beds are efficient; and if you’re young and vivacious, you should be out at Brooklyn Bowl or the Brooklyn Brewery, not sleeping. The Wythe does, of course, offer plenty of luxe options for those with bad backs and thick wallets. They didn’t invent the bunk thing, either—they’re keeping in line with the Ace Hotel/Bowery House/Pod/Nu Hotel tradition of waxing nostalgic for the less-is-more, rustic-cabin-meets-freshman-dorm aesthetic. 

The appeal of bunks mat extend well beyond the rational. Novelty is fun. It flatters the imagination. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a little pastiche, especially if it keeps you away from the sterility of a Hilton Garden Inn. If anyone wants to scoff at a band of bearded fellows in ironic getups walking into the lobby of this Williamsburg palace, at least recognize that these hipsters are, historically, in pretty good company.

The Ace Hotel Is Coming to Los Angeles

Hotel junkies and Ace Hotel groupies got an early Christmas present today: the Hollywood Reporter writes that a downtown Los Angeles location of the popular boutique hotel will open in the United Artists building. That’s big time.

Commissioned by the founders of United ArtistsMary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, D.W. Griffith, and Charlie Chaplinto host their movie premieres, the Spanish-Gothic building opened in 1927 and eventually became a Metropolitan Theaters movie house and a church for the Los Angeles University, before being purchased by a real estate firm earlier this year. The paper reports that Ace management reached an agreement with them to take advantage of the space in the up-and-coming neighborhood.

With 13 floors of office space above the main level, there should be ample room for the Ace’s signature understated room options, and we bet there’ll be a built-in audience for the hotel’s signature brand of cool: the Palm Springs location is a popular weekend getaway for Angelenos. And speaking of audiences, rumor has it that they plan to renovate and restore the 2,214-seat movie theater to its former glory.

Hotel Holiday Shopping

This holiday season, hotels are getting into the gifting game, crafting and hawking products created in their image. Take the Ace Hotel, for example, whose  outstanding Holiday Bundles have that thrown-together-yet-thoughtful feel they’ve perfected in their establishments. Each of their locations have a tailor-made bundle, specific to the host city. For New York, there’s a hooded bathrobe, Pendleton blanket, and vintage-style tee. In Portland, an organic cotton tee, handmade soaps, a ribbon belt, and an elk-logo Pendleton blanket. And for Seattle, a skate deck, guitar picks, and limited edition tee for.

We’ve got a few other hotel items on our wishlist. Check out the signature One & Only Resorts’ red nail polish from French pedicurist Bastien Gonzalez, available on his site and One & Only resort boutiques, and the bedding from Miraval Resort & Spa in Tucson, Arizona, because the experience of a $1,200 down comforter was actually worth every penny. 

MTV Staying Alive Foundation Party at ACE Hotel: Good Fun for a Good Cause

Monday night’s MTV Staying Alive Foundation party at the Ace Hotel was packed with a trendy crowd, free-flowing cocktails, and a worthwhile cause.  Through a unique photography silent auction and a live (and very lively) auction, the Foundation helped raise awareness and funds for young people involved in the education and prevention of HIV/AIDS. Sponsors included The Breslin, Ace Hotel, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, 1947 Beer, and yours truly. With HIV/AIDS rates soaring in the midst of a funding crisis, the need for awareness couldn’t be more topical and exigent. 

Funky and fashionable New York sophisticates, cradling cocktails and complimentary caramel corn, placed silent bids for rare photographs of The Beatles, tickets to see The Roots perform live, and a getaway in upstate wine country. For the live auction, the offerings were generous and irresistible, as several patrons excitedly scooped up a tour of Yankee stadium, VMA tickets and a walk on the red carpet, and an in-home group dinner prepared by a venerated Rao’s chef. A performance by The Roots’ Questlove and Black Thought filled the evening with hip-swaying reggae and the quintessential, feel-good accompaniment to a good cause.