BlackBook Staff Picks: Dining, Drinking, Shopping, & Staying

Here at BlackBook, we pay a lot of attention to where to where people go out. The latest and greatest bars, clubs, restaurants, shops, hotels, are always on our radar. So why not flip the frame and let you see where we go out? Here’s a periodically updated, exhaustive list of hotspots currently favored by everyone at BlackBook, from the mighty bosses down to the humble interns, from the charming local lounges around the corner to the jet-setting temples of luxe living.

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  • Senior Software Engineer, Bryan Packman Tom & Jerry’s (NYC)
  • Mobile Production Manager Sunde Johnson Brooklyn Industries (NYC)
  • Lead Mobile Architect Joseph Russell Big Bar (NYC)
  • Mobile Developer Wyeth Shamp, Brooklyn Bowl (NYC)
  • Senior Systems Engineer, Dan Simon Europa (NYC)
  • Senior Product Design Manager, Gwen Heimburg Sugar Sweet Sunshine (NYC)

Publisher at Large, John F. McDonald, Saxon + Parole (NYC)

BlackBook Magazine Founder, Evanly Schindler, A Voce Columbus (NYC)

Our Favorite Hotel Escapes

With warmer temperatures beginning to remind us what spring used to feel like, we here at BlackBook have begun to plan our next serious getaway. Since we’re already spending so much time trying to reminisce our way out of the office (hey, it was a long week), I forced our edit team to share what travel destination they’ve been secretly daydreaming of on the clock.

image Ben Barna, Associate Editor Hotel Pick: The Drake City: Toronto

image Nadeska Alexis, Editorial Assistant Hotel Pick: The Mondrian City: Miami

image Nick Haramis, Executive Editor Hotel Pick: Sunset Marquis City: Los Angeles

image Victor Ozols, Senior Editor Hotel Pick: The Belvedere City: Mykonos

image Megan Conway Hotel Pick: The Jefferson City: Washington DC

Our Favorite Hotel Escapes

With warm weather slowly creeping into our collective consciousness, our minds are naturally wandering to summer plans. To be more specific, we’re already plotting our next getaway. Since we’re already spending a great deal of time trying to wish our way out of the office via reminiscing about travel plans past, I forced our edit team to share what travel destination they’ve been secretly daydreaming of during the workweek.

image Ben Barna, Associate Editor Hotel Pick: The Drake City: Toronto

image Nadeska Alexis, Editorial Assistant Hotel Pick: The Mondrian City: Miami

image Nick Haramis, Executive Editor Hotel Pick: Sunset Marquis City: Los Angeles

image Victor Ozols, Senior Editor Hotel Pick: The Belvedere City: Mykonos

image Megan Conway Hotel Pick: The Jefferson City: Washington DC

Toronto: Top 10 Places to Stalk Celebs at TIFF 2009

This year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) boasts one of the most stellar celebrity lineups in years. Over the course of the next ten days, we hope to see George Clooney and Matt Damon racing their Bentleys down Yonge Street, Megan Fox and Natalie Portman drunk skinny-dipping in Lake Ontario, and Michael Douglas and Michael Caine playing Backgammon in High Park. But most likely we’ll be awkwardly stalking them from across the street with the other plebeians. Here are your best bets at joining the fun.

Ultra Supper Club (Entertainment District) – Last year Lindsay Lohan hosted a party at this uber-luxe supper club, while Paris Hilton puked in the bathroom; this summer, Perez Hilton got some much-needed Boom Boom Pow from Will.I.Am and his cronies on the endless patio. So what to expect at this year’s fest? Well Hugh Hefner’s in town, and Toronto is full of women who will do anything to be famous. We smell a party! ● Amber (Yorkville) – One of the few actual party joints in Yorkville proper. Its sleek design and overt South Beach appeal will make it the destination of choice for libation-seeking glitterati. For your sake, we hope you know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy. That, or you’re Matt Damon. ● One Restaurant at The Hazelton Hotel (Yorkville) – When Susur Lee packed his bags and headed for the Big Apple, Marc McEwan became the only genuine celebrity chef left in town. This is his new spot. And if there’s one thing celebs love more than hookers and heroin, its hot restaurants. Expect major star power. ● The Drake Hotel (West Queen West) – This Queen West landmark is a year-long battleground for local artists, musicians, and anyone else with a sleeve tattoo. But when TIFF rolls into town it becomes the go-to destination for stars looking to escape the unrelenting glare of Yorkville. Customized rooms, free-spirited menu, and multi-level partying buoyed by a fest-long 4am last call are perfect for the alt-celeb. Oprah, we’re talking to you. ● Sweaty Betty’s (Ossington) – This premier Toronto dive bar is too far off the beaten path for most stars, but for those who know, it’s the only place you’ll see Drew Barrymore, Ellen Page, and Werner Herzog making out in a corner. Oh, and the name is super fun to say! ● Sassafraz (Yorkville) – If Toronto’s Yorkville district is like Beverly Hills during TIFF, then this sunny bistro is The Ivy. Megan Fox reportedly rented a condo nearby, so expect to see her there for lunch, while Brian Austin Green lurks with the paparazzi outside. ● Bistro 990 (Yonge and Bloor) – This is the granddaddy of celeb hangouts during the fest, and has been for years. Even with the influx of contemporary restaurants popping up all over the city, and looking to make their mark on TIFF, Bistro 990 will always be the gold standard for star-gazing. So while Megan Fox and Natalie Portman kick it everywhere else, you should come here and eat Magret de canard with Norman Jewison and his dad. ● Jezebel (Queen West) – If Baz Lurhman’s living room got drunk and had sex with Rob Zombie’s living room, they’d give birth to this new burlesque club located in the up and-coming hipster-centric Ossington hood. Rumor has it Charlotte Gainesbourg and Willem Defoe will be having a self-mutilation party here some time during the fest. No cover! ● Lobby (Bloor and Yonge) – You know your grandmother that gets ignored all year, until your birthday comes around? Suddenly you start visiting her, because maybe she’ll write you a check, right? Well during TIFF, Lobby is your old, senile grandmother, and she misses you terribly. ● The Windsor Arms Hotel (Yorkville) – Most celeb-hunters will be parked outside this grand, but discreet hotel — which is viewed by many as the unofficial headquarters of the festival — for 10 days straight. Mom, please come home. I’m hungry, and George Clooney wants nothing to do with you.

Top 12 Hotels for a Dirty Weekend

These are getaways for lovers — or lusters — only, without the family, just-good-friends, kids, laptops (lap dancing and clothing optional) or other encumbrances. Either you want to see and be seen, or you don’t. Whether you’re after an in-room Jacuzzi, couples massages, meals, or just a fireplace and a view, read on.

Pan Deï Palais (Côte d’Azur) – A princess’ historic palace turned boutique hotel in the heart of St. Tropez. With only 12 guestrooms, the palace is exclusively reserved for hotel guests — so unless the people you’re trying to avoid are staying there, you’re safe. Valmont treatment fit for a princess are available in guestrooms and spa. Also rans: Château de la Chèvre d’Or, L’Hôtel Du Cap – Eden Roc, La Réserve Ramatuelle.

Ritz-Carlton (Chicago) – The Ritz-Carlton (a Four Seasons Hotel which makes it a double whammy) has a special weekend suite. After drinks in their Greenhouse, and couples massage in the Kiva Spa (or in-room), have sushi delivered from Kamahachi on Wells Street for a sultry beginning to a long weekend. Also rans: Trump International Hotel & Tower, The Drake Hotel, The James Chicago.

The Address (Dubai) – Possibly the only example of design restraint anywhere in this town, but never fear — you can still glance out the window at the world’s tallest building across the lagoon. The eight bars and restaurants serve high-class eclectic without the gold-foil-sushi trytoohardy madness found elsewhere. Spa Suites probably the most hip yet peaceful hotel accommodation in the Emirates. Also rans: One & Only Royal Mirage, Burj Al Arab.

Hilton Baltimore Convention Center (Baltimore) – Who, besides John Waters, is going to see you in Baltimore? Half the rooms and the fitness center face Camden Yards for sports fans. This big-box hotel actually feels a little homey, with works of local artists adorning public and private rooms, blueberry pancakes delivered by room service, and in-room pampering from Spa Sante. Their beds can, quite literally, put you to sleep — if you‘re not careful. Also ran: Admiral Fell Inn.

Sunset Marquis (Los Angeles) – Granddaddy of all the rock ‘n roll hotels meanders over an entire city block. Much has changed since Flea jumped for the swimming pool — and missed. The hotel bought all of the surrounding houses and turned them into villas, complete with swimming pools, Jacuzzis, and gardens combined for an in-town oasis. Try the one Keith Richards uses, complete with a gym they built for him (no kidding).You’re lucky if the waiter can find you, much less an angry spouse. Also rans: The Charlie, Andaz West Hollywood, Hotel Bel-Air, Chateau Marmont.

The Palms (Las Vegas) – The Fantasy tower is filled with one-of-a-kind suites with names like Erotic Suite, the Hugh Heffner Villa, the Barbie Suite, the Hardwood Suite — you get the picture Also rans: Four Seasons Hotel, Wynn Las Vegas, Red Rock Resort Casino Spa.

The Mayfair (London) – The Suite Seduction weekend package includes intimacy enhancers by Agent Provocateur (e.g. a paddle whip), champagne, Jo Malone essences, late checkout, chocolate-covered strawberries, unlimited internet service, music, movies, and chauffeured pickup from the airports (for an extra charge of £180 pounds), beginning at £1,500 for the Schiaperelli suite, the Opium suite, or one of ten others. Also rans: The Dorchester, Brown’s Hotel.

The Tides (Miami) – Redesigned by Kelly Wearstler, the hotel features just 45 suites, each with a view of the ocean. Intimate cocktails are available in the lobby — or in your suites — as is cuisine from La Marea’s chef Gonzalo Rivera. Also rans: Fontainebleau Miami Beach, The Standard, Mondrian Miami, Viceroy Miami.

Hotel Opus (Montreal) – Boutique hotel with modern design in an original avant-garde structure built in 1914 in the historic setting of downtown Montreal. Early art nouveau outside with an interior curving staircase by architect Dan Hanganu; a hot-hot-hot spot with Koko Restaurant and Bar featuring Pan-Asian cuisine. Minimalist guest rooms are nevertheless luxurious. Also rans: Hotel Le-St-James.

Hôtel Fouquet’s Barrière (Paris) – One of those discreet lovers’ magnets: silk linens, personal butlers, huge mirrors that turn into televisions (there are even tellys above the Jacuzzi bathtubs). “Paris by Night” package includes welcoming caviar and champagne, intimate breakfast each morning, champagne dinner at Le Diane restaurant, and transport to and from the airport at 1,599€ nightly with a two-night minimum stay. If you actually want to be seen, the “Paris C’est L’Amour” package takes couples on a photo shoot to duplicate Doisneau’s famous photograph “The Kiss” (Le Baiser, taken in 1950). Also rans: Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, Hôtel du Petit Moulin, Hôtel Plaza Athénée.

Sky Lodge (Park City) – Off the hook. Every room has a Japanese hot tub on the balcony, granite countertops, Subzero stainless kitchens, and a private bar and cocktail lounge for hotel guests only. Also ran: The Chateaux at Silver Lake.

The Mansion on O Street (Washington DC) – The most luxurious hideaway for a dirty weekend in this three-piece-suit city. Off DuPont Circle, everyone who stays there is so famous that nobody — but nobody– will notice you. No keys: each guest gets a code, and none can be reached by telephone unless the guest provides the caller with a room name, as in: the John Lennon room; the Log Cabin suite … Also rans: Mayflower, Hay Adams, The Willard.

Celebrity Sightseeing at TIFF ’08

I just spent the long weekend in Toronto, where the city is kicking off its annual film festival frenzy. The Toronto International Film Festival starts today, and buzz is thick. But patio chatter anticipated Brangelina’s touchdown and celebrity schmooze-fests more than actual films. But most people aren’t getting into the Burn After Reading gala screening, and even less are going to see Sunshine Barry and the Disco Worms. So if world cinema isn’t your thing, but you still want to participate in all the hoo-ha, there’s just one option remaining: celebrity stalk the more than 500 in attendance.

Celeb-trap Sassafraz in Yorkville was gutted by a fire two years ago, but it’s since been resurrected — and don’t be surprised if tables are booked solid throughout the fest. No matter — catch Charlize Theron sipping on something sweet on their streetside patio, and walk back and forth, back and forth. Queen West Italo hotspot Terroni was the site of a recent Ryan Gosling/Rachel MacAdams reunion, so be on the lookout for Edward Norton attempting to win back Salma Hayek over some ultra-thin crust “Pizze.” Rosewater Supper Club is an official sponsor of the fest and will be extending their liquor license to 4 a.m. (up from Toronto’s usual embarrassment of 2), so take advantage of a buzzed Colin Farrell while you can.

The spa-inspired C Lounge will be closed for festival festivities throughout much of the festival’s festivities, but it’s called having nothing to lose. With the perfect mix of confidence and luck, you might find yourself lounging by the outdoor pool (a rare thing for T.O. nightlife) next to festival parasites like Paris Hilton, but probably not. Lobby is a posh lounge that usually lures kids from the suburbs for a taste of the cosmopolitan life, but during the festival gaining entrance may prove iffy. Famous ghosts of TIFF’s past include Christina Ricci, Kevin Spacey, and Scarlett Johansson. This year I’m predicting Chi McBride makes this his festival ground zero.

Celebrities need to sleep to, and while trying to get a room on Jeff Goldblum’s floor might be a bit much, loiter outside the regal Windsor Arms hotel, and Mr. Goldblum may just extend his gangly arms and sign your unopened fest schedule. And for the hepcat stars (talking to you, Michael Cera), there’s no other hotel than the boutique Drake to feel like you’re famous, but like not, at the same time. Lastly, the Four Seasons has long been the epicenter of TIFF universe, but the real celebrity-heavy zone will be the Starbucks next door.