Capital Re-Opening: The View From the Palomar Hotel DC




If there’s a city whose pandemic experience has been particularly piqued, it is surely Washington, DC. With the District recently fighting once again for Statehood, it also “home” to an administration proven to be particularly incapable of dealing with the crisis—and politics, certainly, are injected into nearly every facet of life here. But it was the Northeast Corridor cities, after being the initial epicenter, that proved most effective at getting the coronavirus effectively under control…and so can cautiously get to the business of each phase of the re-opening plan.

At last able to travel, we were intrigued by the possibility of taking in the view of the mitigated Independence Day celebrations from the capital itself—hopping aboard a thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and luxurious Amtrak train (more on that in another story), arriving on the 4th in a Union Station that was as quiet as we’d ever seen it. But checking in to the stylish Kimpton Hotel Palomar DC, there was a sense that its buzzy Dupont Circle neighborhood was indeed springing back to life.



The Palomar itself is one of the more impressive embodiments of the boutique hotel tenets, in a city that has generally fostered a culture of efficient business chain brands and high-end luxury hotels. Our Spa Suite had a massive jetted tub, which, considering the heat outside, we could have spent all day in—especially with the royalty-worthy marble bathroom that surrounded it.

The rooms are brazenly but urbanely stylish for the buttoned-up city, with wildly patterned carpets, primary color schemes, and contemporary Deco-style furnishings. The red brick edifices just outside our windows were a charming visual counter to the usual straining for a glimpse of a distant monument.

Outdoor tables normally thrum with summertime energy along the streets spreading out from Dupont Circle; but taking a stroll, it was encouraging just to witness a social scene at all. As of June 24, more than 150 restaurants and shops had undertaken Phase II reopening measures, and there was a palpable sense of relief and hope hanging in the air. But we were actually excited to return to the hotel for the beloved Kimpton “Wine Hour,” until we realized that it was likely one of the many casualties of the pandemic. Still, upon our re-arrival, someone at reception asked if they could pour us a glass—which turned out to be a crisp chardonnay that was a perfect antidote to a very hot day. We were just unable to mingle with other guests while enjoying it.



On the way back to the Palomar, we had started up a conversation with a Lyft driver from Nepal, who shared his story of how this administration’s policies had sadly kept his wife from joining him in America; though we were able to joke a little about how we might all consider Canada as a future option. But on the 4th of July, it was a stark statement on America and immigration. “There would be no Silicon Valley without immigrants,” he insisted. He was absolutely correct, of course.

Later, we headed down to the Palomar’s own Urbana restaurant and lounge, which, since a $600k makeover in 2014, has been one of the area’s most consistently buzzing epicurean destinations—but it was, for now, relegated to carefully orchestrated social distancing policies, as well as its outdoor tables along elegant P Street. We made great new friends in staff members Kelly and Lauren, the latter of whom mixed nothing short of a perfect dirty martini—to be paired with a plate of warm roasted olives. God, how we missed such things.

Later, we undertook the obligatory act of walking down 14th Street towards the Washington Monument for the annual grand fireworks display. We wondered what our first president would have thought of America’s current socio-political climate, considering the vast reassessment of the so-called icons of our history. We’re actually not much for patriotic pageantry, preferring decisive action to symbolism. But then, it’s never too hard to enjoy colorful explosions in the sky.



Perhaps appropriately, What’s Eating America? was currently on MSNBC when we returned to the hotel. We didn’t wait for an answer, instead choosing to make good use of that aforementioned jetted-tub.

The following day, we were saddened to walk by a still shuttered Phillips Collection museum—where we have spent many a morning thrilling to Braque, Cézanne, Degas, El Greco, Klee, Matisse, Picasso and Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s exalted impressionist masterpiece Luncheon of the Boating Party.

Later we sidewalk table hopped along P Street to some of the Palomar’s hipper neighbors: Sorellina, Chiko, and chic little bar-slash-coffee-shop Emissary. At the latter, we chatted up a pair of particularly stylish Russian girls, before a jealous little dachshund puppy intervened with his own brand of irresistible flirting (he obviously knew how important immigrants were to America). As we took in the whole scene, we thought that the vibe and visual overview reminded us a bit of Notting Hill—and so popped on an appropriately Britpop soundtrack to groove the rest of the afternoon away to.

Back at Urbana, we treated ourselves to one of the best “artisan” pizzas we could recall in quite some time: their specialty Maiale pie—which literally translates to “pig.”

Needless to say, we “pigged out” like there might just be no tomorrow.


Summer ‘Buyout’ Destination: The Catskills’ Eastwind Hotel & Bar



Obviously seeking creative ways to decisively bounce back from this bottom-line-devastating pandemic, hotels have gotten impressively creative—for instance, those clever “buy now, stay later” programs. And fast emerging is a new “buyout” trend, wherein one assembles one’s most beloved friends and family to take over an entire hotel for a weekend or more. Kind of like a wedding party, except no one has to deal with the responsibility of actually getting married.

Kilkea Castle in Ireland, for instance, can be had for just $8000 a night. Head over to the Continent, and France’s Hotel Château du Grand Lucé is going for precisely double that—and well worth it, we must add. But since Europa remains off limits to Americans now (see what happens when you don’t wear your masks?), we’re obviously inclined to propose something distinctly more geographically attainable.



Now certainly The Catskills, the sprawling Upstate New York region just about two hours from NYC, is going on about 15 years of steady hype—yet has somehow remained pretty much unspoiled by the usual urbanista plunderers. Perhaps because it is yet still a bit sylvan for pampered cosmopolitan types? But we spent a weekend last year at the casual chic Eastwind Hotel & Bar (located in Windham and new to the scene in 2018), to where you can get decisively away from all those maddening NYC stresses—as well as the heightened social distancing issues—and yet not really want for any of the perks of being in a big city.

And yes, the hotel is now offering two-night buyouts for just $9000 in total. This includes 16 rooms and suites spread over two buildings, plus three Lushna Cabins, should you choose to invite your, um, glamping friends. It’s all done up very stylishly in an aesthetic we could only admiringly describe as Scandi-rustic, far more appealing than all the faux-farm hipsterati stuff that has so blighted Brooklyn these last several years.



And you could really only be bored at the Eastwind if you wanted to be. Windham Path, Diamond Notch Falls, and Mine Kill Falls are just a few of the ridiculously scenic hiking trails; there is mountain biking, horseback riding, yoga on the lawn, and even an authentic wood-barrel, Finnish style sauna; and, for the foodsters in your group, opportunities for local foraging. There are also two Writer’s Studios amongst the rooms, should you choose to ignore your companions, and instead spend the time finishing your Great American Novel.

“We have definitely seen an increase in bookings over the last few weeks,” says Co-Founder Bjorn Boyer. “People are wanting to get outdoors and enjoy nature, and there are an array of options for our guests such as hiking, biking and fishing. Eastwind provides a quiet place to unwind, reconnect with friends and family, or work remotely. From a contactless check-in to breakfast delivered to your room, we are continuing to do everything we can to ensure the health and safety of our guests and staff.”



We we visited, we were admittedly most content just playing games in the lounge, or chatting up the bartender over martinis and manhattans. But the Eastwind serves up five-star level breakfasts and dinners in that same lounge area, which can also be enjoyed by the fire pit or elsewhere out on the lawn (though keep an eye out for picnic stealing Yogi Bear types).

Boyer concludes, “Guests who buyout Eastwind can enjoy all of the property’s no contact amenities: cocktails can be delivered to outdoor decks, or even to guests’ rooms…or anywhere they are on the property. Staff can also provide group buyouts with outdoor BBQ dinners prepared over an Argentinian wood fired grill, and served under the stars.”

And considering how much time since March we’ve spent staring up at the ceiling, those stars actually sounding really good right now.


Be Here Now: Postcards From the Arlo SoHo Hotel

Images by Kristen Spielkamp




With the drastic shift away from physical letter writing (and even dialing the phone), to communicating by text and email, it’s really kind of charming how, when you arrive in a new town or city virtually anywhere in the world, there are plenty of postcards to purchase and send off to your loved ones—as a way to viscerally reach across the miles that separate you. Often, we put more thought into what we write on those postcards.

At NYC’s Arlo SoHo hotel, however, they’ve been put to a different use. Indeed, after checking in, one walks just a few feet to the elevators, and opposite is an entire wall of spontaneously guest-generated messages. We’ve been watching the hotel come back to life these last few weeks, as it has been valiantly returning to semi-normal from those worst moments of the pandemic in New York back in April and May. We immediately noticed a single postcard that boldly read ‘Be Here Now’—a reference to the legendarily controversial 1997 Oasis album.



But it also sent a definitive message to everyone who viewed the wall: “Wherever you are, just be there.” Which happens to be a much more poignant statement than it normally might be, in these times when so many people readily abandoned Gotham out of understandable fear. And the Arlo, we can say without hesitation, has been a place “to be” at this moment—one where you could feel a bit of that old hum of NYC, while so much else (museums, shops, wellness centers) remain closed.

It’s a completely democratic concept—the “flashcards” are there for anyone to take and pithily or extravagantly express themselves, then paste it up beside all the others. And it’s the hotel’s clever way of making everyone feel a little more connected, during a time of rather dispiriting disconnect.

Naturally, we decided to capture some of it here, also getting a couple of Arlo SoHo staff members to pen their own messages. And even if you’re not staying at the hotel, we urge you to popping by for dinner in the garden at the newly re-opened and truly excellent Harold’s restaurant on site—pausing to leave your own brilliant thoughts up on the wall before departing. It’ll feel better than a thousand Instagram posts, we promise.


Opening: Circulo Mexicano is Mexico City’s Most Stylish New Hotel



What now seems ages ago, a new breed of hotel began popping up everywhere from Paris to Tulum, redefining a new trend in travel, to the thrill of style-disposed global nomads. Cozy, design forward, and oozing with laidback coolness, the new breed of boutique hotels raised the bar, literally, on nightlife and the way we stay.

Grupo Habita was Latin Americas’s answer to Ian Schrager’s Morgans Hotel Group. Habita, the first boutique design hotel in Mexico City, opened in 2000, ushering in a new concept that reflected the people and neighborhoods surrounding them. Then on to Escondido Oaxaca, Condesa DF back in the capital (one of the chicest hotels anywhere, period), and so many more, the properties and the experiences they offered helped to evolve the experience of visiting some of Mexico’s most coveted destinations.

2020 marks the group’s 20th anniversary, and this week Habita unveiled its newest member of the collection, Circulo Mexicano (also a member of the prestigious Design Hotels group). Located in a 19th century residential property along the Republica de Guatemala, and reimagined by architect Ambrosi Etchegaray, the intimate, 25 room hotel is a calm, peaceful oasis in downtown Mexico City.



Outfitted with light woods and natural shades of Mexican textiles, the serene rooms are complemented with freestyle bathtubs, rain showers, and skylit patios and balconies. With sweeping views of the Metropolitan Cathedral, the National Palace, and Temple Mayor, the hotel feels like an almost surreal juxtaposition of the contemporary and historical.

The rooftop terrace, a signature of Grupo Habita properties, hosts a swimming pool, a bar, and ONA Le Toit, a French restaurant that is an ode to “bistronomie,” but using Mexican ingredients. A marketplace of boutiques and galleries will soon occupy the ground floor.

Circulo Mexicano deftly intersects modern day Mexican food, fashion, and design in the center of the city’s history. And if one thing holds true as we integrate back into our suddenly interrupted lives, our love of a great boutique hotel lives on.


Loupe Artist Petrus Bergstrand’s Cultural Guide to Stockholm




As unrelenting travelers, a game we’ve found ourselves playing under quarantine is one the one where we plan out trips that may or may not actually happen, recognizing that anticipation can at least provide a part of the thrill that we’ve been asked to put away for now. Naturally, scanning the slate of postponed exhibitions is a crucial element of said planning, as we honestly can’t wait to get back to our established schedule of fervent gallery and museum hopping.

Surely, the much buzzed about app Loupe has played a crucial role in helping art lovers survive this three-month cultural disconnection, with its multiple and expertly curated channels of “on demand” streaming art. In fact, during the lockdown, they notably launched a new motion art feature.

Yet still, as we can’t expect international travel to be returning to normal levels any time very soon, we asked Loupe artist Petrus Bergstrand to take us on an artistic trip through his comely hometown of Stockholm, admittedly our fave Scandinavian capital. The successful Swedish painter is known for his canvases that explore the possibilities of abstraction and surrealism, while unburdened by the narrowness of specific narratives. His work has been exhibited in New York, LA, Miami, Dubai and, obviously, Stockholm. It can also be viewed, of course, on Loupe.

“Petrus’ abstract pieces are multifaceted,” enthuses Loupe curator Nicole Kutz. “Their layers, organic forms and colors are not only striking in person, but they translate beautifully to Loupe’s streaming experience. His work truly fills a space both onscreen and in the flesh.”

The latter, of course, we’ll just have to wait for.


Petrus Bergstrand, The soft reality


Petrus Bergstrand’s Cultural Guide to Stockholm



Thielska (pictured top) is an art museum at Blockhusudden on southern Djurgården. The gallery contains the financier and art collector Ernest Thiel’s collection of works of mainly Swedish painting from the 1900s. Thiel sold the building, the art collection and all the equipment to the Swedish state in 1924. This is a gem for the visitor who wants to travel back in time. Djurgården is also a large royal green park open to the public 24 hours a day. Beautiful for a nice long walk in any season.


This is where the top notch Swedish galleries decided to accumulate. The area is an allé, as they call it in French, with a walking space and well curated gardens in the middle of a wide avenue going in opposite directions. You can find galleries like Forsblom, Anna Bohman, and so on—I like to go here for openings.


Galerie Forsblom



Similar to the area around Karlavägen, in Hälsingegatan you will find many interesting galleries showing a less bourgeoisie kind of artm and a wider variety of art forms. Here you can visit my favorite small galleries Flach and Fagerstedt. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations about the route around the gallery area. They are very co-operative here and love to do simultaneous openings that end up becoming a block party (especially during summer).

Ulfsunda slott

Ulfsunda slott is the historic Queen Kristina’s hunting castle, built in the 15th Century, located right opposite my studio. This is now a conference area, gallery, spa, hotel, café, and a great place for a business meeting. In the gallery and dining area they show some great upcoming artists. You can stroll the garden, shoot pool and hang out; but it’s not really for the social party person, though. More of a tête-à-tête vibe here. I go here occasionally for an opening or a meeting.



Skånegatan / Katarina bangata

When I want to visit the southern part of Stockholm, I take a 50 minute stroll from my studio in Bromma to Skånegatan. The area has a wide range of restaurants, record shops, thrift stores and cultural hotspots. Not far from there you can find my favorite Indian eatery Shanti, located on Katarina bangata. I go here for lunch at least once a week—delicious.


This is my meditation garden, and I go here for my daily power walk, to clear my mind and to reload energy. The pond is located a stone’s throw from my studio, and it can solve any problem for you with its magic in summer. Lillsjön is great for inspiration, relaxation and bird watching.




Sosta is a little cafe found in the middle of Sveavägen. On this nice, broad avenue, planned by Jean de la Vallées, you can find a lot of bars, cafes and shops—but Sosta is a must. A small but lovely Italian place where the staff is like family from the first conversation, and the audience is a broad blend of people with one thing in common: the love good coffee.


The artist bar, or KB as it is most commonly called, opened in 1934, and is now somewhat of an hotspot in Stockholm’s pub life, for the artist wannabes as well the original artists. The unique murals have been painted by Sweden’s foremost talents and are matched with exhibitions by contemporary colleagues. A unique atmosphere and exciting history. Many stories have passed here. Come see for yourself.




This is a Swedish undercover classic. Dark and gloomy, it has three floors of billiards with two bars. They usually play great music while the game is on.


This restaurant has been around since 1893, and many world-known personalities have come here. In the small bar you can enjoy DJs and live acts throughout the week. They also show contemporary art and some mostly younger, upcoming acts. At Riche you can blend in as a 23 year old or a 66 year old. A great place for a full night of fun and madness, or just a pit stop for a peek at the art, architecture, crowd and menu.




The Jean-Georges ‘Haute Dog’ Stand is Re-Opening at The Mark Hotel




When you’ve been in lockdown for three months, it’s funny how it really does become about the little things. After all, we’ve never seen so many people get so excited about simply getting a haircut—but such are these times.

A much bigger deal is the slow re-opening of hotels in New York, which not only welcome guests from around the globe, but also provide a central focus of NYC social life—especially for those of us who love chatting up a new foreign friend over a particularly well-made martini. The Mark is one of those hotels, still independent of all corporate interference, and an irreplaceable part of the cultural fabric of the Upper East Side. We’ve surely been known to while away no small number of evenings at its eponymous bar—and it’s The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges is one of Gotham’s most coveted dining experiences.



But getting back those little things, we were inordinately excited to discover that the exalted chef’s beloved Haute Dog stand will be returning, making for that ideal afternoon (sort of) meal after a morning of of taking in the art at The Whitney or The Met (The Mark is actually a most-favored bolthole for celebs attending the annual Gala). And they’re amazingly affordable, at just $6 each.

“It’s a New York City street food staple,” says JGV, “and it’s practical. I also liked that I could dress it up a bit to differentiate from the rest of the street ‘dogs. It’s the perfect bite for Mark guests and neighbors to grab before heading to [a museum] or Central Park.”

The restaurant is already open for room service, pickup and delivery—but an opening date for Haute Dog is still imminent.




Aspen Has Re-Opened for Summer: A Report From the W Aspen & Sky Residences



Though the near future of travel remains a maddening riddle, it’s safe to say we’ve got a good six months to begin to tell exactly how the ski season will be shaping in a world still haunted by the coronavirus crisis. Colorado was not hit terribly hard (though nearly 1500 deaths have been reported), so expect an urgency for the major resort towns to get back some measure of normalcy—Aspen especially, which officially resumed business on May 29,

Last August, of course, we reported on the notable opening of the new W Aspen & Sky Residences, which quickly became one of the region’s hottest destinations, with its Wet Deck, Living Room, and 39° nightlife hotspots. As its first summer season approaches, the hotel has undertaken its post-pandemic re-opening, with restaurants and bars, of course, operating at 50% capacity.

To better understand how this was accomplished, we caught up with General Manager Greg Durrer for the lowdown.



What are the safety measures you’ve put into place for re-opening?

W Aspen & the Sky Residences at W Aspen have closely coordinated with the Pitkin County Board of Health, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association and Marriott International to develop a comprehensive COVID-19 cleanliness and safety plan for all of our overnight guests, residence owners, local customers and employees. We have extensively modified and elevated our cleaning processes and procedures prior to our guests’ arrival, during their visit and post departure. Upon arrival, we have installed protective plexiglass barriers at high contact spaces, including our registration desks. In accordance with Pitkin County Board of Health Guidelines, all guests wear masks when traveling through hotel common areas.

And employee / guest interaction?

Employees wear masks and, in some cases, gloves, as positions require. Currently, our pools, hot tubs and fitness center remain closed in accordance with published guidelines*. Overall, there is a heightened focus on employee training, cleaning, and following all social distancing protocols and providing our guests with peace of mind so they can truly enjoy their visit to our beautiful mountain destination.

What is different about the sort of bookings you’re getting for this summer?

As business returns, we have noticed that our drive leisure markets are returning first. We are also seeing a wide diversity in travelers from individuals and couples to extended families reconnecting as quarantines are lifted around the country and globe.



How do you feel the social experience at the hotel will play out in the coming months? Including bars and restaurants.

Guests are looking to escape and enjoy all that Aspen has to offer in the way of outdoor activities, fresh mountain air, a vibrant culinary scene and world class galleries and shopping. There is a high desire from travelers to see that restaurants are following all published safety guidelines and protocols and outdoor dining is in high demand. We have made significant adjustments to our dining spaces to ensure that we are able to accommodate every guest in a clean, comfortable and safe environment. W Aspen is very fortunate to have an 8,000 sq. ft. roof top WET Deck that offers stunning 360-degree views of the Aspen skyline and the surrounding Rocky Mountains. Our WET Deck is unparalleled in Aspen and offers a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Our acclaimed Executive Chef, Jackie Siao, prepares globally inspired and locally sourced cuisine. This fare, combined with our views, creates an unmatched mountain lux experience.

What do you think the Aspen experience will be like this summer? What will be different?

The Aspen experience this summer will be focused on the outdoor adventure and access to the magnificent spaces that surround Aspen. Breathtaking views, the abundance of outdoor activities and an opportunity to reconnect and recharge with loved ones, extended family and friends. Hiking Maroon Bells, Hunter Creek Trail, Sunnyside Trail or Ute Trail offer our guests the chance to clear their minds, while taking in natural landscape that has made Aspen one of the most desirable summer destinations in the world. People travel from all over the globe to take on some of the most challenging mountain bike terrain and these trails are all just steps away from the resort that sits in town directly at the base of Aspen Mountain. W Aspen & the Sky Residence at W Aspen is perfectly positioned to host guests looking to enjoy the clean, fresh mountain air and wide-open spaces that the Rocky Mountains offer to all of our guests this upcoming summer.


(*Update: Beginning on June 8th, the Pitkin County Board of Health has allowed pools to reopen with limited capacity and social distancing guidelines. We are glad to be able to make one of our most distinguishing features available again to our resort guests. Enjoying a crafted cocktail or glass of rosé while soaking in the sunshine on our rooftop WET Deck, poolside with 360-degree views & fresh mountain air, this is one of the defining moments of an Aspen Alpine experience.)


The View From a Re-Opened Hotel: NYC’s Arlo SoHo vs. The Pandemic, Part III

Images by Lauren Zelisko



Out our window, watching cars flooding through the Holland Tunnel was oddly enough like a spark of new life, after three months of sheltering under coronavirus conditions. It was a sign that New York was getting back to its business, if cautiously, as COVID-19 casualty numbers thankfully continued to plummet here. (Despite escalating elsewhere.)

We’d been watching the city struggle back while checked-in at the Arlo SoHo, which was also working diligently and fearlessly to get its groove back. And that groove was more important than might be readily imaginable—as it has been since its opening in 2016 a hotel that had always relied on its ability to hum with a singular sort of cultural savvy. It was a place where you came from Chicago, Austin, Paris, even New Jersey or Minnesota, not just to sleep, but to be immersed in the electricity of Downtown NYC. You want cool? The hotel even has its own fragrance, which they call Dark Wood—but which a colleague of ours mistook for Le Labo’s popular Santal 33.

“We get that all the time,” confirmed a friendly gent at the front desk.



But of course, there were still no gatherings of the creative cognoscenti for the time being—as such events are yet understandably disallowed.

“We are normally very engaged with the urban explorer,” says General Manager Bassim Ouachani. “I mean, what other hotels have cabins in the yard? We can even have apple picking out there. That’s why I think we’ve succeeded, because we are always doing something very different. But we had to adjust to people coming now and just staying here for the room.”

He observes that a return to their regularly scheduled “programming” will have to be slow, methodical, and very carefully considered.

“We have to take it step by step. Activations are going to take some time to come back at the same level—I’m thinking 2021. But one thing we can maybe bring back quickly are the movie nights, because we can create social distancing.”

Yet we had been visited by assorted music biz and event production friends whilst at the Arlo—and over cocktails in the garden, they were already plotting the possibilities for future happenings at the hotel’s various spaces. As we rocked in the rocking chairs outside those aforementioned and very woodsy-chic cabins one evening (the hotel’s Bodega is selling bottled cocktails and frozen drinks in lieu of the rooftop lounge being open—which is slated for early July), we imagined a time in the near future when those coveted seats would actually be a little  tougher to get.



But the buzz of masked guests in and around the hotel’s uniquely stylishly designed public areas (we love the smartly mismatched furniture) was a site to behold after months of isolation. Most were upbeat and gregarious, making it the first time we’d experienced a genuinely social atmosphere since early March (seriously, the Target check-out line doesn’t really count). Encouraging, as just weeks ago the Arlo was hosting heroic healthcare workers who were returning to the hotel each evening after their shifts, exhausted and dispirited.

“Just to see them come back at the end of the day, after working 12 hours,” recalls front desk manager Amaris Ayala, “…all we could really do was offer them a glass of wine. Then we suddenly started to see how their moods were changing, that things were getting better.”

Yet whatever the adjustments of the last few months, one constant reminder of the hotel’s DNA was its unquestionably good taste in music—which we cannot emphasize enough, considering how many so-called “hip” hotels get it so terribly wrong. To wit, beyond grooving contentedly to Prince and Janet Jackson one evening in the garden, at various moments during our stay, we caught “Patricia” by Florence & the Machine, Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own,” “Fall Down” by Crumb, “Indigo” by Only Sun, and even Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” (the latter which just happens to be our own personal ring tone) all coming through over the soundsystem, keeping us endlessly entertained. It was a very knowing soundtrack, exactly what you’d expect from a hotel not beholden to corporate machinations, but rather to its own keen sense of the cultural zeitgeist.



But strolling around the neighborhood, the faint scent of optimism had noticeably begun to fill the air. More people were on the street just because. Outdoor drinkers filled the tables at Spring Street’s legendary Ear Inn. Trendy restaurants like Houseman and Adoro Lei were getting creative with their sidewalk displays to lure in passersby for walk-and-drink cocktails or some well-reviewed gourmet pizzas and salads. And the hotel’s own Harold’s restaurant was opening on the 24th for dining in the garden area and at Renwick Street terrace tables—very exciting indeed.

There’s still a long way to go to defeat this pandemic, physically, spiritually, financially. But at the Arlo SoHo, we were getting a good glimpse of the returning sense of normality we’ve been hoping to get back to these last few months—whatever normality means in New York City, anyway.

And we were very much looking forward to our first real restaurant check since February at Harold’s.



BlackBook Virtual Travel: Three Vienna Museums Go Digital



One of our favorite places to be in Europe—or anywhere—is Vienna in springtime (though as the late Anthony Bourdain finally had to admit, it’s pretty bloody charming at Christmas, as well). And though our recent plans to visit were shelved by the coronavirus outbreak, we’re making every effort to feel like we are actually there right now, via the miracle of 21st Century technology.

Of course, the Austrian capital is a wealth of art and culture at any time of the year, thanks to 600+ years of Hapsburg rule. And the city has deftly reacted to the worldwide travel lockdown by virtually opening up its magnificent museums for utterly fascinating digital viewing.

Certainly, we’ll miss the view of St. Stephen’s while nursing a glass of Zweigelt at the Onyx Bar at the Do & Co Hotel; or sweating to the grooves at canalside club Grelle Forelle. But right now, a bit of Klimt and German Expressionism will do just fine, thank you—while we look forward to our inevitable return to Österreich.

(N.B. Vienna tourism has a full complement of virtual tours available for viewing here.)



Albertina Museum 

Housed in the striking 18th Century palace of Duchess Maria Christina and Duke Albert of Saxen-Teschen, the Albertina holds some of the most exalted works of German Expressionism, the Russian avant-garde, and the greats of Cubism and Surrealism. But it is also boasts one of the most important collections of Old Master prints, and modern graphics and photography. The virtual tour features beautifully provocative works by Albrecht Dürer, Egon Schiele, Jean-Antoine Watteau, Jean-Honoré Fragonard…we could go on. It will keep you rapt for hours.



Museum of Applied Arts – MAK

An internationally renowned arts and crafts museum housed in the 19th Century Stubenring building, it is a regular pilgrimage for architecture and design aficionados. But two current exhibitions that have been moved online convey the artistic range of this always surprising institution. First, the Hamazanama is a 16th Century heroic epic from India, telling the story of Hamza ibn Abdul-Muttalib, who was, believe it or not, the uncle of the prophet Muhammad, with strikingly transporting imagery. While Gustav Klimt and the Palais Stoclet allows for an edifying peek into the working methodology of the visceral Vienna Secession master.



Schönbrunn Palace 

The opulent Schönbrunn Palace is a World Heritage Site, and Vienna’s most visited cultural institution. Once the summer playground of the Hapsburg princes, its more than 1400 lavishly Rococo rooms now make it one of Europe’s most significant architectural treasures. The virtual tour takes you through hundreds of historical furnishings, porcelains, ceramics and, of course, canvases. Plan to primp up a bit before signing in, for a properly aristocratic experience.