Friday, August 10, 2012

The Cranley, London, United Kingdom: Olympics Edition

For me there have been two clear highlights of the 2012 Summer Olympics thus far. (Not a huge shocker, neither are to do with athletics.) The first was watching the beautifully weirdo opening ceremonies directed by Danny Boyle, my very favorite movie director of all time. The second has been those short NBC clips of London From Above, shown each time they return from a commercial break. How spectacular are those shots? To fill the desire for more of both highlights, I keep watching the cheeky London montage from Trainspotting over and over again.

All of it has got me pining for a London vacation. One that feels like a caricature of a London vacation. I would go for high tea and fish & chips, and to the British Museum and the theater every night. And I would stay here. Because The Cranley, right in the heart of Kensington and Chelsea, gives me what I want: location fantasy fulfillment.
I stole all these photos from the awesome blog Honestly...WTF and Kayak.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Honor and Folly, Detroit, Michigan

One of my very favorite hotel/travel blogs is Designtripper.  If you haven't spent hours poring over all of her featured dreamy hotels and guest houses, then this is your lucky day.  Blogger Meghan McEwen looks for the qualities in a hotel experience that I value most - a sense of place and a sense of community - and I think it's what loads of people are looking for more and more. To quote her from her Welcome Beyond interview, "The places I’m most attracted to when I travel are the places that tell a story about their location — places that make you feel like you could really live there. I think the way people travel is changing. People want an intimate, authentic experience — something that feels special and personal, instead of a hotel room that could be anywhere in the  world and doesn't really have a direct relationship to its surroundings."

She officially became my hero when she went from blogger to innkeeper and opened Honor and Folly, a two-bedroom B&B in the oldest neighborhood in Detroit.  It's essentially a converted two-bedroom apartment and you can rent out one room or both.  There's a coffee shop downstairs so you can hang out with lots of locals.  They also have cooking classes and events in the space and seem to be doing a great job blending the too often separate universes of locals and tourists. Something desperately needed here in Los Angeles!

Photos taken from Welcome Beyond.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Hotel Club Du Lac Tanganyika, Bujumbura, Burundi

I had the great pleasure of traveling to Bujumbura, Burundi for work last week.  I'm embarrassed to admit that when I was told I'd be traveling to Burundi, I had to look it up on a map.  Now I know that Burundi is a small East African country bordered to the east by Tanzania and to the west by the Democratic Republic of Congo.  It is most closely connected to its northern neighbor, Rwanda, with which it has a shared history of Belgian colonialism and a brutal civil war between Hutus and Tutsis.  In Burundi, I expected to find poverty and corruption, which indeed is very present, but what I did not expect to find was a stylish hotel sitting on the lovely coast of Lake Tanganyika. (Watch out for hippos!)   

Bujumbura has a very small community of foreigners and while there I met the owner of Hotel Club du Lac, Alfredo Frojo, at a reception at the home of the American Embassy's Charge D'Affairs.  (I may not get invited to important parties in Los Angeles, but I do in Burundi!)  Alfredo, a chic Napolitano, told me that he bought the hotel in 1993, a few months before the start of the civil war.  The hotel was shut down and did not open again for more than 10 years.  I don't know when the hotel was originally built, but there are such fantastic 1960's details that I'll assume it was during that decade.  I'm obsessed with the font/graphics and odd architectural elements and would love to know more if anyone can find it.  This hotel is a perfect example of my favorite design category, what I like to call Mid-Century Colonial Modern, which the French, Belgians, Spanish, Portuguese and British did a great deal of around the world when they weren't busy exploiting resources and fomenting ethnic conflict.

p.s. Have you seen the 2006 French movie OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies?  It's a French spy spoof made by the same cast and crew as The Artist. It takes place in 1960's Cairo and the set design optimizes Mid-Century Colonial Modern. (If you have a better name for this, I'm open to suggestions.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Coqui Coqui, Tulum, Mexico

Coqui Coqui is a small, 5-room boutique hotel on the beach in Tulum, Mexico.  It started with one room, a small shop and a perfumerie, and then slowly grew, adding one room at a time, making the space feel organic and as ancient as the ruins.  For our honeymoon, this could not have been a better choice.  As far as I'm concerned, 5 rooms is the perfectly sized hotel.  With so few rooms it's possible to talk to the people who work there.  Our experience would never have been as great without Bruno, a chatty Argentinean musician whose enthusiastic addition of dulce de leche to our daily breakfast spread of fruit and bread felt like five star honeymoon treatment.  

I believe these photos do a thorough job of illustrating why the Coqui Coqui experience was such a dream, but it is worth mentioning that the whole place smells unbelievable. The mix of ocean air, sand and perfumes made of coconut and eucalyptus evoke a deep, almost visceral, feeling of relaxation.   When I arrived home I was legitimately sad to throw my clothes in the washing machine and part with the last remnants of Coqui Coqui. 

p.s. For once, this post features only photos I took.  Would really love to do more of this.