Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hotel Raya, Panarea, Italy

I have lost far too many hours over the past few months looking at Internet photos of coastal Italian hotels.  Never before has the pull to travel to this iconic part of the world been stronger for me.  When I came across Hotel Raya I first spent an hour devouring every photograph on their site and then had the urge to email the hotel link to 30 people I know.  But then I thought, hey I once had a blog just for this purpose!  So here we go, back from the dark side, to share the dreamiest looking hotel I've seen in ages.

Hotel Raya is located on the Aeolian island of Panarea, located just north of where the boot of Italy looks like it's kicking a rock.  The hotel sprawls across a hill with 30 main rooms, all with large terraces, and 7 additional suites spread between 2 buildings.  On the highest terrace they serve rustic Sicilian cuisine each night.  Oh, and there is a geothermal pool!

Anyway, stop reading and just look at the photos already. (All from the hotel's website.)

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.)