Posts Tagged: Hotels


17
Apr 13

Celebrity Hotel Review: The Peninsula Shanghai

By the time I reached The Peninsula’s revolving door, I had spent nearly three weeks jumping in and out of ferociously driven cabs, had checked in and out of nine different hotels, had whirled round some twenty-odd restaurants and bars, had sipped cocktails till dawn in a nightclub boasting its own shark tank and had scouted and shopped the entire length of Nanjing Road (and then some). Burn out was dangerously close.

But I wasn’t going to let this 24/7 365-city beat me and was sure that a couple of nights at The Peninsula would be just the reviver I needed. Although, I’d never stayed at this hotel before, I have been deeply and madly in love with The Peninsula Hong Kong for a long long time. When I was a kid I used to wander through its glorious high-ceilinged lobby listening to the silver clinking and wishing I could squeeze in amongst the glamorous ladies taking afternoon tea; in my twenties I knocked back cocktails with friends at Felix; and as a grown-up (ahem) I love nothing better than a day luxuriating at what must surely be one of the finest spas in the world. So, its Shanghai sibling had a rather a lot to live up to. I checked in expecting nothing short of perfection.

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The Peninsula Shanghai

Lucky Stars: The Peninsula keeps its famous client cards clasped very close to its chest but Scarlett Johansson, Hugh Jackman, Jacky Chan, Michelle Yeoh and a host of high-profile expat footballers like Nicola Anelka and Didier Drogba are a few of the big names that have been spotted here. 

 

The Lowdown

…And perfection it was. I’m sorry if this post sends you rushing for the vomit bucket, but I am going to gush. Everything from The Peninsula’s position on one of the loveliest corners in Shanghai (staring down the Bund, backing onto the former British Consulate gardens and overlooking the buzzy Huangpu River with the space-age skyline of Pudong glittering across the water) to the hand-carved soap dishes in the bathrooms had me in raptures. Walking into the hotel’s light-filled lobby was like stepping into Somerset Maugham novel – with stylish cerulean green walls, voluptuous velvet chairs, tiered chandeliers and vivid flower displays. I immediately starting speaking in a clipped accent and looked for a small boy to fan me. I was at home – or rather, a wonderful fantasy version of home.

Peninsula Shanghai

Deluxe River Suite at The Peninsula Shanghai. Swoon.

Better still, our room turned out to be a Deluxe River Suite, perched on the corner of the building boasting an astounding view of the city through its gracefully large windows. I hoovered it up with my eyes – window-side dining table, inches thick Chinese rugs, artworks, ceramics, little lacquer boxes filled with petite fours. Naturally, I played it cool while the reception manager was with us but the minute he left I literally leapt, skipped, twirled and squealed my way around all 1100 palatial square feet. There was a bedroom with a bed so soft and cosy it was like lying on a bundle of baby seals (I would imagine), a dressing room with a built-in electronic nail dryer and a cool little housekeeping box where you could deposit washing, for it to magically appear a few hours later without ever having had to endure the inconvenience of speaking to an actual person. The bathroom too was impressive with his ‘n’ hers sinks, a TV in the wall above the jumbo tub and tons of delicious DAVI amenities. As I swanned back into the living room, my husband gave me one of those approving marrying-a-travel-writer-paid-off looks as he sunk into the sapphire blue sofa by the fireplace. I felt more rested already.

Peninsula Shanghai251411Dressing room image

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Highlights

I knew I had to visit to the spa from the minute I saw this picture of the pool. I mean, come on, just look at it – what’s not to love? And, I have to say, it was even more beautiful in the flesh, all sunlight and terraces, squishy sofas and scented air. I spent my first morning here enjoying an amazing private yoga session with Kasia, the spa manager and all-round lovely person, and can now completely understand why celebrities and the super-rich fly their personal trainers around the world with them. That level of encouragement is incredibly motivating and thoroughly addictive. Topped off with a blissful Peninsula signature treatment involving ESPA perfumed oils and an otherworldly level of pressure and I was ready to take on the world again, never mind just Shanghai.

Peninsula Shanghai

Pool at The Peninsula Shanghai

Dining at The Peninsula was equally as memorable. At Sir Elly’s, the flagship restaurant, plate after beautifully presented plate of absolute deliciousness was served up with panache. Each one so perfectly balanced that instead of feeling bloated and sleepy halfway through, which I know from lots of important research can often happen with tasting menus, we worked our way through every bite and still found space to squeeze in some post-dinner cocktails at the rooftop bar. But then again, how could we resist this?

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Sir Elly’s: A rooftop bar worthy of any bucket list

Checking out was of course a heartbreaking experience. I really wish I could find some niggle to counterbalance my review but I’ve tried and I can’t. It was perfection from start to finish. The hotel is gorgeous, the food is sublime, the staff are intuitive to the point of being mind-readers, and the spa alone is worth travelling to Shanghai for. If you want to do this most magnificent of cities in style, The Peninsula is the place to be.

I stayed as a guest of The Peninsula, however, I also stayed in eleven other hotels in the city and this was my top pick. My views, as always are 100% my own.

GO THERE

The Peninsula Shanghai, +86 21 2327 2888; www.peninsula.com; Doubles from £270.

Finnair has daily flights to Shanghai from both Manchester and Heathrow via Helsinki. The below return fares include taxes, service and booking fees starting from:

Manchester – Shanghai Business class: £1855.36 Economy class: £542.36

London – Shanghai Business class: £1869.37 Economy class: £556.37

Tickets can be booked at www.finnair.co.uk or 0870 2414411.  For more information please see www.finnair.co.uk For up to date offers and news please follow us on twitter @finnairuk. Finnair also have daily flights to Beijing and Hong Kong in China.  Finnair also fly to Chongqing and begin flights to Xi’an, China in June 2013.

Finnair also fly to 7 other Asian cities too in Singapore, Japan, Korea, India and Thailand plus Hanoi, Vietnam beginning in June 2013.

 


29
Oct 12

Celebrity Hotel Review: Ten Manchester Street, London

Following on from an ultra-relaxing stay at luxury hotelThe Landmark London, Mommy Dearest and I nipped just a few streets away to sample the delights of a much smaller, but no less stylish, star-filled hotel in the city. Celebrity singers and firm friends, Kylie Minogue and Natalie Imbruglia have shared some girlie time together at the bijou Ten Manchester Street Hotel and we liked that idea, so decided to do the same.

Ten Manchester Street Hotel

The Lowdown

Ten Manchester Street Hotel is situated on a slice of prime London real estate, around the corner from the chic boutiques of Marylebone High Street, and walking distance to the West End, and couldn’t be in a better position for a girlie break in the city. And it’s everything a boutique hotel should be: low-key, luxurious, stylish and a little bit decadent. 45 guests rooms are spread over five floors, with the penthouse level being given over to the show-piece Grand Suite which boasts a separate living room furnished with cool Christopher Guy furniture and creamy marble bathroom loaded with Aveda products.

Junior Suite at Ten Manchester Street

All of the rooms are kitted out in a classy palette of brown, gold and cream with lots of glossy surfaces and fancy fabrics. The rooms aren’t large – even our junior suite was on the dinky side – but they are incredibly comfortable with statement chairs and sofas, dramatic hand-made mirrors and silky-yellow padded  headboards above beds swathed in Egyptian-cotton sheets with an off-the-chart thread count. Downstairs, the small black-marble clad reception leads to an intimate bar/lounge/restaurant and chic all-weather cigar terrace. It’s all very polished, as were our fellow guests.

 

The Highlights

Boutique hotels come with a expectation of personal service and Ten Manchester Street certainly excelled in that department. The reception and concierge staff were friendly and helpful, with everyone we passed from the cleaners to the bar staff offering a cheery nod and “Hello”. After noticing me snivelling miserably with a horrible head cold – my runny nose and freakishly-red eyes were probably a clue too – the concierge arranged for a nice big pot of hot water, honey and lemon to be sent to my room.  A lovely, thoughtful touch which I was incredibly grateful for and which, of course, meant they could do no wrong in my eyes from that point onwards!

Restaurant at Ten Manchester Street Hotel

Of course, a few sniffles weren’t going to stop Mum and I from making the most of our day out in London. The streets surrounding the hotel were brimming with pretty little boutiques, and nearby Selfridges made for the perfect spot for catching up with Auntie T for some champagne-fuelled chit-chat.  But by the end of the afternoon, the Beechams and bubbles combo was taking it’s toll and the only thing that was stopping me from collapsing into my super-sized invitingly white bed was the need for a good feed. Thankfully the dining room was a welcoming spot with the same cosseted feel as the rest of the hotel; all soft-lighting, dark brown and gold tones with statement furnishings like the Asian-inspired lacquer screen that separates the eating area from the swish little cocktail bar. We both settled on the steak and it arrived juicy and delicious-looking with a square-shaped stack of thick-cut chips. It was excellent. And so was desert, which inspired by our cake-in-bed event the night before, we asked to be sent to our room (I can see this becoming my favourite new hotel habit!).

It was easy to see why celebrities love this little hideaway, the atmosphere is warm, the location perfect for a post-shop drop and the staff make you feel like you’re staying over with friends – rather posh, stylish friends but friends nonetheless.

Go There

Ten Manchester Street, Tel +44 (0)207 3175 900; www.tenmanchesterstreethotel.com; Doubles from £169 


22
Aug 12

Celebrity Hotel Review: The Landmark London

London is always a wonderful city to visit in the summer but following on from the success of our fabulous and over-all-too-quickly Olympics and with the party still to come at the Paralympics, our capital city has well and truly positioned itself at the centre of the travel universe. So, here’s a wee look at two celeb-studded hotels in the city. First up, the rather lovely Landmark London Hotel.

The Landmark London, built in 1899 it’s one of the last great Gothic revival railway hotels.

LUCKY STARS: Katy Perry, Keira Knightly, Jack Black,Justin Timberlake, Freddie Flintoff, Myleen Klass and the Manchester United football team.

THE LOWDOWN 

The Landmark was originally constructed as an elegant railway hotel for the well-heeled travellers of the “golden age of steam” and although our grand tour had only brought us from Manchester and Glasgow, it seemed fitting that Mommy Dearest and I arrived directly from  the Marylebone station platform. After hours of negotiating  the London Tube system (getting lost on more like – Mum and I are proof positive that a poor sense of direction genetically disposed), the sight of the hotel’s magnificent Victorian architecture and the promise of some old-school service couldn’t have been more welcome. Crossing the threshold, weariness was replaced with wonder as we entered into a world of creamy marbles, softly-lit chandeliers, enormous floral displays and Victorian neoclassical oil paintings. While we were still wow-ing over the beautiful interiors we were discreetly checked-in and whisked to our room as all the while the sound of a piano tinkered in the background.

The elegant North Entrance of the Landmark Hotel London

Any travel tensions that may still have been lingering quickly disappeared when we saw our delightful and downright enormous Executive bedroom. Celebrity guests of course opt for the sprawling Landmark or Presidential suites but as The Landmark boasts some of the biggest rooms in London – 300 in all – all tastefully appointed in the classic Victorian tradition, you won’t feel short-changed. The bathrooms too are a treat with a huge soaking tubs, walk-in showers, twin sinks and a generous collection of White Company amenities. Oddly though, for such a thoroughly British hotel there were no tea and coffee making facilities in the room.

The Landmark Suite

THE HIGHLIGHTS

The Winter Garden restaurant

After a couple of hours lounging on our feathery bed it was time for dinner. And the location for our mother and daughter meal couldn’t have been more perfect. The Winter Garden restaurant sits at the heart of a beautiful eight-storey atrium at the centre of the hotel. Frocked-up and famished, we settled in amidst the towering palm trees, juliet balconies and soaring glass ceiling and were feeling very special indeed – a sweetly smug sensation that was only further enhanced by the arrival of Thierry Henry at the next table (Gasp. Tweet).

The classic menu and warm service were loyal to the hotel’s traditional aesthetic, however the waiting time was not – a late start and a forty-five minute between courses left us nodding into our empty breadbasket. When the food did arrive though it was delicious – Mum declared me her favourite daughter (I’m her only daughter) as she devoured her lobster risotto – and the thoughtful offer of our waitress to send dessert to our room for a cosy cake and TV combo more than made up for any delays.

Having skipped the Mirror Bar (a favourite celebrity cocktail bar hidden at the back of the hotel) in favour of Baileys creme brulee in bed, and having ran out of time to visit the chic TwoTwentyTwo restaurant and bar, there was one other hotel hot spot that I wanted to visit. The Landmark’s swanky spa and health club is as popular with the  well-groomed Marylebone locals as it is with the guests and was said to have been Katy Perry’s first stop when she stayed at the hotel. Featuring a 15-metre pool, sauna, steam room, whirlpool, monsoon showers and four cocoon-like treatment rooms for some luxe-y treatments – try the ESPA Advanced Super Active Facial for a cover-girl glow.

Indoor swimming pool at the Landmark, something of a rarity in London and a lovely spot for a few hours pre or post-spa lounging

Overall this is one of the most reasonably-priced and grandest five star hotels you can stay at in London. Situated opposite Marylebone Station, and short stroll from the lovely Regent’s Park, this beautiful old grand dame is perfectly located for exploring all that London has to offer, although you may, like us, find it hard to leave such lovely surroundings.

GO THERE

The Landmark London, Tel: +44 (0) 20 7631 8000; www.landmarklondon.co.uk; Double rooms from £250.


16
Jan 12

Detoxing Celebrity-style at the Canyon Ranch Miami

 It would be fair to say that after three back-to-back trips in less than a month, followed by a Christmas and New Year feasting frenzy, I could now happily weigh-in alongside a team of Russian shot-putters and am a prime candidate for gout, in fact if I carry on at this rate I will have no feet by February. So, something has to be done and I’ve come to the shocking conclusion that I am going to have to eat less and move more. And where better to start this radical new regime than at the Canyon Ranch Miami Beach, Hollywood’s favourite wellness retreat.

Now, I do love a trip to the spa but I’ve never really felt the urge to use my holiday time to detox. It just doesn’t sound much … fun really, but with a guest list that includes Shakira, Eva Longoria, Terri Hatcher, January Jones, as well as Jason Statham and Gerard Butler (spas aren’t just for the ladies any more!), the Canyon Ranch promised to be more than your average health spa. There may be 230 classes a week, resident doctors, nutritionist and physiotherapists, and a lofty keep-fit philosophy but there are also lashings and lashings of luxury and a fair amount of fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On arrival, I was pleased to see that the lobby was definitely more Kenzo than Tenko, showcasing original Art Deco features of the original Carillon Hotel alongside the upscale elegant designs of New York architect David Rockwell. The rooms too were plush, inviting and surprisingly large – even by American standards – each with vast living rooms and kitchens, spacious spa-style bathrooms and broad balconies overlooking the ocean.

So far, so good. And after a good night’s sleep in my jumbo bed I’m up and at ‘em. The Canyon Ranch does have a reputation for taking a serious approach to health and fitness though so I fully expected warm cabbage-water and wheatgrass for breakfast but no, instead – and much to my delight – I’m presented with a plentiful plate of organic blueberry pancakes, coming in at less than 300 calories, including the syrup! So this is how those celebs manage to stay so skinnylicious! Here’s the recipe if you want to try it out yourself (you really should). And if you love this recipe as much as I do, you can find more here

Whole-Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes with Fruit
Ingredients
1/2 cup bread flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
1/4-1/2 cup 2% milk
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup berries or chopped fruit  (Blueberries and bananas work well in this recipe.)
12 tablespoons pure maple syrup Instructions1. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. In a medium bowl combine remaining wet ingredients and mix well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
2. Lightly coat a griddle or large sauté pan with canola oil. Place on burner over medium heat until hot. Portion approximately 3 tablespoons batter on griddle and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon berries or chopped fruit. Cover fruit with 1 additional tablespoon batter and cook until bubbles form. Flip and cook other side to golden brown.
3. Serve 3 pancakes topped with 2 tablespoons of maple syrup.Serving Information
Makes 6 (3-pancake) servings, each containing approximately: 365 calories, 70 gm. carbohydrate, 6 gm. fat, 54 mg.cholesterol, 10 gm. protein, 469 mg. sodium, 4 gm. fibre.

Loving the idea that eating healthily could taste so good (this Canyon Ranch even allows alcohol, unlike its sister resorts in Tuscon and Lenox, but, of course, here the cocktails are organic, the beer biodynamic and the red wine green) I’m now convinced the keep-fit side of things will be a breeze too.

 

 

 

 

 

I bypassed the enormous indoor rock climbing wall, the spectacular state-of-the-art gym overlooking the ocean, and the four swimming pools and instead opted for my first ever Zumba class. Zumba was invented in Miami and claims to be an easy-to-follow, Latin inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness party. Sounds fun right? I thought so. I like a party and, although the only time I really dance is on nights-out when copious amounts of alcohol seem only to serve to enhance my natural dancing ability, I felt sure I could hold my own. Not so. My first ever Zumba turned out to be a somewhat humiliating experience as within moments I came to the sudden, stark and sober realisation that – I can’t dance! While the rest of the class, including a couple of nip-tucked octogenarians, pranced around the room in a series of highly-coordinated hip-shaking movements, I found myself flailing about like a mad jellyfish, facing the wrong way (more than once) and gasping for air like a guppy. Strangely though, I loved it and by the end of the sessions I was caught up in the feverish good fun of it all and happily ran around the room high-fiving strangers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was only one thing to remedy this sudden outburst of American-like enthusiasm and that was to head to the spa for some calm downtime. A 70,000 sq.ft shimmering, mosaic-covered sanctuary awaited me. Two floors of gently-lit sumptuous rooms, tropical “experiential” showers, pools of healing waters, thermal cabins, soaking tubs, laconiums, and an igloo (yes, really) made for a fabulous A-list experience. The massage too (just about) lived up to its $240 price tag with a hundred minutes of pounding, pressing and pulling inspired by ancient techniques used on Thai warriors.

Needless to say, as I enter into 2012 I believe that these celebrities have got the right idea and from now on I will be stuffing myself with pancakes, embarrassing myself at Zumba and all-day spa-ing wherever possible. Who’s with me?

GO THERE

Canyon Ranch Hotel and Spa, Miami Beach: Tel 305-514-7000; http://www.canyonranch.com/miamibeach/; From $400


23
Sep 11

The Cotswolds Celebrity Style: The Ellenborough Park

I’ve not long returned from a lovely stay in the stunning Cotswolds. It’s hard to believe that it was my first visit to this red-hot rural hotspot but as I’m from Scotland I usually take my staycations north of the border. The Cotswold’s didn’t disappoint though. The area has, of course, long been a favourite of celebrities; Kate Winslet, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Liz Hurley, Huge Grant, and Damien Hurst are just a few of the big names that own multi-million pound mansions in the area, but a little an extra bit of cool Britannia was added earlier this year when Kate Moss and Lily Allen tied their respective knots amidst the picture-perfect English countryside. So, I packed my designer Wellies and donned a deerstalker, for a visit to the area’s latest new-kid-on-the-Cotswold-stone-block, the five star, celeb-filled Ellenborough Park Hotel and Spa.

 

 

The Lowdown

This charming Cheltenham manor house has galloped ahead of the local competition picking up a mantelpiece full of ribbons and trophies since its opening earlier this year. There’s plenty on offer for luxe-loving, pleasure-seeking guests; within the walls of the impressive Grade II-listed Elizabethan building, grand fireplaces and oak-panelled walls have been well-dressed with rich wood furnishings and stylish scarlet and royal blue sofas and chairs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interior design guru, Nina Campbell – who was behind the decoration of Princess Catherine’s pre-wedding suite at The Goring Hotel – took charge of the Ellenborough’s smart interiors and has perfectly combined olde-worlde elegance with modern country chic to create a truly stunning space. I absolutely adored this glittery gorgeous peacock wall lamp that illuminates the balcony area of the Great Hall – so covetable!

 

 

 

The hotel’s foodie credentials are fantastic too and are said to attract many a local celebrity round for lunch, dinner or drinks. Whether it was breakfast in bed – seriously delicious in so many ways – afternoon tea or something a bit more formal, you won’t be disappointed. Celebrated chef, David Kelman, oversees the country house cuisine at the Ellenborough Park and has done an excellent job of showcasing the wealth of local products the Cotswolds has to offer. In the Beaufort Dining Room, there’s a self-assured selection of classic gastronomic delights – think buttery Lobster Thermidor and perfectly prepared Chateaubriand. Or for something equally as delicious but not quite so formal try the comfortable surroundings of The Tudor Club Brasserie – the Pear and Apple Pie, made with fruit freshly-picked from the trees outside, was to die for.

 

The Highlights

The Ellenborough Park has a host of celebrity-style suites hidden away in the hotel’s many ancient towers and turrets. All overlook the pretty grounds and some have views of the adjacent Cheltenham Racecourse. The dramatic Istabraq Suite nestled in the eaves of the Great Hall, with its timbered ceiling, huge bed and beautiful open-plan bathroom is about as romantic as a hotel room can get. The Arkle Suite has its own private dining area, oak-clad walls and spa bathroom make it the perfect space to live out your amorous Elizabethan fantasies. I stayed in one of the luxury rooms (19). It was spacious and beautifully decked-out in a pretty palette of pale blues, greens and creams, with ivy-clad windows and a large bathroom with double sinks, a Victorian claw tub and a nice selection of Penhaligon’s amenities. Standard rooms were rather disappointing though; very small and lacking in the rich character that the rest of the hotel exudes, so my advice would be that if you are going to splash the cash spend a few pennies more and upgrade.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ellenborough Park’s splendid Oriental-themed spa is the perfect spot for an afternoon of posh pampering. The lush little space feels extremely private, featuring a sauna, star-lit steam room, sensation showers and hydrotherapy pool, along with seven treatment rooms and a special VIP area for couples in a Rapunzel-like tower. Treatments are luxe – the Spa Creation Facial is certain to go down well with spa aficionados, and pre and post-treatment guests can lounge about looking gorgeous in the serene magazine-filled relaxation room or chill and re-charge in the jewel-box-like Juice Bar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Style


Go country with a pair of Dubarry Galway Boots. Seen here in Walnut £299

And should you forget to pack suitable walking footwear check out the Ellenborough Park’s fabulous Boot Room where a selection of Dubarry boots and Hunter’s Wellingtons are available for guests to borrow.

 

 

 

 

 

The Ellenborough Park: Tel 01242 545454; http://www.ellenboroughpark.com/ Doubles from £240

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