Posts Tagged: Luxury Holidays


14
Mar 13

Shanghai: Celebrity-style

The camera loves Shanghai. Marlene Deitrich and Anna May Wong swanned around its sultry streets whilst filming Shanghai Express way back in the Thirties. Its European-style mansions and colossal colonial buildings were as much the star of the show as a young Christian Bale in the Spielberg classic Empire of the Sun. While recent years have seen Tom Cruise leaping off the Bank of China Tower in Mission Impossible III, Emily Blunt and Bruce Willis let loose in Looper and 007 arriving for the first time in mainland China in Skyfall.

And with its heady mix of bustling streets, honking cars and neon-wrapped skyscapers crossed with tree-lined boulevards, historic buildings and pretty parks it’s easy to see why this super-exciting city is catnip to movie producers, cinephiles and celebrities alike. It’s fast becoming one of Asia’s top celebrity hotspots – the last Shanghai film festival was graced by movie stars Matt Dillon, Mischa Barton, Susan Sarandon and looks set to attract more big names this year. So, on my recent visit it seemed only logical to stop by a few of the places where they regularly roll out the red carpet.

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Shanghai, a superstar of a city.

The Peninsula Shanghai

Perfectly positioned in a discreet spot at the end of the Bund, The Peninsula Shanghai hotel has seen a host of movie stars, musicians and world-class athletes stroll through its revolving doors. Renowned as one of the finest hotels in China, the vibe is old-school glamour  - as is the guest list which includes Scarlett Johansson, Hugh Jackman, Jacky Chan and Michelle Yeoh, as well as expat footballers Nicola Anelka and Didier Drogba. 

Peninsula Shanghai

The Peninsula Shanghai, perfect in so many ways

Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund

It’s been A-list all the way since this Bund-side beauty opened its doors in 2010. With its beautifully restored Art Deco architecture, swinging Long Bar and swish spa it’s easy to see why the Prince Consort of Denmark, the Crown Prince of Luxembourg and Belgium and Princess of Sweden have all given the Waldorf Astoria the royal stamp of approval. Movie stars Faye Wong, Michelle Yeoh, Susan Sarandon and Matt Dillon have all been spotted here too. As has Richard Branson, whose wife is said to have insisted on staying in the swoon-y Deluxe River Suite. Can’t say I blame her.

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Deluxe River Suite at the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund

URBN

This quirky little hotel in downtown Jing An and is famous for being China’s first carbon-neutral hotel. URBN might not seem like the obvious choice for a celebrity city break but this 26-bed boutique hotel is brimming with personality and has seen Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Olivia Wilde and Paris Hilton check-in to its environmentally-friendly confines.

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Celeb-favourite, the Courtyard Suite at URBN

M on the Bund

M on the Bund is Shanghai institution and one of the first international standard restaurants in the city, the exhaustive list of celebrities who have dined here could merit an entire blog. Everyone from Halle Berry to Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe to the crown prince of Holland have  soaked up the spectacular views of Old Shanghai from M’s AH-mazing rooftop terrace.  Other high-flying diners include the Ferragamo family, tennis star Andre Agassi, the queen of Thailand, Prince Edward and media tycoon Rupert Murdoch.

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Whatever you do in Shanghai, don’t miss a trip to M on the Bund

Glamour Bar

The utterly gorgeous Glamour Bar is the champagne-sipping sibling of M on the Bund. Part intellectual salon, part pink-tinged party pad, it’s a huge hit with well-heeled locals and visiting celebrities alike. It’s also the location for Shanghai’s up-and-coming literary festival and has welcomed Matt Groening, Amy Tan and children’s author HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands.

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The utterly gorgeous Glamour Bar

M1NT

A staple of Shanghai’s party scene, M1NT is packed with eye-candy from its surreal shark tank to its white-hot views of the city to its sky-high celeb count. Clive Owen, Naomi Campbell and Adrien Brody have spotted, Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonzo have revved their engines at post F1 parties and the boys from Blue, Macy Gray and Justin Timberlake are just a few of the big names that have performed here.

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M1NT

Bar Rouge

With its ultra-glamorous vibe and jaw-dropping views, Bar Rouge has long been a hotbed for celebrity gawking. This rooftop roost is where Scarlett Johansson was spotted dancing up a storm and where Tom Cruise held the MI3 wrap-party. Other celebrity revellers include Quentin Tarantino, Kanye West, John Cusack, Formula One drivers and tribes of top models.

Bar Rouge

Bar Rouge

 

GO THERE

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.

 


15
Nov 12

Vintage shopping in Paris

Paris plus vintage shopping – could there be a more perfect travel amalgamation? I think not. And it’s certainly a favourite combination for celebrities and famous fashion faces too. Parisians, of course, take their fashion very seriously, so this is an amazing city to just stroll and shop, but if you really want to know where to go for those amazing one-off fashion finds you’ll need your own personal shopper.

Tara Munro is a vintage shopping specialist and her company Ooh La La Vintage in Paris has worked with everyone from Hollywood costume departments to TV stylists and A-list celebrities. The world’s top fashion houses including Lacroix, Karl Lagerfield, Chanel, Nina Ricci and Marc Jacobs have also come knocking at her door, seeking inspiration from Tara’s amazing retro collections.

Ooh La La’s services aren’t restricted to the red carpet and catwalk though, it’s also perfect for women who are looking for that gorgeous one-of-kind item. And at £45 for a tailor-made tour it’s not as expenses as you might think either. So,eager to sharpen my sartorial skills, I settled in for a clothing master class.

Tea and macarons set the scene

It’s entirely up to you how you arrange to spend your two hours. I was staying at an apartment in Paris with the lovely folks from Housetrip so it made sense to start our session there. While Tara set-up, we sipped tea (then champagne) and tucked into some magical little macarons.

Victorian jacket

Tara’s collection extends right back to Victorian times so not only did we get to ooh and aah over some amazing  frocks and fabrics, we also got a bit of fashion history lesson too.

Loved this shimmery number from the Twenties

The Thirties: this two-piece looks like it came straight from the set of Boardwalk Empire

Tara tells us how material was scarce during the war years but that didn’t stop fashion  - a dedicated dress-maker made this little number from discarded snooker table fabric.

Just peachy 1950s evening dress –  I so wanted to try this on and pretend I was Grace Kelly

Eat your heart out Peggy Olson.

On to the sleeker side of the Seventies.

Ending with some 1980s excess

Presentation over, we were given the chance to try on any pieces that we fancied before taking our newly-found fashion knowledge on to the street. Naturally, Tara knew all the best spots in town to bag a vintage bargain, and I have to say, there is no way I would have found these little shopping gems without her.

Mamie Blue

Mamie Blue was my favourite and the place where I picked up a gorgeous little Mad Men-esque gold lamé top for just 20 Euros. Brimming over with a dizzying array of clothes, hats, shoes, jewellery and accessories, it’s like a big decades-old dressing up box where you could easily stay for a year and still find things to play with.

 

 

 

 

 

This was definitely one of the most enjoyable days out I have had in Paris; champagne, pastries and a little bit of a history lesson all neatly tied up with the possibility of picking up a little bit of treasure for yourself at the end of the day. A winning combination indeed and not one that’s just for celebrities either.

GO THERE

HouseTrip.com has over 3,500 private rentals to choose from in Paris. The average price for a two bedroom apartment is around £84 per night, however, they have a range of apartments, houses and houseboats available starting from just £19 per night. To book a stay visit www.housetrip.com/en/Paris

 

 


19
Jun 12

Best Hong Kong Hotels for Celeb-spotting

If you’ve ever read my bio you’ll know that if there is one place in the world that I love above and beyond all others, that place is Hong Kong. I grew up on this spectacular little island and spent much of my childhood skipping between school and the pool,  spending my pocket money in street markets and occasionally celeb-spotting – my most memorable being a city-wide search for Madonna while she was in town filming of Shanghai Surprise.

Hong Kong Harbour @Lee_Cobaj

Well, it seems twenty-odd years on I’m still doing the same, only this time I’m flitting between spas and rooftop pools, splashing my hard-earned cash (still mainly at the street markets) while searching the city’s haute spots for the latest celebrity sightings. And try as they might to hide behind oversized sunnies and burly bodyguards, celebrities are often spotted leaving their lavish hotels. Along with the legendary Mandarin Oriental (which I’ve featured previously) and the iconic Peninsula (which I will no doubt feature at some point) here’s a handful of other great Hong Kong hotel’s for star-spotting:

THE UPPER HOUSE

It’s been A-list all since the Upper House hit the Hong Kong hotel scene in late 2009. In fact, Gwyneth Paltrow stayed here while filming her scenes for Contagion and loved the Upper House so much she recommended it on her everything’s-lovely lifestyle blog Goop. I have to agree with her choice, this chic city-centre hotel is swoon-worthy at it every turn. The design is both subtle and sensational with chic minimalist interiors made up of great swathes of Italian limestone, bamboo panelling and stunning sculptures. The rooms are HUGE by Hong Kong standards and all come with show-stopping spa-bathrooms overlooking the city or harbour, ultra-luxe modernist furnishings and a truly incredible range of amenities – think an entire range of REN goodies including eye-cream and night cream, as well as yoga mats, iPod Touches….the list goes on. Along with a spectacular Michelin award winning restaurant (be warned, you’ll need to book well in advance) it’s clear to see that the Upper House will be providing all-star service to the rich and famous for a long time to come.

Cool woods, cashmere soft carpets, one-off sculptures and a corner view to die for. I want to live here. Forever.

Just look at this bathroom. Amazing. And did you spot the REN Rose Otto bath oil on the side? There’s also a monsoon shower and celeb-style dressing room out of shot.

The Upper House Atrium with the most dizzyingly beautiful art installation by Japanese artist Hirotoshi Sawada

The stunning sky-walkway to Cafe Gray Deluxe – Gwyneth’s order of a club sarnie doesn’t do the Michelin award winning menu justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RITZ-CARLTON HONG KONG

The Ritz-Carlton is another new kid on the celebrity-hotel block and has become something of a superstar itself, having achieved the lofty title of the World’s Highest Hotel. So it comes as no surprise then that a hotel of this stature would have equally amazing guests to match. Lady Gaga chose the Ritz as her hangout of choice when she was recently in Hong Kong – in fact I seem to be inadvertently  stalking her at the moment, having followed in her footsteps via the The Dorchester, the Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver and The Setai. Anyway, the lady has clearly got great taste in hotels and the Ritz-Carlton is no exception. There is so much more to it than its record-breaking status suggests: cutting-edge contemporary décor meets unadulterated luxury, sublimely good service and some of the most incredible views you’ll ever see. I had read a previous review of the hotel which suggested the hotel’s stratospheric  positioning made Hong Kong feel distant and dislocated. But for me it had entirely the opposite effect; Hong Kong had never looked more beautiful, more jewel-like and lovely. The cityscape meandered across the South China Sea, as the Kowloon West harbour bustled below while the mountains lazed in the haze. I just wanted to put my arms around it and tell it how much I loved it. Sigh.

The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong. The world’s highest hotel soaring between the 102nd and 118th floors. One for everyone’s Bucket List!

There’s no doubt Lady Gaga would have checked herself into the best room in the house, the Ritz-Carlton Presidential Suite. Taking up the nearly the entire 117th floor, this heart-stopping haven features swathes of crystal chandeliers, walls inlaid with mother-of-pearl and this incredible bathroom.

The World’s Highest Swimming Pool on the 118th Floor of the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong. Quite possible the coolest pool in the world.

 

THE FOUR SEASONS

This is where Victoria Beckham chose to stay on her recent trip to Hong Kong. And how do I know this? Because when I popped along for a visit, I noticed an uncanny resemblance between the view I was seeing and the one that VB recently tweeted! See for yourself in the pics below.

The Four Seasons is of course renowned as one of the best hotels in the city. Located front and centre of Hong Kong harbour it too offers spectacular views of the harbour and city. The design is much more contemporary than you might expect from the suave Four Seasons brand with a MOMA-like lobby, high-ceilinged super-chic restaurants and large, luminous, ultra-luxurious spa. I didn’t get the chance to stay over (this time) but I did stop by for a splendid Thai massage in a suite overlooking the Star Ferry terminal – heaven – and very special dinner at the extraordinary Caprice – think posh frocks, a ballet-like service and food that tastes even more divine than it looks. Highly regarded by Hong Kong hotshots there’s no doubt that the Four Seasons will be staying on the celebrity circuit for the foreseeable future.

The Fabulous Four Seasons Hong Kong

 

“LOVE Hong Kong!!! Check this view out!!! X VB”

And check out this view! Pretty much the same as Victoria’s. Definitely the fabulous Four Seasons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caprice is another great place for celeb-spotting, also mentioned by Gwyneth Paltrow in her Goop blog and said to be a favourite of Nicole Kidman’s too. A Hong Kong must do.

 

THE LANDMARK MANDARIN ORIENTAL

Even though VB chose the Four Seasons on this occasion, the sleek and tres chic Landmark Mandarin Oriental is the usual crash-pad for the fashion pack. Stella McCartney and Georgia Armani are both known bedded down between its 400-thread-count sheets – although not together of course – while models, muses, buyers and bigwigs fill the tables at O Bar and Amber. Sitting pretty, slap-bang in the middle of the city the Landmark’s main draw is its high-design concept and easy access to all the essential A-list shopping Hong Kong has to offer – Harvey Nichol’s is next door and every big name luxury brand from Bulgari to Vuitton are just a (precious) stones throw away. Inside, the hotel is intimate and self-assured. Rooms are spacious and stylish with the likes of shamelessly-decadent soaking tubs and three (!) plasma TVs. With no time to spare, all I could manage was  a quick tour and an exquisite lunch at Amber – the only HK hotel to make it onto the S.Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants in the world list – but that little taste was enough to have me longing for more.

The Landmark Mandarin Oriental’s L900 Suite with its catwalk-like corridor is the preferred choice for the fashion set

L900 Suite Bathroom – another swoon-worthy Hong Kong Hotel tub

 

Have you spotted any celebrities in Hong Kong? Stayed at any of these A-list hotels? I’d love to hear your comments!

 

GO THERE: 

Finnair flies daily from Manchester and London Heathrow to Hong Kong. 

The below fares are ‘starting from’ return fares and include taxes and service fees:

Manchester-Hong Kong: Business class: £2326.00 Business class Campaign for Mid Week travel: £2076.00 Economy class: £667.00

London LHR-Hong Kong: Business class: £2321.00 Business class Campaign for Mid Week travel: £2067.00 Economy class: £658.00 

For more information call 0870 2414411 or visit www.finnair.com . For up to date offers and news please follow us on twitter @finnairuk. Finnair also have daily flights to Beijing and Shanghai in China.  Finnair began flights to new destination Chongqing, China in May 2012. 

Finnair also fly to 7 other Asian cities too in Singapore, Japan, Korea, India and Thailand.

 


5
Mar 12

An Arabian Adventure

As difficult as it was to leave the cosseted confines of the gorgeous Desert Palm, we only had three days to enjoy our girlie break in Dubai so after sailing across the city, scaling skyscrapers, hitting the shops and sampling the spa, we just had time for one last adventure – and as it was also BF’s birthday it had to be something special.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There really has to be a very good reason for setting your alarm clock for 3am whilst on holiday but the prospect of seeing the sun rise over the desert sands from the vantage point of a hot air balloon has got to be one of them – and I think you’d agree it makes a pretty good start to any birthday. So following a measly four hours sleep, we rose, put on some sensible shoes for the first time in two days and headed over to a Dubai car park for our early morning pick-up.

It’s wasn’t long before an A-Team style van pulled up and a stocky bearded man in a red jumpsuit leapt out and (with far more energy than four in the morning should afford anyone) introduced himself as Captain Attila – “like the Hun”, he added cheerfully.  Suitably amused, we hopped in and joined the other dozen or so day-trippers who were seizing the opportunity to snooze on the hour long drive to the isolated sands just north of Al Ain.

It was still pitch black when we arrived, the only light cast coming from the two other vehicles that had joined us from Oman and Abu Dhabi. But as the sun started to break over the horizon tingeing the indigo star-filled sky with streaks of pink and peach, we could see in the distance a team of maybe a dozen or so men energetically pushing, pulling, unfolding and positioning the mass of material and large laundry basket that was soon to be our aircraft.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The realisation that we were about to glide across the desert suspended by what was essentially a flimsy layer of fabric and an oversized hamper started to dawn – was a terrifying plummet towards the dusty earth really the gift I wanted to give my pal for her birthday? Surely such a thing could end what had so far been a beautiful friendship? Thankfully though, Captain Attila inspired confidence, rounding up his twenty-two passengers from nine different nations while barking out a safety briefing and deftly overseeing the fiery inflation of our balloon. If the birthday girl was nervous she was hiding it well so I tried to do the same.

Moments later, as the cherry-red sun is started to burst across the distant dunes, the balloon’s magnificently rotund form filled our eyes and the basket tipped towards its upright position ready to go. Attila, who had clearly had some kettling training in the past, ordered us to climb aboard (climb being the operative word – a maxi dress is not suitable attire as one of the passengers soon learned) and before we knew it, we were off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were a cheerful bunch of passengers, made up of groups of friends, loved-up honeymooners and intrepid solo travellers. Everyone was happy and for the first few minutes the basket was full of excited chatter and the sound of camera shutters. There was no scary swaying or ominous lurches, instead we ascended dreamily, smoothly and surprisingly quickly. We soon passed a thousand feet, and then two thousand when suddenly everyone seemed to realise that our aircraft was made of wicker, and tried to take a step inwards. There was of course no where to go and as we swept upwards past the height of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, to our hovering altitude of three thousand feet, the friendly chatter that had previously filled the air was replaced by nervous smiles, lame jokes, yoga-like breathing exercises and then ultimately silence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the scariest part of the ride. Everyone may well be smiling in this picture but believe me behind the mask there was nothing but butt-clenching fear. It was incredibly beautiful though, it wasn’t just the height that made my heart race, the sandy sea of burnt amber, coral and orange below was truly phenomenal.

My favourite part of the journey though was definitely the descent and landing, which turned out to be as close to a magic carpet ride as you can get. After drifting down to a less wee-inducing level, we swept across the endless undulating dunes passing the occasional Sheikh’s palace and Bedouin tribe, startling stray gazelles before one taking one final lunge across a huge herd of wild camels and coming into land with an almighty (and super-exciting) bump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And as if that wasn’t enough excitement for one day, we soon realised that we had a celebrity in our midst, well certainly a future celebrity anyway. In the front left corner of the group balloon photo you can see a young guy called Lyrican. Turns out he lives just up the road from me in Manchester and is one of the UK’s up-and-coming rap stars, opening for the likes of Jay-Z , Eminem and 50 Cent on their UK arena tours. He was out in Abu Dhabi to film this music video -

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PF3PZtuiSA&sns=tw

 

So there we go, a birthday trip with Star Style from start to finish and one that had left us as exhausted as an eight-year-old after a day a Disney. We’d certainly packed in the delights of Dubai and now it was time for our next, and sure-to-be more relaxing stopover in the Maldives.

Arabian Adventures offers Hot Air Balloon Rides in Dubai from AED 995 per person (£175 per person).  The operator can also arrange a host of other memorable experiences such as Dubai desert safaris.  For further information and reservations visit www.arabian-adventures.com or call            +971 4 303 4888      .


18
Jan 11

Celebrity Romance in Rome, Prague, and Paris

 

It’s my anniversary this month! On the 23rd of January I will have been married for two years and I’m pleased to say that we still don’t go to bed angry – we prefer to stay up and fight! Oh, just joking, I’m still mad about the boy and am prone to getting a bit misty-eyed when I think about my beautiful wedding day and honeymoon.

After giving an emphatic “YES!” to my sweetheart’s impromptu proposal – in Venice under a star-filled sky – my bambino and I organised our wedding at lightning speed and married just four months later in beautiful Lake Garda. Anxiety-ridden brides-to-be are always amazed when I tell them that I just turned up with my dress and shoes but that’s pretty much the truth. My husband-to-be was living in Italy at the time so it was down to him to organise the Big Day. I didn’t see where I was getting married until I arrived outside the beautiful Baroque town hall of Arco del Garda with my bouquet in one hand and my Dad holding the other, and I didn’t know where the reception was being held until my new husband and I were winding our way up the side of the Rochetta mountain to the Il Ristorante Belvedere al Bastione, an extraordinary eatery located in a sixteenth-century fortification overlooking the lakeside town of Riva del
Garda.


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I always dreamed my wedding pictures would grace the (web) pages of HELLO!

 

The whole day bloomed with romance. The food, the wine, the scenery, the culture, the look in his eyes – everything was perfetto. Anyway, the point of my romantic remembrances is not only so that I can swim happily in the still clear waters of my memory but also to tell you about three exquisite European hotels that celebrity couples love to nest away in – and one of which I was lucky enough to spend my honeymoon in.

 

Where: Rome Cavalieri

This hotel is top of my romantic hot spots, partly because it is the gloriously beautiful hotel that I honeymooned in but also because it has been attracting celebrity clientele for decades. Located in the hills overlooking Rome, the Cavalieri was built in the 1960s to attract the elegant cocktail set of La Dolce Vita and still tingles with that magical A-list allure. Every inch of the Cavalieri positively exudes beauty, romance and lashings of luxury from its impressive art collection, to its decadent Grand Spa, three Michelin star restaurant, La Pergola, and its luxurious rooms and suites.

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The Cavalieri’s rooftop restaurant, La Pergola

As neither my husband or I have a film deal, trust fund, or are major shareholders in Apple we couldn’t quite afford the $20,000 a night Penthouse suite but our Imperial room still exceeded all of our expectations and was the perfect little pleasure palace for our honeymoon. Awaiting us in our mahogany-filled, richly-draped room was an enormous bed fitted out with sheets any pharaoh would be happy with, a travertine marble bathroom stocked with Hermès toiletries, and a view over the city that was so spectacular that, when we stepped onto the balcony for the first time, I actually cried a little bit!

 

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Who: Amongst an illustrious guest list that includes heads of state, diplomats, and foreign royalty, George Clooney, and girlfriend Elisabetta Canalis, are rumoured to be regular guests. John Travolta and Kelly Preston are also thought to be big fans of the Cavalieri’s charms. Queen of the love song, Celine Dion, and unashamed king of
the ballad, Gary Barlow have also checked in to the Cavalieri for some Roman-style romancing. And Julia Roberts checked in for a whole month while filming Eat, Pray, Love.

Why: The saying goes that “You’ve never lived until you’ve loved in Rome” and the Eternal City certainly doesn’t disappoint. Whether you are lounging amongst the lovers on the Spanish Steps, ambling around ancient ruins, shopping along the Via del Corso, having a tipple in Trastevere, or watching the sun come up over the Trevi Fountain the sound of lovers footsteps from centuries past resonate everywhere. Kissing and cuddling seem almost to be obligatory in this city and even celebrities get caught up in the city’s unrelenting passion – Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel were caught smooching in the street, as were Julia Roberts and husband, Danny Moder.

 

 

Where: Buddha-Bar Hotel Prague

 

The last few years have seen an ever-increasing list of celebrity visitors flocking to the cultural capital of the Czech Republic, with many of them making their way to one of the very desirable rooms at the Buddha-Bar Hotel. The hotel is located along a charming wee street near the Charles Bridge and Old Town and is considered to be one of the best boutique hotels in Europe. Like the sultry restaurant chain of the same name, Buddha-Bar Hotel is a grand homage to oriental splendour. All of the rooms are decked out in the style of a luxurious opium den, some come with private terraces or Japanese gardens, all come with baths big enough for two and the three show-stopping suites are a heaven-sent for hedonists. This hotel is for all about pleasure seeking and is packed with hot young things and beautiful people. And if they’re not checking in, then they can be found enjoying the “Eatmosphere” at the sophisticated Siddharta Cafe.

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The blissful bathroom at the Buddha-Bar Hotel Prague

 

 

 

 

Who: They were never going to give me their guest list – they’re far too cool for that – but my sources tell me that, since its opening in 2009, Matt Damon and his wife, Luciana, have been regular guests at the Buddha-Bar. Other star couples that have been spotted in the area include Kanye West and girlfriend, Amber Rose, Brangelina, Gwen Stefani and husband, Gavin Rossdale, and Kylie Minogue and Spanish sweetheart, Andres Velencoso.

Why: If you’re looking for old-fashioned fairy tale romance then you really can’t do much better than picture-perfect Prague. Take a wander through the city’s cobblestone streets and admire its wedding cake architecture, magical gardens and magnificent Charles Bridge. The Rooneys chose this destination for last year’s make-it or break-it holiday. Bill and Hillary Clinton apparently adore the city and have been spotted more than once having a romantic meal at the gorgeous Kampa Park restaurant, that overlooks the river.

 

Where: Paris Park Hyatt Vendôme

No romantic getaway list would be complete without including the world’s capital of romance, Paris. When celebrity couples are in the mood for love they head to the City of Lights and celebrity couples in need of a measure of red-hot Parisian passion can more often than not be found at the lush Park Hyatt Vendôme. Located just a (precious) stone’s throw from the Place Vendôme, the Place de L’Opera and the city’s exquisite jewellery stores, this beautiful Haussman period building is all about luxury, seduction, and style. The Imperial Suite at the PH is one of the most expensive hotel rooms in the world, with multiple rooms for eating, sleeping and entertaining including an in-room spa, and is mainly reserved for celebrities and visiting dignitaries. Mere mortals however can stay in one of the Rue de la Paix facing lux rooms to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the heart of Paris.

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Gorgeous guest rooms at the Park Hyatt Vendôme


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Who: It might not have worked out for Eva Longoria and soon-to-be ex-husband Tony Parker, who were regular guests at the PH, and lodged their wedding guests here, but plenty other celebrities like the lovely Lily Allen and Sam Cooper, Rihanna and latest beau, Matt Kemp, and power couple Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones swear by the Park Hyatt’s amorous atmosphere. And Sting and wife, Trudi, who are, of course, well known for their sizzling sex life apparently check in for weeks at a time!

 

 

 

 

Why: For nearly a millennium Paris has been famed as a city of lovers and it’s easy to see why. Whether it’s walking hand in hand along the Seine like Demi and Ashton, sauntering around the fabulous shops (Dior in Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr’s case), or just soaking up the sights; lovers of all ages, and celebrity statuses can immerse themselves in the same romantic Parisian atmosphere that has inspired centuries of literature, painting and poetry.

 

 


5
Jan 11

Treasure Beach Barbados – Part Two

Ah, the crazy weather has finally died down and allowed us all to escape its wintry vortex. Since I last blogged Christmas, Crimbo, Winter Light Festival, or whatever you wish to call it has now passed, as have the New Year celebrations (more on that later). And as I have consumed my own body weight in champagne and cake during the festive season, I have had to turn my mind to sunnier thoughts to get through the grimmest (and flabbiest) weeks of the year. So it’s back to Barbados and bikinis …

 

 

Star Destination

Barbados, home of rum and Rihanna, has long been one of the top celebrity destinations in the Caribbean. The West Coast in particular with its white beaches, warm waters and cocktailed-coloured sunsets is the place to spot some celebrity eye-candy. Simon Cowell, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, and the Rooneys, to name a few, have all splashed out on sqillion dollar villas in the area. You’ll also find as many Sirs and Dames in Barbados as you would on Her Majesty’s New Year Honours list; Sir Cliff Richard, Dame Judi Dench, Joan Collins, Lulu and Sir David Frost are just a few of the island’s illustrious guests.

 

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While I was there, a team of ex-sports stars, including  my parent’s old football buddy Gordon Strachan, were gracing the Bajan greens at a charity golf competition. The Linekers were in town to celebrate Gary’s 50th Birthday and during a paddle in Payne’s Bay I could have sworn I spotted the actor Ralph Fiennes having a little shore-side snorkel – in the name of reportage, I waded in as discreetly as I could but as the mystery swimmer moved through the water faster than an Egyptian shark, I’ll never know if it really was the man himself …

 

Star Sanctuary

There are some very well known luxury hotels in Barbados by my favourite is the discreet and elegant Treasure Beach hotel that I featured in my last blog. The hotel’s General Manager was charming but remained tight lipped about his celebrity guest list but the hotel’s customers, on the other hand, were more than happy to tell me about their famous fellow-guests. Over an al fresco breakfast, I was fed on bacon, eggs, and stories of barbequing with Ainsley Harriet, dining alongside Dame Judi and lunching with Living Doll legend, Sir Cliff Richard. One thing though that all the guests insisted on was that every guest is treated the same, every guest is special and – just like you and me – wants to feel comfortable and be taken care off. There are no stuffy staff here. They are both professional and super-helpful. As one guest told me “It’s heaven, nothing is ever a problem”.

 

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Star Treatment

As I said, star treatment at the Treasure Beach’s is all about making celebrity guests feel normal. The huge suites are private enough for the stars to feel like they are staying in a private luxury home and come with lots of (high-end) homely touches. If guests do want to stray away from their plush surroundings and private plunge pools then they can enjoy blending into the hotel’s chic and relaxing atmosphere.

 

 

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hotel sits right on the snow white beach and its outdoor areas and gardens are infused with the kind of colonial charm that fills so much of the island. And right on its doorstep is the celebrity world’s aqua-playground – luxur yachts drift by like floating mansions while PYTs race around on brightly-coloured jetskis – and if you go for a dip at the right time you can also swim with the island’s Green Turtles. This little hotel is truly exceptional. Small but beautifully formed, with genuinely friendly service, it’s obvious why its guests, celebrity or otherwise, return year after year.

 

Star Style

It’s all about the beach in Barbados so some seriously stylish swimwear is in order. One girl who knows how to work her beachwear is local lovely Rihanna, who was spotted over Christmas in this panther print “We Are Handsome” one piece.

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Available from Net-A-Porter and Harvey Nicols £190

 

 

 

 

 

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