We have all heard of behind the velvet rope, but how about behind the trump loi?  I just got a special peak at what’s been happening at Ritz Paris.   The cherished palace, which has stood every so gracefully at 15 Place Vendome for 116 years has officially passed the half way point in the highly anticipated and extensive renovation.  So, the countdown is now on for my beloved Ritz Paris to reopen its gilded doors.   I have been promised that the unprecedented renovation will evolve the Ritz into a new palace for today’s discriminating luxury traveler and everything from top to bottom will be changed, but somehow remain the same…which sounds absolutely perfect to me.  

Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “When I dream of afterlife in heaven,the action always takes place in the Paris Ritz. It’s a fine summer night. I knock back a couple of martinis in the bar—Rue Cambon side. Then there’s a wonderful dinner under a flowering chestnut tree in what’s called Le Petit Jardin. That’s the little garden that faces the Grill. After a few brandies, I wander up to my room and slip into one of those huge Ritz beds. They are all made of brass. There’s a bolster for my head the size of the Graf Zeppelin and four square pillows filled with real goose feathers—two for me and two for my quite heavenly companion.”

We now just need to wait a little bit longer

À bientôt!

 

Andrew Saffir, Stephen Gaghan, Daniel Benedict

People always ask me, “How was Cannes?” and I always respond with–exhausting!  I got back last week from two weeks in what is perhaps one of the most surreal trips a person can experience.  I half joke when I respond with exhausting…the truth is the trip is exhausting, but worth every bit of lost sleep. Where else can I travel and absolutely need to bring at least five tuxedos, a bunch of suits, more shirts than one can imagine, shoes, shoes and more shoes and then casual clothing–bathing suits, shorts, gym clothes–the list is endless.  I did manage to over pack one suitcase and the bag arrived to my room in two pieces–fortunately with all my clothes somehow in tack.

 

 

 

I also managed to somehow pack all the luggage into my rental Mini Copper convertible–somehow!  Travel tip:

Consider the amount of luggage before booking a rental car.

The men at the rental car agency thought I was a magician getting all of the luggage into the back seat.

This year marked my 11th consecutive year visiting the Cannes Film Festival.  Yes, the festival is packed with movie premier after premier and glamorous, over-the-top parities, but I do still always manage to quench my wanderlust with some excursions along the Cote d’Azure.  First and foremost, premiers in Cannes are taken very seriously by all–especially at the Palais (the mecca of cinemas, positioned port side, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Croisette).

Croisette View

Black tie is mandatory for all and les Français treat every evening at the Palais as if it were a royal affair.  Not only is black tie mandatory, but gentleman are always required to wear tuxedos with bow ties (not straight ties) and black shoes (not blue).

People are often turned away at the door if the guards find ‘inappropriate attire.’  There are more photographers along the Croisette than film fans–and there are a lot of fans.  I have often looked out to a sea of flash bulbs and wonder how any actor sees a thing on the red carpet.

 

With Olivia Palermo

Which leads me to the red carpet…getting to the red carpet is impossible without an invitation to that evening’s premier and tickets are not easy to come by–even for those connected to the film world.   Once upon the red carpet the fairly tale begins…the trains on the gowns often run half the length of the carpet and the women all look beyond glamorous and the men usually try to look cool (some do and some don’t, but all try). The truth is that the red carpet is pretty intimidating for everyone.  Several years back, I remember leaving the Palais just steps behind Gwyneth Paltrow and as we walked outside and approached the red carpet and the long set of steps leading down to the Croisette the skies opened up and started pouring.  We all stood there watching the rain through the bright lights of the Palais and the flashbulbs of the photographers, there was loud classical music playing and everyone realized there wasn’t a parapluie in sight.  Gwyneth turned and said, “Why not?” – and then gracefully walked down the stairs of the red carpet, in the rain, with the music and lights in the background and I thought to myself – this is pretty amazing!

This year, The Great Gatsby opened the festival, and all movie premiers in Cannes are even more extravagant than one would expect; this one did not fail in extravagance.  I had seen The Great Gatsby in New York, but was thrilled to attend the opening night festivities and experience it Cannes style.  The after party was tented on the beach and was a recreation of West Egg, complete with a performance from Florence Welch, Champagne fountains, fireworks and a massive chandelier.

 

All but a few nights were spent at premiers in the Palais.  Just steps from the Palais and overlooking the Croisette is a Belle Époque masterpiece–The  Hôtel Majestic Barrière.  The Majestic is quite “Majestic” and is the perfect spot for a power lunch, a sunset drink, or a romantic dinner.  Fouquet Cannes is housed adjacent to the lobby and is quite a Cannes hot spot. Fouquet’s menu is very impressive and filled with delicious options for foodies.  I had the most incredible fish curry and my fellow diner had the largest and most incredibly delicious cote de boeuf I had ever seen–or tasted!  For the other nights “off” from movie nights.. one was spent at the restaurant at La Colombe d’Or in St. Paul de Vence.  This is one of my favorite restaurants in the world, La Colombe d’Or is an experience like no other.  Where else can one dine under Picassos and Calders, and have the most amazing food and wine.  There is a dining garden when the weather is warm and during the film festival it is the beginning of fraises des bois (strawberries?) season and the fraises des bois at La Colombe d’Or  are always so fresh and delicious!

Saint Paul De Vence

 

Another night “off” was spent at Tetou.  Tetou is a hot spot during the festival and is always star studded.  The restaurant is right on the beach in Golfe-Juan and the owners are kind and welcoming.  I can’t mention Tetou without also mentioning their famous bouillabaisse and grilled lobsters, along with their famous prices…it is a common joke during the festival that Tetou is not for the frugal.  The prices are not as friendly as the owners!  I also had an amazing dinner at the le Machou in the Old Town of Cannes which is a tiny, spectacular, candle-lit restaurant that is a must during any trip to Cannes.

My last night was spent at the Prince’s Palace of Monaco for a party to celebrate the Grand Prix. The Cannes Film Festival and The Grand Prix usually overlap so I don’t usually make it to the Grand Prix, but this year an invitation to the Prince’s Palace enticed me to Monaco for the night.

 

Yes, I did fulfill my James Bond fantasy but still missed not pulling up to the Palace in a Bond car–my little rental Mini was cute, but somehow didn’t quite add to the night…next time I think an Aston Martin is in order!

Please contact me for any suggestions for a trip to the Cote d’Azure–à bientôt!

The first time I went to Los Angeles I was 12 and I went to visit a friend that had moved there from Boston.  I flew out there during my midwinter break – leaving behind the snow of Boston and landing in the eternal Spring of LA.

I thought my parents were completely crazy not to move there at that very moment.  I could have my bags packed in no time!  Yes, I would have missed my family and friends, but I plotted how I could arrange for loved ones to visit me in California and all would be perfect–a revolving door of house guests (a fun flop house if you will).  The icing on the cake was the moment I swam in my friend’s pool and looked down a cliff to see a neighbor packing up the car to go skiing!   Big Bear was only a few hours away!  Oh how I wanted to move to LA; Sun, skiing, surfing–you name it and it’s there!  My parents thought I was crazy and convinced me that all of California would be in the Pacific one day after some terrible earthquake, and that I would miss my East Coast roots–summers on Martha’s Vineyard, skiing the icy mountains of the North East, etc.  So, I continued on my merry way shoveling snow and bundling up for winter.  Nonetheless, to this very day, I still can’t stand winter.  I can bare it until December, but when the New Year arrives and there are three or sometimes four months of cold, snow, and sleet, I shiver and longingly look back to that first trip to LA.  Lucky for me, I now get to spend a few weeks each winter in LA – a home away from home if you will.  I’m determined to have a snow bird bi-coastal life and consider it a work in progress.

When I’m in LA, I explore as much as possible.  I love to go for long drives and poke around the neighborhoods in which I someday would like to live. I have a ritual of driving to the Pacific Ocean on each trip, and put at least one toe in the water–although the Pacific is always colder than any of my New England beaches.

I’ve outlined some of my favorite LA spots and hope they come in handy for you.

Lunch

1.  Joan’s On Third is my outpost in LA.  Honestly, I’m there for breakfast or lunch almost everyday.  Joan makes the most delicious food and I constantly crave it.  For breakfast, I love the banana french toast and homemade pop tarts.  Lunch is the rosemary maple glazed chicken breast with a Brussels sprouts salad for lunch.  There are loads of amazing take out dishes and there are cafe tables both inside and out for eating –LOVE JOAN’S ON THIRD, we need one in NYC!!!!  8350 West 3rd Street, LA, CA http://www.joansonthird.com

2.  Lemonade is delicious for quick and easy lunch.  There are several outposts with many great menu items.  It is a cool cafeteria style process where one chooses options and they are packed onto your plate.  9001 Beverly Blvd, LA http://lemonadela.com/location/beverly

3.  Soho House is private, but you can either become a member or go as a member’s guest! The rooftop restaurant is gorgeous and it is packed all day and all night.  The views are sensational and it is surprisingly comfy and relaxed.   Soho House West Hollywood, 9200 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA  http://www.sohohousewh.com

 

Dinner

1.  The Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower hotel is my absolute favorite restaurant in LA.  The food is delicious, the room is perfectly candle lit and I always bump into friends.  There’s a 1930s vibe with live music and it feels as if Cary Grant, Errol Flynn and Marilyn Monroe could all come strolling in at any moment.  I always have chilled oysters and they have the best omelet with creme fraiche and caviar – and everyone loves the burger.  They recently added an ice cream sundae menu where guests check off the flavors and toppings, etc–yummy!  Tower Bar, 8358 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA http://sunsettowerhotel.com/at-the-tower-bar

2.  Cipriani at Mr. C Beverly Hills is as great as Harry Cipriani in New York or Harry’s Bar in Venice.  I have been a big fan of Cipriani for years and always love my lunches and dinners at the New York restaurants.  A new Cipriani in LA is the icing on thecake!  I  always start with the baked tagliolini and then the chicken curry.  The Bellinis are a must!  The ambiance is beautiful and has the same burled wood and cozy seats as both NYC and Venice.  1224 Beverwil Dr, Los Angeles, CA  http://www.mrchotels.com/beverly-hills/beverly-hills-restaurant.php

3.  The Tasting Kitchen is my latest find.  Yum, yum, yum.  The roasted chicken is perfect and I know roasted chicken doesn’t seem to difficult, but trust me I love roasted chicken and it is hard to find the perfect preparation.  The mussels are a close second–so delicious.  Chef Casey Lane takes simple food to a new level, and that is a compliment.  The only thing basic here are the names of the dishes, and I love simple food cooked to perfection.  1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA  http://thetastingkitchen.com/index.html

4.  Giorgio Baldi in Santa Monica reminds me of my Mom’s home cooked Italian food.  The ravioli appetizer is perfecto and they prepare outstanding fresh fish dishes. I adore the butterscotch caramel pudding for dessert.  141 West Channel Road, Santa Monica, CA http://www.giorgiobaldi.us/about.htm

5.  Nobu Malibu is on the sand in Malibu.  The waves crash just feet from your table.  The architecture of the restaurant is gorgeous and the food is Nobu–sublime Japanese!  22706 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA http://www.noburestaurants.com/malibu/experience/introduction/

 

Pool at Mr. C, Beverly Hills

Sites

1.  The Getty Museum is spectacular and the views are as great as the artwork.  http://www.getty.edu/index.html

2.  The Griffith Observatory is also spectacular and free.  Try to go at night and check out the stars… the ones in the sky! http://www.griffithobs.org

3.  The Pacific Coast Highway is just at the end of Sunset Boulevard–literally the end.  It is worth driving to the beach on your first trip to LA.  The Pacific is awesome and I think everyone should put a toe in the water.  If time permits, drive to Malibu and see what all the hype is about.  It is truly a place where billionaires and surfers intermingle in harmony.

4.  You can get close to The Hollywood sign by car.  There are restrictions, but I was surprised how close one can get–check it out…I did a bit of research on Mapquest.

5.  Runyon Canyon is a beautiful spot for a “hike.”  It’s more of a walk up a steep hill than a hike, but the views are great and it is a pretty nice place to be at one with nature in the heart of LA.

6.  LACMA (Los Angles County Museum of Art) is a very cool and hip museum.  Don’t think snoozy European style museum, but cutting edge!  http://www.lacma.org

7.  The Hollywood Bowl opened in the 1920s and is still one of the coolest places to see a performance.  Check out their website before your trip and who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky and one of your favorites will be performing: http://www.hollywoodbowl.com

8.  The shopping in LA is great and easy!  Most stores have valet parking and the natural start is Rodeo Drive, but don’t underestimate how many shopping spots there are in LA.  Starting on Rodeo Drive is smart and a must see even for those that hate shopping.  It is quintessential Beverly Hills–there are stereotypes for a reason!  I love Melrose for shopping and also have found cool stores in the coastal towns.  Keep in mind that shopping in LA from one area to the next takes driving time and there is always some of that famousLA traffic, so just add in a bit of time.  I found this link – it has a bit of everything for shopping and is a perfect tool to develop your shopping strategy; http://www.luxurylink.com/fivestar/los-Angeles/itineraries/7638930-shopping-hotspots-in-los-angeles

 

Enjoy LALA land!

Tucked into the heart of the Hotel Fouquet’s Barrière is the U Spa.  Hotel Fouquet’s Barrière is an Art Déco masterpiece perched on the corner of the Champs Elysées and Avenue George V and adjacent to the famous Parisian landmark Fouquet’s restaurant (established in 1898).  The hotel opened in 2006 and is comprised of several buildings surrounding a lovely central courtyard.  Jacques Garcia oversaw the design of the hotel and installed sound-proof windows and doors in all rooms and suites (helpful for silencing any Champs Elysées traffic din).  There are many rooms with stunning views of the Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysées and  – my favorite — the Eiffel Tower.  All rooms feature separate dressing rooms and well-appointed massive bathrooms with flat-screen TVs and waterproof remotes — nice perk!  The hotel also features one of the few Michelin-rated restaurants in Paris, Le Diane, which has large windows that overlook the hotel’s charming courtyard.

Now back to the U Spa — naturally a Leading Spa!  I had the recent pleasure of escaping the cold of Paris and transporting myself to this oasis of tranquility and relaxation.  The U Spa is a 8,600 square foot sleek sanctuary of rich wooden walls, reflective mosaic tiles, dim lighting and crisp white flowing curtains all nestled into a hideaway from the hustle and bustle of The City of Lights. There is a sauna, steam room and seven large treatment rooms–all intimate sanctuaries amidst the larger spa haven.  There are several water therapy pools and one large swimming pool (one of the largest for a Parisian hotel).  The decor is crisp and sleek and the environment is warm and relaxing.  There is even a large relaxation area, adjacent to the pool for napping, reading, or enjoying tea and a snack.   I managed to swim a few laps and swam over to the labyrinth of a water trail that is part of the spa’s balneotherapy regime.

Overlooking the pool area is the sleek and modern fitness center.  It is just the right size and naturally shares the same cool decor vibe as the spa.  There are numerous body rituals in which to partake and the staff is very helpful in finding the best treatment or treatment processes for one’s needs.  The spa specializes in balneotherapy, and uses Sensai Kanebo International and Cinq Mondes expert massage and treatment techniques.  Parfait!

Fall is the best time to visit Boston.  The weather is crisp, leaves are a flutter with vibrant colors, students are out in force to enjoy the weather before winter hibernation, and fireplaces are roar so all is comfy and cozy.  I visit Boston several times a year to see my family and visit old friends.  I tend to spend most of my time driving from one house to another to visit as many people as I can, and usually in a short window of time.  Because of this, I spend too little time exploring the old haunts and beloved favorites in my hometown.

I’ve lived in New York for many years and tend to compare everywhere and everything to NYC. The fact that delivery of everything is simply a way of life — and if it is not deliverable it is archaic. All restaurants should not stop serving dinner before 10:30 pm, a taxi is available anywhere at any time.   Boston is not New York, but I am realizing that this is a good thing. Boston has the charm of the West Village, the best shopping of any city, outstanding hotels and chefs who specialize in serving sophisticated dishes with a local twist.

I recently snuck into the Taj Boston to spend a few days rediscovering ‘my’ Boston.  For a long time, Boston seemed to change ever so slightly, ever so often.  Yes, a building would be erected and it would fit neatly into the skyline and appear to have always been there.  But now, if feels as if an entirely new city is encapsulated within the old city — new buildings everywhere and with that new…everything! Stores, restaurants, night spots and the list goes on.  The Taj Boston regally sits upon the entrance to The Public Garden and is perfectly situated on the corner of Newbury and Arlington Streets.  For shopping, Newbury Street rivals any shopping street internationally, and is filled with quaint cafes and art garlleries.   The Taj overlooks both the manicured Public Garden, with its famed swan boats, and The Boston Common.   As I approach the Taj there’s a sleek, new Jaguar in front of the hotel, ready to take you throughout the city.   Geographically the city is quite compact and can be explored on foot in a few hours, but the hotel car is there for guests when needed.  The Taj is famous in Boston for its High Tea and it is quite a serene and comfortable time to read the paper or catch up with friends.

The restaurant selection in Boston keeps getting better and better each year.  Here are few of my new favorites:

1.  Chef Barbara Lynch’s Menton.  Lynch has become the most acclaimed chef in Boston and is not only self taught, but incredibly creative with her French and Italian creations.  Menton has an incredibly chic decor to compliment the outstanding food.  Menton, 453 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02210 617.737.0099.  www.mentonboston.com

2.  Another feather in Lynch’s cap is her No. 9 Park.  Sitting directly below the State House, overlooking the Boston Common, No. 9 is one of the toughest tables to be had in Boston.  Book early and enjoy.  Like Menton, the decor is chic and also like Menton the food is delicious.   No. 9 Park, 9 Park Street, Boston, MA 02108 617.742.9991 www.no9park.com

3.  Chef Lydia Shire has been serving Bostonians and visitors fabulous food for many years and has only grown her following with each year that passes.  Her outpost Scampo is a favorite of many and the menu is uniquely Italian with both Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences.  Scampo, 215 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114, 617.536.2100.  www.scampoboston.com

4.  Toro is a great Tapas bar in the South End.  Toro, 1704 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02118, 617.536.4300.  www.toro-restaurant.com

5.  Coppa has yummy crudos and foie gras–maybe do a bit of extra cardio first.  Coppa, 253 Shawmut Avenue, Boston, MA 02118, 617.301.0902.  www.coppaboston.com

I love the museums of Boston.  They are large enough to feel important, but small enough that you don’t have to get lost for days and days to get through all the rooms.  Here are three favorites and three must see spots.

1.  The Institute of Contemporary Art is new and amazing!   ICA, 100 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02210 www.icaboston.org

2.  The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a true gem in Boston.  The museum is intimate and lovely and worth the trip.  It reminds me of The Frick Museum in New York.   Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 280 The Fenway, Boston, MA 02115.  www.gardnermuseum.org

3.  The Museum of Fine Arts is a majestic spot with incredible works and was a place I loved when I was young.  Sorry for the continual New York references, but this is a bit of a mini Metropolitan Museum.  Museum of Fine Arts, Avenue of the Arts 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, 617.267.9300, www.mfa.org

 

A few other must see spots:

1.  Boston Common

2.  Freedom Trail

3.  Public Garden

4.  Louisburg Square

5.  Skywalk at the top of the Prudential Center building

6.  Mary Baker Eddy Library Mapparium

7.  Harvard Square

 

Finally…shopping comes to my list.  Boston is a great and convenient shopping city.  Newbury Street is filled with every major designer and Copley Place is just steps away with anyone that might not yet have a store on Newbury.  There are many great stores, but two that stand out are Louis and Alan Bilzerian.  Louis moved its anchor from Newbury Street to the waterfront and has started the move to spread the footprint of Boston shopping to the outskirts of town.  It is now very cutting edge in aesthetic and design–very cool.  Alan Bilzerian is a native Bostonian and has been a purveyor of haute couture for quite some time.  His eye is on the mark and he doesn’t miss.

1.  Louis, 60 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02210, 617.262.6100, www.louisboston.com

2.  Alan Bilzerian, 34 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116, 617.536.1001, www.alanbilzerian.com

I have loved hotels for as long as I can remember.  As a child, I thought it was revolutionary that I got to stay in rooms that had a stocked refrigerators filled with all the treats I wanted (albeit a minibar–at the time this seemed almost space-age), and the ability to pick up the phone and get things sent to the room at any time–and if there was a pool at the hotel, then that was simply the icing on the cake.  I remember staying at a ski resort when I was about twelve that had an indoor/outdoor pool with a wall that one could swim under, to go from hot to cold–I loved it and thought this was simply the coolest hotel ever.  After hours of back and forth…cold to hot…hot to cold…I was told the “Spa” was closing shortly.  Spa?  I was at a spa?  I then asked the attendant what else the “Spa” had.  There was the obvious, steam and sauna, but they also had a cold plunge, an apres ski lounge and a light therapy room.  The only light therapy I had known of was something about photosynthesis from science class about plants and had no idea I could have light therapy too!  So, here at the age of twelve is where I can trace my first steps into a fondness for spa life!

The next day I skied from dawn until dusk and then raced down to the “Spa,” directly from the slopes.  I didn’t want to miss a minute of neither skiing nor spa time. With my legs burning from skiing, I was now prepared to get in all the benefits before the facility closed for the night.  I limited my indoor/outdoor swim to a mere hour so I could take in the steam and sauna and light therapy room.   Mind you I was only twelve and every posting on the walls noted that no one under 18 should use the facility without supervision; however, I’ve been  6 feet tall since I was twelve, so I guess the staff thought I was older–fine by me!

Now we must fast forward,  more years than I care to admit, and here I am as an adult with the same love of spas and I am off to The Setai Fifth Avenue!

I spent the afternoon at the Auriga Spa at The Setai Fifth Avenue, New York–sublime! Auriga is not only my new favorite spa in NYC, but may possibly be my favorite in the United States.  The facility is over 11,000 square feet and can easily keep you busy–just relaxing for hours. The spa is divided into men’s and women’s sanctuaries for changing, showering, relaxing etc (each with privacy as well as a private steam and sauna).  Then there is a communal area for both men and women with the most incredible Turkish Hammam (which rivals any I have visited in Istanbul) with charcoal and black iridescent mosaics tiles on the floor, walls and ceiling and massive white marble slabs to lay on under a ceiling of tiny twinkling lights cleverly hidden within the tile work to create the most incredible light therapy I have experienced.  In this dimly lit hammam, the ceiling becomes a night sky and lying directly under it is like watching a massive sky filled with shimmering stars.  It is quite a special and unique experience.  This light therapy is very much intentional and ties into Auriga’s celestial theme.

The staff takes a holistic approach to wellness, ensuring your body, mind and spirit are carefully nourished.  “We invite you to travel…transform…transcend. Come tap into the celestial rhythm,” is their mantra.

Auriga’s body therapies are based on the varying energies of the lunar cycle and are meant to not only create an experience ideal for a desired outcome, but to also tap into the phases of the moon and how they relate to our body’s rhythm.   Allow enough time to experience all the spa has to offer.  Along with the Turkish Hammam is the center of the spa, a spa vitality pool for hydrotherapy and relaxation. Also, there is the most incredible ice room.  This room is covered from floor to ceiling in green glass tiles with a sink in the center of the room filled with ice and fresh rosemary sprigs.  There are several impressive individual showers with lights, music and water jets coming from all angles–very cool.  Just beyond the hammam is a lounge area for napping and snacking–there is a spread of fresh fruit, delicious snacks, various drinks and a collection of teas. There is even a tea sommelier upon request.  Lastly, the fitness center is modern and fully stocked and the Julian Farel Salon is conveniently located adjacent to the Spa.

The Leaders Club introduced a new benefit last year called “hometown benefits.”  Members in over twenty cities now have on-property hotel perks, without even needing a room reservation.  For example, Leaders Club members in New York receive 30% off spa treatments at Auriga, as well as a 30% discount off hair and make-up services at Julien Farel at the Setai Fifth Avenue!

Auriga truly is a very special place and I’m looking forward to reserving my next spa treatment very soon!

It was Saint Ambrose who coined the phrase, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” and I do my best whenever I visit Rome.  ”The Eternal City” has a history of over two and a half thousand years and it is truly eternal in every way.  The ancient ruins rest peacefully amongst the chaos of the bustling city, and the Romans have learned to seamlessly mix the old and the new; the perfect spot to experience this is the Hotel de Russie–one of my favorite city hotels in the world!   Nestled quietly between the Villa Borghese Gardens and Piazza del Popolo, and hidden along the famed Via del Babuino, lies this magnificent 19th century palazzo. 

Piazza Del Popolo

 The de Russie opened in 2000 to great acclaim and in the past couple of years has undergone major refurbishments to keep it sparkling and fresh.  The sisal in the hallways is spotless, the lighting perfect, the color scheme is natural and the garden courtyard of de Russie is perhaps my favorite part of the entire hotel.  The Hotel de Russie is a shining star in The Rocco Forte Collection of hotels.  There are 91 rooms and 31suites.  All the rooms are incredibly chic and the suites are fantastic and many have large terraces and several have incredible views of Piazza del Popolo and the Pincio hill.  Sebastian Flowers has an outpost at the de Russie and has turned the hotel’s beautiful floral arrangements into what appears to be an ever changing art installation.  The hotel is probably best known for its treasured oasis of a garden courtyard, but is also renowned for its Wellness Zone — famous for its “Ancient Roman Ritual,” which is a foot treatment like no other and the end result is heaven on your feet.  

Like most everywhere I travel, I try to get the inside scoop from the locals.  My friends in Rome have the best tips!  Here are my picks:

Evening Highlights

  • Santa Lucia, Largo di Febo 12:   Beautiful garden set in a tiny square.
  • Dal Bolognese, Piazza del Popolo1/2:   A minute’s walk from from the Hotel de Russie and always filled with chic Romans.
  • Molto, Viale Parioli, 122:  A new spot with an incredibly stylish dining room and garden, situated in a lovely residential neighborhood.
  • Ciampini, Piazza S. Lorenzo:  Yummy for a snack or homemade gelato.  Famous for traditional triangle sandwiches.  
  • Al Moro, Vicolo delle Bollette, 13:  Fun spot where I always seem to run into someone I know.  Close to the Trastevere neighborhood — always bustling and entertaining to walk around after dinner.
  • Le Jardin de Russie, Hotel de Russie:  This hotel’s restaurant and bar is always filled with stylish hotel guests and cool Romans — the garden is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Jardin De Russie Restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shopping

There are, of course, famous shops quite close to the Spanish Steps (Brunello Cuninelli to Etro to Giorgio Armani–everyone), but here are a few of my special spots to check out:

  • Flair via Margutta 55L  There are Flair home stores in Rome, NYC, Florence and Milan.  Flair has interesting art and home furnishing period pieces from the 1950s, 1960s on up.
  • Fleur Luxury Living, Via Bocca di Leone, 46:  Fleur is somewhat hidden, but is filled with all kinds of things you’ll treasure.  It is a “concept store” which basically means the concept is the buyer has found everything you’d want to own!
  • Via Condotti:  Don’t forget Via Condotti for shopping.  There are a number of great stores between The Spanish Steps and The Hotel de Russie.

 

Other Must-See Sights

  • The Spanish steps and Barcaccia’s Fountain
  • The Colosseum
  • The Pantheon
  • The Roman Forum
  • The Capitaline Hill
  • The Trevi Fountain (the famous scene from La Dolce Vita was filmed here)
  • Piazza Colonna
  • St. Ignazio Church
  • Piazza Montecitoro
  • Piazza Navona
  • Vatican City
  • St Peter’s Cathedral 

Tutto Bene!

Daniel

Time seems to stand still in Capri.  

I have been visiting the island for many years and aside from the new storefronts, the newer style, cute open-air taxi cabs and some extra-large mega yachts, the island looks the same as it did in the photos from the 1950′s with Jackie O and Brigitte Bardot strolling the slippery stone streets.  

Il Riccio Beach Club & Restaurant

Qui si sana means “here one heals,” in Italian, and Capri is the perfect place to do just that. While I love all the Morgano Hotels (Scalinatella, Casa Morgano and the Grand Hotel Quisisana), one of my favorite activities is simply sitting at the bar at the footsteps to the entrance of the “Quisi” after dinner and watching the Italians stroll through town.  Nowhere else in the world does one see such a colorful array of clothing on both men and women – Palm Beach doesn’t even come close! While red pants on men seem to be de rigueur, there is every shade of yellow, blue, orange and green…oh, and I almost forgot purple (that is, shades of pale purple, bright pink, watermelon, lavender, bright purple, and the list goes on).  That’s just the pants – there are also molto color options for cashmere sweaters and scarves and suede driving shoes – yes, tutti color options are open in Capri, and combinations of any and all are encouraged.

 

The same can be said for the ladies, but simply add more prints – Pucci, Missoni, and the like. This summer, the chicest of chic women are all wearing Faraone Mennella jewelry. Rather than just having color options in clothing, the woman strolling through the Piazzetta and up to the Capri Palace and then back down to the main thoroughfare in front of Quisi are all donning truly magnificent colorful pieces from my friends behind the company Faraone Mennella – Amedeo Scognamiglio and Robero Faraone.  Their beautiful new flagship boutique is located just a few steps away from my favorite restaurant Aurora, at Via Fuorlovado 23.  Their collections are beautiful and everyone is abuzz on the island over their new shop.  

 

My Farone Mennella Friends in Capri!

 

One of the best things about Capri is that the stores are open late, so you can shop before and after dinner. My recommendation is to do your clothing shopping prior to pasta at dinner and reserve your jewelry shopping for after dinner.  I love Russo Uomo (right next to the Quisisana) for men’s clothing. I also love 100% Capri right across from Faraone Mennella.  Just about every Italian designer has a shop and naturally Brunello Cucinelli, Loro Piana, Kiton and Tod’s are my first stops.

La Fontelina Capri

A trip to Anacapri is a must, as is a visit to the Capri Palace. It’s absolutely beautiful and the entrance looks into the depths of the swimming pool. Very fun! Also in Anacapri are many quaint and beautiful stores selling locally produced linen clothing.  And now for the food…yes, the food.  For lovers of Italian fare, there is no shortage of delicious spots…in fact, that is pretty much the only option for dinner – Italian!  I had dinner one night at Villa Verde (very popular open air spot) and the waiter recognized half our table as regulars and started taking our dinners orders. I turned to my friend Amedeo and wondered if there were no longer any menus and he replied that he never needs a menu since all the restaurants in Capri have the same dishes – which is only half true. I love La Fontelina and Da Luigi for lunch (both swimming / lunch spots directly under the iconic Faraglioni rocks).  I also adore the newly redone Il Riccio for lunch which is the beach club below the Capri Palace (check out the dessert buffet!).  Il Riccio is also open on weekend nights for dinner.  No trip to Capri is complete without a trip to Da Paolino (set amidst a lemon grove turned ristorante).

If you haven’t been to Capri, you must go. Tutto bene!