May 9th, 2013
Skip the glitz and glam of Rodeo Drive, and hit up some of Los Angeles’ cooler spots.
Located just below the picturesque West Hollywood hills and five minutes from the notorious Chateau Marmont, Andaz Hotel’s rooftop swimming pool and its indie soundtrack will put you in the right mood to feel like a hip Angeleno. 8401 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA, 323-656-1234, www.westhollywood.andaz.hyatt.com
Forget Britney Spears and her bottomless Starbucks, the best coffee in Los Angeles is in Silver Lake. Everyone drinking and working at Intelligentsia look like they belong in some cool band about to make it big. Who knows? Maybe they are. 3922 West Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 323-663-6173, www.intelligentsiacoffee.com
Silver Lakers take their vinyl very seriously. As does Vacation, the neighbourhood’s acclaimed record store. Whether you are looking for original pressings of Smiths albums or the new Kurt Vile record, they’ll likely have it. 3815 W Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 323-666-2111, http://vacationvinyl.com
From Silver Lake, head over to the equally happening Echo Park, and stop by Mohawk Bend to taste one (or two or three) of their 72 local craft beers. This gorgeously retrofitted 100-year-old Vaudeville theatre also features modern pub fare using the finest local ingredients. 2141 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 213-483-2337, http://mohawk.la
Echo Park is home to writer Dave Eggers, who is also one of the directors of 826LA, a non-profit kids’ writing centre. This adorable place is also home to The Time Travel Mart, where you can pick up the 826LA’s publications like From the Couch to the Kitchen, a cookbook written by high school students, as well as sharp-witted knick-knacks. 1714 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 213-413-3388, http://826la.org
Over on Mid Wilshire, you’ll find the painfully hip Pour Vous. From PYTs to older distinguished types (and we hear Robert Pattinson), this speakeasy features Parisian-inspired cocktails that will quickly go to your head, while you watch trapeze burlesque artists perform to moody Lana Del Rey songs. 5574 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA, 323-871-8699, http://pourvousla.com
May 2nd, 2013
This laidback California beach community combines boho chic and an artsy vibe. Here’s our must-see, must-do itinerary.
The newly refurbished Heisler Park winds up above the beach offering pretty views and great picnic spots. Fill your beach basket at nearby Whole Foods.
Want to dress like the locals? Ultra-soft T-shirts, drawstring pajama pants, Isabel Marant booties and baskets of gorgeous, Turkish hammam towels abound at Laguna Supply. 210 Beach St., Laguna Beach, CA, 949-497-8850, http://pinterest.com/lagunasupply
The Pacific Edge Hotel has just renovated its five beachfront cabanas, which can be rented daily for up to 10 people each. Massages, bottle service, pedicures, and even photography are on offer. Each one has been designed by a different creative group or store, with one resembling a surf shop with Hoby surfboard pictures, another with a fan made from sailboat sails, and another stocked with kids books and a chalkboard table. Each has a private deck with loungers and direct beach access. Rates vary by season/day. VIP cabana Host, 949-281-5720, www.pacificedgehotel.com
A refined surf-shack that is part of the California chainlet, Umami Burger is the go-to spot to refuel after surf and sand. Check out the plank walls, folding chairs and vintage surf posters, and order the Umami Burger with shiitake mushrooms and a parmesan crisp. Umami Burger, 620 Pacific Highway, 949-342-1210, www.umami.com
April 25th, 2013
Beach babes, long boards, and bellini bars - it’s all about Huntington Beach, California.
The Shorebreak Hotel’s front desk features a massive wave, there are surf films projected on the walls of the lobby, cruiser bikes and vintage surfboards in the rooms, all done incredibly stylishly. www.jdvhotels.com
Beach volleyball, all year round! And then, of course, there are the surfers (er, we mean the surfing) in and around the famous pier. It’s not called Surf City USA for nothing.
The Huevos Rancheros (pictured, $9) at Zimzala in the Shorebreak Hotel, with excellent coffee and a bellini bar in a breezy room was our idea of brunch heaven. The name of the restaurant means “peace with sand between your toes.”
Order one of the massive longboards from Huntington native Peter Hamborg a firefighter and father of 5 surfing, modelling, lifeguarding boys (why does this sound like a reality TV show in the works)? Cruise The Strand, 10 miles of paved track along the beachfront. www.hamboards.com
Lucky you if you get a sighting of one of the famous surf Woody’s like we did!
March 7th, 2013
We may be high flyers, but we certainly aren't high maintenance. Well, until we're stuck in a hotel room without a blow dryer.
The Hyatt Regency Calgary has turned a highly attuned ear to its female guests who are constantly looking for new ways to travel with more ease and comfort. With its Hyatt Has It service you can pick up anything from a curling iron to a yoga mat to a phone charger at absolute ease. Say goodbye to hauling your straightening iron in your carry-on.
This almost sounds better than the luxuries of home. Staycation, anyone? —Kait Kucy
Hyatt Regency Calgary, 700 Center St. SE, Calgary, 1-800-233-1234, www.calgaryhyatt.com
February 14th, 2013
Queenstown, one of the filming locations for a little movie about Middle Earth, is the perfect jump-off for exploring New Zealand's South Island. The beautiful scenery and delicious vineyards make for an equally chic and sportif trip.
Queenstown’s Matakauri Lodge is situated on Lake Wakatipu and overlooks The Remarkables mountain range. Book through luxury boutique concierge service Mr & Mrs Smith to receive a complimentary “Smith Extra”, currently a gourmet picnic hamper for two. www.mrandmrssmith.com
Visit the charming Amisfield Winery Bistro for dinner. Select "trust the chef" for a multi-course, simple yet stylish meal. Ours was completed with a chocolate and praline confection expertly paired with their deliciously honeyed sticky wine, produced with the "noble rot" method. Head over to the winery shop after to purchase a few bottles- Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir are also good buys from this Central Otago winery. www.amisfield.co.nz
For a little cinematic escape, visit The Dorothy Browns Theatre in neighboring Arrowtown (you may even catch a screening of The Hobbit!). This stylish cinema offers a selection of both blockbusters and art-house films. Order a glass of local wine and a cheese plate to enjoy while you watch your movie. www.dorothybrowns.com
The Postmasters Residence in Arrowtown is a quaint restaurant in a heritage garden cottage. We ordered the caramelized banana and brioche French toast. With bacon. And mimosas. After all, vacation is the time to indulge! Fiending for less sugar and more caffeine? Bob’s Weigh in town brews a good cup. www.postmasters.co.nz
From Queenstown you can charter a helicopter air tour to visit world-renowned Milford Sound. But, we recommend saving your Kiwi dollars and rent a car- when a road has "UNESCO World Heritage" designation you know it'll be worth the drive. Once at Milford Sound, join a 2-3 hour boat tour. Budget two days for the journey, with a night in Te Anau, so you can stop at the many scenic points and wineries along the way.
February 1st, 2013
Escape to the gorgeousness of the foothills just 40 minutes from downtown Calgary.
With 11 rooms on the property, the Azuridge Estate Hotel is an intimate getaway, with expansive surrounding wilderness and an incredible water tower with views worth the climb.
This is the stuff culinary dreams are made of: Azuridge’s Executive Chef will help you design a personalized and original menu for your meal in one of the several dining areas.
Finally, a getaway that's actually a getaway! With an awe-inspiring view of the Rocky Mountains from the fitness centre and private yoga classes available on request, inner peace is easy (at least for the weekend).
Get out and explore the stunning world around Azuridge. Private cross-country skiing and snowshoeing tours can be arranged as well as trips to the world-renown Spruce Meadows to watch the equestrian competitions.
January 18th, 2013
Montreal is legendary for its after-dark verve, but what about toting a toddler in the cold light of day? After a family weekend in her old hometown, Toronto Contributor Marianne Wisenthal officially declares this metropole a paradise playground for under-agers. Herewith, her 411 on the 514.
Anyone travelling with kids knows the hotel can make (or break) a trip. The gloriously restored Ritz-Carlton might seem indulgent but think of all the cash you’re saving on cover charges! Tubs are big enough to swim, cribs come decked out in pretty linens and the staff treats tots (and grown-ups) like long lost relatives of Eloise. Ritz-Carlton Montreal, 1228 Sherbrooke Street West, 1-800-363-0366, rooms from $425, www.ritzmontreal.com
A few years ago I might have said the best view in town was from Club 737 over a vodka soda. Now I’m happy gazing at the Ritz-Carlton’s secluded winter garden from a prime spot in the greenhouse. Alas, the resident ducks are in hibernation ‘til spring but Maison Boulud’s ricotta blintz and freshly baked viennoiseries almost make up for it. The other great view? A glowing Maggie Gyllenhaal with baby Gloria tucking into eggs at the next table.
After a big snowfall, little locals take to the hills. No toboggan? No problem. One block from the base of Mont-Royal, Fitz & Follwell rents wooden sleds by the day. Diehards can sign up for a four-hour Winter Mountain Tour of skating, snowshoeing and tubing (from $79 including rentals and lunch at Smith House). Don’t forget your toque and watch out for les enfant terribles barreling down la piste! Fitz & Follwell Co., 115 Avenue du Mont-Royal West, 514-840-0739
Take a stroll along Fairmont Avenue in the city’s hip Mile End ‘hood. After the de rigueur Fairmount Bagel with cream cheese and lox, stop in for divinely handmade molle maison at Kem CoBa - the swirled Lait d’amande and Griotte is truly bananas. Kem CoBa Glaces, 60 Fairmont W., Montreal, www.kemcoba.com
Once the novelty of a hot bagel has worn off, Montreal winters are mean. The Ritz-Carlton’s new salt-water pool is the perfect antidote to cold tootsies and end-of-day tantrums. It may not have a slide but it’s warm (heated with reclaimed energy from the hotel’s kitchen) and the city skyline view is marvelous. Montréal, je t’aime.
— Marianne Wisenthal
January 3rd, 2013
I can’t think of a goal I’d be happier to reach than my resolution to return to Kauai, the Garden Island, this year.
On the sunnier, drier side of the island, the Sheraton Kauai is located on a quiet spot of Poipu Beach. A waterfront room there is a must, not just because of the view but because it’s so close to the surf the waves will lull you to sleep.
Called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon is a stunning spot to have a picnic or go for a hike. And if you continue on to the end of the road you’ll find postcard-worthy views of the Na Pali Coast.
Yes, you could find a $10 ukelele at any souvenir shop in the state, but you won’t find passion for the locally made instrument like you will at The Ukelele Store in Old Koloa Town.
Shave ice is everywhere in Kauai but Jojo’s Shave Ice, a red shack adorned with Bob Marley posters, has flavour combinations you won’t find elsewhere.
Even better than standup paddle boarding on the ocean? Standup paddleboardng on Kauai’s navigable rivers. Outfitters Kauai runs scenic river tours perfect for novices.
December 13th, 2012
You’ve been to Santa Monica Pier and dodged the characters on Venice Beach. If you want to see LA without bumping into another tourist, put these not-exactly-hot spots on your must-see list.
Yes, the amenity-free Shelter is kind of in the middle of nowhere. But it’s also smack dab in the middle of the downtown, Silver Lake and West Hollywood triangle, all of which are a few minutes’ drive away. Plus, it’s as cheap as can be. From $96/night, http://shelterhotels.com
Don’t let the smoke in the air, the “B” health rating or the lack of atmosphere turn you off. The marinated steak and spicy tofu stew makes Soot Bull Jeep the kind of place A-listers hide out in when they don’t want to be recognized. 3136 W. Eigth Ave., Los Angeles, 213-387-3865.
Home to designers of all stripes, Silver Lake is considered one of the most hipster neighbourhoods in America. Make a pit stop at the tiny pocket on Silver Lake Boulevard that houses Yolk and Lamill Coffee Boutique.
On Saturday mornings the quaint Silver Lake Farmer’s Market offers organic juices, vintage clothing, artisan jewelry, and if you’re lucky, handmade lavender-flavoured marshmallows by Darren the Chef. www.darrenthechef.com
November 21st, 2012
Hotel Arts is known for its impeccable art, the rockstars who frequent it and the poolside dining at Raw Bar. And now they can add Asian fusion to that list.
Sushi lovers will find its new menu absolutely irresistible. With incredibly fresh dishes like the Teriyaki Beef and Asparagus Roll with kimchi aioli and citrus ponzu (pictured) and Steelhead Salmon Tataki served up with jimca and orange slaw, your mouth will be watering before the food even hits the table. Order up the tasty and aesthetically wonderful Blossom Cooler and you’ll be pleased as punch.
Now if only the poolside dining season would return quickly. —Kait Kucy
Raw Bar at Hotel Arts, 119 12th Ave. SW, Calgary, 403-266-4611, www.hotelarts.ca/raw-bar.html