May 16th, 2013
Room service, fresh sheets and a lobby bar - what's not to love about hotels?
And while we use them for travel and the occasional watering hole, hotels are about much more than thread count. Grand Hotel: Redesigning Modern Life, the expansive new exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery, explores the value and impact of hotels in culture, tourism, architecture and art.
The show is a mix of mediums and full of fascinating pop-culture stories (Katherine Hepburn being tossed out of the Claridge's lobby for wearing pants) and curious historical facts (like Pan-Am Airlines founding InterContinental Hotels to expand influence in South America). The hotel as a creative hub is explored in depth, with photos and works of writers, poets, musicians and filmmakers who've made spots like the Chelsea in New York City and the Chateau Marmont in LA infamous to this day.
Also inside the exhibit is a stellar Ace Hotel pop-up shop. Part exhibit, part boutique, many of the custom items with Grand Hotel/Ace branding are for sale, including post cards (People Come and Go / Nothing Ever Happens, a line from the exhibit's inspiration, 1932 film Grand Hotel, $1.50), Tees and leather hold-alls.
Time to check in.
Grand Hotel: Redesigning Modern Life on now at the Vancouver Art Gallery, www.vanartgallery.bc.ca
See more photos from the exhibit on our Editors' Diary.
(Photo by Rachel Topham for Vancouver Art Gallery)
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!
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.
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 16th, 2012
So far, our kid-friendly travel itineraries have taken us to New York and Portland; this week, it's a snowy family retreat to Squamish/Whistler. Don't forget the mittens!
The Four Seasons Resort Whistler is incredibly kid-friendly, with plush bears and owls offered upon check-in, free games and movies to borrow for snowy nights, and pint-sized slippers and robes for trips to the hot tubs. Not only do kids under five eat for free in the hotel restaurant, there are also programs in peak season where kids can make S'mores in the fire pits or create pizza with the chefs in the hotel kitchen (offered on-the-house). Did we mention the custom cookies, iced with our kids' names, waiting in the room? Hey, what about us poor adults?
Stop in Squamish on your way up to Whistler...
Eagle-watching in Brackendale, “Winter Home of the Bald Eagle.” These giant birds arrive in December and hang around for a few months to feast on fish. Go to the Brackendale Dyke, off Government Road, for some great spotting and free use of telescopes on weekends. But be careful of salmon road kill, the birds like to drop the remains in unexpected places.Find a map here.
The Polar Express is a train ride departing from the West Coast Railway Station. A 50 minute ride (including a stop for hot chocolate and cookies), followed by a trip to the “North Pole” complete with visits to Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Expect to spend two hours enjoying this magical trip. To buy tickets for December 1-2 or 8-9 ($24-$39) visit http://www.wcra.org
warm up and eat
Howe Sound Brewery has a restaurant that accommodates kids and their beer-connoisseur parents. Try the beer battered fries poutine ($10) and the locally-made Christmas Ale, made from four different malts and a blend of spices ($6.50 a pint). http://www.howesound.com/
—Alexandra Suhner Isenberg
November 15th, 2012
Whether travelling for business (as we were) or choosing a gift for a girlfriend, finding the right spa in another city can be an exercise in trial and error.
Several well-placed Torontonians (one a French skincare guru herself) recommended the new Spa My Blend Clarins spa at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel but this being VitaminDaily.com, an in-person experience was a must.
The hotel’s entire 5th floor holds 24,000 square feet of wellness experiences. From the beckoning reception area with fashionable gear from Yoga Girl, to the expansive, bright waiting room with double chaise lounges and copies of British Vogue, we were duly impressed.
A “rebalancing” massage helped ease away the jet lag, while the refreshing eucalyptus steam cleared our mind for the day’s meetings.
We see more trips to Toronto in our future – next time to try the custom facials using peptide technology, the anti-oxidant cocktails or the Innovative Fitness training.
More trial, less error. —Sarah Bancroft
Spa My Blend at the Ritz-Carlton 181 Wellington St. W., Toronto, 416-572-8000, www.ritzcarlton.com