November 1st, 2012
Just an easy 90-minute train ride from London, the charming, compact and walkable city of Bath – former home to Jane Austen, among others – offers a perfect day trip or weekend getaway.
We adored boutique B&B Villa Magdala, across from lovely Henrietta Park (opened to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee) and just steps from Bath's downtown. You'll want to stay more than one night – or bring a big appetite – to sample the delightful breakfast menu, with fruit, yogurt and pastries plus to-order picks like the full English and our favourite, the lemon-ricotta-pistachio pancakes. www.villamagdala.co.uk
Book ahead and bring a group to sample Tilleys Bistro's tasty tapas menu, complete with clearly labelled veg and gluten-free selections. Our French Farmers Salad, Baked Avocado Tower and Butterbean and Root Ginger Firepot went down so well (accompanied by a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc) that we tragically left no room for dessert. http://www.tilleysbistro.co.uk
Bath is home to the UK's only natural hot springs, put on the map by the Romans, who erected a full bathing complex complete with temple. A visit to the Roman Baths Museum is a must while in town. Wander the site with the audio guide and turn up your imagination to visualize the lives of the people who millennia ago bathed in these same waters. If you have time, pick up a combo ticket to save on a trip to the Fashion Museum, too.
You can't enter the original Roman baths, unfortunately, but there is a consolation prize across the street: Thermae Bath Spa, which taps into those same natural springs. Sample the selection of scented steam rooms, then soak in the rooftop pool and enjoy the views of Bath Abbey and the rest of the city. www.thermaebathspa.com
Photo: visitbath.co.uk Copyright: Bath Tourism Plus / Colin Hawkins
Bath has no shortage of boutiques and other shopping pleasures. Make sure to visit historic Pulteney Bridge, a late-18th-century stone bridge complete with built-in shops. One highlight for us was the Antique Map Shop, with its very giftable collection of printed maps from all over the world.
October 30th, 2012
The days of traveling in style ended when we replaced glamorous train trips and handmade trunks with low-cost airlines and polyester suitcases on wheels.
That’s why we are looking to Vancouver designer Alex Folzi to inject some elegance back into traveling, with his collection of handmade leather luggage. We love the brightly coloured suitcases ($369) for travel or as a briefcase, and if you aren’t on going far, his Osaka camera bag ($144) beats any nylon carrying case we’ve seen.
The only problem is that his collection really doesn’t suit economy, so we figure this is an opportunity to upgrade luggage and seats. —Alexandra Suhner Isenberg
October 25th, 2012
Houses are painted sherbert yellow, green and blue and the pinkish sand on every beach is as soft as flour. If you’re planning a winter getaway, consider Bermuda, where the sweet floral scents and sounds of the sea will whisk you a million miles away.
With three restaurants, pools, tennis courts and spacious rooms all steps away from one of the island’s best beaches, Elbow Beach is the place to stay. Order a Dark and Stormy and bask on the beach to a soundtrack of crashing waves. Sushi fans will love the fresh-from-the-ocean wahoo rolls at Seabreez. www.mandarinoriental.com/bermuda
Rent a moped and cruise the island at 25 miles-per-hour. Visit the flamingos at the local aquarium, stop and smell the hibiscus at the Botanical Gardens and leap off the cliffs into crystal waters at Horseshoe Bay. If you’re as nosy as we are, you’ll want to ride over to Tucker’s Town where Ross Perot, Michael Bloomberg and Silvio Berlusconi have holiday homes.
The Lobster Pot in town is a Bermudian institution where bibs are a must. Don’t miss out on the Guinea Chicks (Sept-March) and if you’ve never tried Wahoo, this is the place to do it. www.lobsterpot.bm
October 18th, 2012
The wonders of la ville d'amour are endless, but you have to start somewhere. Here are a few highlights from our latest jaunt across the pond.
For free vistas of the city and its landmarks, stroll up Paris's steepest hill to the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre, a neighbourhood once home to artists such as Picasso and Modigliani. Come at sunset to see the Eiffel Tower light up, hawkers ply their wares and local youth crowd the stairs in this popular hangout spot. http://sacre-coeur-montmartre.com
Our three-hour walking tour with Urban Adventures took us along stylish streets and through secret passages to see glorious architecture and real Parisian life, with a well-deserved break for cheese and baguette in-between. Bring a map so you can return to the adorable and easy-to-lose shops you see along the way. www.urbanadventures.com/destination
The Saturday-morning lineup of locals at bakery Arnaud Delmontel convinced us the goods were worth it even before we tasted the pastries, tarts and macarons. Ladurée gets all the hype when it comes to the petite sweets, but our favourite was the prettily pink-and-white marbled rose flavour here. www.arnaud-delmontel.com
Ballet flat addicts might want to set a budget in advance to a visit to one of the city's several Repetto boutiques, with the iconic shoes spread in a rainbow of colours and styles, including kitten heels, T-straps and even boots, plus ballet-inspired streetwear. www.repetto.com
Europe's so wee from a Canadian perspective: London and Paris are closer than Toronto and Montreal. Hit both cities on one trip while avoiding excess airport visits via the comfortable and just 2 1/2-hour-long train ride on Eurostar. www.eurostar.com
October 12th, 2012
The bastion of all things cool, who knew lower Manhattan was now run by hipsters under four feet tall? Herewith, our family guide to New York City’s Triangle Below Canal Street.
Our toddler didn’t say boo about the ostrich-embossed leather walls or floor to ceiling windows at the Smyth hotel, but she loved the lobby’s retro robot collection and plush leather swivel chairs. Actually, we did too. Rooms from $299, 85 West Broadway, New York, www.thompsonhotels.com
While Dad is on duty upstairs, curl yourself into a tufted banquette at the Smyth’s stylish lobby bar. The Toro Sliders ($14) are to-die-for delish and the Martini Sud perfectly potent. Do throw on your darkest pair of Jackie Os and pretend you’re hiding from the Post. www.thompsonhotels.com
Brunch is the meal of the day for parents of babes with bedtimes. Crayons are aplenty and kids are king at Bubby’s Pie Shop (there’s even stroller parking). Farm-fresh eggs, house-cured bacon and homemade soda pop will fill you all up until bottle-time. Is 10 a.m. too early for a Bubby’s Bellini? Nah. 120 Hudson St., New York, www.bubbys.com
Rumour has it a New York baby’s first word is MoMA - your own budding Basquiat will adore the Children’s Museum of the Arts. With a hands-on craft space and drop-in classes for kids from 10 months, it’s a perfect spot on a rainy afternoon. $10, 103 Charlton St., New York, www.cmany.org
If your wee ones want to hang with the heppist TriBeCa kittens, they must look the part. Egg by Susan Lazar stocks minimalist cotton pieces like seersucker blazers and voile smocked rompers ($39). Aleph Portman-Millepied is a fan of the stripy hats so they’ll blend with the best. 124 Hudson St., New York, www.egg-baby.com
Buzzing with chic nannies and their chicer charges, Washington Market Park boasts a Saturday farmer’s market, padded play yard and giant red jungle gym. If you spot Moses and Apple on the twisty slide, act casual and wait your turn.
October 11th, 2012
The big draws to this city are its theme parks, but where do the locals go for a good time? We took a tour of the Orlando most people don’t know.
With on-site activities like swimming, golf, kayak, tennis and even fly-fishing, the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes is a luxe retreat all on its own. Add to that fabulous restaurants and a standout spa at the adjacent Ritz Carlton hotel (The Citrus C Organic facial ($159) is one of the best we’ve had) and we hardly wanted to leave. 4040 Central Florida Pkwy, Orlando, 407-206-2300, www.marriott.com
Swimming with dolphins is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and Discovery Cove proved the perfect place to check it off our bucket list. The all-inclusive resort-inspired park offers 30-minute group dolphin swims (from $259) where we fell in love with Yoko and Diego (more than we can say about the giant sting rays we also swam with!). Sandy beaches, lazy rivers, an aviary pavilion, all-you-can-eat and drink… Booking a reservation at this piece of paradise is a must. 6000 Discovery Cove Way, Orlando, 877-557-7404, http://discoverycove.ca
Back on land, we got a glimpse at what Florida looked like pre-Disney at Forever Florida, a 4,700 acre eco-ranch and conservation area. We experience the pristine grounds – and played spot-the-gators! – by zipline and canopy cycle, but coach bus and horseback tours are also popular options (from $32). 4755 North Kenansville Rd., St. Cloud, Orlando, 407-957-9794, www.floridaecosafaris.com
Downtown Disney is technically in Mickey Mouse territory but it is home to an array of fabulous entertainment (like Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba) and restaurants like Bongos Cuban Café. Request a table on the balcony for a view of the lake: it’s the perfect spot to sip a signature mojito and let the exotic flavours (like the to-die-for seafood paella) transport you even further south. Dancing starts at 11:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and seeing as Gloria Estefan is the owner, you might end up doing the conga into the wee hours of the night. 1498 East Buena Vista Dr., Orlando, 407-828-0999, www.bongoscubancafe.com
We just have three words for you: Orlando Premium Outlets. Think Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, Saks, Prada, Tory Burch and a ton more. Word to the wise: There are two locations, so make at least a day out of it. 4951 International Dr., 407-352-9600 and 8200 Vineland Ave., 407-238-7787, www.premiumoutlets.com
For more on our trip to Orlando and the ultra-posh city of Winter Park, Florida, check out our Editors' Diary. —Christine Laroche
October 4th, 2012
It would take years to explore one of the world’s largest cities, so this time we focused on Mexico City’s vibrant food and design culture. (For more on Mexico City, click here.)
Located in the ritzy Santa Fe business district, boutique hotel Distrito Capital occupies the top ten floors of a skyscraper, which means breathtaking views of the city and its surroundings, not to mention its trippy Tron-esque entrance. Both Lady Gaga and Bono have stayed there…what else is there to know? Distrito Capital, Av. Juan Salvador Agraz 37, Santa Fé, México City, 1-866-978-7020, www.hoteldistritocapital.com
Searching for the new and hip? You’ll find it in the city’s Condesa and Roma districts. Parque Mexico is a great place to start exploring and discovering beautiful art deco architecture, charming sidewalk espresso bars, local boutiques, and artisanal chocolate shops like Princesse Cacao (Fernando Montes de Oca 81, Condesa, 5211-0276), all while meeting at least fifty dogs and their hipster owners. End your stroll on the sun-soaked terrace of Hotel Brick (Orizaba 95, Roma, Mexico City, 5525-1100) for a margarita or two.
If you’ve already said hello to Frida and Diego, then give Rufino Tamayo a visit for a contemporary art fix. Along with the famed Mexican painter’s works, Museo Tamayo houses a permanent collection of his peers (he did live to almost a 100!) like Rothko, Miró, and Warhol as well as rotating contemporary exhibitions. The museum is located in the Chapultepec Park, which could easily rival NYC’s Central Park in its beauty. Museo Tamayo de Arte Contemporáneo, Paseo de la Reforma y Gandhi Bosque de Chapultepec, México City, 5286-6519, http://museotamayo.org
Mexico City’s food choices are abundant, from taco stands to fine dining establishments. One of the latest favourites is restaurant Azul Histórico in the Centro district, which has taken over the gorgeous courtyard of the newly opened Hotel Downtown. Surrounded by historic brick, lush trees and beautiful people, feast on Mexican specialties like organic hibiscus flower enchiladas and Tixin Xie fish. Azul Histórico, Isabel La Católica 30, Centro Histórico, Mexico City, 5510-1316, http://azulhistorico.com
It won’t be hard to find incredible things to buy in Mexico City, but local designer Carla Fernández caught our eye with her amazing draping and a fresh take on Mexican knitwear — yes, that includes the legendary poncho. Thank us when everyone asks you, “Hey, where’d you get that?” Carla Fernández, Molière 58-A, Polanco, Mexico City, 5912 8010, http://carlafernandez.com
September 24th, 2012
If it’s not about the destination, then we’re determined to make the journey as stress-free as possible.
jet/set/go, a new line of cheap and cheerful travel accessories, does just that. Over-packers will rejoice in the portable luggage scale ($24) that lets you weigh your bags before check in. Beauty junkies will love the travel container set ($9) that comes in a resealable bag to keep creams and potions pristine. Neat freaks will take comfort in the compact laundry bag ($6) that ensures worn clothes don’t mix with the unworn.
Hey, if we’re going to come with baggage....
At Superstore, www.superstore.ca
August 29th, 2012
Our Editor-in-Chief moves some of her favourite things to her new Palm Springs getaway.
The Elephant in the Room
For my girls’ shared bunkroom, this Elephant is the perfect mid-century kids décor. Originally designed by Charles and Ray Eames for their own family in plywood, it’s now reissued in glossy plastic. $320 at EQ3, www.eQ3.com
Other than my Nexus card, these made-in-Italy Roots sandals ($168) were the life-saver of my last trip. Breezy enough for the weather, yet sturdy enough to traipse through succulent nurseries. www.roots.com
Designer Trina Turk owns a home in Palm Springs, and has recently expanded her store there to include a swim boutique. I especially love the Palm Springs Block Towel ($58) in orange, inspired by the decorative “brise soleil” walls you see everywhere.
Most of our décor is coming from the amazing consignment shops in and around Palm Springs, but this stunning poster for my friends’ architecture documentary, Coast Modern, will take pride of place in the Master. $150 at www.coastmodernfilm.com
Keep Calm and Carry On
When the reno stress gets to me, I’ll simply spray on my Dermalogica UltraCalming Mist, which also hydrates and reduces redness from heat, sunburn, waxing, or, I hope, concrete dust. $45, www.dermalogica.ca
August 2nd, 2012
On a recent trip to Southern California, we were blown away by the beachy-chic lifestyle of Santa Monica—so we’ve decided to drop everything and move there.
Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the luxury Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows used to be the private mansion belonging to Senator John P. Jones, the founder of Santa Monica. With that history lesson in mind, it’s easy to see that this 123-year old SoCal staple is one lavish and classy stay. Work up a sweat (for real) in a barre class at Exhale Spa, and reward yourself later with a dip in the outdoor hot tub and a nightcap at FIG Restaurant before returning to your elegant suite and freshly turned-down bed. Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, 101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-576-7777, www.fairmont.com/santamonica
Apart from the obvious beach appeal, Santa Monica is a bike lover’s paradise, spanning just 8.3 square miles. The city’s new Bike Center is the largest in the U.S., and has two downtown locations for rentals, valet parking, and tours (we did a self-guided exploration of the excellent vintage shops). In the next few years, look for the light rail system that will connect to Los Angeles and Hollywood. Bike Center, Unit A 1555 2nd St., Santa Monica, 310-656-8500, and one other location, www.santamonicabikecenter.com
West Coast hot spot Michael’s Restaurant, just a few blocks up from the Fairmont estate, has a romantic garden patio, mind-blowing seafood dishes, “California Cults” wine list, and another equally successful restaurant New York. (Anna Wintour is rumoured to be a regular, and allegedly likes her steak blue-rare). Michael’s Restaurant, 1147 Third St., Santa Monica, CA, 310-451-0843, http://www.michaelssantamonica.com
In this town, beach is the new black, but that doesn’t mean they’re short on clothing. Stroll Third Street Promenade for classic American retailers and the first West Coast Converse store, where you can customize your own souvenir-pair of kicks à la Santa Monica, complete with palm trees and the infamous pier. At the end of the strip, get lost in Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, and Barneys Co-Op at Santa Monica Place.
… for celebrities. While our brush with fame happened in our hotel lobby with funny man Adam Sandler, the Fairmont Miramar has a history of welcoming celeb guests (Greta Garbo, Cary Grant, Eleanor Roosevelt and the Kennedys, to name a few). Outside the hotel, the place to see and be seen is Montana Avenue. —Caroline Gault
Booking info at visitcalifornia.com