2 Lam Son – A stylish addition to the chic Park Hyatt Saigon

•March 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Designed by the internationally renowned interior design firm Super Potato from Tokyo, 2 Lam Son is the newest addition to Park Hyatt Saigon and the city’s latest social venue. Opened in January and named after its address, the bar is already the place to be (and to be seen) in town. My husband and I were there last Saturday night with a few friends and the venue was crowded with beautiful people (and some a little less smart, to be honest).

The place is magnificent. The stainless steel and frosted-glass island bar is majestic, and the warm walnut timber floors and the modern black marble offer a striking contrast. Ethnic fabrics from the Sapa Region of Vietnam are displayed inside the alcoves located on one side of the island bar and warm the ambiance. Located above the bar is a mezzanine floor that offers a relaxed and intimate lounge area, giving patrons a fantastic vantage point. Alcoves are the perfect gathering for groups of friends and the upstairs’ niches offer privacy to couples.

A wide selection of premium beverages from vintage wines to refreshing signature cocktails is on the menu. The cocktails are especially notable and reinvent the tastes of Vietnam with great originality. Lemongrass is mixed with ginger and passion fruit sweetens the acidity of green lemon. The wine list is nice and the prices are pleasant – even champagnes are “affordable”. Snacks are simple roasted lotus seeds and even though it might not please every palates, it is a nice touch!

The only downside is the music. Sinister and aggressive, it is not smooth as it should be. I am also not sure about the uniform of the waitresses – dark blue Ao Dai with a Mao collar – that looks really tacky to me.

But besides this, 2 Lam Son is at the moment one of the chicest bars in town!

And last but not least, 2 Lam Son is one of the rare bars to be smoke-free in Vietnam!

MAMA SHELTER – A Chic & Cheap Design Hotel in Paris

•March 11, 2010 • 1 Comment

MAMA SHELTER was designed by Philippe Starck to offer an eclectic and electric ambiance. A former garage it may be, but the gray-and-black color scheme of the 172 rooms ensures a sleek, modern and minimalistic shelter to the guests.

Laid back, funky and far divorced from the usual commercial hotels, MAMA SHELTER is an affordable yet stylish hotel in a revitalised pocket of Eastern Paris, the cosmopolitan “20th arrondissement”.

Hurry up and be an early bird! The hotel features “I LOVE SUMMER IN PARIS” promotion, with double rooms starting from €99 per night. A great deal to discover Paris during the months of July and August!

Mama, your mama, our mama, everyone’s mama.

This is your shelter, our shelter. A shelter for everyone.

Everyone’s welcome!

URBN Hotels Shanghai

•March 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

URBN Hotels Shanghai is China’s first carbon-neutral hotel. Developed from a renovated factory warehouse, the hotel interiors are made with 100% local materials, reclaimed bricks and reused indigenous woods from old Shanghai houses… and even vintage leather suitcases! In parallel, the contemporary design and amenities draw on the energy of a younger, modern Shanghai. The carbon footprint of URBN’s emissions is calculated and then carbon credits are purchased by the hotel to offset them. Guests are also given the possibility to buy carbon credits directly from URBN to compensate their flights.

Set in the vibrant heart of the city, within a hub of local activity and close to shops, restaurants, colonial lane houses and Shanghai’s famous French concession area, URBN Hotels Shanghai features 26 rooms, including a spa suite and two penthouses. All distinctive, the rooms were inspired by the nature of Asian spaces: contemporary design is harmonized with natural materials – wood floors, linen curtains and rustic silks in shades of cream, coffee and beige – creating a relaxing ambiance to please the most discerning travellers.

A new restaurant concept “Downstairs with David Laris” will opened end of March. The previous restaurant roomtwentyeight suddenly closed up shop in January – it featured (surprisingly!) Australian flavours…So let’s hope it turns out to be better than what was there before. But it sounds promising: David Laris has created what he calls an “honest, chic, urban eatery”. The concept will be centered on the notion of smart and sustainable living in the modern world with this idea translated into both the menu and the dining experience. The space and design will reflect elements embracing reusable, recyclable and natural principles. Expect natural accents of stone, wood, warm and lush textures to create a cohesive urban environment. The menu concept created by Laris will showcase some of the best local produce available from vendors and artisans that speak the same language; natural, real, honest and traceable. The concept is about taking green and healthy living to the dining table… from home-grown herbs tended to by its head gardener to free-range meats from happy and stress-free animals.

URBN Hotels Shanghai is definitely the most environmentally-friendly yet modern choice travellers can do when visiting Shanghai!

101 Hotel – Reykjavik, Island

•February 16, 2010 • 1 Comment

Opened in 2003, 101 Hotel is situated in the oldest part of Reykjavik, next to the Icelandic Opera House and near government and cultural buildings, shops and nightlife.

Though the exterior of 101 Hotel reflects the strength and character of its Icelandic heritage, the interior is about refined modern elegance and stylish comfort. However, in a land of purity – pure air, pure water and pure vegetation – an unapologetic Nordic coolness inevitably pervades the atmosphere of the 101 Hotel.

101 Hotel features 38 spacious rooms, including 5 suites and junior suites. The décor is breathtakingly simple, yet very bold. Clean and sharp white walls contrast with the dark oak wood floors and the matte, glossy black furnishings while the refreshing white Italian bed linen soften the space. Opting for the slightly rustic touch, the open plan design leads straight into the bathroom, where a freestanding bathtub is firmly grounded by metal claw-feet and can be filled to the brim with geothermal water.

Restaurant 101 is one of the trendiest places in town and serves delicious food, featuring a combination of modern Icelandic and international cuisine, with Indian influences. The cocktail bar Lounge Bar 101 is the central gathering point both for guests and locals. The unadorned, masculine space in polished black finds its feminine balance in the austere white dimpled mural which runs alongside the glass roof of the restaurant. The mix of Chinese lacquered tables, wooden blocks and Edwardian chairs adds an eclectic touch to the décor.

Amertha Bali Villas – Pemuteran, Bali

•February 9, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Amertha Bali Villas is located in the north-western part of Bali, on a fine black-sandy lava beach near Pemuteran, a 3-hour drive from Denpasar International Airport.

Lovely situated between the crystal-clear waters of Pemuteran Beach on the front and a line of nine lush green mountains on the background, Amertha Bali Villas offers mesmerizing views on its surroundings. The exceptional oceanfront setting with lush tropical landscaping and spacious, private surroundings offers an idyllic and unforgettable vacation experience.

Amertha’s 14 gorgeous villas are surrounded by lush tropical gardens and serene open spaces. There are 3 categories of Villas and Suites to choose from, including Ocean Front, Ocean View and Mountain + Garden View.

All the villas strike a perfect balance of seclusion and stylish design and the simplicity of the architecture, combined with the distinctive Balinese touches, is remarkable.

Amertha Bali Villas has adopted an eco-friendly approach to minimize its impact on the unspoiled natural setting. Considerable thought and care were taken to the land and sea environments to preserve and protect nature. An innovative coral reef restoration project has been developed directly in front of Amertha and is closely monitored. A sea turtle egg recovery and hatchery project is run by Reef Seen next door. The village of Pemuteran and the bay are a special destination for special people who seek tranquility and a connection to nature.

Amertha Bali Villas is a short boat ride from the Menjangan Island, world-renowned for its diving and snorkelling spots, featuring some of the most unspoilt and beautiful wall dives in Bali…

Ocean Front Villa from 300 USD per night (4-6 guests).

Baby Chic – The Art of Travel

•February 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Because babies also deserve to travel in style and comfort, I have selected chic baby products that will surely please the most discerning parents!

Bill Amberg + Silver Cross

Bill Amberg, the iconic British leather craftsman and designer has collaborated with Silver Cross, the luxury nursery goods manufacturer, to create an exclusive line of stylish baby products, including a stroller, two bags and a baby carrier.

The Papoose is a sleek, sheepskin leather baby carrier that looks like a piece of art! Available in a wide selection of colours (Black and Black, Baby Blue and Tan, Baby Pink and Tan, Cream and Natural, Natural and Dark Brown, Black with Whisky Trim (photo above)), these high-end staples are sure to catch the eye of the most discerning parent. Suitable from birth, it can safely hold a toddler of up to 15kg (33lbs).

Designed to allow your baby to either face forwards or rearward, and crafted from luxurious 100% cotton and vegetable tanned leather, this is a beautiful and timelessly classic accessory that either father or mother will enjoy using.

£360.00 – US$565 (Baby and Adult Male are not included)

Maclaren

Maclaren describes itself as “a premier British parenting lifestyle company that produces the worlds most safe, durable, innovative, and stylish baby buggies”. I was raised on a classic B-01 Maclaren… with its iconic blue and white stripes and aluminum frame and a vintage style that is still modern today. And I am pretty sure I will stick to this brand when I will have a baby.

“Butchers Stripe” Buggy: £150.00 – US$236

To celebrate its 40 years of innovation, Maclaren introduced The Maclaren Leather Collection, a range of products styled in luxurious high grain leather. The profound black color gives a definitely masculine look to this distinguished line.

Leather Baby Carrier: £146.81 – US$230

Leather Buggy: £831.92 – 1.307US$

L’Invitation au Voyage by Charles Baudelaire

•February 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Today, a poem I would like to share: L’Invitation au Voyage (Invitation to the Voyage) by French poet Charles Baudelaire (1821 – 1867). I think it is a totally inspiring and exquisite poem that shows how the dream of travel can speak to the imagination…

L’invitation au voyage

Mon enfant, ma soeur,
Songe à la douceur
D’aller là-bas vivre ensemble!
Aimer à loisir,
Aimer et mourir
Au pays qui te ressemble!
Les soleils mouillés
De ces ciels brouillés
Pour mon esprit ont les charmes
Si mystérieux
De tes traîtres yeux,
Brillant à travers leurs larmes.

Là, tout n’est qu’ordre et beauté,
Luxe, calme et volupté.

Des meubles luisants,
Polis par les ans,
Décoreraient notre chambre;
Les plus rares fleurs
Mêlant leurs odeurs
Aux vagues senteurs de l’ambre,
Les riches plafonds,
Les miroirs profonds,
La splendeur orientale,
Tout y parlerait
À l’âme en secret
Sa douce langue natale.

Là, tout n’est qu’ordre et beauté,
Luxe, calme et volupté.

Vois sur ces canaux
Dormir ces vaisseaux
Dont l’humeur est vagabonde;
C’est pour assouvir
Ton moindre désir
Qu’ils viennent du bout du monde.
— Les soleils couchants
Revêtent les champs,
Les canaux, la ville entière,
D’hyacinthe et d’or;
Le monde s’endort
Dans une chaude lumière.

Là, tout n’est qu’ordre et beauté,
Luxe, calme et volupté.

Charles Baudelaire

Invitation to the Voyage

My child, my sister,
Think of the rapture
Of living together there!
Of loving at will,
Of loving till death,
In the land that is like you!
The misty sunlight
Of those cloudy skies
Has for my spirit the charms,
So mysterious,
Of your treacherous eyes,
Shining brightly through their tears.

There all is order and beauty,
Luxury, peace, and pleasure.

Gleaming furniture,
Polished by the years,
Will ornament our bedroom;
The rarest flowers
Mingling their fragrance
With the faint scent of amber,
The ornate ceilings,
The limpid mirrors,
The oriental splendor,
All would whisper there
Secretly to the soul
In its soft, native language.

There all is order and beauty,
Luxury, peace, and pleasure.

See on the canals
Those vessels sleeping.
Their mood is adventurous;
It’s to satisfy
Your slightest desire
That they come from the ends of the earth.
— The setting suns
Adorn the fields,
The canals, the whole city,
With hyacinth and gold;
The world falls asleep
In a warm glow of light.

There all is order and beauty,
Luxury, peace, and pleasure.

— William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (1954)

Other English versions of the poem are available on fleurdumal.org. The website also contains every poem of each edition of Les Fleurs du mal, together with multiple English translations.