The Best View in Lucerne

I visited Lucerne a few times before I knew Alex, but since knowing him, have grown to really know it and love his hometown. If you go to Switzerland, you really can't miss it (bossy and true). It's so stunningly beautiful and there is so much to do in the mountains and surrounding area, too. 

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Switzerland is a country of ridiculous views and the best ones in Lucerne can be found at the Art Deco Hotel Montana. You take a little funicular to get up there, and it's a must-see even if you're not staying - in the summer, the Montana Beach Club (aka their bar on the terrace) is the place to be. And if you're very lucky - you stay in THIS ROOM with THIS TERRACE.

 Mount Pilatus - symbol of Lucerne.

Mount Pilatus - symbol of Lucerne.

They also have live music most days of the week in the Louis bar (named for Louis Armstrong). It's such a warm, joyous place to be - and shows off everything I love about great hotels. 

 The Louis Bar.

The Louis Bar.

 Terrace, sunset.

Terrace, sunset.

Hotel Photos: Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna

 Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna - lobby lounge

Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna - lobby lounge

I just returned from a trip to Austria, which always feels nostalgic. Vienna is where I chose to spend time in college - I couldn't believe how grand and stunning the city was. Plus, I have always loved the German language, coffee and cake breaks, and classical music. Vienna was made for me. Today, it isn't trying to be the next Berlin or Brooklyn - there is great innovation and a young spirit, but it really leans into that imperial court feel and coffeehouse culture. I love that. 

The first hotel I stayed in was the Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna, in one of the Hansen Suites. The hotel is whimsical and has a hint of French flair - the lobby lounge has pops of color and a huge low-hanging chandelier, while my room was masculine and muted. It's a great choice for Vienna, ever so slightly removed from the city center, but an easy walk to everything you need.

What's Your Cocktail?

So, I don't really like cocktails. I rarely take a second glass of wine, even though the smell of wine makes my head spin with happiness (other smells in this category include: garlic & onion slowly cooking, lemon juice, cinnamon, and parmigiano-reggiano).

But I found a cocktail I love. The "Mr. Pink" is $28 (not cheap) at The Baccarat Hotel on 53rd St in Midtown - and it is a fantastic champagne cocktail. It is now off the menu, so you'll have to ask for it.

You get giddy and tipsy and if you do order one up, you're sipping in a most gorgeous space - huge bouquets of flowers (I love the big globes of red roses), Baccarat crystal chandeliers and glasses, and major people-watching. When you get there, take the elevator to the second floor/lobby level and sit in the Grand Salon area. The bar is seriously opulent so take a look in there, too.

Mr. Pink: Belvedere Vodka, Cappelletti, Fresh Raspberry Syrup, Lemon Juice, Ruinart Rosé Champagne

Adventures in Bangkok, Part One

 Merry Christmas from the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok

Merry Christmas from the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok

I spent last Christmas and New Year's in Thailand and Myanmar. Now that we're approaching Easter, I wanted to share some photos of our adventure and introduce you to my traveling companion, Alex. He's hilarious, kind, smart, dapper (in fact, that's what I call him), and has the most amazing accent - he was born and raised in Lucerne, Switzerland.

While he looks ridiculously handsome in every photo taken of him, I look like a sweaty mess in most photos from Southeast Asia.

Here are some highlights of the first part of our trip:

  • Flying from NYC to Tokyo, short layover and then on to Bangkok
  • Three nights at the gorgeous Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, with the best Christmas morning breakfast buffet overlooking the Chao Phraya River
  • Taking the public ferry to the Grand Palace, overrun with selfie sticks and westerners sporting elephant pants. Seeing the Emerald Buddha and stopping for a coconut.
  • Visiting Wat Pho & the famous Reclining Buddha - putting coins into buckets for good luck
  • Cheap foot massages at Wat Pho (a must-do!) - 280 bahts for 30 minutes, about $8
  • Lunch stop at Sala Rattanakosin hotel, a short walk from Wat Pho. The upper level has awesome views of Wat Ahrun across the river
  • A 75-minute traffic-clogged tuk tuk ride to afternoon tea at the Anantara hotel
  • Thai dinner at the Mandarin Oriental's Terrace Rim Naam
  • Taking the Skytrain to the Mo Chit market, a total waste of time, although it was cool to ride the Skytrain. Everyone lined up in the most civilized way.
  • Eating dim sum at Tim Ho Wan in Terminal 21 mall (Bangkok is all about the malls). The original location in Hong Kong is the world's cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant. Now it's a chain throughout Southeast Asia.
  • Drinks at rooftop bar Vertigo, then dinner at Nahm, on this list of 50 best restaurants in the world.
 High above Bangkok at Vertigo

High above Bangkok at Vertigo

 Layover in Tokyo

Layover in Tokyo

I loved staying on the river for historical perspective and retreating from the city's chaos. The hotel is split into two sections, with the spa and a couple restaurants across the river. Every few minutes, these traditional boats zip you across.

 Roaming around the Grand Palace

Roaming around the Grand Palace

 Don't miss these amazing massages at Wat Pho!

Don't miss these amazing massages at Wat Pho!

 So many kittens

So many kittens

 Perfect lunch stop - Sala Rattanakosin

Perfect lunch stop - Sala Rattanakosin

 Afternoon tea at Anantara

Afternoon tea at Anantara

 We consumed a lot of coconuts on this trip, especially Alex. If he disappeared for a second, I knew he was buying a coconut.

We consumed a lot of coconuts on this trip, especially Alex. If he disappeared for a second, I knew he was buying a coconut.

 Morning view from our room at the Mandarin

Morning view from our room at the Mandarin

 I loved Bangkok's airport. On our way to Myanmar!

I loved Bangkok's airport. On our way to Myanmar!

After our short time in Bangkok, we flew to Yangon! More to come...

A Love Letter to Paris, in Photos

I have never seen Paris look more beautiful. I was lucky enough to spend two days in Paris after the annual ILTM conference in Cannes, staying at the INCREDIBLE Mandarin Oriental, my new favorite place to stay. I am so glad I made the trip happen - it was a highlight of my entire year and I can't wait to get back. Go now - eat, drink, celebrate, and walk the streets. It is absolute perfection. Paris, Je T'aime.