Updated Paris Guide

I never want to live in Paris. I think about it every time I go - a little one-bedroom on the Left Bank, close to Luxembourg Gardens and the windy streets of Saint German des Prés. But I want Paris to STAY magical, so I don't actually want to live there. I want to dip in for my visits, soak up all the glory and beauty, and leave inspired. I want to proudly visit famous bakeries, lounge in the Tuileries, go for drinks at Le Meurice. I don't want to become hardened, bitching about the tourists. I don't want to trek out to the 37th arrondissement for some hot spot that has a twin in Brooklyn. 

Lunching at LouLou, after the extraordinary Dior exhibit at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

Lunching at LouLou, after the extraordinary Dior exhibit at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

I've often told this story but I hated Paris the first time I went - it was my first trip to Europe, during an exceedingly hot July, and I fainted on top of the Eiffel Tower. I had no money, stayed in a creepy, infested hostel, missed my boyfriend at the time and family. 

But now I wander the streets with a permanent smile. Everyone who has been to Paris once has "THEIR LIST." I've updated my pretty exhaustive personal Paris guide after my most recent trip. You should see my actual 150+ page list of Paris notes, and where I source tips from - EVERYWHERE. Friends, twitter, websites, Instagram, concierges, torn-out magazines. I walked for about 10-12 miles every day on this last trip, giddy with the sense of new discovery and nostalgia for trips past. 

Wish we were all in Paris today!

For Magazine Lovers in NYC

I went through a long period where not a single magazine inspired me - they all looked the same and had similar stories. They all seemed out of touch, featuring annoying "lifestyle experts," recipes I would never try, or clothes I wouldn't wear (even if I could afford all of them). But lately, I've been inspired again and one catalyst was revisiting SoHo News International, at the corner of Prince & Sullivan in NYC.

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It's this tiny little magazine wonderland, filled with thousands of titles and divided by category - science, art, teens, photography, interiors, home, fashion, food, movies, kids, business, travel, British, Italian, German, and MORE. I can pick up copies of Frankie, my favorite magazine from Australia, The Spectator from London, or The Paris Review to feel super smart and literary. 

I've spent most of my career working at or around travel magazines and I KNOW how much work goes into creating one. To think of the thousands of creative people working to put out these titles - it just makes me happy and hopeful every time I step in here.

They also have the nicest people working there. If you need a quick, inspiring pick-me-up (the smell of magazines and paper does it for me!), this is the spot. 

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.

Beautiful Wengen & the Bernese Oberland

View from the Beausite Park Hotel, Wengen. 

View from the Beausite Park Hotel, Wengen. 

We spent a picture-perfect summer week in Wengen in the Bernese Oberland this summer. It's a magical car-free town with views of the Jungfrau, one of the highest mountains in Europe. Little Wengen, with its cute main street, wonderful restaurants, and mountain town clothing shops, is also home to one of my favorite hotels in Switzerland - the family-owned Beausite Park Hotel Wengen. You wake up to views of the valley and the Jungfrau, enjoy the most delicious breakfast buffet and dinners, fantastic coffee in the cozy lounge, live piano music at night in the bar, and true Swiss hospitality. I loved seeing all the American, British, and Swiss families gather at the dinner tables on their vacations. It's so, so lovely. 

The must-do's in the Bernese Oberland: hiking, cheese, and wine. Here are some more of my highlights: 

  • A wonderful family-owned cheese shop, Chäs Gruebi in Wengen, that stocks lots of Alpenkäse (Alpine cheese) and Swiss wine. The essentials.
The Chäs Gruebi shop in Wengen (on the way back to the Beausite Park Hotel). 

The Chäs Gruebi shop in Wengen (on the way back to the Beausite Park Hotel). 

  • Dinner outside at Da Sina (behind the Hotel Schönegg) for pizza, pasta, and salad. It was such beautiful, cool weather and the light on the Jungfrau looked fiery and ablaze as the sun set. Eat on the patio if it's nice, but the inside is super cozy, too. 
Dinner outside at Da Sina. 

Dinner outside at Da Sina. 

The Jungfrau ablaze near Da Sina. 

The Jungfrau ablaze near Da Sina. 

  • An Aperol Spritz on the terrace at the Hotel Caprice - stunning views, perfect weather! 
On the terrace at Hotel Caprice. 

On the terrace at Hotel Caprice. 

  • Hiking from Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg: a 1.5 hour walk, slow descent, doable for almost anyone. The fields of wildflowers (blooming in late June/July only), the rushing waterfalls cascading down from the glaciers, the views, THE AIR. You take the gondola from Wengen to Männlichen and then the trail is well-marked, like most trails in Switzerland. In Kleine Scheidegg, I loved eating at Restaurant Grindelwaldblick. You can either hike back to Wengen from Kleine Scheidegg or take the train down.
En route from Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg. 

En route from Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg. 

  • A slice of homemade apricot cake at the restaurant at the Wengenalp train station - German/Austrian/Swiss baked goods are hands-down my favorite in the world. They're not as sweet (you won't find enormous cupcakes or brownies), there's a big focus on fruit (like the apricots), and they're often topped with a giant blob of lightly sweetened whipped cream. 
  • Lunch at Hotel Alpenruh in Mürren after hiking from Lauterbrunnen to Mürren (amazing views of the Jungfrau, Eiger, and Monch mountains). Take the quick tram from Lauterbrunnen (across from the train station) to Grütschalp and set off from there. It's mostly flat and really beautiful - you'll make friends with all the cows along the way. Best done on a day that isn't too hot - there isn't a lot of shade. 
Lunch at Hotel Alpenruh in Mürren.

Lunch at Hotel Alpenruh in Mürren.

  • A note on trains: Not all mountain railways are included with your Swiss Travel Pass, a must if you're taking a lot of trains in Switzerland. Seat61 has a great overview of train options in Switzerland, but know that you will probably be shelling out extra for gondolas and other regional trains in the Bernese Oberland.