Three Days in Milan, Italy

I loved traveling with two-month-old Sophie to Milan (just over 3 hours from Zurich on the train) and can’t wait to show her these photos when she’s older. I’ve even already blocked out the massive, annoying flight delay on the way home to NYC.

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A baby forces you to slow down. (No sh*t, said every mom everywhere.) Honestly, this is still the hardest part of adjusting to baby life for me, even when we are home. We stuck mostly to the touristy center of Milan, near our hotel - the fantastic Mandarin Oriental, Milan. We stayed at the hotel for dinner twice and went out once. And we spent most of the days exploring, giving her (and us) a break in the late afternoons.

My highlights:

The beautiful old-world cafes Marchesi 1824 (now owned by Prada) and Cova (now owned by LVMH), basically right next to each other on Milan’s fancy Monte Napoleone shopping street.

Staying at the Mandarin Oriental - there is just nothing like returning to a fancy cocoon after a day in a European capital. It’s the best location, five minutes from the Duomo and Teatra la Scala (opera house), with great people watching. Pro tip: Get the bright green minestrone soup at the bar for a pasta break. It’s so good.

Walking out of the Mandarin Oriental

Walking out of the Mandarin Oriental

Scoring same-day tickets to The Last Supper thanks to the Mandarin’s concierge team. It made me want to reread The Da Vinci Code, but it is truly spectacular, though much more faded than I expected, and somehow looks alive. Get there at your exact entry time!

A visit to gourmet grocery store Peck - the produce made me wish I had an apartment to cook in.

A bubbly, fun lunch at Luca e Andrea in the Navigli canal neighborhood (not L’Altro Luca e Andrea). Luca e Andrea was the perfect tiny gem for lunch, filled with Italians and Nancy Meyers-movie music. The canal area is fun to explore, but I’d never go on a busy summer Saturday. Best during the week in the off-season.

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Luca e Andrea

Luca e Andrea

Strolling through the beautiful Brera neighborhood, and stopping at Obica Brera for lunch. (We have an Obica in NYC, and it’s a chain now, but it’s so much better here.)

Walking to 10 Corso Como, Milan’s original fabulous shopping center, and getting coffee at the cafe, plus shopping at the enormous Eataly.

I can’t help but love Eataly all over the world.

I can’t help but love Eataly all over the world.

Dinner at Giacamo Bistrot, a great neighborhood spot a 20-minute walk from our hotel.

A stop at La Rinascente, Italy’s famous department store, and checking out the 7th-floor food hall, with great views of the Duomo from the restaurants. It’s not the best department store food hall I’ve been to (that honor goes to KaDeWe in Berlin), but worth a stop.

Views at La Rinascente

Views at La Rinascente

Trying a famous panzerotti (basically a pizza Hot Pocket) at Luini - the lines get crazy around lunch, so try to go right when they open.

Visiting the top of the Duomo on our last morning. It had been 17 years since my last visit and I’m so glad I did it again. So worth it!

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I had grand plans to visit two highly praised museums - Armani Silos and Fondazione Prada (there’s a cafe there designed by Wes Anderson!) - but next time. Other restaurants on my list: Al Porto, Sadler, Il Cavallino, La Pesa Trattoria 1902, Cracco’s - but we’ll need a baby-sitter for these.

Walking in Brera

Walking in Brera

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.

Mandarin Oriental Barcelona

LobbyWhat I love about Mandarin Oriental properties is their consistency - you know you will get a sophisticated stay with a side of zen. The first Mandarin opened in Hong Kong, in a part of the world known for the best hotel service on earth. With each successive opening, Mandarin has taken that level of service and applied it to each of their properties.

EntranceWeather in Barcelona was all over the place when I was there - hot rain and humidity, then sunshine. After long days of walking the city, down to the port and back up, the cool lobby of the Mandarin was a very welcome sight. In my little notebook I carry everywhere, I wrote down "Best breakfast buffet" - the spread is serious fuel for a day of business or leisure in the city, with eggs, bowls of fresh fruit, "bikini" (ham & cheese) sandwiches, yogurt, and Asian specialties.

On a beautiful day, there is no better place in Barcelona for a chic crowd and panoramic view over the city and Passeig de Gracia than the hotel's rooftop pool. I had a room with a handicapped bathroom, which wasn't great, but other than that, the room was a sleek city hideaway. The best rooms have views of the Passeig de Gracia, so know that when you're booking. Moments, their one Michelin-starred restaurant, is one of the top tables in Barcelona.

Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas

Almost every hotel lobby in Las Vegas can feel like Times Square. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people, gawking, taking photos, bumbling to the casinos, restaurants and shops. Not the Mandarin Oriental. For those looking for a moment of calm in the carnival, the Mandarin is a great choice in Vegas.

I am currently at the annual Virtuoso Travel Week, where 4,000 of the best luxury travel advisors, hotels, cruise lines, tour operators and more come together to meet, exchange updates and get revved up for the upcoming year. It is my first year here and I absolutely love it. I feel like I am with my people. I made sure to tour the Mandarin, though I'm staying at the Bellagio, where the conference is held. The hotel is an oasis, especially after ducking in from the 110 degree sizzling desert sun.

All of the spacious rooms and suites are typically Mandarin, that is gorgeous, zen and Asian-inspired. Many have views of the Strip, though I think Vegas views are only cool at night. In the day, it just looks slightly sad.

View from Presidential SuiteIf you're not staying here, at least come to the 23rd floor main lobby for a drink or afternoon tea, where the Mandarin Bar and Tea Lounge are.

The Mandarin isn't for those wanting to be in the center of the Vegas action - there is no casino. But if you want to escape the action at night, stay here.

The presidential suite:

A typical suite: