For the aspiring high-end hotelier, there is no market more impenetrable than that of the French capital. This is the opposite of cosy boutique, with a military-sized outfit of staff and no margin for error, anywhere.
It took four years to transform the 1930s Art Deco building into a distinctively modern and modish Mandarin Oriental.
There are 138 rooms and suites here, ranging from the supremely plush to the almost comically opulent.
The piece de resistance is through another door; a wet room with a deep bathtub and sleek, mirror-like TV.
As it happens, some of the finest drinking and dining in the city can be found on the ground floor, with Bar 8 (eight being a lucky number in the Far East) serving champagne and cocktails from a bar made of a single nine-ton excavation of dark marble.
Even if you have dinner reservations elsewhere, you’ll get a taste of the Mandarin kitchen’s absolute perfectionism at breakfast. The crowning feature of any Mandarin Oriental is, of course, the spa – unfailingly, a pinch-yourself sanctum designed to out-zen all others. Rooms at the Mandarin Oriental are available on Secret Escapes Anytime hotels from around €1,200 (?1,014) per night.
My advice to all who read this article is to stay away from the Mandarin Oriental PARIS Hotel unless you like bedbugs. On the 20th, my daughter complained that has bedbugs and she had red blotches on her legs. Meanwhile, our two children spend the rest of the night in our room (thankfully we had two beds). Later that morning when I finally reached the same duty manager, I was told I would not be receiving a credit for the bedbugs infested hotel room. Hotel Duty manager: no way no how are we refunding you anything for your room-we have never heard of anyone experiencing an allergic reaction to bedbugs in a hotel rooms . No we cannot provide you with another room-it is the height of tourist season and we have no other rooms-you are simply trying to get out of paying for your rooms…at the end of the day our books have to balance. At the beating heart of Japanese heritage, the old imperial capital of Kyoto is one of the country’s most captivating destinations. Taking design inspiration from the traditional wooden ‘machiya’ townhouses so prominent in Kyoto, this gorgeous boutique townhouse offers a taste of old Japan brought up to date with the very best in modern, five-star luxury.
Entered down some steps off a quiet side street, the hotel’s exterior is simple and unassuming – almost secretive in its lack of external signage.
Easily one of the most unique hotels you’ll ever visit, the Kanra manages to achieve the perfect balance between homely comfort and high-end luxury. There are 29 bedrooms over five floors, arranged courtyard-style around beautifully crafted indoor rock gardens.
The Superior rooms here consist of a long apartment-style lodging, with a traditional tatami living area at one end and a sleeping platform with two double beds on the other (complete with bamboo blinds for extra seclusion).
There are several types of suites available at the Kanra, each one completely unique and made to feel like a home from home – albeit an extremely pampering one. A quick shimmy from Piccadilly, sandwiched between the members clubs of Mayfair and the hip bars of Soho, Cafe Royal reopened in December 2012 as a luxury hotel with five stars to its name and cavernous shoes to fill.
Starting out in 1865, Cafe Royal quickly became an established hangout for high-end bohemia. The famed design has been perfectly replicated or restored, from the black iron and gold leaf banisters and copper-clad lifts to the original mosaic floor tiles. You’ll be welcomed to your suite with an oversized bed dressed in Frette linen, Nespresso coffee and inviting leather seats in sugary lavender and pistachio shades. Breakfast is served in The Ten Room, the ground floor restaurant, which is an open-plan space with red leather seating, grey marble and a modern take on French and British classics.
In the infamous Grill Room, the Tartare of Beef and Lobster Cocktail proved there’s no shortage of gourmet creativity here. To celebrate the reopening of the five-star Cafe Royal, we’re offering you the exclusive chance to win a coveted two-night weekend stay in a Regent Suite, with English breakfast included and a glass of champagne in the Grill Room. The link to the competition page was a little tricky to spot, but it’s now at the bottom of the blog post. Fantastic hotel, Secret Escapes have the best holidays at the most fantastic price so i woulnt delay booking.
Pure luxury would be a dream come true to win a prize like this and a great surprise for my husband to say hey we won this!!
Oh em geeee, this wud make a fab 30th pressie 4 me in 8wks, b FAB 4 me n my partner 2 get away from the 3kids, its never happened!! There are plenty of ways to tackle its capital city of Stockholm, be you a history buff, culture nerd, shopaholic or nature fiend, and you can do it with 24 hours, a few days or even a whole week on your hands. Opened after extensive renovation in 2003, Hotel Rival was Stockholm’s very first boutique offering. We lucked out on check-in, arriving five hours early to drop our bags but finding our room ready to go.
With a distinct lack of light over half the year, few places do a lamp quite like Scandinavia, and Hotel Rival enthusiastically adopts this trend. We were well catered for should we fancy a night in, with a selection of CDs (including ABBA, naturally) and DVDs in our room, and a generously sized flatscreen TV, which was wall-mounted at the foot of our two, queen-size beds.
Coming from a London flat with no heating, I found the bathroom’s underfloor offering an absolute dream. After a supremely comfortable night’s sleep, breakfast was served in the first floor bistro, which boasts a lovely balcony area overlooking the square and a room-defining tribute wall to the influential Swedish director, writer and producer, Ingmar Bergman. Reluctantly packing to leave I gave the amenities another quick scope, admiring the thoughtful touches once again (an umbrella, a bowl of wrapped chocolates…) and stumbled across an interesting tome that was hiding in the wardrobe – Savor Stockholm, 7th Edition.


Whilst I was disappointed to discover this polished publication as I was in the midst of leaving Hotel Rival, over a quick browse I was pleased to see much of what I’d enjoyed in Stockholm beautifully presented in its pages (see 48 hours in: Stockholm).
Online travel company Secret Escapes has appointed Karmarama as its new advertising agency following a competitive pitch. Paris probably has the highest concentration of salubrious places to stay than any other city in the world; some of them so blindingly luxurious they now fall into an official ‘palatial’ league.
Going small-scale in Paris is a risk – a rewarding one, often – but it all depends whether you have it in you to find a cramped studio charmingly authentic (as opposed to irritatingly imperfect for the room rate). This one is the work of interior designer Sybille de Margerie and successfully fuses the group’s Eastern heritage with references to the golden age of Parisian fashion, without the theme being too heavily enforced.
Ours fell into the former class and delivered the hoped-for delight with a plump, pillow-piled bed, Bang & Olufsen technology and a lavish bathroom, to which half of the (ample) total space was dedicated. The thought of topping up the hot water in here for hours is so beguiling it makes you wish that it was Milton Keynes outside, not Paris, so you wouldn’t feel so obliged to head out and explore. Thierry Marx (Heston’s long-lost French brother) heads up the two restaurants, which comprise of the smart and relatively low-key Camelia and the avant-garde Sur Mesure – set in an all-white, multi-textured room created by duo Jouin-Manku. Those who are a bit of a liability in buffet situations will find themselves in grave danger here, presented with a Grimm-esque assortment of bakes, breads and drizzly honey from the rooftop hives. Unlike any other property in the global portfolio, the Parisian hotel welcomes dogs – of the frou-frou, short-tailed sort who are accustomed to fillet of beef (€26) and steamed seasonal vegetables (€10) for supper. But the outstanding mark of a Mandarin Oriental stay is that it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Upon checkout on the 22nd, we woke up to find the rooms already charged to my credit card. Yes, there were bedbugs in the room, and yes, they did spray but I was told that no one is allergic to bedbugs.
Forming a cultural crossroads where East meets West, the past meets the future and tradition meets modernity, Kyoto offers something for every kind of visitor. Tatami mats, sliding shoji doors and natural materials combine with high-tech facilities, spa-style bathrooms and international standards of service to provide guests with a completely unforgettable experience. All guests receive a personalised, concierge-style level of service from the extremely friendly staff, with nothing being too much trouble for them. Each abode has been individually designed and is accessed via its own lantern-lit anteroom and traditional wooden shoji door. Diffused lighting seeping softly from underneath the beds give the atmosphere of a peaceful sanctuary, a million miles away from the busy city streets outside. Some suites resemble maisonettes with split-level accommodation, some have courtyard areas, and the expansive Kanra Suite even has its own secluded outdoor bathtub. We’d heartily recommend opting for the traditional Japanese breakfast for the full Machiya experience. Oscar Wilde was a regular in the Grill Room, Virginia Woolf and Arthur Conan Doyle frequented the restaurant and a pre-war Winston Churchill sipped claret while he waited for the Prime Minister to call. On each floor, a halo of soft light hovers high above a table of orchids (there are different blooms every week) and as you enter the bedrooms, you’ll feel that same sense of peace and order. The bathrooms are the jewel in the crown, with Floris toiletries, and from the Deluxe rooms up, an oversized tub cut from Carrara marble and a separate wet room with a rainfall shower.
The Eggs Royale were perfectly poached and burst through the hollandaise glaze, exactly as you want them to.
This louche, exclusive room is the star of the show – and if you only do one thing, it should be a glass of champagne at the bar.
All you need to do is click on the link below, enter your details and answer the question correctly by midnight on the 9 June 2013. I was made redundant 18 months ago so had a break since so to win this would be a dream come true.
This is being fixed but in the meantime, you’ll be able to submit your entry using your PC or laptop.
To enter, simply click on the link at the bottom of the blog post, enter your details and answer the question correctly.
The city itself has 14 separate islands, whilst the county archipelago counts in almost 30,000 islands, islets and rocks.
Situated on the leafy Maria Square in Sodermalm, this former 1930s cinema gives a proud nod to its history of entertainment. The elevator doors slid open on the third floor to reveal the hallway’s autumnal-hued walls in umber, yellow and red, all framing a vibrant carpet that showcases abstractions of vintage travel paraphernalia.
The furnishings adopted Hotel Rival’s vivid streak, and teamed bright reds with cooling pines and fresh, crisp whites.
I counted a total of six independent lamps and lights in our bedroom, so as the day unfolded into dusk, we could tailor the room’s ambience to suit our mood. Unfortunately, although definitely considered, the media collection wasn’t quite to our taste, not being in the mood for either Barbra Streisand or Sex and the City on this occasion. This was teamed with a generously sized rainfall shower that looked out over the main bedroom by way of a provocatively placed window (complete with Venetian blind for the less exhibitionist prone). Atop antique Persian rugs, we tucked into the hot and cold buffet, complete with both hard and soft boiled eggs, pastries, cold cuts, cheeses and super-fruit shots.
So I placed it in the middle of the desk, willing it to stay put and left hoping that the successor to our room would be able to make much better use out of it than we had. Each of the city’s pockets, be them an island, a restaurant, a museum or indeed a hotel, holds a distinct personality that’s all its own. Hotel Rival’s Bistro serves a popular brunch every Sunday from 1pm for both guests and the public. Keeping the A-class on their toes, this elite A* tier of digs is for international jetsetters who rely on more than a pillow menu and copper-clad bathtub for their kicks.


Here in the premier arrondissement, occupying the former Palais de Justice, it places guests in the heart of the haute couture district, just a short walk from the Louvre, the Tuileries Gardens and the pupil-dilating diamonds of the Place Vendome.
At this eight-storey glamazon of a hotel, it’s plain sailing from the moment you walk into the enormous, light-filled lobby.
The chic lobby lounge is appointed in feminine berry and soft grey shades, and through the floor-to-ceiling glass you can see the tranquil central courtyard, which is planted with air-cleansing trees and luxe white parasols.
Designed with drama in mind, the in-room spa sanctuary is approached via a marble-floor corridor that reveals a double vanity station, beckoning Frette robes and an array of exclusive toiletries by French fragrance house, Diptyque. There’s no express menu at the latter; the experience is a highly-technical six (€165) or nine-course (€195) tasting menu that deserves a good three-hour window and a steady flow of paired wines.
And every guest can expect the same push-pull of willpower again in the afternoon when the glossy gateaux in the cake counter start beckoning.
Despite the size, you won’t be able to complete a lengthy hydrotherapy circuit, as most of the space is admittedly swallowed by the seven spa suites. The thrill of checking-in and entering your room is just the first of many discoveries and surprises – from fresh fruit arriving at the door to a turn-down service you’ll want to Instagram immediately.
And perfectly striking this same delicate balance is the sublime Hotel Kanra; a thoroughly modern design hotel that’s deeply rooted in Kyoto’s local traditions. And should you be able to tear yourself away from your bedroom to explore Kyoto, the hotel’s electric-assisted bicycles are just the thing for negotiating the city’s many ups and downs without breaking a sweat. Glass doors lead to a spa-style bathroom with a rock garden, stone-floored walk-in shower and fragrant cedar bathtub for a personal onsen experience.
For the new owners, the task was one of restoration but also of finding a new place for this icon in the capital today. With all this in mind, when you arrive at the hotel you’ll be half expecting a museum of nostalgia, but what you’ll find instead is a thoroughly 21st century space, with cool marble floors, lofty ceilings and an overwhelming vibe of calm and clarity – a delight after the clamour of the West End. In some, the motif is fumed English oak, in others, the walls are made up of pale Portland tiles that pay homage to the architecture of Regent Street itself. Romantically, the Juliet balconies of selected suites (available upon request) look directly out onto Piccadilly Circus, but with soundproof French doors for a silent slumber. You could almost be tempted to stay put until lunch if it wasn’t for the row of designer flagships right outside. Stepping into a dimly lit world of gilt mirrors and painted ceilings, you’ll feel hazy before you’ve even seen the drinks menu. Head there over winter for a snowy city stay, or see it all under the long summer sun, with an island-hopping adventure. Charmingly chaotic, this bold interior choice provided a wonderful contrast to the crisp white box that awaited us. Our view was unique for a city scene – the bows of a horse chestnut tree and the roofs of the city beyond. I imagine this feature really comes into its own over the darker months, turning this fresh, contemporary space into a cosy haven of diffused glows. Fluffy bathrobes, soft slippers and a set of designer amenities by Malin + Goetz completed this pleasing picture; it all created an excellent setting for a leisurely pampering session or a quick refresh before dinner.
The coffee was hot, fragrant and on tap (just the way I like it) and a small menu of items from the kitchen extended this already generous spread.
Whilst I spent just 48 hours here, I’m keen to return to see it covered it snow and to cruise between the thousands of islands that create Stockholm’s unique landscape and spirit. Aficionados will know what to expect from these highly exclusive addresses; no-expense-spared interiors, orchids at every turn and a flawless level of service. A quick check-in will have you out here clasping a flute of Bollinger in no time, eyeing the bird cage, an elevated dining booth that is the most covetable table at the hotel. There are few more decadent things in life than having a single slice of cake delivered up to a hotel room on a silver platter, with full cutlery service (tip: the amber-glazed number was so delicious it brought me close to tears).
That said – it’s blissfully empty and dreamily appointed in silver-leaf butterflies (a motif throughout), fluttering projections and beautiful relaxation booths. It’s got to be hard to stun when you’re working with an established, pretty-much formulaic approach to luxury – but voila!
My 22 year old daughter woke in the middle of the night to something crawling in her bed- She ran out of the room, down the hall to our room and banged on the door.
He as not in and the assistant manager was in a meeting (on a Sunday morning)…I tried to work out a discount or credit to my bill prior to my departure, but was informed I would have to speak to one of the managers.
This summer will also see the opening of the brand new 1,200 square-metre Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre, with a spa, a gym, a lap pool and an organic bar – a Zen addition to a hotel that’s clearly all about tranquillity. It’s no big leap to imagine David Bowie here in 1973, when he retired his Ziggy Stardust alter ego in front of an audience that included Mick Jagger and Lou Reed.
However, my inner-geek was pleased as punch to find a DVI cable, so we could get our laptop on the big screen and watch a movie online – the Wi-Fi is wonderfully reliable.
A few gentle laps in the pH-perfect swimming pool, followed by a steam, an icy drench and a flick through Harper’s Bazaar with a cool tea infusion is more than enough to eliminate tension if you can’t stretch to a treatment.
Ask the staff whether the hotel still attracts such a high calibre of guests and they’ll remain professionally tight-lipped, but the expressions are telling. We called down to the front desk and were told by the manager there was no other rooms available and that they would have an exterminator come up and take care of the bedbugs IN THE MORNING! Although this landmark address has developed into something fresh and new, the old Cafe Royal spirit lives on.



Sleep meditation depression
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