Archive for the ‘art hotels’ Category

A Luxury Escape to Cambodia with a Great Cause Too

Hotel de la Paix - Cambodia's Gem

With over a hundred stunning rooms (and suites) and its award-winning spa, this top five-star luxury Cambodia hotel, Hôtel de la Paix Siem Reap may cater to the discerning traveler seeking style and relaxation, but there’s more than meets the eye to this best of the best Siem Reap hotel. With a stunning fusion of Ancient Khmer design and a hint of art deco, the hotel has become one of the most stylish hotels in Siem Reap.

A Room at Hotel de la Paix Siem Reap

The onsite restaurant, Meric, recently named by The Miele Guide as one of Asia’s top restaurants, offers world class dining and the stylish artistic lounge showcasing exhibitions of emerging artists. Within walking distance of the shops and restaurants in Siem Reap – and close to the ancient temples of Angkor (Siem Reap’s most popular tourist destination and a UNESCO world heritage site) – Hotel de la Paix also has something else to bring the oh so chic traveler closer to the people of Cambodia – and, really, closer to themselves.

Green Gecko's Cambodian Attendees

Encouraging responsible tourism, they’re helping guests gain a true understanding of Cambodia. Over the years, Siem Reap’s Green Gecko Project ( has done an outstanding job at sheltering and educating over 70 former street kids. As a homage to the people of Cambodia, and the children that bring life and humility to the land, Hôtel de la Paix Siem Reap, one of the Green Gecko Project’s sponsors, kicked off the New Year by hosting a special presentation by the Green Gecko kids on New Year’s Eve: an exhibition of the ancient Khmer martial art of Labokator at the hotel’s Arts Lounge with the hotel’s spectacular ice display to welcome 2012. 

The Hotel de la Paix's Deco Lobby (with white feather Christmas Tree)

As the hotel’s ongoing commitment in respecting the past and embracing the future, this special arrangement allowed guests to learn more about Labokator.  Once used on the battlefield by the Khmer kings and warriors centuries ago, carvings can still be seen on some of the temples in Angkor Wat. The best part? The Green Gecko kids were thrilled to have been part of this celebration, to bring the ancient tradition into the new year and promote their proud culture to visitors around the world. If you want to check out the festivities, there’s also a special video clip here:
Hotel de la Paix Siem Reap
Rooms around $199/night
PS. While you’re in Cambodia and lapping up the luxury of Hotel de la Paix and the history of Angkor Wat, pay a visit and some funds to my friend, the amazing Scott Neeson, who left a lucrative Hollywood job to found Cambodian Children’s Fund. For six years, Cambodian Children’s Fund has provided life-changing education, nourishment and healing to vulnerable children from some of Cambodia’s most destitute communities. In the beginning, they cared for the health and well-being of 45 youngsters. Today, we care for more than 700 children, and have extended their services to provide for their families and communities in crisis.

Taking Detox to New Heights

While hunting out the best design properties with a unique twist, we came across a little gem hidden high up in the alpine forests of… Italy!

Blending almost invisibly in to a landscape of snow-capped peaks and deep valleys, Vigilius Mountain Resort, an alpine hotel created by star architect Matteo Thun, offers the ultimate in eco-spa retreats. Only accessible by cable car or on foot, this 35-room eco-luxury hideaway benefits from a remote location with fresh mountain air, stunning vistas of green valleys studded with vineyards, pools filled with spring water and complete… silence.

The large spa follows a five pillar concept: The seclusion of the mountains, the use of pure Vigilius water, the professional spa team, the personal trainer team and the cuisine with fresh and healthy ingredients. The interaction of these five pillars is referred to as the “vigilius lifestyle” which helps guests achieve a healthy and holistic way of living.
For those in need of some legitimate serenity and detox, here this: the spa provides: 11 treatment rooms, a hot tub, an indoor pool, a sauna and a Turkish steam room. Large windows draw nature into the rooms and blur the boundaries between inside and outside, revealing unlimited views of the Dolomite Alps. The outside spa area features a sun terrace and the paradise garden, a small courtyard with 100-year-old larches.

Combining local and Asian spa traditions with premium products, there are over 40 treatments using products such as Sodashi, a range of all natural skincare products (and developers of a fabulous jet lag recovery gel). Massages and facials include unique treatments like a hay bath with local herbs and a polenta peeling with South Tyrolean apples, corn and honey. There are regular yoga workshops or lessons with the aforementioned personal trainer who carries out exercises outdoors. Of course!

The hotel is certainly a sight to see… created by focusing on the hotel’s relationship with the surrounding nature and landscape.

The principle of “organic architecture” is expressed in elements such as a grass-covered roof and the use of natural larch wood throughout. Outside, the hotel’s wooden and glass facades blend with the environment, while inside eco-friendly design prevails. The hotel has been awarded several prizes for sustainable tourism with an ecological based concept, including five green stars from Eco Hotels of the World in 2009. With 35 rooms and 6 suites the resort also features a library, piazza lounge and two restaurants with South Tyrolean and Italian contemporary cuisine.

Vigilius Mountain Resort is within driving distance of Milan, Venice, Munich, Zurich, Verona & Innsbruck and 20 minutes from Bolzano, Italy. There are 3 flights per day with ‘Air Alps’ via Rome to Bolzano and 3 flights per day via Munich to Bolzano.

So what do you say? Time for a little detox… at 4,000 feet?

Rates at around €245/night

Paris, France: A Boutique (Tres) Chic Art Hotel

Hotel Des Academies

Jaunt says, “Take your lover to Paris this year!” Since we live for hunting down the hottest deals and coolest hotels, we came across this artsy little gem located right on the left bank in the 6th Arr. Walking distance to the Jardin de Luxembourg, Saint-Germain-de-Pres, The Louvre and almost every other romantic attraction, Hotel des Academies et des Arts is a 20-room boutique art hotel that pays homage to the artistic heritage of both the building and the neighborhood. The owners brought together several artists to create an original backdrop for contemporary works of art and recently opened a tea room lovingly called ‘Chez Charlotte.’ We also hear it’s the only hotel in Paris to serve famed French pastry chef Pierre Herme’s macarons. Psst… rumor has it that Modigliani and Gauguin once slept here when they were art students across the street at the Academie de Grand Chaumiere.

If that’s not enough to make you want to channel your inner Cezanne, we really don’t know what is.

Rates from €190

Sleep It Off: Top Four Art Hotels


Imagine this. A hotel carved out of the soft stone of a mountainside. Now imagine lounging on a bear rug on top of these stones and taking in an ancient view. A luxurious new boutique hotel built by the villagers in the Turkish mountains of Cappadocia, Anatolian Houses, contain spectacular pillars and minaret-like forms like nothing you’ve ever seen. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this hotel was constructed within five different cave formations. Each suite represents a different historical era and the themed furniture artwork in each suite is individually chosen.

Rates begin at $300


One of Frank O. Gehry’s architectural masterpieces, Hotel Marqués De Riscal comes in after Bilbao’s Guggenheim. Located in Spain’s beautiful Rioja wine country, it’s a work of modern art complete with Gehry’s signature metal sculptures twisting around the exterior and surrounding vineyards. An ancient wine cellar also serves as banqueting space (hint hint….perfect for weddings or a renewal of your vows)

Rates start at $953 per night when booked on:


Whether you agree with China’s politics or not, this hotel is a tremendous piece of art on it’s own and certainly worth mentioning. HOMA Libre – The Hotel of Modern Art – is home to Asia’s largest art studio and the leading collection of contemporary Asian art. Not far from Yangshou, Hotel of Modern Art – HOMA Libre is located within the Yuzi Paradise private park. In addition to greeting your inner-artist with Chinese calligraphy classes, you can take a private gondolier that will guide you down the Yulong River on a two-seat bamboo raft. The only Chinese property that’s part of the prestigious Relais Chateaux alliance, not to be missed… dinner in the impressive cathedral-sized cave.

Rates range from $297 to $1143


The Indigo Pearl resort was inspired by the city’s tin-mining past, a post-modern interpretation of a Thai factory by Bensley Design Studios, the hot design group known for creating some of Asia’s most interesting design hotels, including the Udaivilas, Udaipur (India) mentioned in the post below. Modern sculpture and industrial art mix past with present. High design aesthetics + nature = excellence in destination travel. Unusual chandeliers light up the hallways leading to rooms, villas, and pool pavilions where surreal design is married with deluxe amenities.

Rates begin at $260

Italy: The Flower of my Secret

Shhh… Italy is…
The flower of my secret.

That’s Georgia O’Keeffe’s ‘Black Iris’, but it sure does draw you in, doesn’t it? She may have found her inspiration in Santa Fe, but we’re finding it in Italy. Which reminds us of flowers, Limoncello, beauty, and a few botanically-inspired programs taking place in the country of fine wine and pasta right now (such passionate paramours of all things flowery, green, and leafy, we are). Whispered about among the upwardly-mobile artistic set, these petal-pushing programs are sure to bring out the inner O’Keeffe in you too.

HOTEL SPLENDIDO: The Discovering Herbs Package
Portofino, Italy

The word ‘love’ doesn’t capture the affaire de coeur I have with the Italian coast. Sweeping, terraced, cobbled, and cozy, it’s one of the most romantic spots on earth; reason enough to believe in true love and eternal bliss. Surreal in it’s majesty, endless in it’s scope, there’s simply no other place I’ve seen that quite compares to Italy’s fine homage to love and living.

The days, the nights, alone, or in love, Italy can be sipped slowly or downed in one long lascivious gulp. Greedy, sensual, ravenous, needy, when you leave you’ll want to cry yourself into the fetal position and ask yourself, “Why???” It’s painful to leave her no matter what you do.

Originally a Monastery, Hotel Splendido in Portofino, is among the finest accommodations in the area. A luxury villa that stands majestically on a hillside overlooking the Bay of Portofino, it’s surrounded by four acres of tropical terraced gardens of palm trees, yews, sea pines, mimosa and olive groves while the nearby harbor is full of cafes, shops, gorgeous men (whoops, did I say that?) and restaurants. So grab a girlfriend, your mom, or your husband, and see an Italian coast that’ll make you swoon. Get creative and break the botanical babe in you free.

You’ll spend two days and two nights learning how to recognize the spontaneous herbs of Liguria and their use in cookery. A course lying midway between gastronomy and botany, based on the aromas of the herbs typical of the Tigullio region. Here’s the itinerary:

Day One: A gourmet dinner for two based on local herbs, in either the Splendido Mare’s “Chuflay” restaurant or in the Splendido’s “la Terrazza” restaurant.

Day Two: Guests set off on foot at 10am for a half-day excursion on Monte di Portofino, accompanied by a botanist guide, who will explain the uses and properties of spontaneous herbs for cooking, health and beauty.

Prices start at US $1,719* per person, for a double sea view room, including flowers, full American-style breakfast and all the activities in the program.

Reservations at: or 1800 237 1236.

In addition to classes on the Italian coast, you can discover a renaissance in botanical art at properties around the world with painting classes at almost all of the Orient-Express hotels. By the end of each class, you’ll have completed a number of sketches and color works.

Fun, fun, fun!

The program for 2008 includes a variety of options. Since today we’re daydreaming about Italy, I pick:

Venice, Italy

You know about the gondolas and the city among the sea, right? There’s really not much more to say, but… look at that photo! We vote for a few days in the middle of that ancient Italian lovestory that is Venice. Go paint. Suck, or be amazing. Who cares? Just know this… if you go alone, you better have something to do. Like paint some flowers, take a big rosemary-filled breath, and drink some wine. Just don’t say I didn’t tell you so when Massimo tries to feel you up during your 80 minute massage.

Fondamenta Vetrai, Murano 50,

Tel: 041 2737211

Flower Painting Master Class: “Autumn fruits and foliage”
Sunday, October 5th – Friday, October 10th, 2008
Package price is Euro 5,365 (approx USD $7,980) plus 10% VAT. Rate for two persons, student or not, sharing a room.

Students can discover a worldwide renaissance in flower painting at an exclusive Master Class at the Hotel Cipriani taught by Siriol Sherlock.

Student Program Includes:
• Welcome at the airport or railway station by hotel representative
• Transfer on arrival and departure
• Italian Champagne and flowers in the room
• Get-together cocktail party on arrival and welcome dinner
• Daily painting Master Class
• Five nights deluxe accommodation with full American Breakfast
• Lunch and dinner daily (beverages not included)
• Farewell dinner
• Diploma

Reservations: or 1800 237 1236.

Ice is Hot: Lap(land) it Up

I’m a warm-blooded desert dwelling gypsy, but when I hear about Swedish Lapland I think of men named Bjorn, fjords, water so blue it’s white, reindeers, and Bond… James Bond.

It all started with Art.

The story goes something like this. In the late 80’s, Japanese ice artists visited northern Sweden, an area known as ‘no man’s land’ at the foot of the Arctic Circle. It was there they created an exhibition of ice art. A year later, French artist Jannot Derid held his own exhibition in a nearby igloo. One night, there were no rooms available in town so visitors asked for permission to spend the night in the exhibition hall. They slept in sleeping bags on top of reindeer skin. Voila! The first guests of the Icehotel (c) had unofficially checked in.

Located in Jukkasjärvi, a town in Swedish Lapland (northern Sweden), there are only 541 permanent residents year round, the majority of whom are Sami, a nomadic Nordic people that live in the area stretching from northern Norway to the Kola peninsula in Russia with a fascinating culture based on animistic beliefs where everything from animals to minerals have a soul. They have 400 words for reindeer alone. Pushed north by the Vikings, they are one of the oldest surviving cultures in the world settling the Scandinavian Peninsula over 4000 years ago.

Since its creation, the Icehotel (c) has seen numerous guests. New ice art, and the rooms themselves, are created by visiting artists from around the world. Yes, the entire hotel is made out of ice blocks taken from the Torne River. The best part? When the weather warms, the hotel begins to disappear… melting right back into the environment from which it’s sprung. With more than 80 rooms and suites, bar, reception, and even a church (in case you want to get hitched in the Arctic Circle), guests can expect to pay about 1,400 Swedish Krona (@ $196 US dollars/night). Keep in mind, the hotel only exists between December and April.

The only building not made of ice is the amazing restaurant which serves up cuisine fresh from the fells, forests and marshes north of The Circle. Think venison, ptarmigan (a medium-sized game bird), wood grouse, reindeer, salmon, whiting, grayling and arctic char. Desserts are prepared from the wild cloudberries, blueberries, lingonberries and arctic bramble that thrive in the nearby marshes and moors. In addition to the local fare, the hotel offers excursions such as dogsledding and snow safaris.

(c) Jorma Jaemsen—zefa/Corbis

So if the ancient Sami, safari sledding, cloudberries, and ice rooms that promise to make you feel as if you’ve stepped into the hands of time aren’t Jaunt worthy enough for you… forget ever living up to the likes of Bond.

Stay home and eat a pot pie, as far as I’m concerned.

I’ll be Laplanding it Up.
Sami style.

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