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The Standard London

The Standard, London

Area: London, England

Vibe: Cool and trendy

Style: City

Fun Fact: Some rooms feature outdoor bathtubs 

Don’t Miss: The Sounds Studio

This London property marks the first non-U.S. based hotel for The Standard—and they’ve gotten it so right. Along with the stylish building itself — which has been completely renovated — you’ll find great restaurants (and a Michelin-starred chef), colorful rooms, and the unique Sounds Studio, plus so much more.

Location: The 10-story Brutalist-style building is located in the revitalized neighborhood of King’s Cross in North London. It’ll take you about 40 minutes to reach the hotel from Heathrow Airport and once there, you’re close to public transportation, including St. Pacras International station—and about 15 minutes from most of the major hot spots, whether you’re looking to visit the Tate Modern or Buckingham Palace.

Vibe: The recently restored building itself, with its great architecture and bright red elevator that can be seen from the outside, gives off a stylish and trendy vibe right from the start. And it only continues inside. There are a total of 266 rooms. That includes The Single, which has a studio-like feel for when you’re traveling solo, the King’s Terrace which comes complete with an outdoor bathtub (!) and the Suite Spot, which at 861 square feet is the largest of the rooms, and features floor-to-ceiling windows and  “emperor-size beds.” Though it’s slightly smaller at about 732 square feet, the Suite Terrace has many of the same amenities as the Suite Spot, but also includes a huge terrace with outdoor seating and great open-air views. The rooms are bright, with a mid-century California vibe—and come with great amenities, like Bang & Olufsen Bluetooth speakers and custom-made Craig Green robes.

Why We Love It: There’s so much to love about this property—from the rooms to the restaurants. On the food front, there are three unique spots on-site. Isla, which has an outdoor garden area, “offers an approachable seasonal menu featuring light proteins and a predominantly natural wine list.” Breakfast is available in the morning, and then the kitchen is open until almost 11 p.m. every day of the week. Then there’s Double Standard, the casual, ground floor restaurant that—like Isla—is run by chef Adam Rawson. For dinner, there’s Decimo, which occupies the enviable top floor of the hotel (the views!)—and can be reached from that red elevator. Opening in October 2019, this marks the first London outpost for Michelin-star chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias and “merges the Spanish cuisine of his family with his love of Mexico.” Also cool? The Sounds Studio. Here’s how they describe it: “A recording booth, a performance pod, a living magazine—the Sounds Studio is a broadcast recording venue that with the open of a window can act as a public stage to hotel guests and beyond.” You’ll find it in the Library Lounge—which also features a great book collection—and you can visit their website to see what’s on tap.

Why Go F1rst: TBD

F1S Tips: Don’t worry about leaving your pup at home—all the rooms are pet-friendly.

The Art of Living in Toronto

The Art of Living in Toronto

With its diverse communities, culture and cuisines, a weekend in Toronto is like a quick trip around the world.

Toronto is a city of neighborhoods. And what ties all these communities together is the love of culture. There are amazing galleries, theaters and concert halls celebrating art all over the city. Surrounded by buildings by internationally renowned architects and restaurants run by top chefs, Torontonians have elevated everyday life to an art form. Even jogging past the city’s exceptional outdoor murals and sculptures is an art experience.

Here’s an insider’s guide to nearby neighborhoods that you need to explore in The Six.

THE CROSSROADS OF CULTURE

The Shangri-La Hotel is the place to begin any explorations of Toronto because it bridges three dynamic neighborhoods: the Financial District with its towering skyscrapers and five star dining experiences; the Entertainment District, and Queen Street West, a unique shopping and dining strip.

In fact, your first engagement with Toronto’s globally celebrated cultural community begins just outside of the Shangri-La. The exterior of the hotel is home to the iconic sculpture, “Rising”, by Chinese artist, Zang Huan. Bringing the best the world has to offer together is, in fact, the city’s true talent.

After checking into the hotel, you’ll want to check out of your work week with a relaxing afternoon tea in the Lobby Lounge. The lobby is a hub where visitors and locals come together to take in daily live music performances played on the custom-made Fazioli Piano. It’s always buzzing, but after a busy work week, it also provides a zen-like sense of home, thanks to paintings by famed Shanghainese artist Wang Xu Yuan.

The Lounge is also home to a rotating exhibition of vintage couture fashions featuring designers such as, Alexander McQueen, YSL, Chanel, Versace and many others.

Performance Art

At night, you want to make the Entertainment district your destination. Take in an early dinner at Kojin from David Chang and Chef Paula Navarrete. Located above Momofuku, this vibrant restaurant serves a Columbian influenced lunch and dinner menu.

Then cross the road to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. It is home to the National Ballet Company and the Canadian Opera Company. The opera in particular is known for classic performances done in collaboration with visual and other artists such as performance artist Robert Lepage, director Atom Egoyan, and musician Rufus Wainwright. Just a short walk west down King Street, you can hear the symphony at Roy Thompson Hall. Or stroll over to see some live theatre in the nearby Entertainment District (Elgin and Wintergarden on Yonge Street, or the Royal AlexandraPrincess of Wales, on King).

In warm weather, you can talk about performances while taking in a nightcap on the rooftop bar at Lavelle for a masterpiece of a gin and tonic. Or return to the lobby for a delicious cocktail or two.

Good Morning

Toronto’s many outdoor art installations let you enjoy some inclusive culture while you wake up with a walk, bike, or run. Set your course to take you past the Bentway, the Stackt shipping container market or jog over to the Distillery District for many interactive and experiential installations. The concierge service at the Shangri-La is ultra-connected and can help you make a map of outdoor art (or coffee shops for a post jog pick-me-up.)

After your morning workout, relax with a pre-lunch treatment at the Miraj Hammam Spa on the fifth floor of the Shangri-La.

 

The Times Square EDITION

The Times Square EDITION

Area: New York, New York 

Vibe: Cool and sexy

Style: City

Fun Fact: All of the suites have their own balconies 

Don’t Miss: Paradise Club, a dinner theater/nightclub in the hotel

Ready to take on New York City? Start in Times Square—and, while you’re there, stay at The Times Square EDITION. At the hotel, you’ll find everything from great rooms to amazing dining, and of course, perfect views of the city from almost every angle. 

Location: Want to be in the center of the action? This property totally delivers with its Times Square location on West 47th Street and 7th Avenue. It’s easily accessible from all three New York airports—about 35 minutes from LaGuardia Airport, 40 minutes from Newark Liberty International Airport and an hour from John F. Kennedy International Airport. Once you’re there, it’s close to multiple subway stops, as well as walking distance to many iconic attractions like Rockefeller Center to Radio City Music Hall to the shopping on 5th Avenue.

Vibe: Stylish and sleek, there’s a lush wall of greenery behind the reception desk—a theme that’s carried throughout the hotel, from the lobby to the guest rooms to The Terrace and Outdoor Gardens. There are 452 rooms and suites, which are outfitted in a neutral palette, with lots of white and natural wood tones. In the guest rooms, you’ll find floor-to-ceiling windows, while the suites all feature their own balconies. At 1,300-square feet, the Penthouse Suite is the largest of all, and along with the balcony, includes a full kitchen, soaking tub and dining area—not to mention the jaw-dropping vistas.

Why we love it: If you’ve previously shied away from staying in Times Square, this hotel will definitely have you changing your mind. The central location aside, there is lots to rave about—starting with the dining. The signature restaurant, 701West, is helmed by Michelin-starred chef John Fraser and offers a variety of cuisines, with inspiration from “classical French, Asian, and Latin fare.” The restaurant itself is gorgeous, with vibrant velvet blues and greens. Another option: The Terrace and Outdoor Gardens, which are surrounded by greenery, has outdoor seating, and where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner, or weekend brunch. And for something totally different, be sure to check out Paradise Club, “a modern-day Cabaret” that starts off with dinner theater before transforming to a dance club, open till 4AM. Plus, there are lots of other amenities you’d come to expect from a great hotel, including a 24-hour fitness center (with floor-to-ceiling windows and a wraparound outdoor terrace overlooking Times Square) as well as space for events.

Why Go F1rst: Book through F1S to receive a daily complimentary full breakfast for two at The Terrace and Outdoor Gardens, a $100 F&B credit to be applied in all outlets (excluding Paradise Club), a special chef amenity, as well as a room upgrade and early-check in/late check-out (if available).

F1S Tips: For a great way to unwind, have a drink on the terrace of the Lobby Bar—the nighttime view alone is worth it (but the cocktail choices don’t hurt, either.)

Madrid, a New Old City

Madrid, a New Old City

City on the verge

An empty street glazed with drizzle at 2am. You stare at the shuttered storefront thinking this can’t be right. They said Bar Cock is “a must”, and you skipped the childish joke about the name. Now, facing heavy metal blinds, you wonder what got lost in translation. But the door is ajar, warm light within and, you figure, what’s the worst that could happen?

Invisible city

Push past that off-putting intro into an Almodóvar film: a baronial hall glowing like amber, nocturnal creatures whisper in pairs in deep club chairs and dark wood that has surrounded Salvador Dalí, Ava Gardner, Hemingway (of course), and George Clooney, to name a few. Founded in 1921, and it feels it when the bow-tied waiter serves your martini.

That dissonance between what you’ve heard and what you see happens again and again in Madrid. Questioning the brutalist block that hides plush Hotel Villa Magna. Hunting conceptual art down an alley behind Atocha station, or a minimalist boutique in opulent Salamanca. Finding five-star Gran Hotel Inglés on a street clamoring with youth hostels. You’ll start to doubt Google Maps.

Outwardly austere, Madrid is easy to miss. On the avenues, temples cap monumental banks, imposing apartments and grand hotels. Behind them, shops huddle in ashy side streets beneath prim Juliette balconies and conservatory windows. If Barcelona feels flirty, feisty, Madrid is her stoic sister. Which doesn’t mean she’s dull—she just makes you earn it.

“It’s very Castillian,” says Javier Bone-Carbone, art curator and Taschen editor, referring to the culture of the Spanish heartland surrounding Madrid. Moorish modesty overlaid with Hapsburg grandeur lend the city a severe formality. But break that surface tension and you’ll discover its interior riches. “Madrid isn’t like Paris, with a checklist of landmarks to see,” explains Bone-Carbone, “it is about interaction.”

Haute hostelries

Two of Madrid’s best-kept-secret hotels exemplify its inward-facing character.

Since the 1970’s, Villa Magna is the choice for heads of state, movie stars and others wishing to fly below the radar. Built by a family on the site of their 19th-Century mansion, its modernist architecture is a departure, but one that casts the traditional style and warm hospitality within in an even brighter light. Later Turkish, Portuguese, and now Mexican owners added their own touches—a marble-lined hammam in the spa, new gardens—and expanded the art collection. Just 150 Empire-style rooms, villa-worthy bathrooms, and two penthouse apartments with vast terraces and views to the mountains feel like a well-staffed home. Shopaholics will appreciate the private passageway to a designer-curated outpost of El Corte Inglés. And don’t miss We Collect, a gallery and art club nestled in a Zen garden around the outside.

Surrounding Salamanca is Madrid’s “uptown”. Luxury-brand flagships line Calle Serrano and independent designers sprinkle the leafy backstreets. Taste traditional flavors at intimate, age-old La Parra—divans and Moroccan tile under candle-light and the hushed voices of old-Hollywood types. Or discover new ones at Amazonico—starlets and soccer stars picking at piquant hamachi and rare beef rodizios under cascades of jazz and tropical foliage.

A few blocks south, Gran Hotel Inglés opened in the 19th Century as Madrid’s first luxury hotel. Its return to five-star status signals the revival of artsy Las Letras, Madrid’s medieval heart. An extensive lobby library, including rare volumes of Don Quixote, pays homage to the area’s roots. Cast-iron columns mix with Chesterfields and Oriental rugs for a SoHo vibe. The rooms span old and new. Smartphones guide you around town, while deep, clawfoot tubs soak sightseeing-weary bones before heading out for an infamously late Spanish night.

High society

A wave of restaurants, luxury stores and hotels welcome you to a “new” Madrid rising in the old city-center: glitzy and extroverted, not ashamed to shine. “The middle and upper classes used to be very pijo, a bit stuffy” says Kiko Buxo, fashion designer and founder of minimalist brand Shon Mott. “But the younger generation are more experimental.” Europe’s third-largest city is quickly catching up to its peers. Think laid-back London, or brash Berlin.

Trend spotters long know that Madrid’s creative edge cuts through Chueca. Once a down-and-out barrio, it is back with a by-now-familiar urban mix of goths, gays and gallerists sipping craft beers and coffees on the sunny plazas. Here you’ll find Isolee, Madrid’s first concept store, and Lab Lamarca, its most recent. Specialist shops offer handmade papers, Japanese ceramics and retro-pop foods. Or feast your eyes at established white-cube galleries like London’s Marlborough, and local groundbreakers like Travesía Cuatro.

Now that vibe is moving further south. Construction cranes over Gran Via announce the arrival of brand name luxury condos above a multi-story shopping arcade sure to bring some of Salamanca’s style downtown. Students and backpackers still flock to Puerta del Sol for selfies on the well-trod tourist trail between the royal palace and Prado—Goya, check. El Greco, check. Velazquez, check. But above their heads a real estate boom is transforming the old tenements around Madrid’s old theater district.

So while Spain’s capital is hardly off the beaten path, it rewards the curious who push past first impressions. Plenty of folk will stroll Paseo del Prado, spin through the museums, taste tapas and sangria on Plaza Mayor—and not have seen a thing. No wonder Almodóvar chose Madrid for his seething tales of love and madness. But it’s all about to erupt. Expect a star performance.

 

Maison Montespan Paris

Maison Montespan Paris

Area: Paris, France 

Vibe: Sophisticated comfort 

Style: City

Fun Fact: Geared for families, there’s lots for kids to enjoy

Don’t Miss: Relaxing on the well-appointed rooftop

This residence in the 16th arrondissement in Paris offers the best of both worlds: A private home with all the comforts of a hotel—and we are here for it. With five bedrooms, great amenities (heated pool, gorgeous rooftop) and the opportunity to experience all the city has to offer, the family-friendly maison gives a whole new meaning to the idea of a “home away from home.” 

Location: The home is situated in a residential neighborhood in the sophisticated 16th arrondissement. It’ll take you less than 40 minutes to get to the area from the airport, but unless you’re planning to rent a car, let the maison take care of it: They can arrange for a private car and driver to meet you at the airport and take you directly to the home. Once there, you’re close to a variety of landmarks: it’s a 10-minute drive to the Eiffel Tower and 20 minutes to the Louvre, and in the 16th arrondissement itself, you’ll find cool spots like Fondation Louis Vuitton, the Jardin d’Acclimatation and the food options along the Rue de la Pompe.

Vibe: If you walk in and it feels like home, that’s the point. With an open floor plan and contemporary décor, the home is stylish and lux, but still comfortable and welcoming. There are 5 rooms and suites, each with their own bathroom—and the whole space sleeps 10 total. There are three bedrooms, all which are sophisticated, with fun pops of color and gold accents throughout. On the top floor, you’ll find two suites. Offering similar décor to the rooms below, the suites also include their own wrap-around balconies.

Why we love it: We love that this home brings the lux—from the service to your surroundings—without feeling stuffy. Throughout your stay, you’ll have a butler on hand, housekeeping services, daily breakfast and afternoon tea service, with fresh pastries made by a French chef. Along with the bedrooms, the open-concept home has a kitchen, living room with a Steinway piano, dining room and elevator, as well as a heated indoor swimming pool and fitness center, complete with stationary bike, boxing bag, and treadmill. And with all that space, the home is very family-friendly. In fact, they say, “Ideally conceived to accommodate your family, Maison Montespan is designed for all ages. The safety, comfort and entertainment of your children are at the heart of our concerns.” And they really mean in: For the youngest family members, there are cribs, high chairs and other necessities available, and for older kids, there are all sorts of activities that can be arranged—from yoga classes to magic shows. Plus, if you prefer, they can switch the pool to a playroom or screening room. (And did we mention they can also arrange babysitting? Win-win.) The activities aren’t limited to kids, either. There are a whole slew of “experiences” that can arranged, whether you’re interested in food and wine, music, or taking tours of the city. Also of note: The great outdoor space. There’s a rooftop with a summer kitchen, as well as a dining area, lounge chairs and sofas and a bioclimatic pergola—perfect for enjoying the space any time of day. Looking for something different? The house can be used as an event space as well.

Why Go F1rst: If you book with First in Service, you’ll receive early check-in and late check-out, depending upon availability.

F1S Tips: Art lovers will be impressed by all the pieces throughout the home, all created by French artists such as Laureline Galliot, Léo Caillard and Aude Herlédan. Bonus: If you fall in love with a particular piece, you can purchase it and bring it back to your own home.

Nobu Hotel Los Cabos

Nobu Hotel Los Cabos

Area: Los Cabos, Mexico

Vibe: Beach

Style: Sleek and laid-back

Fun Fact: With chef Nobu as a founder, expect amazing food

Don’t Miss: Lounging by one of the resort’s four pools

When you’re ready for a beachfront escape, here’s a new choice to top your list: Nobu Hotel Los Cabos. The first hotel in Mexico for the Nobu Hospitality team— whose founders are chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Robert Deniro and actor/producer Meir Teper—the resort offers everything from amazing dining (of course) to multiple pools to lots of wellness options, all against a stunning ocean backdrop.

Location: Situated on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico, this resort in Cabo San Lucas is on El Suspiro beach—and has the amazing views that you’d expect from its waterfront location. It’s located inside the Diamante complex, which includes a world-renowned golf course and lots more—and it will take you about 45 minutes to drive to the hotel from Los Cabos International Airport. Once there, you’re about half an hour from most of the off-site activities and attractions, including the famous El Arco and the marina.

Vibe: Sleek and sophisticated, this design-forward hotel offers lots in the way of, as they describe it, laid-back luxury. Expect lots of wood, stone and wood tones, all against a neutral color palette. There are 200 guest rooms and suites, with some overlooking the water and others with views of the nearby golf course. The “deluxe room swim-up,” which opens right up to the pool as well as the Zen Suite and Sake Suite, both of which have ocean views. The two-bedroom Nobu Suite, which is over 2,600 square feet, boasts a chef’s kitchen, pool table and wrap-around terrace that looks onto the water. Pro-tip: When deciding where to stay, head to the hotel’s website where you can take a 360-degree tour of the room or suite and really get a feel for each.

Why We Love It: You’ll find everything you need to relax at this hotel—from great pools to amazing dining options. Let’s start with the dining. With renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa as one of the founders of Nobu Hospitality, you can expect that the food will be top notch. At Nobu Restaurant you’ll find the Japanese fusion cuisine that Nobu is famous for, as well as two bars, all with the ocean in the background. Malibu Farm is a farm-to-table restaurant offering organic choices for all three meals, and at Pacific Restaurant you’ll find “fine dining Mexican concept with a-la-carte service and traditional taco & mezcal pairings.” Rounding things out are Cortez Swim-Up Bar and Playabar, offering drinks and food poolside. Speaking of pools, there are four at the resort, including an infinity pool. Other amenities to check out: On the wellness end, the spa includes a salon and a fitness center with yoga and spinning classes. Plus, there are lots of other activities, like beach volleyball, a Kids Club that offers yoga, origami and face painting for the younger members of your group, as well as golf, including access to the nearby Diamante: The Dunes course.

Why Go F1rst: If you book with First in Service, you’ll receive a complimentary breakfast for two throughout your stay as well as one complimentary lunch for two. Plus: early check-in and late check-out and an upgrade, if available.

F1S Tips: You won’t have to leave your four-legged family members at home: the hotel is pet-friendly and offers amenities like pads and bowls.

Conrad Washington, DC

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Conrad Washington, DC

Area: Downtown Washington, DC

Vibe: City-cool

Style: City

Fun Fact: The restaurant’s chefs competed on Top Chef

Don’t Miss: The Sakura Club

There’s a new spot in DC to make your home base while visiting the city: Conrad Washington, DC. The flagship property for this high-end Hilton line of hotels, the Conrad is part of CityCenter DC, a development in the center of the nation’s capital, featuring high-end shopping and food options. The Conrad also offers its own signature restaurant and lounge with amazing city views, as well as its one-of-a-kind Sakura Club, which offers exclusive access to unique amenities.

Location: Here’s what makes the location of this hotel distinct: It’s part of CityCenter DC, a hub for high-end shopping and dining, including designer stores like Gucci and Hermès alongside must-try restaurants like Centrolina and Momofuku. And, with its central location smack in the center of Downtown DC, the Conrad is steps away from many DC landmarks: The White House, Smithsonian museums, and National Mall are all around a 15-minute walk and the National Portrait Gallery is a five minute walk. Plus, the hotel is about a 40-minute ride from Dulles International Airport, and just 10 minutes from Washington National Airport.

Vibe: Stylish and modern, The Conrad has all the trappings of a great city hotel: Incredible views from floor-to-ceiling windows, sleek, spacious rooms and an unexpected contemporary atmosphere enhanced by elevated terraces and a curated art collection. The 360 rooms feature a sleek, natural décor, while at the same time showcase the intuitive technology that is a staple of the Conrad brand, with smart lighting and streaming options for the HDTVs. Guests can opt for either a deluxe room or suite, the largest of which is the Presidential Suite. Clocking in at 2,405 square feet, it boasts its own kitchen and dining room, gas fireplace, office area and reading nook, and a custom baby grand piano made by DC native, Warren Shadd. Should you opt for one of the Park View or specialty suites, you’ll also receive access to the Sakura Club, a private club on the 10th floor that offers meals made by a private chef, whiskey tastings, a concierge service to help with restaurant reservations, and more.

Why We Love It: As the Americas flagship for the Conrad brand, the Conrad Washington, DC features a wealth of incredible assets that truly make it stand out. Not only is the central location fantastic for travelers looking to explore DC, but the offerings within the hotel are fabulous in their own right. Here, you’ll find the hotel’s signature restaurant, Estuary. Led by Top Chef and James Beard Award finalists, brothers Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, Estuary features a menu with dishes that reimagine the traditional flavors of the Chesapeake Bay. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch are served at the restaurant, and there are two distinct private dining rooms and a prominent bar and lounge, as well. Another must-try: Summit, aptly named for its spot on the rooftop of the Conrad. Along with creative cocktails, Summit offers inventive small plates (avocado fries, anyone?), all with sprawling views of the nation’s capital. If you’re hosting an event or a party, consider renting the terrace event space, also on the rooftop of the Conrad. If hosting outdoors isn’t the right vibe for your event, the Conrad also features 32,000 square feet of meeting space, including three conference rooms, two ballrooms and two executive boardrooms, all elevated above ground level and all featuring natural light through floor-to-ceiling windows.

Why Go F1RST: If you book through First in Service, you’ll receive continental breakfast for two every day of your stay, a $100 hotel credit, a welcome amenity and early-check in/late-check out as well as an upgrade, if available.

F1S Tips: Choosing a room with Sakura Club access really does have its perks: Afternoon tea? Cuisines from around the world? 24-hour access? All included—plus lots more.