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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.

Seeking Wellness in Austin

Seeking Wellness in Austin

Miraval’s newest resort and spa takes relaxation and reconnection to a whole new level

The world feels frenetic, people are too connected to their phones, and friends barely have enough time to catch up over coffee, let alone to spend a few days together really reconnecting. You’ve heard it all before. Let us offer a new antidote: Miraval Austin, the newest resort and spa from the renowned wellness brand, which joins the Tucson flagship as a top destination for wellness warriors.

CELL PHONE FREE

About 30 minutes from downtown, Miraval Austin sits on 220 acres near the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, with a view of Lake Travis. “I was immediately impressed by all the beautiful lush green trees and thought it was the perfect setting for a wellness resort,” says Christina, who recently visited with friends Awilda and Debbie for a long weekend of relaxation. “When we pulled up to the arrival area, I loved the use of all the natural woods and the open, airy feeling of the arrival lounge, with the view out onto the hills.”

The three friends each checked into one of the resort’s Hill Country King Suites, which offer king-size beds (“I felt like I was sleeping on a cloud,” says Debbie), an indoor shower—that leads straight to an outdoor shower—and other special touches, like a sound bowl and meditation cushion.

And then they checked their devices at the door: While there are specific spots to power up (and you can use your phone on airplane mode to take pics), the resort is resoundingly cell phone-free. “I loved this! It wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be—maybe I was at a point in my life where I needed this more than I knew,” says Awilda.

Bonding—35 Feet in the Air

Miraval Austin offers an extensive (and many included-with-your-stay) roster of classes, with a rotating daily schedule. While there, the friends tried a number of these—from yin reiki yoga to a tarot card workshop to floating meditation.

Of the floating meditation class—think meditation meets aerial yoga—Christina says, “You are ensconced in a beautiful lavender silk scarf hanging from the ceiling and you lay down and gently rock in the scarf while you are guided through a meditation that gives you a sense of safety and warmth.”

But the highlight for the trio? Swing and a Prayer, where you’re suspended 35 feet in the air, and then swing down.

“It wasn’t just an adrenaline rush, it was a way to free yourself—to set an intention and choose something to focus on that you need to let go of—and putting the choice and power to let go literally in your hands,” says Christina. “When you are up there, it’s you who makes the decision on when to let go and soar through the air. It gave me such a sense of empowerment and reminded me how strong of a person I am”

And it also offered a bonding moment. “I’m a person who does not hesitate to jump in and get things done,” says Awilda. “But when I was holstered up 35 feet in the sky, let’s just say, I was not releasing the rope to swing down! It took coaching from my support system below, assuring me it would all be ok.”

It was the most memorable part of the weekend for Debbie: “I was really scared and walked away feeling proud, happy, emotional, fulfilled and lighter all at the same time. I highly recommend this experience to anyone visiting the property.”

Treatments and Farm-to-Table Eats

Along with classes and activities, Miraval Austin is home to the 20,000-square-foot Life in Balance Spa, which, while large, still has an intimate, relaxing feel. The friends each tried  different treatments—from Christina’s Jade-Meridian massage, to Awilda’s 100-minute Pradhana Veda Ayurveda treatment (where she fell asleep, it was so relaxing!) to Debbie’s Naga massage, a Miraval exclusive. “I booked this treatment on our last evening at 9 p.m. and floated off to my room for a great night sleep right after,” she says.

But no girls weekend would be complete without some great eats and conversation. The property has three dining options, with all meals and drinks (except wine and alcohol) included. At the signature Hilltop Crossing Kitchen, the food is either local—or comes straight from the resort’s 10-acre Cypress Creek Farm & Ranch. Pro-tip: “I’m a popcorn gal and they had the tastiest herb popcorn that they served in the cafe area, which went perfectly with a glass of wine or cocktail,” says Debbie.

Recharge and reconnect

With so many classes, activities and offerings—there are also culinary classes, horseback riding, wellness counseling and so much more—the resort truly offers a chance to disconnect with the outside world, to recharge with friends, and, most importantly, to reconnect with yourself.

“I feel it’s so important to find time for yourself,” says Debbie. “Practice self-care, self-love and hit that reset button.”

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.)

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.

Hong Kong Homecoming

Hong Kong
Homecoming

Rosewood’s new flagship redefines the art of hospitality

The Rosewood Hong Kong hotel opened this year as the brand’s flagship property—its twenty-sixth, including Paris’ famed Hôtel de Crillon, New York’s historic Carlyle, and the Mansion on Turtle Creek, where Rosewood first received guests on a private Dallas estate forty years ago. Despite Rosewood’s world renown, Hong Kong still holds special significance for its owners.

FAMILY MATTERS

Sonia Cheng’s family has owned the land at Victoria Dockside for three generations. She remembers pedaling her bicycle along the water here as a little girl, the views across the harbor to Hong Kong Island’s jagged skyscrapers and towering peaks. Long before that, it had been a key shipping terminus and railhead on the mainland, until Cheng’s family turned the centrally located promontory into a park and cultural center. So there’s a particular tenderness to her voice as she describes their newest venture here.

“With Hong Kong evolving from a business and financial center to becoming a true global cultural capital,” says Cheng, CEO of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, “I wanted to create an iconic property that not only showcases the city’s rich history but also reflects its bright future.”

At the epicenter of Kowloon’s business and entertainment district, the Rosewood Hong Kong is a destination in its own right. A water front promenade designed by the architects behind New York’s High Line connects the hotel to K11 Musea, an innovative office space with high-end retail, dining and art venues designed to lure young creatives. A few steps further lie the Hong Kong Museum of Art and Cultural Center, and the shopping mecca of Canton Road. A few blocks inland, a more local-style business district will satisfy even the hungriest Instagrammer.

Inside, meanwhile, the hotel is a model of Rosewood’s residential approach to luxury and creating “A Sense of Place”. Materials varying between mineral tones and metallics dispel any notion of institutionality. The service is obliging but never obsequious. The experience is more that of a lavish penthouse than a large hotel. And indeed, the Rosewood Residences are designed for extended stays. Guestroom floors greet you at the elevators with spacious salons, where you can relax with a book before retiring to your harbor-view room or gather with friends before going down to dinner. The eight bars and restaurants offer contemporary takes on Cantonese and international flavors, and private rooms for family-style service.

“Rosewood Hong Kong sets bold new benchmarks for design, guest experience, cuisine, and culture,” says Cheng. “Our ambition is to create a new world standard for ultra-luxury hospitality and a focal point of the vibrant Hong Kong lifestyle, reflecting its incredible dynamism, style and diversity.”

 

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

GFG

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.