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Hotel St. Paul

Montreal 's Hotel St. Paul is a beautifully restored building, designed in the Beaux Art style. The elegant facade welcomes you into a surprisingly ethereal interior. Throughout, the hotel`s decor was inspired by the Canadian landscape - earth, ice, fire and sky. The careful restoration of this heritage building has been awarded top honors by the City of Montreal. The historic landmark has been transformed into an elegant yet simple space. All amenities specific to a boutique hotel have been carefully designed to let you experience the best out of your stay. Hotel St-Paul welcomes you to the luxury of modernism within an historic framework. The Cube restaurant offers a market-fresh menu daily. Chef Eric Gonzalez carefully selects the finest quality produce of the season. He creates one-of-a-kind tastes with his innovative approach. The hotel's second floor offers four meeting spaces equipped with state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment and high speed Internet access. Allow the St-Paul to fulfill your wishes - possibly your dreams.
Stats :-120 rooms, 1 restaurant, 1 bar.
Competitive Edge :-Stylish contemporary rooms in a prime Old Montreal location.
Rooms to Book :-10th-floor rooms, with 13-foot ceilings and views of Place d'Youville. Don't Miss :-Fricots, the Québécois version of tapas, at the new Vauvert restaurant.
Cos:-Doubles from $286, including breakfast.
Contact:-
355 Rue McGill
Old Montreal
(866) 380-2202 or (514) 380-2222
www.hotelstpaul.com
7:49 AM 1 comments

Little Palm Island Resort & Spa

You wake up to a blissful quiet, broken only by a heron's call and the gentle lap of waves. You snuggle closer. A cloud of soft linen envelops you in a comfortable cocoon. You dream of your trip here last night on The Truman, the 35 foot launch named after one of the island's most famous guests, and glide again through sultry waters to arrive at this remote island full of Jamaican palms and exotic blossoms. And you wonder if you can ever leave. Tucked offshore of Little Torch Key and accessible only by boat or seaplane, the resort is a world unto itself, alive with hidden pleasures. Crushed seashell paths wind through lush gardens to thatched-roof bungalows, which serve as your guest quarters. Extra spacious, each suite and grand suite has romantic touches such as a king-size bed draped in butterfly netting, verandahs with ocean views and, in some rooms, private outdoor showers and jetted tubs. From the lagoon-style pool to the meditative Zen Garden or the cozy Great Room library, a perfect serenity sweeps over you as you wander the island. Oversized hammocks beckon from the trees. Lounge chairs nestled in the sand call from the beach. And at the end of the day, return to your private bungalow for peaceful seclusion to dream again.
Stats:- 30 suites; 1 restaurant; 2 bars.
Competitive Edge:-One of Florida's most romantic and secluded retreats.
Rooms to Book:-For privacy, the Mockingbird Suite; the Willet Suite is set between the beach and the pool.
Don't miss:-A guided flats-fishing excursion.
Cost:-Doubles from $1,760, including meals. No guests under 16.
Contact:-
Overseas Highway
(Mile Marker 29 Oceanside)
(800) 343-8567 or (305) 872-2524
www.littlepalmisland.com
7:47 AM 1 comments

The winner takes it all (well, a £50 gift card, anyway)

Gift card competition

Only a select handful of Mr & Mrs Smith bloggees know their Balearics from their Aeolians, it transpires

In the second of our photo competitions, we challenged you to tell us where in the world this heavenly hilltop was. And lucky winner, Chris McAtominey from London, correctly identified this majestic Mallorcan vista.

‘That’s Valldemossa in Mallorca,’ he said.mirabodevalldemossa
Quite right, Chris.
‘Lovely shot too, with the sunset falling on the town,’ he added. (Not that it was flattery that won our eagle-eyed victor the day.)

Commiserations to our two runners-up, who narrowly missed becoming the proud owner of a £50 Get a Room! gift card.

We’d like to suggest that clued-in Chris put his prize towards a stay at nearby Mirabó de Valldemossa (above). OK, he could play out of left field and book something unrelated like… ooh, I don’t know… think of a number… Thirty Two – but even without the half-ton back-hander, you’ll find Mirabó’s serene, sun-kissed 16th-century olive farm charm is worth every penny.

Read our full review.

Get your training for next month’s competition in now, by browsing our fabulously informative Destination guides. You never know. It might help.

Until September…

7:47 AM 0 comments

Sundaes and sunny days

So far, summer 2009 has lacked sunshine in every sense. We’ve seen a generous onslaught of rain, we’ve lost the King of Pop and a perfectly coiffed Charlie’s Angel and the sound of someone sneezing on a tube is enough to send swine-flu-dreading commuters scuttling for cover. Our medicinal mood-booster? Ice-cream. Pure and simple. What can be more optimistic, especially in this umbrella-necessitating weather, than sitting down to a towering sundae, drizzled in chocolate sauce, chopped nuts and sugar crystals? Ancient Man used to perform sun dances to banish the clouds; at Smith HQ, we’ll put our faith in the gooey stuff.

In a mission to spirit up some warmth and cheer via several large ice-cream sundaes, I head to Fortnum & Mason’s Parlour Restaurant in Piccadilly, cagoule and brolly in hand. F&M is a British institution and rightly so, having built up a reputation for quality treats over the last 300 years. Many a day’s London browsing has ended with a quick recce in the Food Hall (the lavender- and rose-flavoured chocolate creams are dangerously addictive), but this is my first trip to the shop’s ice-cream-obsessed eatery.

The Parlour Restaurant

Located on the first floor, the Parlour Restaurant (right) is a bright and airy space, popular with bag-laden shoppers, child-pacifying parents and couples craving a sugar hit. It’s decorated in the style of a ’50s Italian gelateria, with ice-cream-inspired decor in pistachio, vanilla and chocolate shades, scoop-and-sauce murals on the walls, glass lamps stained with a choc-ice effect, and a pretty raspberry-ripple curved bar. Having settled down in a breezy spot by the window (perfect for Piccadilly people-watching) we decide to check the Parlour Restaurant isn’t just a one-trick pony, by beginning with a non ice-cream starter.

I opt for Gresingham duck with quails egg on a herb bap, and my partner in (culinary) crime goes for a smoked chicken open-sandwich with anchovy (below). Both are delicious, washed down with a glass of crisp white Soave. This place may be designed with kids in mind (there’s even a Tots menu) but it’s got more than enough charm to keep adults happy, too. There’s not a cloud on the horizon. (My mood is most certainly on the up.)

Smoked chicken and anchovy bap

Having polished off our baps, we settle down to the serious business of ice-cream selection. Given the menu (a love-letter to the frozen stuff), this is no mean feat. My accomplice goes for a Boozie Fruits cocktail sundae and after umming and aahing over a ginger, honey and vanilla number, I go retro and order a knickerbocker glory. I blame my nostalgic choice on the shop-window display – a tribute to the English seaside, complete with sand castles, a pearl-draped mermaid, a giant fake ice-cream and F&M treats scattered like plundered treasure across the kitsch beach. There’s even a soundtrack of waves and seagulls cawing away in the background. If you can’t make it to the Kent coast this summer, head here instead.

Boozie Berrie Sundae

Our ice-creams emerge resplendent in their glass bowls, topped with straw-like conical wafers lined with chocolate and hazelnut praline. I reckon I’ve won – my glory by name, glory by nature comes scattered with sugar crystals and lashings of cream crowned with plump raspberries (right). My mood plummets again when it’s time to leave, so to restore good humour, we wander around the Food Hall, picking up some Gamekeeper’s Relish, beer mustard, chilli jam and marzipan fruits – booty enough to inspire a picnic, were we not already full to the brim with ice-cream.

St James's Club & Hotel

There are yet more glamorous ways to picnic on F&M goodies this summer, too, when you book in to St James’s Hotel & Club. This stylish and dapper townhouse hotel in Mayfair (think exclusive gentleman’s club with a valuable portraiture collection, Murano chandeliers, decadent boudoirs and polished stone bathrooms) has developed three picnic packages bursting with tasty F&M treats that can be delivered directly to your preferred picnic spot – choose from nearby St James’s, Green or Hyde Park.

A Fortnum & Mason's outdoor picnic

There’s nothing lowly about even the most basic package (catered for two), which includes overnight b&b, plus an alfresco feast of olives, ham or pork rillettes with crusty bread, poached salmon or chicken, mozzarella and tomato pie, salad, strawberries and mint, and a bottle of viognier (right), stylishly presented in a F&M cool bag with cutlery (£265). Pick of the ‘nics is the gourmet hamper package, including beef carpaccio, Scottish lobster, Blanc de Blanc champagne and a bottle of Chablis Premier Cru, delivered in a wicker basket with glasses, plates and cutlery.

And if the sun does refuse to shine, you can always enjoy your picnic hamper in the comfort of your luxurious, silk-wallpapered room back at St James’s Hotel & Club. Now if only the bods at F&M could think up a way of including an ice-cream sundae or two into those hampers, summer 2009 really would be la dolce vita

7:46 AM 1 comments

Hotel of the week: The Crescent, Los Angeles

How to follow a fabulous Portuguese farmhouse, a cosy Norfolk cottage and a trad Thamesside inn? Why, with another equally stunning boutique property, of course. This week, our fickle fancies turn to…the_crescent_hotel

The Crescent, Los Angeles

the_crescent_balconyStyle Upscale monochrome villa
Setting Rarified Rodeo Drive environs

Why this week? Venice Beach is calling, the chic boutiques of Rodeo Drive are summer-quiet and the incredible variety of cuisine at LA’s stellar eateries (Koi, Lucques, Spago) is yours for the savouring.

Our favourite bits Book a Brighton Street-facing room and let the sunshine show off ththe_crescent_boee light-loving shades-of-white decor, textured fabrics and sleek furniture in all their pristine glory. Laze on a sofa over cups of tea on the tree-shaded patio (above). Lounge over nattily named cocktails (try a ‘Seven Wet Pom-Poms’) in the lobby bar. Linger over angel hair with clams or flatiron steak under the stars – elbow to elbow with the A-list – at the hotel restaurant, Boé (left).

Mr & Mrs Smith say ‘The Crescent must have been a sensational house. Formerly the kind of establishment known for its hourly bookings, it’s now a small style hotel, a far cry from its former bad self, tucked away in the heart of the_crescent_bedBeverly Hills. A honeyed stucco facade conceals minimal-chic interiors by designer Dodd Mitchell, the man behind Hollywood’s hippest playgrounds, and the restaurant is a star attraction, drawing in Mena Suvari, Liz Hurley, Courtney Cox et al.’

Read our full review

7:45 AM 0 comments

Visit Painswick this month. You’ll thank us.

hapennyjkMy heart belongs to Painswick. No, it’s not a tubby waistcoated Dickens character, it’s an adorable tiny town in the South Cotswolds. I’m a shallow soul really. A gorgeous boutique hotel, a sprinkling of couldn’t-be-cuter shops (Ha’Penny Antiques, left), an excellent deli and a country pub and I’m smitten. Throw in your chocolate-box Cotswold-stone village setting and some gorgeous gardens to while away an afternoon in and I’m head over heels. And my reason to share this is to urge you to go this month: they’re having an Painswick Summer Art Festival throughout August.

I couldn’t believe my luck when we managed to get a last-minute weekend deal at Cotswolds88 during summer. We spent half our time trying to guesstimate how much of Britain would jump at the chance to experience a staycation weekend that went a little like ours and the other half plotting how and when we could get there again. In a nutshell, and to whet your appetite to follow in our footsteps, our two-night stay went a little like this…

olivasFriday night: After wending our way through Gloucestershire’s gorgeous country lanes, we rock up at postcard-perfect grey-stone country mansion which conceals super-stylish boutique hotel, Cotswolds88. Wander out into peaceful village, find award-winning deli, Olivas (left), for afternoon tea. Caper about in graveyard of St Mary’s taking pictures amid those bonkers yew trees and shouting puns such as ‘Suits yew, sir’ all the while. (Trip on gravestone while running for self-timer picture, below left, and end up with leg graze that raises eyebrows later on back at hotel – but I digress.) Return to hip hideaway, drink some champagne-based aperitifs (sidestepping the pre-supper cocktail suggestion from young waiter of a White Russian; eek), eat like kings (delicious steak, guys); hit the sack.

the-chairman-painswickjkSaturday: Wake up, wolf a carb-load for breakfast, ditch newspaper banging on about credit crunch and swine flu in favour of more village wandering. Better for the soul. Discover bookshop in 14th-century National Trust cottage, stroke resident basset hound, buy decades-old children’s book as gifts for only a few pounds. Wander ‘high street’ browsing the sprinkling of shops, including a Tudor post office, buy a cute hand-printed card in the Chairman (left) to send to friend stuck in bed with aforementioned porcine affliction. See a leaflet and make note to self to mention Painswick Summer Art Festival on Blog…

For the full technicolour and we-did-this-we-did-that hotel write-up, see my proper Costwolds88 review online.

What to see and do in postcard-pretty Painswick?

Here are my eating, strolling and shopping recommendations…

rococoRococo Gardens Painswick GL6 6TH (+44 (0)1452 813 204)
It’s fairly small, but perfectly formed. Pretty follies pop up in green flower-filled grounds, with a good old fashioned not-as-easy-as-it-looks maze to tackle. The tea shop isn’t to be sniffed at – a decent Ploughman’s and carrot cake provided a heartier lunch than we’d expected.

Little Fleece Bookshop on Bisley Street, Painswick GL6 6QQ (+44 (0)1452 812 264)
Collectors of quality secondhand and antiquarian books will thrill at the copies stacked from floor to ceiling, while browsers will find this 16th-century National Trust building worth earmarking alone for a visit.

The Chairman on New Street, Painswick (+44 (0)1452 810 8200)
The antique rocking horse should grab your attention, and then once you’re lured inside it’s hard to resist one of the many handicrafts or antique furnishings. Even the greetings cards are irresistible.

Ha’penny Antiques on Tibbiwell, Painswick GL6 6XX (+44 (0)1452 813 712)
This tiny gift shop opened three decades ago and is now run by the original owners’ daughter, Kate. Floral teapots, pretty pottery and ribbonned cushions are just some of the curiosities to bring out the Magpie in browsers.

Olivas Delicatessen on Friday Street, Painswick GL6 6QJ (+44 (0)1452 814 774)
Far from your typical Cotswolds tea shop, Brian and Ximena Nunez have not only brought a taste of their native Colombia courtesy of the coffee that is served at this tiny hidden-away cafe and deli, but there are heartier home-cooked delights on offer for lunch and dinner as well as traditional cream teatime treats.

st-marysSt Mary’s Church
Grade I-listed church celebrated particularly for its 100 – or thereabouts – yew trees which are the stuff of Painswick’s best-known folklore. Sorry about the posers in the pic – it didn’t look as glam when I fell backwards onto aforementioned tombstone.

eton-messThe Woolpack Inn (+44 (0)1452 813 429)
This timeless little country pub overlooking a valley one side, and a church the other, is especially popular for Sunday lunch (definitely call in advance). Beloved by Alex James and the hip Cotswoldian brigade, it can fill up quickly, so they split lunch into two sittings, 12pm and 2.30pm. We recommend the Eton Mess, pictured.

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August debuts: Basque beauties, Catalan castles and Sardinian spas

It’s that time again when we reveal the new hotel debutantes we’re inaugurating into Smith society. We’ve combed the beaches of San Sebastián, searched the coastal charms of Empordà and scoured the heavenly excesses of the Hamptons to bring you the very best of the boutique-hotel world this August…

Movie-mad Astoria7 in San Sebastián lets you stay with a film star in a city where there’s more Michelin stars per inhabitant than anywhere else in the world. What’s more, if you head to this Belle Epoque beauty in September, you’re almost guaranteed a star-spot as the International Film Festival sets up camp in the city. Not far away, sing along to the Sound of Music at Arguibel in the Basque Country fishing port of Guéthary – all that timber and greenery gives a very Swiss-Alp feel.

Arguibel

Sticking with mountain ranges, we traversed the Pyrenees on our boutique-hotel trail and found a grand old castle close to the Costa Brava cliffs in Empordà. The majestically mediaeval Castell d’Empordà is just east of Girona, in the Catalan countryside. And if a city break is more your thing, be tempted by ME Madrid – a hip urban hangout hiding behind an imposing 20th-century façade in the centre of the capital.

If you have frazzled nerves to soothe, retreat into the hillside spa at Petra Segreta Resort in Sardinia. This peaceful old farmhouse sits in a whitewashed hamlet on the Costa Smeralda, close to the beaches of Olbia.

And over in the Hamptons, vacation with high society while there’s still time. Stay at family-friendly East Hampton Point, a collection of suites and self-catering holiday cottages with its own marina. There’s also the 1770 House, a vintage clapboard villa with classic colonial charm.

Petra Segreta

More jetset jamborees await near St Tropez – we’ve discovered a lively boutique hotel with its finger on the party pulse: Kube Hotel is Miami-like and minimalist, with three fabulous bars to choose from.

Astoria7

In Britain, our Edinburgh collection has a new friend – the Chester Residence may look vintage from the outside, but inside it’s sleek and modern all the way. And it’s just a short way from the action on Princes Street. Book fast if you’re heading up for the Fringe Festival.

Next month, we’ll be staying in the very bonny Scotland and revealing a special boutique retreat waiting in blissful isolation in the Trossachs. We’ve also ventured to Cornwall and Hampshire, and Spain gets another look-in, too. Oh, and there’s a couple of Texan treats in store as well. Stay tuned…