In Los Angeles, the O Hotel turns heads with stylish but cool Zen aesthetic…
In Paris, Peace and Privacy
Hôtel Particulier de Montmartre. There are no signs indicating that this elegant mansion surrounded by gardens is anything but a private residence. Indeed, this “hôtel particulier” was a family home until 2007, when two Parisians from the contemporary art world turned it into an exclusive B&B with only five suites. To enter from the cobblestone passage on a quiet, prestigious street in Montmartre, buzz at the black gate for the door to open. Inside, the lobby — like the rooms — is done in a mix of contemporary art and antiques. Each one of the spacious suites has a different theme, and each is decorated by one of five different artists, the results ranging from modern minimalist to cozy and classic. Pros: absolute quiet; fashionable clientele; luxurious amenities. Cons: located on the edge of Paris; no restaurant. 23 avenue Jurot. Montmartre. www.hotel-particulier-montmartre.com. 5 suites. In-room: safe, DVD, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: library, bar, Wi-Fi, laundry service. AE, V, MC. Rooms start at €390 (approximately $579).
In D.C., Pay a Visit to the Doctor
Dr. Granville Moore’s Brickyard. Dr. Granville Moore’s Brickyard is located in D.C.’s Atlas District, an area that can show its seedy side after dark. Still, this Belgian beer hall with a gourmet soul is worth a visit. Snag a seat at the bar or at one of the first-come, first-serve tables and linger all night long over unfiltered artisanal brews that range from celebrated Chimay to the obscure but lip-smacking Brasserie des Rocs. The food is as stellar as the beverages, specifically the pots of steamed mussels served with crunchy, twice-fried frites paired with homemade dipping sauces. For the few non-fish lovers, the bison burger and chicken with prosciutto are downright decadent. 1238 H St., NE. Capitol Hill. 202/399-2546. No lunch. AE, MC, V. Median entrée price: $15.
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Big Flavor in the Big Easy
La Vita. This tiny, odd-shaped building has been home to several failed restaurants, but the neighborhood seems to like the latest occupant, La Vita. The restaurant’s authentic Italian cuisine must have something to do with its popularity. Sauces are slow cooked and full of flavor. Pizzas are baked in a custom-designed wood-burning oven that produces a perfect crust, and salads are fresh and generously portioned — especially the Caprese salad with fresh mozzarella and locally grown Creole cherry tomatoes. If you’re in the mood for pasta, you can’t go wrong with the Manicotti Quatro Formagio, with tomato basil sauce. 3201 Esplanade Ave. French Quarter. 504/943-0990. www.lavitapizza.com. No reservations. Closed Sun. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Median entrée price: $11.
Upscale Asian Fare in Puerto Rico
Budatai. The restaurant features the same clean lines and airy spaces of the string of designer stores that surround it. And it is apparent that the young, hip customers who shop at Chanel, Gucci, and Ferragamo are fortifying themselves with Budatai’s designer food after a day of exhausting their credit cards. The menu features pork dumplings made with shaved truffles and topped with flying fish roe, which adds just the right amount of saltiness. The entrées include soy-glazed salmon with coconut hash, and veal steak with lobster mashed potatoes. Sunday brunch adds some interesting items to the usual lunch menu, such as the pistachio French toast with seared foie gras — with a $35 price tag, it tops almost everything on the dinner menu. 1056 Ashford Ave. San Juan. 787/725-6919. Reservations essential. AE, MC, V. Median entrée price: $21.
Los Angeles’ Zen Hotel
O Hotel. A former residential hotel, the O has been completely cleaned-up and re-done in a minimalist, Zen-modern style. A glowing, granite-faced fireplace heats up the two-story lobby. An ergonomic work desk and chair, designer lighting and platform beds occupy the compact rooms, which are outfitted with a flat-screen TV; stone-floored bathrooms are found behind a space-saving pocket door. Spanish-influenced cuisine and tapas are the specialties of Oh!, the on-site restaurant. The hotel is near L.A.’s convention center and the Nokia Theatre. Pros: boutique, European-style hotel with an ambitious restaurant in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. Cons: monastic cell-like rooms and few views. 819 S. Flower St. Downtown. 213/623-9904. www.ohotelgroup.com. 68 rooms. In-room: safe, refrigerator, Ethernet. In-hotel facilities: restaurant, room service, bar, gym, parking (fee), no-smoking rooms. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at $150.
East Meets West in Geneva
Eastwest Hotel. A chic and stylish enclave, this boutique hotel offers luxury and contemporary design with attention to detail. The décor throughout the hotel is a sophisticated mix of Western design and Eastern sensibility. The staff is friendly and considerate and the clientele cosmopolitan. Top-rate chefs prepare exquisite food served in the Sens Restaurant and Bar and at the Lounge Bar. A terrace with a water wall is the ideal space for a drink and a little Zen at the end of the day. Pros: short walk to Lake Geneva and Old Town. Cons: breakfast is an additional 35 CHF (approximately $32 USD) per person. Rue des Paquis 6. Les Paquis. 022/7081717 (ph.). 022/7081718 (fax). www.eastwesthotel.ch. 41 rooms, 4 suites. In room: safe, refrigerator (minibar), Ethernet, Wi-Fi. In hotel: restaurant, room service, bar (serving tapas), gym, laundry service, public Wi-Fi, parking (public garage, fee), pets allowed (fee), no-smoking rooms (all). AE, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at 460 CHF (approximately $421).
Contributors: Paul A. Greenberg, Jennifer Luce Hinesman, Kathy A. McDonald, Elana Schor, Heather Stimmler-Hall, Mark Sullivan