In this week’s Hot List, a Singapore airport hotel that is chic enough for Chanel, and an Italian-style place to stay on the streets of San Francisco. Also, we’ll let you in on where to find down-home comfort food in Atlanta, and reveal what new restaurant in Istanbul is serving authentic Ottoman dishes.
4th & Swift, Atlanta.
While the industrial-chic décor in this cavernous space may seem a bit cold, the impeccably plated offerings at 4th & Swift—comfort foods like pork loin, butternut squash soup, buttery biscuits and mac-and-cheese—are anything but. Slide into a cream-colored banquette and try the “Three Little Pigs,” a delectable combination of sausage, pork belly, and pork loin. Another treat: the light-on-the-noodle lasagna, a small plate featuring ricotta cheese and lamb. The best time to dine is Sunday evening, when a selection from the seasonal menu is offered, prix fixe, for $30. 621 North Ave., NE, Old Fourth Ward. 678/904–0160. www.4thandswift.com. No lunch. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Median entrée price: $20.
Don’t let the industrial exterior of celebrated Houston, chef Scott Tycer’s latest venture housed in an 1800’s textile mill, deter you from dining here. The austere yet inviting interior features neutral-toned walls, contemporary-meets-gothic light fixtures, and chic hand-finished wood chairs. The menu is resolutely French-inspired with a contemporary twist. Although offerings include a stellar list of starters and entrées, we suggest opting for the five or seven-course degustation menu as well as the on-point wine pairings. Each new course brings a thrilling treat, from a savory bacon tart adorned with a fried quail egg and wilted bitter greens, to tender smoked sturgeon, with only a hint of smokey flavor, served with buttery white asparagus and a tangy lemon custard. Exquisitely creative desserts include liquid pumpkin pie with brown butter ice cream. 611 West 22nd St., The Heights. 832/209–7177. www.textilerestaurant.com. Reservations essential. Closed Sun. & Mon. No lunch. AE, D, MC, V. Median entrée price: $30.
1897 Konyali, Istanbul.
Konyali, an Istanbul institution, has opened a new restaurant named after the year of Konyali’s founding. (The main branch is in Topkapi Palace, and is only open for lunch.) With the aim of recreating authentic Ottoman dishes, the menu includes game, as well as fruit-based sauces (fruit was used instead of sugar in the Ottoman kitchen). Try the appetizer of game meat börek with apricot sauce, or the entrée of slow-marinated lamb with dried fruits. The restaurant has several smallish rooms decorated with dark woods, mirrors, and original ceramic artwork, while the outdoor patio is a lovely place in summer. Next-door Café Piruhi shares the same kitchen and serves lighter fare. Süleyman Seba Cad. 46, Besiktas. 212/227–4243. Reservations essential. AE, MC, V. Median entrée price: $25 USD.
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, Singapore.
So chic that Chanel recently used it for a photo shoot, the Crowne Plaza Changi in Singapore is no ordinary airport hotel—and no ordinary Crowne Plaza either. Connected by a walkway from Terminal 3, the lobby opens into a serene cocoon of undulating earth tones. Public areas link to lush gardens; rainforest trees are on view through a water-covered skylight; and Zen-like canals and gardens connect outdoor passages to guest rooms and a palm tree–studded swimming pool. Triple-glazed glass keeps out 90 percent of noise, while airplane enthusiasts can view landing and departing planes through a glass-paned bathroom. Attentive staff and a top-notch concierge work hard to ease travel stresses, and will meet bleary-eyed guests at the gate to escort them through immigration to their rooms for free. For an additional cost, guests can purchase VIP club access, which includes Wi-Fi, breakfast, snacks, drinks, and laundry. With the subway below the lobby, downtown Singapore is 30 minutes away. But after being ensconced in resort-like luxury, why go? Pros: chic design; iPod dock in every room; well-equipped gym; 10 minutes from lobby to nearest departure gates. Cons: expensive in-room internet charge ($22/day); some airplane noise. 75 Airport Blvd., Singapore, 819664. 65/6823–5300. www.crowneplaza.com. 320 rooms. In-room: safe, refrigerator, DVD (some), Internet, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: 2 restaurants, 2 bars, room service, pool, gym, spa, laundry service, concierge, no-smoking rooms. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at $164 USD.
Villa Florence, San Francisco.
This newly remodeled, mid-size hotel recently taken over and upgraded by the Larkspur Collection hotel group is indeed a little of bit of Italy on Powell Street. Bar Norcini, an Italian café/bar with marble surfaces is just off the street and a glass wall separates a wide lobby with high ceilings, comfy furnishings, and Italianate chandeliers from Kuleto’s, a boisterous, trendy restaurant often packed with locals. Guests can enter the restaurant directly from inside the hotel and eat or simply sit at the bar. The hotel’s freshly painted, colorful hallways have plush orange print carpets, and the traditional rooms, though not large, feel comfortable, upbeat, and expansive with inviting FeatherBorne beds and work desks. Bathrooms are clean and closets are spacious. Offering contemporary surroundings with Tuscan character and personalized service, it’s an attractive alternative to the sterility of larger, chain hotels in the area. Pros: great location for those who want to be in the center of things; easy access to shopping, theater, and public transport. Cons: noise from cable cars; crowded street. 225 Powell St., Union Square, 94102. 415/397–7700. www.villaflorence.com. 153 rooms, 29 suites. In-room: refrigerator, DVD, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, bars, gym, laundry service, Wi-Fi, some pets allowed, non-smoking rooms. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at $349.
The Fairfax at Embassy Row, Washington, D.C.
Two years and many of millions of dollars turned what was once a perfectly lovely historic hotel into a wonderfully luxurious one. Gone are the English hunt club themed rooms, the dark décor, and the Westin name. In its place are light-filled hallways, inviting bright guest rooms and a new identity as an exclusive Luxury Collection member. Insanely soft bed lines, marble baths, decorator furnishings, more double rooms and impeccable service make this hotel, which used to be Al Gore’s childhood home, a good choice for business and leisure travelers alike. The old photos of Washington embassies and other landmarks that line the corridors pay tribute to the hotel’s prestigious address and are worth checking out. In late 2008 the fabled Jockey Club, frequented by every first lady since Jackie O, re-opened to delight of Washington insiders. Pros: newly renovated historic hotel; increased number of large double rooms; great Dupont Circle location. Cons: no pool; challenging street parking. 2100 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Dupont Circle, 20008. 202/293–2100 or 888/625–5144. www.luxurycollection.com/fairfaxatembassyrowc. 259 rooms, 27 suites. In-room: safe, Internet. In-hotel: 2 restaurants, room service, bar, gym, laundry service, parking (fee), some pets allowed. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at: $759.
Contributors: Jessica Dupuy, Beth Kanter, Vanessa Larson, Sheridan Prasso, Christine Van Dusen, Sura Wood