Hotel Ivy, Minneapolis.
Modern decor, gleaming floors, and attentive service greet you as you enter the Hotel Ivy. No amenity is overlooked . There are 400 thread count Italian sheets, flat screen TVs, complimentary slippers, plush robes, oversize spa products and a relaxation tub in every bathroom. Guests will enjoy the onsite full-service spa and fitness room. The hotel’s upscale restaurant is run by local celebrity chef Steven Brown, making it a destination for both travelers and denizens of the Twin Cities. The hotel draws a sophisticated clientele and is pure comfort for the business traveler. Pros: plenty of amenities; skyway to the convention center. Cons: a little off the beaten path to the downtown nightlife; families may feel out of place here. 201 South 11th St., Minneapolis, 55403. 612/746-4600 (ph.). 612/746-4890 (fax). www.thehotelivy.com. 136 rooms, 21 suites. In-room: safe, refrigerator, DVD, Ethernet, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, room service, bar, gym, spa, laundry service, concierge, public Internet, public Wi-Fi, parking (fee), some pets allowed, no-smoking rooms. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at: $249.
Loden Hotel, Vancouver.
Vancouver’s newest hotel, this ultrasophisticated boutique inn has all manner of high-tech amenities such as in-room iPod stations and oversized LCD TV screens. Floor-to-ceiling windows fill the spacious guest rooms with natural light—and if you slide open the bathroom half wall you can enjoy the views from the soaker tub. The Voya restaurant has a sophisticated West Coast menu and a cosmopolitan 1940s design with lots of mirrors and crystal chandeliers. The glitter continues on the outside, where the reflective glass covering the building creates the illusion that it’s constructed entirely of mirrors. Pros: It’s THE happening hotel of the moment. Cons: It’s THE happening hotel of the moment. 1177 Melville St., Downtown, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6E 0A3. 604/669-5060; 877/225-6336 (ph.). 604/662-8904 (fax). www.lodenvancouver.com. 70 rooms, 7 suites. In-room: safe, refrigerator, Internet, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, room service, bar, gym, spa, laundry service, public Wi-Fi, parking (fee), some pets allowed, no-smoking rooms. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at: C$459.
Quality Spa and Resort Strömstad, Sweden.
This newly opened spa hotel has proved a huge hit with relaxation seekers from all over Sweden. Rooms are large, light-filled, and simply and tastefully furnished. Most have stunning views of the water; larger rooms feature sitting areas and balconies, perfect for those long Swedish summer evenings. The spa is large and offers a comprehensive range of treatments from single treatments to weekend packages. Relaxation is guaranteed. Pros: great location; large rooms. Cons: can get very crowded during summer months. Kebalv. 9, Strömstad, 45240. 0526/630300 (ph). 0526/630320 (fax). www.stromstadspa.se. 232 rooms, 116 suites. In-room: refrigerator, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, room service, spa, laundry service, parking (no fee), no-smoking rooms. AE, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at: SKr 1,795.
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Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, London.
Wonder chef Marcus Wareing vies to be the best in London at his eponymous restaurant at the Berkeley. Opulently designed by David Collins—all clarets, carpet, and burgundy leather seats—Wareing pulls out all the haute cuisine stops with a succession of world-class dishes. Standouts include roast quail with hispi cabbage; a fine chunk of Scottish halibut with charred leeks and English watercress; or Anjou pigeon with cob nuts and amaretti. Warm chocolate moëlleux with banana jelly or orange crème with spiced brioche are absolutely faultless, and the wine list includes page after page of famous names. The Berkeley, Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RL. 020/7235-1200. Reservations essential. AE, MC, V. Jacket preferred. Closed Sun. No lunch Sat. Median entrée price: £75 prix-fixe
U Emy Destinnové, Prague.
An American cooking in the house where the celebrated Czech opera singer Ema Destinnová was born? Somehow chef Steven Trumpfheller makes it work at this basement restaurant. The interior replicates a 1950s Czech living room, right down to the natty couches and chatty diners eating as if attending Sunday supper at mom’s house. The modern food contrasts well with the space’s vintage look. It’s a hybrid of Italian and Czech influences: medallions of duck get a boost from grappa and dried cherries; forest mushrooms and goat cheese add local flair to Caserecce pasta. U Emy Desinnové’s seafood selections are also top notch, particularly the black tagliatelle with langoustine in a spicy tomato sauce, and the pan-seared scallops. Katerinská 7, Vinohrady, 120 00. 224/918-425. AE, MC, V. Closed Sun. Median entrée price: 230 Kc
Contributors: Alexander Basek, Jennifer D’Anastasio, Rob Hincks, Zoe Li, Chris Mcbeath, Alex Wijeratna