Nu Hotel, Brooklyn.
The stylish yet affordable Nu Hotel sits right on Brooklyn’s trendy Smith Street. As you’d expect from a hotel in a hip part of Brooklyn, the Nu keeps things minimalist and eco-friendly. The hotel is LEED-certified, and the grey and white rooms have design elements such as cork flooring, lead-free paint, and sheets made from organic cotton. Flat-screen TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi make each of the above-average size rooms liveable, and some even have bunk beds or a hammock. The downstairs bar, just off the slightly small check-in area, serves small plates of Spanish food. Pros: great location to explore Brooklyn; excellent value Cons: Brooklyn is not for everyone; few amenities. 85 Smith St., Brooklyn, 11201. 718-852-8585. www.nuhotelbrooklyn.com. 93 rooms, 16 suites. In-room: Wi-Fi, safe. In-hotel: bar, gym, parking (fee), public Internet. AE, MC, V. Rooms start at: $199.
Thon Hotel Oslo Panorama, Norway.
This is the latest hotel in the popular Thon chain, located in Kvadraturen, and close to Akershus Festning. The rooms, although they have a slightly unusual layout, are functional, spacious, and light, with modern furniture and wooden floors; some even have a kitchenette. The two huge suites on the top floor are stunning, with great views over Oslo and the Oslo Fjord. Pros: convenient location; friendly staff. Cons: limited facilities; tiny elevators; small bathrooms. Radhusgt. 7b, Kvadraturen, 0151. 23-31-08-00. www.thonhotels.com/oslopanorama.116 rooms, 2 suites. In-room: Internet. AE, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at: NKr 1,445.
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W Midtown, Atlanta.
A trip to this new, ultrachic hotel in Midtown feels less like Atlanta and more like New York City, with its slick details and more black-suited security guards and velvet ropes than seem necessary. Still, it’s a special experience to stay here—the rooms, in grays and purples, feature exquisitely comfortable beds and the staff operates under a “whatever whenever” service philosophy. There’s also an in-house Bliss Spa and Southeast Asian specialties at The Spice Market. If you want to feel like a VIP, skip Whiskey Park bar and look instead for the lounge hidden under the stairs. Pros: beautiful clientele; beautiful views; Manhattan-style chic. Cons: a bit self-consciously hip and elitist. 188 14th St., Midtown, 30361. 404/892–6000. www.starwoodhotels.com. 433 rooms, 30 suites. In-room: Internet, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, bars, pool, Internet, parking (fee), some pets allowed, no-smoking rooms. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at: $249
Four Seasons Resort, Seattle.
Slip away from the downtown Seattle crowds through the lobby’s side-street entrance and be soothed by the hotel’s sweeping views of Elliott Bay and Olympic Mountains. Located across the street from Seattle Art Museum (SAM) and one block from Pike Place Market, there is a strong influence of cultural, culinary and local elements – from ART Restaurant and Lounge Chef Kerry Sear’s “best source” philosophy, to local-ingredient-driven spa services like Espresso Mud Body Wrap and Alpine Deep Tissue Massage. Rooms are spacious (especially by Seattle standards), luxurious, and refreshingly more design-minded than most Four Seasons properties, featuring 16 works by classic northwest artists, reproduced from the SAM collection. Service is always professional and attentive. The Lounge has quickly become the local “it” place to imbibe or sojourn for a night cap and dessert. 160 wines are available by the glass with a two glass minimum purchase. Pros: most rooms are at least 500 sq. ft.; deep soaking tubs; Seattle’s only infinity-edge swimming pool. Cons: fee for Wi-Fi; minimal non-valet parking options. 99 Union Street, Downtown, 98101.
206/749-7000 (ph.). 206/749-7099 (fax). www.fourseasons.com/seattle. 134 rooms, 13 suites. In-room: safe, DVD, Wi-Fi (fee). In-hotel: restaurant, room service, bar, pool, gym, spa, laundry service, concierge, public Wi-Fi (fee), parking (fee), some pets allowed, no-smoking rooms. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at: $395.
BLT Steak, Scottsdale.
The arrival of this stylish 300-seater, the newest in Chef Laurent Tourondel’s mini-empire, merges signature dishes from the brand, such as hot popovers laced with gruyere, Kobe, and American Wagyu beef, with distinctive nods to its desert setting such as reclaimed mesquite wood floors and southwestern flavors plucked from the resort’s recently-renovated herb garden. A knowledgeable waitstaff offers suggestions for pairing steaks with sauces (including red wine and mustard), picking sides (including stuffed mushroom caps and poached green beans), and deciding on a potato dish (a retro favorite: candied sweet potatoes). The house specialty, “Cowboy Steak,” is 26-ounces of mesquite-smoked rib eye rubbed with chiles, coriander, cumin, smoked paprika and brown sugar. A selection of inspired desserts with deceptively modest names such as peanut butter chocolate mousse and warm chocolate tart awaits those with a sweet tooth. 5402 East Lincoln Drive at Camelback Inn. 480/905-7979. www.bltscottsdale.com. No lunch. AE, MC, VC. Median entrée price: $40.
Abracadabra opened in 2008 and has quickly become a hit with Istanbul foodies. Using ingredients that are natural, local, and seasonal—the menu changes monthly—chef Dilara Erbay (formerly of Cezayir) creates delectable “traditional-experimental” dishes such as salmon tartare with cracked wheat, bulgur-stuffed zucchini flowers served with thick yogurt, and duck confit with purslane and samosas. The four-story restaurant has an open kitchen on the second floor and an eclectic mix of antiques and furniture by Turkish designers throughout–it feels like you’re entering the home of your most artistic friends. The top floor has a lovely balcony looking out over the Bosphorus. Arnavutköy Cad. 50/1, Arnavutköy, Bosphorus. 212/358–6087. MC, V. Median entrée price: $15 USD.
Contributors: Alexander Basek, Emma Fox, JoAnn Greco, Vanessa Larson, Marie Peyre, Christine Van Dusen