In this issue: Napa Valley, Boston, Chicago, Amsterdam, and Los Angeles…
A London Hotel Does Chic-Boutique
Haymarket Hotel. Although London’s West End is better known for its theatres than funky hotels, the Haymarket brings change to this popular destination. The design for the 50-room boutique hotel can best be described as “English eccentric.” There is plenty of hot pink, lime green and artfully clashing patterns, and the in-house Brumus restaurant has crimson wallpaper on the ceiling. Bedrooms are individually designed and feature modern amenities like flat-screen TVs along with shabby chic antiques and eye-popping colors. Pro: The basement level pool includes a section which has gold couches, a bar and colored lights. Con: The West End location is extremely touristy. Suffolk Place, West End, London, SW1Y 4BP. www.haymarkethotel.com. 50 rooms. In-room: DVD, Wi-Fi. MC, V, AE.
A Harbor-Side Hotel in Boston
InterContinental Boston. Combining European style with historical reverence for Boston, the new Intercontinental Boston, just a brief walk from the train hub of South Station, is a hotel with something special. The plush rooms have great downtown and harbor views and the service is no-nonsense yet gracious. The hotel’s many restaurants and bars include a French bistro, a champagne and rum bar, as well as a sushi- and tequila-pairing bar complete with dancing waiters and water views. Pros: spacious rooms; great places for strolling along the water; innovative dining and drinking options. Cons: the hotel isn’t located in a real neighborhood, and the large property doesn’t feel intimate. 510 Atlantic Ave. www.intercontinentalboston.com. 424 rooms. In room: safe, refrigerator, DVD, TV, VCR on request, wireless. In hotel: 2 restaurants, 1 bar, room service, pool, gym, spa, concierge, parking, airport shuttle. AE, D, DC, MC, V.
In Chicago, Cuisine that Comforts
Otom. With its bright colors and wide-open dining room, Otom is a fine addition to this industrial-chic part of town. The one-page menu offers a manageable selection of simple yet delicious appetizers and entrées that fit with the restaurant’s warm atmosphere. The salmon ceviche is a must, and the short-rib ravioli with goat cheese is a delight. Meat-lovers should try the lamb shank, but beware the colossal portion. To top it off, Otom offers 11 martinis. The chef’s sweet-potato flan is a seasonal standout. 951 W. Fulton Market, Warehouse District. 312/491-5804. V, MC, AE. Closed Sun. No Lunch.
An L.A. Legend Returns to the Spotlight
Bastide. After a year-and-a-half hiatus, the former four-star Bastide shines again under the guidance of Executive Chef Walter Manzke. Greeted with a glass of bubbly, diners enter the sleek Andrée Putman-designed dining room and indulge in an ethereal amuse bouche of skewered prosciutto or paprika potato chips before deciding between the four-course prix-fixe menu at $80 or the full seven-course extravaganza at $100. Desserts by Manzke’s wife, Marge, are de rigueur, especially the chocolate pannacotta with a sprinkling of coffee and shot of espresso. Complimentary valet parking and corkage fees add to the cosseting. 8475 Melrose Place. 323/651-5950. Reservations essential. AE, DC, MC, V. Closed Sun. and Mon. No Lunch.
Style Meets Substance in Napa Valley
Solage Calistoga. A new Napa Valley retreat balances posh pampering with environmental stewardship. Every aspect of the property has gone green with non-toxic, bio-degradable cleaning products, sustainable landscaping, composting, an ozone-based pool cleaning system, and innovative use of Calistoga’s geothermal springs as an alternative energy source. There’s also a “Mud Bar,” where guests can soak in spring-fed pools while being painted with volcanic mud. Spacious, vaulted studios feature contemporary walnut and beech furnishings and earthy color schemes. The 22-acre resort is just minutes from wineries and Calistoga. Pros: complimentary cruiser bicycles; the indoor/outdoor restaurant features organic produce. Cons: more expensive than most green resorts and the décor is a tad austere. 755 Silverado Trail. www.solagecalistoga.com. 89 rooms. In room: refrigerator, DVD, Ethernet, Wi-Fi. In hotel: restaurant, bar, pool, gym, spa, bicycles, concierge, public Wi-Fi, parking (self no fee, valet fee), pets (no fee), non-smoking rooms. AE, D, DC, MC, V.
Old-World Grandeur in Amsterdam
Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam. Located inside Amsterdam’s historic Shipping House, the elegant Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam pays homage to the city’s past with its nautical-themed décor. Located just minutes away from Central Station, the hotel’s shell-covered marble staircase and stained-glass ceilings feel like a luxurious escape in the heart of the city. The service is still a bit shaky, but the staff is friendly and eager to please. The carefully stocked mini-bar and free Wi-Fi in the guest rooms are a nice touch. Guests can enjoy Mediterranean-inspired French international cuisine at the Seven Seas restaurant or relax with a drink at the lively bar. Pros: convenient location; unusual and tasteful décor. Cons: gym and pool are closed until December 2007; pricey room rates. Prins Hendrikkade 108, 1011 AK Amsterdam. www.amrathamsterdam.com.163 rooms. In-room: safe, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, bar, pool, concierge, laundry service,public Wi-Fi, parking (fee), room service, no-smoking rooms. AE, DC, MC, V.
Contributors: Puja Chugani, Jo Napolitano, Charyn Pfeuffer, Jordan Simon, Christina Valhouli, Liza Zimmerman
Photo credit: courtesy Haymarket Hotel.