The luxurious Chedi Milan is a fashionable place to park one’s bags in this fashionable city…
Tradition with a Twist in Morocco
Riad Meriem. This boutique riad in the heart of Marrakesh’s Medina (the old walled town) isn’t your typical riad — it’s actually a five-suite luxury hotel. New York owner and designer Thomas Hays worked with Moroccan artisans to restore the riad and added a number of personal touches like Oriental textiles, original artwork, a lounge complete with a working fireplace and tastefully designed suites decorated with bespoke lanterns. Expect attentive and personalized service with everything from making dinner reservations to planning day trips to the Atlas Mountains. Relax with a dip in the plunge pool and a cup of mint tea. Pros: spacious bedrooms and bathrooms; original artwork and textiles on display; private rental of the entire riad available. Cons: only 5 suites available so make reservations early; kids under age 10 not allowed. Derb el-cadi 97-azbezt, 40008 Marrakesh Medina. 024-38-77-31(ph.). 024-37-77-62 (fax). www.riadmeriem.com. 5 rooms. In-room facilities: no phone, safe, no TV. In-hotel: restaurant, room service, plunge pool, no elevator, laundry service, public Internet, public Wi-Fi, airport shuttle. AE, MC, V. In 2007 rooms start at €195. Rooms start at €250.
In Mumbai, See and Be Seen
Olive Bar and Kitchen. Olive Bar and Kitchen is the hangout of choice for Bollywood stars, models and socialites who come for the scene and the tasty Mediterranean food. Sip a cocktail or glass of wine from the extensive list of Italian and French selections at the sunken bar or in the outdoor pebble garden. Then dine on mixed antipasti platters, crispy pizzas, risottos or grilled seafood and meats at one of the 25 tables. Thursday is the unofficial Bollywood night, when aspiring stars come to be discovered by movie producers and directors. 14 Union Park, Bandra, Mumbai. 260/58228. AE, D, DC, MC, V. No lunch Mon.–Sat. Median entrée price: 500 rupees (approximately $13).
An Italian Trattoria in Texas Hill Country
Trattoria Lisina. Texas-celebrated restaurateur Damian Mandola’s latest restaurant, nestled in Texas Hill Country on a picturesque vineyard, is not quite a quaint, tucked-away Tuscan-style villa, but rather a sprawling estate with tall Austin-Stone walls painted with faux frescoes and a Texas-sized interior dining hall abuzz with families and Hill Country visitors. Although an hour wait is not unusual, Mandola’s wine-tasting room, just a few steps away, caters to the overflow. A safe selection of antipasti, including salami, prosciutto, and marinated vegetables, satisfies while perusing the menu. Sadly, some dishes, like braised rabbit and braised oxtail, roasted duck, and ossobuco, prove too ambitious. However, the simple yet juicy and flavorful rosemary rotisserie chicken proves right on the mark. Pizzas and homemade gelato seem to be the crowd favorites. 13308 FM 150 W., Driftwood. 512/894-3111. www.trattorialisina.com. No reservations. No lunch Tues.–Fri. AE, D, MC, V. Median entrée price: $20.
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A Seattle Jewel
Joule. A welcome addition to Seattle’s saturated fusion-cooking scene is Joule, a restaurant that tempers savory Korean staples with French and American influences. The intimate space, with its chocolate, mustard, and cream tones, and delicate bird paintings, is both cheerful and chic. Flickering candles set on dark wood tables attract whispering couples while solo diners sit at the bar and watch the husband-and-wife chef team, Seif Chirchi and Rachel Yang, at work in the open kitchen. Some dishes, like whole fish on the bone with sweet-and-sour soy glaze, are predominantly Asian. Others, like salty prawns in charmoula butter, are more European. But most exciting are the dishes that tow the line — a Korean version of chili dresses up black beans and pork with soy paste and pickled ginger. 1913 N. 45th St., Wallingford. 206/632-1913. AE, MC, V. Closed Mon. No lunch. Median entrée price: $17.
In London, Couture Cuisine
Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester. The London flagship of über-chef Alain Ducasse is the restaurant equivalent of Armani couture, all understated elegance in taupe and dove grays. But don’t be fooled by the lack of bling — this is luxury with a capital “L,” with prices, service, and clientele to match. Similarly, the dishes, such as meaty, steamed Dover sole fillets in a vin jaune sauce, or succulent squid parcels in a flavorsome coconut chutney, have the kind of well-crafted simplicity that requires painstaking attention to detail and the freshest ingredients. Dessert is a four-stage affair preceded by macaroons and Grenache chocolates and followed by sorbet, madeleines, and bonbons. The Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane, Mayfair. 020/7629-8866. Reservations essential, jacket required. AE, DC, MC, V. Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch Sat. Three-course prixe fix: £75 (approximately $153).
In Milan, a Fashionable Hotel
The Chedi Milan. Fans of the luxurious Setai hotel in Miami now have a place to park their bags in Europe. The Chedi Milan is the first European property from GHM hotels, and is located north of the city centre in Bovisa, where the annual Salone Mobile international furniture show takes place along with Milan Fashion Week. The décor is Asian meets Italian, and the largest rooms are on the Chedi Club Lounge level, which includes butler service and a dedicated concierge. All rooms have clean, understated design, with cream walls, flat-screen TVs, Asian artifacts and spacious limestone bathrooms. Don’t expect lasagna or meatballs in the Chedi’s restaurant (known simply as the Restaurant); the extensive menu features Indian, Thai, and modern Italian cuisine. Pros: minutes away from the fashion shows; discreet service. Cons: The city centre is a 15-minute shuttle bus ride away. Via Villapizzone 24, Bovisa. 02/361888 (ph.). 02/3631 870 (fax). www.thechedimilan.com. 250 rooms. In-room: DVD, Wi-Fi, safe, laundry, room service, concierge, shuttle. In-hotel: 1 restaurant, 1 bar. AE, MC, V. Rooms start at €158 (approximately $232)
Contributors: Carissa Bluestone, Puja Chugani, Jessica Dupuy, Ellin Stein, Christina Valhouli, Shivani Vora.