Our editors share what’s captured their attention this month.
Fodor’s Faves is a new monthly column where our editors, writers, and staff share their current obsessions. From hotels and restaurants to books and products, these are the places and things we can’t stop thinking about.
A Magic Show in a Haunted Hotel
WHERE: New York City
The same people who brought us the creepy immersive performance Sleep No More have another trick up their sleeve–Speakeasy Magick. What might be one of New York’s coolest parties is basically a magic show, where cardsharps, mentalists, and magicians perform in an intimate setting. Like everything at The McKittrick Hotel, it’s glamorous, mysterious, and theatrical–and well worth your time and money for a wild night out in the city.
This winter, The McKittrick is also debuting a new show, called The Woman in Black. Full of jump scares and ghosts, the play is essentially a campfire ghost story come to life. Visitors beware–this play will definitely make you scream in fright.
A Fancy New Restaurant
I’m marking my calendar extra hard this month for the opening of MILA, the coolest new rooftop restaurant-bar on Miami Beach. The Mediterranean Japanese fusion menu and cocktails from award-winning mixologists are the stuff of dreams, but even more appealing is the zen vibe: It promises to be more “sanctuary” than “place to eat.” The minimalist and airy terrace, complete with greenery and a reflection pool, looks the way a spritz feels on a hot summer day. And it’s safe to say I would give up five beach days just to reserve one of its private over-water cabanas.
Its cool factor comes from co-owners Marine and Gregory Galy of Fig and Olive New York, who brought all the joie de vivre of their native Southern France and all the wabi-sabi of the East to MILA. Marine even helped develop its signature scent (with yuzu, palo santo, suede, and patchouli). It’s all designed for you to feel eudaimonia, peace of mind and happiness inspired by travel—so, sign me up.
The Cool Factor (For Your Face)
If there is one thing I need to do more of this year, it’s sleeping. But for those long work or travel days and sleepless nights, I need a quick fix to ensure I look well-rested. My new everyday essential, Milk Makeup’s Cooling Water, has been THE holy grail for de-puffing, energizing and hydrating the under-eye area. I store it in the refrigerator overnight, so when I’m ready to swipe it under my eyes in the morning, I get the full cooling gel effect. I love the mini size because it’s easier to carry in my travel bag, but I do like to have one in the standard size—just to have one waiting for me at home.
These Magic Beans
There is a myriad of factors that make Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans the perfect substitute for coffee when you’re en route to your destination. For starters, a Ziploc with a handful of these beans is less bulky and easier to pack than a travel mug. A package costs about $5—roughly the price of a latte—but you only need a couple of beans to perk you up, so each package has multiple latte’s worth of caffeinated energy. And—okay, this may border on TMI—but you won’t have to brave the airplane lavatory or a grody rest stop because you just downed an iced coffee and you weren’t planning for Future You’s less than desirable bathroom options.
A “Lagom” Retreat in the Catskills
WHERE: Windham, New York
I didn’t realize how much I missed fresh air until I was two hours outside of New York City at The Eastwind Hotel & Bar, a snug mountain hideaway in Windham, New York. Picture the scene: This former hunting and fishing lodge faces the mountains, and when you arrive a friendly dog (or two) comes up to be pet; there’s a fireplace crackling inside and a game of chess waiting to be played. Maybe you’ll go for a steam in the sauna, or order a cocktail from the lobby bar.
Saturday nights, a dinner of chicken and fresh vegetables, with homemade pie for dessert are served at the family-style table. More cocktails (or wine) send you off to bed in your Lushna cabin among the trees; when you wake up you can see the sunrise over the mountains. From the faded Turkish rugs to the Catskills-themed lending library, every detail is so mindfully curated that you’ll feel like you’re in someone’s home, rather than at a hotel. With an emphasis on the Scandinavian concept of lagom, meaning “just the right amount,” it’s the place to escape from city life for a weekend.
A Love Story Fit for the Gods
If you’re looking for a whirlwind romance with rich mythology to help pass the travel time, boy, do I have a read for you. Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles is an excellent, stimulating spin on The Iliad that’s had me swooning for days. The story follows the titular Achilles, whose muscular and beautiful demeanor rarely goes unnoticed by anyone, least of all by the awkward prince Patroclus. An act of violence brings the two young men together and, before long, they’re inseparable. As Fate would have it, though, they’re called upon to fight for the kidnapped Helen of Sparta and, well, things get complicated. The pace and delicious locales are second only to the beating heart of the story: Achilles and Patroclus’ relationship, which often consistently grows and blossoms by the beach. An alternate title for the passionate book might be “Call Me By Your Ancient Greek Name.”
A Stylishly Compact Travel Case
I can’t stand traveling with a large briefcase—it’s irritatingly heavy and almost never properly fits under the seat, which is where it needs to go if the overhead is nightmarishly crammed. And, when forced to shove it under the seat, it’s usually on its side, robbing me of any legroom. Suddenly, my briefcase has become complicit in my discomfort and rage. So, in 2020, I’ve gone compact with Shinola’s Computer Brief. Yes, Shinola, that shoe polish company of yesteryear, dead and buried in the ‘60s, and reborn in 2011 as a luxury goods retailer out of Detroit—in fact, Shinola has actively helped revitalize the image of that once downtrodden town, even opening a hotel there (one that we named one of the best in the world this year). The newly rejuvenated company started in watches (and they’re gorgeous) and soon expanded to leather goods (and they’re gorgeous).
This particular bag doesn’t hold a whole lot more than a laptop, but it’s big enough to fit a novel (nothing longer than 400 pages), laptop charger, a phone charger, and a bottle of anti-anxiety meds—all my plane essentials. Everything else will have to go in my carry-on (for short trips) or checked bag (for long ones). Making the bag even better: It’s stylish, though at $795, it’s definitely not inexpensive. Best of all, thanks to its size, I can shimmy my extremities into the Lilliputian space below the seat again.
A Gloriously Cool New Hotel
I missed the opening of Dublin’s coolest new hotel, The Mayson, by a week when I visited in December, so I am thinking I will need to book a trip to Dublin this spring just so I can check out this exciting new property.
Set on the booming Grand Canal Docks area (which realtors are trying—and thankfully, failing— to nickname Silicon Docks for all the tech companies headquartered there), the Mayson is an exciting restoration and combination of two dilapidated historic buildings—one a former pub and townhouse, the other a former cattle and timber warehouse. I love that the original brickwork façade was retained and a nine-story steel-framed building was inserted within the original red brick walls to marry old and new.
I’m already a fan of the Press Up Entertainment Group: They’re the Mama Shelters of Dublin, and their properties include The Dean on Harcourt Street and The Devlin in Ranelagh, as well as a variety of bars, restaurants, and movie theaters throughout the city. After staying at the Devlin recently, I can tell you that the style while being decidedly We-Work-meets-Wythe-Hotel in appearance with its exposed brickwork, craft cocktails, and industrial-chic touches, it is not superficially cool or knockoff hip. The art throughout the properties is unique, the finishes are rich and high end, the in-room amenities are cool (the hairdryer is Dyson, the mini-fridge is Smeg, there’s Netflix on your TV, and my favorite Irish teabags and snacks in the minibar). There’s depth and smarts to the design, and you will be pushed to find cooler rooftop bars and lobby bars in Dublin, than those in these sister hotels. I have no doubt that a seat on the Mayson’s rooftop will be Dublin’s hottest ticket once Global Warming starts to part Dublin’s rain-clouds this summer.
While I stayed in a cleverly-compact room at the Devlin, I’d want to upgrade to a Warehouse suite at the Mayson, so I could soak in a sublime copper tub while soaking in views of the River Liffey through floor-to-ceiling windows. I suppose I could also be persuaded to stay in the Liffey Penthouse, with its private terrace featuring a retractable roof, and a large wooden hot tub, all with views out over the river.
The Mayson is a few minutes’ walk from the nearest Luas stop which makes it easy to get around the city, but I have a feeling my Dublin friends will want to come to me.
A Sailboat Adventure
Anyone with Instagram has daydreamed about staying at one of French Polynesia’s jaw-dropping over-water bungalows. And while these little slices of paradise are worth the splurge, this month I got to experience a whole other way to appreciate the beauty of Tahiti and its nearby islands and now I’m obsessed. You heard it here first: The best way to see Tahiti is by catamaran.
Whether you’re a couple or a group of friends, companies like Dream Yacht Charter have a wide variety of boats you can rent for anywhere from three days to a whole week, where an experienced captain will take you through the bright blue waters of the South Pacific. Stops can include drift snorkeling in motus (small islets formed by broken coral and sand), swimming with blacktip sharks (they’re very shy and skittish of humans, don’t worry), visiting pearl farms and vanilla plantations, or just mooring for the night in the middle of the ocean, enjoying incredible sunsets and fantastic star-gazing. Prices start at $4,000 for three days, but splurging for a host/hostess who will cook your meals, Tahitian-style, is the way to go. Dolphins might follow your boat, you might make friends with the clownfish and stingrays you meet while snorkeling, and you’ll absolutely experience the region in an up-close-and-personal way that will make you feel sorry for anyone trapped in an over-water bungalow.