Poland Goes Posh
Palac Bonerowski. Krakow’s latest entry in the five-star hotel category is a jaw-dropper; a sensitively restored 13th-century townhouse just off the main square, the Rynek Glowny. Many period elements, including some original stonework and carvings, have been preserved in the spacious rooms. The furnishings are tasteful and traditional, with cream leather sofas and armchairs, and hardwood tables and chairs. You can’t miss the grand crystal chandelier running alongside the main stairway just beyond the reception area. This splendor comes at a price, but the hotel does offer discounts during slow periods. Pros: magnificent setting; beautifully-furnished rooms; sauna and wellness center; excellent cellar restaurant. Cons: few facilities aside from the beautiful rooms; no concierge. www.palacbonerowski.pl/. ul. Sw. Jana 1, Stare Miasto, Krakow, 31-013. 012/374-1300 (ph.). 012/374-1305 (fax). 2 rooms, 6 apartments. In-room: safe, refrigerator, Wi-Fi (no fee). In-hotel: 2 restaurants, room service, bar, laundry service, public Wi-Fi (no fee), parking (fee), no-smoking rooms. Rooms start at 945 PLN (approximately $428 USD).
A Sweet Escape in Scottsdale
Scratch Pastries. Duc and Noelle Liao are a model couple, literally. The two met in Paris where Duc worked as a fashion photographer and Noelle as a model. Now, the two are the hottest pair in pastry-making. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Duc Liao conjures up sublime creations, both salty and sweet, from a savory duck breast sandwich and a mouthwatering mushroom quiche, to perfectly flaky croissants and a delicately sweet, parfait-like mont blanc. Don’t let the pastry shop’s location in a strip mall fool you; this is a flavor trip all the way to France. Expect crowds during peak lunch hours. 7620 E. Indian School Rd., Suite 103, Downtown Scottsdale. 480/947-0057 (ph.) No reservations. No dinner. Median entrée price: $7.50.
In Sydney, A Room with a View
The Deck. The stunning view of downtown Sydney and its iconic opera house is the main draw for The Deck, a restaurant with a downstairs live music venue located just over the Harbour Bridge. Boisterous crowds of chic thirtysomethings flock to The Deck’s terrace bar to sip classic cocktails and drink Ozzie wine. Some dishes are dramatically served, such as the huge portion of bouillabaisse presented in an oversize platter with a finger bowl below. If all dishes were as breathtaking as the view, The Deck would be more of a dining destination, and less of a bar and nightlife hotspot. www.thedecksydney.com.au. 1 Olympic Dr., Milsons Point. 02/9033-7670. Median entrée price: $22 AUD (approximately $20 USD).
In Chicago, the Hotel Cass has Class
Hotel Cass, Holiday Inn Express. The Hotel Cass is a true boutique hotel and bares no resemblance to the chain. The crisp, white lobby is sparse and elegant, and the dramatic red hallway is offset with a touch of humor; it’s lined with several austere portraits of chickens. The rooms are simple, bright and cheerful with light-colored walls and green headboards that nearly reach the ceiling. The subway-style tile in the bathroom harks back to the 1920s. The rooms are modern and warm, and the in-room artwork includes photos of 1950s fashion icons. Pros: stellar location; family-friendly; close to several notable art galleries. Con: Some guest rooms and bathrooms can be on the small-side. www.casshotel.com. 640 N. Wabash Ave., River North, 60611. 312/265-3370. 172 rooms, 3 suites. In-room: safe, Ethernet, dial-up, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: room service, laundry service, public Internet, public Wi-Fi, airport shuttle, parking (fee). Rooms start at $189.
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A Social Spot in Los Angeles
Citrus at Social. New York-based restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow (Asia de Cuba) has refurbished the historic Hollywood Athletic Club–in its glory days, a hangout for the likes of Chaplin, Gable, and Barrymore. The original concept for the main dining area was an overhanded Moroccan theme that dominated the space. But the restaurant has been reinvented, now featuring a sleek modernist look with a cheery citrus palette and menu conceived by super-chef Michel Richard, who gained fame at L.A.’s landmark Citrus before departing for Washington D.C. The affable Frenchman is rarely here, but the kitchen reflects his playfulness in dishes like cuttlefish carbonara, lobster burger and lamb with jalapeno sauce. www.citrusatsocial.com. 6525 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. 323/462-5222 (ph.) Reservations essential. No lunch. Median entrée price: $38.
An Upgrade in Uptown Dallas
The Stoneleigh Hotel & Spa. The re-imagined Stoneleigh Hotel & Spa, on fashionable Maple Avenue in the Uptown area of Dallas, embraces its 1920s roots with old-style Hollywood glamour. The legendary hotel re-opened in March 2008 after a complete renovation, revealing modernized Art Deco details throughout the lobby, cozy bar and generously-sized rooms. The hotel’s location at the edge of Uptown makes it an excellent choice for visitors who want to be close to restaurants, art galleries and nightlife but want to escape late-night noise and revelry. You may not want to leave the property at all, instead retreating to the luxury spa, or dining at chef David Bull’s modern Italian restaurant, Bolla. Pros: luxury rooms and furnishings; sense of history combined with modern amenities. Con: transportation required to reach most major Dallas attractions. www.stoneleighhotel.com. 2927 Maple Ave., Uptown, 75201. 214/871-7111 (ph.). 214/871-1145 (fax). 170 rooms. In room: safe, Wi-Fi. In hotel: 1 restaurant, room service, bar, gym, spa, laundry service, concierge, public Wi-Fi, parking (fee), no-smoking rooms. Rooms start at $455.
Contributors: Mark Baker, Tyra Damm, Roger J. Grody, JoBeth Jamison, Jo Napolitano, Liza Zimmerman