Hotel Pur, Quebec City.
For choosy travelers with an image to maintain, this new boutique hotel is worthy of your Prada luggage. Hotel PUR is ultra-chic, with a mandate for minimalism. Devoted to a color palette of white and gray, the décor is accented with slate tiles and orange Gerber daisies. While guests love the Zen-like austerity, there’s also a high comfort factor, thanks to plush bedding, Aveda bath products, and the rooms’ high-tech gadgetry. The pool and spa will open this year (2009), so there’s little reason to leave the grounds. Pros: aesthetic perfection; a see-and-be-seen crowd frequents the hotel. Cons: minimal design may not appeal to conservative tastes. 395 rue de la Couronne, St-Roch, G1K 7X4. 418/647-2611. www.hotelpur.com. 236 rooms, 3 suites. In-room: safe, refrigerator, Ethernet, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: restaurant, room service, pool, gym, spa, laundry service, concierge, public Internet, public Wi-Fi, parking (fee), some pets allowed.AE, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at $200 CAD.
Hilton Baltimore, Baltimore.
Location, location, location. Baltimore’s newest hotel has an unparalleled view of Camden Yards and a skywalk that connects to the city convention center. Most of the towering 20-story hotel’s exterior is done in boring gray metal, in stark contrast with the brick-clad ballpark. Inside, the hotel has a nautical feel, with wave-shaped fixtures hanging from the ceiling and pillars of deep wood and blue tiles. Ask for a room on the south side, where you can peer down into the ballpark. Or, you can watch the games from the fitness center on the fourth floor. Hotel staff is friendly and accommodating and the amenities are new. Pros: connected to the convention center; excellent ballpark view. Cons: pricey for its accommodations. 401 W. Pratt St., City Center, 21201. 443/573-8700. www.hilton.com. 757 rooms. In-room: Ethernet, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: Wi-Fi, restaurant, bar, pool, gym, public Internet, parking (fee), no-smoking. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at $250.
Long lines of hungry locals are the tell-tale sign that you’ve stumbled upon Tangö, the latest dining destination at the swanky Hokua condominiums. Unflappable restaurateur Göran Streng seems to have bypassed the usual growing pains of a new restaurant, instead rewarding his customers’ palates with an unfussy menu and polished service. Minimalist yet contemporary décor comes in the form of blond and birch woods, earthy complements to the cloud-like white lampshades. Silver birch branches divide spaces. Göran’s dishes pay homage to his Scandinavian background, with touches of Pacific Rim and Asian influences. Dinner standouts include Swedish gravlax with crispy skin, moi (or Pacific Threadfin, a flaky white fish) served with fennel coulis, and a burger that stands heads above usual unremarkable bovine renditions. Dinner prices are reasonable (especially by Hawaii standards), but for an additional $6.50, diners can tack on a soup or salad, and a dessert, like lilikoi sorbet. Reservations are only available for dinner. Don’t expect a super touristy experience– Streng caters mostly to his discriminating city-dwelling clientele. Hokua Building, 1288 Ala Moana Blvd. 808/593-7288. MC, VC. Median entrée price: $25.
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Crudo Bar & Ristorante, Los Angeles.
Veteran L.A. restaurateur Antonio Alessi banks on the trendiness of crudo (raw dishes that are Italy’s answer to sashimi) at his new restaurant on one of the Sunset Strip’s busiest blocks. A glass mosaic crudo bar, expansive patio overlooking the hip scene, and stylishly appointed dining room provide versatility. Raw starters include beef carpaccio, tuna and salmon tartare with a light citrus yogurt dressing, and pinzimonio (medley of raw vegetables). Sadly, the selection of crudo is not as great as the restaurant’s name might suggest. However, the kitchen does a fine job with cooked dishes, such as luxurious white asparagus risotto laced with Gorgonzola, and monkfish crusted with green olives and breadcrumbs. 8570 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. 310/289-1131. Reservations essential. Closed Sun. AE, D, MC, V. Median entrée price: $22.
10 Arts by Eric Ripert, Philadelphia.
Even in a town filled with nationally-acclaimed chefs, the arrival of a new Ripert outpost in Philadelphia hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Frenchman and his chef-de-cuisine Jennifer Carroll have met the high expectations of his eagerly waiting fans with an expertly-crafted menu that includes the expected staples—roast chicken, bouillabaisse, and butter-smothered trout—then exceeded them with inspired local touches such as a lip-smacking soft pretzel appetizer and malted “TastyKake” ice cream. Perhaps more noteworthy, however, is the jazzy makeover given to the Jeffersonian rotunda of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, which hosts the restaurant’s varied nooks. Gone are the lounge’s overstuffed jacquard sofas, and in is a streamlined deco look, accented with striking, albeit rather jarring, towers lit in jewel tones. In a separate dining room, all is sedate, sophisticated, and tryst-ready. 10 Avenue of the Arts, Center City. 215/523-8273. www.10arts.com. AE, MC, VC. Median entrée price: $26.
Fire and Ice-Raffles Grill, Dubai.
Fire and Ice is a dining destination with some flair– open hot kitchens are ringed with flames and chilled cabinets radiate electric blue neon, giving a hint of arctic atmosphere. The provocative menu offers choices from the ice counter and the flame station, but the food doesn’t need gimmicks to get by. All dishes are well thought-out and fresh ingredients are backed up by a seemingly endless wine list. One wall of the restaurant holds a vast glass-sided cave where hundreds of bottles await. The steaks are the specialties here, including Wagyu beef from Japan and Aberdeen Angus from Scotland. The terra-cotta brick floors provide a strong visual contrast from the ebony and burgundy furniture. Lofted ceilings and mezzanine areas add to the drama of the space. The bill will be a weighty one, but the expertly prepared food is well worth the cost. Raffles Dubai, Sheikh Rashid Rd., Wafi City, Umm Hurair. 4/324-8888. AE, DC, MC, V. No lunch. Median entrée price: AED 225
Contributors: Lindsay Bennett, Emma Fox, Roger Grody, JoAnn Greco, Joanne Latimer, Sam Sessa
Photo Credit: Hotel Pur