PLACES TO STAY
Jenny asked me to do this…!!
In reviewing I find that I have been to almost all of them with Margo whom I met when I was 52 and who did me the honor of taking me for her husband. She is an intrepid traveler and shares my love of new places – without her this list would be much shorter.
A few things needed to make this list…you must be overlooking, or in the middle of, something beautiful. You don’t need to be able to see it from your room, although that is icing on the cake, but you must be able to walk out, stroll no more than a minute or two and be in the middle of a wonderful earthly paradise or wonderland, made by God or man, it doesn’t matter. And, if possible, there you may purchase & start your day with a cup of coffee. Also, with two exceptions, it must be a charming building with comfort and atmosphere to spare, those two exceptions have unique and special settings.
Relais Christine, Paris – right in the middle of the left bank tucked away on a quiet small street around a courtyard entrance, this small Inn has comfortable rooms with blissful quiet. 3 minutes walk takes you to (a)the Rue De Buci street market,(b) 3 -5 Michelin starred (either now or in the past) restaurants/bistro, (c) Odeon metro, (d) Pont Neuf. Hard to beat – I’ve tried the Maurice, George V, Raphael and others but this is where I prefer.
Nishimuraya Honkan, Kinosaki – Near the Sea of Japan is a famous spa town; in it is one of the finest traditional Japanese inns you will find. Beware – I refer to the “Honkan” not its modern sister “Hotel”. With 8 official bath houses, temples and walks in the lovely wooded hills you will have a stay to remember.
Moana-Surfrider, Waikiki – is its old name, now a Sheraton it has a permanent place in the families heart and is my favorite hotel. It really is the verandah and the Banyan tree but the Waikiki outrigger rides are terrific. The old market has been torn down sad to say – but the memories of making “Meadow foam Madness” movie with Nick and searching for Jen’s b’day cake will never die. We always get a room at the top of the stairs in the old building so we don’t have to ever use an elevator.
Stephanie Inn – The most beautiful beach I know of is Cannon Beach in Oregon. Sitting overlooking one of its claims to fame, Haystack Rock is this small hotel.
The Janice Kay suite is where Margo and I stayed the weekend before we left for the turn of the century party in Salzburg and Paris which ultimately led to our marriage. It is also where I did my first drawing in my new journal which accompanied us through many countries. It is luscious.
Beausite, Wengen – wake up to the Monch and Jungfrau or take the cable car 10 minutes to the face of the Eiger. There are no cars in this village and the mountain train can take you to dozens of trams, funiculars, cable cars or lake steamers. Warm swimming pool and massages. This is your ultimate Swiss inn.
Hotel Sacher, Salzburg – We woke up one Christmas morning with snow coming down on the Salzach River and the turrets and steeples white in front. This may have the setting of all town settings; with great chocolate cake and Mozart all around. Try their Christmas market and late Xmas Eve mass. Dinner with Barton’s is icing on the Sacher Torte so to speak.
Metropole, Hanoi – Any hotel with a Graham Green bar has got to have historic atmosphere.
This one cannot be better sited in the middle of the robust action of central Hanoi. Close by are french bakeries, wonderful temples, markets, ice cream parlors, galleries, you name it. The old building rooms are comfortable and Pho is cooked on open fires for breakfast.
Avani Resort, Qui Nhon, Vietnam – In 1966 I ran convoy’s to the Cambodian border from this town. Now outside it, past the leper colony, is a lovely place on the South China Sea.
Looking for a quiet get away from the crazy life of Saigon or Hanoi, with a look at the real Vietnam, this will do it. http://www.minorhotels.com/en/avani/quy-nhon
Jaipur Palace, Jaipur – Majestic and enormous old palace now converted to a hotel.
Impeccable service (for India), wonderful meals on the lawn or in the massive dining room. A great base camp for shopping and historic outings. Memories of Christmas dinner with Nick, Jenny and Margo. There are sights galore in this town and in short drives to the countryside. Best shopping in the world for precious and semiprecious stones.
Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysore – The Maharaja of Mysore built this palace for his guests including Mountbatten. In 2005 it had a lovely vista of this interesting and exciting town. Close by is a stunning architectural wonder – Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace (he who handed Cornwallis his final defeat). Suites are enormous, dinners are complete with floor show, monkey’s help deliver breakfast on your verandah,
and a magician hung out in the lobby for guests sleight of hand enjoyment.
Pere Bis, Talloires – has only about 25 rooms and is its third generation as a Michelin starred retreat. The lake is beautiful, warm and you can dive from a rowboat for a refreshing swim back to shore. There are towered villages across the blue water and comfortable lunches out on the patio. The lake steamer stops every 90 minutes for a leisurely ride to Annecy for shopping and lunch
El Tovar, Grand Canyon – The most beautiful view in the world is 30 feet from the lawn chairs on the porch. While the rooms, like most WPA hotels in the NP’s, are rustic, the dining room is lovely especially for a nice bit breakfast
Shiv Niwas Palace, Udaipur, India – Possibly the most romantic views in the world are around the lake in the center of this princely state in SE Rajasthan.
Many choose to stay at the Lake Palace which is a great choice; we prefer the Shiv Niwas Palace because a) it is the center of the town and b) it looks out on the Lake Palace. We were invited for cocktails with the Maharani which will forever be in the Greeve family lore
Fretheim Hotel, Flam – There are numerous fine hotels on the Norwegian Fjords and this one is the only one I’ve been to but we loved our quiet stay. Ferry trips through the fjords, bike rides, fires in the lobby. good wine and a brewery 3 minutes away, and one of the great rail trips Europe make this a winner. Between Oslo and Bergen – arrive by train and leave by boat – brilliant.
Chateau Lake Louise, Canadian Rockies – two fine stays here – New Years eve with the kids (the top floor is turned into a family casino); more atmosphere than believable, sleigh rides around the lake, which, by the way, has the most beautiful water in the world. Rooms are rustic but fun. Skiing and hiking galore.
Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island – This experience FAR exceeded Margo’s and my expectations. It is a long trip to get here, but if you are looking for a restful and relaxing stay it cannot be beaten. It is the living embodiment of the 1890’s – and it has 3 fine golf courses. NO motorized vehicles allowed on the island – horse carriages only. http://www.grandhotel.com
Shore Lodge, McCall, Idaho – morning mist rising on Payette Lake in the sunlight just cresting the foothills of the Bitterroot Range; WS award dining room; luscious spa; kayaking, water skiing, & golf galore and the best 4th of July show in the west. A stay last September showed remodeled rooms that were not as comfy as the old ones but still fine.
Magic Town Inns
Hotel Cathedrale, Strasbourg – We went here to visit Jen during Thanksgiving 1998; while we were there the city’s famous Christmas market opened. It was a thrill to look out from our window on the magnificent cathedral and in its surrounding square and teeming cobbled streets the booths strung with festive lights and garlands of lights. Make sure you get a room with a view!
Steigenberger Hotel, Dresden – The hotel is just a comfortable business class one but its location is terrific. On Germany’s most beautiful square a room with a view also takes in the steeples and spires of royal places, opera houses and multiple churches. Its crowning glory is ten steps from its outdoor cafe – a view of the magnificently rebuild Frauenkirchen. read my post on Dresden in this blog Mar 4 2015. https://www.steigenberger.com/en/hotels/all-hotels/germany/dresden/steigenberger-hotel-de-saxe
Hotel Wentzl,Krakow – I believe this Polish gem has the most charming square outside of Italy and this hotel will give you a window opening right into its midst with flower markets and ancient chapels underneath it. Terrific middle European cuisine, cathedral concerts, open air cafe’s and horse buggies to take you to tour the castle make for a wonderful stay.
Grand Hotel, St Peterburg, Russia – The ten days we spent here were some of the best of our lives.
For Margo’s 65th birthday we went thru the hassles of getting real visa’s and bedded down here. This city is really a town because you will almost certainly never stray more than 3 miles from the theaters, churches, parks, and museums that are within a stones throw of this great lady. Dining is a problem in Russia but there are 5 restaurants in your hotel. Excellent concierge service makes the problems disappear and the guide & town car appear. We went to the Hermitage 5 different days, two ballets, and one opera innumerable palaces and museums plus a great boat tour of the canals and rivers. A 15 hour tour of the countryside was exceptional Truly worth the time if you are an art and music lover. http://www.belmond.com/grand-hotel-europe-st-petersburg/?langredirect=true
Cipriano Inn at Torcello, Venice Lagoon – The original island settlement islet in the Venetian lagoon has been inhabited since the 700’s, still largely given over to small farms if has a comfortable Inn run by the famous Cipriani family. Fine food and wine, luxurious garden dining, under the rust red brick domes and towers of the hote11th Century basilica. Some come here first to get over jet lag hanging in the beautiful garden. Its byzantine era mosaics are some of the best preserved in the world. The rooms can be tiny so reach for the best
Hotel Savoia & Jolanda, Venice – I am troubled by hotels in Venice..so easy to find yourself paying $800 a night and have a disappointing stay. This hotel will save you 25% and put you on the magnificent Riva if you spring for the “junior suite”. Once the hordes have left you find yourself in the most perfect “view” spot in the city. http://www.hotelsavoiajolanda.com
Shangri-La, Hangzhou – Hangzhou was the first Chinese city I felt comfortable in and this traditional old western style hotel was a big part of the reason. Situated along the lake with beautiful views of the garden islets, it is a center for walking, casual biking or boating on the lovely archipelago. Two of the finest Chinese restaurants are on the lake, one only a 5 minute walk out on a causeway.
Hotel Raphael, Rome – I suppose you can call Rome a big city but it always feels like a town to me. This 70 room vine covered spot feels more like an inn – casual and in no hurry, crazy room layouts, but always willing to please. It has been a favorite of our family since 1983. It’s payoff is the 3 minute walk to the alley entrance to Piazza Navone – certainly one of the top squares in the world. The is no better place to start and end a day that a coffee or gelato in this glorious space.
Sun City, Livingston, Zambia – I believe the Queen Victoria Falls are the most spectacular in the world. This sunny hotel is safe & comfortable and a short 5 minute walk from spectacular views. Zebras graze outside your windows, you can walk across the bridge to Zimbabwe or take boat or walking safari’s. Great fun.
Oberoi, Seminyak, Bali – This is one of the best hotels in the world.
It exceeds The Oriental Bangkok by a good margin. You must get a compounded villa and spend hours by the pool. Nighttime entertainment, terrific food, and convenient sight seeing and golf will keep you busy when not soaking in the India Ocean (good body surfing). see the reviews in TA for confirmation of this opinion. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g469404-d302392-Reviews-The_Oberoi_Bali-Seminyak_Bali.html
Casa Dell’Arte, Borum, Turkey – This is paradise on the Aegean with meals al fresco and one of the most beautiful pools in the world. Gracious hospitality and interesting art all over. And you can rent their 90 ft+ gulet schooner and disappear for a week or two if you have 6 good friends to split the bill.
Ibah (Warwick), Ubud, Bali – The first time we stayed here in 2003 Margo and I dubbed it “our soul hotel”.
For the upcountry view of Bali, where a few days with a hired car & driver through the temple and garden complexes will immerse you in the real Hindu paradise get a villa here. Deep in a gorge of rice patties and lush forests you cannot help feeling transported. Long walks with cool pool soaks, dinners in the garden, massages, and gamalang music, all help you feel its special charm. http://warwickhotels.com/ibah/
Raffles, Siem Reap – a short tuktuk ride from the Temples of Angor this has a fabulous pool with outdoor massages under the spreading banyan trees. The suites are small but comfortable. You must stop your jungle touring in the middle of the day and rest with a refreshing lunch and a massage by the excellent pool. Short walk through the park to the village center and the boat races down the river. This is one of the top historic sites in the world, but it is exhausting – use the Raffles to help you enjoy it. http://www.raffles.com/siem-reap/
Amanjiwo, Borobudur, Java – The only one on the list at which we’ve never stayed but Harrison Ford has many times. It overlooks the jungles, mountains, and in the distance Borobudur – a truly, truly, wonderful temple with a mystical story. We had lunch. No need to describe an Aman luxury resort.
Palau Pacific Resort, Palau – The best swimming beach hotel (no surf) I’ve ever stayed at. Basic comfort in a lush paradise of palms and white sand. A magnificent and large coral garden begins 10 steps from the beach and is good for scuba as well as unparalleled snorkeling. Prices have tripled in last 5 years. https://www.palauppr.com/en
Big City Ships (Expensive)
Gotham Hotel (now The Peninsula), Manhattan – Waynette and I stayed in this wonderful old building which is now beautifully restored. It was Thanksgiving Weekend in 1977, 9 months before Jen was born. We had Thanksgiving dinner in the Rainbow Room and saw Liza in The Act. Built in 1905 in a beautiful old style it is the center of 5th Avenue action. Now our suite will cost you $2000 a night over the holiday. http://newyork.peninsula.com/en/default
Imperial Palace, Tokyo – refinement galore in the beautiful public rooms of this comfortable and attentive high-rise. Nice little spa, in room massages, helpful english speaking concierges. Right in the Marunouchi/Ginza area close to the palace, kabuki and shopping.The previous version was designed by F.L. Wright
Westin, Kyoto – You would think that in this ancient city you would look for an old hotel with traditional Japanese hospitality – CANNOT for less than $1000 a night. So get comfy in this well placed hotel and rest easy in between prowling thru the heavenly gardens and temples outside your front door.
Oriental, Bangkok – Rated continually as the best hotel in the world seems to me an exaggeration, but it is fine. Its crowning glory is its position on the ChaoPraya River, the city’s boulevard. boats of all type whisk you to the temples, markets, and museums. Then return to a cool swim in the lovely pool and relax on your balcony overlooking the interesting scene.
3 “Dumps” worth your while … Ok “dumps” is too strong a word but if you don’t mind floors that squeak or are linoleum, bathrooms like a Motel 6 , or no phone to call the front desk these will work. You wonder if they’re really clean but in the end they work out just fine. These are all locations you can’t get any other way.
Ola’s Bird Safari, way above the Arctic Circle – it is comfortable and clean enough for most but you are staying here not for the facility but its spectacular location and the terrific wildlife boat tour leaving from your front porch every couple of hours. After all it truly is at the end of the earth. UNBEATABLE! (if the sun is out) read my blog post 9/18/16.
East Lake Resort, Newberry Volcanic Monument, near Bend, Oregon – Deep inside the caldera of the volcano this place has good breakfast, canoes, outboard fishing dinghys, pontoon boats, trout galore, and some marvelous hikes and short drives. Best lake in the Northwest is you can do without waterskiing.
Prince of Wales Waterton Park, Canadian Rockies – It’s a shame this magnificent building, iconic really, has been let to go to seed by the Canadian Government. It is still worth a trip just to see it and its magnificent view. We stayed in 2009 and wrote a scathing review and as of this summer there are scathing reviews from visitors. Worth a trip.
SeaFoam Motel, Nags Head – we went every summer to Nags Head when we lived in Williamsburg. My mom and I would walk in the early morning up this beach to the pier and back collecting sea shells. This motel was there and is no different. Basic but clean.
Other places I like to stay or have stayed once and liked a lot:
I could write a page or more about each of these.. If your stay at one would be like one of my stay’s it will make your list for delicious places to bunk as well.
-Black Rock Sheraton, Maui
-TuTuTun Lodge, Gold Beach, Oregon
-Hannover Inn, Dartmouth
-Hotel Monaco, Seattle (you get a goldfish friend for your stay)
-Empress Hotel Vancouver
-Hotel Miramare, Castiglione della Pescaia
-Hotel Majestic Toscanell, Padua
-Hotel de La Poste, Beaune
-Hotel Manoir Les Minimes, Amboise
-Grand Hotel, Zermatt
-Atlantic Park Hotel, Baden Baden
-Hotel Cathedral, Barcelona
-The Manor House, Castle Combe, England
-Montreux Palace, Montreux
-Palazzo Dragoni, Spoleto
-Four Seasons, Chang Mai
-Dalat Palace Hotel, Dalat, Vietnam
-Intercontinental Hotel, Sydney
-ShangriLa Hotel, Singapore
-Raffles Hotel, Phnom Penh
-Surin Phuket (on the same small bay as the Amanpuri but half the price) http://www.thesurinphuket.com
Any decent inn on Gili Trawangen, off Lombok