Check-In: Hotel de l’Opera Hanoi, Vietnam

Hotel de l'Opera Hanoi, Vietnam1

Hanoi should be on every South East Asia traveller’s itinerary. Not only is it the populous capital of Vietnam, but it is also a metropolitan city like no other. For one, it is the hardest city to cross the street in – not because of traffic, but because of the number of whizzing motorcycles around, way outnumbering the number of cars. Some of them tend to borrow traffic laws and others pretend act as pedestrians.

Other than that, the city is bustling with amazing restaurants, many nightlife options and has a plethora of nearby essential destinations. Not only is it a great city, but it’s also a good way to start your Vietnamese experience.

But for the city, if you are wishing to stay in luxury and get fully pampered there are a few options. The one that suited us the most is Hotel de l’Opera Hanoi. It is the epitome of boutique in this busy capital. Being near all the high-end shopping areas, the hotel is a member of Accor’s exclusive MGallery Collection. With a staff of 150, almost everything is taken care of in the duration of your stay.

The hotel has a special ambiance – that of Vietnamese cool coupled with French decor – the modern and the traditional. The lobby is spacious with a full bar and trained mixologists – a rarity in Hanoi. It is perfect for pre-drinks before going out to events around the city, including the beautiful Opera House which is a couple of steps away and the namesake of the hotel.

The hotel is noted as the first boutique hotel in the heart of the capital. It boasts accents of architecture from many eras of the city’s rich 1,000 year old history. Featuring 107 rooms and suites with windows overlooking downtown Hanoi. The rooms are pretty spacious and are filled with all amenities one needs, including free WiFi.

The culinary options are varied. The downstairs bar is a buzzing social room called La Fée Verte. There you can have an array of traditional teas or imbibe some premium liquors, which include a drink of Absinthe that locals flock to the place for. The venue often has entertainment and scheduled happy hours throughout the week.

On the ground floor, there is a popular venue by the names of Café Lautrec frequented by hotel guests and locals. The place serves Mediterranean-style dishes and an extensive wine list. Another option is a restaurant called Satine located in the heart of the hotel’s 8-story atrium – an architectural nook that gives the hotel a unique feel. Moreover, the place serves some of the best Vietnamese cuisine from different regions of the country.

Another thing not to miss is Splash, a pool and fitness area overlooking the city. Although the gym is on one side, the pool turns into a social gathering, especially with the tropical pool parties the hotel is trying to promote nowadays – with specialty drinks, eclectic DJs and food stands. Sip while you watch the city.

Hotel de l’Opera Hanoi is unlike any other in the capital of Vietnam. It errs of the side of luxury, but it is so laid-back and central. For most of the important sight-seeing locations, you you can get there by walking. Otherwise, the hotel concierge has a list of arranged excursions that will make your Hanoi trip memorable. The staff were very friendly and the service was impeccable.

 

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Ras Al Khaimah, UAE

Ras Al Khaimah - National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah

Just a 45-minute drive from the fast-paced metropolitan city of Dubai is the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. Offering an authentic insight into Arabian culture and heritage, the emirate is packed full of fun activities with something for everyone. Here are some facts about this emirate:

1. The Arabic name ‘Ras Al Khaimah’ means ‘top of the tent’, referring to its location in the Northernmost part of the UAE.

2. Ahmad Bin Majid was an Arab navigator and cartographer born in 1421 in Ras Al Khaimah. He is known as the first Arab seaman and became famous in the West as the navigator who helped Vasco da Gama find his way from Africa to India.

3. Ras Al Khaimah is home to the highest mountain in the UAE. Standing tall at 1,910 meters, Jebel Jais is ideal for both mountain climbing and mountain biking with impressive views from the summit.

4. Al Wahabiyyah is one of the oldest art forms in Ras Al Khaimah and is unique to this emirate. This folkdance is usually performed on special occasions, feast days and at wedding parties.

5. The emirate is home to one of the top date farms in the UAE, offering no less than 18 different types of dates. 

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Four Seasons Bangkok is now an Anantara Hotel!

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Four Seasons Hotels Limited (Four Seasons) and the owner of Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok, Minor Hotel Group (MHG), announced today that effective March 1, 2015, MHG will operate the Hotel under its own luxury hospitality brand, Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas.

After a long and successful partnership in Bangkok, Four Seasons and MHG have agreed to transition management of the Hotel to Anantara. Four Seasons and MHG will continue to work together for years to come to provide the premier luxury hotel experience in Thailand to discerning travellers at three award-winning resorts: Four SeasonsResort Chiang Mai, Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, and Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle.

Over the past 22 years, Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok has become a preferred destination for luxury travellers and an integral part of the community, hosting a Cancer Care Charity Fun Run every year and most recently the 15th Annual World Gourmet Festival, both in association with the Thai Red Cross in support of local causes.

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Check-In: Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, India

Check-In- Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur-India-new2

There are only a few hotels in the world that double as historical monuments. Taj Lake Palace is just that. What was the summer palace of the Rajasthani maharaja is now a luxury hotel in the middle of the most beautiful places to visit in India.

Since the hotel is situated in the middle of lake with no visible island under it, the structure looks like it has emerged out of water, filling the place’s aura with mystery and whimsy. Just the arrival from the boat dock to the hotel, where you will be greeted with a shower of colorful petals, is enough to give you some chills upon entering this one-0f-a-kind hotel.

Aside from its palatial glory and impeccable location, the service precedes that of many hotels in the region. The staff will go to any lengths to cement your trip in Udaipur as one of the best. Although Udaipur is a fairly small Indian city, the staff is well equipped with excursion ideas to keep you entertained for several days, in this perfect honeymoon destination.

If some rest and recuperation is your idea of fun, then rest assured – there are many things to do in this desolate lake hotel. From the spa, which is situated on a romantic boat tied to the hotel-island to a professional fortune teller sitting in the middle of the lobby for you to have a session with. Moreover, the hotel has really entertaining traditional shows and dances that happen everyday in the middle open area close to the reception. You’re never too bored in this colonial style and very regal palace.

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When it comes down to meals the hotel is has various choices from the perfect Indian restaurant with the intricately arranged set menu to the full menu or room service. Plus, the bar serves a very special gin martini that many travel just to taste. It has been featured on several travel shows.

Another advantage to staying at the palace is that access is only granted to those who stay there. So basically, many travel to Udaipur without being able to visit this historic palace, renovated to fit maximum accommodation needs from a royal palace – or summer home of the maharaja. As per the hotel’s rules, only people staying at the hotel can visit the ground, it’s amazing Indian restaurant, the bar of well-mixed drinks and its mesmerising pool – overlooking the other palaces around the lake.

To say the least, a stay at the Taj Lake Palace is not only mandatory for every Udaipur traveller, but an all-in-all enchanting experience. Book early as the hotel is always full! 

St. Georges Yacht Club in Beirut, Lebanon is still an unfriendly place!

st georges yacht club

 

After frequenting the St. Georges Yacht Club’s pool and restaurant from more than a decade, I have grown to known it very well. However, despite its long struggle of gaining recognition for its name and place, the place has gone down the hill especially considering the options that have spurted up for beaches and pools around the shoreline of Lebanon.

First of all, the person responsible for the entry into the facility is probably one of the most rude human beings you will encounter in Beirut. His reputation precedes him with a recent racism scandal in which he was filmed refusing entrance to someone because of her race, while allowing others to come in. Look up the term “Saint Georges Discrimination” on YouTube. Although they have since apologized for this incident, the person responsible hasn’t been fired and we experienced this first-hand recently from him. Nothing has changed. People have been refused entry because of their gender and talked down to because of their ethnic origins until today (September 2014)

 

 

The St. Georges Yacht Club has the most amazing location in Lebanon and lively atmosphere, however this is hampered by the service and the bigotry that is bound to ruin any vacation. Until this behaviour is eradicated, young people and tourists (of all colors, nationalities, genders and preferences) are opting to visit other places. Too bad the attitude of this deterred us from entering, we could have return a better review otherwise.

Check-In: Four Seasons Hotel Beirut, Lebanon

There is a plethora of hotel varieties in Beirut, Lebanon but very few fit international standards of luxury in accommodation. Four Seasons is one of these hotels. Located in the new swanky part of downtown Beirut overlooking the historic St. George Yacht Club, the hotel has some of the best views of the city. The newly-cemented building is large-scale and central. It’s hard to miss if you are in the capital.

The accommodation is that of a Four Seasons, minor modern touches to overarching contemporary renaissance. Having all the amenities of a traditional hotel with comfort as a mindset and grandeur as an overall aura. Though it may not have considered a minimalist approach to its interior decor, it has all the conveniences that one would expect from such a brand name. In fact, the service could be the second biggest draw to this establishment.

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