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TRAVEL: Das Stue Combines History & Luxury in Berlin

How often do you step foot into a hotel to be greeted by a life-sized bronzed crocodile? At Das Stue, Berlin’s first luxury boutique hotel, this is just one of the many delights that await you.

Once I stepped foot out of my taxi, I was met by a grand entrance complete with two sweeping marble staircases as well as a door man who graciously offered to take my bags. As the former Royal Danish embassy, Das Stue offers a relaxing stay within their walls of modern design and neo-classical architecture. Let’s just say, the second you walk into Das Stue, there is a feeling of grandeur.

Das Stue

Location
Situated in the city’s embassy district, Das Stue is just a ten minute drive from Mitte, Berlin’s city centre, where many of the sights and museums are located. Most buildings near Das Stue precede World War II. With the help of refurbishments, you can still see the history within the architecture of this peaceful neighbourhood.

Das Stue also offers a breath of fresh air – literally. Just next door is the city’s Tiergarten Park and Berlin’s Zoological Garden, which features more animal species than any other zoo in Europe. In fact if you’re lucky, some of the rooms on the upper floors have an expansive view of the grounds, which means you can spy on the ostriches and antelopes from the comfort of your room.

Das Stue TiergartenDas Stue Room Park

Accommodations
Within Das Stue, there are 79 guest rooms and suites, ranging in size from 27 to 110 square meters. All rooms are equipped with large windows and some are complete with floor to ceiling windows, balconies or terraces. Aside from the natural sunlight, the rooms are also furnished with a rain shower (some have oversize bathtubs), Wifi and a full HD entertainment system by Apple, incorporating both internet access and a flat-screen TV.

Das Stue Room

Our room was located in the old part of the building, which meant sizeable windows and very high ceilings (well over 4 meters high). The room was quite spacious and offered modern decor, which was clean, relaxed and comfortable.

Across from our room was the library. As I attempted to fight my jet lag, I failed miserably and found myself awake at 3am. I sauntered across the hall and wandered through the library in the historical front part of the building. The neo-classical architecture in this section is complemented with an expansive landing, original parquet floors, French doors, restored hardware and comfortable seating arrangements. The perfect spot to lose yourself in a wide selection of Taschen books.

Das Stue StairwellDas Stue Library

Lounges, Bars and Dining
With two separate restaurants as well as a lounge, bar and private dining space, Das Stue is bound to satisfy your taste buds.

For those who prefer something more avant-garde, Cinco, the Michelin starred restaurant by Spanish chef Paco Pérez, is truly a gastronomic experience. In an intimate room embellished with an overhead explosion of copper pots and pans paired with copper lamps, you can tempt your senses with oyster and caviar tartar or fully amuse your palette with a tasting menu reaching up to 22 courses.

Das Stue CinchIf you prefer comfort food like Spanish tapas, step across the hall to The Casual, where natural light streams into a triangular space from skylights above. Here you can indulge in Pérez’s take on Octopus, Salmon Tataki or Thai Salad.

Das Stue The Casual

Sometimes you just fancy a drink. Das Stue offers a bar, lounge and outdoor terrace. Throughout this area, you can spot beautiful artworks including a large giraffe made of painted chicken net as well as stunning black-and-white vintage fashion photography and portraiture. The drinks will take you back in time to the 20’s, and spirits include unusual whiskies and cognacs not otherwise available in the German capital. For those who prefer vino, you can choose up to 400 German and Spanish wines – the options are pretty close to endless.

Das Stue BarDas Stue Bar

Added Extras
If the library isn’t enough to relax your mind, the spa might do the trick. Right off the lobby is a discreet hallway, leading to a lap pool and sauna, as well as three private treatment rooms offering Susanne Kaufmann products and treatments. You can go for a swim and then treat your muscles to a massage or your skin to a facial. If this doesn’t combat the jet lag, I’m not sure what will.

Das Stue PoolDas Stue Spa

Das Stue truly is luxury at its finest. Their name is derived from Danish meaning living room, and Das Stue creates a comfortable and relaxing experience without any pretension. That’s reason enough to stay at this upscale hotel, but it’s just one facet of an unforgettable experience in Berlin.

Details
Prices start from $290/night for a room and $410/night for a suite.

Das Stue Hotel Berlin Tiergarten
Drakestraße 1, 10787
Berlin, Germany
+49 30 311 722-0
das-stue.com

– Chenessa Lam

Disclaimer: Our media visit was hosted by the hotel, however
the opinions expressed in this post remain our own.


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#SETRAVELS: Two Week Essentials Guide

When your doing a handful of cities in just a few weeks it’s so important to pack accordingly, this means only pack the essentials. For myself, I always think of packing light so I can shop heavy because there are always a few more essentials you simply can’t leave your vacation without.

Fashion Essentials
When packing light it’s important to always ask yourself a few very important questions like “do I really need it” and “how many ways can I wear it”. Try packing clothes that are easy-to-wear and extremely versatile, sometimes less really can be more when you’re creative enough to find a few ways to style them. When it comes to your shoes make sure to pack for comfort, especially when your travels include a lot of walking and wandering across the city. Bring along shoes that you know you will wear more then once and that pair great with almost everything, comfy shoes will make for a much better trip.

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TOMS

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Beauty Essentials
Once your clothes and shoes are all packed up it’s time for the not so easy part of packing, picking out which beauty essentials to bring. Bringing makeup that is light, easy to apply and long lasting is always the best when going somewhere hot, especially after applying your SPF. I love wearing minimal makeup when I’m away, forget your foundation at home and pack a peachy blush that will bring out your natural glow and don’t forget your brows. I can’t leave home, or country without grooming my brows, I always find that a well groomed brow is all you need to feel polished. To keep your lock looking luck try using a frizz control shampoo and conditioner and replace your hairspray for seasalt spray for a more naturally tasseled look. Lastly, your lips, rather then worrying about applying lipstick try finding a gloss or lip stain that you love, they are easy to apply and great for traveling.

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Artdeco // The Body Shop // Consonant Skincare // Maybelline // Ombrelle // Redken // Essie

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Lifestyle Essentials
You can’t forget to pack your camera, sure, the iPhone takes great pictures but there’s something about a DSLR that makes photos seem so real, especially when you are seeing some of the most beautiful sights in the world. Invest in a great camera and take it with you everywhere you go because when you get home you will want to look at your photos over and over again. When traveling I can’t leave my hotel without a portable charger, it’s extremely useful for a quick charge on all of your devices and is small enough to toss in your purse.

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Flight Essentials
The obvious travel essential items are always your headphones, a neck pillow and of course a warm pair of socks, but what about the snacks and jet leg remedies that will make your landing that much better. Pack snacks that are great for on-the-go and will hold you off until your next inflight meal that never really fills you up. Try beating your jet leg before you land with the ultimate travel kit that helps you arrive looking and feeling fabulous with a simple mist. These inflight essentials will make for a much cozier flight.

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Saje Wellness

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NAKD // TOMS

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Packing can sometimes be the hardest part about traveling, which is why it’s important to take your time and pack what you know you will wear and use. Remember to enjoy every moment and make memories that will last forever, and don’t forget to leave yourself a little extra room in your luggage because after all we’re women and we’re on vacation, of course we’re going to spend and shop!

– Vanessa Cioffi

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#SETRAVELS: Adventures in Northern Scotland

Scotland is a country full of historic sights, places of interest and interesting activities. Most visitors come to see the (mythical) Loch Ness monster, men in skirts (a.k.a kilts), drink single malt whisky and eat  haggis, but there is so much more to see. With unspoilt countryside and breathtaking views all around Scotland, we decided to take a road trip around Northern Scotland to see what the country had to offer – let’s just say, we weren’t disappointed.

Northern Scotland, RoadtripNorthern Scotland 10Following a decent nights sleep, day one was a trip along the North East coast of Scotland. We started off with a traditional Scottish breakfast before moving on the Dunnet Head to walk around the lighthouse, visit the most northerly point of mainland Great Britain (closer to Norway and Iceland than London as the crow flies). After wandering the area and successfully spotting a few puffins and we were back on the road, with the next stop the Castle of Mey. In 1952 Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother visited the then Castle of Barrogill following the death of her husband King George VI, and fell in love with it’s isolated charm and set about restoring it to the Castle of Mey and what it is today. With stunning gardens, it is the most northernly inhibited castle in Great Britain, and a true reflection of the British monarchy with rooms maintained to how they were during The Queen Mother’s visits.
Northern Scotland, Dunnet HeadNorthern Scotland, Puffins
No visit to NE Scotland is complete without the obligatory stop in John O’Groats to see ‘the signpost’ symbolizing the longest distance between two points in Great Britain at 876 miles to Land’s End. After a brief stop for photos and a quick ice cream break, we continued on to Duncansby Stacks, through the fishing town of Wick and onto Whaligoe Steps. The Whaligoe steps are a man-made staircase consisting of 365 steps carved into the cliff face in the 19th century to probably one of the the strangest ports in Scotland, offering panoramic views across the Pentland Firth and the North Sea.

Northern Scotland, John O'GroatsNorthern Scotland, Whaligoe Steps
An early start saw us head west along the north coast of Scotland taking in the scenery until we hit the village of Durness. Here you not only find fantastic beaches and lochs (the Scottish Gaelic word for lakes) but great walks and Smoo Cave. Smoo Cave is unique in the UK as far as the first chamber was formed by the action from the sea, with the inner chambers formed by freshwater passages making it the only type of its kind. After a brief walk across the cliff tops a drink was well deserved.

Northern Scotland, Loch Inver
Northern Scotland, Smoo Cave
Scotland isn’t famed for it’s beaches and considering it’s rarely beach weather in the UK you’d hardly be blamed to not visiting them, but one beach worth the trip is Achmelvich. A small village on the west coast, Achmelvich and it’s white sandy beach and blue waters would look more at home on a Caribbean island than Scotland, although considerable degrees cooler. Once you’ve dipped your toes in the sand, you have to make a quick pit stop at Cocoa Mountain (open March – October) for a hot chocolate and handmade truffles. Regardless of what time of day you have to try ‘the best hot chocolate ever’ followed by a couple of the handmade truffles (recommendations go to Chilli & Lemongrass and Orange & Geranium) using only the finest ingredients, natural flavours and no preservatives, it’s easy to see why this little spot boasts famous customers such as Yoko Ono and Prince Charles.
Northern Scotland, Achmelvich BeachNorthern Scotland, AchmelvichNorthern Scotland, Cocoa Mountain
A long drive later through stunning scenery and glorious countryside, we finally made it to the Isle of Skye, the largest and most northerly large island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Before we called it a night, we made our way to the Fairy Pools in Glenbrittle. The fairy pools is a short hike with series of waterfalls where the waters are crystal clear and surrounded by rocks. You can go for a swim in the vivid waters, however with water temperatures described by locals as cold, really bloody cold or freezing we decided to pass on this one before grabbing a bite in Portree (famed for their seafood) and calling it a night.
Northern Scotland, Glenbrittle Fairy PoolsNorthern Scotland, Glenbrittle Fairy PoolsNorthern Scotland, Portree Seafood Dinner
Our final day saw us with an early start, so shortly after breakfast we headed north from Portree to visit Kilt Rock and The Quiraing. Kilt Rock, said to resemble the pleats from a kilt, offers spectacular views of the Isles Of Raasay, whilst The Quiraing looks like something from the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and middle earth. A formation of needles formed by a series of landslips. The Quiraing two hour hike offers panoramic views for miles around and worth the added weight in your bag of bringing along a decent pair of shoes, and particularly enjoyable on a rare sunny Scottish day.

Northern Scotland, KiltrockNorthern Scotland, QuiraingNorthern Scotland 12
Scotland may not be the largest country but it does offer everything from hikes and hills, to fairies and beaches. After covering over 600 miles on the road and various sights in and around Northern Scotland, it’s safe to say that Scotland offers more than just Highland cows, Scotch Whiskey and kilt-wearing bag pipers.

– Chenessa Lam

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#SETRAVELS: Panoramic Views along the Amalfi Coast (and the Path of the Gods)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to go to the Amalfi Coast (and Bali, and Fiji, and Tahiti…and the list goes on). There was always something intriguing about this part of Italy and earlier this month, we made our way to Rome and then headed south along the coastline. We only had a week to play with but we made the most of our time and checked out a few stunning cities.

Rome, Via Condotti

First, we had to decide whether to rent a car or take the trains/buses. After many calculations, we decided to go with the latter. We decided against renting a car because A) driving in Italy is crazy if you aren’t used to the roads, and B) finding parking would be a hassle. I wasn’t sure how the trains and buses would be but it was actually a breeze. We decided to start in Rome and do Sorrento, Positano and Capri (with brief stops in Napoli and Amalfi). It was the perfect route. After one night in the Eternal City, we hopped on board an early train to Napoli (about $70) and then took the the Circumvesuviana (it’s like their subway, about $10 round-trip) to Sorrento.
Sunset SorrentoSorrentoPompeiiPompeii GardensPompeii from Above

We stayed a few nights in Sorrento, as it was the perfect place to set up base to visit Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius. It was a great little city and easy to walk. The streets were relatively flat and we met a few tourists and locals along the way. Bed and Breakfasts start at about $80/night and hotels start at $120/night. After two nights, we decided to venture further south. Although you can take a bus, we decided for the more scenic route, the ferry (about $20 one way).

Next stop, Positano. If there was ever a city that epitomes the Amalfi Coast, this would be it. The city is built on a hillside and although the views are breathtaking, so are the steep winding roads and stairs – literally, you will be left breathless, as in without breath. We stayed at La Rosa Dei Venti (for about $200/night), which is an adorable family run hotel, complete with seaside views from the comforts of your room. During the day, many tourists flock to Positano but in the evenings, many leave the city and you’re left with calm and tranquil roads and streets.

Capri, En RouteCaprese SaladFerry AmalfiPositano
A trip to the Amalfi Coast, isn’t complete without visiting Amalfi. But instead of staying a night in Amalfi, we just took a quick day trip ($5 one way by SITA bus from Positano). The first thing I noticed were the lemons – yup, the lemons. The lemons in Amalfi are about the size of my head (no joke) and delicious. At every other corner you’ll spot a lemonade, gelato or granita stand, and with the beaming midday sun, a granita will do just the trick. We wandered around this peaceful town and eventually situated ourselves at the Piazza Duomo at the foot of the Amalfi Cathedral. It was the perfect place to sip on my granita and just relax and people watch.
AmalfiAmalfi Coast, lemonsAmalfi, DuomoAmalfi

For incredible panoramic views of the Amalfi Coast, you have to do the Path of the Gods, also known as Il Sentiero degli Dei. The Path of the Gods is a good walk (about 8km) but not a difficult one. From Positano, we made our way to Praiano via the SITA bus and from there found a set of stairs (about 1,000 steps) that led up to the Convent of San Domenico. That’s where our hike began. We hiked along the coast and stopped constantly to take photos – and the photos don’t even begin to do the coastline justice. After 3 hours, we found ourselves in Nocelle and started down (this time about 2,000 steps). When we reached the bottom, I was sun-drenched, tired and sweaty. To my surprise (and relief) there was a granita stand and a lovely gentleman made me the coldest, freshest granita, I’ve ever had – it was just what I needed. As I sipped on my granita, we began to walk back to Postitano, which was another 15 minutes. Looking back at the photos, I don’t know how anyone could visit the Amalfi Coast without taking the Path of the Gods. It wasn’t a short hike but it wasn’t a hard one. It was however, worth every minute.

Amalfi Coast
Path of the Gods, Amalfi CoastIl Sentiero degli Dei, Path of the Gods on the Amalfi Coast, Positano

Before heading back to Rome, we made a quick stop at Capri. After hearing so much about this island, I knew I had to stay at least one night to soak it all in. The first stop was the Blue Grotto. Although slightly overpriced for a 15 minute adventure ($40), the Blue Grotto is actually quite spectacular. We took a small row boat into a sea cave where natural sunlight passes through an underwater cavity, to create a blue light that illuminates the cavern. There are a plethora of restaurants and shops to wander in but we decided to grab a bite in the Piazzetta, their main piazza. Knowing that we only had one night in Capri, we had to pick our attractions carefully. At sunset, we made our way to the Gardens of Augustus (1 Euro entry fee). The gardens are beautiful but the real vision are the stunning views of the coast, a direct view of Via Krupp and the Faraglioni rock formations.

CapriCapri, Blue Grotto, Grotto AzzurraCapri, Blue GrottoCapri, Via KruppCapri, FaraglioniCapri, Gardens of Augustus

One week in the Amalfi Coast is not enough. Staring down at the cobalt blue waters at the edge of a dizzying cliff, it’s hard to believe such villages could be so picturesque. After visiting, you understand why this cultural landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A return trip to this beautiful coastline cannot come soon enough.

– Chenessa Lam

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#SETRAVELS: A Girls' Weekend in Washington DC

Long weekends are ideal for mini-getaways. During the Labour Day long weekend, a girlfriend and I decided on whim to hop on a plane and make our way to Washington DC.

As it was our first trip to DC, we didn’t have any real plans outside of visiting the monuments and museums – little did we know, the city offered more than just that. With just 48 hours in Washington, we had a lot to see, do and eat!Style Empire, Travel - Capitol Hill Day 1
After arriving at Washington Dulles Airport, which is actually located in Dulles, Virginia, just 26 miles west of downtown Washington, D.C., we made our way to Kimpton’s Topaz Hotel just steps away from the historic Dupont Circle. There was a metro nearby and a variety of restaurants, bars and shops but when we asked for suggestions for lunch, our hotel concierge immediately directed us to Old Ebbitt Grill. A metro or taxi ride (or 25 minute walk if you’re feeling adventurous). Style Empire, Travel - Old Ebbitt GrillStyle Empire, Travel - Old Ebbitt Grill Crab Cake The second we walked in, we knew we were at the right spot. Bustling with locals and tourists alike, the Old Ebbitt Grill is a part of history as it was founded in 1856 (in 1983 it moved to its current location) and was a favoured spot among many of the presidents. When we asked our waiter for her recommendations, she immediately gravitated towards the seafood, and specifically the crabcakes.

Once our palettes were satisfied, we made our way to the National Mall, which isn’t actually a mall but instead, a 1.9 mile section of museums and monuments. Here you’ll find: the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, National Museum of Natural History, The Capitol, as well as many of the Smithsonian Museums (all of which are free to enter). We wandered about the National Mall making our way into a few of the museums and monuments, spending most of our time in the outdoor sculpture gallery. It was the perfect way to soak in some sunshine and art. Style Empire, Travel - Outdoor Gallery Style Empire, Travel - National MallStyle Empire, Travel - National Mall 1Style Empire, Travel - Sculpture Gallery 1Style Empire, Travel - Washington MuseumStyle Empire, Travel - MuseumStyle Empire, Travel - National GalleryStyle Empire, Travel - National GalleryStyle Empire, Travel - Reflecting PoolAlthough 1.9 miles doesn’t seem like a lot, when you pop into the museums and stop to look at the monuments, it’s easy for hours to fly by. We didn’t realize we had walked the National Mall for the better part of the day and by late afternoon we were knackered and ready to call it a night.

Day 2
As one of DC’s most historic neighbourhoods, we knew a trip to Washington wasn’t complete without going to Georgetown. We made our way by foot, which took about 30 minutes from our hotel near Dupont Circle (or a 15 minute taxi or metro ride). Once we saw the myriad of restaurants and shops lining the streets, we knew we arrived. Style Empire, Travel - Washington, GeorgetownStyle Empire, Travel - Washington, Georgetown Cupcake There is a lot to do in Georgetown including walking along its waterfront, touring historic house museums and doing sightseeing tours – but we decided to eat and shop instead. Georgetown Cupcake was a must and we also told to stop by Clydes, a legendary saloon which joined the neighbourhood in 1963. Along the main street you’ll also spot many shops including BCBG, Coach, Kate Spade, Armani Exchange, HM and Urban Outfitters.

Style Empire, Travel - Dupont Circle

Back at Dupont Circle, we found Kramer Books and Afterwords Café. A restaurant, café and (as the name suggests) a bookstore all-in-one. With a comfy, cozy atmosphere, Kramer Books and Afterwords Café offers a variety of American foods, including quite the selection of desserts. Whether you want a coffee, a bite or just to peruse, it’s a great place to lose yourself in the bookshelves into the early hours. Travel - Washington, Kramer Books & Afterwards CafeTravel - Washington, Kramer Books & Afterwards On day 3, we had to pack our bags and make our way back home. Although the weekend was quite busy, there’s nothing like recharging in another city. There was a lot we didn’t get around to doing, including the White House and about 11 of the other museums, but I’m pretty sure this just means we’ll need to return to Washington sooner rather than later.

– Chenessa Lam

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