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#SETRAVELS: The Weir House is a Sanctuary in Sri Lanka

Once you enter The Weir House, be prepared for a peaceful respite. The drive up is unassuming with windy dirt roads and 360 degrees of surrounding flora and fauna. Slowly, a residence emerges from the greenery yet fits in with the natural vegetation surrounding it. The Weir House is slowly revealed. The second you step foot onto the property, you know you’re in for a treat.

The Weir House, Living Room

A set of stairs leads up to the foundation where The Weir House starts and comfort begins, marking the start of a peaceful and wondrous escape. Perfectly crafted on 6-acres of land, situated in Ulapane (prpnounced: ooo-lah-pan-ay), The Weir House is just 30km away from the chaos of Kandy, the second largest city in Sri Lanka, and 70km away from the tea plantations of Nuwura Eliya in Sri Lanka’s hill country. It’s an ideal base for visiting the sites or to just catch up on rest and relaxation.

After spending a few nights in Kandy, this was the perfect juxtaposition. The house itself is reminiscent of a modern chalet with floor to ceiling windows, timber accents and bohemian touches, it’s easy to see that this is more than just your traditional accommodations.

The Weir House, HallwayThe Weir House, Peppercorn RoomThe Weir House, Pool & Garden Area

There are four bedrooms within the Weir House, as well as a common dining and living room. Each of the bedrooms are themed after one of the spices grown on the grounds (peppercorn, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg). We stayed in the peppercorn room, which was spacious and airy. Each room is unique in style but all are equipped with an ensuite bathroom, ceiling fan and air conditioning, not to mention, outdoor seating with amazing views make you feel like the leader of your very own horticultural kingdom.

The living room is a great room in every explanation of the term, providing an abundance of natural light to complement views of the serenity outside. The living room is equipped with modern day comforts, including a TV, DVD player and stereo, but with the sounds of the river flowing below and birds chirping above, it’s better to soak in the natural surroundings with a great book in hand. There is a plethora of reading options scattered about the living room (just in case you forgot your own) as well as plenty of comfortable seating to settle yourself in. It’s the perfect spot to sit back, relax and soak it all in.

The Weir House, Living RoomThe Weir House, Reading

There is no shortage of tantalizing meals at The Weir House. You can help yourself to the pantry or make a cup of tea or just prepare yourself for a sensorial delight. From breakfast to dinner (and everything in between), Lesley, their in-house chef, creates authentic dishes with local ingredients – some that are straight from the back garden.

The team at The Weir House strives to accommodate your tastebuds. Breakfast options consist of western style omelettes or waffles, or Sri Lankan rotis or hoppers (a crepe-like dish). And while most people are out during the day, if you choose to stay in, lunch consists of rice and curry or a simple cheese sandwich, depending on your needs/wants. Dinner is the main event. While fusing eastern and western elements and flavours, Lesley creates a three-course meal that satisfies your palette.

The Weir House, Food & Dining, Sri Lankan BreakfastThe Weir House, Food & Dining, TeaThe Weir House, Food & Dining, DinnerThe Weir House, Food & Dining Area

Prior to visiting the Weir House, we had a bit of an upset stomach. Combating a bout of food anxiety is never easy but Lesley worked with us to create meals that were easy on the stomach yet healthy and delighted all of our senses. Upset stomach and food anxiety begone!

The Weir House offers a wading pool just steps away from the house itself. Complete with a shaded sitting area and pool towels, it’s the perfect spot to cool off after a hot day in the sun.

The Weir House, Pool

Although not previously mentioned, one of the best parts of The Weir House is Lucian, their in-house manager. From the start, he is a fantastic and warming host who is friendly and helpful, without being obtrusive.

In the proximity of The Weir House there is a river and a tea factory, and on the grounds there are gardens with coffee, spices and even a modest vegetable garden. During our stay, Lucian equipped us with leech socks (to avoid unwanted leech bites) and we explored the vast garden area where he explained the plants in great detail. We also walked to the closest tea factory (about a 20 minute walk) and toured the factory while learning about the different steps in the tea making process. He truly made the Weir House experience a memorable one.

The Weir House, Leech SocksThe Weir House, GardenThe Weir House, Crushed Clove LeafTea Factory

The Weir House is as beautiful as it is comfortable. It can accommodate up to ten guests at a time and is ideal for couples or contemporary families who love the outdoors. It was designed to extract the most from the stunning scenery and is the ideal base for your Sri Lankan travels. Living in complete harmony with its surroundings, The Weir House is a reflection of nature packaged in a humble, yet beautiful, modern chalet.

Prices from $180USD/night
242/8 Kandawatte, Ulapane, Sri Lanka
+94 81 384 5420

– 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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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

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

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.

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

– 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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TRAVEL: Crossing Condotti Off my Rome Bucket List

Although there is much to see, do and eat in Rome, it’s also important to find a great place to rest your head at night. On my recent trip to Italy, I stopped briefly in Rome before making my way south to the Amalfi Coast. While in the Eternal City, I decided to forgo the usual hotel route and opt for a more intimate option, we found ourselves at Crossing Condotti.

Style Empire - Crossing Condotti Address

In a nondescript historical building, the past blends seamlessly into the present at Crossing Condotti. This charming residence offers five exclusive rooms, all finished with original wood ceilings, parquet floors, beautiful prints, paintings and furniture from the owners’ private collection.

The second you walk into your room, you immediately feel at-home and relaxed. The rooms are quite spacious and the decor is a harmonious mix of antique and contemporary. Each room is equipped with individually controlled air-conditioning and heating, high speed internet access, LCD satellite TV and L’Occitane toiletry amenities.

Style Empire - Crossing Condotti EntranceIMG_9660IMG_9550Style Empire - Crossing Condotti L'OccitaneStyle Empire - Crossing Condotti Room 2Style Empire - Crossing Condotti, Carrozze

Although the property doesn’t offer breakfast, every room is equipped with a courtesy tray, which offers biscuits and brioches, as well as the tools to make coffee, tea, cappuccino and hot chocolate. But if you really need a pick me up, just outside of the room, you can find a kitchenette complete with a Nespresso coffee machine, ice-machine and refrigerator offering free soft drinks throughout the day.
Style Empire - Crossing Condotti Nespresso

Whether you want to shop or sightsee (or better yet, both), Crossing Condotti is conveniently located. The metro is less than five minutes away and around the corner you’ll spot Piazza di Spagna in one direction (in the photo below, it’s directly behind me) and all of the luxury shops in the other (think Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, you get the idea). All of the major sights (including the Colosseum, Vatican and Trevi Fountain) are less than 20 minutes away by metro.

Style Emprie - Chenessa Lam, Via Condotti

As we mentioned earlier, Crossing Condotti is located in a quiet private residence but once you step outside, you can eat and drink to your heart’s content. There are restaurants, bars, patios and cafés lining the surrounding streets. Since there were so many options, I didn’t know where to even begin. Marco, the Room Division Manager at the Front Desk, gave us a few recommendations depending on what type of cuisine and atmosphere we wanted, and they did not disappoint.

If you’re looking for accommodations that are less commercial yet still luxurious, this charming residence is ideal for you. It’s hard to surpass the staff, location, atmosphere and accommodations at Crossing Condotti.

Prices from $320 During Off Season, $440 During Peak Season
Via Mario Dè Fiori, 28, 00187 Roma, Italy
+39 06 6992 0633

– 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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TRAVEL: A Fresh, Modern and Relaxed Stay at andel’s Hotel Prague

My stay in Prague was (too) short and sweet. I really do need to plan a return as 72 hours was not enough to soak it all in. However, my stay was more than comfortable at the andel’s Hotel Prague, where modern comfort meets clean styling. It was the perfect place to set up base and wander the city (for full details of the trip, check out “Prague, a Fairy Tale City that’s a Feast for Your Eyes“).

Style Empire, Travel - Prague

The goal of my trip was to visit the sites but a little shopping never hurt anyone. Located in Smichov neighborhood, andel’s Hotel Prague is just steps away from the metro, a short tram ride away from the main sights (Old Town Square, Charles Bridge and the Prague Castle) and across the street from the Nový Smichov Shopping Center.

I initially took a taxi to get to the hotel but once I arrived, I either walked everywhere or took the tram. The city is very walkable and their metro/tram system is also easy to navigate. The area surrounding the hotel is lovely with many restaurants and shops to satisfy all of your taste buds and shopping needs. Upon check-in, I received a map, which includes all of the major sites and attractions, and coupon-book for shops in the area – as if I needed a push in the right direction!

Style Empire - Travel, andel's Hotel PragueStyle Empire - Travel, andel's Hotel Prague Novy Smichov

If you’re looking for a hotel with comfortable furnishings and modern comforts, andel’s Hotel Prague is ideal for you. Within their 239 guestrooms and suites, you can pick and choose which room, suite or layout you prefer. More than 200 rooms are reserved specifically for non-smoking guests, 2 rooms are designed for guests with restricted mobility and 8 rooms have their own terrace.

During my stay, I was in a one-bedroom suite. It was huge! The room offered plenty of natural sunlight with floor to ceiling windows, a large living area (with a flat screen TV), a work area and a kitchenette. Although I was only there for a short period of time, it would be perfect for those who are looking to stay longer.

I’m often in hotels but the apartment style of the suite made me feel more at home. The desk area is great for those who need to get some work done. However, I prefer to relax. In the evenings, I made a cup of tea and just took a few minutes to unwind by the TV before rolling into bed. It was the perfect way to end a long day of touring the city.

Style Empire - Travel, andel's Hotel Prague Living Area Style Empire - Travel, andel's Hotel Prague Bedroom Style Empire - Travel, andel's Hotel Prague Kitchen AreaStyle Empire - Travel, andel's Hotel Prague

Lounges, Bars and Dining
andel’s Hotel Prague has two restaurants: Delight and Oscars. Guests are invited to a complimentary buffet breakfast at Delight where hot food, pastries and fresh fruit are served. The breakfast buffet is also available for visitors who aren’t guests for 425 CZK per person (just over $20). Delight also offers three private dining rooms and the Crystal room, which are ideal for smaller groups and business meetings. For lunch, dinner or just a drink, we made our way to Oscar’s bar/brasserie. With an outdoor terrace, it is a great spot to sit, relax and people watch.
Andels Hotel Prague - Delight Restaurant

Andels Hotel Prague

Added Extras
Sometimes it’s the small things that make all the difference. When I stepped foot outside of the elevator on my floor, there was a tea and coffee machine with all of the fixings. It’s a nice touch for those who want a quick pick-me-up anytime in the day (or night). There’ also a mini-bar in the kitchen area, complete with soft-drinks, alcoholic beverages, juice and water, for those who might need a stronger pick-me-up.

I really do admire those who work out when they’re away from home – I’m just rarely one of them. I did manage to make my way down to the fitness facility to check out what they had to offer. Within the hotel is the Fitcentre OTO, which is ideal for guests who want a sauna, solarium, steam bath or massage. The fully equipped fitness room offers cardio and strength training machines from Technogym, making it easy to stay in shape, while you’re away.

Style Empire - Travel, andel's Hotel Prague Coffee Style Empire - Travel, andel's Hotel Prague Tea Style Empire - Travel, andel's Hotel Prague Fitness

Prices start from $170/night for rooms and $210/night for suites
CZ-150 00 Prague 5
Stroupežnického 21
+420 (296) 889 688

– 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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TRAVEL: Comfort and Contemporary Design at Misafir Suites 8 Boutique Hotel in Istanbul

Situated in the heart of Istanbul on a small backstreet is Misafir Suites 8. This luxury boutique hotel features contemporary décor within a 19th-century building, right in the heart of Beyoğlu. If you’re planning on visiting Istanbul, this is the perfect spot to set up base.

Misafir 8 Suites Boutique Hotel, Exterior
Misafir 8 Suites

A short walk from Taksim Square and just one block from Istiklal Caddesi, one of Istanbul’s busiest pedestrian streets, Misafir Suites 8 is surrounded by small bars showcasing local acoustic artists and quaint coffee shops where locals come to drink Turkish coffee (which is stronger than an Italian double espresso) over a game of backgammon. The street itself is a picturesque cobbled road with vines between the historic buildings – you would struggle to believe you are only a block away from the main shopping street. Within walking distance are the highlights of the area, including the Galata tower, offering spectacular views of Istanbul, a river cruise of the Bosphorus river (suggested by the helpful staff), and a nostalgic tram ride to the main square.

Istanbul Istiklal Caddesi

Upon our arrival to Misafir Suites 8, we were greeted by the friendly reception member who checked us in and showed us to our room. With recent renovations, the hotel has expanded from 7 suites to a total of 21 rooms. We stayed in the Junior Suite, it was spacious and embellished with minimalist furniture design and complementing textiles. The suite was outfitted with in-room amenities such as a fully-stocked minibar, a flat screen TV and a jacuzzi bathtub. The king size bed is fitted with quality linens and the living space is comfortable and offers helpful guide books about Istanbul. Armed with free Wi-Fi, we were left with the promise that if we had any questions to call down or ask at the reception desk.

In the lobby, the reception staff are happy to offer local knowledge about the area ranging from restaurants to eat and the best street food vendors, along with travel/transportation advice, to the ‘must see’ things to do while in Istanbul.

Misafir 8 Suites Boutique Hotel, LobbyMisafir 8 Suites Boutique Hotel, Junior SuiteMisafir 8 Suites Boutique Hotel, Bathroom

Lounges, Bars and Dining
Sekiz, the Misafir Suites 8 bar and restaurant is situated on the hotel’s ground floor. It offers an inviting atmosphere with a good selection of drinks from around the globe, and an impressive Scottish single malt whiskey selection that could rival bars in Edinburgh. From breakfast to dinner, guests can indulge in a multitude of flavours at Sekiz. This is also where the complimentary breakfast is served, which offers traditional Turkish pastries, toast, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggs, fresh fruit and pancakes, along with coffee/tea and our favourite drink during our trip of freshly squeezed orange juice.

Misafir 8 Suites Boutique Hotel, Restaurant

A variety of different rooms are available, however I highly recommend one of the suites as a base for your city break. It’s well worth it! With design and comfort in mind, Misafir 8 Suites is the perfect sanctuary within the bustling streets of Istanbul.

Prices from $220/night
Kuloğlu Mah. Erol Dernek Sok. No:1, 34433 Beyoğlu Istanbul, Turkey
+90 (212) 249 89 30

– Pete Healey

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

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