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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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TRAVEL: Welcoming Luxury with the Shangri-La Toronto

Last year, the Shangri-La Hotel was a welcome addition to Toronto’s cityscape. It was the first Asian luxury hotel brand in Toronto and is the second hotel in North America for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts. We had a chance to visit the hotel and stay in the Garden Suite. If you’re looking for a luxurious experience, this hotel is ideal for you. Shangri La Toronto Exterior Location

At the Shangri-La, you’re in the heart of Toronto. Situated right next to Toronto’s theatre district, you can catch a live show or just steps away, you’ll find boutiques, cafés and restaurants. If you’re looking to shop, you’re steps away from Toronto’s trendy Queen Street and the Eaton’s Centre.


From the second you step foot inside the Shangri-La, you can see the Asian inspiration and this translates into the 202 guestrooms. The rooms are spacious and airy and are residential in feel and design. Our room also had a beautiful terrace, but because of the snow, we were unable to use it. Maybe next time! Shangri La Torontoshangri-la-suite-toronto Shangri La Toronto Suite Lounges, Bars and Dining

The Lobby Lounge is a comfortable and cozy environment compete with fireplaces and often live entertainment. You can dine here or make your way over to Bosk, the hotel’s signature restaurant. We decided to have dinner at Bosk then make our way to the Lobby Lounge for a drink and dessert afterwards. Bosk offers a non-intrusive yet elegant evening. On the menu, you’ll find a variety of foods as well as wine pairings. Some of the items offer Asian inspirations but you’ll also find lobster gnocchi and seared foie gras within the options. Shangri La Toronto BoskShangri La Toronto, Bosk Added Extras

The hotel’s fifth floor is dedicated to health and wellness. For workout junkies, you’ll find a full range of gym equipment including state-of-the-art cardiovascular and resistance training machines, and free-weights. I preferred to take a dip in the pool before relaxing in the jacuzzi and infra-red sauna. Adjacent to the pool me health club, you’ll find the Hammam Miraj Spa by Caudalie Paris. Here, you can indulge in traditional Hammam and Gommage treatments inspired from the ancient rituals of the Middle East to the vineyards of Bordeaux. Shangri La Toronto Miraj Hammam Spa by CaudalieShangri La Toronto Pool Shangri La Toronto Wellness Details
Prices from $350/night
188 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M5H 0A3, Canada

Hammam Miraj Spa by Caudalie Paris

– Chenessa Lam

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

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