Waldorf Astoria, the newest luxury jewel of Jerusalem

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Weddings in Israel are usually extraordinary events, with a high concentration of joy and warm with welcoming families, gorgeous outfits and lavish food. The choice of the location is usually a long process as everyone wants to offer the best one. And what can be hotter than Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem, the chosen one even by Conde Nast as the best hotel in the Middle East?

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Long time residents of Jerusalem still cannot believe that this place, on Agron street, is finally more than an empty building about to fall. Initially Palace Hotel – the first ever luxury hotel in the Middle East – in the 1930s, property of the infamous Haj Amir el Husseini, it was purchased by the government in 1948 and turned into a building for offices. After being abandonned, the building was bought in 2003 by Reichmann family who invested $150 millionn in the refurbishing process. In March 2014, it was launched as the luxury hotel Waldorf Astoria, operated by Hilton Hotels and IPC Jerusalem. It is considered the longest restoration project in Israel’s history, but the results seem to be worth the waiting.DSCN0505

The architectural works were coordinated by Yehuda Feigin, who added to the original Waldorf Astoria standards a lot of Moorish, Arab or Roman influences. The fragility of the white marble is fixed with strength by the metal structures of the stairs, wrapped in the natural light entering from the huge windows.

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Etheral fragile glass presence, work of a team of glass artists that brought their materials from Czech factories coordinated by the local glass artist Jeremy Langford are bringing a touch of peace and serenity to the massive interiors.

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As in the case of many hotels of Jerusalem I had the priviledge to visit lately, the rooms are designed according to the highest modern standards – every guest is handled a tablet for checking emails, for instance – while keeping a classical ambiance.  Internet is available through both the public network and the special wifi offered complimentary in the rooms.

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Every one of the 226 rooms is an island of rest and peace. It suits both single and family travellers, with different price and standard categories. A slice of the lavish luxury from outside is brought in every room, either it is the chandellier or the delicate orchid flowers or the huge mirrors. The bathroom toileteries are signed by Salvatore Ferragamo.

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The atrium is the backbone of the hotel, aimed to bring the varied world of Jerusalem within the high walls brought together by the massive arches. Most of the artwork is local, as it is the inspiration. Couples dating for the first time are whispering their introductions near a cup of coffee or fresh juice, their emotions getting lost in the high ceiling. Who know how many of them will come back soon at the tiny reception asking for an appointment for renting a wedding location?

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The small octogonal marble atrium is organised around the special Waldorf Astoria clock. The flowers and the honey and brown colours of the upholstery are matching the reflexes of the watch. There may be many shadows in life, but we just need to see the good side of things…The clock, a Waldorf Astoria trademark, has 4 faces, with numbers written in Arabic, Hebrew, Roman and European style.

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Back visiting some of the rooms, I am notice so many small details, like this delicate glass lamp trunk that brings so much emotions in the corner.

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Following the local tradition, guests are welcomed with full heart and a generous bottlle of local wine. It may help to relax when preparing for a business meeting, for sure.

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Tired after walking the busy city, one can rest in the corner and watch the streets from under the fine and elegant curtain. Everything is set to be special in this hotel, with the smallest of the rooms being of 37 sqm, when the average is of 30 sqm.

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The more parts of the hotel I am discovering the more I feel like in a small city. Every once in a while you can rest and enjoy your time, surrounded by the games of light.

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At the beginning of January, the hotel is not very busy, but I am told to wait and see the time of the Jewish holidays of Pesach or Rosh Hashana when it is hard to find an available room.

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Sometimes, I feel like I am the guest in a huge castle, whose gigantic dimensions are made more human through the warm of art.

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One of the staples of the hotel are the glass chandelier, glittering like little diamonds, put together after days of work. The ballroom can host around 900 people, the right amount of guest to have to a wedding, isn’t it?

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On the way to any of the 12 meeting rooms, the warm colours of art can make you smile. It is also about emotions here, but the positive ones.

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When the natural light is missing, the combination of the chandeliers reflected in the mirrors and enlightened by the reflexes of carpets and walls create an universe where you expect wonders.

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About expectations and wonders is talking also the lobby art installation in the lobby, by Jeremy Langford, a metaphor of peace and hope.

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Either I stay on the old or the new side of the hotel lobby I start to feel at home. This city cannot exist outside history and the architectural solution implemented here brings together all the layers of history and influences that are part of the big story: Roman or Greek arches, Byzantine mosaique, massive marble columns, Oriental carpets, European glass, tailored furniture with exquisite upholstery or Turkish crafts.

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Even the nature from the hills around Jerusalem is brought, wild presences framed by the orderly lines.

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It is past the middle of the day and it is about time to stop the exploration and have a taste of the fine dining.

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The cheese raspberry cake accompanied by icecream not only looks good but it is also delicious, with a balanced mixture of fruity aromas.

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One of the most unforgettable impressions is left by the geometricall chocolate lava cake, also accompanied by icecream, but served warm. While going one more bite ahead, I cannot but think about how many changes these walls had seen and how there is always a hope for good. This, but especially the chocolate cake, qualifies me for a permant returning visitor status in this oasis of luxury.

Disclaimer: I was offered a complimentary tour of the hotel, but the opinions are, as usulal, my own. 

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King David Hotel Jerusalem, the full taste of history

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Jerusalem is overwhelming due its heavy mixture of history, religion and politics, but there is also a different way to get to know the city, through its special luxury locations. Where, of course, between two sips of high end tea and morsels of gourmet food one can also learn a lot about historical facts, figures and events. Out of many places I’ve visited in Israel, nowhere suits more this description than the King David Hotel. When it was opened in 1931 after almost 10 years of hard work, the construction made of the local limestone, was partially owned by Ezra Mosseri, a director of National Bank of Egypt.DSCN0372The interior design details were slightly changed since then, keeping the old Oriental charm in the carpets or wall glass decorations. The dark corners are an invitation to discretion and peace, outside the always busy outside world. Special visitors enjoy usually the quietness of the reading room, with its cakes, coffee and teas.DSCN0398In a place where high profile political figures, from Margaret Thatcher to Clinton family or Nicolas Sarkozy or the current American president or King Abdullah I of Jordan or many others, were always at home here, every object has its own history. For instance, this massive wooden table, where the peace with Jordan was signed that was especially traveled on to Cairo. If the wood would have the gift of talking, how many news will provide…And over the last century, the hotel assumed its high profile and VIP status. Which had a price to pay sometimes, as it happened in July 1946 when the British headquarters hosted in the Southern wing were the target of an attack.

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After the Six Days War, two additional floors were added, offering a perfect view over the Mt. Zion and the old City of Jerusalem. The hotel went regularly through various design lifting, but the original style was always maintained. Some hotels may change dramatically from an era to another, but King David always remains the same, outline the representatives of the company that guided my visit from the lobby to the top of the building. Nowadays, the hotel is part of the Dan Group Hotels, which decided to keep the spirit of the place, operating minimal changes at various levels, but using almost the same type of materials.

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At the beginning of January, there is the best time to book a room, as there are not too many visitors on the way, except the regular, faithful guests. The hotel has its own portfolio of customers, that keep coming here over and over again over the years. Like the Douglas Family (the Kirk and Michael, of course) who always stop here for a shorter or longer stay. The rate of returning guests is around 50%, and most part of the year, the hotel is fully booked.

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The outdoor pool, the biggest of this kind in Jerusalem, is ready to be used two weeks before the Jewish holidays of Pesach – around April – and is open till the mid-November. The beautiful big garden offers a great relaxation oasis, but also enough space for children to play. Especially during the big Jewish holidays, the hotel is usually booked in advance and various family events are hosted all round the clock.

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When the weather does not allow the outside wanderings – meaning that there are only around 10C -the special gourmet restaurant, with outstanding French touch offers a delight to the senses. At the beginning of the last year, I was invited to have a taste of the high-end afternoon tea, an innovation among the hotels in Jerusalem, which impressed even a very selective person as me.

DSCN0380For children, there are special babysitting services offered, unique gifts and tailored meals. From weddings – of up to 250 persons attendance – to various special events – like bat or bar mitzva – parties, the space can suit every special needs. There is even a special synagogue that can be used for unique occasions. The only condition is to make a reservation many months in advance, as the demand is very high. DSCN0387The wine collection has almost everything an expert and wine lover would expect. Enough to test and taste for a couple of years from now on. The prices are usually affordable, allowing also local people to have their unique moment of glory here.DSCN0388

The Regence meat restaurant is asking for a special extensive tasting experience, and the menu list where I spotted various kosher lamb veals and goose liver meals, regularly changed up to season or the gourmet preferences, makes the imagination wander far far away in the world of delicious foods. For the night owls, the Oriental Bar is open daily from 17 to 00 o’clock.

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Moving from a space to another is like visiting both a museum of history and a classical arts and design location. The current view is the result of the hard work of Adam Tiani, commissioned to do various changes into the structure and outlook of the rooms also.

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Special business oak room is available for hosting private dinners or business presentations, being provided with the latest facilities and technology, including free wifi and space for special projections. The old historical sepia or black and white paintings are here to remember how past, present and future should always stay connected. For the corporate clients, members of the Corporate Club, there are special facilities and discounts offered. The hotel also has a private parking place.

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High-end modern facilities are also provided by the fitness space. Outdoors, the tennis grounds are offering even more options for a fit stay at the hotel. There is also a ping pong space and a hammam for a relaxing ending of the sport practice.

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As in the case of the lobby, the rooms have an Oriental touch, with warm colours and simple combinations. 130 rooms are maintained in the typical old style, with a view over the old city of Jerusalem. If the lobby evokes the reminiscence of the old Egyptian or Syrian influences, the rooms were little by little oriented towards a more residential and business outlook. The silks of the curtains and the velvets of the bed covers are creating powerful impressions and a special mysterious ambiance.DSCN0423The diversity of the rooms and suites offered answers a big  is big and especially the big families with children are given a lot of choices. There is the Jerusalem Suite and the Royal Suite, the President and Deluxe Suite, the Executive and various Duplex suites. The views are different, but there is hardly a view that can be considered ‘bad’ in Jerusalem, as every corner may have its special history and special memories. For those interested to find out more, the hotel can book special tours made by recognized experts.

DSCN0429All the rooms are provided with wifi and at the top floors, the tv set is inserted in the bathroom mirrors. Sliding panels can extend or separate the spaces, in order to . A special concierge service is registering the requests of the customers before arrival trying to offer the best expectations. “Our customers, some of them frequent guests for over 30 years, know what they want. We just want to offer answer their demands”, I am told by the representatives of the hotel.DSCN0430There are at least 6 volumes of signatures of the famous guests of King David Hotel. From private political meetings to VIP family gatherings and film shooting – Exodus was filmed here in 1960 – this hotel has a lot of stories to tell. The secret of its survival despite various hotel trends and fashions and boutique temptations: building a brand and keeping the stories in. Like the city of Jerusalem itself.

Disclaimer: I was offered a complimentary tour of the hotel, but the opinions are, as usual, my own.

Hotel review: Gordon Hotel&Lounge Tel Aviv

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The hotel industry in Tel Aviv is offering every year more and more pleasant surprises and new rising stars, the boutique hotels being one of the most dynamic offers. Situated at the corner of Hayarkon and Gordon Street, the newly renovated Gordon Hotel&Lounge is hosted in one of the famous Bauhaus white buildings. It used to be before only a small bar, that was maintained now, with additional 12 cosy rooms and a modern restaurant and bar space.

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The entrance looks a bit poor and may misguide you about the simple and warm yet polished ambiance waiting from inside. As it is situated on a very busy street, minutes away from the beach, the high traffic can be a problem,  including during the night, for those looking for some perfectly quiet nights. But you are in the ‘City that never sleeps’ so don’t expect too much slow life during your stay hee…

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Once I arrived from Jerusalem to join my friend for a long weekend in the bubbling city, I preferred to go first to catch the sunset from the terrasse, with a glass of wine and the view of the beautiful Mediterranean sea in the front of my eyes. Altough the end of December, the weather was perfect not only for photographic opportunities, but also for enjoying outdoors on the comfy chairs the beautiful colours of the sky reflected into the water. For a couple of minutes, the time just stopped.

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Indoors, I was welcomed with a smile by the personnel and given always good suggestions for the choice of breakfast (my constant choice, delicious black lentils and artichokes, hummus, red beet and cranberries). The decorations of the rooms and of the lobby are in the style of the 1970s, in light colours and transparent stickers, the warm contrast to the black massive doors.

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The rooms are cozy, with simple functional additions and depth perspectives given by the discrete and romantic lights. The rooms are provided with technical facilities, plasma TV, mini-bar and Internet (during my stay, the wifi was not properly working, but I took it as a sign that I can use my time otherwise than checking news online). From the balcony, one can spend hours and hours looking at the sea and the fast city life.

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The predominant white in the rooms gives you a feeling of quietness and peace and makes your sleep full of nice dreams. The only think that I did not exactly understand from the interior design setting was the curtain outside the bathroom glass wall. Maybe an opaque glass wall would have been a more practical and aesthetical solution. But spending time in the room – although the temptation to watch the international news on the huge tv is dangerously great, but I can stand it – is not on my to-do-list, and shortly after checking I am out to see, feel and smell the city.

On the way to the beach, I could not resist to make a stop to the tempting SALT Kitchen&Drinks Restaurant, and I am lucky to find a place and hang around chatting with the locals. The next evening, the bar is fully booked for a party, but from now on, I know that regardless how much I want to see new places in the city, I will make sure that at least once in a while I will stop here too.

For more images from Gordon Hotel&Lounge, check the dedicated Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/ilanaontheroad/gordon-hotellounge-tel-aviv/

Fancy staying in a cinema? Think about Esther Cinema Hotel in Tel Aviv

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Tel Aviv has not only a very spectacular real estate, with impressive prices that may easily compete with Beverly Hills or Manhattan, but also went through an dramatic development of the hotel industry. The creative spirit of the people were able to adapt to new situations, giving new destinations to old buildins, while keeping the original spirit. An example in this sense is Esther Cinema Hotel, hosted in a traditional Bauhaus building in Dizengoff Square.

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The cinema was inaugurated at the end of the 1930s, as the property of Moses and Esther Nathaniel both born in Aden that emigrated in 1924. The cinema was considered as part of their contribution to the improvement of the cultural life in the country, and Esther Cinema succeeded to be a noteworthy institution, part of the Dizengoff Circus complex. Classical movies were displayed here, including top European and American productions. Provided with the last cry technology brought from all over the world, it used to host around 1,000 people. ??????????

At the beginning of the 1990s, the cinema went through serious financial problems and was soon purchased as part of the Atlas Hotels network. The original structure was kept, and the space was separated into 83 hotel rooms,  with 2 new suites recently added. The rooms are provided with modern amenities, such as air condition, multi-channele cable TV, coffee and tea facilitis, safe, free wifi. It also has a business lounge and offers to the guests the possibility to use a nearby gym for a moderate fee. The location is perfect, as it provides access within minutes to the beaches, as well as to shopping avenues and many restaurants, some of them open all round the week and the year.

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When you enter the hotel lobby now, you may be tempted to go directly to the reception desk and ask what movies are in the program tonight. Original projectors and classical ads are displayed, as well as original chairs. Some of them were converted to the modern style, but keeping the furniture fashion typical for the Bauhaus design. Regularly, classical movies are projected in the lobby, with popcorn treats included. The rooms also do have a traditional touch, with ads and posters that may remember about the golden times of the cinema.

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The monumental staircase is a trademark of the hotel and still looks as a work of architectural avantgarde. It radically separate with vertical lines the enormous interior space of the building, creating a deep perspective in the middle of the building, similar with the voids in the water during high storms.

The stairs lead to a terrace on the upper level, from where one can admire not only the fancy Dizengoff Avenue with its expensive shops and glamorous restaurants, but also the dynamic city of Tel Aviv and its ports.

In this modern network and spectacular life that seems to never rest, the cultural and historical legacy of Cinema Esther stays as a reminder of how far you can go if your mind aims for change.

For more images from the hotel, have a look at the dedicated Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/ilanaontheroad/esther-cinema-hotel-tel-aviv/

Your best hotels for an unforgettable stay in Karlovy Vary

Visiting Karlovy Vary was an old travel dream of mine that I was finally able to accomplish at the end of the last year. For 48 hours I had the opportunity to explore almost every corner of the city, enjoying the beautiful autumn colours and intensively hiking on the hills around. Although the high season was already over for a couple of days, the streets were full with tourists and the hotels kept working at high capacity. As a first time visitor, you may be surprised of the many hotels and trying to make your life easy, when I was not too busy hiking or visiting glamorous shops, I also made a short tours of some of the most recomended hotels in the area. My choices for now are as follows:

??????????During my stay, I was the guest of Dvorak Hotel, with its Art Nouveau design and a generous breakfast. Familiy and children friendly, it offers a variety of special spa treatments, including the unique FX.Mayr Treatment, aimed at eliminating naturally the toxines out of the body, oxygen therapy, special treatments for the locomotive system or relaxation therapy, designed to help people cope easier with the work load accumulated during the year. Here you can have a full review of the hotel rooms and its facilities.

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In addition to the healing waters, Karlovy Vary is also famous for its International Film Festival, considered one of the most appreciated in Central and Eastern Europe. Most of the screenings are hosted at the Thermal Hotel. Although from outside it may look a bit too serious and even unfriendly – since the name of its architectural style ‘brutalist architecture’ -, it offers a lot of special facilities to guests, including a vey elegant swimming pool. From the window of your room on the top you can also have a beautiful view over the city. During the festival, don’t be surprise of meeting around big movie stars such as Leonado di Caprio, Robert de Niro or Sharon Stone…

??????????Elizabeth Baths first caught my attention by its big park with large alleys, but those doing an intensive documentation before coming here they know that here you can find the largest balneologic facilities in the city, with over 60 types of treatments. A special place should be given to the aesthetic treatment the visitor receives when admiring the beautiful architecture and classical interior decorations.

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Grand Hotel Pupp is the favourite choice of luxury travelers, as well as of the many VIPs visiting Karlovy Vary (especially the big movie stars invited for the Film Festivval). Opened initially in 1700 as Saxony Hall, it went through dramatic changes under the direction of the Austrian architects Fellner and Helmer, by the requests of the Pupp family. An articulated collection of new-baroque buildings, it offers to their high end customers a royal spa and clinic, special treatments, including laser and other wellness packages. The gastronomic offer is also impressive, with a bar, gourmet restaurant and a coffee open to outside visitors as well.

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Luckily, the tourists looking for some affordable packages do have from where to chose as well. Situated close to the hills around the city, Villa Smetana offers not only a fresh air and a quiet stay, far away from the busy central areas, but also attractive massage treatments, lymphatic drainage, shockwave therapy, sauna and acupuncture.

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Those interested for a more central location, can check the 3-star Ontario Hotel, situated a couple of minutes away from the famous Mill Colonades and their healing waters. Their 12 appartments do offer a family ambiance plus special treatments such as: bath and spa (pearl, mineral, carbon dioxide), wraps (paraffin, mud, peat packs), therapy (electrotherapy, pneumo puncture, laser, gum irrigation, ultrasound) or massage (traditional, arctic fire, reflexology, underwater).

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Also close to the center is the four-star family friendly Hotel Embassy. It offers to the guests various special deals, including some golf classes, as well as a traditional Czech restaurant. Don’t forget as well about the exclusive La Prairie packages.

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Hosted in a 18th century building, Renesance Krasna Kralova Hotel is also situated just in the heart of the city. After the a first luxurious view of velvet and Oriental carpets, silk and hardwooden floors, the guests are tempted with various massages, including Thai-style, and other packages, some of them also including medical examination.

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Another sample of the local 18th century architecture is Hotel Salvator, with its restaurant and Cigar Club, and Romantic Biedermeyer furniture. The treatments are focused on balneotherapeutic and rehabilitation procedures, the bath using the thermal water channeled to the hotel directly from the neighbouring Vridlo Geyser.

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After extensive hiking, spending time in the chic lobby of Interhotel Central was a pleasure that I wanted to enjoy as much as possible. Besides the spa treatments, indoor swimming pool, sauna, solarium, fitness and balneotherapy, it also hosts regularly corporate events and is a favourite choice of business travelers. Professional snooker opportunities are also part of their offer.

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Although at some distance from the busy city, Park Hotel Richmond has a lot of privacy, fresh air as it is situated close to some interesting hiking trails and a quiet stay. Besides the usual treatments offered, it has special antistress programmes, beauty parlours, and a 200-person lounge capacity. During the sunny days, having a coffee on the terrace may be also part of your antistress therapy.

The Ritz-Carlton Berlin: the luxury oasis from Potsdamer Platz

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Without reading a couple of books and watching maybe some more movies, it’s hard to imagine how Potsdamer Platz in Berlin used to look nothing far but 30 years ago: a depressive no-man’s land, just another picture of the Cold War. After the reunification of Berlin, it grew up as one of the most modernist areas of the city, with sky scrapers – something not that common in Berlin and in Germany in general. Behind the remains of the Berlin Wall and some futuristic architecture, there is hiding another hidden secret of the city: The Ritz-Carlton, one of the two hotels from the chain. Only ten years older, it equals in elegance and beauty the first ever Ritz founded in Germany, the one from Wolfsburg, that I visited a couple of months ago.

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My journey at The Ritz-Carlton started with a delicious afternoon tea, improving my knowledge about green teas while enjoying delicious bites of perfect pastry and cakes.

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My passionate guide through the world of teas for the day, Hernan Caballero, has another great talent: drawing and following the tradition of The Ritz-Carlton, his talents were encouraged and introduced to the visitors of the famous bar. His maps listing the geography of various drinks in the countries around the world are proudly showed on the tables. And he is not the only one here whose individual talents are recognized, as the hotel also used recently the greeting cards designed by one of the apprentices.

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It’s not time for the champagne brunch at Brasserie Debrosses, but paying a visit around is an interesting experience, at least from the architectural point of view. It reunites the old French brasserie style  – the floor is originally brought from an old 1874 French Brasserie with the same name – and the old former communist Germany influences in the furniture. The food served is French though. During the summer, the outside terrasse is an invitation to stop but not for too long, as there are so many shopping and cultural temptations around – almost most of the interesting top attractions of the city, from the Brandenburg Gate to the Tierpark are within minutes of walk from the hotel.

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But not only the adults are invited to enjoy their time in luxury: special programs for kids are offered all round the year, besides special presents given upon checking-in, like polo shirts with their name on it.  There is a chocolate festival for them and various cooking classes only for them – like waffle baking, as well as a special cocktails and afternoon tea programs. Wish there were such options when I was a child; probably I would have discover the pleasures of the afternoon tea much earlier. In addition, scavenger hunts or special tours of the hotel are also part of the regular menu for the smallest visitors. In the rooms, they will be waited by special beds and maybe some bed covers with their special cartoon characters.

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Meanwhile, the adults can enjoy the latest add to The Ritz: the Fragrances bar where special cocktails are prepared based on perfume recipes. Just think about your favourite famous perfume and soon you will taste it! As for now, there are around 15 cocktails available, based on recipes whose ingredients were tested enough to produce an unexpected pleasant surprise for the palate.

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Out of many other temptations, I would love to be back to try the Yuzu Watermelon, based on sake and lemon and watermelon syrup. Don’t worry about asking an overdraft soon. One cocktail can be as cheap as 14 Eur. And you taste it from the lounge of The Ritz-Carlton…

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The works of art, mostly created by German artists, are there to add another layer of distinguished ambiance to the other layers of educated pleasure.

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The interior design inspiration, a project made by Peter Silling, was inspired by the work of the famous Berlin architect Schinkel, whose signature is visible in most of the civil architecture of the classical Berlin. The glittering of the Swarovski chandelier and the mysterious corners of light are the modern translation of some old school classical principles.

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The lobby avoids extravagance for the elegance of style. When you arrive from the colourful joyous yet noisy outside, you might think that you arrived in your private universe of luxury. However, behind the closed doors of the many hotel offices, people are behaving in the most responsible possible ways allowed by the 21st century. The energy used is green, out of the recycled paper used in the offices,  around 5,000 school books were made and donated to a school in Wedding. Almost 65% of the vegetables used by the restaurant are produced at the field owned by the hotel in Mecklenburg Pommern. The own beehives are producing nothing less than around 300 kg. of organic honey every year. And the examples of sustainable luxury could continue…

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For a short moment, you can relax and think that you can spend here the rest of your stay in Berlin. Why not, you even have some Berlin Wall Memorabilia, some horrible grey concrete monsters laying on the polished floor. Another example that the Ritz-Carlton is not afraid to face the daily realities is the special open doors program organized a couple of months ago, when the Berlin citizens were invited to have a tour of the hotel. Maybe only few of them will ever be able to afford to every pay around 14,500 EUR/night for a stay at the luxury hotel suite, but at least they will be able once in a while to make some savings for an afternoon tea. Going out of your comfort zone is always a good challenge to take once in a while.

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Regardless of your plan, this hotel can be the best place to start new beginnings. In your life, for instance! What about an unforgettable wedding photo made on those white marble stairs? If you already married, at least you can try an extravagant selfie. If you rather like the ‘old style’, there is a photo booth in the lobby, where your photos are issued with a personalised logo of the hotel.

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For the very special guests, as the US president Barack Obama, a guest of the hotel, high-end privacy and security can be offered. As in the case of other hotels from the chains, there are different levels of privacy offered, the basic being offered at the club from the 10th floor.

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Basically, there is a hotel inside the hotel, with its own reception, lobby, meeting room, as well as other kitchen facilities.

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There, you can have your meals with an overview over Tiergarten and the modern architecture of the Western Berlin. Enough to want to finish your meal now, make your business meetings as successful as possible and just run out to know the city. What about a jogging trail through the Tiergarten, based on the advice of the specialists of the hotel?

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The Ritz-Carlton has 303 guest rooms, out of which 39 suites and a presidential suite. Add to this the banquet and meeting space, as well as the high-end facilities offered at the spa. For the highest security area, there is double access and other special facilities.

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The good taste and simple elegance are the predominant feature of the rooms. From the decorated walls, till the match between the furniture and the carpet, there is hard to find any failures.

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Suites can have 2 bedrooms, bedside control panels, in-room Internet and various luxury amenities. The customers also have access all round the day to the swimming pool and the fitness space.

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There are also heated bathroom floors and a very inviting sauna, just two stairs away. What if?

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But it’s about time to end my adventurous trip in the world of cocktail fragrances, green teas and marble ceilings. There is time for the opening call of the gentlemen’s club too. Good bye, good life! Welcome back to the real life of Berlin!

Disclaimer: I was offered a free tour of the hotel, but the opinions are, as usual, my own.

For more images from The Ritz-Carlton, have a look at the dedicated Pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/ilanaontheroad/the-ritz-carlton-berlin/

Regent Hotel: the unexpected oasis of luxury

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I never have enough time to explore Gendarmenmarkt, except when I have to go to a concert or I am looking for a quiet place near Brandenburg Gate. Or, after the long tours of shopping visits at Galeries Lafayette. This time, I am happy to be the insider of Regent Hotel, a five star hotel with a well established 10-year tradition among the luxury brands in Berlin.

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At the first sight, the modernist simple facade doesn’t say anything about what is hidden behind the doors. People are coming and going around, busy or simply ready to find out where their new tourist destination is. Once I enter, all the rush and colourfulness of Berlin is left outside. A little palace of elegance and quietness, with huge beautiful flowers and marble walls.

??????????Regent Hotel was described by Condé Nast Traveller ‘one of the best places to stay in the world’, but it comes with a culinary delice: the two-star Michelin restaurant Fischers Fritz. Under the gourmet coordination of chef Christian Lohse, it also offers daily business lunch menu, but can also set up private dining, for a room up to 15 persons. The ambiance is very private, and no wonder that big world stars are often guests of this place. Like Bruce Willis, for instance, who paid at least one visit here during his stay in Berlin.

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The hotel is also the proud owner of a lobster press, one of the five in the world (out of which one is part of the collection of Christofle Museum). The lobster is introduce inside, in the dedicated compartments and press swiftly till the flesh is coming up. As usual, good gourmet results involves always a lot of technique.

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The hotel has 195 rooms, decorated in the elegant simplicity of Biedermeier style. The variation of colours is pastel, the rooms being painted in lime or the very powerful salmon rosé, my favourite. The space is well portioned, the massive classical furniture being placed in order to give a lot of space and freedom to the guests.

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The beauty is made of small details. The lobby of each store has wallpapers with motives inspired by nature that are matched with Art Nouveau lamps.

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Given the special home-made ambiance, no surprise that the hotel is offering extensive packages for children. The little ones are offered gifts such as cuddle toys, colouring books or chocolate candies. A nanny service is available for the families looking to have some private time during their stay at Regent. During this time, the children can be kept busy too, among others, with classes where they learn the good manners. The Executive suites do have adjacent rooms for children, provided with special amenities, such as child tailored DVDs. The guests who make their reservation up to 30 days in advance, may receive a complimentary upgrade.

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Visiting the rooms leaves you with a special feeling of quietness and strength. It is not difficult to make yourself at home and enter that unique ambiance you are longing for when you are on the road. Especially when you travel a lot, the need to be in the middle of familiar spaces is always there, despite all the glamours of the travel life.

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The rooms are provided with everything needed for creating an elegant privacy. Wifi is free of charge, the housekeeping service is done twice the day at least. The concierge service is available all round the day. At the spa, luxury massage and beauty treatments are available. Berlin tour guides, in German, English and French are available. The premier suites do have a small kitchinette space where the dinner can be prepared by the concierge. The concierge is available to help and plan various plans of the stay of the guests, such as car renting, booking flights etc.

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Another unique feature of Regent Hotel, is the possibility to have your own jogging concierge. Head concierge Stephanm Mehlhorn, an experienced sportsman himself, is ready to show the guests the most beautiful routes for jogging across the city (besides the well known Tierpark). Special jogging maps are offered, with directions and various recommendations tailored to the jogging needs of the customer.

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Sometimes we are reminded that the well-being and luxury are not for ever and while we are thankful for the moment, we need to consider the fate of those who have nothing. Regent Hotel is involved as well in charities, last year being awarded the Franz von Mendelssohn Medal for charitable commitment.

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The presidential suite is often hosting high-class VIPs, from the world of sports – like the VIPs of FC Bayern – politicians or movie stars. The small French style balcony was used by Tom Cruise’s daughter Suri for learning her first independent steps. In order to offer her special protection, a plexiglass shield was set up around the metal fence. With such a beautiful view, you might be inspired to walk by yourself to see all those place by youself! Cruise stayed here during the filming for his movie Valkyrie, that was partly shot at the Babelsberg Studios in Potsdam.

??????????Inside the hotel, a conference room can host up to 180 people. Press conferences are often organized there, as it happened this February, for the two Pussy Riots members Nadejda Tolokonnikowa and Maria Aljochina, during their first trip abroad as free persons. I am sure that the walls of the hotel saw many other personalities and their choices, but what happens in Regent Hotel, stays in Regent Hotel. 
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It is time to relax, and the simple afternoon tea is the happy ending of my short stay at Regent. Served in Meissen porcelain, it is prepared under the close supervision of the Tea Master Gold, Roland Pröh. Nearby, there is the terrace, which this year has a lavender summer theme.

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It is not easy to say ‘good bye’, and I can feel what the long-term guests may be going through when they have to part ways with this beautiful island of luxury. However, modern technology helps to keep in touch, and a special app, downloadable for free, helps the customers to keep in touch with the newest highlights. One of the newest offers is the special package made in cooperation with Rolls Royce and KPM Manufaktur, offering a high class experience with luxury cars and perfect porcelain.

Stay elegant, Regent Berlin, hope to see you soon!

For more insights from Regent Hotel, visit the dedicated Pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/ilanaontheroad/regent-hotel-berlin/

Disclaimer: I was the guest of Regent Hotel for an overview of the rooms and an afternoon tea, but the opinions are, as usual, my own.