Your St. Barth’s Cheat Sheet

Eden Rock, St. Barths

Eden Rock, St. Barths

Finally, it’s in! So, we recently went to St. Barths for the first time and now fully understand it’s irresistible appeal. Well, there’s even more to love during the summer because it’s the time when St. Barths locals and privileged insiders shift from the VIP shuffle to a quieter, more intimate pace, what the real St. Barths is all about.

Low season (July and August) is when visiting St. Barths means relaxing at deserted beaches, getting ad-hoc reservations at the best restaurants, experiencing a range of cultural events and ultimately enjoying affordable luxury at the Caribbean’s most sought after destination. 

St. Barts is one of the most varied and upscale islands in the Caribbean; with villas, hotels, spas, some of the best restaurants in the Caribbean, a wide choice of leisure activities and nautical sports, prestigious sailing regattas, a full calendar of cultural events, and the irresistible allure of great shopping. Frequented primarily by an upscale clientele, this French Caribbean island attracts discriminating travelers who favor an exclusive vacation spot.

This is how you rent a villa in St. Barths...

This is how you rent a villa in St. Barths…

St. Barts also has a strong artistic and cultural heritage, which is celebrated in the island’s many festivals. During the summer, there’s 10 days of live music with St. Barts Summer Sessions from August 5-16; and concerts of Caribbean music with St. Barts JAM Music Festival from August 15-18.

Check out Snow from St. Barts, a brand originally launched in 2007 and returning after two years in standby. The collection designed by Liliane Jossua aims at strong personalities who juggle chic with a scheduled life. Snow St Barth capsule collection is all about those made-in-France essential pieces, all in leather too. Until Christmas, deals may be few and far between, but when planing next year and thinking about summer, hotels on St. Barts also offer special packages. At Eden Rock, the Eden Bliss includes accommodations for 6 nights, lunch for 2 at the ‘Sand Bar with Jean-Georges’ on a day of your choice, dinner for 2 under the stars at ‘On The Rocks with Jean-Georges’ on your evening of choice and cocktail at sunset on your evening of choice.

Hotel Christopher

Hotel Christopher

Hotel Christopher offered a Gold package, which included 5 nights’ accommodations, room and buffet breakfast, welcome drink and minibar on arrival, and 150 € resort credit per day for food & beverage at Taïno and Mango.

Le Toiny is another gem which, this year, offered the Island Breeze package, where guests are invited to enjoy a three-, five- or seven-night stay in a One-Bedroom Villa Suite with newly renovated private pool and terrace, and sweeping ocean views. Guests will also enjoy a three-course dinner at the hotel’s beloved Restaurant Le Gaiac, two 60-minute spa treatments in Le Toiny’s Spa Cottage or the privacy of each guest’s own villa, and a Smart rental car to explore the island. Also included are daily full American breakfast, private round trip transfers, and a bottle of chilled Rosé and gourmet refreshments upon arrival.

The Hotel Carl Gustaf and Il de France also announced Summer packages. If villas are where you prefer to unwind this summer, most villas on St. Barts are rented weekly at 30-50% less than the weekly rate during high-season. Premium Island Vacations, SiBarth, and Villas Caribe are all viable options. Just be aware: it’s island time on St. Barth’s so if anything breaks, you may not get things fixed until you’re probably ready to leave. Trust me, I know.

Now for your list of places to go and things to do, here you go!

CLUB: Le Ti St Barth – for Friday or Saturday night dinner/drinks/dancing.  Make the reservation now. Go late.  The other option: The Yacht Club.

FAVE BAR: Do Brazil – sunset drinks for sure and on Sunday the best.

DIVE BAR: Le Select – Gustavia – fun, local, nothing special but good for a dinner if the bills from all these other places is getting too high. This is where Jimmy Buffet wrote “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” Do with that information what you will (eg. have a burger, since that’s all they have).

SLOW & LAZY SPA TIME: Le Sereno Spa and restaurant – great views from restaurant – Sereno is great and very chill.

CHAMPAGNE AND LUSH LUNCH: Nikki Beach – lunch – awesome and go for it on Saturday, DJs, tables in the sand, etc. Nikki Beach = Applebee’s of the international jet set.

THE BEST RELAXING EASY BEACH LUNCH: Les Plages –  its on the beach by Eden Roc (and the airport to catch those flying planes). They usually have DJs, tables in sand, paninis and decently priced food and  drink for being right on the water. It’s similar to Nikki Beach, but more casual and a warmer vibe.

SANDWICHES/PICNIC: Kiki et Mo‘s – cheap eats

NICE FANCY BEACH LUNCH: Ilse de France on Flamands Beach (my 2nd favorite on the island). Follow with with sunset drinks at Taiwana next door.

DINNER:  Have a lovely dinner at Eddy‘s in Gustavia – they had a beautiful garden and authentic creole food.  There’s also Bar Bat for sushi.  The crepe and sandwich place places in Gustavia are good if you’re wandering around the shops.  Have dinner one night at Eden Rock and make a reservation overlooking the water. It’s overpriced for the quality of food (like the majority of the island), but worth it.

Bonito is also a place to hang. Chill, without the pomp and circumstance, this cozy joint in Gustavia is the the place to be.

From Sibarths to Villas Caribe, check out what private villas have in store. I know I do...

From Sibarths to Villas Caribe, check out what private villas have in store. I know I do…

BEACHES

Saline: sublime, but can get a little windy

Gouverneur: much like Saline. Gorgeous, perfect waves, but sometimes a little windy too.

St. Jean/Tom Beach:  This is where Les Plage, Nikki Beach, Eden Roc all sit.  One of the most charming/beautiful beaches in the world and our group favorite (Flamands below a close 2nd)

Flamands:  Where Iles de France is located, perfect to stay from lunch until drinks, then leave around 3pm to Les Plages or Shell Beach (where Do Brasil is located for sunset the sunset).

Columbier: Stunning, but a hike to get to. I didn’t go the day my friends went, but I was told to tell people that it’s a lovely hike too (that is, if you wanted to mildly torture them one hot afternoon).

For divers, check out this great scuba/snorkel operation in St. Barth:

http://www.plongee-caraibes.com/en/home.html

And for those who want to get a crew together and have a home away from home, check out these websites for villa rentals in St. Barth:

Villas Caribe

SiBarth

Wimco

Villas of Distinction

Luxury Retreats

Surfs Up in the Maldives

How's this for an over-water bungalow?

How’s this for an over water bungalow?

Surfs up, fellas! Hankering for a jaunt to the Maldives for respite from the muggy city summer? Here are some great ideas for what’s happening throughout the year, compliments of the always chic, Six Senses Laamu:

  • Surfing Season is from April through October, and with Six Senses Laamu being the only resort in this southern atoll, our surfers have the break to themselves most of the time. Daily morning and afternoon boat trips are organized to Yin Yang, an eight-foot right hander which breaks on the outer reef of the local island, Hithadhoo from the resort from April to October, with single surf passes available for US$69 per person, plus taxes.
  • Turtle Nesting and Hatching Season. From May to October, Olhuveli Island is a nesting ground for both Green and Hawksbill turtles. The female turtles return to the same beach on which they were born to lay their own eggs. The whole nesting and hatching procedure is carefully monitored to protect the females and the new youngsters.
Six Senses Laamu at Night

Six Senses Laamu at Night

  • Jaafai Experience: The cooking style of Maldives is highly influenced by both India and Sri Lanka. Gradually, rice and curries became an integral part of Maldivian food. Today, one can virtually find all kinds of food in the country. Maldivian cuisine gives you an opportunity to taste the different mouth-watering dishes with exotic flavors ranging from mild, spicy and hot to sweet. This summer, from June to October, they’re inviting guests to Hithadhoo to join a Maldivian family at their home for a few hours. Discover their lifestyle and cuisine. Listen to local stories about the past as well as learn about ingredients the Maldivians use in their kitchen. During your visit to the local island, you will also be accompanied by the sounds of Boduberu, the local drums and music. The all-inclusive price is US$220 per person, plus taxes, and departure from the resort is at 7pm.
  • Maldivian by the Sea: In July, Chef Nicholas Loubser and his brigade bring Maldivian flavors to the menu of Longitude, their overwater restaurant where you can tantalize your palate with the freshest and most delicious dishes. Maldivian by the Sea is yet another way to discover the cuisine of the Maldives, right at Six Senses Laamu. Dinners are limited to six tables so reservations are suggested, and dinner commences at 7pm. The price is US$125 per person, plus taxes.
Surfing the Maldives

Surfing the Maldives

  • Other Activities and Benefits: During May to October, many Aqua Season activities are complimentary or have significant savings
  • No Rush Hours are each evening between 6-7pm and 9:30-10:30pm at Chill bar, with resident DJ Garry Tee, our Sydney and Kuala Lumpur DJ who has created unique musical experience for events, clubs and restaurant audiences. The upcoming performances at Chill are focused on the gentler beats and sound that is complementing the overwhelming presence of beauty in both nature and design. The creative process of Garry Tee’s performances is made of personally selected tunes from the collection that spans almost 30 years.
  • Ice Cream: Enjoy delicious homemade ice cream from the Ice and Chocolate Studio, with the resort’s compliments. Savor more than forty flavors of ice cream and sorbets with a variety of toppings and sauces. 
And now for a little 'me time' at the spa

And now for a little ‘me time’ at the spa

  • Six Senses Spa: Creating awareness and enlightening guests, The Six Senses Spa at Laamu introduces additional wellness activities this summer. Six Senses Spa launches a variety of weekly workshops from Detox to De-Stress, Acupressure to Ashtanga as guests are guided through a variety to techniques and basic principles that they can implement during their stay or once they return home. Book a Six Senses Spa massage within 48-hours after arrival at the resort and enjoy an introductory 50% savings for a second person’s treatment; a perfect treat for your partner. 
  • Beach Cinema: A dream or reality? Should you like a little action or a classic movie, enjoy an unusual open-air cinema experience that takes place beneath a canopy of stars on the white sandy beach. The cinema bar is open during the film for those wishing to treat themselves with a glass of Champagne.

Click on the link for some of the best over water bungalows around!

Rates start at $788-$900 *but hey, it’s the Maldives and you’re going luxe so why mess around?

The Best Food Trucks in America 2013… Hurrah!

Maritnation Mobile Kim Chee Fried Rice

Marination Mobile’s Kim Chi Fried Rice – Seattle

The Daily Meal is back again with 101 Best Food Trucks in America 2013. The ranking, hugely popular last year, shows us that Los Angeles, once again, dominates the list as the best city for food trucks. With 16 food trucks to the city’s name, San Francisco and New York follow close behind with 11 and 10 trucks, respectively. Last year’s victor, Kogi BBQ  (Los Angeles), slipped to #2, while Red Hook Lobster Truck (NYC) grabbed this year’s #1 spot.

Big Gay Ice Cream

Big Gay Ice Cream – NYC

First, a few notes. Only trucks were considered. If it was a trailer, or a cart, if it needed something to pull, drag, push, or carry it, if it wasn’t on at least four wheels and didn’t have the ability to move on its own power from parking ticket to parking spot, it was omitted.

East Side King

East Side King – Austin

Also, this is a list of food trucks. While a few dessert trucks ranked, they were the exceptions. If you just make cupcakes or serve coffee, you’re not a food truck — you’re a cupcake truck, or a coffee truck. That doesn’t mean you’re bad people. Nobody disputes the challenges of creating innovative desserts for mobile distribution, but with rare exception it didn’t seem fair to include trucks serving shaved ice, slushies, and ice cream with those doing full savory menus.These factors eliminated quite a few contenders. Even so, it left at least a good 270 food trucks for consideration. These were judged on three criteria: critical review, social score, and originality.

Mas Tacos

Mas Tacos Por Favor – Nashville

They consulted popular review sites and tallied reviews and critical appraisal. They analyzed trucks’ number of Twitter followers and tallied visibility on Facebook. For originality, they examined menu innovation, concept, concept relative to inception (to wit, Asian tacos have become about as original as truffle oil fries, or a beet and goat cheese salad), and how that all might play into geography.

Although many trucks from their 2012 list are featured here, several of last year’s vendors have either closed or established brick-and-mortar locations. Eliminating them from the competition left significant room for newcomers. In fact, some of this year’s additions ranked highly enough to push out some of last year’s trucks that are still open.

Red Hook Lobster Truck

Red Hook Lobster Truck – NYC

Needless to say, despite everything we know about the country’s best trucks, this list helps us discover more — an impressive, growing legion of amazing people making some terrific food on trucks across America.

1

Red Hook Lobster Truck NYC

2

Kogi BBQ Los Angeles

3

Fojol Brothers Washington D.C.

4

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck NYC
5 The Lime Truck Orange County
6 East Side King Austin
7 Rickshaw Stop San Antonio
8

The Cinnamon Snail

NYC
9

Where Ya At Matt

Seattle
10

Chef Shack

Minneapolis
11

Schnitzel & Things

NYC
12

The Buttermilk Truck

Los Angeles
13

Wafels & Dinges

NYC
14

Grill ‘Em All

Los Angeles
15

Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese

Boston
16

Marination Mobile

Seattle
17 Guerrilla Street Food St. Louis, MO
18 Bernie’s Burger Bus Houston
19 The Grilled Cheeserie Nashville
20 Roli Roti Gourmet Rotisserie San Francisco
21 Slidin’ Thru Las Vegas
22 The Grilled Cheese Truck Los Angeles
23 Country Boys/Martinez Taco NYC
24 KOi Fusion Portland
25 Fivetenburger Oakland
26 Fukuburger Truck Las Vegas
27 Korilla BBQ NYC
28 Only Burger Durham, NC
29 Sam’s ChowderMobile San Francisco
30 Mas Tacos Por Favor Nashville
31 Chairman Bao Bun Truck San Francisco
32 Basil Thyme Washington D.C.
33 GourMelt Reno
34 The Peached Tortilla Austin
35 The Eatsie Boys Houston
36 Oh My Gogi! BBQ Houston
37 El Camión Seattle
38 Vizzi Truck Los Angeles
39 Border Grill Los Angeles
40 Seoul Sausage Los Angeles
41 5411 Empanadas Chicago
42 Seabirds Orange County
43 Maximus/Minimus Seattle
44 Food Shark Marfa, Texas
45 Pepe Food Truck Washington D.C.
46 Crepes Bonaparte Anaheim
47 Jefe’s Original Fish Taco & Burgers Miami
48 Ms. Cheezious Fresh Made Grilled Cheese Miami
49 Sky’s Gourmet Tacos Los Angeles
50 Clover Food Truck Boston
51 Nom Nom Truck Los Angeles
52 LudoTruck Los Angeles
53 Hapa SF San Francisco
54 KoJa Kitchen San Francisco
55 Dusty Buns Fresno
56 Lobsta Truck Los Angeles
57 Riffs Fine Street Food Nashville
58 Spencer on the Go San Francisco
59 Dim Ssäm à gogo by Sakaya Kitchen Miami
60

Seoul Taco

St. Louis, MO
61

Jogasaki Sushi Burrito Truck

Los Angeles
62

Liba Falafel Truck

San Francisco
63

Baby’s Badass Burgers

Los Angeles
64 Taim Mobile NYC
65 Slap Yo Mama II Los Angeles
66 Red Hook Lobster Pound Washington D.C.
67 Scratch Food Truck Minneapolis
68 Latin Burger and Taco Miami
69 Le Truc San Francisco
70 Senor Sisig San Francisco
71 Komodo Truck Los Angeles
72 DC Slices Washington D.C.
73 India Jones Chow Truck Santa Monica
74 Devilicious San Diego
75 JapaCurry San Francisco
76 Streetza Milwaukee
77 Geechee Island Food Truck Charleston
78 Rito Loco Washington D.C.
79 Easy Slider Dallas
80 Cha Cha Chow St. Louis, MO
81 Lucky Old Souls Philadelphia
82 Souvlaki GR NYC
83 Quiero Arepas Denver
84 Vellee Deli Minneapolis
85 Roti Rolls Charleston
86 Bruno’s GastroTruck Smith Mountain Lake, VA
87 Hodge Podge Cleveland, OH
88 The People’s Pig Portland
89 Hey you Gon Eat or What Austin
90

Fist of Fusion

Los Angeles
91

Coreanos

Houston
92

Luke’s Lobster

NYC
93

The Southern Mac & Cheese Truck

Chicago
94

La Cocinita

New Orleans
95 Rib Whip San Francisco
96 The Flying Stove Wichita, KS
97

Pizza Buds

Nashville
98 Go Gyro Go St. Louis, MO
99 Manna From Heaven Denver
100

Coast 2 Coast LV

Las Vegas
101

Brown Bag Lunch Truck

Chicago

La Valencia Hotel: The Gem of Southern California

The La Valencia Hotel

The La Valencia Hotel

My parents took their honeymoon at the famous La Valencia Hotel, and never looked back. Just as it was then, it is now one of San Diego and La Jolla’s finest. It’s also pink. Can you really go wrong with pink stucco, palm trees, and blue skies? I’m sure you can actually, just not here.

With its rich, 87-year history, La Valencia Hotel looks to the future under new ownership and new management.  Having finished a complete room renovation in early 2013 and with many more updates planned – including a new French bistro and an elaborate spa — this 112-room vintage coastal retreat continues its role as a gathering place where generations of celebrations have taken place.  With its iconic tower, “La V” – as it is fondly known by San Diegans – is a landmark on Prospect Avenue, perched on a cliff above the sweepingly beautiful La Jolla Cove.

Talk about a pool with a view!

Talk about a pool with a view!

Built in 1926 during a revival of Mediterranean-style architecture, “The Pink Lady” is known for its beautiful courtyards, hand painted murals, exquisite Spanish mosaics, and stunning panoramic views of the Pacific. La V is also just steps away from a wide selection of luxury retail and dining options in the village of La Jolla.  Nearby attractions also include: Torrey Pines State Park, Scripps Ocean Institute, the Birch Aquarium as well as UCSD / La Jolla Playhouse, the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art and the world-famous San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park.

Hollywood stars, presidents, and my parents have stayed here over the years and, as a ‘thank you and come join us,’ right now they’re offering the Suite Savings Package and you’ll receive 25% off rack rates for a 700 square ft. Suite or a 450 sq ft private, Ocean View Villa plus complimentary parking and a bottle of premium wine.  So instead of $950 a night, you’ll pay $713 on weekends and $619 on weeknights for your own sweet La Valencia Suite or Villa.

www.lavalencia.com/packages

Reservations: 800.451.0772

Former Heads of State, CIA, & NASA Come to Crystal Cruises in 2013

General Michael Hayden

General Michael Hayden

Take sail, take flight!

Imagine this… The two-term former president of Switzerland, NASA’s lead flight controller for Apollo missions, and a general who was once the highest ranking intelligence officer in the United States Armed Forces. Now, imagine yourself hanging out with them while on a sophisticated exciting cruise. Yes, dreams do come true. These powerful men of sleuth and science will be bringing their considerable clout aboard luxury cruise outfit, Crystal Cruises, this year.  The guest speakers are part of a distinguished lineup of internationally influential, preeminent leaders set to present complimentary lectures and interactive Q & A sessions on several of the line’s ultra-luxurious voyages, including:

  • General Michael Hayden – The retired Director of both the CIA and NSA, and four-star U.S. Air Force General, brings a wealth of knowledge and intelligence from his nearly four decades of military duty and national service (September 19, Venice to Monte Carlo, President’s Cruise with Crystal President Gregg Michel);
  • Kaspar Villiger – Formerly the president of Switzerland, as well as the chairman of UBS Bank, Villiger is one of the world’s leading authorities on business, government and finance, whose influence and leadership has affected global economies (September 2, London to Barcelona);
  • Sy Liebergot – The lead controller at NASA’s Mission Control served during the legendary Apollo program (November 23, Miami to Rio de Janeiro);
  • Norm Mineta – The ex-U.S. Secretary of Transportation and congressman is also the recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Medal for his civil rights efforts (September 11, Barcelona to Venice); and
  • Nando Parrado – The ultimate survivor, Uruguayan rugby player-turned-motivational speaker was aboard the ill-fated flight over the Andes that later became the subject of the film Alive (July 6, Istanbul to Rome).

The speakers join an already-extensive roster of leading experts set to enlighten guests sailing Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity in 2013, including a U.K.-based celebrity florist, award-winning photographers, show business veterans and a bevy of historians and professors.  Crystal often brings expert minds together on their “Ocean Views”- themed cruises, with speakers debating current issues with each other in a live panel that includes audience participation so we think this is pretty darn cool.

“Our guests are worldly, well-educated travelers who seek not only new adventures while on vacation, but also new information and perspectives on topics that affect the world we explore,” says Bret Bullock, vice president of entertainment.  “With such fascinating experiences and knowledge to share, these presenters are certain to spark some stimulating discussions on board.”

The Crystal Symphony

The Crystal Symphony

Bret, we’re so on board with you.

Crystal’s award-winning, luxe offerings always include a diverse selection of thought-provoking, scholarly, and sophisticated enrichment activities that provide extensive on-board choices for cultured world travelers so take to the seas and make your ocean-exploring adventure one for the mind and seas.

www.crystalcruises.com

Your Own Version of Downton Abbey in the English Countryside

Welcome to the Four Seasons

Welcome to the Four Seasons Hampshire

By Sarah Ivens, Editor-at-Large

It is a truth universally acknowledged that on a pretty summer’s day there is nowhere better to be than in an English country garden. Waves of bluebells dance in a honeysuckle breeze as butterflies glide from glittering stream to ancient oak tree. And, of course, there’s always a chance you’ll spot Peter Rabbit in the vegetable patch, or Winnie the Pooh taking a nap on a bed of nettles.

Many travelers are so drawn to the bright lights and big sights of London that the English countryside is lost for them. As a born and bred Londoner who finds herself able to breathe deeply during a flora and fauna-tactic escape past the suburbs and into the green patchworks of her homeland, I can’t impress on anyone what a mistake this is. It is beautiful, historic, literary and charming – all those things foreigners love about Downton Abbey wrapped up in a village cream tea and a meander down a cobbled street.

Don't you just want to kiss Matthew and talk about Papa?

Don’t you just want to kiss Matthew and talk about Papa while you stroll the green?

The Four Seasons have done a very clever thing, opening a resort a one hour drive away from their two city hotels, making it the perfect add-on for the culture vulture, theatre lover or weary business traveller. Leaving London behind, on a road that takes you past the old (the 1,000 year old Windsor Castle, the Queen’s favorite palace) and the new (fancy a ride on a space shuttle at Legoland, anyone?), you arrive at The Four Seasons Hampshire.

Your jaw will drop.

Dating back to 1728, the heritage-listed manor house around which the Hotel is built is much documented in historical texts throughout the centuries. With spectacular views over the Hampshire countryside, the Hotel’s resort-like facilities place the countryside’s finest pursuits on its doorstep. On-site facilities include a 14-horse stable, fishing lakes, clay pigeon shooting, narrowboating, nature rambles and tennis.  Add to this, the manor’s ancient association with high society – and in Henry VIII’s case, a royal scandal – and guests can experience a taste of Hampshire’s historical and cultural wealth before they even leave the Hotel grounds. You’ll feel very Lord and Lady Grantham, without the  need for a corset.

England Country Homes

Finish off your lovely trip with a nice soak

If you can tear yourself away from the spa and outdoor vitality pool, the picturesque surroundings will keep you very busy. In fact there’s so much to see you’ll wish you’d doubled the length of your stay. Just 30 minutes away lies Winchester, a traditional cathedral city with impressive boutiques and numerous museums and art galleries. Boasting a 1300 year unbroken succession of bishops, Winchester is home to the legendary ‘Arthurian’ Round Table, situated in the Great Hall of the old castle. The ancient capital of England has been inspiring visitors for centuries, including Keats, who wrote his Ode to Autumn, while staying here.

Hampshire is also littered with a wide range of beautiful historic houses that are open to the public.  Stratfield Saye is the estate purchased by a jubilant Duke of Wellington at the bequest of an adoring nation upon his return from the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The house is still the home of the present Duke and Duchess of Wellington and exhibitions in the Hall and original stable block document the 1st Duke of Wellington’s life and triumphs.

Compete with Jane Austen history too

Compete with Jane Austen history too

Charles Dickens’ birthplace can be visited in Portsmouth, and having inspired writers for centuries, it is no surprise to discover that Jane Austen penned her literary classics Pride & Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park and Sense & Sensibility in the tiny Hampshire village of Chawton, a pretty fifteen minute drive from the hotel.  Now a museum documenting her life and works, many of the rooms in her 17th Century house have been preserved in their original state. You can see the desk and chair where she wrote, taking in the view from the window that inspired her. I mean, come on… How awesome.

And as 2013 is the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Pride and Prejudice, there is no better time to grab your beloved and get your Elizabeth and Darcy on over a romantic feast of English fare (try the divine if pant-bursting Hampshire Farmers’ Market Lunch every Sunday at the Four Seasons – a refined, edible exploration of Hampshire’s famous Farmers’ Markets) before burying yourself into a classic novel by the fire in the hotel ‘s library, and perhaps a sneaky doze, dreaming of Lords, Ladies and clotted cream.

http://www.fourseasons.com/hampshire/

Sarah Ivens, Editor-at-Large

Sarah Ivens, Editor-at-Large

 

Sarah Ivens, Editor-at-Large for Jaunt Magazine, is the founding editor in chief of OK! magazine in the US and a bestselling author in her native UK. Her writing has been seen in Marie Claire, Glamour, In Style and GQ. A born and bred Londoner, she currently resides in Los Angeles.

The Best Hostel Food Around the World

Tapas at the Oasis Granada Hostel

Tapas at the Oasis Granada Hostel – Lisbon, Portugal

Our friends at The Daily Meal love to keep us informed on the best of the best when it comes to food around the world. This time, they’ve done a great 20 best hostels around the world for food (since we know hostels can get a bad rap, and most of the time, that reputation isn’t unfounded). If a hostel serves any food at all, the best most backpackers can expect to find is some cheap white bread and bad coffee. For many travelers, this lack of decent food is hardly a point of contention. After all, eating pricey gourmet meals often isn’t an option for those traveling on a budget, and as long as the hostel is well located, safe, and free of bedbug sightings, what more could a backpacker ask for? A lot more, apparently, according to recent research.

Plus Berlin

Plus Berlin All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

A hostel meal will likely never reach the ranks of Michelin-starred dining or compare to the breakfast buffet at the St. Regis. However, some establishments are offering culinary delights such as barbecue, ceviche, poutine, and a burger that even the locals clamor over, and these are just a sampling of some of the excellent dishes found in hostel dining rooms around the world.  

Ceviche at La Hamaca Hostel - San Pedro Sula, Honduras

Ceviche at La Hamaca Hostel – San Pedro Sula, Honduras

For a minimal fee, guests at PLUS Berlin Hostel can enjoy an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet and dinner in the hostel restaurant.  The restaurant’s manager, Diego, is Italian and takes pride in the quality of the food. Options range from pizza and pasta dishes to German specialties. The hostel’s well-stocked bar also serves cocktails to get you ready for a night exploring the neighborhood’s nightclubs.

The Green Tortoise

The Green Tortoise – San Francisco, CA

So what makes a hostel’s food stand above the fray? “Food is part of the cultural experience you get when you visit a foreign country,” explains Andres Poveda Solano, co-owner of Hostel Pangea in Costa Rica, while Green Tortoise Hostel in San Francisco provides hearty and healthy free breakfast every day of organic oatmeal and fresh fruit, and free dinner three times per week including dishes like pasta primavera and Thai curry.

The Menaggio Youth Hostel's Cooking Classes - Lake Como, Italy

The Menaggio Youth Hostel’s Cooking Classes – Lake Como, Italy

Good food at a hostel enhances the backpacker’s experience. One of the charms of staying in a hostel is the opportunity it offers to meet people from all over the world, and for these hostels, the dining room is one place where the magic happens. Whether you’re enjoying a hearty breakfast on a terrace overlooking the scenic French countryside or participating in a free tour with fellow travelers of a Spanish city’s tapas bars, the food at these top 20 hostels will create memories you won’t quickly forget.

The 20 Best Hotels Around the World For Food

What hostels have you stayed in that had great food?

By Michelle Kiefer