Melbourne: Art Hotels, Beer Hall Drinks, and Jazz

Melbourne's Jazz Festival (c) PiecesofVictoria.com

Melbourne’s Jazz Festival (c) PiecesofVictoria.com

Most people don’t know that Melbourne is well voted, time and time again, as one of the world’s most livable cities. With it’s impressive calendar of high profile events throughout the year, including the Melbourne International Jazz Festival (May 30 – June 8, 2014), Melbourne International Film Festival (July 31 – August 17, 2014) Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival (November 4, 2014), and the Australian Open Tennis Championships (January 19 – February 1, 2015), it’s also the gateway to regional Victoria, with her deserts, alpine ski resorts, mighty rivers, great lakes, wildlife, and unparalleled spectacle known as the Great Ocean Road. At the same time, art and design groups are flourishing, alongside Melbourne’s natural beauty.

mark_schaller

For example, luxury boutique hotel group, Art Series Hotels is bringing their well-known art inspired concept to regional and urban cities around Australia in a compact & affordable way. First stop, Bendigo – the regional hub of art and culture – and the perfect location for the first studio inspired hotel.

Artist Mark Schaller, today regarded as one of Australia’s strongest mid career artists with his expressionistic, vigorous style, will join the fold. A founding member of the renowned Roar studios in the early 1980’s, his paintings and prints that have been acquired by major institutions such as the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and National Gallery of Victoria. He’s the real deal.

And… we love the idea of the art studio hotel. No, we actually live for it. A hotel is the best possible location for an experience filled with art and design. To not simply to stay in a location, but to experience the vision and emotion of each designated artist while also on vacation. That is at least one meaning in life. If not the best one.

PS. The second Art Series Studio, Larwill Studio will open in Parkville, Melbourne in December.

Tonka

Tonka

If that’s not reason enough to check out Melbourne, you also have their unique dining and cocktail scene. We hear Adam D’Sylva’s Tonka is a throwback to his Indian and Italian heritage, featuring cocktails including the Darjeeling Fizz, Tonka Lassi and Miguel’s Milk Punch, while Cookie combines Thai food with its mantra of being a Beer Hall, Eating House and Disco to create the perfect environment to dine, flirt, sip and reminisce. The walls are adorned with murals and artwork from Melbourne artists, and the popular ‘kiss wall’ eventuated of its own accord and is now covered with scores of lipstick kisses amassed over the years.

Cookie

Cookie

Sounds pretty good to me.

For more information on things to do, places to go, and sights to see in Melbourne, click the link to for Travel Victoria’s website.

We also liked the list of Melbourne’s hot Jazz clubs on the blog, PiecesofVictoria.com. According to their blog, they said to check out, among others:

Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, a Melbourne institution known for late night jams and dubbed by Lonely Planet as “the world’s best jazz club”. Located in a back alley off Little Lonsdale Street, the club has been around for more than 20 years.

25 Bennetts Lane, Melbourne

Uptown Jazz Café, hidden up an unassuming set of stairs on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, there’s live music four nights a week and the stage is graced by a renowned list of local and international acts. There’s also a solid Japanese restaurant downstairs if you want to grab a bite prior.

177 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

 

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Wild Ponies, A Michelin-Starred Chef, and Berlin, Baby!

Das Stue's Interior

Das Stue’s Indoor Swimming Pool

Nothing surprises me anymore… until I hear about a hotel in Berlin where it’s not unusual to see ostriches, gazelles, and wild ponies from your hotel room.

Yes, the view from Das Stue offers just that. As you can see from the photos, this is no budget house ‘o beds. You’re looking at a 5-star design savvy property with free WiFi (Thank you, Hospitality Gods!), a solarium, sauna, spa, and, that right there, is an indoor swimming pool. While Axthelm Architekten revitalized the historic building (once home to the Danish Embassy), the interior design and artistic direction of the public spaces were realized by Patricia Urquiola, the acclaimed Spanish architect and designer famous for her sleek comfortable design. Based on Urquiola’s concept, LVG Arquitectura S.L.P. designed the hotel’s 80 rooms and suites.

Chef Paco Perez

Chef Paco Perez

Located next to Berlin’s Kurfurstendamm shopping street, you’re also about a mile or two from Zoologischer Garten Train and Subway Station, The Kulturforum Culture Centre (home to the Berlin Philarharmonic and Neue Nationalgalerie Museum), and the Berlin Central Train Station can be reached from the hotel in a 10-minute drive.

With all the usual luxe amenities befitting a sexy Design Hotel, you have iPod/iPhone docking stations, satellite TV, and bathrooms with rain showers. Some rooms also have a balcony or terrace…  and did we mention the hotel’s Michelin-starred Catalan chef’s “5-cinco by Paco Perez” restaurant? Creations include the likes of Morel Mushrooms à la Crème with Foie-Ice Powder, where the bold musky taste of morels are paired with chilled powdered fois gras. Yes, this is real life (it just feels like fantasy).

Here's to sleek modern design...

Here’s to sleek modern design…

Located in the peaceful neighborhood of Tiergarten Park, Das Stue’s rooms and suites offer undisturbed views of Europe’s most visited zoo (where those little animals can be seen doing a variety of fun animal things), along with the tree-lined park and Berlin’s western skyline. This vista, seen from the hotel’s balconies and terraces represents the true Berlin – a coming together of old and new, of modern architecture with timeless monuments such as the golden victory column which shimmers as a beacon in the distance.

The lobby fit for a King

The lobby fit for a King

Prices range from around $280 – $500/night, but for a view of wild animals and lapping it up in such award-winning style, we think it’s well worth it.

http://www.das-stue.com/en/

Winter Specials… In Style

You should be able to tell by now that Design Hotels are our jam. What can we say? We like to travel in style. And, even if we’re looking for a steal, it’s the little touches of style that make us feel chic and in-the-know. So, while the gentle breezes of summer change to the bone-chilling winds of winter, this means getting yourself to the mountains faster than one can say Kitzbüheler Horn or flying south or east to warmer climes, Design Hotels™ has both fantastic properties to choose from as well as great deals to make the holidays sweeter. You can choose to extend your stay in the 3-for-2 nights or 7-for-5 nights deals; treat yourself to a complimentary upgrade or get value with discounted rates. Savor the holiday spirit in one of Europe’s grandest capitals with Hotel Sezz Paris, a renovated Art Nouveau building by celebrated French designer Christophe Pillet or enjoy winter’s bounty at The Cambrian with the best slopes just outside the door, a Finnish sauna and spa treatments for recuperation and authentic regional cuisine at the restaurant.

Luna2 Private Hotel - Bali

Luna2 Private Hotel – Bali

Skip over to the intimate five-room Luna2 Private Hotel in Bali to experience Asian hospitality at its best, and get that enviable winter tan. The easiest way is to blindfold yourself and pick a point on the map.

The four different options are:

–  3 for 2: one complimentary overnight stay (minimum length of stay three nights)
–  7 for 5: two complimentary overnight stays (minimum length of stay seven nights)
–  Upgrade: free upgrade to the next available room category (minimum length of stay two nights)
–  Value: save up to 14 percent off the best available rate (minimum length of stay two nights)
Design Hotels™ Winter Specials
October 29, 2012 – March 17, 2013

Reviving in Istanbul

Witt Istanbul Hotels

Witt Istanbul Hotels

In the old quarter of Cihangir, hotelier Tuncel Toprak built Witt Istanbul because it reminded him of how streets looked in his childhood. The hotel takes its cue from this sentimentality in the custom-made furnishings by local artisans that you see above. Add to that, a familiar sandstone façade and homemade breakfast. It also heeds the future with Ross Lovegrove designed bathroom fixtures in the spacious guestrooms. But that’s not all… move from the old and new with traditional hammam rejuvenation in Tuncel’s favorite place, savoring Turkish cheese from local boutique Antre Gourmet and sipping on the best wines selected by the renowned sommelier of La Cave wine shop.
Rooms from @ $200/night

Design Hotels Summer Specials

Memmo Baleeira Hotel - Portugal

Memmo Baleeira Hotel - Portugal

I don’t know about you, but I’d sure like to experience a surf ‘n’ sail season Memmo Baleeira style in Portugal’s southernmost tip. You too? Following in the wake of hotelier Rodrigo Machaz, himself a surfer who knows the best spots in the shimmering Algarve waters, Design Hotels™™ is offering some Summer Specials not to be missed.

The Mira Spa - Hong Kong

The Mira Spa - Hong Kong

Or, if you feel like taking in the shimmering nightscape of Hong Kong from your room at the The Mira Hong Kong, you can do that too. For an eclectically British feel, try the Firmdale hotels in London. Choose the funky neighbourhood of Soho with Charlotte Street Hotel or the exclusive upmarket locale of West End with Haymarket Hotel.

Apparently, Summer is just a click away…

The three different options include:

– 3 for 2: one complimentary overnight stay (minimum length of stay 3 nights)

– Upgrade: free upgrade to the next available room category (minimum length of stay 2 nights)

– Value: save a minimum of 10% off the best available rate (minimum length of stay 2 nights)

For travel: April 30 – September 18, 2012

www.designhotels.com/summerspecials

Casa de la Flora on Thailand’s Khao Lak

Casa de la Flora

Take me to Casa de la Flora! For a beach holiday among lush vegetation in private unspoiled surroundings, Casa de la Flora is one of Design Hotel’s finest. With 36 glass-front villas to the azure waters of the Andaman Sea, it’s located on Thailand’s Khao Lak, and all eco villas feature private pools and secluded patios.

Their sexier than thou pool bar

There’s also the resort’s amazing pool bar (see above) with double loungers and La Arunya restaurant, which offers excellent Thai and international cuisine. Great weather, beach yoga, island hopping from one sun-kissed beach to another using the resort’s private yacht (a romantic dinner onboard is a must for couples), and exploring the lush jungles along Khao Lak’s wild rivers…

What more do you really need?

www.designhotels.com/casadelaflora

Melanie Brandman is… The Travel Curator

She’s something of a 007 in heels… ready to hit the tarmac. She possesses that rare blend of friendly, fierce, and intelligent. And, of course, if she’s going to advise luxury hoteliers, she must also be lethally… stylish. She is… The Most Interesting Travel Curator in the World. She is… Melanie Brandman. Yes, anyone who’s anyone in the luxe travel world knows this stunning powerhouse and she’s always fascinated us for a variety of reasons. Namely, we admire women-on-top who carry-on a smile with business savvy to boot.
An eighth-generation Australian, Brandman spent her childhood in Melbourne and Sydney and, although she’s been calling NYC home for a number of years, she began her 20+ years of public relations experience with positions at Vogue Australia, and InterContinental Hotels & Resorts,  Sydney and London. Eventually, she settled in New York City where, in 2001, she established The Brandman Agency. Today, her agency counts itself as one of the major competitors in the global luxury travel market.

La Mamounia - Marrakech

Now, Brandman brings passion to her latest project and one that gets our attention… a travel website called The Travel Curator, for the traveler who craves exciting, unique experiences. The site – Melanie’s virtual diary of sorts – is designed to cut through all of the clutter of your average travel website; instead, giving people who love travel all of her tried and tested favorites, as well as word-of-mouth travel tips and favorite must-do’s. She’s all about what’s new and what’s now, places to go, and where to go once you’re there. This upcoming month The Travel Curator will feature London and each month in the Salon Section, a celebrity or influencer will be interviewed.

Melanie Brandman - The Travel Curator

So we asked Melanie: Out of your impressive client roster, what are some of  your favorites?

La Mamounia in Marrakech — Perhaps the most iconic hotel in Morocco, La Mamounia re-opened in late 2009 after a magnificent 3-year makeover, under the direction of star designer Jacques Garcia. There are two things that I love most about this hotel:

1) It’s historical significance. Since its original debut in 1923, La Mamounia has hosted the “who’s who” of international royalty, politicians, celebrities and the jet set

2) The design. The hotel fits perfectly into it’s surroundings, thanks to its contemporary Moroccan design. The breathtaking mosaics and moldings make you feel like you are in the city center (yet surrounded by peace and privacy).  The hotel has expanded with 136 guest rooms, 71 Suites, and three incredible Riads. Their spa is something like 27,000 sq feet, every inch of it divine, as is their iconic pool, which I love for people watching. I would, and often do, recommend this hotel to anyone in search of the very best.  www.mamounia.com

Villa San Michele - Florence, Italy

Villa San Michele in Fiesole, Italy — Once a Franciscan monastery, this flagship Orient-Express hotel is located on an ancient hilltop and features facades done by Michelangelo himself. It has perhaps one of the most epic views of any hotel I have ever stayed, a rare bird’s-eye view of Florence (one of my all-time favorite cities). It’s tranquil, it’s sophisticated… the service, the gardens, and white-glove room-service (especially for breakfast) are impeccable. www.villasanmichele.com

InterContinental Hong Kong's Superb Rooftop

InterContinental Hong Kong – Everything about this hotel is dramatic, in all the right ways. When I stay at this hotel, I feel as though I am right on top of the water, like being on a yacht in the middle of one of the world’s buzziest cities. The Presidential Suites, if you can sneak a peak, are not to be missed. The service and the butlers and the staff in general are beyond accommodating. And you don’t even need to leave the hotel to eat or drink, if you so choose — Nobu and Alain Ducasse’s Spoon are two of many superb dining options on property. http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/intercontinental/en/gb/locations/hongkong

So there you have it, straight from the 007 of bespoke travel. For more of Melanie’s insider travel picks and monthly interviews with top designers and celebs, check out her website, The Travel Curator, it’s one to watch.

www.thetravelcurator.com