Smith Travel BlogTravel tales and hotel news from the boutique hotel experts at Mr & Mrs Smith

H2 Hotel, Healdsburg: hotel of the week

Posted by Laura House on September 19th, 2014

H2 hotel lobby | Mr & Mrs Smith boutique hotels

The ink-black Sangiovese, regal purple pinot noir and the plump pearl of a chardonnay… we’re all about the mighty grape this time of year. So we’re off to the California wine country for a stay at H2 Hotel in happening Healdsburg. 

Style Green, by nature
Setting Heart of Healdsburg

H2 Hotel hotel room | Mr & Mrs Smith boutique hotelsH2 Hotel, Sonoma | Mr & Mrs Smith boutique hotelsWhy this week? Customarily chilled-out Sonoma County buzzes with energy during the gathering, pressing and sipping season. In the generous spirit of the harvest, our friends at H2 have come up with a two-night stay exclusive with wine tasting passes, a dining credit at the hotel’s award-winning Spoonbar restaurant and upgrades when available. Just make sure to book this wine and dine special before 30 September. 

Our favourite bits…  H2 Hotel sets the eco-conscious standard in Sonoma. Rooms have furnishings fashioned from sustainable materials and bath products are locally made. There’s even a living roof rich with succulents and a protected stream runs next-door. Not to mention perks – free ashtanga yoga classes every weekend morning – and charming quirks –  the hotel is also home to the Hand Fan Museum of Healdsburg, which holds 500 fans from around the globe. Plus, the hotel is perfectly placed in downtown Healdsburg, so you’re an easy stroll from tasting rooms, cafes and fabulous eateries, too. 

Mr & Mrs Smith say… ‘H2 even brings its eco love to bed: pared-down rooms are a tree-hugger’s delight of striped bamboo, organic linens and green headboards. Too far from nature? Each room has a balcony or private patio. The sustainable spirit continues inside Spoonbar, where chef Louis Maldonado and the bar staff showcase local ingredients and work with area farmers to create seasonal market-led menus, served with a predictably excellent wine list.’ Read the full anonymous Mr & Mrs Smith review

Book H2 Hotel now, browse more wine country hotels or search all Mr & Mrs Smith hotel offers.



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We threw a great little gourmet gathering last night in buzzing Bethnal Green at Town Hall Hotel & Apartment‘s new Typing Room restaurant with super chefs Lee Westcott (below) and Sophie Michell. As if dining on delicious canapés from Chef Westcott and his gang weren’t excuse enough to celebrate, we were also hailing the upcoming launch of the new Great Global Chefs iPad app we’ve cooked up in partnership with Great British Chefs (get it from the App Store on 8 October).

Chef Lee Westcott, Typing Room, Town Hall

The app’s packed with step-by-step recipes and profiles of chefs and restaurants, many of which – including the Typing Room – are also shortlisted for Best Hotel Restaurant in the Smith Hotel Awards (it’s a delicious dilemma, but pick your favourite before voting closes on September 30!)

After an introduction by Smith co-founders James Lohan and Tamara Heber-Percy, Lee and Sophie launched into an entertaining chef-on-chef Q&A: topics included their own favourite chefs, what you can find in their fridges – cheese, wine and yoghurt for Lee – and what they’re particularly keen on cooking (Sophie’s a big fan of the versatile sea urchin). After questions from the floor, the canapés continued: the hot topic of the evening quickly became which of the macarons was the best, lemon curd or salted caramel. After make-overs and portraits, our assorted foodie guests departed clutching glorious gift bags – many thanks to Biscuiteers, Lindt, Sipsmith, Eat 17, Joe’s Tea Co, l’Occitane and Pont St for providing so many delights.

Cheers all who came (and had their photos taken)!

(Photos by Rachel Juarez-Carr)

Great Global Chefs launch party at Town Hall



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Mia Resort, Nha Trang: hotel of the week

Posted by Sarah Jappy on September 12th, 2014

Mia Resort, Nha Trang, Vietnam

Mojitos on the beach and breakfast in bed, or bustling local markets and fresh seafood; Nha Trang’s Mia Resort in Central Vietnam has something for everyone.

Style Beach peach
Setting Green, serene Cam Lam bay

Why this week? Vietnam’s summer monsoon is coming to an end, making September the ideal time to visit the idyllic Mia Resort in Nha Mia Resort, Nha Trang, VietnamTrang, the country’s most beautiful beachside town. Stay six nights to take full advantage of the resort’s private beach and enjoy a room discount, a massage, cocktails and a cookery class on us. This special offer is available for stays until the end of November.

Our favourite bits Don’t make the choice between lazing in bed or eating breakfast – breakfast in bed is included in the room rates. Also included are a fruit basket, Vietnamese coffee, tea and on-loan iPods. Indulge your inner bookworm by the turquoise pool, choosing a novel from the complimentary mini-library.

A spot in one of the cabanas will also give you fantastic views of the Nha Trang mountains. When your stomach starts to rumble, Sandals restaurant is right next door. There, you can sample the freshest seafood and Mia Resort, Nha Trang, Vietnamstay hydrated with a fruity drink or two. If the beach is calling, ask the friendly staff to arrange a picnic for you: your hamper will be groaning with sandwiches, cupcakes, a cheeseboard and a carafe of fruit juice — just be sure to book two hours in advance. Work off your feast with free yoga sessions on the beach on Saturday afternoons or a variety of aquatic adventures, including snorkelling, paddle boarding or kayaking. The friendly staff at Xanh Spa will take care of any muscle pains or sun burn afterwards.

Mr & Mrs Smith say… ‘Mia has just 50 rooms, but all the facilities you’d expect from a much bigger resort: an excellent restaurant that is as good at Vietnamese dishes as it is at Western fare; an expert spa with soothing therapists, dazzling views of Nha Trang mountains and the ocean, and a bar that serves more types of mojito than there are days of the week. There are lots of little extras to make you smile, too: breakfast in bed at no extra charge, books on the beach, snorkelling equipment to borrow and free yoga sessions on Saturdays. The hotel operates a free shuttle service to Nha Trang, a vibrant town that’s a half-hour drive away, but you’ll soon find that most guests don’t get very far, thanks to the romantic villas and the splash pools and private gardens.’
Read the rest

Find out more about Mia Resort, browse other hotels in Nha Trang or search all Mr & Mrs Smith hotel offers.*

*Copy compiled by Emily Jacobs



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Be Manos, Brussels: hotel of the week

Posted by Richard MacKichan on September 5th, 2014

Be Manos hotel, BrusselsThere’s more to Europe’s capital than MEPs and triple-cooked chips – set foot inside Be Manos hotel in Brussels and you could be forgiven for thinking you’d arrived in Carnaby Street’s hippest hangout during peak Sixties swing…

Why this week? For culture, baby. If Be Manos’ interiors have you coming over all Austin Powers, then the return of Nocturnes (18 September to 18 December, pictured below) can help you live out your Night at the Museum fantasies. Each Thursday, Brussels’ best cultural institutions are opening late to lay on special guided tours, one-off events, live music Nocturnes Brusselsand, yes, the odd free drink for curious nighthawks – leaving you a whole day to overindulge on moules frites and lambic beer by way of a warm up. Feeding your mind and your stomach? That’s our kind of long weekend. And if Brussels’ abundance of artisan chocolate isn’t sweetener enough, Smith are currently offering 20 per cent off three-night stays from 24 September until the end of the year.

Be Manos, interior detailOur favourite bits Barbarella-style mirrored disc ‘curtains’, retro furniture, monochrome visuals – Be Manos might not have been there in the Sixties, man, but it remembers them. This is no mere throwback, though; the restaurant is all pared-back chic and shimmering chandeliers; the sizeable bedrooms boast bespoke photography and slick slate bathrooms; and the timber-decked terrace gives great skyline.

Be Manos loungeMr & Mrs Smith say… Packing is an art. Walking into Be Manos, I wished I’d packed a white skin-tight velvet trouser-suit, à la Bianca Jagger, because if Studio 54 were ever planning a relaunch in Belgium, this’d be the after-party venue. Sleek black floors and white walls form the backdrop to the biggest collection of glittery baubles I’ve seen since Elton John was in short trousers… Really, all that’s needed to complete the mood would be some spaced-out Courrèges-clad supermodels draped over the tubular furniture.’
Read the full Be Manos hotel review.

You say… ‘We liked the very welcoming and accommodating staff, and the easy access to the metro for getting around. We’d definitely stay again – to take advantage of the spa’ Pierre and Regina, GoldSmiths, stayed on 4 March 2014

Book Be Manos now to get 20 per cent off three night stays before the end of the year, or browse the rest of Smith’s Eurostar collection.



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What to wear where: Fashion Week edition

Posted by Madevi Dailly on September 4th, 2014

The September issues are thick on the shelves, street photographers are out in packs  and a palpable frisson is sweeping from New York to Paris via London and MilanDo you feel that cool in the air? Fashion Week is upon us.

Whether you’ve long nabbed a front row seat or just want to soak up the buzz, our capsule guide to the fashion capitals tells you where to sleep and be seen. And, because we wouldn’t want to leave you wondering what to wear, we’ve roped in the expert stylists at Baukjen to help you pack an effortless, easy-to-wear wardrobe.


NEW YORK

New York Fashion Week | Viceroy New York hotel

Wear Crisp, polished separates with a classic finish; a camel wrap coat (£299, pictured above) and vintage-hued mock-crock satchel (£265) mean serious fashion business.

Where A 15-minute stroll from the heart-of-the-action Lincoln Center, the Viceroy New York has seductive 1920s stylings and a glam rooftop bar. On the north end of Midtown, this sophisticated stay is just blocks from high-end shopping, museums and the city’s breath of fresh air: book a Park View Room or Suite for a bird’s eye view of Central Park. Downtown, the newly opened Ludlow is our of-the-moment spot – their buzzed about restaurant Dirty French is set to open today. Part social entreprise and part oyster bar, Grand Banks‘s wooden schooner is docked in Tribeca – climb aboard for all manners of Fashion Week shenanigans.

LONDON

London Fashion Week |Ace Hotel London Shoreditch

Wear Something a little bit street and a little bit edgy that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Leather leggings (£339, pictured above) are your new uniform. Pair with an animal-print shirt dress (£119) and pavement-pounding flats for rock-chick cool.

Where Escape the Somerset House madness and put up your feet at the Ace Hotel London Shoreditch, the first overseas outpost of the hipper-than-thou USA-born brand. Host your own after party: there are DJs in the lobby, vinyls in the rooms and, downstairs, the Hoi Polloi restaurant fizzes with East-London energy. Nearby Lyle’s (+44 (0)20 3011 5911) serves a long, leisurely no-choice menu of scintillating British fare; if you fancy running the paparazzi gauntlet instead, head much further west to Chiltern Firehouse (+44 (0)20 7073 7676), the culinary address du jour.

MILAN

Milan Fashion Week | Straf Hotel & Bar

Wear Screen-siren glamour in this season’s cobalt blue. Pair a curve-hugging peplum top (£119, pictured above) with a day-to-evening leather pencil skirt (£329) for head-turning Italian style.

Where Tucked away behind the Duomo, Straf Hotel & Bar is a celebration of fashionista minimalism, with scuffed satiny walls and massage-chair-equipped Wellbeing Rooms. On Corso Como, Le Langhe (+39 02 65 54 279) is the pit stop of choice for beautiful people; elegant Cracco on Via Victor Hugo is where chef Carlo Cracco brings Milanese food into the 21st century – and has earned it two Michelin stars for his trouble (+39 02 87 6774). As flamboyant as one of the eponymous designer’s clinging mini-dresses, Just Cavalli Club (+39 02 31 18 17) is a glitzy late-night bolthole.

PARIS

Paris Fashion Week | Hotel Marignan Paris

Wear Parisian style is laid-back and carefully unkempt; channel Jane Birkin nonchalance with boyfriend jeans (£95, pictured above) and a leather biker jacket (£399) you can throw on just about anything.

Where Unpack your bags at Hotel Marignan Paris, our latest just-off-the-Champs stay. Its Eiffel Tower views aren’t to be sneered at, but it’s what inside that counts: sleek and sinuous lines, a scattering of hand-picked art and – most importantly – suites equipped with couture-worthy dressing rooms. Strap on your most vertiginous heels: this chic and understated stay is just a stone’s throw from the Hermès-toting, Bulgari-flashing shopping meccas of Avenue Montaigne and Faubourg St Honoré and those Chanel shows at the Grand Palais. Hungry? Septime (+33 (0)1 43 67 38 29) in the oh-so-trendy 11ième is the neo-bistro du jour, but if you’ve travelled this far and can’t score a table, head to no-booking sister joint Clamato (+33 (0)1 43 72 74 53) down the road for small plates and overheard gossip.

Baukjen is offering a one-off 20 per cent discount when you spend £59 on its full-price collection. To claim the discount, enter the code SMITH94 at check-out. You can get access to more offers like this by becoming a Smith member free.

 



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And… we’re back! Voting for the Smith Hotel Awards 2014 is now open

Posted by Lucy Fennings on September 3rd, 2014

Smith Hotel Awards 2014 | previous winners include Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur
Where is the world’s Best Hotel Pool? Which hotel harbours the Sexiest Bedroom in the World? What’s on your hotel lust list? You tell us… It’s time to find this year’s superstar hotels, with the launch of the 2014 edition of the
Smith Hotel AwardsPublic voting is now open, and we want to hear from stylish boutique hotel-adoring travellers (that’s you!).

Remember that amazing weekend you spent in Paris/New York/Bangkok/the Cotswolds in spring? The hotel that knocked your socks off, took your breath away, stole your heart and ran away laughing? Yes? Oh good: tell us which one it was, and you could win a five-night stay at the World’s Best Hotel*. Vote here.

*Yes really, that’s a bona fide maxi-break at the best gosh-darn boutique hotel on the planet. We’ll be the judge of this, but you people are helping us choose. For each of our special awards categories – including Eco, Best Restaurant, Best Spa and more – Smith has selected 20 nominees for the public to vote on; your votes will create top-10 shortlists from which our 35-strong tastemaker judging panel will select the ultimate award-winners (we don’t like to name-drop, but: Mariella Frostrup, Marcus Wareing, Tony Conigliaro, Immodesty Blaize… ). Last year’s winners included Blakes in London (Sexiest Bedroom), Brody House in Budapest (Best Budget Boutique Hotel) and Post Ranch Inn in California (Best Smith Hotel 2013).

Smith Hotel Awards 2014

So share your experiences and thoughts with us, bombard us with love notes about your favourite boutique boltholes, post praise for your personal vision of paradise and harp on about your hotel heroes: we want to hear from you. But, first and foremost, vote in the Smith Hotel Awards 2014. You might end up with a whole new hotel lust-list…

Vote and win • Tweet us @smithhotels #SmithAwards • Follow us Facebook/smithhotels • IG @smithhotels #SmithAwards



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The Mercer, New York: hotel of the week

Posted by Kate Thorman on August 29th, 2014

The Mercer hotel room | Mr & Mrs Smith boutique hotels

Give us Manhattan’s bustling streets and 24-hour subways, its towering skyscrapers, designer-clad denizens and trendy restaurants: that’s right, this week, we’re going to New York City’s buzzy Soho neighbourhood, to André Balazs’ ever-cool Mercer hotel and its star-studded clientèle.

Style High jinks in luxury lofts
Setting Right to the very heart of it

Why this week? With New York Fashion Week just a few weeks away, we have designer duds on the brain. So we convinced our friends at the Mercer to get in on the fun with us and offer shopping discounts at a handful of their favourite Soho boutiques – along with discounted access to the spa and a bottle of champagne upon arrival. This special New York stay ‘n’ shop offer is available for stays through the end of the year.

The Mercer Kitchen, New York | Mr & Mrs Smith boutique hotelsThe Mercer hotel, New York | Mr & Mrs Smith boutique hotelsOur favourite bits… The East Coast sister of Hollywood legend Château Marmont, the Mercer hides out like a starlet behind a landmark Romanesque façade right in the heart of Soho, across from Prada, and within shooting distance of all our favourite shops. Its loft-like rooms are positively sprawling – larger than many a New York apartment – and perfectly set for a glamorous movie; which makes sense, really, considering how many celebs stay here and frequent the Mercer Kitchen, the renowned Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant downstairs.

Mr & Mrs Smith say… ‘The Mercer’s design perfectly followed script. A window arched across one wall, framing – and lighting – a sitting area with a sage-coloured couch in the room’s centre. At one end, on the dining table, a bottle of pinot noir and a handwritten note welcoming us. At the other, a plush bed beckoned, covered in shades of celery and white. The plan had been to await Mr Smith’s arrival from work in the lobby, curled up with a tome from the hotel’s collection of art books. But leaving this luxury seemed ludicrous. Instead, I filled the vast granite bathtub with bubbles.’ Read the full anonymous Mr & Mrs Smith review

Book The Mercer now, browse more New York City hotels or search all Mr & Mrs Smith hotel offers.



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The Wallawwa, Colombo: hotel of the week

Posted by Sarah Jappy on August 22nd, 2014

The Wallawwa Spa

Among three acres of peaceful tropical gardens, just outside of Colombo, Sri Lanka, is where you’ll find The Wallawwa. This 200-year-old colonial manor sparkles from a careful restoration, but hasn’t lost any of its original airs and graces.The Wallawwa Gardens & Pool

Style Lavish colonial pile
Setting Nestled in Negombo

Why this week? You don’t need an excuse to visit a tropical private hideaway where you can sample delicious Asian-fusion food, spend a day at the spa and not have to answer to anyone. Start your day with a spot of badminton on the lawn, then head to the Z Spa for a sandalwood and coconut scrub, or browse the hotel’s extensive library, where each tome has been hand-picked by the hotel’s owner. With our special offer (25 per cent off two-night stays), you won’t be able to resist a trip to this verdant oasis.

Our favourite bits The stone-lined lagoon pool is surrounded by jade-green fronds and lush tropical trees, which means you’re tucked away from the hotel’s main areas. Make sure to dine on the frangipani-covered terrace, where you’ll be delighted by the fragrant surroundings and flavoursome Sri Lankan delicacies, such as seer fish with coconut and mustard, or cashew and pea curry.The Wallawwa Garden Suite

Mr & Mrs Smith say… ‘‘Wallawwa’, we discover as we’re led along a colonnaded walkway, means ‘colonial house’, and this 18th-century, single-storey manor once belonged to the head chieftain of Galle. Today, the hotel boasts 14 rooms that sit on opposite sides of a central poThe Wallawwa Gardens & Poolnd filled with lotus flowers and dozens of frogs. Our Garden Suite is elegantly furnished with a king-size four-poster bed framed by white curtains that double as mosquito nets. A window seat with views onto the private outdoor terrace later transforms into an extra bed. The bright, terrazzo-lined bathroom is enormous, with soaring ceilings, twin basins and a rain shower.’ Read the full anonymous Wallawwa hotel review by Katja Gaskell

You say… ‘The interior design was amazing. I love the colonial feel. Almost everyone was couples – no kids!’ Lachlan, BlackSmith, stayed 20 November 2013

Discover more about The Wallawwa, see other Mr & Mrs Smith hotels in Sri Lanka, or contact our expert Travel Team.

Compiled by Katherine Williams



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Fontelunga Villas, Tuscany: hotel of the week

Posted by Editorial on August 15th, 2014

Fontelunga Villas hotel in Tuscany

We’re craving boundless rolling hills, aromatic olive groves, authentic bruschetta and days drenched in sun – and Fontelunga Villas has all that (and plenty of Tuscan romance) down to a tee. It’s Italian-rustic-chic meets stylish-contemporary-sleek… and this year it’s celebrating its 15th anniversary.

Style Moorish Tuscan Tranquillity
Setting The rolling Tuscan hills

Why this week? During August, the larger cities (and the shops, museums and sights) are quieter and calmer, and generally more enjoyable – thanks to to Tuscan families migrating to the coast for the summer. The good news is that this tranquil season also sees Fontelunga offering three blissful nights for the price of two.

Fontelunga Villas hotel in TuscanyOur favourite bits We’re enamoured with the Tuscan sun – it beats down on the beautiful olive groves, it kisses the saltwater pool until its warm and it sets in an orange haze while you dine al fresco in the gardens. And there isn’t a more Italian way to dine than communally, with fellow guest villas. Somewhere between the laughter, four lovingly prepared, delicious courses appear before you. Proceed to walk (or amble) off that Italian cuisine through the dainty streets of Florence or Siena, as both cities are just shy of an hour’s drive. And of course, after all that walking comes the requisite gelato.

Fontelunga Villas hotel in TuscanyMr & Mrs Smith say… ‘Swaying there in the olive groves, the Tuscan sun is beating down on us. A juicy, just-picked fig is melting in my mouth. It’s not your average Friday afternoon. Mrs Smith puts her hands in mine and we consider how long we could get away with staying at Villa Fontelunga before work notes our absence…’

You say… ‘The location is a great base for touring the local area to visit vineyards and picturesque hilltop villages but also just as good for lazy days around the pool. Oh and the food – amazing pasta and more cooked by their local chef – we had lunch and two dinners at the villa and the food was superb every time.’ Caroline, Blacksmith, stayed September 2012.

Compiled by Amy Brandhorst



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Travel gallery: our photoshoot in Greece

Posted by Rachel Juarez-Carr on August 13th, 2014

Smith & Family photoshoot at Ekies Resort in Greece

We’re just back from glorious Greece, where we worked on our new Smith & Family photoshoot at Ekies All Senses Resort in Halkidiki! We took along our top model Tillie and her exceptionally good-looking family, as well as a few suitcases packed full of swimsuits and beachwear from London Boutiques (Biondi Couture, Pistol Panties, Varley London, Beach Candy, Spektre, Finlay), gorgeous goodies from Frame Chain and the very soft, very stylish Frescobol Carioca towels.

Massive thanks to Petros at Ekies for hosting us, and Vangelis for taking us out on his boat!

(All photos by Rachel Juarez-Carr)

Smith & Family photoshoot at Ekies Resort in Greece)

Smith & Family photoshoot at Ekies Resort in Greece

Smith & Family photoshoot at Ekies Resort in Greece

Smith & Family photoshoot at Ekies Resort in Greece

Smith & Family photoshoot at Ekies Resort in Greece

Smith & Family photoshoot at Ekies Resort in Greece

Head over to our family-travel blog to see more of the shoot…



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