Tag Archives | luxury

Hotel Award: Best Culinary Experience

Virtuoso Life, a magazine tailored to luxury living and travel, has just released the winners of its Best of the Best Awards for 2009. Not surprisingly, the worldwide winner for the best culinary experience was in Italy.

Rosellinis, a 2-star Michelin restaurant in the Palazzo Sasso hotel in Ravello, received the top prize for a hotel restaurant among 800 properties surveyed. I took a look at the restaurant online and found these items on the  sample tasting menu: Giant squid ravioli filled with crab & courgettes, creamed potatoes sauce and ricotta dumpling; Cod fillet crusted with Gaetas black olives, Sorrento beef tomatoes and anchovies sauce; and Lamb filet wrapped in rose crust & rose liquor with white asparagus tip, mirror potatoes and anchovies sun dried tomatoes sauce. YUM!

I’ve no doubt these dishes are lovingly prepared with the best ingredients. Rosellinis and its star chef Pino Lavarra have earned 2 stars from Michelin, too – not an easy feat. Then again, this award is for the best culinary “experience” so I’m guessing the setting – in a palace on the Amalfi Coast, with terraces “looking down on the fishing boats 1,000 feet below” – had a lot to do with the decision.

Either way, if you’re interested in dining at Rosellinis, book far in advance. Also note that the restaurant is closed from November through March.

Click here for more information about the Virtuoso Best of the Best Awards.

Photo from the Palazzo Sasso website

The Top 25 Hotels in Italy

Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli: One of Italys 25 Best

Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli: One of Italy's 25 Best

While it’s true that the travel industry is taking a hit in light of the world financial crisis, there are still plenty of people making trips to Italy. And, with the dollar improving against the euro (at least for the time being), some Americans are looking to do Italy in style.

Luckily, thanks to USA Today/Forbes Traveler, there’s now a list of Italy’s 25 best hotels. Compiled by Forbes, this is a grouping of the most luxurious and elegant lodgings “ranging from urban grande dames to breathtaking coastal villas.” Forbes Traveler has also created a nifty little slide show to showcase each of the 25.

We’ve certainly mentioned some of these hotels in The Unofficial Guide to Central Italy and/or on this site. But here are the links if you want to check them out yourself:

Italy’s 25 Best Hotels According to Forbes Traveler

Rome
Hotel de Russie
Hotel Eden
Hotel Hassler Roma
Portrait Suites
St. Regis Grand Hotel

Florence
Hotel Lungarno
Hotel Savoy
Villa La Massa
Villa San Michele

Tuscany
Il Pellicano Hotel (Porto Ercole)
Relais Il Falconiere (Cortona)

Milan
Bulgari Hotel Milano
Four Seasons Hotel Milan

Venice
Bauer Hotel
Luna Hotel Baglioni

Capri
Capri Palace Hotel and Spa (Anacapri)
Grand Hotel Quisisana

Lake Garda
Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli (Gargnano)

Amalfi Coast
Hotel Caruso (Ravello)
Hotel Santa Caterina (Amalfi)
Il San Pietro (Positano)
Le Sireneuse (Positano)
Palazzo Sasso (Ravello)

Cinque Terre
Hotel Splendido (Portofino)

Lake Como
Villa d’Este (Cernobbio)

Italian Fashion Designers and Their Hotels

Castiglion del Bosco

Fashion designers have known for a long time that it’s good to diversify. Not only have Italian fashion houses like Armani, Versace, and Dolce & Gabbana ventured beyond clothing to include perfume, accessories, and restaurants among their branded items, they’ve also gone into the business of designing and/or maintaining luxury hotels and suites. This weekend, in the wake of the end of Milan Fashion Week, Sophy Roberts profiles Ferragamo’s Tuscan Estate Castiglion del Bosco for the Financial Times. As the writer points out, discussing this vast estate in today’s economic climate seems “absurd.”

The numbers involved in the project – by spring 2010 it will include 20 villas, 26 “hotel” suites, a Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course, spa, two restaurants, winery and stud – are clearly not for the credit-crunched. Nor are the sums easily accessible: Castiglion del Bosco has been set up as a membership club where fees are confidential. One source recently estimated it to be 120 memberships at €2m each.

Nevertheless, Castiglion del Bosco does allow non-members (“discerning guests,” according to its website) to stay at Il Borgo, the so-called heart of the 4,500-acre estate, for roughly €600-€3000 per night, based on availability. This latest Ferragamo venture is located in Val d’Orcia, but the Ferragamos also own other (more reasonably priced?) properties in Tuscany that are open to guests. Il Borro (not to be confused with Il Borgo, above), near Arezzo, has villa and farmhouse accommodations starting at $475 per night. In addition, the family also runs Lungarno Hotels, which includes several hotels in Florence and some suites in Rome.

Of course, the Ferragamos aren’t the only designers in the hotel game in Italy. The FT article also lists The Bulgari Hotel in Milan, the (Alberta) Ferretti’s Castello di Montegridolfo and Carducci 76 near Rimini, and the Bottega Veneta suite in Rome’s St. Regis Hotel.

If luxury and design are important criteria for you when choosing a hotel, you can also check out the Fashion Designer Hotels round-up from Forbes Traveler, which includes properties from around the world designed by Italians and other big names in the fashion world.

Photo of Castiglion del Bosco

Italy’s Best Boutique and Luxury Hotels

Ironically, with all the hotel review and booking sites out there, it’s become almost impossible to find just the right place to hang our hats when we travel, especially for those of us that prefer smaller, independent inns or hotels with a bit of panache. We guidebook writers like to think that travelers will use the few suggestions that we provide, but we’re also realistic. That’s why I’d like to share a hotel site that I recently found: tablethotels.com.

Touted as a website with “hotels for global nomads,” tablethotels.com has a very simple site which allows you to choose accommodations by area, name, deals, and a few other criteria including “I just want to get away,” which is a select list of hotels categorized by destination, landscape, agenda (e.g., wine region, gambling), or hotel type (e.g., “traditional elegance,” “cutting edge”).

Tablet has listings for hotels all over the world, including Italy, and you can even click on a link called “TabletKids,” which lets you define specific kid-friendly criteria, such as a crib, connecting rooms, or a kid-friendly menu. We did this search for Italy with the above three requests and found some lovely looking lodgings from as far north as Lake Como to as far south as Puglia.

Sure, some people may find that the Tablet website is a bit too cosmopolitan for their tastes (indeed, you can download soundtracks for your trips and connect to them via twitter). But they do have hotels that start at under €100 per night. And, I love the pared down, almost bespoke approach Tablet has taken to create a hotel recommendations site.

Believe it or not, I don’t have any affiliations with Tablet; I just saw the site and liked it. So, go have a look…

Hotel Spotlight: A Bolthole in Basilicata

While everyone awaits the as-yet-unnamed* luxury hotel from native son Francis Ford Coppola, set to open in 2009, a new hotel has opened in Basilicata. The Financial Times reports that La Locanda delle Donne Monache, a sister hotel to Positano’s Casa Angelina, is now open for business in Maratea.

Name: La Locanda delle Donne Monache
Location: Via Carlo Mazzei, 4, Maratea (Potenza Province), Basilicata (see this on a map)
Contact: Phone 0973-876-139; Fax 0973-876-203
Web: http://locandamonache.com
Rates: €115-235
What’s Cool: That this modern, stylish exists in Basilicata is a testament to the fact that this southern Italian region is on the rise, as far as tourism destinations are concerned. La Locanda is located in the stunning town of Maratea, which overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea. We’re intrigued by the thoughtful design, which includes a bathtub built into mountain rock, pared down, bright rooms, and the collection of whimsical Murano glass art. La Locanda also has several vacation packages, including a three-night spa Body & Soul getaway for €660 through October 31, 2008.

Photo by Locanda Monache

*The New York Times listed the name as Blancaneax, which is actually in Belize.

Dirty Weekends in Italy

The Times UK’s Stephen Bleach had a fun article about romantic getaways in Europe this weekend titled “The Dirty Weekend Guide to Europe.” Bleach argues that a “place of [one's] own” makes or breaks a romantic holiday and highlights a “dozen of the slushiest, smoochiest and downright sexiest hideaways on the Continent.” No surprise to us, four out of the 12 are in Italy:

And, not a Tuscan villa among any of them. Be aware, however, that romance this luxurious comes at a price!

We’re Back…and Recent Rome Tips

Hello all. We’ve had a few technical difficulties over the last few weeks, so I hope you’ve stayed with us. In the interim, you may have missed our posts about Jewish Resources in Italy, Scootermania in Sicily, and Tuscan Wine Picks.

Now, it seems we have cured our hiccups and are ready to keep providing you with Italy travel tips. While we were gone, travel site Gridskipper ran a contest on Dream Destinations and many readers wrote in about Rome. Two Rome dream trips are in the finals; both entries are creative and provide useful tips for sightseeing, wining and dining, and exploring the Eternal City. Check out Roman Holiday and Rome Poem. Gridskipper also ran a piece about Secret Trastevere last month. By the way, yours truly entered a Gridskipper contest last year and qualified as a finalist with this entry about seeing Rome on $100.

Other Rome tips that have come our way recently are from A Luxury Travel Blog, which ran a piece on the Hassler Hotel’s Roman Skyline Package and from the New York Times, which has a feature on Rome at Night.

So, if you’re going to Rome this summer, here are plenty of suggestions. And there’s more to come, we’re sure…

 

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