Published in Tatler Malaysia, August 2011:
As Spring arrives, many of our friends in Europe (are jumping with joy at the end of Winter months!) are likely to be planning where to jet off to for quick beach weekend getaway. So here’s a little something unique for you with our top tips of where to stay;)
AMALFI COAST (ITALY)
The Amalfi Coast is one of the most spectacular and iconic stretches of coastline in the world. It’s simply breathtaking and extraordinarily chic. A must this Spring.
La Minervetta - In Sorrento, this cute boutique hotel has floor-to-ceiling windows and its three sun terraces are perfect platforms for admiring the panoramic views of the Bay of Naples.
Bellevue Syrene (Amalfi Coast) – built on an ancient Roman villa, this charming boutique hotel commands fantastic views of the sea and Mount Vesuvius.
Crystal-clear turquoise blue waters, quiet beaches, pine forests and great seafood may not be the first things that spring to mind about Ibiza, but the legendary nightlife is only one aspect of this absolutely charming Mediterranean island in the Balearics.
Atzaró – is a whitewashed family-run family-friendly finca hotel in central Ibiza.
Mirador de Dalt Vila - With nice views of Ibiza Town from the calming comfort of a Unesco-protected hillside, Mirador De Dalt Vila has all the warmth of a Spanish colonial family home.
With a perfectly curved bay, maze of whitewashed alleys and picturesque windmills peppering the hills to the south, Mykonos in the Aegean Islands is a must-see for any island-hopper. A long-time favourite of the jet set, it’s THE summer hotspot for toned and tanned beautiful people.
Mykonos Grace - The intimate Mykonos Grace hotel is within reach of the vibrant Mykonos Town and offers spectacular views of the Aegean and the Greek Islands.
Bill & Coo - This beachside boutique hotel in Mykonos Town offers fantastic sea-views. Incredibly hip and cool, Bill & Coo is the designer destination of choice for jet-set romantics.
Cote d’Azur is not all about Russians, bling and Hollywood show-biz. There’s the charm and quaintness found in Èze, Mougins and Saint-Paul- de-Vence that crown the cypress-dotted hills, all quaint cobbled alleys, casual cafés and ruined ramparts.
Le Saint Paul - This is a regular haunt of mine, I’ve stayed here before and eaten at the restaurant many times in this artistic bohemian Saint Paul de Vence! Le Saint Paul has original Chagalls, Picasso, adorning its silk walls, antiques and objets d’art galore, and dazzling Côte d’Azur views from its hilltop.
Cap Estel - gorgeous luxury boutique hotel mansion on a secluded peninsula snaking out into the Mediterranean sea. Heavenly!
So start planning folks… or like me dreaming….
Parisian summer is the best! I am bringing to you our selection of the 10 best hotels in Paris for varying budgets from luxury “palace” to designer boutique hotels to affordable and cute.
Located at the heart of the golden triangle between the Champs Elysées, Avenue Montaigne and Avenue George V, this is a fabulous designer boutique hotel worked on by Andree Putman. A great place to sleep, dine, hang out in the bar. Rate: Jet-set cool. Rooms: from 213 euros.
HOTEL BEL AMI:
Located on the trendy Rive Gauche (Left Bank) on the famous St Germain des Pres, full of hip clothing boutiques, art galleries, museums. This contemporary boutique hotel has rooms to fit your mood, such as “ambiance canelle” (cinnamon). Rate: Urban cool simplicity. Room: from 285 euros.
Located on the Left Bank, in the heart of Saint Germain des Prés, home of the art galleries, antiques, fine shopping and few steps away from the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre, this hotel is simply divine! Dining on the terrace if Parisian weather allows, and the soft taupe colors and modern furnishings make this a comfortable stay. Rate: Soft luxury comfort. Room: from 240 euros.
HYATT REGENCY MADELEINE:
Located on Boulevard Madeleine, not far from Place de la Madeleine, rue Rivoli and rue Faubourg Saint-Honore, this is a beautiful zen hotel that Frog and I used to spend delightful hours eating in the Chinoiserie room in front of a fireplace, with comfy leather sofas and skylight. Perfect place to dine, chill out and sleep. Rate: Uber zen. Room: from 330 euros.
HOTEL CHATEAU FRONTENAC:
Located off the Champs Elysees, this four-star hotel is a perfect affordable stay in chic Paris on the corner of Francois 1er. (It’s actually next to the Pershing Hall). Rate: luxury decor at affordable price. Room: from 185 euros.
HOTEL SOFITEL LE FAUBOURG:
Just off Place de la Concorde and rue Faubourg Saint-Honore (Paris’ amazing couture shopping street, equivalent to Sloane Street’s London), and opposite the trendy Buddha Bar, you’ll find this modern designer Sofitel le Faubourg hotel. Rate: Chic, urban and contemporary. Room: from 365 euros.
PARK HYATT PARIS VENDOME:
Located off the uber-elegant Place Vendome and within walking distance of the Place de la Concorde, Champs-Élysées, the Louvre, as well as Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré., this Park Hyatt is modern exquisite luxury. Rate: Ultimate zen luxury. Room: from 530 euros.
HOTEL LE SIX:
A charming four-star boutique hotel located in the 6th arrondissement in Saint-Germain des Pres. Six’s stylish ambiance and resolutely contemporary décor make it an exceptional address on the Left Bank. Rate: Cool affordability. Room: from 199 euros.
Located in the residential prestigious 16th arrondissement, not too far from the Champs Elysees, this is a cool four-star designer boutique hotel. Its cosy atmosphere and chic and offbeat interior design by the talented Aurélia Santoni and its contemporary French cuisine make this haven of peace a hotspot of Paris life. Rate: Designer modern chic. Room: from 299 euros.
HOTEL GEORGES V:
This Four Seasons hotel located in the heart of the luxury shopping district, avenue Georges V, avenue Francois 1er and off the Champs Elysees is simply divine. It screams luxury and for me is the best spa of Paris, with a gorgeous indoor swimming pool! Rate: palatial luxury. Room: from 750 euros.
PZ la parisienne
As published in International Living magazine’s 30th Quality of Life Index – surveyed almost 200 countries across nine categories, including cost of living, culture and leisure, environment, safety and risk and culture and leisure:
“For the fifth year running, France takes first in our annual Quality of Life Index. No surprise. Its tiresome bureaucracy and high taxes are outweighed by an unsurpassable quality of life, including the world’s best health care.
France always nets high scores in most categories. But you don’t need number-crunchers to tell you its bon vivant lifestyle is special. Step off a plane and you’ll experience it first-hand.
I always wish quality of life indicators could measure a country’s heart and soul. But it’s impossible to enumerate the joy of lingering for hours over dinner and a bottle of red wine in a Parisian brasserie. Or strolling beside the Seine on a spring morning, poking through the book vendors’ wares. Or buying buttery croissants in bohemian Montmartre…hearing Notre Dame’s bells…walking antique streets paved with poetry.
Romantic Paris offers the best of everything, but services don’t fall away in Alsace’s wine villages…in wild and lovely Corsica…in lavender-scented Provence. Or in the Languedoc of the troubadors, bathed in Mediterranean sunlight.
Provincial French properties are often keenly priced and lifestyles are less expensive than Paris. The Southwestern Midi-Pyrenees region is a particularly good hunting ground for village homes for less than $100,000—and classic three-course lunches for $14. Houses cascade with wisteria blossom; outdoor markets are everywhere. Foie gras, pink garlic, Armagnac, and crystallized violets aren’t gourmet fare for locals. Rather, just another day’s shopping.”
The Top Ten Best places to Live 2010
Data from International Living Magazine
5. New Zealand
7. United States
Hmm… no wonder I was living in Paris for 5 blissful years…
Paris – the capital of gastronomy and luxury combined gives us the ultimate gourmet shopping experience. It’s a true delight for any foodie that appreciates the art in food, a delicate presentation in a sublime ambiance. Who else but the French that can give us a dedicated gourmet specialty with such exotic variations? To show you exactly what I mean, my list of amazing gourmet boutiques that you can not miss when you’re next in Paris.
Laurent Dubois - fromagerie (cheese)
What better way to kick off my list with what the French love best: cheese. And lots of it. Laurent Dubois is the most famous fromagerie in Paris, he has hundreds of cheese variations from Epoisse to Reblochon to Chevrotin to Vacherin to Pont-l’Eveque, the list and aroma is breathtaking. Located in Boulevard Saint Germain.
Maison de la Truffe – truffles
La Maison de la Truffe has been the world’s reference for truffles since 1932. Truffle, a little black fungi that is as expensive as it’s delicious. Here you will find an assortiment of truffles, truffle oil, truffle sauce, truffle pasta… Located at the Place de la Madeleine.
Petrossian – caviar
It was in the 1920′s that two Armenian brothers–Melkoum and Mouchegh Petrossian–first introduced Paris to the magic of caviar and, in doing so, founded the company that today is the premier buyer and importer of Russian caviar worldwide. Add to the caviar, you’ll find the finest salmon and foie gras. Located Boulevard de la Tour Maubourg.
Pierre Hermé - macarons (macaroons)
The best macarons in Paris is found here, in this tiny patisserie created by the famous Pierre Hermé. Where else can you get white truffle hazelnut macarons or saffron-scented peach macarons? Be prepared to queue for a long time as queues wind outside! Located on Rue Bonaparte.
Maille – moutarde (mustard)
You’d think mustard was just mustard. What’s the fuss? You’d say that if you’re used to English mustard like Colman’s slapped onto your hot dog. But in France, moutarde is an essential condiment that enhances perfectly the flavour, with many variations of moutarde fit for a particular dish. So what better than Maille, founded in 1747 as the quintessential boutique for Dijon mustard, the variations of mustards will set your mind spinning. Located at Place de la Madeleine.
Poilâne – boulangerie (bakery)
The French love their bread. And they are also excellent at baking it. So it’s a must to visit Paris’ most famous bakery, Poilâne. In 1932, Pierre Poilâne, a young boulanger opened his first shop in Paris. A few years later, he invented a round loaf that revolutionised the industry. The bread stayed fresh longer and could be cut into large slices to make the famous ‘tartines’. Decades later, the poilane is still the best-seller. There are of course so many different kinds of bread from the classic baguette, to pain de campagne (countrybread), to pain d’epices (gingerbread). Located on rue du Cherche-midi.
Maison du Chocolat (chocolate)
The French also have the highest quality chocolate makers in the world. So look no further than the iconic La Maison du Chocolate for all things yummy, from hot chocolate drinks to chocolate truffles, pralines, ganaches, marrons glaces. Chocolat in France is a true art. Located rue du Faubourg Saint Honore.
Mariage Frères - maison de thé (tea house)
Variations of tea in a sublime setting in the heart of Paris, Mariage Frères was founded in 1854. Located Place de la Madeleine.
Fauchon, founded in 1886, is the referential luxury gourmet store where you can find delicate biscuits, madeleine cakes, jams, tea… Just the packaging and the shocking pink and black design of the store front is enough to send you in there dreaming… Located Place de la Madeleine.
Happy fooding and shopping!
Star Alliance airline network and PZ’s favorite monthly magazine, the very British Monocle, have issued a great traveling guide for business, cultural and local knowledge, illustrated by Satoshi Hashimoto.
As strong promoters of international relations, we are sharing with you these great tips to set you straight away on the right tracks wherever you go.
Enjoy and learn!
Save the best seat for the boss: in taxis and private rides alike, the Japanese observe a strict hierarchical seating plan where the best seat in a taxi is behind the driver. If your customer’s driving, the highest-ranked person must sit alongside to show respect.
In India, punctuality varies according to where you are. Traffic in Mumbai means that being slightly late is more acceptable than in a government city like Delhi, which operates like a clockwork. Check the local custom before you arrive.
Indians don’t like to say no to a request. If they are unable to do something, you are unlikely to get a direct refusal. Similarly, use tact and subtlety if you need to explain why a business proposal is not possible.
12. MIDDLE EAST
Women can avoid embarrassment in the Middle East by waiting to follow their male host’s lead when being introduced. Women might not be taken seriously at first, and some men may place their own hand on their chest rather than taking yours.
Be prepared for a detailed debate in Sweden: the Scandinavians love a meeting. Push it forward by setting dates, tasks and times, and don’t be surprised if a further meeting is required. Once something is agreed upon, it’s carried out with speed and efficiency.
At mealtimes in Germany, fold your napkin at the left side of your plate when you are done, and lay your cutlery parallel on your plate, with the handles on the right-hand side, to show you have finished.
In the UK, small talk is an essential preamble to business talk. The weather, the surroundings or the day’s events are all acceptable topics. After skirting round the real reason you’ve met, everyone will be happy to attend to the matter in hand professionally.
Don’t say no to a glass of baiju, the Chinese liquor of choice that is served at all formal dinners. But drink with restraint: draining your glass will result in a refill. Leaving it half-full is perfectly acceptable.
In Thailand, don’t touch or pass any thing over a person’s head, as in Thai culture the head is sacred. However, people often stand very close and touch each other on the arm when talking. Pointing is done with an open right hand, and beckoning with the palm facing downward and a waggle of the fingers.
The French sometimes give their surnames first when being formally introduced, and it can be considered rude to call a colleague by their first names. To avoid confusion, find out their names beforehand. Use “vous” rather than “tu”, unless invited otherwise, and never use “mademoiselle” to address a grown woman.
Published in THE EDGE Malaysia, October 2009:
To read this article, click this link: Balancing work and play a la Francaise