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ISSUE 14 DEC-JAN 2016-17




In the west of India bordering the Arabian Sea, GOA is synonymous with society dropouts and backpackers who routinely party ‘til dawn. But Nicholas Chrisostomou discovers that the holiday scene has gone distinctly upmarket, when he stays in a presidential suite fit for royalty, within a luxe hospitality haven – minus the hippies.



In a special 18-page feature, dedicated foodie Dawn Gibson rounds up the finest eateries in DOHA, capital city of one of the wealthiest countries in the world and host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.



Visiting 50,000-acre Segera in the heart of the Kenyan plains is to experience utter luxury amidst spectacular natural beauty, enjoy personal enrichment from conscientious vacationing, and feel like a guest in the home of the retreat’s founder, Jochen Zeitz, former CEO of Puma.



Scottish-born 2002 Hotelier of the Year, GORDON CAMPBELL GRAY, has never been busier. The Cultured Traveller chats with the luxury hotelier who created One Aldwych, Carlisle Bay and Le Gray, as he sets off on yet another hospitality journey.



It might not be the largest, most expensive or busiest airport in the world, but SINGAPORE CHANGI has been voted the Skytrax World's Best Airport for the past four years, so The Cultured Traveller takes a look inside.



Win a weekend stay in the USD 4,000/night 260m2 Presidential Suite at Istanbul’s top city-centre resort, 5-minutes from Taksim Square, the 360-room GRAND HYATT ISTANBUL, which boasts arguably the best hotel swimming pool in town. STADSHUSET, STOCKHOLM Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 05


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Narmada River; and elegant hybrid ryokan-hotel HOSHINOYA, set in tranquil woodland just outside Kyoto.

12 NEWSFLASH The Cultured Traveller’s rounds up the must see events, seasonal happenings and festivals taking place around the globe in December 2016 and January 2017, including the BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS in Hawaii, ALTITUDE COMEDY FESTIVAL in Mayrhofen, RHYTHM & VINES in New Zealand and the world's largest beach party, RÉVEILLON on Copacabana Beach on New Year’s Eve.




Our dozen hand-picked hotels featured in this edition, include the former holiday estate of French billionaire Didier Primat, DOMAINE DES ÉTANGS; stunning 18th century Indian stronghold-turned-hotel AHILYA FORT on the banks of

Don’t miss our round up of hot air travel news, including RICHARD BRANSON investing in new supersonic passenger jet, BOOM, New York fashion designer ZAC POSEN’s new outfits for Delta, and Great Britain’s national flag carrier’s new tipple, BRITISH AIRWAYS GIN.

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Alex Benasuli is enthralled by the picturesque Swedish capital of STOCKHOLM, where modernity meets tranquility, and fashionable restaurants, happening nightclubs and a burgeoning foodie scene sit naturally in an idyllic Scandinavian metropolitan archipelago, surrounded by forests and abundant countryside.



110 86 NO SHOES REQUIRED Far from the madding crowd and just an hour’s drive from Bali’s built-up tourist centres, Nicholas Chrisostomou discovers the magical 44-suite destination resort of SOORI BALI, set in a lush undamaged corner of the popular Indonesian island.

97 SPOTLIGHT In the heart of the German capital of Berlin, Alex Benasuli explores unique hospitality haven, DAS STUE, which skillfully blends contemporary luxury with artistic accents in every creative nook and cranny.

102 TRAVELLER LOWDOWN Sam Henderson, explores the Motor City of DETROIT, the largest city in the American state of Michigan, and gives us her insider lowdown on the iconic

metropolis very much back and on the up-and-up.

128 MUSIC & NIGHT LIFE The Cultured Traveller interviews BRANDON BLOCK, once a shy Jewish boy from Wembley, whose meteoric rise to global DJ fame saw him become a hedonistic Balearic legend, and one of the founding fathers of the fabled terrace at iconic Ibithincan club, Space Ibiza.

134 STYLISH GLOBETROTTER It's that time of the year (again!), when the holiday season is looming and suitably fabulous parcels must be dished out to those nearest and dearest. But fear not, because The Cultured Traveller's CHRISTMAS GIFTS ROUND UP is sure to make many faces smile on the morning of Sunday 25th December 2016.



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EDITOR’S LETTER As the festive season approaches, it's not just time to think about prezzies for family and friends, or where you'll be spending the big day (or in my case whether I'll be roasting turkey or goose), but also where you fancy travelling in 2017. As we get older, many of us tend to become more habitual, and the tendency is to go for the safe bet or somewhere we've vacationed before. There are so many incredible locations on our planet that it would be a crying shame not to experience somewhere new. Even prior to launching The Cultured Traveller, I had a rule to visit at least two new destinations a year. Obviously it's becoming harder year-in-year-out, but my present to myself this Christmas will be to visit Israel, the Maldives and Iran in 2017, plus either Peru or the Dominican Republic. Watch this space to see where I get off to and which exotic locale makes it onto the cover! In this edition, issue 14 sees Alex Benasuli explore the enthralling Swedish capital of Stockholm; set in an idyllic archipelago surrounded by water and forests, it’s home to wonderful architecture and everything else you'd expect from a happening Scandinavian metropolis (p 37). By complete contrast, our newest contributor, Samantha Henderson, visits the renowned Motor City of Detroit, scene of the largest municipal insolvency in American history but now very much back and on the up-and-up (p 102). Dawn Gibson does a culinary recce of the 2022 FIFA World Cup host city and serves us a special 20-page feature about the best places to dine in Doha, Qatar (p 110). Meanwhile I managed to find a place of sanctuary on the somewhat touristy Indonesian island of Bali, where I could have happily spent all summer (p 86). The Cultured Traveller also interviews Brandon Block, once a shy Jewish boy from Wembley, whose much-documented rise to global DJ fame saw him co-found the fabled terrace at iconic Balearic club Space Ibiza (p 128). There are numerous other features and insider tips to be found this issue, but for those panicking about what to buy the person who has everything, we've also compiled a capsule Christmas gift round up which will hopefully relieve some of the shopping stress (p 134). Tis the season to be jolly and I always think it's more important to have fun on 25th December than make the table look amazing. If you can do both, good on you, but don't kill yourself in the process of trying to achieve Christmas Day perfection. It's meant to be a holiday after all!



Nicholas Chrisostomou Editor-in-Chief



City Focus on Stockholm Alex has been traveling the world his whole life. Growing up in New York City, he would accompany his family every summer on visits to relatives in Spain, France and Germany. A successful two-decade career in finance often took him to Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, Russia, India, Indonesia and all over the Far East. Today, as an avid yoga practitioner and part-time teacher, Alex has a keen appreciation for combining luxury highbrow urban travels with off the beaten track alternative destinations and experiences.

Ashlee Starratt Rest Your Head

Ashlee Starratt is a Canadian editor and journalist based out of Doha, Qatar. With a passion for story-telling, if it’s lifestyle, wellness, travel or food, she’s probably written about it. With a background in print media and television across Canada and the Middle East, Ashlee has worked as Editorial Director for Qatar Happening and ABODE magazines, as a reporter, videographer and host for, and as a producer for Pink Dog Productions out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. She can be found on her travels, collecting stamps in her passport, in search of stories that need to be told.

Sam Henderson

Traveller Lowdown on Detroit Travelling is a passion, hobby and way of life for born globetrotter Sam Henderson. She has lived in and travelled throughout Germany, Ukraine and Japan, can speak their mother tongues, and is a pro at setting-up home in foreign climes. In 2006 she ventured round the world to Canada, the States, Western Samoa, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa with her husband and two children. Right now Sam is again on the road, this time for a year with her three kids (aged 9, 11 and 13) driving across the USA from coast to coast, then on to various Asia Pacific destinations.

Dawn Gibson

Doha's Best Restaurants Dawn Gibson is a multi-tasking journalist who is passionate about travel, fashion, food, culture and the arts. Never happier than when about to board a plane en route to a far-flung part of the globe, she is also a keen scuba diver always in search of the perfect coral reef. Dawn has worked as a senior news reporter for a leading city daily newspaper in Australia and as editor for a glossy lifestyle magazine in the Middle East. Her work has appeared in numerous international print and online publications, including Qatar Airways’ first class magazine Oryx Premium. Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 09

WIN A TWO NIGHT STAY IN THE PRESIDEN Grand Hyatt Istanbul's spectacular 240m2 Presidential Suite is the hotel's largest accommodation and boasts spectacular views of the Bosphorus. Situated on a private concierge floor, this sumptuous suite offers a separate living room, formal dining area, kitchen, master bedroom with oversized wooden sleigh bed, office with high-speed internet, and a deluxe marble spa bathroom complete with sauna and Jacuzzi tub. This incredible two-night prize worth USD USD 8,000 not only includes breakfast every morning, but also access to the hotel’s exclusive Grand Club lounge, which serves complimentary drinks and snacks all day, plus cocktails, wines and canapés for two hours every evening. Wi-Fi and a 2pm lazy checkout on day three are also included. Boasting arguably the best swimming pool in the city, plus tennis courts, secluded manicured gardens, a full-service spa, large well-equipped gym, yoga studio, Turkish bath and a selection of bars and restaurants, the 360-room Grand Hyatt Istanbul is a veritable resort hotel located in the very heart of the bustling metropolis. Rarely does one find such extensive facilities in a city centre property. Located near Taksim Square and Istiklal Street - close enough to grab a map from concierge and set off to explore on foot - this five-star resort hotel is immersed in the downtown epicentre of modern Istanbul, just a stone’s throw from the city’s thriving nightlife and shopping districts, yet a complete oasis of calm and class once through it’s gracious doors and vast, soaring marble lobby. Of the hotel’s many food and beverage offerings, two restaurants are standout: Restaurant 34 is a multi-cuisine dining destination, offering five different concepts in one location, including a chef’s table where guests can feast on expertly prepared foods arranged in front of their eyes, and a specialist charcuterie and cheese room. Hori brings the spirit of traditional Japanese restaurants to Istanbul with a unique menu and authentic Oriental ambience, and enjoys its own traditional Tatami room as well as a variety of private dining areas for special occasions. After dinner, The Library Bar is the perfect setting for a glass of champagne or fine cognac, evoking the style and class of a traditional English gentlemen’s club. ISTANBUL.GRAND.HYATT.COM FACEBOOK.COM/GRANDHYATTISTANBUL • INSTAGRAM.COM/GRANDHYATTISTANBUL

To enter this prize draw, email your contact details (name, city email and mobile number) to WIN@THECULTUREDTRAVELLER.COM Prize draw entrants will be added as subscribers to The Cultured Traveller's mailing list. The draw will take place after 31st January 2017 and the winner will be notified via email. This prize can be used until 30th November 2017, is not transferable, and is subject to availability of the Presidential Suite at Grand Hyatt Istanbul. The Cultured Traveller will not share your contact details with third parties. 10 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17




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Since first launching in 2002 (long after the original fair was christened in Switzerland in 1970), Art Basel Miami Beach has created such an art-drenched ecosystem full of diversity, that there’s something for just about everyone at this four-day artistic spectacle, which completely takes over the famous beachfront Florida city. While the fair's epicentre is the Miami Beach Convention Centre, there are literally dozens of

The grand Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court at Somerset House is the setting for what must be one of Europe's most stunning locations for ice skating during the festive season. No matter how impressive (or amateur) your skating skills, a visit to this 900 metre square outdoor rink will look the very picture of glamour and fun in your Christmas photos! Skate by day and enjoy a perfect winter afternoon at London’s most beautiful ice rink, or skate by night to a backdrop of music provided by top international DJs at one of Somerset House's exclusive themed club nights. Relax après-skate at Fortnum & Mason's Lodge in the west wing of Somerset House, or shop for pressies at the pop-up Christmas arcade. For a little post-skate indulgence, sip champagne and nibble on Fortnum’s Marc de Champagne chocolate truffles, or warm your cockles with a classic Swiss cheese fondue for two, paired with a specially selected wine. 17 November 2016–15 January 2017


offshoots, offbeat and off-center exhibitions, films, performances and shows throughout the city. For 2016, more than 250 leading galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa will show paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs and editioned works of the highest quality, produced by masters of the modern and contemporary art world. Meanwhile, numerous works by the genre's new generation of emerging stars will also be showcased, many of which are infinitely more affordable than the works on sale by big named artists. 1–4 December 2016 12 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17


Many German cities and towns have a scenic backdrop of historic houses and beautiful squares for their Weihnachtsmärkte. However, dating back to 1393, Frankfurt's Christmas market is one of the oldest in the country and the scenery and atmosphere is uniquely enchanting. Officially opened by the city's mayor on 23rd November, the elaborate and lavish decorations, the scenic surroundings of the Römerberg and St. Paul's Square and the huge Christmas tree in front of the Römer, all combine to make Frankfurt's Weihnachtsmärkt one of Germany's most beautiful, stretching from Zeil shopping mall to

BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS HAWAII The Billabong Pipe Masters is the last stop on the 2016 Men’s Championship Tour, designed to foster world-class performances around the globe, from Europe to the South Pacific. One of the ten most deadly waves in the world, Hawaii’s Banzai Pipeline is famous for its heavy swells

that can reach up to 30ft, breaking over shallow, rocky coral reefs at high speeds to form barreling curls of water. Not only is it the perfect wave for those willing to charge, but also for onlookers on the beach watching the incredible spectacle. Part of the allure of the Pipe Masters is that with surfing perfection occasionally come devastating consequences. The Banzai Pipeline is arguably one of the most dangerous waves on the planet, and has claimed more lives than any other wave in the world, on average one fatality a year, not to mention numerous injuries and broken boards. 8–20 December 2016


the Römerberg and down to the river Main. With more than 200 beautifully decorated stalls vying for the throng's attention, and the scent of roast chestnuts, mulled wine and grilled sausages filling the air, it's impossible to resist sipping on hot apple wine with cinnamon and cloves, or treating yourself to some Bethmännchen almond candies. 23 November–22 December 2016

Combining comedy and skiing, as long as you have a sense of humour and appreciate a joker or two, you’ll love this annual high altitude humourfest in Mayrhofen, which is basically a load of adults rolling around laughing in the Austrian snow. During Altitude, the hills are alive with the sound of laughter, and the world's biggest comedians perform six days of three live shows. The first daily show known as the Après Ski set - starts at 5pm (just after the lifts close), and is a raucous affair that takes place in the centrally located Hotel Strass. Attracting some of the best in the business, The Gala Show is the main

nightly event, where four comics perform in the 750-seat Europahaus theatre. For those with serious comedy (and drinking) stamina, there’s a nightly Late Show kicking-off at 11.30pm, where the jokes (and heckling) get dirtier in the wee hours. New for 2016 is Altitude's #LightUpMayrhofen, a dazzling festival of lights for one night only during the hysterical proceedings. 11–17 December 2016


“Live love dance” is the motto of Sunburn, India's famous electronic dance music festival, held in various locations around the globe, culminating in the biggest annual event which takes place just after Christmas and before NYE in Goa. Sunburn is a carefully crafted combination of music, food, shopping and EDM entertainment, spread over four days and late nights, and the handpicked line-up of artists showcases some of the world’s top disc jockeys alongside local DJ'ing talent. Some of the industry's biggest names in dance music have performed at Sunburn, including Swedish House Mafia, Armin Van Buuren, Axwell, Tiesto, Paul Van Dyk, Avicii and Pete Tong. Last year David Guetta played the closing night party, and this year's gathering, Sunburn's 10th birthday, promises to be bigger than ever before. Festivalgoers can also let loose with a range of adrenaline-powered activities, including bungee jumping and zorbing, completing the ultimate music-driven vacation experience. 27–30 December 2016



Arguably the world's largest beach party, with more than 2 million people routinely participating in this annual NYE bash, Rio's famous Copacabana is the setting for Réveillon, where Brazilians bid farewell to the old year with style and music on the beach's famed sands. An eclectic mix of religion, tradition, superstition and fiesta, Réveillon borrows its name from the French and its religion from Africa, the most iconic part of Réveillon being its all-white dress code, symbolising purity, peace and renewal, whilst appeasing Yemanjá, goddess of the sea. In traditional Latin America fashion, the early evening is usually a relatively calm affair, with families and friends gathering to feast and drink. Live international bands line Avenue Atlantica, which starts to rumble from around 8pm. Come midnight one of the world’s largest fireworks displays - launched from barges lining the entire beach so everyone has a front row seat - kicks off the real party. For those that can't handle the immense crowds, buy a pricey ticket to one of the hip parties staged in the high-rise blocks that line the beach (one of the best is Hotel Fasano's party), and get a bird's eye view of the colossal pyrotechnic display. Needless the say the party continues throughout the first day of the New Year. 31 December 2016–1 January 2017 Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 13




Sorry Sydney Harbour, but the first place in the world to welcome the first sunrise of the New Year is New Zealand, and what better place to do it than Rhythm & Vines, the country's annual, award-winning

Whilst Filipinos are known worldwide for their gracious hospitality and friendly nature, this feast festival held annually in January, in honor of the Santo Niño (the Infant Jesus), allows us a glimpse of their wild, colourful and playful side, a facet of these devout and thoughtful people rarely seen in public. Ati-Atihan is a festival of constant movement, drumming and feasting - a non-stop riot of exhibitionism, costume, music and dance. Soot-black painted faces, feather headdresses and animal bones create a show-stopping visual treat, and after days of relentless drumming and festivities it's nigh on

Set on Playa del Carmen's stunning white sand beaches, about 35 miles south of Cancun, since its inception relatively recently in 2008, BPM has grown very rapidly into a destination EDM festival to


music festival, held at Waiohika Estate family vineyard (hence the "vines" in the event name), not far from the city of Gisborne. The line-up is spread across four days on five stages and past headliners have included Calvin Harris and Mark Ronson. It's rumoured that famed Detroit rapper, Eminem, will be headlining this years R&V, which will be the 8-Mile star's first journey to New Zealand since 2014. Eminem will be joined by the likes of Chance The Rapper, Savage and countless DJ's hailing from all over the world. Premium accommodation options including onsite glamping and teepees (set in a cute village), and buying a Vintage Club Premium Pass will get you access to a VIP bar, various experiential cocktail bars around the site and special viewing platforms at the Rhythm Supertop and Vines stages. 29 December 2016–1 January 2017


impossible for even the most reluctant traveller not to get covered in soot and join the romping, all night closing masquerade ball. 1–20 January 2017


rival the summer scene on the Spanish party island of Ibiza. BPM's humble beginnings as a hospitality industry event – to bring together bartenders, promoters and musicians (hence “BPM”) – is a far cry from todays sprawling music gathering. More than 60,000 people from all over the globe, fly into Mexico to soak up the tropical Caribbean sun, drawn by a roster of some of the world's most popular dance music artists and DJs, 375 of whom will perform in Playa del Carmen over the festival's 10 days in 2017. Aside from almost 100 official events, divided into day and night shows hosted by record labels, nightclubs and promoters, revelers are also drawn by numerous unofficial events, parties and funky musical happenings which pop-up throughout the festival. 6–15 January 2017


With one of the most bitterly cold winters of all Chinese cities, Harbin is known as the Ice City for its well-known winter tourism and recreations, and its world famous ice and snow festival - the largest of its kind on the planet. It takes 15,000 ice sculptors, artisans and workers, working painstakingly for 16 days, cutting 120,000 cubic metres of ice blocks from Songhua River’s frozen surface, to create the breathtaking illuminated iced sculptures and statues, plus full size buildings and figures, dotted around the city. However, the main highlights are the two main exhibition areas, namely Sun Island and Ice & Snow World. Ice slides and festival food and drinks can be found in abundance in several parks and major avenues in the city, as well as winter activities such as alpine skiing, snowmobile driving, winter-swimming in the Songhua River, and the traditional ice-lantern exhibition in Zhaolin Garden. 5 January–25 February 2017 14 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

CARTAGENA INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL COLOMBIA For ten days each January, the historic Colombian walled city of Cartagena is completely filled with music during the Festival Internacional de Music. Under the artistic direction of Charles Wadsworth, renowned pianist and creator of chamber music events worldwide, festival concerts take place in historic venues throughout the city, including the Teatro Heredia and the beautiful chapels of Hotel Santa Clara, Santa Teresa, Iglesia de Santo Toribio and the Plaza San Pedro Claver. Cartagena opens some of its most charming colonial spaces - indoors and out - to the public for performances by classical musicians from around the world. As well as countless live performances, the festival runs master classes for young artists. This year's performers include

celebrated Japanese-born American violinist Midori Gotō, and famed French cellist, Gautier Capuçon. 6–16 January 2017



Celebrating the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan by John the Baptist, Timkat in Gondar is the greatest festival for Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia, and the three-day affair is rich in colour,

comprising various ceremonies all conducted with great pomp. On the eve of Timkat, called Ketera, sacred replicas of the Ark of the Covenant (known as ‘tabots’), are wrapped in luxurious cloth and placed on the heads of priests to be carried out of the church in procession with the clergy. The pilgrimage halts just outside of the city at Fasilides’ Bath, whereupon a divine liturgy is celebrated at 2am, attended by crowds who bring picnics to enjoy by the light of oil lamps. At dawn, a priest extinguishes a candle burning on a pole set in a nearby river using a ceremonial cross. Many in the congregation leap into the river. The tabots are then taken back to the churches, escorted by horsemen, while the festivities continue. 19 January 2017

WAKAKUSA YAMAYAKI JAPAN Formerly a volcano and rising 342 meters above sea level, Mount Wakakusayama, in the Japanese city of Nara, is the location for this annual event held on the fourth Saturday of January, which sees the entire hill fired-up in a controlled burn. Following a parade that includes a giant rice cracker tossing competition, a torch is lit with sacred fire at Kasuga Taisha Shrine. Buddhist monks then carry this sacred fire down to a small shrine at the foot of the hill. First, interfaith members of Kofuku-ji, Todai-ji and Kasuga Taisha ignite the hill with the sacred fire. Then hundreds of fireworks are launched, followed by the burning of the hill, for roughly an hour, with the grasses on the slopes blazing as if a red hell were draped over the mountainside. When all of Mount Wakakusayama is

eventually alight, like a mammoth flickering torch, the fire can be seen across the entire metropolis, unsurprisingly. 21 January 2017


Whilst most people spend the winter months doing their level best to avoid ice and snow, the inhabitants of the picturesque French-speaking province of Québec City do the very opposite and positively revel in the frigid surroundings, celebrating the joie de vivre of carnival season in freezing, sub-zero fashion at Carnaval de Québec. Québec City held its first large carnival in 1894, but a consistent annual event was interrupted by two wars and an economic crisis, before the first official edition of the Québec Winter Carnival took place sixty years ago in 1955. The largest winter shindig in the world has been an annual event ever since, comprising parades, an outdoor amusement park, giant ice slides, snow sculpture competitions, and a lot of eating, drinking and being merry, plus more traditional dogsled and canoe races. Not to be missed is the Ice Palace constructed with bricks of compacted snow, and lit with coloured lights that it look like a giant, iced dessert. 27 January–12 February 2017 Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 15

DOMAINE DES ÉTANGS When one of France’s richest men, Didier Primat, died in Geneva in 2008, the publicity-shy billionaire left behind, amongst countless other assets, his holiday estate, Domaine des Étangs. A bucolic 2,100-acre resort in South West France, the Domaine is located three hours drive from Paris and an easy drive from Cognac and Bordeaux. At its center, the picturesque 11th century honey-stone turreted château cum castle, built in 1060, is complemented by manicured gardens and expansive grounds, all nestled within the somewhat remote and untouched Charente Limousine 16 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

region, largely comprising beautiful rolling countryside. Primat bought the Domaine in 1986 and set about planting orchards, buying pigs, chickens and quails, and then filling the place with children. In every sitting room, dates marking family events remain carved into the fireplaces, including the day he and his partner Martine were married in front of their eight offspring. By the time he died, Primat had lovingly and carefully restored the estate's historic buildings and grounds, creating “a big playground for the whole family,” recalls his daughter Garance, the fourth of the eight siblings.

Rest Your Head Massignac, Napa Valley, London, Maheshwar, Cappadocia, San José Del Cabo, Laikipia Plateau, Beirut, Kyoto, Gstaad, Christophe Harbour, Rome

MASSIGNAC, FRANCE Since her father died, Garance has worked – in collaboration with French landscape designer, Camille Muller, and architect, Isabelle Stanislas – to fulfill Primat's dream of transforming the estate into a retreat for discerning vacationers visiting from around the world. Finally, Garance recently opened Domaine des Étangs as an exclusive and lavish, yet warm and welcoming, hotel, albeit slightly unconventional. The self-proclaimed largest 5-star resort in mainland France, boasts seven suites in the château, six freestanding farmhouse-style cottages (each with its own

lake, barbecue and rowing boat), a 40-seat Michelin-starred gourmet restaurant, two swimming pools, a floating tennis court and thermal Roman baths, not to mention seemingly unending rambling hills, forests and lakes, all ripe for exploration. Garance lured the estate’s talented French chef, Fabien Beaufour, from Oblix restaurant in London’s Shard. A spa and yoga centre – housed in an old water mill on the largest of the lakes – will open next year. NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 17


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AUBERGE DU SOLEIL In the heart of California’s wine country stands the ‘Inn of the Sun’ where, as its namesake orb rises above the evergreen hills and golden vineyards, time turns to treacle. A slowing of the senses is in order during a stay at the Auberge du Soleil; a mindfulness that frees up the spirit to truly appreciate the little indulgences that have earned this resort a holistic five stars. Terraced along the hillside of a 33-acre olive grove, this signature property from American luxury hotel brand, Auberge Resorts, offers guests seeking the ultimate private oasis a selection of 50 sumptuous, stand-alone maisons, in addition to its masterfully appointed roster of deluxe rooms and suites. With sweeping valley views and warm décor, each maison is 1,800ft2 of back-to-nature opulence, complete with private fitness studio, vast living area, fireplace-dining alcove, al fresco tub and rain-shower. An adults-only resort, Auberge du Soleil is home to an award-winning spa, lush outdoor sculpture garden, and sets itself apart through a commitment to sustainable environmental practices and preserving its native landscape. As you wander through the olive trees at the spa, be sure to note its courtyard centerpiece – three stone fountains, transported from a centuries-old French monastery. Their focal point is aligned in the distance with a singular mountaintop, in Napa Valley’s one-of-a-kind Mount Veeder Appellation. Gourmands can take a culinary journey amid seasonal tastes and sommelier’s pairings, at the resort’s Michelin-starred namesake restaurant. Founded 35 years ago as Napa’s first fine-dining establishment, by innovative restaurateur, Claude Rouas, the hotel has continued his celebrated culinary philosophy, as executive chef, Robert Curry, brings the region’s abundant richness to each and every plate. ASHLEE STARRATT Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 19


PARK HYATT ST. KITTS Already a popular port for superyachts, the West Indian island of St. Kitts will soon be an even more desirable destination for billionaire boaters, who regularly visit the two-island Caribbean nation to revel in its intoxicating natural beauty, sunny skies, warm waters and white sandy beaches. Sparkling new 2,500-acre luxury resort, Christophe Harbour, not only promises island living guided by expert hands, authentic experiences based on Kittitian heritage, and rare Caribbean real estate opportunities, but also an elaborate superyacht marina village, offering global yachters a glamorous new international dock to drop anchor, shop and socialise. At its heart and slated to open in March 2017, is the 126-room 5-star deluxe Park Hyatt St. Kitts, set along the shores of Christophe Harbour's Banana Bay and overlooking The Narrows, a strait separating St. Kitts and the volcanic isle of Nevis. This will be premium Park Hyatt brand's first foray into the Caribbean market, and by all accounts the luxe property will deliver an unrivalled hospitality experience to islanders and overseas visitors alike, nestled on a secluded area of private beach surrounded by crystal clear waters. An extraordinary collaboration between some of the world's top architects, designers, developers and hoteliers, has seen the original and sustainable design concept for Park Hyatt St. Kitts tap into the rich historical roots of the island, resulting in the hotel being positioned as an intimate and contemporary residential environment, ideally suited to discerning leisure travellers. 78 rooms and 48 suites, combining modern architecture with a timeless colonial feel, each with a private balcony or terrace, will offer spectacular views of the beautiful surrounding landscape and Caribbean Sea. Meanwhile, a sprawling resort spa with 9 treatment rooms, will offer a full range of facial and body treatments including Watsu therapy, and three concept restaurants will serve international and traditional, local cuisine. NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU 20 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17


HOSHINOYA Customary Japanese houses that cling to the banks above the Hozugawa River, in the wonderful temple-rich Arashiyama district in Western Kyoto, are inspiration for the series of traditionally styled low-rise buildings that make up Hoshinoya. This luxurious, hybrid ryokan-hotel, set in a tranquil wooded area of stunning natural beauty, is only accessible via a 15-minute boat ride along the Ōi River, in a Japanese cedar wood hinoki. Hoshinoya is situated in Ogurayama, an intensely scenic area that once inspired poets, and was favoured by the noble classes 1,200 years ago. Today deer still wander around, and in the autumn maple trees colour the landscape bright red, adding to the romantic appeal of this rather special spot. Iron lanterns light bamboo-fenced mossy stone walkways, leading to Hoshinoya's 25 elegant and serene guest rooms, which are punctuated with hand-blocked wallpaper, heated wooden floors, shoji-inspired sliding glass doors and picture windows, deep soaking tubs and an abundance of cedar. Windows look onto the river below, or out into the trees where foxes roam and the occasional monkey swings through the forest. Larger rooms have bigger views and sofas. Suites have formal tatami lounges and traditional Japanese matting. Hoshinoya is essentially a contemplative place, and a veritable retreat, not only from Kyoto but also modern-day life. You won't see a television anywhere at Hoshinoya (in-room entertainment consists of a sound system and calligraphy set), and the boat link to civilisation only runs for 13 hours each day. But after you’ve feasted on an exceptional nine-course dinner of delectable Japanese cuisine, and changed into the raw-silk robes provided, you can recline in the library (refreshed throughout the day with complimentary snacks), or sit in the Zen rock garden and gaze up, lose yourself in the star-filled skies and relish your momentary escape. NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 21


THE HOUSE HOTEL Turkey's land of fairy chimneys, as Cappadocia is often called, is a dreamy slice of the only Eastern European nation that straddles western Asia. Set on a high, dry plateau in the middle of Turkey, Cappadocia is a region of hot summers and cold, occasionally snowy, winters. Once upon a time, ancient volcanic eruptions blanketed this region with thick ash, which solidified into a soft rock tens of metres thick. After wind, water, erosion and time worked their magic, only its harder features remained, forming a whimsical landscape of cones, pillars, pinnacles and chimneys, some of which, particularly in the Göreme valley, stretch up to 40 metres into the sky. Centuries later yet still more than a thousand years ago, humans took a cue from Mother Nature and began carving an incredible cave and tunnel complex into the soft rock. Beginning in the 4th century AD, an urbanized, underground land was created by the hands of men - including living quarters, places of worship, stables and storehouses - alongside the naturally occurring visual wonderland. Located near Göreme and Ürgüp, the town of Ortahisar is relatively untouched by tourism, and it is here - a little off the beaten track yet close to the must-see sights - that The House Hotel is located. Set just off the town’s main square, overlooking the ‘hisar’ and neighbouring fairy chimneys, The House offers a convenient base from which to explore the astonishing region's fascinating past and present. Staying at The House is to be immersed in a world of carved stonework, that not only sheds light on how folks lived long ago, but that also makes for inimitable design detailing. The hotel’s 45 guest rooms have been fashioned from a complex of ancient connected caves and traditional homes, including several buildings built in the 5th century, as well as some from the 1800s and late 1900s. Each room has been styled in a freshly understated way for the region, and features frescoes, crown moldings and other authentic décor elements that accentuate Cappadocia’s rich heritage. The hotel’s locally inspired restaurant and 350m2 spa with traditional Hamam, sauna and steam, help to further provide guests with a truly authentic Turkish experience. NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU 22 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

AHILYA FORT What sets the discerning traveller apart is a gravitational pull towards authenticity; of slipping into their surroundings like a well-worn robe; a seeking out of singularity outside the boundaries of the mold. India breaks that mold. Its tapestry of religions, dialects, cuisines and cultures makes it one of the world’s most diverse destinations, where its indelible beauty often exists outside our comfort zone. Those seeking an Indian experience unlike any other can find it in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, where Ahilya Fort overlooks the sacred Narmada river in Maheshwar. Here culture, hospitality and authenticity come together in complete harmony. Well before its conversion in 2000 into a 13-room heritage hotel, this 18th century fortress was originally built for Maharani Ahilya Bai Holkar, Queen of the Maratha-ruled Malwa kingdom. Spilling outward from the base of the 250-year-old fortress are the Ahilya ghats, or ‘river steps’, where all life, commerce and communion takes place. Take your breakfast of fresh delicacies straight from the hotel’s vegetable garden as you watch the local women bring their washing to the river. Maheshwar is considered the home of Lord Shiva, and there are a multitude of temples in his name to visit throughout the area; while other cultural wanderings might bring you to the Rajgadi royal throne of Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar, the archeological museum, or the Sahastradhara waterfall. Each of the hotel’s rooms, tents and suites are spread out across all six buildings of the fortress, their sumptuous décor reminiscent of the quarters of Indian royalty, abounding with ornate fabrics and period furniture. Guests staying in the Royal Tent also have a private garden area and plunge pool. With a cuisine as varied and vibrant as its people, no stay at Ahilya Fort is complete without a taste of its local, lush ingredients and spices – or a fresh chapati straight from the hotel’s on-site bakery. Lunch can be savoured at the fortress’ leafy Badam courtyard or, for the more adventurous, take your dinner on an island in the middle of the Narmada River. ASHLEE STARRATT


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MAR ADENTRO Where the Mexican desert meets its ocean lifeblood sits Baja California Sur. The lower-most extremity of the world’s second longest peninsula, its landmass juts like a finger, striking an untamed balance between the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortés. The rugged mysticism of its landscape is juxtaposed against the bronzed, champagne glitz of its Hollywood resort playgrounds of Cabo san Lucas and San José del Cabo. Sun-chasers seeking a reprieve from the madding crowds will find welcome respite at Mar Adentro. Hugging the coastline, this eight-acre resort feels like it’s been carved from the living rock, and is a dream of a retreat whose architecture blends organically with the exquisite beauty of its natural surroundings. The vision of Mexican architect Miguel Ángel Aragonés, the 205-room property is a white-washed haven where simplicity in design allows the landscape to be the focal point, with unbroken, linear sightlines towards the cerulean sea. Guests can select from well-appointed ocean-view rooms, suites or two stand-alone luxury villas, each complete with a private roof terrace, shaded kitchen and bar, outdoor lounge and dining areas and private 205ft2 pool. A water-sustainable resort, Mar Adentro prides itself on offering 100% potable drinking water, sourced and purified from the sea. A wraparound watercourse leads from the sea directly into the heart of the resort where it’s treated with desalination, activated carbon and UV-ray cleansing processes. Wander around Mar Adentro’s airy canals and saltwater pools, immersing yourself in the natural light throughout its expansive facilities, and you’ll notice that wellness is at the very root of its ideology. Soak up a water-pressure massage or indulge in a clinical aromatherapy session against a musical backdrop of Vivaldi at the resort’s holistic spa, or re-center yourself in one of Mar Adentro’s private yoga and Pilates studios. If Zen on a plate is more your speed, you need look no farther than the resort’s four sumptuous fine-dining options: Origen serving up revitalized modern Mexican; Nido offering the freshest catch from the Sea of Cortés; Roca – the chicest of pool-side speakeasies; or Nube, a sundowners’ domain, where the strength of the cocktails are as breathtaking as the terrace views. ASHLEE STARRATT 24 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

SAVO R EXQ UISIT E M ED I TERRA N EA N CUISIN E Bask in the uninterrupted views of the Acropolis and the city of Athens, while enjoying an inspired selection of Mediterranean flavors, especially created by the Chef de cuisine, Asterios Koustoudis, at the GB Roof Garden Restaurant.

ΜΗ.Τ.Ε.: 0206K015A0021500

operating hours: Lunch 13:00 - 18:00 | Dinner 18:00 - 01:15 (last order) For reservations, please call 210 3330 766 or visit:

hotel grande bretagne a luxury collection hotel, athens Syntagma Square 105 64 Athens, Greece

SEGERA RETREAT Jochen Zeitz is a successful businessman, ecological visionary, committed philanthropist and dedicated advocate of sustainability. He was the youngest CEO to head a German PLC (Puma, no less), now chairs the sustainability committees for Kering, Harley-Davidson and Wilderness, and co-founded The B Team with Richard Branson - a global nonprofit initiative that brought together a collection of global leaders, in an attempt to define an agenda to make businesses more sustainable. Zeitz is also creator of the nonprofit Zeitz Foundation, of which Segera Retreat is a core project, situated between Mount Kenya to the east and the Great Rift Valley to the west, at the very center of the Laikipia Plateau. Common or garden tourists generally visit Africa to tick off their bucket list that they've seen the Big Five. But at Segera, Zeitz has created something that offers infinitely more than wildlife spotting. For starters, at 50,000 acres, Segera is more than three times the size of Manhattan. When he bought the old cattle farm in 2005, Zeitz set out to replenish a landscape that had been overgrazed and over-hunted. He designed his own sustainability framework and set about restoring beauty to the land and preserving the cultural legacy of its indigenous peoples. He also ripped out many of the fences to liberate the animals. A decade later, the Laikipia Plateau supports the second highest density of wildlife in Kenya, and is the only region in the country where species’ population numbers are increasing. Today, Segera houses three endangered species, honey production and part of Zeitz's extensive art collection. 26 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

LAIKIPIA PLATEAU, KENYA The Segera lifestyle - focused around conservation, community, culture and commerce - Zeitz's “4Cs” - is carefully designed to inspire visitors' souls as much as their senses. At Segera, it is not uncommon to see elephants, buffalo, lions, leopards, monkeys, cheetah, giraffes, more than 200 native bird species, and most of the East African plains’ game animals. Endangered species, such as the Grevy's zebra and the rare African Wild Dog (whose population is now growing in remarkable numbers throughout all of Laikipia), also roam Segera's lands. Add to this incredible natural landscape the genuine feeling of being a guest at Zeitz's home, and it's unsurprising that visitors to date have included fashion queen Vivienne Westwood, actress-turned-activist Darryl Hannah, and sustainability consultant Leo Johnson, brother of former London Mayor, Boris. Visiting Segera is to experience utter luxury amidst spectacular natural beauty and enjoy personal enrichment from conscientious, sustainable vacationing. If you’re very lucky you might even get a ride in the same 1929 mustard-coloured Gypsy Moth biplane, that was used in the filming of Sydney Pollack’s romantic tour de force, Out of Africa, which Zeitz can often been seen flying over Segera's vast, open plains. NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 27

LE VENDÔME BEIRUT Cedars, sea and sky are Lebanon’s calling card. City by the sea and still very much the Paris of the Middle East, Beirut beckons the ultimate cultured traveller with all five of her alluring senses. Art, music, history, nightlife and cuisine – Lebanese hospitality is second to none. Always fiercely proud of its heritage, Beirut continues to carry a torch for its golden era – those decades from the late 1950s to the early 1970s when the city was an awakened hub for artists, screen stars, forward thinkers of literature, education, politics and all manner of intelligentsia in between. If there’s one hospitality address in Beirut that’s remained true to this most illustrious epoch, it’s Le Vendôme. With 73 rooms, its size and intimacy make it one of the city’s most charming yet lavish boutique hotels, with a history deeply rooted in those formative years of Lebanon’s cultural crusade. Founded in 1964 by La Societe Hoteliere Fakhoury, the hotel came under the management of InterContinental in 1996, and underwent an extensive, multi million-dollar restoration, creating a deluxe property to welcome today’s discerning visitors exploring the Lebanese capital. In a prime location overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, and just minutes from the city centre on the edge of the upscale downtown area, Le Vendôme has hosted its share of celebrities, royalty and foreign dignitaries over the last few years. With a décor galvanized by l'elegance française, each of the hotel’s Deluxe, Premium and Executive rooms boast lush amenities, luxe bathrooms, classic furnishings and colour palettes that evoke the splendour of 18th century living. Try to snag a sea-view room for a brilliant breakfast with the ultimate balcony panorama. With expansive living and dining areas, kitchenette, two master bathrooms and private butler service, Le Vendôme’s 220m2 Presidential Suite affords esteemed guests the ability to spread out and luxuriate, with premium add-ons including complimentary in-room neck and shoulder massages and executive airport transfers. Just a few minutes walk away, committed sun-worshippers can top up their tans at Saint-Georges Yacht Club & Marina, while the markets, souks, restaurants and Hamra’s buzzing nightlife are all just a short stroll from the hotel. The expansive Phoenicia Spa, in Le Vendôme’s big sister hotel nearby, offers personal trainers, a 24-hour fitness centre and a roster of relaxation treatments to take care of guests’ bodies, minds and souls. For ‘scene’-sters and culinary connoisseurs, a visit to Sydney’s rooftop restaurant is a must – as there’s really no better vantage point from which to drink in the city, with all the shining lights of Beirut sparkling incandescent below. Under the helm of the acclaimed chef, Rabih Fouany, Le Vendôme Beirut’s 24-hour dining experience offers a curated selection of international delicacies, against a backdrop of rare cognacs, whiskies and fine cigars. If Lebanon remains the heart of the Levant, then Beirut is still its pulse, whose rhythm positively ebbs and flows at Le Vendôme. ASHLEE STARRATT 28 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17


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THE ALPINA GSTAAD Amid the regal grandeur of the Swiss Alps, as snow gathers on the needles of pines and larches, the hamlets of its many mountain valleys beckon with their twinkling chalet lights and curls of smoke. Nestled among the peaks of the Bernese Oberland region is Gstaad, that most quixotic of alpine enclaves, whose soaring mountains and prestigious international boarding schools have long made it a vacation destination for the royal elite. Cultured travellers seeking a super-sophisticated Alpine experience need look no farther than The Alpina Gstaad, where nature and luxury blend seamlessly. Having opened it doors just four years ago in December 2012, this bespoke deluxe resort continues to set the pace in its climb to the top, having earned the 2016 Best Resort in Switzerland award from Travel & Leisure, and the 2016 Traveller’s Choice Award from TripAdvisor. With a Six Senses Spa and two Michelin-starred restaurants, the litany of accolades The Alpina Gstaad has already accrued are impressive to say the least. Featuring 56 rooms and suites, each has been designed under the expert eye of Swiss artisans, utilizing locally sourced natural and contemporary materials to offset the rustic wood elements of each space. Guests who opt for a Grand Luxe, Chalet or Panorama suite can upgrade their experience with bespoke in-room shopping. Organized by the hotel’s concierge, discerning clientele can peruse the best luxury retail items from Gstaad’s high street, directly from the comfort of their lodgings, without even having to set foot outside – the perfect antidote to skier’s fatigue after a long day on the slopes. Equal parts resort and art gallery, The Alpina Gstaad’s extensive private art collection features works from 33 internationally-renowned contemporary artists, with paintings, seasonal installations and thought-provoking mixed-media on display within the hotel and around its grounds. Of its six, unique gastronomic offerings, both Restaurant Sommet and Megu have earned their inaugural Michelin stars, along with 18 and 16 Gault Millau points respectively. At the former, indulge in some of the best steaks in Switzerland, or a unique chef’s tasting menu that’s a veritable homage to the region’s outstanding fresh produce. Meanwhile at the latter, gourmands can sup from Megu’s extensive cellar of sake while sampling some of the town’s finest sashimi. ASHLEE STARRATT Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 31


BATTY LANGLEY'S The English are known throughout the world for their eccentricity, non-conformist style and sometimes rather unusual behaviour, which often leaves many overseas visitors scratching their heads. National treasures include the likes of fashion icon Vivienne Westwood, cross-dressing ceramicist and Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry, and Zandra Rhodes, the pink-haired septuagenarian fashion designer. Aside from Brighton (an hour outside of the capital, on the south coast), nowhere is Great Britain's irreverent eclecticism more alive and kicking than London, the nation's energetic heart – brimming with eccentrics, brash with colour and alive with humour. And within the M25, hip east London is the place most heaving with slightly different and overtly more outgoing types. It's little surprise then, that Douglas Blain and Peter McKay's third London hotel, a delightfully unconventional five-storey property in the heart of charismatic Spitalfields, bears such an odd title, named after Bartholomew “Batty” Langley, an 18th century British architect, landscape gardener and author. Situated on narrow cobbled Folgate Street, slap bang in the middle of the East End’s most funky neighbourhood, the front door to Batty Langley's is permanently locked to all except residents, making the place feel like a cross between someone’s house and a private members club. Once inside, 29 rooms and suites have been individually styled, dotted with period antiques and original artwork, and injected with a sense of fun. You can tell that the hotel's owners don't really like being told what to do, and Batty Langley's is all the better for it, a fantastic concoction of glorious Georgian architecture, tasteful wooden furnishings, four-poster beds and sumptuous interiors of warm colours and wood paneling. The entire property is bedecked with heavy silk drapes. Many of the hotel's authentic Georgian bathrooms feature deep, freestanding tubs. All have thick mahogany loo seats, a little brass handle to flush and swan head bath taps. The abundance of such charming detailing – all without exception executed to perfection – is the key to Batty Langley's unique and unrivalled individualism. The hotel’s premiere GBP 1,200/night Earl of Bolingbroke Suite, boasts four rooms on two levels, complete with a private roof terrace offering sweeping vistas towards the Olympic Park. Downstairs, open fires, pure wool carpets and a choice of cozy yet glamorous sitting rooms complete the feeling of staying in the grand, lovingly maintained home of your aunty who might be just a tiny little bit bonkers. NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU 32 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

Terms & conditions apply. Hyatt ™ and Grand Hyatt ™ names, designs and related marks are trademarks of Hyatt Corporation. ©2016 Hyatt Corporation. All rights reserved.

GOOD TAKES A VACATION. GRAND TAKES A STAYCATION. Book the ultimate getaway this season with our special offer starting at QAR 1686 per night in our luxurious villas. Indulge in a world of fine dining, 400 m of private beach, outdoor and indoor swimming pools, and tranquil gardens. *Villas vary between two, three, and four bedrooms. *The offer is valid for a minimum stay of two nights. *This experience is available until 17 March 2017. *Bookings are subject to the availability of the villas.

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HOTEL EDEN A city steeped in history, Rome stills carries the echoes of its great civilization, as the ancient and the modern hold hands in eternal dance. The past is never far from any corner of this Italian metropolis. The beauty of Rome’s architecture and enlightenment, and the stories of its ancient bloodshed, draw millions of tourists a year after year to its spectacular monuments. Central to the action and cacophony that is Rome, is Hotel Eden. Located between Via Veneto and the Spanish Steps, its 125-year-old structure is currently undergoing extensive restoration, under the stewardship of the Dorchester Collection, and is slated to re-open in April 2017 with 98 refreshed guestrooms and suites. Loyal frequenters of the hotel can expect to see inspired upgrades that remain true to the ethos of the property’s exuberant heritage. With elegant, Roman-inspired suite interiors, a new all-day brasserie on the building’s top level, and a hidden library bar, the hotel’s magic lies in the details of its refurbishment. With its name suggesting the great utopia, Hotel Eden earns its moniker from its lush surroundings, with the verdant gardens of Ludovisi, Borghese and Malta villas all practically on its doorstep. The hotel’s Aurora Terrace suite boasts an outdoor lounge and private fountain, an al fresco dining area that can seat 10 and a Romanesque marble bath. Meanwhile guests of the Penthouse Suite are whisked to their luxe abode via a private elevator. Upon completion of the renovations, visitors to Hotel Eden also have the opening of the property’s new flagship spa to look forward to. Promising to be a deluxe urban sanctuary, dedicated to relaxation and renewal, the facility will offer four private spa suites plus an upscale blow-dry bar. If pampering wets your appetite, satiate your palate at La Terrazza, the hotel’s spacious new rooftop dining experience, where the cuisine of classical Italy comes home to roost under the careful eye of Chef Fabio Ciervo. Book the intimate chef’s table for private functions of up to eight guests, imbibe in a limoncello on the secret garden terrace of Il Giardino Ristorante, or indulge in the warmth of a cigar and brandy in the tranquil sophistication of the new Libreria Lounge. If Italy is meant to be experienced with all five of the senses, Rome’s new Hotel Eden will almost certainly provide for them all. ASHLEE STARRATT Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 35

”One of the 10 best hotels of 2014” VO GUE FRANCE

”One of Europe’s best new boutique hotels” CNN

”One of the best business hotels in the world selected by luxury executives” FORBES

Sveavägen  48, Stockholm ·



ap of Sweden, largest city in the Nordic region, apital and one of the fastest growing commercial hubs in an Europe, Stockholm oozes down-to-earth confidence Eu dynamism. Nestled between Lake Mälaren and the Baltic and dynam Sea, spread across fourteen islands connected by bridges and canals, and surrounded by forests and abundant countryside, few cities on the planet can match Stockholm’s stunning natural setting.

Stockholm has a long and proud history. Gamla Stan – the old city dating back to the 13th century – is one of the best-preserved medieval districts in Europe. Elsewhere, buildings and boulevards from the late 19th and early 20th centuries abound, giving the city elegance in spades. The combination of architectural marvels set in such a natural environment makes Stockholm a visually unique metropolis and a complete delight to explore. Though the visual

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experience alone should be enough to position the Swedish capital at the top of everyone’s city break list, it is its contemporary design and fashion industries, as well as cosmopolitan café and restaurant culture, that allows Stockholm to stand globally alongside much larger international peers. During the summer months, Stockholm literally shines. Though not quite the land of the midnight sun (you would have to go further north for that), in the weeks leading up to and after the June summer solstice, daylight continues for what seems like forever. From late spring through autumn, Stockholm is an al fresco urban paradise. Locals spend as much time as possible cycling, boating, walking-around and 38 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

frequenting the scores of outdoor cafés and eateries, before dropping temperatures drive the action indoors. The waterfront between Kungliga Operan (the Royal Opera House), Kungsträdgården (Swedish for "King's Garden") and the Grand Hôtel – facing Parliament House and the Royal Palace – is an ideal place to begin one’s appreciation of the city. The many bridges and boardwalks that connect the mainland to Gamla Stan and adjacent Skeppsholmen Island, offer some picture postcard-perfect vantage points from which to absorb this beautiful city. Stockholm’s skyline is handsome, grand and unique, dominated by amber, rust and gold-coloured stone buildings, erected in centuries past when the city was the epicenter of a Scandinavian and Baltic empire. The low-rise architecture and gently hilly topography,

Stockholm’s skyline is handsome, grand and unique, dominated by amber, rust and gold-coloured stone buildings, erected in centuries past when the city was the epicenter of a Scandinavian and Baltic empire

combine to create a visually pleasing rhythm of church spires and notable buildings, that go on as far the eye can see. Water is everywhere and supplies a constant exercise in motion, with floating traffic consisting of everything from rowing boats to sailing yachts and commercial vessels adding to the ever changing tableaux. Light reflecting off the water, in a multitude of seasonal daytime variations, provides visitors with a splendid scene of changing vistas. During the summer months, the terrace of the Grand Hôtel offers the perfect outdoor setting to soak up some sun and to watch the waterborne world go by ( For a slightly younger and groovier vibe, the patio at the front of Lydmar Hotel next door, offers the same sweeping views but in a more relaxed ambience. It is where many professional yet

hip city folk let their hair down after work on summer nights, to a soundtrack of live music or DJs at the weekends ( After a couple of hours of taking it all in, a change of venue will probably be in order. Gamla Stan, the old town, is but a stone’s throw away, just across the water. Rumour has it that in 1252, when looking for a new capital, the Swedes hollowed out a log, filled it with gold, and let it float away. It travelled as far as the island on which Gamla Stan is situated, and Stockholm (“log island” in Swedish), was born. Stortorget, the city’s historical ginger bread house-perfect main square, is a truly splendid example of Northern European medieval architecture. Whilst impressive all year round, the area is even Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 39

Skiing Unlimited in St. Moritz Snowy white slopes and cross-country trails, directly in front of the hotel entrance door, amidst the breathtaking Engadine Mountains – all part of a sensational free ski pass offer. Stay at least three nights at Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains and receive a free ski pass for the duration of your stay - for even more fun on over 350 km of skiing slopes. For more information or bookings please contact: +41 (0)81 838 838 | |

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more magical during the winter months, particularly in the snow, and during the weeks leading up to Christmas, Stortorget hosts one of Stockholm’s most picturesque Christmas markets. Though the main thoroughfares of Gamla Stan are often teeming with tourists, its charming tangle of narrow, winding and mostly pedestrianised cobbled streets, are filled with cafés, bars, restaurants and galleries that appeal both to visitors and locals alike. History buffs will of course immerse themselves with tours of the Royal Palace (one of Europe’s largest), the 13th century Storkyrkan Cathedral and Parliament House. Here you will also find the Nobel Museum, which chronicles the life of one of Sweden’s most famous subjects, Alfred Nobel (1833–1896), and his legacy, the Nobel Prize ( When fortification is needed head to Gaston, a chic and popular modern Scandinavian wine bar, which stocks over 400 wines by small producers in France, Germany, Austria, Italy and California ( In the same area, Under Kastanjen is a traditional bistro with a bakery, open from breakfast and throughout the day (



For a funky afternoon rounded off with memorable sundowners, make your way to Södermalm, an island in the south central part of Stockholm, named in 2014 as the coolest neighbourhood in Europe by Vogue magazine. Once a working-class community and brimming with scores of attractive buildings and pretty, small squares, the bohemian and creative Södermalm of today is gentrifying rapidly, and is now filled with vintage boutiques, design shops, independent cafés and bars. For the best of them get off the T-bana at Medborgarplatsen and head to the area known as SoFo, which refers to the cluster of streets south of Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 41


Folkungagtan. Like any eclectic and up-and-coming neigbourhood, half the fun is wandering around and discovering it for yourself. SoFo is very much the capital of hipster Stockholm. Within walking distance of SoFo, on the north eastern bank of Södermalm, is Fotografiska, Stockholm’s world class museum of photography, housed in a warehouse-like space with a chic, industrial-esque café, restaurant and lounge on its top floor that commands some of the best views in town ( Papercut is the city’s top destination for magazine lovers (, and spectacular city vistas can be enjoyed from Monteliusvägen, a quarter mile pedestrian walkway laden with benches, lined on one side with charming houses and on the other with magnificent views of 42 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17 42

Gamla Stan, Riddarholmen, City Hall, and most of historic central Stockholm, especially at sunset. In Stockholm, visitors are spoiled for choice with countless views of historic buildings surrounded by water, yet each one has it own unique vantage point. A few streets behind the Grand Hôtel, the public space between the districts of Norrmalm and Östermalm, Nybroplan, at the foot of Nybroviken bay, gives way to Strandvägen, Sweden’s most prestigious address. Here, the palatial quayside mansions lining the boulevard date back to the late 19th century, and represent a statement of confidence and wealth from the trading empire that Sweden and its capital became. Seen from across the water, through the tall masts of retired sailing

Smart and wealthy Östermalm district is situated in the centre/eastern part of Stockholm, and has some of the highest housing prices in the country, and is where the well heeled and well dressed live, work and play

ships, the prominent buildings of Strandvägen cast an impressive silhouette. Take the tram from Nybroplan or walk the length of Strandvägen’s esplanade to reach Djurgården island, Stockholm’s equivalent to New York’s Central Park, Berlin’s Museum Island and Copenhagen’s Tivoli Garden. Djurgården is a nature and culture lover’s paradise, mostly made up of walking and bike paths crisscrossing beautifully maintained gardens, lawns and forested areas. This being Stockholm, of course there are wonderful water views at almost every turn. Over the centuries, many aristocratic and prominent families built beautiful summer homes and gardens on Djurgården, some of which are now open to the public. Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde, the former home of its namesake, was completed in 1905 and is now one of

Sweden’s most popular art museums ( The adjacent park and gardens are nothing short of bucolic splendour. The literal and physical heart of Djurgården is Rosendals Trädgård, an idyllic collection of vegetable fields, green houses, a rose garden, orchard and vineyard, and at it’s center a very good organic café. Rosendals is a place to feel the abundance of horticulture and to watch healthy and happy locals enjoy their picnics ( Djurgården is also home to many of Stockholm’s most important museums. Vasa Museum is Scandinavia’s most visited attraction. It houses the only intact 17th century ship in the world, which sank in the waters outside Stockholm within minutes of its 1628 maiden voyage, and was painstakingly raised from the sea Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 43


Located on Devonshire Square, the spacious yet welcoming 60,000sq ft Club features 68 Luxury Bedrooms and Suites, along with elegant member lounges and characterful bars; a stunning brasserie; a state of the art fitness & wellness centre; as well as beautiful gardens and a large covered terrace. Book now to stay in one of our Club Rooms and experience this exceptional addition to London life. Quote code “CULTUR3D” for a discount on your stay. T&Cs apply. Contact: or 0203 750 4545 for enquiries and bookings.


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bed and restored in the second half of the 20th century. A visit to Vasa is not to be missed ( Another of Djurgården’s famous attractions draws upon a very different kind of tradition. ABBA: The Museum is a fun, light hearted and interactive tribute to one of Sweden’s biggest and certainly most loved musical exports, and a zany way to spend a few hours ( Children will enjoy the water front amusement park and fun fair next door. Stockholm is of course much more than a collection of impressive buildings, parks and museums. It’s a city of vibrant and diverse neighbourhoods, compact enough to tackle on foot, and at most, a few Tunnelbana (T-bana) metro or tram stops away from each other. Smart and wealthy Östermalm district is situated in the centre/eastern part of Stockholm, and has some of the highest housing prices in the country, and is where the well heeled and well dressed live, work and play. Here you’ll find the city’s most fancy boutiques, smartest restaurants and upscale, turn-of-last-century apartment blocks and embassies. The area around Stureplan square, off Birger Jarlsgatan (Östermalm’s main drag), is a nightlife hub with offerings that range from elegant and refined to downright boisterous. Sturehof, an Östermalm institution since 1897, is home to a popular bar, café and seafood restaurant which is usually wildly busy and atmospheric indoors and out ( Taverna Brillo is a tribute to all things Italian, made up of a large dining room surrounded by a market place which includes a florist, bakery, pizzeria, gelateria and several bars ( Meanwhile its culinary cousin, Riche, is aimed at Stockholm’s more sophisticated set ( All are excellent places to dine, drink and people watch. Design stores are




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concentrated on quieter Sibyllegatan and Nybrogatan, whilst the streets around Biblioteksgatan and Normalmstorg are the go to places for high-end fashion. For lunch or coffee in between shopping, head to Östermalms Saluhall, Stockholm’s top-of-the-line, spacious yet intimate food hall, dating back to the late 1800s ( Inside the Saluhall, traditional Swedish delicacies like dill-cured salmon, pickled herring, pan fried perch and, of course, meatballs with lingonberries, can all be found at Lisa Elmqvist, a longtime favourite amongst locals, since it was founded in the early 1920s by a fisherman’s daughter, who began her career as a waterfront street market fishmonger. ( Until the summer of 2018, the Saluhall is in temporary digs, across the street from the original one while it undergoes 42 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17 46

renovations. Do not let this put you off going. The temporary space is gorgeous simplicity and it’s hard to imagine that it will be torn down one day. At some point during your visit to Stockholm, the call of the water might become so great that a maritime adventure might be needed. Although there are many options to explore the inner canals, islands and bridges that adorn the city, a half-day tour to Stockholm’s famed archipelago is highly recommended. Cruising out past the city’s familiar landmarks, the landscape gives way to literally thousands and thousands of forested islands, some large enough to accommodate small towns and connected to the mainland and each other with bridges and causeways. Others are so small that they contain a single

Cruising out past the city’s familiar landmarks, the landscape gives way to literally thousands and thousands of forested islands, some large enough to accommodate small towns and connected to the mainland and each other with bridges and causeways

traditional wooden house with ornate shutters and a gabled roof. One in six Stockholmers own a boat and it’s easy to understand why. Arriving back to the city after some hours exploring the archipelago, Stockholm all of a sudden makes more sense – a settlement founded on trade and its naval capability, that grew into the country’s capital and Scandinavia’s main metropolis with the integration of nature and water as fundamental elements of the city’s psyche. Back on land, Stockholm’s tapestry of interconnected islands, waterfront avenues and stately buildings beckon once more, and there is no better place to celebrate an enhanced appreciation for the city, than to visit Stadhuset, Stockholm’s iconic city hall and one of Sweden's most famous buildings, which can only be viewed inside via a guided tour. The immense waterfront 42

piazza to the rear provides yet another perfect viewpoint from which to gaze in awe at this mesmerizing city. Spending time in Stockholm is a real treat. Nature lovers will love the parks, the waterfront promenades and the archipelago. Culture fans will be drawn to the museums and the city’s numerous historical sites. Design buffs will be in heaven, immersing in Scandinavia’s signature minimalist and practical yet warm style. Foodies will relish in mixing up Swedish culinary classics with Nordic farm-to-table experimental offerings as well as more exotic fare. Chic yet humble, elegant yet down to earth, reserved yet welcoming, traditional yet forward-thinking, I have a new love, and her name is Stockholm. Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 47

STAY GRAND HÔTEL The hotel of choice for international dignitaries and discerning tourists, Grand Hôtel has been Stockholm’s premier luxury lodgings since 1874. Built for the purpose of delivering to Stockholm a hotel property worthy of being known as the best on the continent, the first Nobel prize banquet was held at the Grand in 1901, and tradition dictates that all award winners and their families stay there to this day. The hotel’s location alone warrants its place as Stockholm’s finest hospitality address. Occupying a stately waterfront period building with unobstructed views of the Royal Palace, Parliament House, Gamla Stan and Skeppsholmen Island, Grand Hôtel is a Stockholm landmark in its own right. The lobby area is an elegant, classic modern symphony of marble, off whites and grey, accented with hints of lavender and silver. The recently renovated rooms are decorated without fault. High ceilings, period finishes, parquet wood floors and oversized windows set the stage. Botanical-inspired wall coverings, luxurious furnishings and Scandinavian design sensibilities, combine to create a classic experience that is also warm and comfortable. The hotel’s front facing rooms boast the best views in all of Stockholm. From standard room to multiple suite offerings, guests are spoiled for choice when selecting their room options. Service at Grand Hôtel is impeccable. Every employee, from the doormen to the front desk staff, and maître d’s and servers is a true professional. The concierge team is particularly impressive, extremely knowledgeable, brimming with precise recommendations, professional and discreet. As well as acting as a social hub for global business and leisure travellers, Grand Hôtel is the place for many locals whose families have celebrated special occasions at the property for generations. Conservatory-style glass enclosed Veranda restaurant – the hotel’s waterfront-facing outlet, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner – is particularly famous for its typically Swedish smorgasbord buffet, including all sorts of pickled herrings, gravlax, meatballs, veal cutlets and all the trimmings. The views towards the water, particularly at sunset, are quite spectacular. For a more intense culinary experience, Mathias Dahlgren offers exclusive simplicity in a cozy and friendly atmosphere, with two different dining areas to chose from – a modern gastronomic restaurant and a contemporary bistro. Whilst the cuisine throughout is globally-inspired, dishes served pay homage to the restaurant’s Swedish roots ( Named after Régis Cadier, French chef and the founder of the Grand, the hotel’s cavernous wood-paneled Cadier Bar has a luxurious old-world feel brought into the 21st century with lighter soft furnishings. Here, the local elite mixes with guests for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, pre-dinner cocktails and late night digestifs. In front of the hotel, outside the building and facing the water, is The Terrace, open during the summer months only. This is the perfect place to put stop during a busy to break for a coffee and some Mediterranean-inspired light bites overlooking Norrström Canal and Gamla Stan. The hotel’s Day Spa is a sumptuous homage to the Swedish bathing ritual, with separate men’s and women’s sauna, steam, shower and pool areas. In addition there is large, fully-equipped gym and a swimming pool. Treatments run the gamut from highly specialised traditional Chinese medicine, to chiropractic and, of course, Swedish massage. The spa draws its inspiration from the wholesome natural elements (namely the water, lakes and forests) that make up Stockholm’s archipelago region. The sauna and steam areas feature absolutely stunning walls of mosaic-tiled murals depicting waterfront forests and bathers. They alone are reason enough to visit the Grand Hôtel’s deluxe spa. Grand Hôtel is arguably Stockholm’s most elegant and historic hospitality address, yet skillfully manages not to feel stiff or uptight. Here at 8 Södra Blasieholmshamnen, tradition and modern day touches unite to deliver a very special five-star hotel experience, befitting Sweden’s captivating capital city. 48 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

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STAY MISS CLARA BY NOBIS An urban boutique hotel that combines a Scandinavian design aesthetic with the top continental hospitality standards, Miss Clara is located in the central and bustling Norrmalm district, with easy access to the Östermalm’s shopping and Vasastaden’s art galleries as well as the traditional historical sites. To stay at Miss Clara is to experience the dynamic and cosmopolitan Stockholm of today. Housed in a meticulously restored Art Nouveau schoolhouse built in 1910, Miss Clara delivers a premium hospitality experience integrating architecture and design. The hotel entrance, right off of bustling Sveavägen street, gives way to an intimate yet open and welcoming reception area. Period details are combined with a chic industrial vibe that deftly creates an urban yet warm sensibility. The 92 rooms sport high ceilings, oversized windows and parquet floors, together with marble and glass-enclosed bathrooms adding an airy feel to guest accommodations. Natural materials including oak and limestone, as well as a generous lashings of leather, soften and help to make the rooms feel cozy and comfy. Bespoke storage units and playful accessories all contribute to the unique look and feel of the place. If you are looking for a hotel with its own distinctive, critically acclaimed style, that’s pleasing on the eye and functions beautifully yet shuns conventional cookie cutter designs that plague so many urban chain hotels, then Miss Clara is your place. At street level, there is a vibrant brasserie- style restaurant, open all day everyday, which is as much for the neighbourhood as it is for guests. There is nothing better than checking in to a hotel or coming down from one’s room and seeing a place with a bit of a buzz and people chatting, socialising, laughing and enjoying themselves. The Stockholm that is encapsulated by Miss Clara is youthful, forward thinking, fashionable and down to earth. The restaurant’s breakfast buffet is a real treat, showcasing many locally sourced organic products, including gluten free options, homemade granolas and jams as well as a popular waffle maker. In addition to the main restaurant and adjacent to the hotel, Giro is a very popular gourmet pizza parlour, which is the result of a collaboration between Miss Clara by Nobis and one of the world's oldest pizzerias, Da Michele, founded in 1906. The Marinara and Margherita are quite simply pizza heaven. A sauna, fitness area and well-equipped conference rooms round out the hotel’s facilities. As part of Nobis – one of Sweden’s leading high-end hotel and restaurant operators – service standards at Miss Clara are extremely high. The diverse staff are young, hardworking, professional and eager to please. Miss Clara is the contemporary hospitality face of a striking city with a proud history but with two feet firmly planted in the 21st century. 50 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

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SEE VASA MUSEUM Housing a completely intact early 17th century warship that sank on her maiden voyage in the waters just outside Stockholm, Vasa Museum is the most visited attraction in all of Scandinavia. In fact the Vasa ship is the only intact original example of its size anywhere in the world. It lay on the seabed for 333 years before a decades long dredging, lifting and restoration process brought it back to its current, magnificent state. To visit Vasa is not only about being awestruck by the beauty and scale of the actual ship, but also to learn about early 17th century Sweden as it began its ascent as a Baltic superpower, and to appreciate what it took to build such ships, and what life was like onboard. The thirty-minute guided tour and fifteen-minute video (explaining the shop’s recovery and restoration process) are both highly recommended. Located on Djurgården Island – Stockholm’s garden and museum playground – visiting Vasa Museum is without doubt a highlight when exploring Stockholm. MODERNA MUSEET Stockholm’s modern art museum may not have the clout of some of the world’s greatest, but it makes up for it in creative and daring, well curated exhibitions, that showcase the best of established and up-and-coming contemporary artists. Alternative installation platforms, including video, digital, sculpture and paintings of all kinds of materials are usually featured. The museum nimbly cherry-picks the best avant-garde international artists when scheduling its temporary exhibitions. The permanent collection features multiple works from the best-known artists of the 20th century. Andy Warhol chose the museum as the first in Europe to display his works. Nordic artists are also well represented. The building, designed by Spanish architect, Rafael Moneo, is located on Skeppsholmen Island, easily accessible by short ferry from Djurgården or walking from the Grand Hôtel past the National Museum 52 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

on the Skeppsholmen Bridge. Be sure to stop and enjoy the view. FOTOGRAFISKA Open since 2010, the Swedish Museum of Photography has quickly established itself as one of the finest in the world, and presents a creative, cosmopolitan and fun-loving face of modern Sweden. Housed in a former 1906 Customs House, the waterfront Art Nouveau building on the northern bank of Stockholm’s Sodermalm district, has become one of the city’s most beloved destinations for locals as well as visitors. Fotografiska strives to exhibit internationally acclaimed photographers, as well as those who are less well known. The museum stages four major shows per year, plus 15-20 capsule exhibits. The lively top floor café, restaurant and lounge space has DJ nights plus occasional live music. The spectacular views and industrial chic décor add to the über-modern ambience, and the museum’s late opening ‘til 1am Thursdays through Saturdays has rendered it something of a social hub.


ABBA: THE MUSEUM ABBA, the Swedish pop quartet that took the world by storm in the 1970s and early 80s, sold almost 400 million records and spawned Mamma Mia, the hit musical and film. There is no better place in the world to celebrate all things ABBA than the group’s dedicated museum on Stockholm’s Djurgården Island. From the individual group’s pre ABBA days, to Waterloo - their first hit single of 1974 Eurovision contest fame - and all the gold and platinum records that followed, and on to the world tours and the outrageous disco-inspired costumes, it’s all chronicled in ABBA The Museum. Interactive stations throughout the museum allow visitors to create fun videos of them performing as ABBA members. The cross section of visitors to the museum is hugely diverse in terms of age, nationality and demographic, a testament to the wide reaching impact ABBA has had over the decades. It’s nostalgic, entertaining and heartwarming. Advance purchase tickets are highly recommended. Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 53


STADSHUSET Stockholm’s City Hall, completed in 1923, is one of the city’s most iconic buildings and one of the most famous in Sweden. Occupying a privileged centrally located waterfront perch on the eastern tip of Kungsholmen Island, the enormous piazza to the rear, offers spectacular 180-degree views over Stockholm’s inner harbour, taking in Gamla Stan, Riddarholmen and the cliff top period buildings of Södermalm to the south. The views from the piazza alone are worth the visit. The elegantly austere main red brick building with its clean lines, high central tower and decorative embellishments is a fine example of Sweden’s National Romantic style, the country’s architectural equivalent of Art Nouveau. As a matter of national pride, all materials, including the marble, were sourced locally. The interiors are breathtaking, with grand room after grand room decorated with frescoes and mosaics, and design symbolism evoking the history and mythology of Sweden. The ground floor Blue Hall is the site of the annual Nobel Prize award-giving ceremony. Visitors can only gain access to the interiors via one of the many guided tours scheduled each day. ARCHIPELAGO TOUR Whilst Stockholm is comprised of 14 islands, the city’s archipelago is made up of more than 30,000, of which around 150 are inhabited. One in six Stockholmers owns a boat and it is easy to understand why. Once cruising on a boat, the city soon fades away, revealing a delightful waterborne landscape of forested islands, dotted with red and yellow timber houses and cabins. Strömma is a tour company that offers a variety of sightseeing options, including the popular half-day archipelago tour, and full day options that go further out or stop off at Vaxholm, effectively the capital of the archipelago. A quaint and historic town on an island of the same name, Vaxholm has charmed visitors for centuries. Strömma tours depart from Stockholm’s exclusive Strandvägen, in front of the Hotel Diplomat, on lovingly refurbished, period steamer ships. 54 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

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TASTE ETT HEM If you’re looking for a cutting edge Scandinavian culinary adventure you will find it at Ett Hem. The extraordinarily creative menu is enhanced by inventive flavour pairings and unusual mostly local ingredients, which make for a unique and delicious dining experience. The menu changes roughly every two weeks in order to ensure that only the freshest and most seasonal ingredients are used. Eating at Ett Hem is like being invited into someone’s home. There is a large black lacquer common table in the main house, and additional individual tables past the home-style kitchen in the conservatory overlook a beautiful patio garden. The restaurant is just one part of Ett Hem, which is essentially a seductively stylish luxe boutique hotel, the brainchild of proprietor, Jeanette Mix. Set within in a gorgeous Ilse Crawford-designed 12-room 20th century townhouse, in Stockholm’s elegant Östermalm residential neighbourhood, Ett Hem is the type of place you’ll wish you could move into permanently. Arrive early for drinks and stay late for coffee after dinner in the suite of welcoming salons and living rooms. Reservations essential.

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OPERABAREN Operabaren is a Stockholm institution that has been serving classic Swedish cuisine in a sumptuous setting since 1905. Located to the side of Stockholm’s main opera house, at the foot of Kungsträdgården, Operabaren’s gorgeous period interiors are bedecked with decorated plaster ceilings, stained glass, wood paneling and leather banquette seating, all contributing to the vibe of an established gentlemen’s club. Dining here is a welcome throwback to a bygone era. Artists and intellectuals mingle with businessmen and tourists to enjoy the country’s culinary classics, including Swedish meatballs with lingonberries, veal and calves liver, plus a list of daily specials. Open for lunch through dinner, Operabaren is intimate and always popular so it’s best to book ahead. Not to be confused with the larger and more formal gourmet Operakällaren, which is right next-door and under the same ownership. VERANDA For a Swedish smörgåsbord with all the trimmings head to Veranda, the light filled glass fronted restaurant at Grand Hôtel. A traditional Smörgåsbord is a buffet-style assortment of cold and hot classic Swedish dishes. Cured herrings prepared in all kinds of ways, followed by smoked and marinated salmons and then on to the hot dishes of meatballs and veal cutlets are generally the order of the day. There are all sorts of breads, salads and soups to round off this culinary experience. For the Swedes, a smörgåsbord meal is very much a celebratory affair, necessitating multiple trips to the buffet. At Veranda the experience is made that much more special, by the spectacular views looking out over the water to Gamla Stan and Södermalm beyond. Be sure to sample Grand Hôtel’s homemade house schnapps, 1874 Grand Aquavit, flavoured with fennel, aniseed, caraway 58 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

and cherry. There is also an excellent à la carte menu, should the sprawling buffet not be your thing. NOSH AND CHOW Located on a quiet corner in the midst of the collection of streets that make up the design and fashion hub of Östermalm, Nosh and Chow is a sophisticated bistro with a buzz that would feel at home in New York, Paris or London. The sophisticated décor – with its dark brown colour scheme, gold accents and exposed ceilings – feels glamorous and cozy. The continental cuisine is well presented and tasty. Service is attentive and professional. Nosh and Chow is a favourite with chic locals and international travelers in tune with Stockholm’s vibrant dining scene. Solo diners will feel at home sitting at the restaurant bar counter watching the comings and goings of this popular spot. In addition to the main restaurant, under the same roof there’s a larger upscale bar across the entrance hall, a private members’ club and an inviting outdoor terrace, plus and a groovy lounge bar upstairs which attracts a younger, hip crowd.


BABETTE Located in a quiet part of Vasastaden, in the northeastern part of the city centre, Babette is an unpretentious and welcome addition to Stockholm’s burgeoning restaurant scene. A modern neigbourhood bistro that delivers unfussy and rustic food and is only open for dinner, Babette excels at tapas-style smaller dishes and pizzas, as well as excellent steak tartare and grilled fish. The owners are friendly and on hand to offer suggestions and guide diners through the daily specials. Given that they previously worked at some of Stockholm’s finest establishments, they know something about food and service. The wine list is excellent. Customers keep coming back. Though reservations are recommended, a Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 59

limited number of walk-ins are accepted every night.



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NOOK Stockholm’s hipster Södermalm district boasts a number of restaurants that offer creative cuisine in design friendly spaces at relatively affordable prices. Nook has emerged as one of the best, offering Nordic flavours with Asian and Mediterranean influences. Nook juxtaposes street food and fine dining in a unique culinary offering. Sashimi, monkfish and reindeer accented with kimchi, ginger and rosemary were some of the choices on a recent night. Nook usually offers a few three-course set menus, with the option to order a variety of small dishes on the side. Menus change every few weeks to reflect what is seasonal and fresh. Sit at the bar for tapas or book in advance for the intimate checkerboard-floored dining room. Order three days in advance for Nook’s suckling pig feast. Ambitious food pairings with delicious results at affordable prices ensures Nook’s ongoing rising popularity. URBAN DELI With two locations – one in central Norrmalm and the other in the heart of Södermalm’s SoFo – Urban Deli is a smart food concept store that stocks Swedish and international prepared and packaged foods to eat in or take away. It’s a combination upscale boutique supermarket cum café/restaurant, perfect for light shopping, catering a small dinner party or eating-in. The Södermalm outlet is particularly popular and something of a social hub for the surrounding trendy and gentrified neighbourhood. Urban Deli’s stylish and well-lit modern interiors are regularly frequented by Stockholm’s trendy urbanites. Fusion food outlets like Urban Deli, contribute to Stockholm’s growing global reputation as a thriving modern gastronomic capital, on par with the best.


SIP THE GOLD BAR The hint is in the name. The bar in the chic and well-established Nobis Hotel is a vision in gold, and oozes luxury, sex appeal and fun. Gold-mirrored walls and ceilings reflect the marble floors and the full-length quartz bar. The low lighting and gold colour scheme create a warm halo throughout the space, ensuring a cosy and intimate experience. Consistently ranked as one of the best cocktail bars in Sweden, The Gold Bar attracts all manner of cosmopolitan types, from the conservatively dressed to the more individual and creative, across a range of ages. Located on Norrmalmstorg in the heart of Östermalm’s luxury shopping district, The Gold Bar is perfectly situated for pre and post dinner drinks. LILLA BAREN @ RICHE Founded in 1893, Riche was one of the first Parisian style bistros to open in Stockholm. It has been consistently popular ever since. Although Riche the restaurant is steeped in tradition, Lilla Baren, the separate bar area, attracts a younger and more artistic crowd of fashion types plus the odd eccentric which always makes for a fun night. Monthly exhibitions of up-and-coming artists help to keep Lilla Baren fresh. This is a rowdy and popular place, particularly on the weekends. Located in between Birger Jarlsgatan and Stureplan, in the heart of Östermalm’s entertainment district, Lilla Baren offers a more down to earth experience than the typical posh drinking venues in this part of Stockholm. GASTON In a city where it’s sometimes hard to find great wine without a multi-course tasting menu on the side, Gaston is a wine-lover’s breath of fresh air. Located in Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s centrally located island old town, around 400 wines from smaller producers in France, Germany, Austria, Italy and California are served in a modern Nordic space, from a bronze-backed bar across marble countertops. The vibe is chilled and friendly. Yummy small plates are also available. Part of former footballer 62 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

Björn Frantzén’s gastronomic empire, which also includes the fine dining Flying Elk across the street, as well as the popular Corner Club, there is also a Gaston in NK department store. HIMLEN In Södermalm, on the 25th and 26th floors of the Skrapen skyscraper, Himlen commands panoramic views across all of central Stockholm. While the 25th floor is reserved for Himlen’s fine dining restaurant, the 26th floor is where you will find the more laid back lounge and deluxe cocktail bar. In a city where spectacular views abound, the views from Himlen will literally take your breath away. Order a bespoke craft cocktail from one of Himlen’s skilled bartenders, sit back, sip and take in the panoramic 360-degree vistas more than 100 metres above Stockholm. TJOGET With a relaxed and energetic vibe that’s immensely popular with the hip residents of the Hornstull part of Södermalm, Tjoget is an interesting concept space that combines Linje Tio restaurant, Hornstulls Bodega bar and classic barbershop, Roy & Son, under the same roof. Innovative cocktails and an extensive wine list, fused with the intriguing interior aesthetics and warm atmosphere make Tjoget well worth a look in. MÄLARPAVILJONGEN This enchanting, renowned summer-only bar, restaurant and garden-oriented venue occupies a prime waterfront spot, a leisurely ten-minute walk past Stockholm’s city hall, on the scenic Norr Mälarstrand esplanade. This is fair weather Stockholm at its very best. The interspacing of the shore nature with elaborate landscaping creates a verdant oasis of pure loveliness. The sleek bar and seating area are actually built on a floating pontoon, allowing for a more dramatic view and complete experience than other waterfront venues. Come in the daytime on a weekday for a more tranquil experience, or in the evenings and weekends for a much livelier party vibe. This unique and charismatic Stockholm spot is not to be missed.

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SPEND MODERNITY Modernity deals in exclusive museum and auction quality Scandinavian vintage furniture and design pieces, including ceramics, jewelry and glassware, with an emphasis on 20th century post war design. Owners Andrew and Isaac have an obvious passion for what they do. Each unique item for sale in their store has a story or history which they are happy to share. Modernity regularly shows at leading furniture and antique fairs in London and New York. International interior designers and their clients are Modernity’s regular clientele, but the store is open to anyone who wishes to peruse and buy. Items are individually priced to reflect their quality and provenance. Located on a quiet street in central Stockholm, Modernity is very close to Östermalms Saluhall food hall. NORDISKA KOMPANIET Nordiska Kompaniet, known locally as NK, is Stockholm’s equivalent of London’s Harrods, Paris’ Galeries Lafayette or Manhattan’s Bergdorf Goodman. Housed in a huge landmark building dating back to the early 1900s, with its signature oversized rooftop signage towering over central Stockholm, NK is a luxurious emporium retailing only the crème de la crème of local and international brands. From fashion to furniture to food hall and everything in between, NK tastefully curates the best of the best with an elegant Scandinavian sensibility. Exclusive Bobergs Matsal two Michelin-starred restaurant is located on the top floor. NK’s Christmas windows are a yearly source of festive joy to Stockholmers. ACNE STUDIOS Over the past decade, Sweden has emerged as a global fashion leader. Acne Studios is an independent Swedish brand that has successfully transitioned from mostly denim to ready-to-wear Paris catwalk. Acne (which stands for Ambition to Create Novel Expression), excels at producing contemporary fashion forward avant-garde designs, using excellent materials and skilled craftsmanship. With outlets around the world – in everywhere from from Los Angeles to Shanghai – Acne’s flagship store on Norrmalmstorg square in central Stockholm is very much the brand’s mother ship and flagship store. Located in the former bank building where the 1973 heist took place that gave rise to the term ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, you can still see the vaults in the basement. 64 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17


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AB NORDISKA GALLERIET One of Europe’s leading contemporary design and furniture showrooms, AB Nordiska Galleriet showcases the best of Scandinavian and international design. Though it’s not only the featured designers who make Nordiska so special, but also how the store mixes contemporary classic furniture with a large selection of décor, lighting and gift items, in stunning visual displays. Nordiska really does set the bar high with its expert presentation of Nordic design style, including showcasing designers who are not Scandinavian. Even if you are not in the market for furniture, Nordiska retails a superb selection of design-oriented home décor gift items, that will fit in your luggage to travel home with. Located on Nybrogatan in Östermalm. SVENSK TENN Svensk Tenn has been a Stockholm design institution since art teacher Estrid Ericson started the company in 1924, with sustainability, quality and commitment its core values. The defining style is mostly Art Nouveau inspired, a bridge between old and new that combines colour with inspirations from naturally occurring flora and fauna. When Josef Frank – one of the leaders of the Art Nouveau movement in the 1920s and 30s – was forced to flee Vienna, he settled in Stockholm and made Svensk Tenn his home until he died. His furniture designs and textiles are displayed in museums around the world. At Svensk Tenn, these designs and those of others are available commercially, and walking through its doors is like entering a fresh new retail world of nature-inspired housewares and fashion. Svensk Tenn also boasts a rather inviting second floor café overlooking the harbour. GRANDPA Located in the heart of Södermalm’s eclectic SoFo neighbourhood, Grandpa is a charming yet cool store, retailing well-designed and creative housewares, vintage pieces, Swedish fashion, shoes, jewellery, accessories and kick-knacks. Think Sandqvist bags, Hay interior pieces, Vitra pouches and Minimarket dresses. At Grandpa the atmosphere and experience is the main focus, and DJs and live music often provide a musical backdrop, and you’ll find everything from light fixtures to outerware, Scandinavian brands mixed side-by-side with top international names. An emphasis on organic materials and sustainability adds to the hipster credibility of this funky SoFo institution. 66 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17



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Presidential Suite, Grand Hyatt Goa

In Goa, Nicholas Chrisostomou discovers a suite fit for royalty within a luxe hospitality haven – minus the hippies


y friends rolled their eyes when I mentioned I was going to Goa, India's guaranteed good-time hedonistic haven. In the west of the country, bordering the Arabian Sea, Goa is a place synonymous with society dropouts and backpackers who prefer to spend their days getting high on the beach rather than taking in the region's incredible kaleidoscopic mix of Indian and Portuguese cultural sites. But in recent years Goa has gone to great lengths to appeal to a more high-spending class of holiday-maker, and has done its level best to try and shed the rave scene image that first made the Indian state world-famous. Back in its hippy heyday, thousands of budget tourists, life's lost souls, and travelling bohemian types would routinely vanish amongst Goa's plethora of lunar gatherings and druggy raves. Some never left and are still wandering around; and, yes, there’s still plenty of mindless revelry in the area, and many cheap visitors still frequent Goa to lose themselves, or disconnect from life's responsibilities on a diet of magic mushrooms and Goan trance. But happily the Goa of today has somewhat come of age – or so I’d been told.. I’d heard from various people about a chic new-look Goa,

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which favoured culture and indulgence over bongo drums and beach shacks. A Goa that Hollywood A-listers, dedicated yoga aficionados, and selective spa devotees escaped to repeatedly. A Goa boasting smart, sprawling resort hotels offering tailored service, attention to detail, exceptional cuisine, premium hospitality, and value-for-money luxury. Since my last visit to Goa had been twenty years previously – when I went to a ‘half-moon party’, sat under a tree, tried to smoke something indescribable, wore just a lunghi and drank tea served by a withered old lady – I was determined to find the new Goa that so many of my contemporaries raved about, pardon the pun. Perhaps due to an increase in the number of well-heeled passengers wishing to explore Goa, many premium Middle Eastern carriers – including Qatar Airways and Emirates – now regularly fly direct, as well as countless European airlines. I flew Oman Air from Muscat, and the business class cabin on my flight was full. Discerning vacationers travelling to the Goa of today are well-catered for by a multitude of deluxe, international five-star hotels, as well as a good selection of swanky,

individually designed resorts. Of all the recognisable international hospitality brands, Grand Hyatt Goa stands out as one of the best properties in the north. Set on beautifully manicured grounds of 28 acres directly on the beach, in a prominent position overlooking the gulf of Bambolim, and benefitting from panoramic vistas across the bay, Hyatt's sprawling Goan resort is something of a departure from what one might expect of the global American hotel brand. Inspired by the grandeur of 17th century Indo-Portuguese palaces, Grand Hyatt Goa has been skillfully designed to be open, accessible and relaxed. At no time did I ever feel like I was staying in a hotel of more than 300 rooms. Everything felt personal, connected and warm. The hotel’s enclave of seven detached, low-rise guest houses with whitewashed stone walls topped with steep, terracotta-tiled roofs, that are dotted around the much larger, palace-style main building, lend a sense of structure, calmness and tranquility to the entire place. Teak shutters, recessed balconies, winding pathways, reflecting pools, trickling fountains and an abundance of lush botanicals add to the charm and character of the hotel. Whilst rambling lawns, a scenically ruined moss-covered 17th century chapel, and towering ancient banyans give the

surrounding gardens an established and exotic feel. Special hotel suites come in all shapes and sizes, and it has to be said that the word ‘presidential’ is sometimes misplaced. I’ve stayed in some suites that felt distinctly less than regal in hotels that were otherwise virtual palaces. Sometimes the room just doesn't do what it says on the tin. A suite labeled as ‘presidential’ infers the best accommodation in the building, super-attentive service, extra facilities, exceptional attention to detail, and a host of other services associated with residing in a hotel’s most expensive lodgings. More often than not, a fancy suite can feel vast, impersonal and unloved, but I can honestly say that Grand Hyatt Goa’s Presidential Suite completely lived-up to the hype. For starters, an Audi Q5 and driver were provided 24/7 at no extra charge. Particularly when visiting India, a car and chauffeur really is rather handy for a tourist. Then, there was the personalised butler service, on call via WhatsApp. Not to mention a whole host of other staff offered at no extra cost and dedicated to making my stay as presidential and fuss-free as possible, including a dietitian, chef, security officer, trainer, therapist, Ayurvedic doctor, yoga instructor and IT geek. I only took advantage of the butler service and yoga instructor, but it was good to know

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that so many other professionals were on stand-by should I have needed to shed some pounds, or find my inner self. The Presidential Suite was an expansive 300m2 of opulent, yet comfortable, deluxe accommodation laid out apartment-like across the front of the hotel’s premium Grand Club building, with all rooms facing the water. A smart, square entrance hall (with guest cloakroom), provided a suitably impressive arrival experience for visitors. A host of terraces up-and-down the suite looked towards the Arabian Sea from both king-sized bedrooms at either end, and the flowing 25-metre open-plan living, dining and entertaining space in between. A full kitchen off the dining area, with a separate entrance from outside, was amply sized and sufficiently well appointed for chefs to prepare gourmet meals. At the centre of the lounge, a cocktail bar fully-stocked with bottles of complimentary premium spirits was complete with olives, mixers and every conceivable glass and acoutrement a mixologist could possibly wish for. I set-up my laptop in the personal office just off the entrance hall, and within an hour the place felt like home. The spacious and well-appointed master bedroom suite

was equipped with a family-sized Jacuzzi overlooking the sea, an oversized walk-in shower with multiple rain-heads, and a large dressing room complete with private entrance, affording the butlers discreet access to deliver laundry quite literally directly into the wardrobes. Every surface was sprinkled with gorgeous vases and tasteful ornaments to complement the plush décor and curious, colourful artworks which adorned the walls. Vases of fresh flowers were changed daily. Every night I came back to scented candles which had been lit while I was at dinner. The first morning I had a one-to-one yoga session on the private terrace, to a calming backdrop of waves gently lapping the beach and birds singing in the overhanging palms. This was a suite to unwind in and enjoy, and had it not been for the hotel’s tempting restaurants and spa, I could have easily stayed put for the next four days and not ventured anywhere. On the occasions I did leave the Presidential Suite, the polite and attentive service I experienced in all parts of Grand Hyatt Goa was second to none. Whilst it seemed like no one could do enough for me personally, I got the distinct feeling that everyone was experiencing the same – Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 73

since genuine calm, happiness, and contentment seemed to saturate the property. It would be remiss of me not to mention the multitude of food options, spa treatments and wellness programs available in the hotel, plus the numerous on-property activities and outside excursions bookable to personalise guest stays. I was given a cocktail-making lesson, sipped sundowners at a hip cliff-edge bar in Small Vagator village, and spent a morning exploring Old Goa – the 15th century colonial capital of the former Portuguese eastern empire. My downtime was whiled away around Grand Hyatt’s extensive swimming pool area, and luxuriating in the hotel’s award-winning Shamana Spa, which offered a serene retreat complete with a variety of pools, wet areas and 19 treatment rooms. Run by Alejandro Leo, a highly experienced spa pro, having a treatment at Shamana was an intensely relaxing and rejuvenating pleasure. Of the many gastronomic options available on site at Grand Hyatt Goa, the exceptionally tasty traditional Indian fare served at Chulha deserves a special mention. Prepared by Chef de Cuisine, Vicky Chaudhary, so delicious was the food at Chulha, that I dined there three times during my stay. I revisited Goa after 20 years really unsure what to expect, and I left Grand Hyatt already planning my next visit. What I experienced first-hand in my short stay in the West Indian state was a deep desire to please discerning travellers, provide top-end service and deliver a genuinely caring vacation experience. If the local hoteliers and Goan authorities continue as they are presently, it won’t be long before the destination’s characteristic rave scene is completely overtaken by high-end cultured travellers, and Goa is able to compete on a level playing field with its Asian holiday industry peers. Nicholas Chrisostomou visited Grand Hyatt Goa in November 2016.

In December 2016 and January 2017 the average nightly rate for the two-bedroom Presidential Suite is USD 3,000 plus taxes, inclusive of breakfast, an Audi Q5 and driver plus a team of staff. 74 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

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Please tell us a little bit about your background and upbringing. I was born in the West of Scotland. It was very beautiful and comfortable and I feel so fortunate to have had such wonderful parents and family, thus a very solid springboard into life. I think this is one of the most valuable assets in life and would wish it on everyone. From where does your love for hotels and hospitality stem? I had an aunt who virtually lived in Claridge’s in London and I used to love my visits to see her there. It was during these glamorous dinners, when I was a little boy, that the seed was planted. At what point in your life did you realise that hotels were to be your career, and was there a particular event that was pivotal? Deep down I had always wanted to be an architect, but alas I simply couldn't master science therefore the university

faculty wouldn't admit me. It was then that I chose – to my family's horror, I have to say – to be a hotelier. It's said that you walked out of hotel school. Why?! I left hotel school because quite frankly I was very underwhelmed by both the teachers and the pupils. I felt it was all rather average. Had I been at École hôtelière de Lausanne, hospitality management school in Switzerland (widely regarded as the best in the world), I am sure I would have felt much differently. But I wasn't, I was in Scotland. It was at this point that I realised I did not want to conform, and ever since my motto has always been, “paddle your own canoe!” Has one particular person ever greatly inspired you in life or been your mentor? Anita Roddick was a friend, and as well as being a great creator (of The Body Shop), she was an entrepreneur, a businesswoman and most importantly an activist. She often used to say to me, “Gordon, just do it!” I have since always strived to follow this course. Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 77

Tell us about your time as assistant food and beverage controller at London's Portman InterContinental, and deputy general manager at London's Athenaeum. I have worked in every hotel department since there really is no short cut to properly learning a craft. Assistant food and beverage controller was excruciatingly boring but essential to my training. I learned a lot as a five-star deputy general manager of a branded hotel, but what I learned most of all was that I absolutely I did not, and could not, work in the corporate world. In the mid 1980s you bought the 21-room Feathers in the Cotswolds market town of Woodstock, and the 35-room Draycott in Chelsea, London. What drove you to make your own mark in the hospitality industry while still in your twenties and how did you go about achieving it? I realised that I had to create my own hotels and put into practice all the things that I had learnt and believed in, and which I couldn't do as an employee in a large company. I am happy to say that the results were super.


In the early 90s, you moved to the States to buy, refurbish and run The Maidstone Arms in East Hampton. Please tell us about this experience and your time in NYC. I sold-up in the UK, took a year off and lived by the beach in The Hamptons, which was bliss. Then the opportunity came up to revitalise The Maidstone Arms in East Hampton and I just couldn't resist. In 1996 you returned to the UK to work on One Aldwych in Covent Garden, a hotel that was much praised for its contemporary design, innovative approach to luxury and strong green credentials. Please tell us about this project and how One Aldwych was unique. Creating One Aldwych was certainly a pivotal moment in my career. I had a vision for a new style of five-star hotel. I wanted it to be modern but not trendy. I wanted it to be fresh, innovative and environmentally considerate. I wanted it to present a new form of friendly, super-efficient and relaxed service. And I wanted it to become a modern classic. One Aldwych soon became quite iconic and is certainly one of the achievements of which I am most proud, not least that I believe that, in its way, it became a hotel game changer.


How did being named Hotelier of the Year by The Caterer in 2002 change your life and career? I must say – and I think I speak for all the winners of this award – that it is a very special honour. It is the one award you think that you will never win, and the one that you value the most when you do. You have spent many years volunteering in third world regions, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Nicaragua, 78 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17



and you are vice president of Save the Children. How has this worthwhile work influenced your life and outlook? Enormously. When I was twenty-two and went to Bangladesh to run the Save the Children project there, I never could have imagined how much it would change my life. When you experience such suffering and poverty you are fundamentally changed for life. It is for this reason that respecting and treating people well becomes such a huge part of living in a civilised way, and then incorporating this into how you run a business and look after its employees, and in my case, since I am a hotelier, also taking care of hotel guests. Year-on-year parents continued to plump for CampbellGray's Caribbean outpost, Carlisle Bay, which you were involved with for 10 years until 2014. What would you say was the key to your decade-long success at Carlisle Bay? In creating Carlisle Bay we produced a truly lovely, relaxed resort in a spectacular setting. But what makes Carlisle Bay so special is not simply the glorious sunshine and beautiful turquoise sea, but the local Antiguan people who are utterly unique. You've described Beirut as “one of the sexiest cities in the world”. Please tell us what makes the Lebanese capital such a magical place for you. I have always had a special love for Beirut. Part of this affection is because it is such a contrast to the environment in which I grew up. We Scots tend to be rather serious, and of course when you first experience Beirut one is thrust into a world of being out and having fun every night, although after a while I learned to reign in the going out. This having been said, it was having the wonderful opportunity to create Le Gray in Beirut that has been the best. From a hole in the ground to what it is now, has been one of the most exciting journeys I have ever taken, and despite all the difficulties encountered in such a complicated country, I still love the city. In 2009 you opened 87-room Le Gray in the heart of Beirut, which has since won countless accolades and a litany of loyal guests. To what do you attribute Le Gray success? I think that we simply created and designed a hotel that was right for Beirut. Our hotels are all different, and feel like cousins to each other rather than brothers and sisters. We are currently just finishing work on an extension to Le Gray, which will open in early 2017, adding a ballroom, more bedrooms and suites, a lobby lounge and private screening room to the hotel.


What is your favourite hotel in the world (to stay as a guest) and why? That’s a very difficult question! I am lucky to spend so much Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 79

time staying in some of the most beautiful hotels in the world. One of my favourites is La Colombe d'Or in Saint-Paul-de-Vence in France. I stay there at the same time every year, as do most of the guests, which makes it feels like a private club. It is old fashioned, has an unbelievable (and I mean unbelievable) art collection and an amazing restaurant where the menu hasn't changed for twenty years. If it did there would be an uprising! Due to reopen in January 2017 after a two-year renovation, the 136-bedroom Phoenicia, in the heart of Valetta’s Old Town on the island of Malta, will be the first hotel within the CampbellGray Classics collection. How has this hotel been transformed under your guidance? I had always wanted the chance to restore a grand old hotel, so when the opportunity came up to do just that at the Phoenicia I was overjoyed. It is a stunning hotel, sitting in seven acres of garden, and we have reimagined it retaining all of its original character while making it feel like now. There is a brand new spa and indoor and outdoor pools and it is scheduled to open in early 2017. I love Malta and am very excited about our new hotel there. How has your Scottish background influenced CampbellGray hotels and projects? I think being Scottish is very grounding. We are very honest and straightforward people and do not like showing off. I am allergic to people who show off, so I suppose in a way this has kept me away from developing hotels with the wrong people! Please tell The Cultured Traveller about the new 48-room CampbellGray Machrie Hotel in Scotland? The Machrie is on the beautiful island of Islay, which is home to many famous whisky distilleries. The hotel is a classic Scottish country hotel on a very famous links golf course. The golf course is open and the hotel is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017. I am particularly excited about this project since I can hop on the ferry from my house in Argyll and just nip across! It’s not an exaggeration to say that this part of Scotland is amongst some of the most beautiful and idyllic countryside in the world. Is there anywhere you haven't yet visited which you would like to, and why? Bhutan, but this is about to be rectified very soon. In April 2015, CampbellGray Hotels entered into business with Jordanian-based Audeh Group, to develop and operate properties to add to Le Gray 80 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

hotel in Beirut. How did this partnership come about and how do you envisage it benefitting both parties? It adds extra firepower to our possibilities for expansion. It came about through the owner of Audeh Group having stayed at some of our hotels and asking if we would like to become involved with his hotel and apartment project in Amman. We discussed it and now we are business partners. As a consummate individualist, how are you coping with being involved in a partnership, and has it posed any challenges or brought about any compromises to date? It is not without its complications, but perhaps it is good for me to be controlled a little! Please tell us about your Baby Gray concept? We basically plan to offer a boutique design hotel concept that is stylish and clever, yet relevant to the more cost-conscious traveller. Where is your favourite place to vacation and do you actually switch off when you're away from CampbellGray's London HQ? I travel extensively and often to beautiful and sunny locations, so when it comes to deciding where to chill out, recharge or spend some holiday time, I usually head home to the West of Scotland where we live on a loch and have no neighbours. This is the perfect place to switch off. Please tell us about the new 180-bedroom Le Gray in Amman, slated to open in 2017. Amman is a very exciting project and the first branded Campbell Gray Living. It consists of apartments, offices, retail and a hotel. The apartments are completed, are currently for sale and will be fully serviced by the hotel. They have been finished to the highest standards and are situated in Abdali, Amman's new downtown that provides the Jordanian capital with central business, social and residential areas. This very large project first introduced me to Jordan, which I love and where I am spending increasingly more time. We understand that you have a great love for chocolate and are even investigating the possibility of launching your own brand? I am indeed and you will hear about it soon. Life is nothing if not a constant adventure!


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SINGAPORE CHANGI THE WORLD'S BEST AIRPORT 2012-16 With building a swish new airport or expanding an existing terminus having multiple financial benefits for any nation, it's little surprise that so many countries are busy constructing fancy new terminals, some costing billions of Dollars. Many countries are upgrading facilities, or have begun new air travel-related building projects, to cope with the forecast growth in the global number of air passengers travelling in 2017, which will see somewhere around 3.8 billion of us taking to the skies in the new year. A busy, expanded international airport encourages the stopover market to grow in both the arriving and departing destinations, which in turn boosts tourism, jobs and revenues.

to expand HIA's capacity to handle 53 million passengers a year, and increase the number of gates. The cost for Doha's airport current expansion? A cool USD 8 billion.

More visitors passing through a country not only increases traffic and flights, but also the visibility of a country on the world travel and hospitality stage. Nowhere is this more evident than Qatar, the tiny gas rich Gulf state, which boasts the world's most expensive new airport of late, Hamad International ("HIA"), reputed to have cost USD 15.5 billion to construct. The opening of HIA in 2014 catapulted the profile of the nation's capital, Doha, into the minds of the travelling public at large. Millions of passengers have posted images on social media, standing in front of HIA's 7-metre 20-ton cast bronze canary yellow teddy bear in the departures hall, by New York-based Swiss artist, Urs Fischer. And practically everyone who travels regularly now has Qatar Airways in their airline radar, the country's award-winning flag carrier. Such is the speed with which Qatar Airways is growing – not to mention the increased passenger numbers the FIFA World Cup will bring to Qatar in 2022 – that plans are already afoot

the island city-state's award-winning flag carrier, Singapore Airlines, but also brand Singapore. The main reason for Changi's popularity and success, is that the building is gradually growing with the trend which has seen futuristic superstructures and shimmering glass facades being introduced into airports, and a general blurring of the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces. Changi has been a leader in this area, with its butterfly garden and rooftop green spaces. In fact, Changi has been designed to be as little like your average airport as possible – which is probably why it’s a perennial favourite among all who travel through it. Also, Changi isn’t simply a place where Singaporeans go to travel. It’s also a meeting point and a destination for locals – a place to spend a weekend with family. There are few airports where cherry blossom thrives in the terminals. Changi is one of them. It’s also got a swimming pool, a cactus garden, two free 24-hour movie theatres,

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It might not be the largest, most expensive or busiest airport in the world, or even in Asia, but Singapore’s Changi has repeatedly been voted the greatest airplane terminus on the planet. Named by SkyTrax as the World's Best Airport in 2016, for the fourth consecutive year, when you take a look inside Changi it's not hard to see why the global financial center's much celebrated airport is so popular amongst travellers. It has been the driving force not only behind the rapid growth of

multiple rent-by-the-hour hotels, an outdoor rooftop swimming pool and a six-metre waterfall to soothe travel-weary souls. Just in case travellers didn’t get to sample a certain dish while exploring the city (Singapore has a dozen national dishes), terminal 3’s Singapore Food Street essentially serves every must-try major dish. High-speed Wi-Fi is free and unlimited throughout the entire airport – and it actually works – with kiosks and information counters located throughout the terminals to distribute access codes. Dozens of device charging stations are also located throughout. The terminal 1 departures hall is home to Kinetic Rain, a moving sculpture with an aviation theme, spanning 810ft2 and containing more than 1,216 brass raindrops. The installation makes 16 different shapes in loops of 15 minutes. Installed in 2012 and designed by German design firm Art+Com, Kinetic Rain is one of Changi's main art

100 airlines which the airport services. International architect and 2015 AIA Gold Medal-winner, Moshe Safdie – who designed the iconic Habitat 67 housing complex in Montreal – began construction of Jewel Changi in December 2014. Featuring a “Forest Valley” five-storey garden, and a gigantic 40-metre-high “Rain Vortex” waterfall at its centre, the massive doughnut-like terminal structure appears to resemble the Land of Oz more than an airport. According to Changi, Rain Vortex will be the world's tallest indoor waterfall, and at night will transform into an enthralling sound and light show. Project Jewel will also contain multiple playgrounds and a new 130-room YOTEL. Early check-in facilities at the complex will allow passengers to drop-off luggage ahead of regular check-in times and enjoy the facilities. Once finished – complete with hundreds of trees, palms and ferns enclosed within its huge 134,000m2 glass dome – the Jewel Changi's impressive steel-and-glass

installations, and entertains passengers and the public before they even check-in for flights. Meanwhile, for children, there are numerous interactive activities and games throughout the terminals, including Changi's largest interactive installation, the 9-metre Social Tree. Terminal 3 also boasts the world’s tallest slide in an airport, at 12 metres high.

biosphere-style structure, will no doubt further elevate Singapore's reputation as the ultimate, global garden city. Safdie himself has said that the project is “the prototype of a new kind of urban place”. Yet even as the airport is putting the finishing touches to its new jewel, it has already begun planning Changi East, a 2,700 acre expansion immediately east of the airport, that will include a massive fifth terminal and an air facility both roughly the same size as all existing terminals. Changi East is scheduled to open in the late 2020s and will be connected to the other four terminals, effectively creating one super airport. The idea with Changi East, is to expand and unify the passenger experience and help bring it to tens of millions of more people across Southeast Asia, as Changi’s capacity soars during the next decade. There really seems to be no stopping the world's best airport.

A few years ago, Changi began the 10-year process to double its capacity to more than 135 million travellers. Commencing with the opening of a futuristic new terminal known as "Jewel Changi" in 2017, the airport will become an even greater model for how to mass produce an iconic and superior passenger experience, while treating each passenger like they actually matter. Changi already connects 116 cities and 29 countries in Asia-Pacific, and 320 cities in 70 countries overall, so any changes or improvements it makes touches an awful lot of passengers flying through the region on one of

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A decade since the last broad overhaul of the airline's uniforms, Delta has revealed its new long-awaited Zac Posen-created outfits for more than 60,000 frontline workers, though it’s the customer-facing uniforms for flight attendants and airport-based customer service agents that will be the most visible to passengers. Though they’re still more than a year away from hitting the runway, the new collection of high-fashion yet classically-influenced uniforms, was rolled-out during a catwalk-styled show in the company’s

Group has confirmed that spaceship company, Virgin Galactic, will be working with Denver-based startup, Boom, to build new supersonic jets, and reintroduce commercial transatlantic flights which have been missing from the travel industry since Concorde was scrapped in 2003. Branson has partnered with pilot and technology entrepreneur, Blake Scholl, founder & CEO of Boom. Boom is building the next-generation of supersonic jets, promising 3½-hour flights from London to New York for

hometown of Atlanta, attended by New York-based designer, Zac Posen, whose work has included producing frocks for countless high-profile ladies, including Michelle Obama, Uma Thurman, Gwyneth Paltrow and Rihanna. Posen's dynamic collection for Delta features subtle nods to aviation, and a cute colour palette including Passport Plum, Groundspeed Graphite and Skyline Slate. Cabin crew can choose from a V-neck dress, an ottoman-skirt suit and a playful swing jacket. Menswear options include a three-piece suit and a tie printed with Delta’s logo.

USD 5,000 return. Virgin Galactic’s manufacturing arm, the Spaceship Company, will provide engineering and manufacturing services, along with flight test support and operations. Test flights will begin in southern California, with plans to launch the first commercial departures in 2023. If everything goes according to schedule, Boom flights will launch twenty years after British Airways and Air France decommissioned Concorde.



Airbus' new lightweight carbon-fibre A350-1000 wide-bodied jet has taken to the skies for the first time. The largest and latest variant of the company's flagship A350 line of jetliners, took off from Airbus’ headquarters near the French city of Toulouse, flying for several hours over southern France before returning. Its range of 7,950 miles, will enable the jet to connect cities like Boston and Shanghai or Los Angeles

British Airways has launched its own exclusive brand of gin for premium passengers - British Airways Gin - but you will need to fly first class to sample it, since for the time being it will only be served to the airline’s premium customers, from the bar of the prestigious Concorde Room at Heathrow Terminal 5. Created by the award-winning Cambridge Distillery – the world's first

and Manchester, according to Airbus. The highly fuel efficient A350-1000 boasts many more flier-friendly features, including larger windows and more amenable cabin humidity levels, and will seat between 366 and 440 passengers depending on the configuration. Airbus anticipates that the first A350-1000 will be delivered to launch customer, Qatar Airways, in late 2017, following a full year of flight-testing.

self-proclaimed ‘gin tailor’ – the main botanicals used in the creation of this special herbaceous gin (aside from juniper), were basil, rosemary and thyme, which are all grown in the distillery's gardens. Each bottle is labeled with the British Airways Speedmarque, and wax sealed by hand in Cambridge to create a truly unique product. As well as making British Airways Gin, the Cambridge Distillery also produces a bespoke blend especially for The House of Lords, which is on sale in Parliament. Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 85

No Shoes Required Far from the madding crowd and just an hour’s drive from the island’s built-up tourist centres, Nicholas Chrisostomou discovers a magical, secluded destination retreat in a lush corner of Bali, which fulfills his hospitality expectations of an Indonesian island paradise.

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or many people who first visited twenty-five years ago - when it attracted a handful of Australian surfing enthusiasts and a smattering of adventurous Europeans - Bali is now a lost paradise. Whilst the new airport is organised and relatively slick – I was out of the terminal with my luggage 30-minutes after touch-down (a rarity in any Asian holiday destination), once onto the streets it doesn't take long to realise that parts of the island are congested, polluted and crowded, and a lot of Bali feels nothing like the expected Indonesian island heaven. Nowadays Ubud is little more than a tourist trap (you'd be wise not to visit with fantasies of the Eat, Pray, Love variety), with the number of shops selling plastic footwear and tacky souvenirs almost outnumbering the temples – which is saying something. There’s even a Starbucks wedged into Ubud's main thoroughfare. Denpasar and the surrounding area are routinely gridlocked with traffic, making it a nightmare to get anywhere that isn't very local. Seminyak is jammed nose-to-tail with clubs, bars, shops, and hotels filling literally every inch – many pumping music until the early hours, attracting a less than savoury crowd. And best I don’t even talk about Kuta. Of course, like anywhere, there are exceptions. Ku De Ta is still one of Bali's best night's out, almost two decades after it opened;

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Jimbaran (close to Denpasar) has the island's best swimming bay and Bali's top beach club, Sundara – although you need a fat wallet to drink there. But aside from the exceptions that you must be in-the-know to enjoy, and unless you get away from the densely populated areas of the island, on the face of it there’s probably too little to keep a discerning holidaymaker happy in Bali. It’s all, most certainly, present – culture, religion, tradition, nature, history and oodles of charm – but nowadays you really have to search Bali for an authentic experience. According to almost everyone I’ve spoken to, the island was a lot less commercialised and substantially more authentic ten years before the turn of the millennium, and most said that this is when Bali was at its best. However, I'm pleased to inform (for your vacationing delectation), that The Cultured Traveller discovered a corner of Bali that is still rather magical... Far from the heaving throngs and just a 60-minute drive from the airport (traffic permitting), cutting through acres of sprawling rice paddies and weaving between a number of traditional villages, is a secret Bali retreat that’s a veritable breath of Indonesian fresh air. An exclusive resort so tucked away and unknown that even friends who've spent every summer in Bali for the past fifteen years knew nothing about



it until I told them. Welcome to Soori Bali, located in an unrivaled geographical position in the island’s fertile Tabanan regency, between a dramatic black sand beach, towering volcanic Mount Batukaru and UNESCO-protected rice terraces. At Soori Bali, the lucky guests who inhabit the resort's exclusive 48 suites and villas, enjoy complete privacy, relaxation and peace, coupled with unobtrusive service levels worthy of royalty. This was the style of Balinese resort I dreamed of experiencing long before I touched down on the island. Shortly after pulling-up at the resort's expansive, open-sided arrivals pavilion, I fell a little silent for some time – such was the tranquility and calmness of the space. Following a divine massage shortly after checking-in – using a blend of sweet almond and virgin coconut oils sourced from local villages in East Bali – I was soon ‘in the zone’ and somewhat captivated by my new surroundings. It was obvious within moments of starting to look around and take stock of Soori Bali, that the estate was designed with an awful lot of love. I say ‘estate’ because the whole place feels like one, sprawling private residential complex. Nothing is higher than a few storeys and all of the resort’s über-minimal buildings and accommodations are interspersed with chic pavilions, lush

botanicals, wide pathways, dense gardens, rambling fields and dramatic vistas of the Indian Ocean. Owned and designed by renowned Singaporean architect, Soo K. Chan, and his wife, Ling Fu, it's clear to anyone that a lot of care and consideration went into planning and executing Soori Bali. There is clever detailing literally everywhere, much of which is so expertly crafted and beautifully executed, that you'd be hard pressed to be convinced that the entire resort didn't naturally emerge from the surrounding landscape like a hospitality marvel – Soori Bali really does sit comfortably in its setting that spectacularly well. Fundamental to the resort’s design ethic were cultural sustainability and maintaining the quality of the environment, ensuring that the natural contours of the land were left unharmed and the local community benefited from the hotel. All the materials used in its construction were sourced from Bali and Java and the architecture skillfully draws inspiration from the local landscape and its colour palette, with the EarthCheck-certified resort crafted out of stone from nearby village quarries, and adorned with terracotta and other ceramic ornaments produced by local Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 89

artisans. Native indigenous materials used included Paras Kelating (sandstone) and Batu Kali (river stones) sourced from nearby Kelating village, where Soori Bali provides two elementary schools with financial aid. The resort is also somewhat spiritual, being dotted with temples and positioned with respect for ancestral, ritual pathways that run through the middle of its grounds. Echoing this architectural reverence, a palpable yet subliminal feeling of respect and peace is pleasantly evident throughout Soori Bali, and it’s hard to resist such a calming influence. Even I was pacified by the first evening, and trying to clear a complete 24-hours during my stay, so as not to move from Soori Bali and be fully immersed in the resort’s aura and delights. My lodgings at Soori Bali were a one-bedroom ocean pool villa, elevated above the ground so as to maximise the panoramic, sweeping views of the sea directly in front, which I could see whilst luxuriating in the private infinity pool, lazing on the huge couch in my private pavilion, dining al fresco, and lying on the super king-sized bed indoors. In fact, I could see and hear the ocean from pretty much everywhere within the suite, further elevating my sense of contentment. A private staircase led down to a raised grassed terrace a few feet above the beach, running the entire length of the resort. Here, I sunbathed with just birds and waves for company. At the back of the suite was a capacious bathroom, wardrobe and dressing arrangement, comprising separate indoor and outdoor shower rooms, a bathtub for two, and generous his-and-hers sink and vanity areas, complete with potions, lotions, sunscreens and even lip balms tailored to ladies and gents. All around me the devil was in the detailing. Every day a different, exotic fruit was delivered to my room - be it finger bananas or Kintamani mandarins - and fresh milk deposited in the fridge so I could make hot beverages in peace and quiet. There’s nothing quite like showering in the middle of a tropical outdoor courtyard garden, under the branches of a frangipani, with a waterfall 90 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17


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cascading over you surrounded by scented white flowers. Or walking off the edge of the lounge area of one’s suite, directly into a private infinity pool, and gazing at the waves of the Indian Ocean crashing onto a volcanic beach mere metres away. Staying at Soori Bali I was reminded that falling asleep to the sound of the sea, and waking up to the sight of the sun’s rays beating down on azure waters and frothy waves, were the best tonics one could wish for. One thing I especially liked about Soori Bali was the fuss-free, personally tailored meals. I could have a cosy dinner in the privacy of my villa, cocktails in a rice field, a picnic in the mountains, lunch on the beach, or room service breakfast in my open-air pavilion – the latter of which I relished every morning, drinking-in as much of the ocean vistas as I possibly could. Without exception, everything I ate at Soori Bali was delectable, beautifully presented, and fashioned from fresh produce supplied by century-old farms nearby, together with herbs and spices from the resort's own gardens. The only time I wore footwear was for a tasting dinner at Ombak, the resort’s premium restaurant. A gastronomic treat, featuring a selection of eclectic cosmopolitan dishes incorporating a variety of global flavours, it was well worth putting on shoes for! It’s rare for a five-star resort to provide so much more than a place to relax and escape in supreme comfort. Top-notch accommodation and superb food are expected at a hotel of Soori Bali’s category and price-point. But to be able to be completely re-energised – physically, mentally and spiritually – by a three-night stay in one place, makes Soori Bali a truly unique and standout hotel. It’s the resort’s skillful design – which instills guests with tranquility and calmness, qualified by space, light and structural order – that sets Soori Bali apart from other Balinese resorts. For this we must thank Soori’s architect and owner, Soo K. Chan, for his astonishing vision and intricate attention to detail. Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 93

In the heart of Berlin, Alex Benasuli explores unique hospitality haven, DAS STUE, which skillfully blends contemporary luxury with artistic accents in every creative nook and cranny

Since the city’s reuniďŹ cation in 1990, Berlin has transformed beyond belief. For the past few decades, since more than a year of debate over reunited Germany's orientation ended with a decision to move the government from Bonn to Berlin, the city has been developing a renewed identity, balancing both a proud and troubled history with its emergence as a global center for the arts, fashion, design and hospitality in its numerous forms. On the hotel front, most of the large international brands are represented, and there have been some superb renovations that 94 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17


have brought back to life Berlin’s fin de siècle past with up-to-date old world-style service. There are also a range of more modern properties that offer luxury and all the mod cons but want for charm and individuality. Berlin has noticeably lacked truly unique boutique hotels, that offer a refined, luxe and hip experience, and in this regard the city’s hospitality offerings have lagged behind its global peers. Das Stue has not only filled this gap, but also created a new Berlin benchmark in the five-star designer boutique hotel category. Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 95


ucked away in a leafy corner of the German capital, bordering Berlin’s Tiergarten – the former hunting ground of Prussian kings and now one of Europe’s largest and most beautiful inner-city parks – Das Stue proudly takes its place amongst the many embassies, stately homes and period buildings that make up this exclusive district. Occupying the imposing 1930s edifice that was originally Berlin's Royal Danish Embassy, Das Stue’s main building and entrance – with its circular driveway, stone façade, over- sized windows and generous proportions – exude elegance and grandeur. When the hotel opened in 2014 after a painstaking multi-year restoration and transformation, Das Stue reset the bar, not only in Berlin but also throughout Europe’s most populous and economically important nation, for deluxe design and exclusive hotel service. More and more, refined global travellers are seeking smaller and distinctive lodging options, which are as much an experience as the destination itself. While some excel at

design, some at luxury and others at service, it is still rare to find a property that executes all three as flawlessly as Das Stue does. First impressions genuinely matter and Das Stue doesn’t disappoint. The hotel’s impressive modernist façade and entrance give way to a stunning oversized foyer, with soaring ceilings framing porous stone walls, a grey marble floor and a double staircase hugging the perimeter of the grand space. The beauty of Das Stue’s design aesthetic, is that it creatively transforms the traditional and historic scale of this elegant residence into something contemporary, warm and quite frankly, breathtaking. In a nod to Zoologischer Garten (Berlin Zoo), which Das Stue literally backs on to, a giant crocodile’s head, sculpted out of wood and mounted on a plinth, greets arriving guests. It is a slightly provocative twist that signals an immediate readiness to mix artistic license with convention in the Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 97

hotel’s overall design. Above, a fascinating light installation, made up of many individual hanging orbs of different lengths, are arranged to create a wave-like rolling effect that beckons you to follow into the suite of lobby and concierge spaces. Just beyond, one of the many new build extensions, that are cleverly integrated to create a seamless flow between the period and contemporary parts of the building, augments the footprint of the original embassy space. Das Stue in Danish means ‘living room’, and it is in the cavernous lounge and bar space, continuing from the lobby and concierge areas, that the heart and soul of the property truly emerges. The décor of all Das Stue’s public spaces is the brainchild of globally acclaimed Spanish architect and designer, Patricia Urquiola. The bar and lounge are a master class in comfortable and contemporary luxury incorporating artistic and creative accents in every nook and cranny. Multiple seating areas of various sizes and configurations feature stylish, quilted B&B Italia chairs and sofas, 98 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

complimented by funky ottomans and statement stools. Chocolate brown herringbone cube parquet floors, copper pillars, plush drapes and subtly patterned wallpaper all add to the scene. Vintage fashion photography – part of the personal collection of one the owners – is hung throughout. Lime, orange and colour accents in the rugs, cushions and some of the upholstery add visual sparks. At the back of the room, beyond the bar area, a wall of windows gives way to views of the zoo’s periphery. The adjacent outdoor courtyard uses more colour, and in the colder months, part is transformed into a ski chalet-like smoking area. Design details abound. Visually, Das Stue is a symphony of textures, colour patterns and a host of shapes, regular and irregular. The living area really comes alive at night. Flawless lighting and ambient music complete the classic cocktail bar feel, with nods to the 20s and 30s. A video projection of black and white German movie classics adds a creative edge to the staging. This area is as perfect for solo visitors as it is for a

romantic rendezvous, or a group of friends and colleagues seeking out stylish digs in which to unwind. The vibe is sexy, moody, cozy and relaxed, yet skillfully managed to remain distinguished and refined. It’s no wonder that this space has become a favourite among the movers and shakers of Berlin’s art, fashion and new media scene, seeking a discreet and buzzy private members club-like hub to network and let their hair down. Partially obscured from the living room area is The Casual, the hotels all day dining outlet. The triangle shaped space feels distinctively urban, with its thick geometrically patterned carpet, spray painted corrugated metal floor-to-ceiling wall dividers, and angled floor and wall-mounted lighting. In many ways this restaurant resembles an abstract expressionist work of art. During the day, light streams in from skylights above, allowing for an airiness that softens the strong visuals. At night, with

candles on the tables and music in the background, The Casual feels inviting. One end of The Casual gives way to Cinco by Paco Pérez, the hotel’s fine dining eatery. The two can be interconnected via actual open spaces or they can be completely closed off depending on whether a private function is taking place in one or the other. The centerpiece of Cinco’s eye-catching space is an incredible ceiling installation. A myriad of different sized copper pots, clustered together, is suspended from the ceiling in the middle of the room, shaped like a giant ribbon. It’s both brilliant and mesmerizing. The length of Cinco’s back wall is an enormous window exposing the entire kitchen for everyone to see. The relative bright light of the kitchen area perfectly offsets the rich browns and copper that dominate the colour scheme of the dining room. With seating for only 36 diners, eating at Cinco is intimate and personal. Das Stue’s owners are Spanish and hence the cuisine of both Cinco and The Casual are exclusively Iberian affairs. Paco Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 99

Pérez, a world-renowned chef focusing on 21st century Spanish haute cuisine, has earned five Michelin stars in his various restaurants, including Cinco, which currently has one. When Cinco opened it lifted the lid off of Berlin’s high-end restaurant offerings, which tend to veer towards the more traditional and conventional. It’s multi-course molecular cuisine, using exotic produce and providing unique flavour pairings and textures, was practically unheard of in Berlin. Cinco has added a refreshing new option to the city’s fine dining scene, and in offering a truly creative and innovative dining experience, has helped Berlin to catch up with its international gastronomic metropolitan rivals. Whilst the striking public areas of Das Stue impress and seduce visitors to take their time and savour every moment, the 78 guest rooms and suites are also beautiful and exude contemporary luxury. Room layouts depend on category and 100 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

whether situated in the original building or in one of the modern extensions. Some have more traditional proportions and period design details, while others appear more fresh, urban and loft-like. Standard rooms are generously proportioned, most with floor-to-ceiling windows. Embassy rooms have oversized bathtubs and many have small terraces. Various suite options offer a variety of sizes and offerings, from sitting rooms and/or work space areas, to panoramic vistas and sprawling terraces. The hotel’s biggest 110m2 Bel Etage suite, boasts five-metre ceilings and two bathrooms. The generous use of natural materials, dark wood floors, bespoke designer furniture and splashes of colour in the soft furnishings, create an environment that feels cozy and contemporary in all guest accommodation. The leafy views over Berlin’s Tiergarten and the zoo provide contemplative calm and quiet, interrupted only by the sound of zoo animals that make their presence known from time to time. Amidst the corridors linking rooms between the older

and newer parts of the buildings, are a scattering of open-air libraries and alcoves in which to recline with a book amidst even more eye-catching décor. The relaxing undertones running throughout Das Stue are further enhanced by the in-house spa and wellness facilities, where only organic and wholesome beauty products are used. Three treatment rooms offer guests a host of treatments, ranging from traditional Chinese medicine to facials and body treatments with a focus on anti-aging and cell regeneration. There are also a 14-metre indoor pool and Finnish sauna, perfect for recharging after a night on the town, or unwinding during Berlin’s colder months. For the more active, there is a compact yet fully equipped gym, featuring the latest Technogym equipment. Outside Das Stue’s veritable backyard, the bucolic Tiergarten, provides endless possibilities amidst tree and monument-filled parkland to walk, jog and bike. A fleet of bikes is made available for guests to explore

the hotel’s surroundings. Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag are but a ten-minute bike ride away. Families travelling with children love the private entrance that links Das Stue directly to the zoo. Das Stue feels like an urban country house playground, civilized and refined, yet creative and fun, with history in spades and cutting-edge contemporary artistic expressions everywhere. It is at once chic and elegant as well as forward thinking and bold. As such, Das Stue is the perfect reflection of today’s Berlin, a city on the move, not only reclaiming its place in the world but also forging ahead in dynamic fashion. In an ever-changing metropolis, with one foot in the past and one even more firmly in the future, Das Stue seamlessly encapsulates the 21st century German capital, and deftly showcases the city’s creative and artistic forces in a unique hospitality gem. Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 101

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TRAVELLER LOWDOWN Sam Henderson explores America’s famous Motor City, and gives us her insider lowdown on the iconic Michigan metropolis back and on the up-and-up


he largest city in the American state of Michigan. A once-booming centre of automobile magnets and the luxurious mansions and exquisite Deco skyscrapers that house them. Immortalised as the Motor City, Detroit was once the model conglomeration of all things ‘auto’. The city rapidly grew wealthy after Henry Ford established the Ford Motor Company here in 1903. By 1925, Dodge, Chrysler, Cadillac and General Motors had all moved-in and set up production in Detroit. Following many years of plenty in the 1920s and early 1930s, Detroit expanded to support the boom in automobile ownership by everyday Americans. By 1950, Detroit was the 4th largest city in America, with the greatest number of manufacturing jobs. But what followed was a highly publicised and much scrutinised city decline. The 1950s saw most of the big name carmakers move their production out of the city. By the 1970s, the oil crisis and the diversification of the global car market gave foreign auto manufacturers the upper hand, edging the American big three Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 103



– Ford, Chrysler and GM – out of the top positions. Around the same time, riots and social unrest in Detroit resulted in the dramatic flight of investment and confidence out of the city. This continued for many years, and post millennium, the city suffered a rollercoaster of urban decay and renewal, coupled with a wildly yo-yoing credit rating. In 2011, the city had the lowest population for a century. In July 2013, Detroit infamously filed for bankruptcy - the largest municipal insolvency in American history. Spend even a short time in Detroit today, and right in the epicenter you'll see the eerie, vacant lots of the past, and ghostly structures of deserted and crumbling houses waiting for demolition. But in the past few years, the city has experienced something of a renaissance and is once again worthy of visiting. Relatively easy to explore, most of Detroit’s attractions are located in the Downtown and Midtown areas, or along the newly developed International Riverfront, labeled ‘international’ because Detroit River – which connects Lake Eyrie with Lake St. Clair – is the US border with Canada. As you explore, you’ll see magnificent, historic buildings in the throes of restoration, and the city centre being stylishly 104 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17


remodelled with new sports venues, shops and restaurants, some literally springing up behind old exteriors. Having been abandoned since 1988, massive century-old Michigan Central Station – once the grand central of Detroit but more recently used as the dilapidated backdrop for films including Transformers and 8 Mile – is now enrobed with scaffolding while its hundreds of blown-out windows and regal Art Deco façade are being restored. Alongside numerous restoration projects, newly built modern hotels, boutiques and eateries have been linked by the Detroit People Mover - a 4.7 km driverless monorail that circles Downtown Detroit. Disliked by locals until recently, it has now become a popular and funky way to get around Downtown. The monorail will whisk you to Comerica Park for a Detroit Tigers major league baseball game (, to Fox Theatre to watch the filming of an Anthony Bourdain show (, and to the ornate Detroit Opera House to catch a performance by celebrated Michigan Opera Theatre company ( A short taxi ride will connect you with numerous visitor attractions, including the Motown Museum, also known as 'Hitsville USA', the original recording studios of the seminal record label and residence of



its founder, Berry Gordy ( It’s hard to ignore Detroit's music legacy – the city being the hometown of Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and Madonna, amongst others. For motor history buffs and ardent petrol-heads, a visit to The Henry Ford museum complex, spread across more than 80 acres – a little out of the city, in the suburb of Dearborn – is not to be missed. From assembly line to Apple, with Rosa Park's bus, Abe Lincoln's infamous theatre chair and JFK's fateful sedan all on show, visiting Ford’s global HQ is both a blast from the past and an interesting flit into the future ( Typical of the Detroit of today, is the involvement of many innovative chefs in new ventures to support the city’s gastronomic rebirth. Start your day with breakfast at stylish Hudson Café on Woodward. Here classically trained French chef, Tom Teknos, and his partner, Stavros Adamopoulos, serve their take on sweet and savoury waffles plus other scrummy treats ( After brekkie, take a guided tour around Detroit’s impressive Art Deco centre, a popular location for many Hollywood films in recent years. The awe-inspiring Guardian Building was the set for the recent


Batman v Superman movie. Preservation Detroit offers a variety of excellent walking tours, as well as private, tailor-made excursions. Contact Jen Rudd for private tours ( If you fancy a less planned stroll, head to Detroit International Riverfront and on to Belle Isle – a 982-acre island park, located between the US mainland and Canada – considered to be the city’s green crown jewel. Designed in the 1880s by renowned landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed Central Park in NYC, Belle Isle features a variety of attractions, including an aquarium, conservatory and the impressive James Scott Memorial Fountain ( If you feel like a little retail therapy, spending tourist dollars in Detroit is relatively easy, with the city’s downtown area awash with funky boutiques, designer stores and high street brands. If you fancy something a little more eclectic, walk the one mile north of downtown, to 125 year-old Eastern Market, a buzzing place to hang out, browse and shop, with local food and independent fashion retailers aplenty ( For art aficionados, an afternoon perusing the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit is a cultural must. Showcasing a Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 105




If you feel like a little retail therapy, spending tourist dollars in Detroit is relatively easy, with the city’s downtown area awash with funky boutiques, designer stores and high street brands wide and frequently changing variety of modern art, MoCAD is probably most famous for housing Diego Rivera's 27-piece series of frescoes, Detroit Industry. If you’re looking for a quick and healthy lunch, there’s also a fab little SuperHappySushi at the museum’s Café 78 ( Thanks to the city’s rebirth, Detroit has witnessed an influx of foodies, talented chefs and notable culinary partnerships in the past few years, meaning there’s no shortage of decent places to eat excellent fare at reasonable prices. Johnny Noodle King is as much about chef Sam Rafo and his team, as it is about their soul warming ramens and super tasty fusion noodles ( You can’t visit Detroit without a Greek American chilli dog, affectionately known locally as a 'coney'. Big on flavour and best served with added chili and a side order of cheese fries, the city’s most famous are served-up

by American Coney Island ( and Lafayette Coney Island next door (+1 313 964 8198). Hot Taco on Park Avenue has the best soft tacos and burritos on the block ( Come cocktail hour, the intimate Sugar House bar on Michigan Avenue serves over 100 lovingly crafted classic cocktails. I recommend ‘Aviation’ - a delectable tipple fusing gin, lime, maraschino and green chartreuse ( Midtown award-winning Chartreuse Kitchen and Cocktails is a botanically-themed American eatery and cocktail bar, also well worth a look in ( For dinner, take time out for a meal at the steam-punk decorated Rusted Crow, a few minutes walk from Grand Circus Park where most of the city’s best hotels are located. Run by a local Detroit mainstay, its eats are hearty and yummy, especially the hand-made burgers (+1 313 782 4751). Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 107

Thanks to the city’s rebirth, Detroit has witnessed an influx of foodies, talented chefs and notable culinary partnerships in the past few years, meaning there’s no shortage of decent places to eat excellent fare at reasonable prices Revitalised Detroit centre has seen some excellent new hotels open recently, so there is no shortage of quality places to rest your head. These include all-suite Atheneum located in Greektown, adjacent to the Detroit People Mover and business district (, and the Italian Rennaisance-styled Westin Book Cadillac offering plush lodgings ( Right in the centre of Downtown, Aloft is a hip and funky modern hotel with a cool cocktail bar, located within the historic David Whitney Building ( For a dalliance with Detroit's Victorian period, stay at the elegant B&B Inn, one of the city’s last remaining original mansions ( As an urban exporter of some of the world’s most well known pop artists, unsurprisingly Detroiters know how to get the best out of their nightlife, which has also experienced a boost

of late. The best places to party ‘til the early hours, are urban basement hotspot, The Grasshopper Underground (, and the iconic Centaur Bar, located at the top of the old Iodent Toothpaste Factory ( Both will keep you bouncing until late. ‘A phoenix rising from the ashes’ is how most modern day Detroiters proudly describe their city. Desperate to preserve some of the glorious, glamorous past and fuse it with their modern urban future, locals are heartily welcoming visitors to Detroit again. They quirkily ask tourists to ‘forgive the renovations’ and enjoy the rejuvenating experience you’ll have when you visit their spirited city, and I can tell you from first hand experience, that a visit to Detroit is both refreshing and highly enjoyable. Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 109



When you think of capital cities known for their cuisine, Doha does not readily spring to mind. Yet, there is no doubt that the Qatari metropolis has a foodie soul. The combination of a large expatriate population from around the globe, and the sophisticated tastes of well-travelled locals, has resulted in a community so devoted to dining out, that it might as well be named a national pastime. Doha’s thousands of restaurants range from pokey holes in the wall serving some of the best (and cheapest) Indian fare that you may ever have tasted, to fine dining establishments founded by some of the world’s best-known chefs, including Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, Gordon Ramsay and Alain Ducasse. To provide our readers with a literary amuse bouche, The Cultured Traveller has selected eight of Doha’s best restaurants to feature in this special gastronomic spotlight on the wealthy Qatari capital. It was truly tough to narrow the field down to such a small number, but those that made the list were chosen on the basis of representing top quality, presentation and service in their particular niche. If you’re craving a succulent steak, a hearty modern Italian feast, an indulgence of seafood or a flavoursome Latin celebration, it’s all here. Likewise, if you want to see some of Doha’s chicest spots or canoodle over a romantic dinner for two, there’s something for you too. 110 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

No culinary exploration of Doha would be complete without an evening trip to the city’s main traditional market, Souq Waqif. While the food quality and service in the souq can be a little haphazard, there are dozens of cafés and restaurants to choose from and there’s no better place in the city to people-watch. Just before the sun sets, settle yourself at a table on the main thoroughfare with a freshly made lemon and mint drink, then order some local dishes. Most popular and ever-present is machbous (popular in many Gulf countries), which is a richly spiced mélange of Eastern spices, basmati rice, pine nuts and raisins, often topped with a chunk of chicken, mutton, or locally caught hammour. Also very popular in the Qatari capital, are balaleet (noodles cooked with sugar, cinnamon, saffron and cardamom), and Umm Ali, a sweet, milky bread-type pudding. Finally, a quick word about alcoholic beverages: Major hotels in Doha – and restaurants either inside or within a hotel complex – are permitted to serve alcohol. But stand-alone restaurants cannot serve alcohol. All eateries featured in this roundup of Doha’s Best Restaurants are fully licensed, with the exception of IDAM. Dawn Gibson Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 111


HAKKASAN DOHA Food Atmosphere

akkasan started life as a swish Chinese restaurant in Hanway Place in London, launched by Wagamama founder Alan Yau in 2001. The brand has come a long way in the past fifteen years. Today Hakkasan is truly global, encompassing restaurants, clubs and venues across North America, Asia, India and the Middle East. Since opening in Qatar four years ago, Hakkasan has become one of the most talked about restaurants in Doha – a place to see and be seen. The décor is stylish and chic and the crowd is a mix of corporate types, well-dressed couples and glamorous girls about town. Hakkasan Doha is a regular winner of gastronomic accolades, having landed Time Out Doha’s most prestigious award, Restaurant of the Year, for the past two consecutive years. Hakkasan’s Qatar outpost is situated amongst the manicured gardens of the opulent five-star St. Regis Doha, a short distance from the main hotel, which gives it a more stand-alone feel than many other top restaurants in the city, accentuated by a private driveway and entrance. On the Sunday evening of my visit, the restaurant was about half full, and the first thing I noticed was the achingly fashionable interior, designed by iconic French designer, Christian Liaigre. Dark wood tables and inviting armchairs sit partially hidden behind Chinese lattice screens. Gold lighting

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accents create a warm glow, and the whisper of low conversation ebbs and flows from shadowed nooks and crannies. It’s the kind of place where a risqué romantic rendezvous might take place across from a multi-million-dollar international business deal at the same time. A long, backlit blue onyx bar – running along the right flank of the restaurant – beckoned us to take a pew. We gave into temptation without hesitation, kicking off the evening with an exclusive-to-West Bay signature Tupi Pale cocktail, made with Tanqueray No. 10 gin and peach liqueur, given a fruity shake-up with pineapple, lime and peach bitters. It was strong, simply served and delicious. Removing ourselves slightly reluctantly from the bar, we walked through the dimly lit restaurant towards the relaxed terrace, to take advantage of the balmy Qatar evening. Each Hakkasan around the world prides itself on offering unique local dishes and inventive drinks, and Qatar is no exception. Doha’s head chef, Lai Min Wei, has been experimenting with traditional Chinese cuisine since he was a teenager, and worked for Hakkasan in London and Dubai before heading to Qatar. To start we selected a variety of small dishes. The Hakka steamed dim sum platter was a taste of Asian culinary heaven, comprising piping-hot mouthfuls of scallop shumai, smoked Wagyu beef and seabass shumai. We also polished

off a Cantonese classic with a twist - prawn toast with truffle - crunchy and golden, exactly as it should be. Also standout was the crispy duck salad with pomelo, pine nuts and shallots, a worldwide Hakkasan signature dish. Our main course selection included grilled Chilean sea bass with Chinese honey, which tasted as exquisite as it looked, the delicate fish beautifully balanced by the sweet glaze. It’s rightly considered one of Hakkasan’s star turns, comparable to Nobu’s famous miso-marinated black cod. The stir-fried Wagyu beef with honey jasmine sauce was wonderfully tender, whilst the Hakka hand-pulled noodles with shimeji mushroom and Chinese chives were tasty enough to tempt even the most fervent low-carb dieter. Service throughout dinner was pleasant and responsive whilst still relatively low key, in a part of the world where overly obsequious waiting staff can sometimes get on your nerves, after a while. All of the courses arrived in a timely fashion and our servers had a good knowledge of the menu. By the time the main course was cleared, it has to be said that we were fairly full, but felt that it would have been a culinary crime to leave without tasting the much lauded chocolate orange dessert, a beautifully presented globe of gold leaf dusted chocolate, concealing a delicate blood orange sorbet. Sharing one between the two of us, the divine chocolate and orange combination rounded-off the meal in a somewhat theatrical fashion.

Executive chef: Lai Min Wei Address: The St. Regis Doha, West Bay, Doha, Qatar Telephone: +974 4446 0170 Email: Website: Cuisine: Modern Cantonese Opening hours: Sun - Thu 19:00 - 00:00 Fri 12:00 - 16:00, 19:00 - 00:00 Sat 13:00 - 16:00, 19:00 - 00:00 Suggested lunch: Spicy prawn (QR140), vegetable fried rice (QR58). Suggested dinner: Crispy duck salad (QR175), Assam seafood claypot with okra and coconut (QR168), grilled Wagyu beef with lemon soya sauce (QR250), steamed Jasmine rice (QR40), lemon and sesame tart (QR55). Perfect dinner: Hakka steamed dim sum platter (QR98), grilled Chilean seabass with Chinese honey (QR255), Peking duck (QR900), Hakka hand-pulled noodles (QR78), chocolate and olive oil delice (QR55). Reservations: Essential Wheelchair access: Yes Children: Welcome. No high chairs. No kids menu Credit Cards: All major Parking: Valet complimentary Reviewed by Dawn Gibson for dinner on 27 March 2016 Ratings range from zero to five stars and reflect the reviewer’s feedback about the food and service, and separately the atmosphere in the dining room. Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 113



here is no shortage of high-end steakhouses in Doha, a testimony to the huge appetite in Qatar for the best quality prime beef amongst both local and expatriate diners. New York Steakhouse stands out from the pack for a number of reasons. Its’ classic old-fashioned ambience, reminiscent of a gentlemen’s club without the stuffy atmosphere. And the theatricality of the food presentation. Expect to be entertained as well as wined and dined, from the time you sit down on one of the blissfully snug red and black leather armchairs, to the time you reluctantly toddle out. Of course, the steaks are known to be consistently good, otherwise there would really be no point!


The king prawn cocktail was a playful twist on an old classic – deconstructed and served on a square block of pink ice, studded with red berries and topped with butterflied prawns. However, it soon became obvious that the beef tartare was the starter to order. Lloyd prepared it table-side, mixing minced raw Black Angus beef with mustard, parsley, capers, shallots and tarragon, before gently smoking the mixture using bourbon barrel wood chips and a glass bowl. By the time he was finished (other diners were craning their necks, wondering what we had ordered), the end result was a well-composed and deliciously tasty round of tartare with a mild heat and herby after-taste.

We arrived on a weekday evening and were graciously led to our table by server Lloyd, who was friendly and highly knowledgeable about the menu. Dinner begun with a refreshing glass of prosecco, and, by way of an amuse bouche, a neat square of steak surrounded by caviar and carrot puree, served precisely on a large porcelain spoon. But things really started to get interesting when the appetizers were brought to the table. German-born executive chef, David Dahlhaus, who has been working internationally for several years, including in Dubai, is committed to ensuring his guests have a truly memorable foodie experience, and it really showed.

The show continued when Lloyd wheeled around a display of the raw cuts from which to choose our main courses. These included Wagyu, prime beef and Black Angus from the US, Australia and Argentina, alongside a giant one kilogram ‘tomahawk’ behemoth for two or more (there’s was a two kilogram piece for the truly carnivorous). Lloyd explained the marbling of fat in each cut and suggested which he considered we would best enjoy based on our tastes. There was also a choice of steak knives, from the dainty and slightly decorative French, to Samurai-style blades. I selected a Wagyu fillet mignon, medium, with a red wine sauce and sides of asparagus and carrots. My dining partner

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also plumped for a Wagyu cooked medium for its tasty highly marbled meat, but a larger rib-eye with a mushroom sauce, served with a baked potato and sautéed mushrooms. The steaks, especially the fillet, were as melt in the mouth as one could have wished – juicy, butter-soft and flavoursome. The red wine sauce was a particularly good choice, and the perfect accompaniment to the mushrooms as well as the meat. My only quibble what that the sauces and sides are all charged extra and separately – including one complimentary sauce with each steak surely would not have been too onerous! At the outset we had accepted Lloyd’s suggested wine pairings, and once the food and vinos were served together, we were glad. The wines were all from the Americas: a crisp Californian chardonnay with the prawn cocktail, an Argentinian Malbec to complement the tartare and a robust, fruity Washington Syrah, the best pick, with the main course steaks. We ended the meal with a somewhat indulgent although rather scrumptious Baked Alaska - a nougat and meringue-based ball of sweetness – plus a slice of lemon tart with thyme marshmallow and yoghurt sorbet. The desserts were a fittingly impressive conclusion to a dinner that had been as exquisitely presented as it had been

satisfying. However, it’s the showmanship of the waiting staff that makes New York Steakhouse a memorable place for a night out. Executive chef: David Dahlhaus Address: Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel, Omar Al Mukhtar Street, West Bay, Doha, Qatar Telephone: +974 4419 5000 Email: Website: Cuisine: American steakhouse Opening hours: Lunch Sun - Thu 12:00 - 15:00 Dinner 7 nights 18:30 - 23:30 Suggested lunch: 3-course set (QR95) Suggested dinner: New England seafood chowder (QR55), fillet tasting trio (QR275), lemon tart (QR45). Perfect dinner: Beef tartare (QR95), mixed grill (QR275), Philadelphia cheesecake (QR45) Reservations: Required Wheelchair access: Yes Children: High chairs yes. Kids menu yes. Credit cards: All major Parking: Free valet Reviewed by Dawn Gibson for dinner on 17 March 2016 Ratings range from zero to five stars and reflect the reviewer’s feedback about the food and service, and separately the atmosphere in the dining room.

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n a city where there sometimes seems to be a new restaurant launched every week, it is comforting to be able to fall back on old, trusted favourites. Market by Jean-Georges is one such eatery for much of Doha’s business community – not least because it is conveniently located in the heart of the city’s business district, West Bay, at the funky W Doha Hotel & Residences. Market is chic without being overly fussy, and is known citywide for the swift service and consistently good quality cuisine. It wasn’t much of a surprise then, when the restaurant – part of the global empire of renowned Alsatian chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten – took home the gongs for Best Business Lunch and Best European at the 2016 Time Out Doha restaurant awards. We arrived just after noon on a Sunday – the Arab world’s Monday – and the restaurant was already three quarters full. The reason is Market’s purse-friendly QR98 express lunch menu, which offers a generous choice of six appetizers, mains and desserts, including a number of the restaurant’s signature dishes. You can order, eat and settle your bill within 40 minutes if you wish. While there is also a reasonable selection of wines by the glass, we were behaving ourselves that day, and ordered peach pomegranate mojito mocktails, a refreshing if sugary choice. Turning to the appetizer menu, I couldn’t decide between the tomato soup with cheddar and croutons, or a steamed shrimp salad, and eventually settled on the seafood. Meanwhile my friend ordered the salmon tartar with garlic toast. Both were a bit of a let-down, to be honest. The salad was huge, but even chunks of lovely creamy avocado and feisty Champagne vinaigrette were not enough to disguise the fact that it was mostly a mountain of greens with a stingy amount of shrimp around the edges. My friend was equally unimpressed with her bland salmon tartar, and I wish we had both plumped for the tomato soup instead. Thankfully, the next course restored our faith. I enjoyed a beautifully slow-cooked piece of salmon, topped with potato mash and sliced Brussels sprouts inside a ring of black truffle emulsion. The flavours combined perfectly, and I wondered why I had never thought of slicing sprouts before. My friend tucked into parmesan-crusted chicken – which I had eaten on a previous visit, since it proves to be a consistent winner – served with basil-lemon butter and asparagus. An aside: the vegetables served with the express lunch mains are little more than a garnish, so I suggest ordering at least one side between two people. We

also shared an irresistibly tasty black truffle pizza, but resisted the urge to finish every piece with thoughts of the desserts to come. This proved to be a wise move, particularly for my friend, who ordered the restaurant’s famed salted caramel sundae. The dish was served in a cereal bowl, and included a generous serving of caramel ice cream surrounded by a riot of peanuts, popcorn and chocolate fudge sauce. My choice – warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream – was dainty by comparison but equally yummy. As part of the express lunch menu, Market also offers a bag of homemade cookies-to-go, for those with a sweet tooth who are in a hurry to leave after their mains. Whilst we hadn’t been keeping a close eye on the time (Market is a very social and intensely chatty restaurant!), the service was prompt and courteous throughout and the waiters attentive without making us feel uncomfortable. Overall, the lunch experience was reliable, efficient and excellent value for money. The emphasis on high quality dishes served promptly is clearly a successful (dare I say it?) marketing ploy, equally popular with executives in a hurry and ladies who lunch. We lingered a little longer over coffee, before leaving through the hotel’s über-fashionable and happening lobby, stomachs contentedly full and wallets mercilessly unscathed.

Executive chef: Chamil Balasuriya Address: W Doha Hotel & Residences, West Bay, Doha, Qatar Telephone: +974 4453 5373 Email: Website: Cuisine: International Opening hours: Sat - Thu 12:00 - 16:00, 17:00 - 23:30 Fri 12:00 - 16:00, 18:00 - 23:30 Suggested lunch: Express set lunch (QAR98) Suggested dinner: Steamed shrimp salad (QAR75), slow-cooked salmon (QR125), salted caramel ice cream sundae (QAR45) Perfect dinner: Fresh burrata (QAR90), grilled prime sirloin (QR170), warm chocolate cake (QAR45) Reservations: Essential Wheelchair access: Yes Children: High chairs yes. Kids menu yes Credit cards: All major Parking: Free valet Reviewed by Dawn Gibson for lunch on 20 March 2016 Ratings range from zero to five stars and reflect the reviewer’s feedback about the food and service, and separately the atmosphere in the dining room.

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n a city where slick concept restaurants regularly debut in swanky 5-star hotels, offering different gastronomic journeys, it's not always easy for a newcomer to make its mark in Doha and attract a decent crowd. But then again, Mexican-born Denver-based celebrity chef Richard Sandoval is no stranger to opening restaurants in the Gulf region. A global pioneer in contemporary Latin cuisine, Sandoval is internationally acclaimed for his innovative combination of Latin ingredients and modern culinary techniques to create thrilling and sophisticated flavours. Since opening his first Mexican restaurant almost twenty years ago in New York City, Sandoval has employed his classically trained and modern approach to traditional Mexican food, to grow his empire across the States and Mexico and into the Middle East, and now helms more than 45 restaurants globally. But he doesn’t stop there, also offering his take on coastal Mexican cuisine, Latin/Asian-fused small plates and most recently a pan-Latin interpretation of a contemporary steakhouse, which is where Toro Toro comes in. Doha is Sandoval’s second Toro Toro outlet in the Gulf, located within Marsa Malaz Kempinski hotel complex. Whilst two giant bulls greet you at the entrance, once inside Toro Toro Doha the dramatics are very much grown-up. The sultry interior features accents of burnt orange, dark charcoal walls, plenty of wooden textured finishes and leather furniture throughout. This is not a small restaurant - the ground floor

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dining room seats more than 150, whilst just under 200 can be comfortably accommodated upstairs - yet the skillful interior design aesthetic makes the place feel warm and inviting, a touch understatedly glamorous even. It doesn’t take long for us to be seated and get comfy. I love the no-nonsense approach to South American eating. There’s little, if any, faffing around. The first round of drinks was delivered within minutes and then the serious business began with gusto. The concept of Toro Toro is all about sharing dishes, its menu dominated by small meat plates, grilled octopus, ceviche and the like. We opted for five-courses, comprising cold starters, a round of suviche rolls, hot appetizers, a meaty main course and finally desserts. Of the four cold appetizers we shared, the Ceviche Huachinango was standout. Made with sea bass, it was deliciously fresh and bursting with flavours. The smoked duck breast Tiradito was also superb. A signature experience at Toro Toro is “suviche” (sushi and ceviche) which combines Asian and Latin influences and flavours. Served from a dedicated suviche bar, our scrummy beef rolls were a delicious course in their own right. Conscious that the main course was still to come, we took it easy with the hot appetizers, sampling everything but trying to leave space. Nevertheless, the marinated beef tenderloin skewers (anticucho) and crispy prawns in Japanese breadcrumbs were impossible to resist, the latter served


TORO TORO DOHA Food Atmosphere

with a divine, sweet sauce. For me the grilled octopus was the star of the three main courses. Succulent and smoky, despite being very full already I almost demolished the entire plate. The beef fillet (Palomilla de Res) was accompanied by a robust and tasty cognac black pepper sauce, whilst the moist lamb Shank was perfectly cooked and easy to eat as it came off the bone. Desserts were a Peruvian combination of dulce de leche and meringue (Suspiro Limeño), the restaurant’s trademark Tres Leches, and Mexican brownie. All three were delicious and moreish – the tres leches cake oozing an incomparable feeling of comfort. After one sweet mouthful of each I simply couldn’t accommodate any more food. Service throughout was friendly and efficient yet not overwhelming. Assistant manager, Beatriz Welter, was warm, helpful and informative without being gushy or in your face. The handcrafted cocktails we sipped upstairs after dinner were delectable and generous. The entire experience could not be faulted from start to finish, the food being the shining star of the show. Praised worldwide by the industry, media, peers and patrons alike, for elevating Latin American dining in each market he has a presence, Richard Sandoval has once again created an outstanding restaurant in Toro Toro Doha, which is positively, upstairs and down, and offers a unique culinary experience in the Qatari capital.

Chef de cuisine: Bojan Petrovic Address: Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl - Doha, Costa Malaz Bay, Doha, Qatar Telephone: +974 4446 0170 Email: Website: Cuisine: Latin American Opening hours: Sat - Wed 19:00 - 01:00 Thu 19:00 - 02:00 Fri 12:30 - 16:00, 19:00 - 02:0 Suggested dinner: Ceviche Huachinango (QR85), beef fillet anticucho (QR90), crispy prawns (QR90), (QR250), pulpo al olivo (QR80), 650g churrasco skewer - serves 2 (QR450), steamed asparagus (QR60), potato puree (QR 50), Tres Leches (QR50). Perfect dinner: Ceviche Huachinango (QR 85), beef fillet anticucho (QR90), crispy prawns (QR90), pulpo al olivo (QR80), rodízio-style main course - free flow of meat and sides (QR440 per person), Suspiro Limeño (QR50), Tres Leches (QR50). Reservations: Essential at weekends Wheelchair access: Yes Children: Welcome. High chairs yes. No kids menu Credit Cards: All major Parking: Valet complimentary Reviewed by Nicholas Chrisostomou for dinner on 30 March 2016 Ratings range from zero to five stars and reflect the reviewer’s feedback about the food and service, and separately the atmosphere in the dining room.

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f you’re going to visit just one fine dining restaurant in Doha, make it IDAM. Yes, it’s a bold statement to make at the start of a review, but there is good reason for it. While many restaurants claim to provide a unique experience, this is the adventure in ‘haute cuisine’ you will be telling your friends about, from the mezze decorated with edible gold leaf, to how you bravely tried the signature slow-cooked camel. The first Middle Eastern venture by the multiple Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse, whose restaurants include his flagship Le Louis XV at the Hôtel de Paris Monte Carlo and a namesake eatery at London’s Dorchester, among many others, it is unsurprising that IDAM regularly features on VIP itineraries. Michelle Obama held a private dinner here, while Mary, the Crown Princess of Denmark, was reportedly much taken by the incredible décor. Housed at the top of Qatar’s iconic Museum of Islamic Art, IDAM boasts one of the best views across the water towards Doha’s futuristic West Bay skyline. The interior is just as impressive, a minimalist masterpiece in monochrome, by renowned designer Philippe Starck. While it is hard to shake the ‘night at the museum’ feel entirely, Starck has artfully closed in the dining area with circular installations suspended from the high ceiling to give it less of an institutional feel. Every small detail has been carefully considered, from the Arabic calligraphy on the thick carpet, to the exquisitely beautiful, heavy crystal goblets. However, there is one

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significant downside to the stunning setting - you cannot drink alcohol in a museum dedicated to Islamic art. That said, it would be a huge shame to miss out on IDAM for the sake of a few glasses of wine, especially as you could always go for a nightcap at a nearby licensed hotel afterwards. In order to sample as wide a selection as possible from the kitchen of executive chef Frederic Larquemin, we opted for the Experience menu. If you plan to visit IDAM for dinner and also order the tasting menu, I strongly suggest that you have a tiny salad for lunch, or perhaps just a glass of water. Once we were comfortably seated at our table – admiring the calligraphy on the thick white-on-white bespoke tablecloths – and had been given a brief synopsis of the menu concept, the bread trolley was duly wheeled out. And what a bread trolley it was. There were enough varieties on display to stock a village bakers' shop – large crusty baguettes, wholemeal buns, bread tinted yellow with pricey saffron, a fluffy cottage loaf, bread flavoured with za'atar (a blend of herbs, including oregano and basil thyme, popular throughout the Arab world), and many more, all as fresh as could be, and utterly scrumptious. We prevented ourselves from sampling one of each type by thoughts of the next course, which proved to be even more bounteous... plate after plate of beautifully presented mezze, which literally filled the large table. There was creamy broad bean soup, goujonnettes made from locally-sourced hammour fish, truffled chicken pâté, a floral salad, and on and on. Our favourite was


IDAM’s take on the traditional Moroccan dish, harira, which tasted like a nutty chickpea and lentil porridge, and was draped with genuine gold foil for a touch of pure decadence. For mains, we could not pass-up the restaurant’s signature camel with duck foie gras, black truffle and souffléed potatoes, which takes days to prepare. The meat was melt-in-the-mouth tender and tasted a bit like venison, with a sharper, earthier hint courtesy of the truffle. Our second main – free-range chicken – was succulent and lightly seasoned, served with zesty lemon quinoa, but simply no match for the camel. There were paired drinks, if not stiff ones. We were greeted with elegant flutes of rosé Champagne – non-alcoholic, but delicious none-the-less – and then plied with exotic mocktails, including a pomegranate drink infused with hibiscus and lavender, presented in its own little mini ice chamber for extra wow factor. As you might have guessed already, the desserts were every bit as extravagant as the rest: a selection of rich chocolate concoctions, macaroons, biscuits, jellies and fresh mango materialized on the table, but by this stage we were struggling to fit in another bite. It was time to leave this contemporary palace of gastronomic delights and return to the real world. Gliding silently down in the restaurant’s elegant lift, accompanied by a hostess through the silent museum to the waiting Doha night, felt a little like Alice in Wonderland returning from her culinary adventures. There was definitely a sprinkle of magic in the air

at IDAM, and more than a little found its way into the cuisine. A final note: yes, IDAM is unsurprisingly one of the priciest restaurants in Doha. For a wallet-friendly option, try the lunch set menu, which is excellent value for a Michelin-starred experience. However, if it’s a special occasion or you want to impress, the dinner Experience menu is highly recommended.

Executive Chef: Frederic Larquemin Address: Museum of Islamic Art, 5th floor. Doha, Qatar Telephone: +974 44 22 44 88 Email: Website: Cuisine: French Mediterranean Opening hours: Wed – Sun 12:30 - 15:00, 19:00 - 22:00 Suggested lunch: 3-course set (QR200) Suggested dinner: Mezze selection (QR300); tender camel, duck foie gras, black truffle, souffléed potatoes (QR390); IDAM chocolate (QR80) Perfect dinner: 7-course Experience Menu (QR785) Reservations: Essential Wheelchair access: Yes Children: High chairs available Credit cards: All major Parking: Valet complimentary Reviewed by Dawn Gibson for dinner on 6 April 2016 Ratings range from zero to five stars and reflect the reviewer’s feedback about the food and service, and separately the atmosphere in the dining room.

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ention Thai cuisine and most of us envisage the ubiquitous green chicken curry, fried noodles and spicy soups. While these feature on the menu at Isaan – the signature restaurant of the sprawling 27-acre beachfront Grand Hyatt Doha resort, in West Bay Lagoon – it is the flavoursome dishes of the region in north-east Thailand, for which the restaurant is named, which give this luxe eatery its distinctive edge. Typical fare from Isaan – an area which borders Laos and Cambodia – includes sweet spicy salads, eaten with grilled meats, fish and sticky rice. The food is simply prepared but bursting with a complex array of flavours, from chilli to lime, fresh fruit to dried shrimp, and coriander to lemongrass. So we were looking forward to experiencing a whirlwind of taste when we booked to dine at Isaan on a weekend night. On entering the restaurant, the first thing one notices is that, despite being situated just off Grand Hyatt Doha’s main lobby, Isaan doesn’t have the same-same atmosphere of many hotel restaurants. It looks and feels like a stand-alone establishment. Three open live kitchens ensure guests in the large, airy dining space can keep an eye on what the chefs are up to, and there’s a large wraparound terrace to take advantage of balmy Qatar nights. 122 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

Isaan has a reputation for consistently good service, and this is evident throughout our visit, under the watchful eye of friendly manager, Adisak Onjan, who greeted us at the table and shared his personal recommendations as we sipped on refreshing Thai whisky ginger chilli cocktails. In keeping with Thai custom, dishes are designed to be shared, and are generally served in small portions so that diners can enjoy a variety of tastes during one meal. If you have never dined at Isaan before, one of the five-course set menus is recommended. These feature a selection of salads, including the signature Som Tam (spicy green papaya, tomato and peanut), soups, fried appetizers, grilled meats, stir-fries, curries and desserts. Since we had dined at Isaan previously, we ordered à la carte. We started with Guay Tiew Ped Toon – a braised duck and noodle soup – and Tom Kha Gai – an exceptionally sweet and creamy concoction of chicken, lemongrass, galangal and coconut. We follow this with fried fish cakes and sweet chilli sauce, palatable but a little bland and easily overshadowed by the next dish, Yum Nuea Yang, a spicy traditional salad of beef slivers, lime juice and oyster mushrooms. The deliciously tangy salad was skillfully balanced and one of the highlights of the meal. Another standout dish was the manager’s recommendation of grilled whole sea bass. Presented on a bed of pandan

leaves and topped with crunchy golden-fried onions, the delectably succulent fish was served with a selection of four sauces – two chilli-based, plus a tamarind and mild ginger. The crisp, slightly fruity nose of the Louis Eschenauer Sauvignon Blanc we chose to accompany the meal was perfect for the fish. We also nibbled on a flavoursome roast duck and pineapple red curry (Kaeng Ped Ped Yang), and grilled tiger prawns with tamarind sauce (Goong Yang), before sharing a classic Thai dessert of egg custard and sticky rice. It’s easy to see why Isaan is such an established favourite on the Doha restaurant scene, since it was launched by then chef de cuisine, Wachira Chaipinidnorrachart, eight years ago. Chef Chaipinidnorrachart’s commitment to authenticity – for example, the restaurant steams and serves sticky rice in a bamboo basket, the way it is done in Thailand – has been carried on under his successor, Somporn Sintawee, and it shows. There’s a variety of budget southeast Asian restaurants in Doha, serving tasty, reliable food, albeit in lack lustre settings, but fine for a quick stop after a long day. However, if you are hankering for perfectly presented, authentic cuisine in relaxed yet luxurious surroundings, no Thai in the bustling Qatari capital compares to multi award-winning Isaan.

Executive chef: Jean-Christophe Fieschi Chef de cuisine: Somporn Sintawee Address: Grand Hyatt Doha, West Bay Lagoon, Doha, Qatar Telephone: +974 4448 1250 Email: Website: Cuisine: Thai Opening hours: Sat – Thu 19:00 – 23:30 Fri 12:30 - 15:30, 19:00 – 23:30 Suggested brunch: QR399 with wine & spirits Suggested dinner: Shrimp cakes (QR60), deep fried sea bass (QR40), Stir-fried shrimp, squid, black mussels & scallops (QR65), chicken in panang curry (QR41), coconut ice cream (QR30) Perfect dinner: Spicy green papaya salad (QR 35), grilled boneless whole sea bass (QR 140), sticky rice, mango & coconut cream (QR35) Reservations: Essential Wheelchair access: Yes Children: High chairs yes. Kids menu yes Credit cards: All major Parking: Free or chargeable valet Reviewed by Dawn Gibson for dinner on 24 March 2016 Ratings range from zero to five stars and reflect the reviewer’s feedback about the food and service, and separately the atmosphere in the dining room.

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s is the case in most world cities, there’s no shortage of Italian restaurants in Doha. You can dine at trendy La Spiga at the W, nibbling on pasta as Hollywood legends gaze down at you from the walls, or brave the attention of the enthusiastic singing waiters at The Italian Job across town at Radisson Blu. What sets Porcini apart, is the highly innovative chef de cuisine, Moreno Gianfranco Miotto, whose understanding of traditional Italian cuisine is matched only by his fervent passion for reinventing old favourites with his own contemporary twist. Born in Veneto in northeastern Italy, chef Miotto made his mark as the owner of several award-winning restaurants in Canada, before his arrival in Qatar, bringing signature dishes such as his handmade lobster ravioli with him. We had not been at Porcini for longer than five minutes before Chef Miotto appeared to greet us. Genial and chatty, without being over the top, he easily persuaded us to opt for his five-course tasting menu so that we could sample some of his finest recipes. The dining room was comfortable if a tad old-fashioned (we were informed that a refurbishment was imminent), 124 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

decorated in a palette of deep red, gold and brown, with cut glass chandeliers and heavy wooden furniture. A waiter delivered a selection of breads to the table and we were spoiled for choice by a sweet focaccia, crispy grissini and a light, grainy walnut bread, served with capsicum dip, a creamy pine nut hummus, and an olive and sundried tomato tapenade. We avoided eating much, knowing we had so many courses to come! The starters were an fitting introduction to the tasting menu, so beautifully prepared that we were almost frightened to mar such works of art with anything as brutal as a fork. I was presented with the crudo di gamberetti, a neat row of shrimp tails delicately flavoured with orange rosemary foam. My companion’s starter was carpaccio circles, precisely arranged and topped with a tomato bread salad. The procession of dishes that followed was all just as beautifully presented. Two of chef Miotto’s signature dishes stood out: Lobster ravioli, in which the seafood tang was just right and not overpowered by the tomato basil sauce; and the restaurant’s namesake porcini mushrooms in a creamy white wine sauce, served on a bed of polenta.

For main course, I was served a well-seasoned beef tenderloin filet, a generous piece cooked to perfection. My companion tucked-into a lamb rack with fennel ragout and truffle jus, which, while also expertly cooked, was a little too salty for his taste. Our only other criticism regarded the wine. After tasting several, we selected a Tini Sangiovese, a medium-bodied fruity red, which while quaffable was a little bland. We would have done with better advice on the wine front, and perhaps sipped an older vintage. However, by dessert, we had quite forgotten about the red. Porcini outshone itself presentation wise yet again, with a decadently rich citrus-laced chocolate mousse, encased in a globe of silky milk coverture, decorated with crunchy chocolate pieces and kumquat sorbet. It was a suitably impressive end to a glorious meal – the kind of experience one wished was accompanied by a plump sofa nearby to collapse onto in post-gastronomic bliss. Décor aside, this is new Italian as it should be. Porcini skilfully manages to infuse sentimental old favourites with fresh flavours and innovative ideas, ensuring diners are pleasantly surprised by each bite. Just as language never stays the

same, good cuisine is always a work in progress, albeit one that draws on centuries of tradition.

Chef de cuisine: Moreno Gianfranco Miotto Address: The Ritz-Carlton, Doha, Lower Lobby, West Bay Lagoon Doha, Qatar Telephone: +974 4484 8000 Email: Website: Cuisine: Italian Opening hours: Every night 18:30 - 23:00 Suggested dinner: Carpaccio di Manzo con manzanella (QR75), Branzino Portofino (QR185), Cannoli (QR55). Perfect dinner: Chef's kitchen counter blind tasting menu (QR250/person) Reservations: Recommended Wheelchair access: Yes Children: High chairs yes. Kids menu on request Credit cards: All major except Diners Parking: Free valet Reviewed by Dawn Gibson for dinner on 4 April 2016 Ratings range from zero to five stars and reflect the reviewer’s feedback about the food and service, and separately the atmosphere in the dining room.

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NOBU DOHA Food Atmosphere


hen Robert De Niro and star chef Nobu Matsuhisa launched their Doha restaurant last year, Qatar’s glitterati were naturally champing at the bit. It was one of the most anticipated opening parties for years, in a city where eating out is the new black. The opportunity to rub shoulders with a legendary Hollywood star, while nibbling on the world-famous contemporary Japanese cuisine popular with celebrities from Mayfair to Malibu, Miami to Milan? Everyone who was anyone was there, darling. When we visited Nobu’s Doha outpost, there was still a sprinkling of star dust in the air. American lifestyle goddess Martha Stewart was holding court on a nearby table, drinking a sake cocktail. We tried our best not to look over in her direction too often lest we were mistaken for stalkers. It was a Monday night but the 134-seat dining room was almost full and the lounge bars were buzzing with beautiful people. It was ladies’ night, with an all-night-long happy hour on specialty dishes and signature sips. Manager Layne Nguyen seated us at a booth at the edge of the expansive dining room from which we could observe the comings-and-goings from a perfect vantage point. Having dinner at Nobu – anywhere in the world, generally – is usually a people watcher’s dream. Located within the grounds of Doha’s Four Seasons hotel – on its own pier overlooking the Arabian Gulf – Qatar’s is

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currently the biggest Nobu restaurant in the world. Sprawling 26,000ft2 over three levels – including a rooftop lounge, two indoor bars and private dining rooms – it sometimes feels a little like a high-end eating and drinking terminal, rather than a restaurant. We start off by spiritually joining Martha Stewart’s table, and ordering some of Nobu’s famous sake cocktails. My friend tries the Soshu 28, a brave choice with a kick of blueberries and energy drink, while I opt for the slightly more sedate lemongrass-tinged Japanese Mojito. Both are heady and full of flavour. The restaurant’s Omakase experience follows, for a taste of some of Nobu’s most renowned dishes. We also ordered a bottle of the Chilean Montes Sauvignon Blanc, a crisp, slightly fruity vino which proved the perfect accompaniment for the assortment of dishes which followed. After a light amuse- bouche of vegetable rolls, our friendly waiter, Daniel, served Yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno – an absolutely delightful starter. The sashimi was deftly fanned out across the plate, each a buttery soft mouthful. With our taste buds piqued, we munched our way through a delectable sushi selection (we particularly love the nod to the Americas with the mini salmon taco), sweet crab served in its shell with a citrus vinaigrette, traditional Peruvian raw fish

dish tiradito, and a moreish serving of popcorn-style shrimp tempura balls. After a short break, Daniel presented the one dish that Nobu is best known for, Black Cod Yuzu Miso, and I am happy to report that it lived up to the fanfare. Adapted from a centuries-old traditional Japanese recipe, the filet is steeped in miso before serving until it is delightfully sweet, moist and tender. We also tried a spicy beef tenderloin Toban Yaki, with three different kinds of mushroom, a choice I heartily recommend if you are dining à la carte and don’t fancy seafood. The meal closed with a dessert of mochi ice cream a Japanese treat made with sticky rice cake. Delicious. My dining companion was served a slightly dry chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream in a lacquered box, which sadly seemed a bit of an after-thought given the overall intense attention to detail. Still, this was a minor smudge after an exceptional evening. The exquisite dishes and well considered flavours would have had us coming back for more, despite the high Nobu price tag. But it was the combination of fine fare and a decadent fashion-led ambience that makes this one of Doha’s must-visit restaurants.

cocktails. As we were leaving, we looked hopefully towards the lifts just in case De Niro was making a late entrance, but it was not to be. Martha would just have to do this time.

Executive chef: Andrew Bozoki Address: Four Seasons Hotel Doha Marina, Doha, Qatar Telephone: +974 4494 8888 Email: Website: Cuisine: Contemporary Japanese Opening hours: 7 nights 18:30 – 23:30 Suggested dinner: Crispy rice with spicy salmon (QR120), edamame (QR25), Yellowtail sashimi (QR150), rock shrimp tempura (QR135), Black cod (QR235), Nobu cheesecake (QR65). Perfect dinner: Omakase menu (QR450 or QR650/person) Reservations: Essential Wheelchair access: Yes Children: No high chairs, no kids menu. Credit cards: All major Parking: Free valet Reviewed by Dawn Gibson for dinner on 21 March 2016 Ratings range from zero to five stars and reflect the reviewer’s feedback about the food and service, and separately the atmosphere in the dining room.

It was getting late by the time we stopped feasting, but there continued to be a steady flow of new arrivals seeking sushi and Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 127


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Who was your greatest musical inspiration as a teenager? Elvis played a big part in my formative years, since he was played in the house as I was growing up. But no one artist defined my musical tastes. Rather many different places and people. Disco and jazz-funk were my passion. Also punk, ska, reggae and 80's rock and pop. Being a teenager in the 70s and 80s was probably one of the best ever periods for music. How did your DJ'ing career start? In the ‘80s as a mobile DJ in my local public house, the John Lyon. One evening the pub’s resident DJ didn’t show up, so the landlord asked my mates and I to play for the evening. We rushed home to pick-up our milk crates full of 12” imports – most of which we had bought from Daddy Ernie’s record stall in Wembley market – and played the whole night. It was such a success that the pub landlord asked if we would take the weekly spot, which we did. The night became so popular that there were regularly queues down the road, so he paid us GBP 30 between the three of us. The rest, as they say, is history. Who were your mentors as a young disc jockey? I used to listen to underground jazz-funk and soul radio, including Invicta FM, JFM, Capital Radio’s Greg Edwards Soul Spectrum, Robbie Vincent's Saturday shows on Radio London, and Steve Walsh. One particular DJ who had the

greatest impact on me, with whom I am still working to this day, is Jon Jules. Jon used to own an underground record shop called R&D, where many DJs used to congregate, including Paul Oakenfold and Simon Dunmore. Describe your DJ'ing style back in the late 80s and today? And what is your favourite musical genre to play and why? I suppose you could call my current style eclectic and Balearic. Thirty years ago, although I had all my new acid house music, I would still draw on my musical roots and drop in ‘80s classics, which were either pop or disco tracks. Anything to enhance the mood really. Which were your favourite clubs back then and why? Club nights were opening on a daily basis and I was going out all the time. Just a few of the best clubs of the time, were Haven Stables, Queens, Shoom, Fubar, Spectrum, Loud Noise, Trip, Confusion and Clink Street. There was an incredible camaraderie in clubland back then, since it gave everyone a common ground and a new, all embracing, worldwide community. Please tell us about your first ever trip to Ibiza? It was in 1990 with Charlie Chester - we went on a recon Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 129


grand hyatt doha hotel & villass

West Bay Lagoon • PO Box 24010 • Doha • State of Qatar • 4448 1280 / 7021 8094 • DOHA.GRAND.HYATT.COM

mission. The island was incredible. Amnesia, Pacha and Ku (now known as Privilege) were all in their heyday, filled with the craziest people having the wildest times. Back then Ku was open-air, held 10,000 people and was the world's largest nightclub according to the Guinness Book Of Records. It was the most amazing place you could ever want to party. Your pioneering daytime residency with Alex P on the terrace of Space Ibiza in the early ’90s took club life on the island to a whole new dimension. Tell us how your collaboration with Alex P came about? I had first met Alex in London a few years earlier, before seeing him again at Cafe del Mar in Ibiza in 1991, which was only my second visit to the White Isle. He told me that night to come to Space in the morning and play alongside him. The place was heaving, the atmosphere electric and playing on the terrace at Space that day was one of the most life-changing experiences of my DJ’ing career.

You played at the final Space Ibiza closing party a few months ago in October. How did it feel to be back on the terrace more than a quarter of a century later? Despite playing just a 45-minute DJ set, the opportunity to play on the terrace again, in front of a very much up-for-it Space Ibiza crowd, will go down as a historic moment in my memory, and I’m pretty sure that everyone who was there will remember the final closing party for the rest of their lives. Vinyl or digital, which gives you most pleasure? I believe that we should all embrace technology. Vinyl is beautiful and ageless but it’s become a luxury item, and for DJ’ing purposes you rarely find a nightclub with turntables these days, unless they’re specifically requested. Saying that, for me vinyl has the edge. We used to have to hunt for tunes, queue to buy imported records as they arrived in the shops, and find exclusives to play to make our DJ sets different. These days, if you want a tune you can almost always find it immediately, and the ease of access to music today has taken some of the mystery away.

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Your thoughts about Electronic Dance Music. If you’re talking about the use of modern synths and machines, to make the noise that the masses are listening to, it’s really not for me. It has no soul or grooves, and so it’s not musical in my mind. Is there anything you miss from the early days of your DJ’ing career? I miss visiting record shops – like Black Market Records – finding music, meeting friends and discussing tunes. And promoting my own parties and seeing people enjoying themselves. Those years were the best of times. What are your most treasured records and why? My early house music and disco collection. Once the club scene started to progress, in the late 80s and 90s, it became easier to produce music as technology had advanced, so lots of music was released and the quality began to suffer to the point where lots of music was lost.

programme, Top Of The Pops, performing ‘You Should Be’ was a highlight of my career. You have DJ'd in places like Ibiza and London where people are very open-minded, but you have also DJ'd in the Middle East where people are much more conservative. Do you tailor your shows depending on where you perform or aim to please party-goers in the same fashion everywhere? As a professional DJ you should be prepared for any musical eventuality. These days, due to the internet and ease of accessibility, party goers are generally into what I play. But I do still try to prepare for a set, and because I can carry so much music with me (today), I almost always have something for everyone. What do you consider to be your greatest achievements to date? Getting myself well from a very serious drug problem, and staying well for the past twenty years. Being instrumental in the emergence of Space Ibiza’s terrace, because it had such an impact on the global clubbing and music scene. And most recently, being able to get a job with the NHS, working with adults who have multiple concerns, including drug and alcohol problems, mental health issues and homelessness difficulties.

The place was heaving, the atmosphere electric and playing on the terrace at Space that day was one of the most life-changing experiences of my DJ’ing career

Your much publicised recreational drug habit almost killed you. What caused you to change your life and how has being sober changed your music and DJ’ing? It made me focus more on the music, and changed my life dramatically because I was very nearly not alive 20 years ago. As far as my DJ’ing goes, my love of music hasn’t changed and I’m still as passionate about music as I always was. If anything, music has given me a life again.

During the height of your career - when you toured the States, Europe, Hong Kong, Australia and everywhere in between - which were your favourite hotels? I love hotels in Thailand. For sheer opulence and grandeur I have to say the Burj al Arab in Dubai - I stayed there many years ago and it was just incredible. Having said that, some of the hotels in Vegas are quite spectacular. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to have seen and visited so many places around the world. With whom was your favourite musical collaboration? With Ricky Morrison and Fran Sidoli as Blockster, to create 'You Should Be’, released in 1999 on Ministry of Sound. To appear on the famous British music chart television 132 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

Your favourite place to vacation in the world and why? A residential spa on the island of Ko Samui in Thailand, for a week of fasting and detoxing, including two colonics every day, on a diet of raw vegan food. I’ve met some of the most interesting people while detoxing in Thailand, not to mention gleaned a wealth of knowledge! You have DJ'd in countless countries around the globe. Where would you say that people can currently find the best parties? Ibiza is still a global party destination. The festivals in Croatia are also worth checking-out. What one piece of advice would you give to a budding DJ looking to start a career in music? Try not to get disheartened. Have a strong online presence. And regularly produce and share your own music.

We used to have to hunt for tunes, queue to buy imported records as they arrived in the shops, and ďŹ nd exclusives to play to make our DJ sets dierent

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CHLOÉ SMALL FAYE STUDDED BAG Designed by the classic French fashion house founded in 1952, and instantly recognisable thanks to polished ring and draped curb chain detailing, this small Chloé Faye bag is a new take on funky ‘70s style, embellished with circles of studs, complete with brass and silvertone hardware. Crafted in grain leather with a suede calfskin flap front, this slimline shoulder bag is deceptively spacious thanks to three roomy compartments. A chic choice for day-to-night accessorising. EUR 1,432 WWW.CHLOE.COM

MIU MIU BALLERINA FLATS Part of the coveted label's eclectic Pre-AW16 collection, Miu Miu blends punkish and feminine aesthetics for these sophisticated mogador flats, with black patent leather strap detailing standing out against the ornate gold, red and purple brocade print. Detachable and interchangeable gingham and black ribbon ankle wraps lace these up, ballerina style. Tie them in a bow at the side and wear with skinny jeans, cropped trousers or dresses. GBP 432 WWW.MATCHESFASHION.COM


KENZO FAIR ISLE JUMPER Founded in 1970 by Japanese designer Kenzo Takada, who was was born in Japan and moved to Paris in 1964 to start his fashion career, to celebrate this festive season, KENZO has designed an exclusive capsule collection of clothing and accessories, highlighting some of KENZO's most recognisable icons. This 85% wool straight fit jacquard knitted jumper, with crew neck collar, features tiger stripes mixed with KENZO's infamous tiger and eye motifs, and is just perfect for facing the winter chill in style. EUR 390 WWW.KENZO.COM 134 The Cultured Traveller Dec-Jan 2016-17

Harvey Nichols asked each of the expert mixologists from the world’s fifty top bars what makes the perfect cocktail, then catalogued it all in one kit so party hosts can shake up a storm this festive season. This handy collection of cocktail-making accessories includes a professional Calabrese Hawthorn copper-plated strainer recommended by The Broken Shaker in Miami, and The Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual by Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry, two of the most critically acclaimed and award-winning bartenders in the world. GBP 150 WWW.HARVEYNICHOLS.COM

GLOBETROTTER It's that time of the year again when the holiday season is looming and suitably fabulous parcels must be dished out to those nearest and dearest, likely to include a man who has everything and a fashion-conscious lady with exceptionally good taste. It's not getting any easier to find interesting and different presents, but hopefully The Cultured Traveller's Christmas gift round up will make many faces smile on the morning of Sunday 25th December, and ease the stress of shopping during the run up to the big day

JO MALONE ORANGE BITTERS CANDLE FENDI BAG BUGS BACKPACK Founded in 1925 in Rome, Italian fashion house Fendi debuted its first ready-to-wear collection in 1969 under the creative direction of Karl Lagerfeld. The German designer’s innovative approach of combining traditional silhouettes with modern fabrics brings a contemporary edge to the brand's classic aesthetic. Fun and quirky, Fendi’s Bag Bugs series has become a cult fashion favourite. This blue nylon backpack is detailed with leather and palladium monster eyes, with a black and white fur top acting as a mohawk. Humorous, cute and additively usable, padded straps also ensure that it's comfortable to carry. GBP 1,890 WWW.MATCHESFASHION.COM

Any room, any occasion or any home can be transformed when it's styled with scent. London-based Jo Malone is the go to brand for candles, which elegantly combine a sense of sophistication with taste that is both audacious and chic but always infused with a charming wit. This delicious, new limited edition candle is the perfect, warming winter cocktail, combining a base of sandalwood and amber with bright citrus, sweet orange and a burst of ripe mandarin, finished with a splash of bitter orange. GBP 120 WWW.JOMALONE.CO.UK

JAM SUTTON DAVID & GOLIATH PRINT Breaking away from the boundaries of traditional creative techniques, Jam Sutton captures his subjects in new and exciting ways and works in a variety of mediums. From shooting to post production, Sutton is fully hands-on and in control of every artistic aspect when creating his bold, recognisable pieces. This signed and numbered 'David & Goliath' print is part of a limited edition of 25, from a series of work juxtaposing contemporary culture and historic ideology, utilising modern image making practices and technology to highlight changes and similarities in today’s society. GBP 426 WWW.THISISNOT.CLOTHING Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 135

ROXXLYN TRANSOCEAN SLATE MACBOOK SKIN If you're looking to personalise your MacBook, these beautiful, funky yet practical handmade slate skins by Roxxlyn have been developed to handle harsh and unfamiliar surfaces, protect your laptop cover and look supremely stylish. Handcrafted from genuine slate stone yet just 0.6mm thick and easily affixed to your computer, each skin is engineered with a combination of artistry and precision to create a uniquely individual natural piece. EUP 92.44 WWW.ROXXLYN.COM

LANVIN POM POM KEYCHAIN One of the oldest and indeed most iconic fashion houses in the world, ultra-feminine Lanvin is synonymous with jewel tones, spectacular drapery and superb finishing. Made in Italy using several lengths of gold-toned chain to create a swishy, luxe tassel, this Lanvin pom pom keychain will look festive clipped onto your favourite tote, or can be gifted to a friend in the elegant bow-tied presentation box it comes in. GBP 195 WWW.NET-A-PORTER.COM

SHISEIDO SKINCARE GIFT SET Capitalising on more than 140 years of technology, Shiseido produces some of the world's highest quality skin brightening and anti-ageing products, makeup and fragrances. Treat yourself (or spoil the man in your life) with this collection of revitalising products, to restore skin youthfulness after a party-filled Christmas. This gift set includes a 50ml pot of lightweight, multi-functional cream, which optimises the skin's own revitalising functions, eliminating dryness and dullness while providing 24-hour moisture protection. GBP 54.45 WWW.JOHNLEWIS.COM

CHARLOTTE TILBURY MAKEUP ADVENT CALENDAR London-born make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury’s brand was born out of her belief in the transformative power of makeup. The much admired beauty icon has poured all of her secrets and passion into her signature range. This cute 12-drawer Christmas advent calendar, contains a travel-sized assortment of her luxe beauty products, including Magic Cream® Moisturiser and Wonderglow® Skin Primer, plus an exclusive Pocket Pout lipstick in Jessica Red. GBP 150 WWW.CHARLOTTETILBURY.COM

MORGAN TRAVEL SET BY EQUIPMENT Originally inspired by Katherine Hepburn and Lauren Bacall, Serge Azria relaunched the Equipment brand in 2010 with a collection of boy/girl styles in luxurious silks, infusing the label's heritage with a contemporary edge. This travel set is perfect for long-haul flights and lounging at home, and includes an exceptionally comfy knitted sweater, eye mask and drawstring sweatpants, all blended with soft wool. The Cultured Traveller loves how this set comes neatly packaged in a matching envelope pouch - ideal for slipping into your luggage. USD 468 WWW.EQUIPMENTFR.COM Dec-Jan 2016-17 The Cultured Traveller 137






























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The Cultured Traveller, December-January 2016-17 Issue 14  

Established since 2014 and published bimonthly, The Cultured Traveller globetrots through the worlds of travel, culture, music, fashion and...

The Cultured Traveller, December-January 2016-17 Issue 14  

Established since 2014 and published bimonthly, The Cultured Traveller globetrots through the worlds of travel, culture, music, fashion and...