The Cultured Traveller, June-August 2024, Issue 46

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PORTUGAL’S MAGICAL TOWN OF SINTRA ➤ BUDAPEST’S FOOD SCENE

KUALA LUMPUR ➤ THE DODECANESE ISLAND OF RHODES THE BIBA STORY ➤ CORINNE BAILEY RAE

➤ ISSUE 46 JUNE - AUGUST 2024 UK £10 EU €10
ITALY’S ELEGANT LAKESIDE WONDERLAND Lake Como

LAKEFRONT LUXURY

Geneva, in pure bliss. Find us on the on the storied shores of Lake Geneva, on Ritzcarlton.com/Geneva, or at +41 22 909 60 00
Overlooking the swift blue waters of the Bosphorus, Fairmont Quasar Istanbul brings you a contemporary interpretation of traditional Turkish hospitality, along with authentic dining and easy access to the city’s best shopping. fairmontquasaristanbul.com Experience the GRANDEST ESCAPES

64 PORTUGAL’S SPELLBINDING TOWN OF PALACES

Thirty minutes from Lisbon, nestled amidst lush verdure, our newest contributor, Demelza Oxley , explores SINTRA – a Romanticist treasure trove of majestic palaces, whimsical follies, spectacular gardens and breathtaking vistas, laden with fantastical tales of royal opulence.

108 SINGING FROM A DIFFERENT HYMN SHEET

CORINNE BAILEY RAE chats to The Cultured Traveller about growing-up in Leeds and her fourth studio album, which is something of a creative departure for the multi Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter and musician.

116 THE BIBA PHENOMENON’S LASTING EFFECT

Founded by Barbara Hulanicki, BIBA revolutionised the fashion landscape with its bohemian aesthetic and accessible luxury. Adrian Gibson charts the rise and fall of the brand that revolutionised fashion in the 1960s and 1970s

136 THE HUNGARIAN CAPITAL’S RICH CULINARY LANDSCAPE

Undoubtedly one of Europe's most captivating capitals, Nicholas Chrisostomou explores BUDAPEST’s vibrant culinary landscape, and enjoys a gastronomic journey through the heart and soul of Hungarian cuisine.

44 WIN A SUITE STAY IN THE HEART OF SINGAPORE

Unpack your bags for three nights in a chic suite at sophisticated new COMO METROPOLITAN SINGAPORE hotel – nestled on a side street, in the heart of the island nation's main Orchard Road shopping mecca.

highlights ISSUE 46 ➤ JUNE - AUGUST 2024
The hauntingly beautiful gardens of Quinta da Regaleira palace in Sintra, Portugal

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12 NEWSFLASH

Summer in Europe always overflows with music festivals. From classical sounds emanating from the northern Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis, to electronic dance filling the streets of Copenhagen, the continent is alive with the sound of music. In NewsFlash, The Cultured Traveller team rounds-up this summer’s best festivals, together with some standout cultural events, including Pisa’s annual 1,500 metre boat race up the River Arno, in celebration of SAN RANIERI; one of India’s largest and most important Hindu festivals, RATH YATRA; San Diego's four-day celebration of animated films, western

cartoons and Anime – COMICCON INTERNATIONAL, and Japan’s historic annual occasion to commemorate one's ancestors: OBON.

28 REST YOUR HEAD

From the idyllic island resort oasis of TA’AKTANA, cradled between wild forests and the glittering coasts of the Flores Sea in Indonesia, to luxury boutique houseboat MANTIS KIVU QUEEN UBURANGA, which cruises the serene waters of magnificent Lake Kivu in Rwanda, in issue 46, The Cultured Traveller explores a dozen special places to rest one’s head around the world.

46 COVER STORY

Boasting some 160 kilometres of exquisite shoreline, Alex Benasuli luxuriates in LAKE’S COMO’s old school Italian glamour, surrounded by ravishing beauty and timeless elegance.

46 116 136 92 28 35 8 CONTRIBUTORS
EDITOR’S LETTER
CONTENTS

59 SUITE ENVY

Nestled amidst a beautiful national park northeast of Bangkok, Nicholas Chrisostomou road-tests an utterly unique Bill Bensley-designed suite, which evokes the golden age of train travel, and unlocks the cultural heritage of KHAO YAI.

76 FIVE MINUTES WITH

DJ SMOKIN JO burst onto the scene in the early 90s, captivating clubbers with her infectious sound. As one of the first female DJs in a male-dominated industry, she blazed a trail for women, breaking down barriers and challenging conventions with her fearless approach to DJing.

78 CITY FOCUS

Surrounded by tropical forests, Nicholas Chrisostomou visits Malaysia's energetic, multicultural metropolitan melting pot of KUALA LUMPUR.

92 ISLAND HOPPING

Laden with archaeological treasures, ancient ruins, family-run wineries and gastronomic delights, Daniella Georgiou

visits RHODES – the largest of Greece’s Dodecanese islands.

126 TASTE & SIP REVIEW

Deftly fusing traditional Japanese cuisine and Peruvian flavours, NOBU KUALA LUMPUR has carved a distinguished niche in Malaysia’s gastronomic landscape since opening in the capital a decade ago.

131 TASTE & SIP EXPERIENCE

Set amidst verdant Asoke Valley in northeast Thailand, Nicholas Chrisostomou discovers that family-run GRANMONTE vineyard is producing some rather excellent wines.

145 LITTLE BLACK BOOK

Web addresses for everywhere featured in issue 46 of The Cultured Traveller magazine.

146 SUITE WITH A VIEW

Few other buildings characterise Singapore's skyline as much as Swissôtel The Stamford, and the hotel’s STAMFORD CREST SUITES offer the most spectacular sweeping views of the island nation and beyond.

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ALEX BENASULI

➤ WROTE ABOUT ➤ LAKE COMO

London-based Alex has been globetrotting his whole life. He has explored Europe, Asia and Africa, as well as North and South America intimately. As passionate on a highbrow urban cultural break as he is on an offthe-beaten-track adventure, Alex uses travel to explore his love of history, design, nature and wellness.

DANIELLA GEORGIOU

➤ WROTE ABOUT ➤ RHODES

With a passion for exploration and a taste for discovering local cuisines, Daniella likes nothing more than delving into the heart of a destination, uncovering hidden architectural gems, savouring every flavour, and being immersed in culture. As a mother of two, she also takes joy in introducing her children to the island of Cyprus, where she lives, from its breathtaking nature to its pristine beaches.

ADRIAN GIBSON

➤ WROTE ABOUT ➤ BIBA

For more than two decades, Adrian has worked as a professional fashion buyer for some of the world’s leading stores, in London and Dubai, including Selfridges, Harrods and Harvey Nichols. An avid shopper, he enjoys nothing more than visiting stores, meeting designers and supporting new talent wherever and whenever he’s travelling the globe, as well as keeping a keen eye on the latest trends.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU

PUBLISHER COCO LATTÉ

DESIGN TAHIR IQBAL

EDITORIAL JEMIMA THOMPSON, LISA WEYMAN

ADVERTISING JEREMY GORING

RETOUCHING STELLA ALEVIZAKI

THIS ISSUE’S CONTRIBUTORS

Adrian Gibson, Howard Healy, Alex Benasuli Demelza Oxley, Daniella Georgiou

WITH THANKS TO Baxter PR, Lee Sutton, Jason Friedman Zandra Rhodes, Sandy Liw, Joe Mortimer

The Cultured Traveller is published by Coco Latté, London

Advertising and sponsorship enquiries: ads@theculturedtraveller.com

Editorial enquiries words@the culturedtraveller.com

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THE CULTURED TRAVELLER

➤ ISSUE 46

© 2024 Coco Latté. All rights reserved

Reproduction in part or in whole of any part of this magazine is prohibited. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.

The views expressed in The Cultured Traveller are those of its respective contributors and writers and are not necessarily shared by The Cultured Traveller Ltd. or its staff.

The Cultured Traveller always welcomes new contributions, but assumes no responsibility for unsolicited emails, articles, photographs or other materials submitted.

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THE CULTURED TRAVELLER

COCO LATTÉ, 5 MERCHANT SQ. LONDON W2 1AY, UK

COVER: Lake Como, Lombardy, Italy

8 ISSUE 46 JUNE – AUGUST 2024
CONTRIBUTORS

THE MORE I TRAVEL, THE more I realise that Planet Earth’s crown jewel is undoubtedly Mother Nature, for she conveys the greatest and most memorable sights and spectacles of all. I write this while sitting in a modest room at a lodge in the Sherpa town of Namche Bazaar in the Khumbu region of Nepal, at 3,440 metres above sea level. The gateway to Everest Base Camp and the high Himalayas, Namche is encircled by several magnificent snowcapped peaks, including Thamserku in the east and Kongde Ri in the west, both of which soar to over 6,000 metres. Since I don’t have a desk, my MacBook is on my lap. And my room is perhaps the size of a bathroom at a fancy Manhattan hotel. But I really don’t mind in the presence of such splendour outside my windows. The sight of mountains and forest all around, and Everest in the distance, connect with me in a way that no other hospitality experience possibly could, save perhaps for an African safari, where a different array of natural treasures are on dramatic display. While I am humbly staying amidst a spectacular living art gallery here in Nepal, I sincerely recommend, that from time-totime, we all endeavour to spend more quality time with Mother Nature (me included!), for her company is utterly mesmerising.

NESTLED AMONGST THE MAJESTIC mountains of Lombardy, with its breathtaking natural beauty, crystal-clear waters, opulent villas and grand hotels, Lake Como is a rare example of Mother Nature, the human race, and the hospitality industry coming together in harmony (page 46)

Thirty minutes from Lisbon, Demelza Oxley explores Sintra’s Romanticist treasure trove of palaces, whimsical follies and lovingly tended gardens (page 64). Adrian Gibson charts the rise and fall of BIBA, which revolutionised the fashion landscape of the 60s and 70s with its bohemian aesthetic and accessible luxury (page 116). Laden with archaeological treasures, Daniella Georgiou visits Rhodes – the largest of Greece’s Dodecanese islands (page 92). And I take a gastronomic journey through the heart and soul of Hungarian cuisine in the charismatic city of Budapest (page 136)

THIS BEING OUR SUMMER ISSUE, PLEASE kick-off your shoes, pour yourself a cocktail and travel the world with The Cultured Traveller at a leisurely pace. Then you might just find somewhere on these pages that genuinely piques your wanderlust.

@TCTEditor nicholas@theculturedtraveller.com

EDITOR’S LETTER
10 ISSUE 46 JUNE – AUGUST 2024
From left to right: Twiggy reclining in Biba; Namche Bazaar; Monserrate Palace, Sintra; Lake Como

NATURALLY THE EUROPEAN SUMMER SEASON IS BRIMMING WITH MUSIC FESTIVALS. FROM CLASSICAL SOUNDS EMANATING FROM SAINT-DENIS TO ELECTRONIC DANCE FILLING THE STREETS OF COPENHAGEN, THE CONTINENT IS ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF MUSIC. HERE, THE CULTURED TRAVELLER ROUNDS-UP THIS SUMMER’S BEST FESTIVALS, TOGETHER WITH SOME STANDOUT CULTURAL EVENTS

FESTIVAL OF SAINT-DENIS

HOSTED INSIDE THE Basilica Saint-Denis, a masterpiece of Gothic art, this standout classical music festival is a good excuse to cross the périphérique and discover a delightful northern Parisian suburb. A main event in the French cultural calendar since 1968, the festival is organised by the city of Saint-Denis under the auspices of the Île-de-France region, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, Le Centre des Monuments Nationaux and Radio France. International conductors and soloists perform side-by-side

with prestigious Parisian orchestral acts plus some of the greatest artists on the international classical circuit. Highlight of this year’s festival include a new programme of film-concerts held in the Basilique, featuring a special showing of the legendary Joan of Arc mo La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc by Carl Theodor Dreyer, on the evening of 1st June, accompanied by organist Quentin Guérillot. And a Mozart concert of duets for violin and viola, performed by Renaud Capuçon & Paul Zientara on the evening of 4th June.

29 May - 27 June 2024

https://festival-saint-denis.com

DISTORTION

FOR MORE THAN 2 YEARS, Distortion has been pushing the limits of Copenhagen’s party culture, attracting DJs from across the globe and annually filling the city centre with thousands of revellers. Today Distortion is an over-the-top music extravaganza that offers mammoth street parties during the day, intimate club events by night (Distortion Club) and, to round off the whole thing in suitably loud fashion, a two-day weekend rave held at Copenhagen’s harbour (Distortion Ø). Being such an eco-friendly city, the street festivities are financed by partygoers purchasing a Gadearmbåndet street bracelet, so that the Distortion crew can properly clean up once the musical mayhem has ended. This year’s weekend finale, Distortion Ø, is headlined by Italian DJ Anfisa Letyago, who has managed to transform her underground roots into a unique and multi-purpose sound, gaining her a worldwide following. And famed German superstar DJ and producer, Sven Väth, whose electronic music career spans more than 30 years.

31 May - 1 June 2024

www.cphdistortion.dk

news
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Raye

REGATTA OF ST. RANIERI

THE SECOND PART OF an annual celebration which takes place on Saint Ranieri’s feast day, the first regatta was held in Pisa in 1292, during the Palio of Our Lady of the Assumption. Since then, every year, Pisa stages a 1,500 metre dash up the River Arno in celebration of San Ranieri, the city's patron saint. In memory of the city’s nautical traditions, four narrow rowing boats, each differently coloured to represent the city’s four

main districts, challenge each other in a flamboyant race. Each boat resembles a large gondola, is fashioned in the style of the frigates of the Medicean Order of the Knights of St. Stephen founded in 1561 and is crewed by 8 oarsmen, a helmsman and a montatore Rowing against the river's natural current, the race starts near the bridge used by trains to cross the river and ends in front of the Palazzo Medici near the Ponte della Fortezza.

17 June 2024

SOLSTICE FEST

STONEHENGE HAS been a place of worship and celebration for thousands of years, especially at the time of the summer solstice. Literally meaning a stopping or standing still of the sun, the summer solstice is when the sun is directly above the northern hemisphere, indicating midsummer. For time immemorial, it has been celebrated by everyone from ancient druids performing rituals at stone circles, to new-age, neo-Pagan hippie revellers, and even modern-day scientists. Held within the vicinity of the prehistoric site of Stonehenge, this five-day festival is the one and only camping and live music event within the vicinity of the renowned world heritage site, and provides a rare chance for members of the general public to walk amongst the ancient stone circle. Visitors can either pitch a tent in the Stonehenge campfire field, or stay in a furnished bell tent in a quieter field set in a separate, enclosed area of the site. And the festival includes a “Solstice Shuttle” to ferry people from the campsite to Stonehenge on the evening of the summer solstice (21st June) and back the following morning, after sunrise. 18 - 22 June 2024

https://stonehengefestivals.co.uk

NEWSFLASH 13 THE CULTURED TRAVELLER

IL PALIO

AS MUCH ABOUT PAGEANTRY and Sienese pride as it is about bareback horse racing, and one of Italy's most famous annual sporting events, this epic horse race is deeply rooted in religion and literally takes over the Tuscan city of Sienna for two days every year.

2 July + 16 August 2024

NEWSFLASH

SÓNAR

MUSIC IS, BY FAR, THE main focus of this annual award-winning music extravaganza held in Barcelona, which began in 1994 as a networking opportunity for the music industry. Officially billed as a festival of progressive music and multimedia art, Sónar now attracts tens of thousands of lovers of electronica, who visit the Catalan capital to worship cutting-edge artists and DJs, and enjoy avantgarde music and spectacular multimedia art exhibitions. Sónar features an eclectic mix of music, technology and art, divided into two parts: Sónar by Day includes workshops and

exhibitions as well as concerts, while the main event, Sónar by Night, comprises a series of extraordinary spectacles held at Fira Montjuïc and Fira Gran Via.

New for this year is “Music:Response” – a 360º audiovisual installation created by The Chemical Brothers and their longtime visual collaborators, Smith & Lyall. Bringing together electronic music and digital art, this unique collaboration between Sónar and Casa Batlló is located within the basement of the iconic Gaudi building, in the centre of Barcelona, and is open to the public until 31st July. 13 -15 June 2024 https://sonar.es/en

RED BULL SOAPBOX RACE

A UNIQUE NO-HOLDSbarred downhill race spectacle, in which drivers use only gravity and courage as fuel (plus perhaps a certain energy drink), Red Bull has held well over 100 soapbox races around the world since the first took place in Brussels in 2000. Now an international event staged everywhere from Australia to Italy, amateur drivers race homemade engine-less vehicles in a colourful downhill battle in front of thousands of enthused fans. This unique, nonmotorised racing event challenges both experienced racers and amateurs alike to design and build outrageous dream machines and compete against the clock. Over the years, previous entries have included a piano, a giant baby carriage, a rodeo clown, a massive corn on the cob, a jail cell and even the Golden Gate Bridge. At this summer’s Red Bull Soapbox Race at London’s Alexandra Palace, teams will be judged on speed, creativity and showmanship. This assumes, of course, that they make it to the finish line! 22 June 2024

www.redbull.com/gb-en/events

The Chemical Brothers
16 ISSUE 46 JUNE – AUGUST 2024 IMAGE: AMY HEYCOCK

GLASTONBURY

GLASTONBURY LAUNCHED more than five decades ago and is now more of a settlement than a music fest. The grandfather of modern-day gatherings and the size of five or six large festivals rolled into one, hosting some 150,000 people, Glastonbury is akin to a short-term residential camp for British society's most arty, and is more liberal than anything you'll see elsewhere during Blighty’s packed summer season. Such breadth offers something for pretty much everyone, attracting a vast and diverse selection of people, ranging from middle-aged backpackers with portable deckchairs, boozy jocks stripping-off at the first

sight of sunshine, spiritualists and yoga teachers, dedicated hippies, yuppies, hipsters and fashionistas. Since Glastonbury is essentially a music festival above all else, unsurprisingly there’s an awful lot of talent to check out and it is impossible to see everything. This year’s line-up is headlined by Dua Lipa, making her Pyramid Stage debut on Friday night, and Coldplay making their first Pyramid Stage appearance since 2016, on the Saturday night. Sunday night’s headliner is multiple Grammy and Brits winner, SZA. And this year’s Sunday teatime legend is Shania Twain, performing what promises to be one of the most popular sets of the weekend (pictured). 26 - 30 June 2024

https://glastonburyfestivals.co.uk

MONTREAL INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL

MONTREAL IS A CITY where a heady mix of innovation, musical appreciation, joie de vivre and public celebration are all important ingredients of the civic cocktail. It's a city that loves the tradition and history that jazz represents, but also respects the flexibility and improvisation implicit within the genre. The city’s inaugural jazz event in 1980 was headlined by none other than the great Ray Charles, who helped invent soul and R&B music. Since then, aided by the resurgence of

jazz in the 1980s, the Montreal International Jazz Festival has grown into the largest jazz festival in the world. Headliners for the 44th edition include André 3000, Norah Jones, Hiatus Kaiyote, Laufey, Robert Glasper, and Orville Peck. Nine-time Grammy winning singer, songwriter, and pianist Norah Jones (pictured) will be appearing with Canadian singer-songwriter and musician Martha Wainwright, the younger sister of singercomposer Rufus Wainwright.

27 June - 6 July 2024

https://montrealjazzfest.com

BATALLA DEL VINO

EVERY YEAR ON ST.

Pedro’s Feast Day in Haro

– the capital of northern Spain’s Rioja-producing region – thousands of thirsty locals, together with wine-loving tourists, climb a mountain and literally throw wine all over each other. Some brandish giant water pistols loaded with wine. Others are armed with pump-action supersoakers or spray cans filled with wine. Meanwhile traditionalists opt for gourds, buckets, bottles and even old boots! Rather than a common-or-garden

feast day, locals refer to this messy event as La Batalla de Vino de Haro , or, quite simply, the “Wine Fight”. While the main event happens annually on the day of the patron saint San Pedro, the liquid madness actually kicks-off the previous night on 28 June. And as the proceedings unfold, pretty much all of the townsfolk – from the little ones through to their grandparents – gather outdoors in Haro’s cobbled streets and quite literally paint the town red with wine. 29 June 2024

https://batalladelvino.com

Shania Twain Norah Jones
17 THE CULTURED TRAVELLER NEWSFLASH
IMAGE: CLAY PATRICK MCBRIDE

KIRKPINAR OIL WRESTLING

OIL-COVERED contestants wait to compete in Turkey’s famous wrestling competition, which has taken place every summer in Edirne since 1346; is the world's oldest annual sports event after the Olympics, and is inscribed on UNESCO’s representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. 5-7 July 2024

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PRIDE

NEW YORK

EARLY IN THE morning of 28 June 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York’s West Village. The ensuing Stonewall riots lasted several days and are considered to be the beginning of the modern gay-rights movement. The first gay pride march was held in 1970 and has become an annual civil rights demonstration around the world. Over the years its purpose has broadened to include recognition of the fight against AIDS and to remember those the community lost to illness, violence and neglect. Pride New York is now a massive celebration, attended by tens of thousands and watched by even more. This year, a full week of activities, festivities, concerts and shows will culminate in a show-stopping, carnivallike march through the streets of New York on Saturday 30 June, when the city’s gay community will be celebrating its resilience and energy.

30 June 2024

https://www.nycpride.org

RATH YATRA

ONE OF INDIA’S LARGEST and most important Hindu festivals, Rath Yatra routinely draws more than a million pilgrims and devotees to the streets of Puri. Over the years, poets, saints and scriptures have consistently praised the good fortune associated with attending this “festival of the chariots”, since it is one of the only times annually that the deities leave the temple of Jagannath and are exposed to non-Hindus and visitors. The three figurines that make the trip

are Jagannath (considered to be the lord of the universe and an incarnation of Vishnu, the god of preservation), his older brother Balabhadra, and their sister Subhadra. They travel more than a mile in elaborate wooden chariots from Jagannath Temple to Gundicha Temple, where they remain for nine days. During the loud procession, pilgrims vie for even a glimpse of the gods, since they’re associated with extreme good fortune and the righting of wrongs.

7 July 2024

https://rathyatra.org

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FIESTA DE SAN FERMÍN

EVERY YEAR, thousands of Pamploneses (people from Pamplona), plus countless visitors who flood into the pretty Spanish town from all over the world, all dressed from head to toe in immaculate white clothing with red handkerchiefs tied around their necks, fill the streets of Pamplona to celebrate the week of festivities in honour of San Fermín, also known as Los Sanfermines The festival of San Fermín mixes a variety of contrasts: official and popular culture, religion and profanity, new and old and, as is often the case with a Spanish festival, order and chaos. Celebrations kick off with the launch of a rocket el chupinazo in Pamplona’s Plaza Ayuntamiento at noon on 6 July and end nine days later on 14 July. Every day includes a much publicised bull-run, a parade of colourful gigantes or cabezudos (big headed giants), a bullfight, fireworks, obligatory carousing and a copious amount of non-stop partying. 6 - 14 July 2024 www.sanfermin.com

VERBIER FESTIVAL

FOUNDED IN 1994 BY Martin Engstroem, the Verbier Festival has since garnered a worldwide reputation for artistic excellence and is now considered to be one of Europe's most important music gatherings. Every July, the greatest names in classical music circles gather for two weeks amongst the breathtaking landscape of the Swiss Alps, for an exceptional series of dozens of concerts featuring choirs, orchestras and intimate recitals. In addition to showcasing worldrenowned performers, promising new artists and talented young musicians from all over the world are invited to perform alongside their grand masters. This year, a re-imagined programme calling for peace, solidarity and the inclusion of musicians from all nations opens the festival on 15 July, with Italian conductor Gianandrea Noseda conducting the Verbier Festival Orchestra in a concert that features Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony preceded by Rodion Shchedrin’s Second Piano Concerto and Silvestrov's poignant work, Prayer for Ukraine. At the piano will be Ukrainian pianist Anna Fedorova, an alumna of the Verbier Festival Academy.. 18 July - 4 August 2024 www.verbierfestival.com

TOMORROWLAND

TOMORROWLAND IS THE ultimate annual electronic dance music festival for many. Held in De Schorre, the sheer extravagance of this festival, with its psychedelic motifs and spectacular stages, gets everyone going right from the start, and the energy basically never stops. Coupled with open fields filled with tents and camps surrounding the stages for people to rest and sleep while enjoying the music, Tomorrowland is both a musical melting pot and a global meeting place for people around the world who enjoy the same kind of pulsating music. This year’s festival is taking place over two consecutive three-day weekends, featuring more than 800 of the world’s best electronic artists across 16 stages, including Afshin Momadi, former NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal as DJ Diesel, American musician Gryffin, masked German DJ horsegiirL, Brusselsbased young talent Odymel, and many more. 19-21 + 26-28 July 2024

www.tomorrowland.com

NEWSFLASH 21 THE CULTURED TRAVELLER

7-11 August 2024

https://boardmasters.com

BOARDMASTERS
HAPPENING ANNUALLY on the Cornish coastline, in the premiere surfing mecca of Fistral Beach and Watergate Bay, the UK's biggest surf and music festival features five days of surfing competitions, together with music-led parties that often continue late into the night.
NEWSFLASH

COMIC-CON INTERNATIONAL

THE MASSIVE RISE IN popularity of animated films, western cartoons and Anime, as well as video games and fantasy novels, has caused the Comic-Con franchise to grow hugely since in recent decades. Comic-Con International – San Diego's four-day convergence of costumes and fun – is where fans meet comics creators, science fiction and fantasy authors, film and TV directors, producers and writers and play in their very own comic fantasyland. For those seeking to

reawaken the child inside them, this lively gathering is literally the perfect place to be. Packed with everything from autograph signings and costume contests to animation and film screenings, a massive programming schedule features hundreds of individual events including hands-on workshops, educational and academic sessions, video games forums, portfolio reviews, art shows, a masquerade competition and the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, all crammed into just four days. 25 - 28 July 2024 www.comic-con.org

BRISTOL BALLOON FIESTA

BRISTOL’S ANNUAL HOT air balloon extravaganza takes place in the delightful surroundings of Ashton Court Estate, which was once the gracious home of the Smyth family and is now a historic 850-acre park, just ten minutes from the city centre in beautiful South West England. North Somerset's annual hot air balloon extravaganza is Europe’s largest yearly meet for ballooning enthusiasts, attracting more than one hundred hot air balloons from across the globe. Witnessing a mass ascent of balloons in all shapes and sizes, lifting into the sky at once and instantly filling it with glorious colours, is truly a spectacular sight to behold. Not to be missed is the festival’s famous “Night Glow” event, on Saturday night 10th August, which sees multitudinous balloons glowing to music after the sun has set, followed by a dazzling fireworks display. A variety of entertainment, arena events and a giant fairground complete the weekend’s carnival-like feel. 9 - 11 August 2024

www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk

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OBON

CELEBRATED IN JAPAN for more than half a millennium and a historic, annual occasion to commemorate one's ancestors, Obon is based on a Buddhist legend that tells of the spirits of the deceased returning to earth to visit their families. The main Awa Odori part of Obon lasts for four days in Tokushima Prefecture, on the east side Shikoku, which is the smallest of Japan’s major islands. While chochin lanterns are ritually hung in front of houses to guide in the

MAINE LOBSTER FESTIVAL

TWO-HOURS’ DRIVE from Portland and four from Boston, this annual non-profit celebration of all-things lobster is held in the classic American harbour town of Rockland, in the nation’s easternmost state of New England. What began more than seventy years ago as an initiative to revive local Midcoast Maine marine communities is today an internationally recognised celebration of local seafood. Very much a family-orientated gathering, the proceedings include a parade, live music, a 10-kilometre road race, local arts

ancestors' spirits, graves are visited, and food offerings are made at home altars and temples, traditional folk dances are performed by dance troupes led by musicians playing a range of Japanese instruments, including the shamisen, taiko drums and the shinobue. Obon ends with the beautiful ritual of Toro Nagashi , during which hundreds of candlelit lanterns are released into the ocean, rivers and lakes and float away carrying ancestors' spirits back to the afterlife.

3 - 16 August 2024

BURNING MAN

FOR ONE WEEK THIS SUMMER, Nevada's unforgiving Black Rock Desert will spring to life when tens of thousands of people come together for Burning Man, the largest outdoor arts festival in North America and one of the most iconic festivals on the planet. Described as the ultimate culmination of community, art, self-expression and self-reliance, participants combine their efforts to create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to art and togetherness. Burning Man celebrates alternative lifestyles through music, art and the unique comradery that develops during the gathering.

and crafts, an array of entertainers; cooking contests and fairground rides, not to mention the consumption of more than 20,000 pounds of cooked lobster. Add in clams, calamari, scallops and haddock – all freshly sourced from the Atlantic Ocean – and Maine Lobster Festival is without doubt a marine crustaceanlovers’ dream! This year’s activities even include a race across a makeshift bridge of lobster crates, which is open to anyone brave enough to risk falling in the ocean with hundreds of people watching!

31 July - 4 August 2024

https://mainelobsterfestival.com

The vision is to "bring experiences to people in grand, awe-inspiring and joyful ways that lift the human spirit, address social problems and inspire a sense of culture, community and personal engagement." The event's name comes from the ritual burning of a wooden effigy, which occurs on the last Saturday night of the festival. New for this year, camps with distinctive interactivity have been placed around Center Camp Plaza, activating a vibrant street fair of delight and curiosity, including micro-environments, pop-up experiences and cozy chill zones.

25 August - 2 September 2024

https://burningman.org

NEWSFLASH 25 THE CULTURED TRAVELLER
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MOUNT HAGEN CULTURAL SHOW

STAGED AT KAGAMUGA showground in central Papua New Guinea, tribal dancers, clad in elaborate body paint, extravagant headdresses and jewellery fashioned from bones, tusks and shells, participate in one of the world’s largest annual tribal gatherings. 17-18 August 2024

NEWSFLASH

rest your

➤ LABUAN BAJO ➤ LA SAGESSE ➤ TOKYO ➤ BUDAPEST ➤ BUENOS AIRES

➤ VAL GARDENA ➤ ISTANBUL ➤ NICE ➤ MADRID ➤ RIYADH ➤ TINOS ➤ LAKE KIVU

TA’AKTANA

LOCATED AT THE WESTERN END OF THE LARGE Indonesian island of Flores, in East Nusa Tenggara province, Labuan Bajo is a tranquil and somewhat enchanting fishing town in the country’s Lesser Sunda Islands. Once completely unspoilt, in recent years the town has been gradually but subtly upgraded to cope with more international travellers, given that it is the most popular jumping-off point for Komodo National Park. Many visitors of course settle for the world-class diving and the Manta Ray diving spots, but most are naturally not happy until they’ve seen the largest living lizard species in the world.

Located just ten minutes from Komodo International Airport and inspired by web-shaped rice fields called lingko Ta’aktana is the region’s first truly

luxury resort and is spread out over 16 acres of tropical lushness, all of which teems with natural beauty.

Guests stay in a variety of 70 suites, villas on the land, and overwater sea villas, ranging from entry-level Wae Rana Suites to an impressive 459-square-metre three-bedroom villa known as “The Mansion”. All feature stylish contemporary interiors, courtesy of Balinese firm ANP, and are linked by interconnected pathways that snake around the property.

Amidst breathtaking scenery, guests choose from five dining venues, swim in an Olympic-sized pool, sunbathe on the resort’s private beach, workout in a cutting-edge fitness center, and indulge in natural treatments in the full-service spa. Ta’aktana even has its own yacht, so guests can explore the surrounding islands. www.taaktana.com

LABUAN
INDONESIA
BAJO

head

FROM THE IDYLLIC ISLAND RESORT OASIS OF TA’AKTANA, CRADLED BETWEEN WILD FORESTS AND THE GLITTERING COASTS OF THE FLORES SEA IN INDONESIA, TO LUXURY BOUTIQUE HOUSEBOAT KIVU QUEEN, WHICH CRUISES THE SERENE WATERS OF MAGNIFICENT LAKE KIVU IN RWANDA, THE CULTURED TRAVELLER EXPLORES A DOZEN SPECIAL PLACES TO REST YOUR HEAD AROUND THE WORLD

SIX SENSES LA SAGESSE

RENOWNED FOR ITS SANDY BEACHES, GENTLE ISLAND

breezes , and warmhearted and welcoming vibe, Grenada oozes a distinct charm usually only found in the West Indies.

30 minutes' drive from Grand Anse (the island’s tourist hub) in Grenada's southeast, La Sagesse is a magical, long crescent of golden sand, dotted by swaying palm trees and surrounded by verdant tropical vegetation. A protected, mangrove-swathed estuary, La Sagesse is undoubtedly one of Grenada’s finest beaches, its powdery sand seemingly sparkling in brilliant sunshine. Enjoying pride-of-place on La Sagesse beach, Six Senses recently made its Caribbean debut in this most serene of settings.

With 56 pool suites and 15 villas, ranging from one to four bedrooms, all with large outdoor terraces and private plunge pools, every aspect of the design of Six Senses La Sagesse Grenada was carefully considered to put the wellbeing of its guests first, inviting them to put their feet up the moment they check-in, before embarking on a journey of discovery, rejuvenation, and celebration, inspired by the island's culture and heritage.

From an obvious abundance of light and space throughout, to the use of natural and repurposed materials for its interiors, the resort design aesthetic was greatly influenced by the region’s traditional architecture,

and the layout of the property resembles a Caribbean village, complete with outdoor fitness trails and a jungle gym, and, for the more reflective, quiet locations for meditation, forest bathing, sensory foot reflexology, fire rituals and candlelight yoga. www.sixsenses.com

Six Senses La Sagesse 30 LA SAGESSE GRENADA

JANU TOKYO

OFTEN ECLIPSED BY JAPAN’S FORMER CAPITAL AND inordinately more photogenic city of Kyoto, there are still plenty of reasons to visit the colossus of a city – the largest in the world –that is Tokyo. First and foremost, seemingly easily straddling the past and future, Tokyo impresses with its passion for traditional culture juxtaposed with its obsession for everything new and modern. As you walk the city’s streets, not only is this evident from contrasting architecture and a dynamic arts scene, but also its vibrant dining scene which ranges from street food to high-end dining and everything in between.

Opening earlier this year in the heart of Azabudai Hills, a dynamic new neighbourhood located in the city’s Toranomon business district, in the ward of Minato, 122-room Janu Tokyo seeks to enhance the experience of both its guests and the local community by creating enriching moments that celebrate the joy of genuine human interaction. As such, the hotel includes eight venues for dining and socialising, as well as a vast four-storey 4,000-square-metre multidisciplinary spa and wellness centre, purpose designed to encourage social wellness and complement both active and passive pathways. One of Tokyoʼs largest gyms (340 square-metres) is accompanied by five movement studios for group exercise including spinning, yoga, golf simulation, and boxing, alongside an extensive hydrotherapy and

thermal area with a 25-metre indoor lap pool and a heated lounge pool for relaxation.

Beyond its impressive, world-class leisure amenities, Janu Tokyo is the only hotel within Azabudai Hills, which is fast becoming an inspirational urban hub of nature, culture and art. A cornerstone of the community, the hotelʼs symbiotic relationship with its surrounds, and connection to its cultural fabric, enriches the lives of both guests and visitors to the district.

www.janu.com

Tower View Suite
31 THE CULTURED TRAVELLER
Janu Bar
TOKYO JAPAN

W BUDAPEST

STRADDLING THE WIDE RIVER DANUBE, WHICH SEPARATES hilly Buda from level Pest, the Hungarian capital today offers one of the most striking metropolitan panoramas in Europe. Long hidden behind the Iron Curtain, in recent years Budapest has rightfully regained its reputation as one of the most vibrant capitals of central Europe, not least for its ability to both embrace and champion the past, present and future. Indeed, old frequently meets new throughout the city, not least in its burgeoning food scene and cool restaurants, buzzing cafés, happening nightlife, and late-night bars. Not to mention a plethora of striking, turn-of-the-century buildings juxtaposed with contemporary modern-architecture and historic landmarks given a new lease of life.

One such landmark is the circa 1883 Neo-Gothic Drechsler Palace, former home to the Institute of Ballet, and now W Budapest, which has become something of an overnight success since opening last year.

Positioned slap-bang in the middle of the Hungarian capital at one of the city’s best addresses, directly opposite the opera house in the middle of wide, tree-lined Andrássy Avenue, the hotel has become incredibly popular with local residents, making it a social hot-spot, particularly at the weekends.

Fashioned in a fun yet whimsical style by British designers Bowler James Brindley, on street level, an array of food and beverage venues persuade in-house guests to stay in-house, including Nightingale by Beefbar restaurant which showcases Wagyū beef alongside fine Asian cuisine, a large W Lounge which is perfect for casual drinks or relaxed breakfasts. A plush subterranean speakeasy, Society25, open until 2am from Thursday to Sunday is a cosy venue for an after-hours rendezvous, and, during the summer months, an additional outside bar provides wonderful people-watching opportunities.

The brand’s trademark fun-infused vibe continues upstairs throughout the hotel’s 151 rooms, which include 45 suites, the largest of which – the

all-black Extreme WOW suite and all-white WOW suite – celebrate the famous ballet, Swan Lake and take hotel room partying to a new level. The morning after, a petite Away Spa, set within the bowels of the hotel, repairs jet-lagged travellers and party-damaged guests alike.

www.wbudapest.com

BUDAPEST HUNGARY 32
33 Book Your Next Stay www.wbudapest.com @wbudapest_hotel DARING DUALITY

HOTEL CASA LUCIA

A BUSTLING, FAST-PACED, AND COSMOPOLITAN METROPOLIS, which combines Belle Epoque architecture at every turn with grand leafy avenues, lively cafés, superb dining and happening nightlife, Argentina’s dynamic capital of Buenos Aires is a wonderful destination for a city break. From La Boca’s brightly coloured buildings and cobblestoned streets, to San Telmo’s antique shops and colonial architecture, Buenos Aires is imbued with Latin passion throughout its unique mix of old and new and everything in between.

Located in the centre of Buenos Aires, within 15-minutes’ walk of the Basilica del Santisimo Sacramento and Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Calle Arroyo has become one of the city’s most desirable streets, and was even baptised by Eduardo Mallea as the “elbow of aristocracy in Buenos Aires”. Displaying a distinctly classical French style via its many beautiful mansions and residences, the street boasts a many important and historical buildings, as well as architectural gems from the porteño past.

In the heart of the fashionable Recoleta neighbourhood, on stylish Calle Arroyo, Hotel Casa Lucia opened its doors earlier this year. A veritable love letter to Argentina, set within the historic Edificio Mihanovich building (which was at one time the tallest building in Latin America), Casa Lucia captures the charm of historic Buenos Aires while celebrating the contemporary flair of the nation’s artistic creativity. Bringing together the latest creative talent from a variety of local design houses, including South American Fernanda Schuch Studios, the hotel’s historic roots deftly work in tandem with modern, designer furnishings and

imposing contemporary art to create beautiful and inviting spaces from the striking lobby upwards.

Many of the hotel’s 142 guest rooms and suites boasts balconies with outdoor showers and sun loungers, and offer residents the unique opportunity to dine al fresco in complete privacy while enjoying spectacular views across the city. Rooms are also hung with contemporary art by awardwinning Argentine artist Cristián Mohaded, whose work is on display in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Musée Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

On street level, Cantina Restaurant draws inspiration from authentic Argentine aromas and flavours, while capturing the essence of the land with fresh, local ingredients. And next door, Le Club Bacan is a spirited cocktail bar, helmed by cocktail master Martín Suaya, that has already become a popular gathering spot for locals and travellers alike.

www.hotelcasalucia.com/en

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BUENOS AIRES ARGENTINA

COMO ALPINA DOLOMITES

LOCATED IN NORTHERN ITALY’S SOUTH TYROL, RENOWNED AS a center for winter sports and mountain-oriented pursuits, and surrounded by breathtaking peaks, pine forests and beautiful meadows, Val Gardena is a spectacular year-round destination for a memorable holiday in the Dolomites, in the warm embrace of Mother Nature.

In this most humbling of locations, towards the end of last year, the chic Singaporean headquartered hospitality brand COMO, founded by Christina Ong, opened a new luxury resort executed with immense attention to detail throughout, complete with a sumptuous spa. Indeed, COMO has come to be known for its world-class spas, and a Shambhala retreat can be found in every one of its properties worldwide.

Nestled on one of Europe's largest high-altitude plateaus, Alpe di Siusi in Val Gardena, COMO Alpina Dolomites offers guests 60 thoughtfully designed and inviting rooms, all of which face the slopes and have a balcony or terrace, the largest being its two-bedroom COMO suites and a four-bedroom chalet. Guests enjoy sweeping vistas of the Dolomites’ from every room.

For those wishing to unwind after a day of snowboarding in winter, or hiking and mountain biking in the warmer months, the hotel’s COMO Shambhala Retreat boasts a 22-metre indoor pool, a 7-metre panoramic

outdoor pool, a sauna, relaxation zones, a well-equipped fitness centre, and a beauty sanctuary. Complete with an expansive wellness programme focused on revitalisation and rejuvenation, guests routinely return from their stay at COMO Alpina Dolomites feeling both refreshed and renewed. www.comohotels.com

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Alpina Chalet COMO Suite

SANASARYAN HAN

A GIGANTIC CULTURAL MELTING POT WITH A MASSIVE population of more than 15 million people, divided in two by the Bosphorus Strait which connects the Black and Marmara seas, the mega city of Istanbul stretches in every direction as far as the eye can see, and provides inimitable experiences and cultural insights like no other destination in Turkey. Istanbul also boasts a rich gastronomic heritage, its people hailing from all over the country and beyond, many of whom arrived in the city with their own food dishes, recipes and cuisines. This has translated into an energetic, creative and constantly evolving dining scene, with virtually every type of cuisine available in Istanbul.

Courtesy of historically being at the centre of many ancient trade routes linking China to the West, plenty of spices have always passed through the city, making their way west, with plenty of them ending-up in Istanbul. Even today, Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar, built in 1664, is the second largest covered market in Turkey and quite possibly the biggest spice trade centre in the world.

The heart of Istanbul remains its fascinating Old City, dramatically located on a peninsula looking across the Bosphorus Strait towards Asia. And it is here that a new Luxury Collection property opened earlier this year, occupying a storied neo-classical building originally constructed in 1895, that deftly blends Istanbul’s cultural heritage with the opulent grandeur of its Sultanahmet location, within a short walk of the Spice Bazaar, Grand Bazaar, and Blue Mosque.

Once a notorious police station, today the property has undergone a meticulous restoration transforming it into a luxurious respite from the city’s busy streets, with a calming, light-filled atrium welcoming guests

to stay in the hotel's 57 rooms and half a dozen suites, many of which enjoy sweeping views of Istanbul framed by grand Ottoman arched windows. Finished in a distinctive palette of black and cream, punctuated by turquoise furnishings and marble accents, handcrafted copper accessories pay homage to traditional Turkish customs, while local postcards add a touch of local charm, and a Turkish tea set, curated by the hotel’s Tea Master, invites guests to savour aromatic tea in traditional glass cups, at the start of their Istanbul adventure. www.sanasaryanhan.com

Junior Suite 36 ISSUE 46 JUNE – AUGUST 2024 ISTANBUL TURKEY

CULINARY EXPERTISE IN GENEVA

Since 2012, Michelin-starred Chef Michel Roth (Meilleur Ouvrier de France and Bocuse d'Or 1991) has been orchestrating the culinary operations at Hotel President as the Executive Chef and Culinary Advisor.

The hotel features 3 restaurants: the renowned Bayview by Michel Roth (a Michelin 1-star gastronomic restaurant, rated 18/20 by Gault-Millau), the seasonal Rive Droite by Michel Roth (Mediterranean restaurant) open from May to September, and the unmissable Arabesque (traditional Lebanese restaurant, rated 14/20 by Gault-Millau).

Renowned for its excellence in hosting international events, conferences and weddings, Hotel President offers all the necessary comfort and professionalism for organizing bespoke high-end receptions, under

ABOUT HOTEL PRESIDENT

Hotel President, the Luxury Collection Hotel, Geneva, is a 5* hotel with 201 rooms and 25 suites, ideally located on the bank shore of Lake Geneva.

• 3 Restaurants (Bayview, Rive Droite, Arabesque)

• 3 Bars(Glow, SO, Rive Droite)

• 13 meeting spaces totaling more than 20’000 SQMT including Geneva biggest room of 10’000 SQMT

• The biggest and luxuriest Suite in Europe, the Royal Penthouse Suite (18’000 SQMT)

• Floor to ceiling windows with Lake views

• Spa «La Mer», exlusive in Switzerland

• 6’5000 SQMT terrace with heated pool facing the

Hotel President, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Geneva 47 Quai Wilson, 1201 Genève - +41 (0) 22 906 66 66 HOTELPRESIDENTWILSON.COM Informations & Reservations : resa@hotelpresident.ch

HÔTEL DU COUVENT

LYING JUST BELOW CASTLE HILL IN THE FAMED SUN-SOAKED

French Riviera destination, the streets of Nice’s Old Town, or Vieux Nice , are an enticing sea of pastel-coloured buildings, old churches and narrow alleyways. Lined with tall tenement houses along narrow and shaded streets, occupied by shops, restaurants, crowded cafés and the galleries of local artists, make here the perfect place to settle at a table in a tiny square or quiet back street, order a glass of wine, and indulge in a little people-watching.

Hidden behind high walls in the heart of the Old Town, almost forgotten by both man and time, a 17th century convent is about to be unlocked and reborn as a boutique hotel, losing none of its historic charm, its tranquil, terraced gardens destined to provide sanctuary, respite and sustenance for modern travellers and locals alike.

The first high-end property from Perseus founder, hotelier Valéry Grégo, whose projects notably include the Hôtel Les Roches Rouges in Saint Raphael, guests will be able to choose from 88 rooms, which, whilst varying in size, have all been sensitively created within the thoughtfully restored buildings, skillfully uniting its ancient architecture with the needs of modern-day travellers by the craftsmanship of 21st century artisans. Meanwhile, diners will be able to enjoy experience menus made using ingredients freshly picked from the hotel’s gardens and the convent’s own farm.

www.hotelducouvent.com

Hôtel du Couvent
38 NICE FRANCE
Old Town, Nice

JW MARRIOTT HOTEL MADRID

A CITY OF ELEGANT BOULEVARDS AND MANICURED PARKS , Madrid is undoubtedly one of Europe's major cultural capitals. Vibrant and cheerful, Spain's arts and financial centre is famous for being an open city welcoming all kinds of people from all over the world, making the Spanish capital one of the most populous on the continent. Madrid is also a hugely cosmopolitan city, where more than 180 nationalities live together. Combined with its year-round warm climate, this makes visiting Madrid a colourful and fascinating experience. Complete with Europe's largest palace, excellent art museums, phenomenal tapas, and magnificent architecture at every turn, Madrid is nothing short of a metropolitan melting pot of culture.

Located slap-bang in the center of the city in Canalejas zone, close to bustling Puerta del Sol, JW Marriott Hotel Madrid occupies a historic building that was completed in 1886 and is positioned on one of the capital’s main arteries. After a painstaking four-year renovation, the building is today a contemporary urban hospitality retreat, deftly fusing historical details - such as the 19th century columns in the lobby - with 139 guest rooms and suites and a cutting-edge gym and wellness zone. Whether revelling in the striking city views from the privacy of their private terraces, enjoying the botanical oasis of El Patio JW Garden, or indulging in the city’s gardens with a picnic of local produce arranged by the hotel, guests are positively encouraged to achieve a semblance

of balance while staying at JW Marriott Hotel Madrid, and become more present in body, mind, and spirit. To this end, all rooms are furnished with yoga mats and enjoy complimentary access to video workouts and meditation practices. And for the tastebuds, the hotel is home to restaurant QÚ, from the culinary world of much celebrated chef Mario Sandoval, which serves traditional Spanish cuisine, prepared using local ingredients, with a contemporary twist. The menu includes Sandoval’s famous roasted suckling pig, which is cooked in a way that maximises the texture and unique taste of the piglet. https://jw-marriott.marriott.com

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Madrid
MADRID SPAIN

THE ST. REGIS RIYADH

THE BIRTHPLACE OF SAUDI ARABIA, SET ON A DESERT plateau in the centre of the country, the Kingdom’s capital city, Riyadh, blends traditional souks, historical treasures, old palaces and ancient architecture with futuristic skyscrapers, contemporary fine-dining and upscale shopping malls. Swanky new hotels, enticing attractions and infrastructure improvements being added all the time, make visiting one of the world's wealthiest cities an increasingly attractive proposition, if only to experience its unique juxtaposition of the medieval and the modern.

The only hotel located within new upscale Via Riyadh, which is fast becoming of the city’s premier destination for luxury shopping and dining, positioned at the edge of the Saudi capital’s Diplomatic Quarter, The St. Regis Riyadh opened in October 2023 offering guests and locals alike a new take on avant-garde design and sophisticated dining, complete with attentive service and the famed St. Regis butlers for which the brand has become synonymous.

83 rooms and suites are spread out over two floors which run the length of one side of Via Riyadh. Entry-level Deluxe King rooms are a very generous 56-square-metres, while the hotel’s largest accommodation offering is the 225-square-metre Royal Suite. All guest rooms are lined in wooden flooring and decorated in a soft palette of creams and taupe, punctuated with gold and aquamarine accents.

Complete with a lavish ballroom and bridal suite, well-equipped fitness centre, and an expansive St. Regia Spa, together with three dining venues, make The St. Regis Riyadh a luxe urban resort. www.stregischicago.com

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RIYADH SAUDI ARABIA

ODERA

JUST A SHORT FERRY RIDE FROM THE NEIGHBOURING, notorious party island of Mykonos, but thankfully a world away in terms of tourists, the beautiful Cycladic island of Tinos has somehow managed to remain an unspoilt, largely undiscovered Greek jewel, complete with rustic landscapes, scenic white-washed villages, quiet pristine beaches, regular cultural events and excellent food.

Unassuming and unpretentious, Tinos has much to offer travellers seeking a truly authentic Greek holiday away from the crowds. Not least of which, the island’s rocky, barren soil has inspired all manner of artists, including Giannoulis Halepas, Greece’s most famous sculptor of modern times. And most of the exquisite sculptures that grace the island are made from Tinos’ famous and recognisable white and green marble.

Having literally just opened, Odera is the first luxury boutique hotel of its kind on Tinos and sits in a secluded bay with a private beach amongst the island’s dramatic landscapes, offering guests 77 sea-view rooms and pool suites, plus an expansive spa and private beach club.

Interiors designed by Studio Bonarchi celebrate Tinos’ traditions, local artisans, and producers, and the hotel is committed to preserving the environment and supporting the island’s time-honoured crafts. This commitment is reflected in every nook and cranny of Odera, from traditional Tinian stonework and authentic pigeon houses, to lovingly crafted marble furnishings and menus that make the best use of local ingredients and support local suppliers. www.oderatinos.com

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TINOS GREECE
Tinos Signature Suite, Odera

MANTIS KIVU QUEEN UBURANGA

SITUATED BETWEEN THE MEGACITY OF KINSHASA TO the west and Rwanda to the east, Kivu is one of the African continent’s huge freshwater great lakes. Set in the Albertine Rift, with a rough and jagged coastline, surrounded by mountains and lined by some of Africa's best inland beaches, Lake Kivu lies at 1,500 metres above sea level, occupies thousands of square kilometres and, at its deepest, plunges down to some 485 metres.

Reminiscent of what could be described an inland freshwater sea, the lake and its surrounds have a unique feel to them, filled with volcanic islands, surrounded by beautiful beaches, terraced hills and fishing villages, lending the entire area a picturesque and unique charm. By day, a variety of activities and cultural experiences keep visitors to Lake

Kivu enthralled. While by night, if not fishing on the serene waters, the setting feels much like the Caribbean, complete with star-filled skies and the sound of gently lapping waves.

New luxury houseboat, Mantis Kivu Queen uBuranga, is the first vessel of its kind to sail the region, traversing Kivu southbound from Gisenyi to Nyamasheke, and northbound from Nyamasheke to Gisenyi. Serving as a gateway for travellers to explore this magnificent lake and its numerous islands, including Napoleon Island, Teddy Bear Island, Monkey Island and Peace Island, the highlights of a voyage aboard the Kivu Queen are the opportunity to visit the mountain gorillas at the Volcanoes National Park, and the chimpanzees at Nyungwe National Park. www.mantiscollection.com

LAKE KIVU RWANDA 42

spend three nights in a suite at como metropolitan singapore WIN

NESTLED ON A SIDE STREET, OFF THE island nation's main shopping thoroughfare of Orchard Road, 156 rooms Como Metropolitan Singapore opened its sophisticated doors in September 2023 and is the brand's first property in its native Singapore.

Complete with a sprawling COMO Shambhala spa, a cutting-edge gym, yoga and pilates studios, a glass-walled roof-top infinity pool, and spectacular skyline views from guest rooms and suites, the chic property is part of the

COMO Orchard complex, which also includes the first Asian outpost of superstar French pâtissier Cédric Grolet, and a multi-label fashion store curated by Club 21, featuring Thom Browne, Jacquemus, and Simone Rocha.

The hotel’s Sky Bar boasts all the panoramic cityscape views one could possibly wish for, and the property is home to American-Korean steakhouse, the first in Asia and it originated in New York and Miami and both are Michelin-starred. www.comohotels.com/singapore

ONE-BEDROOM
METROPOLITAN
44 ISSUE 46 JUNE – AUGUST 2024
STAY FOR THREE NIGHTS IN A
METROPOLITAN SUITE AT COMO
SINGAPORE, COMPLETE WITH DAILY BREAKFASTS AND ACCESS TO THE HOTEL’S COMO SHAMBHALA SPA AND ROOF-TOP INFINITY POOL
TO ENTER Email your contact details to ➤ win@theculturedtraveller.com The draw will take place on 1 September 2024 and the winner will be notified privately via email. The prize must be used before 1 June 2025 and is subject to availability when booking. Blackout dates apply. The prize is not transferable to another person. The Cultured Traveller will not share your details with third parties. Multiple entries will be disqualified. Entrants will be added to The Cultured Traveller e-mailing list. Metropolitan Suite
45 THE CULTURED TRAVELLER PRIZE DRAW
COMO Metropolitan Singapore

exquisite lakeside splendour

SURROUNDED BY RAVISHING BEAUTY AND TIMELESS ELEGANCE, ALEX BENASULI LUXURIATES IN LAKE COMO’S OLD SCHOOL ITALIAN GLAMOUR

COVER STORY LAKE
COMO

LAKE COMO HAS BEEN seducing visitors since Roman times and before. For much of the 18th and 19th centuries, European royals and the Lombardian aristocrats of northern Italy decamped to lavish lakeside villas for their summer holidays. Just an hour by car from Milan and you too can just as easily step into the bedazzling world of stunning architecture and exquisite nature, all liberally swathed in Italian chic.

ALMOST CERTAINLY ONE OF THE MOST beautiful spots in Europe, Lake Como sits at the foot of the snow-covered Alps, surrounded by verdant forested hills and dotted with sumptuous villas, elaborate gardens and picturesque towns. Not only is the area visually stunning, but it is also a haven for foodies, culture vultures and wildlife enthusiasts.

Reminiscent of an inverted Y, with 160 kilometres of undulating shoreline, Lake Como is the result of glacial melting combined with the erosive action of ancient River Adda. From the water, palace-like mansions and gardens that are somewhat concealed from the road, reveal themselves like precious gems, one more beautiful than the next, with their own intriguing backstories and unique charms.

VILLA DEL BALBIANELLO, LOCATED IN the charming hamlet of Lenno, is almost certainly one of the region’s most breathtaking estates. If you were thinking that this late 18th century palazzo – fringed by towering cypress trees, manicured gardens and steps cascading down to the water – would make the perfect movie set, you would not be the first. Some scenes for the James Bond movie Casino Royale were filmed here, as were some for Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones. In many ways, these two cinematic titans sum up the fantastical effect that Lake Como has on almost everyone who visits.

For those with time, it’s worth spending a few hours exploring Villa del Balbianello’s beautiful grounds, which can be accessed from the shoreline on Tuesdays and the weekends. The lush gardens and ornate balustrading, separating the terraces from the lake, are simply divine. Before being transferred to Italy’s equivalent of the National Trust in 1988, the villa was owned by industrialist and explorer Count Guido Monzino. Countless artifacts and

treasures gleaned from Monzino’s far flung expeditions fill the villa’s magnificent interiors. https://fondoambiente.it

TYPICAL OF THE TOWNS AROUND THE lake and halfway down Como’s western side is Tremezzo, home to Villa Carlotta. Occupying a prime lakefront perch and built on a series of hillside terraces, the views from the villa and its grounds are extraordinary.

Though named after a Prussian princess, for whom the villa was a wedding gift in 1847, Villa Carlotta dates back to the mid-1700s. While the interiors impress and the museum section houses

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Villa Del Balbianello
COVER STORY LAKE COMO
49
Villa D'Este

some historical and noteworthy paintings and sculptures, it is the enchanting gardens and park-like grounds that truly enamour with their impressive, world-famous collection of azaleas, rhododendrons, and camellias. The gardens span idyllic woodland, waterfalls, avenues of roses and hydrangeas, not to mention bamboo forests and endless arches of lemon trees. There is even a valley of ferns. One can spend as little as 15 minutes getting a feel for the gardens, or many hours exploring the villa’s sprawling grounds, enjoying its plethora of private corners and perfectly framed views of the lake and beyond. www.villacarlotta.it

A FEW MINUTES’ WALK FROM VILLA Carlotta in Tremezzina, which is almost certainly one of the sunniest spots on the lake, Grand Hotel Tremezzo opened its doors more than a century ago, embodying Como’s longstanding spirit of luxurious refinement.

While the property’s glamorous Belle Époque roots assure a style and level of discernment that is enchanting, and its waterfront position assures jaw dropping views from almost every angle and guest room, it is its impressive array of resort-like facilities, executed to the highest standards, complete with impeccable service, that have propelled Grand Hotel Tremezzo to world-class luxury hospitality prominence. And there is hardly a more convenient spot on the lake to take full advantage of Como’s numerous gems. Indeed, whether from the palatial surrounds of its regal interiors, or aboard one of its two private launches, Grand Hotel Tremezzo is perhaps everything a discerning traveller could ever wish for in a Como hotel. www.grandhoteltremezzo.com

UP IN THE MOUNTAINS BEHIND TREMEZZO, petite family-run La Fagurida restaurant has been established for 50 years and is the place to go for polenta and delicious local grilled meats. https:// lafagurida.it Meanwhile, right next door, Al Veluu offers fine Italian dining complete with some of the best views over Balbianello, and also has a few spacious and very comfortable serviced suites above the restaurant which enjoy panoramic vistas of Lake Como and the surrounding mountains. Not to be missed is

Villa Olmo and gardens
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Grand Hotel Tremezzo Bellagio
COVER STORY LAKE COMO
Bellagio Villa Serbelloni Gardens
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Villa Monastero Varenna, Como

Al Veluu’s signature penne pasta, with fresh spicy tomatoes, black olives, pancetta and basil picked from the kitchen garden. www.alveluu.com/en

DIRECTLY ACROSS THE LAKE FROM Tremezzo is Bellagio, fondly known as the Pearl of Lake Como. Strategically positioned between the two southernmost branches of the lake, although Bellagio’s beauty has been chronicled for almost two millennia, it wasn’t until the Lombard aristocracy built beautiful villas here in the 18th and 19th centuries that the village’s desirability became entrenched. Today, visitors flock to its lakefront, café-filled arcade and the picture-postcard tangle of narrow, cobblestoned streets filled with rose coloured buildings and charming eateries.

FROM THE CENTRE OF BELLAGIO, FACING the lake, walk left along the water to Villa Melzi. The villa’s lakefront gardens are a welcome respite from busy Bellagio in the summer. Completed in 1810, privately owned Villa Melzi is a perfect example of neoclassical architecture. A formal lakeside path – lined with plane trees pruned into an umbrella- like canopy in a Napoleonic style –provides abundant shade from the heat. Sculptures dating back to a number of historical periods punctuate the setting. Unusually for Lombardy, the terraced parts of the villa’s grounds showcase a traditional Asian aesthetic, with ponds and water features framing prominent trees and verdant sight lines. The views across the lake towards

villages, hills and higher alpine scenery beyond are mesmerising. https://giardinidivillamelzi.it

HORTICULTURALISTS WILL ALMOST certainly want to explore more than 18 kilometres of avenues and paths that wind through 15th century Villa Serbolloni Gardens. A vast hilltop estate, boasting expansive views over both sides of the lake, since 1959 the Rockefeller Foundation has run the site as a retreat and think tank for artists and scientists from all over the world. Past residents include Leonardo da Vinci, Emperor Maximillian I and Queen Victoria. Today, the gardens are home to a number of rare and exotic plants, crowned by a summer house that offers a shady perch to enjoy the tremendous vistas. The gardens can be visited on pre-booked guided tours that afford magnificent lake views.

www.bellagiolakecomo.com

At the base of the Rockefeller complex, on the northern tip of Bellagio, popular restaurant La Punta offers classic Italian fare with an emphasis on local fish. Its lake facing terrace, with the views over the water towards the alps, is an idyllic spot for a smart yet relaxed lunch or early dinner.

www.ristorantelapunta.it

COURTESY OF ITS LEGENDARY CHARISMA and year-round popularity, in high season, Bellagio can be a victim of its own success and sometimes too busy to be enjoyable. If this is the case when you visit, a short boat ride away to the north is the

Villa Monastero
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Castello di Vezio
53 THE CULTURED TRAVELLER

quieter but equally ravishing village of Varenna, which was founded by local fishermen in the 8th century. From Varenna, look back towards Bellagio, to the point where the two branches of Lake Como emanate.

One of the area’s main historical sites, with its cypress-lined avenues, ornate balustrading and neoclassical charms, Villa Monastero offers perfect vistas of the breathtaking surroundings www.villamonastero.eu For more lofty views, it’s a moderate (and occasionally steep) hike up the hill behind Varenna to Castello di Vezio, which sits on hallowed grounds that have been built upon since before Christ. The views from the top are staggeringly beautiful, and ever-present falcons circling above add a dash of majesty. www.castellodivezio.it

Back in the historic centre of town, Vecchia Varenna serves local dishes in a space that was formerly a 15th century marble workshop. The restaurant’s 15 tables are built on a terrace which protrudes over the lake. It literally doesn’t get much more waterfront or romantic than this!

https://ecchiavarenna.it

FOR A TOUCH OF REALITY, HEAD TO THE lake’s largest metropolis of Como. This thriving and bustling city is located at the southern tip of Lake Como and serves as the lake’s primary gateway. Boasting an impressive gothic cathedral and a fairly

sizable old walled city brimming with bars, restaurants and shops, the combination of well-heeled locals and international tourists makes for a lively scene and offers a welcome contrast to the rarefied realm of villa and palazzo hopping! For aperitivo, incredible pizza, or a full-blown gastronomic feast, head to In Teatro, which is located next to Como’s jewel of a theatre and opera house. www.pizzeriaincentro.com

WHEREVER YOU ARE IN COMO, THE LAKE and its jaw dropping vistas are rarely far away. From Como, it is an easy 45 minute-walk or short bike ride along the elegant lakeside promenade to neighbouring Cernobbio. With one of the highest concentrations of 18th and 19th century villas and gardens of the entire area, Cernobbio is yet another opportunity to soak in the sublime architectural richness of Lake Como.

WHILE LAKE COMO’S WATERFRONT TOWNS and quaint villages are the perfect place to revel in its fashionable lakeside lifestyle, the region's enchanting allure is undoubtedly best appreciated by dipping your toes in its crystalline waters. Indeed, amidst such breathtaking natural beauty surrounded by stunning Alpine backdrops, swimming and sunbathing in Lake Como are a uniquely soothing and pleasurable affair, and there are a variety of picture perfect spots to pause and unwind.

Cernobbio
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Villa Carlotta

POSITIONED ON THE EAST SIDE OF THE bay and one of only two public beaches in the town of Como, Lido di Villa Geno Beach offers a pebbled shore, plush sun loungers, a waterside cafe, and plenty of space to unwind and soak in the summer sun, enjoy a leisurely swim, or sip a cocktail by the lake. From here, the views towards the west, with its neoclassical villas, are amazing.

Close to the northern tip of Lake Como and tucked away in the quiet, picturesque bay of Piona, Spiaggia di Piona is beautiful and relaxing beach in Colico. The pebbled shore is tree-lined and the calm waters are ideal for swimming. Open to visitors, nearby Abbazia di Piona is a 13th century religious complex set on the Lecco bank of Lake Como. Still inhabited

by monks, the abbey is an enchanting and evocative place that is definitely worth a visit, not least for its majestic Lombard Romanesque architecture.

WHETHER SLICING THROUGH ITS emerald waters aboard an elegant wooden motorboat, cruising across the lake on a graceful public ferry (known locally as battelli), or simply sitting on a bench in dappled sun, gazing towards villa studded hills, time spent in and around Lake Como, whether on a boat or dry land, amidst such visual splendour, is a cultured traveller’s heaven on earth. Outdoor playgrounds do not get much more stylish than this, so it’s not hard to see why Como has enchanted visitors for millennia.

COVER STORY LAKE COMO 57

suite envy

NESTLED ON THE EDGE OF A BEAUTIFUL NATIONAL PARK, NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU ROAD-TESTS A UNIQUE BILL BENSLEYDESIGNED SUITE WHICH EVOKES THE GOLDEN AGE OF TRAIN TRAVEL

HERITAGE RAILCAR TWO-BEDROOM POOL VILLA ➤ INTERCONTINENTAL KHAO YAI RESORT, THAILAND all aboard the bill bensley express 59

WITHIN THREE HOURS ' drive of hectic Bangkok lies a treasure trove of natural attractions, vast open spaces and spectacular vistas simply waiting to be discovered, on the edge of which a somewhat special retreat-like resort hotel cleverly merges creative design and exceptional architecture with five-star hospitality and a journey into the unspoilt heart of Thai nature.

OCCUPYING A SPRAWLING 19-HECTARE SITE

featuring five lakes, every touchpoint and design detail of InterContinental Khao Yai Resort hails from the inventive and highly artistic mind of Bill Bensley. A standout landscape architect and much-celebrated interior designer, Bensley is renowned for his eclectic and imaginative style that integrates vibrant aesthetics with sustainable practices. His firm has conceptualised and executed more than 200 luxury hospitality projects globally. And Bensley’s work, characterised by meticulous attention to detail and a penchant for storytelling, has significantly influenced contemporary hotel design, creating enchanting and immersive environments that celebrate cultural and natural heritage.

NOWHERE IS BENSLEY’S SKILL FOR storytelling more brilliantly realised than InterContinental Khao Yai Resort, which ingeniously, and amusingly, evokes the romance of train travel. Drawing upon the area’s history as a gateway for railroad travel during the reign of King Rama V, the resort’s narrative is based around the fictitious story of a train conductor named Somsak, and his love for train travel

in Thailand and beyond, not least to neighbouring Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Singapore.

As well as 45 guest rooms housed within two themed buildings, the resort’s distinctive design makes use of 19 original 19th century heritage train carriages. Passionate about blending storytelling with restoration to create something fresh and charming, Bensley laboriously recovered the disused railcars from around Thailand. Some of them had been unused for more than five decades, and were so neglected, that Ficus trees had rooted in the carriages and almost completely enveloped their structures.

EACH CARRIAGE WAS METICULOUSLY AND skillfully restored, upcycled into luxurious suites, and named after a different train destination. Staying in any one of these suites instantly transports guests back to the glamourous age of train travel, but perhaps none more so than the resort’s largest accommodation offering – its Heritage Railcar Two-Bedroom Pool Villa.

LOCATED AT THE END OF A SHORT AND secluded private driveway, the sole Heritage Railcar TwoBedroom Pool Villa on the property fills two complete train carriages and offers more than 220 square metres of incredibly well-appointed accommodation.

THE SUITE’S MAIN ENTRANCE PLACES YOU between its two train carriages, right in-front of a large private plunge pool, which is set on a spacious elevated terrace bedecked with plush sun loungers, inviting sofas and a generous al-fresco dining area. At either end of the terrace, regal, oversized deep-soaking tubs are

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in curtains and would be

or a queen.

THE INTERIORS OF THE TWO TRAIN CARRIAGES could not have been designed more differently. One is quite obviously the master suite. Meanwhile the other, adorned in pinks and whites and sporting two single beds, was evidently conceived with a pair of princesses in mind. In both, the attention to detail is fantastical, and walls of rich panelling are complemented by scenic wallpapers, plush upholstery, ambient lighting, bespoke fabrics by Jim Thompson, and a smattering of art and antique objets d’arts.

BOTH CARRIAGES SPOIL THEIR INHABITANTS with en-suite bathrooms furnished with Swedish

Byredo amenities. The pink carriage is home to a graceful and bright dining room, while the master suite boasts a lounge evidently designed for reclining in supreme comfort. Together, the carriages form the ultimate fairytale suite for a family of four, who would probably want for nothing in such sumptuous and theatrical surrounds.

SO THOROUGH IS HE, THAT BENSLEY’S concept for InterContinental Khao Yai unsurprisingly extends way past the train carriage suites to every room and outbuilding throughout the resort. These include Somying’s Kitchen (named after the mother of the train conductor, Somsak), which offers all-day farm-to-table dining in colourful, airy and inviting spaces. Within two connected upcycled train carriages

draped fitting for the bathtime of a king
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are the elegant Papillion Bar, where classic French cocktails are lovingly handcrafted, and separate Tea Carriage, where formal afternoon tea is served, complete with a variety of premium teas hailing from across Asia.

At Poirot Restaurant, which is named after Agatha Christie’s famous detective, guests dine on exquisitely presented elevated French cuisine, created with passion by chef Nirut Pochsalee, and served on chic crockery in sophisticated, monochrome surroundings. The restaurant’s signature Boeuf Bourguignon – made with Australian Wagyū and braised in rich red wine gravy – is unmissable for a discerning gourmand.

Leisure facilities include a retro-styled cross-fit inspired gym, and the Back on Track Spa, whose four luxe treatment rooms are each ensconced within a repurposed heritage railcar and provide the ideal setting for a spot of indulgent pampering.

A CHARACTERFUL HOSPITALITY MASTERPIECE of contemporary design that pays homage to the region's rich cultural heritage and intense surrounding natural beauty, InterContinental Khao Yai Resort is without doubt a special property, where luxury and sustainability converge to create

a tranquil retreat that honours Mother Nature, and amply caters to the needs of well-travelled globetrotters.

A night in the Heritage Railcar Two-Bedroom Pool Villa at InterContinental Khao Yai Resort costs USD 2,500 excluding taxes. www.ihg.com

SUITE ENVY 63 THE CULTURED TRAVELLER

SINTRA PORTUGAL

portugal's spellbinding fairytale town

DEMELZA OXLEY IS OVERCOME BY AN ABUNDANCE OF MAJESTIC ROMANTICIST ARCHITECTURE AND LUSH BOTANICAL GARDENS

LINING THE LANES AND LANDSCAPES OF PORTUGAL’S

INIMITABLE TOWN OF PALACES

NESTLED AMIDST THE LUSH verdure of Portugal's mist-shrouded Sintra Mountains lies a town steeped in enchantment and allure — a veritable treasure trove of palaces, gardens and winding cobblestone streets that beckon travellers to embark upon a whimsical journey of wonder and discovery. With its storied past and breathtaking vistas, Sintra is nothing short of a sanctuary of timeless beauty, where history and myth intertwine in a symphony of architectural splendour, all just thirty minutes’ drive from Lisbon.

DATING BACK MILLENNIA, SINTRA'S ORIGINS are shrouded in legend, with archaeological proof suggesting human habitation as far back as the Neolithic period.

Sintra's modern-day rise to prominence began during the Moorish occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, when it served as a strategic outpost and fortress guarding the fertile lands of Lisbon. It was during the period of Muslim Iberia that Sintra’s Castelo dos Mouros was built by the Moors in the 8th and 9th centuries, the castle’s imposing ramparts offering commanding views of the surrounding countryside.

However, it was in the medieval period that Sintra truly flourished, becoming a favoured retreat for Portuguese royalty and nobility seeking respite from the heat of Lisbon. The town's grassy hillsides provided a cool and refreshing climate, while its awe-inspiring landscapes inspired poets, artists, and monarchs alike.

Throughout the following centuries, Sintra became a playground for Portugal's elite, with palaces, estates, and gardens dotting its luxuriant landscape.

Today, Sintra's intense allure lies in its palatial estates, each a testament to the opulence and grandeur of bygone eras, drawing visitors year-round from all corners of the globe. From the fairytale-like turrets of Pena Palace to the haunting beauty of Quinta da Regaleira, Sinatra’s

DESTINATION SPOTLIGHT
65 THE CULTURED TRAVELLER
Palácio da Pena

numerous architectural marvels instantly transport visitors to a realm of fantasy and romance, where kings and queens once walked amidst their perfectly manicured gardens, regal summer residences, and Romanticist palaces.

ORIGINATING IN THE LATE 18TH CENTURY AS A reaction against the rationalism of the Enlightenment, the emergence of Romanticist architecture in Europe heralded a profound shift in aesthetic sensibilities. Romanticism sought to evoke a sense of awe and wonder

through architecture, drawing inspiration from the past, the natural world, and the human spirit. This in turn caused architects across the continent to more readily embrace emotion, nature, and the sublime, as central tenets of design.

Sintra provided fertile ground for the burgeoning Romanticist movement. In the early 19th century, Portuguese monarchs, inspired by the Romantic ideals sweeping across Europe, embarked on an ambitious plan to transform Sintra into a showcase of Romanticist design. Central to this vision was the construction of the Palácio

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Palácio Nacional de Sintra IMAGE: PSML LUIS DUARTE

Nacional da Pena, a fantastical fusion of architectural styles perched atop a rugged hillside overlooking the town.

COMMISSIONED BY KING FERDINAND II IN 1836, on a site that was originally a humble chapel and monastery, the palace's eclectic blend of Moorish, Gothic, and Renaissance elements epitomised the Romantic spirit of the era, its vibrant colours, intricate carvings, and lush gardens evoking a sense of otherworldly beauty. Today Pena Palace stands as a testament to the whimsical imagination of Portugal's 19th-century monarchs. Its bright façades, adorned with a kaleidoscope of colours and Moorish-inspired motifs, exude a fairytale-like charm that captivates all who visit.

Inside, within its opulent chambers, a treasure trove of period furnishings and intricate tapestries transport guests back to an era of royal opulence. And as one wanders through the palace's gardens - dotted with exotic flora, fauna and whimsical follies - magnificent 360-degree panoramas of the surrounding countryside unfold, offering a glimpse into the romantic vision that inspired this architectural marvel, and distinguished Sintra as the first center of European Romantic architecture.

www.penapalacetickets com

THE INFLUENCE OF SINTRA'S ROMANTICIST architecture soon spread throughout Europe, inspiring architects and designers to embrace the principles of Romanticism in their own work. From the Gothic Revival architecture of Great Britain to the picturesque landscapes of the Rhine Valley, the Romantic movement left an indelible mark on the architectural landscape

Sintra town viewed from Palácio Nacional de Sintra
67 THE CULTURED TRAVELLER IMAGE: PSML LUIS DUARTE
Palácio da Pena IMAGE: PSML LUIS DUARTE
SPOTLIGHT SINTRA
68
The gardens of Quinta da Regaleira

of Europe, shaping the way we perceive and experience the built environment.

In recognition of its cultural significance, Sintra was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, its unique blend of natural beauty and architectural brilliance standing as a fantastical tribute to the enduring legacy of Romanticism in European architecture. For decades now, visitors have flocked to Sintra to marvel at its bewitching palaces, verdant gardens, and spectacular vistas, experiencing first-hand the magic of Europe's first centre of Romantic architecture.

DOMINATED BY THE PALÁCIO NACIONAL DE

Sintra, the historic heart of Sintra is a collection of narrow lanes, pastel façades and terracotta roofs. The lanes are lined with market stalls selling arts, crafts, and ceramic mementos. Amble up the hill to sample a Sintra sweet speciality, a Travesseiro, from much-loved bakery, Casa Piriquita, that was founded in 1862. Dusted with sugar and filled with egg and almond cream, indulging in one of these delicate pastries is a must, especially when warm. www.piriquita.pt

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O Mundo Fantástico Sardinha Portuguesa sells Portuguese sardines in bright tins, in a store that evokes the feeling of a circus tent. www.portuguesesardine.com

A few steps away, order a Ginja shot served in a chocolate cup from a hatch that whispers hidden delights. This most Portuguese of liqueurs is made by infusing ginja berries in alcohol and adding sugar together with cloves and/or cinnamon sticks. It’s the perfect pick-me-up during a full day of sightseeing in busy Sintra! Ascend further to observe local artisans hand-painting tiles, the effervescent hues of Sintra captured in their every brushstroke.

The distinctive twin chimneys of Sintra’s National Palace, soaring skywards, have cast a silhouette against the azure sky, acted as a magnet for miles around, and inspired artists and poets for centuries. Within the palace's hallowed halls, exquisite tilework and intricately carved ceilings offer a window into the opulent lifestyle of the country's monarchs, while the Sala dos Cisnes (Swan Room) enchants with its graceful swan-themed decorations. From the grandeur of the Sala dos Brasões (Coat of Arms Room) to the intimacy of the Queen's Chamber, the National Palace of Sintra invites visitors to embark on a journey through time, where the echoes of royal majesty resonate with every step.

www.prquesdesintra.pt

OBVIOUS EVIDENCE OF THE WHIMSICAL imagination of its creator, Italian architect Luigi Manini, Quinta da Regaleira is nothing short of an architectural gem, dating back to the turn of the 20th century. Its harmonious fusion of Gothic, Renaissance, and Manueline styles, evoking an otherworldly ambiance, entrances even the most seasoned of travellers.

At its heart stands the opulent Palácio da Regaleira, adorned with intricate stonework, mystical symbols, and whimsical turrets, inviting exploration into its rich history and enigmatic symbolism. However, it is the sprawling gardens that truly steal the show, concealing a labyrinth of underground passageways, tunnels, mysterious grottoes, and ornate follies,

The palace of Quinta da Regaleira
SPOTLIGHT SINTRA
The gardens of Quinta da Regaleira The Regaleira chapel at Quinta da Regaleira
IMAGE: VISIT SINTRA BY EMIGUS SPOTLIGHT SINTRA
Palaćio Biester

A PLACE OF INSPIRATION ...

Located between Estoril and Cascais, a preferred location for many Kings and Aristocrats, for its beauty and excellent weather all year round, the hotel offers a luxurious ambient of refinement with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, with 192 rooms, including 20 suites, 2 restaurants and bar, Miragem Water Lounge with relaxation area, Spa, Health Club and a service of excellence.

Tel: (+351) 210 060 600 | www.cascaismirage.com

Av. Marginal nº 8554, 2754-536 Cascais

including the much-Instagrammed Initiation Well – a mesmerising spiral staircase descending 27 metres into the depths of the earth, symbolising a journey of enlightenment and rebirth.

Inviting intrepid souls to unravel its hidden secrets and embark upon a journey of self-discovery amidst the lush tapestry of Sintra's landscape, Quinta da Regaleira is not merely a place of immense beauty and mystery; it is a captivating canvas of esoteric wisdom.

Quinta da Regaleira is incredibly popular, so it is advisable to purchase an e-ticket to skip the queues. It’s also worth noting that whilst the last entry is at 5.30pm, the gardens are open until 7.30pm, with the Palace closing 30 minutes earlier. Early evening is the perfect time to experience the gardens’ tranquillity and capture some stunning photos. www.quintadaregaleiratickets.com

NESTLED DISCREETLY WITHIN SINTRA'S enchanting hills, Biester Palace, also known as Parque y Palacio Biester, is a quintessential example of Romanticist architecture. Only open to the public since 2022, it is where the 1999 Roman Polanski thriller The Ninth Gate was filmed, starring Johnny Depp.

Built during the last two decades of the 19th century, the Palace was designed by José Luiz Monteiro, its magnificent frescoes were the eclectic vision of Italian artist Luigi Manini, and its carvings were crafted by Leandro Braga – a renowned Portuguese master carver.

Set aside some time to explore the Palace’s impressive gardens, punctuated by several water features, their gentle sounds creating welcome moments of serenity. And don’t miss the stunning brugmansia (also known as angel's trumpet), celebrated for its large flowers and delightful fragrance.

Throughout the 19th century, the palace served as the focal point of the Biester family's social and cultural activities, symbolising their status and influence within Portuguese aristocracy. However, with the onset of the 20th century and the changing social and political

Palaćio da Pena Palácio de Monserrate
74 ISSUE 46 JUNE – AUGUST 2024 IMAGE: PSML LUIS DUARTE IMAGE: PSML LUIS DUARTE

landscape in Portugal, many aristocratic families, including the Biesters, faced challenges to their traditional way of life. Economic shifts and political upheavals prompted some families to relinquish their ancestral homes, seeking refuge abroad or downsizing to more manageable estates. Although the precise circumstances surrounding the Baron and Baroness's departure from the palace remain veiled in history, their legacy endures within the ornate halls and timeless elegance of Biester Palace, a poignant reminder of a bygone era of aristocratic finery and cultural refinement. www.biester.pt

SINTRA IS WITHOUT DOUBT A TIMELESS destination like no other, where history, beauty, and enchantment converge to create an unforgettable experience. From its ancient ruins, fairytale towers and historic palaces, to its winding cobblestone streets, leafy gardens, and abundant forests, Sintra captivates the imagination and delivers a journey through the magic of Portugal's royal past that hypnotises and inspires in equal measure.

www.parquesdesintra.pt/en

SPOTLIGHT SINTRA
75 THE CULTURED TRAVELLER

MINUTES WITH 5

What prompted you to start DJing?

A lack of female DJs behind the decks, at all the early raves and illegal parties, really annoyed me. I was in love with house music; I wanted to be a part of the scene, and I wanted to show other women that we can be DJs too.

Where are your musical roots?

I love all types of music. At the time, I was listening to Grace Jones, Kraftwerk, Human League, The Police, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and, of course, Prince.

Did any particular DJs influence your sound and sets?

Yes, I listened to the sets of soulful black DJ. Tony Humphries, Paul Trouble Anderson and Kid Batchelor were my favourites. When I discovered the harder techno sound, I Iistened to Colin Favor and Evil Eddie Richards.

When was your career break?

I had only been DJing in clubs for nine months or so, when I was booked to play at Trade at Turnmills in 1992. Trade was the UK’s first, legal afterhours club and playing there was my big break.

Favourite clubs back in the day?

Enter The Dragon, Shoom, Sunrise, Spectrum, Confusion, Jungle, The Mud Club in London, We Love at Space, Pacha, Manumission in Ibiza, Cocorico and Peter Pan in Rimini, Angels of Love in Naples, and Fluid in Milan.

How did being named DJ of the Year by DJ Magazine affect your career?

I wasn’t put on the cover of the

smokin jo

DJ SMOKIN JO BURST ONTO THE SCENE IN THE EARLY 90S, CAPTIVATING CLUBBERS WITH HER INFECTIOUS SOUND. AS ONE OF THE FIRST FEMALE DJS IN A MALE-DOMINATED INDUSTRY, SHE BLAZED A TRAIL FOR WOMEN, BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS AND CHALLENGING CONVENTIONS WITH HER FEARLESS APPROACH TO DJING, WINNING DJ MAGAZINE’S DJ OF THE YEAR AWARD IN THE PROCESS

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magazine, which was a bit upsetting, and DJ Magazine didn’t really shout about it either. But I got loads of press after winning and I was booked for lots more gigs. I also started being booked to DJ abroad and could command bigger fees. Winning helped me to be seen and made me feel like a legitimate part of the international DJ circuit.

Is it characteristic of the industry, that many years later, you are still the only female DJ to have won this coveted award?

Yes, because it is still a boys’ club. Women don’t get the same kind of adoration or fees as their male counterparts. A large proportion of women, the LGBTQ+ community, and the cooler kids, don’t really read DJ Mag and don’t vote in the Top 100, so it’s mostly white males voting, and they vote for white males. There are also very few black and brown faces in the Top 100. And the DJs that win play EDM, Trance, and big room sounds that more people listen to. Some of the best DJs that play more underground vibes don’t get voted for. It’s truly incredible that I won!

The world of DJing has long been dominated by men. Do female DJs still face discrimination and prejudice?

Yes, unfortunately they do. You only need look at social media to see the abuse that some female DJs get. If we dance, we get laughed at. If we look good, we are told we are too sexy. Often we receive comments that infer that we are not actually DJing, but faking it. I have been told by a male promoter that I hadn’t dressed-up enough and didn’t

smile enough. A man would never be told that. Female DJs also get paid less.

Do you feel that you have helped to break down barriers.

Yes, I do. Younger DJs and the new generation tell me that they look up to me. I really love that.

What would you still like to see happen? More representation and diversity in the dance music scene.

What prompted you to write your memoirs? I wanted to make sure that I was part of history, not least because women, especially black women, often get left out of history. I also wanted to show what it is like on the road: that it is not all glamour, for instance. It can be very lonely. And the temptation to indulge in drink and drugs is huge. I had a traumatic childhood, so I have always wanted to show that you can come from nothing and make good.

Was the process cathartic?

Yes, very, although I have done a lot of therapy over the years, so I had already dug deep.

Did writing You Don’t Need A Dick To DJ bring back any special memories?

It just reminded me of how crazy I was. I am so different now!

Tell us about some of the issues you have faced working as a black female DJ in a world largely dominated by straight men?

I am always expected to look good, but not

too good, so I can’t win. It’s quite tough being on the road, especially going to places in Eastern Europe or Russia, and being the only black face. Being stared at is awful and always getting stopped by customs is annoying. There are many lecherous promoters who behave really inappropriately. And unless you are a huge DJing name, like Peggy Gou or Honey Dijon, we rarely play on the main stages of major festivals, or headline. Festival line-ups still lack female representation, and the Ibiza line-ups are 95% male.

What do you hope that a reader will take away from reading your book?

The book is an honest insight to my life. Hopefully readers will find it funny, uplifting, and inspiring.

Your most memorable gig ever?

There have been so many! The nights I played at Trade, Manumission and Space were epic and brimming with incredible energy.

Your favourite London haunts to let your hair down?

These days, I love a day party, so Faith or Adonis

How does Jo relax?

younger djs and the new generation tell me that they look up to me. i really love that

Doing yoga, eating good food, watching a wonderful film, and a beach holiday with an adventure thrown-in.

Published by White Rabbit Books, You Don't Need a Dick to DJ is available in hardback and as an audio book store.hiterabbitbooks.co.uk @djsmokinjo

77 THE CULTURED TRAVELLER
INTERVIEW

SURROUNDED BY TROPICAL FORESTS, NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU VISITS

MALAYSIA'S ENERGETIC, MULTICULTURAL METROPOLITAN MELTING POT

KUALA

MALAYSIA’S SIZZLING

CAPITAL IN THE JUNGLE LUMPUR

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KL Tower
The Petronas Towers' Skybridge

VIBRANT CITY DEFTLY STRADDLING ITS OLD colonial past, modern-day architecture and cutting-edge technologies, while charmingly fusing Oriental traditions and European influences, Malaysia's throbbing capital is unique amongst its Southeast Asian peers, in that it is more welcoming, culturally diverse and embracing of international travellers.

ONE GETS AN INKLING ABOUT THE MALAYSIAN capital's unique juxtaposition between the tropics and a metropolitan hub before exiting the airport, for a feature of KLIA is a section of rainforest, literally transplanted from the jungles of Sepang. This includes a jungle boardwalk that traverses the space between the satellite terminal and the main terminal building. Is it an airport in the forest or a forest in the airport? Either way, this lushness in the midst of one of the most prominent airports in the region, coupled with a striking combination of sleek architecture and rich local culture, sets the tone for visitors arriving in KL for the first time. Bedecked with tumbling planting and lush botanicals, the mass of greenery hints at the tropical climate and warm Malaysian welcome awaiting travellers past the Arrivals Hall.

ONCE A SOMEWHAT SHY AND SELF-CONTAINED trading post for merchants hailing from all over the globe, KL has really come into its own in the past decade or so, shaped by everyone from British colonists and Indian migrants to Chinese tin miners and rich oil barons. All helped to fashion this sultry, noisy capital in the jungle, and each has left its indelible mark on its streets,

from crumbling architecture and soaring skyscrapers, to sparkling shopping malls and historic museums brimming with antiquities.

COURTESY OF A PRE-PANDEMIC DRIVE BY Tourism Malaysia to grow KL into a global destination in its own right, not to mention a worthwhile stopover for travellers en route to Penang, Langkawi, Borneo, and Australasia, today, the Malaysian capital is one of Asia's biggest crossroads for tourists, hosts visitors year-round for city breaks, and there is plenty to keep people entertained.

FOR THOSE TRAVELLING WITH A NORMAL amount of luggage, the KLIA Ekspres is by far the fastest and most convenient way of swiftly covering the 75 kilometres from the airport to the city centre, running non-stop between terminals 1 and 2 and KL Sentral station in roughly half an hour. For those with multiple checked-in bags, the train’s VIP door-to-door service buys you a meet-and-greet in the baggage hall, a porter to do the lifting and accompany you onboard the KLIA Ekspres, a priority seat on the train, and an executive vehicle to drop you at your accommodation (RM 155). Since Kuala Lumpur's streets are often gridlocked, especially during paralysing rush hours, taking the KLIA Ekspres is essentially a no-brainer.

https://kliaekspres.com

IF IT’S YOUR FIRST TIME IN THE MALAYSIAN capital, buy a 24-hour hop-on-hop-off bus ticket to get your bearings, even if you don’t get off at all. The best is KL

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The SkyBox at KL Tower

CITY FOCUS KUALA LUMPUR

Hop On Hop Off, which also offers a night tour http://myhoponhopoff.com/kl . On days when the traffic is at a standstill, and assuming that heights are not an issue, getting above the city and seeing KL for the first time from the iconic Petronas Towers, is a spectacular way to kick-off your visit.

LONG BEFORE THE WORLD'S TALLEST BUILDING, Burj Khalifa, was even an idea in the minds of Dubai's urban planners, César Pelli's gleaming 452-metre Petronas Towers were some of the tallest buildings on the planet. Dominating the skyline, the towers have now shined above Kuala Lumpur for just over three decades. The view from the Skybridge that links the towers is breathtaking and will give you an immediate feel for the sprawling and varied cityscape beneath you, including where all the major areas lie. These include Little India to the north, near Chow Kit station; Merdeka Square in

the old colonial quarter, and Chinatown, east of the Lake Gardens area. All of the city's main neighbourhoods are visible from atop the Petronas Towers, making KLCC, the heart of Kuala Lumpur, the perfect place to kick-off a KL immersion. https://petronastwintowers.com.my

FOR AN ALTOGETHER DIFFERENT LOFTY experience, visit revolving Aras Restaurant, 282 metres up the landmark KL Tower, where an array of local cuisine presented buffet style is complemented by panoramic 360-degree vistas of the skyline.

https://araskltower.com

Certainly not for the faint-hearted and a little higher up, at 300 metres above the ground, the tower’s glass Sky Box extends outwards for those who enjoy a thrill with their sightseeing. It’s even possible to walk around the edge of the tower, on a glass ledge, while harnessed to the building. www.menarakl.com.my

Perdana Putra, the Prime Minister's office

AFTER ORIENTATING YOURSELF, HAVE A QUICK wander around one of the city's vast refrigerated malls, to get a sense of how much global commerce is pivotal to the economy of the Malaysian capital. The largest is Suria KLCC, at the base of the Petronas Towers, which is home to a cinema and concert hall as well as hoards of shops and food outlets. Less touristy is Pavilion, which is an altogether more pleasurable retail experience, in the heart of Bukit Bintang district, complete with great people watching. Pavilion is also home to an array of dining options, one of the most popular being Madame Kwans. https://pavilion-kl.com

Something of a KL culinary legend, Kwan Swee Lian has been serving her customers vibrant Malaysian fare since 1977 and has dedicated her life to this culinary cause, delivering hawker and wok-themed dishes in the comfort of a café-style restaurant. Everything is delicious,

very reasonably priced, and delivered to the table at lightning speed, making Madam Kwan’s perfect for a swift lunchtime pit stop. www.madamkwans.com.my

IN THE TROPICAL HEAT, AND AMIDST THE chaotic roads and three-lane highways (which often appear to spring from nowhere), you'll need patience and plenty of chilled beverages to do any walking in KL. But if you keep things simple, stay hydrated and hop in and out of cabs from time-to-time to regroup, a day out and about in the city, with no fixed agenda, can be fun. If you haven’t already pre-loaded your phone with an eSIM, SIM cards are easy to buy and Uber works well in KL.

START AT MERDEKA SQUARE, IN THE CENTRE of the city. Close to the Gombak River, Central Market, China Town and Jamek Mosque, the square is at the

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core of KL's past and is bordered by a number of notable buildings, including the Royal Selangor Club, the beautiful, Moorish, copper dome-topped Sultan Abdul Samad Building, and the National History Museum. A 100-metre flagpole close to the museum, marks the spot where the Malayan flag was hoisted on 31st August 1957, signifying the country's independence from British rule. Learn about the city's history at the excellent City Gallery at the southern end of the square, then head east, over the Klang River, towards Jalan Masjid India. www.klcitygallery.com

THE INDIAN COMMUNITY ACCOUNTS FOR around 10 percent of the nation's total population. When they arrived in the country, not only did they bring their culture, but also beautiful temples, delicious cuisine and rich garments.

ONE OF THE OLDEST PARTS OF THE CITY, JALAN Masjid India, or Little India as it is affectionately known, is the community's original shopping area, that dates back more than a century. Gritty steam-table joints alternate with groceries peddling papaya-tomato soap, while spices waft along with tabla rhythms, and the range of multi-coloured embroidered textiles often outdoes the tropical sunset. Not to be missed is the eyecatching Masjid Jamek Mosque, built in 1870.

A FEW HUNDRED METRES WALK FROM LITTLE India, the Art Deco-façaded Central Market, also known as Pasar Seni, was built in 1928 and is today one of the city's most familiar landmarks. The building used to be a simple wet market until it was revamped in the early 1980s into a handicraft centre. Now the focal point for the city’s artistic community, inside the building is a rabbit warren of boutiques, handicraft and souvenir stalls, with

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traders selling local merchandise including Malaysian batik prints, alongside portraitists and street artists, a smattering of eateries, and an alternative free space for the arts in the annex. https://centralmarket.com.my

A short walk along Jalan Hang Kasturi from Central Market, you’ll come to China Town's Petaling Street. Unless you're in the market for fake goods, most of what's on sale here won't interest you, but some of the hawker stalls do serve scrummy street food that’s definitely worth sampling if you're peckish.

From Petaling Street, jump in a taxi for the 10-15-minute ride to KL's central Lake Gardens. A verdant relic of British rule, the gardens are pleasantly devoid of concrete and steel and feel much like an urban

haven. After a leisurely turn around Perdana Lake, stroll to the gigantic, walk-through, free-flight public aviary, known as KL Bird Park. It is Asia’s largest. www.klbirdpark.com

FIVE MINUTES AWAY, THE CITY'S LARGEST and most peaceful place of worship, Masjid Negara, the country's 15,000-capacity National Mosque, is worth seeing for its stunning modernist architecture alone. Built in 1965 in honour of Malaysia gaining independence from Great Britain without any bloodshed in 1957, in between prayers, appropriately dressed tourists can explore this monument to modern Malaysian religion, where Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism thrive side-by-side.

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Murugan guards the entrance to the Batu Caves

END YOUR DAYTIME OF DISCOVERY IN AIRY white splendour, in the peaceful surroundings of the outstanding Islamic Arts Museum, five minutes up the hill from the National Mosque. Housing ancient artifacts from China, Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East and Iran, the building is home to one of the best collections of Islamic decorative arts in the world, including fabulous textiles, carpets, jewellery and calligraphy-inscribed pottery. There's also a rather good Middle Eastern restaurant, and the city’s best museum gift shop. https://iamm.org.my

IF YOU HAVE TIME TO VENTURE A LITTLE OUT of the city, a visit to the Batu Caves, 13 kilometres north of the centre of KL, is most certainly worthwhile. Watch native monkeys make light work of the cliffs, as you climb the 272 colourful steps towards the entrance to a complex of limestone caves said to be 400 million years old, plus Hindu temples and religious grottoes, and a show-stopping view of KL's skyline. Presided over by a giant 42-metre golden statue of the deity Murugan, the site is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, and the focal point of the annual festival of Thaipusam, when celebrations take place on a supremely grand scale. www.batucaves.com

BEING A LIVELY MELTING POT OF ASIAN cultures and traditions, eating-out in Kuala Lumpur is diverse, to say the least. Jalan Alor is one of the most famous food roads in Kuala Lumpur and is home a multitude of street stalls serving many dishes that cannot be found in the city's fashion-conscious eateries. Being an immigrant city, the variety of food available in Jalan Alor is astonishing. Start with some skewers of octopus and chicken at Fat Brother Satay, and then move along to Cu Cha for some tasty Chinese pork belly.

DESPITE BEING A MUSLIM COUNTRY, FOR those whose appetites for fun rise once the sun has set, Kuala Lumpur has plenty of late-night venues, ranging from cocktail bars, swishy rooftops and speakeasies, to DJ bars and world-class nightclubs. From Bangsar's bars to Bukit Bintang's see-and-be-seen nightclubs, there's no shortage of happening haunts to visit on a big night out. With a menu focusing on indigenous and sustainable ingredients, Bar Trigona produces artfully handcrafted cocktails served in a chic, upscale space, and has been named The Best Bar in Malaysia on numerous occasions. Helmed by head bartender Rohan Matmary, the bar has an established relationship with Malaysian farmers, who supply the finest produce for its creative and patriotic drinks programme. www.fourseasons.com/kualalumpur

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Islamic Arts Museum Jalan Alor
CITY FOCUS KUALA LUMPUR
Lake Gardens KL Bird Park

TO ENJOY THE SUN SETTING ON THE Petronas Towers from the city's best vantage point, make your way to Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur by ShangriLa – which is within walking distance of both KLCC and Bukit Bintang – and head up to SkyBar on the 33rd floor. You'll need to reserve to get a good table for sundowners, but it will be well worth the forward planning! +60 3 2332 9911

IN A CITY WHERE MONKEYS SCAMPER CLOSE to skyscrapers and a boa constrictor can just as easily slither across a palm-lined highway as a Rolls Royce, Kuala Lumpur is unique in that it not only offers something for everyone in its vivacious concoction of cultures, but also provides space to breathe, contemplate and relish, in amongst its exotic and energetic urban mélange.

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The Petronas Towers

THE RUMA HOTEL & RESIDENCES

7 JALAN KIA PENG, KUALA LUMPUR

LOCATED IN ONE OF THE FEW REMAINING POCKETS OF serenity in Kuala Lumpur, on the edge of Bukit Bintang, five minutes’ walk from KLCC and the Petronas Towers, The RuMa Hotel & Residences is a veritable urban retreat which is perfect positioned to explore everything that the buzzing Malaysian capital has to offer.

Moody and unassuming from the outside, it’s not until you enter the building that the hotel’s slick design and sharp detailing are evident. Designed by British architect and interior designer, Andy Hall, the property takes its design cues from the rise of Kuala Lumpur’s tin mining industry in the mid 19th century, and the development of rubber plantations in Selangor in the early 20th century. Seamlessly blending old world colonial charm and stateof-the-art technologies across its 18 floors, the overall design is warm, chic and inviting, with copper featuring prominently throughout, together with clever references to tin mining. Indeed, it’s no coincidence that the hotel is situated on tree-lined Jalan Kia Peng, which is named after Taiping-born tin miner Choo Kia Peng. And the first space guests enter on street level, is a dramatic antechamber known as “The Bird Cage”, which pays tribute to the practice of using caged canaries to detect the toxicity of air in tin mines.

Once through the dramatic lobby – with its curvaceous copper lines and theatrical double staircase – an array of leisure facilities and drinking and dining options are liberally distributed throughout the lower floors of the building. These include a full-service spa, a well-equipped gym, a Truefitt & Hill barber shop, an inviting lounge and sundeck, and a cantilevered, glass-

edged pool that juts out from a corner of the building, six storeys above the streets below. Not to be missed is a contemporary Asian meal at ATAS, the hotel’s all-day-dining restaurant, which morphs into a sophisticated eatery in the evenings, complete with exceptional fare courtesy of chef Arvind Jeyaratnam. If you have time, order the “Flavours of Home” tasting menu with paired wines, and you’ll not be disappointed.

Upstairs, some 253 rooms and suites of varying sizes are located between the 7th and 18th floors. Most have rainforest showers and deep freestanding tubs. Many enjoy dramatic unobstructed views of the Petronas Towers, which lends a special sense of place to KL stay. Choose a corner studio on a high floor, with views of the Towers, and you'll have the perfect base in Kuala Lumpur. https://theruma.com

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a complete greek island experience

LADEN WITH ARCHAEOLOGICAL TREASURES, ANCIENT RUINS, FAMILY-RUN WINERIES AND GASTRONOMIC DELIGHTS, DANIELLA

GEORGIOU VISITS THE LARGEST OF THE DODECANESE ISLANDS

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ISLAND HOPPING RHODES

Located northeast of Crete and southeast of Athens, 250 kilometres from the Greek mainland, the Dodecanese comprise 12 larger and 150 smaller islands of which Rhodes is the largest. Dubbed “The Island of the Knights” after the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, who occupied it from 1309 until 1523, having lost their last stronghold in Palestine, Rhodes has a long and impressive history which dates back millennia, and is a place where strong medieval aspects blend with Greek traditions. Pindar and other ancient poets wrote about Rhodes in their manuscripts. The island’s origins are connected to a divine myth about Zeus and sungod Helios. And the island was once famous far and wide for its huge bronze statue of Helios, known as

the “Colossus of Rhodes”, which stood by the entrance to the main harbour from 280 BC for five decades, and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. According to most present-day descriptions, the Colossus stood 33 metres high, which is approximately the same height as the modern Statue of Liberty. It collapsed during an earthquake in 226 BC.

AN ISLAND OF VIVID CONTRASTS, TODAY

Rhodes offers an enticing combination of ancient history and modern style, pristine sandy beaches and soaring mountains, all contained within a relatively compact package brimming with archaeological treasures and historic ruins at every turn. Rhodes is also served by its own established international airport, which is very well connected to the rest of Europe.

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Mandaki Harbour
ISLAND HOPPING RHODES
Fort of St Nicholas, Mandaki Harbour

IN STARK CONTRAST TO GREECE’S MORE showy islands, Rhodes is laidback, carefree and unpretentious, making it the perfect place to unwind, relax, wear what you like, and truly enjoy a peaceful holiday. And because there are few places in Rhodes for the super-rich to hang out, food and drink prices are not inflated, eating out doesn’t cost a fortune, and even top end cuisine is very reasonably priced.

RHODES IS ALSO ONE OF FEW GREEK ISLANDS to combine a multitude of diverse cultures, with Byzantine, Frankish, Arabic, Ottoman and Gothic buildings standing side-by-side. Beautiful mosques, serene churches and elegant stone mansions make for a very appealing architectural landscape. Nowhere is this more evident than then island’s spectacular old town of grandiose buildings and winding cobbled streets, much of whose true beauty lies hidden in plain sight.

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Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes

PREMIUM FEEL YOU WANT

WWW.SIXT.GR

WHEN THE ORDER OF ST JOHN OF JERUSALEM occupied Rhodes for just over two centuries, it set about transforming the city into a stronghold. With its Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes (also known as the Kastello), the Great Hospital and the Street of the Knights, the Upper Town is one of the most beautiful urban ensembles of the Gothic period. In the Lower Town, Gothic architecture coexists with mosques, public baths and other buildings dating from the Ottoman period. Both areas are a delightful place to intentionally lose one’s bearings and amble for a while. Tread the quiet cobbled backstreets of Ippokratous and Omirou and you’ll chance upon a number of small shops selling beautiful antiques and exquisite woven rugs, alongside local artisans producing ceramic bowls and handmade jewellery. If you have a sweet tooth, this is place to try Melekouni Made with sesame, almonds and honey, it is the traditional sweet of Rhodes.

NESTLED WITHIN THE FORTIFIED WALLS OF Rhodes' medieval town and one of the few examples of Gothic architecture in Greece, the Knights Palace

RHODES
ISLAND HOPPING
Ippokrátous Square Temple of Apollo

stands as a timeless testament to the island's storied past. Originally constructed in the 14th century by the Knights, this formidable edifice served as the seat of their governance and the epicentre of their crusading endeavours. Today, its imposing walls and intricate battlements evoke a sense of awe and reverence, drawing visitors into a bygone era of chivalry and valour.

Within its hallowed halls, a treasure trove of historical artefacts and architectural wonders await, offering a glimpse into the illustrious history of the Order of the Knights Hospitaller. From the grandeur of the Grand Master's Chamber to the solemn beauty of the Chapel of Saint John, each room tells a tale of conquest and devotion, inviting travellers to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of Rhodes' cultural heritage. As the sun sets over the tranquil waters of the Aegean Sea, the Knights Palace stands as a living testament to the enduring spirit of this timeless island.

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Melekouni The ancient city of Kamiros, located in the northwest of Rhodes

BEING ONE OF THE LARGER GREEK ISLANDS in the Aegean, in order to properly explore Rhodes’ undiscovered beauty, its best to hire a car and head to the winding roads on the west coast. Lined with pine trees and giving way to an air of peaceful and rugged charm, this part of the island offers a multitude of breathtaking views. Be sure to make a pit stop at the ancient city of Kamiros, located at the foot of

Akramytis Mountain. One of Rhodes’ three large Doric cities, a few hours spent exploring this archaeological site makes for a fascinating interlude, and the panoramas of nearby Ayios Minas beach are simply wonderful.

FOR SOME TASTY, TRADITIONAL GREEK FOOD, head to the mountain village of Embonas, which is famous for its hearty meat stewed in clay pots.

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Old town

The highest village on the island, encircled by verdant valleys and forests of pine and cypress trees, Embonas remains fairly untouched by tourism and the local folk are focused on keeping time-honoured crafts and traditions alive. The village is also surrounded by lush vineyards, and some very palatable local wines are produced using grapes grown nearby. So don’t leave the area without visiting a family-owned winery and sampling some Rhodian wine, with the white varieties of Athiri, Malagousia, and Muscat, and red Mavrothiriko, being some of the island’s most popular.

Wine production on Rhodes dates back to the 7th century BC, with archaeological finds and historical proof attesting to the importance of Rhodian amphorae in transporting wine across the sea. A precursor to the

appellation of origin system established centuries later in Europe, Rhodian wine was distinguished by an engraving of a rose or of Helios (the sun god).

Perched on the slopes of Mount Ataviros in the heart of Rhodes’ wine region, not far from Embonas, Alexandris Family Winery was founded in 1968 and produces some very interesting wines under the direction of third-generation winemaker, Panayiotis Alexandris. The vineyard’s four hectares are cultivated organically and produce just 20,000 bottles per year.

Aged examples of its own-rooted Athiri, from an altitude of 700 metres, matured for 11 months on the lees, are more powerful than one would expect from this grape variety, with an intense smokiness and a long aftertaste. @alexandris.winery

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Lindos Bay

RHODES BOASTS AN ARRAY OF EXQUISITE beaches that epitomise the island's allure and charm.

A combination of emerald waters, golden sands and wild landscapes make the beaches on the island’s east side rather special. For some quiet time, Ladiko may just be just a tiny cove, but offers everything one could possibly desire for a peaceful beach day, including a good family-run taverna.

Nestled beneath the cliffs of Tsambika Mountain, the idyllic stretch of Tsambika Beach – with its powdery sands and crystal-clear turquoise waters – positively beckons sunseekers to relax amidst its breathtakingly serene and secluded surroundings.

Meanwhile, Anthony Quinn Bay exudes an air of exoticism and intrigue, named after the legendary actor

HOPPING RHODES
ISLAND
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Anthony Quinn Bay

who fell in love with its pristine shores while filming The Guns of Navarone. Enclosed by dramatic cliffs and lush vegetation, this secluded cove boasts emerald waters teeming with vibrant marine life, providing first-class snorkelling for those who don’t wish to spend all day on a lounger. The bay is also home to one of Rhodes’ most beautiful beaches, and its tranquil waters owe their deep emerald colour to the lush surrounding vegetation. Because the rocks going into the water can be a little tricky to navigate, Anthony Quinn is mostly popular with a younger crowd.

Post sun-worshipping, Ronda on Elli Beach offers a bouncy ambiance and superb service. A row of supercomfy sunbeds line the beach in front of Ronda, where you can snack on fresh sushi while sipping handcrafted cocktails, or grab a table in the restaurant and enjoy a delicious, full-on gastronomic feast. https://ronda.gr

ALMOST CERTAINLY ONE OF THE ISLAND’S archeological stars, perched majestically atop a rocky promontory overlooking the expansive Aegean Sea, Lindos Village and its acropolis are one of the most important cities of ancient Greece, dating back centuries before the fabled Acropolis of Athens was built.

Characterised by quaint, narrow streets and labyrinthine alleys pebbled in black-and-white chochlaki, which invite visitors to wander through whitewashed buildings adorned with vibrant bougainvillea, the village is overlooked by the Lindos Acropolis – an ancient citadel steeped in myth and history.

To behold the remnants of a bygone era, ascend the stone steps, worn smooth by centuries of footsteps, to the dramatic Temple of Athena Lindia, its weathered columns bearing witness to the passage of time. Beyond the temple, the Acropolis reveals a mosaic of

Doris Temple of Athena Lindia
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architectural marvels, from the imposing Hellenistic stoa to the Byzantine chapel of Agios Ioannis, each structure further evidence of the island's rich cultural heritage and the enduring legacy of Greek antiquity.

IN THE HEART OF LINDOS VILLAGE, unpretentiously sitting amongst the touristy shops and bars, is the standout restaurant of AKRES, helmed by husband and wife team Ilias Marinakis and Nektaria Lampi, under the watchful eye of patriarch Filimonas Ioannidis. While a raised terrace out front, which seats about a dozen people, is a cool place to share a few dishes and sip wine whilst observing the hustle and bustle, the real business of eating happens on AKRES’ alfresco roof terrace, in the shadow of Lindos’ spectacularly lit acropolis. Don’t miss the Lindian baby shrimps, squid ink cuttlefish risotto, and soupiorizo, leaving space for a few spoonfuls of mantinades filled with a heavenly galaktoboureko cream and garnished with mastic. https://akreslindos.com/en

Ronda AKRES AKRES Tsambika Beach
ISLAND HOPPING RHODES

LOCATED AT THE ISLAND’S NORTHERN TIP.

Rhodes’ new town has a much more contemporary feel by comparison to Lindos. Over the past few years, a smattering of hip bars and fashionable restaurants have opened, and a selection of upscale boutiques cater to the more jet set. Close by, on a hill overlooking Rhodes City, while few remains of the ancient acropolis survive today, to provide an idea of its original grandeur, the site is still worth visiting before leaving the island. The four, huge remaining

columns of the Temple of Apollo look particularly stunning at sunset.

WHETHER YOU’RE A CULTURE VULTURE, oenophile or gourmand, keen on archaeology, enjoy spending time outdoors amongst nature, or simply love the sun, sand and sea, Rhodes offers pretty much everything a seasoned traveller could possibly wish for to enjoy a divine, laidback, Greek island sojourn without breaking the bank.

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SINGING FROM A DIFFERENT HYMN SHEET

THE PASSIONATE LEEDS-BORN MULTI GRAMMY AWARDWINNING BRITISH SINGER-SONGWRITER AND MUSICIAN, CHATS WITH THE CULTURED TRAVELLER ABOUT GROWING UP IN LEEDS AND HER LATEST ALBUM, WHICH IS SOMETHING OF A CREATIVE DEPARTURE

& NIGHT LIFE
MUSIC

BORN IN LEEDS, WEST

Yorkshire to a Kittitian father and an English mother, Corinne Bailey

Rae is the eldest of three daughters and began her musical career at school, where she studied classical violin before turning her attention to the guitar and singing. Performing in the local Baptist church broadened Rae’s musical horizons, and her love affair with making music was solidified after a local youth leader offered to buy her first guitar. In her mid-teens, she became obsessed with rock legends Nirvana

and Led Zeppelin, and formed an all-female indie group called Helen, which was inspired by similar acts such as Veruca Salt and L7. The group played many gigs around Leeds and was the first indie act to be signed in 1995 to heavy metal label, Roadrunner Records. Unfortunately, Helen was to be short-lived, leaving Rae time to attend the University of Leeds.

Rae’s self-titled debut album was a UK number 1, gave her the global hits Put Your Records On and Like a Star, and prompted three Grammy nominations.

there was always music playing in our house. the music was on when my mum cleaned and my parents listened to music at the weekends

Over the course of her career, Rae has released a total of four critically acclaimed studio albums and earned two Grammy awards and two MOBOs, as well as being nominated for multiple other accolades.

Her second album, The Sea (2010) was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize. The subsequent EP Is This Love won Rae a Grammy for Best R&B Performance.

Rae’s 2016 studio album, The Heart Speaks In Whispers was described as “boundarydefying, epic music” (NPR) and “the best R&B of 2016” (The Guardian).

Released on 15th September 2023, Rae’s fourth studio album, Black Rainbows, is something of a creative departure, in that her personal experiences are not the subject of the songs. Black Rainbows also marks Rae’s first foray into the independent sector, working with Nashville label, Thirty Tigers. www.corinebaileyrae.com

Tell us about your childhood in Leeds.

I remember my childhood fondly. My dad hails from the Caribbean, his family lived a few miles from us, and we were always in and out of each other’s houses. I attended a small, local school which only had one intake each year. I grew up around a lot of my friends in the mainly white suburb of Moortown, close to a huge park called Roundhay Park, which was our summer playground and a big feature of my childhood. The park’s botanical gardens, tropical bird house, and boating lake didn’t feel like being in a city at all. The school’s apiarist used to give us honey, and newly hatched goslings, bantams and ducklings would often run around the house during the holidays. I loved putting them in the paddling pool and generally looking after them.

What were your first musical experiences?

There was always music playing in our house. The music was on when my mum cleaned the house and my parents listened to music at the weekends. My dad collected funk and he kept a big stack of 45s next to the record player. They were all in cardboard sleeves with no pictures on, with nothing to giveaway what was inside, so I was always intrigued. I made a separate record pile of the songs I really liked. My dad had albums too and I often listened to Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through The Secret Life of Plants, Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall, and Graceland by Paul Simon.

Was your family supportive of your musical endeavours?

Yes, they were incredibly supportive, including driving me around to attend a multitude of after-school clubs, and leaving me to my own musical devices, rather than meddle in my activities, like many other parents did.

Music always felt like my thing. I was part of a choir and an orchestra, practised music theory, and played instruments. When I had some downtime, I would practice, go see a concert, check-out a new band, stand outside somebody’s trumpet lesson or watch the woodwind band rehearse. When you walked down the main corridor of my school, music literally poured out of the rooms and it was a place where kids could create or be anything. As a youngster, I was around a lot of really capable and musical children, which I believe really helped me.

The first instrument you played?

I started with the recorder, which many kids often do. Then I played the glockenspiel in a school concert, before getting into the violin, for which I took lessons. Violin became my main instrument, and I often played in orchestras and met lots of people that way. I always love being part of big performances. When my sister began learning classical guitar at school, I became really interested. Suddenly the guitar had more pull than the violin, so I would often borrow my sister’s and start finding my way around the instrument. Before long, I was able to play the guitar.

Which groups or singers did you listen to back then?

When I was young, I listened to my parents’ music and watched whatever was on Top of the Pops. I liked Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Mariah Carey. Naturally my musical tastes changed in my teenage years, especially once I discovered Nirvana, whose music was so different to the music we made at school.

111 THE CULTURED TRAVELLER MUSIC & NIGHT LIFE INTERVIEW IMAGE: REBECCA HULL IMAGE: GREGORY BERG

Over and over again, I used to watch Kurt Cobain's hands on an unplugged MTV show that my best friend recorded from the TV. I could hear what the guitar was doing, what the bass was doing, and what the drums were doing. This really opened-up a whole new world of music for me, and watching Nirvana helped me create a blueprint for making music myself. Then I got into American indie rock bands, including Belly, Veruca Salt, and Hole, and singer-songwriter Juliana Hatfield’s really personal and seemingly simple music.

The local Baptist church played a big role in your formative musical years?

I was a member of the nice, middle-class Moortown Baptist Church, and part of Revive, which was a fresh expression of church started by maverick youth leader, Simon Hall, who had studied philosophy and theology at Oxford. He had a liberal and intellectual approach that I don't think the church was that keen on, but he was a big influence. He encouraged the young people in Revive to write our own songs, provided me with my first guitar, introduced me to Led Zeppelin and Radiohead, and gave me the first Björk album. Some of my first recordings were on the Revive albums Beautiful Day and Neither Work Nor Leisure. Being part

my first time playing glastonbury was also my first time going to glastonbury, which was amazing

of Revive was empowering and undoubtedly widened my perspective of the church and religion.

Tell us about your first band?

In 1994, at the age of 15, I formed an all-female rock group called Helen. We played constantly on the local indie scene and often entered band competitions, sometimes coming second, sometimes winning. We cobbled together the money to make demos and distributed them. People would either be excited and invite us to play at a festival, or we would not hear back, which was quite a lengthy and emotional process. But I met loads of musicians and Helen was eventually signed to metal label Roadrunner. When our bass player became pregnant, and another member began to suffer from stage fright, unfortunately the band disbanded. By then, I had met my manager, Bob Miller, who was keen for me to strike out on my own.

After taking an English degree at Leeds University, I started working in the cloakroom of a jazz and soul club called The Underground, sometimes sitting in on vocals with the resident band.

And your first record deal?

In 2003, I travelled to London to sign a solo publishing deal, and then record my first album, funded by

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Good Groove production company, which was run by former Radio 1 DJ, Gary Davies, together his brother, entertainment lawyer Mark Davies.

Your first album debuted at number one and spawned global hits including Put Your Records On and Like a Star . Was the sudden success manageable?

I honestly just felt really, really lucky. Little changed in terms of work, because I had worked hard for success. But all of a sudden, it felt like literally everyone knew about me, including the BBC, Mary J Blige, and even Stevie Wonder! Before, Corinne Bailey Rae, the only people that knew about me were those I had seen in front of me at a pub or a festival.

Alongside Amy Winehouse, you were very much the pop voice of 2006. Did that feel strange?

It honestly felt like the water was rising and taking me up with it, for which I was very grateful, enjoyed everything, was able to be really present, and I was happy being busy and playing at so many incredible venues. Flying on a private jet, performing on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and singing with John Legend on the Grammys all felt like part of a ride.

Did you enjoy headlining the Jazz World stage at Glastonbury in 2007?

That was a total thrill for me, not least because I had always said that I wouldn’t go to Glastonbury until I could play the festival. As the years passed and I wasn’t invited, I wondered whether I would ever go. So my first time playing Glastonbury was also my first time going to Glastonbury, which was amazing. I was so high after my performance, and after two extended meet-and-greet signings, that I literally leapt in the air after coming off stage.

You won your first Grammy awards in your 20s. How did that feel?

It was brilliant when I was invited to be at the Grammy announcements in 2007. I believed that I was only there to read out award nominees. But during the proceedings, Justin Timberlake announced that I had been nominated for Best New Artist, Song Of The Year, and Record Of

The Year. At that moment, I was just so surprised that I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. The following year, at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards, I won a Grammy for Record Of The Year for River with Herbie Hancock, for which I was extremely honoured.

After your hugely successful first album, the pressure to write new smash-hit material must have been overwhelming?

I honestly didn’t feel pressured. But I did I want to play more guitar on my second album, and create something a little more aggressive, so I began in that direction, and the record was more indie than my first album. While I was making the album, my first husband died, and so the songs on the second half of the record are very much reflective of that experience. I had a really good A&R person called Matthew Rumbold and my label was really understanding, sensitive, and supportive in terms of the song selection and how we released them etcetera. After Jason’s death, I guess the label was happy that I was making music.

It is such a heartfelt album. From the darkest of places, following the sudden death of your husband, where did you find the strength to create The Sea?

After the release of my first album, my music became my profession and the focus of my life. Finishing the record, after the death of Jason, gave me something to do and give attention to. It was also really healing for me. When The Sea came out in 2010, it was good to get out on tour and perform, and it was really enjoyable to bring the songs to life and be in different venues, seeing peoples’ reactions. I felt like the audiences were really receptive. So, yes, it was a really difficult time, but it was also a really good time as well.

Throughout your career, have you made decisions based on business, creativity, or a bit of both?

I have generally made really creative decisions, occasionally to the detriment of the business side of my career. For instance, I've turned down tours with people who it would have been beneficial to tour with, but I was probably in the studio at the time. When I'm writing or recording,

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MUSIC & NIGHT LIFE

INTERVIEW

I'm so focused that I don't want to be pulled away for weeks. Some artists leave the writing to other people and then add their vocals. But I write, produce and greatly enjoy the creative process. This may mean it takes longer to make a new record, which is perhaps not so sensible in the fast consumerist world we live in today. But to me, I’d be missing out on all the fun if I didn’t write and produce my own music.

You were very much the focus of your first three albums. How easy was it to write songs about your experiences, relationships and feelings?

So far, there has been enough time between albums for me to essentially forget how it works. I was emotionally involved when I wrote the songs. Then I recorded them. And then I needed to talk about some of the events surrounding the songs. I left enough out of the songs for myself, if that makes sense, so that when someone asked me what a song was about, I could tell them, comfortable in the knowledge that there’s more that I haven’t made so public and is private to me. On the whole, I think it's good to be vulnerable in music so that other people can relate to and engage with it. And when you’re the writer, you can decide what is revealed, how it is revealed, and what is not revealed.

How has the music industry changed, for you, since releasing Corinne Bailey Rae in 2006? Do you like the way music is consumed today?

One of the most difficult things for artists today is how to get paid for their work. Writing and producing music and releasing our work is really just the beginning. Loads of people getting into our music doesn't necessarily pay the bills, as it did two decades ago, for instance. When people wanted to hear my music in 2006, they had to wait for it to be played on the radio or go to a shop and buy a physical copy of the album.

A decent chunk of what was paid went straight to the artist and the consumer had the music forever. This was a straightforward way of consuming music. Everything is different now, not least, the revenue that an artist receives is a thin stream of money. This means that artists often have to look for other sources of income, such as sponsorships.

It must be tough juggling life as a wife, mother and touring singer-songwriter?

I think anyone who's got children has a hard time keeping everything going, even more so for parents who work. I think parents need to work out how much time they spend with their kids, and how much time they work. I feel really lucky because our kids get to travel with us, so we get to see them.

Your favourite hotel on the planet?

The Royal Hawaiian on the island of Oahu. It's pink, it’s grand, it's right on Waikiki Beach and it’s open on one side towards the ocean, so when you're checking-in and frazzled after the journey and life in general, the sea breezes wafting through the building remind you that serious relaxation is coming.

Inspired by art and your discoveries at the historic Stony Island Arts Bank in Chicago, your fourth album, Black Rainbows, is quite a departure. What prompted the artistic leap?

I originally made Black Rainbows as a side project. The album was very freeing and different to make because I was not writing about myself, like all of my previous records had been. I was in this new building – the Stony Island Arts Bank – and I responded musically to the artefacts, the events, and the happenings, all archived within the building. The record was made completely independently, and then I approached my new Nashville label, Thirty Tigers, about releasing it.

What was the difference working with Thirty Tigers?

The great thing about working with an independent label is that you can do what you want to do and be more open creatively.

What’s next for Corinne Bailey Rae?

I'll be spending the rest of 2024 touring Black Rainbows with a really dynamic band, so we can improvise and be responsive in the moment, at the various venues we’ll be playing in Brazil, China, across the United States and around Europe.

Corinne Bailey Rae will be performing in Rotterdam this summer at the North Sea Jazz Festival alongside Raye, Sting, Mahalia, Jamie Cullum and more. www.northseajazz.com

The
Royal Hawaiian Hotel
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i have generally made really creative decisions, occasionally to the detriment of the business side of my career

IMAGE: ULRIKE RINDERMAN

the fashion phenomenon’s lasting effect

ADRIAN GIBSON  CHARTS THE RISE AND FALL OF THE BRAND THAT REVOLUTIONISED FASHION IN THE 1960S AND 1970S, AND IS TODAY THE SUBJECT OF A SELL-OUT EXHIBITION AT LONDON’S FASHION AND TEXTILE MUSEUM

Barbara Hulanicki in the 1970s

FOUNDED BY BARBARA Hulanicki in the 1960s, Biba revolutionised the fashion landscape with its bohemian aesthetic and accessible luxury. From small beginnings selling its clothes by mail order, to a multi-floor department store on High Street Kensington, crowned with an extravagant roof garden restaurant, Biba captured the spirit of the swinging '60s and ‘70s via its vibrant designs and innovative marketing strategies, influencing generations of designers to come and leaving an indelible mark on the world of fashion that continues to resonate to this day.

BORN IN WARSAW IN 1936, BARBARA Hulanicki’s family moved to Hove to escape persecution, soon after her father was viciously assassinated in Jerusalem in 1947 by a Zionist extremist group.

In the 1950s, Hulanicki began her career by studying fashion and art at Brighton Art College, winning an Evening Standard competition in 1955 for her beachwear designs, and becoming a preeminent fashion illustrator in the late 50s. Soon she was covering the Paris couture shows for the major fashion publications of the day, including Women’s Wear Daily, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar

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Biba, Kensington Church Street, 1965 A Biba ensemble
IMAGES
IMAGE: BATH BRIDGEMAN IMAGE: GEORGE FRESTON

FASHION ICON

EXASPERATED BY LONDON’S DISMAL STREET fashion, Hulanicki’s advertising executive husband, Stephen Fitz-Simon ("Fitz”), encouraged his wife to design her own modestly priced ready-to-sew garments, which were marketed via mail order as Biba’s Postal Boutique, “Biba” being the nickname of her younger sister, Biruta.

In May 1964, her sugar-pink gingham dress, with a hole cut out of the back, supplied with a matching triangular kerchief, was featured in The Daily Mirror as part of an article by Felicity Green, who was probably the most influential of Fleet Street’s fashion editors at the time. The dress was £3, came in one size (8), and was "very short”. Similar to an ensemble recently worn by Brigitte Bardot, within twenty-four hours of the newspaper article, 4,000 dresses had been ordered, effectively launching Biba onto the UK fashion scene. Ultimately some 17,000 pieces of the dress were sold, with Biba making a

profit of five shillings on each. The success prompted Hulanicki to give up her job as an illustrator and concentrate on building the brand full time.

EPITOMISING LONDON IN THE 60S, THE first Biba boutique opened on Abingdon Road in Kensington in late 1964. Resembling a nightclub, with dark interiors of vintage inspired wallpaper and heavy velvet drapes, it quickly became a magnet for stars including Twiggy, Cher and Cathy McGowan, who was the presenter of the popular 1960s pop music TV show, Ready, Steady Go! Indeed, the endorsement of celebrities was an inherent part of Biba’s formula, since they were needed to achieve a high volume of sales. "I wanted to make clothes for people in the street, and Fitz and I always tried to get prices down, down, down” Hulanicki said. So cool was the environment, it wouldn’t be unusual for Cilla Black, Elton John and Mick Jagger to be hanging out in the store. A young Anna Wintour got her first job in fashion at Biba at the age of 16, from which she was fired under suspicion of stealing clothes.

AFTER THE SUCCESS OF ABINGDON ROAD, Hulanicki opened a second store in Brighton in February 1966. It was hoped this would be the blueprint for a Biba store on every UK high street. But without Hulanicki keeping an eye on its day-today running, the store floundered and closed by the end of the year.

BY THE SUMMER OF 1965, BIBA HAD outgrown Abingdon Road and Hulanicki was actively searching for larger premises. Eventually she found an old grocer’s shop on Kensington Church Street. Four times larger than Abingdon Road, it was empty and had a large wooden shop front. Six months later it was hers, and it was here that the brand truly gained prominence, as sales continued to grow and the streets of London were filled with Biba girls: beautiful and skinny with never-ending matchstick legs, their faces painted white, and eyes fringed with black false lashes. Hulanicki's bold and eclectic designs, influenced by Art Deco and the glamorous styles of the 1920s and 30s, really captured the spirit of the swinging 60s and appealed to young fashion followers and trendsetters.

IMAGES: DUFFY ARCHIVE
Biba, 1970 Biba,
1972

there should be a plaque on 87 abingdon road. it transformed the way the ordinary girl in the street dressed. it was a tiny corner shop, an old chemist’s in a quiet residential street. but before long, biba was a mecca to everyone from shopgirls to debs. not only did the clothes look amazing, you could afford to buysomething every week

Twiggy

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IN APRIL 1968, THE FIRST BIBA MAIL ORDER catalogue was launched. There were six altogether, the last one published in the late summer of 1969. The famous Biba Celtic label and ‘fat’ Biba lettering was designed by John McConnell. It was introduced into the clothes and became the first Biba garment label.

In September 1969, Biba moved to much larger premises on Kensington High Street and widened its range of goods to include menswear, a larger selection of children’s clothes, and household goods. "Every Saturday the takings were bigger than the previous week,” Hulanicki said. Biba’s first footwear collection was also launched, reportedly selling 75,000 pairs of skinny boots per month.

IN 1969, BIBA LAUNCHED A COSMETICS range which was sold nationally in Dorothy Perkins stores. In the same year, Biba sold a majority of its shares to Dorothy Perkins. Biba continued to flourish throughout the early 70s, with a Biba department even opening in Bergdorf Goodman’s department store in Manhattan in early 1971.

WHEN DOROTHY PERKINS WAS BOUGHT by property development company British Land, Biba made its final move into the Derry & Toms Building on Kensington High Street in September

1973, becoming “Big Biba”. It is in this store that Biba became the first ever lifestyle label, producing its own branded food, leather goods and furniture, amongst other items in its vast range.

A seven-floor emporium, the store's layout was a stylish maze of alcoves and staircases, each unveiling a new realm of sophistication. Each floor of Big Biba had its own theme, including a children’s floor, a floor for men, a book store, a food market, and a “home” floor which sold items

biba led the way for those of us young girls living in provincial places, where we felt we were dying of drabness. she was the first person to introduce colours like mulberry, plum, rust and blueberry. and she reinvigorated herringbone tweed, gangster hats and 1930s satins…to die for
Annie Lennox
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FASHION ICON
Biba, 1973 Biba, 1973 IMAGES: DUFFY ARCHIVE
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biba was a happening, a mood, a way of life
Alexandra Shulman
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IMAGE: JUSTIN DE VILLENEUVE
Twiggy in leopard print Biba, 1971

including wallpaper, paint, cutlery, soft furnishings and even statues. Conceived from the ground up with a level of detail usually reserved for highend concept stores, Big Biba was crowned by the lovingly restored 1930s Rainbow Room restaurant, together with the building’s established roof garden complete with penguins and flamingos. Originally designed by architect Marcel Hennequet in 1933 and named after its multicoloured ceiling, the Rainbow Room quickly became a magnet for celebrities and musicians, including David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and Bryan Ferry.

FOR A WHILE, THE DARING 20,000 SQUARE foot retail destination was a massive success, attracting close to a million customers per week, making it one of the most popular attractions in the capital at the time. According to Hulanicki, during its two-year run, Big Biba was the number two tourist attraction in the British capital after the Tower of London, with Buckingham Palace coming in at number three.

BUT NOT LONG AFTER THE HUGE HIGH

Street Kensington super-store opened, came the property crash, the three-day week, and the UK was plunged into a long and deep recession. Almost overnight, a disastrous mail order season turned a booming business into a financial disaster. The high cost of keeping the store open and the faltering British economy prompted British Land to close Big

Biba's third and fourth floors in March 1975. The rest of the store closed that September, against the backdrop of a nationwide property slump. Hulanicki had left the business a few months earlier, following major disagreements with the board.

AFTER BIBA, HULANICKI AND FITZ ENDED up in Brazil, continued to work in fashion, exported clothes from there, and designed for other labels including Fiorucci and Cacharel.

In the 90s, Hulanicki arrived in Miami Beach, where she designed interiors for Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones, and Chris Blackwell of Island Records. Hulanicki is credited with the resurrection of Miami Beach’s crumbling Art Deco district.

ALMOST FIVE DECADES AFTER BIG BIBA closed, the brand’s legacy outlasts its footprint on the high street, for its impact on the UK fashion industry was profound and enduring. Hulanicki's innovative approach to design and marketing revolutionised the way fashion was perceived and consumed in Britain. Biba democratised fashion by making high-quality, trend-setting clothing accessible to a wider audience. The brand's affordable yet stylish offerings appealed to young people who sought to express their individuality through fashion. And this shift towards more inclusive and youth-centric fashion undoubtedly paved the way for other brands to follow suit.

Running until 8 September 2024, The Biba Story at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum deftly explores how the fashion phenomenon Biba blossomed into the world’s first true lifestyle label. https://fashiontextilemuseum.org

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Twiggy in the Rainbow Room restaurant at Big Biba
IMAGE: JUSTIN DE VILLENEUVE
Barbara Hulanicki at the Fashion and Textile Museum, March 2024

THE CULTURED TRAVELLER REVIEWS NOBU KUALA LUMPUR, WHICH HAS BEEN RULING THE MALAYSIAN CAPITAL’S GASTRONOMIC SCENE FOR A DECADE; VISITS A THAI WINERY SET WITHIN KHAO YAI NATIONAL PARK, AND EXPLORES

BUDAPEST’S VIBRANT CULINARY LANDSCAPE

NOBU KUALA LUMPUR

➤ KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA

GRANMONTE

➤ ASOKE VALLEY, THAILAND

BUDAPEST’S FOOD SCENE

➤ BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

Nobu Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

REVIEW

STANDING FIRM IN A CITY WHERE RESTAURANTS ROUTINELY COME AND GO, NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU DINES AT NOBU KUALA LUMPUR, AS IT CELEBRATES TEN YEARS AT THE TOP OF ITS GAME

NOBU KUALA LUMPUR

➤ KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA ATMOSPHERE

FOOD

NOBUYUKI MATSUHISA HAS been transforming food into culinary art, in high-end gastronomic style, for more than thirty years now. Today, he is almost certainly one of the world’s most famous chefs. And his talents stretch from one side of the planet to the other.

JAPANESE BORN AND RAISED in Saitama by his mother, after his father died when he was a boy, Matsuhisa apprenticed at Tokyo sushi restaurant Matsuei before emigrating to the States towards the end of the ‘70s.

Cutting his culinary teeth in Peru, Argentina and Alaska, it wasn’t until he brought his inspired blend of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine to Los Angeles, opening his first restaurant in Beverly Hills, that the culinary world took notice and, a couple of years later, so did Robert de Niro.

When the Hollywood star finally convinced Matsuhisa to open the very first Nobu in New York City in 1994, with restaurateur Drew Nieporent, it was to be the start of a long partnership and the birth of a premier luxury lifestyle brand that was to span the world, earning numerous Michelin stars along the way.

Today the Nobu empire is unparalleled in the industry, encompassing more than 50 restaurants across the globe, plus more than a dozen hotels, stretching from Malibu to Manila and Beijing to Budapest. The most recent addition

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to the Nobu family is San Sebastián, which opened in May 2024, offering diners spectacular views over La Concha Bay. Nobu Bangkok is slated to open in September 2024. One of the reasons for the brand’s huge success is the consistent high-quality of its food, which make Nobu restaurants a magnet for gourmands, businessmen and celebrities alike. In essence, Nobu has become a benchmark for high quality modern dining.

SINCE OPENING IN 2014 , NOBU Kuala Lumpur has carved a distinguished niche in the city’s gastronomic landscape and very much stayed at the top of its game, which is not easy in any Southeast Asian city with a restaurant scene as dynamic as the Malaysian capital's. Its original lofty location, within prestigious KLCC, offered diners panoramic views of the city’s iconic Petronas Towers and brightly lit skyline,

paired with Nobu’s signature fusion of traditional Japanese cuisine and Peruvian flavours. The restaurant's innovative menu, impeccable service, and breathtaking vistas quickly garnered widespread acclaim, attracting a discerning clientele of food connoisseurs, celebrities, and dignitaries. Nobu Kuala Lumpur’s reputation for culinary excellence was soon solidified and the restaurant has since become a beacon for high-end dining in Malaysia.

IN 2021, NOBU KL RELOCATED to Four Seasons Place, a move that was risky but has evidently enhanced its allure, not least because it is now much easier and quicker to access the restaurant from street level. Complete with a chic bar and dedicated predining area, the sleek new interiors were meticulously designed by

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Chef Philip Leong Black Cod Miso

acclaimed Studio PCH – a firm renowned for its expertise in crafting sophisticated spaces. Including the liberal use of natural materials, which add warmth and texture to the space, the new restaurant beautifully marries contemporary elegance with subtle nods to traditional Japanese aesthetics, creating an ambiance that is both refined and welcoming.

FIRMLY BELIEVING IN A PREdinner cocktail at a proper bar before embarking on a gastronomic journey,

the new bar is a welcome addition to my Nobu KL experience and we begin the evening’s proceedings with Lychee Martinis. Made with Ketel One vodka and fresh lychee juice, the cocktails set the tone for what’s to come, and marry perfectly with a portion of Rock Shrimp Tempura to nibble on before the impending Omakase feast begins. The creamy spicy sauce is the real star of this

dish, and the moreish and crunchy bite-sized chunks of battered shrimp are swiftly devoured.

EVERY GASTRONOMIC SUCCESS is helmed by a maestro and at Nobu KL that person is head chef Philip Leong. The restaurant’s culinary driving force since it opened, Leong worked from the ground-up to secure his present position, beginning his Nobu career at Nobu Berkeley Street in 2005, and believing throughout that being passionate about his work is the key to success. Ten years after Nobu KL opened, Leong’s passion for his craft is still very much evident in the exquisite dishes he creates, also driving him to produce more creatively elegant dishes.

TODAY ORCHESTRATING DINING experiences to stand out in KL, Leong's approach is still very much rooted in Nobu tradition, yet is distinctively his own, combining Japanese precision with local Malaysian flavours and Peruvian zest. This is evident in everything we eat.

TASTE & SIP REVIEW
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Lobster Dashi Butter Ponzu Yellowtail Jalapeno

TASTE & SIP

THE BRAND’S CLASSIC SIGNATURE Black Cod Miso, revered across Nobu restaurants globally, and prepared with a marinade of miso and sake, resulting in a tender, melt-in-the-mouth texture, is elevated by Leong with subtle, local tweaks, creating a dish that resonates with both international and local palates.

AN OPENING COURSE OF TORO served three ways, skillfully prepared piece-by-piece in-front of us by head sushi chef Renante Dominguez, is a thoroughly decadent way to start the meal, and is lifted further by a delightful, medium-bodied Hokusetsu Nobu Junmai Daiginjo sake. Clean with floral notes, the sake pairs perfectly with the prized Japanese bluefin tuna fish belly.

THEN FOLLOWS AN ARRAY OF premium Nobu Style Sushi, which includes an incredible Kanpachi Nigiri Tosasoy. A meaty fish with a firm texture, it has a mild sweet flavour with virtually no fishiness, which is also elevated by a sake – this time, a medium-bodied Hokusetsu Junmai with a creamy finish.

OF THE MANY LEONG-PREPARED dishes we enjoy, all of which increasingly impress as the meal reaches a meaty crescendo, the Lobster Dashi Butter Ponzu is standout And chargrilled for mere seconds on mangrove charcoal, the Japanese A5 Wagyū melts in the mouth – rich, buttery, and umami-packed.

WHILST AN OMAKASE MENU undoubtedly shows off the artistic and culinary talents of a restaurant’s chefs, at Nobu KL, it is a floorless harmony of Leong’s spirit and immense understanding of the Nobu brand, Dominguez’s delicate sushi artistry, and attentive polished service, which come together in an elegant space to make the restaurant standout. Almost certainly the finest dining experience in KL today, every meal at Nobu Kuala Lumpur creates interesting and long-lasting culinary memories.

NOBU KUALA LUMPUR

ATMOSPHERE

EXECUTIVE CHEF: Philip Leong

ADDRESS: Level 4A, Shoppes at Four Seasons Place, 145 Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur 50450, Malaysia

TELEPHONE: +603 2380 0028

EMAIL: nobuklreservations@ noburestaurants.com

WEBSITE: https://n oburestaurants.com

CUISINE: Japanese-Peruvian

OPENING HOURS: Lunch 11.45 - 14.00. Dinner 18.00 - 22.30

LUNCH PRICE: Bento Box RM 230++, Green Tea Kakigori RM 35++

DINNER PRICE : New Style Sashimi RM 95++, Wagyu Nobu Sauces RM 330++, Ice Cloud RM 50++

IDEAL MEAL: Nobu Kuala Lumpur Omakase RM 650++

RESERVATIONS: Essential

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes

CHILDREN: High-chairs available. No kids menu

CREDIT CARDS: All major

PARKING: Complimentary for bills over RMB 500

TCT REVIEWER: Nicholas Chrisostomou for dinner

Star ratings out of five reflect the reviewer’s feedback about the food and service and, separately, the atmosphere in the dining room

FOOD
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REVIEW
Duck Confit Tostada and Foie Gras Croquette Nobu Cheesecake

EXPERIENCE

AMIDST THE VERDANT HILLS OF KHAO YAI, NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU

DISCOVERS THAT A FAMILY-RUN VINEYARD IS PRODUCING SOME RATHER EXCELLENT THAI WINES

GRANMONTE ASOKE VALEY, THAILAND

THE HISTORY AND development of winemaking in Thailand weave a compelling narrative, punctuated by innovation, perseverance, and a

profound appreciation for the artistry of viticulture. Yet while winemaking in Thailand dates back centuries, it was not until the late 20th century that the industry began to gain traction on the global stage.

THE PIONEERING EFFORTS OF visionary individuals such as Chalerm

Yoovidhya and Visooth Lohitnavy proved instrumental in catalysing Thailand's winemaking renaissance. In the 1980s, Chalerm Yoovidhya, co-founder of the Red Bull energy drink empire, established the Siam Winery, paving the way for the commercial production of wine in Thailand. Embracing the unique

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terroir of the country's vineyards, Siam Winery introduced innovative winemaking techniques and varietals, garnering acclaim and recognition both domestically and internationally.

Pretty much simultaneously, Visooth Lohitnavy, inspired by his studies in France and a serendipitous encounter with Bordeaux wines, embarked on a quest to cultivate exceptional grapes amidst the verdant hills of Khao Yai. In 1999, he founded GranMonte, the Kingdom’s first boutique winery, where he began to craft wines of unparalleled quality and distinction in Thailand.

SINCE THE ONSET OF YOOVIDHYA and Lohitnavy’s endeavours, Thailand's winemaking landscape has continued to evolve and flourish, with a steadily growing number of wineries and vineyards across the country producing an impressive array of varietals, from robust reds and crisp whites to delicate rosés. With its unique blend of tradition,

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Winemaker Nikki Lohitnavy with her father and founder of GranMonte, Visooth Lohitnavy, and mother, Sakuna Lohitnavy

innovation, and a deep and inherent reverence for the land, the Kingdom’s winemaking industry stands as a testament to the transformative power of passion and perseverance in the pursuit of vinicultural excellence, despite what many oenologists consider to be extreme weather conditions for grape growing.

GRANMONTE TRACES ITS LINEAGE back to the fertile imagination and indomitable spirit of Visooth Lohitnavy, whose vision and passion for wine laid the foundations for one of Thailand’s earliest wineries. Following his studies in France, Lohitnavy returned to his homeland with a fervent ambition to cultivate exceptional grapes and craft world-class wines.

In 1999, Lohitnavy settled with his wife and two young daughters, Nikki and Mimi, on a 12-hectare plot of land in the northeast of Thailand. Once a cornfield and cashew plantation, soon the land was cleared in preparation for his entrepreneurial pursuits.

Little-by-little, Lohitnavy studied vines and soil types, choosing the right varieties of vitis vinifera – grapes native to the Mediterranean region and central Europe – to establish those which would grow and yield fruit for generations to come. The vineyard is named after the Lohitnavy family's ancestral home in Italy, and GranMonte is very much a family affair.

NESTLED IN THE FOOTHILLS

OF one of Thailand’s most beautiful national parks – a location distinguished by its captivating geography – the region's microclimate is a unique tapestry woven from myriad influences, each contributing to the singular terroir now cherished by viticulturists and oenophiles alike. The same influences collectively bestow upon GranMonte wines their distinctive character and quality.

Situated some 350 metres above sea level, GranMonte is surrounded by the imposing presence of undulating hills and mountains beyond, imbuing the idyllic estate with a mesmeric tranquility that is as invigorating to the senses as it is conducive to the cultivation of exceptional grapes. From hand-harvesting the grapes at optimal ripeness, to employing traditional and modern winemaking techniques with precision, every step of the winemaking process is executed with utmost care and expertise by the family.

GRANMONTE ENJOYS A temperate climate that is relatively cool for a tropical latitude. The diurnal temperature variation (a hallmark of this terroir), is instrumental in the development of complex flavour profiles in the grapes, as the warm days encourage photosynthesis and sugar accumulation, while the cool nights preserve acidity, thus bestowing upon GranMonte wines their balance and finesse.

The estate's proximity to the equator affords it abundant sunlight throughout the year, essential for the optimal ripening of grapes. The ample sunshine, tempered by the cooling breezes that

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meander through the valleys, ensures a gradual ripening process, allowing the grapes to attain phenolic maturity while retaining their natural acidity – a delicate equilibrium that underpins the elegance and longevity of GranMonte wines, many of which age very well indeed.

Lastly, the estate’s soils, predominantly composed of sandy loam interspersed with volcanic

deposits, impart distinctive mineral nuances to the wines, enhancing their complexity and depth. Such well-draining soils, coupled with judicious vineyard management practices, afford the roots of the vines access to essential nutrients while regulating water retention – a symbiotic relationship that fosters the cultivation of grapes of unparalleled quality in this part of the world.

IN ESSENCE, THE GEOGRAPHICAL setting and microclimate of the GranMonte estate naturally unite to create an environment ideally suited to viticulture. From the undulating terrain and temperate climate, to the mineralrich soils and ample sunshine, each facet of this unique terroir imparts its imprint upon the grapes, culminating in wines of exceptional character and finesse, created at the hands of winemaker Nikki (Visootha) Lohitnavy, daughter of the estate’s founder.

ESTATE MANAGER OF GRANMONTE, a highly experienced oenologist, and Thailand’s only fully qualified winemaker, Nikki Lohitnavy’s research on the subject of viticulture has been published in two respected scientific journals. Indeed, her international winemaking experience is evident in GranMonte’s range of wines, all of which exude elegance, complexity, and finesse. Whether it's the rich, velvety texture of the estate’s reds, the crisp acidity of its whites, or the delicate aromas of its rosés, GranMonte wines delight the palate and deftly marry nature and nurture.

www.granmonte.com

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The Winery
WHERE LUXURY MEETS HISTORY hilton.com DISCOVER BUDAPEST STAY AT HILTON

BUDAP

FOOD SCENE

UNDOUBTEDLY ONE OF EUROPE'S MOST CAPTIVATING CAPITALS, NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU AND JOE MORTIMER EXPLORE BUDAPEST’S VIBRANT CULINARY LANDSCAPE, AND ENJOY A GASTRONOMIC JOURNEY THROUGH THE HEART AND SOUL OF HUNGARIAN CUISINE

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Dohány Street Synagogue Liberty Bridge, Pálinka

EST

NESTLED ALONG THE sinuous banks of the Danube, Budapest beckons travellers with its rich tapestry of culture, history, and, perhaps most tantalisingly, its vibrant culinary landscape. Undoubtedly one of Europe's most captivating cities, the Hungarian capital seamlessly melds its storied and turbulent past with its dynamic and blossoming present, and no-where is this more evident than Budapest’s food scene, which offers visitors an unparalleled gastronomic journey through the heart and soul of Hungarian history and cuisine.

A CITY OF TWO HALVES, SEPARATED by the relentless flow of the Danube, to truly appreciate Budapest's culinary prowess, one must delve into the annals of history to understand the roots of Hungarian gastronomy. With a heritage shaped by centuries of invasions, migrations, and cultural exchanges, not to mention visitors from across Europe, Hungarian cuisine is a testament to resilience and adaptation. Influences from Turkish, Austrian, and Slavic culinary traditions have, in time, interwoven with indigenous ingredients and techniques, resulting in a distinctive culinary landscape that is as diverse as it is delectable.

Haraszthy Winery LÁNG Bistro

ONE OF THE NATION’S MOST prominent gastronomic influences hails from the Ottoman Empire, which introduced a wide range of spices and flavours to Hungarian dishes, the legacy of which can still be tasted in many traditional foods, adding a unique and flavourful twist to local dishes.

THE FRENCH ALSO HAD A significant influence on Hungarian cuisine. During the reign of the Hungarian nobility, many French cooking techniques were adopted, leading to the emergence of haute cuisine in Hungary. This can be seen in the elegant and refined dishes that are still popular today.

COURTESY OF ONE OF EUROPE’S largest Jewish communities, which is still thriving today, Jewish traditions have also left their mark on both Hungarian cuisine and the capital’s nightlife. Pest’s Jewish Quarter is the heart of Budapest’s nightlife, where locals and tourists alike gather in ruin bars, which are literally bars hastily set up in the wrecks of damaged buildings. Some, like Szimpla Kert, the original ruin bar, have evolved into thriving community and cultural centres, offering farmers markets and food stalls, in addition to live music, all nestled behind a somewhat crumbling yet characterful façade.

https://szimpla.hu

AT THE HEART OF HUNGARIAN cuisine lies a reverence for robust flavours and hearty fare – a reflection, perhaps, of the country's tumultuous history and the resilience of its people, who have been dealt more than their fair share of highs and lows over the years. Staples such as paprika, sour cream, and luscious layers of butter feature prominently in traditional dishes, infusing each bite with a depth of flavour that is simultaneously comforting and invigorating. And Hungarian food today is something of a celebration of tastes that reflects the nation’s influences from the East, the Mediterranean, and Central Europe.

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Great Market Hall Hungarian charcuterie

ONE CANNOT EXPLORE BUDAPEST'S food scene without embarking upon a journey through its centuries-old history of viticulture and the city’s iconic food markets.

Budapest’s 125-year-old Great Market Hall, or Nagyvásárcsarnok, is the place to start. Resembling a central railway station, or the balloon of a vast airship, its roof is lined with wrought iron ribs and a thin orange skin that glows during the day and is lit by a plethora of lights by night. Throughout the vast space, rows of stalls overflow with the produce of Hungary’s agricultural heartlands: salty salamis embellished with local flavours like plum and sour cherry; cured local Mangalica pork, artisan cheeses and homemade honey, stalls selling an assortment of spices; and big bunches of red chilis, used to make Hungary’s famous paprika.

Down in the bowels of the market, the basement is home to the guardians of another Hungarian specialty. Colourful jars stuffed with pickled vegetables, root veg and alliums grace the walls of

In downtown Budapest, international and local guests alike are inspired by the varied offerings of the gastronomic outlets at Kempinski Hotel Corvinus. Drawing inspiration from Hungarian-Viennese culinary sophistication, its main restaurant, ÉS Bisztró, reinvents local favourites and resurrects forgotten classics with a contemporary twist. Elevated and reconstructed to satisfy the discerning palate, ÉS delicacies encourage gastronomic discoveries through snacking, sharing and adventurous pairing in a sophisticated yet relaxed setting.

ÉS Bisztró has one of the largest terraces in the city centre, open from spring to autumn and during the Advent period.

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Great Market Hall
Deák
utca 12-14 |1052 Budapest |Hungary +36 20 474 5000 | esbisztro.hu
Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest
Ferenc

every stand; row upon row of digestionenhancing crunch that brighten every meal. Other stalls are loaded with the treasures of Hungary’s wine country: golden bottles of luscious Tokaji Aszú dessert wine, lesser-known Hungarian grape varieties and the deceptively potent pálinka, a type of brandy that’s not for the faint-hearted. In a continent whose citizens rely more and more on supermarkets to supply their daily needs, it is refreshing to walk into Budapest’s market hall on a Friday afternoon in 2024 and find its stalls teeming with local shoppers.

AMONG ALL OF THE TRAGEDIES to have befallen Hungary during the last 500 years, the gradual disappearance of its viticultural legacy stood out as one that had a particularly noticeable

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Buda Castle LÁNG Bistro

impact on its culture. Hungarians have been making wine for more than a thousand years, but the devastation of the Second World War, which turned much of Budapest into a ruined wasteland, and the subsequent Hungarian Soviet Republic era, that left a shell-shocked and decimated post-war population disillusioned, saw the country’s once-proud winemakers turn to industrial scale mechanisation in the pursuit of high-yield grapes, abandoning the centuries of viticultural nuances passed down from generation to generation. Happily, things are

changing, and today an array of local oenologists are drawing upon a wealth of winemaking knowledge to elevate Hungarian wine to international standards.

YET, BUDAPEST'S CULINARY allure extends far beyond its market halls and vineyards, encompassing a diverse array of dining establishments that cater to every palate and preference. From elegant fine dining restaurants that pay homage to Hungary's culinary heritage with modern flair, to cosy bistros tucked

away in historic alleyways, the city offers a cornucopia of gastronomic delights waiting to be savoured.

FOR THOSE SEEKING TO INDULGE in genuine Hungarian gastronomy, a visit to one of Budapest's renowned traditional restaurants is a must. Here, diners feast on time-honoured local dishes, such as tender beef stewed in rich paprika sauce, crispy duck confit with tangy red cabbage on the side, or hearty stuffed cabbage rolls enveloped in a blanket of savoury sauce. Accompanied by a glass of robust Hungarian wine or a shot of fiery pálinka, such culinary offerings offer a real insight into Hungary's culinary heritage.

ABOUT A DECADE AGO, SOMETHING of gastro evolution began to unfold in Hungary, and going to restaurants gradually became more fashionable amongst younger generations.

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LÁNG Bistro Café Liszt

This coincided with Budapest emerging as a hotspot for innovative cuisine, with a burgeoning crop of new restaurants beginning to push the boundaries of tradition and creativity. Today, diners can enjoy rather excellent far in Budapest, that marries Hungarian ingredients and techniques with global influences, resulting in dishes that are as visually stunning as they are palate-pleasing.

LOCATED WITHIN THE HILTON Budapest hotel, which is itself a historic

property in an enviable location, set within the castle district right next to landmark Matthias Church, LÁNG Bistro is the perfect place to pit-stop for a relaxed lunch. Offering a range of delectable, authentic Hungarian fare and a good range of affordable local wines, if you reserve a table by the front windows, you will enjoy spectacular views as you sip and dine. www.langbistro.hu

IN A NOD TO TWO DISTINCT elements – namely the famed

Hungarian composer, and the local word for ‘flour’ (since bread is freshly baked on the premises daily) – Café Liszt at musically themed Aria Hotel serves excellent food in a relaxed and refined atmosphere. Here, in a bijou salon punctuated by turquoise accents, and surrounded by the original signatures of dozens of global musical legends lining the walls, guests dine on tasty seasonal dishes that deftly combine Austro-Hungarian cuisine with modern cooking techniques. Not-tobe-missed is the smooth, mousse-like whipped foie gras. https://cafeliszt.hu/en

POPULAR WITH EVERYONE from couples to families and groups, positioned in a central downtown location, bustling ÉS Bisztró serves excellent Viennese-Hungarian cuisine in a casual environment, its signature dish being Tafelspitz. The restaurant is also renowned for its traditional

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É S Bisztró É S Bisztró Spago Budapest

restaurant’s three-course express lunch menu is great value at just HUF 14,500 (approx. GBP 32).

https://spagobudapest.com

WHILE REAL ESTATE DEVELOPERS and hoteliers are breathing new life into Budapest’s resplendent old buildings, Hungarian producers, farmers, chefs, winemakers, artisans and distillers have today found an outlet for their creativity and talents. So, whether savouring time-honoured cuisine or sampling more contemporary foods, a culinary journey through Budapest is sure to tantalise the tastebuds of the most seasoned travelling foodie, and leave a lasting impression on even the most discerning of palates.

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Spago Budapest The view from Hilton Budapest hotel towards the Hungarian Parliament

LITTLE BLACK BOOK

WEB DIRECTORY FOR ISSUE 46 OF THE CULTURED TRAVELLER MAGAZINE

A

AKRES, LINDOS

➤ https://akreslindos.com/en

ARAS RESTAURANT ➤ www.araskltower.com

B

BIESTER PALACE, SINTRA ➤ www.biester.pt

C

CAFÉ LISZT

➤ https://cafeliszt.hu/en

COMO ALPINA DOLOMITES

➤ www.comohotels.com

COMO METROPOLITAN SINGAPORE ➤ www.comohotels.com

CORINNE BAILEY RAE ➤ www.CorinneBaileyRae.com

E

ÉS BISZTRÓ

➤ https://esbisztro.hu

F

FASHION AND TEXTILE MUSEUM

➤ www.fashiontextilemuseum.org

G

GRANMONTE

➤ https://granmonte.com

H

HILTON BUDAPEST

➤ www.hilton.com

HOTEL CASA LUCIA

➤ www.hotelcasalucia.com/en

HÔTEL DU COUVENT ➤ www.hotelducouvent.com

I

INTERCONTINENTAL KHAO YAI RESORT ➤ www.ihg.com

J

JANU TOKYO ➤ www.janu.com

JW MARRIOTT HOTEL MADRID ➤ https://jw-marriott.marriott.com

L

LÁNG BISTRO ➤ www.langbistro.hu

M

MANTIS KIVU QUEEN UBURANGA ➤ www.mantiscollection.com

N

NOBU KUALA LUMPUR ➤ www.noburestaurants.com

NORTH SEA JAZZ FESTIVAL ➤ www.northseajazz.com

O

ODERA ➤ www.oderatinos.com

P

PENA PALACE, SINTRA ➤ www.penapalacetickets.com

PETRONAS TOWERS ➤ www.petronastwintowers.com.my

Q

QUINTA DA REGALEIRA, SINTRA ➤ www.quintadaregaleiratickets.com

R

RONDA, RHODES ➤ https://ronda.gr

S

SANASARYAN HAN ➤ www.sanasaryanhan.com

SINTRA NATIONAL PALACE ➤ www.parquesdesintra.pt

SIX SENSES LA SAGESSE ➤ www.sixsenses.com

SPAGO BUDAPEST ➤ www.spagobudapest.com

SWISSÔTEL THE STAMFORD ➤ www.swissotel-singapore-stamford.com

SZIMPLA KERT ➤ https://szimpla.hu

TTA’AKTANA ➤ www.taaktana.com

THE RUMA HOTEL & RESIDENCES ➤ https://theruma.com

THE ST. REGIS RIYADH ➤ www.stregisriyadh.com

W W BUDAPEST ➤ www.wbudapest.com

145 THE CULTURED TRAVELLER
INDEX 145

FEW OTHER BUILDINGS

characterise Singapore's skyline as much as Swissôtel The Stamford. When it opened in 1986, the 73-storey luxury hotel, designed by star architect Ieoh Ming Pei, was the tallest hotel in the world at 226 metres. Approaching four decades later, it is still one of the tallest in Southeast Asia. From its roof terrace, the incredible views extend to Malaysia and Indonesia.

A CYLINDER

OF MODERNIST UNIFORMITY,

in 2019, the iconic hotel underwent an extensive multi-million-dollar renovation and modernisation courtesy of award-winning firm Wilson Associates,

who deftly combined Asian and Swiss design elements in an innovative fashion. This included the creation of elegant new suites on the 64th and 66th floors of the building, separated by an exclusive new Level 65 Lounge.

TWENTY DISTINCTIVE STAMFORD CREST

Suites in the hotel each offer more than 80 square metres of refined, sanctuary-like living and sleeping space, complete with a range of personalised services, facilities and amenities, and the most spectacular sweeping views of Singapore and beyond.

www. swissotel-singapore-stamford.com

STAMFORD CREST SUITE ➤ SWISSÔTEL THE STAMFORD, SINGAPORE 146 ISSUE 46 JUNE – AUGUST 2024
suite with a view
Introducing our latest Business experience, designed exclusively in collaboration with Giorgio Armani and Armani/Casa. Find out more at etihad.com/Business Elevated Style
HOTEL RESTAURANT BAR
TORTUE.DE

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