à paris

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Over the holidays I had several friends who were traveling to Paris and needed recommendations. I put together a list for them and thought others might find it helpful. I so appreciate people sharing their travel notes and have had so many wonderful suggestions over the years. Hopefully my notes will help in planning your next jaunt à Paris.

Hotel – we at stayed the Prince de Galles. There are so many choices in Paris but this hotel worked for us because we are all able to be in one room (with a bit of convincing). Check out Mr and Mrs Smith hotels for modern boutique hotel accommodations in Paris.

Museums, Sites, & Activities

  • Louvre Museum
  • Musée d’Orsay -my favorite.
  • Musée de l’Orangerie – great for kids short and sweet all Monet.
  • Pompidou – modern art museum
  • Musée Rodin
  • Eiffel Tower – buy skip the line tickets ahead of time Viator is a good source.
  • Bateaux Mouches – boat ride along the Seine big hit with the kids.
  • Atelier Des Lumieres – have not been but heard it’s incredible.
  • Sunside Sunset for Jazz Music
  • Jardin du Luxembourg – kids loved pushing the vintage toy boats in the water when they were little. They also loved the playground and carousel.
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Notre Dame
  • Palais Garnier – it was an experience taking the girls to the Paris opera house. The Chagall ceiling alone is worth the trip.
  • Walk around Montmartre Neighborhood – see the Moulin Rouge, Love Wall, and Place du Tertre.
  • Foundation Louis Vuitton
  • Le Foodist – we did a great French baking class here.
  • Treasure Hunt at the Louvre – book through THATlou.
  • Jardin des Tuileries – the infamous green chairs great for a photo opt and strolling the gardens.
  • Walk around the Marais – my favorite neighborhood in Paris.

Food 

  • Le Relais d’Entrecote- love this restaurant! They do not take reservations but it’s worth the wait. They serve one thing Entrecote and french fries.
  • Breizah Cafe – the kids favorite! They accept reservations and we went to the one in the Marais. Delicious crepes.
  • Café de Flore – touristy but still fun.
  • Frenchie Wine Bar – cozy dinner on a quaint street. Hightop tables not great for little kids.
  • Poilâne Bakery – famous for their bread. We had lunch at the cafe next door (Comptoir Poilâne) where they use their delicious bread on tartine sandwiches.
  • Cafe Constant – french country food.
  • Berthillon – salted caramel ice cream.
  • L’As du Fallafel – got to have a falafel while walking around the Marais.
  • Amorino – beautiful flower shaped ice cream.
  • Odette – colorful creams puffs.
  • Ladurée – always fun to browse the beautiful macarons.
  • Boot Cafe – tiny charming cafe in the Marais…nice photo opt.
  • Cocktails at The Ritz.

David Lebovitz is a great resource for restaurants in Paris.

Shopping 

You can shop for days in Paris below are the stores I hit on our last trip in September.

Bon Voyage!

Quick Trip Tips – Japan

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Japan is a popular destination for families; there is so much to do and see. We did a quick 6 night trip for my 40th birthday to Tokyo and Kyoto. I have been asked to share my itinerary so many times that I decided to post it on my blog.

Tokyo Hotel – Four Seasons Marunouchi – we loved this hotel! Small boutique feeling but spacious rooms with two queen beds. Nice location next to the Tokyo train station and short walk to Ginza.

Kyoto Hotel – The Ritz Carlton – this hotel is truly special! It has a modern luxury resort feel. Located right along the Kamogawa River. The kids loved the indoor grotto style swimming pool and spa. After being in Tokyo we needed a day to relax and swim. The hotel has a Pierre Hermé which is a big plus, and the breakfast was an experience in itself.

First Night in Tokyo – we walked around Ginza and stopped at Itoya Paper store the mecca of all paper stores. The girls also loved the Tokyo Hands store, there is a floor with tons of crafts and DIY supplies (if your kids are into that). We had dinner at Nodaiwa which specializes in Unagi. It wasn’t easy to find but glad we did!

I highly recommend hiring a guide (our hotel arranged ours). Her name was Ms. Haruko Ootsuki. It saved us a lot of time and she helped us navigate the subway which isn’t an easy task.

Below is our 2 day itinerary our guide put together based on what we wanted to see.

On the 1stday we will cover the west Tokyo including Shinjuku, since Isetan will be closed on the following 21stfor maintenance etc…. the day 2, the Central & East Tokyo including Tsukiji, Ginza and Asakusa.

Please also note that most boutique type of shops only open from 11am, therefore we will visit places like a shrine / Fish market to start the day.  (plus, the Inner market of Tsukiji Fish Market only open to the public from 10am…finishes around 11am. The outer market is available from earlier till around 2 pm. )

Day 1 – Feb. the 20th…Covering west Tokyo

Deaparting Hotel

⇒ subway/train

  • Harajuku Neighborhood –

Meiji shrine,

Takeshita dori street and Crepes for snack (so yummy!) - Kawaii Monster Cafe (we didn’t make it here) We did have cotton candy at Totti Cotton Candy Factory (big hit!)

  • Omotesando recommended places include…

*Kiddy Land – pioneer, very popular and famous toy store which was a favorite of late Micheal Jackson as well.

*Oriental Bazar – very popular shop which carries good variety of Japanese souvenirs, pioneer to this trendy spot.

We went to Harry’s Hedge Hog Cafe – one of the kids favorite things they did in Tokyo. 

If time and energy allow…before headed for Shinjuku

* Cat street – dotted with fashionable boutiques

→ Shibuya Neighborhood & Shibuya crossing

⇒ subway/train

  • Shinjuku Neighborhood –Lunch at food hall in Isetan  → Piss Alley to take a look

⇒ train

Back to hotel

Day 2 : Jan. 21st   …Covering Central & East Tokyo

Deaparting Hotel

⇒ subway

  • Tsukji Fish Market and have some Sushi for morning snack ?? … so that you will have some room for a bit late lunch at Asakusa later on for ramen / soba ?

( not at Sushi restaurants where only ‘set menu’is available since it will probably too filling . We will also avoid restaurants where always people lining up for a long time, sometimes for hours!   (this includes, Daiwa, Sushi-dai, Iwasa-Zushi…)

Sushi-Zanmai might be good since there are few branch shops at the outer-market. Let me go on a bit more research, please ! We ended up eating at Iwasa-Zushi  it was excellent. 

⇒ Stroll to

  • Ginza, on the way you can see the Kabuki-za theater, and
  • Kapital Denim Store, if wished (located not too far from the theater)
  • If wished, walk through Ginza area while checking the location of

Ippudo ginza, Kagari ramen, Nodaiwa unagi… so that you can go back there if time and your stomach allows for other occasion.

Other recommended places include,

*Mitsukoshi Department Store – one of the most famous / popular store in Tokyo, whose food section is as good as Isetan.

* Muji Store

*Anime Museum – get tickets ahead of time

* Shinjuku Gyoen Park – for cherry blossoms

⇒ subway

  • Asakusa – Sense-ji Budist Temple

Lunch at Namiki soba/ a few other popular soba places./ Ippudo ramen or my recommended Yoroiya ramen, which said to be the birthplace of ‘soy sauce ramen’..one of the authentic Japanese ramen… conveniently located and has small sized one. Whose roast port fillet in ramen is really good !..  you can decide which one you opt for depending on how you feel, how busy the place is etc.. We ended up having lunch at Yoroiya ( so good!).

Walk around check out the shopping &  take a rickshaw ride

⇒ subway

  • Tea break at Ippodo Tea, Marunouchi → Walk back to your hotel

Dinner at Tsuru TonTan – upscale udon restaurant (a high school friend of my husbands took us here). We also had ramen at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka & Tsukiji Kitaro Sushi. (we had a friend who lived in the building above the restaurant take us here it was excellent).

Kyoto HighlightsKinkakuji Temple Golden Temple, Fushimi Inari Red Gates, & Bamboo Forest

Camelia Tea Ceremony – traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony

Cooking Sun – Japanese Cooking Class

Walked around the Gion District and did a Geisha Maiko Photo Shoot – full make-up and dress. You then pose for photos with different traditional back-drops. I don’t recommend it for young children.

Nishiki Market – we love eating and walking through this market. The best matcha ice cream ever! We had a really good meal there as well.

Omakase Sushi – we ate at Matsudaya best sushi I have ever had. We also ate at Mikaku which is a traditional Japanese Steakhouse.

This was one of our favorites trips and we can’t wait to go back!

Four Seasons Tokyo

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Tokyo seems to be the place to go these days, and especially over Spring Break. It’s a busy time in the city because people from all over the world come to see the cherry blossoms in bloom. When I was planning our trip I had a hard time finding a hotel that would accommodate a family of four in one room. The Four Seasons Tokyo at Marunouchi has spacious rooms, and two queen size beds (which is unusual for Tokyo). Unlike some of the other large hotel chains in Tokyo this is a small boutique property. It’s located minutes from Ginza and next to the train station. Being next to the train station was convenient since we were traveling to and from Kyoto. The concierge helped us through the train station, and assisted in purchasing our train tickets to Kyoto. For anyone who’s been to Tokyo navigating the train station is not an easy task. Prior to our arrival, the hotel put us in touch with a guide who helped us plan the perfect itinerary for our family.  I was impressed by the service, decor, and comfort of the Four Seasons Tokyo. We can’t wait to go back as there are so many more things to see and do in Tokyo.

Ham Yard Hotel

Ham Yard Hotel – London, England

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I am just coming back from a week away in Paris and London. I wanted to share our London hotel because it was truly special. Ham Yard Hotel a Firmdale Hotel is nestled into a London side street with an urban village feel. It’s chic, hip, and happening. The attention to detail from the decor, service, and food was beyond our expectations. All 91 rooms are individually designed by Kit Kemp. You walk out your door and you’re in the midst of Soho, just steps away from the West End, Regent Street, and Carnaby Street. The hotel nightlife was popping. They have a bowling alley, screening room, rooftop bar, and multiple restaurants. The rooms are high tech with iPad’s to dim the lights, close the shades, and turn the television on or off. You feel like you are staying in a modern loft with wall to wall windows, and high ceilings. We had several meals at the hotel that were healthy, (we needed that after Paris) flavorful, and fresh. They make it hard to leave the hotel because it is so cozy, comfy, and cool! If you’re heading to London Ham Yard Hotel is a must!

 

The Cape

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I am just returning from a well needed weekend getaway in Cabo. We stayed at the new Thompson Hotel property The Cape Los Cabos. This sleek, modern, beach front property is architecturally stunning. Each room is spacious with a beautiful ocean view, and so tastefully decorated. I loved the balcony with a floating day bed, along with the beautiful copper tub adorning each room. The food was outstanding!. The highlight was Chef Enrique Olvera’s restaurant Manta. The menu is influenced  from the Chef’s native Mexico along with Peru, and Japan. We enjoyed the hotel’s infinity pool over looking the ocean along with the modern outdoor spa. In the evenings you can watch the sunset on the hotel’s rooftop bar, or sip artisanal cocktails at the architectural glass box lounge. It truly was a perfect getaway, and I look forward to my next trip to The Cape.

Jet-A-Way

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Summer is coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t enough time for one last hurrah! Cabo here I come! Below is what I’m squeezing into my new Herschel carry-on.

  1. Herschel Supply Co. 24 inch Wheelie Rolling Carry-On $150 I was in desperate need of a new carry-on, so I picked this one up at Nordstrom.
  2. Reformation Apricot Dress $150-$218 I got this dress a couple months ago, and I have been wearing it like crazy. The red and black color way are on-sale at Reformation.
  3. Marysia Palm Springs Scalloped Swim Suit $345 another option on sale click here.    I didn’t really understand the hype of the Marysia bathing suit until I started wearing one. The fabric is like magic! It’s the most flattering swimsuit.
  4. ATP Atelier Carmen Leather Sandals $330 These have been my favorite Summer evening sandals.
  5. Lemlem Tiki Drawstring Cover-Up $315 Adorable swimsuit cover-up.
  6. Banjanan Smocked Printed Maxi $112.97 & Banjanan Printed Max $109.97 & Banjanan Smocked Leaf Print Maxi $109.97 I packed two light weight floral Banjanan dresses. The two I recently got from Shop Bop are sold out, so I found several other options at Nordstrom Rack (on-sale!!).
  7. SENSI Studio Morrocco Maxi Frayed Tote $158 I am bringing a similar SENSI studio tote to pack all my pool must-haves in.

 

photo: Olivia Lopez

Hôtel Crillon le Brave

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Hôtel Crillon le Brave is another exquisite hotel I discovered on Mr. and Mrs. Smith Hotels.  Hôtel Crillon le Brave a Relais & Chateaux property, is perched high on a hilltop in a historic village east of Avignon, France. The hotel has stunning panoramic country views. A gorgeous pool where we sat sipping our Billecart Rosé Champagne. The hotel is easily accessible from the Avignon train station. It’s surrounded by quaint villages, sunflower, and lavender fields. We scoured the little towns for their daily markets. My favorite was in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue where I picked up the most beautiful Provençal table clothes, napkins, and placemats. Driving through Provence is magical, barely any cars on the roads surrounded by majestic scenery. The hotel can arrange wine tasting, local restaurant reservations, and horse back riding through the country side (so fun!). You get the old world charm with the modern amenities at this boutique hotel. Hôtel Crillon le Brave is not to be missed when passing through Provence!

Bon Voyage!

photo: Julie Woolenberg

Positano

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I love seeing everyone’s summer travel photos on Instagram. I get inspired and enjoy learning about new, and exotic places to visit and stay. As well as the adventure I do have an affinity for unique, and luxurious hotels.

I wanted to share one of my favorite boutique hotels in Positano. Il San Pietro Positano is perched into the cliffside of Positano overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. A short walk or shuttle ride from town but isolated and away from all the tourists. Each and every room has an ocean view with a balcony where you can sit and have your morning breakfast and caffe. Il San Pietro is the only hotel in Positano with a direct access to a private beach. The beach is a natural cove surrounded by crystal clear waters, with a solarium, restaurant, and bar by the sea. The iconic orange loungers are spread across the cliff overlooking the sea. An elevator carved into the cliff will swiftly carry you from the lobby down to this special heavenly spot. The hotel yacht, Morgan 44 or Joey, is available for chartering for a half or full day. Lastly, how could I forget the state of the art spa and tennis courts! This hotel is not to be missed when visiting the Amalfi Coast.

Buon Viaggio!

 

Italia 🇮🇹

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Summer is in full swing, and I have been reminiscing with friends about their summer travels. I was telling my friend who just got back from Rome how much I love the website Mr & Mrs Smith. Mr & Mrs Smith is my go to travel website! I prefer staying in small boutique hotels over large hotel chains. They review each and every boutique hotel, and give you a detailed overview of what to do in the area. Unlike some of the other on-line hospitality booking companies they have great customer service. In the event you need to make changes to your reservation, or have any issues when traveling you always have someone to contact. Here are two hotels in Italy that I discovered on Mr. and Mrs. Smith that did not disappoint.

Portrait Suites Roma – This hotel is a part of the Ferragamo collection so you can only image the attention to detail and decor in this Roman pied-á-terre. It’s 14 apartments in an Italian townhouse in the perfect location near the Spanish Steps. This is a great place to stay as a romantic getaway. Our room had the most beautiful balcony overlooking the city, and we sat on the rooftop deck sipping our aperol spritz’s!

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Palazzo Avino – This is another great hotel for a romantic getaway. Probably one of my favorite breakfasts I have ever had with the most magnificent views. Ravello is our favorites spot on the Amalfi coast not overloaded with tourists and still maintains it’s authentic Italian vibe. Sit pool side and sip a cocktail or take a ride to the beach and soak up the sun!

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Buon Viaggio!

Bon Voyage

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As the school year comes to a close people are getting ready for their summer travels. I had a friend ask me for some carry-on suggestions so I figured why not share it with all of you. Here are my picks:

  1. The Lois Tote Shinola $495 I have been waiting for this bag, and it’s finally available!! It’s a collaboration between actress and model Carolyn Murphy and Shinola.
  2. Baggu Oversize Tote $182 another option click here here This oversized tote is made in the USA. It’s constructed of soft tanned leather.
  3. Longchamp Le Pliage Neo Med Shoulder Tote $175 another option click here       Longchamp always designs light weight, water resistant, and affordable bags for travel. I like the tone on tone version over the brown leather trim with the nylon. It’s more sleek looking.
  4. Paravel Main Line Duffel $385  I love this bag so chic!!! All Paravel bags are Italian made. The canvas is stain and water resistant.
  5. Paravel Stowaway Leather Trimmed Bag $425 This style is collapsable (easy to store) and comes with a crossbody strap.
  6. Everlane Day Market Tote $165 Italian leather and made in Italy.
  7. Leatherology Large Zippered Tote $175 This bag has a top zipper closure, and you can have it monogrammed which I love.
  8. Filson Rugged Twill Zip Tote Bag $225 Filson isn’t just for the guys. I love the rugged twill, leather trim, and brass hardware on this Filson tote bag.

Desert Bound

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Going with the Coachella desert theme I thought I would share my experience at the new Andaz property in Scottsdale Arizona. I am a big fan of the Maui Andaz, and was excited to check out their new desert property.  The grounds, rooms, and main areas are beautifully decorated with a modern and clean feel. The rooms are little bungalows with your own private patio. The restaurant has an open kitchen serving clean and fresh food. I took full advantage of the beautiful spa and gym. They have a DJ at the main pool on the weekends so if that’s not your speed you can relax at the two other pools. The Andaz has done an excellent job creating a boutique hotel as an alternative to the other large resorts in the area.