Lifestyle Luxury Hotels Travel

Style, from helicopters to luxury hotels to chandeliers of real spoons

About to fly over Iguazu Falls, in style

Style is travelling by chopper, wearing the aforementioned Canadian Rockies hat and not losing it in the wind.  The gal was taking a tour over the entire Iguazu National Park, most of the 457,144 acres of it, straddling Argentina, Brazil and a bit of Paraguay.

Only one place to stay there, by the way, the super-stylish Hotel das Cataratas, Brazilian side, right by the Iguazu Falls (Junior Suite 1117 in its Forest Wing is ex-President Lula’s favourite, with a view of the Falls).

Style is appearing to 'hold' the Taj Mahal

Style is being surrounded by incredible art and/or history, and sometimes finding you can almost ‘hold it up’ by standing in the right place, say at the Taj Mahal, Agra, or at Park Hyatt Zurich.

This latter beauty, as functionally gorgeous as its predecessor, a carpark, was presumably just, well, functional, has 91 original art works, including a 90 sq ft Heinz Mack colour block in the lobby lounge and, look back from reception, back up to the 530 sq ft seven-colour swirl by Sol LeWitt. This is the hotel, too, that has elevator cabin walls formed of dried honest (Lunaria annua) seeds sandwiched between glass.

'Holding up" a Sol LeWitt in one of Zurich's luxury hotels (the Park Hyatt)

'Holding up" a Sol LeWitt in one of Zurich's luxury hotels (the Park Hyatt)

Style is simple dining – as all of you know, I think fabulous food is food you can identify. Stuff that has not been fussed and minced and twisted and twirled as though it was being taken through a cha-cha-cha in Strictly Come Dancing.

And if you can eat it in a fabulous environment, say the chef’s table right in the kitchen at InterContinental Houston, you will have a smile on your face.   This could have been a somewhat boring conference hotel but, guess, what, thanks to an imaginative team of creators (led by GM Raymond Vermolen, his divine Director Sales and Marketing John Oakley and the chef, Peter Laufer), it is oodles of fun.11

Spoon chandelier, TableOne, InterContinental Houston

Spoon chandelier, TableOne, InterContinental Houston

A corner of the main kitchen has been turned into TableOne.  It seats ten, is great for anniversaries or small company outings. There are blank papers up on the walls for you, the guests, to doodle or scribble or be a Banksy or something.

The ceiling is deliberately cluttered with signatures – from it hangs a chandelier made of spoons.   The investment in this brilliant concept paid for itself in 18 months.  Oh and yes, whatever you dine may well include baby vegetables that Peter Laufer has grown right here, alongside the grassy approach to the hotel.

Style is also buildings with ancient-ancient artefacts, say 80-year old lift at Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor at Siem Reap, Cambodia (one of Asia’s most glorious luxury hotels).

Cigar Room, Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof

Cigar Room, Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof

The hotel was planned as part of the Ecole Française d’Extrème-Orient EFEO master plan so that ‘Asia’ could copy the ‘Grand Tour of Europe’ of previous years – you know, travel from one Ritz to another, with the occasional Bristol shoved in between.

And how about this Cigar Room at the Frankfurter Hof in, guess where, Frankfurt? The stately building, 1876 vintage, is looked after by a quartet, not of angels or archangels but four larger-than-lifesize stone gargoyles of Atlantes. Sit in the courtyard off Kaiserplatz and they peer down at you.

Thoughtfully, the Steigenbergers who own the hotel – mother Anne-Marie Steigenberger, daughters Bettina, Christine and Claudia – have left the Cigar Room and its outside door as-is, which must be lots of fun.

Nightly ritual, 6pm, Ritz-Carlton Berlin

Talking of fun, let us switch to another very German hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Berlin – a hotel that is German owned (by Otto Beisheim founder of Metro), and designed by a German architect (Hillmer + Sasttler + Albrecht), with interiors by Munster-born Peter Silling.

OK, it is managed by the very-American Marriott, but it is still delightfully idiosyncratic that every evening at six precisely a Welshman dressed in full regalia of an English, Tower of London, beefeater comes to ‘beat retreat’ in the main lobby.  The clock strikes precisely as he arrives.

Which brings the gal to arriving in so many parts of the world.  See you tomorrow..