Three Wines for Christmas

The holidays are here, and that means it’s time to pick out thoughtful gifts for the ones you love. It’s also time to stock the wine cellar with a few jewels to entertain and surprise visiting friends and family. With this in mind, I’ve selected a few wines I’ve tried recently that will just over deliver this Christmas season.

Berlin like Babylon - The Adlon Kempinski

Kaiser, Chancellors and Kings or Queens stayed in this hotel, at the center of political Germany, near the Reichstag at Unter den Linden where history happened so many times: Emperor Wilhelm II. of Prussia before WWI made this hotel possible in the first place and was a preferred guest, a lazaret during the war, then in the roaring 20s where the high society partied and stumbled into the crisis that ended the Weimarer republic.

Right Bank of Bordeaux - Wine Tour

The Right bank of the Gironde, in France, is home to Saint Emilion. A splendid city that shines not only for its monochromatic limestone architecture, but for its surrounding vineyards. Saint Emilion as a wine region is a source of premium wine and without a doubt, is amongst the finest in the world. The zone appears to be destined to forever take the back seat while it’s more famous neighbours: Pomerol to the north, and the overconfident communes of the left bank take center stage. 

On this tour, though, I’ll show you three wineries that are not as famous, but still show off great winemaking.

Waldhaus Flims - Forever Young in Switzerland

Founded in 1877 the Waldhaus Flims since had a long and moving history. Today it’s a modern 5 star luxury hotel in the Swiss Alps and member of the Leading Hotels of the World. I visited this winter hotel on a summer weekend this year.

Parts of the 2010 movie Youth with Michael Caine were filmed at the Waldhaus while the whole cast was living there. Let’s see whether I came back younger after a night in the Waldhaus…

Hotel Eden Bleu - Seychelles

The second hotel on our Seychelles trip this year was the Hotel Eden Bleu on Eden Island near the capital Victoria. After the fantastic Hilton Labriz, the (cheaper) Eden Bleu could only lose. I didn’t expect much and, unfortunately, I was not positively surprised. “But the photos look great!”, I hear you say. True, the “hard product” really was nice: all new and an open and bright interior design. So, why did we leave the Eden Bleu disappointed?

La Grand’Vigne - Fine Dining in Bordeaux

Just south of the city of Bordeaux in Martillac you will find a wonderful hotel amidst the vineyards of Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte with a 2-Michelin-Star restaurant: La Grand’Vigne. The inventors of fine dining and the inventors of red wine…this could be good.

Four Seasons at Sultanahmet Istanbul

Istanbul has been the center of the civilised world for centuries and always at the center stage for the cultural clash of East and West. This results in a plethora of historical sites to behold and a rich culture to experience. This world famous tourist destination offers a lot of hotels for accommodation and this time we chose one of the best, I am sure. Why? Read below.

Lorenz Adlon Esszimmer - Fine Dining Berlin

If you want to have a proper dinner when in Berlin an obvious choice is the Lorenz Adlon Esszimmer in the history-laden Kempinski Adlon hotel directly next to the Brandenburg Gate. This establishment is lead by the two-Michelin-starred chef Hendrik Otto. Let’s see whether Kings and Emperors would be satisfied still today were they guests of Lorenz Adlon, like they did in his time.

Emirates Business Class A380 - DXB to ZRH

Departing from the Downtown Palace in Dubai the king sent us on our way in a truly royal manner: Emirates Business Class, where the service already starts from your doorstep all the way through via the grand Business lounge (rather terminal) at DXB, the great A380 product and ending at your home with the chauffeur service. I know, it sounds like advertisement, but rest assured that I am not contracted by Emirates and paid for the flight myself. I was just happy with their wholesome service offering. Read below to find out why!

Palace Downtown Dubai

The prince's Downtown Palace was sumptuous and - while being in the center of everything - it still was a calm oasis. A perfect representation of Dubai today: an old Arabian palace amidst modern skyscrapers.

Directly next to the Burj al Khalifa in downtown Dubai this luxury resort might not be on your point-collector's-list, as it is not part of any international chain ("just" the local Address Hotels and the U by Emaar-program), it is still very well worth your money - especially when you book with a Virtuoso agent: we got an upgrade from the "cheapest" room to a big suite. Let's take a look!

Emirates Business Class B777 - SEZ to DXB

Flying to and from the paradise that are the Seychelles in style is possible via airlines like Air Seychelles (they are reducing their long-haul business though), Qatar Airways or Emirates. We chose the latter since we wanted to stay in Dubai for a few days on the return trip. New for me was the (old) Business Class seat of Emirates in a Boeing.

How does Business Class of Emirates in the Boeing 777 compare to the praised Airbus 380?

Hilton Seychelles Labriz

When Ian Fleming came to the Seychelles in 1958 he got inspired to write James Bond short stories for his book "For Your Eyes Only". This is also true for dreamers wanting to travel to the Seychelles: only those willing to cash out - this place is not cheap - are allowed to lay their eyes onto paradise. You don't need Bond's platinum card courtesy of Her Majesty the Queen (damn, what would I give for a card like that?), but you should be able to hand over 500 USD per night for accommodation only. Of course you don't have to stay at a Hilton Resort, but then again, why live at all? (and, the Hilton Labriz was one of the "cheaper" options, mind you)

Park Hyatt Dubai

The luxury brand of the Hyatt corporation opened its first Dubai outstation already in 2005. Situated at the quiet Dubai creek with a marina and a golf course this Dubai hotel is different from the downtown options - but is it a viable one? The city is becoming the hotel capital of the world with seemingly more hotels than residential buildings, so the choice is not easy. Let's see how the Park Hyatt fares.

Silver 7132 - Fine Dining in the Swiss Alps

People travel to the little mountain village of Vals deep in the Alps of Switzerland for the thermal baths: 7132 Therme & Spa designed by famed Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. But to that you should add another reason to visit: Sven Wassmer and his two Michelin stars and 18 Gault&Millau points that he and his team are showing off in the Silver, the restaurant of the thermal baths hotel 7132.