Sofitel Legend The Grand - Amsterdam

I recently discovered an interesting Sub-Brand of Sofitel, a hotel chain belonging to the Accor conglomerate that I usually don’t pay attention to. With the Legends hotels they got me listening: promising to keep the history of their place, which is usually in a location where actual history took place. And that in utter luxury? My favourite combination!

And now what if this location is Amsterdam? This unique and amazing European city already offers so much culture (Rijksmuseum with Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh anyone?), historical Northern architecture (Dutch Renaissance, Grachten), and the most liberal society on the continent (you know exactly what I mean).

Champagne Tasting - Henri Giraud

After I had discovered my latest favorite Champagne on a Bordeaux trip, I was thrilled when I learned that a vertical tasting with the Chef de Cave of Henri Giraud was coming to town!

This time the tasting went from MV13 down to MV07, which is roughly related to the year of bottling.

Dubai in Summer

How bad is it really? How hot? How empty are the streets? How much money can I save for staying off-season?

Dubai in summer - have you been playing with this idea?

I am trying to give some guidance on that topic in this post while recommending a few nice hotels in the city of man-made wonders.

Qatar Airways Business Class (Qsuites) - DOH-ZRH

I finally had the chance to try the (still relatively) new Qsuite of Qatar Airways in their Airbus A350-900. This Business Class product promises to be close to other First Class offerings and I have been eager to compare it to my Emirates or Swiss Business experiences.

I was on a short layover in Doha (where I stayed close to the airport in the Sharq Village & Spa, review will follow) and had an early morning flight at 08:00 am to Zurich the next day. This meant I could try out the breakfast and catch up on sleep for about 6 hours of flight time. Let’s find out whether the upgrade price of about 600 USD for this leg was worth it!

Les Sources des Caudalie - Bordeaux

Discover something wonderful in Bordeaux. Imagine a place where nothing looks artificial, but blends perfectly into the natural environment. Where the service is first class, but nothing is bling-bling. Where you can have your dinner be prepared by a two-Michelin-star chef, without being pretentious. And all this amidst the best wine region on the planet.

Sound like heaven? It might as well be - to me at least. Will you feel the same?

Kempinski Seychelles

The Seychelles are a true paradise and naturally most of the worlds luxury hotel brands have settled there. An often underrated chain is the Kempinski group, founding member of GHA, originating in Berlin, Germany, in 1897. Far from the cold of the Northern hemisphere they also set up shop on the Seychelle’s main island Mahé in the Baie Lazare, a wonderful bay where they are the only hotel.

It’s a five star resort with a huge footprint, promising facilities and an acceptable price. Does it all add up? Let’s find out!

Crystal (SLH) - St. Moritz

St. Moritz - a name of glamour and prestige regarding winter holidays since 1864, where Shahs, playboys and all the other jet set of the 60s and 70s reigned supreme and today mingle with the newly rich and wannabe riches. Located in the always sunny, but high-altitudinal, Engadin county of Switzerland it really delivered on the clearest air I have experienced at -4° F (-20° C) in mid-December. Similar to the heat of Dubai, it was a dry cold that felt slightly more bearable than elsewhere.

The Crystal hotel is part of the SLH network, and, uncommon for them, only has 4 stars. This doesn’t have to be bad - I stayed at wonderful 4 or 3 star hotels - but does the Crystal surprise with unsuspected wonder?

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?