DSCF7289 Palm Trees and Alpine Peaks - The Tyrolean spa town of Meran, part of Italy since the post-WWI carve-up of the fallen Austro-Hungarian empire, was, a century ago, the hot destination of its day, a leafy Hapsburg Shangri-La teeming with poets, royalty, adulterers, gamblers and the convalescing. Visitors came for the opera, the mild climate, to take the waters and stroll its rambling walks, and included a young Sigmund Freud, an ailing Franz Kafka and Sissi, the beautiful, eccentric Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Traditional Mittel-European hospitality still flourishes here today, as does the city’s modern mineral spa and a wider culture of wellness. A five minute stroll from the river and the porticos of the historic centre, Ottmanngut manages to be both comfortably urban and delightfully bucolic, with a soundtrack of birdsong and a stage set back drop of terraced vines, gardens, palms and circling alpine peaks. Nine airy rooms each have a distinct personality, full of beautiful objects and furniture and playful references to the house’s long history. As variously a home and a hotel, Ottmanngut has been in the hands of the Kirchenlecher family for a number of generations. We talk to Martin Kirchenlecher who, along with his brother Clemens, have reimagined this precious family home into a thoroughly 21st-century guesthouse. (5/1/2015)
IMG_0514cover Blue Medina - Traditional Arabic architecture doesn’t give a lot away from its exterior, with often vast, exquisitely decorated spaces secreted behind heavy doors, shutters and blank whitewashed streetscapes. But stay at La Chambre Bleue, a B&B in a vibrant, if totally untouristed, enclave of Tunis’ ancient Medina, and such a space is yours to temporarily call your own. We talk to Maroune ben Miled, who, with Sondos Belhassen, welcomes guests into a stunningly chic, beautifully bohemian family home, giving guests not just a stylish place to stay, but a chance to discover the moods and rhythms of Tunisian life. (3/1/2015)
IMG_0142 High Desert Art of Living - The night sky above Cortijada Los Gázquez is an astonishing sight, a glowing canopy of stars all but filling its inky dome. Up in the high desert of the Parque Natural Sierra María-Los Vélez there is almost no light pollution – it is, as they say in the guidebooks, off the beaten track. This is Andalucía at its most traditionally rural, and often wild, where rocky, arid mountains rise up from the plains south of Murcia before tumbling down to the coast of the Cabo de Gata. (2/1/2015)
IMG_5537cover Le Bouche à Oreille - Hotel du Temps has a depth, texture and warmth born out of genuine creative curiosity and fluid, fertile collaboration. And it’s a place that really does feel like home. Winsome, wistful, low-fi rooms have a look that is beguilingly indeterminate; a little bucolic, a touch Scandinavian, but also utterly, totally Paris right now. We talk to first time hotelier, Yoan Marciano about how Hotel du Temps came to be. (12/30/2014)

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