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Archive for January, 2009

parkhyatt_medWhen it opened in September 2008, the Park Hyatt Shanghai officially became the highest hotel in the world. The elevator ride up to the lobby is long and full of anticipation. But as the elevator doors finally ease open to reveal the stunning 87th-floor lobby, the view does not disappoint. The dark mahogany wood of the reception area against pale coffee-coloured walls is rich and luxurious. The exceptionally high ceilings (unexpected in a high-rise building) give instant grandeur to the space and create an immediate sense of extravagant style.

Designed by New York–based Chinese-American interior designer Tony Chi, the rooms at the Park Hyatt Shanghai are nothing short of sophisticated. With high-tech features (remote controlled shades that, at the click of button, reveal a sweeping view of Shanghai, a television screen hidden in the bathroom mirror and a toilet that does everything but your laundry) and an otherwise minimalist decor, the rooms are a perfect mixture of modern American design and traditional Chinese Zen.

We checked in with Caitlin Hickey, a public relations representative for the hotel, to find out more about the inspiration behind the hotel’s beautiful design. Click here to read the interview.

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It’s been a few days but … back to my Indian adventure! After leaving the jungle, I was off to Mumbai, where I stayed at the Grand Hyatt, Mumbai. This five-star luxury hotel was imposing and impressive, from the moment I stepped foot inside. I was pretty hungry on arrival and was thrilled to see the dining options, of which there were plenty. Dinner at the Italian restaurant Celini was delicious – I had a mouthwatering ossu bucco (I’d had my fill of curry and needed a change!). China House serves a menu of typically Chinese cuisine and M is a grill and martini bar. Of course, there’s an Indian restaurant, too; Soma dishes up authentic regional and tandoor-grilled cuisine.

mumbai-grand-hyattThe rooms are bright and tranquil and feel strangely out-of-place amidst the chaos of Mumbai that resides right outside the hotel grounds. But it’s a welcome respite and a wonderful place to rest and relax after wandering the streets of one of the world’s most intriguing cities. Pictured here is the Grand King room, with floor-to-ceiling windows (you can have a courtyard or city view) and the minimalist, modern decor is totally Zen. Crisp, white linens, golden Jaisalmer stone (an Indian sandstone) and light sycamore wood paneling give the 40-square-meter interior a spacious and airy feeling and ensure a good night’s sleep. Sweet dreams!

Click here for more information on the Grand Hyatt, Mumbai.

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baghvan_lobbyNext up on the itinerary: A stop in the Indian jungle to go on safari! Here, I stayed at the wonderful Baghvan Pench Jungle Lodge. When I wasn’t out on an early morning (or mid-afternoon) game drive, searching for the ever-elusive tigers and leopards that roam Pench National Park, I was hanging out in the luxurious accommodations at the resort. Pictured above, you can get a sense of the “lobby” that greets guests. More like a living room in a thoughtfully designed home, this space gives an immediate sense of the style and intimacy guests can expect to find here. Cocktails here in the evenings give guests the opportunity to meet other guests and make you feel at home rather than “at hotel”.

baghvan_bedroomThe bedrooms are equally as welcoming. Featuring soaring ceilings and a rather rustic exterior (this is the jungle, after all!), the interiors are warm, comfortable and cozy. On cold nights, guests return to their rooms to find hot water bottles warming their bed and early morning tea and biscuits brought to the door are an exceptional way to start the day. There are many amazing resorts and hotels all over the world but this one, nestled deep in the heart of the Indian jungle, was truly special. Aside from the stylish accommodations and the surrounding natural beauty, here, heart, hospitality and friendship come first. Quite unexpectedly, I found myself shedding a few tears to leave the friends I’d made on my much-too-short stay.

For more information, visit andbeyondindia.com

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Many North Americans are unfamiliar with the Shangri-La hotel chain but that is soon about to change! This leading Asia-based luxury hotel group has 58 deluxe hotels and resorts in major Asian and Middle Eastern cities and is known throughout Asia as a premiere destination for business and leisure travelers alike. But get ready – the Shangri-La’s expansion plans are bold and the chain will roll out a number of North American launches in the next few years, starting with Vancouver (2009) and followed by Toronto, New York and Chicago (2011).

shangri-laYesterday, I started to tell you about a recent trip to India. While I was in New Delhi, I had the great pleasure of spending one night at the Shangri-La there. The hotel has 320 guest rooms and suites and the decor of the rooms is warm and inviting. I loved the dark woods and the colours, echoing shades of paprika and saffron, seemed fitting in this place so well known for its spices.

What is your favourite hotel? I’d love to hear from you about places you’ve stayed and loved.

For more hotel-inspired design ideas, check out Style at Home’s Hotel Style section.

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I recently had the opportunity to visit India. Have you ever been? To say it was a life-changing experience would be an understatement. India, as its tourism slogan states, is incredible.

But my journey there first involved a stop in Belgium and after the unexpected and devastating terror attacks in Mumbai, I went on to Shanghai. Over the next few days, I’m going to share some of the experience with you, and in keeping with the theme of this blog, showcase some of the beautiful hotels I stayed at along the way. If you, like me, love beautifully designed hotels, check out our Hotel Style section for ideas and inspiration.

jet-airways-seatThe entire trip, I flew business class on Jet Airways. Wow! I had never experienced anything like this before. Jet Airways’ business class service is so deluxe, it makes a 12-hour flight seem too short! Check out the seats, pictured left. Each seat is private and features a television screen and lots of room for you to get comfortable. The best part is that the seats turn into completely lie-flat beds. This was a first for me and was an unforgettable experience. The flight attendants were the friendliest and most attentive I’d ever encountered and I know I’ll be flying with Jet Airways again. They made the experience very, very special.
dominican-bedroom

OK, so my first stop was Belgium. I stayed at The Dominican, a luxury hotel in the heart of Brussels, just steps away from the Grand Place and a short walk from the Brussels Central Railway Station. The rooms here, as you can see from the photos, are luxe and decadent, the perfect place to relax after a long flight. There are 150 guestrooms and suites here and the contemporary design is rich and luxurious. It’s a beautiful marriage of old-world Europe and modern design. Intimate and elegant, this hotel was a real treat!

dominican-bathroomThe bathroom was possibly my favourite part! The weather was very cold while I was visiting (lots of rain,  sleet and snow!) and I looked forward to long hot showers to warm up! Marble and stone in muted shades of black, brown and grey, complement each other wonderfully in this space and create a calming, zen-like environment.

THE DOMINICAN
Rue Léopold / Leopoldstraat 9
1000, Brussels, Belgium

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The craziness of the holidays is behind us now. I don’t know about you but my December was frenzied. So I’m happy to welcome the slower, more civilized pace that January brings. But I don’t need to come to a complete halt either. If you’re looking for easy, practical things to do around the house this month, you should check out our story, 10 things to do in January, written by styleathome.com contributor Carmen Taylor. I’ll give you a sneak preview, but to read the rest, click here.

january1-main1 Review presents and hostess gifts
Of course your friends and family love you and were grateful for your hospitality, but no doubt you don’t really need all the tokens of affection you received. Surely someone else could make better use of that collection of tea, those pot holders or that picture frame? Hold on to what you love, by all means, but get rid of the rest by dropping it off at Goodwill, Value Village or your favourite charity.

2 Tapers, tea lights, scented …
Candles make the season and since you’ve probably gone through a whack of them, replace your stock now. They don’t have a shelf life so it’ll be one less thing to shop for next year.

3 Move the furniture
You may be surprised what you find there. Take the cushions off sofas and chairs, vacuum along the wall behind the furniture and then turn your attention to the inside of the furniture itself. After the hosting you’ve done, no doubt it needs it.

Image courtesy of Crate and Barrel

Read more …

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Happy New Year! I hope each and every one of you enjoyed a wonderful holiday. I know I did. But it never ceases to amaze me how quickly it goes by. It seems like Christmas Eve was just yesterday and now it’s January 5 and I’m back at work. Boy, I hope this winter goes by fast!

So, I don’t know how many of you made new year’s resolutions this year – you know, those dirty little promises we tend to make and break? While personal resolutions are private, we asked the Style at Home staff about their around-the-house resolutions for 2009. You can read about them here.

grayglassMy around-the-house resolution is to finally get around to updating the backsplash in my kitchen. I hate the one that’s there and I dream of something more striking like glass, which can be illuminated beautifully with under cabinetry lighting. I was originally thinking of one-inch by one-inch glass tiles but then I saw this backsplash (pictured here), which is also quite lovely. This is from New York-based Grayglass. Grayglass will custom-make glass backsplashes with coloured and patterned glass, according to their clients’ specifications. Ooh! The options! Now I can’t decide what I want to do. But it’s only January; I have time, right?

If you’re thinking of doing a kitchen renovation this year, check out our kitchen section; it’s full of helpful ideas for creating your dream kitchen.

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