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Midtown Shangri-La Hangzhou and Cheng Zhong Restaurant (Hangzhou, China)

Lobby Lobby centerpiece The other hotel I’ve stayed in Hangzhou was Midtown Shangri-La, Hangzhou. This Shangri-La hotel is the newest of the two in Hangzhou and interestingly this hotel is connected to the luxurious Kerry Centre Mall and about ten minutes to West Lake. This stately and centrally located hotel is great. Check-in was speedy and for the most part the receptionists spoke English fairly well. I stayed at the Executive Club King room so my room is on the floor of that lounge. (more…)

JW Marriott Hangzhou (Hangzhou, China)

Canopies of willow trees at West Lake Boats floating on West Lake West Lake, Hangzhou Next off to Hangzhou! My flight from Chengdu took me to Shanghai. Learning that Hangzhou is less than an hour away from Shanghai by way of the bullet train, I planned to head to this city for a few nights. The bullet train system in China is very efficient. It’s like any other train station I’ve been to in Europe: it’s lots of people waiting on lines and waiting around the central information area waiting for their gate information; chaotic to swim through the masses..

Li Xuan at The Ritz-Carlton, Chengdu

Wide and Narrow Alleys (宽窄巷) during early morning If you have been following my Instagram feed recently, I meandered through four cities in China: Chengdu, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Chongqing. It’s a whirlwind of a trip that at times feel exhausting yet but it was all exhilarating and worth the hours on the plane and train. My first destination was Chengdu. This capital city of the Sichuan province is obviously famous for pandas (alas, I didn’t have time to see) and for most people, the city of mala (麻辣) spicy food. I admit I explored this city in a very limited..

International House Hotel and Loa Bar (New Orleans, LA)

Exterior As with many buildings in the Central Business District, exteriors and interiors tell very different stories. In this case, both are intriguing: The facade is an ornate twelve floors of early 20th-century Beaux Arts finesse, while the lobby is a low-lit haven for guests enjoying some tranquility and the various contemporary artworks that decorate the space (a Banksy mural is on display), all high ceilings, huge portraits, and oversized ottomans. The arty interior touches of designer L.M.Pagano create an evocative public space. (more…)

Fantastic Seafood Dinner at GW Fins (New Orleans, LA)

Entrance of GW Fins Spacious dining room One of my favorite meals in New Orleans was dinner at GW Fins. It is a high-end seafood restaurant but runs like a high-end steakhouse. Tables draped in white tablecloth, dark wood accents, dim lighting and waiters in neat uniforms with professional yet no nonsense approach to get my order. The star ingredient – fish in this case, instead of steak – has to have the best quality and presentation, and service and ambiance should follow suit as well. Along the way, they have tapped the wealth of seafood from the Gulf and..


Dinner at Luke (New Orleans, LA)

Interior Fresh oysters at the bar Having dinner at Luke feels like eating at an upscale pub that feels historic and modern at the same time. The service is friendly and swift and the waiters are in pristine white suits. The menu primarily focuses on the seafood with a touch of Creole flair. We couldn’t help but stare at the glorious looking oyster bar when we walked to our table. Unfortunately my companion and I weren’t able to have those beautiful mollusks served raw on the half shell for a few reasons but the other dishes we had were delicious...

French Opulence at Le Pavillon Hotel (New Orleans, LA)

Grand staircase from the lobby to lower level Part of Cachette 1907 looking toward the lobby and reception desk This Romanesque white stone building is one of the most architecturally dramatic hotels in the city. The lobby is no less elegant, with towering ceilings, marble columns, and large crystal chandeliers. Marble floors and gilded ceilings surround a lobby covered in art and sculptures. The hotel’s original owners had grand plans, and stated them clearly with the construction of the striking, 15-foot monumental limestone pillars that frame the entrance. A refurbishment in the 1960s had artifacts and interiors sourced from Europe,..

Excellent Stay at Windsor Court Hotel (New Orleans, LA)

Entrance at Courtyard When I was in New Orleans, I stayed at The Windsor Court Hotel. It’s a very elegant hotel just a few blocks away from the French Quarter, making it accessible to the main touristy neighborhood. Interestingly enough, the overall stay didn’t make me think I’m that close to the boisterous crowds of Bourbon Street. The ornate decor (British 19th-century antiques, furniture, and artwork) is courtesy of the hotel’s original Anglophile owner, and would be over-the-top if it wasn’t so consistent. A full gym, heated outdoor pool, high tea service, and delicious food all add to a decadent..