Shannita en Ciudad de México

During my two years of high school Spanish classes in Texas, my nombre en español was Shannita. As much as I tried to pronounce the words and phrases in Spanish, I was never very good at it. Later in life, I also tried learning via the Rosetta Stone program. I picked up vocabulary words but speaking the language was not a strength. Little did I know how I’d use this knowledge recently on a business trip to Mexico City.

Aqui, I will share my picks for a quick trip to the capital city, one of the most populated in the world. Stay: I was in a southeast part of town in the stylish Live Aqua; it was trendy, very clean, and the amenities (Molton Brown and remote control curtains/lighting) were stellar. The lobby was decorated in books throughout, and the meals I had on property were lovely. It was close to Polanco, an upscale district with beautiful flowers and expensive villas.

Eat: attached to my hotel was Porfirio’s, and it was heavenly. I highly recommend the elote para preparar (done up nicely tableside) and the brisket tacos. The following day, my colleague was kind enough to give me an afternoon tour downtown, and we enjoyed a late lunch at Azul Histórico, which was in walking distance from many famous sights. The ambiance was quite lovely–candles strung up in trees–and the presentation of our tasty mole plates were deftly crafted.

See: no trip would be complete without a drive down the famous Paseo de la Reforma, which is often compared to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. This was our thoroughfare into downtown, home of the Catedral Metropolitana (one of the largest cathedrals in Latin America) and the Palacio Nacional. Near the cathedral, once can see excavations to pyramids and architecture from earlier civilizations underneath, with reminded me of Rome. Lastly, a jaunt down a pedestrian street brought us to the Palacio de Bellas Artes, which is a beautiful domed building that houses an art museum and theatrical performances.

My sixteen-year-old self would have been proud of the Spanish vocabulary I retained, yet she would have been even more impressed with the exciting, fast-paced capital city. Ciudad de México es muy seguro, moderno y muy interesante. I highly recommend a long weekend visit–hire a driver, and get out into the city!

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Eating Our Way through Santa Monica

Aside

This weekend, my fiancé and I spent three days in Santa Monica, California. In town for a wedding, we happily ate our way through some of the best restaurants there. Headed to this lovely beach community soon? Below are some of the best places we went over the long weekend:

  • Ivy at the Shore. The Ivy is a Beverly Hills institution, and we hit this more casual location for lunch. Think colorful decoration, the famous Cobb salad (I enjoyed mine with lobster), attentive waiters, and refreshing berry champagne drinks. The outside seating area filled up quickly, and we loved having a leisurely lunch before strolling down to the touristy Santa Monica Pier.
  • The Penthouse at the Huntley. We joined some friends in a snazzy private booth here for dinner, and what a meal it was! We started with a delish charcuterie plate and marveled over the pâté. For my main course, I selected the truffle lobster macaroni and cheese–to die for!–and shared some of the chocolate panna cotta with my friends for desert. The views were incredible, and the service was excellent.
  • One Pico at Shutters on the Beach. This hotel is gorgeous and worth a visit itself, but I will happily recommend their Saturday brunch. We enjoyed tasty bubbles and their heavenly array of breads in this open and airy space directly next to the beach. Since I was still in a food coma from the previous day, I had a light mealof fresh corn soup with a zesty Caesar salad.
  • Sonoma Wine Garden. This fetching wine bistro sits atop of Santa Monica Place, and their Sunday brunch boasted six unlimited day drinking options (think elderflower mimosas) and noshable treats. Make sure you stake claim on your umbrella quickly, as these were in high demand on a sunny afternoon!
  • Casa Del Mar. This hotel, also directly on the beach, is another Santa Monica staple, yet we were finished stuffing our faces and only enjoyed a glass of wine overlooking the ocean. The atmosphere was quaint, and this was absolutely the most delightful way to cap off a lovely weekend.

The wedding we attended was at the nearby Viceroy–and it was pretty swanky. I would have loved to luxuriate by its cabana-covered pool, and they did a wonderful job with the wedding. We stayed at the Le Meridien Delfina, and while the hotel was not my favorite SPG property, the staff was pleasant, and the spicy truffle popcorn was addicting. It’s a good thing that we danced the night away at the wedding reception and walked all over town, or we would have gained a lot of weight eating our way through gorgeous Santa Monica!

Santa Monica Beach Scene from Casa Del Mar

Santa Monica Beach Scene from Casa Del Mar

Business Trip to Bangalore

Although I’ve had the pleasure of journeying to India before (you can read about my trip to Delhi here), I was thrilled to go on a business trip to Bangalore last month. Part of my excitement was visiting the tech hub of India, and after my previous visit to “Incredible India!”, I wanted to experience more. The similarities: the hustle and bustle of daily life, the kindness of the people I encountered, and the incredibly delish cuisine. Speaking of cuisine, I enjoyed some of my favorites–masala, paneer, dosas!–multiple times throughout the visit. I also learned to love Indian tea.

With a packed agenda of meetings and not much time to see the city after it took nearly two days for me to arrive, I hired a driver to take me into the city center on a Sunday afternoon. I visited the quaint Bangalore Palace, which had guided tours and quite a bit of history to learn about the families that lived there in the past. (Note: if you are vehemently against the shooting and displaying of wild game, I’d skip it.) My driver also took me to Shiva Temple, and he was kind enough to tour it with me to explain some of the Hindu traditions. It was there that I took the majority of my photos in Bengaluru, and it–along with some religious history from a kind colleague–I got the best picture of local worship.

The majority of the week was spent in cars going to and fro my hotel–the swanky Zuri Whitefield–and the many meetings I had. The negative side of the Zuri: I did take the opportunity to go to the hotel’s spa (where the masseuse asked me if I ever exercised…I cringed); and the positive:the kind waiters tried to show me which foods were spicy. The one late afternoon I had off, I got to explore a local mall and try on some fabulous clothes at Biba, where I bought a really pretty shirt.

The main difference between this trip and my 2011 trip to India was sadly time: I did not have near enough of it to explore as I would have hoped.

 

The Best Hotels in the World

Travel + Leisure recently debuted its annual list of the world’s best hotels, and I scoured the list of the top 100 to see if I had stayed at any of these top ranked properties. The travel Twitterverse was abuzz with all of this news, and it made me think of some of my favorite stays. From overlooking the tallest building in the world to my favorite New York City boutique hotel, I’ve had the opportunity to have stayed at some incredible places. Here are my top five hotels:

  • JW Marriott Phuket: right on the water, this incredible property is stunningly gorgeous, has an incredible staff, and is the perfect place to get away from it all.

    Beachside in Phuket

    Beachside in Phuket

  • The Palmer House: my absolute favorite place to stay in Chicago, this now Hilton property was rebuilt several times during its history. The lobby ceilings are absolutely exquisite!
  • The Address: one can see the tallest building in the world, as well as walk to the Mall of Dubai, from this elegant urban hotel.
  • On the Avenue: a darling boutique hotel in the heart of Manhattan (which is currently being transformed into a NYLO property), On the Ave is located on Broadway and West 77th. 
  • A three-way tie: as I’m hoping that one of the places that I’m going to stay during my upcoming vacation makes my top 5 list. In Athens, we will be within walking distance of the Acropolis at the King George. Kontokali Bay Resort and Spa will be our home away from home in the Ionian Island town of Corfu, and the Hilton Imperial will welcome us within the historic city walls of Dubrovnik.

What hotels did I–or the experienced team at T&L–miss? What hotels or resorts would make your list?