Shangri-La Paris

No other city in the world does luxury, elegance, and history quite like Paris and when you stay at Paris’ historical Shangri-La Hotel, you will experience luxurious royal treatment in a place that used to be home to well…royalty. With 63 rooms and 37 suites, you’ll never be too far from all of the history, culture, and mesmerizing views of the City of Lights. Home to two Michelin star restaurants, Shangri-La knows how to put on the Ritz. Built inside of the palace of French Imperial Roland Bonaparte, the hotel was originally constructed in 1896.

Shangri-La Hotels acquired the palace in 2006 and took four years to renovate. They took the time to restore all of the palace highlights to their 19th century glory while at the same time incorporating modern updates, making the transition into a luxurious 21st century hotel complete. The renovation was painstakingly put together, going as far as to remove original wood floors slat-by-slat and then putting them back together. Shangri-La Paris is perfect for a romantic getaway, a conference, banquet, or a storybook wedding.

The restaurants L’Abeille, Shang Palace, and La Bauhinia offer French, Chinese, and a blend of French and South-East Asian cuisines respectively and they are prepared to fulfill any appetite. Sitting across the Seine in front of the Eiffel Tower, nestled near the Champs-Elysees, avenue Montaigne, and world renowned museums, Shangri-La Paris is the ideal place to stay for locals and tourists alike.

If you are lucky enough to stay in the La Suite Gustave Eiffel, sitting on the sixth floor, be sure to take plenty of selfies on the balcony. Your friends will be green with envy when they see your views of the Eiffel Tower. Or if rooftop terraces are more your style, stay on the fifth floor in La Suite Chaillot, boasting 1650 square feet of amazing views and decadent lounge areas for up to 6 guests. Another suite, La Suite Shangri-La, was built with the breathtaking views in mind. Constructed with a 46-foot-long panoramic window, this suite has photo-ops galore, looking over Napoleon’s Tomb, Notre Dame, the Pantheon, and the Eiffel Tower.

The crème de la crème is without a doubt L’Appartement Prince Bonaparte, which is the largest suite in the hotel and used to be the private apartment of Prince Roland Bonaparte. In this suite, the prime example of mixing 19th and 21st century style is in the bathroom, with marble bathrooms giving way to heated floors. The suite can also connect to two other rooms for a total of 3,770 square feet and three total bedrooms. But if your luck fails and you can’t stay in one of these premiere rooms, not a problem, as 40 percent of the rooms and 60 percent of the suites in the hotel look out directly over Paris’ most well-known monument. That’s right, almost every room offers a stunning and unique view of la tour Eiffel. No matter where you stay in Shangri-La Paris, pack a crown, and be prepared to live like royalty.

Address: 10, avenue d'Iéna, Paris, 75116, France
Telephone: (+33 ) 1 5367 1998

The Grosvenor House Hotel London

Spend your London getaway right in the heart of historic Park Lane at the Grosvenor House Hotel. This iconic gem combines unique style with top-notch service to create storybook memories in one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

Rooms mesh contemporary design with luxury fittings and deluxe amenities giving a traditional and classic London feel. The newly refurbished suites unveil chic décor, elegant marble bathrooms and offer incredible views of the infamous Hyde Park.

Enjoy the finest cuts of meat at JW Steakhouse, sip an evening cocktail at the recently at the Park Room or explore a variety of other dining options like the infamous afternoon tea.As one of London’s leading bourbon specialists you can also finding yourself indulging in a couple of drams at The Bourbon Bar, one for the connoisseurs or just those who like to try something new.

The list continues, having already covered the meat-eaters dream we turn our attention to the sea – as you can treat yourself to fresh seafood as well as seasonal produce at the Richard Corrigan award-winning Corrigan’s Mayfair, or start your morning off with a specialty coffee at Park Lane Market. The options are truly endless and there really is something for everyone to indulge in.

While food does sit at the epicenter of this central delight, as does an award-winning cocktail list, embodying some of Britain’s most iconic spirits. Imbibe delights such as Black Cow and Blackdown Distillery are just two of the spirits that add a unique local charm to the mix and trust me when I tell you you’ll experience one of the best Violet Martini’s you’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. The newly installed Red Bar ads a beautiful contemporary feel to this highly regarded and bespoke gem.

The Grosvenor House has the looks, the location, and the amenities—what’s not to love about this local favorite?

Address: 86-90 Park Lane, London W1K 7TN
Telephone: +44 20 74996363

Ellenborough Park, Cotswolds

The extravagant castle-esque structure that is Ellenborough Park will transport you into a world of luxury and comfort. This Cotswold manor house dates back to the 15th century gaining its name from the iconic Cotswold stone from which it’s created. The real beauty behind the hotel comes from Lady Ellenborough, Jane Digby, herself. For it was her unique style and personality that inspired the individuality of the hotel back in the 19th century. She was a dazzling character who took the English society by storm with her remarkable beauty and scandalous behavior. As a result, Ellenborough Park gained its reputation for country retreats, romantic breaks, a striking wedding venue, and perfectly conducted conferences.

Ellenborough Park has stood tall with some contemporary restorations made along the way. Now, the hotel has a five-star appeal to all who wish to stay including brilliant restaurants, a dual-level spa, and exemplary service by a friendly group of staff. The accommodations tastefully reflect the history and image of Ellenborough Park. Each room and suite is equipped with Hypnos beds, marble finished bathrooms with under floor heating, and the ever-fashionable fluffy gowns and slippers. Rooms are available in four separate quarters: Main House, The Mews, Ellenborough Gate, and Woodland Court (which has suites named after famous racehorses).

The main restaurant offers contemporary selection of British inspired cuisine with European twists, accompanied by a stunning wine selection. No wine selection is complete without a stellar team, and both the staff and sommelier do justice to the quality that is housed within these beautiful walls. With the perfect size portions to whet the appetite, it’s the marvelous antique cheese trolley that adds the final touch do this gourmet experience.

Ellenborough Park is also surrounded by luscious countryside, sitting in the heart of the Cotwolds. Take a stroll through the hills after visiting the bespoke ‘Boot Room’, to fit yourself with the most comfortable boots and parker jackets you’ve come across. Upon completion of your hike, soothe your body in the warm sunshine as you sip on local ales and watch the wildlife flurry on by – tranquility to your ears as the sunset begins to set the sky on fire.

Whether for travel, events, or conferences, Ellenborough Park can accommodate all like royalty – a bespoke experience for those who like to add a little calmness to their lives.

Facebook // Twitter
Southam Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL52 3NJ | 01242 807655

By Aidy Smith

Hotel Esencia, Cancún

It started with a blank canvas, an empty white page, a bare wall. Then came lines, words, walls and windows as the masters try to create a work of art – a piece, a story, a hotel that makes a statement.

When art collector and entrepreneur Kevin Wendle purchased the Hotel Esencia in 2014 he added eleven new accommodations and edited the design of the twenty-nine existing bedrooms and suites back to a nearly blank canvas. The surfaces shine a pure white that mirrors the way the hot sun overexposes the famed sand beaches of the Xpu Ha region of Mexico. The deep brown wood edges the doors and walls like the frame of a finished work. Wooden accent pieces are arranged around the room in a manner both aesthetic and functional. Spots of color create artistic splatters in the form of flower arrangements, unique local art pieces and abstract designs on pillows and duvets.

Fifty minutes south of the tourist section of Cancún, opposite the island of Cozumel, the Hotel Esencia sits on the eastern tip of the Yucatán Peninsula as the pinnacle of unpretentious refinement and luxury. From the private white sand beaches to the open yoga studio to its varied restaurants and bars, the hotel’s offerings reflect the cool yet classy vibe of the décor. Hotel Esencia’s Mistura restaurant serves up an authentic Mexican gastronomic experience through its use of seafood dishes and specialties from the grill whereas BeefBar Esencia offers a selection of exceptional meat cuts from Australian Black Onyx and Wx Wagyu beef, and Certified Japanese Kobe beef.

The lush green jungle and crystal blue Caribbean create the perfect backdrop for the newly expanded Hotel Esencia. The doors of the central hotel open to the garden paths that meander along the coast and through the trees, connecting the jungle and beach rooms and suites to the spa, gym, restaurants and bars. The hotel works in conjunction with nature from the minimally invasive construction techniques of the new structures to the locally sourced food featured on the many food and drink menus.

Hotel Esencia offers a variety of accommodations from single rooms to three bedroom villas either nestled under the canopy of trees or along the white sand beach. Guests are provided even more options when it comes to refreshments and activities. From fine dining at Mistura to the juice bar that transforms into a cocktail lounge as the sun makes its way access the sky, Hotel Esencia strives to provide traditional favorites with a global flare and offers an array of dishes to please a variety of appetites and provide guests the energy they need to enjoy the hotel’s many amusements. Within twenty minutes of the hotel are the Robert Trent Jones 27-hole golf course and the Mayan ruins of Tulum, or guests can experience the local wildlife by snorkeling the reef just outside the hotel or by hitting the swanky nightclubs on the Riviera.

Hotel Esencia’s crowning achievement is that it presents its guests with not only a blank canvas but also the tools and freedom to shape the holiday of their dreams.

Address: Carretera Cancún – Tulum km 265, Xpu-Ha, Quintana Roo 77750 Mexico
Telephone: + 52 984 873 4830

Shangri-La London: Staircase to the Stars

 – (n) originating from The Lost Horizon by James Hilton (1993); an imaginary paradise on earth; a faraway haven or hideaway of idyllic beauty and tranquility.

In the heart of London sits a palace in the sky, a true oriental paradise that quite frankly can be found nowhere else in Europe. Proudly situated within Europe’s tallest building, the Shangri-La is a testament to the cutting edge innovations available to us in the 21st century. The truly unique architecture of the building allows you to get the very best out of its central location but one of the most phenomenal traits lies in the very foundation of its corporate philosophy. The Shangri-La has a core focus on hiring the vast majority of its staff from within a 10-mile radius of the building, to promote local employment, quality of life and help give the area a little income boost.

Inhabiting the 34th-52nd floors of Renzo Piano’s iconic building just a short stroll from London’s bustling Borough Market, the Shangri-La Hotel, At the Shard, London offers city seekers a moment of tranquility. Vast, surrounding windows offer spectacular views of the city without the noise and craziness despite being located right in the heart of it all.

Modern and elegant, each of the 202 guestrooms and suites allows visitors to indulge in the luxury life even if only for a night. As a result of The Shard’s distinct and unique design, each room features floor-to-ceiling windows. The vast city lights blink and twinkle like fireflies sending you off into blissful slumber. The room’s atmosphere is not to be ignored. Refined material such as marble and silk are creatively merged with contemporary fashions to complement the urban landscape. Other comforting features include automatic climate control and the patented, body-contouring Shangri-La bed.

The list of offerings and services is endless. But most notably, guests are encouraged to take a culinary journey to one or all of the three offered dining venues within the Shangri-La.

The LÁNG is the hotel’s artisan deli and café found on the ground floor. Enjoy lighter breakfast, lunch, and baked good offers. That typical café feel is amplified with the lofty and relaxed space accentuated with warm wood tones and glass displays brimming all the enticingly sweet goodies.

Sitting snugly on the 35th floor a culinary sensation awaits in the form of TĪNG. The food is mouthwatering with some truly unique Asian inspired fusion dishes, paired with an exceptional wine tasting menu. If you decide to visit for dinner, watch in awe as dusk slowly covers the city, the shadow of the Shard stretching miles into the distance like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Those who are lucky enough can witness full moons laminating through the glass as you overlook one of the most glorious cities in the world in a way. Dry few are fortunate enough to see it in.

The GŎNG sits on the 52nd floor making it the highest bar in London. Incorporating traditional Chinese furnishings and color, the venue has several intimate chambers (Cocktail Bar, Champagne Bar, and the Swimming Pool). With an extraordinary backdrop of the city skyline, the GŎNG is perfect for sunset cocktails or afternoon tea.

31 St Thomas Street
London, SE1 9QU, United Kingdom

(44 20) 7234 8000


Les Sources De Caudalie, Bordeaux.

Wine is much more than a drink; it’s an experience. For some, it’s a way of life and for many whose passion involves this wondrous tipple, there’s nothing quite like standing amongst the vines that grow the very grapes for the wines they like to drink. Aidy Smith went to explore a piece of heaven in Bordeaux: Les Sources de Caudelie

My recent travels took me to a wine oasis – not just a winery, but so much more; a bespoke paradise that encapsulates every essence and meaning of the word ‘vine’. You see, when you take luxury gastronomy, phenomenal service and pair it with the world’s original vinotherapy spa that sits amongst vineyards sites dating back to 1365, you begin to realise than an incredible treat is on the horizon.

Les Sources de Caudalie is a true vino gem. Not only is it home to one of Bordeaux’s most famed two-Michelin starred restaurants, it is the site of the world’s first vinotherapy spa, the pioneering health clinic that offers a wide array of pampering pleasures based around one key component: the grape.

The whole vibe from the minute your feet touch the ground is one of comfort, indulgence and calm. While knowingly in the centre of one of the world’s most iconic wine regions, there is no stuffiness and no snobbery, just a tranquil luxury that begins to loosen your mind, body and soul within moments of arrival.

It’s morning, the sun has just risen and as you make your way to your modern yet rustically designed cabin for the next couple of days, you can’t help but take in the beautiful haze that hovers above the small pond in the morning fog. Swans elegantly wake as you wander past, stretching their wings as they greet and welcome you to their nirvana. Welcome to vino paradise.

Many getaways and escapes in wine countries can claim to be a ‘true wine experience’, but when it comes to Les Sources de Caudalie, not only has every minor detail been met, it has been exceeded. The rooms boast contemporary and modern design, complimented by rustic and historic touches, taking inspiration from the old French barns that once graced these lands. Melt into the comfiest of chairs while listening to that favourite stress-relieving playlist on the speaker system; it really is the perfect combination.

It’s no secret that the French are known for their food and Les Sources de Caudalie couldn’t be more of an emblem to that statement. Three restaurants sit amidst the vines each with their own unique and distinctive charm. The winery itself has been handed down to various owners throughout the generations, but the vines themselves sit upon sites that have been home to the grape since 1365.

With a two Michelin star restaurant and multiple wine bars, it’s the vinotherapy spa that acts as the crown jewel. Sitting between the prestigious vineyards of Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, the stunning rustic wooden and stone building will take you to another world entirely.

Named as the original pioneer of Vinotherapy, Les Sources de Caudalie Spa opened its doors in 1999. Since that date it has maintained its reputation as the original and most luxurious vinotherapy location on the planet. The spa treatments utilise locally sourced vines and grapes alongside natural spring water taken from a 540m-deep well directly below the property, riche with antioxidants and minerals. Guests can bathe in red-wine baths, spoil themselves with crushed grape scrubs or experience the ‘winemakers massage’; a special ritual that utilises a winemaking rake to massage energy paths into the spine.

In sum, Les Sources de Caudalie is a true indulgent paradise, for those who want to unwind and escape the hustle of bustle of their daily lives while being immersed in the world of the vine.

Address: Smith Road Haut Lafitte, 33650, Bordeaux-Martillac 
+33 (0) 5 57 83 83 83

Tasting Port in the Douro


Port. Or Port wine, as the Portuguese call it. A drink that is so quintessentially British, some people even presume it comes from the UK.  Colin Hampden-White visits the Douro to discover some of the Port region’s finest offerings.

Some will say that when visiting the Douro, Taylor’s is a must; others that the place not to be missed is Quinta do Noval.  There is a third: Quinta da Romaneira owned by Christian Seely of Noval fame, but has only been under his tenure for ten years. Recently, I spent some time in the Douro and visited the three port houses, uniquely different in their history and outlook.

 Quinta da Romaneira is not far from Noval; in fact Christian could see the estate as he worked at Noval and had in mind one day to acquire the estate. Ten years ago he managed this.  The estate boasts an exclusive hotel where the likes of Brangelina have stayed.  This idyll is also now Christian’s home and the estate thrives under his command.

 Quinta da Romaneira stretches for about two miles along the river Douro with 400 hectares of land, of which 300 hectares are grade A vineyards. Much of the land is now planted, but there is still ample space for expansion. As well as the production of traditional port, fabulous red wines have also been created over the last ten years, alongside a crisp white and a wonderfully balance, aromatic and delicate rosé.

 Back in Porto, I was welcomed through the doors of Villa de Gaia on the opposite bank of the river from Porto, for a sojourn at the Yeatman Hotel. It’s a recently-built hotel that feels as if the city had specially reserved just the right space for it, overlooking the river with a magnificent view of the Unesco protected old town of Porto.

 The hotel makes a fantastic base for visiting the Douro offering the only Michelin star restaurant in Porto, a luxurious spa, conference facilities and space to land your helicopter.  Try the revolving bed in the Bacchus suite so you can switch between TV and magnificent view.  between TV and magnificent view. This hotel is all about wine; each bedroom is sponsored and themed by a winery or port house and corridors educate guests about cork production and the history of wine in the Douro. The cellars (which can be visited) have an extensive list of Portuguese wines alongside other old and new world wines.

 An old-fashioned train ride is the best way to experience the spectacular views of the Douro, following the river, winding up the valley, a new view around every corner. Traditional white villages nestle among the vines or are poised on the shore edge as if about to take a dip.

 Passing through tiny stations with their colourful tiles Quinta Vargellas had its own station where I was greeted by Alistair and Gillyane Robertson, 4th generation of the Taylor’s family, we walked up the cobbled roads to the Quinta. Quinta Vargellas is a country home for the Robertsons who return at harvest, hosting lucky guests and immersing them in the world of port. A folly, built for Alistair and Jilly’s 40th wedding anniversary, overlooks all the differing types of planting style of vines - traditional walled terraces, mound terraces and linear arrangements. These patterns in the hillside start to give the idea of how much love and care is put into the land to create the ports. Watching the sun go down over the vines with a glass of Chip Dry Taylor’s white port mixed with tonic and a little mint was the perfect journey’s end.

Port comes in many differing styles; Ruby is a blend of vintages,  LBV (late bottled vintage) is kept in barrel longer than vintage port before bottling to create a port which can be drunk immediately.  Tawnies are aged even longer in barrel and released after 10, 20, 30 and 40 years. The single vintage expression of a Tawny is known as a Colheita and can be much older than the aged expressions. Finally there is vintage port; this can be a blend of various Quintas (or farms) giving an overall house expression such as Taylor’s Vintage Port, or can be released as single Quinta vintage ports, such as Quinta Vergellas for Taylor’s, or Quinta do Noval, a single estate owned by AXA Milliseme.

Supper on the terrace, to the rhythm of the cicadas, was all about port.  From vibrant and refreshing gaspatcho soup, subtly enhanced by a dash of white port, to delicate fruit pudding with 20 year-old Tawny; cheese was accompanied by a rare 1991 Quinta Vargellas vintage port.

 As though attending a late-night party, we joined harvest workers in the lagard, reminiscent of a small, shallow swimming pool, to tread the grapes.  Purple-stained legs danced to tunes from an organ. To round the night off, we sat by the pool with 20 year-old Tawnies from both Taylors and Fonseca to appreciate the differing house styles.

The Nogueira winery is Taylor’s main winery in the Douro and is just 45 minutes’ drive from any of the quintas from which they receive grapes to ensure perfect conditions for vinification.  It’s next to Quinta da Roêda of Croft, another Taylor’s brand, acquired in 2001. Much work has been accomplished in the vineyards since Taylor’s ownership; close inspection of the vines at Quinta da Roêda showed how the differing grape varieties need discrete positioning and spacing.  This creates a lattice of green across the hills which is like no other wine region.

 Croft has improved a great deal.  David Guimaraens, the great-great-great grandson of the founder of Fonseca, Manuel Pedro, has been the head winemaker since 1994.  An inveterate story-teller; he oversees the winemaking and blending for all four Taylor Fladgate Port houses.  He’s most proud of making the Croft 2003 as the conditions were difficult to control and the year very hot, yet he managed to produce a wonderful wine.

A most memorable of tasting at Taylor’s office included not only the complete range of ports from three of the houses owned by Taylors, but also some very old colheitas from the newly acquired Kohn port house. Incredibly rich and complex, these dated back to 1863 and showed how good port of that age can be. The tasting concluded with the magnificent and other-worldly Taylor’s Scion Tawny from 1855.  It has everything from zesty orange peel to deep dark bitter chocolate and a massive range of dried fruits including prunes, figs and dates.  This is not just an interesting old wine, but a hedonist’s dream, creamy in texture, balanced beautifully with the acidity, leaving the palate clean and eager for more.

Porto is littered with port lodges; each port house has a lodge where the wine is stored in huge vats before shipping and Taylor’s is one of the most impressive with vats varying in size from a few hundred litres to 100,000 litres. Here we had lunch with the present CEO Adrian Bridge whose wife, Natasha, is the 5th generation of the family.

The second half of my trip took a very different turn. From the huge warehouses of Taylors to a single quinta estate of Quinta do Noval. Sitting amongst the vines a few miles outside Pinhoa in the heart of the Douro, the quinta nestles on an outcrop overlooking the Pinhoa and Douro rivers.

Quinta do Noval is owned by AXA millesimes, an offshoot of the French insurance company, which also owns Pichon-Baron in Bordeaux. The quinta has been sympathetically restored and modernised.  It’s tasting room overlooks vats of the new wine but the buildings retain a romantic feel: picturesque tiles line the dining room walls, narrow passageways with stained glass between the buildings lead to the vines, it all feels like a bygone era.

Only 200 - 300 cases a year are produced of legendary vintage Noval National, created from non-grafted pre-pheloxora vines grown on a tiny 2 hectare plot next to the quinta. Chatting with Christian Seeley, MD of of Axa Millesimes, at a tasting in London of Nacional vintages dating back to 1963 confirmed this amazing estate on the itinerary.  The tiny Nacional plot even has its own pigs to provide fertiliser, and when individual vines eventually die, the same variety vines are planted back into the ground to keep the plot free of grafted vines. The rows are tended by a mule and his human companion; mechanisation can not penetrate here.

Quinta do Noval has a Ruby port which has been re-branded as Noval Black, aimed at introducing port to a younger market.  They also produce excellent 10 – 40 year old tawny ports, a 2000 Colheita, LBV 2007 and the new vintage port of 2011, the final port showing again how good the vintage ports of 2011 are. The 2011 vintage is so good that individual house styles are easily distinguishable, that of Quinta do Noval being lush, juicy and red fruit style in its youth.

For dinner the quinta’s table wines were served with the cook’s speciality of goat, before a delicious 1976 Colheita and finally a 1994 Noval National, this last wine has such purity and density of fruit, balance and elegant you’ll never want the bottle to end.

The next day I spent in the vineyards with my host Catia, learning about the viticulture of the estate and meeting some of the harvest workers. There was rain forecast and the best of the grapes where hurriedly being harvested before this crop damaging event took place.

In the afternoon a visit to the warehouse showed the wines ageing in old wood, which is simply meant as a vessel for the wine as it ages. As we wound through the barrels and vats we met José Gouveia who at 84 years old was still mending vats having worked on the estate for well over sixty years. Far from tired, he was engrossed in his work, his face animated as he kept the precious liquid safe in their surroundings. 

During the evening, the weather closed in and by the morning the rain was coming down hard. Even in these adverse conditions the hills of the Douro have a mystical feel as hillsides disappear behind clouds, reappearing looking like great whales breaking the surface. The sound of the rain drumming on the vine leaves has the same enchantment as sitting under a tropical forest canopy in a storm. I could have stayed there quite happily, letting time do its stuff, waiting for the next great vintage to emerge.


The Wellesley Knightsbridge Hotel

For the past seven years, The Wellesley Knightsbridge Hotel in London has offered its guests a sanctuary decorated by classic adornments with chic and modern twist. Its extravagance and classic décor has wowed London’s elite since first opening its doors back in 2012. The Wellesley features beautiful rooms and amenities worthy of high praise, with attractions like live jazz music, a world class cigar selection, dedicated Rolls Royce chauffeur service for guests and (of course) the best of the best in customer service. It is no wonder that the Wellesley has catapulted itself into the stratosphere of luxury lodging.

Amongst all of these remarkable attractions however, there is one in particular that we are particularly enamoured with: their awe-inspiring crystal bar. This breathtaking lounge area features a marvellous 1920’s décor style. The speakeasy type of atmosphere, coupled with an impressive crystal display of some of the finest spirits this world has seen, makes for a awe-inspiring lounge area that calls for pure celebration.

Address: 11 Knightsbridge, London  SW1X 7LY United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 20 7235 3535