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Design & Lifestyle Travel

Very Eco-Friendly Hotels in Portugal

July 30, 2015

Luz Hotel

In my recent visit to Portugal (beginning of July) I had the opportunity to stay and experience three different Eco-Friendly, Nature-Connected kinds of hotels.

In fact, it wasn’t the first time I stayed in an eco-friendly hotel in Portugal. My first time was last year, when I spent one night at the Eco Suite in Casas do Coro.  I remember this experience very well, and since then, I was seeking for more opportunities to stay in places like this.

Eco hotels and Nature connected ones are on the rise these days in Portugal. The tourists who are traveling outside of the big cities such as Lisbon or Porto, might be looking for something different or more unique.

There are the well known Pousadas hotels in Portugal, which are mostly castles and palaces that have been transformed into hotels, and there are also these new eco-friendly, nature hotels, which offer a different type of experience.

The Luz Houses in Fatima

Luz houses is a 15-room village in the city of Fatima. The terra rossa colored houses are located in a garden surrounded with trees, which allows privacy and an immediate connection to nature. There is the ‘mother-house’, which includes the reception desk, the dining area and the comfortable living room with a fireplace. The color scheme is perfect, in my opinion. A combination of redish brown walls outside with light turquoise and white as for the furniture.

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Luz Hotel

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The rooms are light and pastel colored, with wood’s natural colored elements and simple concrete floor. They are very opened spaced and airy and the bathing area is an integrated part of the room itself, with no dividing doors. Each room has a small kitchen and a dining area, especially for guests traveling with kids.

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The couple behind Luz Houses is Pedro and Ana, who live with their two little girls just next door. They didn’t hesitate to accept a challenge and convert the simple and ancestral houses, into a small designed paradise to those who are seeking to get away from the stress. Ana, who is an architect, is the one who is responsible for the design, the colors, the furniture and the little details that make this place so magical.

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For reservations: Luz Houses, Rua Principal nº 78, Moimento, 2495-650 Fátima, Portugal

Cooking and Nature Emotional Hotel 

I didn’t get the chance to stay in Cooking and Nature Emotional Hotel, but I had a delicious lunch under the trees. When I first entered the hotel, I was welcomed by a familiar wall collage made by my talented friend, Margarida Girao. I love seeing her Art in beautiful locations.

The hotel has 12 different rooms, each room is designed differently, expressing a certain emotion. The highlight of this hotel, beside its gorgeous outdoor pool surrounded by nature and trees, is the cooking experience it offers. Dinner can be in the format of a cooking lesson. How fun can it be to cook dinner with your friends or family in a well equipped and designed kitchen and not to worry about the dishes? Grab an apron and join the chef to cook dinner using the best ingredients this region has to offer.

Watch the movie of the hotel here.

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For reservations: Cooking and Nature Emotional Hotel, Rua Asseguia das Lages nº 181, 2480-032 Alvados – Portugal

Areias do Seixo Hotel

In my last day in Central Portugal I got to stay in quite a magical hotel, called Areias do Seixo. Located in Santa Cruz, an hour drive from Lisbon, the hotel is just about off the sea, separated by some sand dunes and pine trees. I could easily step out of my room and walk toward the private beach of the hotel. Even though weather was a bit grayish, I took off my sandals and walked barefoot on the sand dunes. It felt so good. In a way, it It reminded me of my childhood.

The hotel is definitely connected with Nature. Using materials such as regional stone, pebble, glass and wood, with natural polished concrete floor and olive trees growing almost everywhere, including in my bathroom. I like the simplicity of these bare elements, and yet, every detail of the design was carefully and perfectly chosen.

This hotel is an ecological place using the principles of sustainable tourism: energy efficiency, renewable energies and the use of natural resources.

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The hotel has a great restaurant, which is opened to everyone (reservations are highly recommended). The philosophy behind it is to make the most of what our Earth has to offer; whether getting fresh herbs and vegetables from the hotel’s organic garden, or fresh seafood from the sea. While I was having lunch, I could spot the chef stepping out from the kitchen and hand picking some herbs and spices for my salad. When the chef heard I was vegetarian, he made sure to spoil me with some delicious home made bread and aubergine spread. The menu is changed regularly in order to adapt to only the freshest products.

Check out the restaurant website for more info.

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The hotel has only 14 rooms in the main building and eight villas for family rentals in a building next door.

Each room of the hotel is designed differently, but they are all overlooking the garden and the sea. (I think only the penthouse suite has a sea view). I stayed in Oliveira Princesa room (the Olive Tree Princess) named (clearly) after the olive tree I had in my bathroom.  Needles to say how many pictures I took of this bathroom heaven.

The hotel has few room types; The Gold Rooms (5 rooms) which focus on the secret world of color, texture and sensation. The Tree Rooms (4 rooms) which has some African inspirations. The Love Rooms (4 rooms) with some North African Moroccan inspirations, and The Land Room (1 room) also called Jasmine. It is the only room that doesn’t have a sea view but instead, has a small private garden with olive trees.

The hotel also offers various SPA treatments with two massage rooms, sauna, Turkish bath and relaxation room, outdoor swimming pool, cinema room (where you can choose a movie from a selection of DVD’s) and a beautiful Greenhouse, which is mostly for events and celebrations.

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For reservations: Areias do Seixo, Praceta do Atlântico, Póvoa de Penafirme, 2560-046 A dos Cunhados, Portugal

Another new Eco-Friendly hotel is Vale do Rio, located in the North region of Portugal. The hotel produces its own energy using a mini-hydric system that was on site since the end of the 1800’s. I haven’t been in this hotel, hence there are no images, but I promise to update once I stay there.

 

 

Design & Lifestyle

Shooting the Luxury Hotel; The Norman

February 22, 2015

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As a Travel photographer, not once do I get to shoot hotels for Travel Magazines.

I have contributed to Travel+Leisure World’s Best Hotels books in the years of 2013, 2014. I have shot Nhow Berlin and Semiramis both by Karim Rashid. I have photographed Palacio Belmonte in Lisbon for Marie Claire UK and I had a glimpse of the elegant d’Angletter in Copenhagen.

But shooting The Norman, a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of Tel Aviv, is completely something else!

Stretched over a period of almost six months, shooting all types of rooms and suites, waiting for every little detail to be perfectly placed and working with an incredible creative team of people, made it to a beautiful result.

They say ‘God is in the Details’. It is definitely true for The Norman hotel, thanks to architect Yoav Messer and mostly to David d’Almada of SAGRADA and his interior design team.

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The hotel is well situated in King Albert Square, just across the street from the Pagoda House and off Rothschild Boulevard. It is a great addition to the ‘White City’, Tel Aviv’s UNESCO heritage site, as it is comprised of two historic and iconic buildings. Both buildings were impressively restored to the glory of the 1920s but well equipped with all technologies and comfort of a top class 21st century hotel. In between the two buildings there is a fragrant citrus garden, which is a great reminder to the original orchard in old Tel Aviv.

The main building (colored light blue) comprises of 30 classic and duplex rooms while the second building (I call it the beige one) has 20 suites, each designed differently, including two penthouse suites with separate entrances.

It was a great challenge (as a photographer) to shoot the different types of rooms, taking into consideration to keep the same vibe and character of this gorgeous hotel. But at the same time, the process was very rewarding. I had to be aware of all the little details: how the window light is falling on the sheets, how the color of the flowers is matching the rug (or the curtains) and how the pillows should always be wrinkle-free. And always keeping in mind what angle of the frame will speak to the feel of ‘Timeless Elegance’ and ‘Redefining Luxury’ .

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My most favorite area to shoot was the Library Bar, thanks to the almost-endless-natural light coming through its wide windows. I must confess that each time I carried my camera with me, I snapped a picture of that corner of the bar, exploring the light falling on the golden patterned floor, highlighting the green covers of the bar chairs. The Library Bar is an elegant 1940s colonial style bar with an impressive collection of Whiskey and cocktails.

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Another space with some gorgeous light is The Norman Restaurant, also on the first floor.

It is a brasserie style restaurant, serving French Mediterranean cuisine throughout the day. The challenge in shooting this space was in the flickering mirrors in between the two seating areas. I had to find the right angle that didn’t show my reflection or didn’t send back light to my flash. Changing the angles of the mirrors and standing on a ladder was a great solution.

If you happen to book a breakfast reservation, go for the Eggs Benedict choice. The chef managed to come up with the perfect Hollandaise sauce.

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And then there is Dinings.

Originally from London, the Japanese tapas restaurant opened a branch in Tel Aviv on the third floor of The Norman. As part of the design, Dinings has a live sushi counter and partially open kitchen. My favorite part of the restaurant is the terrace and the outdoor dining area, overlooking the high rise buildings of Rothschild Boulevard.

On set I had the honor of photographing Mister Chef, aka Masaki Sugisaki, the executive chef of Dinings in London, who came to Tel Aviv to open the second branch. Masaki was super co-operative and patient with my requests. I guess patience is a virtue when it has to do with making some of the best Japanese food in the world.

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What makes the hotel so great and remarkably beautiful is the infinity pool on the rooftop floor. At the end of every shooting day I wanted to jump right in and swim.

The view is remarkable and for a minute, you might think you have been transported somewhere else… The high rise buildings in the background and the white umbrellas are the perfect backdrop to end the day.

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The Norman Hotel, 23-25 Nachmani street, Tel Aviv.

To see more of my photos of the hotel, click here.

Design & Lifestyle Travel

The Elegant Hotel d’Angleterre

November 30, 2014

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Copenhagen has been high on my travel list for a while now. Being known for its great design scene and the Nordic cuisine, I didn’t know what to expect before going there. When I kept spreading the word I was about to travel to Copenhagen, a colleague of mine who is working in the PR and Tourism industry has suggested me to visit Hotel d’Angleterre when I am there. Not only that, but he also connected me to the lovely PR and communication manager of the hotel, who was generous enough to give me a grand tour on location.

The Hotel d’Angleterre is situated in the heart of Copenhagen’s fashionable Kongens Nytorv Square, steps from the Royal Danish Theater, the Nyhavn Canal and the famous shopping street, Strøget. With its recent most ambitious restorations in Danish history, the hotel is as elegant and sophisticated as the surrounding streets.

History: 

The story of Hotel d’Angleterre began in the 17th century when Jean Marchal, a servant of the royal court, and Maria Coppy, daughter to the royal chef, fell in love. In 1755 they established a restaurant on the King’s Square (Maria was known for her culinary ability) which later grew into a Palace and ultimately, the Hotel d’Angleterre. With a longstanding tradition of hospitality, the hotel became the premier social destination and over the years has hosted the world’s visiting royalty, dignitaries and celebrities who visited Copenhagen.

The original hotel structure was the neoclassic residence of Count Ahlefeld and the hotel as it stands today was designed by the Danish architect, Jens Vilhelm Dahlerup in the mid 1870’s. (Dahlerup designed numerous other iconic landmarks in Copenhagen, including the Royal Danish Theatre).

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The Hotel Today: 

The renovated hotel is featuring 90 rooms including 60 suites with spacious bathrooms and balconies. With pistachio-colored silk curtains (to allow the light coming in) and purple tones for the sofas and the beddings, the rooms convey elegance.

The stunning 250 square-meter Royal Suite features a grand balcony overlooking Kongens Nytorv Square and The Royal Theater, it has a dining room for 10 guests and a spectacular fireplace.

As the hotel has hosted countless historic events including formal galas, weddings, diplomatic assemblies and royal occasions,  the historic Palm Court and Louis XVI Ballroom continue to be the most desired entertaining space in Copenhagen these days.

If you are visiting the hotel, make sure to pick inside the Palm Court. It is a stunner.

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The Marchal Restaurant:

I was lucky enough to have lunch with my mom in Marchal restaurant. While my mom was so impressed with dining in a Michelin Star restaurant, I was heels over head with the fact I could shoot the amazing photogenic dishes and take a portrait of Ronny Emborg, the head chef, who was just nominated as a Michelin Star chef for the second time. But wait. There is more! Ronny himself walked to our table and served us with a marvelous dessert. I couldn’t ask for more.

Our lunch included six! courses;

We had Fjord Shrimps with tomato juice, dill and acidic cream

Glazed White Asparagus with smoked cream, lovage and buttermilk sauce

Fried Lamb and Sweetbread with green asparagus, truffle puree, gooseberries and glaze

Fried Beef Tenderloin with rehydrated beetroot, red currants and glaze with marrow

and two kinds of desserts;

Strawberry with Ice Cream on long pepper, buttermilk mousse and crispy vanilla flakes

Creme Anglaise with Sorbet Granite, tarragon emulsion and sorbet on celery (mind you, Ronny made it especially in front of us)

I wish I was a food critique who knows how to describe the rich and various flavors of the dishes, but I hope the images of food can speak louder than the words.

You can make your booking in advance here.

Diet can wait.

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Design & Lifestyle

Semiramis Hotel; By Karim Rashid

June 4, 2014

Since I first came across the NHOW Hotel in Berlin, designed by Karim Rashid, I keep looking for more hotels and projects he designs. I was lucky enough to meet Karim a few times in person; Twice in New York, (both in his old and new studios) and once in Tel Aviv, where he is currently designing a new hotel, planned to be opened in October. While I am hoping and planning to shoot the next hotel in Tel Aviv, I had the opportunity to stay it one of the first hotels he designed. The Semiramis Hotel located in one of the most affluent and leafy suburb in Athens, called Kifissia. I wish I had more time to stay in Kifissia and at Semiramis but I was on my way to Milos for a shoot. It is such a magical area that one of my close friends described it: ‘If I ever want to disappear for a little bit, I can easily go to Kifissia’. 

I arrived at the hotel on a Sunday afternoon after a long flight from New York in which I didn’t really have the chance to sleep. Regardless, I was anxious to walk around the colorful hotel and discover some of Karim’s signature designs and style.

When the description of the hotel goes like this..“Semiramis is what happens when you give a hot designer total control”…I need to see it in my own eyes and cameras

So let’s start with the Pool:

As a long time swimmer, I do tend to check out the swimming pools first when I check in to hotels. Even though the Semiramis pool is not a lap one, it was quite hard to ignore it. The pool is shaped in a fluid curved shape, typical to Karim Rashid’s style and colored in shades of turquoise and neon green. To complement Karim chose white sun-beds with pinkish color umbrellas, dotted with white. To be honest, I couldn’t stop taking pictures of this pool. I tried to cover every angle. A mosaic dark blue fountain adds a decadent touch and border between the pool area and the area around the hotel.

The Facade:

Only by seeing the colors of the Sun terraces (Lime Green) I knew I arrived at one of Karim’s playgrounds. The facade is totally different to the Greek typical style, and this is what I actually love about Karim’s style. His designs are ALWAYS extraordinary. To enter the lobby I had to walk through a glowing pink glass cube and to be warmly welcomed by one of the staff, offering me a glass of sparkling water.

The YES Lobby:

As Semiramis is part of the YES! Hotels group, the Artwork ‘YES’ by Tim Noble and Sue Webster is definitely a great visual welcoming sign. The affirmative “YE$” sign presents the familiar dollar symbol in a bright display of shimmering lights flickering on and off before the viewer. I enjoyed watching this sign when I got back to Semiramis after an evening stroll in Kifissia. On a bright Pink wall the Artwork ‘VBGDW’ by Vanessa Beecroft is also a welcoming gesture. ‘VBGDW’ is a photo of Vanessa Beecroft’s wedding party in Portofino in September 2000. (Rumors say she is divorced now). The dark blue Wavelength Sofas designed by Karim, gave me a feeling as being under waves in the ocean.

The Bar and Dining Area: 

I just LOVE this bar and dining area. I felt as I was walking in one of the wings of a contemporary modern museum. And no wonder. Dakis Joannou, the hardworking owner of Yes! Hotels, is one of the foremost collectors of contemporary European art in Greece, and therefore is surrounding himself with objects that inspire him, from Art, Design and Architecture. I could spot two Artworks by Spencer Tunick, (The ‘New Vienna’ and ‘Krystl’) and the ‘Shutup’ Artwork by Michael Bevilacqua right above the seating area. On a Pink color carpet, Karim furnished the dining area with his signature Swing Chairs in addition to a lively lighting concept, especially commissioned from Focus Lighting in New York, under the direction of principal designer Paul Gregory. I love the Orange colored glass wall, which made a perfect dividing wall between the Bar and the Dining area. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really dine at Semiramis restaurant, as it was closed due to a private event. Well, it is a reason for me to go back…

Rooms:

Semiramis has three types of rooms; Standard rooms, 20 meters squared rooms overlooking the park of Kefalari. Queen bed and above bed- lighted murals offers a pop of color to the all-white feeling of tranquility of the room. The Superior rooms, 25 meters squared are overlooking either to the park or the great pool. (I was lucky enough to overlook the beautiful pool) and then there are The Pool Bungalows, 25 square meters, built as separate units alongside the pool and each bungalow has a King size bed  and a private small garden. I have stayed in one of the Superiors rooms overlooking the pool. I loved having a great afternoon light reflecting and glittering on my lime green terrace and watching the sunset over the hills around Kifissia. The hotel has its own sense of humor, which reflects well in the design; The rooms, for instance, don’t have numbers, but every floor has a color and each room has an icon. To find my room, I had to spot the icon across the hallway. Instead of the typical boring ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs, hanging on the door knobs, Karim decided to place electronic message boards at every room entrance, which guests can personalize from their in-room keyboards.

I’m really looking forward to see the next hotel designed by Karim Rashid, Sir Benjamin Hotel, coming soon in Tel Aviv.

 

 

Design & Lifestyle Editorials

Travel + Leisure; The World’s Greatest Hotels, 2014 Edition

May 21, 2014

Like every year, around April or May, the travel magazine, Travel +Leisure is publishing an annual book about the World’s Greatest Hotels. I was thrilled to participate in last year’s 2013 edition and shoot the Efendi Hotel in Acre, Israel. This year, for the 2014 edition, I was asked to shoot one of my favorite and colorful hotels in Tel Aviv, Alma Boutique Hotel. I was very happy to discover that one of the images made it

To see more images and a previous post about Alma Hotel, please click here.

In case you don’t have a chance to get the World’s Greatest Hotels’ book, here is the text about Alma;

‘To see what really makes Tel Aviv tick, head to the White City UNESCO World Heritage site, where design and architecture take center stage. Smack in the middle of it all, the Alma Hotel & Lounge has become the discerning traveler’s hotel of choice. Siblings Adi and Irit Strauss have created a patchwork of bohemian luxury in 15 airy rooms inspired by the 1920’s, each with bijou stained-glass windows and handwoven carpets. Yonatan Roshfeld, the chef behind nearby tapas hot spot Ahad Ha’am, lures Israeli socialites and Russian businessmen to the hotel’s namesake restaurant with Moroccan small plates (beets-topped raw beef kibbeh in sheep’s milk; lamb encrusted with red pepper, roasted garlic, thyme and sage). The artful menu perfectly complements the decor, which is lifted straight out of Paris’s Marais district; a smattering of jewel-toned chairs, checkered floors, and edgy contemporary artwork” 

Design & Lifestyle

The Casa das Penhas Douradas Hotel

March 6, 2014

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One of the favorite parts of my job is shooting well designed hotels in various locations in the World. I wish I could stay in most of them, but it is not always possible, for various reasons. But when I DO have the opportunity to be a guest in these hotels, it is sometimes hard for me to take off the Photographer hat and switch it with the guest’s one.

During my visit to Central Portugal I had a wonderful surprise. My beautiful host, Silvia, who by the way, knows almost everyone in Central Portugal, told me we were about to stay in Casa das Penhas Dourades. I googled the name out of curiosity and saw some pictures (of course) and Silvia just blinked with her eyes with excitement. I didn’t ask much questions as I like surprises, so I was not aware of how amazing this hotel was and the story behind it.

The story starts in the village of Manteigas, down the mountain hills of Serra da Estrela in Central Portugal, in what used to be an abandoned building of the old Imperio Wool Factory, and now it is known as The Burel FactoryThe factory is owned by Joao Tomas and Isabel Costa, who are also the owners of the hotel.

Joao and Isabel, a couple in business and life, found the building (originally from the 19th century) which used to be a wool factory but was going through a bankruptcy. They seized the opportunity and bought the company with the existing machines (some of them are also dated back to the 19th century) and turned it into what it is now, The Burel Factory.

They opened the factory in March 2013 and managed to combine the old tradition of machineries with the young and up to date designers and artists, who work with them on various wool projects. I was lucky enough to have a tour at the factory (which, by the way, there is a free guided tour every day, you just need to schedule) and even see Isabel herself cutting and stitching some wool samples. Isabel mentioned the importance and uniqueness in using traditional machinery and equipment, especially from times when the industry was mostly hand-crafted. With lots of thought and care, both she and her husband managed to keep the past, reinvent and adjust it to the current needs of the market, but also think globally and look for ways of exporting the products outside of Portugal.

When Silvia and I arrived to the factory it was already the end of the day and the end of the week so most of the workers have left already. It was only Isabel and a few women who were at the factory, finishing up a long week of preparing samples for an upcoming exhibit in London. While I watched her working and managing both the factory and the hotel through some phone calls, Isabel shared with me that the factory produces few kinds of wool fabrics; flannel, melton, hounds tooth pattern, tweeds, prince of whales, you name it.

I love the idea that Isabel and Joao have decided to work with various young and creative designers. I think it is quite unique and has that touch of collective thinking. Among the products I could spot colorful blankets, shawls, scarves, hand bags, hats, upholstery of furniture (hand made and hand stitched- I concur) most of them are used in the hotel Casa das Penhas Dourades, and also acoustic panels used in offices and public areas to reduce sound. Some of these colorful acoustic panels are well used in Microsoft Headquarters in Lisbon.

So…I saw the promo at the factory, and it was just about time to head up the hill and drive to the hotel, located at the top of Serra da Estrela Natural Park.  Na

By the time we got to the top of the hill and parked the car, it was pouring rain outside and all I wanted was to get indoors and feel the warmth of the hotel. And Warmth was an understatement. The hotel is located at an altitude of 1500m and surrounded by an extensive mountain landscape and an unspoiled Nature. Due to this special location, the hotel is influenced by its surrounding and ‘communicates’ well its designed concept;  Rediscovering the beauty in simple things, just as with Nature. This is why the Architect, Pedro Brígida, kept using natural materials such as cork and wood alongside vast raw concrete walls. The cosy atmosphere was in the warmth of the wooden panels, the rawness of the wool, the comfort and ease of the chairs, the softness of the curves throughout the hotel, all in a discreet luxury.

Since it rained non stop outside and got quite foggy, I was ‘forced’ to stay indoors and enjoy that fuzzy, cosy, homey feeling the hotel could easily offer.

The Living Rooms:

There are some living rooms in the hotel, all are birch paneled and furnished with wooden chairs with colorful wool patterns straight from The Burel Factory. Fire place in every room, wool stitched rugs (also made at the factory), shelves filled with books, colorful retro lamps and comfortable armchairs, all to give you that inviting feeling of a space where you can watch your favorite movie, read your book or just make you want to sip that warm chocolate drink while it is snowing or raining outside.

The Dining Room: 

This might be one of my favorite areas in the hotel as it was accessible for guests 24 hours. If you fancy a tea or a fresh cookie early in the morning before breakfast is served, you can find it on one of the tables, neatly displayed. I love the simplicity in the dining area, the comfortable chairs, the colorful watercolor pictures on the walls and the place-mats made of… well… wool of course.

The hotel’s chef consultant is Luís Baena, one of the most important and well known Portuguese chefs. Our dinner was a candle-lit dinner, quiet and relaxed even though the dining area was busy with other diners. The food is considered a gourmet cuisine, using local products for the various dishes.

The Rooms:

The hotel has 17 rooms and a suite. (I was honored to be hosted on that super suite). The rooms are also birch paneled (same as the rest of the hotel) and have large windows and terraces with deck chairs and footrests. The rooms are facing the breathtaking views of the mountains, and the suite has these great ceiling windows, allowing more light to come through. Unfortunately, when I was there, it rained very hard and I could only lie down on one of these straight sofas and stare at the rain outside, falling on the window. I took advantage of this rainy day and got myself into the nice bath, which is also located under a ceiling window.

The rooms are very comfortable and keep the warm atmosphere throughout the hotel; Each room has a duvet, down pillows, central heating, dressing gown and slippers, free wi-fi, DVD and iPod Players, fruit basket and water. And yes, the blankets, the rugs, the furniture fabrics, are all made of wool, hand made and hand stitched at the Burel Factory.

It is great to see the final product so handy and useful.

The SPA:

As a swimmer, all I can say is that I wish I had some extra time to use this beautiful interior heated swimming pool and enjoy the panoramic view of the mountains while swimming. Unfortunately, my schedule was quite tight and busy and I ended up only peaking through. Beside the pool, there is a sauna,  a Vichy shower and a SPA with several rituals and massages using oils infused with Serra da Estrela plants.

Design & Lifestyle Travel

Tel Aviv City Guide in Design Sponge

October 22, 2013

There is one thing to live in a city and another thing is to write about it.

Despite the fact I haven’t been living in Tel Aviv for twelve years now, my ‘Israelism’ grant me the title of a Tel Aviv expert among the readers abroad. I’ve been writing about Tel Aviv to EasyJet Blog, than a detailed article to Resource Magazine and my recent Tel Avivism article is Tel Aviv City Guide on DesignSponge.

I had to divide Tel Aviv to areas, such as The North and Tel Aviv Port, City Center, The Heart of Tel Aviv and the White City, The South part of the city and of course, Jaffa.

Here is a detailed list of restaurants, hotels, shops, studios and cultural locations in Tel Aviv, the city that never sleeps. Highly recommend to bookmark this list when you next travel to Tel Aviv.

Thanks Amy, Grace and Stephanie for this great opportunity.

Tel Aviv, CityGuide, DesignSponge, Lifestyle

 

Editorials Travel

AT Magazine October Issue

October 17, 2013

Since my recent visit to Flanders on July, I’ve written a few articles about Antwerp; The main one was my Wanderlist on AFAR Magazine, on my blog and the recent one, for At Magazine, a Fashion and Lifestyle magazine in Israel. The article is about Antwerp and my recommendations where to shop, dine and what to do. I like the layout and how it came out. Hope it makes the readers book a flight to Antwerp.

Design & Lifestyle

CitizenM Hotel in Bankside, London

September 7, 2013

When I grow up I want to design a hotel…Yep, same like this one…the citizenM hotel in Bankside London.

I’ve heard about citizenM when I was visiting London on July. I was having a meeting and a portfolio review with WallPaper Magazine and in preparing myself to the meeting, I read the WallPaper Travel section and came across the citizenM post. The hotel happened to be located just across the street from WallPaper offices so I made sure to go and see the hotel with my own eyes.

Yes. I admit. I love Shapes and Colors. (and if you follow my blog for a while now, I’m sure you have probably noticed that) so no wonder I was drawn into the huge lobby of citizenM immediately and wandered its colorful labyrinth. Then I got to the working space area that really made me envy I wasn’t the one sitting there working on my computer.

Wandering the lobby, I’ve noticed the nonchalant atmosphere among the guests, who seemed to feel like it was their own living-room. I loved it!

Citizen M Hotel, London, Design Lifestyle

Citizen M Hotel, London, Design Lifestyle

Citizen M Hotel, London, Design Lifestyle

Citizen M Hotel, London, Design Lifestyle

Citizen M Hotel, London, Design Lifestyle

Citizen M Hotel, London, Design Lifestyle

When I got back to New York, I had the pleasure of meeting Noreen Chadha, who is managing the up and coming citizenM in New York. Noreen was kind enough to share with me the story of the hotel chain and I’m so excited to share it with you.

It all started when Rattan Chadha, back then a textile tycoon and now the founder of citizenM, was always looking for a different kind of hotels while he was traveling for business. During his fashion days, Chadha had about 100 designers traveling all over the world, from London to Milan to Paris to New York, and they were always complaining about their hotels. These were cool creative people, and they wanted to stay in a hotel where they could connect with the brand and with the lifestyle. They wanted to have a drink at the bar and meet likeminded people. But they always ended up in a Holiday Inn or a Marriott, because of budget. This was a common frustration,  and it got Rattan thinking about a new opportunity. He got a team of people, all hospitality-connected, all frequent flyers and together they came up with a list of frustrations but also with some creative solutions and suggestions.

citizenM, The New Generation of Traveller 

Chadha and team realized the hospitality world is no longer divided into just two segments of travelers; The 5-start traveler or the Budget traveler. No. Nowadays travelers are mix and match and no longer boxed in one category; They might stay at different types of hotels for different trips, fly economy, take public transportation and yet, they want to dine in the hottest restaurant in town. They might wear Zara or Uniqlo but will also have a Rolex on their wrist.

The new generation of traveler is the citizenM (M is for Mobile). The citizenM traveler is a frequent traveler going to the major cities of the world, travels for work or pleasure or both. He is conscious about value, cares about quality, luxury and quite protective of his time. He doesn’t want to waste time, but wants things to be easy, efficient and friendly.

Once the mobile citizen profile was established, it was easier to figure out what does a citizenM traveler want from a hotel; The result was 5 main things:

* Lifestyle- ‘You are where you sleep’. When you walk into a hotel you want to connect with the vibe and the atmosphere. You want it to fit with your lifestyle. You also want to feel comfortable and at home. And when you are at home, you spend most of your time in your living room or your kitchen, and you mainly use your bedroom for sleeping. So this is what hotels should be like. Instead of a small lobby, citizenM Hotels; lobbies are built like oversized living rooms. All hotels are designed by Concrete,  Amsterdam, and the furniture are all by the Swiss luxury brand, Vitra.  Each hotel has contemporary Art that comes from the chain’s private Art collection and the chain has an in house stylist who travels all over the world, collecting authentic items to put in the hotels’ living rooms, so it really does feel like a home.

* Efficiency. Self check in and check out. You can be checked in within 60 seconds. citizenM likes working paperless, and most communication is via emails. Your room-key is an RFID card, that also doubles as a luggage tag and you can use it any time and at any hotel of citizenM. You can also use the room-key to pay for food and beverage.

* Luxury. Even though rooms are quite small, you will have a luxury sleeping experience thanks to the 2×2 meters beds with the custom made mattresses by Sealy, Italian linen and super fluffy pillows. The shower amenities are all designed by Alessandro Gualtieri who spent months perfecting the citizenAM and PM fragrance for the hotel chain.

* Technology should be simple, user friendly and has to work! All rooms run on a customizable ambient server. Each room has his own mood-pad (designed especially for citizenM by Samsung and Swisscom). The mood-pads are all one-touch, easy to use. You can change the color of the lighting, the intensity of the lights, temperature, different types of alarms (wake up gently by a woman counting down and the lights slowly turning on, or wildly with the lights on bright and the sound of pingpong balls or elephants thrashing through the room). There are no hidden costs in the room. So you can enjoy free WiFi, free movies on demand and free phone calls (run through VOIP).

* Genuine, human service. This might be one of the most important values of citizenM; Their Staff. The hotel doesn’t believe in segmenting people into functions or positions, and instead, the hotel trains its staff to be multi functional. The staff is citizenM’s brand ambassadors and they embody the typical mobile citizen themselves. Each and every one of them is trained as baristas to make you great coffee, as mixologists to shake you a perfect cocktail, but they can also check you in or out, help you in the room, and they know the city well so they can help with local tips and advice. Therefore, I was so amazed when the bartender who welcomed me also showed me the rooms and gave me a private tour.

Each staff member is purely hired on his/hers personality and those who are going to make you feel at home the moment you walk in the door. (Trust me, I am talking from my own experience). It doesn’t matter if they have tattoos or pink hair, as long as they are great and welcoming people who know their job.

citizenM hotel is all about affordable luxury, comfort and design. As a travel photographer, who is always looking for a great, comfortable and eye-catching design, I am curious and drawn to these kinds of hotels, such as citizenM.

Next time I’m traveling to London or Amsterdam,  you know where I will be staying, and you know I will be proud to be part of citizenM.

 

Design & Lifestyle Editorials

Karim Rashid in Style Magazine, Israel

July 12, 2013

I think almost every photographer and writer gets curious to find how their article will come out on print. Speaking for myself, I’m always eager to know how the editor will transfer my thoughts, words and images to the readers. I met Karim Rashid in the beginning of June and interviewed him both for my blog and for Style (Signon) Magazine in Israel. You can read more about how I met Karim or how did he find me here.

This is my interview with Karim, translated to Hebrew and published in Style magazine, Israel.