Day Light, Blue Nights

Trevose Harbour House: If you have never explored Britain’s South West, there is a place on the coast of Cornwall that is a particular favorite of mine. And it is not surprising because this town has been a magnet for more than a century, attracting notable artists and all manner of spirited individuals to experience the unique combination of light, air and sea.

Before I visited for the first time I recalled reading about the “light of St. Ives” and honestly, when you have not been there it is impossible to imagine. Since I am particularly interested in the work of artists from the St. Ives School, I knew there must be something to the place, but I suspected all the fuss about the light was a little over hyped.

Boy, was I in for a surprise. It is definitely a thing. Some people say it has to do with the relationship between land and sea, with St. Ives being uniquely situated with water on two sides. That makes sense, but after several visits, I still couldn’t tell you what it is. All I can say is there’s a palpable, positive feeling that results from being in St. Ives and I suspect the light has a lot to do with it.

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I have stayed in several places in St. Ives, and each time the experience was somewhat disappointing. Walking up to catch my train back to London on a recent visit a new place caught my eye. It looked promising and I made note of it for next time, the Trevose Harbour House.

On arrival Owners Angela and Olivier were at the door to meet us. Crossing the threshold we immediately felt at home. It was a rainy afternoon and the little lobby containing a cozy living room, small breakfast area and well-appointed honesty bar, was warm and welcoming. The room was light and fresh, decorated in a blue and white color scheme. The fire place was glowing.

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Angela and Olivier immediately engaged us in conversation. The combination of charming hosts and an interior I could easily make my own, gave me the feeling that I was getting reacquainted with old friends. You know your old friend you don’t see very often, but you can just pick up with immediately whenever you see them? That’s the feeling.

It’s clear that Trevose Harbour House is borne of experienced hands. While the place feels casual and new, the service feels more like that of a mature hotel. Both having studied at the famed Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne and subsequently worked for some of Europe’s top hotels, Angela and Olivier live and breathe hospitality. Good service has to be pervasive and invisible at the same time, a difficult balance to maintain. But Angela and Olivier pull it off like pros.

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Trevose Harbour House is only a year old, but back when it was first being considered, it was not certain at all that it would come to fruition in its current location. Olivier tells me that the original plan was to open a small hotel in Brazil. But on reflection the focus moved dramatically northeast, and with a leap of faith, they planted their dream in St. Ives. Everything fell into place when they heard that The Sunshine B&B was up for sale and they decided to have a look. “We knew in a matter of minutes this was the place” says Olivier. And so the plan was complete. With a top-to-bottom renovation Trevose Harbour House was born.

In my opinion it’s the small details that make a place, and Angela’s personal touches are everywhere. She has a clear preference for mid-century furniture, which is quite refreshing in a small seaport town where the vernacular style can get a little tiresome. From antique books and vintage suitcases doubling as night stands to mid-century cherry sideboards combined with sleek new wash basins, Angela has seamlessly combined old and new into her own signature style. I am particularly fond of how she has upholstered vintage chairs with striking patterns from Designers Guild. Great idea.

trevose harbour house

Neal’s Yard is a great British natural cosmetic brand, and the house brand for in-room personal care. You will definitely want to buy more after using their products during your stay. Rounding out the room details is the help-your-self tea service. The perfect thing after a day of hitting the surf or relaxing on the beach.

Trevose Harbour House is Your Private lookout on the Changing Light of Beautiful St Ives

As this is a Bed AND Breakfast, you will be glad to know that Olivier is as adept a chef as Angela is an interior designer. For breakfast you are in for a real treat. Olivier prepares the most important meal of the day, mostly with fresh local produce. My favorite is the heavenly home-made muesli and the perfectly fluffy scrambled eggs: yum.

trevose harbour house

I heard talk of a Trevose sponsored beehive to come. Can’t wait to try that at a future breakfast. It will go nicely with the house-made jam, on sale to take home as a souvenir.

Along with their two lovely children, the Noverraz family is an integral part of close-knit St. Ives community. As it is with small towns, everyone knows what’s going on, so Angela and Olivier can easily advise you on how to fill your days while in St. Ives. When we visited, we expressed an interest in discovering more about the artists that have made their home in St. Ives. Olivier promptly set us up with a private tour of the Sandra Blow Studio, which was a real treat. Need restaurant reservations or a surf lesson? Angela and Olivier will have great ideas for you.

trevose harbour house

On our last afternoon we took advantage of Trevose’s picnic basket service. Olivier prepared scones, sandwiches, salad, coffee and a bottle of chilled Champagne, all packed in a classic wicker picnic basket. We whiled away our last sunny afternoon on a grassy hill near the beach, enjoying the sea and the spectacular changing light that makes St. Ives such a special and a unique place.

Details

If you plan to vista during high season make sure you book early. Personally, I prefer the off-season which is about now. For more information and booking go to; www.trevosehouse.co.uk

Photography and story by Daniela Stallinger

Pavilion of the French Queen

Through a small passage off the north arcade of the Place des Vosges, sits the “Pavilion of the Queen” (Pavillon De La Reine), a place where you can lodge in the style of aristocrats of old, and walk in their footsteps through its historic arcades.

The Place des Vosges is always on our itinerary when visiting Paris. Usually we pick up some wine, cheese and bread, sit on the grass for a few hours enjoying the sun and architecture. Little did we know that hidden in plain sight just off the arcade is a gem of a hotel. In our opinion, this is one of the most desirable places to hang out in Paris. So we were thrilled for the opportunity to stay for a few days at the discreetly situated Hotel Pavillon de La Reine, on this beautiful and historic square.

Pavillon de la Reine, a Quiet Respite off the Busy Place des Vosges

Place des Vosges dates back to the 17th century and is the city’s oldest planned square. It really is a square, 140 meters x 140 meters, and situated between the 3rd and 4th arrondissements.

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Henry IV commissioned the square sometime between 1605 and 1612 with a new idea in mind: he would have all the apartment facades constructed uniformly, with red brick and white stone, over vaulted arcades on square pillars. Two pavilions rise higher than the rest, marking the access points to the square.

Though these more prominent apartments are designated as Pavilions of the King and of the Queen, no royal ever lived on the Place des Vosges. However, this development started a building spree in Paris, spurring on the building of ever more impressive accommodations for aristocratic families around Paris.

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Over the centuries many famous people lived on the square including Victor Hugo, whose former house is now the museum at No 6, infamous Cardinal Richelieu who lived at No 21, and Madame de Sevigny who lived at No 1. Today you can join the famous and infamous of the past, when you stay at No 28, The Pavillon de la Reine.

The hotel got its name from Queen Anne of Austria who once stayed in the apartments in front of the hotel looking onto the Place des Vosges.

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What we particularly appreciated about The Pavillon de la Reine was its comfortable timelessness. We can thank architect Didier Benderli for the current interior, completed in the mid ’90s. By staying with a classic style rather than the trendy “modern” boutique hotel style of the time, the The Pavillon de la Reine has aged as well as the Place des Vosges itself. The use of elegant fabrics and wall coverings, mixed with both antiques and occasional modern paintings, make you feel very much at home—if your home happens to be on one of the most beautiful squares in Paris.

The lobby, two lounges and an outdoor courtyard are the hub of activity in the hotel. The lobby, set between the two dining/lounge spaces, is a classic columned space, a haven of tranquility from the busy streets of the city. In the morning, we recommend you take advantage of the hotel breakfast in these rooms. Classic Parisian fare as well as international options are available. Breakfast, as they say, “is the most important meal of the day”.

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In the evening we enjoyed the “honesty” bar just off the lobby. Beverages are available on a help-your-self basis. Great idea. After our daily excursions, a drink, a book from the library and a plush chair were just the thing.

The staff is most helpful arranging reservations in local restaurants, organizing transport, and sharing recommendations of what to do and where to go. Of course, going anywhere from the hotel is easy because you are right in the middle of Paris. Should you need some additional exercise, a spa and exercise room are available.

We had a delightful stay at The Pavillon de la Reine and will return for sure.

< More fascinating vacation destinations await. Let’s go.

Details


For information and booking; www.pavillon-de-la-reine.com

We recommend making your booking early. The hotel is very popular year round so to get your choice of rooms you will should plan ahead.

Photography and story by Daniela Stallinger

Planning a visit to Pavillon de La Reine? Here is the current weather and what to expect for the next few days.

Sleeping on the High Line

The High Line Hotel, new kid on the block of New York boutique hotels, is not your cookie-cutter-design tourist hotel. Entering the lobby is like stepping back in time. It is easy to imagine yourself in earlier times when wide-open spaces, horse-drawn carriages and much less hustle and bustle characterized the area. The historic building housing the hotel in the heart of Chelsea feels like an urban sanctuary, but with the advantage of modern amenities.

Situated on land once owned by the Reverend Benjamin Moore and later inherited by Clement Clark Moore, the vast country estate stretched from Eighth Avenue to the Hudson River. Benjamin named it “Chelsea” after the London hospital for veterans of war. Famous for its apple orchards, it is said that New York’s “Big Apple” nickname comes from Benjamin’s famous produce.

Clement Clark, famous in his own right for authoring the Yuletide classic, “Twas the night before Christmas”, donated one of the orchards to the Episcopal diocese. And from 1817-1895 the buildings in existence today were built. Now the property is undergoing its third great transition, incorporating hospitality into its ecclesiastical use. The former seminary dormitories now form the 60-rooms of the High Line Hotel.

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Superstars of the new Americana interior design style, Roman and Williams have applied their inspired method to bringing this lovely original interior to a new use and audience. Their style blends Vintage Americana with an old-world European feel. But not in a typical gut-and-decorate process. Roman and Williams take existing conditions as an anchor for their process, building on the history and qualities they find, and with a light touch, they add modern amenities to bring spaces into the 21st century. And all without losing the intangible qualities that have built up over time. Which is pretty efficient when you think about it. Recreating the ambiance of this place would not only be challenging but cost prohibitive.

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The lobby is tiny but fit for its purpose, with a sparsely appointed table for check in, and a great coffee bar that offers a variety of stronger drinks starting around 5:00 pm. Even the choice of coffee beans is well considered. From Chicago based Intelligentsia, the High Line Hotel location is the first outlet for Intelligentsia in the Big Apple.

At the heart of the High Line Hotel is the old refectory of Hoffmann Hall, a 3,500 square-foot vaulted and paneled Gothic hall shared with the seminary. Here you can mingle with theology students who, I am sure will help you find your way in case you are lost, in the hotel, or in more metaphysical matters. Which reminds me: the High Line Hotel is available for weddings, and with its ecclesiastical underpinnings, it is particularly well suited for saying “I do”.

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I noticed as I roamed about the hotel that a theme seemed to be at play in the choice of literature scattered about. Come to find out, a complete library was acquired in tact from an avid cold-war literature aficionado. It adds an air of mystery to the ambience. If this is one of your interests, you have hours of fascinating reading material to keep you entertained when you are not out on the town.

My favorite room is off to the right of the lobby near the VIP entrance. Its seating area with a little vintage sofa is a lovely quiet spot to hang out and relax after a busy day walking the galleries of Chelsea.

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All the rooms are spacious and well appointed. Having lived in a succession of tiny New York apartments, these rooms are quite spacious in comparison. With a nod to the fresh and smart details evident throughout, you find on your desk a tool to emboss your letter and a terrarium to keep the oxygen circulating.

At the heart of the High Line Hotel is the old refectory of Hoffmann Hall, a 3,500 square-foot vaulted and paneled Gothic hall shared with the seminary.

The furniture is all vintage, collected and lovingly restored with a keen curator’s eye. The rugs are well worn and bought at auction, and there is a great collection of old paintings and drawings with an aviary theme. A great example of Roman and Williams’ ability to seamlessly mash up old and new, the 1930’s Western Electric Rotary phones are all refitted for free international calls from your room.

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This is definitely the thinking tourist hotel. It lacks a restaurant, but hey, you’re in Chelsea! You have more than your share of dining spots a few steps away. And for destinations a bit further afar, use one of the bikes supplied in front of the hotel. Riding home late at night? Keep an eye out for the authentic gas streetlights and you have arrived.

Details

www.thehighlinehotel.com

Photography and story by Daniela Stallinger

The Good Host

I arrived in Chania late at night and was met by a taxi driver Ammos Hotel had arranged for me. As we set off, the driver took great care to explain the circuitous route we would be taking. I wasn’t sure why he went to such lengths to describe the short trip, but I was excited to have arrived, and quickly put it out of mind. Some 15 minutes into the cab ride the scenery was not quite matching up with my expectations of where I would spend my holiday. The area around the hotel was filled with suburban-looking buildings and garish shopping malls, punctuated by abandoned construction sites. A distinct 1980 package-holiday feeling came to mind. I now understood why the driver had taken such pains to adjust my expectations.

But then, after turning off the main road, winding down a quiet neighborhood street, and making a quick right turn into the hotel drive, a very different picture emerged. Nestled by the sea at the end of the street sat the Ammos Hotel – a 33-room hotel built by the Tsepetis family in the 1970’s. Their son, Nikos, a journalist by trade, took over management of the business, and in 2008, in collaboration with architect Elisa Manola, did a complete redesign. I was greeted and delivered to my room by one of Nikos’ lovely staff members, Nektaria, who made me feel at home right away.

No.5 | Crete's Ammos Hotel and its Good Host

The next morning I met Nikos behind the reception desk. He can be found there every day, in his uniform of jeans and a revolving collection of eclectic T-shirts. He is one of a rare breed of hotel owners. He’s charming, funny, immensely patient and deeply knowledgeable about all the interesting happenings around Crete (Nikos’ blog about things he likes in Crete is worth checking out). And his personal traits extend further than just the front desk. Nikos’ keen sense of easygoing design and fashion can be seen and felt throughout the hotel. I was immediately inspired and relaxed.

No.5 | Crete's Ammos Hotel and its Good Host

The charm at the Ammos Hotel is one part calm one part design and one part comfort. The mixture is intoxicating. The layout of the hotel flows effortlessly, with its lounge, terraces, pool, and beach access. The beach is public but the Ammos Hotel maintains its own beach chairs and palm umbrellas for guests. With pool and ocean adjacent to each other you can easily satisfy your bathing whims. There is always a perfect place available to lie in the sun.

No.5 | Crete's Ammos Hotel and its Good Host

The rooms are impeccably designed and well-appointed. Beds are comfortable and the bathrooms are just right. Furnishings are minimal and custom-designed for the purpose. Each room is outfitted with a simple kitchenette. The freedom to be able to prepare a small meal and watch the sun set from your own balcony is a big plus for longer stays. I, for one, was glad for the opportunity of an occasional night in.

On my first day out and about in the hotel it occurred to me that the hotel’s clientele was distinctly on the young side. I mean really young … less than two! Families and small children are welcome at the Ammos Hotel. In fact they are catered to, and I think that is what makes it work so well. Even though I arrived with no little ones in tow, and was momentarily nervous at the sight of several toddlers, it turned out that some youthful enthusiasm actually added to the pleasant ambiance.

No.5 | Crete's Ammos Hotel and its Good Host

At the Ammos Hotel, I sometimes felt like I was a guest at a friend’s house rather than at a hotel. Nikos and his staff took every opportunity to engage with me, whether I needed a fresh beach towel, a trip into Chania, or a rental car for a longer excursion.

The charm at the Ammos Hotel is one part calm one part design and one part comfort.

I had decided that I wanted to hike the Samaria Gorge, a hike that starts high in the mountains and ends at the sea. My plans were the subject of much discussion with the reception desk staff for the few days leading up to the event. I got a range of comments, from helpful tips to genuine concern. “Are you sure you want to do that?” I was asked more than once. On the day of my hike, I had been absent all day and tried to sneak into the hotel unnoticed after dusk, but was spotted by Penelope and Yannis, of the wait staff. They noticed my wobbly legs and said one word, “Samaria?” We laughed and exchanged some jokes and stories about the day’s amazing activities.

No.5 | Crete's Ammos Hotel and its Good Host

If you like, you can eat all your meals at the Ammos Hotel. They have a great kitchen that cooks everything fresh from locally sourced ingredients. The regular menu of simple Greek fare is outstanding, and with daily specials written on the notice board each morning, you can dream about your next meal as you lay in the sun. Even the wine is sourced from a nearby winery, and Nikos can arrange a tour for an afternoon excursion.

I enjoyed the great weather and the lack of crowds during my stay. As with many places around this latitude, summer-like temperatures often extend into October and with the school holidays over you will have a much more pleasant experience at local attractions if you go off-season. I am planning another trip for April or May, as hiking in the beautiful Cretian mountains will be fantastic then.

No.5 | Crete's Ammos Hotel and its Good Host

As I write this story it is raining in London. The memory of falling asleep and waking up to the sounds of the waves each day is still fresh in my mind. I email Nikos to check some of my facts. He emails back right away relating that he has just finished shutting down for winter and that he was a bit sad that the season was now over. I got sad as well, imagining the hotel quiet and empty, everybody gone home until April. Looking forward to a new season opening …

Details

We suggest you visit Chania off season, April to June or September to the end of October.

Nearest Airport: Chania Airport. Easy Jet, Condor, Aegean, Olympic and Lauda Air all maintain service to Chania Airport.

Or take the ferry from Athens/Pireas To Chania. Ferries run daily service year round. The trip takes approximately 5-8 hours and voyage is overnight.

For Accommodation contact the hotel at:
www.ammoshotel.com


Photography and story by Daniela Stallinger