Pop Culture and Travel

We gave you all the deets on Fashion Week in New York and London, and now glamorous Milan is up next on the multi-city Fashion Week circuit, with the festivities kicking off on Wednesday. Milan is “the most” at many things in Italy; it’s the most modern, the most business-oriented, the (nearly) most populated, and the (arguably) most stylish city in the country. And we’ve got to agree with the latter claim. After all, it plays home base to luxury fashion houses such as Prada, Valentino, Armani, Versace, Missoni, Miu Miu, Etro, Dolce & Gabana, and many, many more, and it also has some of the most fashionable hotels in the world. Take a peek at Milan’s most stylish hotels, that are sure to be hot spots during the next fews days as Milan Fashion Week takes center stage.

Bulgari Milano

Bulgari Milano

It’s no surprise that a Bulgari property would be fashionable. This uber-luxurious hotel is one of the best places to see and be seen in the fashion scene of Milan, and it has a price tag to match. An 18th-century renovated mansion on 4,000 square meters of private gardens, the 58-room property is within walking distance of shopping venues like Prada and Gucci, yet still manages to feel secluded. Bulgari Milano is loaded with every conceivable amenity, from a world renowned spa to a sleek bar and gourmet restaurant. There are some complaints that rooms are too small for the price and that the color scheme is gloomy — but everyone in fashion knows that black never goes out of style.

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New York Fashion Week may have come have to a close, but don’t fret — London Fashion Week has just arrived. And with hot U.K. labels like Stella McCartney, Temperley London, and Burberry Prorsum, we know that the catwalk will be just as innovative across the pond as it was here in New York. Plus, tons of celebs, models, and designers will be out and about in their finest fashions. (Duh.) They’ll be hitting up the hottest restaurants, bars, and clubs in the city — so get ahead of the curve and check out the see-and-be-seen spots in London for the fashion elite.

Langham Hotel London

THE HOT SPOT: Afternoon Tea

Restaurant at the Langham Hotel London; London, England

WHY IT’S HOT: One thing London has that New York doesn’t? Afternoon tea. The Langham Hotel, a five-pearl spot that oozes exclusivity, has a great West End location in Marylebone that’s within walking distance of numerous designer shops (should you have forgotten that must-wear LBD). And the Langham’s Palm Court is noted as the birthplace of the afternoon tea tradition, dating back to the hotel’s opening in 1865. Fashionistas can enjoy sipping on tea selected by their sommelier and nibble on dainty finger foods before heading off to the next show. And bonus? Bradley Cooper has been spotted here quite often recently as he’s been filming in the area.

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Credit: Justin Campbell/startraksphoto.com; Credit: Jayme Oak/startraksphoto.com; Credit: Freddy Baez/startraksphoto.com

Okay, so today may be Labor Day…which may mean that summer is coming to a close (sob). But we love every season, and there’s something about the brisk fall weather that puts a little pep in our step…or stiletto, as the case may be, because in just three days (on Thursday, September 4) New York Fashion Week helps to officially kick off the fall. Already, we’ve seen plenty of celebs out and about in the city, and most are shacking up in their usual haunts — i.e. the city’s hippest, most luxurious hotels. Take a peek after the jump to find out where your favorite celebrity fashionistas might be staying, and then strut on over to that hotel to see them decked out in fall’s hottest trends!

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Lights, camera, action! Over the last several decades, hotels have played important roles in the film industry. Some iconic scenes — like Julia Roberts and Richard Gere bathing in Pretty Woman – will forever be a part of cinematic history and were actually filmed at hotels, instead of on sound stages. Most hotels that make it to the big screen are (for obvious reasons) primarily in Los Angeles and New York, but many others across the country get scouted to become shooting locations as well. So we’ve found 9 hotels all over that have been prominently featured in movies. Even if you never become a movie star yourself, you can at least visit these properties and feel like you’re walking through a film set. And sure, you’ll happily sign a few autographs.

Beverly Wilshire Beverly Hills – A Four Seasons Hotel

Beverly Wilshire

Let’s start with the iconic Beverly Wilshire – a top luxury pick for business or leisure, families or couples. With beautiful guest rooms, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, and a great spa, pool, and fitness center — plus doting Four Seasons service, it’s a classic five-star property. The hotel was featured prominently in the 1990 film Pretty Woman and it’s certainly proud of this; you can even borrow one of the many DVD copies from the concierge’s library. In the film, Julia Roberts plays Vivian Ward, a Hollywood prostitute who’s hired by Richard Gere’s wealthy businessman character. Their relationship develops over their week-long stay in the Presidential Suite at the hotel. From the couple soaking in the suite’s luxurious tub to Vivian walking through the lobby with numerous bags from shopping on nearby Rodeo Drive, the hotel received a lot of screen time in the classic rom-com.

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Fitness centers, outdoor pools and spas are common amenities at hotels these days, but want to know one of our favorite features offered? Live music! We’ve visited quite a few hotels that are a fun place to catch a show, whether you’re a guest or live in the surrounding area. From poolside DJ sets to soulful jazz in a cozy lounge, hotels give their guests a unique way to enjoy the city without leaving the grounds. If you’re someone who loves to kick back and enjoy live music, you’ll definitely want to bookmark these 10 hotels!

Ace Hotel and Swim Club, Palm Springs

Ace Hotel

This upper-middle-range, 180-room hipster haven has a palpable party vibe and frequent music nights with a live DJ. The style is retro, with 70s details such as record players and vinyl in the rooms. The property draws a young crowd and can get quite loud with its purposeful off-the-beaten-path vibe. Their Swim Club members get year-round access to the outdoor swimming hole, gym, spa and poolside happenings like their DJ events and the Reggae Sol party on the last Saturday of each month. Although it gets crowded, lounging by the pool while a DJ spins sounds like a fun way to spend the day to us!

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Of course, we’ve visited many, many, MANY hotels during our travels. And in order to get a better feel for the destinations to which we travel, we have also visited quite a number of museums. But the real kicker is when we find a hotel that has some pretty impressive artwork itself. From elaborate ceiling paintings to stunning murals on the facades of the buildings, we’ve rounded up a dozen of our favorites. They’re so gorgeous you may want to book a room just to get a closer look!

Palace Hotel, San Francisco

Palace Hotel

Boasting ample turn-of-the-20th-century elegance in its 550 rooms, the Palace is aptly named — it is indeed palatial.  “The Pied Piper” mural, gracing the bar named in its honor, was created for the hotel in 1909 by famed artist Maxfield Parish.

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Fairy tales have been bewitching readers long before Emma Swan wandered into Storybrooke on ABC‘s “Once Upon A Time.” In fact, these stories of heroes and magic, and goblins and trolls, have been entrancing the masses ages before even the Brothers Grimm decided to pen some of history’s most memorable tales. The reasons for this preoccupation with folklore vary: Some people pine for their favorite characters and others wish for a world where magic spells and potions can be bought and sold at your local witch’s hut.

But perhaps the most alluring part of a fairy tale is the setting, filled with grand castles, forbidden forests, and charming villages galore. These fascinating worlds come to life before our eyes thanks to the rich descriptions of our favorite fairy tale authors. And there’s good news for all of the dreamers out there: Many of these otherworldly settings were inspired by real life destinations around the world. Now we all know Sleeping Beauty’s castle was based on the gorgeous Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany, and that Colmar, France could be La Belle et La Bete’s hometown, but what about lesser known fairy tales? From Sicily to Scotland, we have the scoop on some of the most idyllic lands of folklore that are just waiting to be discovered — and, of course, the dreamy hotels where you can almost imagine Prince (or Princess!) Charming awaiting your hand for a dance.

1. Sicily, Italy 

sicily

Sicily remains one of the most intriguing regions of Italy. A mix of cultures — including Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Greek, and African — provide the island with a heady history filled with intrigue. You can see the blend of cultures reflected in the island’s cuisine, architecture, language, and — yes — folklore. Fairy tales from Sicily have all of the traditional components: heroes and heroines, magic and might. But they also have some surprising twists that make them entirely their own. In Sorforina, for example, our titular heroine is a well-educated young woman, the daughter of a Sicilian merchant, who falls in love with a young, belligerent prince. The tale of their love affair is tortured, filled with artful witchcraft and steamy seduction (this is an Italian fairy tale, after all). It is a fairy tale of its own unique making, filled with the wry and unabashed sarcasm Sicilians are known for in the face of insurmountable obstacles.

Stay: Grand Hotel Villa Igiea  

The Grand Hotel Villa Igiea offers a magnificent and ornate example of Sicily’s 19th-century architectural history — as well as a plausible backdrop for our Sorforina. Visitors have noted that this is considered one of the best, if not the best, hotel in Palermo. The grounds are spectacular, and the outdoor pool was built to incorporate ancient stone ruins. Inside, there’s a romantic bar with vaulted stone ceilings and wall frescoes. Read More »

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It’s no secret that space in New York City is limited, which makes it all the more precious and expensive. Unfortunately, for budget travelers in particular, this means not much lodging — that you’d actually want to stay in — is available outside of hostels. Fortunately, in the last few years the Big Apple has seen its own take on Japanese-inspired capsule hotels pop up, and these spots are dedicated to making the best use of tight spaces (and budgets!) without sacrificing style. Trust us, we’ve stayed in some small spaces during our travels — but no place does small quite so chicly as these three NYC “pod” hotels. These are the perfect budget hotels for a stay in Manhattan as they are modern, stylish, compact, unique, and efficient — just like NYC. (Besides, how much time do you really spend in your hotel room?)

1. Yotel

premium-cabin--v1241917-35-720

Born out of a desire to create luxurious accommodations in compact spaces, Yotel began as a by-the-hour hotel system in various London airports. In 2011, NYC became home to the first standalone, brick-and-mortar incarnation of the brand. Located two blocks from Time Square, Yotel’s intuitively efficient rooms are well-steeped in style, and display a futuristic design with high-tech convenience built right in. Well-thought-out floor plans mean rooms never feel cramped (well, I guess we can only speak for ourselves…), while monsoon showerheads and heated towel racks prove you don’t have to skimp on comforts. Rooms here may be small, but the hotel isn’t shy when it comes to common spaces. With 18,000 square feet of lounging and dining space, including a 7,000-square-foot trendy rooftop terrace, Yotel gives you plenty of über-hip bang for your buck.

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The Golden Age of Hollywood has come and gone. While Los Angeles once had a firm grip on all film-related business — movie and television alike — the industry has expanded well beyond the Hollywood Hills. In the last forty years especially, we’ve seen emerging markets in Louisiana, Toronto, and Atlanta increasingly cut into La-La Land’s share of the filming world. Where Hollywood once hosted a commanding 64 percent of the live-action films being made in the early 2000s, today that figure has dropped to around eight percent, according to a study by FilmLA. It’s a big departure from the norm — and it is only good news for people looking to get their fifteen minutes in front of the camera. We’ve rounded up the top six destinations outside of Los Angeles for aspiring actors to book their first gig, or adoring fans to potentially score some time as an extra. And we’ve included some movie star-worthy accommodations in each spot as well.

1. New York City 

nyc

This may seem like a no-brainer, but in reality NYC only became a film industry hot spot in the 1970s when prolific directors Martin Scorcese and Woody Allen shifted their films’ focus to the Big Apple. Since then, NYC has become the clear challenger to Los Angeles’ filming supremacy. Just this year, NYC officially surpassed Hollywood for the number of TV pilots filmed in town, with Vancouver, Toronto, and Atlanta slowly creeping up behind the two industry giants. This week alone HBO’s Martin Scorcese-directed drama The Long Play begins filming its pilot in the city, as do over sixty other returning network programs. USA’s White Collar, CBS’s Person of Interest, Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, and HBO’s Girls are just some of the projects currently in play across the five boroughs. Plus, NYC has one thing Los Angeles doesn’t when it comes to acting: the Great White Way. For actors looking to pursue a career on stage, there is nowhere else to be but Broadway. Daniel Radcliffe and Neil Patrick Harris are both currently headlining shows, and Breaking Bad’s Brian Cranston just wrapped All the Way, for which he won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Play.

Stay: Mercer Hotel

The Mercer‘s 75 loft-style guest rooms, beautiful staff, personalized service and swanky SoHo location make it a go-to choice for celebrities and other fashionable members of the entertainment industry — from Leonardo DiCaprio, to fashion designer Calvin Klein, to oddball rock star Marilyn Manson, to Russell Crowe (who made headlines in 2005 for allegedly throwing a telephone at a Mercer check-in clerk). If you want to stay in a movie star-approved hotel, you can’t do much better. 

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Some may turn up their noses at America’s “unrefined” grub, and others may stare in horrified shock at our portion sizes (which is understandable) and our tendency to fry everything (also understandable). But our great U.S. of A is home to some pretty great eats — many of which you’ll likely chow down on this holiday weekend. So here we bring you eight quintessentially American dishes in seven amazing American cities (because, after all, New York does both bagels and pizza better than any other destination we know).

Lobster Roll, Nantucket

lobster roll

Lobster rolls are about as “New England summertime” as you can get, and though destinations like Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and the Hamptons all claim to do them better than the rest, we crown Nantucket the winner. Almost every restaurant on the island offers their signature variation of a lobster roll, but Millie’s — with a restaurant and a food truck — is known to serve up one of the best.

Where to Stay: Jared Coffin House

One of the oldest inns on the island, Jared Coffin House gives travelers a taste of Nantucket history and classic New England style. Some of the rooms and bathrooms are small, but all combine antique-style furnishings with modern features, such as flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. The inn, open year-round and centrally located near the downtown area, also features the elegant and popular Nantucket Prime restaurant; the menu not only features a lobster roll (either hot with butter, or cold with mayo), but also a delicious half lobster from its raw bar.

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