Inns & Hotels

05.05.2015 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Revisit: Gallery Inn

Gallery-Inn-Old-San-Juan-poolside-sitting-area-by-Justine-Hand
The lovely Justine Hand (from designskool and a contributing editor at Remodelista) sent over these photos of her visit to the storied Gallery Inn — an eccentric, family-owned hotel in Puerto Rico that she discovered on designtripper — and they’re too good not to share. I love hearing from folks who have traveled somewhere after reading about it here.

Gallery-Inn-Old-San-Juan-atrium-2-by-Justine-HandGallery-Inn-Old-San-Juan-sitting-area-and-stairs-by-Justine-HandGallery-Inn-Old-San-Juan-formal-sitting-area-by-Justine-HandGallery-Inn-Old-San-Juan-foerm-stable-door-by-Justine-HandGallery-Inn-pool-2

Some other things on my travel mind lately:
The Porcupine Mountains. Thinking about making the trip this summer.
Canvas tents in Moab.
Painted walls in Lisbon.
An old bar reborn as a vacation house.
My summer reading list.
Quarry swimming in Maine.

04.09.2015 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Revisit: d’Une île

Remalard, France


31. d'une île - outside -29. d'une île - swing

I’ve written about d’Une île before, but this place continues to get better and better. Occupying the former stables of the medieval settlement in the French countryside, their buzzing workshop is a constant source of built-by-hand creations — a new bench with a spindle back, a rough-hewn wooden tree swing built by hand, a sunken bed built into the multi-level floor, a ladder made with found branches, all of it their own design. Owners Michel and Sofie sent over some recent images of their work at the inn, and as a part-time innkeeper (who understands how busy they are running an actual business, not to mention all the cooking, serving, luggage schlepping), I’m in awe of their dedication to expanding their offerings (they just added four new rooms) while sticking tight to their ideals by treating the physical space as a form of self-expression. The last time we talked, Michel described it as a “creative environment where we’re constantly playing with the things we love.” It strikes me as such a symbiotic relationship — this beautiful place provides them so much inspiration, which they keep pouring back into the space, which makes more and more guests happy, which makes their world an even more beautiful place. Will it ever stop? Let’s hope not.

28. d'une île - barn28.2 terasse13. d'une île - double room 818.1 detail 2c 115. petite suite 1 -14. d'une île - double room 9

05.15.2014 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Check In: The Pelican Inn

Muir Beach, California

My secret for test-driving a hotel or inn without committing to an overnight stay: Brunch. And The Pelican Inn didn’t disappoint. Outside: clinging, trailing wisteria. Inside: dark, moody and welcoming; windsor chairs; a fire in the hearth; and  all the broodiness of a proper British tavern. I’m sure this seven-guestroom Tudor, with every bit of dark wood and heavy drapery channeling the romantic spirit of a 16th-century coaching inn in the English countryside, is a lovely place to stay. So lovely, in fact, that it’s thronged on weekends with outdoor weddings and dinner guests toiling away on the grassy lawn waiting for a table. Get there when it opens on a Sunday, and you’ll be rewarded with a quiet, dim corner in front of the fireplace and a beautiful spread of English country fare — bangers, corned beef and hash, scones and jam, the works. Beyond-full and sublimely satisfied, my husband still wanted to stick around for the Ploughman’s lunch and a stout in the pub. Maybe we should have stayed the night after all.

04.11.2014 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Check In: Manka’s Inverness Lodge

Inverness, California

I’ve been slow, reluctant even, to write about our stay at Manka’s — a beloved hunting lodge turned retreat in Inverness — perhaps because I want to draw out the experience of being there, or prevent it from being discovered — already a hopelessly lost cause. It’s no secret, this spot. Far from it, in fact, considering every magazine you know by name has piled heaps of praise at its rustic wooden stilts. And yet, tucked into the evergreens on along a beautiful slice of Tomales Bay, it still manages to feel secretive, humble and immensely special.

This is a testament to owner Margaret Grade, who bought the property (a hunting lodge and a handful of cabins, including the boathouse where we stayed). It was called Manka’s then, too — a nickname for the previous owner’s wife (it means Little Rascal in Polish). Margaret spruced up the interiors. And by spruced up, I mean totally revamped with just-right amenities like soaking tub, outdoor shower and the comfiest twin leather armchairs in front of the hearth made of salvaged wood. The decor is an homage to the structure’s original function: vintage fishing nets, worn wooden oars, and a collection of black-and-white photos that link the place to its past.

Even though the legendary, locally sourced restaurant, which made the place a cult destination among the highest order of West Coast foodies, burned to the ground eight years ago, the in-room dining experience still feels rooted in the surrounding land and everything that it provides. Every morning, a slender wooden box is filled to brim with delectable local morning treats, blanketed with The New York Times, and delivered to the doorstep. Homemade yogurt and granola, sticky buns and hand-pressed apple cider one morning, and eggs with bacon and goat cheese another. Each bundle comes with a simple slip of paper — little fortune scrolls to detail the ingredients: what beekeeper made the honey and from what dairy farm came the cheese (in most cases, a neighbor or friend just down the road). Everything feels intentional, but the great efforts are rarely seen. Invisible gestures are manifest in the form of handwritten welcome notes, a beautifully photographed coffee table book as guide left on the window seat, food cooked with all the care. Our second night there, a fireside dinner was delivered by a local character who wears a cowboy hat and has lived in the area for decades. He regaled us with stories about how so much has changed (the Silicon Valley execs), and so much that hasn’t (the land is preserved, so it’s every bit as jaw-dropping and mystical as its always been. You’ve been warned: a foggy morning drive through the rolling knolls and ranch land, punctuated by ocean views, bluffs, wildflowers and redwoods may induce a desire to get out of the car and burst into song, Julie Andrews the-hills-are-alive-style). The whole thing is a splurge, but if you have a special occasion to plan a getaway around, it’s definitely splurge-worthy. We were celebrating our 10-year anniversary, and our cowboy friend insisted we eat at the table overlooking the bay even though it was pitch-black outside. He was right. A sense of calm and hopefulness comes from knowing what vast beauty glimmers just beyond the window. Kind of like the next ten years of marriage.

 

03.05.2014 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Check In: Trasierra

Cazalla de la Sierra, Andalusia, Spain

This month, I wrote a story about a new brand of innkeeper for the re-imagined and redesigned Conde Nast Traveler, which is stunning thanks to Pilar Guzman and Yolanda Edwards and their powerhouse team. The personality-driven inn means that the owner is not only a pivotal part of the experience, they are the experience. Their good, quirky and eccentric tastes and big personality informs every last detail — from cooking and serving meals to outfitting the space with hand-picked furniture, art and books from their personal collections. These are people who invite guests into their homes — their worlds — and the connection they make with guests becomes the very thing worth traveling for.

One of the three places featured, Trasierra is a former olive mill turned country house that owner Charlotte Scott brought back from dilapidation 20-plus years ago. When she moved in, they lived there for a few years without electricity. It’s been her life’s work, and and now, her signature can be found in every corner — handmade pillows, fabric draped over tables, wicker baskets and straw hats hanging on walls, herbs drying from arches and doorways, cut wildflowers displayed in pitchers — and even outside, where she designed hikes through the 350-acre property based on where flowers look prettiest during certain times of day. All four of her children are involved (and always have been, even when they were little). One of her daughters cooks, another teaches yoga. One of her sons helps organize excursions to wineries and gaming estates, and the other is a musician who visits regularly and still helps out. When I talked to Charlotte about her innkeeping ethos, I was inspired by her refreshingly laid-back approach to making Trasierra “a place that nourishes.” Below, a few insightful tidbits from her no-flash take on hospitality.

On “no flash”: There’s no flash here. No obvious displays of wealth or luxury. It’s more relaxing when you don’t feel intimidated. It’s not untidy, but it’s not perfect either. There’s no place to go to show off. It’s an equalizer and that’s very important. You see so much nature, it shows you where your place is.

On creating comfort: This is where I would love to be a guest. It’s a natural spa without any of the fuss. No body feels in awe of anything. All the rooms are different, because I’ve had to do them at different times as I had money. They all have charms, which makes it feel like a home, not a hotel.

On privacy: I’ve mastered becoming an unseen presence. If I’m asked, I’ll join a guest for a drink or dinner, but otherwise, it’s the guest’s house. I’m not hovering. If they want to move a chair or a cushion, I don’t want them to feel like someone is breathing down their neck.

On the importance of disconnecting: We arrange everything for guests, so you don’t have to panic about whether there’s wifi in every room. It teaches people how to relax. You don’t have to have an office in your room. Otherwise, you’re bringing your distractions with you on your holiday. Too many people travel with their computers, and they never really get to have a vacation.

09.24.2013 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Stay: D’une île

Remalard, France

Ben Lambers of Studio Aandacht hung out at (and took photos of) this place–part hotel, part nature park, part creative retreat–which he has visited a couple times since it opened last spring. In the midst of planning the foray of Honor & Folly into the country, I’m particularly inspired by this medieval settlement on the edge of a national park an hour and a half outside Paris. Situated on seven acres of forest with two springs and a creek, D’une île consists of a sprawling manor house and its medieval cottages repurposed as a getaway dedicated to the enjoyment of nature, art and food. The ambitious couple who opened it–after a grueling year of DIY rehabbing, roof-repairing, plastering, painting, landscaping, decorating, and creating furniture–bring no short supply of talent and guts (they had to bathe outside with cold water from the well). Michel Mulder, a composer, musician and professional chef handles the food at D’une île, and Sofie Sleumer is an interior designer. Together, and with lots of help from friends, they outfitted the rustic spaces with flea market finds, art, and furniture they restore themselves. They also cook for and dote on guests, as well as coordinate in-room art installations like the robot-like wood and wire mobiles by artist Just van der Loos.

Here, a short Q&A with Michel about starting and running such a thoughtful, creative hotel (that’s not at all a hotel) in the French countryside:

What made you decide to open D’une île?
Sofie and I wanted to leave Amsterdam after living there for 12 and 14 years, respectively. We marveled on the idea of creating a beautiful and well-functioning playground where all our occupations could flourish in one concept. We tried thinking of Barcelona, Quebec, Paris until we stumbled upon our little domaine. So we found the place, and then we had to think up what to do with it. A small hotel would be logical and the more we thought about it, the more appealing this idea became. But it had to be our hotel, and it had to stay our playground. So we thought, ‘ok, this is about the good life, so we need good, friendly people to share that with us.’

As an owner-innkeeper, how do you spend your time?
In contact with our guests and our local producers, building rooms and bathrooms, designing the rooms, restoring furniture, discovering new wines and even better products to cook with. We have up to 28 beds and more than 10,000 square feet of hotel space, a small restaurant and seven acres of land, there’s always work to do. But more importantly, there’s always room for new ideas!

What do you love most about D’une île?
I love the trees, all their different colors, how they change during the season, the view out of our bedroom window over the orchard, which is now packed with apples and pears. I love how the medieval buildings form a tiny little village with a small square in the middle and the big walnut tree towering over it. For us it’s a fulltime job. Apart from the hôtellerie we host weddings, exclusive dinner parties, styling assignments, and sell vintage design. D’une île is our place to live, to work, in every aspect. Sofie and I, we create things, and d’une île is our favorite.

[PHOTOS: All images by Ben Lambers via Trend Tablet]

09.10.2013 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Stay: Corte della Maestra

Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy

Last August, when we spent a week in Civita, I paid a visit to another property in the ancient village. Patrizio had prepped me–“I almost cried the first time I saw it.”–but sheer emotion doesn’t do this place justice. There’s a deep sense of history, grandeur, and artistic eccentricity that make it feel like a living museum, where everything is curated yet highly personal. It’s the stuff of World of Interiors, the stuff of someone’s kooky yet incredibly tasteful creative mind.

The owner of Corte della Meastra, Paolo Crepet (a former gallerist from Rome, and a well-known psychiatrist and author), has lived here for 18 years. He originally moved to Civita to spend quiet time with his then young daughter outside the bustle of Rome. Since then, he has acquired more space in the adjoining cave-like building (the entire town sits on tufa rock and Etruscan caves), and last year, he opened the extra rooms as a b&b. It was part of church at one time, and there’s a stunning 16th-century religious fresco across one wall. His art collection, which is out of this world, is displayed throughout, and where’s there’s not art, there’s ivy, stone, bright pops of color. The surrealist gardens could be a post all their own.

He imagined it as a place where brooding writers, artists, filmmakers and freethinkers can find inspiration, solitude and good conversation over bottles of wine. When I visited, there was a photographer in the kitchen, and someone in one of the living rooms playing the piano. Perhaps they can stay a few months, he suggests. Of course, common travelers are welcome, too. But as he points out, it takes a special kind of person to want to stay in small village like Civita for more than a night or two — someone who’s looking inward, looking for something more than tourist attractions. Spend an hour with Paolo, and you’ll realize he’s as much a draw as his home. A big personality, who rhapsodizes about the meaning of art, life and love like most people talk about the weather. It’s invigorating and has just the right effect: He makes you want to grab a chair and stay awhile. Maybe even a couple months.


07.24.2013 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Stay: Table on Ten

Bloomville, New York

I read about this place last winter–first in Martha Stewart Living, then again in Wilder–and made a mental note to stop in next time I’m passing through upstate New York. The backstory–a carpenter and self-taught chef couple trade in New York City for the Catskills to rehab a cabin and open a cafe–plus the lure of the small-town camaraderie and locally sourced ingredients makes for compelling travel plans. Then, just the other day, as I’m connecting some aesthetic dots, I realize they’ve added two rooms this summer, making it more than a pit stop for farm egg sandwiches and wood-fired pizza. With a spacious attic and second-floor bedroom, both artfully detailed with simple, rustic touches (handmade beds, found branches, pillows made from reclaimed grain sacks), guests are immersed in the close-knit community that makes this place so special in the first place. To book, you’ll ultimately be rerouted to airbnb.com, but you can learn more about the experience and extended community at their site first.

[Photos by Torkil Stavdal via Remodelista; first and last three images via Table on Ten]

06.26.2013 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

The Hillside Homestead

Suttons Bay, Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan

HOORAY! I’m currently on a luxuriously long vacation “Up North”—as Detroiters affectionately call this area of Northern Michigan—with my two boys before the arrival of number three. We’re (fairly successfully) trying to shoehorn an entire summer of hiking, lake swimming, dune climbing, frog catching, pier jumping, sandcastle building, berry picking, stone skipping and ice cream licking into three weeks. And four hours north of Detroit, it’s the perfect place to try. Shimmering blue waters compete with any ocean I’ve ever seen, and country roads crisscross patchwork farmland and wind through orchards with peek-a-boo views of Lake Michigan from the tops of rolling hills. It’s ridiculously idyllic.

While here, the story I wrote about the Leelanau Peninsula came out in the July/August issue of Martha Stewart Living (a little online slideshow, not as detailed as the print version). Randy Harris is responsible for the beautiful photographs, and the magazine’s redesign looks fantastic. I overheard someone talking about the story in the checkout line at the grocery, and my face flushed.

One of my favorite places included in the piece (however briefly, in the sidebar) is the new Hillside Homestead—a farm stay b&b owned and delightfully operated by chef-turned-homesteader Susan Odom, who got the idea and honed her skills at the Firestone Farm at Greenfield Village just outside Detroit. Here, at her restored Victorian, she adds a layer of good old-fashioned historic hospitality to the local food movement, inviting guests to experience locally-sourced, home-cooked period meals around a big farmhouse table. Every last detail is straight out of the early 1900s, including the old-fashioned flowered dress and apron Susan dons for dinner, yet none of it feels hokey or overdone. From the antique wood burning stove and dry sink to the honey butter and apple jelly she makes herself, it’s all perfectly charming. When we stopped by, she was whipping up apple pie and fried chicken using homespun leaf lard, which I’ve never even heard of–apparently, all the rage in turn-of-the-century farm kitchens. Guest rooms are equally attended to, and outside, visit the pigs, chickens and an irresistible wooden tree swing, before settling down on the front porch for pastoral sunset views. Below, a few photos that do not quite do the place justice, plus a few other places to stay from the designtripper archives if you visit the Leelanau Peninsula.

Hillside Homestead

Other overnight options: this modern farmhouse rehab, Wyndenrock, and Jolli Lodge. I’ll have one more place to add to the list in a week or two.

 

06.12.2013 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Round-Up: Yurts

A few weeks ago, we went camping in Canada. Kind of. Scenario: Tent packed, lantern oil filled, rhubarb crumble baked and ready to warm over the fire, and there’s an unexpected hitch. Temps teasing low 30s on Memorial Day weekend and two young boys in tow. I couldn’t bear the crestfallen faces of last-minute cancellation disappointment, so we rented a yurt with bunks and a heater, and despite all misgivings about fake camping, shoddy, aesthetically displeasing shelter and interior lattice overload, it was absolutely delightful. All the perks of camping–immersed in nature, blazing campfire, no modern distractions–but none of the discomfort. Now I’m on a bit of a research bender about yurts and yurt-like accommodations and thought I’d share some of my findings. (Of course, for a rustic, no-frills yurt experience that’s all about the nature surrounding it and not the decor, just check national parks  and campground sites for options in the US and Canada. They’re everywhere–and perfect.)


Amazing-looking collection of yurts in southern Norway called the Canvas Hotel.

It’s not for rent, sadly–at least that I’m aware of–but check out this glass and stone yurt built by Micky Muennig in Big Sur in 1976.

Airbnb offers a decent collection of yurts in the US and around the world. Overlooking the foothills of Sierra Nevada, this one in Andalusia, Spain looks particularly compelling.

I’m not sure I’d forego a stone cottage or old farmhouse in France for a yurt, but you never know. If so, Le Camp would certainly be the place.

Everyone knows all about El Cosmico already, right? The de facto hipster playground/campground of Marfa? In case not, these yurt-like things stand alongside the airstreams, teepees and safari tents.

 

05.23.2013 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Check In: Graham & Co.

Phoenicia, New York

I’ve had my eye on this place for awhile: a 13-room hotel in the Catskills with custom-made wooden furniture, vintage details and a juniper-surrounded pool with views of the mountains. Started by four friends from New York,  the Graham & Co. is a hipster-ish renovation of a daggy old motel. A sucker for that no-fuss, rustic Americana vibe, I was hoping to check it out this spring,  but since I’m expecting a baby in July, I’ve decided to postpone any travel that may involve river tubing. But for everyone else: Go! Looks like a superbly laid-back homebase for hiking, exploring the antique shops, and watching movies in the expansive grassy lawn from an adirondack chair.

05.08.2013 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Check In: Miss Opo

Porto, Portugal

A friend recently handed me the May issue of Elle Decoration. There’s a guest house in here you have to see, she said. The two of us have been talking/dreaming about something like this for awhile — joining efforts to expand Honor & Folly to include more food, art, culture, craft. Because Honor & Folly is such a tiny space, it’s hard to accommodate anything more than the awesome guests who have been streaming through Detroit lately. And for them, I’m so grateful, but I also really love the idea of a more interactive, more cultural guest house, and these two friends from Porto have done an amazing job with Miss Opo.

Designer Paula Lopes and photographer Ana Luandina have transformed a former textile factory and bar into a creative, contemporary space with six suites and a communal cafe, bar and hang-out area. The industrial, concrete palette deftly mixes with more homespun details like mix-and-match antique dishes, well-worn wooden stools and tons of potted plants. There’s just enough quirk–books tucked into shelves for borrowing, notes scrawled on walls, and unexpected bits and pieces of art hanging around–to get a sense of the girls’ personalities and aesthetic sensibility. And from the looks of it, that’s a very good thing. As for Honor & Folly, maybe someday.

[All images via Yatzer.com by Shanna Jones]

04.25.2013 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Brooklyn Stays

Brooklyn, New York

Everyone loves the Wythe–Brooklyn’s newish hotel from the same folks behind Marlow & Sons. And from everything I’ve seen/read/heard, all the hype seems substantially merited. I haven’t stayed there yet, but I’m sure when I do, I’ll be joining the praise chorus about everything from the custom wallpaper to the beautifully designed downstairs brasserie Reynard, which one website describes as where all the people in Brooklyn who wash their hair hang out. The description made me chuckle, but the menu makes me want to dig in. And I especially love that there’s purposefully no room service, because they want to encourage guests to come out of their hotel rooms and be social humans.

In the meantime, I’ve gathered up some other amazing-looking options in Brooklyn. I’m totally blown away by all the choices. A few years ago–pre-Wythe and pre-Airbnb–it was so hard to find a decent place to stay in Brooklyn. And now

The Storefront: A historic storefront with a beautiful, private garden in Greenpoint that’s being rented to guests until it reopens as an antique shop.

House of Collection: Featured in The New York Times last year, an eccentric artist loft chock full of displayed antique tools and implements, vintage and hand-crafted furniture, art, taxidermy and collections of collections upon collections.

The Erhart: Understated elegance rules the experience at this historic (and magnificent) 1887 brownstone in Clinton Hill. Guests can rent rooms in the 10,000-square-foot stunner, marked by grand staircases, gorgeous chandeliers and some seriously opulent architecture details. Read more about the rehab at remodelista.com.

3B: A charmingly funky boutique b&b co-op run by seven friends (and creative co-conspirators) out of their home. You share a bathroom with guests from the other three bedrooms, but the upside is they’ll make you a frittata breakfast every morning.

04.11.2013 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Check In: The Soniat House

New Orleans, Louisiana

Initially, I didn’t really want to stay in a fancy hotel, especially one in the French Quarter. I wanted to find a bright teal shotgun in the Bywater,  or a crumbling creole cottage to rent like the one we stayed in last time. This super cool Victorian guesthouse, belonging to  local artist Miranda Lake, was already booked. But if the Soniat was good enough for Brad and Angelina to camp out in for months at a time with family in tow, I reasoned, it would probably suffice.  Egregious underestimation.

Tucked away on a quiet stretch of Chartres, in the residential fringes of the old French Quarter, the Soniat House feels reminiscent of how the French Quarter might have felt before the invasion of the tacky souvenir shop. The magnificent architecture, lacy wrought-iron balconies, and the formal elegance of a refined New Orleans neighborhood in the 1830s, when craft and impression were paramount, and hidden courtyards flowered behind gated Creole-influenced city homes built for entertaining. Originally built by the Soniat family, who had 13 children, the two homes (plus another, owned by a family member) are big and stately and gorgeous. Every last corner is outfitted with beautiful, sometimes worn, always tasteful antiques spanning influences and periods. And the courtyards are exquisite, people. We ate breakfast out there every morning, despite the unseasonably chilly spring temps–a crazy-delicious spread of homemade biscuits, butter, preserves, chicory coffee and fresh-squeezed orange juice. It was my favorite part of the day. And if I can blather on for one more second about something as prosaic as service: the people who work here make the place. Bill at the front desk and Calvin (in the photo below, he’s been there more than 30 years) became our buddies, and I found myself wandering into the lobby several times a day to chat and hear stories about local history and lore. For instance, Mrs. Soniat was said to be so beautiful, she only ever went in the courtyard with a bonnet to protect her porcelain-like skin. And then there’s the legend of the angry ghost in the house around the corner and the murderous former owner who caused it. I’ll let you hear that one for yourself.