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The new Le Meridien Philadelphia, a former YMCA, sports an ultra-modern, bold color scheme and art-strewn hallways, while showcasing the landmark building’s architectural history: original wood paneling, a 75-foot atrium, and a grand ballroom. Inside the colorful, 201-room Starwood hotel, which opened for the first time in May, visitors sip libations at the chic bar and bistro, Amuse, which features a menu à la Jean Georges and an iPad sommelier ap that makes wine selection a snap. A few floors above, Meridien’s soundproof quarters are outfitted with iPod docking stations, flat-screen TVs, and high-thread-count linens. Rooms feature views of Love Park, the Philadelphia cityscape, or the skylight-capped atrium.
Book the Thrills of Summer package by September 6, and stay a third night on the house, Thursday through Sunday. Rates start from just $149.
For more trip-planning information, visit our Philadelphia Travel Guide.
Kiev today is a city in flux. The galloping capitalism of the last decade skidded to a halt with the arrival of the worldwide recession in 2008. While the Orange Revolution of 2004 ushered in a pro-Western government, this past February a narrow victory at the polls delivered the presidency to Viktor Yanukovich, who maintains closer ties to Russia.
These days the Ukrainian capital is drawing the kind of intrepid traveler who, perhaps having already ventured to Prague or Budapest, is seeking something further-flung. Originally settled by Scandinavian traders en route to the Black Sea, Kiev is more than 1,400 years old, a full millennium older than St. Petersburg, to which it’s sometimes compared. Several ninth-century pagan statues and a stone circle once used for sacrifices stand today outside the city’s national history museum. Reminders of the 20th century’s darker moments can be found across the city, with a famine memorial here, a Chernobyl museum there. On a hilltop looms a gigantic Mother Motherland statue, a USSR footprint from the 1970s. At her feet is a sweeping outdoor World World II memorial: steel sculptures of battle scenes and huge tanks, with patriotic music swelling in the background.
Salt isn’t the only thing that’s pink in the Himalayas. As stark a contrast as the mountain terrain is to the expansive skies, so are the social ramifications of being “queer” in one of the isolated and traditional – and to much of the western world, mysterious – regions of the world. Making headlines is Nepal, who is positioning itself to grab on the pink dollar on the heels of a royal same-sex Hindu wedding, while being gay in Muslim Pakistan or tolerant/intolerant Buddhist China is anything but community building.
In honor of New York City’s Gay Pride month, the Rubin Museum of Art focuses on gay, lesbian, and transgender issues in the Himalayan region with a series of high-concept, intellectual talks every Wednesday in June. Read more
With its ritzy shops and well-heeled crowd, Bal Harbour (on the outskirts of Miami) isn’t a place that usually evokes value in people’s minds. Yet lately the community has been rolling out all kinds of amenities that I think will leave any traveler–whether she’s staying at the super-swanky ONE Bal Harbour Resort & Spa or the more modest but still charming Sea View Hotel–feeling like she’s gotten a great deal. Read more
The exclusive club of media industry rogues, U.K.-based Soho House slackens its members-only policy by one more property. In the midst of London’s bohemian East End, Shoreditch House opens 26 new guestrooms to the public on April 9. Known for entertaining a crowd of not-so-starving artists, this socialite asylum charges non-members over $400/night at its Berlin, New York, and Hollywood locations. Lucky for us, this Soho House newcomer hasn’t fallen in line just yet; a recent search found rates from $90/night through fall 2010, generally on a Tuesday overnight coupled with early booking — no membership dues required (that’s a savings of over $1,800 annually!). Preserving the secrecy of Soho House, guests book blind, leaving it to the concierge to assign them a room at time of arrival.
Quaint Chestnut Hill feels like a little town that wandered into a big city and never left, all friendly faces and cobblestone streets. In fact, it’s one of Philadelphia’s oldest neighborhoods: Some of its row houses date from the 18th century. Nothing changes too quickly here—many of the shops have been around for decades and there is hardly a chain store in sight.
Chestnut Hill Cheese Shop This nearly 45-year-old shop stocks scores of imported and domestic cheeses, from French Etorki to rich, nutty Swiss Hoch Ybrig, and the blithe employees are generous with the samples. The shop also sells assorted gourmet food items including hot sauces and delectable Belgian chocolate chips by the pound. 8509 Germantown Ave.; 215/242-2211, chcheeseshop.com
Hideaway Music Brian Reisman’s independent music store is small but offers a rich collection of new and used CDs, rare vinyl, and vintage concert posters from the likes of Santana and Pink Floyd. Unlike at some stores of its ilk, Hideway’s staff answers questions minus any attitude. 8612 Germantown Ave.; 215/248-4434
Fan of the ultra-mod? Want to be part of an art project? Want a complimentary iPhone during your stay?
The concept behind Blow Up 5050 is that 50% of every project should be art, and this place takes that concept to heart. To check in, you don’t pick a room you pick a card, which then corresponds with an aptly decorated room. You could tap into the animalistic in a zebra-striped suite, empty your mind in a sterile white room, or retain a bit of normality (boring?) in a more traditional space.
So what’s this about an iPhone? Read more
It’s 2010 – the year of multi-tasking. What better way to embrace the new, efficient you then combining a romantic Valentine’s Day weekend and … furniture making?!
The owners of ShackletonThomas, a furniture workshop in Bridgewater, Vermont believe there is no better way for couples to re-connect than by creating a beautiful piece of artwork together that they will be able to use in their homes for years to come. Read more
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live up in a bird’s nest? Yeah, we haven’t really either. That is, until we stumbled across the woven, human-size nest at the Treebone Resort in Big Sur, California.
Now it’s possible to answer that burning question that has been (or just started) fluttering around in your head: “what is life like from a birds eye view?”
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