Category Archives: WHERE TO TRAVEL

Gild Hall by Thompson Hotels: Financial District

What can I say about Gild Hall by Thompson Hotel that hasn’t been said about Kate Upton’s breast? Beautiful, perfect, large, comfortable, cozy and I spent a night with them… One of those is not true, but seriously this might be one of my favorite hotels in New York City.

Last week my fiancé and I had our engagement shoot, which we were doing in Dumbo and ending the shoot over by the Brooklyn Bridge. The location was perfect, as this hotel sits in the Financial District, over on Gold ST and Platt ST. If you are looking to explore downtown, i.e. The Seaport, Wall Street, Brooklyn Bridge, World Trade Center, One World Observatory …etc, you cannot beat this location. Additionally, if you are looking to explore outside the Financial District you have many subway lines within a few blocks. Even though I live a few neighborhoods north, staying in this area gave us both such a different perspective of the city.

The day prior to checking in, I called to ask them if they could assist me with some requests. Since we were doing our engagement shoot (also looking for a great photographer, check out ours here at Denise Wine Studio) we wanted to have a chance to wear multiple outfits without having to go up to Nolita and get changed. I spoke with Justine, and she was able to provide us with early check-in. Along with that, she was extremely helpful and friendly and was able to meet our requests. When we arrived, we received the same great customer service from the staff. They were quick to help us grab our luggage, and help us to our room.

The hotel itself is absolutely beautiful, from the minute you arrive to the second you check out, you will be extremely pleased. Once you make your way through the front door, you see their double-level library filled with books and artwork, hardwood floors, plush couches and really cool chandeliers. Exposed Brick surrounds the check in desk, along with distressed wood and leather couches.

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Across from the lobby you will find the restaurant, Felice, which is a New York City based Italian restaurant which specializes in Tuscan cuisine with four locations throughout Manhattan. They have forty seats, along with their upstairs wine lounge La Soffitta. The food from Felice can be ordered via room service, which we tried later on, and was unbelievable. Felice, a lot like the hotel, also features really cool chandeliers, these however are built using the jugs that are from their wine production. Along with having a bottle or two downstairs, our suite also featured a few bottles of their offerings including Felice Bianco, Felice Rosso, and Felice Rose.

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Now to our suite, The Thompson Suite, which was ridiculously beautiful. When you walk in, there was one bathroom and a hallway that lead to the bar, living room, and to the right the bedroom. The first bathroom, which was a smaller version of the master bathroom, just as nice but just smaller. The bar came fully stocked with pretty much anything you need for a good time. For liquor they had Ciroc, Buffalo Trace, Knob Creek, 10 Cane Rum. In the fridge they had a few different types of Brooklyn lager, mineral water, and some sodas. A full selection from Candy to Condoms were also behind the bar, along with some bottles of Fred Water to help chase away that hangover in the morning. The bar overlooks the luxurious living room area, which feature comfortable leather couches, a large Samsung TV, animal hides, and all the makings to host a fun party.

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Off the living room you have the bedroom, which features the same twelve-foot ceilings that run throughout the room. However the main focal point is the bed. The king size bed is wrapped in 400 thread count sheets, and finished with a fancy leather headboard. The bed itself was so comfortable, but the view of the suites decor was one of my favorite parts of my stay here.
The bedroom also featured a nice desk in the corner, along with an iHome Dock (iPhone 5 Compatible), some leather-bound books, and beautiful lighting from the lamps to the chandelier hanging over the bed.

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The master bathroom was massive! It was partially tiled with glass tiles, with chrome accessories, and marble running throughout the bathroom. When you first walk in theres a double sink and private bathroom stall. Just when you think thats it, you walk around the corner to find a large walk in rain shower, along with a stand alone clawfoot tub. They provide C.O. Bigelow products in the bathroom, and also provide a cool shaving kit from Dollar Shave Club for a small fee. I really think the bathroom was larger than my apartment, and definitely a lot nicer.

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All in all, if you’re looking for a hotel in New York thats close to everything and not the size of a shoe box, definitely consider Gild Hall. Definitely impresses the lady and set a great tone for the rest of the night.

Lollapalooza 2015: Lineup Announced This Morning

This morning the lineup for Lollapolooza in Chicago was announced, and it is pretty f***ing awesome. With Metallica, Alt-J, Brand New, and some guy named Paul McCartney, I am pretty excited. Check out the full line up below, and we will see you in Chicago.
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Buttermilk Falls Inn: Leave Your Office, Grab Your Woman, and Go

Last year for our anniversary I decided to take my fiancé (then girlfriend) away for the night to Buttermilk Falls Inn, up in Milton, NY. Prior to going she had been looking into it for a while, that’s when I had the amazing idea to surprise her with a trip.

We went up early Sunday, spent the day, and came back to dreary NYC the following afternoon. The drive up there was great, it was about 90 minutes north of the city, but once you got up there you felt like you were nowhere near Manhattan. Luckily for us the weather was great, so we got to enjoy the full experience of the property.

When we arrived our room was not yet ready, which I figured since it was so early in the morning, so the people at the front desk gave us the history of the property, along with some suggestions on what to do. Since we were hungry, we decided to go to their restaurant Henry’s on the Farm, which I was excited for considering it was farm to table. Our experience at Henry’s really made us both fall in love with the resort, and we went there for dinner that night. Since we were there early we had their Brunch Menu, which was exactly what we needed. The three dishes (as you know by now we order a lot of food) that stood out the most were the Chef’s Daily Flatbread, Lobster Mac and Cheese, and Pulled Pork sandwich. The daily flatbread was one of the most interesting things I have ever seen, and I admit I didn’t think I would like it all that much. It was a flatbread with Vermont Cheddar, apples, and bacon. I still think this was one of my favorite dishes. Below you will see the picture, this getaway was the first opportunity I had to use my Canon SL1 and it got a lot of use. The Lobster Mac and Cheese was delicious, also pictures below, and had large hearty chunks of lobster. As you could guess, we scraped the skillet clean.

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After leaving Henry’s we went back across the road and checked into our room. We were staying in the ‘Sweet Basil’ room, which has a queen-size bed, marble-topped dresser, exposed original stone chimney, private bath with whirlpool tub, and built-in fireplace. Also this room features a semi-private entrance which goes out into one of their gardens. The ‘Sweet Basil’ room is located in the main house, which was built around 1764.

After getting settled, we decided to walk around the property and explore the grounds. We walked through the gardens, and past the lake/waterfalls, to checkout the working garden, Buttermilk’s own Millstone Farm. This is where the property gets their honey, eggs, herbs, fruits, berries and produce. Near the garden we went over to the animal area, which is home to honey bees, heritage chickens, angora goats, llamas, alpacas, donkeys and peacocks. Safe to say this place really means it when they say Farm to Table.

We also checked out The Barn, which is next to the gardens. This building was beautiful, and can be rented out for private events – from weddings, to family reunions.

We decided to head back to The Main House to change into shorts when we came across Afternoon Tea. This was an awesome surprise and we decided to hangout and enjoy the outdoor seating. This is served daily and includes homemade baked goods such as coffee cake, cookies, cheese danish, babka, scones and a house favoite, carrot cake.

Once we left Afternoon Tea we purchased a bottle of Sancerre from the front desk and hung out on the Adirondack chairs on the Reception Patio. This area overlooks the Hudson River, and is a great spot to just hang out and relax. If you walk around the area you will see some of the other guesthouses, along with a trail that will lead to the other waterfalls.

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For dinner we ended up back at Henry’s which as I mentioned earlier, we are pretty obsessed with. Dinner was phenomenal and service was once again on point.

In the morning, we had breakfast which was held in the same room and outdoor patio as Afternoon Tea. The country breakfast includes farm fresh eggs, local cheeses and produce accompanied by a buffet of fresh fruit and homemade artisinal baked goods. Favorites include buttermilk pancakes topped with fresh Millstone peaches, or the “power plate”, consisting of quinoa, avacado and farm fresh vegetables, topped with a Millstone egg. To drink they serve juices, local herbal teas and coffee. All of the items we had were delicious, and was a great way to start the day.

During the trip and even today, my only regret was not scheduling a spa appointment prior to my arrival. I figured since we would be there on a Sunday-Monday, we would have no issue getting appointments. I was wrong, and still am upset about it. The Spa area is beautiful and includes their glass enclosed indoor Endless Pool. From the pool area there are great views of the Hudson River and Buttermilk’s meadows and gardens. The pool is also equipped with Endless Pool Fastlane technology, allowing you to swim against a current. Also in the pool area they feature a Dry Cedar Sauna and Steam Room, which is a great way to relax. Next time I go back I will ensure we setup spa appointments prior to our stay, and get to enjoy a nice massage with all the other great aspects of Buttermilk Falls Inn.

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Switzerland: Ski in St. Moritz

Every time it snows I get excited for the possibility of getting away and hitting the slopes. Then reality checks in and I realize with my schedule over the past few months – that I will be spending the snowy days walking up and down the Manhattan streets.

This was not the case for my friends over at Bella Vita Style. They were able to make it out to Europe to ski the Swiss Alps, and I sent them over a package from ‘Send Your Enemies Glitter‘.  Hope they enjoy cleaning up that mess.

Below are some excepts from their guides to where to stay, and where to go while in St. Moritz.

Where To Stay:

Kulm Hotel: During the trip, we spent two nights at Kulm Hotel, which is widely considered to be one of the nicest hotels in the area. This year it won the TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice award naming it the best hotel in Switzerland, and having stayed there, we can see why.

Kulm really cherishes its rich history. The hotel started as a small, 12-room hotel run by Johannes Badrutt in 1856, who is basically godfather to the region and the reason why St. Moritz became such a destination for the world’s elite. While people visited the region in the summer to spend time at the lake and the mountains, Badrutt convinced British visitors to come back in the winter, with a bet that they could ski and get a tan, given the strong sun and high elevations. The Brits were skeptical, but took him up on his offer. From there, word spread, and the rest is history.

Hotel Grand Kempinski Des Bains: Nestled next to Corviglia ski mountain is Hotel Grand Kempinski Des Bains, a five-star luxury resort in St. Moritz that seamlessly combines glitz and comfort.

This 184-room hotel is part of the Kempinski chain, with locations in Dubai, Istanbul and Bangkok. The hotel has a distinctly buzzy feel, and attracts a young, hip clientele who are looking to indulge in world-class skiing, après ski and restaurants.

We recently spent three nights at Kempinski and wanted to share our thoughts for those of you contemplating a trip to St. Moritz. Our room was beautifully-appointed, with a balcony overlooking the Alps and a chilled bottle of Veuve Cliquot champagne waiting for us along with some olives and cheese.

For skiing, there is a chairlift just across the road from the hotel, which is super convenient. The hotel also has ski rentals on the premises, another added convenience, and the shop had all of the newest gear and even had our ski boots ready and waiting for us in the morning after heating them up for us.

Where to Eat and Apres:

Bamyan Ski Club:This popup bar is run by the Afghan ski club and has a distinctly Middle Eastern feel to it. Sit on poof chairs and sip cocktails like the Afghan mule, a take on the Moscow mule while picking on Middle Eastern fare.

Hauser: This was one of the funnest and affordable places we had post-ski drinks. The family-owned restaurant has an outside area called Roo Bar lit up by heating lamps where toasts and locals alike can sip on some Gluhwein.

Post Haus: We loved how Post Haus mixed Alpine chic decor with high-quality cocktails. The mojito was the best I had on the trip.

L’Indochine: After drinks at Post Haus, head to L’Indochine for Asian fusion food and great cocktails. Get the pork and shrimp spring rolls to start and then get one of their brochettes as your main.

Les Saisons: This was the best meal of our trip. Inside the Hotel Grand Kempinski des Bains is a wonderful steakhouse and grill that is not to be missed. The menu has such variety of cuts, from local meat to USDA to Kobe and Wagyu. The steak I ate is pictured above.

The Pizzeria: If you’re looking for Italian food and lighter fare, the Kulm Hotel’s Pizzeria restaurant has a really diverse menu with everything from pizza, to fish and pasta.

Sra Bua: If you’re a sushi fan, beeline it to Sra Bua, a new restaurant at the Hotel Grand Kempinski des Bains. The sushi is beautifully arranged and even tastier, and don’t forget to ask for the fresh wasabi.

Bachelor Party Guide: New Orleans

Went to New Orleans for an awesome bachelor party a few months back, should have been two but had to back out of one due to no more vacation days. Here is a guide to ensure you have an awesome time out there – we got you covered.

Getting There:
Flight is only 3 hours direct from New York, and fairly cheap around $330 for a round trip leaving on a Thursday and coming home on a Sunday. Flew JetBlue, which had some flights leaving after work which was an awesome option.

Where to Stay:
The Royal Sonesta is located on Bourbon Street and Conti Street, smack in the middle of where you want to be. Definitely look into the suites, we had the two corner suites that ran along Bourbon and the side street – great place to watch/throw beads and pregame before going out. There is also a pool in the courtyard, decent size and can get pretty wild depending on the crowd. We packed coolers of beers and hung out there during the day, there is also a bar there which serves food – could get a couple dozen crawfish for dirt cheap.

Where to Go:
Bourbon Street is filled with bars, which are next to strip clubs, which are next to souvenir stores, which are in turn next to bars, and then to strip clubs ..etc. There are tons of places you could stumble into, and you are sure to have fun. You can drink in the streets, so go for their best beers from Abita Brewing Company and stay far away from those grenade drinks.

Penthouse Club is definitely the best of the strip clubs out there, with a couple of dozen women walking around and on stage (Quality and Quantity) – it is where you want to be. They have a VIP Area in the back, which you could order bottles and cigars – also they have packages for groups  which you can check out prior to getting there on the Bachelor Party Link. This is also a 0.1 mile walk from The Royal Sonesta – so even if you walk out @ closing time of 4:00am – there is a good chance you can make it back to your hotel without getting lost.

Harrahs Casino for  gambling, if you want to throw the dice or play some cards they have a casino which gets a little shady a night.

Where to Eat:
Acme Oyster is the best place to eat some seafood, do not miss going there. They serve a couple thousand oysters a night, there specialty the Charbroiled Oysters. They come out hot w/ melted cheese, creole seasoning, and some other ingredients – definitely the best oysters I have ever tried – Dirty French, was a very close second. Also order some Boo Fries, which come with roast beef gravy and melted cheese.The line is usually pretty huge, and depending on how late you go, only gets worse.

Mother’s Restaurant is pretty close to Harrah’s Casino, about a three minute walk. When hungover, order The Famous Ferdi Special which is ham, roast beef, ‘DEBRIS’ and au jus. If you don’t know what debris is, doesn’t matter – just order it. It will soak up all the poison you ingested a few hours earlier.

Vegas: The LINQ Hotel

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Last weekend I was out in Vegas, and we were all setup to stay at the newest hotel – THE LINQ. The hotel is owned by Harrahs/Ceasars, and used to be the old Imperial Palace (dump), and they gave it a face-lift in some areas and literally a paint job in others. Before I get started, the hotel was nice – but we only stayed there for one night due to them doing construction still, at 6:00 AM IN THE MORNING.

First impressions, when you pull up you can hear the music playing from one of their outside bars which seemed to be a good time, but taking the redeye and landing from NY at around 1:00AM we didn’t make it there. We grabbed some food, grabbed some drinks – and we all went to bed. The rooms were nice, modern – kind of looked like the Apple Store version of a hotel room. Finally hit the bed @ 3:30AM and are woken up to the sound of nail guns and banging in the floor above us. When I went outside to check what was going on, noticed a bunch of other guest outside in the hallway doing the same thing. It was extremely loud, so I had to call the front desk.

The front desk was really nice, and explained they ‘shouldn’t be doing construction until 8:00AM’ and they are ‘deeply apologetic for the workers beginning two hours early’. Needless to say, we checked out and move on to a different hotel. I will say when the place is finished it will be pretty nice, but it still has that old look to it. Definitely cannot compete with the newer hotels such as Wynn, Encore, Aria …

Another good aspect of the hotel, the location. Its outside that LINQ Promenade which had a few bars, shops and Brooklyn Bowl (which was ironic that I was going there – while in Vegas).