Jet Set: Babington House

Just the other day, Oliveaux posted a few pictures from the idyllic Babington House in Somerset, England. I was instantly smitten and wanted more! This is the type of place you go to get away from the stresses of everyday life. The estate is located on 18 acres of pristine Somerset parkland and is comprised of a Main House, Coach House, Stable Block, Lodge, and a Walled Garden. You can spend your time playing tennis or cricket, or you can choose to relax at the hotel’s famed Cowshed Spa. The small village of Somerset also has several area attractions including the Roman Baths, Jane Austen Centre, Glastonbury Abbey, Wells Cathedral, and several historic castles and museums.
Just this year, the Babington House was named to Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List for Best Ambience / Design 2009. The centuries-old estate is now home to thirty-two beautifully-appointed rooms, twenty-three of which are located in the Main House and Coach House. There are five rooms in the Stable Block, three in the Lodge, and three rooms adjacent to the Cowshed Spa with views of the walled garden. In addition, the property also features several dining options including The House Kitchen, The House Bar, and The Log Room. The beautiful Orangery is the most beautiful of the dining spaces and is frequently reserved for wedding receptions and other special events. In addition to its restaurants, spa, and outdoor activities, the hotel also features a cinema, library, pool room, and study for further relaxation. Like its sister property, the SoHo House in New York, the Babington House and all of its amenities are available to guests and members of the elite Every House Membership Plan
Another View of the Stately Main House
The Log Room

The Orangery

The House Kitchen
The House Bar
The Study

Cowshed Spa

A Second Look at the Cowshed Spa
A Lovely Room in the Main House
Main House Attic Bathroom
A Beautiful Room on the First Floor of the Main House
A Sleek Bathroom

A Romantic Bathroom in the Coach House
The Playroom is the premier guest room at the Babington House. It is located on the first floor of the Main House.
The Playroom’s Luxurious Bathroom

I am not sure what would be more difficult; choosing a room or leaving at the end of one’s holiday!

All images via Babington House

Jet Set: ¡Viva Sevilla!

It is no secret that I am dying to go back to Spain. I absolutely fell in love with it this past summer. The next time that I visit, I want to explore the Andalucía region in the south, which just so happens to be home to the gorgeous city of Seville.

The city has a population of about 700,000 and is situated on the plain of the Guadalquivir River. “The long Moorish occupation of the Iberian peninsula, from 711 A.D. to 1248 A.D., left indelible traces in Seville as in all of Al-Andalus. La Giralda, the tower of an important mosque, is the most well-known of the remaining Islamic monuments. In 1492 Seville played an important role in the discovery and conquest of America. The 17th century was a period of artistic splendour in Seville. Painters such as Velázquez, Murillo and Valdés Leal, and sculptors like Martínez Montañés were born in Seville and left behind important works. The city also assumed an important role in world literature and was the birthplace of the myth of Don Juan.”

It is a beautiful city of narrow, winding cobblestone streets.

The architecture varies from one region of Spain to the next. The Andalucía region is typically home to whitewashed buildings with Spanish tile roofs. Seville is also famous for its abundance of orange groves. It is said that the aroma of oranges fills the city. I’d take that over smog any day!

The Plaza de España is the city’s main square, the place around which life revolved centuries ago. The history of the region is evident in its architecture.

The city’s main park was a gift from Infanta (Princess) María Luisa in the 1800s.

A Statue Stands Watch over the Casa de Pilatos

The Casa de Pilatos is a private Moorish Palace

The Symbol of Seville: La Giralda. La Giralda is now the bell tower of Seville’s Cathedral, which exemplifies Gothic and Baroque styles. However, in keeping with Seville’s past, the tower was once an ancient minaret for the Almohad mosque of Seville. Did you know that the clock tower of the Ferry Building in San Francisco was modeled after La Giralda?

I love the way most Spanish buildings look when they are lit up at night. It is as if they are glowing from within. This is a result of the materials used in the building. The city of Salamanca is gorgeous like this at night, as well.

Seville, and the Andalucía region as a whole are the birthplace of the cultural elements most people think of when picturing Spain. The art of bullfighting (regardless of your beliefs on the matter, it truly is an art. I was able to learn a lot about it while in Spain last summer) originated here. This is the facade of Seville’s bullring.

Several Matadores in their Beautiful Costumes

Another typical cultural element of Spain is the culinary tradition of Tapas, or small plates. They also originated here. Notice the orange tree outside of this Tapas Bar.

April is a very exciting time in Sevilla because it is when the “Feria de Abril” takes place. The Feria is a week long party that welcomes over one million people each year. What began as a cattle trading fair in 1847 has evolved into a celebration of Flamenco dancing and culture, which also originated in this region. The city of Seville is considered to be the center of flamenco music and culture, also known as “Sevillana” as many of the composers and songs originated there. Every year, a new poster is created in order to promote the Feria. There are many gorgeous vintage Feria posters. In fact, the older ones are my favorite.

During the day, the Feria hosts “daily parades of horses and decorated carriages that wind their way through the city and fairground. This equestrian display is accompanied by strolling singers who play traditional Sevillana ballads on their guitars. Many participants in these parades are members of Seville’s aristocracy, and they are exquisitely outfitted in the unique wide-brimmed “bolero” hats and short-cropped jackets that are closely associated with Andalucía.”

At night, everyone relaxes, enjoys some Andalusian Sherry, and dances.

Sevillanas Wearing Typical Flamenco Dresses

The Feria is set up near the Guadalquivir River. Hundreds of private tents, called “casetas” are set up. They are made of brightly striped canvas and are adorned with paper lanterns.

The casetas are hosted by the aristocratic families of Seville, trade unions, or political parties. Each has its own traditions and atmosphere. Some are very exclusive and are “by invitation only”, while others are open to the public and have a more casual, relaxed atmosphere.

The Flamenco costumes are so vibrant!

This year’s Feria kicks off next week! If you are wondering where to stay I have a couple of suggestions. The first, pictured above, is the Hospes Las Casas del Rey de Baeza, a hotel located in an 18th century house in the traditional style of the region.

The hotel is actually an oasis from the noise and excitement of the city and the Feria. It is well known for its privacy and soothing atmosphere.

The traditional Spanish building opens up to two seperate courtyards, around which everything is centered. I love the whitewashed walls and Robin’s Egg Blue trim.

The accomodations are quite modern and luxurious. All of the rooms open up onto the central courtyard. There are oranges here, too!

The hotel features a rooftop pool.

The second option is the Eme Fusion Hotel, a sleek, hip, newer hotel property with an unbeatable location and vibrant atmosphere.

This guestroom overlooks Seville’s famous “La Giralda”.

The guestrooms feature sleek finished, many amenities, and ample space.

The rooftop features a lounge and pool directly across from La Giralda.

The location and view are unbeatable. Does it get any better than this?
A cool shot taken from the bar looking up toward the rooftop terrace.


The lobby at the Eme Fusion Hotel

The Eme is home to several eateries including the Santo Restaurante Mediterráneo, pictured above. I love the rustic tables, chairs, and chandeliers. They add a nice contrast to the fiercely contemporary feel of the rest of the hotel.

The Milagritos Bar de Tapas is another culinary option at the Eme. Remember, tapas originated here!

One Last Look at the Spectacular Eme Fusion Hotel

So tell me… does Seville look like a place you’d like to visit? Does the Feria de Abril look like something you would want to experience? Where would you prefer to stay, at the quaint Hospes Las Casas del Rey de Baeza or the hip Eme Fusion Hotel? If you’ve been to Seville, I would love to hear about your stay there. I hope you have a fabulous weekend, regardless of where you spend it!

Images via Flickr (city and feria images), Tablet Hotels, and Eme Fusion Hotel

Jet Set: Heidelberg Suites by Michele Bonan

The Heidelberg Suites is ultra-chic, as is typical of Bonan’s designs.

The Heidelberg Suites Boutique Hotel opened in the fall of 2008. It is an extraordinary hotel property located in one of Germany’s oldest and most charming cities. It is composed of villas from the turn of the century which were restored and furnished by world-renowned architect and interior designer, Michele Bonan. You may already know and love a couple of his projects, like the JK Place Firenze in Florence and the JK Place Capri.

A Suite at the JK Place Firenze

The Reception Area at the JK Place Capri

The Heidelberg Suites, illuminated in the evening

According to, who named the city of Heidelberg a Travelers Choice Award Winner in 2008, “Home to the oldest university in Germany, Heidelberg suffered during 17th-century wars and was rebuilt in the 18th century, using the old Gothic street layout but with Baroque buildings. The historic city center’s Gothic streets are easy to navigate on foot. Fourteenth-century Heidelberg Castle is the symbolic heart of the city. Alte Brucke is a beautiful 18th-century bridge. This university town also has a historic Student Jail, for visitors who take both their history and education seriously.”

Sounds charming, doesn’t it? The Heidelberg Suites is situated next to the “Old Bridge” and overlooks the Neckar River. Every room in the hotel features an incredible view of the Castle as well as the “Old Town”. It is also located within walking distance from all of the historical sites. The hotel also features a rooftop terrace, garden, and spa.

Michele Bonan was inspired by the history of Heidelberg when creating the hotel and focused on a vision of “German Romanticism meets Italian Architecture. Bonan emphasizes this through his choice of colour and the interior design. According to the architect, an ideal synthesis has been composed of ‘Heidelberg’s historicism’, ‘Florentine elegance’ and ‘refreshing naturalness'”.

The Heidelberg Suites is purely Bonan’s vision. In addition to designing the architectural elements of the villas, he designed the interiors along with every single piece of furniture found in the hotel, which is available for purchase, if you are so inclined.
A sitting area in one of the suites overlooks the Neckar.

Bonan’s Italian influence is very evident in this room. Notice the pattern in the rug. It is the same design he used for the hotel’s logo. Everything was custom made.

The Spa at the Heidelberg Suites

The hotel features four types of suites ranging from a Standard Suite to the Penthouse Suite. Though they vary in size, every suite features a unique view of the castle and the “Old Town” along with two rooms, a fully stocked pantry kitchen with an espresso machine, and state of the art electronics. More importantly, they are dressed in Bonan’s signature style of mixing a bit of modernism with classical romanticism.

The Rooftop Terrace


The reception is the area of the Heidelberg Suites which reminds me most of Bonan’s JK Place Firenze and JK Place Capri.

How romantic is this courtyard? I love the white buildings with the painted black shutters and black and white awnings. The little benches and vintage bicycles complete with wicker baskets add the perfect touch.

An Alternate View of the Beautiful Hotel

A View of the “Old Bridge” and Castle from the Heidelberg Suites.

I cannot adequately describe how much I love Michele Bonan’s work. He is the person I would turn to if I ever needed someone to design a dream villa or hotel for me. Notice I said “dream”! I can’t imagine he comes cheap. I adore his aesthetic and think his work is absolutely brilliant.
As you may have noticed, there was no installment of my Jet Set series last week. I hope that this week’s featured hotel, the gorgeous Heidelberg Suites was worth the wait! I don’t know about you, but I am definitely wishing I could book a little getaway to Heidelberg right now. Seriously, doesn’t it look romantic?

Images via Heidelberg Suites, JK Place Florence, and M.A. Belle (JK Place Capri image)

Jet Set: Chamberlain West Hollywood

This week, we will continue our journey through California and head north from Palm Springs to Los Angeles. I have never visited the style-mecca that is L.A., so this will be a slightly different installment of Jet Set as I don’t have any personal advice to offer. Having said that, it is a city filled with stylish hotel options. I think the difficult part would be choosing which part of the city to stay in. Bueller? Part of the reason I haven’t visited L.A. is the fact that it is a huge city and navigating it seems daunting! Now, I live in Houston, a big commuter city, so I am certainly used to driving. It’s just getting the lay of the land that makes me a bit nervous.

When we finally do head to Los Angeles, the chic boutique Chamberlain West Hollywood Hotel will certainly be at the top of our list. It is nestled in a residential area of West Hollywood, but is just off Santa Monica Boulevard and is moments from Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and the Sunset Strip. Combine its location with its incredibly chic interiors, and you’ve got a winner! The décor was designed by David McCauley. Can you guess which very prominent designer’s team he is a part of? The modern luxe interiors feature a palette of masculine blues and greys with touches of Hollywood Regency. According to McCauley, “textures like raffia wallpaper and suede-upholstery keep it from being boring.”

The Chamberlain’s American Bar and Bistro features twenty foot floor to ceiling windows, dramatic pendant lighting, and varying shades of green and teal. The restaurant serves Modern American fare with a California twist.

The use of cool greys, blues, and greens continues into the bar which features and expansive martini menu.
“The hotel’s 114 suites feature a stylish mix of classic furnishings, contemporary amenities and a cool, clean palette inventively styled to evoke the feel and spirit of a private home.”

“Luxury residential touches such as high thread count bed linens, gas log fireplaces and designer bath and body care amenities combine with up-to-the-moment hotel conveniences, including room service, in-room media centers with high-speed Internet access, LCD flat panel televisions and DVD/VCR/CD players.”

A stylish work area in one of the well-appointed guestrooms

The Chamberlain has the look of a chic pied-á-terre, as it was once a residential building.
The hotel features a stylish rooftop pool with sweeping views of the city.

So, my dear readers, do you have any tips or advice to share for anyone looking to visit the city of angels?

Jet Set: Palm Springs

Slim Aarons, 1971

It’s no secret that I love to travel. However, I hardly ever go on vacation with the intention of relaxing. Some people prefer to take their holidays on cruise ships and beach resorts, which I am sure is great, but it’s just not our style. Fabian and I usually opt for city vacations where we literally walk all day, hit up the museums, see the sights, take in the sounds, tastes, and smells, and immerse ourselves in other cultures. As incredibly fun and rewarding as our trips have been, they can also be a little tiring. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how nice it would be to get away for the weekend and just go somewhere to relax. No itinerary, no pre-planned events, just a weekend bag, some good books, and some sunscreen.

Slim Aarons, Kauffman House

Enter Palm Springs. It seems totally laid back, with a glamorous edge. The glitterati have flocked here since the 1950s and 1960s and it seems like it has had quite a big resurgence lately. Architecture and design buffs have been in the know about Palm Springs for a very long time, but as the Mid-Century and Regency styles continue to grow in popularity, so does Palm Springs.

When I think of Palm Springs, Slim Aaron’s beautiful photographs from the 1960s and 1970s always come to mind. I think of the gorgeous Mid-Century architecture and glamorous cocktail parties filled with beautiful people and drinks with maraschino cherries and little umbrellas (they were cool back then). Wouldn’t it be fabulous to see the gang from Mad Men take a little trip to Palm Springs?

Slim Aarons, 1961

Palm Springs has enough to offer to keep you entertained without feeling overwhelmingly busy. It is regarded as the “golf capital of the world” and has plenty of courses to offer any golf aficionado. One can revel in the beautiful architecture which is quintessentially Palm Springs, with its clean lines, use of glass, natural materials, and combined indoor/outdoor spaces. You could even take in a show at the Annenberg Theatre or go horseback riding.

If you are planning to visit this April, you can hit up the Coachella Festival on April 17th through 19th. It is kind of like Woodstock for hipsters. This year’s lineup includes Paul McCartney, The Killers, The Cure, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Tings, Morissey, Molotov, Franz Ferdinand, and about sixty other acts. If I ever make it to Palm Springs, you can rest assured that I will have the intention of doing little more than admiring the architecture and taking in the sun and relaxing atmosphere.

The Parker Palm Springs

Palm Springs has a plethora of stylish hotel options, or you can opt to rent a private house, though they don’t come cheap. And remember…the goal of visiting Palm Springs is to relax! The Kelly Wearstler designed Viceroy Palm Springs has received a ton of notoriety and is a favorite of many with its regency-styled interiors and color palette of black, white, and yellow. As much as I love the Viceroy, I know that it has certainly made its rounds in the blog world, so I have opted for a few different hotels.

First up, The Parker Palm Springs:

This super stylish Jonathan Adler designed resort was once Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch and Merv Griffin’s Givenchy Resort and Spa. The Parker now sits on thirteen acres and features 131 guest rooms of various types, 12 private one bedroom villas, and the two bedroom Gene Autry residence. The resort also features a “five star diner” called Norma’s, Mister Parker’s brasserie, and the poolside Lemonade Stand. The resort is also home to four European red clay tennis courts, an 18 hole golf course and a spa. Coincidentally, it was also the subject of a Bravo reality show, “Welcome to the Parker”, which just so happens to be the one Bravo show I haven’t watched.

Next on the list, the Colony Palms Hotel:

This spectacular Spanish Colonial style hotel was once owned by reputed mobster Al Wertheimer and was once a legendary speakeasy and brothel. It first opened in 1936, then changed ownership in 1940, after which it was a haven for Hollywood’s elite well into the 1960s. It recently underwent a fabulous facelift by designer Martyn Lawrence-Bullard. I absolutely love the bright colors, suzanis, and ethnic textiles. The hotel has quickly regained its hot spot status since its re-opening. Condé Nast Traveller featured it on its 2008-2009 hot list, calling it “a weekend retreat for Hollywood’s music- and movie-industry elite and stylish guests from points beyond…A chic, poolside scene is fueled by the bar-restaurant Purple Palm.”

Last, but not least is the Riviera Palm Springs Hotel:
The Riviera Palm Springs is a decidedly swanky and glam destination. The hotel first opened in 1959 and was modeled after the great Las Vegas hotels of the era. It quickly became a stomping-ground for the heavy hitters of the entertainment industry. It was a favorite of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Elvis Pressley, Connie Francis, and Jayne Mansfield.

The legendary 24 acre hotel property recently underwent a modernizing transformation and just re-opened in the fall of 2008. It is a large property, featuring 406 luxurious guestrooms, the Circa59 restaurant, The Starlite Lounge, Bikini Bar, and SpaTerre, an 11,000 square foot Noble House signature spa. San Diego-based Rossi Architecture and Chicago-based Delarosa Studio spearheaded the architectural overhaul and new interior design on this project. The result is a modern spin on the regency style and is undoubtedly rich in both color and glamour.

I have these brown pillows in my family room!

So, what do you say? Is Palm Springs a place you’d like to visit? Where would you stay?