The Brody House hotel in Budapest, Hungary, was named best budget boutique hotel by the Smith Hotel Awards.
Juliet Kinsman, the editor-in-chief at Mr & Mrs Smith Hotels, a booking service for stylish boutique hotels, shares her picks for where to go this summer, plus the inside scoop on the hottest travel trends, ideas and must-packs:
Question: What are some of the destinations you’re recommending for summer 2014?
Answer: “We’re really excited about Brazil with the World Cup this summer and then the Olympics in 2016. One of our first properties in Brazil was La Suite by Dussol, which is up in the Joatinga neighbourhood. It’s in a very nice suburb and it’s owned by this French guy, Francois, he’s such a character. And it’s his home, so you feel like you’re in someone’s home. It’s really special and you look down from the cliffs at Rio. And then there’s a wonderful, very chichi hotel in Rio de Janeiro just by Ipanema Beach called Fasano Rio. They’ve got a great bar. The people are really passionate in Rio—they’re electric and a bit showy and they like things to look good. I think if you’re a bit of a poser, this bar is a good place to go."
Q: Where else?
A: “Costa Rica is exciting, charming, has good value and has so much of its land preserved beautifully. We’ve been recommending a lot of a multi-destination trips lately, and this is a place where you can enjoy the coast with great diving, and then the jungle is very untouched.”
Q: Tell me more about the trend of multi-destination getaways. Are a lot of people asking for this?
A: “Yes, definitely. We like to combine city and costal, so twin trips that compliment each other. It’s an approach that definitely works for honeymoons. You’re going to be surprised by this, but from personal experience, I would really recommend Miami and Mexico, that was a great experience. As was the Caribbean and New York. From Toronto, a twin trip to New York City and the Caribbean would work really well.
Find out more new travel trends on the next page…
Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland.
Q: So with these kind of double destination trips, are people taking longer vacations?
A: “Oh no, it’s the other way around. People are taking less time for each trip and they’re taking more trips. They’re doing what I call the maxi-mini breaks—they are maximizing their time in a mini break. So you could do two nights in one hotel in the city, then two nights in another hotel in the country or along the coast. You might do New York City and Upstate New York. I think people are quite well-travelled now so they are just exploring more. So they may have already have done a destination. So maybe go to Florence two nights and then Tuscany. I mean, that’s nothing new, but I just think it’s very popular.”
Q: What are some of the other travel trends you’re seeing right now?
A: “Multi-generational trips. I think for special occasions, people are taking their kids—and I mean their adult children—or their grandparents, to create once-in-a-lifetime travel experience where they’re all together. Digital-detox is also popular with families. There are families who want to reconnect with each other—but you’re not going to reconnect with your children if they’re plugged in to an electronic device. I think it also goes back to reconnecting with old-fashioned holiday values. I went camping with my six-year-old daughter last year and it was really is precious. We spent time hanging out and reading books."
Q: To mark the 10th anniversary of Mr & Mrs Smith Hotels, the brand launched the Smith Hotel Awards, a list of the best boutique hotels in the world. Tell me about some of the highlights from the list: Brody House, Budapest: Best budget boutique hotel
A: “Brody House in Budapest absolutely exemplifies what I think people are looking for from a quirky, small boutique hotel. It tells a story—it brings the neighbourhood in. It involves locals and local musicians and artists who have studios in the area. Every room has a different artist theme. And it’s great value—it’s about $80 a night to say there so it is genuinely affordable.”
Find out about the sexiest bedroom in the world on the next page…
Blakes Hotel, London.
Q: Tell me why you chose Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland as the best newcomer.
A: “Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland is in one of our most distinguished categories. I first saw architectural drawings years ago. It’s been really exciting to see it evolve into something that is a sophisticated, destination hotel, that has an excellent restaurant and all the factors you would want from a great hotel. It was exciting to see a Canadian hotel make the list and one located in a part of the country that hasn’t historically been a sexy destination.”
Q: Tell me about the sexiest bedroom in the world at Blakes Hotel in London:
A: “Blakes in South Kensington is over the top. More is more with Anouska Hempel’s décor. It’s actually understated in terms of the colour palette, but if you actually look at all the fabric use and the pieces of furniture, she is the master of creating something sexy. It’s so illicit—it’s the kind of place you imagine people would go with their mistresses. It’s very, very sexy. Lots of people don’t necessarily have their honeymoon there, but they go there after their wedding. Liam Gallagher and Patsy Kensit stayed there stayed there.”
Q: What’s a favourite place that you have personally travelled to recently?
A: “I just went to Gotland, Sweden on my own family holiday. A friend of a friend has a house there. It was one of the most special places I had ever been in my whole life. It’s no coincidence that Ingmar Bergman lived there because the light is just incredible. It’s not hot—you’re not going there for the weather—but everything is just so beautiful and the way the people live is kind of utopian. They are so hospitable and I wondered if the long winters cultivated this sort of sociability. The hotel we have there, which I stayed in, is called Hotel Stëlor and it’s really lovely. It’s authentic. Staying there, I felt like more than a hotel guest. It felt like home.”
Celebrity travel: Asian destinations
Q: What are your travel essentials when you pack?
A: “Number one is my Lily and Lionel scarf and that’s true. We just did a couple Lily and Lionel for Mr & Mrs Smith scarves—“See you in Santorini” and “Highland Fling.” They’re beautiful. I love having a lightweight silk scarf when I travel. It’s great on the plane where it can suddenly get very cold, or on a beach holiday you can use it as a wrap.”
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