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Bringing the Luxury Hotel to Your Home

Dear Diva Readers,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>I’ve been intending to write about the trend of hotels selling their linens and more ever since last summer when on my Med Cruise I noticed that Holland America was selling everything from their bedding to their beach chairs. You could order the chairs online (or while lounging in the sun) from the boat and they’d be shipped (no pun intended) and waiting for you at home when you returned. Recently, The Informed Traveler put a good spin on this trend, claiming that in this bad economy, even if you can’t go to the hotel, you could at least bring the hotel to you.

The Informed Traveler writes:
“… You’ve cut back on travel and don’t foresee a stay at the ton.com/en/Default.htm” target=”_blank”>Ritz-Carlton anytime soon. Now you can bring the luxurious comforts of the Ritz-Carlton home with you, and replicate the experience chez vous with hundreds of exclusive items now made available at the online retail store. Recently launched, tonshops.com/” target=”_blank”>The Shops at Ritz-Carlton features sumptuous sleepwear, spa products and toiletries, bathrobes, and even a mattress with the Ritz-Carlton Sleep Experience.”

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Hotel chains are branching out into the retail sector and I love it, for the sheets at the Marriot in Paris are divine and I loved my bedspread when staying at the Budapest Intercontinental. For years I’ve been taking pictures of bathrooms in 5 star hotels hoping to someday emulate “the look” at home should I ever “do over” a bathroom in one of my abodes. The artwork at the Swissotel Berlin (my temporary transition home when I moved from Amsterdam to Berlin) totally inspired me and I’ve just the place to hang the modern art. I for one am glad that hotels are branching out and trying to capture a bit more market share!

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Art for Sale at the Swissotel Berlin

The Hotel Adlon here in Berlin has even opened a “Lifestyle Shop” near the back entrance of the hotel and produces an accompanying high-quality glossy catalog offering everything from the Adlon’s beds to crystal wine decanters, silver candle sticks, books detailing the history of the famous hotel’s history to the silk pillow shams gracing reading chairs and lamps in their lobby!
Now, if only I could bring the cabin steward home with me to make towel monkeys to leave on my bed each night… of course, who needs a pretend monkey when you’ve got the real thing waiting for you at home already??

Until next time, Happy Shopping!

The Antiques Diva™

Photo right: The Diva’s Real Life Monkey – WG!

Guest Blog – See You in Cambodia!

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>When I received the following letter from my Australian friend Verona, I knew that I must post it on my blog! It’s not every day that a friend writes with the title, “See You in Cambodia” in the subject line. Verona and her darling husband Douglas are adventurers-at-heart and though I’ve only known them a short time I’m certain Vee is my soul mate! Sometimes ones paths need only cross for a few brief months in order to be friends for life! Verona is living my dream – abandoning reality as she knows it and opening a hotel in a far away exotic locale! Someday I hope to follow in her footsteps (opening my own B&B;) but in the meantime, I plan to live vicariously through Verona and her husband’s wanderings! I hope that Vee will take time out in the coming months to keep Antiques Diva Readers updated on her wonderful divalicious journey! Verona and Douglas, best wishes for mountains of success to rain on you and congratulations on this exciting move! We’re with you all the way!

Much Love,
The Antiques Diva™

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Dear Antiques Diva,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>It’s not every day you buy a hotel in a tropical paradise. And although I’m still pinching myself in disbelief, that’s exactly what my husband and I have done. After years of moving around the world with the corporate giant, this next move is our own making. After being located in South East Asia for a time, we decided that was where, one day, we would retire. So when out of the blue the opportunity to purchase a small hotel on the South West coast of Cambodia presented itself my husband and I threw caution to the wind and signed on the dotted line.

We have bought a 19 room boutique hotel with bar, alfresco dining terrace and rooftop Jacuzzi pool due to open December this year – how cool is that? It’s in Sihanoukville, formally called Kampong Som, and right by Orhheuteal Beach with pristine white sand spanning for miles and gentle rolling waves protected by the sheltered Thailand Gulf. Every evening is blessed with a perfect sunset enjoyed with something cool and refreshing in our hands while sampling freshly caught seafood grilled in the sand before us.

Of course, this idyllic dream may fade some when the reality of running a hotel kicks in; trying to placate guests, running out of ice, power cuts and air conditioner break-downs and training staff who can barely speak English, but we’re confident we’ll take it all in our stride and soldier on! Although there are a number of hotels in Sihanoukville already they are mainly backpacker huts or expensive 5 star resorts, so our moderately priced 4 star pad with the best managers in town will be a nice addition!

So I say goodbye to my good friends in Holland and wish you well in your own dreams and maybe we’ll meet up on a sandy beach one day in a small place called Sihanoukville.

All the best,
Verona
Proprietor, Coolabah Hotel

Why did my Aussie friend call her hotel The Coolabah Hotel? After the line in “Waltzing Matilda”, of course! The unofficial Australian national anthem sings,
“Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a Coolabah Tree….”


One Minute Diva: Villa Trapp Update!

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top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>For those of you who have been desperately waiting since my Sound of Music blog in May for more information on the original Sound of Music family home, the hotel website is now up and running!!

With the transformation complete, you can now sleep in the rooms where the von Trapps used to live! Double room rates run anywhere from 120 euros in low season to 170 in high. Or you can simply splurge and go for the Wingside Suite which costs up to a whopping 740 euros in high season!

My recommendation would be to book the 2 night package for 255 euros per person – this includes Sound of Music tours, Villa Trapp wine and cake, entrance to the exhibition and a token souvenir. The hills are alive again with the Sound of Music!

To book: email booking@villa-trapp.cc or call +43 (0) 662 630 860

Enjoy!

The Antiques Diva

The Savoy Hotel Auction!

to 10px; CURSOR: hand; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/R12UOH5Z-fI/AAAAAAAAAjg/Lj2UjS3bEJo/s400/bonhams+savoy.bmp” border=”0″ /> top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>The world famous Savoy Hotel, built in London in 1889, is shutting its doors for 18 months, starting December 2007, for a to-sell-off-history/2007/10/31/1193618932361.html” target=”_blank”>100 Million Pound refurbishment!

My husband, WG, tries to stay at The Savoy whenever he’s in London on business. Upon hearing the news of their temporary closure, he was so depressed, claiming that he never sleeps as well as he does when at The Savoy. I think this might have more to do with the dinner he eats downstairs at their Michelin-starred restaurant, The Savoy Grill, than the actual beds themselves, but his comment did get me thinking… What will the hotel do with all their furniture and decorative items when they redecorate?

A little investigative shopping revealed that on Dec 18, 19, and 20, 2007 – through Bonham’s Auction House – The Savoy is selling more than 3,000 pieces of their hotel – including their “oh so comfy” bespoke beds!

Regardless of the fact that WG sleeps like a rock at The Savoy, purchasing a used hotel room bed seems a little gross – even if their beds have been slept on by the world’s most powerful people. Nevertheless, owning a piece of The Savoy is owning a little piece of history. So perhaps I’ll bid on something less personal. The 3-tier planter from the front of the hotel, which sits next to the only road in London where traffic flows on the right side of the road, would be an absolute treat. And I know WG likes The Savoy’s Art Deco fixtures, silver plate and hallway chandeliers. For those of you with a bigger budget than me, you might consider snapping up the parquet ballroom dance floor or the giant, white, grand piano!

Whatever you buy, it’s certain to be a steal, for The Savoy is setting no reserves in an “everything must go” type of auction. Entry to The Savoy Sale preview and auction days will be by catalogue ownership only – so you’d better hurry and order your’s today! But don’t forget that, prior to bidding, you will need to register with Bonham’s and this process can take several days.

As I’ll be out of town, I’ll be bidding on-line, but they also accept absentee ballots and telephone bids. Best of all, should you not be able to whisk off to London to collect the purchase yourself, Bonham’s has thought of everything and already contracted a shipping company! Crown Worldwide Ltd, the relocation company that has handled my last two moves, is servicing Bonham’s and will be able to provide quotes for shipping your items to your chosen destination. They do, however, advise that you inquire on shipping estimates prior to bidding – saving yourself from any unsavory surprises later!

Going, Going, Gone!

The Antiques Diva™

The Best and Worst of Eastern Europe

to+cave+resto.JPG” border=”0″ />top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>Last week, I promised to send a “Best and Worst List” from our “Experiment in Travel in Eastern Europe”. Over the next few months – in between blogs about The Diva’s Daily Life – I’ll cover in-depth each of the destinations we visited, advising you on where you should go, what to do and most importantly what to buy while there! For now, you can use our list (written on the fly as we were speeding down the autobahn driving home to Holland) as a check list in planning your very own trip east!

Best and Worst List:
Favorite City: Budapest
Least Favorite City: Tokay
(interestingly, both places are in Hungary)

Favorite Country: Slovakia (in spite of the fact that the people were not a particularly friendly bunch)
Least Favorite Country: Hungary

Favorite Place: Carpathian Mountains/High Tatras in Eastern Slovakia
Least Favorite Place: The drive to the Tokay wine region from Budapest

Favorite Hotel: – tos” target=”_blank”>Apartment Residence – Bratislava/ Hotel Arkada – Levoca
Least Favorite Hotel: Pension Rosa – Cesky Krumlov/tokaj.hu/intro.htm” target=”_blank”>Tokay Hotel – Tokay

Favorite Spa: Hotel Gellert, Budapest
Least Favorite Spa: The “massage service” at the Hotel Humboldt – Karlovy Vary, Czech, which left WG bruised and limping for a week following, fearful of ever again getting a massage. Second choice would be the numerous dental offices/spas dotting Karlovy Vary. I dont want to get my wisdom tooth pulled and body exfoliated at the same place and never could figure out the connection in offering these same services in one locale!
Favorite Breakfast: Gerbeauds – Budapest
Least Favorite Breakfast: Hotel Tokay. They ignored us for 1 hour while we waited patiently for our breakfast to be served, drinking our coffee, etc. Then we were told that, in spite of the fact we’d been waiting since 9am for our breakfast, the kitchen was now closed as it was 10am. Eventually, after arguing extensively in French with their receptionist who didn’t speak English, only French & Hungarian, we received breakfast 30 minutes after the breakfast hall had closed.
Favorite Lunch: U Fleku – Prague
Least Favorite Lunch: The rest of them – as we opted to skip lunch the rest of the days of our trip in lieu of large (read as “muffins-stuffed-in-the-pocket-for-later-free) hotel breakfasts and nice dinners out. The hearty Eastern Europe cuisine didn’t allow room in our tummies for both lunch and dinner! Thus, my poor husband starved at lunch time, occasionally giving into his hunger pains by grabbing hot dogs and sandwiches on the run. Once I ordered a salad for lunch at a cafe in Prague only to discover Czech salads have no lettuce.

Best Dinner: Inside a cave in Prague – Santa Klara
Worst Dinner: When our Middle-Eastern styled restaurant in Karlovy Vary turned into a Discothèque Party Night for water-bong smoking Czech teenagers before we’d finished our dinner.

Best Drink Discovery: Palinka
Worst Drink Discovery: the naturally warm spa water bubbling from the earth in Karlovy Vary
Favorite Food Discovery – Dumplings each day of our 1st week in Eastern Europe
Least Favorite Food Discovery – Dumplings again each day of our 2nd week in Eastern Europe

Best Beer: A dark, rich and creamy ale with a 2 inch head sold only at U Fleku – Prague
Worst Beer: Accidentally ordering a non-alcoholic blond in Bratislava

Best Wine: Tokay Aszu
Worst Wine: The Czech Wines which had a slightly sulfurous aftertaste

Best Dessert: Pastry in Krakow, Poland on our last day before returning home
Worst Dessert: Homemade Noodles dripping with butter then piled with a mountain of ground poppy seeds. I believe the quote uttered from my lips upon the first bite was “It tastes like dirt.”

Best Antique Shopping: Cesky Krumlov (close sec
ond is Budapest). Budapest would have won this slot except for I found significantly lower prices in CK.
Worst Antique Shopping: Prague

Best Tourist Shopping: Budapest Central Market Hall – paprika, peasant blouses, and foie gras.

Worst Tourist Shopping: Prague’s overbearing t-shirt vendors (and the authentically dressed Czech dolls they sold)

Best Cultural Attraction: Hungarian National Museum – Budapest — and did I mention that it’s Free!!!
Worst Cultural Attraction: The commercialization in Prague at the Jewish Cemetery and surrounding synagogues.

Best Petrol Stations: Hungary – As the Hungarians refuse to indulge in take away coffee, each gas station, big or small, boasts a Beaux Arts style (or similar), warm and cozy coffee bar brimming with pastries and espresso.
Worst Petrol Stations: Lukoil

Favorite Aspect of the Trip – Spending time with my husband, WG, before his busy period at work.
Least Favorite Aspect of the Trip – It’s over!!! That sad fact, plus the cheating, lying and thieving of all of the Prague taxi drivers. WG and I decided that, in order to be a taxi driver in Prague, you must go to school to learn to be unscrupulous!

I hope this list wets your appetite for more Eastern European Travel Tales!

Be back soon!

The Antiques Diva

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