Travel edits / Global
Monocle travel guide
Our quest to discover the planet’s best beds, cafés and spas goes on. This month we visit a well- curated New York general store, a floating Arctic paradise and a modernist Austrian mountain lodge. We also look at the bright future of Guam-based airline Continental Micronesia.
Garden Terrace hotel
Portuguese cakes, champon noodles – and design hotels. There is one more reason to visit the southern Japanese port city of Nagasaki following the opening of the new Kengo Kuma-designed Garden Terrace hotel. Its façade – made of striking blocks of angular light wood panels – cuts into Mount Inasa 90m above the bay of Nagasaki, allowing prime views of the city to take centre stage. As well as 21 sea-facing rooms with wood- and glass-walled interiors and natural-hued furnishings, there are two restaurants and a glass-walled double-height wedding chapel.
By Toshihiro Konishi, manager, Garden Terrace
Best café & bar: Chez Bonzo is a café by day a restaurant and bar with live music by night. 6.cncm.ne.jp/~chez-bonzo
Best restaurant: Fellows “pasta club” is a local favourite and has over 80 different types of the stuff. fellows251.com
Local speciality dish: “Turkish rice” originated in Nagasaki and consists of curry-flavoured pilau rice, breaded pork tonkatsu and spaghetti.
Best shopping: Cocowalk shopping mall also has a 71m ferris wheel on its fifth floor. cocowalk.jp
Best local secret: Magashira Park is located on a hill overlooking the city.
Favourite spot: Rokko for okonomiyaki and teppanyaki. 6-17, Hamaguchimachi
Brook Farm General Store
Last June, Christopher Winterbourne left a job in TV to open Brook Farm General Store in Williamsburg with his girlfriend Philippa Content. Their clean well-curated style is a merging of their respective cultures – she is from Maine and Winterbourne is British with a French mother. “We wanted to sell classic, old, simple items that would last a long time,” says Winterbourne. They stock Fog linen dishtowels from Japan, lanolin soap from Sweden, vintage teacups from Poland, stripy wool blankets made by a family owned mill in Canada, Aigle boots and Anglepoise lamps. “We tend to like products of companies with hundreds of years of history,” adds Winterbourne. This spring the duo will launch Tourne – their own line of houseware.
01 Own-brand handmade woollen blankets
02 Stainless steel straws
03 Opinel pocket knife
04 Fog linen napkins
05 Duralex glasses
06 Anglepoise 1227 lamps
Restaurant: Palma de Mallorca
Locals seek refuge from the more conservative Palma de Mallorca at this laid-back seafood shack, nestled on the beach in the quiet Ciudad Jardí suburb. The Piña family opened the restaurant in a former fisherman’s cottage in 1985, and it has since attracted a loyal local following from demanding Mallorcan foodies.
In the rustic dining room, customers tuck into scrumptious paella and fresh local fish served either salt-encrusted, pan-fried or roasted with olive oil and herbs. “We don’t dress up the fish, we want to bring out its essence,” says owner José Luis Piña. His grandmother provides the rice recipes, which are sprinkled generously with local specialities such as the blue-headed shrimp from neighbouring Soller. Reserve a table on the terrace, steps from the waves.
Esculls, 2, Cuitat Jardî, Palma de Mallorca, + 34 971 262 738
Paella mixta (with shellfish, chicken and rabbit), arroz negra (rice with squid in its ink), cap roig (scorpion fish), lubina a la sal (salt-encrusted local sea bass)
Kanebo Sensai spa
In addition to swimming pools, Finnish saunas and 5,000 sq m of space devoted to fitness and beauty at the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa in Switzerland’s Interlaken, there is Kanebo’s new Sensai spa. In keeping with the Japanese brand’s simple aesthetic, its first international treatment centre has been designed by Gwenael Nicolas of Japanese firm Curiosity. Lined with floating layers of silk, its six therapy rooms offer seven face and body treatments using koishimaru silk, a variety of silk from Japan, which Kanebo uses to soften and regenerate the skin. You are guaranteed to walk out revived.
Sensai’s signature three-hour treatment for face and body is based on skincare methods developed by the cosmetics firm. It includes a body peel using silk gloves and a soak in Japanese onsen sprinkled with silk extracts.
Perched on a forested slope near Zell am See in Austria, Aufberg 1113 surrounds guests with clean design and vast Alpine views. “We wanted the two holiday flats to be ‘nests’,” says owner Berta Unterberger, who created Aufberg as an outpost to her more traditional inn, Taxhof, a few miles away. In two apartments, each sleeping up to four people, architect Andreas Meck’s concrete and native-wood structure evokes contrasting moods: the lower “nest” is a cosy haven, the upper an open area with a wall of sliding windows. Inside, Alpine elements include open fireplaces, Loden-covered seating and furnishings by Unterberger’s son, who is a carpenter. At 1,113m, it has sublime privacy with altitude chic.
Guests can self-cater in well-appointed kitchens or drive to Taxhof’s Michelin-listed restaurant to dine on farm-to-table cuisine prepared by Unterberger herself.
Floating haven: Tromsø
Vulkana is not a luxury yacht sailing the Med. Vulkana is a 50-year-old whaling boat that’s been transformed into a floating, warm haven for conquering the seas around the Arctic Circle. The Vulkana is based in Tromsø and offers not only comfortable accommodation but also a Finnish sauna, a Turkish bath, a zen garden, an Icelandic hot tub and, to keep the Norwegian spirit alive, authentic dinners with Norwegian delicacies while the Northern Lights set the Arctic night alight. The Vulkana hosts 12 passengers and can be chartered all year.
Baltic getaway: Estonia
It’s hidden, it’s small, it’s ex-Soviet and it’s reachable in the winter by driving over the sea. Welcome to Muhu Island, a frozen teardrop in the Baltic Sea between new Europe and old Scandinavia. In former days, Muhu was a military base. Now it’s one of the most picturesque islands in Europe. Part of the charm is thanks to Padaste Manor, a lavish refuge owned by a smart Dutchman and his Estonian partner who turned a ruin of a manor house into one of the top boutique hotels in Europe. The chefs are trained in Michelin-starred restaurants and the local spa therapists got their fingerspitzengefühl in Banyan Tree Bangkok. Of course, all the rest, such as the wooden hot tub by the side of the lake, the schnapps and the steamy Finnish sauna, are 100 per cent Baltic chic.
Spanish dining and hotels
Whether they are aware of it or not, most Spanish foodies have probably eaten in one of the 30 restaurants owned by the Catalan Andilana Group. Over the past two decades, Andilana has quietly built up a formidable cache of dining spots, where bespoke, fashion-forward interiors, smart service and dishes inspired by all the latest gastro-trends make a seductive threesome.
Although still fledgling, Andilana’s hotel brand, Fork and Pillow, is proving to be just as successful. With more hotel projects in progress in Barcelona, the Pyrenees and Madagascar, Andilana’s well-crafted, cheap’n’chic business model could prove to be a textbook strategy for these cash-strapped times.
Top three Andilana properties:
Catalan Modernista design and cuisine.
From seafood to ceviche, it’s seafood is outstanding.
This Barcelona hotel has standout service.