Design and travel. Global rundown / Global
World of opportunity
Our correspondents are particularly observant when they are on assignment, which is very helpful when you want to compile a round-up of some of the best places in the world to eat, sleep and drink. Here we recommend a few you might have missed.
The gang behind superb menswear shop Pelikamo have opened an equally sleek café just around the corner from their downtown Zürich boutique. “It is basically an extension of what we’ve been doing over the past few years, carrying the same product philosophy as our clothing brand,” says Mia Vadasz, who co-founded Tailor’s in June with Sebastiaan Vadasz (her husband) and Christian Hunziker.
That philosophy means stocking a small but thoughtful selection of goods. The light-flooded, concrete-floored café is geared towards healthy takeaway options, all made in or near Zürich: there are four salads, including a couscous number topped with chicken, courgette, red pepper, spinach, lime and cranberries; aguas frescas combinations such as watermelon with lemon and agave syrup; and ice-cream sticks in eight fruity flavours. “All the recipes were created by us in collaboration with [Zürich-based] experts in their field,” says Vadasz. The salads, for instance, were concocted with the help of Olivier Bur, a chef formerly of Mexico City’s much-lauded Pujol; the popsicles were made in tandem with a family-run ice-cream maker.
There’s also top-notch coffee on offer. Beans from 80-year-old Zürich roaster Stoll are turned into inventive creations such as the Mocha Orange Latte: an espresso shot blended with milk, chocolate and a dash of orange zest. But the best part of all is the playful touch that London artist Mr Slowboy has brought to the packaging: each coffee cup and ice-cream wrapper is illustrated with a colourful portrait of a member of the Pelikamo’s team.
The Prince Gallery
As tourists pour into Tokyo in unprecedented numbers, the shortage of hotel rooms in the city is becoming a problem. One new arrival at the top end of the market is The Prince Gallery hotel in Akasaka. Prince Hotels & Resorts – the biggest hotel chain in Japan – has been around since 1956 (and its roots stretch back to 1920) but this is the brand’s first attempt at a smaller, more luxurious hotel.
The 250-room venue sits on six floors at the top of new mixed development Tokyo Garden Terrace Kioicho, which was designed by skyscraper specialists Kohn Pedersen Fox. Lifts whisk guests straight up to the airy 36th-floor reception. The views across Tokyo – the grounds of the Imperial Palace and the Japanese parliament are both close – are mesmerising. The interior was in the hands of Rockwell Group, a New York-headquartered company well seasoned in hotel design. The standard rooms have a large picture window (with cushioned window seat), crisp linens and spacious bathrooms.
A natty Japanese-made system allows guests to adjust the lighting, temperature and curtains from a single device (and it records their preferences for their next visit). Other features in the hotel include a cocktail bar, an all-day restaurant and a Japanese restaurant with a sushi counter, saké bar and teppanyaki grill. There is also a 24-hour gym plus swimming pool, sauna and baths for men and women. Prince Hotels has eight other hotels in Tokyo but this one, on a smaller scale, is a new departure.
Alitalia’s Casa Lounges
Milan & Rome
Alitalia’s branding refresh draws on investment from Emirati partner Etihad, running from a swish new cabin to livery and uniforms. Alitalia’s newly opened Casa lounges in Milan Malpensa and Rome Fiumicino have been created to feel more like grand residences than simple stopovers.
Expect smooth marble walls in the 115-seater space located in boarding at Fiumicino; the leather armchairs are by furniture maker Poltrona Frau. At Milan Malpensa, a dedicated jetty allows guests to walk straight onto their flight from the 90-seat lounge. Designed by Milanese architect Marco Piva, both spaces also feature rooms for private meetings, alongside libraries and bathrooms equipped with showers.
A chef takes to the open kitchen twice a day. Morning espresso is brewed with the nation’s staple Lavazza, while bubbly poured at aperitivo comes courtesy of Trento’s Ferrari. With outposts in Naples and New York close to completion, Alitalia is upping its game.
On a ground floor on Koshu Kaido, a road lined with chain restaurants and dry cleaners, this small café is an oasis in Tokyo’s Sasazuka district. The stream of passing commuters has certainly taken to the area’s newest and finest addition.
“I always wanted to create a communal space where people can come and hang,” says co-owner and co-founder Mei Minemura. “And if you serve tasty coffee, that’s even better.” Born and bred in Tokyo, Minemura, 29, has always worked in hospitality. Previously at Saturdays Surf nyc café and Paddlers Coffee, he brought his school friend Yutaro Hoshi on board, suggesting they open their own place.
The location was critical. “I liked this space and figured the neighbourhood had the potential to attract businesses like ours.” In contrast to the busy scene outside, the interior – by Tokyo-based Studio Doughnuts – brings natural light into the café. The space is fitted with wooden hinoki benches, Artek stools and a pendant light by designer Jonah Takagi. On the counter are the latest La Marzocco Linea PB coffee machine and beans from Single Origin Roasters in eastern Tokyo and 27 Coffee Roasters in Shonan. “Coffee shops such as Fuglen and Paddlers Coffee are unique,” says Minemura. “We want more independent cafés like them here. It would be great if this place can inspire others.”
Bookshop Schloss Elmau
If only more resort hotels followed the lead of Schloss Elmau (of recent G7-hosting fame). Housed in the 20th-century castle built by philosopher Dr Johannes Müller, the bookshop at Schloss Elmau is a lovely thing. “It’s become an institution,” says Dr Ingeborg Prager, who runs the shop within the hotel in the Bavarian Alps. Shelves heave with 4,000 novels, non-fiction and coffee-table books from independent publishing houses.
“The Swedish poet Lars Gustafsson once wrote that books talk among themselves; I encourage the dialogue and present them in order of themes, genres, languages and colours,” says Prager. “Guests arrive with empty suitcases and depart with bags full of books.”
To enliven the shop Prager organises regular events, including literary evenings with musical interludes, which have seen pianist Alfred Brendel and Martin Meyer, the former literary editor of Neuen Zürcher Zeitung, come together. “As long as there are people like me, the paper-bound book will survive.”
It’s surprising that nobody had thought of it before: a luxury Japanese-style hotel in the middle of Tokyo. Now Japanese hotelier Hoshino Resorts is putting that right with its newest opening, which occupies 17 floors of a high-rise in financial district Otemachi.
Hoshinoya Tokyo is breaking new ground: an authentic 84-room ryokan that retains the elements of a traditional Japanese inn but meets the demands of the modern traveller. In practice this means guests will be removing their shoes as soon as they enter the hotel – standard practice in a ryokan – walking on tatami floors and enjoying a soak in a real hot-spring bath. The ryokan experience is designed to be one that transports guests into another world, where the mood is serene and the food and decor seasonal.
Architect Rie Azuma has blended traditional and contemporary design, with metal latticework inspired by kimono patterns on the exterior, and bamboo closets and sliding shoji (paper screens) in the rooms. There is a modern Japanese restaurant and each floor has an ochanoma (lounge) where tea, snacks and alcohol are served. The interior is bathed in warm light thanks to award-winning designer Masanobu Takeishi’s fittings.
Hoshino Resorts, which operates 35 hotels around Japan, has been in the business since 1914 when Kuniji Hoshino opened the company’s first hot-spring resort in Karuizawa. Hoshino’s great-grandson Yoshiharu now runs the business and has transformed it over the past 20 years. Tireless in his efforts to showcase Japanese hospitality, he still manages to squeeze in 60 days a year for his other passion: skiing.
A 20-minute drive into the hills above South Tyrol’s resort town of Merano lies the boutique hotel Miramonti, run by Carmen Kruselburger and Klaus Alber. Built on porphyry rock and surrounded by the Dolomites, this retreat has just received a stunning new addition, encompassing a guesthouse, spa and infinity pool.
“We didn’t want to stand still; we wanted to create something special for our guests,” says Carmen. Inspired by its surrounding nature, the extension was built into the mountainside by Merano architects Heike Pohl and Andreas Zanier, expertly blending Nordic and Italian touches. The rooms are finished in white fir and furnished with pieces from local carpenters, as well as a bit of Danish detailing; large windows look out into the valley and across hectares of dense forest. “It’s a real escape from the hustle and bustle of not only life in general but also from the relative dolce vita of neighbouring Merano,” says Carmen of the rooftop spa.
With the addition of the new Owner’s House, the hotel now has 41 rooms. As well as the astounding views you can enjoy the scrumptious delicacies whipped up by celebrated chef Massimo Geromel from Treviso, such as ricotta cheese and spinach-filled schlutzkrapfen (a regional pasta speciality).
Pavilion of Reflections
Lucky visitors to Lake Zürich this summer will be treated to views of a rather handsome new pavilion. The floating timber structure is connected to the mainland by a 50-metre-long jetty and is an excellent place for sunning yourself followed by a refreshing swim. It was built as the centrepiece of Manifesta 11, the Zürich edition of the nomadic European Biennial of Contemporary Art.
Kudos for the structure’s shapely form goes to students from university eth Zürich, who completed the project under the direction of professor and architect Tom Emerson. Together the team built much of the geometric latticework structure from some 150 tonnes of Swiss wood and steel.
Come nightfall, the space – which has been dubbed the Pavilion of Reflections – becomes a cinema, screening films about the biennial. And there is further good news for flying visitors: the pavilion will remain right up until the biennial closes in September.
Tokyo to Bangkok
Japan Airlines has spent big sums over the past three years to improve its fleet. The carrier’s latest plane to get a makeover: the Boeing 777-200er. The most drastic changes were made in Business Class, where lie-flat seats arranged in a herringbone pattern replace the old rows of reclining shell seats, and bathrooms are now equipped with Washlet toilets. Produced by Zodiac Seats UK, the new seat pods have bigger 17-inch touch-panel TV screens and more privacy.
The upgrades – unveiled on the Tokyo-to-Bangkok route in June and planned for flights to Singapore and Honolulu – involved a trade-off. Business Class passengers get more leg room but there are fewer seats for them (42 instead of 56). That’s part of jal’s strategy to make its brand more appealing and target customers who will pay a premium for the extra comfort and more sumptuous meals.