We drop anchor this week at a new opening on Portugal’s Atlantic coast, rustle up a comforting prawn pasta with spicy harissa and meet with the founder of a Copenhagen-based fashion brand. But first, we catch up with Monocle’s editorial director, Tyler Brûlé, on the week that was.
When I filed this column last Saturday, I had already started to plot what I was going to file for this Sunday. I was going to tell you about the lovely dinner in Bangkok with James and Linard, hosted by the delightfully hospitable Khun Champ at Benjarong, the elegant Monday evening drinks and dinner at Carlyle & Co in Hong Kong, the high-speed shopping expedition at Kittybunnypony and the perfect, super-late lunch at Hoho in Seoul. The plan changed, however, when I touched down in Tokyo on Thursday and checked into a brand-new hotel just around the corner from the Monocle base in Tomigaya.
For the past 20 years, the Park Hyatt Tokyo, room 4701, has been my address. I’ve had stints at the Peninsula, Okura and Grand Hyatt but the Park Hyatt has always been the place in which I’ve felt most comfortable (even coddled). I never get bored of pulling up, being greeted by familiar faces and settling into one of the best corner suites in the city. I was all set for the same routine this trip until a timely e-mail hit my screen, inviting me to stay at the new Trunk Hotel overlooking Yoyogi Park. Having just covered it in our October issue (you can secure a copy here) I was keen to give it a spin but, as it was so new, I thought that it would be best to allow for a few more weeks and go in October. Over the week my plans changed and my stay in Tokyo was eventually reduced to one night as I had to get to Seville (there aren’t many non-stop flights from Haneda). Given that my colleague was already staying there, I decided to give it a shot.
It won’t come as much of a shock that one of the most frequently asked questions about Monocle is “When are you going to open a hotel?” It’s a topic that I think about a lot but there’s still much more to do in our core editorial world than think too much about where and when we would open our first Auberge Monocle. That said, Funchal, Zürich, Paris, Kamakura and Lisbon are all currently on my short-short list. I might add that considerable thought has also gone into the lobby, uniforms, number of rooms, landscaping, lighting, amenities and architecture.
When I pulled up at the new Trunk Hotel late afternoon on Thursday, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I had tried their original property in Shibuya once or twice but found that it was a bit too much of a party to swap from the Park Hyatt. And while I had seen the pics, read the story and had a first-hand account from our bureau chief, I still wasn’t quite sure how I was going to land. Shaky approach with a gentle finish? Or a smooth glide in but then juddering brakes?
Kenji-san, the manager, and his attentive colleague, Asahi-san, were on hand kerbside and showed me into the small and delicately scented lobby. I was invited to the lounge on the sixth floor for a drink but opted to go straight to my room as I had to make it for a shave appointment – a 45-second walk away. With only 25 rooms, Trunk Hotel definitely qualifies as boutique in scale but goes one better, having chosen the best materials at every turn: textured concrete walls that feel tropically Brazilian, nubby wool upholstery, chunky rugs and a fine mix of Nordic and Japanese furniture staples. In classic Japanese fashion, the property has been so thoroughly landscaped (generous balconies included) that it feels much more lived-in than a hotel that’s barely up and running. On the topic of getting the basics of hospitality right, the toilet is thoughtfully removed from the sleeping area, the minibar is well stocked, (why do so many hotels make so little effort with the minibar when there’s plenty of revenue to be made if the treats are given a bit of thought?) and almost every light switch is on a good old, easy-to-find-and-operate dimmer.
Dinner in the Italian restaurant was excellent, the wine list short and smart, and there’s even a nice little terrace for alfresco dining – a true rarity in Tokyo. I slept well under excellent linen, enjoyed throwing open the doors in the morning and was able to get to the office in 30 to 40 seconds. Serious!
If Monocle was going to do a hotel, the new Trunk comes very, very close to what I have in mind. It’s missing a few little twists that we’ll keep up our sleeve. Until we can welcome you at our for-now-imagined Auberge in Zürich, I hope to see you at our Herbstmarkt (autumn market) next Saturday at Dufourstrasse 90. And maybe we’ll plan a little Trunk Hotel takeover in Tokyo for a Monocle Weekender. Stay close.
“I have always been in love with this area,” says Miguel Charters, co-owner of Pateos, a new collection of four holiday homes in the village of Melides (writes Carlota Rebelo), south of Lisbon. “I used to come here as a teenager with my wife, Sofia, who was then my girlfriend. We always said that we would build something special here.” Pateos combines the mid-century modernism sensibilities of Portuguese architect Manuel Aires Mateus with a deep sense of tradition. Wood, concrete and glass work together in a series of spaces that blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor. “It was all designed so that people could maximise their experience of nature,” says Charters (pictured, on left, with general manager Filipe Lopo). “That’s why we experimented with patios where you are outside but sheltered.”
The villas riff on the tradition of the “Monte Alentejano”, says Charters, referring to the farm-based accommodation typical of southern Portugal, where small structures surround a larger, central one. At Pateos, four villas, which can be booked individually or all together for 14 people, are set along a pool and sunbathing area that overlooks the Atlantic. This feature was Charters’ starting point: every villa faces the water and is built to respect the topography, as well as to ensure privacy. “Seclusion is important,” he says. “We want to give our guests a change of pace. Most of them lead busy lives, travelling around the world, so it’s important for them to have a space where they can switch off.”
For our three favourite new Portuguese openings – plus plenty more to inspire you – buy a copy of the October issue of Monocle magazine.
Andreas von der Heide is the CEO of Copenhagen-based fashion brand Les Deux. Founded in 2011 when he was still a student, it has since become one of Scandinavia’s most popular menswear labels. Here, Von der Heide, who was a speaker at Monocle’s recent Quality of Life Conference, tells us about spearfishing, where he spends his spare time and why he likes to get an early start.
Where will we find you this weekend?
At my summer house in the countryside with my wife, our three small children and our dog. It’s a safe place where weekends feel longer; somewhere where we can slow down as a family.
What’s your ideal way to begin a Sunday – a gentle start or a jolt?
I like to get up at 06.00, put some slow jazz on, drink a glass of water and sit down with my coffee, enjoying the calm while the house wakes up. Later, I run down to the bathing jetty and take a plunge. I often go for a swim there in the summer but in winter I mostly just sit still in the water for a few minutes, trying to control my breathing.
What’s for breakfast?
Fresh fruit, homemade smoothies and, at the weekend, pancakes.
Lunch in or out?
In, though we also like to go to the local bakery and the fish market. If the kids aren’t at home, we’ll go out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We have local spots that we used to go to every weekend, such as Ipsen & Co in Frederiksberg, which is great for breakfast.
I train during the week with Mathias Mejer and my yoga instructor Marie-Louise Strøyberg. I have had six herniated discs, so it’s vital that I keep fit. On the weekends, I prioritise meditation but if I happen to fall behind on my schedule, I’ll use the time use to catch up on my fitness goals.
A Sunday soundtrack?
“The Weight” by The Staple Singers.
Sunday culture must?
I often discuss what culture means with my good friend Josefine. We don’t entirely agree on whether my visits to the local stadium qualify as such but, over time, she has shown me around various museums and galleries. In return, I take her to the stadium to support the local football team, FC Copenhagen. Les Deux is one of the club’s main sponsors and my eldest son loves to come along.
News or no news?
Weekends are news-free. The world won’t collapse on a Sunday but if it does, I’ll deal with it on Monday. I try to keep my weekends sacred; the time with friends and family is what matters.
What’s on the menu?
Dorado and a chilled glass of white wine. My wife usually cooks during the week but on weekends I love to do it. I don’t have a go-to dish but I adore seafood, so you’ll often find fish on the menu. We live by the water so if it’s the right season, I spearfish myself when I go out in the evenings. I love the whole concept of being self-sufficient or knowing exactly where your food comes from, whether it’s my fish or the vegetables from my garden.
Any Sunday evening routine?
You’ll often find me watching my son play at a football match and, in the evenings, the whole family goes to the swimming pool, where the two little ones have their swimming practice. Afterward, we head to Wokshop for dinner.
Will you lay out your outfit for Monday?
Even though I love preparing looks for the week (something that I did for the latest Monocle Quality of Life conference, where I was a speaker), it’s not something that I do on a daily basis. I tend to resort to looks from the latest Les Deux campaign. They’re foolproof. But if I’m not doing that, I wear jeans, my white T-shirt and a nice chunky knit sweater, paired with some loafers. I try to keep it simple.
This week our Japanese recipe writer ventures across culinary borders to pair a classic Italian comfort food dish (creamy, tomatoey pasta) with harissa, a spicy North African chilli paste. Needless to say, it works perfectly. Enjoy.
3 tbsps olive oil
12 large prawns, shelled and deveined
2 cloves of garlic
½ medium-sized brown onion, finely chopped
Tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tsps harissa paste
2 tsps tomato paste
2 tsps anchovy paste (or a few tinned anchovies, chopped finely)
2 tsps light brown sugar
3 tbsps ricotta
2 large pinches of salt and pepper
Season the prawns with salt and pepper. Pour one tbsp of olive oil into a pan and fry the prawns on both sides until they are just cooked and pink. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
Add the rest of the olive oil and garlic to the frying pan and cook until the garlic starts to become fragrant. Then add the chopped onion. Once it has softened, add the chopped tomato, harissa, tomato paste, anchovy paste and sugar. Cook over a low heat for 10 minutes until the sauce thickens, stirring continuously. Add the ricotta cheese and stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and cook the linguine according to the instructions on the packet.
Reserve a few tablespoons of pasta water before draining the linguine and adding it to the sauce. Combine with the prawns and toss until everything is mixed together. Serve immediately with grated parmesan on top.
Milan-based independent publishing house Blackie Edizioni has launched a “homework book for grown-ups” (writes Beatrice Carmi). Modelled on an experiment by its Spanish sister company, Blackie Books, Quaderno presents adults with the kind of exercises that schools assign to pupils for the long summer break. Its crosswords, puzzles and riddles are perfect for those craving a screen break. “It’s for anyone who doesn’t think that there comes a time when you stop learning,” says Dario Falcini, Quaderno’s writer and curator. This year, Blackie Edizioni decided to return to its original inspiration and create a version for children too. The 80-page Quaderno Kids is illustrated by Madrid-based artist Yimeisgreat and features quizzes, mazes and games. “It feels special when you have parents and their children doing the same thing,” says Falcini. “When a child looks up and sees their dad doing exactly what they’re doing, it can be very stimulating and encouraging.” Quaderno Kids is also a reminder of analogue pleasures. “The physicality of a notebook, a pen to write with – these are precious things that we should not give up on.”
If you’re a fan of independent publishers and believe in the importance of print and getting off screen, subscribe to Monocle magazine and support our journalism. Have a super Sunday.