When you’re in a city as architecturally beautiful as Vienna, it’s easy to marvel at just about every building, nook and cranny you see walking the city streets. We narrow down the top sites to see and snap pictures of in the chic European city (plus you’ll get a few chances to hear some of that amazing classical music and nibble on some delicious eats Vienna is known for).
St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom)
Nearly every European city has a stunning cathedral located in the heart of the city and Vienna is no exception, except that their cathedral might just trump all others. The Romanesque, Gothic style of this Catholic church stands in Stephansplatz, a bustling and busy square in the city. Known for it’s amazing stone work draping down the sides of the building and for it’s unmistakable multi-coloured tiled roof (that depicts a double-headed eagle) the church has been a symbol in Vienna since it’s construction began in 1137. Find yourself on a corner of Stephansplatz to get the best angled photo opt, and don’t forget to swing around to the back side (with it’s impressive doors) for another shot. Even better, if you can get access inside (we were there for a Christmas concert performed by classical musicians), you’ll be able to marvel at the detail of the 18 altars inside.
Spanish Riding School
Vienna’s famed riding school and troop of Spanish horses draws a big tourist crowd all year long. The only riding school only in the world which has practiced for over 440 years when it comes to classical equitation in haute école. Visiting the all-white horses is a special treat – seeing a show is even better. Booking your ticket online at srs.at before hand will ensure you get to see a practice or a show. READ MORE
All images courtesy of the Hotel Adlon
The vibe: Uber Euro-luxe and cool
The facts: Built in 1907, the Adlon was largely destroyed by fire in 1945 during World War II. It wasn’t until 1997 that it was reopened with 382 rooms and suites, most of which face the famed Brandenberg Gate.
The details: Berlin is one of those cities that what you see is what you get. There’s no bashfulness in the stark streets, buildings, arty corners and the city’s rich history. You could find yourself in just about any type of hotel here, from Berlin’s well-known and adored hostels, to crafty artsy boutique hotels all the way up to luxury five-star stays. One of Berlin’s best known and most loved hotels happens to be on the luxury end and they get luxury right in all ways possible.
Set in a historic building on the east side of Brandenberg Gate, the Adlon is steeped in German and Berlin history (having been through world wars, the separation of East and West Berlin and the reunification). It stands beside the old Berlin Wall line in what used to be known as no man’s land (the section between east and west Berlin heavily guarded until the wall fell in 1989). Despite the darker side of history that has surrounded the walls, the hotel’s incredibly affluent vibe makes it feel rich and full of life. The lobby is luxe and sophisticated, the rooms are elegant and trimmed in dark woods and creamy linens and walls and the service isn’t hard to find (the hotel staff dress in red and are always asking if they can help in any way). READ MORE
Looking into the boutique. Image courtesy Porter Airlines.
Shopping (or at the very least window shopping) is a pastime we enjoy doing at any airport. One airport we never mind ending up at is Toronto’s Billy Bishop Island Airport — thanks to Porter. Porter is not only the most convenient way to fly out of the city, but they also have the best pre-flight and on-board experience. Before we even get onto the plane, there are complimentary snacks, drinks, Wi-Fi and cozy lounge chairs to relax in. Thinking our pre-flight experience couldn’t really get any better enter the WANT Passport boutique. READ MORE
As a full-time blogger and freelance writer, Lisa Ng is always on the go. In 2010, Lisa co-founded the lifestyle blog, The Hip + Urban Girl’s Guide with partner Wendy Kam Marcy, which covers everything from food to travel. HUG (as its affectionately referred to) has taken Lisa everywhere from Madrid to Aspen and most recently NYC and Calgary.
Never one to sit still, Lisa is embarking on a new chapter in her career, launching a lifestyle blog this June called This Beautiful Day, which will encompass all of the good things in life like travel, food, beauty, and style.
In between travels we had the chance to catch up with this self-proclaimed vagabond, who shared with us her travel musts, including a gate-side RMT massage service that has us hoping we have a layover in that airport! READ MORE
130 Duane St, Tribeca (in the Duane Street Hotel)
New York, NY 10013
Vibe: Urban chic – upscale but not over the top. You’ll love the dessert-cocktail bar, a regular cocktail bar, and one of our favourite features if dining with a group of friends — an aged, thick wooden communal table, where sharing dishes and conversation is easy.
Who Goes: Groups of friends laugh and catch up over drinks and sharable dishes (ordering a bunch of apps for family style sharing), but it also perfect for a casual date night.
Known For: Asian-inspired dishes and vegetarian
Mehtaphor offers up many different ways to indulge … serve up dishes family-style and sample a bit of everything (what we opted to do), or dig into 5, 7 or 9 course meals (all ending with dessert and some dishes not on the menu prepared specially by the chef). And added bonus? A full vegetarian menu (although we’re not veggie only all the time, we love mixing in meat-free meals while travelling to get our vegetable quota in). Mumbai-born chef Jehangir Mehta (a runner up in the search for The Next Iron Chef in 2009) is known for his Asian-influenced dishes with a spicy kick and as soon as we saw a vegetarian menu we jumped at the chance to test out the meat-free dishes. Jehangir’s rich cultural background means he brings in inspiration for his dishes from Ayurveda, Asian ingredients and exotic spices — and the combination is exciting, adventurous and delicious. The best way to describe the food? Bold flavours (thanks to loads of spices and herbs with a flavour punch) with an Asian influence, served up in chic fashion.
The exterior of the Duane Street Hotel.
First timers to the Big Apple often choose to stay midtown and who can blame them? But for those of you who want to stay off the tourist path and feel more like a local resident, we suggest directing your cabbie downtown to the charming neighbourhood of Tribeca.
Put on the map thanks to the Tribeca Film Festival, which launched in 2002, young families with strollers, trendy restaurants, and some of the most expensive housing in Manhattan can be found here. When it comes to accommodations there are no short of luxury options, but for those of you who are looking for a sweet sleep, with money left over to do some shopping (you’re in New York, you need it!), we found the perfect option. READ MORE
Is there anything better than seeing the world go by while situated in a plush seat on a luxury train? We think not. Any time we’re in Europe, we love jaunting to smaller towns and cities via trains – even high-speed commuter trains are great ways to get around and see more of the country you’re visiting. But we’re also up for a longer ride taking us through some of the most scenic and beautiful parts of the globe. Maybe it’s because in Canada we don’t have a strong train culture but something about taking a train through Europe, streaming past fields in South America and channeling through hills and covered bridges in Africa makes us think luxury and romance. We round up the world’s best, prettiest and most stunning train rides where you not only get luxury, but also amazing views.
Image courtesy of Rovos.com
South Africa is a vast country – each corner, coast, city and reserve just waiting to be explored. Flights can be on the pricey side – as can the taxis you would need to take to and from the airport. But seeing more of South Africa is a bit easier when you hop onto a luxury multi-day train ride. Chug through the city of Pretoria en route to the famous Victoria Falls on a three-day journey, where you’ll take in the Magaliesberg Mountain Range, ride along the Botswana and Zimbabwe boarders, and take a safari from the train as you pass through the Hwange Game Reserve before finally reaching your prime photo opt at Victoria Falls.
Image courtesy of Peru Rail
This all day train ride will take you through some of the most beautiful terrains in this South American country and is regularly voted as one of the best train rides in the world. Hop on the old-school 1920s inspired train cars in Cusco and head south to finish in Puno and Lake Titicaca. You’ll sweep past a mix of lush and dessert-like hills, the Andes and the stark, dusty plains along the countryside (where fields are a rich golden hue and rivers are deep blue). You’ll also make a pit stop in La Raya, at 4,321 meters above sea level, where you can shop from the locals (be sure to pick up some baby alpaca scarves, mittens and sweaters – this part of Peru is deceivingly chilly) and snap a few pictures with alpacas and llamas.
In a city so rich with history (who can compete with the British royals?), culture (punk, anyone?), and art you could plan an entire trip to London solely around museum hopping. Or sometimes, on a dreary London day (there’s plenty), there’s nothing better than popping into a museum and exploring a new world or art, fashion, history or science. We round up the top London museums that never fail, never bore and are always worth a quick visit when in London Town.
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Hands down our favourite London museum, if not favourite museum in Europe. Curating some of the world’s best fashion exhibits (from Princes Diana’s stunning gowns and wedding dress to the exhibit on David Bowie, to a Through the Ages exhibit showcasing some stunning high end fashion pieces), the V& A is fondly noted as a favourite for fashion buffs, or anyone who indulges in style. Your best bet to see this summer (besides the amazing David Bowie exhibit)? Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s showcasing some of London’s most influential fashion designers from that decade (Betty Jackson, Katharine Hamnett, Wendy Dagworthy and John Galliano). You can also ooh and ahh at the vast selections of royal jewels they often have on display (and who doesn’t want to do that?).
The Victoria & Albert Museum
London SW7 2RL
On the Tube: South Kensington underground station (on the Piccadilly, Circle and District Line). READ MORE
An all-white room at the Sofitel Vienna. Image courtesy of the Sofitel Vienna.
There are so many things we love about Vienna – the undeniably chic cafés, the fine dining, all those delectable and flaky sweets, tarts, and cakes that this Austrian city is famous for (FYI, cut back on calories before heading to Vienna so you can unbashfully indulge in all those cakes and tortes with no shame). You’ll spend your days strolling the quaint streets, popping into art museums, books stores and shops along Kaerntnerstrasse (the main shopping strip), but by night you’ll need a soft spot to recharge your batteries, get an amazing night’s sleep and maybe even have a drink or two. You can stay in one of Vienna’s classic, old world hotels, or you can do something completely different and opt for an ultra-mod, boarder line stark, all-white room at the Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom.
First off, this hotel is perfectly located. You’ll be steps away from the Schwedenplatz 2 tram station that runs a loop around the city centre (taking to all the major hotspots, cafes, museums and best shopping) and across the Danube canal. It also happens to be located just across the canal from Mott am Fluss (one of Vienna’s hottest daytime cafés and bars by night — stop by for a latte at the very least). Behind the hotel is a growing mix of up-and-coming designer shops and a neighbourhood that is on the rise. It’s the perfect mix of tradition in the city centre and trendy, artsy neighbourhoods.
But what makes this hotel so unique in Vienna is the crisp rooms decked in white from top to bottom and floor to ceiling windows (for some impressive panoramic views of Vienna’s multi-coloured rooftops). You’ll be starting each day with a clean slate. Designed by Jean Nouvel, it’s unlike any other hotel in Vienna’s city centre (where you’ll find more traditional European hotels) and was inspired by fashion, art, architecture, and is a reinterpretation of Vienna’s famed St Stephens Cathedral. If you’re in the mood/lucky enough you might make it into one of the hotel’s very few domineering all black rooms, or a soothing all grey room (the hotel has 182 rooms and 26 suites, with mostly white rooms and a select few black and grey rooms). An all-white room might not always jive with tourists. It definitely has an edge and a design feel too it, but they also have a surprisingly warm and inviting feeling about them (maybe it’s the skyline or maybe it’s the fact that it seems so fresh and clean). READ MORE
Jessica Alba travelling chic.
Depending on what way you look at it, packing can either be the best or worst part about travelling. With many airlines charging for checked luggage, there’s certainly more incentive these days to do carry-on only (not to mention lost luggage), but for many people the thought of doing it is extremely intimidating. Will I have enough space? How do I pack for different situations? What about shoes?
The reality is, it’s not as difficult as one would lead you to believe. First, get yourself a quality carry-on piece of luggage, ideally with wheels and a handle, then get organized. It’s all about knowing where and why you’re going to a destination.
To help you with the ins and outs of travelling only with a carry-on, we spoke to Amy Jakubaitis of RIMOWA North America Inc, who shares her expert packing tips with us.
What’s the secret to packing for a week-long trip in a carry-on suitcase? Tell us how to make this possible!
It is possible! It just takes a little extra planning. Before I pack, I like to plan my trip so I know what I’ll be doing throughout the week. If it’s a business trip, I plan out each meeting, client dinner or casual event I will be attending. This allows me to plan all of my outfits in advance so I know exactly what I’ll be wearing throughout the week. I always try to pack double-duty items, such as shirts that can be layered, solid pants that can work either for business with a blazer, silk top and heels or as a casual outfit with a layered t-shirt, a scarf and flats. I accessories with a few chosen necklaces, bracelets, one belt that can do it all, one scarf and a couple pairs of earrings. Accessories can really change an outfit so if the clothing is simple, the accessories can make a big difference. All of my small accessories should fit into a zipper bag, any more and it doesn’t make the cut. If my clothes get soiled on the trip, I use the money I saved on checking the bag to have the item cleaned at the hotel. READ MORE