Edited by Laura Begley
News on where to stay . . . what to see . . . what to buy . . .
living royally in india
India's new Devi Garh makes an extraordinary base for exploring the riches of Rajasthan. Surrounded by the arid Aravalli Range, the 18th-century palace hotel is set on one of the main passes that lead into the valley of Udaipur. Inside, white and green marble walls are embedded with semi-precious stones -- lapis lazuli, mother of pearl, malachite. Each of the 23 spacious suites has a different design, a modern twist on the vernacular. You'd sooner camp under the stars?Ask the hotel to erect one of seven elaborate tents on the grounds. Meals -- feasts, rather -- are served in various settings: by the pool; in the restaurant, with its frescoed and mirrored walls; or in the Kamal Court, which has a water maze with a black marble lotus motif. The health club is sublime, with Ayurvedic massages, yoga lessons, and an astrologer on call. Devi Garh, Delwara, Udaipur; 91-2853/89211, fax 91-2953/89357; doubles from $170.
--Gabriella De Ferrari
Hotels . . . Day Spas . . . Restaurants . . .
bank on it
Most hotels in Oxford, England, fall somewhere between antiquated and downright dodgy, so the Old Bank is a welcome leap into the 21st century. In its 44 rooms, French interior designer Gladys Wagner has installed thoroughly modern touches without losing the charm of the former bank's Elizabethan framework. One past resident doesn't mind the new look: Prudence, a brokenhearted but friendly ghost who is said to roam the halls. According to legend, she still mourns a dashing Royalist who courted her in the 1640's; her Puritan lifestyle thwarted any hopes of marriage. Old Bank Hotel, 92-94 High St.; 44-1865/799-599, fax 44-1865/799-598; doubles from $245.
--Lauren Paige Kennedy
short and sweet
The latest trend in urban spas is quick services that feel indulgent, designed for people who don't have eight hours to spare. L.A. Vie l'Orange makes its 90-minute Orient Express pedicure (a rose-water foot soak, paraffin wrap, and hot stone massage) feel like a day off. The spa is a chemical-free environment -- bliss for overtaxed L.A. lungs. Starlets who can't wait to hear back about that last screen test can have a tarot reading while they wait. L.A. Vie l'Orange, 6381/2 N. Robertson Blvd.; 310/289-2501; Orient Express $55.
let's go to b.e.d.
Miami Beach's newest nighttime marvel, B.E.D. (it stands for Beverage Entertainment Dining), redefines the term bedside manner. While the South Beach restaurant's cuisine is firmly French, the concept is ancient-Greek supper club. Instead of sitting at tables and chairs, diners recline on mattresses while being served by white-robed waiters hefting rattan trays of food. Kick off your Miu-Mius and let the Pajama Patrol (as the waitstaff is called) ply you with Pillow Talk: a dessert of meringue pillows swimming in Grand Marnier crème anglaise. B.E.D., 929 Washington Ave.; 305/532-9070; dinner for two $130.
Museums . . . Innovations . . . Food . . . Books
are you experienced?
How does Frank Gehry top his greatest hit, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao?With a deafening dose of rock and roll -- the Experience Music Project, a museum that opens June 23 in the shadow of Seattle's Space Needle. Financed by billionaire Paul Allen, the molten museum honors Pacific Northwest rockers from Jimi Hendrix to Pearl Jam. Its metallic shell (in shades of silver, gold, and purple) is Gehry's ode to the electric guitar. Inside, check out displays of rock memorabilia, catch a live concert, or make your own music in the Sound Lab. Experience Music Project, 325 Fifth Ave.; 877/367-5483.
the light look
Next time your cell phone battery is running low and there's nowhere to plug in, you'll wish you were wearing Paul & Shark's latest creation, the Solar. Powered by natural or artificial light (a panel is concealed in a detachable pocket), the heavyweight nylon-and-aluminum jacket can recharge your phone or any other small gadget in under an hour. The Solar comes in gray, black, navy, red, yellow, and olive; steel-thread lining protects you from electromagnetic waves. From $1,363; 877/990-6900 for stores.
tales of an italian legend
For more than 100 years, Italy's Villa d'Este on Lake Como has attracted artists, world leaders, fashion designers, film stars, and royalty: Clark Gable, Josephine Baker, Eva Perón, Winston Churchill. Jean Govoni Salvadore's Villa d'Este Style (Rizzoli, $50) sheds light on the history, the cuisine, the milieu. This discreet resort has even had the occasional scandal, like the bejeweled countess who shot her lover there in 1948.
Foodies won't want to miss these hot new spots in Hawaii. In the shadow of Diamond Head is Hale Noa (766 Kapahulu Ave., Oahu; 808/735-4292), the state's first-ever awa bar. Owner Keoni Verity doles out the tongue-numbing beverage that's known as kava in Fiji and was once the privilege of royalty. Think Dean & DeLuca does paradise at chef Alan Wong's Hawaii Regional Cuisine Marketplace (1450 Ala Moana Blvd.; 808/945-8888), a new food shop with tables, above his Pineapple Room restaurant. Wong's coconut-flaked purple and yellow sweet-potato salad -- get it at the deli-style counter -- is sublime.
Inns . . . Trends . . . Hairstyles . . .
a tasty auberge
Chef Alain Ducasse strikes again with the Hostellerie de l'Abbaye de la Celle, in a Coteaux Varois wine village near Aix-en-Provence. The 10-room auberge is folded into an 18th-century maison bourgeoise on the site of a Benedictine convent. Furnishings run to richly carved armoires and Art Nouveau desks. The inn's restaurant accentuates truffles, best in a flaky turnover with foie gras. Hostellerie de l'Abbaye, Place du Général-de-Gaulle, La Celle; 33-4/98-05-14-14, fax 33-4/98-05-14-15; doubles from $203.
tokyo lets its hair down
Ten years ago it was investment banking. Now the profession of choice among Tokyo twentysomethings is hairdressing. The result: a flood of salons, all offering wildly creative dos. At Kakimoto Arms (5-6-12 Aoyama, Minato-ku; 81-3/5464-0011), a band of colorists will advise you on a shade that enhances your personality -- how about pink?The signature look for Vingt-Trente (3-2-12 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; 81-3/3405-9020) is Daniel Boone gone street-smart. Boy (23-5 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku; 81-3/3476-1256) doubles as an artists' atelier. Don't be surprised if you see your stylist wielding a paintbrush.
Coming to a spa near you: the didgeridoo, an Aboriginal musical instrument that encourages proper breathing. Vibrate your lips on the elongated tube; the resulting buzz has a meditative effect. "Deep breathing gives your internal organs a good massage," says Carlo Petrini, an instructor at Utah's Cliff Spa (Hwy. 210, Snowbird; 801/933-2222), the first place to introduce the technique in the States. Or learn from the source during hour-long classes with members of the tribal community at Australia's Didgeridoo University (86 Todd St., Alice Springs; 61-8/8952-3408; $6).