A Higher Standard
Following his success with the Standard in West Hollywood, André Balazs has staged a sequel in L.A.'s long-overlooked downtown. The hotelier bought the Superior Oil headquarters, a 12-story Modernist landmark, and opened it this summer as the Downtown L.A. Standard. The 207 guest rooms are spare yet spacious, with oversized platform beds and, in some bathrooms, an inexplicable giant rubber foot. But it's the rooftop pool bar that has been luring half the city--a mojito-mad crowd assembles to gawk at the skyscrapers and lounge on vibrating water beds. Those pin-striped oil-company execs must be turning in their graves. downtown l.a. standard, 550 S. Flower St., Los Angeles; 213/892-8080; www.standardhotel.com; doubles from $95.
--Peter Jon Lindberg
Travel Diary: Hogan's Hero
Who: Emanuele Della Valle, the creative force behind Hogan, which makes shoes and bags with travel in mind. "I'm on the road more than Jimi Hendrix ever was." Favorite destinations: "Road trips to places such as Dodge City, Kansas. I also love wilderness and escape like Loch Lomond in Scotland." Current obsessions: Motorcycles and surfing. "I want our next shoe to be like an aquasock, sculpted around the foot." Latest creation: The Script Bag, an ideal carry-on, originally designed for Robert De Niro, who complained that nothing could accommodate all his junk. The look: Two bags in one--a slim laptop container fits inside a giant canvas-and-leather holdall with special slots for a cell phone, keys, and pens. $1,400; 888/604-6426.
On the Map: Norwegian Hood
A 10-minute walk from Oslo's center, Grünerlökka is a formerly working-class neighborhood on the Akerselva River that was once home to Edvard Munch--who wouldn't recognize the place today. The current standouts:
Where to Eat and Drink
Coma 16 Helgensens Gate; 47-22/353-222; dinner for two $104. Once you finish ogling the wood-and-glass interiors, try chef Erik Schonsee's signature duck, kvakk-kvakk.
Tea Lounge 33B Thorvald Meyers Gate; 47-22/370-705. The mosaic columns suggest exploding pixels, yet you'll feel nothing but calm when you sample a Marrakesh de Cuba (rum-infused mint tea).
Where to Shop
3 electronic meltdown of modern Norwegian jazz.
Brudd Kunsthåndverkere 42 Markveien; 47-22/382-398. A cooperative of 17 innovative local artists (glassmakers, jewelry designers, potters) and one crafty Swede.
Far & Sønn Brukt Og Antikkmarked 3 Sanner Gate; 47-22/350-536. Scandinavian antiques: a leather-bound edition of Ibsen, or an Eero Saarinen living room set. Ove Harder Finseth 3 Markveien; 47-22/377-620. Exuberantly quirky gowns and suits with a modern-Viking look.