Director Wes Anderson takes T+L on an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of Grand Budapest Hotel, his latest film opening Mar. 7.
For his new release—which stars Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, and Ralph Fiennes as a debonair hotel concierge—Wes Anderson traveled though Eastern Europe on a hunt for set locations and characters. “I like working abroad because the whole process is an adventure, and it’s the most fun way to learn about a place,” he said. One takeaway: “Prague has been all cleaned up, but Budapest still has a little bit of a time-warp feeling.” Known for creating meticulously crafted sets and fictional worlds, the filmmaker borrowed references from Ernst Lubitsch musicals, Jugendstil architecture, and Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain for his own version of a grand hotel in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka. Here, a view from the director’s chair.
Somewhere above the Bering Sea on the long haul flight between Tokyo and New York, a Japan Airlines flight attendant kindly brought me a steaming bowl of rich broth and chewy udon noodles. Mine was the only seat lit at this late hour in the darkened cabin while glued to a subtitled crime drama marathon. (I'm a sucker for film noir in any language.) Recently, JAL launched its new business-class "Sky Suite" service on international routes to New York, London and Paris; service to Chicago and Los Angeles follows shortly. It's almost like having your own capsule hotel room, complete with a fully reclining seat, 23-inch LCD screen, and bed slippers. Definitely request a window seat for utmost privacy.
What did you learn about that profession? “They work like characters on CSI: hunting for dirt with white gloves, testing the temperature of room-service coffee, ensuring that the time is synced on TV and radio. Only at the end of the journey can they reveal their true identity.”
Do you have any travel essentials? “My Rolex, set to the time in Rome. It’s been with me since I was fifteen.”
Photographer Kevin Davies has released a behind-the-scenes documentary on daily life in one of the fashion world's most inventive ateliers. During formal visits from royals (Princess Anne) to fittings with supermodels (Naomi Campbell) and other celebrities (Lady Gaga, Grace Jones), the lively mood at a creatively cluttered London workshop is revealed in Philip Treacy by Kevin Davies, Phaidon, $60. A 20-year collaboration between the photographer and his favorite subject takes place as the milliner prepares for Ascot, Paris shows, museum exhibitions at the V&A, a royal wedding or two, and even a trip to the wilds of Connemara with his two pet Jack Russells.
The jet-setting hotel designer is never ruffled on the road.
“I am the most compact packer,” says Grace Leo, founder and CEO of GLA Hotels. Leo is ever on the move, overseeing projects in such far-flung destinations as Caracas, Venezuela, and Jakarta, Indonesia. Her travel style is globally sourced (case in point: the monogrammed Lorenza Bellora canvas tote she purchased in a shop at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome). She recently relocated to Manhattan to supervise the $30 million renovation of Millennium Hotels & Resorts’ One UN New York(1 United Nations Plaza;$$$), but Paris is her true home. “I search for antiques at the Marché Paul Bert on Sundays. One good piece can inspire an entire project.”
At the Hotel Bel-Air in Beverly Hills, head bartender Allen Allam will teach you secrets of the Japanese hard-shake method for mixing bespoke cocktails. During an hour-long class in the lustrous bar lounge, learn the recipe for such signature drinks as Dragon's Fire and Monroe's Passion, a potent fusion of ginger juice, fresh passion fruit puree, Thai chili syrup and Barcardi 151 rum. (Actress Marilyn Monroe was a regular at the Bel-Air.) Other tricks of the bar trade are also revealed. Allam demonstrates techniques for stirring and garnish cutting, as well as how to employ essential barware like slow-frozen Clinebell ice, stainless steel muddlers and gold-plated strainers. Beverage director Rob Harpest provides colorful cocktail history commentary as Allam pours. Afterwards, slip into one of the lounge's banquettes under larger-than-life celebrity portraits to further your liquid research. From $100 per person, minimum six per class, 14-day advance reservation required.
Stylish? Yes. Expensive? No. These four island finds have charm to spare.
Harbour Island, Bahamas Ocean View Club: The eclectic nine-room inn faces a beautiful pink-sand beach. Inside, there are colorful paintings by Bahamian folk artist Amos Ferguson and breezy rooms with whimsical touches (trumpet lamps; polka-dot couches). $$
Martinique Plein Soleil(pictured): The accent is on Creole French in this tasteful collection of villas facing Thalemont Bay. An open-air restaurant serves spicy crab farci and local fruits marinated in mint; the 16 soft-white bedrooms have linen-draped chaise longues worthy of Empress Josephine, Napoleon’s wife—and a Martinique native. $$
If you’ve stayed at a Firmdale Hotel, such as London’s recently reopened Dorset Square($$), you know that the group’s design director and co-owner has an affinity for patterns and embroidery. Kemp—who just completed a new collection for Chelsea Textiles and a book, A Living Space (Rizzoli)—reveals her inspirations on the road.
Biarritz, France: “The shop Mimi’s Corner (33-6/19-13-31-31) is owned by an eccentric Outsider artist who vandalizes pictures; I bought four of Queen Elizabeth II for the Crosby Street Hotel. Staying at Hotel du Palais($$$$) is like being on the bridge of the Titanic, with sweeping views of the Atlantic.”
The Rhode Island town that conjures up Gilded Age mansions and yacht clubs is getting an injection of youthful energy thanks to the Attwater, a reinvention of a fusty old inn. Designer Rachel Reider put a colorful twist on the 1910 building, splashing the 12 rooms in nautical blues, lobster reds, and driftwood grays. Add in-room iPads and a café serving house-made Oreos, and you have the makings of a modern coastal retreat. It’s not your great-grandfather’s Newport. 22 Liberty St.$$
Just before she kicked off the Philip Treacy show wearing a hot pink burka, Lady Gaga turned to the models backstage and slyly asked, "Any tips?" And then out came the pop diva to sing the praises of this designer's unique vision as hyper-tall women in wearable art bounced through the Gothic hall at the Royal Courts of Justice in London during Fashion Week.