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Can’t Book at Room at the Uffizi? Stay at the St. Regis Florence

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Florence’s stately Grand Hotel closed for renovations last September and is slated to reopen quietly on May 1 as the St. Regis Florence. The already 5-star hotel’s re-branding from Luxury Collection to St. Regis signals the arrival of butler service, fewer but larger guest rooms, 19 luxury suites, a spa (individual spa suites are the thing here; no more stripping down in a locker room before your massage), and all sorts of sterling silver bells and whistles.

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Walking Virginia's Widening Wine Trail

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As any University of Virginia grad will breathlessly assert, Charlottesville, VA is America's greatest college town. Perhaps even the world's. (Oxford? Bah!) Even this state-school graduate must admit there's a case to be made. C'ville, as it's known, is a lovely and vibrant little town rich with history, thanks in no small part to UVA's spacious, rolling grounds that have been painstakingly preserved since the university's founding in 1819. But there's more to Charlottesville than just UVA (and its famous Corner, a stretch of shops and eateries where students gather to slop down cheap, serviceable sustenance).

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Stockholm’s Artsy Birkastan Neighborhood

Stockholm

On the outskirts of Sweden’s capital, the neighborhood of Birkastan has become a center for the city’s new creative class. Here are our favorite insider spots:

Ulrika Sandström Studio: Feminine frills and romantic ruffles get a dose of rock-and-roll in the homegrown designer’s latest collection, but don’t miss her line of neutral shifts at the pocket-size shop. 36 Norrbackagatan; 46-8/5456-4410; ulrikasandstrom.se.

Carin Wester: The current darling of the Stockholm fashion scene, Wester stands out with sharp silhouettes and playful prints for men and women, all on display in her white-walled boutique. 24 Rörstrandsgatan; 46-8/305-415; carinwester.com.

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Royal Wedding Hotel Packages in London and U.S.

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While big, lavish nuptials hold limited charm for me (I eloped, and recommend it for its romance and intimacy), plenty of people are mad for all things wedding, and especially all things William and Kate. Even Dunkin Donuts, friend of the common man, is offering a heart-shaped tribute to the royal couple.

If you’re looking to celebrate the Royal Wedding with something more decadent than a doughnut, we’ve gathered some hotel package options.

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Unitard Not Required: Go Backstage at Cirque du Soleil

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This spring, visitors to Las Vegas can run away and join the Cirque (but not for peanuts).  For $260, a select few will get a small-group pre-show backstage tour to either O (at the Bellagio) or The Beatles’ Love (at the Mirage). You’ll also receive an Insider Access VIP lanyard, special reserved seats for the show, and front-of-line privileges in the concession line and at the hotels’ nightclubs after the show.

On the fence about taking the tour?  Here’s a Life.com photo gallery of the backstage scene at a Cirque du Soleil show—acrobats rehearsing a tricky move, clowns at rest, outlandish-costume repair—that gives you an inkling of how thrilling it could be to witness in person.   (Get this: during each performance of The Beatles’ Love, the 68 performers go through 331 multi-piece costumes and 110 wigs!  Kind of puts getting two kids ready for school into perspective.)

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Lomography Photo Contest: Win a Trip to Vienna

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When was the last time you used a real camera, loaded with real film? Sure you’ve got the Hipstamatic app on your iPhone to take super dreamy retro snapshots that look like they came straight from the '70s—but I’ve got a reason for you to put your phone down and go analogue. (Skeptical? Keep reading: It involves a free trip to Europe.)

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Berlin’s Hottest Spots Right Now

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Be in the know; here are the latest things to do and eat in Berlin.

Eat It
The pork-filled spring roll with prawns and garden beans at Sage Restaurant (dinner for two $155), located on the River Spree.

See It
A retrospective of 187 photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe at C/O Gallery (through March 27), from snapshots of Debbie Harry and Patti Smith to his controversial portraits of male nudes.

Book It
The light-filled Camper Suite at Casa Camper (doubles from $264), with views of the historic Mitte district and fiery Spanish-red walls softened by wood accents.

Buy It
The retro-casual hat collection at Rike Feurstein ($155), made by hand in a range of materials (cotton; raffia; Panama straw).

Ralph Martin is a contributor to Travel + Leisure.

Photo by Robert Mapplethorpe/Courtesy of Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Moor Fun: Jane Eyre Tours in Northern England

Period piece fanatics (myself included) are lining up for director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s critically acclaimed “Jane Eyre” movie, starring Mia Wasikowska as the indomitable Jane and Michael Fassbender as her changeable Mr. Rochester.

Though the brooding, Gothic romance will undoubtedly set hearts aflutter (The ball gowns! The carriages! The Fassbender!), the third member of this much-adapted love triangle will yet again take a back seat to drama onscreen: Northern England’s rolling, wind-swept moors—an indelible inspiration behind Charlotte Brontë’s original Jane Eyre, published in 1847, and her sister Emily’s Wuthering Heights. If you’re looking to get a better view of the moors than the sweeping camera pan will give you, Wayfarers’s Brontë Trail is just the thing.

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Carnegie Hall Celebrates Japan in City-Wide Festival

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Beginning in 2007 with the Berlin in Lights festival, Carnegie Hall has featured the music and culture of global destinations through wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary programming in its three concerts halls and at institutions throughout New York City. But right now, perhaps no other festival may be as important as JapanNYC (March-April), which celebrates the diversity of Japanese culture in more than 40 performances and events and pays special tribute to Japan and its people in the aftermath of this month’s earthquake and tsunami.

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Editor Report: 

Going Home to Hyderabad

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I’ll be honest—when I first heard Travel+Leisure was doing a feature story on Hyderabad, I was somewhat…perplexed. The sixth largest city in India is where my parents are originally from, and though my history-buff father has regaled me with its legends for years, I’ve never thought of it as a major tourist hub—but then, T+L is always ahead when it comes to mining hot off-the-radar destinations. Working on “Jewel of India” for March made me view the city through a new lens. And in a serendipitous twist, I was scheduled to take a long-delayed trip to Hyderabad right after we closed the issue.

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