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Shangri-La Paris Hosts Afternoon Tea Inspired By Works of Art

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What better way to pass a Wednesday in Paris than with three of the great European passions—art, pastry, and tea?  

Since October, the Shangri-La Paris has been hosting ARTea Time, a curated experience celebrating the city’s most spectacular art exhibitions.

While enjoying a cup of Bentjeman & Barton tea with finger sandwiches and sweets at the famed La Bauhinia restaurant, guests are presented with an art-inspired pastry.  

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The Ritz-Carlton's Plan for World Domination

Ritz Carlton Almaty

By now, we’re used to hearing the big news that Trip Advisor has acquired some smaller company—it seems to happen about once a week. But the past couple months, we’ve also been hearing big news almost every week from a very different type of company: the Ritz-Carlton.

The luxury hotel company has unleashed a flurry of new properties on the world in the past couple months, opening three in October (Chendgu and Tianjin in China, and Bangalore, India) and two in November (Almaty, Kazakhstan and Aruba), with another on the way mid-December (Herzliya, Israel).

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Streamlining Hotel Check-Ins for Business Travelers

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After a long day traveling, the last thing any road warrior wants is to wait at a hotel check-in desk.

Don’t fret, frequent travelers: hotels have heard our pleas and help is on the way. New technologies promise to let guests skip the front desk, although it might take several years for all of us to reap the benefits.

Let’s start with the problem.

I still have bad flashbacks to a business trip to Florida several years ago. I arrived at the hotel late at night thanks to a flight delay, only to find a front-desk clerk who wanted to make small talk. Lots of small talk. Call me heartless, but all I wanted to do was go to bed. I’m sure the rest of my stay was fine, but all I recall of that hotel today was the overly friendly welcome.

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Thom Browne's Travel Style

Thom Browne fashion

The New York–based fashion designer made his name on a prim, classic, and sometimes offbeat look, a credo that is echoed in his travel style. “I’m a horrible creature of habit,” he admits. “I pack more simply than most people—I don’t bring much stuff.” We take a peek at his well-ordered universe.

The Women’s Collection: Browne made a splash last January when Michelle Obama wore a coat he designed to the inauguration. This look (pictured) is in stores now.

The Suit: Browne is rarely caught not wearing one of his ultra-trim suits, which can cause unintended confusion. “People think I’m a pilot,” he laughs. “I’ve been offered discounts at Starbucks.”

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Cyber Monday Travel Deals

Culina

Los Angeles: If you’re planning a stay in the L.A. area, book today at the iconic Langham Huntington, in Pasadena, and get 25% of the best available rate, with free valet parking through December 29. Rates start at $172.  Book here with code CM2013. And if you’re in L.A. today, grab lunch today at Culina (pictured), the fabulous restaurant of the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, for $25, including a glass of Prosecco. Or come for dinner tonight and take 30% off the bill (mention the deal when you call for a reservation at 310-860-4000). Then massage all the holiday stress away at the hotel spa. Save 20% off all treatments booked today for appointments through December 30.
 
New York City: Yes, we’re biased since we live here, but we think there’s nothing so romantic as New York in winter. So book today through December 6 and you can get discounted rates at the NY Hilton (from $199/night) and the Waldorf Astoria (from $229/night) for stays in January and February (plus a few dates in December at the NY Hilton). Check it out here.

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5 New NYC Boutique Hotels

NYC Boutique Hotels: Viceroy

Manhattan’s latest crop of boutique properties have one thing in common: classic styling with a modern twist.

High Line Hotel
Location: Occupies a slice of the 1895 Gothic-style General Theological Seminary, in Chelsea.
Ideal For: High Line explorers; gallery-hoppers.
Nod to the Past: Original stained-glass windows; well-worn handwoven carpets.
What We Love: A desktop stationery embosser to personalize postcards and envelopes.
Choice Bite: Cult bakery Mah Ze Dahr’s caramel-oatmeal bars, served from the hotel’s 1963 Citroën van parked by the entrance.
Smallest Room: 275 square feet.
Details: 180 10th Ave. $$$

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Hyatt Union Square Announces New Accessories Butler

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Packing the perfect holiday outfit just got easier for New York-bound travelers. The Hyatt Union Square New York is now offering “The Accessories Butler,” a curated closet of seasonal jewelry, scarves, cufflinks, and more where each item is available for loan. Guests can browse then borrow any item that happens to catch their eye, from a sparkling set of earrings by designer Kevia to luxe fur boot wraps by Hugrz (above). The service is convenient for guests who may have forgotten outfit staples like a watch or belt, and just plain fun for those of us who like to play dress up. Organized by style expert Pamela Pekerman, the Accessories Butler is free of charge to all hotels guests, who can flaunt their new wardrobe piece for up to 12 hours after submitting an information form. Having a mini fashion closet at your disposal? Now that’s an amenity we can get behind.

Maria PedoneMaria Pedone is on the digital team at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @mariapedestrian.

Photo credit: Shawn Punch

Hyatt Place Launches Seamless Travel Series to Make Your Journey Easier

Travel shouldn’t be so complicated: “This one’s too big…This one’s too small…This one is just right.” Hyatt Place wants to get it right the first time for today’s busy travelers with practical amenities and the best overall experience.

From what to bring on a business trip to how to maintain a healthy lifestyle on the road, Hyatt Place wants to know what’s on travelers’ minds. They’re enlisting experts to offer advice and insights, in a crowdsourced, real-time approach to their guest experiences.

Travelers are invited to share topics and questions on the Hyatt Place Facebook page, join upcoming Twitter chats, and comment on the expert’s social channels.

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World's Strangest Theme Hotels

Theme Hotel: Panda Inn

Nowadays it’s easy to find hotels that stick to one subject. But at what cost?

The world’s first panda-themed hotel opened a few months ago in Sichuan, China. Guests at the Panda Inn luxuriate in black and white surroundings overlooked by panda paintings and enormous panda teddy bears. Meanwhile in Buenos Aires, fans of the Boca Juniors soccer team are luxuriating at the new Hotel Boca, self-billed as el primer hotel temático de fútbol en el mundo—one of those phrases that fleetingly raises one’s hopes of having acquired the ability to comprehend all of Earth’s languages. The décor pays only discreet homage to the team colors of yellow and blue, but balances this restraint with pictures all over the place of the world’s least restrained man, former Boca superstar Diego Maradona. Even in gritty, unpretentious Liverpool, visitors now have a choice of nautically themed hotels: one modeled on the Titanic, the other, more disconcertingly, on the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine.”

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Designer Clare Vivier’s Guide to Los Angeles

Clare Vivier

The latest “it” handbag designer knows a thing or two about L.A.’s hottest hoods: she lives in Echo Park and her namesake store is in boho Silver Lake. Vivier leads us around her east-side haunts.

Stay: “The Moroccan-style Figueroa Hotel ($), a former YWCA residence, is soulful like the Chateau Marmont—but very affordable.”

Eat: “I’m half Mexican, so tortillas are important. The ones that Bar Amá ($$) serves with its fajitas and tangy ceviches are delicious. At Taix ($$), a classic steak-frites-and-mussels brasserie, I always sit in the dimly lit bar area, which attracts everyone from hipsters to cops.”

Shop: Mohawk General Store carries great clothing, including Japanese-inspired knitwear from local line Black Crane. En Soie, a heritage label from Zurich, is filled with textiles and pottery—plus hard-to-find E. Porselli ballet flats.”

Do: Echo Park, which has been immortalized in so many movies, was just beautifully restored; you can rent a paddleboat for the lake.” —as told to David A. Keeps

Photo by Jessica Sample

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