Create your own long-weekend saga in this Nordic world away—just a quick flight from the East Coast.
Get Outdoors: The 14-mile Fimmvörðuháls Pass hike is one of the world’s most picturesque. You’ll ramble along the Skógá River, passing a series of waterfalls, glaciers, even a volcano—while ascending more than 3,200 feet. The trailhead is just two hours by car from Reykjavík.
See a Show: It’s no surprise that artist Ólafur Elíasson designed Harpa Reykjavík Concert Hall & Conference Center, with its kaleidoscopic glass façade. The performance we’d gladly wait in line for: How to Become Icelandic in 60 Minutes, in which actor Bjarni Haukur Thorsson lovingly pokes fun at his country’s language and customs (sour sheep balls are just the beginning).
The new Rosewood London may occupy an imposing 1914 Edwardian landmark between Covent Garden and the City, but it exudes a youthful glamour. In keeping with the company’s master plan for brand reinvention, designer Tony Chi employed an eclectic combination of alpacca silver, horsehair, and lacquer to enhance and soften the building’s inherent grandeur. It’s a thoroughly modern mix that works.
This week, the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas became the first major property in the U.S. to offer what may be the most genius perk ever, especially in a place like Sin City: 24-hour checkout.
For no additional cost, guests can select the 24-hour checkout option when booking a Superior, Premier, or Ivory Suite exclusively through the hotel’s website. They’ll be asked for their anticipated arrival time, and checkout is the same time on the following day (though it can’t be later than 11 p.m.). For added convenience, you can even checkout via text message. Now if only winning at blackjack was that easy.
Brooke Porter Katz is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.
Awhile back, pastry chefs at Ritz-Carlton hotels around the world were given a task: To create a cake to celebrate the hotel's founding and a dessert that distinctly represented the Ritz-Carlton brand. But there were a few requirements. Grand Marnier had to be an ingredient (Mr. Marnier La Postelle was a friend of Cesar Ritz and an investor in the original Ritz-Carlton hotel). Also, the cake must travel well.
The cake that, well, took the cake, is a moist Valrhona chocolate sponge cake layered with bitter caramel and orange ganache made from Grand Marnier by chef Yusuke Aoki from Toronto. We had the pleasure of tasting it over here at Travel + Leisure and it was gobbled up within minutes of opening the simple, yet elegant black cake box. The rich chocolate and orange cake is a crowd pleaser and would make great souvenir to bring back from your next stay at a Ritz-Carlton hotel.
Lyndsey Matthews is an assistant digital editor at Travel + Leisure
Miami’s SLS Brickell hotel won’t open its doors until 2015, but elaborate plans from designer Philippe Starck already have us obsessed.
Like Starck’s existing properties in Beverly Hills, South Beach, Las Vegas and New York, the SLS Brickell will flaunt a playful-but-polished vibe, attracting Lincoln Road regulars and an artsy crowd from the nearby Perez Art Museum Miami and upcoming Brickell CitiCentre complex.
To me, the phrase “Orient-Express” is synonymous with luxury travel: train rides through the Veneto, 16th-century retreats in Cusco, exotic cruises along Myanmar’s Irrawaddy River. That's why I was so surprised to see that the company of the same name, which counts 45 alluring hotels, rail lines, and river cruises in its collection, is changing its moniker to Belmond starting March 10. According to the group, the decision was made in order to “strengthen our brand architecture” and “increase consumer recognition in the marketplace.” The ultimate reason? They never actually owned the name. The trademark had been licensed through SNCF, France’s national railway company, and the group felt that having a name they could call their own might lure more property owners to invest in the brand. Following the change, only the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train will keep its title.
In an expensive city that all too often tears down its architectural heritage, it’s refreshing (astonishing, really) to find a massive discount at a historic hotel. But that’s exactly what you’ll discover at Midtown Manhattan’s Hotel Wolcott, which this month celebrates its 110th anniversary.
From March 1 to March 31, travelers can book a standard room for just $110 a night (a savings of more than 50 percent), including breakfast, for travel throughout 2014. Reservations must be made at the Wolcott’s anniversary web page. The landmark Beaux Arts-style hostelry, three blocks from the Empire State Building, has hosted such guests as Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, Henry Miller, and Buddy Holly.
Mark Orwoll is the International Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter at @orwoll and "like" him on Facebook.
If you’ve ever wondered how Kimpton hotels gets their beds to look so darn inviting, the staff at the Hotel Monaco Chicago is here to show you how. While we've already showed you our step-by-step approach, we have to admit this video turns the often-loathed chore into an exciting dance-fest. Time to grab five of your fellow hotel geek friends and start corner folding!
Maria Pedone is a Digital Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @mariapedestrian.
According to head of sales Johan Kaijser, 30 billion plastic cards are produced every year—that’s 150,000 tons of plastic. Using cards made from wood can reduce the carbon footprint by 50%. So far, hotel brands such as Radisson Blu, Westin, Four Seasons, Accor, and Kempinski—plus retailers like Starbucks and Whole Foods (which use them as gift cards)—have signed on. The European hotel company Scandic was an early supporter, while Mövenpick is the first to adopt them across the brand.