If time, money, and insider access were yours for the asking, how would you spend your next visit to London? Let me make it easy for you with a menu of choices: Being served afternoon tea at the Lord's Cricket Ground by Mr. Carson, the butler from Downton Abbey. Joining the cast of a West End smash show, onstage, as an extra. Blasting a shot from the big guns of the HMS Belfast, a warship that fired one of the first salvoes on D-Day. Raising the roadbed of Tower Bridge to accommodate a passing ship on the mighty Thames. Prowling the hidden corners and most regal of public spaces in the Houses of Parliament, accompanied by no less than the Speaker of the House of Commons. Or how about all these things, and many more iconic London experiences, during a two-week luxury stay in the English capital? Would you like that? Neither would I. No, wait, just kidding! Yes, I would. I want to do them all, and maybe I will--unless you beat me to it.
Crystal Cruises, a perennial World’s Best winner, is going where no luxury cruise has gone before: the Northwest Passage. Starting in 2016, the Crystal Serenity (voted best cruise for families) will journey the Arctic wilderness from Anchorage, Alaska to New York City.
Shanghai's Former French Concession is the city's style hub: a leafy area filled with boutiques, bespoke tailors, and traditional crafts. A few of must-see sites: Helen Lee's headquarters, around the corner from her atelier, which showcases this season's collection—a collaboration with Disney in honor of the new Disney resort opening in Shanghai soon. Germain Tailoring channels Neapolitan style in its meanswear collection. Stop by Charles Philip on Gao An Road, to find a custom shoe in shape, pattern, and material to fit any style. Head north across town, where Coin Qian's showroom is stocked with her paintings, plus pillows, bags, and other home goods that feature her feminine designs.
T+L's Sarah Spagnolo explored the area on a arts tour coordinated by luxury travel show ILTM Asia and the Portman Ritz-Carlton, and led by Shanghai style insiders Selina Schleh of Time Out Shanghai and Monique Madsen of Zan Style Shanghai. Check out "Where to Shop in Shanghai," and for more, go to the T+L Guide to Shanghai.
What does luxury adventure mean now? At Phulay Bay, A Ritz Carlton Reserve in Krabi, Thailand, guests can enjoy a luxury stay with days on the beach as well as elephant rides. General Manager Carlos Tarrero describes the option for a raw cooking class, where guests gather ingredients at the local market and try their hand at Thai cuisine. The reserve is on 50 acres of wild, beautiful land, so guests can expect a secluded but luxurious experience.
Shanghai, China is a modern metropolis with thriving business and arts culture, as well as some of the World's Best hotels. While in Shanghai for luxury travel conference ILTM Asia, T+L's special correspondent, Sarah Spagnolo, traversed the city from end to end to pinpoint the best of the glamorous properties on either side of the Huangpu River. From the Fairmont Peace Hotel’s historic touches to the glamorous and youthful Puli Hotel and Spa, there are hotels that suit every type of traveler.
Our favorite new perch to watch the rapid reshaping of London’s skyline: Shangri-La at the Shard, itself located in the city’s most dramatic new addition, Renzo Piano’s 1,016-foot icicle on the South Bank. For its first property in the U.K., the hotel group brings its inimitable Asian polish to the British capital, with contemporary Chinese art, Japanese cherry-blossom wallpaper in the 202 guest rooms, and an Eastern flair (soy-glazed Welsh lamb!) at the restaurant Ting. Teatime here is held in the 35th-floor lounge, where full-length windows showcase the cityscape unfurling across the Thames. Earl Grey? Gracious, no—bring us a pot of green jasmine. shangri-la.com.
Sarah Miller is Travel + Leisure's European Editor.
There’s a noteworthy new spot worth considering for your next weekend getaway. The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage, set on a bluff above Palm Springs and California’s Coachella Valley, has thrown open its doors again today after a seven-year closure (you can thank the financial crisis for the delayed debut).
Forget about seat pitch and roomy armrests: on Etihad Airways, you can book The Residence. This private, three-room cabin is a spacious 125-square-feet, and more akin to a boutique hotel room than an airplane seat.
We’ve already introduced you to Baha Mar, the massive-scale resort that’s set to reinvigorate the Bahamian Riviera later this year. But if the $3.5-billion, five-brand hotel and casino has you thinking Vegas, think again: despite being the biggest destination project in the western hemisphere, Baha Mar is surprisingly tapped in to the island’s cultural and natural assets. Here, a by the numbers look:
• 34: the number of football fields it would take to hold all the sand that’s been brought in to re-nourish the beach at Baha Mar.
Boutique travel company, Mr. Aristotle, is known for showcasing unique global experiences, which are hand-selected by an expert team and are personalized for the traveler.
Several of unique Mr. Aristotle experiences have recently been nominated for inclusion within HSBC’s Home & Away Privilege loyalty programme. Operating in 39 global markets, travelers will have the chance to access the offers from around the world.
Excursions include options like a surf weekend getaway in Australia, or an epicurean journey in Barcelona. Whether travelers are retreating to a beach cottage near Sydney to master the waves or creating a traditional Catalonian meal in a private cooking class, the luxury experiences are tailored and unique to the destination.
Gabrielle Blitz is Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.