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Balthazar NYC's London Clone

Balthazar London

Keith McNally’s New York institution recently cloned itself in London—but does the buzz match that of the original? T+L hops across the pond to find out.

For me, entering Balthazar London ($$$$) is an out-of-body experience—as if I’ve been beamed up from New York City to Covent Garden, where Keith McNally’s new brasserie is a dead ringer for the 16-year-old original, or—as we Balthazaristas call it—the Mother Ship. I walk in, expecting to see familiar faces—is that Meg Ryan?—but instead hear the whispers (the British are not subtle), “Is that Gwyneth?” “Is that Nigella?” “Is that…?”

Yes, it is Alan Bennett, the English playwright, with the cast of his latest show, People—and indeed, Balthazar is a grand, gorgeous, beautifully lit set. Both of them are. Distressed French mirrors, brass rails, red leather banquettes—this is Paris of the imagination.

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Tom Colicchio’s New Job: Innkeeper

Tom Colicchio's Topping Rose House

Between his Craft restaurants and his role as head judge on Top Chef, Tom Colicchio is one of the food world’s biggest stars. Now he has a new title: innkeeper. At Topping Rose House, an 1842 Greek Revival mansion in Bridgehampton, New York, he oversees 22 rooms and cottages with interiors by Alexandra Champalimaud. The food, of course, takes center stage, and the locavore menu reinforces Colicchio’s passion for fresh and sustainable ingredients. His inspiration? European country inns with restaurants: “It’s all an extension of hospitality. We want this to be the place where once you’re here, it’s a warm embrace.” $$$$

Photo by Melanie Dunea/CPI Syndication

Hey, Kids—Lets Go to Moe’s Tavern This Summer!

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Coming soon to Universal Orlando: long lines of middle-aged guys waiting to get their pictures taken with Krusty the Clown and Sideshow Bob.

The Orlando theme park recently announced that it will expand the area around the simulator-style Simpsons Ride to embody all that is magical about the Springfield hometown of Bart, Homer, Marge, Lisa and Maggie. According to its release, the new Springfield area of the park will open this summer and include one new ride—the hopefully-not-too-aptly-named Twirl ’n’ Hurl—as well as a line-up of Simpsons-inspired food and beverages that would make any would-be Homer swoon, such as "Krusty-certified meat" at Krusty Burger, a "Taco Fresho" with Bumblebee Man, and an array of donuts (“is there anything they can not do?”) at Lard Lad.

As proof that theme parks have become as much for grown-up kids as actual kids, Springfield will also feature a Moe’s Tavern and Duff Beer, “brewed exclusively for Universal Orlando,” according to the release. And hey, for any parent who has waited hours so their child could get an autograph from a giant mouse or princess, a cold beer with a donut may sound like a family vacation dream come true.

Photo credit: 2013 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved.

Paris's Mama Shelter Hotel Opens New Location in Lyon

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It’s hard to believe that just a year and a half ago, Mama Shelter was a lone boutique hotel in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, serving up Philippe Starck design, in-room iMacs and high thread count sheets for travelers on a hostel budget. But the Trigano family, who previously set up a little company you may have heard of called Club Med, doesn’t play small.

Now Mama has touched down in Marseille (April, 2012), Istanbul (mid-March, 2013), Lyon (late March, 2013), Bordeaux (October 2013) and eventually Hollywood.  Serge Trigano, Mama Shelter’s co-founder with the poet and urban theorist Cyril Aouizerate, made a bet that city tourism would be to the 21stcentury what beach tourism was to the previous one, and with occupancy rates ranging from 85% in Paris to 70% in Marseille, his bet is paying off.

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The Ritz-Carlton Looks East

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Kyoto’s cherry blossoms hit their peak last month, but when the famous trees burst open again next year, the city will also be buzzing about a new Ritz-Carlton. The luxury hotelier just announced the opening of a new property there in February 2014—a 136-room low-rise building on the Kamogawa River that mixes modern and traditional Japanese designs.

The announcement is just the latest news from this fast-growing company. Six of their hotels are slated to open in the second half of 2013, including one in Aruba in November. We’re already looking forward to escaping the New York City winter.

Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company

The New Hamptons Hot Table: Q+A with Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio

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When chef Tom Colicchio’s long-awaited Topping Rose House restaurant opened its doors last September, it became the most buzzed-about spot on the East End. Now, the 19th-century Bridgehampton mansion is experiencing a second wave, with 22 rooms and cottages set to debut this month. Fellow Top Chef judge Gail Simmons sat down with the restaurateur turned innkeeper to discuss the opening, the menu, and his newfound interest in the hotel world.

Simmons: Why did you decide to get into the hotel business?
Colicchio: When Topping Rose House’s owners, Bill Campbell and Simon Critchell, approached me about two years ago to do a restaurant, I thought it would be too difficult with such a small property to have someone running the restaurant and someone else taking care of the rooms. We felt that we understood what needed to happen from a hospitality standpoint. We just needed to hire someone who had the experience to take care of the day-to-day. The idea was that this business would ultimately provide a springboard to do other hotels.

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Parisian Bistro Breaks Up the Crowd

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Overrun by touristy cafes and dives, Les Halles, Paris finally catches a break with new restaurant, Pirouette. Plate glass windows reminiscent of Los Angeles beckon crowds to this quality bistro that aims for an honest price and satisfying product.

The two-course lunch menu is a steal: servers trot out traditional eats like pot roast with carrot puree, and crispy chicken breast with mashed potatoes. The higher priced three-course menu features more elaborate options, such as chilled cream of lettuce soup with an egg cooked sous-vide to medium, smoked eel with confit potatoes, rare roasted pigeon, and pan-seared whiting with withered zucchini and tomato and fresh radish. Classic desserts are given a twist, like the soggy baba au rhum with lime sauce.

With most Les Halles eateries plagued by crowds, niche bistro Pirouette grants epicurean city-goers a sigh of relief.

Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo: Wendy Lyn @ TheParisKitchen.com

Paris Hotel Attracts a Hungry Lunch Crowd

Sofitel Le Faubourg

Upscale Paris hotel, the Sofitel Le Faubourg, is now catering to its epicurean guests. The hotel’s restaurant re-launched as Les Collections after a take over by Japanese chef Keigo Kimura. Chic, art deco Pierre-Yves Rochon décor adorn the interior and expansive terrace.

Chef Kimura’s menu aims for sophistication without being overly fussy. Entrees include cool crabmeat with broccoli custard and fresh herbs, and roasted monkfish served in a shellfish bouillon with blanched baby vegetables.

Les Collections’ posh appearance coincides flawlessly with the Sofitel chain, making it a popular escape for France’s business crowd.

Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg

Bizarre Paris Bar Gives the City a Stir

Le Bristol

A quirky bar is just the prescription to liven up an otherwise ordinary neighborhood. Take Paris’s bizarre new bar at Le Bristol, for example. A giant stuffed peacock welcomes you at the door, leading you to other tasteful taxidermy within the expansive former conference suite.

Located within the luxurious Hôtel Le Bristol, Le Bristol’s wood paneling, parquet floor, and sumptuously upholstered furniture give the venue a younger feel than the rest of the hotel. Lending also to the club vibe is the mirrored LED display over the bar, which runs slide shows and video art from local artists.

The bartender, poached from the Ritz Paris’s Hemingway Bar, serves an array of unique craft cocktails. Tapas, including beef carpaccio and urchin taramasalata, are designed by triple Michelin-starred chef Eric Frechon. Le Bristol’s offbeat personality is bound to make it the hot local watering hole.

Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by Romeo Balancourt Paris Photography

Spa Day Sightseeing in Paris

Four Seasons Paris

After ascending the Eiffel Tower and walking miles through the Louvre, a spa day in Paris is in perfect order. The following spas in the City of Light help relieve any sightseeing aches:

Hôtel Le Meurice has completely rebuilt its spa to allow a generous flow of natural light. Expansions include a couple’s suite, new manicure and pedicure stations, and terrace for the ultimate pampering experience.

Shangri-La hotel recently added a 15x16m indoor swimming pool to its spa and fitness facility, as well as two treatment rooms for massages, facials, and body treatments.

If you are looking for the cherry-on-top to your relaxing spa day, consider slumbering in the penthouse suite at Four Seasons Hotel George V. The grand suite got a revamp this summer with a mix of pale sand and apricot colors, traditional fabrics, and eclectic, antique knick-knacks. Six terraces offer 360-degree views and 160-square-feet means an oasis of open, tranquil space to make you sigh, Ah, Pari!

Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel George V

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