high style, few francs
A new Paris hotel, the Libertel Quartier Latin, takes its decorative cues from its location at the crossroads of the city's intellectual life: in the Fifth Arrondissement near the Sorbonne. Designed as a study in bookishness by Didier Gomez, whose private clients include Yves Saint Laurent chieftain Pierre Berge, the 29-room hotel is in a handsome Haussmann-era building. Huge lobby windows afford some of the best people-watching in Paris. In the rooms, lightly padded cotton slipcovers on leather headboards are changed daily; portraits of Colette are propped up on picture moldings; carpets are wittily stenciled with passages from Baudelaire and Balzac. This is one hotel that's a real >— CHRISTOPHER PETKANAS

loud and clear
With Motorola's TalkAbout two-way radios, you can keep in contact anywhere— at a flea market, on a hike, not to mention the mall. They operate on a new FCC-created radio band and are as easy to use as kids' walkie-talkies. The grown-up advantages: free air time and reception beyond the neighbor's fence (two miles on flat land). 800/353-2729; $149-$179 per unit.— HEATHER SMITH MACISAAC

camp fido
Tails are wagging in response to the new Sierra Mountain Doggie Camp in Lake Tahoe, California. There are no cages: dogs sleep on mini-mattresses and spend their days hiking, playing ball games, and snacking on freshly baked biscuits. At the nightly howl-along campfire, beef bones replace s'mores. The pampered campers even send postcards to their owners back home. SIERRA MOUNTAIN DOGGIE CAMP, Tahoe City; 916/581-0623; from $440 for three days, including all meals.— LIA MACKEY

hotels with a history
• A transformation in the historic district of Newport, Rhode Island: Vanderbilt Hall is now a luxe 50-room getaway (doubles from $195; 401/846-6200).
• Saving old Nevis: the Vervain Mill, on a former sugar plantation, has been converted into a three-bedroom villa ($2,200-$2,600 per week; 869/469-2328).

greek chic in baltimore
The city's Fells Point district has its fair share of notable watering holes. Now restaurateurs Stelios and Pauline Spiliadis have added Black Olive, fashionably cast in the whitewashed-walls-and-navy-blue-tablecloth mold of fish tavernas in Greece's port towns. The recipes, such as tangy grilled octopus salad with radicchio, and taramasalata, a creamy garlic and fish roe dip— are straight from Grandma Spiliadis, but the original pine floors and oak beam ceilings are classic Baltimore. BLACK OLIVE, 814 S. Bond St.; 410/276-7141; dinner for two $60. — ALEX SALKEVER

leader of the pack
A tour guide can make or break a vacation, which explains why Rachel Kaplan is so sought-after. An inspired leader for Butterfield & Robinson's Paris Walks program, Kaplan is the author of last year's hit guide Little-Known Museums in and Around Paris. Last month she published Little-Known Museums in and Around London (Abrams, $19.95 each). Beginning in March Kaplan will share her expertise by guiding private tours of England's capital. BUTTERFIELD & ROBINSON, 800/678-1147; RACHEL KAPLAN, phone and fax 33-1/44-64-76-26. — KIMBERLY ROBINSON

tune in, take off
The cable channel that splashed color on black-and-white legends is taking a spin around the world. Throughout November, Turner Classic Movies is broadcasting films (in their original shades) with a global theme, from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre to An American in Paris. You'll also see the best in Hollywood ingenuity— Madrid morphs into romantic Moscow for Doctor Zhivago— and travelogues, newsreels shown to 1930's and 40's movie audiences. — H. SCOTT JOLLEY

seen in japan
A near-replica of Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen's famed 144-year-old park, recently opened in Japan in the southern city of Kurashiki. It cost $430 million, took nine years to build, and covers 30 acres. Yet another Tivoli is to be built by the year 2000 in Berlin. What next?The Luxembourg Gardens in Los Angeles?— C.P.

chic in chicago
From the restaurant guru who tantalized Chicago taste buds with Soul Kitchen comes Okno. After feasting on multi-ethnic dishes, diners sway in their seats (yellow and blue Arne Jacobsen reproductions, for you design divas) to tunes spun by the DJ. okno, 1332 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773/395-1313. — RIMA SUQI

bangkok's drive-in dining
Pavilion Y, a restaurant/gallery/car showroom in Bangkok, is a glitzy ode to Thailand's economic boom, which came to a crashing halt earlier this year. Now, locals sup on Tasmanian scallops and arctic snow fish while gazing upon late-model BMW's their devalued baht won't buy. Upstairs at the Tadu Gallery they covet works by contemporary Thai artists. Whether you consume or not, this is the place to be conspicuous. PAVILION Y, 3 1/4 Royal City Ave.; 66-2/203-0926; dinner for two $65. — JENNIFER GAMPELL

italy's next step
Once upon a time there was Superga, Italy's cuddly canvas sneaker. Then lightning struck: Franco Bosisio, mastermind of the Swatch watch, took over the company and began rolling out street-smart platforms, rubber riding boots, and an avalanche of sportswear, even children's gear. To showcase this universe, architect Massimo Iosa Ghini designed what he calls "mediological galleries," where products are displayed like art. The first just opened in Milan (11 Via San Pietro all'Orto), followed by Madrid and Paris. Japan and New York are next. Expect world domination by 1999. — TOM MUELLER

let's dish
• Florence has published a handbook to tell tourists how to behave. Among the rules: no washing feet in fountains; no picnicking in front of monuments.
• Is fast food about to make a fast exit?Bermuda recently rejected a proposed McDonald's, and Burger King announced plans to close its 39 French outposts.
• Travelers too lazy to send postcards are going wild for Ace Wasabi's Rock 'n' Roll Sushi in San Francisco. You can beam your image over the Internet to friends back home (dinner for two $35; 415/567-4903).

castle of art
Fifty years after his family's art collection was confiscated by Czechoslovakia's Communist government, William Lobkowicz has recovered most of the paintings and put them on display at his ancestral castle, a 30-minute train ride from Prague. It's an impressive array of works by Rubens, Velá zquez, and Pieter Brueghel the Elder. NELAHOZEVES CASTLE, Nelahozeves; 42-2/2199-4111, fax 42-2/2199-4112. — PETER GREEN

grab bags in the sky
The latest airline amenities in first and business class are almost reason enough to splurge. Here, some standouts.
• Cathay Pacific: A plush case comes with Caswell Massey potions and a wood-handled razor and hairbrush.
• Swiss Air: Aromatherapy oils for resting and reviving are tucked into a kit that doubles as a wallet for your tickets.
• Virgin Atlantic: The black nylon Wakey Wakey pack contains stripey socks, a colorful eye mask, and a plastic "flight survival" kit loaded with Neal's Yard Remedies.— ELAINE HEINZMAN