in the castle
Newly acquired by the luxury-minded Orient-Express Hotels group and grandly fluffed up to the tune of $3 million, the Hôtel de la Cité (now incorporating the neighboring Hôtel Dame Carcas) is once again the pride of Carcassonne. In the Languedoc region of France, Carcassonne is the world's largest medieval fortified city — walls are punctuated by arrow-slit openings, and there's a 12th-century basilica that recently helped the city gain unesco World Heritage Site status. The hotel itself snuggles up to the battlements in a dream of neo-Gothicism: mosaic floors, windows with diamond-shaped lead overlays, fleur-de-lis-patterned rugs. The moodiest and most nostalgic of the 50 guest rooms and eight suites have footed tubs and exuberantly carved four-posters with damask hangings. Be sure to venture beyond the walls and check out the region's watchtowers, abbeys, and vineyards. Hôtel de la Cité, Place de l'Église; 800/237-1236 or 33-4/68-71-98-71, fax 33-4/68-71-50-15; doubles from $257. — Christopher Petkanas

paul's boutique
Paul Smith has opened his dream pad in London, and everyone's invited for a visit. With architect Sophie Hicks, the fashion designer transformed a Notting Hill town house into a home for his collections. Accessories live in the dining room, where bags are framed like ancestral portraits; kids' clothes hang out in the playroom (Tom Dixon created an igloo-shaped dressing area); on the top floor is a bespoke tailor service. Feel free to linger, less customer than houseguest. Paul Smith Westbourne House, 122 Kensington Park Rd.; 44-171/727-3553. — Vanessa Friedman

sky style
Coffee, tea . . . or leopard-print minidress?In the wildest in-flight entertainment innovation to date, Air Jamaica has transformed the lowly airplane aisle into a fashion catwalk. On Caribbean and London flights, after dishing out jerk chicken, attendants duck behind a curtain, switch on a dance beat, and strut the "runway" in Jamaican designs. Then it's back into uniform — and time to land. — Wendy Paris

chicago blue
Once a greenmarket, Chicago's Randolph Street now trades in trendy restaurants like One Sixtyblue, named for its cobalt exterior. Chef Patrick Robertson's salmon with cucumber-walnut-date compote works well in Adam Tihany's Modernist interior. Michael Jordan is a silent partner, so expect spacious seating to suit the six-foot-plus set. One Sixtyblue, 160 N. Loomis St.; 312/850-0303; dinner for two $90.— Elaine Glusac

a great space
"It's the fusion of a bar, a lounge, a disco, and a college cafeteria," says T&L contributing editor Tyler Brûlé, editor of the ever-so-hip Wallpaper magazine. Our assessment: Seattle's does indeed register high on the groovy meter. (Love the fab macaroni and cheese.), 925 E. Pike St.; 206/320-0424; dinner for two $14.

new in new zealand
America's got the Getty Center; Spain, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Now New Zealand is making waves in the art world with Te Papa. On Wellington Harbour, the architecturally stunning museum is devoted to the country's people, culture, and natural environment. Virtual-reality exhibits allow you to experience earthquakes and erupting volcanoes. In a fully functioning marae (Maori meeting place), you can capture New Zealand's calmer side by sharing in traditional ceremonies. Te Papa, Cable St.; 64-4/381-7000. — Patricia Woeber

later skater
A cure for somnolent loops through the park, Rollerblade's new mountain bike-inspired Coyote frees you from the pavement and transports you to the wilderness. Three years in development, the skates have knobby six-inch inflated wheels that glide over rocks and uneven terrain. An internal braking system governs speed — a good thing when you're heading toward a cliff. $499; 800/232-7655. — Brett Forrest

a little india in new york
A fairy godmother of opulent sensibilities, Merle Gordon has made New York the latest stop on the Silk Road. Kashmir, her five-story tower of indulgences, holds some of northern India's finest exports: pashmina shawls; hand-knotted rugs; papier-mâché boxes fashioned into ducks and eggs. "It's decadence with a sense of humor," she says. But get there fast; the velvet-lined vintage silk shawls "literally never spend more than a half-day in the window." Kashmir, 157 E. 64th St.; 212/861-6464. — Katy McColl