Archive | December, 2012

Rocco Forte Augustine Hotel Prague

So there it was hanging in my closet. I wore it all day yesterday, cost as much as a small car and now it will sit in my closet as a constant reminder I am no longer single. I thought my wedding dress should be in a museum, it is that gorgeous. My old friends from high school certainly noticed and were maybe even a bit jealous as I walked down the aisle. I shall just admire it while I practice saying “Mrs” instead of “Miss”. I am married. I am married. It’s a shame I can’t take it on the honeymoon. I would wear it on the plane if I could. You see my guy, sorry, husband surprised me for our honeymoon. He booked with Heather at Classic Travel a trip to Prague. Beautiful and stunning Prague.

And the hotel? Why the Augustine Hotel Prague of course. It was the perfect choice. It is located close to the historic Prague Castle, the gorgeous Wallenstein Garden, the famous Charles Bridge and within easy reach of the city’s many tourist attractions. Prague’s Ruzyne International Airport is a short 30-minute drive away. The hotel was created from seven different buildings including the 13th Century Augustinian St. Thomas Monastery, after which the hotel is named.

Several practicing friars still live in a separate part of the monastery, adjacent to the hotel grounds. All bedrooms have stunning views over the courtyards, the monastery chapel or the Prague Castle. Whatever room you’re in, you will be pleased. For relaxation, the hotel’s spa has four treatment rooms, sauna, steam room, relaxation area and an 80sqm fully equipped gym so my new husband can keep fit. I refuse to allow him to ‘let himself’ go as I have seen other husbands do.

Food wise, his favorite part of the day, the Rocco Forte Augustine Hotel offers a delicious menu at Lichfield Restaurant which overlooks a large courtyard with outside seating for use during the summer months. We also had the choice of two bars; the Lichfield Cafe & Bar and our favorite the St Thomas Brewery Bar, housed in the cellar of the former Monastery brewery building.

Currently the Augustinian Library boasts one of the most extensive collections of ancient books on medicine in this part of the world. In cooperation with the monastery, we were offered a one-of-a kind opportunity to go on a tour guided privately by one of the friars, usually directly by Father Juan. Subject to availability any guest can do the same.

So we got home from the honeymoon and the fabulous memories of Prague to start our married life. Or as my mum said at the wedding “when the real work starts”. But just so you know I still find ways of wearing that wedding dress without my husband knowing. So I recommend staying at the Rocco Forte Augustine Hotel Prague and also doing dishes in your wedding dress. Both make me happy.

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True butler service at the Pierre

Lobby of The Pierre, New York

Lobby of The Pierre, New York

Needless to say, The Pierre is considered one of the most storied and best hotels in New York and, with its location on Central Park, and walking distance to all the best shopping and restaurants, it’s hard to beat. People that come here aren’t looking for contemporary or flash. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but there are times in life when tradition is so appealing. The Pierre is one of New York’s most traditional and beautiful hotels. The Fifth Avenue palace has eleven grand suites and it’s the only hotel on Manhattan that offers, with these suites, the services of a full-time butler. This is not the same as butler service that other hotels may offer with premium accommodations. The Pierre calls it “royal attaché service” and that’s because these butlers were chosen from thousands of applicants and then spent six months training for the position of taking care of guests in a royal manner. All the ordinary things like unpacking and packing your bags are routine. Naturally, your bath will be drawn and your clothes prepared and laid out for the evening. You won’t ever have to learn how to work the remote or deal with the rest of the hotel staff for anything. What’s really great is how comfortable they’ll make you feel while there taking care of you. It all sounds very Downton Abbey. Soon you’ll be revealing your most inner thoughts and It won’t take long before you’ll believe to the manor you were born.

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Marrakech is an invigorating and mesmerizing city that immediately transports you into an exotic locale rich in history and cultural traditions. For an authentic experience, skip the hotel and stay at a luxury Riad in the bustling heart of the Medina. Spend an entire evening in the Medina, hypnotized by everything from the snake charmers to performers with baboons; all while bargaining for beautiful hand-made scarves or traditionally fired plates. A small walkable city full of tiny crowded back streets; Marrakech can be seen in 1-2 days. It can be easy to get lost and miss the most impressive local souks, mosques, and palaces-so hire a reputable tour guide to show you around the city for the day. To balance out the energetic and overwhelming side of Marrakech, visit a traditional Hammam to unwind. Take a day out of the city exploring the Atlas Mountains, Ourika Valley, or some of the relaxing beach towns. Marrakech is a vibrant city full of character and culture but don’t forget about the rest of Morocco’s alluring beauty that must not be missed.

– Marissa Zindell
Owner, Trip Love Travel

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Top Sites to See: Museo di Palazzo Davanzati, Florence

Florence in the hills of Tuscany

Florence in the hills of Tuscany

Fans of architecture and European history will no doubt already be in love with Florence, a city whose past and illustrious former inhabitants have endowed the streets with a strong allure to tourists.

Locals and regular visitors often complain of the negative impact which large tourist groups have on the Tuscan capital, especially in the summer months when the weather is fine and demand is at its highest. However, an autumnal trip can often be the perfect time to go for art lovers and connoisseurs who want to avoid the crowds and absorb the aesthetic charms of a city with an open heart.

One building which is always recommended for an architectural taste of old Florence is the luxurious and hugely impressive Palazzo Davanzati, now a museum owned by Polo Museale Fiorentino, also in charge of Galleria Palatina and Degli Uffizi, as well as numerous other famous museums in the Florence district.

The Palazzo Davanzati is one of Florence’s very few, and thus extremely precious, remaining medieval mansions still standing after the demolitions which ripped through the city centre at the end of the nineteenth century. Its value is as much in its historical lessoning as in its architectural beauty – which it has in spades.

Its structure represents the meeting point between a large medieval tower structure and a Renaissance palazzo building. The façade from the outside indicates the division and distribution of the building’s parts. Split into five floors, the ground floor has three large arches, originally opening right out onto the street, and three medium-sized floors above it, followed by a loggia at the top.

The palazzo is over 600 years old. It was built in the 14th century by the Davizzi, a family of merchants, and sold in 1516 to another family before being rented to a magistrate. During this period a roof terrace was constructed which replaced the original battlements onto which it was formerly built.

In 1578 the palazzo was purchased by Bernardo Davanzati, from whom the building now takes its name, another merchant and well-known intellectual in the Florentine community.

In 1951, the building was purchased by the Italian state and began its journey towards being a museum. Its renovation is ongoing, but this does little to affect the enjoyment of its surroundings and architectural features. The interior of the building is as impressive and interesting as the exterior, housing art and furniture from the period, as well as further insights into the way of life at this time.

Visiting information
The museum is free to visit and is located on the Via Porta Rossa 13 – but most important to know are its opening hours, which are a little strange. Opening its doors at 8.15am, you can only visit until 1.30pm, so make sure you have plans for lunch afterwards – there is a bevy of delightful restaurants and cafes in the area, and all will be ready for the 2pm lunch slot after a visit. Check the website for further details on hours and any holiday closures.

Information provided to you by NetJets Europe (

– Ricardo Gato
Digital & Direct Marketing Executive , NetJets Europe

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