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In January, a last minute business trip to NYC landed me this room in the Langham Place Hotel – a chain of hotels owned by a Chinese group, I think.


With a stovetop, I made tea every morning.


There was so much space which is rare in a NY hotel.


The bedroom was located in the southeast corner with views downtown.


Hidden behind a set of wardrobe-doors was a washer-dryer unit !  We did not have that in our old NY apartment.


A bright and shiny bathroom.


Lousy toiletries despite fancy fittings. The “Chuan” branded toiletries is named after the hotel chain’s spas.


Langham Place is located on 5th Av between 36th and 37th Street. Looking down onto 5th Ave from 20-something floor at around 5am (… jet lag).


Sunrise. Queens and Long Island direction. I was very lucky with the weather, being there when the temperature was unseasonably warm, missed the snowstorms altogether.

langham-11Chrysler building hiding behind some other midtown towers.

langham-10Langham Place is a block from the Empire State Building.

Looking south on 5th Av (downtown).

langham-13Empire State Building up close.


Overall, very pleasant stay. Attentive staff. Recommendable.


I (Chris) attended a week-long business conference in Barcelona. The organizer chose its venue at the “W” on the city’s waterfront !

The hotel is built on land reclaimed from the sea during construction of a new entrance to the harbor.

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Upon arrival, there was a long line to check-in. It was almost 4:30pm. When I got to the reception, they offered me a room on the second floor or a higher floor if I waited.

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Second floor ? No way ! So I waited and they called me 45 minutes later and voila, a room on the 20th floor.

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The location of the hotel is stunning, being located at one end of the city’s sandy beach. The curtains are powered and opened/closed by remote control.

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I got a room facing the west side of the city with a view of the cruise ship terminal. Rooms on the other side has the view of the city and the beach.

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Instead of a mini bar, they provide premium liquor and a cocktail kit (at exorbitant prices).

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The guest room is in fact quite small but with a strategically placed mirror and the big window, the room did not feel cramped.

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A lot of thoughts have gone into the design of lighting in the bathroom and showers. They even provided Philip’s mood light system.

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As a brand, the W hotels are all made to look hip and clubby. Neon red is used everywhere. This is the corridor leading to my room.

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The lobby is kept relatively dark and is lit only with a wall of LEDs  above the 7-floor high atrium, even during the day.

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The lobby bar has a DJ.

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The hotel’s computer system went down on checkout day. So there was another line. They have a “Whatever” desk in the lobby to provide concierge services but most of the time, the staff was helping out at the reception desks.

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Overall, I think the hotel’s interiors (guest rooms as well as conference spaces) are well designed and the services are adequate. The front desk operation could be better organized, however. More photos from the W to come in our next post.

We wrote many posts after our last visit to Barcelona in 2011. Just search the blog using the Barcelona tag. Or try these links to our posts on architecture: CCCB, sights: Sagrada Familia, and food: alkimia.

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I stayed at two hotels while in São Paulo. The first was the Estanplaza Funchal Hotel located in the business district, Faria Lima.

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Originally, we were booked to stay at the famous watermelon, i.e., Hotel Unique. But it turned out to be far from our meeting venue (remember the traffic congestion, remember here).  So we decided to book a hotel across from the building where we would have our meeting, and that’s how we ended up at the Estanplaza Funchal at Faria Lima.

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It is not a fancy hotel but it has a rather interesting style.

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Retro but what years?  The wall paper behind the bed and particularly the rotating TV stand reminded me of antiques I saw in Vienna but  …

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The circle seems to be a recurring motif throughout the hotel from the TV stand to the desk. I think the circular mirrors and blackmetal handrails with a rectangular motif (see the staircase photo above) is very oriental.

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Clean but stark bathroom. Never saw a large circular mirror like this before.

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The room could be used as the setting of a scene in a Wong Kar-Wai’s movie. Well, Happy Together (春光乍洩) was filmed in Buenos Aires.

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The experience was a bit like time travel – there was hardly anything in sight that would suggest the present 2010’s (except the flat panel TV).

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After checking in, it was close to 11pm – my colleagues and I went next door to The Fifties – a chain of up-and-coming high-end burger joint in Brazil – so my colleagues advised me.

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The time travel continued … a jukebox would have completed the illusion.

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We had burgers, fried onion rings (their claim to fame), caiparinhas followed by beer (which were served in an ice bucket typically reserved for champagne). I was so tired that day I fell asleep immediately despite having devoured all that greasy food and alcohol.

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Stayed in that hotel for a total of about 6 hours. When I pulled open the curtain the next morning, it was sunny Brazil and high-rise apartment buildings – we were back to 2013. And off to work we go …

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More to come.

Continuing with our long weekend in Interlaken …

Interlaken’s hotels are expensive and they are often fully booked. Our hotel is BeauSite located in the next town – Unterseen.


It is a family-owned hotel which has a nice little seating area in front and ample parking spaces. It was impossible to find parking in Interlaken … we tried.


Unterseen is really about 5-10 minutes walk from Interlaken’s main drag – Höheweg – and just because it is situated across the river Aare – there is hardly any tourists.


The River Aare connects Lake Thun and Lake Brienz – the “inter” part of Interlaken.


We joined a free walking tour and the guide took us treking across the river and up onto a trail just above the town. Poor Sue, her feet suffered for not having the right shoes.


The trail offered wonderful views of Interlaken – it was not so far up where everything appears tiny. One can just see Lake Thun in a distance
in the above photo – looking west – just when sun was setting.

Looking just across town – the backs of the old grand hotels on Höheweg are visible in the middle.


And looking east,  Höhematte (the big lawn in the center of town) is in the foreground (of the photo below).


Our little tour looped into Unterseen via a riverside walk before crossing the Aare and then turning back into the town center.


So peaceful.


Our walk around town took us near the funicular that connects Interlaken with the nearest summit – Harderkulm at 1323 meters (4341 feet) – which affords one a bird’s eye view of the town. Didn’t go there, we were quite happy with what we saw already.

interlaken-29Near the funicular station is a small zoo – better described as a fenced-off area – where a few mountain sheep/goat is kept.  What puzzled me was the height of the huts – are there two floors inside ?


As expected, the town is full of restaurants including many ethnic restaurants – for the home-sick tourists who cannot deal with daily European meals.  Well, we had a Korean dinner one night (Sue cannot resist it) and a generic “middle-eastern” on another. The best dinner we had was Italian at Citta Vecchia just down the street from our hotel – simple risotto con porcini and pasta alla vongole – it tasted great!  It is one of those mythical little Italian restaurants which every couple knows at least one.

interlaken-20 Another restaurant that was recommended to us by our guide was the “Bear” which serves traditional Swiss fare and is also just down the street. We did not have a chance to try it and we avoided all the steak places and continental restaurants in the town center.


Our hotel room has a direct view of the famous Jungfrau – 4158 meters (13,641 feet).  But on the first day, visibility is zero.


On the last day – the day we went up there, the weather was cooperating.


More pictures on our trip up Jungfrau to come …