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Beam Me Up Art Suite at ICEHOTEL

beam me up room at icehotel sweden

Each year, the ICEHOTEL in the Jukkasjärvi, Sweden asked designers from across the globe to create themed art suites for their guests. Science-fiction fans would be delighted if they stay at the ICEHOTEL. After the TRON Legacy art suite from the British designers Ben Rousseau and Ian Douglas-Jones in winter 2011, they could now experience a stay in a UFO themed ice room.

beam me up room at sweden icehotel

Pinpin Studio staged a room with four huge UFOs hover that stand tall over an ice forest. Instead of an art piece over the bed, you see a huge UFO beaming you up. I love the theatrical nature of the Beam Me Up room.

+ photo credits: Beam Me Up room by Pinpin Studio


Friendly to Kids: Family Stays and Teaching Good Behaviour at the Table

family stays

family stays

By design, boutique hotels try to raise the bar in hospitality. Since I became a mom, I look for services that I never considered before. A lot of hotels claimed to be family-friendly but, unless you go to a family resort, the list of family services often stops at providing a crib on request, having a video game console in the room and a few other basic things.

I never stayed at the Kensington Hotel but I like how they described their family stays with milk and cookies on turn down, children’s magazines in the room, children’s concierge services, and a list of free activities that your kids can do near the hotel.

An Unusual Complimentary Class

What caught more my attention is a new activity they recently hosted. With the help of an etiquette expert, the Kensington Hotel hosted two Petite Etiquette classesto teach children aged between five and ten a few basic table manners. I read mixed reviews about the classes with the main complaint being that some part of the lessons were old-fashioned.  Having said that, no one will complain if you arrive at a restaurant with a polite kid. I doubt that an one hour class would be the answer parents are looking for but parents may get ideas of where to concentrate the re-education of their kids.

My Views on Learning Good Table Habits

Personally, I feel that a child’s table habits education starts at birth. In our home, all members of the family leave the table at the same time. Both my husband and I want to make sure that our son knows it.

Our first goal was to teach Zack to be patient at the table.  Since day one, Zack sat with us the entire dinner. This is part of the dining ritual at our house. I believe in one simple rule: eating time is not playing time. Many nights a week, I cook a meal that my toddler son can eat by himself; he likes his independence. If he only plays with his plate or throws food on the floor, it’s the cue that he is done eating. Most of the time, his arm movements tell us that he is full. Then, my son sits in his high chair until my husband and I finished our meal. We entertain our son by bringing him a little toy and by chatting to him. So far, my technique works. I received compliments from waiters at restaurants that are not typical places for toddlers. It seems that my son likes stylish living as much as I do.

Now it’s your turn to share your insights or wishes. Do you have any tips about teaching kids good table habits? Which services make or would make an hotel stay awesome for young children? What was the best travel experience you had as a young family?

SOURCING: + photos: family stays and Kensington Hotel Petite Etiquette Class


Travel in Style with Design Hotels

design hotels

design hotels

If you are fond of boutique hotels, you are probably familiar with Mr and Mrs Smith‘s hotel booking services. I love their story.

But what if you are looking to expand a little bit the selection of boutique hotels? This is where Design Hotels can help you. They describe themselves as a consulting, marketing and positioning service provider for hotels and small hotel groups listed in the new luxury tourism segment. So far, this German traded company represents and markets a hand-picked collection of more than 200 hotels in over 40 countries across the globe. You can book your room online with a best rate guarantee.

Sadly, only two Canadian hotels and a few US hotels are available on Design Hotels. Nonetheless, I found European hotels where I would like to stay. 25Hours Hotel Hamburg, a sixties and seventies inspired hotel, caught my eye with their pink wall lobby and girlie bike. Family up to four can stay in one of their 6 XL-Family rooms. The 25Hours Hotel in Hamburg has a total of 128 guest rooms.

Design Hotels
25Hours Hotel


Tree Pod in Thailand Delivers the Ultimate Dining Experience

Tree Pod Dining at a six senses hotel in thailand

I can’t imagine a more romantic place to eat than to be on a tree pod perched 16 feet over the rainforest ground. You can  have a taste of this unique dining experience if you stay at the luxury Soneva Kiri resort by Six Senses in Thailand.

Raising the Tree Pod :: Soneva Kiri by Six Senses

The rigid woven rattan frame can sit up to 4 guests for dining. You board the tree pod dining on the ground before they elevated it. Waiters will serve you food and drinks by flying over with a zip line. And you get an exquisite view of the ocean.

Tree Pod Dining flying waiter

+ Tree Pod Dining at Soneva Kiri by Six Senses in Thailand – photos by Cat Vinton
+ via Materialicious


My First Stay at a Ryokan: Food and Sleep

attendant at a ryokan

attendant at a ryokan in kyoto

Yesterday, we experienced what is the closest thing that a traveler can get for imaging life in the classic Japanese tatami house. We stayed at a ryokan named Gion Fukuzumi. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn dating from the Edo period.

sleeping on a futon spread on the tatami floor at a ryokan

All the rooms have tatami-matted floor and Shoji sliding doors. Like the Japanese houses of the Edo period, furniture is almost inexistent. The fact that the room has only the bare essential furniture makes the room feels bigger. By moving a few items away, the main room is transformed from a dining room to a bedroom. You sleep on futon spread on the tatami floor. It is surprisedly comfortable.

The Food

Service is personalized at a ryokan. Upon arrival, you will be assigned an attendant who will bring you to your room, welcome you with a tea, serve your dinner and breakfast the next morning. Dinner and breakfast are included in the price of the room; this is why the price is always per person.

japanese multi-course dinner eaten inside the guest room at a ryokan

We stayed at the Gion Fukuzumi. They served us a Kyoto-style kaiseki (multi-course Japanese meal) in our guest room. That was awesome! After dinner, it was great to sit on the porch and to simply look at what was happening in the city.

food at the ryokan

We opted for a Japanese breakfast, which was also elaborate. The breakfast was served in the communal dining area.

japanese breakfast at the ryokan in communal dining room

+ Gion Fukuzumi in Kyoto


Stunning Pool Design at Hotel Encanto

Hotel Encanto in Acapulco, Mexico :: pool at night

Hotel Encanto in Acapulco, Mexico :: pool at night

Wow! I am in awe with the pool area and the overall hotel design. I loved to stay there for a week of vacation. This is a night view of the pool area at Hotel Encanto, which is a new hotel in Acapulco, Mexico that was designed by Miguel Angel Aragones.

Hotel Encanto :: views of big pool and villa

The hotel’s 44 rooms and suites all have private terraces facing the ocean. They were designed based on a novel concept of total privacy. It could be an ideal intimate spot to host an upscale destination wedding.

+ photos: Hotel Encanto
+ via Contemporist


More Designer Hotels

bulgari hotels in milan

I introduced the Missoni Hotel a couple months ago for their bold use of colors in a bedroom. Missoni is one of many designer brands who joined the hospitality market.

These days, the fashionista can do more than decorate her home with designer’s bedding and cushions, or entertain with tableware from the same fashion maven than the clothes she wears at her dinner party. The next frontier is to fully experience a designer style by staying in an hotel room. Seriously, I am all for stylish, well-designed hotel rooms. I am tired to see the generic hotel rooms. When I travel, I want a better experience that will inspire me. That is the main appeal of the boutique hotels.

Elle Canada listed 9 designer hotels from established fashion houses and hip designers. If you wish to stay in an interior designed by Christian Lacroix head to Hotel Du Petit Moulin. You could enjoy a night in a Bulgari Hotel when you visit Milan or or the remodeled Mondrian designed by Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz when you go to Los Angeles.

+ more at Elle Canada
+ photo via Bulgari Hotels


Bed-in in John and Yoko’s room at Queen Elizabeth

jerome paradis and kim vallee doing their john lennon and yoko ono

Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth was one of the sponsors of PodCamp Montreal 2009. After the Saturday sessions, a selected group were invited for a cocktail in the John Lennon and Yoko Ono Suite.

room 1742 of fairmont the queen elizabeth montreal

Fairmont put the bed as the place it was for the bed-in. One thing that you may not know is that the suite was rearranged for the bed-in. We all appreciated that Fairmont was kind enough to change the place of the bed for us.

The story goes that John and Yoko wanted the bed in front of the window with the best view. The lounge area became the bedroom. Everything has changed since then. Except for the pictures on the wall and the floor plan, nothing from that area is still in the room. Still, it was a great feeling.

archive photos of John lennon and yoko one bed-in for peace


Everyone had his or her picture taken in the bed. Michelle Sullivan did a live interview with me to talk about my top blogging tips and trends. It was a lot of fun. I included more pictures of the small suite to give you an idea of the space.

giving interviews in john lennon and yoko ono suite at fairmont the queen elizabeth

Here, Laurent Maisonnave set up his video camera to capture a live interview with Scarborough Dude, Bob Goyetche, Julien Smith and Laurent Lasalle. Observing is my husband, Jérôme Paradis.

entry hall of john lennon and yoko ono suite at fairmont the queen elizabeth

Until December 31, 2009, you can book the Bed-In for Peace package at the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth hotel.

+ Bob Goyetche
+ Jerome Paradis


Modern Architecture Green Cabins in the heart of a National Park in UK

natural retreats in yorshire dales national park, uk

This is not the typical accommodation that you think you will get when you stay at a National Park. It is about time that we get other choices than the predictable log cabins.

Sustainable Modern Architecture Design

Each residence offers three en suite bedrooms for sleeping 6 guests. The open floor plan brings the indoors out so you can take full advantage of nature. The succession of the kitchen, the dining room and the living room favors being together. I would be delighted to stay at one of these modern luxury residences located in Yorkshire Dales, UK.

One of the reasons why it is more ecological to build minimal foundations in nature is to Minimal foundations maintain a living habitat beneath each residence. Natural Retreats’ Yorkshire Dales has attained Zero Carbon status. Sustainable design is reflected with rainforest harvesting, a living plant based roof, low energy consumption combined with solar energy, recycled materials used for insulation and more. See the Web site for the list of green initiatives.

With 5 Luxury Resorts in Ireland

castlemartyr a natural retreats luxury resort in ireland

In Ireland, Natural Retreats operates the 5-star Castlemartyr Resort, located in the South East of Ireland in Cork. The modern building was build on the estate of a castle first built in 1210 by knights under the leadership of Richard Earl de Clare. But the magnificent Manor House that we see from the glass wall of the indoor swimming pool was built in the 17th century.

Besides these two properties, Natural Retreats operated 4 more resorts in Ireland.

+ Natural Retreats


Clever Interior Design Ideas at Fairmont Battery Wharf

standard room at fairmont battery wharf, boston

We stayed to the newly opened Fairmont hotel when we went to Boston at the beginning of August. We stayed there for almost a week. I now prefer the Fairmont Battery Wharf to the historic Copley Plaza hotel. The Battery Wharf won for its location and its modern design.

Little Italy

If you have ever been to Boston, you know that at night, it becomes a quiet city. I am always amazed to see how early everything close, even on week-ends. During our previous visit to Boston, we were going to Cambridge at night.

The Battery Wharf is located along the Waterfront, and is next to North End, which is Boston’s Little Italy neighborhood. North End is lively and you have accessed to many delightful restaurants at walking distance. What else can you ask for as a tourist?

desk and reading areas in a room at fairmont battery wharf

Modern Design

We stayed in a standard King size bed room. The marble bathroom is spacious. I had no problem putting my makeup while I share the bathroom with my husband. I cannot stay that of many hotel bathroom.

The most clever design idea is definitely the closet. It has doors that open from both sides: from the bathroom and from the bedroom. This is an idea that you must remember if you are renovating your master bedroom with its ensuite bathroom.

Another detail that is worth mentioning is that the designer thought that we need to recharge our cell phones, digital cameras and much more. On the side of each night table, they placed electric outlets. Finally, the flexible arm lamp on the bed frame adds to our comfort of we wish to read in bed. These are small details that enhance your stay.

+ Fairmont Battery Wharf in Boston


Missoni Hotel Teaches Us How to Use Bold Colors

hotel missoni sophisticated use of bold patterns

Using bold colors and patterns requires more than an eye for design. One luxury company who is known for their bold use of colors is Missoni. The Italian brand opened their first hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland last June. Four more hotels is scheduled to open over the next few years.

As you would expect, the room decor is inspired by Missoni’s line of fabric. Although I do not like all their room decor, I find that some of are well-done. I wish to share my favorite ones with you. The secret is often to use solid colors taken from the bold pattern palette. You do not wish to add new colors. Then, you can oppose textures and finishes (ex: mat vs shiny).

hotel missoni room with metallic finishes

The richness of the more subtle scheme rooms comes from a major element done in a metallic finish. If you like it, check out the Golden Age Silver collection by Missoni.

hotel missoni room

Although the entrance is a bright yellow, the main walls of the room have an almost plain beige wallpaper. This is what you need to not compete with a bedding.