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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


Pretty Appetizers

scallop ceviche

scallop ceviche

See how one utensil makes all the difference. Take clues from these superbly done scallop ceviche for serving any appetizers on a seashell. I am inspired by the stylish way they display the seashells on a fork. This method is also practical since your guests will grab their fork at the same time.

grilled vegetable skewers

Cut your zucchini or cucumber lengthwise to achieve a more sophisticated look. This is a simple trick to enhance how you serve your vegetable skewers. And if you lack the time to make your own, you can always buy them at Cool & Simple (or Gastronomia).

+ Cévichés de pétoncles au gingembre $8.95 CAD at Cool & Simple
+ Mini-brochettes de légumes grillés $6.95 CAD for 8


Easily Set-up a Backyard Camping Party with Suburban Camping Co.

backyard camping night with s'mores

camping for 2

Your kids dream of a backyard camping party for their birthday but camping is not your thing. There is no need to worry if you live in an area served by the husband and wife team behind Suburban Camping Co. Chris and Kelly MacPhee saw a niche in the market and provide a turn-key service for people who wish to live a superb camping party experience in the comfort of their backyard.

backyard camping night with s'mores

They created several camping scenarios from romantic tent for 2 up to the popular kids parties, girls night out or movies under the star event. Their services include the camping equipment, the props, kits for some activities, party favors and the installation. It is perfect for stress-free entertaining. Click here to see their packages.

camping night-out party decor

I think that they had a great concept. I wish Chris and Kelly good luck with their business.

+ Suburban Camping Co.


Cool Tools: Anthropologie’s Tabletop Design Tool

anthropologie tabletop design tool

anthropologie tabletop design tool

If you’ve ever struggled to pull together a colourful and cohesive tabletop, there’s a new online tool that can help you think beyond basic bowls and chargers to create a layered look with texture and pattern.

You likely already know Anthropologie for their amazing store displays (truly, no two stores are alike) and ever-changing collection of clothing and accessories. This charm extends to a unique collection of hand-crafted housewares.

anthropologie tabletop design app

Their online tabletop design tool showcases the colourful glassware and dishes the store is known for, and encourages creativity when it comes to designing table settings – whether for everyday use or pretty parties. It’s a great way to experiment with colour and texture to find your unique style. You can choose from a variety of “backgrounds” in neutral linen shades, then layer on the pieces that catch your eye. You can also save your designs for future reference or share them via social networking sites.

anthropologie tabletop design app tool

While every one needs a good set of basic white dishes to serve as a blank canvas, this app will have you clamouring for a few colourful pieces to add to your collection.

+ Tabletop Design Tool on Anthropolgie


Britain Buffet Servers for an Elegant Buffet Table

britain buffet servers in pewter

britain buffet servers in pewter

Elegant buffet servers enhance the look of your table. Holders and caddies are handy to bring the plates and flatware from your kitchen to the table. The pattern of the Britain Buffet Servers is neither truly traditional nor modern. And the beauty of pewter means that this set will never go out of style. I like it to bring a formal sense to your buffet table.

britain buffet servers with glass dishes

Made of pewter, the Britain Buffet Servers are handcrafted in Italy. The baker and flatware caddies come with dishwasher-safe, microwave-safe, and oven-safe glass inserts. They are available at Horchow.

+ Pewter Flatware Caddy $340 USD
+ Pewter Dinner Plate Holder $240
+ Pewter Salad Plate Holder $200
+ Pewter Single Baker $230
+ Pewter Double Baker $230

FAMILY KIDS products

Kids’ Chef Aprons by Beansoup

chef aprons for kids by beansoup

chef aprons for kids by beansoup

One way to foster good eating habits for your kids is to develop their taste buds through cooking. Plus, it allows parents to pass time with their kids. You will make it more special and fun if they wear a chef’s apron. Beansoup specializes in kids aprons.

The aprons are available in two sizes: for toddlers (2-5 yrs old) and for children (5-9 yrs old). The choice of patterns is awesome. Beansoup makes their aprons from machine washable 100% cotton. They are reinforced with double stitched binding.

Update: Just learned on Twitter that you can get 25% off right now if you enter BACK2SCHOOL at checkout.

+ Chef’s apron for kids by Beansoup $24 USD


Outstanding Mingling Plates: Puzzleboard by Oooms and Out of Work

puzzleboard by oooms let you mingle, drink and eat tapas with one free hand

puzzleboard by oooms let you mingle, drink and eat tapas with one free hand

You know my fascination with mingling plates. I am always on the lookout for more. I spotted the Puzzleboard by Oooms earlier. It was always depicted as a service tray or an interlocked cutting board. I thought it was a fun design. Now, I think that the Puzzleboard is brilliant! I discovered that each jigsaw puzzle piece  is also a mingling plate. The multi-purpose characteristic makes it a good buy. Oooms ships worldwide for a flat fee of  7.50 euro per order.

Most mingling plates are built to support a wine glass. I mentioned before the Social plates, which fit different glass types and a soda can. But the bare essential look of the Social Plates is not suitable for a hip cocktail party.

What if you prefer a glass of beer

out of work :: outside of work mingling plate for beer drinkers

I discovered on Design-Milk two Spanish designers who found a stylish solution for a beer and tapas night. Giovanna de Ávila and Joan Sunyol collaborated to create  Out of Work (also named Outside of work), a mingling plate that comes with a handmade blown glass beer glass. O.O.W.’s hand made ceramic plate is stackable.

O.O.W. was exhibited for the first time at Designboom’s Mart 2010 at Stockholm’s Furniture Fair. As far as I know, it is not available in stores, at least for the moment. I suggest that you contact Giovanna de Ávila, if you are interested by these artisan mingling plates.

+ Puzzleboard by Oooms 19.50 euro / $27.15 USD
+ Out of Work on Giovanna de Ávila‘s Web site
+ O.O.W. photos: News about Giovanna de Ávilas


Stylish Easter Eggs with a Patchwork Effect

patchwork effects on easter eggs styled by suzonne stirling

patchwork effects on easter eggs styled by suzonne stirling

Craft stylist Suzonne Stirling made those elegant and creative Easter eggs for Family Circle. She didn’t want to do another story about how to dye Easter eggs. Suzonne turned her attention to the popular washi tapes and textiles. And the effect is superb.

easter eggs decorated with washi tapes by craft stylist suzonne stirling for family circle

Her patchwork effects look fresh and stylish. A craft project that is worth exploring, for sure!

+ Gorgeous Easter Eggs and Spring Crafts
+ via Urban Comfort : the blog of Suzanne Stirling
+ photography by David Prince for Family Circle, April 2010 issue


Tea Bag Cookies as Party Favors

tea bag cookies as seen on frost me

tea bag cookies as seen on frost me

An adorable idea for a party are those tea bag cookies made by Kimberly of Frost Me. To reproduce, prepare your favorite shortbread cookie recipe, cut the top edges of a rectangular and punch a hole at the top. Kimberly used a round icing tip to punch the hole. When the cookies are cold, dipped then in chocolate.

The tea tags she created were perfect for a birthday. Design yours to fit with your theme.

Ideas to Gift Wrap Your Cookies

gift wrapping with cellophane bags

You could fold a piece of wrapping paper into an envelop to get a one-of-a-kind party favor, or fill a food-safe clear cellophane bag that you decorate. Get inspired by these easy gift wrapping techniques from Paper Source.

+ photo: Frost Me
+ photos of cellophane bags: Paper Source


A W Signature Treatment at Away Spa in Montreal

away spa at w montreal

away spa at w hotel montreal

I started this week in a soothing way. I received an email last month from Alissa Anzarut, who is manager of the travel rewards at Aeroplan. Alissa contacted me to inquire if I would be interested to experience a spa treatment at one of Aeroplan’s partner hotels here in Montreal. After a stressful January, I decided that it would be good for me. Plus, I like the W hotel. We met last Monday morning at the Away Spa of the W Montreal.

I am happy I did. I discovered a new spa treatment: a body wrap that does not involve mud. I usually have a massage, relax in saunas and other bathing rituals at spas. I had many body treatments at Clarins skin spas but never with a body wrap. I know the technique is not new, but it was for me.

You feel right at home when you enter the Away Spa. The decor is what you expect from the W hotels. The small spa feels cozy and relaxing. The dimmed light, the gray walls and the aromatic smell of the place all contribute to the soothing effect. Although they have no saunas and hot springs, I left happy and relaxed.

About my treatment

treatment rooms at the away spa at the w montreal

I opted for one of their signature treatments, the D-Age Body Firming. The 1-hour-and-a-half body treatment starts with a fruity peel that contains pineapple and papaya enzymes. It smelt good. In fact, I enjoyed the scent of everything they put on me. You go for a quick rinse in a nice private bathroom (top right picture).

Then, the best part begins. I felt warm for the entire session. To get you into the mood, a quick breathing session surrounded by a delightful aromatic fluid (red thyme, tangerine, lemon and orange). It is followed by applying a serum on eight articulation spots to extract the toxins. Then, your body gets a boost of Kamani oil, shea butter and jojoba oil. This is the D-age firming cream. They form an enveloping cocoon over you by neatly wrapping the plastic sheet over your body. Plus, they wrap some sort of heated blanket on top. While you are in your warn cocoon, you get a light, relaxing facial and hair massage. This part lasts 15 to 20 minutes. The treatment ends with a little massage as the spa massage therapist applies a wonderful citrus draining oil. Like I said, it was an enjoyable experience.

I do not know if it was the idea to be at the spa of a trendy hotel but their music, which was the typical style for a spa, seems more cool. If you want to know, I was served by Melanie Doiron, who is a massage therapist and an esthetician. Thank you, Melanie and Alissa for a great way to start my day.

+ Away Spa at W Montreal
+ D-Age Body Firming $195 CAD

Disclaimer: I did not pay for my spa treatment; Aeroplan Starwood, the owner of the W hotels, did. According to our editorial policy on samples, I went there without any guarantee of coverage (if, what or when). I decided to talk about it because I tried a spa treatment that was new to me and wanted to share the experience.