Hotel Alexandra in Barcelona
Staying in a beautiful hotel at two steps from the Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona was not the main goal of my stay in the capital of Catalonia last month. But coming home to a very comfortable room after a long day of Sunny Design exploring, felt like pure luxury. Hotel Alexandra Barcelona, part of the Hilton Doubletree group, is a boutique hotel with a contemporary style featuring the best in Spanish design. From furniture, lights to the design of the restaurante y charcutería called Solomillo; all details are designy and elegant. The cool "detail" was that we got to meet several Spanish designers that created the designs used in Hotel Alexandra during our week in Spain. Just like the Santorini lamps from Marset in the urban jungle patio:
Said urban jungle patio was definitely my favorite space of the hotel, the lush plants, comfy couches and view on the pool area and garden were so dreamy. A discreet sanctuary in the heart of Barcelona, at just minutes walk from touristic highlights like Casa Batlló and La Pedrera as well as some of my favorite places in Barcelona. After a busy day in the city it was very nice to unwind amongst big Elephant plants, crawling Hoyas, bamboos and grasses. With a cocktail in hand, of course ;)
Interior architects Maria and Jorge, from Borrell & Jover, designed the luxious patio, pool and garden (as well as several bedrooms in the hotel and the hotel's restaurant Solomillo). They worked with multiple layers to visually separate the different areas, and cleverly covered the roof of an underground cinema with a wildflower and vegetable garden. Which also provides the restaurant with organic herbs and veggies!
Below is a photo of my room with its earthy colors, Spanish fan and Eclipse lamp by Objekto. The bed was actually my second favorite place in the hotel: king size and very comfortable. Unfortunately I spent too little time in there, but you don't want to sleep long hours when you are in a city that has so much to offer as Barcelona, right?
Another great feature of my room at Hotel Alexandra: the view on the lush urban jungle patio downstairs. Those Elephant ears made my heart sing, even before breakfast ;)
I loved waking up to this big city view of Barcelona with drying laundry, the lush veggie and wildflower garden and the swimming pool:
Gorgeous Strelitzia plants waved me goodbye at this sweet boutique hotel. I can't wait to come back here and finally dip my toes into the pool!
Full disclosure: Hotel Alexandra Barcelona was our host during the Sunny Design Days tour in Barcelona, but as usual: all photos and words are my own. I had a wonderful stay and warmly recommend you to stay here during your time in Barcelona :)
Helsinki travel guide
Upon popular request: here is my mini guide of all the places I enjoyed in Helsinki, Finland, last month. I can't wait to go back to taste more Finnish pastries, to enjoy more saunas and visit more islands of the Archipellago. And meet more Finnish people, because that's what really impressed me in Helsinki: everyone was so relaxed, helpful and friendly.
Helsinki is not extremely big, the city center is very walkable and public transportation works like a charm. We used a regional week ticket which allows to travel from and to the airport, but also to Nuuksio national park and Suomenlinna. And of course you can take bus/tram/metro/train throughout the entire city and region. We also loved our Pelago bikes to get from one place to another.
Lokal /// Annankatu 9 /// "A concept store and home to Finnish art, design and craft". Art gallery, design shop and coffee corner.
Kauniste /// Fredrikinkatu 24 /// The perfect shop where you can stock up on designy Finnish teatowels, homeware textiles and interior products.
Marimekko Outlet store /// Kirvesmiehenkatu 7 /// Marimekko stores are everywhere in the city center, but to score a bargain, head to the Marimekko outlet store. Samples, previous collections, B products at 30%-50% off. There also a café (closed when we visited), a shop with the current collection and the actual Marimekko factory is there too (no factory tours at the moment though).
Papershop /// Fredrikinkatu 18 /// Heaven for postcard and paper addicts: Papershop is filled to the brim with notebooks, postcards and accessories
Nide Bookstore /// Fredrikinkatu 35 /// Yes you "need" all the (art/design/litterature) books at Nide!
Company x Salakaupa design shop (Secret Shop in Finnish) /// Laivurinkatu 10 /// A little shop with Finnish design secrets in Helsinki. Loved this set of 8 nesting dolls is called "The Life of a Snowman".
Arabia Center, factory and outlet /// Hämeentie 133 /// Factory, museum and outlet store with Arabia ceramics and products from Iittala, Fiskars and Hackman.
Sarjakuva Keskus /// Hämeentie 150 /// Comic book and graphic novel shop by Finnish artists. Flipping through the books (I'm not a comic reader/fan) helped me to better understand Finnish culture and design. There's always something quirky and unexpected.
EAT & DRINKS
Ipi Kulmakuppila /// Porthansgatan 13 /// Gorgeous café that was beautifully designed by Petra Majantie: a perfect mix of contemporary design, plants, good food and great people. Also a social workspace!
Tiedekulma Think Corner café /// Aleksanterinkatu 7 /// Part of Helsinki University, a meeting place for research and everyone who loves cake and good coffee. There's also a little shop with Finnish goodies.
Hotel Joke in Paris
It's one of the questions I get very often: Judith do you know a nice hotel in Paris? Usually I sleep in my own bed when I'm in Paris... obviously ;) But for my birthday, Astotel invited me for a night in their brand new hotel in the 9ᵗʰ arrondissement: l'Hôtel Joke. I had a really nice stay, so now you know which hotel I'll recommend next time... and that's no joke ;) Have a look:
The name of Hotel Joke describes the concept of the hotel pretty well: it's playful, with funny touches and small jokes all around. But beside the quirky design of the lobby, staircases and rooms, the staff was super friendly and welcomed us with a smile. The alcohol-free minibar is included in the price of the room, which was great because I was thirsty on my birthday ;) In the lobby is also a free snacks & drink area where you can serve yourself some cake, fruit, nuts, dried fruit, lemonades, sodas, coffee or tea. Even if you're not hungry, being able to grab an apple before heading out for a day in town, makes you feel more welcome and "at home", right?
This is the lobby and breakfast area with lots of playful details: toys, books & plants on the shelves, mirror lamps above the "target" tables and carpets. Those target tables reminded me of the beautiful design of the Islandic Opal candy boxes.
Throughout the hotel and in the elevator are different screens with non-stop "funny joke videos" from tv/YouTube. You can even watch the Joke Channel on the television in your room.
Our room was bright and clean. Not very big, but just what you need to store your suitcase, clothes and other stuff. And there was room for play: above the bed was a magnetic board with words. I felt the crazy need to change the typefaces of those words right away: my graphic designer eyes longed for some more sophisticated letters ;)
But Robert had a go and wrote this sentence:
Another quirky detail: a banana on the curtains:
And a mirror above our bed! After a night of sleep I woke up feeling one year older, no joke! But only because it was my birthday ;) The bed was very comfy and the bathroom products by Algotherm smelled really nice too (so nice that I even "stole" the body cream!).
Bonne nuit from my bed in Hotel Joke:
Hotel Joke /// 69 Rue Blanche /// 75009 Paris /// +33 1 40 40 71 71
The hotel is located close to the Moulin Rouge, metro Blanche (and Pigalle, Place de Clichy, Saint Lazare)
Full disclaimer: Hotel Joke invited me for one night in Paris. I had a great stay and decided to blog about it, and as usual: all views and photos are my own. Merci Hotel Joke!
Praktik Garden Hotel Barcelona
When looking for a nice place to stay in Barcelona, I found THE perfect hotel for a plant lover like myself: the Praktik Garden hotel. It's a hidden oasis in the middle of the city, conveniently located in the Eixample area between the Passeig de Gràcia and the Sagrada Familia. Even before entering the lobby that's filled with an abundance of potted plants, you know you have arrived in a "green" place: the pavement is full of potted plants and trees. But the very best feature is their lush green private terrace where you can hang out and relax, have a cup of coffee or sunbathe on the lounge chairs.
The rooms at Praktik Garden are beautiful too: very clean with black & white details, nice lighting, graphic tiles in the spacious bathrooms, a nice view (garden or street) and the artwork is different in every room and has a botanical touch!
By the way: Praktik Garden doesn't offer breakfast, but there are plenty of options in the neighborhood (like Restaurant Norte with excellent brekkie or brunch) or get something at a bakery and eat it in the garden. There is a coffee machine and a soda & water machine as well.
Full disclosure: Praktik Garden offered me a discount for my stay with them and as usual: all photos and words are my own. I had a great stay and warmly recommend you to stay here during your time in Barcelona :)
54 hours in London
For my third trip to London in a year, I made hardly any plans. My goals were to get some decent sleep and to have fun: the weeks leading up to this Blogtacular weekend were packed with (too much) work and I was exhausted and ready to see something else than my screen. But the main reason for my trip to London was our talk about Urban Jungle Bloggers at Blogtacular, you can read more about that here. The talk went great, Igor and I were both really humbled by the great feedback, the very supportive crowd and the enthusiasm about community building and plants, of course.
So instead of shopping and museum visits, I took it nice and (relatively) slow. First I met with Anne for tea and a gallery visit. As we both happened to be on the other side of the canal at the same time, we went for tea instead of catching up over coffee in Paris. Together we visited the Play: Toys Sets Rules exhibition at Walter Knoll, which was really nice and featured a cool collection of vintage toys with very simple and graphic shapes and designs, like this Lunatrack cardboard toy from 1968, designed by Roger Limbrick:
Last year I already played with this great wooden toy called Serpentino by Fredun Shapur for Naef (1980) at the Kemistry gallery, and we tried it again. Practice makes perfect: I actually managed to keep the orange ball in the loop for more than one turn! I wish they still produced this toy, because it's addictive!
We headed for tea at this London-cool coffee bar with mismatched chairs & tables, called Ask for Janice:
And here's a peek into the stunning Ham Yard hotel where I had a nice breakfast meeting later that weekend. The interior of the hotel is eclectic, very British with a stylish twist, all designed by Kit Kemp. If you love luxurious fabrics, patterns and colors, this is your go-to place:
The weather was pretty nice and before crashing in my hotel bed, I went for a little walk along the South Bank and enjoyed the London skyline from Tower Bridge:
And enfin, on the other side of the Thames, next to The Gherkin...
... and just a few walking minutes from the Tower bridge and the Tower of London...
... I found my hotel for the next few days: the new Motel One Tower Hill with their cool bar & lobby:
As you can see below, I was SO happy to get some sleep and the comfortable room and (very!) friendly and helpful staff didn't disappoint.
The location of Motel One Tower Hill is great, it's super central (only 5 underground stops from KingsX where Eurostar arrives) and if you're looking for an affordable (!), comfy and clean hotel in London, this is the place to book.
Even though I wish I could have spent more time in my comfy hotelbed, I had a great stay. And above all: the staff was very friendly, which makes really all the difference, don't you think?
I'll be back later this week to show you around my favorite urban jungle in London and some extra pictures from the Open Garden Squares weekend that took place last weekend. Have a great week!
Motel One kindly sponsored my stay at their Tower Hill location, but all opinions and photos are my own. Merci beaucoup Motel One!
A night in a straw bale house
Before heading to the biggest Plant Fair in Europe that took place on our doorstep this weekend (more on that soon!), we spent a night in a straw bale house. Without running water and with an outhouse, a sauna, a lovely Orangerie and a nice table d'hôtes. La Chaise Verte, the green chair, is the only straw bale B&B in France and it was surprisingly nice! My entire experience will be on the blog of the Oise Tourism Board later this week, but I wanted to show you these images of the Orangerie, the little glass atelier in the garden, next to the straw house. It was decorated with lots of recycled objects but I particularly loved the end-of-the-day sunrays.
A très bientôt !
On the last day of my stay in Berlin, I met for tea with the lovely Lena from Minamoka. While sipping gingertea, she told me that we were actually at a very special hotel. A hotel where you can sleep in a real caravan. I was so surprised! Of course! This was the place that I saw in some magazine a few years ago and that I couldn't find when preparing my trip to Berlin. I even asked around on different travel forums, but without any result. So Hüttenpalast it is!
Lena asked if we could visit the hotel and the manager was kind enough to show us around. He told us they were actually building a second adjacent "campsite" to receive a few more guests. Not too many, because they'd like to keep a more personal contact with the guests.
So, if you want to go camping this summer but prefer a really comfy hotel bed plus the urban Berlin lifestyle, Hüttenpalast is the place to go!
What do you think? Would you consider sleeping here?
Oh by the way, the Hut Palace also has a few "regular" hotel rooms ;o)
To kick off this week I wanted to show you the cool lighting in my home away from home in Stockholm. In the public areas designer & architect trio Claesson Koivisto Rune decided upon some funky lamps, like the Sticky lamps by Chris Kabel for DROOG:
The artistic theme uniting the hotel and its facilities is fog. It relates to the surrounding water & marine historical past. It somehow also makes sense as the hotel is central yet secluded. And very quiet too.
One of the lamps in my room (and those amazing Pool curtains again):
Sometimes unpractical design is cool. Such as this pebble in the wash basin. It is removable so that you can also wash your hands without splashing water everywhere ;o)
Love those oversized wooden lampshades by David Trubridge:
Ten reasons to stay at Hotel Skeppsholmen in Stockholm:
► a central, yet secluded location (you're staying on an island!), at only 15 minutes from the city center
► the seaview
► very comfortable beds by Duxiana (traditional Swedish bedding)
► a delicious breakfast buffet ( no individual portions of butter and marmelade here! It feels like you're in your family kitchen with homemade bread & fresh juices )
► a great hotel restaurant called Långa Raden (I need to come back to try it! Everyone told me it was really good)
► quirky lighting everywhere
► Byredo toiletries and signature scent (the entire hotel smells lovely!)
► your neighbor is the Moderna Museet
► very friendly staff, dressed by Swedish fashion brand Acne
► the hotel is eco-labeled
Come into my room...
Come into my room... at Hotel Skeppsholmen! Last week I introduced you to my island getaway in Stockholm, and today I'll show you around my room. From the window above I had an amazing view of the Stockholm skyline...
The sun shining through the curtains designed by the famous Swedish designers Claesson Koivisto Rune. Actually the entire interior design was done by these talented designers. Their famous designs were everywhere, from the lamps above my pillow...
...to the wardrobe cabinet they designed for Asplund. I also really like the typefont used for all Skeppsholmen communication, like room numbers, hotel signage and stationary. The sign in my room told the story of Hotel Skeppsholmen and The Long Row... At times in history there slept at least 10 men in my room!
I love how the print of this chair (called Metropolis) reminds me of maps... and the Map Design course by my friend Anne that I'm starting today... it promises to be so cool!
The office desk with a W08 task lamp by CKR and two Marimekko brochures I picked up at their SoFo store.
And oh those curtains... I like them so much! They are called Pool and have this "pattern" of water in a pool, translated into a graphic pattern of small and smaller dots. Really pretty!
It snowed overnight... It wasn't extremely cold when I was in Stockholm, but usually in the winter you can ice skate just outside the hotel! The water is so pure in Stockholm that you can swim here in the summertime! I wouldn't do that in Paris ;o)
My island getaway in Stockholm
When planning my trip to Stockholm I was looking for a calm & inspiring place to stay. Conference days are long and though being among awesome people is wonderful, a place to recharge my batteries was important. I remembered the Skeppsholmen island from my first trip to Stockholm in 2011 when we visited the Moderna Museet. We walked around the island, at only 15 minutes from the city center, and appreciated the sea view.
(photo by Hotel Skeppsholmen)
When I was invited* to stay at Hotel Skeppsholmen it sounded like a great place. But little did I know that it would be so very perfect. I arrived at the hotel in the early evening and was welcomed by two (real!) ice sculptures and candle light along the pathway. The guy at the front desk was all smiles and very helpful. Oh and he was, like the entire staff, dressed by Swedish fashion brand Acne!
Walking to my room was intruiging: the corridor was really long and painted in a melancholic grey color, which appeared very Swedish to me. Actually the building of Hotel Skeppsholmen was built from 1699 with bits & pieces of ruined castles from the countryside and was called The Long Row. Over the years, it housed Navy staff, was used as a hospice for poor & plaque infected people, and then again was used by the Navy as offices, warehouses and apartments.
The hotel consists of 2 long buildings, so if you're staying in the second building like I was, you hop outside and use your keycard to get across.
As The Long Row buildings are part of Sweden's heritage, the entire interior is removable without deteriorating the original parts of the building. The walls in the breakfast room for example, are made of glass panels. Clever solution, right?
Breakfast at Hotel Skeppsholmen is really good. It includes beautiful homemade breads, traditional Swedish crisp bread, delicious granola & muesli, fresh juices, bacon & scrambled eggs & sausages ( presented in beautiful Le Creuset cookware! ) and of course homemade kannelbullar <3
Everything I needed to start a beautiful day in Stockholm!
Hope you like it so far! There is much more I want to share with you, so check back soon as I'll show you my room and some Swedish design elements from the hotel...
* I stayed at Hotel Skeppsholmen free of charge, but all words and images are my own. I had a wonderful stay :o)
A whipped weekend
In French Chantilly also means whipped cream. So, besides the Chateau and the horses, that's what Chantilly is known for as well.
Last weekend, Framboise invited* me & my husband for a romantic get-away in a brand new hotel in Chantilly, called l'Auberge du Jeu de Paume. I think it was the first time that we spent the night somewhere so close to our home (at only 10 minutes) and it felt a bit weird. But the venue made it all worth it.
In complete opposite to our all-white bedroom at home, our Suite looked like a classic French fairy tale: with a toile de Jouy headboard, mirrors in Murano glass and Musée Condé reproductions everywhere.
Highlight of the weekend was a treatment in the luxurious Spa. I didn't get a simple exfoliation... but a "Crème de Chantilly wrap". In other words: I got covered in whipped cream! Cleopatra bathed in donkey milk to hydrate her skin and that's exactly what whipped cream does as well. The application of the cream feels sensational: it's very cold and milky. It made my skin feel super soft & smooth.
My favorite decor in the hotel were the original (!) 18th century wooden panels with monkey scenes, lent by the Musée Condé. They are over-the-top kitschy (see first photo), but the monkeys' faces are hilarious!
The hotel is a located at 30 minutes from Paris and at a stone's throw from the Château, its park and the Grand Stables:
Auberge du Jeu de Paume /// 4 rue du Connétable /// 60500 Chantilly /// +33 (0)3 44 65 50 00.
* We stayed at the hotel and received a Spa treatment free of charge, but all words and images are my own. We had a fabulous stay :o)
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