Paris france food Eiffel tower tour
Review: 58 Tour Eiffel, Paris
Tourist fare or tour de force? Tiana Templeman takes a chance on a dining experience at the iconic Eiffel Tower. It is hard not to feel just a little bit smug as we stroll past the enormous lift queues and join the small line for those dining at 58 Tour Eiffel restaurant.   My husband and I are heading to the first floor of the Eiffel Tower for an evening of French wine, fine cuisine and romance. Or, at least that’s what we hope.   We could also be heading for two hours of dining hell with bad function food, cheap vino and every tour group in Paris. Anticipation With the iconic wrought iron structure towering above us, it’s impossible not to get caught up in the excitement as everyone in the restaurant’s exclusive lift jostles for position, eager to catch a glimpse of Paris and tonight’s dining venue. [caption id="attachment_32245" align="alignnone" width="1000"] The famous Eiffel Tower, with 58 Tour Eiffel located on the first flour (photo: Dominique Milherou).[/caption] Our sense of expectation (and impatience) builds as we mill around the grand double doors that open with a flourish at precisely 6.30pm; everyone is seated across the restaurant’s two levels in minutes, with tour groups allocated a separate area, away from the intimate tables for two and four. Cost 58 Tour Eiffel offers three pre-booked options for dinner, priced from $118 to $165, depending on the table location and whether wine is included. Seating and atmosphere It’s our lucky night because our mid-priced ‘privileged seating in the main room’ booking ends up having the same Trocadéro view as the most expensive tables, albeit one row back from the window. The overall vibe of the restaurant at night can best be described as an elegant brasserie set against the beauty of the City of Lights. Minimalist furnishings and soft lighting only enhance the experience of the view. [caption id="attachment_46731" align="alignnone" width="600"] Trocadero view at 58 Tour Eiffel.[/caption] Service With two two-hour seatings per night, 58 Tour Eiffel runs with military precision, although our friendly waiter manages to give the illusion that his guests have all the time in the world. Food We have just finished our welcome glass of Champagne when the entrée of spiced king prawns arrives, served atop a colourful scattering of avocado, grapefruit and sweet edible blooms.   The dish is far better than we expected from what is essentially a tourist restaurant. [caption id="attachment_46732" align="alignnone" width="600"] The roast herbed guinea fowl breast at 58 Tour Eiffel (photo: Photopointcom).[/caption] The roast herbed guinea fowl breast that follows, with mashed potato, green asparagus and mushroom cream is quintessentially French and equally impressive, as is my husband’s choice of grilled lamb.   Fortunately, there is a break before the rich chocolate marquise for dessert, which leaves us time to enjoy the view and another glass of wine before we end our evening with a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower, bien sûr. Details 58 Tour Eiffel, Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars, Paris, France. The IT Verdict   With food and service that exceeds expectations, this iconic dining experience delivers. Location: 10 / 10 Dining atop the Eiffel Tower is hard to top.   Style / character: 6 / 10 The food and the view beat the bland, beige décor.   Service: 8 / 10 Friendly and professional.   Atmosphere: 8 / 10 Bustling and lively with a touch of romance.   Value for money: 8 / 10 Better than expected given the exchange rate.   Notes: You can also visit for a picnic-style lunch without a reservation.   All IT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly what you would. For more information on where to eat in Paris, read our ultimate guide to the city of love here.
Russia stays hotel CBD
Review: Hotel National Moscow
Immerse yourself in Moscow's fascinating history...
poolside hotel review
Review: The Vagabond Hotel, Miami
The restoration of a ’50s motel has been the catalyst for change in a once thriving part of Miami, finds Karen Halabi. Arriving I’m cruising up Biscayne Boulevard on Miami’s Upper East Side past rows of mid-century motels looking for The Vagabond, and it’s not long before I see the distinctive neon sign out front.   A beautifully restored white and blue historic two-storey motel in a formerly neglected neighbourhood, The Vagabond has a drive-in diner and hubcaps on the walls – all a nod to the design of ’50s automobiles.   It sits at the heart of the MiMo district, also known as ‘MiMo on BiBo’ (Miami Modern on Biscayne Boulevard), an area that is undergoing something of a renaissance. Hotel history Originally opened in 1953, The Vagabond quickly gained a reputation as a hangout for Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr.   And the rest of the Rat Pack.   Fast forward several decades and the area had fallen into disrepute. [caption id="attachment_32114" align="alignnone" width="1000"] The perfect retro revival for style seekers, art lovers, architecture[/caption] Then along came visionary property developer Avra Jain, who paid $2 million to secure The Vagabond, then another $6 million restoring it.   It finally reopened in 2014 as a restaurant and boutique hotel.   The Vagabond has 45 retro-luxe rooms with splashes of bright neons, orange and green, ’50s-inspired furniture, polished wood floors and cubic wallpaper, all set in an L-shape around a pool that has been meticulously restored right down to the mosaic tiled mermaid on its base. The room [caption id="attachment_32115" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Relax and recover after being out all day (or all night) in The Vagabond Hotel.[/caption] My motel-style standard room, at 26 square metres, combines modern amenities with cool uber-chic touches.   It has repurposed original hardwood floors from other parts of the building; others feature original terrazzo flooring.   The striking geometric designs on the wall behind my bed were hand drawn by Ugandan artist Kenneth Nyakabwa.   The Vagabond’s rooms open, motel-style, onto walkways that face a central lush, palmed garden area and a relaxing poolside cocktail bar that’s open day and night with funky seating, custom-made rattan chaise lounges, and arcing streams of water (water spouts) on each corner.   Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014, The Vagabond is one of only six hotels featured in design bible Wallpaper*’s Miami city guide. Surroundings And the hotel has led to positive changes in its locale, too, including the opening of a flagship store by cult Miami designer Trina Turk and Miami Ironside, a warehouse conversion that’s home to over 65 designer showrooms, art galleries and eateries.   Indeed, like The Vagabond itself, Biscayne Boulevard has become trendy all over again. The details: The Vagabond Hotel; 7301 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, USA. The IT Verdict The perfect retro revival for style seekers, art lovers, architecture buffs, fashion mavens and foodies. Location: 7 / 10 Ideally placed near other hip areas: the Design District, Wynwood, Edgewater and Little Havana. Style / character: 9 / 10 Vintage style and indie personality. Rooms: 8 / 10 Aqua blue is cool again. Food and drink: 8 / 10 Try the Vagabond Collins, the signature drink at the poolside bar. Value for money: 9 / 10 With rates starting at $180 a night, it’s great for budget-conscious travellers who value style over glitz. Getting there The hotel can help you to arrange airport transfers, however the website offers clear directions no matter where you're coming from; north, south, east or west. If you're arriving from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, follow the exit signs to I-595 W. Take Exit 10B for I-95 South. Take Exit 7 onto FL-934. Turn left onto NW 79th St. Turn right onto Biscayne Blvd. Our property is located on the East side of Biscayne Blvd. between 73rd and 74th streets.   All IT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly what you would.   If you're planning a trip to the USA, be sure to check out our extensive USA travel guide for everything you need to know before you go.
Rome piazza hotel
Review: Hotel Abruzzi, Rome
Quentin Long finds that location is key when it comes to a hotel in the Eternal City. If you are visiting Rome, you really want to stay in Rome – in the heart of those narrow cobbled streets, gorging yourself on all that is the Eternal City; that languid sense of time immemorial that comes from a place that has burned bright for more than two millennia.   There are countless locations from which to indulge yourself: Piazza Navona and Bernini’s formidable fountains, card-shredding shopping-joy along the Via dei Condotti and the Spanish Steps; the humbling ruins of the Colosseum and the Forum; the winding streets and nooks of the Campo de’ Fiori.   From this embarrassment of riches, a humble hotel on the Piazza della Rotonda offers perhaps the best place from which to explore the city.   With incredible views of the Pantheon, Hotel Abruzzi has that most sought-after of assets: location.   Our Junior Suite exploits this wonderfully – a real room with a view.   A mere 30 metres from where we stand, the enormity of the Pantheon is almost palpable.   Like Brunelleschi, who studied the Pantheon when developing the engineering solution to construct the dome of Florence’s Duomo, we find ourselves mesmerised by this ancient structure. [caption id="attachment_30959" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Modern rooms have perfect views of the Pantheon.[/caption] The room is in complete contrast to the view: a crisp, mostly white space with flashes of orange and one entire wall emblazoned with a photograph of the Arch of Titus and columns from the Forum.   Our suite is surprisingly roomy (for Rome) and the hubbub of the crowds below makes it something of an oasis.   An exposed wooden beam breaks up the clean modern space; something that carries through to the small but well-designed bathroom.   Most importantly, there’s a decent air conditioning unit, perfect for an afternoon snooze to recharge before a night of carb loading.   The cafes of the Piazza della Rotonda act as de facto hotel restaurants. The reception desk hands out vouchers for whichever particular cafe is serving the included breakfast.   A pre-dinner Campari and blood orange at one of the piazza cafes and people-watching as the sun sets is la dolce vita at its finest.   Considering its location, Hotel Abruzzi is surprisingly unpretentious.   The check-in area can hardly accommodate more than two people and to access the (world’s slowest) lift you walk up one flight of narrow steps.   Don’t fret about your luggage, there is a hotel porter on hand.   Hotel Abruzzi does the most essential things brilliantly; its staff are helpful, the rooms are welcoming, the views and location unbeatable.   Just like the engineering masterpiece over the road, it’s a classic that will stand the test of time. IT   Details: Hotel Abruzzi Piazza della Rotonda 69, 00186 Rome, Italy;   The IT Verdict The perfect Rome hotel for those who want to soak up the city, literally from their window. Location: 9.5/10 Unbeatable, in the heart of the old city with views of the Pantheon. An easy walk to all the sights.   Style / character: 5/10 There are very few common areas but they are clean and tidy.   Service: 8/10 The concierge and staff are great at making reservations and giving sound local advice.   Rooms: 8/10 A modern fit-out with ample space by Rome standards. Good design and a thoughtful aesthetic.   Food and drink: 5/10 The cafes that provide breakfast have a typical Roman offering but there is no on-site restaurant.   Value for money: 8.5/10 A Junior Suite during the height of summer averaged $483 per night including taxes and charges.   All IT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly what you would.
London Hoxton Holborn hotel review
Review: The Hoxton Holborn, London
Celeste Mitchell pops into the Hoxton Holborn and might just have discovered the Holy Grail for travellers wanting stylish accommodation in a convenient London location without paying an arm and a leg. Arrival If a DJ in the lobby is a sign of a hip hotel, The Hoxton Holborn cuffs your hems and shows just that little bit more ankle. It’s 8pm on a Friday and we’ve clearly just walked into one of London’s coolest after-work hangs. The lounge slash co-working space slash bar is buzzing with entrepreneurs hunched over Macbooks, girlfriends debriefing, and suits and sneakers equally matched in a melting pot of house music and aperitifs. [caption id="attachment_28776" align="alignnone" width="1000"] The inviting reception lobby of The Hoxton Holborn, London. It's a great space with thoughtful touches such as fresh juice and iMacs.[/caption] Checking in Check-in is warm and swift, and I’m almost too busy taking in the menagerie of curiosities behind the reception desk to hear about our complimentary breakfast bag. A quick check shows it’s as simple as two ticks and a hang on the door – we’ll wake to a granola pot, banana and OJ each at our preferred time.   In the manner of Ace and QT Hotels, The Hoxton purveys a brand of quirky individuality across three properties in London and Amsterdam, with new openings due in Williamsburg and Paris. The original Shoreditch incarnation turns 10 this year. [caption id="attachment_28775" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Industrial lighting hangs above the dining space of The Hoxton Holborn in central London.[/caption] The room We’ve booked a Cosy Room – the third largest of four room categories (the ‘Shoebox’ proves space is tight in Central London) – and a slide of the room key invites us into a warm setting.   From the Penguin classics on the writing hutch, to the copper nest of tables and plush leather armchair, everything has been thoughtfully positioned in the 18-square-metre room.   There’s a small hanging space, mini fridge with complimentary water and milk, and extra pillows are stored in a drawer under the bed. With Herringbone floorboards underfoot, there’s a backlit circular mirror on one wall and the comfortable double bed is framed by a geometric brown leather bed head. [caption id="attachment_28773" align="alignnone" width="1000"] The Hoxton Holborn's aptly named Cosy Room, space is tight in Central London.[/caption] But what immediately grabs me, more than the ‘Chill’ playlist wafting from the Roberts stereo, is the wallpaper – a mashup of Charles Dickens and Monty Python references. With the bespoke design, and playground of eats, drinks and beats downstairs, you’d expect the price tag to match the address.   Let’s face it; the Queen’s hometown doesn’t really do budget, and accommodation prices here can melt your credit card, even before you factor in the exchange rate. But so far this two-year-old hotel is ticking all the boxes.   While check-out is midday, I read in the Survival Guide (AKA millennials compendium) that we can extend to 4pm for $8 per hour. Since we’re flying home the following evening, I do just that.   After a blissful, strong shower – despite finding no powerpoint in the bathroom to dry my hair – we slide into a booth at Hubbard & Bell downstairs, the name a nod to the building’s former life as a telephone exchange. [caption id="attachment_28774" align="alignnone" width="667"] Dine in London's retro-style restaurant, Hubbard & Bell.[/caption] The food and drink Our last night in London calls for gin, and our Hoxton Garden cocktails make it dance with basil, grapes and elderflower. Salads are well put together but the grill is the star here. Plates of lamb belly and porchetta are swiftly delivered and devoured, but we’re left pining for a dessert menu long enough to opt for an early night. Services For all the action downstairs, it’s surprisingly quiet in our room. After a solid, uninterrupted sleep I realise the heavy, velvet black-out curtains may just be the most effective I’ve come across. We sleep well past our breakfast bag drop-off at 8am.   With less people in the lobby, I notice Vogue and National Geographic magazines stacked next to deep leather lounges, three iMacs lined up for guests to use, a coffee stand serving cold-pressed juices and pastries alongside lattes, and artworks covering almost every available wall space. Nearby activities While we could happily lounge here all day, a 10-minute stroll finds us in the epicentre of Soho. The handy Hoxton Guide from our room provides a tight edit of the team’s local suggestions as a starting point for exploring, like Monmouth Coffee and the British Museum.   Bidding adieu to Old Blighty, we walk two minutes to Holborn tube station, with direct delivery to Heathrow for just $9. There’s just no DJ, sadly. Details: 199-206 High Holborn, London, The IT Verdict   The Hoxton adds real personality and affordable luxury to the concrete jungle of London’s ‘Midtown’. • Location: 8/10 Central without feeling touristy, though the surrounding streets can feel a little staid… for now. • Style / character: 9/10 A perfect balance of hipster and polished peacoat. Vintage furniture and warm tones make the perfect canvas for its quirky embellishments. • Service: 8/10 Check-in staff were faultless but waiters, though charming, left us in the lurch. • Rooms: 8/10 Stylish, ambient and really comfortable, with solar eclipse-inducing black-out curtains. • Food and drink: 7/10 Fine for when you don’t want to have to think, or travel, but nothing to write home about. The coffee in the attached Hoxton Grind is a plus. • Value for money: 9/10 Our Cosy Room cost $296. We paid $32 more for late check-out. Getting there The Hoxton Holborn, London is only a stone's throw from Covent Garden, Oxford Street, Bloomsbury and Farringdon. Situated on the Piccadilly line and surrounded by '55' buses, it's incredibly easy to get to from anywhere.   If you're interested in planning a trip to London, be sure to check out our extensive London travel guide for everything you need to know.  
Pool views Hotel Icon Hong Kong
Review: Hotel Icon, Hong Kong
Got a couple of days in Hong Kong? Get as high as you can in Hotel Icon, which doubles as a finishing school, writes Daniel Down.
Lobby bar Ace Hotel New Orleans
Review: Ace Hotel, New Orleans
In the heart of old New Orleans is Ace Hotel, which channels the city’s eccentricities with aplomb, finds Susan Gough Henly.
Alcove Library Hotel Ho Chi Minh bookcases
Review: Alcove Library Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City
The Boutique Alcove Library Hotel in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City makes for a quiet and restful place to lay your head after exploring this bustling Southeast Asian metropolis. Location Saigon is a love affair of mine. I like referring to the city by its previous name, as most locals do. It has so much more of an exotic ring to it. Vietnam’s largest city has an energy and vibrancy to it that is an essential part of its character. A kind of barely controlled chaos you feed off. What it doesn’t do a lot of is peace and quiet. In a city of more than eight million people, and almost as many motorbikes, the cacophony rarely stops. Which is why the Alcove Library Hotel, located on a tiny little street off the main thoroughfare in Ho Chi Minh City's Phu Nhuan District, makes for a good choice. Arriving at the hotel It is a typically hot, humid afternoon when I arrive, but I can see in the distance thunderclouds building for the almost daily afternoon storms of the monsoon season.   The cool black-and-white interior of the lobby is a welcome relief, and it immediately becomes apparent where the hotel gets its name: a towering wall of books extends almost to the ceiling, complete with a ladder to reach the highest tomes.   The pleasant staff even speak in hushed tones, like they have taken the concept of a library to heart.   The exterior and lobby of the hotel are decked out in a nod to the city’s French colonial era. The rooms, however, are fairly standard and are a little on the compact side. [caption id="attachment_25699" align="alignnone" width="667"] The Alcove Library Hotel's exquisite colonial French façade.[/caption] The room I take the Alcove Suite City View, one of the largest of the hotel's 26 rooms with a small kitchenette and spacious bathroom, however it still feels a little close. With its king-size bed it’s perfectly comfortable, though, and the pillows are cloud-like. The colour palette is rendered in the same elegant, neutral tones as the rest of the hotel.   Included in the room rate is wi-fi, breakfast, book rental from the hotel's library, daily turn-town service and even a complimentary airport shuttle service. The restaurant The Alcove’s Bookmark Restaurant is on the top floor of the hotel, and has a nice view of the jumble of narrow houses and pagodas scattered throughout the neighbourhood.   The menu has a fairly standard collection of international and local dishes (I try the bacon mushroom burger, which is great), but this being Vietnam you really need to hit the streets to search out some culinary magic. [caption id="attachment_25696" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Eat at The Bookmark Restaurant at least once, then head out and sample the fantastic street food.[/caption] Going into the city There are countless hole-in-the wall restaurants in Saigon – the trick is to look for one that is busy and dive in. I find one such place on Truong Sa Street, just an eight-minute walk from the hotel, selling bowls of classic pho ga (noodle soup in chicken broth).   The hotel is just a cheap 10-minute taxi ride into the heart of the city to the front gates of the former Presidential Palace, where in 1975 the Vietnam War famously came to an end; it’s just a short stroll from here to the Notre-Dame Cathedral and Central Post Office.   But I choose to check out the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe canal just a few blocks away from the hotel. Many people don’t realise it, but when Saigon was a French colonial city in the 1800s it was crisscrossed by canals.   Most have been filled in and others became terribly polluted. But in recent years the city has spent hundreds of millions of dollars cleaning up the remaining canals and turning the banks into public promenades and recreation areas.   I grab a banh bao, a kind of soft steamed bun filled with minced pork and soft-boiled quail eggs, from a street vendor to munch on as I wander.   Exploring Saigon on foot in the heat and humidity can be taxing, but I always feel it is worth it as you catch small glimpses of life you would otherwise miss.   The canal meanders for kilometres through several city districts, with lush green grass (a rarity in the city), shady trees and benches where I sit and watch the world go by before heading back to the solitude of the Alcove – my little Saigon sanctuary in the midst of the city’s madness. [caption id="attachment_25697" align="alignnone" width="1000"] A great spot for coffee in Ho Chi Minh City.[/caption] The details: Alcove Library Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City Where: 133A Nguyen Dinh Chinh Street, Phu Nhuan, Ho Chi Minh City; The IT Verdict: A cosy, quiet hotel in a bustling city that is also great value for money.   Location: 7/10 Convenient if you are in town for a short stay because of its location between the airport and downtown, and also great to get out and explore a different side to Saigon. Style/character: 7/10 A lovely nod to the French influence on the city. Service: 6/10 Friendly staff, if a little on the shy side. Rooms: 6/10 Simple and modern, but on the small side. Food and drink: 5/10 A conservative selection at the Bookmark Restaurant, so hit the streets. Value for money: 9/10 With suites from $160 a night, it is hard to beat.   MORE... Other things you really, really should know about Vietnam