la minervetta / italy

when we travel we always like to stay in al least one special place, after having worked for more than 10 years in luxury hospitality, i really enjoy analyzing how hotels go the extra mile to be the favorites – how does it make it a better experience.

la minervetta conquered me from the very first sight, when i stumbled upon it on tablet hotels (we like choosing the hotels for our trips through tablet, and you?). we tried to book it when planning our honeymoon, but it was fully booked for the whole stay – not strange since it’s a 12 room boutique hotel and september is high season…

but when i want something so bad, i think positive, i do all i can to get it…(ok, and i get on all waiting lists possible and bug them for possible cancelations every other day!) and a week before traveling the hotel was opening a new room – available to book!

the hotel doesn’t have a restaurant, but breakfast, served in the terrace, is as good as it can be. i could have breakfast, with the stunning views to the bay of napoli and mount vesuvios, all day long.

the decor is incredibly stylish, with the perfect mix and match of blue and red marine stripes, sicilian ceramics all over, and corals and conch in-between.

the location is perfect, perched above sorrento’s harbor, we adventured down the steps for dinner, and  walked back from the city centre after having gelato – but basically just wanted to hang out in the hotel.

ok, we only had one night to enjoy it, but it was well worth it and a good start of our vacation before heading across the bay to the crazy city of napoli.

hotel la minervetta sorrento’s website

and other places i stayed and liked.

quinta da romaneira / douro valley

i would love to share a few pictures of a magical place we stayed in whilst in portugal. we were here just for one night, it was right after our wedding weekend, so it felt perfect to wind down and have some rest and relax before heading to italy for our honeymoon (see how happy james looked!).

we arrived late at night and in the morning had breakfast with an amazing view – what a surprise!

quinta da romaneira is one of the oldest wineries in the douro valley, a unesco world heritage site in the north of portugal, and  the oldest demarcated wine region in the world.

it specializes in port and table wines – the hotel, encompassing two guest houses overlooking the douro river, is owned by the winery and  managed by hotel des reves.

the hotels doesn’t have a restaurant or an a la carte menu – we simply say what meal we want and where we chose to have it – and will be surprised by the chef’d choice at our favorite location.

since we just had one day, and were driving back to lisbon after lunch, we chose to take  tour of the douro valley – and get to see all the douro wineries from our boat, i highly recommend it! we totally missed out on the wine tasting and tour of the winery…

the rooms throughout the guest houses – the herbs room, the library – all had different scents matching the ambiance.

the food was delicious (and the wine!!), the service very friendly and attentive, the views were stunning, but the interior design was what really impressed me. i find most hotels have an hotel-look to them, not always cozy and personalized. here, on the contrary, i felt like i was at some cool friend’s house – and could spend days relaxing and reading in these living rooms with a view to the vineyards!

see more picures.

quinta da romaneira‘s website.

other places i stayed and liked.

ps – for another great post on the douro valley and quinta da romaneira, check kriss koeller‘s blog!

mercearia da vila / ponte de lima

during one of my quick trips to ponte de lima with my mum, we decided to stay at a new small boutique hotel in town. it would be a fun thing to do, since it is right in the center of town and we always stay at home, in the village.

mercearia da vila, means “the village’s grocery shop” in portuguese, and that’s what the hotel used to be. i remember visiting all the time, because it was such a unique grocery store, it was always so neat and tidy and it looked just like a shop from the old days.

well, the nice old man who used to be at the counter – until he was 92!! – retired and it is his son who decided to convert the shop in a new business.

the rooms have so much light and some have great views too. the place has been modernized but using the grocery store theme and there are plenty of little details, like the toys my mum would play with when she was little.

the owner is an excellent host, the location is perfect, right in the centre of town, and the prices are pretty good too!

ps – (we paid Eur 80 per night – that’s about US$100) book through booking, it might be easier since their website is still under construction.

the nolitan / new york

during my long weekend in new york, a couple of weeks ago, i stayed at the nolitan. when visiting the city, i usually stay with family and friends, but this time my mum and sister were also meeting me for a few days.

i had spent endless nights looking for an affordable, well located hotel…until i realized there are no bargains in new york!

i found out about the hotel through b for bonnie, and read about it here. plus, the location is perfect – so we went for it, and i tell you, it was perfect for us!

we were meeting up in new york to buy my wedding dress (thanks for the lovely comments to my post, by the way :), and the hotel staff were extremely helpful dealing with pre ordered dresses, deliveries and returns!

the lobby is small but with so much personality, and so much going on. we had breakfast here every morning and loved seeing so much action going on – couples checking in, guests arriving from a bicycle ride, others taking their breakfast to the rooftop. oh, and i loved the installation by jennifer steinkamp, see the picture i posted on instagram – i coulnd’t stop staring!

exhausted after spending the days walking the city, it was great to come back to the hotel, fresh-up and go for dinner to one of the nearby restaurants – we went to pulqueria (delicious tacos in the middle of chinatown), ruby’s (best burguer and pumpkin salad), mottsu (perfect neighborhood sushi) and epistrophy (so many italian goodies).

see their website – the nolitan

coqui coqui / valladolid & tulum

on our trip to mexico we stayed at coqui coqui – we actually started our trip at their property in valladolid and ended it in tulum.

valladolid – we decided to book here after reading the mr and mrs smith review by Ricky Wilson (Crowd-surfing lead singer, Kaiser Chiefs). the property is one of a kind, we were specially curious about staying in a one room hotel!

i was excited the minute we walked in and were given a bag with coqui coqui amenities. my favorite – the orange blossom eau de cologne, of course i brought one with me!

we checked in late after driving for an hour and half from cancun airport. the perfumery was about to close so we had the entire property for ourselves.  in a colonial style, the perfumery has its in house made products, a spa surrounded by gorgeous gardens, the cafe de los frailes and our room with a terrace and small private pool.

the next day we had breakfast served in our terrace and had just enough time to go for a bicycle ride around town – the property has two for guests to use. i was specially in love with their cacao floor tiles!

Bertrand, the manager took really good care os us. we bought a couple of things at the perfumery and had a coffee with Nico, the owner before checking out and heading over to our next stop.

tulum – we kept our three night stay at coqui coqui in tulum for the end of our trip. we live surrounded by perfect beaches, but being able to wake up with tulum beach views, and going for a dive in the sea before spending the day sightseeing (there is so much to do) sounded like the perfect plan. and it was!

the hotel in tulum is slightly bigger, 7 rooms, which allowed us to be specially taken care of. rather than a colonial style, it’s more eco chic rustic style. the hotels blends perfectly with the environment and although you feel in close contact with nature, you still feel pampered. this hotels also has a shop, the perfumery, a spa and a restaurant.

as we had a little more time, we truly enjoyed the hotel. we had everlasting breakfasts mexican style -huevos rancheros overlooking the caribbean sea – had a treatment in the spa, lounged in the terrace snacking on nachos and guacamole and walked to nearby restaurants for dinner.

we just felt like being there, doing nothing, looking at the sea, drinking freshly made fruit juices and reading a book. i can’t wait to go back!

See more pictures HERE!