The NoMad Hotel (New York City)

Of all the hotels in New York City of which there are many, I have always wanted to stay at the NoMad Hotel- a turn of the century Beaux-Arts building that has been masterfully restored to its original grandeur with interiors by French designer Jacques Garcia. The hotel is located in what I came to discover is the NoMad district (North of Madison Square Park) at 28th and Broadway. Amidst mosques, halal food shops, hair and garment stores lies this jewel of the hotel. Just a few blocks away is Madison Square Park and my favorite foodie destination, Eataly. Another great hotel just one block north of the NoMad is the hipster-cool Ace Hotel which I frequented every morning for coffee from Stuptown Coffee located inside the hotel. 




The NoMad’s public spaces including a center atrium, library, cocktail bar and dining room include food & beverage by award-winning chef Daniel Humm and restauranteur Will Guidara of New York’s acclaimed Eleven Madison Park. Sydell Group own and operate the hotel, and also developed the nearby Ace New York & Palm Springs. Other collaborations include the hotel’s retail space by Paris-based Maison Kitsune (my favorite), which is its first ever dedicated shop in the US. The Library bar exclusive to guests of the hotel is a beautiful bar located in the center of the hotel. Books line the walls and a spiral staircase allows you to access the second floor books. Rumor has it that some of the books contain surprises. If you manage to find one you may keep it! 


The entrance is dark and grandiose with bellboys ready to assist. The walls are covered in velvet and dark furniture surround the entrance and front desk. The staff were friendly and accommodating and check-in was a breeze. I was upgraded to a higher floor room featuring a clawfoot tub and views onto the adjacent street (as opposed to the inner atrium). It was surprisingly quiet given the traffic and noise outside. The decor is an ode to old Paris and just lovely. The bed was large and extremely comfortable and lent to a good nights rest. Overall, it was definitely the best hotel I have stayed at during my frequent trips to New York. However, the comfort and charm do not come cheap. At almost $500 per night I certainly would have hoped to have more amenities (including access to the rooftop which is now closed off to guests). 





One great feature of the hotel is their free bike service which you can take out for the entire day. Make sure to inquire when you check-in! 

More information visit their website:


– Interiors designed by Jacques Garcia
– 168 guest rooms and suites
– Multiple distinct dining spaces with menus by Chef Daniel Humm
– King-sized beds
– European-style bathrooms walk-in shower and water closet in most rooms
– Many rooms with freestanding clawfoot bathtubs
– Exclusive Argan bath amenities by Côté Bastide
– Custom linens, bedding and bathrobes by Sferra and Frette
– Down comforters and pillows (hypoallergenic upon request)
– Custom plush top mattresses and embossed leather headboards
– Mahogany writing desks and television stands
– Bedside tables and velvet and damask patterned paravents
– Reclaimed maple hardwood floors
– Handmade vintage Heriz rugs unique to each room
– Curated art program including Portraits de Villes photographs
– Fully stocked Minibar
– Large flat screen LCD HD television with on-demand movies
– iHome docking station, charger, radio and alarm clock
– Direct dial telephones with speaker and personalized voicemail capability
– In room safe, iron/ironing board, hair dryer, luggage rack
– Steps from Madison Square Park

– 24-Hour Room Service
– Complimentary high-speed wireless Internet access throughout the hotel
– Nightly turndown service
– Daily newspaper delivery
– 24-Hour state-of-the-art Fitness Room
– Laptops and iPads available upon request
– Concierge services provided at the Front Desk
– Multi-lingual Staff
– Bell staff Services
– Valet Parking
– Laundry Service
– LEED certified/Conservation Program

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I Heart New York

It is no secret that I love New York hard. Each trip back to the city reinforces the feelings and brings back nostalgia and distant memories of idealistic dreams of moving to the big apple. You see I fell in love with the city when I was a teenager and as every teenager does, I fell in deeply in love. I love everything about the City. The orderly chaos of the crowds, the traffic, and constant noise that beat through it’s veins. Fast forward 18 years and I found myself back in the city for a week of discovering new hotels, good food and old friends. I arrived on a Wednesday in the afternoon and checked into my beautiful hotel, The Nomad Hotel, located in the Flatiron district. Famished as I always tend to be, I made my way down to Eataly– just a few blocks away from the hotel (see my post on the whole Eataly experience). After sitting down to a nice lunch and a glass of rose, I started to wonder the streets looking through rose colored glasses. There is nothing I love more than walking around New York, getting lost in its streets, discovering new treasures. I walked down, all the way down to Wall Street. Later on I found myself having sake and sushi in Tribeca with old friends, treasuring the mid-summer heat and reminiscing about life and adventures in New York.


The next day I decided to do what I have have always wanted to do: walk each and every street of the West Village and memorize the architecture, the restaurants and beauty of the brownstone homes. Sometimes I think if I dream hard enough and wish hard enough that maybe it will come true. Maybe, my family and I will be transplanted from our current home in Louisiana to New York where I would no doubt live happily ever after. In New York I feel at home a feeling I have yet to feel  living in the south. Seeing mothers and their children stroll through the streets of West Village and in parks surrounded with other kids, I thought about what a difference it would make to have Baby Nomad grow up in the City where surely he would be exposed to so much more, so many different cultures, languages, faces and experiences. For now, I will continue wishing and hoping and dreaming…


I visited the High Line, a first for me and fell in love with the concept. So much beauty made of what was surely not the prettiest site to look at. Instead, it has been transformed into a peaceful, serene, green paradise above ground. I started from the top at 32nd street and 1st Avenue and made my way down to the finish line at the Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District. Next, I visited one of my favorite foodie destinations which seems to get better with time, the Chelsea Market. With so many places to choose from I opted for a classic Lobster Roll at the Seafood Guys.


I walked through every different neighborhood below 14th street and made sure to visually memorize everything that I could. From the West Village to Soho and Nolita I took each and every inch in. In my short few days I managed to pack in a lot of food and many miles on my fitbit. With new restaurant discoveries and old favorites there was definitely no shortage when it came to dining options. In the next few weeks I will share all my discoveries with my readers. I hope you enjoy.

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Neorion Hotel (Istanbul, Turkey)

Our last stop this summer in Europe was Istanbul. We started at the tip of the continent in Portugal and ended in Turkey where Europe meets Asia.

Istanbul. You have won my heart. Your beauty, charm, history and friendly welcoming people. A first trip to Istanbul, I was not sure what to expect. Where to stay. What to see and eat. We ended up staying in the Sirkegi district at the Neorion Hotel, neighboring the historical Sultanahmet district where most of the historical sites are situated. The hotel is constantly rated No. 1 hotel in Istanbul by TripAdvisor, which also awarded it the Travelers’ Choice® 2013 Award: one of the top 25 hotels in Turkey, and one of the top 25 hotels in the entire world!  Based on these great reviews we had to stay at the Neorion hotel and experience the greatness for ourselves.


Upon arriving through the mazed streets of the neighborhood I really was not sure what to expect. An unassuming street with a more unassuming outside appearance. Once we walked inside all worries were put to rest.


Neorion hotel is located in the heart of Istanbul’s history, culture, food and nightlife. Only minutes walk from the Topkapi palace, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Market and everything else that you want to see in a short stay.


Rooms & Decor:

The hotel, opened in 2011, was conceived and designed to honor and reflect all of the cultures that have enriched the city and its empires.The rooms are spotlessly clean each room decorated with a large colorful historical painting of Istanbul. A welcome letter from the owners and a gift were waiting for us. The rooms were quiet even though they were facing the front street.



The complimentary breakfast was a combination of eastern and western options. A wall of honeycomb slowly drizzling down is a hit with hotel guests.




Neorion hotel offers a health club with small pool, jacuzzi, sauna and two hamams. But for me the best part of the hotel was the rooftop terrace which offers free complimentary drinks at happy hour overlooking the mystical city.  Perhaps the most memorable moment of our stay occurred on the rooftop while sipping on a glass of wine, watching the sun slowly descend into hues of pink and red between the minarets of the Suleymaniye Mosque while listening to the evening prayers.  And who can complain of the complimentary early-evening meze buffet with delicious Turkish treats to go along with your glass of wine (or tea).
The staff were waiting to welcome us with a serving of tea. We were given a brief about the hotel and neighborhood and walked to our room. Perhaps what makes Neorion hotel so special is the friendly service and humble staff. Throughout our stay they went out of their way to make us feel at home. When you arrive at the hotel after a long flight or day of sightseeing, you are offered with a complimentary meal:  a bowl of soup, a sandwich, stuffed peppers, salads, a slice of cake and a cup of coffee or tea, or other light dishes.  What’s more? If you arrive early in the day like we did, you will be allowed to have complimentary breakfast and check in extra early if the rooms are ready. Really, it is this kind of service and thoughtfulness that makes the hotel so special and constantly rated number 1 on tripadvisor.


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A Design Driven Boutique Hotel in the Heart of Florence (Italy)

There are many beauties to revel at in Florence and the hotel experience should be something that adds to the experience. On our latest trip to Florence we stayed at the JK Place Firenze– a centrally located hotel which oozes style, design and class.  The hotel is situated right on Piazza Santa Maria Novella, one of the many beautiful squares in Florence.



For convenience sake, the hotel is a 5 minute walk from the local train station in case you, like us, are arriving on the train from another Italian destination. The square has one of the most stunning Basilicas which can be seen from many of the rooms facing the square.


There are no signs at JK Firenze. It is discreet and unassuming and only those in the know will find their way inside. Once inside, guests are left with the impression of being in a home away from home. That is if your home is styled to the nines and is designed to perfection.




Guests are greeted at the door by the friendly doorman and walked through the hallway to the ‘front desk’. Except, the front desk is actually a one man desk located in the middle of the hotel surrounded by a dark wood library filled with books, videos and information pamphlets. Check in felt more like arriving at a friend’s home. An ice cold glass of lemonade was handed to us, a thoughtful touch, given that Florence in August is scorching hot.


The framed life drawings, sculptures, images and books remind us that we are in the center of the renaissance art world. At this point, we make our way through the hidden elevator up to our exclusive two-level suite with a view to die for.



Our room was so pleasant, welcoming and beautiful that we just melted into our bed and had to really push ourselves to leave. The first floor featured a beautiful working desk, leather couch and television. The stairs lead up to the second floor bedroom area, bathroom and closet.  The high painted ceilings, paneled walls and the modern pieces of furniture made this room one of the nicest during our European journey.



What made the room so special was the carefully selected furniture, design and view on to the square.



Continuing with the family-style approach, breakfast was served in a covered courtyard at a communal table encouraging all guests to interact with one another. A buffet filled with fresh fruits, cheese, bread and yogurt is at our disposal. The table is then used throughout the day to offer guests refreshments, cakes and fruits. The big hit was the ice cold watermelon which hit the spot after a long walk around town on a hot August day.


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Amenities include:

•             Fresh seasonal organic fruit basket in your room

•             complimentary mini bar (soft-drinks)

•             Daily newspaper

•             Buffet breakfast

•             Complimentary organic coffee and tea during the stay

•             Free Homemade finger food and cakes from J.K. Buffet

•             Free WI-FI internet access

•             Free access to the exclusive Olimpo SPA Steam Bath (located in via Tornabuoni, two  minutes walking)

•             Free access to Florence Fitness Gym (located in via dei Fossi, one minute walking),

•             Free entrance to all Fiesole museums

•             Cd\Dvds selection

JK Place Firenze is located at Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, 7 50123, Florence, Italy, +39 055 264 5181


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An Exceptional 5 Star Boutique Hotel- The Mercer Hotel (Barcelona, Spain)

If you want to experience true Gothic Barcelona in a luxurious, design-driven setting then Mercer Hotel is just the place for you.  Built in 2012 into the ancient Roman walls that once enclosed Barcelona, the Mercer Hotel is one of the most exceptional boutique hotels to hit town and is even listed as a historical monument.



Located at number 7 on Calle Lledó, the building incorporates part of the Roman walls of the ancient city of Barcino, some of which date back to the 1st century A.D. What’s more hotel guests have exclusive access to the medieval paintings of the 28th defence tower.  Another of the historical features of the hotel is the library on the ground floor. This part of the building has great historical significance in that it used to be on the sentry route between the 28th and 29th watchtowers of the Roman walls and features mediaeval frescoes uncovered during the renovation process.  This means you will absorb history and culture in your sleep!



Imagine Spanish meets Scandinavian. Not sure what that means? You will once you stay at the Mercer Hotel. Medieval columns and restored frescoes have been brought up to date by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo’s streamlining of old and new.  The glass courtyard, Scandinavian furniture and pale wood floors create a contemporary vibe.


The Rooms:

The guestrooms are spacious, and the beds are supersized not to mention the egyptian cotton sheets and down blankets which really made it hard to get up in the morning. Although sleekly minimal in style, each of the 28 rooms has its own special feature, such as Catalan vigas, exposed brickwork, a private terrace or a two-person bathtub. Luxe detailing abounds, from the touch-sensitive Finnish beechwood bedside lamps and deep-pile rugs to the Loewe products in the minimalist bathrooms.







The terrace is located on the fourth floor of the hotel, between the two watchtowers, from where you can pick out the dome of the Santa María del Mar church, the Basilica of San Just i Pastor and Barcelona’s Gothic Cathedral. Here you can take a refreshing dip in the pool,or enjoy a drink at the poolside bar. At dusk, the terrace opens to the public, providing a unique setting for enjoying a cocktail whilst taking in the unparalleled view over the most ancient rooftops of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter.

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The staff is exceptionally professional, courteous and friendly. Everyone from the doorman to the concierge were more than helpful, giving us insider tips on how to get around and where to go to dodge the crowds. The concierge was fluent in several languages and made sure that we were comfortable and had everything we needed everyday. He even went out of his way to get us into our room before check-in time. They upgraded us to one of the nicer suites without us even asking. Every evening we walked in to our room to find a little treat. The first night was a bottle of champagne and strawberries with a personal note from the staff. We really could not have asked for a better experience.

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The breakfast was served in the glass enclosed gallery in the middle of the hotel. While a table of cakes, cheeses and fruits was displayed in the middle, it was in no means a buffet style service. Each guest was asked to choose from the table along with anything else from the wide range of options on the menu.


More information:

The Mercer Hotel

Calle dels Lledó 7

08002 Barcelona (España)

Tel +34 93 310 74 80    Fax +34 93 310 23 87

Notes: This review was written for our stay in July 2012. 

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The Hungry Nomad’s Guide to Hanoi (Vietnam)

Before leaving for Vietnam, I had heard mixed reviews. Travelers either loved it or hated it. Many said it was their least favorite country based on the attitude of the locals and how they were treated. I was skeptical going in and was expecting to come out the other end disliking it. I went in equipped with my prejudice and tales of other’s travels. But, after spending several weeks in the country, the verdict is in: I loved it (and my travel companions loved it). I loved the people, the food, the country and history. Of course, there are always isolated incidents of doing bad business, not bargaining properly and getting ripped off, or coming across someone who is having a bad day and just feels like being nasty. But I didn’t find my experience to be any different from my time in other countries like Thailand (remind me to tell you the story of the time I got kicked by a seller in Bangkok after walking away from a bad deal on a necklace).





We spent three whirlwind days in Hanoi. Arriving late at night, we were greeted warmly at our hotel, Le Mercure in the Hoan Lake District (94 Ly Thuong Kiet Street) [See map]. Our first traveller mishap occurred when my travel companion left his brand new iphone in the taxi. The hotel which had cameras on the outside, called the taxi agency and tracked down the driver who within 10 minutes brought back his phone! Besides their wonderful service, the hotel was beautiful, elegant and very clean. The staff were professional, courteous and very helpful. A continental and Asian breakfast was served from 6-10 am. A travel and tour agent desk was also located close to the dining area which helped us book many tours around Hanoi. After having spent a few days in Hanoi, we were extremely happy with our hotel choice and chose to spend an extra night after returning from Halong Bay.

Day 1 in Hanoi:

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Mahekal Beach Resort (Playa del Carmen, Mexico)

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I have contemplated writing about this resort- I loved it so much that I almost didn’t want to let out the secret. But here it is folks- if you are planning a trip to Playa del Carmen and want something laid back and different than your cancun style hotel strip then I highly recommend Mahekal Beach Resort
This Mayan paradise is located in Playa del Carmen, nestled between lush tropical gardens and a long strip of pristine white sand beach. Whats more special is that it is located steps away from the wonderful shops and restaurants of 5th avenue, or La Quinta as it is locally known. 
If you want luxury, trendy and modernity then don’t stay here. But if you want to be at one with nature, stay in a Palapas style hut steps away from the beach you will love this place as much as we did.  The Resort does have its flaws and is a bit outdated (was purchased from Shangri La Caribe a few years back) but the service, amazing layout, location, food and friendliness of all staff really made up for its shortcomings. 
The Lobby
Happy Hour 5-7 swings, ping pong and pool tables all in the center of the resort
The Garden Resort area tucked away in the back of the resort away from the beach
Restaurant- breakfast and lunch or dinner included 
Pool and Jacuzzi overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean sea

View Larger Map

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