Typically, I am not overly impressed with French food; croissants and fois gras are not on my list of culinary acceptable foods. When I am in France, I order french fries, cheese and wine. However, Buvette, a New York import, has won my heart. I dined at the “gastrothèque,” just south of Pigalle, with three of my girlfriends and the flavors were mouth-watering and impressive by all standards. We ordered tapas style (creating our own mini buffet) and kept the wine flowing. The decor is best described as a blend of Swedish shabby chic and Parisian; think chalkboards, tin ceilings, white marble and mis-matched chairs. The prices are very reasonable (almost inexpensive for Parisian standards) and the restaurant is now on my list of top 5 favorite restaurants worldwide. I will certainly be back.
Schaste, or “Happiness,” has an elegant yet casual atmosphere- an easy place to settle in St.Petersburg. Part of the Corinthia Hotel, the decor is a feminine take on industrial (add Lauderée-style confectionary counter). I held several meetings here while I was in town. The dinner food was good- no standouts- but the atmosphere, service and sweets kept me coming back.
If you aren’t looking for it, you will definitely miss it. You have to take a slightly-marked dirt road to get to it. Cerritos is a tiny tiny beach
town area near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and when I visited, it was the most relaxing day of the entire two-week trip. There is one cliffside boutique hotel on the beach (an old home that someone turned into luxury lodging) and then the Cerritos Surf Lodge. The first item on the menu at the lodge says “chili dog + beer = $5.” Basically, you can eat and drink all day for nothing, you can wear whatever you want, massages are $35 per hour and life is good. Oh, and you can bring your dog. If you have a camper, you can bring that too.
FLORA FARM //
Flora Farm is a ten-acre organic farm in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. It was the first of its kind, but because of its popularity, you can now find several organic farm destinations in the area. Flora Farm is the undeniably the most superior (don’t bother with the others). Guests can tour the perfectly manicured crops, take a cooking class, get lunch, hang out at the bar (don’t forget to try the carrot margarita) and play bocce ball and croquet. When in Cabo, you must go; I suggest making a day of Flora Farm. It is a perfect venue for group events.
VENZEDITS for VOGUE //
Vogue asked me to do a Dallas city guide for guests of the Chanel Métiers de Arts show. Click here to see what I had to say about my hometown, Dallas.
KATY TRAIL //
If you want to do something active, outdoors in Dallas, the Katy Trail is an excellent option. Dallas-ites come here to walk their dog, bike, jog and catch up over a power walk. The trail is about 3.5 miles long and runs from my office, on Knox, down to the American Airlines Center in downtown, where the Mavericks play. I have a puppy, Ella, and I like to take her on walks or go for a bike ride with my boyfriend. The trail is a very social place, so be sure to dress for the occasion.
THE SMILE //
A lot of my meetings and meet-ups with fashion friends take place in and around SoHo and The Smile seems to be the neighborhood spot of choice. As a tourist, you would never find it. It is located below street level in NoHo but during the week it is as if Cheers and The City had a love child; everyone is in the industry and they all know each other. The service is on point and the cozy atmosphere will keep you at The Smile for several cups.
THE STOCKYARDS //
When tourists visit Texas, they expect to find cattle, southern accents, cowboy hats and dust. The only place you will find that near any major airport, and all in one square block, is the Ft. Worth Stockyards, about 45 minutes East of Dallas. Head to Ft. Worth before sunset and tour the museum and gift shops. There are plenty of options for a BBQ dinner in the square and I would suggest getting tickets to the rodeo. If you are in the mood for line dancing, walk over to Billy Bobs for live music and real southern women.
DE SANTOS //
It is hard to find a spot in Manhattan that does Sunday brunch drink specials the way they do it in my hometown, Dallas. De Santos is a clean, industrially decorated spot, tucked away on a side street in the West Village. There is an outdoor garden for use during warmer months and the enclosed patio is covered in vines; the atmosphere is my version of perfection. Expect to find an attractive, affluent, late twenties- early thirties clientelle. They have a wonderful brunch special: $35 gets you an entrée and bottomless drinks (your choice of about seven options). My order: Smoked salmon with poached eggs, mushroom bruschetta and a screwdriver.
PONT DE L’ARCHEVÊCHÉ //
Better known to
Americans travelers as the Love Locks Bridge, as a guest in Paris, you must visit this spot. It is purely a photo-opp, unless your man is a hopeless romantic and asks you to go lock shopping… The bridge, locks and surrounding area are quite photogenic- a blogger’s dream. Stop by, take an instagram, prove you were there and head on for some afternoon wine. When you get home, frame the instagram.
RIVER SURFING //
When you visit the Haus der Kunst museum, be sure to stop by the Eisbach River that flows along the right side of the building. In the Eisbach River there is a man-made standing wave that measures one meter high where locals river surf. You don’t think of Munich as a surf spot, but the locals are rumored to be just as territorial as you would find in San Diego so don’t plan on trying it.
GOLDENE BAR //
If you could only go to one place in Munich, this would need to be it. The Goldene bar is located inside of the historic Haus der Kunst contemporary art museum and was originally opened in 1937. There is a golden glow in this regal yet cozy small space, hence the name. When I visited, everyone looked famous, but I had no idea who they were. This bar lives up to every American fantasy of Europe- it is romantic, ornate, hopelessly chic and unlike anything you could ever find stateside.
BAR BELMONT //
The best view of downtown Dallas can be seen from Bar Belmont at the Belmont Hotel in North Oak Cliff. From downtown, cross over another Dallas icon, the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge, and head uphill for just a few minutes- it is just far enough off of the beaten path. The Belmont is a historic, mid-century hotel and the clientele is just as cool. Head up to Bar Belmont for a sunset cocktail or host your next small event with the glow of Dallas as your backdrop.
COVA CAFE //
My friend Nadiya and her husband, a local, introduced me to Cova on Via Montenapoleone. The café is perched in the center of a street full of luxury boutiques; it is not surprising that LVMH took a majority stake in the confetteria in June 2013. There are cases of pastries to taste and it is the perfect place to rest or meet with friends between activities.
ACE HOTEL // BRESLIN
The Ace is on my list NOT for the accommodations. Do not stay here; the
dorm rooms are terrible. However, the social areas are incredible. When you walk into the hotel, the lobby bar is going to be packed- day or night, 9AM till late. People meet, work, type and drink here at all hours. You will certainly have to fight for a seat. The high ceiling and industrial decor make it an attractive place to park for hours. From the lobby you can enter the Breslin- a bar/restaurant that has a secret nook upstairs where you can watch the lobby and restaurant scene from an opera perch. Once you have a cocktail, pass back through the lobby and enter Opening Ceremony. I always leave OC with something.
MICHELBERGER HOTEL //
For creative types, this is the place to stay when you go to Berlin. The picture above is a cell phone photo that I took while working in the lounge. The oversized couches are partitioned by cages of old books and the chandeliers are made of old pages. Universal studios is just around the corner so musicians came in and out all day for meetings and interviews. At happy hour, the lounge turns into a bar. The hotel is just about one block from the Berlin Wall and public transportation stops right out front.
CAFE GITANE //
Cafe Gitane at the Jane hotel is my favorite lunch or afternoon spot. I like to perch myself in the nook that you see above and watch the patrons. They have wifi so it is a great place to catch up on emails. Last time I was in, Rooney Mara sat next to me and studied a script. My order: the avocado toast with chili peppers.
ROYAL THAI //
Royal Thai has the best thai food in Dallas. There is just one delivery guy and he brings dinner to my house about twice a week. Best for delivery. My order: Chicken Pad Thai with extra chicken, medium spicy. If I am extra hungry, I will add Tom Kha Gai (chicken soup with mushrooms, coconut milk and chili paste).
GRAMERCY PARK HOTEL //
The Gramercy Park Hotel is one that everyone has heard of, but I don’t think many travelers know too much about it. When I walked into the lobby, the scent of the room set a tone of luxury. It was a woodsy, masculine smell (which I later discovered was the Gramercy signature Le Labo candle). The dark interior reminded me of luxury hotels in Italy- deep reds, dark woods, dim lights and a large fireplace. The building is dressed in pieces by master 20th century artists like Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Keith Haring. The art is not just hanging on the walls; there is a 4,400 bulb installation hanging from the ceiling in the Drawing Room, my favorite, located on the top floor of the hotel. If you are looking for something romantic to do, borrow one of the hotel’s beautiful white bicycles or ask to use the keys to Manhattan’s only private park, the Gramercy Park, directly across the street from the hotel.
The London Edition opened September 2013 during London Fashion Week and the timing could not have been better. The opening night party was the party of fashion month. There was a dulge of images from the event on social media outlets: Cara Delevigne, Alexander Wang, Karlie Kloss, Chelsea Leyland, Leigh Lezark, Scott Schuman, Kate Foley, Harry Styles, more Cara Delevigne… Walking into the hotel, you passed Alexa Chung having a cigarette with Instagram founder, Kevin Systrom. Point is, it is the place to be and stay. For celeb sightings, have a drink in the lobby bar and play some pool (to act busy, of course). The hotel restaurant, Berners Tavern, is magnificent. During my last stay in London, I was only able to pass through Berners on the way to the underground club, but it is #1 on my list for next time. I am impressed, Marriott. Way to go.
As you enter the building, the hallway is lined with interactive art. The dining space is whimsical- every plate and cup is mis-matched and the walls are painted plaid. When you open the menu, a paper fork pops out at you like a 3-D children’s book. The French wait staff lives up to their reputation so do not expect prompt service; however, Sketch is one of the coolest restaurants in London, so make a night of it. After dinner, stop by the
space layer restroom- a room full of egg-shaped pods, lined up like bowling pins. Then, head downstairs into the circular, space ship bar. The space is tiny and because of the design, you can see and hear everyone in the room- all 40 of them. Sketch is perfect for celebrations because of its novelty and progressive activity nature.
HOTEL AMOUR //
This hotel is known as an it spot in Paris. The moment I posted a picture of my room on instagram I received a flood of fond comments about the hotel. I stayed in one of the colorful duplex units- a two-story, mid-century, apartment-style room with about a 150 sq. ft. bathroom. There was no air-conditioning and the lighting was poor; however, the windows in the ceiling opened and the room was so chic that you forgot that you could not see your face in the mirror. The bottom floor of the hotel had no lobby, just a restaurant with an outdoor garden where you could hide behind plants and use the wifi. I will be back.
THE BROKEN ARM //
This new shop/restaurant is a must-visit in Paris. Situated in the Marais, across from the Square du Templeis, the venue attracts it Parisians and international celebrities. Emmanuelle Chriqui (Entourage) stopped in during my lunch but was unable to get a table- there are only about five in the entire space. It is perfect for a light lunch or a coffee date. Be sure to order their freshly made ginger juice.
Rafa’s is my all-time favorite Dallas restaurant and they serve the best queso in the state. The restaurant is located in a strip center and the clientele is all local; dress is casual. Be sure to sit in the bar (on the right side of the restaurant) and order the “House Queso.”
HOTEL ZAZA //
This hotel gives out-of-towners everything they wanted to see in Dallas, Texas: a lot of southern flare, southern women and southern hospitality. The hotel’s complimentary transportation is a black SUV with bull horns strapped to the front; instagram worthy. The rooms are large and you will meet plenty of friends at the picturesque pool. The hotel restaurant, Dragonfly, was recently redesigned and is a chic venue for late night drinks or an evening event- plus the food is good.
TOP GOLF //
One of the few outdoor activities that Dallas has to offer, Top Golf is perfect for birthday parties, large friend groups and corporate events. Think of it as bowling’s richer brother. Beer drinking is encouraged and fried food is served. Novices and non-athletes (like myself) will still enjoy the game as the range is a series of dartboards placed both near and far. Players earn points by hitting certain targets.
VOD BOUTIQUE //
Of all of the stores that Dallas has to offer, this one is most closely aligned to my personal everyday style. Jackie Bolin is probably one of the most euro-chic women in Dallas; her personal style, lifestyle and attitude transcend the Dallas female fashion status quo. She and Liz continue to curate a room of international up-and-comers; they brought Isabel Marant to Dallas long before her line hit cult status (or H&M). If you see clothing as art and have or want to have a slightly heroin-chic, model-off-duty style, check out VOD. Be sure to reference their blog for in-store events.
MI COCINA //
Ask a Dallas-ite where to eat and I promise you that this restaurant will be first on the list. I only suggest the Highland Park Village location to get the true “MiCo” experience; MiCo HPV is very see and be seen. Start out with a Mambo Taxi in the Monkey Bar on the lesser known third floor. Once your table is ready, try to sit on the first floor near the South-facing windows. My order: Queso Blanco with beef and a chicken Taco Salad with chili garlic dressing.
PORTOBELLO MARKET //
You would not expect to find such a large market in the middle of London, but there are hundreds of vendors here selling everything from antique clocks to swords and vintage clothing. I found an incredibly detailed, hand-sewn Middle Eastern dress at one of the shops and wore it to NYFW and in Teen Vogue- all to say there are some gems to be found. Be sure to set aside enough time to peruse and come during daylight hours- shop owners will pack up in time to make it home for dinner. Only open on Saturdays.
COMMERCIAL TAVERN //
This is my favorite bar in London- maybe the world. It is located in East London, Shoreditch, so you can expect illusive creative-types. Avoid the first floor- it is dark, smelly and gloomy. The second floor has several rooms, big windows and incredible chandeliers. Even if you are not a drinker, it is worth the visit just to see the decor. The atmosphere is a bit like Alice in Wonderland with a vintage, hipster, trust fund twist. Goes well with gin and old friends. Do not come hungry as they do not sell real food- only bagged chips. Best time to visit: Sunday afternoon.
THE HOXTON //
This East London hotel is walking-distance to many of my favorite restaurants and bars in London. The hotel is reasonably priced, the bathrooms are new and modern and you get a free brown bag breakfast on your door each morning; however, don’t expect a view or much floor space. The bottom floor is a heavily-attended restaurant/ lounge / bar so an easy social scene is just downstairs- a value to travelers who do not have local friends. Accommodations are perfect for corporate travelers or anyone looking to stay in East London.
I do not like Indian food, but I love Indian food at Dishoom. The Shoreditch location has so many of the things that i look for in a restaurant: (1) a great lounge area; (2) a chic, well-designed bar; (3) incredible food. After work, have a gimlet at the inside bar, then move to the verandah- a covered outdoor living room. Order food tapas or family-style and plan to make a night of your visit. My order: okra fries, calamari, chicken tikka and black daal.