F O U RT H A N N I V E R S A RY E D I T I O N
ISSUE 23 SEP-NOV 2018
HELSINKI PROVINCETOWN • AYURVEDIC ESCAPES • BRUSSELS HOTEL GRANDE BRETAGNE • JASPER PÄÄKKÖNEN • INDIAN ACCENT • JAMES LONG
HIGHLIGHTS SEP-NOV 2018 ISSUE 23
60 THE NORDICS’ COOLEST CAPITAL
Known for its friendly people, long summer days, world-class designers and lively urban culture, HELSINKI is poised to be the next big European city break destination. Dawn Gibson island hops and design shops her way around the Nordic capital of cool, enthralled by its art nouveau architecture, sensational cuisine, beautiful scenery and natural charms.
36 CHINESE HOSPITALITY MAGIC
For discerning travel aficionados, Aman is much more than a luxury hotel brand. Its resorts beguile with their discreet luxury, exquisite attention to detail and breathtaking locations. But AMANYANGYUN, the newest Aman property and a magical fairytale-like journey into Chinese history, might actually be one of the group’s most incredible yet.
26 BAWA’S LAST MASTERPIECE
Geoffrey Bawa’s uniquely recognisable style had a lasting impact on architects around the world. The Cultured Traveller visits stunning Bawa-designed ANANTARA KALUTARA RESORT in Sri Lanka, which was commissioned in 1995 but not completed until more than a decade after his death.
156 THE WORLD’S BEST AYUR
Integrated for decades into primary India taken more seriously in the West as an a discerning travellers are now increasingl their inner and outer selves. The Culture Ayurvedic escapes to reap the benefits o healing systems.
234 THE RISE OF MOTHER’S R
There’s absolutely no doubt that ‘mother we’re in the middle of a full-on gin renai lesson, tour and gin tasting at the first pr over a century.
74 WHERE SAUNA IS KING
Why are the Finns fanatical about gettin family in a heated wooden box? It’s obvio The Cultured Traveller explores the impo and where to experience this ancient ritu
an healthcare, Ayurveda is now alternative medicinal system, and so ly seeking healing resorts to recalibrate ed Traveller rounds-up the world’s best of one of humankind’s oldest holistic
r’s ruin’ is the spirit of the moment and issance. Nicholas Chrisostomou has a rivate distillery to open in Helsinki for
ng naked with their friends and ously more than the health benefits! ortance of saunas to Finnish culture, ual in 21st century Helsinki.
240 FINLAND’S FINEST THESPIAN
JASPER PÄÄKKÖNEN has just hit screens worldwide playing a redneck racist in the award-winning biographical drama BlacKkKlansman. The Cultured Traveller catches up with the renowned Finnish actor to chat about his native country, playing Halfdan the Black on hit series Vikings, his passion for fly fishing and working with visionary filmmaker Spike Lee.
48 FANCY AN ARCTIC BATH?
The brainchild of the team behind Sweden’s famous Treehotel, floating six-room ARCTIC BATH hotel and spa in Swedish Lapland will freeze into the Luleå River ice in the winter and float on top of the water in the summer.
54 WIN A VIETNAMESE VACATION FOR FOUR
Win a three-night stay for four people in a luxury two-bedroom ocean view Pearl Suite, at the stunning new five-star beachfront INTERCONTINENTAL PHU QUOC LONG BEACH RESORT on Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam. This fabulous prize includes daily breakfasts, Sky Tower Pearl Lounge access, round-trip airport transfers, cocktails on the beach and dinner for four at the hotel’s gourmet Japanese restaurant.
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 5
8 EDITOR’S LETTER 10 CONTRIBUTORS 12 NEWSFLASH
Centre; and Paris’ historic century-old Art Nouveau HOTEL LUTETIA, which has been reborn as a contemporary Left Bank hospitality palace after a EUR200 million transformation.
The Cultured Traveller rounds-up the world’s most interesting events, cultural experiences and unmissable festivals happening in the coming months, including CURE SALÉE in the Agadez region of northeast Niger; Bacolod’s colourful MASSKARA festival in the Philippines; Albuquerque’s spectacular INTERNATIONAL BALLOON FIESTA; Pushkar’s annual CAMEL FAIR in the Ajmer region of Rajasthan, and Laos’ three-day religious THAT LUANG FESTIVAL held at the nation’s most revered stupa.
128 SUITE ENVY
24 REST YOUR HEAD
The double-decker plane with the humped fuselage is one of the world’s most recognisable aircraft and has been criss-crossing the planet for almost half a century, making flying more affordable for millions of travellers. The Cultured Traveller looks back at fifty years of the BOEING 747 - the game changing jumbo that defined modern longhaul air travel and set the tone for the future of commercial aviation.
We review COMO’s swishy new surfing-orientated resort in the hipster seaside village of Canggu on Bali’s south-west coast; NOBU’s new adults-only boutique hotel on MARBELLA’s Golden Mile; Detroit’s funky SIREN HOTEL at the city’s historic downtown Wurlitzer Building; Nick Jones’ latest members’ club cum hotel WHITE CITY HOUSE set in London’s former BBC Television
Architectural excellence, artistic flair and a wealth of cultural treasures conspire to make Brussels one of the most appealing cities in Europe for discerning travellers, and there’s no better base from which to explore it than Rocco Forte’s HOTEL AMIGO. Joe Mortimer spends a long weekend acquainting himself with the Belgian capital from the comfort of its most gracious pied-à-terre: THE ARMAND BLATON SUITE.
144 BOARDING PASS
For more than 150 years, HOTEL GRANDE BRETAGNE has proudly stood in the epicentre of Athens overlooking Syntagma Square, welcoming heads of state, pop icons, stars of stage and screen and Hollywood sirens alike. Nicholas Chrisostomou stays at the neo-classical grand dame of the Hellenic hospitality industry and discovers what makes it one of the world’s truly great hotels.
192 TRAVELLER LOWDOWN
A quirky American beach resort favoured by artists, families, the LGBTQ community and eccentrics on the run, PROVINCETOWN is perched at the tip of Cape Cod and combines small-town charm with big-city culture. Alex Benasuli makes the 90-minute crossing from Boston to explore this uniquely colourful seaside hamlet, nestled amongst miles of peaceful dunes and seashore yet seemingly at the end of the earth.
226 TASTE & SIP NEWCOMER
Nicholas Chrisostomou ventures through the door of a graffiti-covered gangster-esque building in central
Berlin, to dine at famed Vietnamese chef Duc Ngo’s gritty new upscale Japanese restaurant, 893 RYŌTEI.
216 TASTE & SIP REVIEW
Manish Mehrotra’s progressive yet playful Indian cuisine, lovingly reimagined with a contemporary spin, makes him one of the most exciting modern Indian chefs in the world today, and INDIAN ACCENT one of the most notable 21st-century restaurant brands on the planet. Alex Benasuli visits its new Mayfair outpost and finds out first-hand what makes it one of London’s unmissable culinary delights.
258 STYLISH GLOBETROTTER
JAMES LONG became one of the UK’s most talked-about designers soon after graduating from The Royal College of Art in 2008 and setting-up his eponymous label. Less than a decade later, Long was appointed creative director of iconic Italian label ICEBERG. Adrian Gibson grabs five minutes with the designer whose mastery and experimentation of knitwear and denim have earned him a cult following.
266 LITTLE BLACK BOOK
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 7
ne of the things I enjoy most about travelling is that there is always something new or exciting just around the corner, and that the art of globetrotting and the level of what it is possible to experience while away from home is growing. It never goes backwards, only forwards, and there are few things in life one can be so certain about. This is why we all love to travel, of course.
A few months ago, The Cultured Traveller team travelled to Finland to research the Helsinki cover story for the fourth birthday issue you’re reading now. The trip was a long time in planning and the word “sauna” was bandied about a number of times, since the ancient bathing ritual is an inherent part of Finnish culture. I have to admit that I was not convinced, and despite various arrangements which had been made I wasn’t sure that I would partake in any sauna experiences to be honest. But I did, at Löyly, an architecturally-stunning multi-million Euro complex which a couple of local entrepreneurs opened in 2016, one of whom kindly hosted me personally when I visited. He had never met me before or even spoken to me on the ‘phone, but the time I spent in his company - in the magnificent building he had co-created from scratch - was one of the most memorable moments of my year thus far. And the sauna experience itself - including swimming in the Baltic Sea, in between trying different types of sauna - was such a profoundly positive and rejuvenating experience, that it gave me a new-found respect for the Finns, for whom sauna is part and parcel of their daily lives. Finland is one of the safest and happiest countries in the world and now I understand why. I can’t remember the last time I smiled as much as I did during my visit to Helsinki. In an interesting twist of fate, the same chap told me (in a very unpretentious, matter-of-fact way) that he just starred as the baddie in Spike Lee’s much-talked-about movie BlacKkKlansman, which won this year’s Grand Prix award in Cannes. It was so refreshing not to have been informed of this fact via a press release or a note from one of his “people” before we met. You can read our exclusive interview with actor and Löyly co-founder Jasper Pääkkönen in our Music & Night Life section (page 240). I hope you enjoy reading this Fourth Anniversary Edition as much as the team and I enjoyed the new experiences we encountered putting it together. One never knows what’s around the corner, so if you have an opportunity to travel and there’s even the slightest possibility of seeing something new, get out there and do it. Because life and travelling are all about moving forwards.
Nicholas Chrisostomou Editor-in-Chief
ISSUU.COM/THECULTUREDTRAVELLER/DOCS • INSTAGRAM.COM/CULTUREDTRAVELLER • FACEBOOK.COM/THECULTUREDTRAVELLER • WWW.THECULTUREDTRAVELLER.COM SUBSCRIPTIONS SUBSCRIBE@THECULTUREDTRAVELLER.COM • ADVERTISING ADS@THECULTUREDTRAVELLER.COM • EDITORIAL WORDS@THECULTUREDTRAVELLER.COM
KOTIHARJUN SAUNA HELSINKI, FINLAND
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 9
CONTRIBUTORS DAWN GIBSON
Dawn Gibson is a globe-trotting journalist who boarded her first plane at the age of four. After a childhood of camping trips in the Australian desert, she did the traditional coming-of-age tour to Europe and has been travelling ever since, visiting more than thirty countries and living in three. She particularly enjoys writing about food and has yet to meet a cuisine she doesn’t like. Her work has appeared in many leading publications, including the Sydney Morning Herald, Time Out, in-flight magazines for Qatar Airways (Oryx) and Garuda Indonesia (Colours), The Age and The West Australian.
ALEX BENASULI BENASULI ALEX
TRAVELLER CITY FOCUSLOWDOWN Alex has been traveling the world his whole life. Growing up in New York City, he would accompany his family every summer on visits to relatives in Spain, France and Germany. A successful two-decade career in finance often took him to Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, Russia, India, Indonesia and all over the Far East. Today, as an avid yoga practitioner and part-time teacher, Alex has a keen appreciation for combining luxury highbrow urban travels with off the beaten track alternative destinations and experiences.
Joe is a UK-based writer and editor who specialises in luxury travel and high-end hospitality. He has visited 60 countries, stayed in more than 100 luxury hotels and resorts, and wined and dined in some of the best restaurants in the world. In between journeys, Joe has interviewed high-profile characters in the world of luxury including the chief executives and presidents of brands such as Lamborghini, LVMH, Hublot and Montblanc; and legendary chefs including Pierre Gagnaire, Nobu Matsuhisa and Marco Pierre White.
STYLISH GLOBETROTTER Adrian worked as a professional fashion buyer for some of London’s leading department stores for more than two decades, including Selfridges, Harrods and Harvey Nichols. More recently Adrian has been working in the Middle East selecting designer threads for both Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdales in Dubai. An avid shopper, he enjoys nothing more than visiting stores, meeting designers and supporting new talent where ever and whenever he’s travelling the globe, as well as keeping a keen eye on the latest trends, both on the world’s most fashionable streets and online. 10 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
and music, the burly strongman esque events have evolved into something of a Scottish rite of passage. The caber toss is considered by many to be Scotland’s signature event and sees logs more than a dozen feet long carried by hulking men and women. Other more inventive ways of pitting man against man include the Maide Leisg, when two men sit on the ground with the soles of their feet pressed against each other and, holding a stick between their hands, pull back and forth until one of them raises off the ground. 1 September 2018 www.braemargathering.org
SCOTLAND Attended by HRH Princess Anne and the Duke of Fife, these old military exercises remain the same as they have for hundreds of years yet have grown into a worldwide exhibition, where everything from traditional tug-of-wars and caber-tossing to dance competitions and solo bagpipes performances are used to determine the skill, prowess and endurance of those competing. Often divided into categories of heavyweight competition, dance
VALTIFEST HOLLAND The Netherlands’ capital is known for its artistic heritage, colourful culture and outrageous parties, all of which are brought to life every September at Valtifest, the wild child of Amsterdam’s summer festival programme, staged in the NDSM Wharf. A former shipyard located on the banks of the River IJ in the north of Amsterdam, in recent years
the NDSM Wharf has blossomed into an enormous cultural hotspot, atmospheric arts and festival location. Boasting a heavyweight line-up of DJs playing dance, electro and thumping house as well as dubstep, hip-hop and punk, Valtifest caters to all tastes, and besides the main DJs you’ll find sideshows and performance artists allowing you to take time out from the dancing and check out the general bizarreness. The music at Valtifest is as eclectic as the dress code, and whilst the organisers specify that festival goers should wear
“Grotesque Carnavalesque” costume, anything really goes on the day! 1 September 2018 www.valtifest.nl
CURE SALÉE NIGER Every September the 500 townsfolk of InGall, in the Agadez region of northeast Niger, grows to upwards of 50,000 as nomads and their herds make the pilgrimage to the tiny West African town to celebrate the annual gathering that serves as a harvest festival, a marketplace, a gathering of the tribes, and, most importantly, a spectacular male beauty parade. Here the roles are reversed, and it is the men who paint their faces, don ceremonial costumes and sing and dance to impress the female judges, in an effort to be named the most attractive man of their clan. The talent portion of the show, known as Yaake, is akin to line dancing, with men standing shoulder-to-shoulder, swaying, singing and chanting in a hypnotic fashion, fuelled by a stimulating tea made of fermented bark, rumored to have a hallucinogenic effect, enabling them to dance wildly, often non-stop, for hours on end. 10 to 20 September 2018
Drink beer by the litre, feast on traditional Bavarian foods (including 15-inch pretzels!), be entertained by live brass bands and carouse away the days and nights with thousands of other revellers from all over the globe at the world’s largest Volksfest, held annually in Munich, Germany. Oktoberfest is a 16-day folk festival running from mid-September through to the first weekend of October, held in the Theresienwiese area (often called the Wiesn for short) located close to Munich’s city centre. The Schottenhamel tent is the place to be if you want to catch the oﬃcial opening ceremony on 22nd September, since it is here, at 12 noon, that the Mayor of Munich taps the first keg of Oktoberfest beer. Now in its 185th year, this year’s festival which will cover almost 35 hectares and a variety of new rides will be introduced, including “Chaos Pendel” which combines a swing and slingshot firing two cabins each containing 8 passengers in all possible directions! 22 September – 7 October 2018 www.oktoberfest.de/en
LAKE OF STARS MALAWI This distinctly African gathering was founded in 2004 by Will Jameson who first visited Malawi as a student in a gap year, working with The Wildlife Society. Upon returning to college in the UK, Jameson started a clubnight called Chibuku Shake Shake (the name of a Malawian beer) which Mixmag named the UK’s best clubnight in 2004. Later the same year, Jameson staged his first festival on the shores of Lake Malawi. In 2014 Lake Of Stars was named one of the top seven African music festivals by CNN. Past headliners have included Andy Cato of Groove Armada, Beverley Knight and celebrated Cape Town DJ duo Goldfish. This year’s three-day event is sure to attract thousands courtesy of multi award-winning headline group Sauti Sol, which has garnered much critical acclaim across the continent, and the festival’s new location in Leopards Bay, Lifuwa Salima, located at the foot of Senga Hills to a backdrop of lush, wooded hillside. 28–30 September 2018 www.lakeofstars.org Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 13
FRIEZE LONDON U.K. This much-lauded art fair takes over a large part of London’s Regent’s Park every year and features more than 160 of the world’s leading galleries at Frieze London plus 130 at Frieze Masters. These two fairs, alongside Frieze Sculpture, provide an exceptional cultural attraction at the heart of the British capital and catalyse one of the most significant weeks in London’s cultural calendar. Frieze also showcases short films, runs workshops, hosts seminars and shows
performance based installation artworks. Opening for the first time with a twoday preview on 3rd and 4th October, the 16th edition of Frieze London will see the introduction of a new themed section, Social Work, featuring works by artists who challenged the maledominated art market of the 1980s, selected by a panel of leading female art historians and critics from UK institutions, including Iwona Blazwick, Katrina Brown, Louisa Buck, Amira Gad, Jennifer Higgie, Melanie Keen, Polly Staple, Sally Tallant and Fatos Üstek. 3–7 October 2018 www.frieze.com
“mass” and the Spanish word “kara” meaning face, MassKara is recognised by the ornate smiling masks worn by thousands of revellers performing in the streets. Spectators are also treated to food festivals, live music, street dance competitions and a parade of illuminated floats and giant puppets. Sports events, pageants and street parties also feature during the main few days of MassKara, but what makes this festival particularly standout is the genuine warmth and friendliness of the welcoming locals. 4–28 October 2018 www.lovepilipinas.com
PHILIPPINES Known as the ‘City of Smiles’, Bacolod’s world-famous funfilled MassKara festival, now on its 38th year, is a popular celebration that traces its roots back to 1980 when it was introduced as a way to boost morale after poor sugarcane sales and a tragedy that took the lives of 1,000 people. Since then, this vibrant and brightlycoloured festival has become a much revered annual happening. Named from a combination of the English word
ALBUQUERQUE INTERNATIONAL BALLOON FIESTA U.K. Now in its 47th year, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta brings together pilots, crews and hot air and gas ballooning enthusiasts from more than fifty countries and draws a crowd of up to 100,000. With hundreds upon hundreds of brightly coloured balloons taking off, the fiesta is an impressive visual spectacle. Mass ascensions (when many hundreds of balloons lift off together into the 14 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
morning sky) are held on all four weekend mornings plus one day midweek, but only after a dawn patrol carefully examines the morning’s weather conditions. When the dawn patrol gives the green light, balloons from all over the world rise together in a harmonious lift off as dawn breaks over the Sandia Mountains. The sight of 500 balloons in the sky is as breathtaking for first-time visitors as it continues to be for veteran attendees. And on the weekend nights, laser lightshows and firework displays bring the days to a spectacular close. 6–14 October 2018 www.balloonfiesta.com
Luxurious Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Hamburg has become an icon of European grandeur. Since 1897 the elegant hotel welcomes guests from all over the world with refined style and timeless grace at the Inner Alster Lake in the heart of Hamburg. 156 luxuriously furnished guest rooms and suites combine international standards with local influences and exquisite materials. The culinary variety is outstanding, the hotel`s philosophy simple: service, service, service - cordially and authentic.
Neuer Jungfernstieg 9-14 | 20354 Hamburg, Germany | T +49 (0) 40 3494 0 | firstname.lastname@example.org | fairmont-hvj.de
ALBA INTERNATIONAL WHITE TRUFFLE FAIR I TALY From early October to mid-November every year, the pretty town of Alba, nestled in the Piedmont region of northern Italy, about an hour by car from Turin, hosts the annual Alba International White Truﬄe Fair to coincide with the late autumn harvest period of Tartufo bianco di Alba, which are characterised by their irregular shape, due to the unevenness of the soil in which they grow. Known
VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL THAILAND While the origins of this festival are a little fuzzy, the most agreed-upon version of events, is that a wandering Chinese opera company fell ill en mass with Malaria while performing in Phuket. In an attempt to beat the disease, the group adopted a strict vegetarian diet and prayed intensely to the nine emperor gods for purification of their bodies and minds to be cured. Surprisingly, the group made a miraculous and complete recovery, and they celebrated by originating a festival to
as the town of a hundred medieval towers, Alba’s old centre is beautifully honour the gods. Thus, Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival was born. Attended by thousands, the festival features a number of rituals, including participants performing ritualised mutilation upon themselves and one another, without anaesthetic but while under a trance-like state, including piercing their mouths, cheeks, ears and arms with fish-hooks, knives, razor blades and bamboo poles in dramatic fashion. Countless offerings of food and drink are also made to the gods in temples throughout the city. 8–17 October 2018 www.phuket.com
FRANKFURT BOOK FAIR GERMANY Celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2018 and with more than 285,000 visitors attending last year, the Frankfurt Book Fair has firmly established itself as one of the most important events in the global literary calendar. Thousands of publishers, authors, retailers, illustrators, librarians, self-publishers and multimedia suppliers from around the globe converge annually on the 16 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
preserved and strolling its streets and piazzas, with a gelato in hand, is one of life’s great pleasures. As the truﬄe fair approaches, international chefs, gastronomy buffs, oenophiles and travelling foodies all descend upon Alba to sample the decadent, aromatic and wildly exclusive white prizes. During the fair, the little unattractive mushrooms - sniffed out by trained dogs and pigs - are cleaned, meticulously preserved and shaved sparingly over pasta, risotto, grilled vegetables and just about everything else. 6 October – 25 November 2018 www.fieradeltartufo.org
German powerhouse city to exchange information, launch books and negotiate the sale of international publishing rights. This year the fair welcomes
Georgia as its guest country of honour, with a view to discovering the diverse culture and literature of a country located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. Meanwhile THE ARTS+ business festival, aimed at the cultural and creative sectors, runs side-by-side with the book fair and offers top-notch speakers, technology innovations, best practice cases, creative presentations and networking events, plus a salon for exclusive talks and a lab for interactive performances (www.theartsplus.com). 10–14 October 2018 www.buchmesse.de
NEW YORK CITY WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL U.S.A. Born in 2007 as a onenighter called SWEET, the following year, founder and festival director Lee Brian Schrager took the event to the next level, launching what is now the New York City Wine and Food Festival, routinely acclaimed as one of the country’s most successful food festivals. For four days each autumn/fall, culinary giants,
celebrity chefs, mixologists, vintners and foodies from around the globe unite to eat, drink and end world hunger, with 100% of the proceeds - upwards of USD 1 million per festival - going to hunger relief organisation Food Bank For New York City and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. Now in its 11th year, NYCWFF offers a diverse range of dishes and culinary experiences across a broad range of price points across New York City, including intimate dinners with world-renowned chefs, late night parties, hands-on classes, educational
WEXFORD FESTIVAL OPERA
in the southeastern corner of the island. All operas are performed at The National Opera House, Ireland’s first custom-built opera house. This year’s festival includes the European premiere of Dinner at Eight, which will be attended by its composer William Bolcom and librettist Mark Campbell who will give a talk about their journey in creating this opera, which was originally commissioned by Minnesota Opera. The festival will also feature a special double bill of Franco Leoni’s L’oracolo and Umberto Giordano’s Mala vita on five dates. 19 October - 4 November 2018 www.wexfordopera.com
IRELAND Since the first Festival of Music and the Arts took place in October 1951, Wexford Festival Opera has grown into one of the world’s leading opera festivals. For 67 years the festival has breathed new life into forgotten or neglected operatic masterpieces, establishing a reputation for high-quality productions that every year bring thousands of opera lovers flocking from all over the world to the beautiful harbour town of Wexford,
SALON DU CHOCOLAT FRANCE The 24th outing of the world’s largest event dedicated to chocolate will be held in the heart of the French capital at the Porte de Versailles Exhibition Center, which provides acres of space to host hundreds of international chocolatiers. Visitors have a unique opportunity to discover and taste chocolate products found nowhere else, courtesy of more than 500 chocolatiers and confectioners hailing 18 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
seminars, coveted wine tastings and more, providing passionate gourmands with something for every palate. 11–14 October 2018 www.nycwff.org
from 60 countries, including more than 200 of the world’s greatest pastry chefs and cocoa experts. The highlight of the festival is undoubtedly The Chocolate Fashion Show on 30th October, when a number of duos of chocolatiers and fashion designers showcase an incredible collection of couture outfits made entirely out of chocolate, including creations by Maxence Barbot for l’Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris and talented young French designer Julien Bonnet. 31 October – 4 November 2018 www.salonduchocolat.fr
DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS
STRAWBERRY FIELDS AUSTRALIA
MEXICO At the start of every November in the Mexican city of Oaxaca, 3,000-year old Día de los Muertos is celebrated for three days. During these 72-hours, the dead are honoured and their souls welcomed home as a blessing. Throughout the festival, images abound of the iconic, animated skeletons called calaveras, which was invented by 19th century printmaker Jose Guadalupe Posada and popularised by artist Diego Rivera. October 31st is prep day, when the women clean the house and get food ready while the men build altars. November 1st is dedicated to children and infants - Día de los Angelitios. The main event on 2nd November - Día de los Muertos - is a more adult affair, with bigger costumes, more complex rituals, spicier foods and lots of tequila. 31 October – 2 November 2018
PUSHKAR CAMEL FAIR INDIA In the Ajmer region of the northeastern Indian state of Rajasthan, the sleepy lakeside town of Pushkar springs to life every year for a unique and incredibly colourful pageant, when close to 50,000 camels are trimmed, coiffured and decorated in order to be entered into beauty contests and raced. Adorned with silver bells and bangles around their hoofs, and embellished with all manner of vibrant adornments, they are paraded past the golden sand dunes to an excited crowd and intense scrutinisation and judging. Aside from the 1000’s of camels traded during the fair, other livestock are haggled over, bought and sold, as well as local textiles, arts and crafts, saddles, jewellery and a variety of camel finery and embellishments. 15–23 November 2018 www.pushkar-camel-fair.com
THAT LUANG FESTIVAL LAOS Laos’ grand stupa, Pha That Luang (pictured), was built over an ancient stupa in the 16th century by King Setthathirath when he moved the capital of Lane Xang Kingdom from Luang Prabang to Vientiane. It has since become the national symbol of Laos and is profoundly revered by all its countryfolk. Once a year for three days, That Luang stupa is the 20 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
focus of a three-day religious festival celebrated at full moon in November, beginning with a pre-dawn gathering of thousands of pilgrims from Laos
Held in a beautiful Murray River site in Tocumwal - a NSW town in Yorta Yorta Country on the Victorian border - Strawberry Fields celebrates the finest electronica complete with art installations, market stalls and workshops. At the same time, the festival respects the ancestors and elders of the people of Tocumwal and Berrigan Shire where it’s held. Patrons are invited to arrive on Thursday to secure the best camping sites and mark the festival’s start at a live music party that night, before embarking on days of adventures which might include discovering an oriental tea lounge or swinging to a jazz quintet improvising on the beach. Topping Strawberry Fields’ tenth birthday line-up is original superstar DJ Sasha, who’s been a force in the global dance music scene for decades. 16–18 November 2018 www.strawberry-fields.com.au
and Thailand who listen to prayers and sermons chanted by hundreds of monks all representing Lao wats. There follows a grand procession to pay homage to Lady Si Meuang, who was crushed to death as the city’s foundation pillar was about to be planted and has since become the protector of Vientiane and its inhabitants. The procession ends with a giant firework display which symbolises an offering of flowers of light to Lord Buddha. 23 November 2018 www.tourismlaos.org
Men wearing ceremonial costume, from the town of In-Gall in the Agadez region of northeast Niger, line-up in the hope of being named the most attractive male of their clan by the female judges. 1 September 2018
Rest Your Head
KALUTARA, VANCOUVER, BENGALURU, LONDON, SHANGHAI, PARIS CANGGU, HAVELOCK ISLAND, MARBELLA, HARADS, NASSAU, DETROIT
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 25
KALUTARA, SRI LANKA ANANTARA KALUTARA RESORT One of the original proponents of the Tropical Modernism movement, despite his late entry into architecture, Sri Lankan-born Geoffrey Bawa’s uniquely recognisable style had a lasting impact on architects around the world. In fact, Bawa’s architecture led to the formation of a new architectural identity and aesthetic for many tropical environments, and won him countless awards and widespread recognition. These included the title of Deshamanya, the second-highest national civil honour of Sri Lanka, which was awarded to Bawa in recognition of his architectural contributions to his country. In 1948 Bawa purchased the Lunuganga Estate, perched on the edge of Dedduwa Lake close to the villages of Hewagama and Dedduwa in Sri Lanka. Here, over the next forty years, he developed a keen interest in gardening and design. A cinnamon estate during the Dutch era and then a rubber plantation under the British, it was in fact Lunuganga’s gardens which led Bawa (a lawyer) to become an architect. The estate was to become one of his best-known legacies and its influence is palpable in all of his work, which we can thank for the pitched roofs and harmony with nature that are now staples of tropical hospitality design worldwide. Now one of Sri Lanka’s most popular attractions, a visit to Lunuganga is one of the many excursions offered by Anantara Kalutara Resort, itself a Bawa project commissioned in 1995. In 1998 Bawa was struck down by illness and eventually passed away in 2003, but not before he had drawn detailed plans for the main parts of his Kalutara project. Uniquely located on a narrow peninsula between a shallow lagoon, the Indian Ocean and Kalu Ganga river near Kalutara, about 40km south of Colombo, with waterfronts on both sides of the property, the project sat idle for 9 years after Bawa’s death, until one of his former students, architect Channa Daswatte, took up the challenge. Of the original blueprint conceived by the late master architect for a former ►
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 27
KALUTARA, SRI LANKA hotel company back in the 90s, that was partially built but unfortunately abandoned due to the civil war, Anantara Kalutara’s beautiful opensided main building remains intact, with its quintessentially colonial Dutch gable roof, breezy reception hall, lobby lounge and upstairs bar. Terracotta tiles, pivoting windows, traditional ceiling fans and plantation-style furniture all preserve the tropical feel of the space, all of which were part of Bawa’s original plans, and set the genteel and laidback tone which permeates the resort throughout. In fact, as one moves around the resort, the sensitivity for its local context combined with Bawa’s principles of modernism are truly a delight to behold, and makes the deceivingly large and sprawling resort feel intensely tranquil. An ingenious Bawa-designed walkway connects the hotel’s lagoon and ocean wings, which together house a total of 141 rooms and suites all furnished in Anantara’s signature first class style. Products reflecting local materials, crafts and heritage are dotted throughout the interiors as Sinhalese accents in contemporary open-plan room layouts, complete with luxurious Lankan-infused custommade furnishings. Entry-level rooms are virtually the same size as suites in normal hotels, and all boast wine humidors, Nespresso machines, generously furnished balconies or terraces and beautiful bathrooms with monsoon showers. Three onsite restaurants all serving superb food, coupled with a large deluxe spa and countless leisure activities - not to mention a bespoke range of excursions - make it difficult to leave the resort, although visiting Lunuganga where Bawa lived is obviously a must. Referencing its surroundings while allowing for a thoroughly modern vacation experience, Anantara Kalutara is a resort truly like no other in Sri Lanka - relaxed and chilled yet international and five-star in every way possible, attentively cosseting and catering to the needs of its guests with the least possible fuss, to ensure that Bawa’s peaceful, tropical modernism aesthetic lives on. www.anantara.com/kalutara
ANANTARA KALUTARA RESORT KALUTARA, SRI LANKA
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 29
VANCOUVER, CANADA THE DOUGLAS Surrounded by spectacular natural beauty, Vancouver is a classic Pacific Northwest seaport city: liberal, diverse and cultured. The largest metropolis in Western Canada, Vancouver is also one of the country’s most dense and ethnically diverse cities, boasting thriving art, theatre and music scenes. Surrounded by mountains, its numerous public parks, lakes and waterways in and around the city make it a veritable playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Meanwhile, the recent arrival of cool cafés, funky hotels, upscale restaurants and cutting-edge galleries have transformed this Northwest boomtown into something of a cool capital, complete with a very good Asian dining scene. Part of the hip Autograph Collection, the new 188-room Douglas adds some style and elegance to the sprawling casino-orientated Parq Vancouver entertainment complex of which it is part. Overlooking False Creek – a sea inlet in the centre of Vancouver – the hotel is just a few minutes’ walk from the Plaza of Nations Ferry Terminal, where Aquabuses depart for the nearby tourist hotspot of Granville Island, famed for its trendy eateries, lively market and hard-working buskers. A 10-minute amble from the hotel heading in the opposite direction, puts you in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Stroll for another five minutes and you will find yourself in the trendy red brick neighbourhood of Gastown, full of winding alleyways and hip restaurants and coffee shops. Rooms at The Douglas exude a contemporary urban aesthetic, complete with concrete ceilings, Illy coffee machines and rainforest showers. Only the suites have tubs and one of them has a piano in it. Meanwhile, the Parq Vancouver complex boasts a host of F&B offerings for guests of The Douglas, including a farm-to-fork eatery which champions local produce and a lavish Chinese fine dining restaurant. http://thedouglasvancouver.com
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 31
BENGALURU, INDIA CONRAD BENGALURU Known as the Silicon Valley of India, cosmopolitan Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) is the capital of Karnataka in the south. It is one of the country’s most progressive and developed cities, and is quickly becoming a hub for business, art and entertainment, complete with a burgeoning drinking, dining and shopping scene. Blessed with a kinder climate due to the city’s enviable location at the centre of the southern peninsula, whilst there are no world-class sights to see in Bengaluru, it’s a wonderful blend of history, spirituality, architecture, culture and nature, with a number of botanical gardens and well laid-out parks worth visiting. Traditional Krishna Rajendra local market is also a must see for its colours, crowds and bustling flower market, and is a veritable treat for Instagrammers. The young and energetic team at the new Conrad Bengaluru altogether compliments the dynamic vibe of the country’s IT capital. The latest addition to the growing number of luxury hotels in the center of it all, located at the edge of MG Road and soaring 24 storeys above the city’s central business district, Conrad Bengaluru offers 285 guest rooms and suites overlooking picturesque Ulsoor Lake, and blends old world detailing with modern amenities and five-star service. Contemporary-styled guest rooms feature floor-toceiling windows providing panoramic city and lake views. Thoughtful, luxe in-room touches include window seating, intelligent electrically-operated curtains and marble bathrooms equipped with in-mirror televisions, deep soaking tubs and walk-in rain showers. Downstairs the hotel boasts five dining and bar experiences, a full-service spa and salon, abundant event space, a 24-hour fitness centre and an outdoor temperature-controlled infinity pool overlooking the city. If you need to do business in India’s IT capital then Conrad Bengaluru is surely the place to chill out after a busy day, and since some of the country’s best vineyards are a short drive from the hotel, it doesn’t have to be all about microchips! www.conradhotels3.hilton.com/Bengaluru
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 33
LONDON, U.K. WHITE CITY HOUSE From small beginnings in 1995, in cramped Georgian premises at 40 Greek Street in London’s Soho - a place for the capital’s creative community to booze, schmooze and snog after the pubs shut - Soho House (complete with its quintessentially London DNA) has developed into an allembracing live-work-play-sleep concept and expanded across the world. With over 70,000 members worldwide and currently expanding at the rate of at least two new Houses every year, it’s hard to keep track of how many Soho House outposts there are currently, but a good guesstimate would be twenty as of 1st September 2018. And as the empire has grown so new Houses have included Cowshed spas, barbershops and hair salons, plus of course swimming pools and gyms - the one at White City covers 21,000ft2 and includes a second pool and a hammam. Set in the former BBC headquarters, West London may have been routinely overshadowed as a cool, creative hub for a number of years by its trendier easterly cousin, but it’s now been put firmly back on the artistic map by the opening of White City House earlier this year - Soho House’s newest and largest members’ club and hotel in the British capital. Inspired by the iconic building’s impressive history, a brash 60s design aesthetic is very obvious throughout. 45 hotel rooms are complemented by two floors of club space on the 9th and 10th floors offering panoramic vistas of West London. Another floor is dedicated to members’ events, and then there’s a rooftop pool and bar, three-screen cinema and one of the largest gyms in London. There’s even a special roast duck oven to cook the birds to crisp, succulent perfection as part of the Asian-inspired menu in the ninth-floor restaurant. www.whitecityhouse.com
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 35
SHANGHAI, CHINA AMANYANGYUN For discerning travel aficionados, Aman is much more than a luxury hotel brand. For one thing, staying at an Aman property is almost certainly an experience unrivalled anywhere else. Meaning “peace, security, safety, shelter, protection” in Sanskrit, Hindi, Punjabi, Arabic, Ge’ez, Amharic, Urdu and Persian, Aman properties currently number 33 in 21 countries stretching from Asia to Europe, North Africa and the States. Aman resorts beguile with their discreet luxury, exquisite attention to detail, otherworldly service, special privileges and breathtaking locations. Aman Summer Palace hotel boasts its own private gateway into the Summer Palace - Beijing’s prized historic treasure. At the Aman Grand Canal in Venice, guests are permitted to visit the Doge’s Palace and clock tower in St. Mark’s Square after hours. One Aman property is perched on the edge of a national park in Rajasthan, while another is surrounded by four volcanoes and overlooks 9th-century Buddhist temples in Java. Meanwhile, nestled away on Phuket’s west coast sits Amanpuri, the flagship of Aman Resorts. Ringed by a lush jungle on one side and magnificent views of the Andaman Sea on the other, its 40 villas cascade down the hillside of a former coconut plantation, guaranteeing complete privacy for the royalty, celebrities and tycoons who have been vacationing there for almost three decades. However, the newest Aman property to open - a magical, fairytale-like hospitality journey into Chinese history - might actually be one of the hotel group’s most incredible yet. Bordering Qizhong Forest Park in the Minhang district of greater Shanghai and surrounded by ancient camphor trees, Amanyangyun lies in Maqiao Town, approximately an hour away from the city centre. Comprising just 37 keys, at the heart of Amanyangyun are 13 ancient villas which were originally situated 700km away in Fuzhou, Jiangzi Province. Since the construction of a dam would have submerged the precious Ming and Qing dynasty villas forever, local entrepreneur Ma Dadong set about preserving them, a feat which involved moving and storing them, piece by piece. 15 years later they were lovingly reassembled at Amanyangyun, and Australian architect Kerry Hill designed minimalist interiors to suit, employing plenty of wood, stone and bamboo. Hill also drew inspiration from the design of the ancient villas - with their courtyards, wooden lattice work and black stone - to create the rest of the resort, carefully blending typical, minimal Aman styling into the mix. At the same time as the ancient villas were saved from destruction, Dadong also arranged to transport 10,000 similarly threatened ancient trees - many more than 1,000 years old - to a site just outside Shanghai. The majority survived the process, and a forest of them has been planted at Amanyangyun. To say that the overall effect is incredibly impressive is something of an understatement. What Aman and Kerry Hill have created together is nothing short of a hospitality masterpiece, and a property which no doubt in time, will only further improve with age. www.aman.com/resorts/amanyangyun
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 37
SHANGHAI, CHINA AMANYANGYUN
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 39
CANGGU, BALI COMO UMA CANGGU Sadly, there are few places left on Bali which can still be described as a little sleepy, but the hipster seaside village of Canggu on its south-west coast is just that, which unfortunately makes it the Indonesian island’s latest hot spot. A 40-minute walk along the beach from Seminyak, Canggu’s streets are not teeming with tourists, the village market sells produce at local prices and the beaches are not packed. A selection of cool cafés serving healthy food sit side-byside with funky beach clubs, hip bars and yoga studios. Canggu may not be “sleepy” per se, but it’s a damn sight quieter than much of the rest of Bali, and its locals are friendly, engaging and happy to chat about the surf. Canggu essentially consists of three parallel villages, each with their own beach areas: Berawa, Batu and Echo. All are bordered by a busy road to the north, Jalan Raya Canggu, which is about 5km inland. Fronting Echo Beach, uber cool new COMO Uma Canggu was this year’s most anticipated Bali hotel opening, and has been the first international five-star brand to land on Canggu’s onyx-black volcanic sands. Skilfully designed to take advantage of some of Bali’s most coveted surf breaks, the resort also beautifully reflects Canggu’s relaxed coastal lifestyle, complete with a fabulous beach club fashioned by Milan-based architect and interior designer, Paola Navone, which forms the hub of the resort. A partnership with luxury Australian surfing experts Tropicsurf ensures that both novice and veteran surfers are well catered for at this essentially surfing-focused property. The minimalist interiors of the resort’s 119 rooms were designed by Japanese-born designer Koichiro Ikebuchi. Think Japanese screens, chic courtyards and outdoor showers. Some have direct access to the resort’s 115-metre lagoon pool. Penthouses boast sweeping oceanic curves, private rooftop pools and incredible sea vistas. A luxe, eight treatment room Como Shambhala Spa offers Asian-inspired therapies, whilst an impressive fitness centre offers twice-daily yoga and Pilates plus classes ranging from hatha and fast-paced rocket yoga through to yogalates. After a hard day’s surf, guests head to the beach club for some freshly barbequed fare served to a backdrop of live musicians and DJs, plus some of the most spectacular sunset views on the island. www.comohotels.com/en/umacanggu
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 41
PARIS, FRANCE HOTEL LUTETIA Built in an Art Nouveau style by the founders of famous Parisian department store Le Bon Marché, Hotel Lutetia first opened its glamorous doors on the Left Bank in 1910, was an instant hit with the city’s creative types, and has been steeped in history ever since. Irish author James Joyce is said to have written part of his seminal novel “Ulysses” while staying at the hotel and it was a cultural hotspot for much of the 20th-century. But during the Second World War, the Lutetia was requisitioned by German forces and used to house troops. Following the liberation of Paris in 1944, under the orders of Charles de Gaulle the hotel hosted victims of Nazi atrocities who were trying to reunite with their families. In the 1950s, the hotel became a hangout for celebrity intellectuals, and was favoured by the likes of Picasso, Hemingway and French Resistance activist Josephine Baker, all of whom were frequent visitors. In 2014 the 233-room EUR300/night hotel was closed for a four-year EUR200 million transformation, designed to elevate the property’s status to that of a five-star contemporary palace hotel - the only one of its kind in the Saint-Germain-desPrés area of Paris’ 6th arrondissement. A few months ago the Lutetia re-opened, having been sensitively renovated and remodelled under the watchful eye of architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte. Whilst the spirit of the historic building remains totally intact, numerous contemporary new features have been incorporated into its classic Art Deco interior, including a new jazz bar, a holistic wellbeing centre and Brasserie Lutetia with three Michelinstarred chef Gérald Passedat at the helm. The guests room count has also been reduced to 184 keys to enlarge all accommodation and create 47 suites, two of which have access to private outdoor terraces boasting spectacular 360-degree views of the City of Light. Unsurprisingly, room rates now start at EUR850, rising to EUR19,000 for a night in the swanky two-bedroom presidential suite. www.hotellutetia.com
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 43
HAVELOCK ISLAND, ANDAMANS TAJ EXOTICA RESORT & SPA, ANDAMANS Boasting breathtakingly beautiful coastlines, lush forests and deserted beaches, all just a 2-hour direct flight from Chennai, the all season Andamans in the Bay of Bengal are the perfect place to either ramble or stretch out on the sand and read a book. Best known for their palm-lined sandy beaches, twisting mangroves and tropical rainforests, the coral reefs surrounding this stunning Indian archipelago support a huge variety of marine life including sharks and manta rays, providing incredible diving opportunities. Whilst indigenous Andaman islanders inhabit the more remote islands like Barren and Narcondam, rendering them inaccessible to travellers unless by special permission, government-run ferries and faster private catamarans run from Port Blair to the major islands, and upmarket resorts arrange private transfers via speedboat. Repeatedly voted one of the world’s best beaches, you haven’t really experienced the Andamans unless you’ve visited picture-postcard perfect Radhanagar Beach on Havelock Island. Here, vast expanses of champagne-coloured sand are gently caressed by white foam necklaces and emerald blue waves. Needless to say, experiencing a sunrise or sunset on Radhanagar is an utter delight. Luxurious new Taj Exotica Resort is the first luxury property to arrive on one the world’s few remaining unspoilt beach destinations. But, inspired by indigenous Jawara huts, the hotel has been built on stilts so as to minimise its impact on the natural landscape. Occupying a 46-acre site, the hotel’s 75 individual villas start at 144m2, are decorated in contemporary yet classic Taj style and each boasts a private plunge pool. The hotel spa floats on a lake. Jungle trekking and turtle-spotting expeditions are among the range of standard activities on offer. And an on-site fine dining restaurant fusing southeast Asian and Bengali flavours, together with an eatery specialising in coastal curries, keep gourmands satiated. https://taj.tajhotels.com
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 45
MALAGÁ, SPAIN NOBU HOTEL MARBELLA Starting at the western edge of Marbella city (Plaza Bocanegra), lined with golden sandy beaches and extending for almost five kilometres as far as the Río Verde just before Puerto Banús, the main N-340 coast road, better known as Marbella’s Golden Mile, is one of the most expensive strips of real estate in the Spain. Lined with palatial beachfront homes, well-appointed villas and opulent palace-like houses, the Golden Mile is a regular meeting place of the rich, famous and royal, who descend on the area to play and holiday. Amongst them Saudi Arabian King Fahd, who arrived in Marbella in the 1970s when it was a relatively small resort and was largely responsible for making its name as a luxury alternative to France’s Côte d’Azur. The King built an 80-hectare holiday complex on the Golden Mile, which boasts a copy of the White House, several other palaces, a private clinic, mosque and sports centre. On his last visit to Marbella, King Fahd arrived in a fleet of jumbo jets with around 3,000 family members, friends, followers and staff. He booked 300 hotel rooms, hired 500 additional staff and more than 100 new Mercedes cars arrived on transporters from Germany. By the time he left more than six weeks later, it is estimated that he had pumped more than EUR90 million into Marbella’s economy. It’s little wonder then that the people of Marbella so grieved the King’s death! The Golden Mile traces its reputation as a premiere vacation spot back to the opening of the five-star Marbella Club Hotel in the 1950’s. Its gardens are consistent prize-winners for their beauty, elegance and style and guests have included Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Laurence Olivier. Nobu Hotels joined the roll call of elite vacation properties on the Golden Mile, by opening an 81-room, adults-only pleasure paradise at the start of the 2018 summer season. Owned by Robert De Niro, chef Nobu Matsuhisa and movie producer Meir Teper, Nobu Hotel Marbella is the group’s fourth hotel in Europe, which has slowly crossed much of the world one sushi restaurant or luxury hotel at a time. A game changer for Marbella, the Nobu Marbella experience has been crafted to offer the highest standards of luxury, service and fun, and its positioning as the ultimate adult playground makes it unique on the Golden Mile. The cool Japanese-inspired interior aesthetic that permeates the property is complemented by a range of exclusive services, including Nobu signature dishes, wellness treatments and cocktail preparation available in guest rooms and suites, plus a private members’ lounge. Guests also enjoy private access to La Suite, Puente Romano’s seductive VIP nightclub, which is mere metres from Nobu Hotel Marbella. www.nobuhotels.com/marbella
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 47
HARADS, SWEDEN ARCTIC BATH A country of ice flows and frozen wastelands, quiet forests and reindeer herders, the Northern Lights and cosy cottages, Sweden is a beautiful country boasting countless natural beauties. Add to this an outstanding foodie scene with a huge variety of dining options and it’s not hard to see why millions of tourists visit Sweden annually, especially around Midsummer, which is the most important celebration of the year for many Swedes. If you head in the same direction long enough in Sweden, you’ll almost certainly hit an archipelago. You’ll find them off the country’s north, south, east and west coasts. They’re centres of Swedish cultural heritage and immense natural beauty, offering a laidback lifestyle and numerous nature activities. Many Swedes have summer homes on these islands. There are roughly 24,000 islands in the Stockholm archipelago alone about 150 of which are inhabited. And now there’s about to be one more, albeit man-made. Positioned on Luleå River and situated downstream from the bridges of the village of Bodträskfors opposite Harads in Lapland - in a prime location to experience the Northern Lights - Arctic Bath promises to be a Swedish island like no other. The brainchild of the team behind Sweden’s now famous Treehotel, Arctic Bath will be a floating six-room hotel and spa that freezes into the river ice in the winter and floats on top of the water in the summer. The design of Arctic Bath is inspired by the timber floating era, reminiscent of how felled trees were transported down the riverfor processing. The open centre of Arctic Bath will be designed for sunbathing, ice bathing and experiencing the Northern Lights or starfilled skies. A dip in the bath itself will be consistent with the Arctic tradition of a cold-water plunge combined with several in-house saunas. This incredible building will also offer spa treatments and will contain a restaurant, lounge and shop. www.arcticbath.se
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 49
NASSAU, BAHAMAS ROSEWOOD BAHA MAR Even though the archipelago of more than 700 islands and cays, strung together with deep ocean channels and shallow banks, is actually located in the Atlantic, The Bahamas is widely regarded as being part of the Caribbean. And with the appeal of a big city juxtaposed with the easiness of the tropics, Nassau, its capital, is considered by many to be a paradise metropolitan hub. A bustling city full of culture and modern amenities, the Bahamian capital is where most people live, and, largely thanks to flocks of cruise-ship passengers, receives the largest number of visitors. Nassau boasts a diverse variety of restaurants, bars and nightlife, not to mention traffic and mega hotel complexes, one of which is the largest resort in the Caribbean, the new 2,300-room Baha Mar on Cable Beach. Employing more than 4,000 people (to give you a sense of the size of the place), Baha Mar is anchored by a 100,000-square-foot casino (nearly twice the size of Atlantis’ in Dubai) and so is for many the Caribbean’s Macau. One thing’s for sure, it’s the kind of property the region has never seen before. You either love or utterly hate this kind of resort, where massive waterfalls mark the entrance and the directional signage wouldn’t look out of place in Disneyworld, but if you’re going to visit Baha Mar be sure to stay at the new Rosewood, one of a number of five-star properties within the complex. The complex’s hospitality crown jewel, Rosewood Baha Mar recently made its long-awaited debut, when it was officially opened by Bahamian Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis no less. Featuring 233 rooms and suites, all of which boast their own private patios or terraces, along with a collection of three-bedroom and six-bedroom beachfront villas with their own pools, The Bahamas’ newest luxury resort also features a number of high-end restaurants which deliver some of Nassau’s finest dining. These include London-styled farm-to-table brasserie Commonwealth, and Costa, which serves coastal dishes with a Mexican flavour. www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/baha-mar
50 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
DETROIT, U.S.A. THE SIREN HOTEL Commonly known as the Motor City, these days Detroit is brimming with culture and life and should definitely be part of your itinerary if youâ€™re touring the States. A singular metropolitan representation of the American experience, while news headlines about Detroit have tended to dwell on its decay and bankruptcy, in reality and on the ground thereâ€™s plenty to impress even the most discerning of travellers in this vibrant, progressive and charming city, not least a visit to Hitsville USA, where Berry Gordy introduced the world to the likes of Diana Ross, the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder and many other Motown legends. In the decades before it sat silently decaying, the Wurlitzer Building at 1509 Broadway was filled with music, home to one of the largest music stores in the world and helped to thrill thousands of theatre-going Detroiters. Designed by Detroit architect Robert Finn in an elegant Renaissance Revival style, built by the Otto Misch Company and opened on 8th December 1926, the 14-storey building once housed the Wurlitzer Company which made pianos, organs, radios, and, most famously, jukeboxes. The Wurlitzer company left sometime before the 1970s and was followed by various tenants, although the building was never again fully let. By the mid 1980s, without any tenants, the tall, narrow and abandoned building fell into disrepair. Sadly, the historic landmark started to fall to pieces at the beginning of this decade. Thankfully in 2015 the Wurlitzer Building was rescued from what seemed like almost certain demolition, when developer ASH NYC bought it to renovate and transform into The Siren Hotel which opened a few months ago retaining many 1920s features which were preserved during its conversion. Original Terracotta signage, beautiful travertine floors and plaster ceiling details have been updated with pastel colours and rich materials to maintain the essence of the building. The 106 off-white guest rooms are accentuated with timber floors, white veined black marble, hues of pinks and oxblood, and plush, angular navy blue-upholstered furniture. Custom blankets on the beds were designed by graduate students from a nearby art academy. Unusually for such a small hotel, the building also includes seven dining and drinking areas, two retail spaces, and a 14th floor rooftop bar that boasts impressive views into Canada across the Detroit River. www.thesirenhotel.com
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 53
WIN A THREE-NIGHT STAY FOR FOUR DELUXE OCEAN VIEW SUITE AT INTER PHU QUOC LONG BEACH RESORT Offering unparalleled luxury and refinement, InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort is surrounded by verdant jungle-matted hills and enjoys breathtaking views that stretch out across endless ocean. Located just 15 minutes from Phu Quoc International Airport and 20 minutes from the largest town, Duong Dong, the resort offers convenient access to all of the area’s major attractions. The resort features a variety of luxury low-rise and sky tower accommodation, with many of the rooms, suites and villas boasting landscaped gardens, patios and direct access to the white sand beach. All accommodation features deep bathtubs, walk-in rain showers, floor-to-ceiling windows and spacious balconies, providing the ideal environment to escape and unwind. The resort’s six innovative dining and bar venues offer an eclectic array of gastronomic delights, including exquisite seafood at LAVA restaurant, barbecued delights at Sea Shack, Japanese and locally-inspired delicacies at Sora & Umi, and delicious Italian fare served poolside at Ombra.
Sip a hand crafted cocktail at - to a backdrop of breathtaking
Four swimming pools, watersp winning HARNN Heritage Spa Resort the perfect escape for t some simple rest and relaxation
This fabulous prize is a thr th two-bedroom ocean view (for four); access to th pre-dinner sundowner co a professional mixologist; Japanese restaurant. Also airport transfers and wi-fi. wi-fi
R PEOPLE IN A RCONTINENTAL T IN VIETNAM
t INK 360 - the highest sky bar on the island g sunset vistas.
ports, a range of tailored activities and the awarda make InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach hose looking for both an energetic adventure or n
To enter this prize draw email your contact details (name, home city, email and mobile no.) to win@TheCulturedTraveller.com
ree-night stay for four people in a luxury w Pearl Suite, including daily breakfast he exclusive Sky Tower Pearl Lounge; ocktails on the beach, hand-crafted by ; and one dinner for four at Sora & Umi included are complimentary round-trip . phuquoc.intercontinental.com
The draw will take place after 30th November 2018 and the winner will be notified via email. This prize can be used any time before 1st September 2019 and is subject to availability when booking. This prize is not transferable to another person. Blackout periods apply during peak season and public holidays in Vietnam. The Cultured Traveller will not share your details with third parties. Entrants will be added as subscribers to The Cultured Travellerâ€™s mailing list. Multiple entries will be disqualified and excluded.
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 55
Thousands of Filipinos wearing ornate smiling masks and elaborate costumes perform in the streets at Bacolodâ€™s world-famous annual MassKara festival 4â€“28 October 2018
HELSINKI CITY FOCUS MAIN ARTICLE
Dawn Gibson island hops and design shops her way around the Finnish capital, enthralled by its art nouveau architecture, sensational cuisine and natural charms
CITY FOCUS MAIN ARTICLE
he finest of Europe’s small cities possess an enviable style that gets lost in a bigger metropolis: a core of proud individuality married with community developed over centuries, a shared history, a sense of space and place. Helsinki is an exemplary example, a quintessential melding of glorious architecture, world-beating design, incredibly innovative home-grown cuisine, stellar shopping, saunas and sea, superb green spaces and diverse night life. Yet Helsinki remains largely unexplored by many a cultured traveller. This is to the benefit of those who go, for instead of ploughing through the masses on yet another summer sojourn, visitors to the Finnish capital can relax in a
city popular enough to buzz without being so crowded that it heaves. And, of course, there are the legendary white nights – being one of the most northerly European capitals, Helsinki glories in some of the longest summer days on the planet, with up to 19 hours of daylight, which makes it perfect for partying into the wee hours and enjoying the many waterfront venues. Perched on a peninsula on Finland’s south coast, facing the Baltic Sea, Helsinki has a reputation for being a bit overlooked. While its roots are ancient – people were using the area for fishing and hunting in the Iron Age – the city has through history been at the mercy
of regional superpowers due to Finland being wedged between Sweden to the west and Russia to the east. The Swedes colonised the coastline of the region in the late 13th-century. King Gustav I of Sweden established the trading town of Helsingfors (Helsinki) in 1550, and it and the rest of country remained part of the then mighty Kingdom of Sweden until Russia annexed Finland and made it an autonomous part of the Russian Empire in 1809. Emperor Alexander I of Russia moved the Finnish capital from Turku to Helsinki in 1812 to bring it closer to Saint Petersburg, laying the foundations for the modern capital. Though the country did not gain its independence until 1917, Finns have resolutely adhered
to their own cultural identity throughout the centuries. Since then, Helsinki has inarguably come into its own. The city is modest by world standards (there are around 1.4 million people in the Greater Helsinki area) but it constantly punches above its weight. Helsinki has one of the highest urban living standards in the world. It has a plethora of world-class galleries and museums, much more than you would expect for a city of its size, as well as the largest concentration of Art Nouveau buildings in Northern Europe and an understandable pride in its innovative design pedigree. In 2012 Helsinki was named the World Design Capital, and in 2014 â–ş Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 63
it was awarded City of Design status as part of the Creative Cities Network established by UNESCO. The city’s downtown Design District is as intrinsic a part of Helsinki as its love of coffee; Finland is the world’s top consumer of the coffee bean, per capita. The people are friendly and hospitable, often impeccably fluent in English in addition to the national languages of Finnish and Swedish, with possibly one or two other languages thrown in for good measure. The city centre is small enough that you can have a good sense of your surrounds in a couple of days, and is well set up for walking – though, if you get tired of pounding the shoe leather, it boasts one of the best public transportation systems in the world, including classic trams and a speedy metro. Bicycles are also available to hire for a very affordable EUR10 per week. The Cultured Traveller flew to Helsinki on the country’s national flag carrier Finnair, which prides itself on its short-cut routes between Europe and Asia (www. finnair.com). Helsinki Airport is in Vantaa, a 30 – 40-minute trip from the city centre by car. A cab from the airport will cost you around EUR50, while cheaper options include shared fixed price for less than half that, one-way (www.airporttaxi.fi/en). Once you’re ready to explore, a perfect place to start is the green heart of the city, Esplanadi. Colloquially known as Espa, this tree-lined continental-style promenade is an obvious socialising and people-watching spot. In the warmer months it comes alive with gourmet ice cream vendors, smartly dressed locals lounging on the grass, buskers and market-style stalls. Designed by Helsinki’s principle architect Carl Ludvig Engel in the early 19thcentury, Esplanadi contains one of the city’s most historic restaurants, Kappeli, built in 1867, and Espa Stage which hosts around 200 artists and groups from May through August. The promenade is surrounded by high-end international and Finnish stores, such as Louis Vuitton, world-renowned Finnish glass and tableware company Iittala and prominent textile house Finlayson, as well as upmarket cafés, restaurants and five-star Hotel Kämp. Wander to the coastal end of Esplanadi and you’ll find yourself at Market Square, a year-round outdoor market on South Harbour which sells a wonderful array of hand-crafted items. In contrast to the massproduced rubbish that has become ubiquitous to many markets, Market Square is still somewhere you can talk to the craftsmen and women who have fashioned your
keepsake, be it an exquisite piece of silver jewellery, hand-knitted winter woollies or Christmas tree decorations. Here you can haggle over genuine reindeer furs and sample no nonsense, strong Finnish coffee. Continue along the harbour and you will soon reach Helsinki’s 40-metre SkyWheel, which offers panoramic views over the city, sea and the surrounding islands (www.skywheel.fi/en). A novel way to ride this Ferris wheel is to book the SkySauna - the only one of its kind in the world. Being game to try anything once, The Cultured Traveller gave it a whirl: the idea is to stay in the heated wood-lined carriage for several rotations, before relaxing in a massaging hot tub in your own private lounge on terra firma (www.skysauna.fi/ en/). Next door is Allas Sea Pool, featuring a seawater pool and a warm water pool as well as saunas (www. allasseapool.fi/en). Heading away from the water for a moment, another of the city’s popular attractions is Linnanmäki amusement park. Located 20 minutes north of the centre, the park features a great selection of rides for thrill-seekers, including seven rollercoasters, three tower rides, and a classic river rapids ride. Don’t miss riding the original 1951 wooden rollercoaster, which was one of the first permanent rides to be built in the park (www.linnanmaki.fi/en/). Returning to South Harbour, take a ride of a different kind on a ferry or pleasure cruise to one of Helsinki’s numerous islands – the long coastline has more than 300, many of which are accessible for recreational use. As well as the UNESCO world heritage site and former fortress of Suomenlinna, there are plenty of smaller islands that feature sea-view restaurants and saunas. The Cultured Traveller’s evening ferry ride to Lonna Island was an idyllic experience, and we dined al fresco on local seafood and in-season vegetables under a magical blue and pink sky. Though we were content just to sit and enjoy the serenity after our meal, there were deluxe sauna facilities mere metres away, if we were so inclined (www.lonna.fi/en). To further explore the serene waters around Helsinki, the 1½-hour sightseeing cruise operated by CityTour is highly recommended. The spacious, modern boat complete with restaurant and bar journeys around Suomenlinna and along the picturesque harbour front, past formidable looking icebreakers, traditional sailing ships and international cruise liners. A combined boat and bus hop-on hop-off ticket costs EUR35 for a day (www.citytour.fi). ► Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 65
Head inland to get a feel for Helsinki’s urban culture, as well as its international reputation for ground-breaking design. A couple of tips: Firstly, one of the best ways to appreciate the gorgeous streetscapes is to take a guided walking tour – Helsinki Marketing organises a diverse range, from a free walk around the main sights, to a Design Walk, a Finnish Food Walk and tailor-made itineraries. You may think this isn’t necessary in such an easily navigable city, but (echoing Finnish design) there is much detail to be seen that is not immediately obvious. Exquisite art nouveau streetscapes, houses that look like castles, animal sculptures imbedded in buildings, hidden courtyards and a wooden door 66 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
intricately carved with the face of a wind god are just some of the treasures that you’ll see on a guided tour. Helsinki Marketing’s website is a superb resource for planning your visit to the Finnish capital www. myhelsinki.fi/en. Secondly, buy a Helsinki Card for free entry to most of the city’s galleries and museums (each of which typically charges EUR10), free sightseeing tours, free public transport and discounts to restaurants, shops and attractions (www.helsinkicard.com). If Esplanadi is Helsinki’s heart, then the Design District is almost certainly its soul. Finnish design is increasingly being recognised worldwide for its sweet combination ►
of beauty, functionality and sustainability. The Design District incorporates this in both ‘a neighbourhood and a state of mind’, encompassing twenty-five inner-city streets and two hundred creative businesses, from cutting-edge boutiques, pop-ups, artists’ studios, vintage shops and pocket galleries, to restaurants serving organic fare and achingly hip boutique hotels. At a time when many big cities are lamenting the demise of funky independent retailers due to the seemingly unstoppable march of international chains, Helsinki is doing the complete opposite. Iconic Finnish brands (such as modernist furniture pioneer Artek and fashion house Marimekko) rub shoulders
with start-ups and the next big things. Head for Artisaani, LOKAL and Softrend for home décor and textiles; the Pure Waste Concept Store and Vietto for ecologically-sound clothing, and Galleria Mafka & Alakoski for contemporary local glass wear (www. designdistrict.fi). The district (which encompasses four neighbourhoods) also embraces the Design Museum and the Museum of Finnish Architecture. In addition, Helsinki Design Week is held every September. The largest festival of its kind in the Nordics, this year’s highlights include a market, live DJs, exhibitions and workshops (www.helsinkidesignweek.com).
After browsing the Design District, it’s time to appreciate the aesthetics of Helsinki’s architecture. Even to the untutored eye, is not hard to see why it is so celebrated. Telling the story of the city, the mix of numerous styles somehow work as a harmonious whole, Senate Square being the star turn of Engel’s grand city plan. Presided over by suitably impressive Helsinki Cathedral, the square was finished in 1852 as a tribute to the Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, and is flanked by the Government Palace and Helsinki University’s main building. Nearby is the Tori Quarter (Torikorttelit), where neoclassical buildings have been revitalised with modern day amenities and food and beverage venues.
The Art Nouveau movement added a new dimension to Helsinki at the start of the 20th-century. Finnish architects added their own spin to the trend by drawing upon influences from nature and Kalevala, an epic 19th-century poetic work considered part of Finland’s national identity. The influence of Art Nouveau came at a pivotal time when the city was being developed and modernised, resulting in picturesque streets of houses that look to have come straight out of a fairytale, complete with turrets, cupolas and gargoyles, especially in Katajanokka and Ullanlinna. Wandering these streets is a photographer’s delight as each building is endearingly unique. Helsinki Central Station ► Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 71
is a prominent example of the style; the master work of Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, the 1919 building is considered one of the most beautiful railway stations in the world. Next door is what looks like a castle with an eye-catching red roof – it’s actually the Finnish National Theatre, a 1902 art nouveau landmark. Functionalism and modernism have also stamped their influence on Helsinki. One of Finland’s bestknown architects and designers, Alvar Aalto, considered to be the father of Finnish Modernism, was the mind behind Finlandia Hall on Töölönlahti Bay. The sleek white concert hall, with its cathedral-like roof and nature-inspired interiors, was completed in 1971. Also worth visiting is Temppeliaukio Rock Church in Töölö. As the name implies, it is hewn out of solid rock and is crowned with a copper-lined dome. Built in 1969, it is often used for concerts due to its superb acoustics. The city’s dynamic foodie scene is another attraction for cultured travellers. In line with Helsinki’s design culture, most food-driven venues are typically individual and managed by passionate Finns who
deftly combine international trends with homegrown flavours and methods. World-class haute cuisine is available in abundance, but it is largely presented without pretentiousness. The focus on sustainability is key: using local, organic and inseason produce is not a fad here. Seafood is naturally a big focus. And chefs make liberal use of nutrientrich, flavoursome wild berries, such as lingonberries, cloudberries and sea buckthorn, which are also used to garnish cocktails and spirit-based drinks. Helsinki provides a constant stream of surprises and delights and enamours at every opportunity. Each nook and cranny of the city is truly worthy of investigation, which cannot be said about many of Europe’s capitals. Cobbled streets yield design stores, fabulous galleries and marvellous architecture. Dining experiences touch and enthral every taste bud. And the waters which surround the city provide a serene and embracing backdrop. If you visit one Nordic city in your lifetime, let it be Helsinki in the summer. You will undoubtedly leave both spoiled and enchanted by its pristine and uncomplicated charms. Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 73
Why are the Finns fanatical about getting naked with their friends and family in a heated wooden box? Itâ€™s obviously more than the health benefits. The Cultured Traveller explores the importance of saunas to Finnish culture, and where to experience this ancient ritual in 21st century Helsinki
LÃ–YLY HELSINKI, FINLAND
There are saunas everywhere in Finland: next to lakes, in apartment buildings and office towers, in tiny country cottages and in Parliament, down a mine, on a Ferris wheel, in boats and tents, and even, mind-bogglingly, on bicycles. The president and the prime minister each have an official one. Business deals get made in them, family and friends bond in them, and visitors wonder if they really do have to take off all their clothes first. The short answer is yes, one should, but we will get to that detail later! The importance of saunas to Finnish culture cannot be over-estimated. There are about three million in a country of just 5½ million inhabitants. More than there are cars on Finland’s streets. Saunas are to Finns what cups of tea and moaning about the weather are to the English, or apple pie and shiny-eyed patriotism are to the Americans. So, the question has to be asked: why? While saunas are not unique to Finland, they have an ancient history in the country and have long been an integral part of everyday life. The earliest are believed to date back
as far as 7000 BC, and the first written reference in Finnish history was in a 12th-century text – it is undisputed that Finnish people have been willingly sitting in hot wooden boxes for centuries. There are obvious reasons: before hot water was on tap, a sauna was the best place to wash during freezing winters, and it was the most hygienic environment for mothers to give birth. From practical beginnings, saunas have become a place for both relaxation and socialising – having a cold beer or cider afterwards is often part of the ritual, as is roasting sausages. One of the best things about a Finnish sauna is the diversity. You can go completely old-school with a rustic sauna in the wilderness, pamper yourself at a five-star-resort, or mix in with the locals at a public facility. And public does not necessarily mean basic. Löyly is one of the new-style public saunas springing up in Helsinki. Built in a plum position on the city’s waterfront, the architecturally stunning USD6.5 million complex features public and private saunas, multiple levels of outdoor terraces, a rooftop deck ►
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 77
and a restaurant, all beautifully designed to make the most of the breathtaking, sweeping views across the bay. To give visitors a holistic experience, there are three different types of sauna, heated with wood sourced from responsibly managed forests: a continuously heated sauna, one that is heated once a day (but stays warm), and a traditional smoke sauna, the latter being a rarity in an urban setting. Between the saunas there is a spa area, plus a relaxation room with a fireplace at its centre. And you can step down into the sea for a swim if the mood takes you. Löyly is open all year round, so if you visit in winter and you’re feeling brave, you can try the ‘avanto’ - a hole made in the ice for winter swimming, a popular custom in Finland. After having your fill of the saunas, relax in the restaurant with a glass of wine, a coffee or a bite to eat – the organicthemed menu offers local cuisine such as elk meatballs and salmon soup alongside international fare like grilled beef and root vegetable falafels (www.loylyhelsinki.fi ). For a novel experience, try the world’s first sauna in the sky on Helsinki’s SkyWheel. Up to five guests can sweat it out in the unique SkySauna cabin while
enjoying breath-taking views of the city, sea and surrounding islands from up to 40 metres in the air. Meanwhile, on terra firma, up to ten people can relax in a huge private hot tub or spread out on the adjoining terrace while they wait for their turn in the sauna in the sky (https://skysauna.fi/en/). Something of a legend in the Finnish capital, Kotiharjun has welcomed sauna-goers since 1928 and is the last traditionally wood-heated public sauna in Helsinki. Should you wish, hardy washing ladies are available to hand scrub the living daylights out of you, and massage, cupping, manicures and pedicures are also available by prior arrangement. Bring your own drinks and there’s a fridge to chill your beers. You’ll be in the company of friendly, long-time local regulars and other foreigners, and after your sauna you can sit on the street in your towel and enjoy the fresh air. Visit early for a peaceful experience and avoid Fridays and especially Saturdays (www.kotiharjunsauna.fi). Lastly, for a very different ambience, try Sauna Hermanni in the Helsinki district of the same name. ►
KOTIHARJUN SAUNA HELSINKI, FINLAND
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 79
Established in the early 1950s, the facility has been redecorated in keeping with its vintage, and hosts regular discos and parties, as well as barbeques in the summer (www.saunahermanni.fi). So, once you have decided where to visit, what should you expect? There’s the naked aspect to deal with, of course. The very helpful Official Travel Guide of Finland notes that Finns go nude to the sauna even with strangers, but they understand foreigners have ‘certain inhibitions’ and will be okay with you wearing a swimsuit or a towel (www.visitfinland. com/article/10-sauna-tips-for-beginners). However, in some public saunas, swimsuits may be banned for health and hygiene reasons, so it’s good to research the facility before you go. And while saunas in some countries are a front for spicier businesses, in Finland, it’s a strictly non-sexual environment. To prepare, have a shower, and take a small towel with you to sit on. Typically, the room will be heated to between 70°C and 100°C. A wood-heated sauna usually has a basket of rocks on top of the stove, upon which
you throw water to increase the heat and humidity. You may be given a vihta, a bundle of birch twigs to dip in water and softly whip yourself with in order to stimulate circulation and open the pores. Don’t stay inside as if in an endurance contest – follow the lead of the Finns by having several sessions in the hot room, interspaced by periods of cooling down or dips in the sea, before a final shower. Make sure you drink enough water to re-hydrate, and, above all, relax and enjoy. Wherever you sauna in Helsinki, the experience will be a boost to both your physical and mental health. A sauna stimulates circulation in a similar way as low to moderate exercise. Health benefits may include reduced muscular soreness, ease of arthritic pain, reduction of asthmatic symptoms, improved heart health and reduced stress levels. There are even indications that saunas could lower the risk of dementia, although more research needs to be done on this topic. Add a beer or two afterwards and it is not hard to see why this quintessentially Finnish custom has endured through the centuries and is still going strong in the present day.
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 81
KLAUS K HOTEL KATAJANOKKA HOTEL F6 HOTEL ST. GEORGE RADISSON BLU SEASIDE HOTEL
By Dawn Gibson
When visiting a city which is well-known for its style, why not stay in designer surroundings? Priding itself for being Finland’s first design hotel, Klaus K is stylish, individual and extremely well-located. Whether you rest your head in a room created in collaboration with a leading Finnish artist, or curl into the comfort of an egg-shaped bed in a Sky Suite, your stay experience at Klaus K will undoubtedly be memorable. Klaus K is suitably situated on the fringe of Helsinki’s Design District, a trendy inner-city neighbourhood brimming with intriguing shops, galleries and restaurants. It’s very central: a short walk from the harbour and the main attractions. Part of the Kämp Collection which includes 10 luxury hotels in Helsinki, it is also a member of Design Hotels and a partner of Starwood’s preferred guest programme. The 171-room hotel incorporates two buildings, built in 1882 and 1912 by renowned Finnish architects Frans Sjöström and Lars Sonck respectively. Almost all the property’s furnishings, carpets and artworks were tailormade especially for Klaus K and were inspired by the Kalevala, a dramatic 19th-century work of epic poetry by Elias Lönnrot based on folklore and mythology, which is considered an integral part of Finland’s cultural identity. How the world and universe were created from seven eggs, according to the Kalevala, is woven into everything from the bespoke carpets to the white curved reception desk. Some of Klaus K’s rooms are individually infused with art in a special way, making staying in one of them a unique experience. The suite fashioned by beloved visual artist Katja Tukiainen – known for her joyful use of colour, especially pink and magenta, and the expressive style of the sympathetic figures she paints – has a giant doll staring down from its wall. Meanwhile, Pro Finlandia medal-winning designer Harri Koskinen has created a minimalist ode to the forest in his quiet and calming Urban Nature room. Of all Klaus K’s accommodation options, its premium top floor rooms, suites and lofts are the most desirable in the building, and guests staying in these have access to the hotel’s exclusive seventh floor Sky Terrace, which boasts spectacular Mary Poppins-esque views across Helsinki’s roof-tops. The Cultured Traveller stayed in a Sky Balcony room which was sleek, modern and (as the name suggests) boasted its own private balcony. A sumptuous king-size Unikulma bed sat atop an elevated deck, separating the sleeping area from a corner sofa and desk a few steps down. Onsite eating options include Tuscan-themed restaurant Toscanini and chic Klaus K Bar & Lounge, the latter having a small sidewalk perfect for al fresco dining and people watching. Staffed by friendly and welcoming people who are attentive without being OTT, Klaus K is the perfect base from which to explore Helsinki and return to for a peaceful night’s sleep in the sky. www.klauskhotel.com 84 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
HOTEL KATAJANOKKA By Adrian Gibson
Situated in the middle of a peninsula, adjacent to the port, to the east of the city centre, independentlyowned Hotel Katajanokka is just a few minutes-walk from the SkyWheel and Allas Sea Pool, as well as the historic Eastern Orthodox Uspenski Cathedral, with its thirteen gleaming onion spires, set on a rock overlooking the city. The area around Hotel Katajanokka is largely residential, and consists of enchanting Jugenstil apartment buildings built in the Art Nouveau style in the early 1900s. It’s worth spending some time admiring these beautiful homes, with their balconies and fairytale-like turrets, complete with handcarved doors decorated with animal and plant motifs. Refreshingly authentic, Hotel Katajanokka was originally a county prison and pre-trial detention centre and dates back to the 19th-century. The oldest part of the property was built in 1837, making it one of Finland’s oldest buildings and a fascinating place to stay, particularly if combined with a second hotel on the opposite side of Helsinki for a two-centre break, in the Design District for instance. Decommissioned in 2002, much of the building is protected by Finland’s National Board of Antiquities and remains, pretty much as it was when in use, as a reminder of its long and colourful past. The hotel’s Gothic brick exterior may appear a little sinister and unnerving on first sight, but once inside the reception is bright and welcoming and staff greet guests warmly. Whilst the internal layout, open central corridor and landings are instantly obvious as classic prison characteristics, all have been tastefully updated with eye-catching carpets and inviting velvetcovered couches. The Cultured Traveller stayed in an entry-level Classic Queen room, which was previously two separate prison cells knocked through. Despite its small size, thanks to the lofty vaulted ceilings, some good design and a clever use of space I didn’t feel incarcerated at all, although the unusual curtain arrangement did take some getting used to! Furnished in a contemporary style using a palette of whites, warm greys and oak, offset by a bold patterned carpet, the room was accessorised with some cute prison-themed nods to the building’s past and the wet room functioned well. The room category to book at Hotel Katajanokka is an octagonal-shaped Junior Suite, since these are open-planned with a separate seating area and come complete with a private en-suite sauna. All rooms include free hi-speed wi-fi, 24-hour access to a pretty good onsite gym and complimentary use of the hotel’s sauna on weekend mornings. A buffet breakfast is served daily in the prison’s old mess hall in the basement of the building, where you can also see one of the old isolation cells in which prisoners were held in solitary confinement. Outside, the prison grounds are pleasantly landscaped complete with a relaxation terrace, and the property’s beautifully restored chapel – used for more than 170 years – is available for weddings. Whilst the jail concept is inescapable it’s part of the hotel’s quirky charm, which recently landed Katajanokka Finland’s Leading Boutique Hotel Award, and makes for an unusual but comfy place to spend a few nights. www.hotelkatajanokka.fi/en Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 87
By Nicholas Chrisostomou
It’s not hard to see why independently-owned F6 is widely regarded as the best boutique hotel in Helsinki city centre, particularly amongst well-to-do locals who are always a pretty good barometer. Housed within a converted government ministry building with a contemporary block added-on at the back, first let’s talk about the hotel’s location which is almost certainly the most convenient in all of Helsinki. F6 is literally a one-minute walk from the city’s beautiful, central urban park, Esplanadi, with its green spaces, cafés and shaded spots to sit. All along Esplanadi, on both sides of the park, you will find Finnish design shops and countless places to eat and drink. At one end of Esplanadi are South Harbour, Market Square, the SkyWheel and ferries to the islands. Just off Esplanadi is Senate Square. And at the other end of Esplanadi, Erottaja Square puts you in the heart of the Design District, which is pretty much where it’s all happening style-wise in Helsinki at the moment. The museum of modern art and beautiful Eliel Saarinen-designed main train station are just 5-minutes further away on foot. A taxi from the airport to F6 takes roughly 20-minutes. So, quite honestly, you couldn’t stay in a more perfect location when visiting Helsinki. Next, let’s talk about the refreshingly relaxed informality of the hotel. There’s no pretentiousness, stuffiness or other nonsense at F6. The spacious and tastefully-furnished reception is warm and welcoming. The friendly people on the front desk happily help with your bags, check you in, tell you how to get around and will even fetch you a coffee when the restaurant is closed. The same helpful people answer the phones when you call from your room. And, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll be introduced to Runar, the hotel’s French Bulldog mascot, who has an uber cool (and rather good) cocktail bar named after him, located directly opposite reception. In keeping with its no-nonsense and unpretentious approach, F6’s 66 rooms are available in three categories: standard, superior and deluxe. Even the smallest (standard) rooms are generously proportioned. My deluxe room akin to a suite had heaps of space to move around, and was complete with a huge sofa, comfy armchair, great desk, two large TV screens, Nespresso machine, a plush kingsize Unikulma bed, and a slick, well-proportioned shower room with an over-sized walk-in rain-shower. Rooms are laid with elegant dark wood flooring. And, best of all, the air-con is quiet and the curtains truly black-out, the latter being of the utmost importance in a country where the summer nights are so short. There are no baths at F6, so if you somehow have time to soak when you’re on a city-break you need to stay elsewhere! A generous, hearty, home-style buffet breakfast is served in a dedicated dining room adjacent to the bar. Guests can also breakfast al fresco, weather permitting (of course) which was glorious when The Cultured Traveller was in town. The gym in the basement (open 24hrs) had everything I needed to have a decent workout, including bottled water. Bicycles are available to borrow free. Vespas can be hired. In-room dining is not available, but the hotel works with Wolt food delivery company (which was founded in Helsinki) so you can have a meal delivered straight to your room (https://wolt.com/en). My only complaint about F6 (if I had to moan about something!) would be the lack of plentiful wardrobe space - I could only hang a dozen garments. But most people don’t travel with as much luggage, and F6’s mega-friendly staff more than made-up for any little niggles I had, so I would definitely visit F6 again. https://hotelf6.fi 88 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
HOTEL ST. GEORGE By Adrian Gibson
Housed within the city’s former Literature Society and printing house for the first Finnish national newspaper, Hotel St. George is situated at 13 Yrjönkatu on the edge of picturesque Old Church Park, right in the centre of Helsinki’s Design District. Just around the corner is premium Art Deco department store Hartmanns, with the city’s main shopping district just seconds away. Helsinki’s Design Museum is within a few minutes’ walk of the hotel, and is well worth a visit to see how Finnish design has influenced the world in some surprising ways. Set in an imposing edifice built in the 1840s but which wasn’t fully completed till 1890 by native architect Onni Tarjanne, who is known for his work on the Finnish National Theatre, Hotel St. George opened just a few months ago in May 2018 after a two-year renovation. Spanning seven floors, the historic building has been sensitively restored complete with thoughtfully curated furniture and art, most of which was handpicked by Mirkku Kullberg, the hotel’s creative force, ex-CEO of Artek and head of the home department at Vitra. The fantastic result of Kullberg’s labours is a fusion of art, Nordic style and hospitality luxury, although what has been achieved at Hotel St. George is in many ways beyond luxury. As one enters the hotel’s marble-floored, light and airy lobby, you’re greeted by a huge white silk and bamboo dragon named Tianwu, courtesy of leading contemporary artist Ai Weiwei. This sets the sophisticated tone for the entire property. In the Wintergarden Bar, located in the hotel’s inner courtyard, a 6-metre silver phoenix sculpture by Pukka Jyhä hangs under a glass roof just above the heads of guests, while the walls are lined with a stunning, whimsical wallpaper by Klaus Haapaniemi depicting a fantasy garden. The tasteful art-led aesthetic continues throughout wine and poetry rooms, plus countless nooks and cranny’s, as well as the hotel’s 148 rooms and 5 suites. The Cultured Traveller stayed in a cool Serenity Studio of around 30m2, which was decorated in a neutral palette of nude and powder blue and furnished with classic Nordic pieces. Hung with Finnish abstract art and accessorised with glass and earthenware, the overall effect was a light and serene environment which it was easy to relax in yet hard to leave. The best room in the house is undoubtedly the third-floor St George Suite, which boasts a large open-plan lounge and dining room, and whose windows open out onto Old Church Park. Here, warm chocolate drapes hang alongside modernist Hjort af Örnäs armchairs and the floors are draped with soft, hand-woven Georgian vintage carpets. Offering a mix of Finnish and Turkish culture as well as a high-quality breakfast, the hotel’s house restaurant Andrea, headed by talented duo Mehmet Gürs and Antto Melasniemi, is the perfect place to dine anytime of the day or night. Being such an artistic property, surrounded by art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, bars and cafés, makes staying at Hotel St. George an exercise in luxurious living in the cosmopolitan heart of Helsinki. www.stgeorgehelsinki.com Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 91
RADISSON BLU SEASIDE HOTEL
By Dawn Gibson
Situated in a prime waterfront location which affords guests sweeping vistas of Helsinki’s West Harbour and icebreaker shipyard, the Radisson Blu does seaside with a difference. Think glorious views of glittering blue water as cruise ships dock and ferries head off to Russia and Estonia, and fit Finns cycle past as you stroll along the expansive harbourside, all a short distance from the city’s popular Hietaniemi Beach. The Radisson Blu Seaside is in Ruoholahti, which is located along the western seafront of the city and is a 15-20-minute walk or 10-minute tram ride from the centre. The area was created in the early 20th-century by connecting several small islands to service the nearby port, and was reinvented in the 1990s as a distinctive residential, office and business district where cool shops now sit side-by-side with commercial premises. The hotel showcases its local heritage via Nordic design with a maritime flavour: sailing ship-style ropes are suspended from the ceiling in the lobby, while the 349 guest rooms and suites feature sleek minimalist furniture and cutesy touches such as striped bed linen and a quirky port-hole-style window in some bathrooms. Meanwhile, the previously industrial function of the hotel’s main wing as a dairy plant is re-told via red brick-walled corridors and industrial-style concrete floors, all in keeping with Radisson Blu’s slick, trademark smartness. A wide variety of rooms is on offer, from a 15m2 entry-level to a 70m2 Seaside Suite, the latter boasting two large terraces and a private rooftop spa with sauna and hot tub. Meanwhile, business category rooms have their beds on a second tier facing the view. Some rooms have walk-in showers, some have bath tubs, and some have their own private saunas. The Cultured Traveller stayed in a two-level “Business Class Room” on the seventh floor, which was more like a sophisticated bijou studio in New York or London rather than a hotel room. Floor-to-ceiling windows fill one wall, affording guests stunning views onto the harbour, which can be enjoyed from the comfort of the luxurious king-size bed or from a private balcony. Connected via a metal spiral staircase, the room’s lower level is home to a lounge area, desk nook and bathroom with rain-shower. Hotel facilities include a large and well-equipped gym; in-house Katto Sauna & Lounge located on the top two floors; a no cost “Grab & Run” takeaway breakfast option for guests on the go, and Bistro Gimis which prides itself on serving fresh seafood and other locally sourced ingredients from small producers. The Radisson Blu Seaside ticks all the right boxes for a perfect city stay, complete with friendly, polite and efficient service, beautifully appointed rooms and a substantial buffet breakfast. Whatever room you opt for, at this hotel a sea view really is a must! www.radissonblu.com/en/seasidehotel-helsinki 92 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
THE HELSINKI DISTILLING COMPANY
SEE LÖYLY When in Helsinki a sauna experience is essential to truly embrace Finnish culture, and Löyly does it with charisma and style. Situated on the edge of the Baltic Sea about 10 minutes’ drive from downtown, the building itself is a work of art: a free-form ‘cloak’ of heat-treated pine by Ville Hara and Anu Puustinen from Avanto architects provides privacy and reduces energy use, while making the most of the sea views. There are three types of wood sauna including a traditional smoke version, as well as a rooftop terrace and an outdoor deck from where you can swim in the sea (you can do a traditional ice plunge in winter if you’re stout of heart!). A spacious restaurant and bar, with an expansive outdoor terrace, serves organic cuisine and sustainably caught fish. The delicious, chunky salmon soup is a must. Co-founded by Finnish actor Jasper Pääkkönen (who you can see in Spike Lee’s latest film BlacKkKlansman), Löyly is both a tranquil place of well-being and a hang-out for Helsinki’s beautiful people. www.loylyhelsinki.fi THE HELSINKI DISTILLING COMPANY With some of the world’s most pristine water as a base ingredient and a commitment to a painstaking, hands-on production process, it is little wonder that The Helsinki Distilling Company is garnering quite an international reputation. The first distillery to open in the city for over a century, the company is capitalising on the worldwide thirst for premium artisanal gin, whisky and other premium spirits. Its multi-award-winning Helsinki Dry Gin blends pure Finnish water with nine hand-picked botanicals including Arctic lingonberries, while its very popular Helsinki Long Drink combines the same gin with pink grapefruit. The brainchild of friends Mikko Mykkänen, Kai Kilpinen and Séamus Holohan, the distillery is based in the industrial-chic surrounds of a former power plant in Teurastamo. Visitors can tour the steam punk-style production rooms downstairs before enjoying a tasting session upstairs at Tislaamo, its distillery bar. www.hdco.fi Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 95
SUOMENLINNA A historic island fortress doesn’t sound like a must-see destination, except for war buffs! However, there are good reasons why Suomenlinna is both a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Finland. A 15-20-minute ferry ride from Market Square, the island is an idyllic destination for a day trip and a fascinating window into the country’s past. Construction began in 1748 when Finland was part of Sweden, and the fortress was used in the defence of three realms – Sweden, Russia and Finland – as well as serving as an anti-aircraft base during the WWII. Helsinki would not be what it is today without its trusty sea fortress. The most interesting way to learn more is to take a guided walking tour. Be sure not to miss the panoramic views from the guns! A plethora of museums, cafés, restaurants and craft shops fill the island, providing plenty to do for at least an afternoon! www.suomenlinna.fi/en ATENEUM An art gallery is a wonderful place to begin to understand a country’s culture and how it sees itself. Ateneum fulfils this role splendidly, showcasing Finland’s oldest and largest art collection. Housed in a palatial late 19th-century building fronting on to Rautatientori Square, near Helsinki’s equally grand main railway station, Ateneum tells the story of Finnish art from the 1800s through to the 20th-century, juxtaposing Finnish and international masterpieces with the likes of Le Corbusier, Eero Järnefelt, Edvard Munch and Ilya Repin. Part of the Finnish National Gallery, Ateneum also boasts an international collection of more than 650 works from luminaries such as Paul Cézanne, Marc Chagall, Paul Gauguin, Francisco de Goya, Amedeo Modigliani and Auguste Rodin. Interestingly, Ateneum was the first museum in the world to own a Vincent van Gogh, and the artist’s Street in Auvers-sur-Oise, completed in 1890 and one of his last works, continues to take pride of place. www.ateneum.fi OLD MARKET HALL Fancy sampling reindeer salami? How about cold smoked reindeer or perhaps some air-dried reindeer chips? For every variation of Nordic venison you can imagine, the Old Market Hall next to the Helsinki harbour-front and Market Square is the place you need to visit. The novelty of reindeer aside, the hall is brimming with artisan cheeses and breads, organic meats, giant slabs of salmon and specialty Finnish products such as sea buckthorn tea. There are several cafés serving excellent local coffee and nibbles – try the Scandinavia Café for ‘munkkipossu’ doughnuts (substantial no-hole doughnuts with a very sweet apple filling), Soppakeittiö for a selection of moreish soups, or the oyster bar for seafood and champagne. Built in 1888 and opened the following year, the hall is the ideal spot to spend time browsing Helsinki’s fresh produce. www.vanhakauppahalli.fi
OLD MARKET HALL
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 97
DESIGN MUSEUM Located in the heart of the city’s Design District at 23 Korkeavuorenkatu, Helsinki’s Designmuseo has been housed for the past forty years in a beautiful Victorian building, designed in 1894 by architect Gustaf Nyström. Here, this internationally recognised museum which specialises in Finnish design, researches, collects, stores and documents items of national importance, and displays its collections both in Finland and in touring exhibitions overseas. This is a fantastic place to spend a calm hour or two, wondering amongst the museum’s permanent collection to see just how much Finnish design has influenced the way we live today. The museum shop is also a great one-stop-shop to see a number of classic, affordable Finnish-designed items in one compact and well laid-out space, including work by young designers. www.designmuseum.fi/en
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 99
THE COCK • SAVOY OLO • YES YES YES FISKEN PÅ DISKEN HOLIDAY • GRÖN DEMO • ULTIMA ORA • CHAPTER
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 101
OLO A contemporary Nordic fine-dining restaurant, situated in a house and courtyard that dates back to 1817, located in the heart of Helsinki in the city’s South Harbour, Olo has held a Michelin star since 2011 for skilfully taking diners on an inspired gastronomic tour of Finland and the countries which surround it, via hyper-creative tasting menus akin to journeys in food. A veritable temple to molecular gastronomy that mixes ancient tradition with futuristic culinary techniques, this very popular restaurant is a Helsinki staple and was co-founded by talented Finnish chef Pekka Terävä in 2006. Natural and clean flavours of land and sea reign in Olo’s kitchen and nine and six-course tasting menus follow the yearly cycle of Nordic nature, flaunting the edible riches of the region via skilfully rendered, thoroughly modern dishes that allow the natural ingredients to shine. Meanwhile, Olo’s sommelier keeps pace with the restaurant’s constantly changing seasonal menus with the aid of a huge cellar, stocked with fine wines from small producers around the world. Eating at Olo is a gastronomic tour de force featuring a range of staggering epicurean twists and turns which keep the tongue tantalised and the taste buds satiated. Save Olo for your last night in Helsinki or a very special occasion. https://olo-ravintola.fi/en NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 103
SAVOY A Helsinki institution utterly deserving of all the praise that’s regularly lavished upon it, Savoy first opened its glamorous doors to the public on 3rd June 1937 and has been a Finnish restaurant legend ever since. After prohibition ended in Finland in 1932, people were re-invigorated to enjoy life and have fun once again. Around the same time, the country’s largest industrial company decided to build a swanky new office building for its workers at 14 Eteläesplanadi, in Helsinki’s city centre. The 7th and 8th floors were reserved for restaurant and conference purposes and are still occupied by Savoy today, more than eighty years later. Since then, Savoy has seen marriage proposals, breakups and huge celebrations - companies being started, wartime scheming, celebrities dining and pop stars brunching. Basically, it has all happened at Savoy, at one time or another. The museum-like restaurant’s beautiful minimal style is the hallmark of Finnish master architect and designer Alvar Aalto and the then newly-founded Artek. Aalto’s hallmark is evident throughout Savoy - from the reception to the warm, oblong main dining room and beyond. Every inch of the place has been lovingly preserved in complete splendour, and a big part of the joy of dining at Savoy is the gorgeous environment in which you’re seated while you eat. The venue is truly an utter delight, and the delicious, classic fare perfectly complements the surroundings in which it is served. Savoy’s food is reassuringly expensive yet creative semi-fine dining, without being over pretentious. You won’t leave Savoy hungry, that’s for sure. Expect ample portions of indulgent, well-prepared old-style cuisine, without the stuffiness of a Michelin-starred restaurant, served with warmth and style. High-end comfort food is a good description, for at the Savoy ordering one dish à la carte or going for a five-course tasting menu are equally acceptable behaviour. On a clear sunny day, Savoy’s covered and enclosed glazed outdoor terrace, overlooking Helsinki’s rooftops and Esplanadi Park below, is a strong contender for the city’s best dining spot, the spectacular wide vista being pretty hard to beat. www.ravintolasavoy.fi/en NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 105
ORA Showcasing the finest Finnish ingredients in dishes that are almost too exquisite to stick a fork into is the philosophy behind ORA. Situated in Huvilakatu, the tiny restaurant seats just 23 diners at a time. The décor is unassuming - a cream and brown palette that highlights the simple beauty of Finnish design in everything from the handmade wooden furniture to the locally produced glassware. Diners face the open kitchen, as owner and chef Sasu Laukkonen bustles about chatting to customers in between supervising his small team. Letting the quality of the food take centre stage is paying off – Ora has only been open since August 2017 but has already received a Michelin star. The restaurant occupies the same space as Laukkonen’s last Michelin-starred venture, Chef & Sommelier, but in ORA he is aiming for a slightly different approach, based on locally sourced organic and wild produce. The six-course set menu changes to match the seasons and is paired with organic wines. On the evening The Cultured Traveller visited, stand-outs included organic pork loin with sunflower and cider sauce, and a sinfully creamy dessert topped with redcurrants and meadow flowers. Be sure to make a reservation. www.orarestaurant.fi/en DAWN GIBSON FISKEN PÅ DISKEN It would be a shame to visit the Baltic coast and not indulge in some fresh-out-of-thewater seafood. Fisken På Disken in the city centre, located a short walk from the landmark Stockmann department store, has a casual atmosphere but a commitment to serving high quality sea-based fare, cooked in accordance Finnish traditions with a contemporary twist. Sip champagne and nibble oysters with red onion vinaigrette and lemon at the seafood bar, or dive into one of Chef Mikko Pakola’s four, five or six-course sharing menus, featuring dishes like Baltic herring, charred whitefish, fresh cod and scallop bouillabaisse and rainbow trout soup. There is a smattering of non-fishy fare, such as smoked duck breast and bolete mushroom risotto, for those who can’t do without meat! www.fisken.fi/en DAWN GIBSON
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 107
HOLIDAY Two minutes-walk from bustling Market Square, cross a short bridge and you’ll find yourself on Katajanokka island, and right in front of you is Holiday - almost certainly the sunniest and most chipper bar/resto in Helsinki, staffed by an efficient, happy-go-lucky team who make it their job to ensure that you’re well fed and watered and have a jolly nice time. The perfect place for lunch, dinner or late-night cocktails (when the music cranks up a notch and the disco balls come out), this buzzing hipster hangout right on the waterfront is the brainchild of Richard McCormick and Ville Relander who know a thing or two about how to run a successful restaurant. The detailing throughout Holiday is top notch. The fare is simple, unpretentious and very well-executed. The service cannot be faulted. Cocktails are excellent. And Holiday’s moreish soft serve ice-cream is quite possibly the best in the city. Everything is served to a backdrop of toe-tapping disco tunes and happy vibes. The atmosphere at Holiday is casual, relaxed, fun and chilled, day and night, and there are even deck chairs if you fancy taking off your shoes and bathing in the summer sun. Anything is possible at Holiday and quite often everything happens! The place for a fun and long boozy lunch with some good people watching, be sure to take a selfie in the oversized wicker chair! http://holiday-bar.fi NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU DEMO Nestled in the heart of the Design District near City Park, Demo has been a bastion of Scandinavian fine dining for 15 years. In 2007 it became the first bistro-styled restaurant in Finland to receive a Michelin star, and, more impressively, it has been able to retain its Michelin ranking ever since. However, as is the case with many of Helsinki’s best restaurants, chef-owner Tommi Tuominen has been loath to position his establishment as elitist. With a motto of “share a laugh in the middle of culinary excellence”, Demo’s dining room is a spatial ode to Scandi design: pared back and sleekly functional. Diners choose from a set menu of four to seven dishes prepared according to classic techniques with a contemporary slant, merging French and Scandinavian influences. www.restaurantdemo.fi DAWN GIBSON
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 109
CHAPTER Nestled inside the Tori Quarters next to Helsinki Cathedral, and owned, managed and operated by charming young husband and wife team Romany and Juho Ekegren, Chapter is a relatively new addition to Helsinki’s restaurant scene having opened in stages last year. Yet despite its relative youth, Chapter is already making big gastronomic waves in the city and winning awards, not least for the couple’s straightforward approach to running a restaurant, Juho’s superb cooking and Romany’s warm and efficient front-of-house skills. The cocktail bar component of Chapter debuted first last June, serving drinks and fine-tuned bar food with an emphasis on Nordic staples like arctic char and pike perch, married with ingredients like enoki, shiitake and yuzu providing a fresh touch. The intimate, full-service fine dining restaurant, located in the older part of the building (which was constructed in 1775) and offering diners views of towering Helsinki Cathedral, opened its doors less than a year ago in October 2017. On the evening that The Cultured Traveller visited Chapter, Romany was dressed in exactly the same attire as her staff and equally sharing responsibility with the rest of her team for attending to diners. Saying everything about the way Chapter is run, this obvious lack of airs and graces gives the place a thoroughly unpretentious and relaxed feel, which puts guests at ease whether dining on a sixcourse tasting menu in the restaurant, or having lunch in the glass-fronted cocktail bar to the front of the venue. Already an accomplished chef at the age of 25, with stints in Michelin-starred establishments as well as restaurants in London and Barcelona under his belt, Juho showcases his eclectic and somewhat experimental cooking style by wrapping local Finnish and seasonal produce in a variety of global flavours. The result is fine, flavourful and artistically presented dishes which don’t leave you hungry, and tasting menus which delight every time a new plate lands on the table. This fresh, modern take on fine dining is a breath of fresh air, as is Romany and Juho’s commitment to sustainability and running their restaurant conscientiously, making Chapter a must for any foodie visiting Helsinki. www.chapter.fi NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU
110 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
GRÖN With an intimate, down-to-earth ambience despite its Michelin star rating, Grön is the kind of place that you might walk past a couple of times before you realise you’ve found it, especially as it fronts a non-descript section of Albertinkatu in downtown Helsinki. It’s well worth the effort to find, though. Toni Kostian and Lauri Kähkönen develop highly creative plant-based menus from organic and wild regional produce, which are paired with delicious, naturally produced wines. Plantbased doesn’t mean vegetarian, however. Meat and fish are included in the four-course Grön Menu but share equal billing with fresh seasonal vegetables. There is a vegan version of the set menu and a small selection of à la carte dishes. The Cultured Traveller couldn’t get enough of the home-baked sourdough bread with cold smoked fish roe, sour cream, onion flowers and chives. www.restaurantgron.com DAWN GIBSON YES YES YES From the moment you walk into this bar and restaurant housed in a former McDonald’s on the pedestrian strip of Iso Roobertinkatu, you realise Yes Yes Yes doesn’t take itself too seriously. Perhaps it’s the vibrantly coloured patterned wallpaper, or the banana plants, or the chairs and bar stools in hues of millennial pink and powder blue, or the heart-shaped, neon-lit wall mirror. What the team behind the venue do take seriously, though, is providing an excellent, flavoursome vegetarian menu that should tempt even the most committed carnivores. A tandoori oven takes pride of place in the open kitchen, primed for a daily diet of flatbreads served with an eclectic array of dips such as pea tahini, strawberry salsa and za’atar. The more substantial fare dabbles with Asian and European flavours in dishes such as black bean noodles with tofu, peanut, mango and sweet chilli, and heart of palm with peas, spinach, gems, parmesan, miso and truﬄe. www.yesyesyes.fi DAWN GIBSON
YES YES YES Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 113
THE COCK Open 12-hours every day except Sundays, for late breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between, The Cock is one of those places that when a friend suggests meeting there for lunch, everyone unanimously agrees. Because everyone loves The Cock - it’s as simple as that. It’s hip and trendy without being in any way painfully fashionable, and its central location - on the edge of the Design District yet a stone’s throw from Esplanadi - make it the perfect place for a relaxed and informal gathering. You can drop in alone and have a drink or a light bite, or hook up with your mates and go all out with oysters, steak tartare and bubbles. The simplicity of the food menu extends to the drinks, which capitalise on seasonal flavours and local ingredients in a range of cocktails which are fresh and thirst-quenching. “The Cock Lunch Break” is great value for money at just EUR13 Monday through Friday from 11.00 ‘til 14.30 to eat in or take-away, and includes a daily changing menu of fresh salads, made-from-scratch soups and stews, freshly baked bread and organic coffee. Yum yum – we love The Cock! http://thecock.fi NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU ULTIMA The brainchild of two of Finland’s leading chefs, Henri Alén and Tommi Tuominen, Ultima has been creating a stir since it launched in May 2018 as an experimental restaurant, combining high quality cuisine with stateof-the-art food technology. Located near the Old Market Hall on South Harbour, diners can literally see their meals growing around them, since the restaurant houses a hydroponic system, aeroponic potato tubes, balloonshaped pendants with crickets living inside them and a mushroom-growing statue. And, yes, the insects are on the menu. In keeping with a world-wide trend towards sustainability, 90 percent of the kitchen’s ingredients originate from Finland. You can try elk-meat tartare or wild fish with Ultima’s version of a fermented Asian sauce, using broad beans in place of soya. www.restaurant-ultima.fi/en/ DAWN GIBSON Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 115
SIP MATTOLAITURI This upscale yet casual seasonal champagne and wine bar is run by friendly and well-connected Annina, who can almost always be found in the venue looking after guests. Purpose-designed Mattolaituri is perfectly positioned to make the most of the stunning panoramic water views all around its unique location, and is THE place to come on a sunny day when the skies are clear and you have time to sit, relax, sip and contemplate just how wonderful life can be. A DJ provides funky background beats which are just the right tempo and volume. A wide selection of wines and cocktails is reasonably priced. The staff are chirpy and friendly. Water bowls and treats are even provided for dogs. Located at the southern tip of Kaivopuisto Park, The Cultured Traveller team spent a gorgeous Sunday afternoon here sipping a very palatable rose, watching the boats sail by and drinking in the beautiful views, before making the easy 20-25-minute level walk along the coastal path to Löyly for a relaxing sauna. Mattolaituri is a must if you visit Helsinki in the summer. www.mattolaituri.com NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU CAFÉ KUUMA In a country where people drink more coffee per head than any other in the world, unsurprisingly, finding a great brew is thankfully not difficult. However, Café KUUMA stands out from the crowd for its warm friendly service as well as seriously good lattés and espressos by White Label Roastery. Located in the Design District locale of Punavuori, KUUMA is tiny and trendy so you may have to wait for a table. But, once you’re seated, you can choose from a simple but well-executed menu of hipster food staples including avocado toast and organic scrambled eggs to accompany your caffeine fix. KUUMA’s popular all-day breakfast is very good. www.kuumahelsinki.com DAWN GIBSON
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 117
WINTERGARDEN An inventive cocktail bar at a luxury hotel is always a good find, and the Wintergarden mixes them with the best. Drawing inspiration from the classical conservatories of the 18th and 20thcentury nobility, which were known for their lush greenery and art collections, this gorgeous, luxe living room-styled venue is laden with inviting, low-slung designer couches arranged to both encourage conversation and provide a sense of intimacy in the expansive space. A huge, stunning brass bird sculpture hangs above, throwing playful patterns of light on the sprawling space below where guests enjoy hand-crafted cocktails or can choose from a huge beverage selection. The fresh zing of “Taigan Tincture” is a refreshing pickme-up, combining Tenu gin with carrot juice, lemon, raspberry agave syrup, cardamom bitters and meadowsweet sparkling wine. Meanwhile, “Breaking News!” cocktail is a nod to the hotel’s past as a printing house for the first Finnish newspaper, and contains a delightfully imaginative mix of flavours including H by Hine VSOP cognac with Choya Yuzu liqueur, activated charcoal, black pepper, honey, lime and pink grapefruit. www.stgeorgehelsinki.com DAWN GIBSON ATELJEE BAR Ascend to the 14th floor of the Solo Sokos Hotel Torni and you will be rewarded with panoramic 360-degree views over the city centre and out to the Baltic Sea, to drink in along with a cocktail or two. There are two outside terraces – one on each side of the inside bar – both of which are a little small, so you might need to wait for a table, especially if the weather is fine. But on a sunny day there is no place better than this sky-high venue to kick-start an evening out on the town. Drinks are reasonably priced and a wide selection of beverages is on offer, including some very good local gins. But for a stylish reminder of your visit to Helsinki, order Ateljee’s signature cocktail, which comes in a curvy, iconic Iittala Aalto glass vase - an international symbol of Finnish design, since it was created in the 1930s by Alvar Aalto and his wife Aino. The cocktail may be EUR60, but you can take the gorgeous vase home with you as a memento. www.raflaamo.fi/en/helsinki/ateljee-bar DAWN GIBSON Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 119
TRILLBY & CHADWICK Step back in time to 1920s Finland, when prohibition was alive and well, by seeking out this artfully executed speakeasy. Themed as a local branch of a London detective agency gone a little shady, finding it is your first mission – it’s hidden behind an unmarked wooden door on Katariinankatu Street, off Market Square. You gain admission by calling on a vintage telephone in a tiny lobby. Once inside, you will find yourself in a dimly lit, period set mix of a library and a living room, much like a theatre set. To a backdrop of 1920s tunes, peruse a thoughtful cocktail menu complete with back stories for each drink. Cocktails are well crafted and tasty. Photography inside the venue is forbidden, and after you finish your drink you will exit the premises via a back door. www. sonofapunch.com/fi/ravintolat/trillby-chadwick DAWN GIBSON TISLAAMO For a drink to make your taste buds sit up and take notice, Tislaamo is a must. The onsite distillery bar of The Helsinki Distilling Company, Tislaamo’s menu includes an innovative mix of new and classic cocktails, as well as premium gin and tonics, many featuring the company’s high-end artisan spirits produced in the distillery downstairs. Try a “Pink Floyd”, a combination of Helsingfors Akvavit, strawberry Aperol, white pepper, grapefruit soda, cucumber and lingonberry. Or a “Mango Daisy”, made using the company’s multi-award-winning Helsinki Dry gin, married with mango sorbet, fresh lime and chilli flakes. Light bites and more substantial fare are also available – the latter made using fresh Finnish seafood and other high-quality local ingredients. The juniper and citrus-cured fish dish is an obvious choice to accompany a Helsinki Dry G&T. Housed in a former power station in Teurastamo - the culinary heart of Helsinki Tislaamo is as hip as it gets, and well worth making a special journey for. www.tislaamo.fi DAWN GIBSON 120 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
TRILLBY & CHADWICK
SPEND IITTALA What began as a glassworks in a village in southern Finland in 1881 has become an international byword for beautiful, timeless design. Iittala is still most famous for its gorgeous glassware, but has since expanded considerably into all kinds of beautiful objects for the home, including tableware and cookware. Most recognisable are the sensuous curves of the Aalto Vase, designed in the 1930s by leading Finnish designer and architect Alvar Aalto and his wife Aino, and the individually mouth-blown birds by Oiva Toikka, which have become collector’s items since launching in 1972. There are numerous Iittala stores in Helsinki, including a large showroom at 23 Pohjoisesplanadi (set back from Esplanadi), a store in Kamppi Center and plenty to browse and purchase at the very cool Iittala & Arabia Design Centre, which is well worth a visit anyway. www.iittala.com LOKAL A concept store in the Design District that launched in 2012, LOKAL is a fabulous place to pick up some unique hand-crafted pieces by Finnish artists, designers and craftspeople. Run by photographer Katja Hagelstam, the store has frequently-changing themed exhibitions. The summer exhibition, for example, was based on the themes of friendship, the colour blue and the modulating form of the square. While the latest exhibition, Bloom, is a group show celebrating the work of Finnish artists and designers under 30. LOKAL recently launched an exclusive signature collection, consisting of enduring, locally-crafted small-scale production pieces. www.lokalhelsinki.com FINLAYSON James Finlayson, a Scottish engineer, established Finlayson in 1820 by opening a cotton mill in Tampere in southern Finland. Yet, despite a history spanning almost two centuries, whilst the renowned Finnish textiles house is undoubtedly one of nation’s most enduring manufacturers, it is far from old fashioned. On the contrary, as is the case with many Finnish companies, it is a champion of the environment, with a staunch commitment to using ecologically-friendly materials. Among its many initiatives, a bed sheets recycling programme has seen Finlayson recognised as one of the country’s most sustainable brands. Shop at Finlayson’s Esplanadi store at 14 Eteläesplanadi (in the same building as iconic Savoy restaurant) for made-to-last ► Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 123
sheets, cool blankets and fabrics. For something a little risqué, browse the Tom of Finland collection, a tribute to Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen. www.finlaysonshop.com HOLMASTO To peruse a veritable treasure trove of gold, silver and diamonds, including vintage pieces fashioned by prominent Finnish designers, head to Holmasto. A short walk from Esplanadi at 50 Aleksanterinkatu, this secondgeneration family-run store started life as a stationer’s in 1949. It soon morphed into an auction house specialising in coins. Today is remains the oldest and biggest coin shop in Finland. Holmasto also does a lively trade in classic and statement jewellery, as well as quality watches. Look for Lapponia fine jewellery, handmade in Helsinki and inspired by Nordic nature. www.holmasto.fi STOCKMANN Established in 1862, Stockmann is Scandinavia’s largest department store. The flagship store in Helsinki city centre, at 52 Aleksanterinkatu, occupies a landmark Nordic art deco building completed in 1930, which it is impossible to miss due to its grandeur and imposing presence. Ten floors of retail space offer all the luxury brands one would expect, plus a wide selection of Finnish-designed products. Visit the service point on the eighth floor for a visitor discount voucher which entitles you to 10% off all regularly priced purchases on one day. Be sure to wander through Stockmann Delicatessen in the basement, which is Helsinki’s equivalent to Harrods Food Hall. www.info.stockmann.com MARIMEKKO Beloved of fashion trailblazer Jacqueline Kennedy, Marimekko’s eye-catching striped and floral prints have been brightening up clothing, accessories and soft furnishings since 1951. Two designers in particular have left their stamp on this quintessentially Finnish brand: Vuokko Nurmesniemi, who designed the classic red and white striped Jokapoika shirt in 1956, and Maija Isola, who designed the best-selling Unikko (poppy) print in 1964. Now a global business, fabrics are still printed in Marimekko’s textile factory in Herttoniemi, 10-minutes outside the city centre. The same building is home to the company’s headquarters and an outlet store brimming with fabulous, colourful bargains. If you don’t have time to go to Herttoniemi, there are multiple Marimekko boutiques in Helsinki city centre. www.marimekko.com 124 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
ALBUQUERQUE INTERNATIONAL BALLOON FIESTA
Hundreds of hot air balloons, from fifty countries, simultaneously mass ascend into the morning skies above the Sandia Mountains in America 6â€“14 October 2018
Armand Blaton Suite Hotel Amigo, Brussels
rchitectural excellence, artistic flair and a wealth of cultural treasures conspire to make Brussels one of the most appealing cities in Europe for discerning travellers, and there’s no better base from which to explore it than Rocco Forte’s Hotel Amigo. Joe Mortimer spends a long weekend acquainting himself with the Belgian capital from the comfort of its most gracious pied-à-terre: the Armand Blaton Suite. Throughout the ages, the flags of various European empires have flown over the Belgian capital, imposing their laws from faraway lands. It is somewhat ironic then that Brussels is now the de facto capital of the European Union and the seat of the European Parliament. In some ways it’s a city that seems as though it was always destined for greatness, with a collection of magnificent buildings that exude a sense of pomp and ceremony; and a rich artistic and cultural heritage that lends credibility to its latter-day role as arbiter of an entire continent. From the Art Nouveau townhouses of Belgian architect Victor Horta and Art Deco
boltholes like the legendary jazz club L’Archiduc, to neoclassical confections such as the Royal Palace and the gothic masterpiece that is the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall), Brussels is a vision of architectural wonders. Many of them are huddled shoulder to shoulder at La Grande-Place, a cobbled market square surrounded by some of the most spectacular buildings in Europe: elaborate guildhalls dripping in gold, resplendent ducal palaces and the aforementioned Town Hall with its soaring spire, all of which were deservedly inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1998. If these buildings represent the grand ambitions of the city’s wealthiest inhabitants and architects, then art takes on a less ostentatious but equally important role in Bruxelloise life. René Magritte is the best-known of the city’s surrealist artists, with two museums dedicated to his life and work, but it is Brussels’ comic book artists that are perhaps the most well-known around the world, including the two most famous: Georges Prosper Remi (Hergé) who created The Adventures of Tin Tin in 1929, and Pierre Culliford (Peyo) who gave birth to The Smurfs in 1958 – a year that holds special significance in Brussels. Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 131
A HOTEL FOR ALL SEASONS Every city has handful of key dates in its timeline that had a major impact on its future trajectory. For Brussels, one of the most important was 1958, the year it hosted the Brussels World Fair, Expo ’58 – an event that saw massive investment and a wave of new construction sweep across the city. As well as the birth of The Smurfs, 1958 saw the completion of the new Brussels Airport, and the construction of the bizarre Atomium building – an homage to science and now a major tourist attraction at the site of the Expo. It was good news for the Blaton family, who ran the largest construction firm in Belgium. Armand Blaton was aware of the international attention the World Fair would attract and, anticipating an influx of VIPs, set out to build a hotel that would set new standards of luxury.
Hotel Amigo was born in 1957: a magnificent building on the site of an old prison, that was instantly recognised as the most prestigious hotel in all of Brussels, with smartly uniformed bellboys attending to the lords and ladies of Europe who would emerge from limousines in front of the hotel. Situated on its namesake Rue de l’Amigo in the heart of Brussels’ historic quarter, a stone’s throw from La GrandePlace and its astonishing architectural riches, Hotel Amigo is part of the fabric of the city. When Rocco Forte Hotels acquired the hotel in 2000, it hadn’t changed much since its 1957 opening. A major overhaul ensued under the vigilant eye of Rocco Forte Hotels’ design doyenne Olga Polizzi, sister of Sir Rocco Forte, who spent months sifting through the antique shops that line the nearby Place du Grand Sablon for vintage furnishings and artwork with which to fill the guestrooms. The lobby and ground floor were completely remodelled to make space for BoCCini, the hotel’s glamorous Italian restaurant, which now occupies the side of the hotel Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 133
along the Rue de l’Etuve, a few steps from a three-storey-high Tin Tin mural, and the city’s most famous landmark, Manneken Pis. If you find the playful statue of the little boy relieving himself underwhelming, head back to BoCCini and take a table on the outdoor terrace, and let the Italian menu created by Rocco Forte Hotels’ creative director of food, Fulvio Pierangelini, lift your spirits. In Hotel Amigo’s lobby, ancient flagstones made of blue limestone from Hainaut in southern Belgium create a sense of gravitas and timelessness; a vast 18th century tapestry hangs from the wall, bright cushions add a pop of contemporary colour and a kaleidoscopic staircase winds up to higher floors. Off to the right, classic cocktails are poured in Bar A below a wall of signed photos of famous visitors – Bowie, Depardieu and de Niro among them – and the sound of live jazz drifts through the lobby every Friday evening. The hotel celebrated its 60th birthday last year with further refurbishments. After a top-to-toe refresh, the 154 rooms and 19 suites radiate homely, elegant style, each
one furnished in a palette of blue, red or green, which is reflected in the rich fabrics and décor, as well as the marble in the bathrooms. Prints by René Magritte and Marcel Broodthaers line the walls, and an assortment of furniture has been carefully selected for each unique room. Chief among the guestroom offerings is the Armand Blaton Suite, a 240-sqm apartment with one glorious en-suite bedroom, a spacious living room, separate dining room and kitchen, and an outdoor terrace that’s the envy of Brussels. Upon entering the suite one feels immediately at home, or rather, at the home of some wealthy and stylish friends. The décor and furnishings are refined and timeless, the epitome of understated elegance. There’s no ostentation or pretence; the space is calm, demure and decidedly European. Named in honour of the hotel’s founder, the suite evokes some of Armand Blaton’s own interests, with an art collection featuring several pieces from the family’s private collection, including original prints by Belgian sketch artist Goosens and Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 135
landscape artist Jean Francois Roffiaen. In the living room, other works by British painter John Piper line the wall above one of two plush dove-grey sofas, while a scattering of bright cushions and flowers add a splash of colour to the muted tones. A collection of hardback design and fashion tomes are dotted throughout the living room, ideal for leafing through in front of the open fireplace in the chic Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Chair. Light floods in through three sets of double doors leading to the flower-lined terrace, where heads of state, visiting royalty and EU bigwigs have all enjoyed al fresco breakfasts and late-night supers at the most exclusive dining table in town. A glass of Champagne in the lingering twilight, gazing out over the gothic spire of the Town Hall, is the perfect way to end the day. When the weather is less fair, the 10-seat private dining room provides an intimate space for friends, family or colleagues to dine, but it could just as easily double as a boardroom for private meetings. Columns of shelves are lined with jade coloured
pottery and elegant purple glassware, and in the corner, a silver drinks tray is ready and waiting when the time comes to toast a special occasion. In the bedroom, a natural palette of light lemon yellows, earthy beiges and leafy greens complements the antique furnishings, which are bathed with light from the double doors leading outside to a smaller private terrace. A regal four-poster bed takes centre stage and next to it, a dressing table and two armchairs topped by cushions printed with famous works by RenĂŠ Magritte. A wide corridor with generous wardrobe space leads to the master bathroom, where the vanity unit is hewn from green Carrara marble. A classic Tin Tin print looks down on green mosaic tiles of the same marble and a deep bathtub. Amenities are by Forte Organics, the companyâ€™s paraben-free organic skincare line, and Rocco Forte-branded bathrobes and slippers are on hand to offer comfort after a long day walking around the city. Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 137
Last year’s refit also saw all of the hotel’s televisions replaced and a new media system installed, which allows guests to stream content from their own devices through the TVs in the living room and bedroom, or access a built-in media library via an app called MyAway. It’s a thoughtful touch, and the only modern intrusion to this classically luxurious space. Given its popularity with royalty and other VIPs, privacy is paramount in the Armand Blaton Suite. The sixth floor is the only one in the hotel that cannot be accessed by the swooping spiral staircase that connects the rest of the hotel, and a private lift grants access direct from the underground parking when discretion is required. Although the suite itself has just the one bedroom, it can be connected to an adjoining Deluxe Room and be closed off from the rest of the floor by a door in the corridor outside, to create a two-bedroom mega-suite; or why not bring your extended family and take the entire floor?
With its refined décor and sense of understated luxury, it’s easy to see why the Armand Blaton Suite is the abode of choice for visiting dignitaries, and why it is known within the hotel as the ‘Royal Suite’. On a hot summer’s day when the streets of Brussels are brimming with tourists, returning to the sanctuary of this suite, with its vintage art, antique furniture and spectacular terrace, seems like the most appropriately Bruxelloise thing to do. After all, where else can you enjoy so many of Brussels’ cultural treasures in such perfectly private surroundings?. Joe Mortimer stayed in theArmand Blaton Suite at HotelAmigo in June 2018.The nightly rate for the suite in September, October and November 2018 is EUR 6,500 including breakfast for two and one-way transportation to or from any airport or train station in Belgium. www.roccofortehotels.com/hotels-and-resorts/hotel-amigo
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 139
PHUKET VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL
At Phuketâ€™s annual vegetarian festival in Thailand, devotees routinely subject themselves to ritualised mutilation to prove their devotion to their gods and ancestors 8â€“17 October 2018
“CITY OF EVERETT” THE WORLD’S FIRST BOEING 747
50 Years of the Boeing 747 The sun may be is setting on the planetâ€™s most recognisable jetliner, but there are still more Boeing 747s in the skies than Airbus A380s. The Cultured Traveller looks back at half a century of an aviation icon
In January 1967, the first production workers arrived at Boeing’s new factory, which was built on the north-east corner of Paine Field near Everett in Washington state. On 1st May 1967 the major assembly buildings opened their doors for the first time. The following year, on 30th September 1968, Boeing’s new 747 wide bodied jetliner was rolled out onto the tarmac, “City of Everett”, and the world’s largest civilian airplane made its glamorous debut. The growing worldwide demand for air travel during the 1960s, combined with the need to put more passengers on one plane, led to the development of the 747. So, when the 747 was revealed to the world in 1968, every airline wanted to be part of this milestone in the evolution of air travel.
It all started in August 1965 when Pan Am - Boeing’s biggest customer and the most influential international airline of the time - wanted a big jet capable of carrying upwards of 400 passengers. Pan Am had already launched two large airlines - Boeing’s 707 and Douglas’s DC-8 - each carrying about 140 passengers. But the airline now wanted a really huge aircraft to move air travel into the next generation. Had it been up to Pan Am’s founder Juan Trippe, the new super jet might well have been a double-decker version of Boeing’s single aisle 707, since he pushed the plane’s designers to come up with a two-storey configuration. It took a Boeing executive’s initiative, at a meeting in a Pan Am boardroom, to persuade Trippe to go for
Boeing’s second idea - a twin aisle plane now known as the widebody. It has to be said, however, that the transformation of aviation (especially in the’60s) was largely driven by Trippe’s ceaseless efforts to develop new and more advanced aircraft. Boeing’s 747 was designed at a time when the airline industry expected supersonic transport to be the future of commercial air travel. The world’s first supersonic aircraft, the Sovietdesigned Tupolev Tu-144, had made its maiden flight in 1968 and the Anglo- French Concorde took to the air a few months later. So, because experts predicted that the 747 would have a short lifespan as a passenger jet, eventually giving way to supersonic aircraft, Boeing’s designers future-proofed the jumbo by engineering it to carrying cargo..
Requiring Boeing to risk much of its net worth to develop, it took 75,000 engineering drawings, 50,000 employees and 29 months from conception to rollout to produce the first 747. Bringing to life, back in the ‘60s, a jet which was taller than a six-storey building with a take-off weight of more than 300 tons was a formidable and costly undertaking. However, on 9th February 1969, the world’s then-largest passenger aircraft took off from Everett for its maiden test flight over Western Washington. The 747 flight test program lasted ten months, required more than 1,500 hours of flying and used five different ‘planes. The 747 was certified for commercial service in December of the same year. ► Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 147
The interior of the 747 was developed in association with Seattle-based firm Teague, Boeing’s long-time cabin design partner. The 747 was the first ‘plane to have almost vertical sidewalls and a high ceiling, giving passengers a sense of space and openness. Instead of a long, thin tube, the main cabin was split up into “rooms,” with galleys and lavatories acting as dividers. It’s a shape that has defined long-haul travel for half a century.
With its four engines the 747 quite literally revolutionised air travel and represented a significant technological leap forward. It was faster and could travel further, using less fuel than any previous jet. It had a range of 6,000 miles and it could carry more than twice as many passengers as the largest airliner previously in use. In 1968 Pan Am placed an order worth more than USD500 million for twenty-five of the 747.
On 21st January 1970, Pan Am flew the first commercial 747 flight from New York to London. Spiral staircases connected the two decks. Widescreen movies were played in the cabins. People had room to move around. When the 747 went into service was a time of major societal change, and people were just waking up to the possibilities that air travel offered. So the new spacious and social 747 quickly drove exponential growth in air travel, tourism and connections between people worldwide.
It was the largest order in the history of commercial aviation. But, despite the excitement, the 747 wasn’t an immediate success, in part due to the economic downturn that began in 1969. But as the economy slowly recovered so did the fortunes of the 747, which soon became an airline status symbol and the flagship for every major carrier. Within a relatively short space of time, any airline which didn’t have a 747 in its fleet was considered to be second-class. ► Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 149
In its first year, a fully-loaded 747 cut the cost of flying a passenger by half, making flying much more accessible to more people. The jumbo also allowed airlines to reach new destinations, while achieving greater profitability by lowering operating costs per seat. It has to be said that the 747 pretty much ruled the skies for the next four decades, during which the big Boeing was joined in the long-haul wide-body market by offerings from McDonnell Douglas, Lockheed and Airbus.
Transoceanic and long-distance routes were exclusively covered by the 747 and its fellow three or four-engined wide-body jumbos, not least because, when it came to the engine count on an airliner, the thinking was that there was safety in numbers. Not to mention that the jumbo jets could carry the most passengers. In late 1971, Boeing followed up the original 747-100 with a new 200 variant which boasted more powerful engines and a longer range, making it more cost
effective to operate. But some airlines preferred to party at 30,000 feet, and reduced capacity rather than maximise it. American Airlines removed sixty seats from its luxury fleet of 747s in order to build a lounge large enough to fit both a piano and a bar that served complimentary cocktails. Meanwhile, Continental equipped its 747 fleet with a flying pub serving complimentary booze, complete with arcade-style games. These redesigns were
largely the result of the lifting of the airline industryâ€™s longstanding two-drink inflight limit, which freed passengers to imbibe as much as they wanted onboard. A decade later, and after a number of studies which looked at increasing the aircraftâ€™s seating capacity, Boeing introduced the 747-300 model. Its distinctive, stretched upper deck could seat up to 69 economy class passengers. â–ş Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 151
But the 300 series didnâ€™t prove to be as popular as Boeing would have liked, so in October 1985 the 747-400 was introduced. Featuring modern avionics including a two-crew digital flight deck, a fully glass cockpit and greater range, it was the best-selling model of the 747 family with more than 600 planes sold. In 2005, Boeing launched the latest version of its
iconic jumbo jet, called the 747-8 Intercontinental. At a few inches over 250-feet long, itâ€™s the longest airliner in the sky. Just over a year ago, most probably the last passenger 747 to ever be built was delivered to Korean Air. A special version of the 747 has been used as the American Presidentâ€™s Air Force One since 1990, another specially adapted version was used to carry
space shuttles for NASA, and Boeing has delivered more than 1,500 747 passenger jets in the past half century. That’s quite a feat for an aircraft which was designed in the 1960s. As aviation regulations have changed and jetengine technology has improved making it safer for aircraft to fly long distances with just two engines, in 2018 there’s no appreciable demand left for
building new passenger 747s, or for the rival Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger plane. But with more than 400 passenger 747s still in service, Boeing can take comfort in the fact that there are still many more of its fifty year-old Queen Of The Skies criss-crossing the planet than Airbus A380s, of which just a few hundred have been delivered to date. So, for the next few years at least, Boeing’s 747 will continue to wear her aviation crown.. Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 153
VILLAGE HALLOWEEN PARADE
New York Cityâ€™s vast, annual Halloween parade sees more than 50,000 costumed party goers filling the streets of Manhattan attired in suitably ghoulish fancy dress 31 October 2018
No Shoes Required
THE WORLDâ€™S BEST AYURVEDIC ESCAPE
ften referred to as a sister science to yoga and originating from India’s Vedic culture more than 3,000 years ago (many millennia before modern medicine provided scientific evidence of the mind-body connection), Ayurveda is much more than a mere system of remedying illnesses. It’s a way of life, a way of being, even a way of day-to-day living. First developed by the nation’s great sages, Ayurveda is an unequivocally holistic Indian tradition that reaches far beyond the realms of physical health, healing and the prevention of disease, and offers a body of wisdom designed to help us stay vibrant and healthy while better realising our full potential.
NO SHOES REQUIRED
The philosophy of Ayurveda is rooted in the idea that each of us is born with an individualised blueprint for optimum health. Think of it as your core constitution or your personal medical flip-chart! Ayurveda is a remarkably intimate healing system and places the focus firmly on you as an individual - a unique person. There are no routines, menus or “one size fits all” remedies in Ayurveda. In fact, it’s entirely the opposite. Ayurveda considers all the levels and influencing factors of an individual - including the spiritual, emotional, intellectual, behavioural, familial, social and environmental, as well as the physical (of course) - and heals from the rootcause of an illness rather than merely treating the symptoms. While Ayurveda is believed to be five thousand years old, today its principles remain as relevant as ever, and in the 21st century are increasingly being brought to the forefront of popular culture as individuals around the world incorporate its timeless wisdom into their day-to-day lives. Integrated into primary healthcare in India for decades, in recent years Ayurveda has become more celebrated in the West as an alternative medicinal system to be taken seriously. Hence, more discerning and cultured travellers - keen to escape their hectic everyday existences and experience an altogether healthier vacation - seek healing resorts and Ayurvedic-focused retreats to recalibrate and recharge their inner and outer selves. Needless to say, shoes are generally superfluous at these sanctuaries of calm. But where are the best places on the planet to reap the benefits of one of the world’s oldest and most personal healing systems? On the next few pages The Cultured Traveller reveals the most revered Ayurvedic escapes.
DEHRADUN, INDIA Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 159
NO SHOES REQUIRED
COMO SHAMBHALA ESTATE BALI, INDONESIA
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 161
NO SHOES REQUIRED
SOMATHEERAM AYURVEDA RESORT
Nine kilometres south of famous Kovalam beach, nestled on a palm tree filled hillock, is the world’s first dedicated Ayurvedic resort. Spread across an expanse of lush greenery, Somatheeram is very much a getaway destination for those in search of an Ayurvedic haven away from the cacophony of metropolitan life. Founded in 1985 and welcoming guests for more than three decades, simple and colourful Somatheeram was one of the first to offer Ayurvedic vacations and meditation breaks, not to mention foster and grow a culture of healing and restorative holidays amongst international travellers. A combination of the resort’s peaceful location by the sea, positivity provided by authentic Ayurvedic therapies and a healthy and wholesome diet provide guests with everything they need to unwind and rejuvenate, with spectacular vistas more than making-up for the resort’s rustic feel. WWW.SOMATHEERAM.ORG
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 163
AYURVEDA RESORT SONNHOF TIROL, AUSTRIA
Few places outside of Asia can deliver Ayurvedic therapies with the same degree of authenticity and effect as a resort in India. However, located on the high plateau of the picturesque Thiersee Valley in Austria, Ayurveda Resort Sonnhof most certainly can. Although what makes Sonnhof special, is that the resort has pioneered a distinctly European approach to healing, combining the ancient system of Ayurveda with the latest western medical research. At Sonnhof, an individualâ€™s treatment plan is complemented by organic, locally-sourced produce to leave a guest feeling better connected to their core being as well as the surrounding world. And whether relaxing on the sun terrace or taking in the crisp Alpine air on a guided walking tour, Sonnhofâ€™s stunning location and the intense beauty of its natural surroundings gently encourages guests on their personal journeys back to wellness, at the same time improving energy levels and inner strength, WWW.SONNHOF-AYURVEDA.AT/EN
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 165
MASSACHUSETTS, U.S.A. Whilst its main building is not the prettiest, North America’s largest yoga retreat couldn’t be situated in a more stunning spot, and with Kripalu’s size comes a large and highly respected faculty of in-house and visiting teachers, plus amazing Ayurvedic services year-round. Whilst a full menu of healing arts is offered, the best way to kick-off is with a one-on-one consultation with an Ayurvedic specialist. The dean of Kripalu’s Ayurveda program has been teaching for more than a decade and has advanced training from the Rishikesh College of Ayurvedic Medicine. Alongside Ayurvedic treatments, Kripalu boasts a host of wellness experts who lead yoga and fitness retreats, teach reiki and promote mindfulness. While nothing is compulsory, a typical day involves twice-daily yoga classes, a guided hike, experiential workshops and empowering life-coaching sessions. Food is natural, organic, wholesome and abundant, and simple macrobiotic meals are offered for guests on a serious health drive. Breakfast is eaten in total silence and there are even dedicated quiet rooms for those who wish to eat all of their meals in peace. WWW.KRIPALU.ORG
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 167
COMO SHAMBHALA ESTATE BALI, INDONESIA
For many discerning travellers, upscale COMO Shambhala Estate is the best property in Bali and itâ€™s not hard to see why. Designed with an exquisite eye for detail in a breezy but smart East-meets-West style, this spa-resort veritably celebrates nature and is all about the incredible setting. Employing some of the worldâ€™s top practitioners ofChinese medicine, Western medicine and Ayurveda, guests can book a three or four-day Ayurvedic wellness retreat, during which onsite Ayurvedic doctor Deepak Deginal (who graduated from Mangalore University in India), will devise a personal holistic and all natural treatment plan based on your prakruti (personal constitution). Expect detox treatments, bodywork, a tailored diet, plus lots of yoga and meditation, surrounded by overflowing infinity pools, gushing waterfalls and trickling rivers seemingly everywhere. Indonesian-styled bedrooms adorned with incredible beds and the finest linens are further encouragement to embrace the hip barefoot vibe. WWW.COMOHOTELS.COM
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 169
DEHRADUN, INDIA Set in the cool, verdant and hilly north of India and straight out of the pages of Wallpaper*, when Vana Malsi Estate began welcoming guests in 2014, it raised the bar for the spa junky travellers of the world looking for an authentic experience in a natural setting without compromising luxury and pampering. There is something about choosing India for a retreat, which always feels like returning to the spiritual mothership. Vana has made this experience even more special by redefining the benchmark for luxury wellness. At its core, Vana is a place of physical and spiritual healing. But whilst Ayurvedic treatments and cuisine are at the heart of the Vana experience, Tibetan medicine (also known as Sowa-Rigpa) is promoted alongside. In fact, the Tibetan Healing Center at Vana is one of only a handful that exists outside Tibet, and at Vana it is common for guests to subscribe to a combination of both Ayurvedic and Tibetan therapies. Either way, if youâ€™re looking for a luxury wellness retreat in India, Vana should be your first choice.
NO SHOES REQUIRED
170 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
NO SHOES REQUIRED
DEVAAYA - AYURVEDA & NATURE CURE CENTRE
Whilst Goa used to have a reputation for being a ‘party’ destination, things have seriously changed in the past decade. Nowadays, Goa perpetuates an identity that appreciates art, culture and holistic living, and a number of high-end resort hotels cater to discerning international travellers. Situated in Divar Island, ten kilometres from Goa’s capital of Panaji, coconut palms swinging to the rhythm of the breeze set the scene at Devaaya Ayurveda Centre, and four in-house Ayurveda doctors plus around thirty trained therapists preside over the sixty guest rooms. Naturopathy is a way of life at this deluxe Ayurvedic retreat, that brings together the essential elements of ‘Panchakarma’ treatments with yoga, meditation, music, lifestyle correction, diet planning and medicinal treatments. That the entire centre has been designed based on the science of Vaastu Shastra adds to the overall harmony and calmness of the place. WWW.DEVAAYA.COM Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 173
FOUR SEASONS RESORT MALDIVES AT LANDAA GIRAAVARU BAA ATOLL, MALDIVES
There are many more reasons to make the trek to the Maldives than diving, surfing and uber-stylish over-water bungalows! Four Seasonsâ€™ sophisticated, tropical Landaa Giraavaru resort offers the science of life in addition to the intense levels of comfort and luxury discerning travellers have to come to expect from the top end hospitality brand. Situated in the remote Baa Atoll - a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve - a variety of all-inclusive health-based one, two and three-week Ayurvedic programs are available here, focusing on diet, exercise, balance and sleep, including daily treatments and ample private consultations. The resortâ€™s two Ayurvedic physicians work with the resident yogi and an onsite team of therapists and chefs to personally meet guests exacting needs. There are also stand-alone Ayurvedic treatments for those who wish to get a feel for the medicinal system without being immersed. WWW.FOURSEASONS.COM/MALDIVES
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 175
ULPOTHA VILLAGE, SRI LANKA Nestled in a sustainable organic farm in an ancient pilgrimage site to the west of Sri Lanka, almost totally off the grid and devoid of modern-day comforts (including electricity, air-con, plastic, hot water and internet), the philosophy at Ulpotha is one of almost total self-sustainability. In a rare antidote to modern life, every little detail at Ulpotha offers a natural approach to living, including all meals being cooked over an open fire pit from local produce grown organically. The relaxed natural environment and homegrown cuisine heightens the benefits of the panchakarma detox, oleation therapy, yogic programmes and Ayurvedic retreats on offer at Ulpotha. Whilst accommodation in door-less mud-style huts is obviously not for everyone, those seeking peace and spiritual renewal have been known to become hooked. Worth noting is that guests are welcome at Ulpotha for just six months of the year, since it goes back to being a traditional village for the rest of the time. WWW.ULPOTHA.COM
176 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
For more than 150 years, HOTEL GRANDE BR Parliament in the epicentre of Athens, welcomin Hollywood sirens alike. Nicholas Chrisostomo Hellenic hospitality industry and discovers wha
RETAGNE has proudly stood next to the Greek ng heads of state, stars of stage and screen and ou stays at the neo-classical grande dame of the at makes it one of the worldâ€™s truly great hotels.
hat makes a truly great hotel and makes it one of the world’s most renowned places to rest one’s head? The location is obviously a factor - not simply the address, but also the setting and position. A historic hotel which has stood the test of time and become a flag bearer for its country is often deemed ‘iconic’, although this word is often over-used. A place to stay which makes one feel excited to return, no matter how often or how infrequent, is always a good barometer for a hotel’s service standards. Where staff remember your preferences, and small touches elevate your stay beyond mere luxury, obviously makes for a memorable experience. A hotel which boasts a wealth of leisure facilities, sufficient to satisfy even the most indulged of spa travellers, can infuse a guest with eternally blissful memories. And 21st-century technology and hi-tech wizardry floats the boat of many a discerning
traveller these days. There are just so many variables in hospitality that it’s hard to pinpoint what it is that makes a hotel truly great. Yet, whilst Hotel Grande Bretagne embodies most if not all of these qualities, it is something else that makes it one of the world’s great hotels: the people who work there. After just a few hours as a guest at Grande Bretagne, which has stood proudly overlooking Syntagma Square in the epicentre of Athens for more than 150 years, I felt utterly bathed in a hospitality glow, blissfully happy and totally at ease in my imposing neo-classical surroundings. But this is not a new feeling for me when visiting the Hellenic hospitality industry’s grande dame - a city landmark which has been in the middle of the nation’s history for the entire 20th-century. I have felt the same, time after time at Grande Bretagne, ► Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 183
whether sipping a cocktail in Alexander’s Bar, taking breakfast on the roof mesmerised by the fabled Acropolis, or staying in one the hotel’s 320 plush rooms. Yes, Grande Bretagne is a deluxe five-star property, and part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection of one hundred or so individual hotels which celebrate their local culture and setting. Yes, it sits in a killer location, in the heart of the city which gave the world its first democracy, on Athens’ oldest and most socially important square. And yes, the marble-lined lobby is the embodiment of an iconic hotel: grand, historic, imposing and elegant, But what makes Grande Bretagne unforgettable is the charm and obvious pride of its people. A hotel can have all the marble and butlers in the world, but if rude or disinterested people are running the
show a hotel literally has nothing. Unfortunately there are still plenty of dreadful five-star hotels around the world, even in todayâ€™s discerning day and age. Why Grande Bretagne positively hums with the buzz of a well-run hotel comes from the very top, and its general manager, Tim Ananiadis, because a top hotel starts with the people who manage and steer it. Born and raised in Greece, Ananiadis studied in Canada and began his hospitality career in the States. His accessible, hands-on management style, and drive to provide a comfortable, friendly and efficient environment for guests while maximising revenues through constant innovation, are almost certainly why Ananiadis has been at Grande Bretagneâ€™s helm for almost fourteen years, and deftly steers his people â–ş Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 185
through a sometimes-tempestuous hospitality industry with the calm of a captain totally at ease and in complete control of his charge. It would be doing Grande Bretagneâ€™s people a disservice to merely call them staff since they are evidently so much more. From the hotelâ€™s doormen, housekeepers and butlers, to its mixologists, restaurant managers and executive committee, all are evidently imbued with a sense of satisfaction to be part of such a historic hotel, which has stood at the centre of Athens life since 1878. It is these warm and welcoming people who elevate the hotel way above the ordinary and sprinkle it with the elusive hospitality fairy dust that so many others lack, resulting in a hotel that today routinely runs at 100% occupancy to feed Greeceâ€™s positively booming tourist industry.
Needless to say, given the hotel’s long history, the list of royalty, presidents, dignitaries and celebrities who have stayed at Grande Bretagne is endless: Maria Callas, Aristotle Onassis, Jayne Mansfield, Elizabeth Taylor, Rudolf Nureyev, Sophia Loren and Laurence Olivier to name but a few. Not to mention world famous fashion designers and pop stars including Giorgio Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, David Bowie and Sting. During WWII, a busboy saved Winston Churchill’s life by disarming a bomb in the basement. In 1972, Archbishop Makarios addressed the Greek people from a second-floor balcony after his near assassination and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. But whilst modern Greek history quite literally shines out of every floor of this charismatic property, while it continues to welcome guests from every corner of the globe, there’s a palpable sense of modernity too, of moving with the times whilst respecting the past. ► Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 187
Grande Bretagne isn’t an old school hospitality exercise in taxidermy! On the contrary, alongside the glitz, history and glamour, contemporary touches, luxe detailing and modern happenings remind guests that whilst they are staying in a historic property they are actually living in the heart of one of the world’s most vibrant capitals. A particular noisy or late-night demonstration in Syntagma will most likely result in one of the hotel’s divine scented candles being delivered to your room in a ribboned gift bag complete with an apologetic note from the management. Multi-awarded French pastry chef, Arnaud Larher, collaborates with Grande Bretagne to create signature desserts for every season. Eat off Versace crockery in the hotel’s Winter Garden while nibbling on scrumptious single-bite treats. Unwind with a small batch gin and tonic at Alexander’s Bar under an 18th-century tapestry of Alexander the Great. And the hotel’s 8th floor crowning glory, GB Roof
188 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
Garden Restaurant & Bar, offers panoramic unobstructed views of the Parthenon and Acropolis Hill, offset by thoroughly modern Mediterranean cuisine, making it one of the most beautiful places in the world to dine. (www.gbroofgarden.gr) Before the cynics amongst you start rumbling that hotel staff are primed to be super nice to writers like myself, let me assure you that it isn’t just me who is so well looked after at Grande Bretagne. Having observed the manner in which the waiters interact with breakfast guests, how the front desk team welcome new arrivals and seeing butlers go the extra mile for everyone, I know that I didn’t receive special treatment. Every guest is treated like an individual and their needs attended to personally. For it really is all about the detail and the people at Grande Bretagne - both its people and its guests. So long may she reign as Athens’ premier hotel and one of the world’s truly great places to stay. www.grandebretagne.gr
DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS
Children dressed for Día de los Angelitios (Day of the Little Angels) the day before the main event in Oaxaca, Mexico 31 October - 2 November 2018
Alex Benasuli makes the 90-minut the quirky American beach resort miles of peaceful dunes, yet see
te crossing from Boston to explore of Provincetown, nestled amongst emingly at the end of the earth
he North East of the United States is blessed with over a thousand miles of coastline encompassing wide, open sandy beaches, craggy coves and sheltered bays. Historic villages and atmospheric fishing ports are home to the fabled summer hideaways of the rich and famous. Each area has its own unique personality. For New Yorkers, the Hamptons on the Eastern tip of Long Island - famous the world over for its elite set of hamlets and endless beaches - is their go-to summer stomping ground. Further north, in Rhode Island, Newport, with its turn-of-the-last-century summer mansions (quaintly referred to as “cottages”) evokes a bygone era of American aristocracy. Close by, the coastal islands of the Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are more summer playgrounds with distinctive characters. And then there is Cape Cod. The Cape extends 65 miles into the Atlantic Ocean from the southeastern corner of the American state of Massachusetts. It then veers to the north for another 50 odd miles, giving it a distinctive arm-shaped outline. Boasting more than 400 miles of coastline - bordering protected Nantucket Sound and Cape Cod Bay as well as the wilder Atlantic - Cape Cod is a major summer destination for Bostonians, New Englanders and those from further away. The Cape hosts a diverse set of towns - some elite, others verging on working class. Perhaps the most famous residents of the Cape are the Kennedy’s, whose seaside compound at Hyannis is one of the most storied private residences in the States. But what sets the Cape apart from other American summer destinations is its yearround population, which adds authenticity, calm and balance. And whilst there are traditional picture postcardperfect towns in the Cape, there are also equally beautiful fishing villages, shellfish marinas and small farms. At the very end of the Cape, as east and then as north as one can travel, lies Provincetown. Approaching Ptown (as it is affectionately known) on the 90-minute ferry crossing from Boston, the town in many ways looks like a quintessential New England coastal community. Period grey, brown and red shingle historic homes line the beachhead. Small sailing and fishing boats bob and up and down in the harbour, rising and falling with the tide. Piers and wharves of varying lengths jut out into the bay. And there is a distinct remoteness to the place - a calm sense of being at the end of the earth. ► Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 197
“A lone lighthouse at the end of a promontory, framed on both sides by water, is the ﬁrst distinctive landmark one sees upon alighting the ferry. It was right here, at Long Point, that the Mayﬂower delivered the Pilgrims to America almost four hundred years ago”
Provincetown is a speck of civilization surrounded by water, pine forests and sand dunes. A lone lighthouse at the end of a promontory, framed on both sides by water, is the first distinctive landmark one sees upon alighting the ferry. It was right here, at Long Point, that the Mayflower delivered the Pilgrims to America almost four hundred years ago. Whilst New England is a part of the States dotted with quaint country towns and historic monuments, few places can claim such bona fide credentials as Provincetown, much of which dates back to the 19th century and early 1900s when it grew wealthier on the back of fishing and whaling. Postage stamp-sized shingled cottages fronted by
white picket fences and immaculately landscaped gardens are a common sight. Imposing churches and grand civic buildings are dotted about. Around every corner are stunning water views. Aesthetically, this combination of harbour vistas and classic Cape Cod architecture is somewhat otherworldly. From dawn through dusk, on cloudy and sunny days and across all four seasons, the light in Provincetown is pure magic. Combined with a unique sense of freedom that comes from being at landâ€™s end, this led to Provincetown becoming the countryâ€™s first summer artistsâ€™ colony at the turn of the last century, an inherent part of the community which is still evident today. Max Ernst, Jackson Pollack, Helen Frankenthaler and
many more all honed their craft in Provincetown, which is also considered to be one of the birthplaces of modern American theatre. Eugene O’Neill staged his first play here in 1906. Tennessee Williams wrote “The Glass Menagerie” in a rustic Ptown cottage overlooking the water. The same reasons that artists and writers originally flocked to Provincetown are why it remains such a popular summer destination to this day. The seamless coexistence of small town friendliness and an eclectic cultural scene is second to none. Summers in Cape Cod are about long days spent on the beach and relaxing. Provincetown is no different. The beaches in Ptown may be smaller but they are plentiful. Easy access to the harbour and waterfront
occurs at almost every space between buildings. Find a quiet spot, roll out your beach towel and watch the world go by as the tides ebb and flow. Harbourside beaches are perfect for water sports, whilst during low tide, as the waters recede, is the time to get your feet wet in the bay’s cool wet sand and look for shells. The public has access to every dockside in Provincetown making them excellent sunbathing and swimming platforms. The beaches and scenery become more wild a little outside the town centre, especially in Cape National Seashore Park which begins at the tip of Provincetown’s West End. An area of outstanding natural beauty, the park is made up of wetlands, pine forests, sandy hills and mile upon mile of bays and ocean beaches. It’s a must for nature lovers. ►
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 201
â€œFrom dawn through Provincetown is pure m at landâ€™s end, this led the turn of the las
dusk, on cloudy and sunny days and across all four seasons, the light in magic. Combined with a unique sense of freedom that comes from being d to Provincetown becoming the country’s ﬁrst summer artists’ colony at st century, an inherent part of the community which is still evident today”
Closer to town but within the boundaries of the park, Herring Cove is particularly popular with locals for its warmer waters and easy parking. Meanwhile Race Point offers wider and longer beaches. For those unfamiliar with swimming in Cape Cod it’s worth mentioning that the experience can be refreshing if not bracing! Traversing the cycle and foot paths that connect Ptown to its beaches and crisscross Cape National Seashore Park is pure bliss. Taking in the sand dunes, ocean views and the more-shady parts of woody Beech Forest - while coasting up and down undulating hills and around gentle curves - is a highlight not to be missed. A full circuit from town out to Race Point and returning via Herring Cove, with a few water and vista breaks, takes less than an hour. Be sure to ask for a map of the trails when renting your bicycle from Ptown Bikes (www.ptwonbikes.com) Those seeking more privacy frequent the beaches that surround Long Point, which are a walk of several miles from town. Be careful to time your walk to avoid high tide in order to be able to traverse the causeway that connects it to the mainland. The payoff is seal encounters, abundant bird life and a real sense of leaving it all behind. Alternatively take the Long Point Shuttle and get there over water in a fraction of the time (www.flyersboats.com). There is something very special about being in the middle of the ocean at the very tip of Cape Cod, at the exact spot where the Pilgrims first landed. If you plan to make a day of it, get a picnic from Angel Foods (www.angelfoods.com) or Relish (www.ptwonrelish.com) before you leave town. In some summer resorts there is little to do apart from relaxing by the pool or beach. This is not the case in Provincetown. For a relatively small place, the cultural, shopping and dining possibilities bordering the town’s three-mile main drag, Commercial Street, are superb. The center of town is busiest with the highest concentration of bars, restaurants and shops. At its heart is MacMillan pier, from which the ferries to and from Boston arrive and depart as well as the many fishing and whalewatching charters. As you leave the center, towards Ptown’s east and west districts, the crowds quickly thin out and everything quietens down. Whilst weekends and national holidays (like Independence Day and Labor Day) are noticeably busier, and mid-August’s carnival is also a popular time, one of the real joys of visiting in Ptown is its small scale and innate village feel. ► Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 205
And there’s no need for a car, since end to end is roughly an hour on foot or twenty minutes on a bicycle. Provincetown’s East End is the traditional hub of its artist colony and where at least two dozen galleries are located. Rice Polak specialises in mixed medium contemporary art (www.ricepolakgallery.com) and Egeli Gallery which focusses on Cape Cod-inspired impressionist paintings (www.egeligllery.com) are just two of the many outstanding galleries in town. The East End is also home to Provincetown Art Association and Museum which was established in 1914 by a number of prominent artists. One of the best small modern art museums in the country, PAAM is a fixture in the town’s cultural life, free to visit on Friday nights and features exhibitions year-round (www.paam.org). Shopping in Provincetown is a delight with something to suit almost every budget and taste that run from salt of the earth to kitschy, trendy and discerning. For well-curated contemporary and casual mens fashions, head to Pauline Fisher’s much-celebrated MAP at 220 Commercial Street. Nearby Henry & Company offers colourful twists on classic casual clothing (www.henryptwon.com) while Yates & Kennedy showcases a range of quirky yet eminently tasteful home accessories and small gifts (173 Commercial Street). In Ptown daytime flows seamlessly into night and spending time at the beach leads into sunset drinks at one of many waterfront bars and lounges. Dining options are equally plentiful, with pretty much everywhere in Cape Cod excelling at seafood. Eastern oysters from nearby Wellfleet, world famous New England lobster and Cape Cod clam chowder, as well as a large variety of fresh locally-caught fish, can all be found across the town. Baie in the East End offers a refined gastronomic experience in an intimate setting complete with bay views (www.baiebar.com), whilst The Lobster Pot in the center of town has been around for generations and serves classic New England fare and Portuguese seafood specials in an unpretentious waterfront setting, but be prepared to wait in the summer months (www.ptownlobsterpot.com). For uncomplicated but delicious fare from morning ‘til night, order at Canteen’s counter and wait for your food to be delivered to your table on a sandy plot facing the harbour, festooned with surf boards and fishing nets. ► 206 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
Canteen’s brussels sprouts and lobster rolls are not to be missed (www.thecanteenptwon.com). After dinner, piano bars, cabaret clubs and variety shows beckon, although a 1am closing time (for all venues) ensures that despite Provincetown’s colourful nightlife, nothing gets too out of hand. Lodging options are generally small and charming bed and breakfast properties. You won’t find a hotel chain in Ptown. Welcoming guests since 1915 and with just eight keys, The Red Inn is arguably one of the best. Overlooking Provincetown Harbour and Cape Cod Bay, every guest room offers spectacular views and a waterfront balcony (http://theredinn.com). On the other side of town in the East End, award-winning White Porch Inn has nine bedrooms which combine modern luxury in a restored historic house with seductive views over the horizon towards the bay. Eben House (www.ebenhouse.com) and Salt House Inn (www.salthouseinn.com) are two newer boutique properties that offer more modern interpretations of the traditional bed and breakfast concept. Almost all run close to full during the summer months so booking well in advance is essential. On paper Provincetown has it all. Its breathtaking natural setting surrounded by water on three sides, a national park and beaches combine with the charming qualities of a historic New England coastal village and a cultural scene that would be the envy of many small cities to create an utterly unique and colourful seaside hamlet. Yet in reality it is all this and much more, and it takes mere minutes after landing in Ptown to realise that “We are not in Kansas anymore”. Families with young children share the streets with all manner of street performers, artists with their easels recording the scene, transvestites in full diva drag and greeters in period Pilgrim costume ringing bells and giving out free tourist advice. Provincetown is a carefree enclave where everyone is welcome and encouraged to be themselves. There is truly is no place in the world like it. Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 209
GETTING TO PROVINCETOWN Visiting Provincetown requires some planning but is well worth the effort! Boston’s Logan Airport is the closest international gateway and from here it is possible to transfer to one of Cape Air’s many daily, seasonal flights to tiny Provincetown Airport (PVC). The flying time from Boston is around 30 minutes (www.capeair.com). During the summer months there are also limited but regular scheduled flights between New York City’s Westchester Airport and PVC. On the water, Boston Harbor Cruises (www.bostonharborcruises.com) and Bay State Cruises (www.baystatecruises.com) have many scheduled ferries departing daily to and from Provincetown. The journey time is 90-minutes. Off season the schedule is greatly reduced. By car, Provincetown is just over a 2-hour drive from Boston and roughly the same from Providence, Rhode Island. It’s worth noting that the journey time by car can double in the summer weekend traﬃc.
Beirut Harbor 1504 Bldg 7th Floor, George Haddad Str, Beirut - Lebanon Tel. + 961 71 700 770 / PREBEIRUT
PUSHKAR CAMEL FAIR
A young man with his trimmed, coiffured and decorated camels, ready to be paraded in front of an excited crowd and tough judges at Pushkar’s annual camel fair, in the Ajmer region of the Indian state of Rajasthan 15–23 November 2018
REVIEW INDIAN ACCENT LONDON
hilst London has always been a trailblazer in terms of art, culture, fashion and finance, it historically fell short in the restaurant scene. However, over the course of the past decade or so, nothing short of a culinary revolution has swept through London. Today the British capital’s food scene is now on a par with New York in terms of showcasing the best global cuisine at different price points, via low to highbrow experiences that span everything from hipster vegan and street food to fine dining and well-heeled gourmet institutions. London has always excelled at stodgy luxury and counterculture funkiness, but it has taken time for the city to truly embrace its multicultural side with pride and panache. In recent years, world class Peruvian, Mexican, Japanese and Middle Eastern establishments have opened alongside a plethora of more refined Mediterranean eateries. Even British cuisine has taken giant leaps forward, led by innovative chefs drawing upon the country’s many strengths, not least farm-to-table produce, quality meats and bountiful freshly-caught seafood. The London dining experience has also become a lot more fun of late. West End neighbourhoods like Soho and Covent Garden, as well as Shoreditch in the east, all positively hum with a breezy and buzzy cosmopolitan atmosphere especially in the summer months. Due to its colonial ties, Great Britain has always excelled at Indian cuisine, to the point where chicken tikka masala is practically considered a national dish, and a curry take away is as ubiquitous as fish and chips. Whilst the vast majority of the U.K.’s Indian venues cater more to the mass-market, increasingly Indian food establishments have trended towards going upmarket. Nowhere is this more evident than in London. Whilst London has always been known for having some of the best Indian restaurants outside of the motherland, nowadays the quality of these offerings and the settings in which diners feast are on a par with the best of any cuisine that the city has to offer. Since it opened to virtually immediate critical acclaim in Delhi in 2009, Indian Accent has consistently been ranked as the best restaurant in India and one of the most celebrated in the world. Founder Rohit Khattar and executive chef Manish Mehrotra’s traditional Indian cuisine refashioned into something more modern, more global and, quite frankly, rather special, made the restaurant an instant hit. The Delhi mother ship achieved global cult foodie status by way of its tasting menus that showcased its most popular dishes while embracing the challenge of introducing innovative new ones. Recently it moved from its cosy Manor Hotel birthplace to the more central, exclusive and architecturally dramatic Lodhi Hotel, located in a smart, tree-lined residential area 10 minutes from Connaught Place. New York was chosen for Indian Accent’s first foray outside India, the Big Apple having always been under-represented in terms of Asian cuisine. The 2016 opening of Indian Accent in Midtown’s Le Parker Meridien reset the bar for upscale Indian dining in New York pretty much overnight. There were high expectations of Indian Accent’s London opening. Could its high-end and innovative Indian cuisine carve a niche for itself in the face of well-established and much-loved competition? ►
218 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
Would the restaurant be as successful and New York? Could the brand retain its intimate charm and culinary excellence as it expanded its geographical presence? My visit to the newest outpost of Indian Accent in London’s Mayfair proved that the answers to all of these questions was a resounding “yes”, and then some. Great Britain’s Indian Accent proudly takes its place in the heart of the capital surrounded by some of the city’s most exclusive art galleries and upscale shopping - its smart but relatively discreet entrance lying just across the street from Browns Hotel on Albemarle Street. Guests are warmly received just beyond the entrance and directed to one of two dining rooms - one on street level and the other below ground. Both are a master class in understated luxury and equally beautiful and refined. Whilst gold, intricate latticework and rich upholstery abound, nothing is too extravagant or over the top. Herringbone wood floors and ambient lighting soften the atmosphere, while emerald green accents perk things up a touch. Tables are perfectly spaced. The acoustics are conducive to conversation. Overall the décor is clearly exotic but elegantly toned down by clean lines and contemporary detailing. Many 21st century London restaurants are over reliant upon eccentric design or outrageous artwork to characterise their overall dining experiences. At Indian Accent however the food is very much the star of the show, and the environment in which it is served has been skilfully fashioned to allow it to shine. Even with a full house - the natural buzz of patrons coming and going and numerous waiting staff moving about - the restaurant, while clearly busy, felt calm and inviting when I arrived for dinner. There are numerous ways in which to enjoy Indian Accent. Culinary offerings range from a full blown nine-course chef’s extravaganza complete with wine and whiskey pairings, to slightly more restrained three and four-course tasting menus and even a streamlined business lunch, one-hour pre-theatre offering and a recently introduced weekend brunch. Of course, à la carte ordering is also welcomed, and the kitchen is extremely amenable in terms of dietary requirements and changes to set menus to suit individual diners’ palettes. In a world where elaborate tasting menus can often be formal and stuffy with little room for manoeuvre, it’s refreshing (and ultimately more enjoyable) that Indian Accent puts the tastes of its guests first and will happily tailor its menus to suit. However one describes the fare - be it Indian cuisine with a contemporary spin or modern food with an Indian accent - things are done very differently at 16 Albemarle Street to every other Indian restaurant in the country. And this is no exaggeration. ► 220 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
What comes out of Manish Mehrotra’s Mayfair kitchen are Indian classics playfully yet lovingly reimagined in a new contemporary light. The meal begins with warm, mini naan flavoured with blue cheese, which are soft, gooey and absolutely delicious. My palette is further awakened by creamy pumpkin and coconut-infused shorba - a soup-like stew said to originate from Persia and introduced to the Indian sub-continent during the Mughal invasions. It tasted remarkable. Who knew that what was effectively curry sauce could be so refined. Just two amuse-bouches into the meal and I am already sold. The plates keep coming, each more appetising and interesting than the one before. Kashmiri morels served with walnut powder and parmesan papad were divine and out of this culinary world. The best black dal I had ever tasted was enhanced by wasabi yoghurt and a lime flavoured brioche. Sweet pickle pork ribs glazed with sundried mango were sweet and tangy and exuded an East Asian flavour. Ghee roast lamb, served with a medley of chutneys and roomali
222 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
roti pancakes, was a culinary triumph. If you are ever tempted to opt for a tasting menu at any restaurant do it at Indian Accent, where every dish is a successful experiment in combining eastern and western spices, with one foot firmly planted in South Asia whilst the other is free to play. My makhan malai dessert was like a mouthful of sweet air the delicate saffron-infused milk cream accompanied by rose petal brittle and almonds. It was the perfect end to a meal that hit so many high notes it was truly hard to keep count. After the incredible fare I enjoyed at 16 Albemarle Street it’s hardly surprising that chef Manish Mehrotra is so widely regarded as the most exciting modern Indian chef in the world today. Mehrotra’s progressive takes on nostalgic Indian dishes served in a slightly contemporary way - so that people from all walks of life and all cultures can easily relate – undoubtedly make Indian Accent one of the most notable 21st century restaurant brands in the world, and its Mayfair outpost one of London’s unmissable culinary delights.
INDIAN ACCENT Food: Atmosphere: Corporate chef: General manager: Address: Telephone: Email: Website: Cuisine: Opening hours:
Manish Mehrotra Nitin Mathur 16 Albemarle Street, Mayfair, London W1S 4HW, U.K. +44 (0)207 629 9802 email@example.com www.indianaccent.com/london Inventive Indian Dinner: Sunday - Thursday 17:30 - 22:00
Friday & Saturday 17:30 - 22:30 Monday - Thursday 12:00 - 14:00
Lunch: Brunch: Lunch price:
Friday - 12:00 -14:30 Saturday & Sunday 12:00 - 14:30 2-courses GBP25; 3-courses GBP30; business lunch (one course + beverage) GBP19
Dinner price: Brunch price: Ideal meal: Reservations: Wheelchair access: Children: Credit cards: Parking:
3-courses GBP55; 4-courses GBP65; 9-courses GBP85; 2-course pre-theatre GBP28 2-courses GBP25 6-course lunch tasting menu GBP48 or 9-course dinner tasting menu GBP85 Essential Yes No children under 10. No kids menu. All major On the street. No valet.
Reviewed by Alex Benasuli for dinner on 26th June 2018 Ratings range from zero to five stars and reflect the reviewerâ€™s feedback about the food and service, and separately the atmosphere in the dining room.
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 225
Nicholas Chr gangster-esq CHOKHI DHANI LONDON
NEWCOMER 893 RYĹŒTEI BERLIN
risostomou ventures through the door of a graffiti-covered que building in central Berlin, to dine at famed Vietnamese chef Duc Ngoâ€™s gritty new upscale Japanese restaurant
Aque plab incipsae soluptuscius imin nam lanimpe rovidi comnisquia delesto maio. Equati santus am eles repudae volupta tusaperumque iliquid untotat int. Vero mo inulles ut voluptaturem fugia quid qui optas nonem este porum doluptatum audaeperro qui qui cum, quas minctur andellori dipsam, que dolorerit odi conserunt velignihil mos et qui volore vera voluptatem excerfe ribust, cus voloraectem exerita taquid quae perestiis reratia quam quam re nectiatusae magnis quodit, sum rectus exero ium nos sitae. Sequidu citassequis ut aborepta alis mil ipsuntium nissit laccusda net excea sed quia sum fuga. Tatur aspelig niminve lenesec aboremquatur sunt quunt. Riande is nihil ipis eos dollabo. Odi quatur, alic tem el ium eat. Sit aut omnis nobis dendeni ssitati id ut renessi magniam alicium fugiatur, si rectam etur? To in nientii sciures eniendusae ipsantus aut velestio. Simincipidi ommoluptiae quiaturibust qui dolent harumque magnatquodi antissi tiaera accum ulpa por aut invenihil ex exceptatem quidebit lam expereium fugitatem velesti orposa necabor eserum atur sin esti alicipientio quassed moluptati nonsecusa vellant modi dionsequi nihilleniae voluptat eium, quo dolorro que quias voluptati dolorrum que dolut ratet qui odiae optates trumqui di aspissum aut repudae et re es doloria parum venduci mintiur, si utempore la que solorectotas ute prem sit at. Sequas que doluptatur sunt voluptur, ne videllorita sit plit vel eatatibus voloreh enducilibus, qui sunt et aut aut mincto dolloreped quos asimos exerum susdae velique diasper itatum quas dolendae cuptatur aut aturite cullabo rruptatum et ipsant quae aut quisquas vernam remoloriae pla del molo veni aute ventur magnient reius as dolorrupis dolore velesed moloribus diae quam aut auteces voluptae assequibea sequidi ut voloria que molor adis es et experio recabor simuscienis sum ut laut est omnisimi, quid eum dis dus, offictat ad quatur mi, nonsequ iberia nos excearia eum, omnia volorep
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 229
eriam, suntur? Equi aditasp elligendis et, con expe dolupta adicienecto in plabo. Nam rerae magnis volorionet et exerepel etur? Lorere repudamendis autem qui consed quid ut veliquo et et am velenietur? Onsequae voluptis di cullabor as doluptatur, ulluptas doluptaturia seque estoreptur? Iducimendio et qui ipsapellis est, sanis dolora dolliquiam isquae poribus se nobis ni doluptae que ea sequide ndisimil ma de dolor asinvent ute pre rerio. Ped que volores tiisim as as es eatisi omniminci tescias et ut vent fugia necto ipisquamus pore endiaerum rerum, odipien ihilit a quia sus, vellaut everit ad exceatur simi, nimus id quid milliam, comniscil il ellabori nesto vitam, nobis et minctum veruptatur, expliquae simus, quia volecto inimolut apel ium iundust doluptat ma vitat as dest endem. Vid mo omniaspel mod que quod quaepercil idigentia prem et voloreprae vel et pos nes autasincta netur aut quo illiquam dolupta tionsed ut iliquidipsum et id et aut il ipsae sapeliq uiamenda sollore vero eventur asit ad undae voluptias nusandent quia imagnam, sum alicipsandi aut quid quia quodi ressum quas quia cum as molestrum facius alic te corecab oraeperiatem qui aut libus doluptas aut litasit a susdandi quis rempost dolorrum in explias minis exerorpore mil minus, velitam ratur? Urerunt et, int vent volupta tumquia eperatia doluptas ipsandition nos ut est, conet harupti aesequidi acepe autate maio blaccateni delitia debitis pedis volupta dolorit quunt viditat emperum aut distes et eicipsum que delibus aut qui rescillori cume perunt, aut doluptaquae. Nam di ipsam faccatem eserum fuga. Lor aut laborior sint fuga. Pudae. Nam volupti sitatus as int moluptae simaximendi cus digenis illigenim es destem elitisquamus sus quiatio saperum volorem ad qui iliquia ex elendam, et untin rem et omnihicia natiatu sciistiis ium ea quiatia qui doluptatio. Ut pero inisque aliberit apidellit, si quiate cus, nestiam experferrum ex exceatiist, quas qui volupis prorum ide pos que cusandant ipsum fugit dipsa et venimet hiciur? Quias idem quis dipsum verrum quiam nulleni hiliquam sequat et quiatio. Nequi ditasitiae aut parit omnihillorum qui que parum renem core pratempore nimilitem. Itam faccatemolum et ad ut aborepu dandistor assendu cipsum eos et vel isquam, nosam doluptam, ullani ant offici autam quo ium rem faces vellaceped quas eos volupta Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 231
spicabo riorumquias vendam volupta verchic ilitas quis et, quaspedita ipsandissus, offic testem que quatectur? Quis id qui acidipis pa saectempor re sunti ut invelis qui vollaut aturesequaes eatessi doluptatum eos ullestr upient vel ini volest, solupta tescium fuga. Ut as sitaera tquodip susape lant esequae. Ed erspell upidem quiament, consendia vero volla venditi alitatque eatusandae necus, conestia net prestem. Itatem ut am quas quae prempe necum harcitam volut resseditate remodi comnis porpos quatem sequi culpa acimporrum net enis ius derchictur aut est aut aut oditatium alia consect atiaerovitis vendel issinullupta conem quuntia dolupitas nias ditis ute rernam labore sequiat enis aut excea cus, te vollentiam, nat. Taquo blam quatius cimuscidem quam quosape rchiliquam, andel int quundun dandio. Nequi que pa quam, invenie nimusdanda sed magnimin expeditibus mo idit eum alit, velendus et, untures voluptae est, consecu llorehent facearum autem volesto tem ut et officia volupid quae labo. Neque ni nat et ut laborem. Nemporum aute dellaboratum fugit omni beatem faccat evellor ma qui nessimus maio in conem. Sant alignih itintiam alicia autemped ut reiusciis dolutame volorendit laceruptate seres mi, vel eosse recabo. Nequid quossunt odiam arum, odisquidis es quaeptiunt etur as aut aperat quae pos dictor sediati orest, toreperitat. Odicit id quia ea auta et experro doluptate dollaborrum andunt velles dolorerchil magniendam ut officiam aliquate od quae est ditatem quam, volupid uscienit, qui idus ipiciatem sectur, occum res autempo rescimpero que nobis delendaecti consequ ibust, volupta taquiscia experestrum ad ella ne simust liquate mquunt aut es eosant idesti blam aut landit pa dolupta tempore pedit, odignam erspit poritius eliquias aut mos et unt autemod icaborianis molore lam alibusci derenihitis cum et mos rerfero conest ex et optibereniam as et quiaectem que re nectium etur as esto ium ad ma cusam nimus, sincipidi voluptatus a aut acerore, non repratecto di quundisi qui core repedist deliquam, sunt fugiass undaes maximilles explab ipsandanis sitat fuga. Qui ilis illest, sunt essim ante nobis endam quamentotas escipsum si qui qui dolorrum hilita volorias et magnis duciis dolectatur, coremoluptas unt, totatio. Harchilit modist, odis pa quiae ne se suntiaest ra nis dolo cum simo dem ea voluptat a velenducilit asperemquam dolorro miliquaspe dio. Ullame nam ipsam ut quodis quam, que volorep ersped et aliquam lit et audistio to officim qui ommossi optissi taspero beatiassum litisim idit ut officae ruptaque expelliquae pro comnienis reperi dolor as aut quasperit quunt paruptati rerchil in eria cume qui rates et magnien impedis eic to ius
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 233
MINISTRY OF CRAB COLOMBO, SRI LANKA
EXPERIENCE THE HELSINKI DISTILLING COMPANY HELSINKI
Nicholas Chrisostomou has a lesson, tour and gin tasting at the ďŹ rst private distillery to open in Helsinki for over a century
There’s absolutely no doubt that ‘mother’s ruin’ is the spirit of the moment and we’re in the middle of a fullon gin renaissance. Sales of the juniper-flavoured spirit are rocketing globally, with distillers falling over themselves to release fresh craft expressions to keep up with the growing worldwide demand for new gins. According to the British Wine and Spirit Trade Association, the U.K. saw a 12% increase in volumes sold last year, and a 32% increase in the amount of British gin exported in the past five years. Some historians label the rise of gin as England’s first real drug craze. First made as a medicinal tonic in the early 1600s, in the 18th-century gin was considered such a blight on society that various acts were introduced in an attempt to restrict its consumption. Hugely unpopular with the working-classes, the introduction of the 1736
Gin Act, which imposed a high tax on gin retailers, caused widespread riots in London. As a result, the tax was significantly lowered within a few years. Fifteen years later, the Gin Act of 1751 prohibited gin distillers from selling to unlicensed merchants, restricted the issuing of retail licenses and charged high fees to those who were eligible to retail the spirit. And, in an attempt to replace gin in the cups of the masses, the importation of tea was encouraged as an alternative! Of course, the gin of 18th-century England (which was crude and cheap) is very different from what we drink now. Whereas today’s gin is generally 40% ABV (alcohol by volume), it’s likely that the homemade distilled concoctions of the 1700s were much stronger, possibly as high as 50%. Cheap, widely available and legal, highly-intoxicating gin proved to be an addictive,
irresistible and lethal combination, not forgetting that for many, this was a time when alcohol was safer to drink than mains water. And because gin wasn’t taxed initially, it was even cheaper than beer.
anti-malaria drug quinine more palatable for British oﬃcers at risk of catching the deadly disease in India.
Some might say that gin was the 18th-century crack cocaine of England’s poor, since its powerful depressant qualities (its USP if you like) were a cheap means to forget their worries. Ingrained in the very foundations of society at the time, a noticeable increase in women gin addicts in the 1700s led to its various feminine nicknames, including ‘mother’s ruin’.
But the original quinine-based mixture was extremely bitter to drink, and so lime, sugar and gin were added to make it more appetising. Then the descendants of a German jeweller based in Geneva, Johann Jakob Schweppe, used their newly-patented bubbling device on a mixture of oranges, water and quinine. They called their product Schweppes Indian Tonic and the rest (as they say) is gin history.
It’s widely believed that the humble gin and tonic was the reason the British were able to rule India for as long as they did. Essentially a method of medical advancement, the first gin and tonic was first developed in the 19th-century, as a way to make the
Today a traditional G&T remains the most popular way to consume gin, but the spirit’s use is also surging in cocktails and (like whisky) as a neat drink served over ice, especially when enjoying a high-quality or craft gin. ► Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 237
Whilst large multinational drink manufacturers are meeting much of gin’s increased demand by upping their mass-produced output, a growing number of small distillers have sprung up to offer consumers quirky, high-end, small batch (hence exclusive) and higher ABV alternatives to the big brands, a trend which follows that of craft breweries and whisky distillers in recent decades. One such distillery is The Helsinki Distilling Company (HDCO). Founded in 2013 and fully operational a year later, HDCO was the first private distillery to open in Helsinki for over a century, and distils premium gin, whisky and other spirits using the best local ingredients, many of which are unique to Finland. This makes HDCO’s spirits rather special. The distillery is located in Teurastamo - aRESTAURANT former abattoir and now the food culture heart of Helsinki.
HDCO’s two-storey building has a fascinating history of its own, having been used as a power plant for thirty years, then a soap factory, meatball factory, car wash, wine cellar and most recently an architect’s oﬃce. HDCO ‘s spirits are produced by master distiller Mikko Mykkänen, along with Kai Kilpinen and Séamus Holohan. I’m a big believer in trying to learn more about what I’m drinking, and the best way to glean such knowledge is first-hand, straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were. So, I visited HDCO in the Finnish capital and met with Marietta Kuivanen (HDCO’s brand ambassador) and Mike Byars, the distillery’s stillman, to find out more and sample some of their wares. Gin is produced by using juniper berries and other botanicals to flavour an already-distilled neutral alcohol. In the case of cold compound gins, after any botanical
solids have been removed the liquid is diluted and bottled. Many budget (or supermarket) gins are made this way. The costlier but far more flavoursome way to make gin, is to redistill the alcohol after the botanicals have been added. This is how HDCO produces its superior gins, after a long maceration process, using Finnish ingredients which are some of the best in the world. Blended with the purest Finnish water, 47% Helsinki Dry Gin is made using nine hand-picked botanicals including the Arctic lingonberry, creating a well-rounded and smooth spirit which has its own subtle yet sophisticated personality. It tastes just as good on the rocks without a mixer as it does as part of a G&T garnished with lingonberries and a slice of pink grapefruit.
After I had learnt about the distilling process from Mike and sampled a variety of HDCOâ€™s gins during a tasting session with Marietta, I was able to notice the delicate characteristics of the gin I was drinking, especially aromas of the Nordic forest and the floral, citrusy notes in my Helsinki Dry G&T, which were enhanced immeasurably by the lingonberries in my glass. An hour at HDCO turned into three and I left the distillery better educated and happy. Iâ€™ve always said that life is a never-ending journey of education. What better way to add to my knowledge than learning about how premium gin is made and how to make the perfect Finnish G&T. www.hdco.fi Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 239
music & NIGHT LIFE
THE CULTURED TRAVELLER CATCHES UP WI TH THE RENOWNED FINNISH ACTOR RIGH T AFTER BLACKKKLANSMAN’S NEW YORK AND LA PREMIERES, TO CHAT ABOUT FINLAND, PLAYING HALFDAN THE BLACK ON HI T SERIES VIKINGS, HIS PASSION FOR FLY FISHING AND WORKING WI TH VISIONARY FILMMAKER SPIKE LEE.
YOU WERE BORN AND STILL LIVE IN HELSINKI. WHAT ARE THE BEST ASPECTS OF LIVING A FINNISH LIFESTYLE? Finland is and will always be my true home, even if I don’t spend more than maybe 4 - 5 months a year there nowadays. Not until I travelled abroad did I start realising what a special place Finland is: the honesty, the lowkey mentality, the fact that Finland literally doesn’t have clear separation between social classes and everyone is equal. These are pretty rare qualities in a city in today’s world. Helsinki is also one of world’s safest capitals yet is far from boring, with its lively restaurant and bar scene, so it’s a great place to come back to after travelling overseas.
THE UN RANKED FINLAND AS THE HAPPIEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD IN 2018. TO WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THIS? Happiness in Finland doesn’t mean people are dancing on the streets and laughing and smiling all the time - on the contrary: we actually might not seem that happy in an outsider’s or a visitor’s eyes. Finland’s “happiest country” title comes from us Finns collectively feeling less unhappy than people in other countries. In Finland we have less reasons to feel unsafe or unhappy. Things that we take for granted - like free healthcare, university-level education, being the safest country in the world, and being the least corrupt country in the world - all contribute to us feeling at peace with our lives. There is much less turmoil in Finland than in most other countries. Also, as I mentioned before, Finland almost completely lacks the concept of social class divides which is a big factor. In Finland people are generally judged by their heart not by their wallets. Saying that we still have a lot to learn, like laughing, smiling and dancing on the streets!
WHAT IN YOUR OPINION MAKES FINNISH CULTURE DIFFERENT TO OTHER NORDIC NATIONS? We Finns are like the rough hillbillies of the Nordics, although I consider Icelanders to be a bit similar. We live our lives in such harsh conditions (extreme temperatures and lack of daylight - or the abundance of it in the summertime) that mould us into being a bit weird and crazy. Whilst the Swedes are more concerned about their style and looks, an average Finn would feel awkward about standing out from the crowd in fancy new clothes. Norwegians love nature just like we Finns do, and are equally low key, but I don’t think they’re as crazy! Meanwhile the Danes are the least Nordic and the most central European, probably because they are the furthest south. Out of all Nordic people I would say that Finland’s are the most straightforward and honest. There’s very little BS-culture in Finland! ► 242 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
WHAT THREE MUST-SEE EXPERIENCES WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO SOMEONE VISITING HELSINKI? Anyone visiting Helsinki must experience the most Finnish thing there is: the sauna. It’s the single most significant part of our culture. There are a few good options in Helsinki - just remember to make sure the sauna is wood heated to experience the real deal. Suomenlinna fortress island is a great half day trip with lovely sea views and historic buildings, plus some decent restaurants for lunch. The best way to see Helsinki is to hop on a city bike (available almost everywhere) and cycle around town. Whilst Helsinki is fairly small, you can easily spend a whole day exploring the different parts and corners of my city.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME AN ACTOR? My dad is an old school actor in The Finnish National Theatre, so I spent most of my childhood running around theatre’s hallways. I guess it was a lack of imagination to some extent - I just couldn’t think of anything else that I wanted to be!
WHO INFLUENCED YOUNG JASPER? My big heroes as a pre-teen in the early 90’s were Axl Rose, Mike Tyson and Aleksandr Karelin - the Greco-Roman wrestler nicknamed the “Russian Bear”. They all had a certain toughness and resilience to them, something larger than life. Karelin was the toughest man on the planet, but his interests outside of wrestling were poetry and classical music. I was compelled by that weird contrast as a kid. I’m not sure whether any of these characters ever influenced my life in a concrete manner - probably not much. But as a kid, I couldn’t think of anyone cooler than these guys.
WHO ARE YOU FAVOURITE ACTORS? I don’t have clear favourites, but if we’re thinking of the most well-known Hollywood actors, I’ve looked up to a few in different ways. Brad Pitt has made some brave choices and played some amazing and even risky roles, which I find brave and refreshing. Just look at 12 Monkeys, Fight Club and Seven. Many of his roles have been some of the finest acting I’ve seen in big Hollywood films.
YOU FIRST FOUND FAME ACTING IN A FINNISH SOAP OPERA. HOW DOES THIS EXPERIENCE DIFFER FROM WORKING ON THE BIG SCREEN? My first real acting work was on a daily, prime time Finnish soap, Salatut Elämät. I was 18 when I got the job. During the next 2½ years and 555 episodes of the show, I got an intensive training in the details and techniques of camera acting. When I felt like there was nothing left to learn I resigned to look for new challenges. ► Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 245
YOU WON A BEST ACTOR AWARD FOR PLAYING EERO TAKKUNEN IN THE 2003 FINNISH CRIME DRAMA FILM BAD BOYS, WHICH IS BASED ON A NOTORIOUS REAL-LIFE FAMILY OF CRIMINALS. WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO PLAY ‘BAD’ WHEN YOU DO? Playing darker characters has always been much more interesting and compelling to me than playing a good guy. You can delve deeper into the layers and depths of the human mind, and explore aspects that you wouldn’t, in normal life, even tend to think about. Some of the hardest, most challenging but also most rewarding roles I’ve had a chance to play include an ultra-radical neo-Nazi skinhead, and, in another film, a junkie. I’ve rarely, if ever, been truly interested in playing traditional hero or good guy characters.
YOUR FATHER SEPPO PÄÄKKÖNEN IS ALSO AN ACTOR, AND YOU PLAYED FATHER AND SON IN THE 2006 MOVIE MATTI: HELL IS FOR HEROES ABOUT OLYMPIC SKI JUMPER MATTI NYKÄNEN. TELL US ABOUT THE MOVIE? The film is a true story about Finland’s most legendary winter athlete that many older people will remember. He used to win literally every gold medal. After his sporting career his life took a turn for the worse, and he became a singer, a stripper and eventually ended-up in prison. Needless to say, the film and my role as Matti were a large and challenging project to work on, especially when the real-life Matti was still alive. My dad only had a couple of scenes in the film and it was more like an inside joke, akin to a cameo, that Matti’s dad was played by my real father.
YOU HAVE BEEN DESCRIBED AS ‘THE MOST PROFITABLE ACTOR IN FINLAND’ AS MANY OF YOUR MOVIES HAVE SEEN BOX OFFICE SUCCESS. HOW DO YOU SELECT A ROLE AND WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA? ARE YOU RULED BY YOUR HEART OR YOUR HEAD? I’ve always tried to be very selective about the films I do and chose by my heart. I’ve worked with scripts, directors and projects that I felt passionate about, and stayed away from the more calculated options. I’d rather do something else to pay my bills than act in a project I’m not passionate about.
YOU ACHIEVED INTERNATIONAL FAME PLAYING INFAMOUS HALFDAN THE BLACK IN HISTORY’S VIKING SERIES. PLEASE TELL US ABOUT THIS ROLE AND THE EXPERIENCE. I played neo-Nazi brothers in a film called Heart of a Lion with my long-time colleague and friend Peter Franzen. Based on the film we received an offer to play brothers in Vikings. ► 246 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
David Lee / Focus Features
David Lee / Focus Features
David Lee / Focus Features
HISTORY / A&E Networks
It was too good an opportunity to pass-up, and we had a real blast playing brothers once again. My role Halfdan and his brother were an inseparable duo until they ended up on different sides of a civil war. When I finished shooting the series I had been on the show for roughly 25 episodes and it was a good time to move on to new adventures once again.
DID YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL TRAINING FOR VIKINGS’ BLOODTHIRSTY FIGHT SCENES? I was expecting to have some sword fighting training before shooting big fight scenes, but before our first big fight scene we literally rehearsed for less than an hour to learn this big, intricate fight choreography. I had never held a sword before that day, so needless to say it was quite a challenge to master the scene with such little training. But what better way to learn than a baptism of fire?!
VIKINGS IS ACTUALLY FILMED IN IRELAND. WAS THIS A CHALLENGE TO A TRUE NORDIC OR COULD YOU SEE SIMILARITIES IN THE LANDSCAPE? Ireland is funny like that: it can be made to look exactly like some of the landscapes in Nordic countries, so Vikings was able to mimic the fjords and the rough terrain of Northern Europe.
A LITTLE BIRDIE TOLD THE CULTURED TRAVELLER THAT YOU RECENTLY VISITED HISTORICAL HAGIA SOPHIA IN ISTANBUL TO SEE HALFDAN’S RUNIC INSCRIPTIONS, WHICH WERE A FORM OF VIKING GRAFFITI BACK THEN. PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR VISIT TO HAGIA SOPHIA. My character Halfdan spent, in real life, years working as a mercenary in Istanbul, and his “Halfdan was here” graffiti is still legible in Hagia Sophia. The area where his carving is located was under renovation and the workers wouldn’t let me in. But, luckily, the museum’s manager watched Vikings and made sure I was able to check out the carving. It’s quite amazing to think that, back in those days, these guys sailed their wooden boats from up north all the way to Istanbul and further.
YOUR MOST RECENT ROLE SAW YOU CAST IN AMERICAN BIOGRAPHICAL CRIME FILM BLACKKKLANSMAN DIRECTED BY SPIKE LEE. HOW WERE YOU CAST? I happened to be in LA when Spike was in town auditioning for his new film. Somehow during the audition, I managed to convince him I was from the Deep South. When I explained that I was from Helsinki he thought that I was joking. Luckily Spike was brave enough to take a chance and hire a Finn to play a redneck racist from the south. I’m not sure if many directors would have made the same choice. ► Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 249
BLACKKKLANSMAN DEALS WITH THE HARD-HITTING SUBJECTS OF RACISM AND THE KLU KLUX KLAN IN MIDDLE AMERICA. HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR YOUR ROLE AND THE SUBJECT MATTER? I felt like I had done a part of the preparation before, when prepping for my role as a neo-Nazi. That racist hatred is universal in a way, and I had dug quite deep into understanding where it comes from. So, I felt like I already had a set of bones and I just had to build some new muscle around them, and develop a character equally dark in his mind but one who lived in Colorado in the 70’s.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER, THE TENACIOUS KLANSMAN FELIX KENDRICKSON? Felix is described in the film by other characters as a “psycho” and a “loose cannon”. He is deeply hateful towards other races and skin colours. With his extremely racist beliefs and mindset he’s quite a scary and dark individual.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH LEGENDARY INDIE PIONEER SPIKE LEE? In my eyes, Spike is legendary not only for his films but also - and maybe even more importantly - for being a fierce human rights activist and one of the most important figures in the black rights movement in the States. To have a chance to work with him in any project is a dream come true for any actor. But to work with Spike Lee in a film like BlacKkKlansman - which is not only a great movie but also an important political statement – is actor’s dream come true. I mean, what more could an actor ever hope to be a part of? I can’t think of any other director or project I would have more liked to work on than playing the villain in Spike Lee’s most political film ever.
BLACKKKLANSMAN WON THE GRAND PRIX AT THE 2018 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL, WAY BEFORE IT WAS RELEASED. HOW DID THIS FEEL? HOW DID SPIKE LEE AND THE CAST CELEBRATE? I hadn’t seen the film before its world premiere in Cannes, so I was nervous and anxious to see it. And to see it for the first time in the festival palace, with an audience of more 2,300, was slightly nerve wrecking. But we had fun at an after party at one of the clubs on the beach, complete with lots of dancing on tables! The award was announced at the end of the festival when I was already back in Finland, so I missed the last celebrations. ► 250 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
David Lee / Focus Features
David Lee / Focus Features
BLACKKKLANSMAN RECENTLY PREMIERED IN BOTH NYC AND LA AND IS NOW ON GENERAL RELEASE. WHICH DO YOU PREFER, THE EAST OR WEST COAST OF THE STATES? Both coasts have their good and bad sides. NY is amazingly hectic, which can be invigorating and a bit exhausting at the same time. LA has never been my favourite city: basically, it feels like an endless expanse of suburbs, like a city without a heart or a pulsating center. No one walks on LA’s streets because the city is not built for walking, and since all you see is cars the city feels empty of tangible human energy. But at least the weather is nice!
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO NEXT IN TERMS OF ACTING? It’s great to have had a chance to play an extreme character like Felix Kendrickson, but I think enough is enough with the racist roles for now! Moving forwards I hope I have an opportunity to work on inspiring projects that have a strong message - films that have ambition to create change, be it social or environmental.
YOU ARE WELL KNOWN IN YOUR HOMELAND AS AN ENTREPRENEUR, HAVING OPENED THE IMPRESSIVE EUR 6.5 MILLION LÖYLY SAUNA AND LEISURE COMPLEX A FEW YEARS AGO WITH BUSINESS PARTNER ANTERO VARTIA. LÖYLY HAS TRANSFORMED THE LOCAL COMMUNITY AND IS NOW A FIRM FIXTURE IN HELSINKI. HOW DID THIS PROJECT COME ABOUT? When Antero and I were given an opportunity to build a sauna on a prime piece of waterfront land in Helsinki, we felt that it was literally our obligation to create something spectacular. We worked with a talented architectural duo called Avanto (www. avan.to) and asked them to be as ambitious as they could. I think that they were delighted to have us as clients, since most normally ask their architects to trim or downscale to save money. We, on the other hand, took the opposite approach. Our budget doubled and many people thought that we had lost our minds, but we firmly believed that with striking architecture we could attract a much larger client base and become a must visit destination in Helsinki. Luckily it has all worked out, and Löyly has already welcomed more than half a million visitors since opening in May 2016. ► Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 253
PLEASE EXPLAIN THE IMPORTANCE OF SAUNA IN FINNISH CULTURE? Everyone in Finland has a sauna. We don’t even consider it a luxury but more a part of our everyday lives. It’s our way of relaxing after a long day or a stressful week. It’s also an important family tradition: kids grow up going to the sauna with their parents, and in many families the weekly sauna night is the most important time spent together. It’s an integral part of our lives, and it’s something that defines Finland and our culture more than anything else. Everyone visiting Finland should visit a traditional sauna, otherwise you haven’t truly experienced Finland.
HOW DOES ACTING COMPARE TO BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR? ARE THERE ANY SHARED SKILLS? They are two very different worlds. I couldn’t imagine being just strictly one or the other, but a combination of these two worlds keeps me passionate and motivated in new projects and challenges. I strive to ensure that whatever I do for work, I do it out of passion rather than just for a pay cheque.
YOU’VE BEEN A FLY FISHING FANATIC SINCE YOU WERE A CHILD. WHAT DO YOU MOST ENJOY ABOUT THIS PASTIME? Fly fishing is without a doubt my biggest passion, and I define myself as a fly fisherman over acting or entrepreneurship. Fly fishing is a type of hobby that becomes more like a lifestyle, and the easiest comparisons would be things like surfing or yoga. When you’re really into these lifestyle hobbies they become your life and start defining you as a human being. I’ve fly fished for the past 26 years and some of my annual trips, like visiting the Arctic tundra in the summer, are highlights of my year.
YOU’RE ALSO A COMMITTED FISHERIES ACTIVIST AND HAVE BEEN AWARDED FOR YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS IN CONSERVATION ISSUES. PLEASE TELL US MORE. Fish populations around the world are dramatically declining due to overfishing and hydro-power, which have destroyed the majority of our salmon and other important fish populations both in Finland as well as a globally. I have been publicly battling the hydro power industry. ► Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 255
as well as certain political parties and ministries in Finland, demanding for responsible politics in managing our endangered fisheries. The thing is, fish are generally not the most popular species of animals to protect since they are not cute and furry. Perhaps, for this reason, many of the major environmental organisations aren’t very active in trying to save our fisheries, and also consumers don’t seem to care about the future of fish populations. The best example is the extinction of tuna from our oceans, which scientists agree will happen in the next two decades if we keep eating tuna in our sushi like we do now. How can someone justify eating a spicy tuna roll when this is the reality? Would the same person order a panda steak in a steakhouse? Of course not. But with fish, people seem to close their eyes from the grim reality. I find sad that “I know, but tuna is just sooo goood” seems to be a common response when I bring this at dinner tables.
NAME A COUNTRY YOU WOULD LIKE TO VISIT AND WHY? I’ve never been to Brazil, and I’m hoping to visit the Agua Boa Amazon Lodge in October for some peacock bass fly fishing. The lodge sits on the banks of a tributary of the Amazon, in far northern Brazil. If I’m not filming anything I’ll hopefully be able to spend some time there and travel around a bit. I still haven’t visited New Zealand either, and a road trip with an RV is tentatively being planned.
YOUR FAVOURITE HOTEL, RESORT OR PLACE IN THE WORLD FOR A HOLIDAY? The fly fisherman in me would say Patagonia, northern Russia or perhaps the Bolivian jungle. But outside of the fly fishing world, I truly enjoy Finnish Lapland in the summer. The absolutely magical 24-hour sunlight above the arctic circle is something everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime.
APART FROM FLY-FISHING, HOW DOES JASPER PÄÄKKÖNEN RELAX? Sauna is the only relaxation routine which is part of my normal, everyday life. You really don’t need much more than a sauna a few times a week to be fully relaxed. www.focusfeatures.com/blackkklansman
256 The Cultured Traveller Sep-Nov 2018
THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG JAMES LONG BECAME ONE OF THE UK’S MOST TALKED ABOUT YOUNG DESIGNERS SOON AFTER GRADUATING FROM THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF ART IN 2008 AND SETTING UP HIS EPONYMOUS LABEL. LESS THAN A DECADE LATER, LONG WAS APPOINTED CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF ICONIC ITALIAN LABEL ICEBERG. ADRIAN GIBSON CHATS WITH THE DESIGNER WHOSE MASTERY AND EXPERIMENTATION OF KNITWEAR AND DENIM HAVE EARNED HIM A CULT FOLLOWING IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY
You grew up in Northampton. What first inspired you to become a fashion designer? So many things. My sister and I used to take the train to London at the weekends and I always just wanted to be part of the city and its fashion. I did an art foundation in Northampton and had some amazing tutors who guided me and showed me a world where I could study fashion. I met my best mate there (Rosie) and we decided we wanted to move to London to be fashion designers. I don’t think we ever thought we would get into the college, but we did.
the course to be not as creative as I had expected. However, I met an amazing group of friends and we really discovered London and that was a real inspiration.
Who were your mentors who influenced you as a fledgling designer? Lecturer Ike Rust at the Royal College of Art (now at Westminster University), Darla Jane Gilroy, Virginia Bates and my sister Charlotte Long.
Where did you intern? You moved to the capital to attend the London College of Fashion. Tell us about your time there? I hated it to start with. My foundation in art was very creative and free, but London College of Fashion seemed to be everything I didn’t like. Rules, timelines and customer profiles. I loved London but found
I went into McQueen a few times since my best mate was interning there and I wanted to meet Lee Alexander McQueen. It was thrilling, but I just kept very quiet and took it all in. I moved to New York for three months and interned at small New York fashion houses where I had a blast. ► Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 259
What did you learn at The Royal College of Art that has been key to your successful career? So, so much, not least to really keep pushing myself in terms of ideas, sketching and research until it eventually came. You really have to get involved and edit yourself and your work a lot.
You produced your own collection for nine years and your shows were standout during LFW. What was your favourite collection and why? Each one has special memories, because so many people helped me and really loved what we were achieving.
What was your biggest fear when starting your own label? To be honest I didn’t think about it too much or I would never have done it. I was very determined, and Lulu Kennedy really guided me into it. Since 2000, Lulu has helmed Fashion East, a notfor-profit organisation dedicated to finding and nurturing new design talent in the fashion industry.
How did it feel to win GQ Breakthrough Designer of the Year in 2016? I was very nervous, was almost sick at the awards ceremony and then promptly forgot to thank some people. Those kind of evenings are truly terrifying for me.
Last year you moved to Italy to become Creative Director of ICEBERG. How’s it going?! I love Italy, I love ICEBERG and I have just renewed a three-year contract with the brand. It’s such a historic fashion house, founded in 1974 by Silvano Gerani and Giuliana Marchini, who was knighted for her services to the industry by Italy’s President in 1994.
ICEBERG has a huge archive dating back more than forty years. How have you utilised this resource? I use it when I need to. It’s so vast that it can sometimes be confusing. I like to create new ideas while respecting the past ►
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 261
What were the inspirations for your SS19 ICEBERG collection? It’s always a mix of my heritage and the label’s heritage mixed up and spliced together. I call it “Italo/Brit pop”.
Why did you show in London for the first time in ICEBERG’s history? Mainly because it’s my home and I love London. Plus Dylan Jones invited us and I managed to get Cozette onboard to make it happen. And I had been away for a while developing ICEBERG and focusing on the American market, so I wanted to say “hi” to the UK! (Dylan Jones is Editor-in-Chief of British GQ and the chair of London Collections: Men).
SS19 received rave reviews and is already being worn by the likes of Lily Allen and Rita Ora. Who would you especially love to see in your clothes? Quite honestly, to get your mates to wear your clothes is the real goal, especially when they’re part of their wardrobe staples. In terms of celebrity, Missy Elliot and Eve. I’m a massive fan of both ladies.
You featured Snoopy & Charlie Brown in the collection as nods to the ICEBERG years when the collection was designed by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. Can we expect any more cartoon characters?! I think it’s important but not always. I have some other exciting references coming this year.
What is it like working with the Gerani family which still owns ICEBERG? I work very closely with them, I speak with them all time and I like to learn from them, especially Paolo Gerani, ICEBERG’s CEO. I grew up in a family business, so I completely get it. I am very respectful and grateful to the Gerani family and they are very nice people.
Knitwear has always been a key feature of your collections. The same is true of ICEBERG. What more can we expect from this union?
We are only just getting started really. We will be doing shows all around the world over the next few years. The next one will be in Milan which I am very excited about.
What other fabrications and techniques do you particularly enjoy working in? I love denim and piumini (aka quilted puffer), and I really enjoy mixing fabrics and creating new textiles. This is why Gilmar Group (of which ICEBERG is part) is so amazing. Gilmar can achieve anything it’s exciting to develop fashion in collaboration with the group.
You work closely with your sister Charlotte, who you’ve described as ‘your right arm’. Charlotte makes sure everything is running well. She lets me do what I do best, which is design. She takes care of the rest and always has. She’s a dream boat.
The talented Cozette McCreery is also part of your team - one third of the now sadly defunct London fashion label, Sibling. Do you find building a team easy? What do you look for in a new recruit? Someone who I like to be with and have fun with, since you have to spend a lot of time travelling together. The main point is to trust and believe in a person. Cozette is mega. Cozette and I have a lot fun and have worked together for a long time. She also kicks ass!
What fashion designers inspire you? Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, JeanCharles de Castelbajac and Kim Jones.
What are you most enjoying about living in Italy? Are you homesick for anything? I love learning Italian and the Italian people are great fun. I return to London once a month to see my friends because they are really all I miss.
Where do you think James Long be five years down the line? I always try to focus on the present and make that the best and leave the rest to fate. ►
S/S 19 Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 263
We know you enjoy a good holiday after showing a new collection. What do you have planned for later this year? I am spending the summer in the North of Italy in a very quiet place. Then I will be crossing the Atlantic with Virgina Bates, on RMS Queen Mary 2 to New York.
What lesser known destination would you recommend to readers of The Cultured Traveller? I love visiting the Bagni Vecchi and the Bagni Nuovi in Bormio, in the Lombardy region of the Alps in northern Italy. Bormio’s Bagni Vecchi (old baths) recently reopened, and the historical, panoramic pool offers breathtaking views of Valdidentro. The baths in Bormio are the most relaxing place on earth for me.
Globetrotter, Rimowa or another brand when you’re packing for a vacation?! I have an Eastpak suitcase and a Rimowa.
What in-flight essentials are always in James Long’s hand luggage? Phone charger (so boring but essential), nuts (since the food can be quite bad on flights), a decent eye mask, an ICEBERG cashmere jumper and plenty of water.
Music has always been a key component of your shows. What are you currently listening to? Today is all about Missy Elliot and Italian 1970s’ star Nada, who won the Sanremo Music Festival in 1971 and was voted “singer of the year” in 1983 with her summer hit Amore Disperato.
Tell us about an up-and-coming designer to look out for? I am loving Kent-born Liam Hodges and Glaswegian Charles Jeffery. Liam Hodges is an emerging menswear label that is trying to fuse high-fashion with approachable youth subculture. Whilst highly creative designer Charles Jeffrey is the ringleader of London’s current crop of club kids.
How does James Long relax? I really love to walk in the mountains and I am happiest when swimming in the sea or a lake. www.iceberg.com Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 265
893 RYŌTEI http://893ryotei.de
ALBA INTERNATIONAL WHITE TRUFFLE FAIR www.fieradeltartufo.org
ALBUQUERQUE BALLOON FIESTA www.balloonfiesta.com ALLAS SEA POOL www.allasseapool.fi/en AMANYANGYUN www.aman.com/resorts/amanyangyun
ANANTARA KALUTARA RESORT www.anantara.com/kalutara ANGEL FOODS www.angelfoods.com ARCTIC BATH www.arcticbath.se ATELJEE BAR www.raflaamo.fi/en/helsinki/ateljee-bar ATENEUM www.ateneum.fi
AYURVEDA RESORT SONNHOF www.sonnhof-ayurveda.at/en
BAIE www.baiebar.com BAY STATE CRUISES www.baystatecruises.com BLACKKKLANSMAN www.focusfeatures.com/blackkklansman
BOSTON HARBOUR CRUISES www.bostonharborcruises.com BRAEMAR GATHERING www.braemargathering.org
CAFÉ KUUMA www.kuumahelsinki.com CANTEEN www.thecanteenptwon.com CAPE AIR www.capeair.com CHAPTER www.chapter.fi COMO SHAMBHALA ESTATE www.comohotels.com COMO UMA CANGGU www.comohotels.com/en/umacanggu
CONRAD BENGALURU www.conradhotels3.hilton.com/Bengaluru
E EBEN HOUSE www.ebenhouse.com EGELI GALLERY www.egeligllery.com
F FINLAYSON www.finlaysonshop.com FINNAIR www.finnair.com FISKEN PÅ DISKEN www.fisken.fi/en FOUR SEASONS RESORT MALDIVES AT LANDAA GIRAAVARU www.fourseasons.com/maldives FRANKFURT BOOK FAIR www.buchmesse.de
FRIEZE LONDON www.frieze.com
G GRÖN www.restaurantgron.com
H HELSINKI (MY HELSINKI) www.myhelsinki.fi/en HELSINKI CARD www.helsinkicard.com HELSINKI DESIGN DISTRICT www.designdistrict.fi HELSINKI DESIGN WEEK www.helsinkidesignweek.com HELSINKI HOP-ON HOP-OFF www.citytour.fi HELSINKI SKYSAUNA www.skysauna.fi/en HELSINKI SKYWHEEL www.skywheel.fi/en HENRY & COMPANY www.henryptwon.com HOLIDAY BAR http://holiday-bar.fi HOLMASTO www.holmasto.fi HOTEL AMIGO www.roccofortehotels.com HOTEL F6 https://hotelf6.fi
HOTEL GRANDE BRETAGNE www.grandebretagne.gr HOTEL KATAJANOKKA www.hotelkatajanokka.fi/en HOTEL LUTETIA www.hotellutetia.com HOTEL ST. GEORGE www.stgeorgehelsinki.com
DEMO www.restaurantdemo.fi DESIGN MUSEUM (HELSINKI)
ICEBERG www.iceberg.com IITTALA www.iittala.com INDIAN ACCENT, LONDON
DEVAAYA - AYURVEDA & NATURE CURE CENTRE
INTERCONTINENTAL PHU QUOC LONG BEACH RESORT
KLAUS K (HOTEL) www.klauskhotel.com KOTIHARJUN SAUNA www.kotiharjunsauna.fi KRIPALU kripalu.org
LAKE OF STARS www.lakeofstars.org LINNANMÄKI www.linnanmaki.fi/en LOKAL www.lokalhelsinki.com LONG POINT SHUTTLE www.flyersboats.com LONNA ISLAND www.lonna.fi/en LÖYLY www.loylyhelsinki.fi
MARIMEKKO www.marimekko.com MASSKARA www.lovepilipinas.com MATTOLAITURI www.mattolaituri.com
NEW YORK CITY WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL www.nycwff.org
NOBU HOTEL MARBELLA www.nobuhotels.com/marbella
OKTOBERFEST www.oktoberfest.de/en/ OLD MARKET HALL (HELSINKI) www.vanhakauppahalli.fi OLO https://olo-ravintola.fi/en ORA www.orarestaurant.fi/en
PHUKET VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL www.phuket.com/festival/vegetarian.htm
PROVINCETOWN ART ASSOCIATION AND MUSEUM www.paam.org
PTOWN BIKES www.ptwonbikes.com PUSHKAR CAMEL FAIR www.pushkar-camel-fair.com
RADISSON BLU SEASIDE HOTEL www.radissonblu.com RELISH www.ptwonrelish.com RICE POLAK GALLERY www.ricepolakgallery.com ROSEWOOD BAHA MAR www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/baha-mar
S SALON DU CHOCOLAT www.salonduchocolat.fr SALT HOUSE INN www.salthouseinn.com SAUNA HERMANNI www.saunahermanni.fi SAVOY www.ravintolasavoy.fi/en SOMATHEERAM AYURVEDA RESORT www.somatheeram.org
STOCKMANN www.info.stockmann.com STRAWBERRY FIELDS www.strawberry-fields.com.au SUOMENLINNA www.suomenlinna.fi/en
T TAJ EXOTICA RESORT & SPA, ANDAMANS https://taj.tajhotels.com THAT LUANG FESTIVAL www.tourismlaos.org THE COCK http://thecock.fi THE DOUGLAS http://thedouglasvancouver.com THE HELSINKI DISTILLING COMPANY www.hdco.fi THE LOBSTER POT www.ptownlobsterpot.com THE RED INN http://theredinn.com THE SIREN HOTEL www.thesirenhotel.com TISLAAMO www.tislaamo.fi TRILLBY & CHADWICK www.sonofapunch.com
U ULPOTHA www.ulpotha.com ULTIMA www.restaurant-ultima.fi/en
V VALTIFEST www.valtifest.nl VANA www.vana.co.in
W WEXFORD FESTIVAL OPERA www.wexfordopera.com WHITE CITY HOUSE www.whitecityhouse.com WINTERGARDEN www.stgeorgehelsinki.com WOLT FOOD DELIVERY https://wolt.com/en
Y YES YES YES www.yesyesyes.fi
Sep-Nov 2018 The Cultured Traveller 267
The Fourth Anniversary Edition of The Cultured Traveller marks four years of our luxury-driven travel and lifestyle periodical, which stylis...
Published on Sep 1, 2018
The Fourth Anniversary Edition of The Cultured Traveller marks four years of our luxury-driven travel and lifestyle periodical, which stylis...