Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

New Discoveries & Destinations: Paris, NY & London

One of the highlights of travel is discovering new places. I always feel fortunate to have many friends who travel, and who are fantastically generous with their travel recs. I'm so grateful to them, because their suggestions always lead to great places that I wouldn't normally find through a guidebook or magazine article – or simply wouldn't think of visiting.

 That's the thing I love most about travel: sometimes it takes you to places you don't expect. 

Here are a few of the discoveries I came across on this recent trip. 

(Oh – And more on Harbour Island shortly.)

The Conservatory Garden, Manhattan.

Most visitors head to Central Park but these gardens, set in the very north of Central Park, are even prettier. 

One of the guys at John Derian told me about this place, so I hot-footed it up there on a gloriously sunny day. It was perfect timing: the spring blossoms were at their peak. But I hear it's just as beautiful in mid-summer. Just look at the trees...

The arbour of Conservatory Garden, Central Park, New York, with the terraced garden and fountain to the side.

The Restaurant of the Mondrian Hotel, SoHo, New York.

I'm not a big fan of the Mondrian itself, but its restaurant is a different story. It's a luscious take on a conservatory done with typical Mondrian whimsy. Service is slow, so go for the horticultural eye candy.

Creel and Gow, New York.

Loved this store; a fascinating mix of bits and pieces; almost like a cousin of John Derian in a way.
(This pic is from AD while I try and find my own amongst the thousands taken. Will replace shortly.)

The Jade Hotel, Greenwich Village, New York.

A gorgeous new hotel that's just opened. The service is amazing, and the decor is rather sexy – a modern take on 1920's Jazz Age glamour. The restaurant was rocking every night. And people seemed to like hanging out in the lobby, which had a great little library and a lovely fire.

The Neighbourhood around Marc Jacob's Bookstore,  New York.

I'd never really explored this part of Downtown, but it's full of personality. And the stores are gorgeous.

The Roger Hotel, New York

There are a few Roger hotels (which makes things confusing – or perhaps it's the same hotel with different name changes?), but this one is the bomb. Striped black and white awnings, a seductive foyer with petrol-blue chaises, Old New York-style photos and a geranium green rugs. The bar and breakfast area are fab too. And the rooms... Oh! They were sophisticated navy-blue retreats that were surprisingly large for a midtown hotel in Manhattan.

Peels, New York. 

I stumbled across this eatery several years ago, when it had first opened. I went back last month, when I visited John Derian's store (right next door), and you couldn't wall past for the queue stretching out the door and the people chatting on the sidewalk. Apparently it's now THE place to get breakfast on a Sunday. The interior is gorgeous, so it's no wonder.

The Seaside Walk around Cap Ferrat, in The South of France.

I loved, loved, loved this walk. 
It's a 2-hour hike that starts near the Royal Riviera Hotel, where I stayed (another great discovery), and takes you past some of the prettiest villas on the French Riviera, including David Niven's former home (above), and then through the pretty village of St Jean – great for lunch or an ice cream. If you want to go all the way, you can even go right around the cape, past the famous Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat, and Somerset Maugham's house before ending up at the Rothschild Villa, which has spectacular gardens. 

One of the best walks in the world.

The Villa Rivoli Hotel, Nice. 

I can't say much about this as it's going into a new book, but if you're staying in Nice on the South of France (which I encourage you to do as it's incredibly beautiful), this is a great little hotel. Pretty shutters, a lovely garden and salon, a location that's a block from the beach, and a charming owner. Ask for one of the blue toile rooms – they're exquisite.

YSL's Private Studio, Paris.

If you book in advance, you can do a fantastic tour of Yves' private atelier and see some of his jottings and a great deal of his inspiration. 

Just wonderful.

The flagship Chanel store on Rue Cambon, Paris.

Several of the group in our informal 'Non-Tour' of Paris had gone here and bought up big on the ol' double C, and a couple were returning the next day, so I thought I'd better go to see what they were buying. Well... what an experience that turned out to be. The Chanel staff bring out trays and trays of jewellery for you to examine, you see, and the effect is nothing short of hypnotic. The free Champagnes don't help matters either. And the prices are so reasonable – 160 Euros for earrings – that you begin to think: Well perhaps I could buy some Chanel from Chanel? It's dangerous, I tell you. I've never been in a more seductive environment. Even the packaging is designed to win you over: tiny white boxes with little camellias slipped into crisp white bags with yet more camellias. (The Cambon store is the only Chanel store with white bags in the world.) Honestly, I learned more about Chanel from an hour looking over friends' shoulders here than I did in 4 months of writing a book about Miss Coco herself. 

The Four Seasons / Georges V Hotel, Paris.

If you haven't popped in here to see the  famous flower displays, do make time when you're next in Paris. The Four Seasons (the old Georges V) is renowned for its floral arrangements – there's even a book out about the bouquets displayed over the years. Wandering around this hotel is a lesson in remarkable horticultural creativity.

The Florists and Garden Stores of Paris.

Here's a lovely thing to do: Wander across the Pont Neuf bridge of Paris one day (there's a great square called the Place Dauphine on the Ile de la Cite which is worth seeing on the way), and once you're on the Right Bank, turn right and wander along the Quai (riverbank). You'll soon come across a delightful cluster of charming garden stores and florists. This is where Paris picks up its plants. It's a little oasis of greenery in the middle of the city.

Catherine B, Paris.

I'll do a post on the best stores of Paris another time, but this store is worth a visit. Some people preferred buying their Chanel from the actual Rue Cambon store, but I loved Catherine B because it had vintage Hermes scarves and bags for surprisingly affordable prices.

Castille Hotel, Rue Cambon, Paris.

Another gorgeous find. A super-stylish bolthole a few doors down from Chanel, with a decor that even Coco would be pleased with.

The Hotel Recamier, Paris.

I recommended this to a few people who chose to stay in a cheaper hotel. I also stayed in the cheaper hotel. After a day, I think we all wished we'd all paid the extra and checked in here. About as sophisticated a boutique hotel as you can get – and the location (right on the Square St Sulpice) is perfect.

La Maison Rose, Montmartre, Paris.

We stumbled across this gem while out walking the back streets of Montmartre one day. It looked like an old pub in the French countryside.

The new Hermès store, Paris.

Have you been here yet? It's incredible.

The Top-Floor Restaurant of Harvey Nichols, London

A surprisingly lovely place for lunch with friends. Walking through the fashion departments on the way down isn't too bad either.

The Top-Floor Bar of Harvey Nichols, London.

Loved the colours.

Hidcote Gardens, the Cotswolds.

More on this in a later post. The tulip beds were just extraordinary.

More from Hidcote.

The Wheatsheaf Pub, The Cotswolds

And lastly, our little tour group had dinner here one night, on a divinely warm spring evening. It's one of the most stylish pubs in the Cotswolds, and seemingly one of the most popular with the well-heeled locals, judging by the Aston Martins and classic Jags pulling up outside. Has a fab beer garden too. Great after a day in the Cotswolds.

{All pix copyright Janelle McCulloch 2013}


  1. Thanks for sharing these latest tips... I always enjoy reading your blog and have particularly enjoyed the last few posts on your overseas adventures. Can't wait to see the new book.

  2. A friend has unexpectedly needed to stay in my cottage.

    Only 2 comments so far. The cottage holds its a/c very well & the little library is wonderful.

    You know I'm very pleased about the library. Put a lot of thought into the mix of books.

    Yes, I'm curious about the titles on the shelf at the lobby of the hotel mentioned !

    You make me want to retire and be your full time assistant!

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  3. I stayed in the Georges V in Paris..that was some hotel and some experiencea and way too long ago! I love the pink and green together so this post is heaven to me!

  4. janelle, thanks for the recommendation of the marionners hotel in paris. it turned out lovely. such a great location and the breakfast was yummy every morning. quite charming and very reasonable. thanks again.

  5. You are a mine of information Janelle.... loved all these recommendations and makes me want to go back to New York now! Lovely photographs too. S x


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