Thursday, December 22 04:35 PM
This Christmas, Santa isn't so much coming to town as inviting you to his town. At the newly minted Santa's Resort Kakslauttanen, close to the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, guests are greeted by the big man himself and plied with hot beverages and gingerbread (served by elves, natch). Accommodations in this winter wonderland include 40 log cabins, a snow igloo, and--our personal favorite--20 glass igloos (another 33 are coming in 2012) specially designed for viewing the northern lights while you're snuggled up all toasty in bed.
If you can drag yourself away, there's also the chance to steam in the world's largest smoke sauna, hitch a ride on a reindeer-drawn sleigh, or kick back with eggnog in the Glass Kota, a traditional Lapland tepee. Lead the way, Donner and Blitzen.
Photo: Courtesy of Santa's Resort Kakslauttanen
Thursday, December 22 12:35 PM
Part pop-up shop, part interactive exhibition, this Chelsea newcomer provides a brick-and-mortar home for online-only retailers based in New York City. Like the idea? Don't get too attached to it. This is A Startup Store in Beta, and it will soon evolve.
Every couple of weeks, the shop will remake itself around a new theme (look out for a coffee-oriented surprise in January). For now, BaubleBar and Joor will bling you out with direct designer-sourced jewelry and accessories. Gadget geeks can get their fix from invention incubator Quirky, while Artspace sells affordable pieces from the self-same contemporary artists that you might see at galleries down the street, including Ross Bleckner and Nick Cave. And Birchbox lets you test-drive the products of its prescription beauty service via mini facials. Try to find an app for that.
Photo: Courtesy of A Startup Store in Beta
Wednesday, December 21 01:01 PM
Just when we thought the food truck craze had peaked, star chef José Andrés is rolling out his own version poolside at the SLS Hotel South Beach. This Miami counterpart to the Los Angeles glamour spot opens mid-April with 142 rooms designed by Philippe Starck.
Andrés's fancy food truck has also been designed by Starck, as is the hotel's restaurant, a reprise of Bazaar's rustic-molecular mashup. Complete with some colorful touches by a graffiti artist, the truck will dispense haute grub to guests who like a side of street with their South Beach. We think this calls for a road trip.
Photo: Courtesy of SLS Hotel South Beach
Tuesday, December 20 01:19 PM
Sure, you don't mind roughing it. But you still like your mattress soft and your hearth warm. May we introduce you to the Beer Moth? Crafted from a 1956 fire truck, this flatbed B&B sits on the verdant grounds of Inshriach House in the shadow of the Monadhliath Mountains in the Scottish Highlands.
You'll lay yourself to sleep on an antique Victorian brass bed in the back of the truck, which is outfitted with oak parquet floors salvaged from a Tudor mansion. You'll warm yourself by a hearth made from an old snooker table. And you'll descend to hike the grounds via a fire escape staircase. Part truck stop, part glamper, the Beer Moth is a tall draft of personality. Bottoms up!
Photo: Courtesy of Canopy & Stars
Monday, December 19 01:31 PM
Step right up! Ladies and gents, we present Tiger & Turtle--Magic Mountain, now open on a hill a half hour north of Düsseldorf, Germany. Standing at 148 feet tall with nearly 1,000 feet of zinc-plated steel track, it is the world's first roller-coaster for the acceleration-averse, with speeds of up to two miles per hour.
Built by artists Heike Mutter and Ulrich Genth, the walkable sculpture has paths and stairs that careen and curve, plus views of the Rhine from the top. Unlike a typical roller-coaster, this one offers a climb that will get your heart pumping with effort rather than adrenaline. Gotta love art that keeps you in the loop.
Photo: Courtesy of Heike Mutter and Ulrich Genth
Friday, December 16 12:45 PM
Think of a bustling street in Paris. You point your camera and shoot, knowing full well there's no way you'll do justice to that moment of your vacation. Unless, that is, you're toting the groundbreaking new Lytro camera (from $399).
This compact shooter (a lightweight 7.55 ounces) has no shutter delay and a sensor that captures 11 million rays of light to record the intensity of the scene, with the potential to do much more with the image afterward. The technology is complicated, but the low-down is that your image can be infinitely focused and refocused, shifted in perspective, and even viewed in 3-D. And the best bit of all? It's just a lens with a button. Head-scratching science wrapped in simplicity. We like it.
Photo: Courtesy of Lytro
Thursday, December 15 12:04 PM
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire ain't got nothing on latkes and sufganiyot. Who wants warm nuts when you can have a jelly doughnut? And there's no better place to gorge on Hanukkah fare than at the new Kutsher's Tribeca.
Consider it an early gift from restaurant mensch Jeffrey Chodorow in partnership with Zach Kutsher, whose family is synonymous with Catskills glamour. They're making classic Jewish fare sexy with dishes such as wild halibut gefilte fish with beet and horseradish tartare, and potato and leek knishes with house-cured pastrami. And with a retro-glam dining room courtesy of Rafael de Cárdenas (geometric Baltic birch walls and midnight blue banquettes), the festival of lights just got a little brighter.
Photo: Courtesy of Evan Sung
Wednesday, December 14 12:38 PM
Hoteliers in the United Arab Emirates love a game of one-upmanship. If it's not bigger, shinier, and crammed with more decadent amenities, why bother? The owners of the new Rocco Forte Hotel in Abu Dhabi definitely got the memo.
Not only is the Rocco Forte situated at the heart of the emirate-of-the-moment, it's also a total showstopper, fashioned entirely from curved blue and green glass panels that mimic the Persian Gulf in a wavy mosaic. The hotel's 281 rooms and suites, designed by Olga Polizzi, combine rich colors, textures, and one-off pieces by artists from the region. The hotel's Blue cocktail bar appears to float in midair in the 11-story glass atrium--an ideal vantage point for surveying the spectacle of the glittering city below. Your move, Dubai.
Photo: Courtesy of Rocco Forte
Tuesday, December 13 01:02 PM
Since the early 1900s, Pendleton has been making blankets inspired by America's national parks. Now these iconic striped throws have started popping up in design mags and on hip hotel beds (see Ace Portland). But while these woolly throws look awesome, they can be a little rough to the touch.
So for those of you not ready to suffer for style, there's the new 5th Avenue blanket ($138). It replaces the rustic feel of the old-school version with 100-percent superfine merino wool. It's just the kind of featherweight throw to push into your carry-on for a cozy overnight flight. Another top find to add to your holiday wish list.
Photo: Courtesy of Pendleton
Monday, December 12 12:59 PM
When does a ski trip become a winter escape? At the newly opened, 70-room Nira Alpina in Silvaplana, Switzerland, it's the moment you arrive at the firelit lounge, sink into a comfy cowhide sofa--hot toddy in hand, of course--and watch the Alpenglow fade through panoramic windows.
Interiors are all restrained Swissness, full of natural materials such as spruce, suede, and granite. As the area's only ski-in/ski-out retreat, Nira Alpina provides powderhounds easy access to the 75 miles of pistes via a private glassed-in walkway to the Corvatsch cable car. And with private terraces and walls of windows, even lodge lizards can enjoy the great outdoors while waiting for their spa appointment.
Photo: Courtesy Design Hotels