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Smythson Travel Backgammon Set

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, November 30 09:21 AM

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Sometimes you can't truly switch off on vacation until you switch off your technology, too. So instead of reaching for your phone to check Facebook, you could reach for Smythson's elegant travel backgammon set instead.

It's a beautiful object made of Mara leather in damson, pictured above, or chocolate, with nubuck lining. An amber option is also available, exclusively at Barneys. The set rolls up to a compact 2 by 10 inches (about the size of a T-shirt).

And the lightweight leather has an added advantage: If you're a bad loser, you won't cause much of a stir when you flip the game upside down in a huff.

Smythson travel backgammon set, $530

Photo: Courtesy of Smythson

Jose Parla MacBook Pro Sleeve, iPad Jacket, and iPhone Case

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, November 29 09:15 AM

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Apple fans are not usually happy to have their shiny new products covered up: What if someone mistakes you for a PC? The loss of cool would be unthinkable!

But artist José Parlá's designs for a MacBook Pro sleeve, iPad jacket, and iPhone case solve the problem. The latest in the Curated series by Arkitip for Incase, Parlá's designs--influenced by distressed surfaces and city walls--are just as eye-catching as what they're protecting. The iPhone case is made of hard-shell plastic with interior rubber guardrails, while the laptop sleeve and iPad jacket are made of pebbled leather with suede lining.

Seems you can judge a book by its cover.

MacBook Pro sleeve, $179.95; iPad jacket, $179.95; and iPhone case, $49.95; available from Incase.

Photo: Courtesy of Incase

Nobis Hotel, Stockholm

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, November 24 04:38 PM

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Little-known fact: The term "Stockholm Syndrome" (referring to the psychological phenomenon in which captives feel sympathy for their captors) dates from a 1974 bank heist at Stockholm's Kreditbanken. But since there's no such thing as bad publicity&Welcome to Nobis, a design hotel opening December 1 in the former Kreditbanken building. The bank vault where it all went down? Well, that's the hotel's Acne flagship store now.

The dramatic transformation from crime scene to cool scene didn't stop there, of course. The 19th-century building is an imposing presence at the center of the city's business, shopping, and entertainment neighborhood, but inside, things take a softer, contemporary turn, with natural materials (wool, wood, stone, leather, and glass) used throughout the 201 high-ceilinged rooms. The light and airy feel is most apparent in the cathedral-like atrium topped with a modern fresco, pictured above.

Book a room now for 15 percent off the opening rate: Now that's a steal.

Photo: Courtesy of Design Hotels"

The House Hotel Galatasaray, Istanbul

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, November 23 04:29 PM

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If you want to immerse yourself in Istanbul's arty scene, The House Hotel Galatasaray is where you need to be. Located near the happening neighborhoods of Çukurcuma and Tophane, it's a 19th-century apartment building reimagined as a 20-room hotel with a mod feel and original flourishes. The wood-beamed lounge on the fourth floor (where you'll also find the best rooms) is a fun hangout. Be warned, there's no elevator, but should a few stairs stand in the way of you scoring a room for under $200?

And while you're there...

Explore here:
The gentrifying neighborhood of Tophane, near the port, has become popular with the local art crowd. To see what all the fuss is about, stroll down Boazkesen Caddesi, where you'll find the galleries Pi Artworks, Outlet, and Non, as well as the magnificent, eight-domed Tophane-i Amire building, which hosts temporary exhibitions.

Eat here:
If you're serious about Turkish food, take the ferry across the Bosphorus to Kadiköy for a meal at Çiya. Chef Musa Dadeviren collected recipe ideas from Turkey's most far-flung corners for his meze, stews, and kebabs. Try the nizip yourtlusu, a meatball dish served in garlic yogurt with pita bread.

Photo: The House Hotel Galatasaray

Rainbow City, Miami, Florida

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, November 22 04:23 PM

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After years of being told "Do not touch" in art galleries, you might feel a little reticent about the hands-on approach at the Rainbow City installation that coincides with Art Basel Miami Beach

Arty think tank FriendsWithYou has created a psychedelic environment that features 40 brightly colored, toylike inflatable sculptures ranging in size from 10 to 40 feet tall--all of it intended to make you feel like a kid again. Running around, jumping on the exhibits, and generally regressing to childish ways is actively encouraged.

We've seen this kind of behavior in Miami before, but it had nothing to do with art.

Photo: Courtesy of FriendsWithYou

Sleeping Bags, London

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, November 19 12:41 PM

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If your carbon footprint is keeping you awake at night, we've found just the thing you need: a cool bag made of recycled luxury-hotel bed linen.

This new British eco enterprise, called Sleeping Bags, encourages you to ditch plastic in favor of durable totes sporting original artwork by top London-based designers (including Avsh Alom Gur and Oonagh O'Hagan) as well as emerging artists. The designs will be based on an overall concept--The Secret World of Beds--and two new bags are to be released twice a year. The first set, on the theme "In My Dreams," includes Vicki Murdoch's bird bag, above.

Go on, bag one and sleep easy.

Sleeping Bags, £30/$48, available from Lost Values 

Photo: Vicki Murdoch, In My Dreams for Sleeping Bags

Canyons Resort, Park City, Utah

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, November 18 12:35 PM

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Subzero conditions may not faze you when you're powering down a mogul run, but a long, frigid ride on a chairlift can bum out even the hardiest of skiers. That's why we're drawn to a new lift at Utah's Canyons, which is adding warmth to all the right places.

The state-of-the-art lift, the first of its kind in North America, will be up and running when ski season starts on November 26 and is part of the first phase of an overall multi-million dollar investment being made at the resort. In addition to having heat in the seat, each chair is enclosed in an orange pod to block wind and glare--much like your ski goggles. It takes just nine minutes to reach the top of the mountain.

We suspect the only problem will be getting people off the lift and onto the slopes.

Photo: Courtesy of Canyons

JapaCurry, San Francisco

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, November 17 11:44 AM

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Spicy food in the open air. It's the perfect combo. So when we heard that JapaCurry, a new food truck selling (no surprise) Japanese curry, is rolling out in San Francisco on Friday, we had to point you in the right direction.

Jay Hamada's journey to food truck owner came by way of Silicon Valley (he lost his IT job) and Japan (where he learned the art of making ramen). But after spotting a long line outside a local Japanese curry restaurant, he decided that was the right dish to take on the road. While curries (beef, pork katsu, chicken katsu, and vegetable) will dominate the menu, Hamada also plans to add some lesser-known Japanese dishes, too.

It seems San Fran's food truck scene is hotter than ever.

Track down JapaCurry in San Francisco on Twitter

Photo: Courtesy of JapaCurry

St. Regis Lhasa Resort, Tibet

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, November 16 11:09 AM

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There's no end of hotels boasting great views, even if that "great view" turns out to be a scrappy piece of greenery. But if you're serious about what's outside your window, the newly opened St. Regis Lhasa, in Tibet, offers the kind of spectacle that can only be found on the Roof of the World, 12,000 feet above sea level.

The first international luxury hotel in Tibet, this 150-room property promises to immerse guests in its surroundings. It's not just the view that will remind you of where you are: Guest rooms have traditional lattice wood furniture and photography depicting local life. Eating options include a Tibetan and Nepalese restaurant, Si Zi Kang. The tearoom serves local blends, some of them aged up to 25 years, and in the spa, you can opt for Tibetan herbal treatments.

If you're looking to live the high life, this is the place.

Courtesy of the St. Regis Lhasa Resort

Tattoo Artist-in-Residence, Marcel at Gramercy, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, November 15 11:01 AM

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Hotels are always trying to up the ante on extra services (seriously, do we really need pillow butlers?), but New York City's Marcel at Gramercy has come up with our favorite, by far: a tattoo artist-in-residence.

This isn't just any tattoo artist. Acclaimed Los Angelesbased inker Mister Cartoon--who has tattooed celebs, from Beyoncé to Eminem--is the man setting up shop from today until November 24 in the hotel's pop-up Ink Suite.

Check in, and not only will you jump Mister Cartoon's one-year waiting list, you'll also have a souvenir that will last forever.


Hotel guests can make an appointment by calling 917-600-5554 or e-mail MOARMARCEL@mistercartoon.com.

Photo: Matthew Dean

Simplethings Sandwich & Pie Shop, Los Angeles, California

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, November 12 10:55 AM

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Feeling overwhelmed? The complexity of life getting you down? We have the answer: Pie. There are few things more comforting--perhaps it's the taste of simpler times, when your meals were home-cooked and you didn't have to pay rent. From next week, Angelenos can get back to basics at Simplethings, a quaint little shop selling pies and sandwiches that's sure to become a standout among L.A.'s innumerable girly cupcake and frozen yogurt joints.

This Third Street shop will offer five or six sweet and savory pies daily, as well as two or three specials, including executive chef Carrie Cusack's signature Missouri Mud Pie. And since they come in individual four-inch sizes, you can also take home a sampler six-pack. Now, that's a whole lot of comfort.

Photo: Simplethings

The Wellesbourne, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, November 11 10:41 AM

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When the weather outside is frightful, there's nothing like a bar serving classic cocktails beside a roaring fire--someplace, in fact, like the newly opened Wellesbourne. We like it so much, we're even prepared to forget that--despite its 19th-century-manor appearance--it's in West Los Angeles rather than the English countryside.

The Wellesbourne has wooden booths with little desk lamps, walls lined with books or toile wallpaper, assorted comfy sofas, and a stone fireplace--all freshly aged for added atmosphere. Along with classic cocktails, it will soon serve traditional pub grub like Welsh rarebit and that classic Brit pudding-and-sausage combo, toad in the hole.

So what if snowflake sightings are rare in L.A.? This is the perfect place to toast the festive season with a Brandy Alexander.

Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Daniels

Jawbone's Jambox Wireless Speakers

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, November 10 10:35 AM

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If you've ever sat beside a screaming baby on a long flight, you'll appreciate that just because something is small doesn't mean it's quiet. But that's not always a bad thing.

Consider the Jambox, Jawbone's new wireless speaker and speakerphone. It's a mere six inches long, under two inches high, and weighs 12 ounces, yet it blasts out 85 decibels of sound. You can sync it to a Bluetooth-enabled piece of gadgetry (like your phone, iPod, laptop, and iPad) to play music on the beach, get the full audio impact of a computer game in your hotel room, or organize a conference call. And it comes in four different colors and patterns, too: Black Diamond, Blue Wave, Red Dot, and Grey Hex.

Small, perfectly formed, and unlike a baby, it can be switched off on takeoff.

Photo: Jawbone

Chalet Chloe, Saas-Fee, Switzerland

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, November 09 10:25 AM

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Stay at this funky new chalet in the Swiss Alps and you might not even bother putting on your snow boots.

Opening this coming season in the village of Saas-Fee (near the Hannig lift station, if you do decide to venture out), Chalet Chloe is a three-floor property with four double bedrooms and a bunk room for kids. This place has the wood paneling and kick-ass views we love about traditional Swiss chalets, but it's the cool lighting, rotating fireplace, and buttery leather sofas that will make it impossible to extract yourself, especially after a couple of mugs of Glühwein. The huge sundeck and sauna don't hurt, either.

Suddenly the great outdoors doesn't seem so great.

Photo: Joe Condron

Discovery Adventures' Classic Japan Tour

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, November 08 04:41 PM

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Yes, Japan has the high-tech, neon-lit spectacle that is Tokyo, but seriously, people, don't you spend enough time in the fast lane? Why not slow down a little, have a cup of tea, and contemplate the wonders of classic Japan instead?

On Discovery Adventures' new nine-day tour, you can bathe in a hot spring at the foot of Mount Fuji, stroll around Kyoto's geisha districts, and get private access to a former teahouse to see traditional music and dance performances. A few days of this, and you might even switch off your cell.

And for adrenaline junkies who can't switch off, it's also possible to slot in some high-octane Tokyo time, too.

Classic Japan Tour starts March 26, 2011, from $4,399

Photo: Discovery Adventures

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Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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