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A Startup Store in Beta, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, December 22 12:35 PM

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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

Boxpark, London

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, November 28 12:34 PM

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Ah, holiday shopping: those glaring fluorescent lights, the high-stakes fight for parking, the gratingly cheerful soundtracks. It's enough to make you want to flee the country. May we suggest London?

Our cross-pond neighbors are rethinking the mall experience with the new Boxpark. Made from 60 repurposed shipping containers, the shopping complex in the hip East End neighborhood of Shoreditch will peddle funky jewelry, streetwear, books, and bikes from a mix of up-and-coming and established brands. Add to that some coffee shops and cafés and an art gallery or two, and you've got a happy holiday. Our excitement cannot be contained.

Photo: Courtesy of Boxpark

New York Fashion Week Boutique Openings, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, September 14 10:58 AM

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The click-clack chorus of stilettos on pavement. The strutting prides of long-legged pouters. The flash-happy brigade of street-style snappers. Yes, New York Fashion Week is here again, and with it comes a slew of white-hot boutique openings.

Nicola Formichetti Pop-Up
Mugler creative director, Lady Gaga collaborator, and all-round visionary Nicola Formichetti is hosting a two-week pop-up store to end all pop-up stores in Tribeca (pictured), selling everything from Mugler pieces to plastic rings (through September 23). Designed by Gage/Clemenceau architects, the wonderfully trippy interior resembles a house of mirrors that just might push fraught fashion editors over the edge (50 Walker Street at Broadway).

Century 21
The New York City institution that made deep discounts on designer clothes de rigueur is celebrating its 50th anniversary with the opening of an uptown outpost on September 22. The new Lincoln Square Century 21 is just as gargantuan as its downtown sister--five floors covering some 61,000 square feet--and promises the same mix of big-ticket labels for less (1972 Broadway at 66th Street).

Z Spoke
Fashion world darling Zac Posen, who mingles with ingenues like Natalie Portman and Stella Schnabel, has just made it easier for you to pick up his on-point ladylike designs. Posen's younger, (slightly) more affordable line, Z Spoke, now has its own stand-alone Meatpacking District address, a cozy parlor stocked with crowd-pleasing handbags, adorable frocks, and rare books (875 Washington Street at 14th Street).

Tory Burch
The undisputed queen of relaxed uptown chic expanded her empire this month with a Madison Avenue flagship that's sure to be a (polite) mob scene. The entire four-story exterior is swathed in a collage created by street artist James De La Vega, while inside is a comprehensive collection of Burch's patterned tunics, tweedy separates, and, of course, those ubiquitous ballet flats (797 Madison Avenue at 67th Street).

Alexander Berardi
Fashion wunderkind of the moment Alexander Berardi has an enviable following despite his tender years (he's just 25) and the fact that he's only been showing at NYFW since 2010. See what the fuss is all about at the designer's new Soho digs, which will showcase Berardi's sweetly tailored ready-to-wear collection (174 Prince Street at Thompson Street).

Photo: Courtesy of Evan Joseph

Maison Ladurée, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, September 07 11:47 AM

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When recounting the great New York City cupcake wars of the early 21st century, sugar-charged historians will note August 30, 2011, as the day everything changed, when chocolate and vanilla, red velvet and peanut butter all banded together against a new common enemy: the macaron at Maison Ladurée's new Upper East Side shop.

The first stateside outpost of the venerable Parisian patisserie presents a pastel crayon box of a Belle Époque teahouse. Chocolates, fruit jellies, and miniature pastries vie for attention, but Ladurée's signature sweet is the double-decker macaron--two feather-light crispy shells sandwiching a soft, chewy center--a delicacy the company lays claim to inventing in 1930. There's classic caramel with salted butter, black-currant violet, rose, and pistachio, as well as seasonal flavors like almond Morello cherry and strawberry-mint. Sound the death knell to Upper East Side diets.

Photo: Courtesy of abbietabbie, Flickr, Getty Images

Fred Segal Lending Library, Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, September 06 11:33 AM

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You were so busy California dreaming, you forgot to pack your favorite studded clutch. Now what? Well, if you're staying at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, you can just check one out from the property's new accessories library.

Guests staying in suites at the 342-room oceanfront hotel will have complimentary access to a curated collection of designer goods starting today, courtesy of the new Fred Segal Lending Library. So you now can borrow an oversize snakeskin cuff or classic Ray-Bans, statement cocktail rings or funky fedoras, all plucked straight from Los Angeles's cult designer department store. There goes your last excuse for not packing light.

Photo: Courtesy of Loews Hotels

Dekalb Market, Brooklyn, New York

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, August 15 10:20 AM

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The new Dekalb Market has made everything shipshape in downtown Brooklyn. Twenty-two salvaged shipping containers chopped, welded, and painted in rainbow hues now house boutiques selling everything from vintage rompers and 1970s eyewear to Holstee recycled wallets and Alder printed silk scarves by local Pratt Institute design students.

Work up an appetite grooving to tracks spun by the hip-hop heads behind Bbeats, the market's record shop, and then sample everything from veggie muffulettas to mod Filipino fare in the mini restaurants. An urban farm and a beer garden are also on site. Fertile ground for a weekend outing? We think so.

Photo: Courtesy of Dekalb Market

Del Carmen Concept Hotel, Guadalajara, Mexico

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, August 12 07:30 AM

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Pssst...you can tell us. That ashtray on your side table used to reside in a Kenya safari lodge, didn't it? And those Egyptian cotton robes, could they be from a certain Paris boutique hotel? Well, sticky fingers, the newly opened Del Carmen Concept Hotel in Guadalajara, Mexico, is ready to make an honest traveler out of you. Here's the concept: You like it, you can buy it in the hotel's boutique.

Smartly designed in vivid hues, each of the nine rooms and suites pays tribute to a specific Mexican surrealist artist with custom-made furnishings and objets d'art handcrafted by regional artisans. Those chessboards in the Belle Epoque-style bar, the eclectic keys hanging from the ceiling of the lobby, even the crockery in the Kahlo-inspired Mexican restaurant--all are available in Del Carmen's Catalogue of Curiosities. Personal concierges will arrange shipments, large or small, anywhere in the world. Sure beats "borrowing" those towels from the housekeeping cart.

Photo: Courtesy of MexicoBoutiqueHotels.com

The Nolitan, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, July 25 09:55 AM

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Soho, Noho, Tribeca, FiDi--New Yorkers define themselves by their neighborhoods. Now visitors can, too, as downtown creative pocket Nolita gets its first luxury hotel, the Nolitan.

The 55-room property aims for a full-service-apartment vibe. Before check-in, you can request a fridge full of organic spritzers, hypoallergenic pillows on the bed, or even a new outfit for Poochie. Rooms are decked out in light oak floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and mod furnishings to create a warm, loftlike feel. When you're ready to roam (nearby Young Designer's Market and boutiques like John Varvatos and Selima Optique are offering neighborly discounts), a complimentary bike or skateboard will be waiting.

Down in the lobby salon, Phaidon has curated a library, and a 2,400-square-foot roof deck just begs for having friends over for cocktails. No worries if the party goes late: 2 pm checkout comes standard. Time to call U-Haul; move-in starts August 1.

Photo: Courtesy of the Nolitan

Sunpocket Glasses

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, June 02 07:00 AM

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The future is looking bright for you, dear traveler. Especially now that Sunpocket has solved the problem of where to store your shades when it's, well, shady.

This hip Swedish company has revived a cult '80s foldable frame that fits into a teeny carrying case and slips into your pocket, which keeps your hands free when you dip into a dark bar or dim boutique. The lenses are nonglare with 100 percent UV protection and are, they say, unbreakable. But we were sold after one look at the retro-chic design ($65).

Photo: Courtesy of Sunpocket

You Are Here Sunglasses

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, February 18 04:39 PM

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If you can rock a pair of retro shades with neon pink detailing, you undoubtedly have a good sense of who you are. And these limited-edition You Are Here glasses with iconic skylines on the lenses will prove that you're a card-carrying citizen of the world of cool.

For the fascinating new All Access World exhibition at the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin (all about the ways in which well-known monuments and landmarks shape our identities), artist Agathe Snow customized 200 pairs of the hip German brand Mykita's specs. Choose from either New York City's skyline or the pyramids of Giza, painted in a fine gold line on the lenses--don't worry, you can still see through them. The sunglasses are a cheeky reminder to view the world through its grandest accomplishments.

Lodekka, Portland, Oregon

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, February 15 04:24 PM

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Portland pioneered the nation's gourmet food-truck craze. Now the city's mobile business is being taken to the next level, literally, by Lodekka, a dress shop in a bus. The 1965 double-decker originally ferried folks around Liverpool, England. Owner Erin Sutherland has no idea how the bus made it stateside, but she spent six months sanding, scraping, and painting the old clunker into one of Portland's coolest vintage boutiques.

Inside, you'll find 1970s jeans, swingy 1960s sundresses, flowy maxi-frocks, and retro souvenir pendants. Old board games and 1980s Esquire magazines will entertain the less sartorially minded. Next stop, a dance club in a 747? A salon in an Airstream? We can't wait to get on board.

Padma Lakshmi Collection, The Surrey Hotel, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, December 28 05:13 PM

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New York City's Upper East Side, home to the pretty of face and the deep of pocket. Could there be a better place to shill the new jewelry line of model-turned-reality-TV-star Padma Lakshmi?

To catch the eye of chic peripatetic types, the Top Chef host has checked her baubles into the neighborhood's recently renovated Surrey hotel (look for the customized armoire in the lobby). We love the boho elegance of the bold pyrite and garnet necklace that references Masai bead wear and the 14-karat-gold earrings reminiscent of Southeast Asian orchids.

While a touch of Lakshmi's glamour is an added attraction, there's no need for her cooking prowess here--the top chefs of Café Boulud at The Surrey have all that in hand.

Reestore's Deborah Desk

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, December 02 12:47 PM

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There are plenty of people guilty of winging it at work, but Reestore's Deborah desk, made from a plane's wing, gives you the perfect excuse to do just that. Made of aluminum, on stainless steel legs, the retro-style desk is topped with a slab of heavy-duty glass to stop your computer and other stuff from slipping off the aerodynamic surface.

The Deborah is one of a number of furnishings and accessories that have been cleverly transformed from abandoned objects by Reestore's designers. Other products include a shopping trolley repurposed as a chair (the Annie) and an illuminated coffee table made from a washing machine drum (the Silvana).

At around $3,000, the wing desk is a whole lot more expensive than Ikea, but at least you'll be flying the flag for eco design.

Photo: Courtesy of Reestore.com

Penguin Classics, Hardcover Editions

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, December 01 12:49 PM

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Lay your Kindle aside for a moment for an admiring look at books like they used to make them: Penguin has released luxurious new hardcover editions of selected classics. With beautiful cover designs stamped on linen cases and ribbons to mark your place, these are the kind of books worth creating a library around.

There are currently 20 volumes in the series, and three of our favorites are especially good buys for those with an adventurous spirit: a ten-year expedition that features war, monsters, and shipwrecks; a little girl's journey to a fantasy world populated by eccentric locals; and a captivating tale of treasure maps and pirates.

Okay, go back to your Kindle. Useful, yes, but not nearly as collectible.

Penguin Classics: Homer's The Odyssey; Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass; Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island; $20 each.

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"

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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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